I was in seventh grade when I had had the great privilege of seeing Pope John Paul II himself in person.
It was of course the World Youth Day Celebration in Manila back in 1995. I was blessed to have been part of the Church choir, which sang for his last mass at the Quirino Grandstand with other choirs in the country.
It was the first and last time I had seen him in person. But I will never forget the experience of seeing him and listening to his words. I recall them once more on the occasion of his third death anniversary.
Three things have remained in my mind ever since. In doing my reflection, I wish to quote certain parts of Scripture to be doctrinally sound.
“Be not afraid.”
Be not afraid to make a stand for what is right and pleasing to God, which is most needed in these trying times. Of course, this is easier said than done. But with God, really, nothing is impossible. And YES! He makes the heaviest of our burdens light, if only we offered them up with total faith, humility and abandonment to His will. We are after all, ultimately God’s children. “Look at the birds in the sky, they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?” (Mt 6:26-27)
“Totus tous, Maria!”
How wonderful it is that we don’t only have a God who perfectly loves us! But also, He has given His very own Mother Mary as a gift to all mankind — to be our very own. Now, let’s not get Catholicism wrong again, for we Catholics do not worship the Blessed Virgin Mary, as alleged by many. We ask for her intercession as our own very mother and best friend. After all, how many times have we asked our friends to pray for a particular intention or two. So why can’t we approach our own Blessed Mother?
For in the end, the “worst” she could ever do is to lead us to God, which is the point. I feel especially thankful to our Mother for saving me from the many times I wished to give up all struggle, for the many times I felt like settling in the mud. But it really was her intercession and silent pushing that lifted me up and brought me back on track. I really could not be any more thankful for her intercession. When I think about it more, I realize that by honoring her, we honor God himself, who has honored His very own Mother. And of course, whatever glory Mary receives, is all offered up to God’s greatest Glory for all eternity.
How wonderful it is for John Paul II to remind us of our great ally here on this planet!
“As the Father has Sent me, so am I sending you.”
We are sent on a mission, one way or another, through our own personal and professional vocations. To be light and salt in this world. And for us who live in the middle of the world, this very much means giving praise and worship by offering especially our smallest, most private works. And with prayer, work, sacrifice, and pure love — we too, are able to live our faith, not just say it.
There was of course, great sadness in the whole of Christendom when the Pope died three years ago. And we miss him all so much.
But now, there is no room for sadness. Instead, we celebrate the life of one of the greatest beings ever to walk in this planet — a being who brought more people closer to God! How I really hope he gets beatified and canonized soon.
Thank you, John Paul II. We love you. 🙂