John Paul the Great

February 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

One of the primary reasons I chose to swim the Tiber was that I really liked Pope John Paul II, who seemed to myself and many other people, to just be a model of Christian thought and behavior. He was the first pope in a long time to set aside doctrinal debates and other religious and political differences, and truly embrace all of humanity as being one large family, with a few old, grouchy uncles, sure, but all still a part of a whole and all capable of coming to know and love Christ and his Church. John Paul II was a man of action, a sportsman and lover of art and theater, who didn’t cease to act after his papal election. He traveled places other popes had overlooked, he engaged in dialogue with people his predecessors had refused to speak to. He was the example of a Christian that all Christians could and should imitate.The fact that so many people of different cultures, faiths and morals looked at him as a good, holy man, proclaims his sanctity for all the world to see. I, a young person at the time, was particularly drawn by his involvement with and love for youth; he seemed like a really cool grandfather that you wanted to learn from and look up to as a role model.

Having been elected just two years before my birth, Pope John Paul II was the only pope I ever knew, and he spent his life being an inspiration to myself and others. God bless our current Pontiff and his intentions, but it must be said that it could take a very long time for a pope to come close to filling the great John Paul’s shoes. Few have had the opportunity; John Paul II was the second longest reigning Pope in Christian history. He had plenty of time to influence the hearts and minds of people across the spectrum, from the struggling workers of a Gdansk shipyard yearning to reclaim independence from an oppressive, atheist society, to the halls of the White House where world power players decide the future, but often forget those they serve. John Paul the Great was indeed a saint on this earth, a light shining Christ’s love to the whole world. How appropriate that he shall be beatified on Divine Mercy Sunday- he certainly showed Christ’s divine mercy throughout his life.

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