John Paul II 1920-2005

Your Name Was Born From What You Were Looking at

by Julián Carrón

It is impossible to express all our sorrow at the death of John Paul II. His departure fills us with a silence full of gratitude and an impassioned devotion to his person and to his life. This sorrow is alleviated only by the certainty of his on-going companionship and of the help that he will go on giving his beloved Church from the Father’s house, interceding for her before Christ.

We shall never forget his impassioned witness of Christ, given with all the energy he was capable of, sparing himself absolutely nothing. As did St. Paul (cf., Rom 15:19), he filled the whole world with Christ’s Gospel in the only way possible–by incarnating it, by showing everyone what Christianity is.
In his moving homily during the funeral Mass, Cardinal Ratzinger reminded everyone that “our Pope wanted to give himself unreservedly, to the very last moment, for Christ and thus also for us.” In this way “he gave new attractiveness to the preaching of the Gospel.”

We saw with our own eyes what is meant by a person wholly bowled over by the presence of Christ, and what level humanity reaches when man–as the Pope invited us to do from the first moment of his pontificate–opens the doors to Christ. Thus we learned from close range, as Fr. Giussani wrote for the Silver Jubilee of John Paul II’s pontificate, that “Christianity tends to be truly the realization of humanity” and, therefore, “is the road to the fulfillment of man’s happiness.”

It was certainly this that aroused the interest in his person in many of our contemporaries. Struck by his fulfilled humanity, they were unable to avoid being touched. How many, through the Pope, have discovered the Christian fact or recuperated esteem for a Christianity that many considered defeated! The spontaneous and imposing reaction of people at his death, just as at his life, is the palpable sign of what happens when a person encounters a true Christian. It is just this that shows us, more than any research, what people need: witnesses of that fulfilled humanity which happens in those who welcome Christ with simplicity. John Paul II showed us that when they find it they are struck. Is this not the same experience we ourselves have had? This is what must convince us how much men of our day, just like those of yesterday, are waiting for the witness of a faith in which they see human life flourishing.

Then, we have a priceless debt to John Paul II for the recognition of our Fraternity and of the Memores Domini. His paternity in our regard marked our history and will always mark it. So there is no better way for us to thank him than to live more consciously than ever the aim for which our companionship exists, according to the words that the Holy Father wrote to us in 2002: “To indicate not a way, but the way. The way is Christ.”

The simplest way to thank the Pope is to go on with what he witnessed while he was still with us: “With simplicity of words the experience of the Mystery goes back amid the crowd, amongst the people-people” (Fr. Giussani). From the exceptional experience of these days, let us learn, along with the whole Church, that the future is worked out precisely in this way.