Last night, I was watching ABS-CBN’s “Banal” which featured the life and legacy of Pope John Paul II especially for us, Filipinos, whom he showed so much love and respect. It reminded me of World Youth Day 1995. I was then 3rd year in high school (go count again folks!) and was active in Church-related activities. Part of that service is being a catechist (a teacher of the principles of Christianity) in a public elementary school. I forgot which particular grade I am assigned to but it was a fruitful experience for me. Oh, I remember playing the guitar also, for masses officiated by our then parish priest, Fr. Pol Lezada. The following year, I had to transfer to another school as a rule from my relatives, who pay for my schooling. Sadly after that, I was never active in the Church anymore.
It has been roughly 16 years ago. Pope John Paul II joined his Creator in April 2, 2005. I would always watch the news and I cried when I learned that he died. It reminded me of the pain I felt when I lost my father in December 1996. Nevertheless, Pope John Paul II is a father figure for us. Maybe he is someone we desired of our own fathers to be. He loved us, as much as we love him, maybe even more! He brought love and unity to all religions. That’s why he is loved by everyone, even the Muslims. He has forgiven even those who tried to take his life.
John Paul II devoted much effort to improving Jewish-Catholic relations and established formal diplomatic relations with Israel during his 26-year papacy.
This stamp is the first time that a non-Jewish religious leader has appeared on an Israeli stamp, according to New Jersey philatelist Dr. Leonard Cohen, an authority on Israeli stamps. “Israel putting the pope on a stamp will have tremendous historical significance,” he said.
Needless to say, I am one of those who pray that he becomes a Saint at any point in time. It only takes one more miracle to be verified before this becomes a reality though.
Through “Banal”, I have learned many things, some of which unknown yet to many, about John Paul II. However, there’s one part that I didn’t like. It was a short interview from a former UST student (way back World Youth Day 1995) who said, referring to John Paul II — “Christ himself!”
Oh no, guys! Pope John Paul II is not Christ himself. He is not God. For many reasons, I personally believe that he should be a Saint. But no matter how good he was in his lifetime, he can never be Christ himself. But that interview was part of history. Maybe now, that UST student has realized the difference between Christ and the rest of us.
Although we can pray directly to God or to Christ, some of the faithfuls like me, would pray through the intercession of Saints or through Mother Mary. But as much as I would like to fully express my faith, I just cannot allow myself to treat their images (idols) as gods (making punas or kissing, and even literally make samba to those idols). I’m sorry but I totally disagree with those people who stampede and treat idols such as Quiapo Church’s Black Nazarene like it’s God Himself. That’s Catholicism the way Spaniards taught Filipinos for 333 years. I know, it’s not easy to teach people especially when it comes to religion.
It’s rude to talk about religion. You never know who you’re gonna offend. ~ Senior Ed Bloom (from the movie, “Big Fish”)
So these are just some of my thoughts about Pope John Paul II.
Oh, and before I forget, as I write this article, it’s May 23, 2011 in the Philippines. Doomsday fail for Harold Camping and Family Radio, huh! Otherwise, I’m not here writing and you’re not there reading now (it’s not wise to believe these false prophets, really).