A True Model for Religious Missionaries
A missionary strategist of the highest caliber, John Paul II sincerely believed that the gospel must be preached to all people around the world. In his Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia, the Pope says,
In Redemptoris Missio he reminds us that “An essential characteristic of missionary spirituality is intimate communion with Christ.” From contemplation a missionary gets the strength and courage for action.
|Pope John Paul II in India|
|Pope John Paul II at prayer|
His closeness to people came from his closeness to God. As a missionary he travelled to every comer of the world. He consistently spoke out against wars, abortion, and exploitation of workers. He denounced violence and conflict and proclaimed peace, courage, hope and the need for a globalization rooted in solidarity. His life was an alternating rhythm between time spent communing with God and time spent with God’s people.
As a contemplative he understood his prophetic role in the world. At all levels he raised his voice with courage to denounce the evil of our times. He was the voice of the voiceless. He considered all life as sacred. He deeply believed that life deserves respect whether in the womb as a male or female child, in a mentally or physically handicapped person, in a terminally ill patient or in an elderly person or a criminal.
The world had a glimpse of his great humility when he apologized for the sins of the Church in the past. He shocked some, surprised others, but won the admiration of the world. He set a great example of forgiveness as taught by Christ when he forgave Ali Agha, the man who made an assassination attempt on him on May 13,
|Pope John Paul II at Youth Day|
John Paul II could relate with all kinds of people. He was a true missionary Pope. He travelled around the world. With his pontificate the papal image has changed and has been brought closer to the people of our day. Even though some criticized his many travels, he explained, “Since the Bishop of Rome is the primary herald of the faith, he has the primary responsibility for the spread of the faith throughout the world.”
He considered himself not only a pastor to the Catholic community, not merely a leader for the Christian world but a spokesperson for humanity. He was a universal brother. For us La Salette Religious Missionaries, Pope John Paul II is a beacon light both in our Religious life and in our mission. May his spirituality of Pope inspire us always.