I always get the feeling with John Paul that if he could narrow down who he meets and blesses to those he likes best it would not be cardinals, princes or congressmen but nuns from obscure convents and Down syndrome children. Especially the latter. Because they have suffered, and because in some serious and amazing way they understand more than most people. Everyone else gets tied up in ambition and ideas and bustle, but the modest and limited are able to receive this message more deeply and openly: God loves us, his love is all around us, he made us to love him and play with him and serve him and be happy.
But why, I said, does God allow this man he must so love to be dragged through the world in pain? He could have taken him years ago. Maybe, said Mr. Novak, God wants to show us how much he loves us, and he is doing it right now by letting the pope show us how much he loves us. Christ couldn't take it anymore during his passion, and yet he kept going. Which reminded me of something the pope said to a friend when the subject of retirement came up a few years ago: "Christ didn't come down from the cross." Christ left when his work was done.
Like many pilgrims who are actually making it to Rome in these times, I wish I could lay eyes on John Paul the Great. I am blessed to have seen some of the ways God has use this man, who has truly fulfilled the traditional subtitle of the Popes: the servant of the servants of God. May God offer him physical relief and spiritual communion until He calls his servant to be with him in complete joy and glory.