Rome (Fides Service) - It is difficult to think of or make a gift for someone we love and to whom we owe deep gratitude. I know a nice story: it was God’s birthday and all creation was busy preparing the most beautiful gift it could find to give to God. Squirrels the crunchiest nuts; rabbits nice packs of the freshest greens; the birds composed a special song, the flowers competed with each other to put on the most brilliant and fascinating colours; the mountains and the hills with the waters of the sea and the rivers sounded their music and dance. Each creature seemed to have found the right gift for God except for the human creature. Nothing seemed worthy of God and the things that were suitable had already been chosen by others.
The poor creature had gone around the world looking for something for God but had returned empty handed. When the time for the celebration came the creature did not know who to ask for help.
There were also objects from the other planets, because of course all the creatures of space had been invited.
But the human creature could think of nothing but God’s present.
The time came for the gifts to be presented and the creatures being so numerous formed a lined. The human creature went to the end of the line having nothing to offer.
The line began to move.
After a while, when only 20 creatures were left the human creature panicked.
Then when its turn came, the creature remembered something no one had thought of and it did something no one else had done.
The human creature ran towards God, jumped on his knee and whispered something in his ear.
God’s face lit up.
It was the happiest face that was ever seen and ever will be seen.
The human creature had whispered just three words in God’s ear: I love you!
We are all in debt towards Pope John Paul II and for many different reasons, fundamentally and radically for his courageous and luminous testimony of Christ and his message because from this source flow the other ambits of his dedication for the good of mankind.
Only evoking a few: his insistent concern and action to defend human life, for the recognition and respect of the dignity of the person, each and every person, with no geographical, cultural, ethnic or religious discrimination; his challenging call to solidarity proposing ways to eliminate public debts of poor countries; his heartfelt appeal for peace among peoples, families, individuals, religions, Churches, groups and organisations in view of building a humanity gathered in one family of God; the wise and prudent warning (in the sense of preventing and foreseeing) addressed to national and international institutions to work with coherence and constancy for the true good of the human community, a good which cannot be pursued without the foundation of moral order, therefore of truth, justice, livery and consequently, love; his tenacious hope in a better world, trusting in the goodness of the human person created in the image of God and therefore called to realise according to the order of love friendship and confidence alongside the new generations showing them the luminous paths of the Gospel which lead to the source of life: to Christ, the only Saviour of the world…
We women have even more motives for gratitude because the Holy Father, from the outset of his Pontificate, has taken to heart the cause of women and their dignity and mission; he has striven to understand and welcomed women’s aspirations and ideal impulses, he assumed as a characteristic of the Church the symbolic order of motherhood which enriches humanity with the values of tenderness, concern care, concrete and daily expressions of the order of love. In this way he has led the entire community of believers to reflect on the dignity and vocation of women in the Church and in the world.
Who can forget Mulieris dignitatem? Who can forget the Message for Peace 1995, “Women educators to peace?” And again the Letter to Women in view of the 4th UN World Conference on Women in 1995 in Beijing?
Almost at the beginning of the letter (n. 2) the Pope proclaims:
Thank you, women who are daughters and women who are sisters! Into the heart of the family, and then of all society, you bring the richness of your sensitivity, your intuitiveness, your generosity and fidelity.
Thank you, women who work! You are present and active in every area of life-social, economic, cultural, artistic and political. In this way you make an indispensable contribution to the growth of a culture which unites reason and feeling, to a model of life ever open to the sense of "mystery", to the establishment of economic and political structures ever more worthy of humanity.
Thank you, consecrated women! Following the example of the greatest of women, the Mother of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, you open yourselves with obedience and fidelity to the gift of God's love. You help the Church and all mankind to experience a "spousal" relationship to God, one which magnificently expresses the fellowship which God wishes to establish with his creatures.
Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman! Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world's understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.>
The Pope acknowledges that simply saying thank you is not enough. It is necessary to undertake projects and initiatives which favour genuine and authentic equality among the sexes and which highlight the values peculiar to man and woman; especially female values frequently removed and not rarely repressed with great impoverishment for humanity all of humanity.
In the Church’s name he asks forgiveness and desires that this repentance be assumed by the whole Church in commitment of renewed fidelity to Gospel vision.
Holy Father, with all our heart we say: Thank you, two small words which include our sentiments, our prayers, and our resolutions. (Fides Service 14/10/2003)