I grew up as a young man and half of my priesthood during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II. I had the privilege of serving mass with him during his 1987 visit to Los Angeles. I met him in 1994 on pilgrimage to Rome. I surprised my mother during the Holy Year of 2000 with a private audience in his personal library. And, when I lived in Rome during his last months of life in 2005, I would have the opportunity to see and hear him in his declining health. Above all, I journeyed with him as a vibrant leader of youth, prolific and challenging statements of faith in his writings, youthful spirit, healing presence, and elderly statesman suffering in the prison of his earthly body awaiting his Christ to come and call him home.
Tonight, I will confirm our young people in their journey of faith. What an honor it will be for me to celebrate mass in honor of this great Holy Father who has exemplified holiness in his youth and in his final days. Our scriptures remind us in the words of Christ, “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing.”
As I remind our young folks of the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives, we see the world on fire with hatred and violence, pandemic and disease, division and disunity. May our prayers today be that Saint John Paul II intercede as one who experienced death and division as a young man for us who need the power of the Spirit of God to bring healing to the broken hearts and lives in our time.
The journey continues…Come, Holy Spirit!