This Sunday 2 popes will be canonized saints: John XXIII and John Paul II. For many, the Catholic Church canonizing a few popes is no news flash (80 of the 265 have already been declared saints). A more cynical person might look at the process of an institution declaring the greatness of its own to be somewhat self-serving. But can we look beyond the inherent potential for conflict, and witness the deeper challenge presented by 2 very different men whom we are asked to look to for spiritual edification? Can we see both of these men, and their being held up at the same time, as a metaphor for our time and for our Church?
John XXIII is famous for calling for the Second Vatican Council, a gathering of the Church to reflect upon its doctrine and mission which has only happened 21 times in 2000 years. In asking the Church to come together in 1961, John XXIII began a period of reflection for the Church that allowed it to engage the world in a more meaningful way and that heralded some reforms that were difference making in the life of Catholics worldwide. John Paul II is probably most known for his time spent outside of the Vatican rather than time spent within those ancient walls. His 104 foreign trips earned him the name “The Pilgrim Pope” as he sought to also call the Church to engage the culture. While both men had their flaws, their attempts helped us to appreciate the Gospel “as” Church rather than simply people who appreciate the Gospel “in” church. These men call us to own the life of the Holy Spirit as we move about our everyday lives in the world. So how are we doing?
For the lives of these two men to serve as better guideposts to Christian life, we need to examine how often we try each day to bring our faith to bear in the everyday activities of life. If we are simply pursuing a relationship with Christ that preserves a silo of holiness – a cocoon of comfort that spiritual life can bring, then we have missed the genius and sanctity of these two men. Open the doors of your spiritual life and bring that Spirited air to the world that needs it so much. Travel the byways of your everyday life and bring the message of the resurrection to a world that is crippled by death. Allow these 2 men, both of whom gave their lives in service of the Gospel, to empower us to proclaim the good news so that others may come to know the joy which we have experienced this Easter season!
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