I recently heard a remarkable and supposedly true story involving Blessed Pope John Paul II and his driver, and this story has been haunting me for the past few weeks.
The story goes that Pope John Paul II was getting out of a car and his driver accidentally slammed the Pope's fingers in the car door. What a great opportunity to see what someone is really made of. My Dad slammed my fingers in the trunk of a car one time, that was the first and last time I ever swore in front of my Dad. I'm still afraid of trunk space.
Legend has it that the first whispered words out of Pope John Paul II's mouth were: "Thank you, Lord, for loving me this way."
I don't know about you, but this story rocked my face off. In a situation where you are suddenly slammed into abrupt pain - stub your toe on a chair, poke yourself in the eye with your toothbrush, or reach down to pick up your shoe and slam your eyebrow on the kitchen counter - what comes out of your mouth comes straight from your heart. It is more a knee-jerk reaction than well thought out intellectual response. A lot of my reactions to situations like these seem to be four letter words...
This story reminds me of Jesus' words:
"The good man out of the treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." Luke 6:45
Situations like these are opportunities to see what you are really made of, and to see what is really in your heart. If you live a life like Pope John Paul II, you are constantly aware that every moment of your life is a gift from God. Your heart is overflowing with love for God, and a constant awareness of His love for you. Everything God allows to happen to you is for your good.
Suffering, pain, disappointment; these things are given to us to bear because these things will make us Saints. Becoming who we are created to be hurts, because we are weak and would rather seek pleasure than love. Even the small moments of life give us opportunity to grow closer to Christ, to love God more, and to overcome our little sufferings and crosses with the grace and love of Jesus Christ working in us.
The past few weeks I have been trying to respond to the little difficulties and sufferings in my life by quietly saying "Thank you, Lord, for loving me this way."
"The way of perfection passes by way of the cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle. Spiritual progress entails the ascesis and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes." Catechism of the Catholic Church 2015