Wednesday was the first ever feast day of St. John Paul II. Originally, I was not going to write about it. Not that I didn’t have anything to say about St. John Paul II but his life was so accomplished, I would not have the time to write everything I wanted to say. I would not want to leave anything out. But, then I started to think about him and his life. Everything he did, he did out of love for God and love for others. I’m talking about true love not the good feeling emotions that some people mistake as love but sacrificial love. Yes, sacrificial love can have good feeling emotions attached to it, but the emotions are a byproduct not the cause. If the good feeling emotions were the only thing that defined love, then every time you got angry with a child, parent, spouse, or friend, you would fall out of love with that person. Sacrificial love is never based on adult desires or “what I want”. It is the giving completely of yourself for the love of God and the betterment of others, family, and society as a whole. Sacrificial love contains the whole law of God and is God’s greatest commandment.
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27
So, I started thinking about how Karol Józef Wojtyła’s (St. John Paul II) life would be without God. What if he didn’t have the grace of love? What if he thought (like so many people today do) that if he didn’t get what he wanted, that God didn’t exist or that God somehow hated him? What if he gave himself over to relativism and skepticism? No one can say for sure but I think he would probably have died a hateful, mean, lonely old man. Think about all he went through:
- His mom died when he was eight.
- His sister died before he was born.
- His brother died a young man.
- His dad died when Karol was age 20, leaving him as the only family survivor.
- The Nazi’s invaded his home land.
- His Jewish friends were taken to camps and killed.
- Many other friends of Karol’s were killed fighting the Germans.
- He was run over by a German truck.
- After World War II, Karol’s homeland was taken over by the Communists. Karol (at this point a priest) and his friends were constantly harassed by the Communists.
- He survived two assassination attempts. One of which he was shot and severely injured.
- He suffered from Parkinson’s disease and then died.
I don’t think anyone would blame him if he did become a bitter mean old man, but he didn’t. Instead, it seems he loved all the more. St. John Paul II knew that the only way to conquer evil is with love. Sure evil can be defeated for a while by force and/or intellect but it always comes back. And, when evil comes back, it is stronger and worse than before. The only way to completely conquer evil is through sacrificial love. St. John Paul II showed us how to live and how to die with charity, hope, and most of all with love.
“Only in Christ can men and women find answers to the ultimate questions that trouble them. Only in Christ can they fully understand their dignity as persons created and loved by God. Jesus Christ is the only Son from the Father…full of grace and truth.” —John Paul II. World Youth Day, 1993. Denver, Colorado.