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Passionists UK Passio Issue #8 – Autumn 2021

Passio Issue #8 – Autumn 2021

Jesus leads us to believe that the Good News isn’t Good News for the poor unless Christians offer their lives in the sacrifice of service.

Published Sep 28 2021

Introduction

None of us could have imagined when reading John’s editorial piece for ‘Passio #7’ (Lent 2021) as he shared his hopes for the Congregation of the Passion’s Tercentenary year (which began in November 2020) that it would be his final contribution to this newsletter. It seems right, therefore, to begin this issue, with a short tribute to John in thanksgiving for the wonderful example he gave to all he met, especially through his service as a Passionist over so many years:

God is Love – A Tribute to John Kearns

The requiem mass for John Kearns CP was held in his home parish at The Abbey Church, Erdington, Birmingham on Friday 7th May 2021. It was followed by interment in the churchyard close by. During the readings for the mass, which were chosen by family members and confreres, we heard that ‘The virtuous man, though he die before his time, will find rest’ (Wis 4:7) and found comfort in the fact that John was, indeed, a virtuous man. We also heard St Paul’s words about preaching a ‘crucified Christ’ – something to which John devoted his entire Passionist ministry – and that ‘God’s foolishness is wiser that human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength’ (1 Cor. 1:25) – surely a secret known to all the saints throughout the ages and well known by John too. The Gospel acclamation encouraged us with the words of Jesus to Lazarus’ sister, ‘I am the resurrection and the life says the Lord. Whoever believes in me will never die’ (Jn 11:25) and the Gospel message, ‘Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother…’ (Jn 19:25) reminded us of John’s ministry to the crucified ones of today, especially those to whom he ministered in his prison work. The Gospel ended with these words, ‘And bowing his head, he gave up his spirit’ (Jn 19:30), urging us to pray for a ‘double portion’ of John’s spirit as we continue our Christian journey. Perhaps, though, it is the response to the psalm that best captures the essence of John’s life and Passionist ministry, ‘No greater love can we have than to lay down our lives and to follow the path of the Lord’. This is what John did so faithfully and to an admirable extent.

It would be impossible to do justice to an appreciation of John’s life without mentioning the word ‘love’. Those of us who were blessed enough to have known John will have experienced him as a quiet and unintrusive presence of unconditional love within our lives. Quite simply, that John was a lovely and loving human being is all you need to know and everything else is a footnote to that fact.

John’s life was a Gospel: not just Good News, but the best possible and only unambiguously Good News there is – because it witnessed in a gentle and unassuming way to God’s love for us. John’s life was one giant reassuring hug from God that all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well. Not that it bypassed the cross in any way. His short illness and death earlier this year are an obvious testament to this fact. John often spoke of living our lives ‘between the cross and resurrection’. That is to say, there is more of Holy Saturday than anything else about the quality of life as we live it here and now, accompanying the Crucified Christ in his Crucified People on a Crucified Earth but always having faith that our journey’s end lies beyond the garden tomb with the One who is Lord of all. John’s life was a faithful ‘yes’ to the Crucified and Risen One and, in this, he was a true ‘Son of the Passion’. Rest in Peace, dear friend.

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