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A reading from the holy Gospel according to John 21:15-17

After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and eaten breakfast with them, he said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." He then said to Simon Peter a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep."

REFLECTION: "Simon, son of John, do you love me?... Tend my sheep."

My earliest memory of Saint Pope John Paul II was on his election as Pope. I remember my mother had the TV on all day, and the reporters were outside Vatican City. As soon as the smoke turned white, my mother called us from whatever we were doing and had us kneel before the TV and see and listen to the new elected Pope's words: "... Do not be afraid..."

Throughout my young life St. Pope John Paul II was the Pope of my generation. We grew from children into young adults, and into our late 30's.

From the moment he became Pope he started tending Jesus' sheep.

And yes, my mother made us kneel again in front of the TV when his first apostolic trip was to Mexico City. And we all cried when he kissed the ground.

He fed us with his encyclicals and letters, with his smile and his example. He was the Pope of our youth. Many people of my generation got to see him in one of his many travels around the world. He was the Pope of the eldely, of women, of men, of the family, of the poor... Of the people of God.

He showed us to forgive by not showing resentment against the Russians that invaded his native Poland and tried to destroy it with Communism. He even forgave the person that tried to murder him.

And he loved us so much. He was our Pope even in his deathbed. We were praying and hoping. We loved him and we did not want him to die until we heard him say, "Let me go to my father's home". Then we knew it was time for him to go to heaven.

I am not sure I can convey to my children what Saint Pope John Paul II was to our generation. We grew up under the nuclear threat. We saw, because of his influence, the fall of the Berlin wall. I know that for many of today's problems we can reach and find something he wrote that will be able to help us fight against the influence of the devil: He wrote the Theology of the Body, to help us understand the real purpose of our physical self. He wrote Letter to Women, to show what true gender equality means to our daughters, Letter to the Elderly, to not despair as our parents age and get sick, The Luminous Mysteries, to reflect on Jesus' adult life and instituted the feast of The Divine Mercy.. There were so many topics, we could go on for a long time.

How has Saint Pope John Paul II touched or influenced your life?

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