Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII

Two popes

This Divine Mercy Sunday, the Church will be canonizing two former popes who spent their papacy trying to lead the Church here on earth, expanding and enriching it, while both proclaiming and living the Gospel.

Pope John XXIII, although only a pope for 5 years, was a courageous man who led the Catholic Church through a time of reform in the Second Vatican Council. He had a self-deprecating sense of humor and once a nun who worked in the papal apartment commented on his tired appearance, saying “I am worried about Your Holiness.” He responded saying, “I, too, am worried about my holiness.” He was a man dedicated to serving the people through his priestly ministry and chose as his papal motto, “Obedience and peace.”

Pope John Paul II is more widely known because he was more of a worldwide missionary and also because he papacy stretched through four decades. The world watched him from his youthful exuberance to his graceful suffering of infirmity. His mission of evangelization and his approachability attracted the world to him. His papal motto was “Totally yours” and he committed his life to belonging more and more to God.

Both men admit to their faults – Pope John XXIII had a good appetite and struggled with his weight and Pope John Paul II was often too quick to react. This just made them both more relatable and human rather than elevated to a holiness that could rarely be attained.  And both spent their lives serving the people and the Church, evangelizing and proclaiming the Gospel throughout their papacies. What joy that we will be celebrating their canonization on Divine Mercy Sunday!



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