Today is the feast day of St. John XXIII. For us in the Diocese of Baton Rouge he is a important figure for a couple of reasons. First and most well known he called Vatican II, but for us in Baton Rouge he also founded our diocese in the early 60s. When he was elected he was 77 years old so it was expected that he wouldn’t do anything significant, just live out his remaining years as Pope and not do much. But he didn’t live up to his word, in 1959 a year after he was elected Pope at the end of the week for Christian unity, he told some of the Cardinals before mass that he would call a new ecumenical council that would become known as Vatican II. Vatican I was never closed and some Pope’s before John XXIII tried to call recall it and finish the work they started. But two world wars prevented that from happening. Even though many wanted Vatican I to be finished and some even wanted to scrap it and start over, John XXIII was the last one anyone thought would call an ecumenical council. What is more amazing is that outside of his closest friend in the Vatican no-one knew he was going to call a council before he made that announcement in 1959. Our Church is significantly different thanks to John XXIII.
In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus famous our father, but it is Luke’s version. I point you to two petitions, one of which is in Luke’s version, but thy kingdom come, thy will be done. God can do surprising things in our lives or call us to something that is unexpected. God wants us to have an open ear and an open heart so that no matter what he calls us to we may respond out of freedom and great joy.
Not all parts of the Church responded free and joyfully to John XXIII decision to recall the council, and some of us may not like what Vatican II changed. Following the words of Jesus prayer to the father, may we always respond freely and joyfully to what God calls us to, including what he calls us to through his kingdom on earthy the Catholic Church!
John XXIII pray for us!