Bishop Paul Sirba
St. Peter’s Square was filled to overflowing. Rome welcomed millions, including pilgrims from the Diocese of Duluth, Fathers Tony Wroblewski, Richard Kunst, Eric Hastings, Gabriel Waweru and Ryan Moravitz. Possibly billions watched at least part of the ceremony via the media.
To think we are joined together in the Communion of Saints with our brothers and sisters here on earth, the souls in purgatory, and the saints in heaven this past Divine Mercy Sunday, giving praise and thanks to Almighty God for two new heroic witnesses to holiness is amazing.
It is a dim vision of what the eternal banquet in heaven will be like. That Pope Francis canonized two men who actually lived in our lifetime is historic and extremely exciting.
St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II were very different men with different personalities, coming from distinct cultures and manifesting different charisms. Both of them were called to be pope. They shared a love of God, a love of neighbor and the Second Vatican Council. St. John XXIII convened the council, and St. John Paul II, who shared his enthusiasm about the council, implemented it
When Pope Francis canonized the two new saints, he continued to focus on the Joy of the Gospel and the New Evangelization which their pontificates set in motion.
I know we have heard about the New Evangelization, but the canonization of these great saints provides the perfect opportunity of restating what it is. The first evangelization or proclamation of the Good News flows into the New Evangelization, “The heart of the message will always be the same: the God who revealed his immense love in the crucified and risen Christ.” (EG, 11).
In every age, a new group of followers of Jesus Christ share the Good News about their encounter with the Risen Lord. In essence, we are the new Mary Magdalenes, or the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, the modern version of the women bearing spices, or the 72.
We join St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II and every other figure who shared the Good News of Our Lord’s Resurrection over the millennia of the church’s history.
The New Evangelization calls for the personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized. Pope Francis writes, “Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love. Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are ‘disciples’ and ‘missionaries,’ but rather that we are always ‘missionary disciples’” (EG, 120; see EG, 8).
I am anxious to hear firsthand accounts from our priests who were present at the canonization of what the experience was like.
I ask all of you to discern with me how we are going to respond to Pope Francis’ invitation to share the joy of the Gospel.
He is rightly insistent in the truth that we are infinitely loved, that the Lord’s mercies never come to an end, that they are new every morning and that the “joy of the Gospel is such that it cannot be taken away from us by anyone or anything” is the message our world needs to hear (EG, 84; cf. John 16:22). We are the ones called to share the joy of the encounter and win souls to Jesus Christ by attraction.