Thanks to “Guest” for this:
When I think of Pope John Paul II, I see his greatness and depth of faith in contrast to some of the things that are wrong in other areas of Christianity today.
His humility is all the more apparent in contrast to the arrogance of our modern day false prophets who claim that God told them to say this or that. Unlike those who regard speaking gibberish as a gift of the Spirit, he had the true gift of the Holy Spirit, and was able to learn to speak in many languages and reach out to people of all nations, much as the apostles were able to when visited by the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. He demonstrated forgiveness by visiting the man who shot him in prison and set an example in the same manner that Jesus set examples for us. He didn’t seek retribution nor did he support torturing the would-be assassin.
He didn’t pick and choose his biblical passages and consequently didn’t claim that it is pro-life to support the death penalty. He didn’t ignore that Jesus overturned the eye for an eye law from Leviticus 24 when he instructed us to turn the other cheek (Matt 6), as those who use the Bible to fit a personal agenda have done. He opposed abortion, war, and the death penalty in the way someone who unquestionably treasures human life does. And although he appeared to love children, he didn’t mislead followers into deifying themselves with deceptively innocuous directives to focus on family, but instead showed us in words and through his life how to focus on Jesus.
When told that he was terminally ill, the pontiff declined to be taken to the hospital. In his final days, he bore his suffering with dignity and with a willingness to accept the will of God, as Jesus did. It was a true testament to his faith.
Although I didn’t always agree with him, I could not help but admire and respect his unwavering devotion to his faith, to the church, and to Jesus Christ.
Several years ago I read Interior Castle by Theresa of Avila, and one of the things I always carry with me from the book was when she quoted someone who said that Jesus had not died on the cross to take away our suffering, but rather to show us how to turn our suffering over to the Father. Every time I read psalm 31 and come the to verse “Into your hands I commend my spirit”, I think of this and am awestruck at how great was Jesus’ love, that he was teaching us this until his last breath. In following Jesus as faithfully as he has until his last breath, Pope John Paul II has shown us just such a love, and we were blessed to have had him.[Thanks to Barb for writing this.]