What was so amazing about the canonization of Popes Saint John XXIII and John Paul II was the complete absence of any triumphalism. The entire liturgy was a prayerful experience for all who were gathered as disciples of Jesus.
Pope Francis set the tone immediately by allowing the liturgy to convey the depth of the moment. Nothing was added to focus upon the person of the two new saints; rather, we were all invited to enter deeply into their love for God, their devotion to Jesus Christ, and their untiring efforts to bring Jesus to the world in new and fresh ways.
Even though hundreds of thousands of people were gathered near and far to St. Peter’s, not once did I hear the refrain, “Viva il Papa.” And why? Because this celebration was about their incredible discipleship with Jesus and their carrying on the tradition of Peter and his successors down through the ages.
Their sanctity was shown to be within the grasp of every single one of us — not for a few chosen ones with lofty titles and positions in the Church. Pope Francis made it clear that as the Sunday Gospel pointed out so well, each of us is invited to see and touch the wounds of Jesus — his wounded and risen Body serving as the entry point for our own spiritual journey. And that invitation from our Risen Jesus is for each one of us — what a grace, what a gift!
I was struck by the large numbers of young people present all over Rome for this important milestone in the history of the Church. All came because of their own yearning to draw closer to Jesus, to allow Jesus to impact their own lives, and to follow the great virtues of two astounding disciples and shepherds of Jesus.
Never before were two popes canonized at the same time, and never before were two living popes present at that Liturgy of Canonization. I doubt that anyone in the future will ever witness what unfolded yesterday in the Piazza of St. Peter’s.
It’s notable that both popes were led into significant suffering, following the example of Jesus. What a great witness for us! So many of us suffer from illness, abandonment, hardships, personal and family tragedies, and various reversals. The “good news” is that bearing those with faith and constancy brings us ever more deeply into the life of Jesus!
May each one of us draw closer to our Risen Savior, Jesus, and be inspired to live out the heroic discipleship that Pope St. John XXIII and Pope St. John Paul II exemplified.