Today we honor the life of the one remembered as “Good” Pope John, now called “Saint John XXIII.” Pope Francis made official in April of 2014 what Christians (and others) around the world knew for decades. Most vivid in my memory were the videos of the day in October of 1963 when the Second Vatican Council was inaugurated. Carried in procession in the midst of throngs of Catholics and others from the worldwide gathering, Pope John oozed humility and love. His head slightly bowed as he waved to those gathered, tears were in his eyes at the momentous beginning of what was to be a Council that rocked the world and changed the trajectory of the Roman Catholic Church for good.
Less than a year from that day, John XXIII died, leaving a final message of hope, not only for his beloved Church, but for the entire world. We would do well to reflect on it today and re-energize our efforts toward his vision.
Now more than ever, he said, certainly more than in past centuries, our intention is to serve people as such and not only Catholics.; to defend above all and everywhere the rights of the human person…It is not the Gospel that changes; it is we who begin to understand it better...The moment has arrived when we must recognize the signs of the times, seize the opportunity and look abroad. (June 3, 1963)