A movie I saw recently on St. Pope John Paul II’s life really touched my heart. I was amazed at how much he suffered during his life, with the death of his mother and older brother while he was young, then later the death of his father and close friends during the Second World War. Studying for the priesthood was also challenging in underground seminary during the same time. His beloved country of Poland also suffered the loss of their freedom, their culture was crushed and so many innocent people suffered due to prejudice and death camps during the time of communism. Yet, despite so many challenges and so much sorrow and upheaval, Karol Wojtyla didn’t become hateful, but taught by example that only love creates and overcomes ideologies that destroy mankind and break his spirit. He followed in the footsteps of one of his favorite saints, St. Maximilian, who taught his friars “hate destroys, only love creates,” which he lived himself until his death when he offered his life for that of another prisoner in Auschwitz.
The movie on St. John Paul II made me think about how today there is also a time of unrest, of so much hate, prejudice, unhealthy ideologies, disdain for life. It can be extremely tempting to become angry, almost hateful toward political parties that oppose our own and the people who associate with them, and to be filled with anxiety and fear. But like the movie presented, John Paul II, rather than rip apart political parties, made a difference by preaching about love with his words and his life, about overcoming violence with loving actions, about loving those who “hate” us and praying for them to break the cycle of hate and destruction, and about living the message of the Gospel over that of politics.
The movie was a good reminder that all men are created equal, declared good by God at creation, and created in God’s image and likeness. God gives every human being free will to have the choice to love, at the risk that it will be used for evil. It is the greatest gift yet can be the greatest tragedy when used wrongly. The Gospel message isn’t easy but the road to heaven isn’t either, it’s narrow. Dying to ourselves and the world “thins” us up to walk it. Only God can bring true peace, in people’s hearts and in the world. There is only one Savior, Jesus Christ. Only He can change hearts and change the world through those who believe in Him and live the message of the Gospel.