This, perhaps more than anything else, made John Paul the Great intelligible to me, as well as disclosing the Assumption for what it is – an eerily prophetic response to the pathologies of our age. For John Paul, the understanding of what Christ had done for Mary was inextricably bound up with his understanding of what Jesus Christ meant to do for everybody. John Paul believed in Jesus Christ, and because of that, he believed in the dignity of the human person for whom Jesus died and rose. Unlike the philosophers of pride whose systems has shed an ocean of blood, John Paul saw faces, not diagrams. He genuinely and deeply believed that each man and each woman were a unique and unrepeatable manifestation of the human mystery and that, in encountering them, he was – we are – encountering Jesus Christ himself.
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All of the philosophies of pride, which love diagrams more than faces, see human beings as means to ends, not as the only creatures God willed into existence out of love. It matters little what the end is if the end is not God and our eternal union with Him. Whether it’s a sustainable green economy, the glory of world socialism, a race of thoroughbreds, or the American Way, the inherent claim of all ideology is that persons matter less than systems. Because he defied this, John Paul was hated – and nowhere more so than from those within the Catholic Church herself who sought to make the faith into yet another human ideology . . .
I once heard George Weigel remark that John Paul II seemed to him to be the most fearless person he’d ever met. But the source of the fearlessness was not John Paul’s experiences under Nazi or Stalinist oppression. It was, said Weigel, because John Paul II had really internalized the fact that the worst thing that could possibly happen had already happened: God had been murdered – and God had brought Easter out of it. John Paul knew that he belonged to the race that had killed God.
– Mark Shea