Today we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, a name given this first Sunday after Easter by Pope John Paul II. Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII were canonized as saints 6 years ago. I always admired St. John Paul II for his spirituality, love of the youth and devotion to the Church. He was able to rise above difficult times, being instructed for priesthood in secrecy after the Nazis invaded Poland and rising in status before God and the world. What a man! What a witness! He fully embraced his motto “Totally Yours” and encouraged each of us to become totally God’s as well.
St. John XXIII surprised the Church, when at age 76 and newly elected Pope he convened the Second Vatican Council. St. John XXIII said: “The council now beginning rises in the Church like the daybreak, a forerunner of most splendid light.” How the Church has grown since Vatican II, allowing the faithful to participate in greater ministry in the Church, opening doors of communication and welcome to those of other faiths, and calling all believers to holiness of life.
How appropriate it was to canonize these modern popes and “world changers” on this Sunday after Easter. In the eyes of the Church, Easter day ends today. These past days since Easter are a continuation of the one day of resurrection. It’s so important it lasts for eight days (Easter octave) with its conclusion today. As we celebrate this Easter event and the new life we received through Jesus, we likewise receive new life from these two great men. May their canonizations remind us to be entirely committed to the God who suffered and died for us. May we ask them to pray for us during these challenging and fearful days, as they were quite courageous in how they lived their faith. And may we hear the call of Jesus to be His disciples, and join St. John Paul II on this Divine Mercy Sunday and say to God, I am Totally Yours. Peace.