One century ago this day a little boy called Karol Wojtyla first set his baby blues on this world. Yes, he went on to become the great pope John Paul II but his hundredth birthday today reminds us that we all start ‘little’.
In the readings at Mass today we are still hearing of the Acts of the Apostles as the events of the early church unfold. What exciting times we, perhaps, think? What marvels the Lord was working. Yes it is true, He was working marvels, but not all of them visible. We hear how Paul on his arrival in Macedonia preaches by the river side which was a popular place to pray. A woman call Lydia who work in the textiles industry, the purple-dye trade to be precise, was touched by his preaching and later received baptism. Consequently she offered Paul and his companions a place to stay whilst in her town.
Sort of everyday stuff really. One person talks about God. Another person hears it and takes it on board as truth. Subsequently these people end up sharing time together and becoming friends. Perhaps we can relate to that scenario?
But this is it really, isn’t it? It is not everyday ordinary stuff. It is everyday extraordinary stuff. Put it another way. One person (Paul) goes through an incredible conversion from being a hater and persecutor of Christians to being one of their bravest champions. Filled with the zeal of the Holy Spirit he seeks out anyone who will listen to his experience of God in order to share it with them. One such person (Lydia) is attracted to that witness of the faith and converts and she too becomes a follower of Christ, a Christian. But it just so happens that this person lives in what is now Europe so technically she was the first European Christian. Here on the continent of Eurasia, we are – in that sense – still European, so you could view Lydia as the pioneer and the mother of us all. What marvels the Lord was working in this everyday meeting down by the river between a textile worker and a tent maker!
Coming back to it – and this is the key ingredient – who knows what doors our everyday conversations and discussions open for people in their hearts. Perhaps we even know of those around us who have come back to the faith or become a believer after we had witnessed the faith to them? Who knows who these people shall be in the future or who will be reading books about them a long, long time from now?
When John Paul II was born he was just a baby boy; the son of his mother and father. ‘Baby’ Wojtyla for a little while perhaps, without even a name until they had decided on the polish version of Charles – ‘Karol’. Everybody is a ‘nobody’ to the world at some point. And ‘nobodies’ are somebody very, very special to God. He calls us into being so He can pour His love out upon us in the way only He can. In return He asks us to seek Him out and love Him back with all that we are. Extraordinary Ordinary Life!
Pope Saint John Paul II, pray for us!