Saint Pope Saint John xxiii
Born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli at Sotto il Monte, Italy on 25 November 1881, Pope John XXIII was elected Pope on October 28, 1958. He died June 3, 1963 in Rome and was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 3, 2000.
Angelo was the fourth child of 14, born to pious parents. His religious education was entrusted to his godfather, who instilled in him a deep love and admiration of the mystery of God.
He entered the minor seminary in 1892 at the age of 11, became a Secular Francsican in 1896 and in 1901 he entered the Pontifical Roman Seminary. On being ordained in 1904, he was appointed secretary to the bishop of Bergamo and taught in the seminary.
His great friends among the saints during this formative period were St. Charles Borromeo and St. Francis de Sales, two outstanding intellectuals and also formidable pastors.
He served as a military chaplain during the First World War, served as spiritual director of a seminary, and in 1921 served as the Italian president of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.
In 1925 Pius XI made him a bishop and sent him to Bulgaria as the Apostolic Visitator. For his Episcopal motto he chose Oboedientia et Pax. In 1935 he was assigned to Turkey and Greece where he ministered to the Catholic population and engaged in dialogue with Orthodox Christianity and with Islam.
During the Second World War he used his diplomatic means to save as many Jews as he could by obtaining safe passage for them.
He was created cardinal and Patriarch of Venice in 1953 and was a much loved pastor, dedicating himself completely to the well being of his flock.
Elected Pope on the death of Pope Pius XII, he was an example of a ‘pastoral’ Pope, a good shepherd who cared deeply for his sheep. He manifested this concern in his social enyclicals, especially Pacem in Terris, “On peace in the World.”
His greatest act as Pope however was undoubtedly the inspiration to convoke the Second Vatican Council, which he opened on October 11, 1962.
Pope John’s spirit of humble simplicity, profound goodness, and deep life of prayer radiated in all that he did, and inspired people to affectionately call him “Good Pope John.”
He was canonized by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square on April 27, 2014, alongside the man who beatified him, Pope St. John Paul II.
REFLECTION FOR THE DAY
For Matthew the kingdom of God – the relationship between God and humanity – is clearly fulfilled in Jesus the Christ. Traditional aspects of feasting, of gathering in community to celebrate the intimate life-giving relationship of marriage, are allusions to oneness with Christ through the Eucharist. However, other aspects of today’s Gospel parable are shocking. Some invitees are uninterested, others obnoxious. The host responds with harshness, intolerance, dismissing those who refuse the invitation as unworthy and banishing one who arrives unprepared to perpetual suffering. How are we to understand these images in relation to the kingdom of God? It is helpful to remember that the tellers of our sacred stories bring something of themselves into their narratives. Written at least 50 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, Matthew’s Gospel has a single focus. Its author speaks passionately of Jesus as the anticipated Messiah. Frustrated with those who disagree, perhaps Matthew uses the chilling image of isolation in darkness to shock his contemporaries into rethinking their unbelief. In Matthew’s Gospel, all are called to choose the peace and fulfillment of the kingdom of God. In doing so, all commit to celebrate Christ’s transformative love through their relationships with God, self and community.