EUROPE/SPAIN - “POPE JOHN PAUL II: THE BEAUTY OF A SOUL IN LOVE WITH GOD AND THE HUMAN PERSON” – REFLECTION BY BISHOP FRANCISCO PEREZ FOR THE 25TH YEAR OF POPE JOHN PAUL II’s PONTIFICATE
Madrid (Fides Service) – “With his testimony, perhaps today the Pope is writing an encyclical equally important as those he has written on paper … young people admire him not for his appearance but for his inward conviction” says Bishop Francisco Pérez González of Osma Soria, also Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Spain, in a reflection written for Fides Service.
Here is the reflection in our translation:
“We have the impression that the Pope is incapable because he cannot walk, he does not have the strength to speak and shows physical tiredness. Nevertheless in his heart there is a special vitality which enables him to move from one place the another. His weakness does not make him give up because his strength comes from God. I recall my first meeting with the Pope, I was with a group of bishops. His words expressed special power. He said with conviction that self-giving and service should be our best homily. A short while ago he said the same thing to the people of Slovakia, recalling that a believer is a disciple who listen with humility and docility to the Word which saves, an apostle who gives passionate witness of life lived in keeping with the Gospel because “words call, but example pulls”.
“With his testimony, perhaps today the Pope is writing an encyclical equally important as those he has written on paper. His witness is not a fashion, mere falsity and exhibitionism. His witness is more valid than any outward appearance which attracts people. Young people admire him not for his appearance but for his inward conviction”. Pope John Paul II shows himself in his weakness with the same attitude with which, as an agile athlete, he scaled the Tatra or the Alps. He is not afraid of his image of physical weakness, because his beauty lies not in his bent body or his tormented face, it lies in his soul in love with God and in love with the human being. He touches hearts more with his silence and gestures than with his words: and these are understood only as the cry of living witness which transforms the listener. Young people admire him not for his appearance but for his inward conviction. Words empty of inward spirit bore and leave the heart empty. The figure of a man crushed by life but essential in love not only attracts, it draws, it convinces.
It is very helpful when someone reminds us that the Cross of Christ is still here among us. Only if we embrace the cross with conviction can we understand the limits of the human person. For some the cross of Christ is a scandal, for others it is ridiculous. Some fail to understand a Pope who is physically feeble, others say, with a paternal attitude, he should be removed from the social scene. Despite all this John Paul II goes ahead with astonishing force because his only purpose is to love Christ who died suffering and deformed on the Cross. Mankind cannot understand the absurdity of human pain and suffering: only those who cling to Christ with their very life can understand. A plant, however beautiful, cannot stand alone it needs its hidden roots as a firm hold. Human things are of value to the extent that they are rooted in the permanent, the eternal”. (R G). (Fides Service 18/10/2003 – lines 39; words 587)
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