To be honest, although I loved and revered Pope Benedict XVI, I can't say that I loved him like I loved Pope John Paul II. When Pope John Paul II died my mom said, "It's like losing my grandfather," and I could not have put it more perfectly.
However, as I stared into the face of Pope Benedict XVI as he said his last mass, something moved in my heart. I saw the face of a man so holy, so in love with God and the Church, that the depth of his holiness is unimaginable to me. Pope Benedict XVI doesn't know me, but he cares for me and loves me as the human stand-in for Christ. He also loves and cares for me -- for all of us -- so much that he humbled himself, admitted his humanity and stepped down as the leader of our faith due to his advanced age.
I don't think I truly ever realized the depth of difficulty in the job of the Pope. To be sure, I understand how much work is involved. However, I really don't think until Pope Benedict XVI retired (instead of died) and people began talking so much about everything the Pope does, that it really hit me. He speaks a million languages and often has to bounce back and forth between them, can you imagine how that would exhaust your brain? He has to travel the world, author documents, counsel cardinals and bishops, say masses, baptize babies. He has to lead the over one billion Catholics around the globe in an age when NO ONE likes Catholics.
Blogger Simcha Fischer wrote this blog post the other day, which was perfectly stated and outstanding. There was, however, a comment I read yesterday that someone posted on her post that I can't seem to get out of my mind:
Specifically the line: How tired, indeed, must Joseph Ratzinger be, as he has the gifts in his hands outstretched to save the world from itself, and the world assumes it knows better!
The gifts in his hands outstretched to save the world... yes, how truly exhausted he must be from the rejection he faces from so many billions on the globe. How exhausted Christ must have been as he hung on the cross, gifts in his hands outstretched to save the world.
It reminds me of that song I love by Abandon, "Hero." It says:
There he goes -- a hero, a savior to the world.
As Simcha said, Goodbye Papa.