Diary Of A Hollywood Refugee

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Be Not Afraid!

The massive outpouring of condolences from Muslims, Jews and Christians, at the passing of the Pope, is a testimony to how deeply Pope John Paul II touched everyone.

He changed the church when he became the first Pope to visit a temple and to visit a mosque. and only the second pope to visit the Holy Land.

In 2000 his trip to the Holy Land won over Jews, Christians, and Muslims. When he visited Israel, and stood at the West Wall, he apologized to Jews and exonorated them for the death of Jesus, declaring that Jews were no longer condemned to wander because they killed Jesus, ( a belief that Catholic church had subscribed to for centuries) and that they were entitled to live on this holy land of Israel. He declared himself a friend of Israel, and nurtured ties with the Jewish community. Under him, Vatican II took the unprecendent step of declaring, upon deep analysis of the Bible, that Jews and Muslims could also achieve Salvation, through the mystery that is God's grace.

He also changed the course of history, when after visiting his home country of Poland, he emboldened and empowered his beloved Polish people to rise against the shackles of communism, and brought about the fall of communism.

Such was the soft power of the Pope Paul II, an ambassador of morality and faith, ALL Faith. Intelligent, articulate and charismatic, "he lived his life as his Savior did".He never waivered on his principals, and he taught us how to be better humans.

Even his death served as a message: You have value even in your suffering and death. God's love is closest to those during their time of suffering.

Thousands of young people wanted to be near the Pope in his last moments and be with him through the night which speaks to his very special relationship with young people.

The Pope understood that we live together is a smaller world, and reached out across the religious divide and believed that Christians Jews and Muslims needed to dialogue and work together towards common goals of peace and justice. He brought us together to do the work of God.

His impact on youth is unprecented. Real freedom is the freedom to do the right thing, and he taught the youth how to turn to truth and goodness in spite of the message of the prevailing pop culture which seems so often to align itself with greed, lies, cheating, dishonesty, and moral ambigiousness.

He was a moral theologian, conservative in many ways, liberal in others
Not everyone agreed with him, but EVERYONE respected him.

In his first address as Pope to the thousands who stood in St Peter's Basilica, he uttered these words " Be Not Afraid". It was the message of his own life, his advice from the Gospels, and an exhortation to all of us, and it became more poignant during his latter years as his health detoriated, and we watched him struggle.

In his best seller " Crossing the Threshold of Hope" he candidly reflected on his own sinfulness and sense of unworthiness of God's love. "Of what should we not be afraid? We should not fear the truth about ourselves."

"Be Not Afraid" defined his life, his papacy, and his death.

He was a truly remarkable man. The world's loss is Heaven's gain!


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