What a joyous occasion we are celebrating today, together as one people throughout the world. It is Divine Mercy Sunday and Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II are also being canonized today. Catholics throughout the world will be watching the canonization mass, listening to it on the radio, or reading about it on the internet. Our mind and hearts are on this celebration today. It is a very exciting day in our church, a day that will make history, when two popes are canonized on the same day.
Where could we even begin to think about the readings for mass today? Each of the readings are so rich in meaning, beauty and Spirit, that it is hard to choose which one to focus on first. The first few verses in today’s first reading for mass seem to describe our two newly canonized popes’ lives though:
“They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.”
Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II both spent their lives studying the teachings handed down to them from the apostles, to the communal life with the entire church, and to the consecration and sharing of the Eucharist at mass with all of us, and to many hours of public and private prayer as well. What an excellent gift of their lives! What did they really do for themselves? All the personal pleasures of life they could have had, but didn’t, because they loved Jesus Christ more than anything else in life. They beautifully lived out the words of the second reading for mass too:
“Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II not only attained their own salvation, but only the Lord Jesus knows how many other people’s eternal salvation they are responsible for as well. What an honor it will be to meet them in heaven one day and say, “Thank you”. They lived their lives in imitation of Christ’s own life, by seeking the salvation of mankind, individually and collectively. The magnitude of what they have done for all of us can only be fully known in heaven, but today, we celebrate a small piece of heaven on earth.
Another thing that is unique about the gospel today, a small thing to notice, really…is that Jesus appeared twice in today’s gospel. We have two popes who are being canonized today as well. Jesus appeared twice in modern times, through their hands, and feet and hearts. They were beautiful instruments of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have seen the face of Christ reflected most lovingly, in their faces.
Both of our former popes most certainly said the words, “Peace be with you,” many times during their life. And, they received the Holy Spirit, and had the power given to them directly from Christ himself to forgive or retain sins. What a serious responsibility they were given, and yet, with what love they carried out this responsibility in their lives.
The gospel said that, “Jesus came and stood in their midst”. Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II were both real human beings that stood “in persona of Christ” for all of us. Saint Thomas had to touch Christ’s flesh and blood body in order to believe he was really risen from the dead, but not our two former popes. They both fulfilled Christ’s words in today’s gospel, most beautifully:
“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II are saints now, because of how they interpreted, and lived out the scriptures in their lives. They set an awesome example for all of us, to follow in their footsteps, the footsteps of Christ himself.
Daily Mass Readings:
Acts 2: 42-47 / Psalm 118: 2-4, 23-15, 22-24 / 1 Peter 1: 3-9 / John 20: 19-31