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On the anniversary of the death of John Paul II (March 25, 2006)


On the first anniversary of the death of John Paul II

Pope John Paul II frequently insisted that man attains his full development in giving, in giving oneself to God and to others. A year after his death, I find myself dwelling on this thought: John Paul II gave himself to God, to the Church, not only with generosity, but with real sacrifice. He sought Christ in order to love him and bring him to souls.

The difference between that Pope filled with physical strength who took the helm of the Church in 1978, and John Paul II in his final years, bent beneath the weight of fatigue and sickness, is not simply a measure of the passage of time. It also shows the totality of his self-giving. He spent all his energies in serving God and mankind.

Considering the example of a holy life invites us to ponder the fact that the Blessed Trinity has put us in this world for a purpose. We can and ought to go beyond the horizon of our own personal interests. The natural vocation of man is love, not selfishness. And for the Christian, charity has no limits; it does not discriminate, but is open to all men and women, and embraces every action in our life.

One could analyze many aspects of the extraordinary pontificate of John Paul II and its significance for the history of the Church and the world. But today I prefer to recall this facet of his personality: his love of Jesus Christ, from which arose his capacity for sacrifice, for giving himself unreservedly to fulfilling his vocation.

Romana, No. 42, January-June 2006, pag. 89-90.