OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II
TO BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
MASS AND BEATIFICATION OF THE SERVANT OF GOD IVAN MERZ
HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II
Sunday, 22 June 2003
By virtue of this sacrament human beings become members of the Mystical Body of Christ (cf. Rom 6:3-5). The Apostle Paul states: “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal 3:27). Saint Augustine rightly exclaimed: “Let us rejoice and give thanks: we have become not only Christians but Christ himself… Marvel and rejoice, for we have become Christ” (In Ioann. Evang. Tract. 21:8, CCL 36:216).
Christ is “the true light that enlightens every man” (Jn 1:9). Christians for their part are called to become a reflection of this Light by following and imitating Jesus. For this reason they will listen to and meditate on Christ’s word, take conscious and active part in the Church’s liturgical and sacramental life, and carry out the commandment of love by serving their brothers and sisters, especially the helpless, the poor and the suffering.
I send a fraternal greeting to His Beatitude Patriarch Pavle and the Members of the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The new vitality recently gained in our journey towards mutual understanding, reciprocal respect and fraternal solidarity is a cause for joy and hope for this region.
My greetings go also to the members of the other Ecclesial Communities of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and to the members of the Jewish community and the Islamic community.
I greet the Honourable Members of the Presidency of Bosnia-Hercegovina and all the other civil and military Authorities. I very much appreciate your presence and I thank you for all that you have contributed to the organization of my visit to your country.
Finally to you, the beloved sons and daughters of this pilgrim Church in Bosnia-Hercegovina, I open wide my arms in order to embrace you and tell you that you have an important place in the Pope’s heart. He constantly brings before the Lord in prayer the sufferings which still burden your journey and he shares with you in hope the expectation of better days.
From this city, marked in the course of history by so much suffering and bloodshed, I ask Almighty God to have mercy on the sins committed against humanity, human dignity and freedom also by children of the Catholic Church, and to foster in all the desire for mutual forgiveness. Only in a climate of true reconciliation will the memory of so many innocent victims and their sacrifice not be in vain, but encourage everyone to build new relationships of fraternity and understanding.
A gifted young man, he made a good return on his rich natural talents and obtained great human success: it can be said that he had a very successful life. But that is not the reason why he is today declared Blessed. What makes him one of the choir of the Beati is his success in God’s eyes. The great aspiration of his whole life was “never to forget God, to desire always to be one with him”. In all his activities Ivan Merz sought “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus” and he allowed Christ to make him his own (cf. Phil 3:8,12).
Taking part in Mass and drawing nourishment from the Body of Christ and the Word of God, he drew the inspiration to become an apostle of young people. It was not by chance that he chose as his motto “Sacrifice – Eucharist – Apostolate”. Conscious of the vocation he had received in Baptism, he made his whole life a “race” towards holiness, the “high standard” of Christian life (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte, 31). For this reason, as the First Reading says, “his memory will not disappear, and his name will live through all generations” (Sir 39:9).
The future of this land depends also on you! Do not seek a more comfortable life elsewhere, do not flee from your responsibilities and expect others to resolve problems, but resolutely counter evil with the power of good.
Like Blessed Ivan, strive for a personal encounter with Christ which sheds new light on life. May the Gospel be the great ideal guiding your approaches and your decisions! Thus you will become missionaries in word and deed, signs of God’s love and credible witnesses of the merciful presence of Christ. Never forget: “one does not light a lamp and put it under a bushel” (cf. Mt 5:15).
This is the prayer and the wish which, through the intercession of Blessed Ivan Merz, the Pope today offers for you and for all the peoples of Bosnia-Hercegovina.