Wednesday, April 2, 2008

John Paul the Great

Yesteray (Wednesday, April 2) marked the 3rd year anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II. Everything that could be said about him has already been said, from an eloquent eulogy by someone named Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger to the thousands upon thousands of pilgrims who made their way to the Eternal City that April.

I don't have much to say, and if I did, I would do a horrible job articulating myself at 3 in the morning, but this is what I thought at the time. That year, Easter had been incredibly early, such that my birthday was, for once, not within Holy Week. (Having a birthday on Good Friday is sort of a buzzkill.) It was the earliest Easter I could remember at the time, but after JP2 died, it all suddenly made sense. It would not be fitting for such a holy man to die within the season of death and hopelessness. As God's true and faithful servant, it would be much more appropriate if he was welcomed at the Eschatological Banquet in the season of triumph and rejoicing, where Death truly meant nothing. The memorial Mass packed the Basilica full to bursting. A choir sang and the Communion song was "I Am the Bread of Life". Though I mourned for the world's loss, I could not mourn his passing, for his work was finished and he could rest and be healed from his suffering. It was a joyful mourning, if that makes any sense.

It makes me think of this scene from the movie "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King", which, though not based textually in the book, sums everything up nicely, methinks.

Pippin: I didn't think it would end this way.
Gandalf: End? No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path... One that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass... And then you see it.
Pippin: What? Gandalf?... See what?
Gandalf: White shores... and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.
Pippin: [smiling] Well, that isn't so bad.
Gandalf: [softly] No... No it isn't.

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