Pope John Paul II would always mention in his homilies on the Feast of the Transfiguration the fact that his predecessor Pope Paul VI died on August 6, 1978. Here are two excerpts from homilies dating 1999 and 2000:
We, pilgrims on earth, are granted to rejoice in the company of the transfigured Lord when we immerse ourselves in the things of above through prayer and the celebration of the divine mysteries. But, like the disciples, we too must descend from Tabor into daily life where human events challenge our faith. On the mountain we saw; on the paths of life we are asked tirelessly to proclaim the Gospel which illuminates the steps of believers.
This deep spiritual conviction guided the whole ecclesial mission of my venerable Predecessor, the Servant of God Paul VI, who returned to the Father's house precisely on the Feast of the Transfiguration, 21 years ago now. In the reflection he had planned to give at the Angelus on that day, 6 August 1978, he said: 'The Transfiguration of the Lord, recalled by the liturgy of today's solemnity throws a dazzling light on our daily life, and makes us turn our mind to the immortal destiny which that fact foreshadows'. Yes! Paul VI reminds us: we are made for eternity and eternity begins at this very moment, since the Lord is among us and lives with and in his Church. (August 6, 1999)
Today's liturgy invites us to turn our gaze to the face of the Son of God who, as the Synoptics unanimously attest, is transfigured on the mountain before Peter, James and John, while the Father's voice proclaims from the cloud: "This is my beloved Son; listen to him" (Mk 9: 7). St Peter will recall the event with emotion, saying: "We were eye witnesseses of his majesty" (2 Pt 1: 16).
In our era, pervaded by the so-called "image culture", the desire to be able fill one's eyes with the figure of the divine Master becomes more intense, but it is appropriate to recall his words: "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe" (Jn 20: 29). It was precisely with his eyes of faith fixed on the adorable face of Christ, true man and true God, that the revered and unforgettable Paul VI lived. Contemplating him with burning and impassioned love, he said: "Christ is beauty, human and divine beauty, the beauty of reality, of truth, of life" (General Audience, 13 January 1971; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 21 January 1971, p. 12). And he added: "The figure of Christ presents, over and above the charm of his merciful gentleness, an aspect which is grave and strong, formidable, if you like, when dealing with cowardice, hypocrisy, injustice and cruelty, but never lacking a sovereign aura of love" (General Audience, 27 January 1971; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 4 February 1971, p. 12).
As we approach the altar with grateful hearts, praying for the blessed soul of this great Pontiff, we also wish, like him and like the disciples, to turn our gaze to the radiant face of the Son of God to be illumined by it. Let us ask God, through the intercession of Mary, Teacher of faith and contemplation, to enable us to receive within us the light that shines brightly on the face of Christ, so that we may reflect its image on everyone we meet.
(Aug 6 2000)