Following the success of the international bestseller Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Pope John Paul II provides the world with a glimpse into his past in Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way. Chronicling the years he spent as a bishop and later archbishop in Krakow, Poland through his election as the first Polish Pope in 1978, he recounts everything from communist efforts to suppress the church in Poland to his efforts to adopt a new and more open style of pastoral ministry. With recollections on his life as well as his thoughts on the issues facing the world now, Pope John Paul II offers words of wisdom in this book that will appeal to people of any faith looking to strengthen their spirituality.
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Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way
By John Paul II
Warner BooksCopyright © 2004 Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Citta del Vaticano
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Source of My Vocation
I set off in search of the source of my vocation. It is beating there ... in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. I thank God that during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 I was able to pray-precisely there-in the Upper Room (Mark 14:15), where the Last Supper took place. I transport myself in thought to that memorable Thursday, when Christ, having loved his own to the end (cf. John 13:1), instituted the Apostles as priests of the New Covenant. I see Him bending down before each of us, successors of the Apostles, to wash our feet. I hear Him, as if He were speaking to me-to us-these words: "Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me 'Teacher' and 'Master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought also to wash one another's feet. I have given you an example to follow, so that as I have done for you, you also should do" (John 13:12-16).
Together with Peter, Andrew, James, and John ... let us continue to listen: "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love! If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you" (John 15:9-14).
Is not the mysterium caritatis of our vocation contained in these sayings? These words of Christ, spoken at the hour for which he had come (cf. John 12:27), are at the root of every vocation in the Church. From them flows the life-giving sap that nourishes every vocation: those of the Apostles and their successors, but also every other vocation, because the Son wishes to be a friend to everyone: because He gave His life for all. Here we find what is most important, most valuable, and most sacred: the love of the Father and the love of Christ for us, His and our joy, and also our friendship and fidelity, which express themselves in the fulfillment of the commandments. These words also contain the goal and the meaning of our vocation: to "go and bear fruit that will last" (John 15:16).
The bond of love unites all things; substantially it unites the Divine Persons, but on a different level it also unites human beings and their different vocations. We have entrusted our life to Christ, who loved us first and, as the Good Shepherd, offered His life for us. The Apostles heard Christ's words and applied them to themselves as their personal vocation. So too we, their successors, shepherds of Christ's Church, cannot but feel impelled to be the first to respond to this love, faithfully fulfilling the commandments and offering our life every day for the friends of our Lord.
"The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep" (John 10:11). In the homily I preached in Saint Peter's Square on October 16, 2003, on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of my pontificate, I said: "While Jesus was saying these words, the Apostles did not realize that he was referring to himself. Not even his beloved Apostle John knew it. He understood on Calvary, at the foot of the Cross, when he saw Jesus silently giving up his life for 'his sheep.' When the time came for John and the other Apostles to assume this same mission they then remembered his words. They realized that they would be able to fulfill their mission only because he had assured them that he himself would be working among them."
"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will last" (John 15:16). Not you, but I!-says Christ. This is the foundation of the efficacy of a bishop's pastoral mission.
Excerpted from Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way by John Paul II Copyright © 2004 by Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Citta del Vaticano. Excerpted by permission.
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