Monday, April 28, 2014


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.

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.  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!

[As a convenience, a previous blog posting gives the entire Homily delivered by Pope Francis at the Canonization]

Sunday, April 27, 2014


[Below is the homily given by Pope Francis at the Mass in which Pope St. John XXIII and Pope St. John Paul II were declared Saints of the Church]

"At the heart of this Sunday, which concludes the Octave of Easter and which John Paul II wished to dedicate to Divine Mercy, are the glorious wounds of the risen Jesus.

He had already shown those wounds when he first appeared to the Apostles on the very evening of that day following the Sabbath, the day of the resurrection. But, as we heard, Thomas was not there that evening, and when the others told him that they had seen the Lord, he replied that unless he himself saw and touched those wounds, he would not believe. 

A week later, Jesus appeared once more to the disciples gathered in the Upper Room, and Thomas was present; Jesus turned to him and told him to touch his wounds. Whereupon that man, so straightforward and accustomed to testing everything personally, knelt before Jesus with the words: “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28).

The wounds of Jesus are a scandal, a stumbling block for faith, yet they are also the test of faith. That is why on the body of the risen Christ the wounds never pass away: they remain, for those wounds are the enduring sign of God’s love for us. They are essential for believing in God. Not for believing that God exists, but for believing that God is love, mercy and faithfulness. Saint Peter, quoting Isaiah, writes to Christians: “by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Pet 2:24, cf. Is 53:5).

Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II were not afraid to look upon the wounds of Jesus, to touch his torn hands and his pierced side. They were not ashamed of the flesh of Christ, they were not scandalized by him, by his cross; they did not despise the flesh of their brother (cf. Is 58:7), because they saw Jesus in every person who suffers and struggles. These were two men of courage, filled with the parrousia of the Holy Spirit, and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy.

They were priests, bishops and popes of the twentieth century. 

They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful – faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of man and the Lord of history; the mercy of God, shown by those five wounds, was more powerful; and more powerful too was the closeness of Mary our Mother.

In these two men, who looked upon the wounds of Christ and bore witness to his mercy, there dwelt a living hope and an indescribable and glorious joy (1 Pet 1:3,8). The hope and the joy which the risen Christ bestows on his disciples, the hope and the joy which nothing and no one can take from them. The hope and joy of Easter, forged in the crucible of self-denial, self-emptying, utter identification with sinners, even to the point of disgust at the bitterness of that chalice. Such were the hope and the joy which these two holy popes had received as a gift from the risen Lord and which they in turn bestowed in abundance upon the People of God, meriting our eternal gratitude.

This hope and this joy were palpable in the earliest community of believers, in Jerusalem, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. 2:42-47), as we heard in the second reading. It was a community which lived the heart of the Gospel, love and mercy, in simplicity and fraternity.

This is also the image of the Church which the Second Vatican Council set before us. John XXIII and John Paul II cooperated with the Holy Spirit in renewing and updating the Church in keeping with her pristine features, those features which the saints have given her throughout the centuries. Let us not forget that it is the saints who give direction and growth to the Church. In convening the Council, John XXIII showed an exquisite openness to the Holy Spirit. He let himself be led and he was for the Church a pastor, a servant-leader, led by the Spirit. This was his great service to the Church; he was the pope of openness to the Spirit.

In his own service to the People of God, John Paul II was the pope of the family. He himself once said that he wanted to be remembered as the pope of the family. I am particularly happy to point this out as we are in the process of journeying with families towards the Synod on the family. It is surely a journey which, from his place in heaven, he guides and sustains.

May these two new saints and shepherds of God’s people intercede for the Church, so that during this two-year journey toward the Synod she may be open to the Holy Spirit in pastoral service to the family. May both of them teach us not to be scandalized by the wounds of Christ and to enter ever more deeply into the mystery of divine mercy, which always hopes and always forgives, because it always loves."

[Second Sunday of Easter, April 27, 2014]

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


An unprecedented event will take place on Sunday, April 27, when Popes John XXIII and John Paul II will both be canonized by Pope Francis at St. Peter's Basilica.

I am not aware of any other canonization when two contemporary Popes were canonized at the same Liturgy.

The canonization of Pope's in recent centuries is rare.  The two last Popes to be canonized were Pope Pius
V and Pope Pius X:

*  Pope Pius V was in office 1566 to 1572.  He was canonized May 22, 1712.

*  Pope Pius X was in office 1903 to 1914.  He was canonized May 29, 1954--40 years after he died.

It will be a privilege to be at St. Peter's on April 27 to share in the canonization of two contemporary Popes, both of whom had an incredible influence upon the Church in our modern times.  It was Pope John XXIII who called for the Second Vatican Council, and who launched an opening of the doors and windows of the Church in order to allow the Gospel of Jesus to be brought more fully and readily into modern society and culture.

Pope John Paul II became a personal envoy of Jesus Christ as he circled the earth, visiting countries near and far, bringing the Good News of the Gospel to many lands.  Here in Los Angeles, we were privileged to have John Paul II with us a full 48 hours, and 12 major events--including a Mass in the Coliseum, and a second in Dodger Stadium.

May the deep faith and pastoral charity of our two new Pope Saints encourage all of us to a closer discipleship with Jesus!