Sunday, April 23, 2017
JPII, We Miss You
What was different about this year, this Holy Week, this Easter Week? I don’t know, but a light has shined in my heart throughout these days.
Yesterday, breakfast with my friend was most pleasant; the time passed quickly, and I almost didn’t notice the repetitions of his words and thoughts, the signs of his Alzheimer’s disease. I found pleasure as I watched his face smile as he described the small pleasures of his day, and then again as he watched the video screen in front of the little girl seated next to us: “It’s Mickey Mouse,” he said, and he seemed fascinated by the screen’s action. He was happy, and so was I.
In the afternoon, I called friends to have them join me, but no one was home. I think that was a blessing too, and so that evening I watched the DVD titled Credo by myself --- but I never felt alone. It is the story of Pope Saint John Paul II’s life, and burial. As Andrea Bocelli sang out with his beautiful voice, I watched the scenes unfold of Pope John Paul II’s wonderful life, and the celebration of his death, twelve years ago this very day, on the eve of the feast of Divine Mercy, the feast day which he initiated in the Church. Three million people came from around the world, standing many hours in line, to file past JPII’s body as it lay in state at St. Peter’s in Rome. And as Bocelli crooned, scenes of JPII’s world travels shone on the television screen, and I saw the huge crowds: at Mexico, Africa, and the various World Youth Days --- where they showed the millions of youths chanting: “JPII, we love you,” and then his smiling face responded: “JPII, he loves YOU!” And I watched the millions gathered around him in his beloved Poland, and then many of those same people at his funeral. Many youths filed past his body; some cried uncontrollably. I did, too. I watched the many times JPII stopped to bless and hug babies, and the one little girl in her First Communion white dress who received the host reverently from him, and then rushed forward to hug him, as he smiled and hugged her back.
And after these scenes of millions of people from around the world who flocked to see him, it showed him now being carried to his funeral mass --- in a simple pine box.
Last evening in the chapel I prayed The Luminous Mysteries of the rosary. JPII wrote those meditations. So many thoughts came to me as I prayed the mysteries of Christ’s greatest blessings to us, and as I recalled one very personal one to me this day.
Divine Mercy. It was one of the things JPII preached throughout the world: we need God’s mercy, and it is there for the asking. No matter how long we’ve been away, no matter where in the world, God waits for us. JPII preached it in his living, and in his painful dying: Jesus, I trust in You.
JPII, --- we miss you.