SQUEEZED like a lemon, giving his last drop up to the end, Pope John Paul II faced and embraced death in the manner befitting the Christian ideal spelled out by Jesus himself when he said:
"I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it up again." (Jn 10,17-18)
Years before his transit to heaven came on April 2, bent and twisted, trembling and stuttering because of his many ailments, John Paul II talked about his death, saying he was looking forward to it.
But he continued to work, never allowing himself to be pitied. To other elderly people, he is a reminder that they still have an important role to play and cannot and should not be contented with a passive life.
He lived to the full what he preached with so much passion and forcefulness. What a man! I imagine that only grace and his generous correspondence to it could explain this phenomenon.
Of course, in his case he was aware that he was the Vicar of Christ, a father to all Catholics here on earth. He knew he was not just a president or a CEO who may resign or retire because of old age or infirmity.
Thus, when some people suggested that he retire and have a well-deserved rest, he clearly said he would rather hold on until God would bring him back to him.
And when it came, he went quietly, even smiling and joking. One anecdote has it that one of the people who saw him in his dying moments heard the Holy Father telling him, "And what makes you think you will...