It was no surprise that Father Kunst was asked to give the homily at the memorial Mass upon the death of Pope John Paul II. Known as an expert on the papacy and devoted to this Pope, he was the likely candidate to be given this honor.
What follows is the homily he preached on that day. We are grateful to have this recording of that occasion.
Father Richard Kunst’s Homily on Pope John Paul II in 2005:
Reigned 26 years, 5 months, 17 days
Traveled 775,231 miles, or 30 times around the earth
146 trips in Italy, 104 abroad
Visited 129 countries
Spent 822 days or 2 ¼ years outside the Vatican
Gave more than 20,000 addresses totaling 100,000 pages
Issued more than 100 major documents
Created 1,338 saints, more than all his predecessors in the last four centuries combined
Appointed 231 Cardinals
Met with 1,590 heads of state
Held more than 1,160 general audiences in the Vatican
Was seen live by more people than anyone who ever lived.
John Paul II? No, John Paul the Great! But he will not be known as “the Great” because of impressive statistics, but because of the faithful way he imitated the one whose Vicar he was. John Paul II always pointed to Christ.
He was convicted that Jesus Christ was the answer to the question in every human life. Very simply, this is why he was the champion of the culture of life. Everybody was made in the image of God, so everybody has a right to life.
On October 8, 1978 days before entering the conclave that would elect him, Cardinal Wojtyla spoke some very prophetic words, “Our Lord conversing with Peter at the beginning of the first pontificate asked about nothing except love: Peter do you love me? This is the only question which we are to examine every pontificate.” This is the only question which we are to examine every pontificate. Do you love me?
I for my part am not amazed at the sea of humanity now converging on Rome. This is not some world wide personality cult because the personality is dead. The people waiting in line for 18 hours are not doing it to see a corpse, they are doing it to see Christ. Even in death John Paul is leading the world to God.
I will end this homily with my very favorite quote from Pope John Paul the Great. He spoke this as a young bishop in 1965.
“If there is a lack of vocations to the priesthood in a Christian community, if they are not born, if they do not come to seminaries, if they do not reach priesthood, then the community bears a negative witness of itself as a Christian community, revealing its inner weakness, proving to be poor soil.