No matter what your belief is, whether or not you support religion, once you get to know their achievements, you will admit that that John XXIII and JPII deserve to be recognized as saints today. Who would not acknowledge that the world and the church are better off today because JPII and john XXIII were part of it? They opened up a real avenue of communication for the world and the gospel to converse. They believed that the Gospel lives in conversation with culture. They knew that if the Church holds back from the culture, the Gospel itself would be silent. Man would not be saved consequently. As a result, John calls the second Vatican council to tell the world that the church is theirs and they are the church. John opened the door of the church to the media and nations so they can understand that God and religion are not just “the sigh of an oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, the soul of soulless conditions, or the opium of the people”. The church accompanies people even in the most unspeakable situation, and explains to man their nature and destiny— they are pilgrims on their way to the Father. He quickly was effaced from the scene to make place for JPII to interpret Vatican II.
JPII is well known by my generation because he came to us. He is the man that young people like me fell in love with because he spoke to our hearts. He challenged us to aim for truth, greatness, and happiness. We found ourselves in his words because he challenged us to touch the palpable love of Christ, to acknowledge His voice resounding in the temple of our hearts, to return His bright and penetrating glance, to not be satisfied with mediocrity, to make a masterpiece of ourselves, to have no fear of jumping into the unknown and discover, to know the truth about ourselves, our end, our destiny, and to show faithful souls the unspeakable riches of the love of Christ. He inspired us to not be afraid of the radicalness of Christ’s demands because He loved us first.
This was the man who appealed to men and women to embrace their dignity, greatness, and destiny. Through him, we know that a person’s rightful due is to be treated as an object of love, never as an object for use. He helped men and women of my time to understand that true relationship is built on sacrifices and self-denial. He beautifully argued time and again that we flourish best when we rely on others, especially on God. We discover by his words that the human person is most flourishing when he or she is in a relationship with others. He boldly said that it is in a woman that a man finds his identify. It is in his mate that he discovers that he is meant to live in a relationship. Man realizes that his relationship flourishes when he is living in a communion of persons. It is when he gives himself as a total, selfless, free, and reciprocal gift that transcends his very being that he finds happiness. He then inspired to rise ourselves to that beauty. No one before JPII was more outspoken about who man and woman are and how they need to treat each other.
This is a man who did not hesitate one bit to say to scientists, when they thought that faith and science could not cohabite, that they are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth because they are concerned about the same fundamental questions that dominate man’s mind in their journey of discovery: Who am I? Where have I come from and where am I going? Why is there evil? What is there after this life? Simultaneously, he was not afraid to tell them that the truth made known to us by Revelation is neither the product of scientific research nor the consummation of an argument devised by human reason. It is a gratuitous gift revealed by Christ. So science can never fathom the depth of that mystery.
Any person who encourages man to reach for the star in such an outstanding way and strives to do the same deserves to be called a saint. That’s what the church understands in declaring them a saint today. You may argue their motives. You may disagree with their method of achievement. You may dislike them as persons. You cannot argue the truth they proclaim: through Jesus Christ, man is the crown of creation whose goal is to become like his God. You may not be capable of living that truth, but I know you wish you could and many of you are striving for that. May Saints John XXIII and John Paul II pray for us to strive and reach the height of heaven.