If you thought that title meant Pope John Paul II, you wouldn't be faulted. That's logical and in fact, I'm sure there's truth to it.
But I'm talking here about John Paul Kilner's story:
Nothing can prepare you for seeing your one-year-old nephew in a casket. Nothing can take away his parents' agony. And nobody could have expected how much good work this helpless baby would do in 14 months.
John Paul Kilner was born with an advanced case of spinal muscular atrophy. Nearly paralyzed at birth, his body deteriorated further as he grew.
My sister-in-law Elena and her husband Pat brought JP home as soon as possible, and began the 24-hour a day job of keeping him alive. Someone was always at JP's side, monitoring blood-oxygen levels, suctioning mucus through his tracheostomy tube.
If Elena's younger sister Suzanne (now a nurse) or a hired nurse named Donnisse weren't on duty, either Pat or Elena did without sleep.
Daily saving the life of an immobile kid with a fatal disease raises some fundamental questions. What is the point of such a life? Which raises the prior question: What is the purpose of any life?
Pat and Elena are devout Catholics from strong families, but their answer to this question can't be set aside as some teaching in the Catechism. It's a truth written on the human heart.
Jesus said that the two greatest commandments are to love God and love your neighbor. This is our purpose. This view is not uniquely Christian. It's understood in other religions and in secular worldviews.
In this regard, John Paul lived a superior life. He exuded love. Before he lost control of his facial muscles, he beamed smiles that made grown men sob. Babies can love those around him with the pure, unconditional love we all should show.
Also, JP drew love from others. Neighbors, relatives and strangers cooked meals and gave time, equipment and money to help the Kilners. JP's brothers and sister showered him with affection. And Pat and Elena sacrificed immensely to care for him.
Before the wake at St. Patrick's in Rockville, during an observance called Stations of the Cross, we read a Gospel passage in which
Christ explains our duty to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and visit the sick.
"Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine," the Lord says in this passage, "you did for me."
Clearly a call to charity, this is also an exaltation of parenthood. Even moreso, this exalts the work of caring for helpless JP.
Tribulations both reveal character and form it. JP's struggles revealed his parents' heroic virtue and fostered virtue in others.
Please read the rest... and frankly, become a better person.
Thanks Deacon Greg for the find.