Pope St. John Paul II: A Soul in Love with God
“I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptised with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished!” (Lk 12:49-53)
The fire of God’s Love, like any big fire, spreads on contact: one tree ignites the next one and that sets the next ablaze. A tiny spark can set a whole forest alight. That’s what a soul in love with God can do and what Jesus is longing for. But those who want to set the world on fire with the Love of God may have to fight many battles. All saints have had to struggle against the resistance of those who hate that fire because they hate the light: the light of the Gospel. Saints are strong, they are ready for the spiritual battle. As Peter Kreeft says: ‘God has made saints out of sinners, but never out of wimps.’
St John Paul II, whose feast day we celebrate on October 22, is a good example of this. Karol was born in Wadowice, Poland, on May 18, 1920. His elder sister Olga had died before his birth. His mother died when he was nine. His only brother Edmund also died when he was twelve and eventually his father passed away during WWII when he was twenty. He had no family left. The Nazi occupation forces closed his university and young Karol had to work in a quarry and in the Solvay chemical factory for five years. During that time, aware of his call to the priesthood, he began courses in the clandestine seminary of Krakow. Many of his friends were killed. When he became a priest the communists spied on him. At the age of sixty, an assassin shot him and he nearly died. As an old man, he suffered from an intestinal tumor, a femur fracture and the debilitating Parkinson’s disease that rendered him immobile, distorted his physical appearance, and finally took away his ability to speak.
It doesn’t look like the story of a powerful man. However, he changed the world with the fire of the love of God that he had in his heart. St John Paul inspired many countries in Eastern Europe to turn away from Communism; his zeal for the Gospel took him on apostolic trips all over the world. Neither illnesses, Nazis, communists nor bullets could stop that flame because it’s a divine Fire! Saints are not wimps. Mary, Queen of all Saints, help us to be strong and reliable, so that we can serve your Son to spread this divine Fire.
This article originally appeared on and is adapted from iPray with the Gospel: Resources to Help Young People Pray (www.ipraywiththegospel.org).