BY HANNAH CRITES
Pope St. John Paul II was a man who lived to see war, tyrannical governments and the death of his whole family all before he was 25 years old. Later in his life, he was shot, and he suffered with one of the most awful diseases. But when most people think of Pope John Paul II, they think of his joy.
It only seemed fitting that I write about Pope John Paul II since his feast day is today. He’s someone who I have really grown to love over the years. I first encountered him when he died in 2005. I remember my mom turning on the TV in our kitchen to the news as she did chores around the house.
There was the candle in the window and people were crying and holding candles in St. Peter’s square. It was the middle of the night in Rome and the square was filled. I was so confused and my mom explained to me how the pope, who was the successor of St. Peter, was dying. She explained to me how beloved he was by the church and how he had been sick for a very long time. The news anchor also gave an explanation of what was going on and brought up that he survived an assassination attempt.
I had just learned about Abraham Lincoln’s death in school, so the fact that Pope John Paul II survived surprised me. My mom noticed that this intrigued me and she told me that later he visited his would-be assassin in prison and forgave him.
This blew my ten-year-old mind. How could he forgive someone who wanted him dead, especially when the man didn’t ask for forgiveness? Who would do that sort of thing?
As I got to know who Pope John Paul II was, I understood the answer to my questions. He is a man of love who shares that love with everyone he encounters. Mercy is a very unique form of love that is difficult to understand but easy to possess if we ask for the grace to have it.
It’s because of Pope John Paul II that the world is able to hear St. Faustina’s message of Divine Mercy. It is by his example that we are able to know how to live it.
During this Year of Mercy, we should embrace his example, forgive those who may not deserve forgiveness in our minds. Yes, that includes politicians, doctors who perform abortions, the prostitutes, the drug dealers, people who promote a culture of death.
Mercy does not mean forgetting, it also does not make bad actions good. It spreads the Christian love that Christ asked us to have when he commanded us to “love one another, as I have loved you.”
Pope St. John Paul II, pray for us.