“John XXIII and John Paul II cooperated with the Holy Spirit in renewing and updating the Church in keeping with her pristine features, those features which the saints have given her throughout the centuries. Let us not forget that it is the saints who give direction and growth to the Church.” Pope Francis pronounced these words in his homily for today’s canonization mass.
Whoever was expecting today’s event to be an exaltation of the historic role held by the two Popes who were raised to the altars this morning, will have been disappointed. Francis linked their testimony – and therefore also the reasons for the double canonization – to the essence of the Christian life led by these two witnesses of the faith who “were not ashamed of the flesh of Christ, they were not scandalised by him, by his cross; they did not despise the flesh of their brother, because they saw Jesus in every person who suffers and struggles. These were two men of courage, filled with the parrhesia of the Holy Spirit, and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy.”
God’s goodness, mercy, forgiveness and closeness. This is the lesson Francis took from his predecessors. It is the image of a Church that is light years away from any schemes of cultural hegemony, strategies to obtain certain positions, attempts to reaffirm identities, mythical visions of Popes ending wars or breaking down walls and that sense of an increasingly self-referential nostalgia felt by those who have put faith in a cage, squashing it into a rigid “law and order” framework.”
This is the image of a community, which “lives the heart of the Gospel, love and mercy, in simplicity and fraternity.” This is what the Pope from the other side of the world is leaning towards and trying to show and promote as a perspective to be adopted at the upcoming Synods on the family.