To me, the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time is a special Sunday because it is also the Feast Day of my respectful St. Pope John Paul II.
I was not yet a Catholic when St. Pope John Paul II was still alive. I knew nothing about God’s church then and was not enthusiastic about religion. However, I did not know why whenever the Pope appeared in the news on television, I always stopped working and paid full attention to the broadcast. My profound memory of him was his face after he was diagnosed as Parkinson’s disease at old age. I was filled with an inde-scribable respect and concern for this white-haired, bent-back top leader of the Church. At the same time, there existed two puzzling questions on my mind: 1. What kind of strength was there to help him to persist on staying in his office when he was so old and so much tortured by illness? 2. How could he remain so joyful and peaceful while enduring the heavy burden of work and the pain caused by sickness?
In the twinkling of an eye, Pope John Paul II had passed away for eighteen years. During this period of time, the kind Heavenly Father drew me gradually towards Him through my respect and “curiosity” for the St. Pope. With God’s grace, I was ultimately baptized in 2016. I think the St. Pope in heaven would have revealed his contained and fascinating “standard” smile at the conversion of me, a sinner.
In the past few years and through some spiritual practices, I gradually found answers to my queries about the St. Pope. I understand that the St. Pope had really “lived out Christ”. He imitated Christ, absolutely accept-ed and obeyed God’s mission and will. He performed the duties of a pope with all his heart and effort until death. He definitely was most willing to make sacrifices for serving God, for evangelization, for saving souls and for love. Even in face of great difficulties and adversity, just like what he had said to the faithful, he would “never, never give up hope” . These encouraging words of the St. Pope had given me great strength in times of disappointment! St. Paul said, “When I am weak, then I am power-ful.” ( Corinthians II 12:10) The trials that I have gone through in life allow me to realize that we cannot rely on ourselves but just like the St. Pope, we must completely trust in God and to entrust ourselves to Him in order to gain real strength. God is with us, what have we to fear? I think it was with this firm faith that the St. Pope could always live out God’s joy and peace in his tempestuous, legendary life.
Thank God for granting us such a great shepherd who had deep love for both God and man.
St. Pope John Paul II, pray for us!
(Excerpt from Bible Study Society Website)