Lessons from the last words of St John Paul II
How would it feel:
I usually imagine what it would feel like for me, lying in bed knowing my death is approaching. I am way different from the Saintly Pope, so I know I might be a little (or even a lot) scared. Whenever I do something wrong or dabble in the many sins I struggle against; I wonder what my conscience will be like when the end approaches. That is if I do not die suddenly. The last words of the Pope were full of confidence:
“Struggling to swallow and breathe, Pope John Paul II mumbled his final words weakly in Polish: ‘Let me go to the house of the Father.’ Six hours later, the comatose pontiff died, the Vatican says. (from NBC news online)
Other Last words
These words remind me of those of Christ and St Paul. St Paul’s were very bold and even somewhat scary to me. It sounded a little proud and arrogant at first glance, but later, just scary. They were not really “last words,” but still, he was talking about his exit:
“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the Faith. From now on, the crown of righteousness is laid up for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me but to all who crave His appearing”. — 2 Timothy 4:7
The words of St John Paul II and that of St Paul were not hinged on some presumptuous fantasy. They were hinged on Faith that there is a better place, in the hope that God will give it to them and in the love that has transformed their lives to the living Flame of God’s love.
Christ gets brutal: ‘I NEVER knew you.
“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.’ ” Matthew 7:22-23
These two, as other saints who have exited this world with such great hope and love, have spent all of their lives in God’s vineyard. They recognized the importance of living the very life of Christ, of carrying their crosses every day and walking in the path marked out by Jesus. These sought only to do what God wanted and shunned as much as possible every human comfort. They gave up everything: family, human love, wealth, and worldly power. They became poor and ‘lonely’ for the kingdom of Christ. Like Christ, they were totally spent for love.
So finally, at the end of their journey, they could look to God, who is love and mercy, and utter those words in confidence.
“Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit.”
Christ was himself the Father’s ‘Apostle,’ doing only the Father’s bidding while on earth. So, at last, when it was time to breathe his last, he committed his guilt-free soul to God’s hands. His was a life of total obedience, the degree to which no man can attain. His very birth was an answer to the call of the Father, and his death too was the fulfillment of that call.
We who are alive:
There is a big difference between doing what God wants (obedience) and doing the things you think God wants. So many people who believe they are evangelizing or living the life of Faith are, in reality serving their egos. Some have ulterior motives or bask too much in the love of men to the point that these become their primary goal. Christ obeyed the Father in all things, hence his confidence. Sts John Paul and Paul followed Christ in all things, hence their hope. The secret lesson to be learned from the life of St. John Paul II is obedience. Obedience to the call of Christ and steadfastness in doing his work.
Life of service
This may be the same with obedience, but there’s something I want to add here. St John Paul II was very zealous. He never relented or excused himself from the Mass or from prayer because of his health. I watched the Pope, who was practically hunched over by several sicknesses and old age, still perform his duties as Pope. It was touching to watch him during the beatification of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, how difficult it was for him to speak, yet still zealous in the work of the Lord. Even until his death, he was more than willing to participate in the celebration of Mass:
The Vatican account describes the pontiff as experiencing various levels of participation in what was going on around him.
John Paul’s eyes were practically closed during a Mass celebrated at the foot of his bed in the late afternoon of March 31, the account said.
“But at the moment of the consecration, he weakly raised his right hand two times, that is, on the (raising up) of the bread and wine. He made a gesture indicating he was trying to strike his chest during the recitation” of the Lamb of God prayer, the Vatican said. (From NBC News online)
“He was a very disciplined man from the point of view of moral ethics,” he (Cardinal Dziwisz) said. “Even at work, he never wasted time. He always had time for prayer.”
In fact, for John Paul II, prayer was never separated from work, Cardinal Dziwisz said. “He was immersed in God and in everything he did, he always walked with God and in prayer.” (From CNA Online)
The beauty of obedience is it makes you feel less responsible for the work you have done. In a sense, you can go, “I did what you asked me.” If Jesus gives you little to work with, you are expected to produce little. So there’s little or no pressure on your part. God wants an ear that listens more than he wants hands that dispel demons. I am always thrilled every time I read the last words of the Saintly Pope because I learn from it to work too towards becoming hopeful in God’s mercy at the hour of my death. Because I know that if I have done nothing but seek my own pleasure all my life, I cannot possibly hope but presume upon God’s mercy. But if I keep up this struggle, trying very hard to keep listening and following his commands, I will be at peace then.
Love, the law is love:
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
“A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another.”
It is not so difficult to understand. Love of God means obeying him. Love of God means love of neighbor and of the creatures of God. It means using all things and caring for all things the way God wants. It means taking care of the world too and keeping it healthy for the next generation, sharing with the underprivileged, and lending your neighbor a hand and giving alms to the poor and clothing to the naked, food to the hungry, and words of encouragement to the depressed. Love means letting the Spirit of Christ possess you, so he can walk, talk, and move in you. At last, after having lived his life on earth, you will continue living his life in heaven for all eternity.
THE LAW IS LOVE. THE KEY TO HEAVEN IS LOVE!
Lessons from the last words of St John Paul II