(Optional) Memorial of Saint John Paul II, pope
(Romans 5:12.15b.17-19.20b-21; Luke 12:35-38)
Christmas 2004. Pope John Paul II is seen on Italian television looking over the people. He appears older than his eighty-four years and very sickly. He almost died a few months earlier. But he will not let go of the papacy. It is not that he is proud or stubborn. Rather he wants to impart a last lesson to the world which has come to trust him. Despite their unseemliness his pitiful visage and garbled speech reveal a love willing to make sacrifices on behalf of the beloved. His patience and tenacity proclaim his will that everyone care for the weak and needy.
In today’s gospel Jesus tells his disciples to keep watch for him. He means that they are not to give up loving one another and caring for the poor until he returns. John Paul II did that until he was no longer able to breathe. Who of us would say that Jesus does not keep his promise to wait on people like him in heaven?
The world is much richer for having witnessed the life of John Paul II. He was a man who took delight and excelled in many things. But his legacy will be one of proclaiming the truth of Christ’s love for the world when it was easy and when it was hard.