April 06, 2005

Tell the world of his love

The song “Tell the world of His Love” was written for a special occasion and with one person in mind. It was written for the World Youth Day 1995 in Manila and, of course, it was written with Jesus Christ in mind. But to a Philippines that fell in love (even more) and remains to be in love with the one man who symbolized the love referred to in the song—John Paul II—the song will also be indelibly linked and identified with him.

“He has sent His message of love and sends to those who hear, to bring the message to everyone in a voice loud and clear.”

To the many who have queued up and are still queuing up to see the Pope in repose for mere seconds were not only told of his love, but experienced it. Some may have had the privilege of being ministered to by the Pope; others may have been blessed by his visits to their countries; still others may have been inspired by his writings and encyclicals. But to a person, not one of those in line at St. Peter’s Basilica will deny that John Paul II, in speaking of Christ’s love to the world, spoke as well of his own great love for the world and all its peoples.

We were fortunate to have been blessed by two visits—1981 and 1995. If not for failing health, he would have been here, for a third time, in 2003. In those two visits, we felt not only Christ’s love but his love as well for us as a people. A particularly astute observer said it well, the Pope does not hurry when he is attending to people, he gives you his complete and absolute attention; it is as if you were the only person that existed at that moment. It is a testament to how much he loved people and how telling that love for people was.

“John Paul II, we love you” the chant would go; and invariably, the response would be, “John Paul II, he loves you too.”

For most of this generation, John Paul II was the only Pope they knew; I was in first year high school when Karol Wojtyla of Krakow became John Paul II. And even as I was aware of Paul VI and John Paul I, his immediate predecessors, John Paul II was the only Pope of any impact in my life.

The number of countries he has visited, the trips he has made, the sermons he has given, the encyclicals he has written, the countries he has helped free are part of the history books. But what, by far, is his most memorable legacy, for me, is the number of lives he has changed simply by John Paul II’s decision to tell the world of Christ’s
and his love as well.

All throughout, the gospel he has preached remained the same—the gospel of God’s love and mercy. Yet, in the telling of that gospel, John Paul II told also of another love—his own love for the people of God. This would perhaps be the reason why he would break the traditions of an imperial pontificate—of the faithful going to the Pontiff—and insist on a practice that perhaps only he was suited for and called to—that of bringing God’s gospel of love and mercy to the peoples of the world. If not for his own love, as well, for God’s people, the choice to go to all the farthest corners of the world would not have been an easy one; yet, you could see that John Paul II truly loved God’s people. In all his visits, in all his travels, you could see that he truly relished being one with the people of God and he truly was energized by the opportunity to tell the world of His love.

“Search the world for those who have gone astray and lead them home. Fill the world’s darkest corners with His light from up above; walk every step, every mile, every road and tell the world. . . of His love.”

John Paul II searched the world’s darkest corners and brought the message of God’s redeeming and transforming love to those in darkness; one by one, they fell—those who kept God’s people in darkness. Dictators fell or were transformed, one by one, after God’s Ambassador came to tell them of God’s love for His people.

He walked every step, every mile, every road—yes, including the roads not taken. Praying at the wailing wall, praying at the Tomb of St. John The Baptist in a mosque, apologizing to the jews, breaking bread with the Greek Orthodoxy and many others—all so that he could tell the world of Christ’s and his love.

God, in His infinite love for us, chose John Paul II, a man so in love with God and so in love with God’s people, to tell the world of His love. In his rich telling of God’s love through his words, his acts and his life, John Paul II managed to tell us as well of another great love—his own. The messenger became the message as well and we, God’s people, are all the richer for that re-telling.

Let us tell the world of the love John Paul II had for God’s people and in that telling, let us re-tell as well a tale of another love—that which John Paul II had for God’s people.

Good bye, Holy Father, vessel of God’s great love. I will miss you. I love you.

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