St John Paul II — Witness to Hope


St. John Paul II exemplified the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity. His papacy was rich with the gifts of the Holy Spirit—rich in wisdom and courage.

His charisma attracted all ages, but most significantly young people. The World Youth Day projects he instituted were phenomena in themselves as millions of young people were drawn to the authentic meaning of love anchored in Jesus Christ.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Saint Pope John Paul II celebrated God’s gift of life in every aspect of his being.

His actions told everyone that Jesus Christ is truly present and never abandons us, regardless of what the world dictates or what may happen to each of us personally.

St. Pope John Paul II’s commitment to the principle that every innocent human being is a special message from the hand of God was evident every time he held a baby, embraced a teenager or touched the aged, infirm and broken-hearted.

No world leader was able to humble the wicked or strengthen the meek like St. Pope John Paul II, because no other leader represented the heavenly Father so well.

St. Pope John Paul II was indisputably in love with the Author of Life. Indeed, he preached life until he drew his last breath.

Those of us who knew the Holy Father realised that the Real Presence of Christ was the central focus of his concentration. In thought, word and deed, St. Pope John Paul II imitated Jesus and the world noticed because, as he often said, ‘Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.’

Like the Lord, John Paul spoke truth with body and soul. Thus, he gained immeasurable might in his weakness, and surely that confounded the proud.

Pope John Paul II’s life was a witness to every single one of us. In his example of loving the Cross, he challenged the humanistic world to acknowledge the supernatural.

He changed the way many persons view frailty because he bore it with Holy Joy. This is what Archbishop Comastri told Vatican Radio following his final meeting with his friend John Paul:

‘When I found myself before the Pontiff, I felt an indescribable emotion, and at that moment images came to my mind that the television transmitted on Good Friday night, when it focused on the Pope’s back, with the Crucifix before him. Seeing him in his bed of suffering, I said to him: “You truly are the Vicar of Christ to the end, in the passion you are living with an edification that moves the world.” 

I also told him that all the controversies about the Pope’s efficiency in the past months had not understood that there must be a distinction between efficiency and efficacy.’ 

With that, the Holy Father’s friend proceeded,

‘There are efficient people who are not at all effective, and there are inefficient people, as the Pope was in his suffering, who are extraordinarily effective. 

With his suffering, the Pope has written the most beautiful encyclical of his life, faithful to Jesus to the end. 

I knelt down, I asked him for his blessing and the Pope moved his hand lightly. I realised he wanted to bless me, but again he weakened. Then I rested my head on the pontiff’s hand, I wept and I stayed a few moments in silence.’

Having thought long and hard about it I have come to the conclusion that Hope is the virtue that best encapsulates the life of Pope John Paul.

Indeed George Weigel’s biography of John Paul is correctly entitled ‘Witness to Hope’ for his Holiness knew that Christ reigns forever and in all things. John Paul was an extraordinary and a heroic witness to Christ.

In his lifelong witness to Hope St. John Paul II challenges us to reflect upon what life is really all about and how well we will be prepared when, like him, Christ calls us to give an accounting of how we used the gifts He gave us.

Edward Barrett