'I have looked for you. Now you have come to me...'
Fr Ireneusz Skubis
In these words, which the Holy Father John Paul II spoke with difficulty, one can see a great shepherd of souls, a great pastor of the youth. I remember having the grace of delivering a talk about the situation of the youth and their social status in front of Cardinal Wojtyla during a synodal session in Krakow in May 1978, as a member of the Synod of the Krakow Church delegated to the youth section. I remember consulting my presentation with teachers and educators in Czestochowa, including Prof. Krzysztof Wielgut from the Minor Seminary. I remember that the Holy Father, who had the ability to concentrate on two or more things at a time, was sitting at a side little table and being extremely attentive he made some notes. When I finished my talk he was kind to sum it up. His opinion about this topic was more optimistic than mine. This was a characteristic feature about Cardinal Wojtyla that he always sympathised with the youth and that he saw so much good and so many possibilities in young people. Thus he aroused in all of us some great hope that one could count on the youth.
Afterwards, just after the inauguration of his pontificate, he addressed the young using the famous words,'You are the hope of the Church. You are my hope.'
And during this pontificate the young responded with enthusiasm to the words of John Paul II, especially during the World Youth Days.
The Holy Father used to approach the young generation in that way and he aroused great enthusiasm. It was an unusual, overwhelming phenomenon. The older and more suffering the Pope was the more he caught the hearts of the young, the more the young took to him and the more they loved him. And bishops were amazed, priests were amazed at what the Pope was doing with the young, what was happening that the young followed him in crowds and they listened to him. And the young simply felt his sincerity and hot, authentic loving affection for them.
'I have looked for you...' - this is an extraordinary sentence. These words adhere so much to Christ who was dying on the cross. Words full of love, closeness of God and closeness of man. In those words John Paul II, who was dying, expressed the content of his priesthood, the content of his papal life.
'I have looked for you...' - can you express more briefly this great recapitulation of the entire pontificate? And the second sentence, which also belongs to this unique summary: 'Now you have come to me...'
The young did not fail the hope of their Shepherd. As usual, they came to the Holy Father. They came to say good-bye to him. And then they came to his funeral. I was there and saw how authentically people loved the Pope... These recollections, combined with great emotions, are some unique encouragement to understand better this extraordinary pontificate, which carries out rescue for man, living in difficult and unpredictable times.
'I have looked for you all...' - I have looked for you because I have always loved you, I have longed for you. 'Now you all have come to me' - and you have came to me...
Certainly, these words will come back to the young people of the world who are now gathering in Cologne for the meeting with Benedict XVI, wonderful and worthy successor of John Paul II, whom the world loves now, at the beginning of his pontificate. The young - this hope of John Paul II - will not fail and will be ready to follow the path of Christ with their new spiritual guide, brother and friend of John Paul II. 'I have looked for you. Now you have come to me...' this is the most wonderful message in the world, this is the joy of fulfilled hope, the happiness of fulfilled mission, the miracle of meeting those whom one loves, the joy of being with people who understand you and who know their value...
We give our readers another, the fourth, issue of the series 'Papal Collection of Niedziela', dedicated to the World Youth Days. Let us rejoice that remembering the final words of John Paul II spoken to the young of the world, we had the joy to hold our Pope tight again, the Pope who loved the young so much. He loved them because he got to know them; because he trusted them and put confidence in them. Let us follow in his footsteps.
Papieska Kolekcja "Niedzieli" 4/2005