When God is fashioning sanctity in us, he uses the work of all those around us.
Pope Francis offered a reflection about the community nature of saint-making this June 3, when he met pilgrims from Concesio and Sotto Il Monte, the communities of origin of two pope-saints: John XXIII and Paul VI.
Pope Francis noted how the “People of God are very fond” of these two of his predecessors. “And it is significant that this [pilgrimage] is happening on the occasion of three important anniversaries for all the Church: the 60th anniversary of the Encyclical Pacem in terris, of the birth to heaven of Pope John, and the election of Pope Montini.”
Pope Francis considered how these two saints grew and found holiness in the midst of their fellow citizens, and their families.
This led him to a reflection on God’s ways in building holiness in the faithful:
Brothers and sisters, let me tell you something: God does not make saints in a workshop, no, he builds them in large building sites, where the work of all, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, contributes to digging deep, to laying a solid foundation and to building it, taking every care so that it grows in an orderly and perfect manner, with Christ as the cornerstone (cf. Eph 2:21-22). This is the air that Angelo and Giovanni Battista breathed in Sotto il Monte and in Concesio from their childhood, with all the good that came from it: what they gave and received!
Let us give thanks to the Lord that he gave them, in your towns, a land that is fertile and rich in holiness in which to set down their roots and grow, and because he made you too, as he did your parents, your grandparents, and the many who lived, loved, worked, sowed and harvested, rejoiced and cried in your towns and in your countryside before you, a good and generous soil in which small seeds of goodness can germinate and grow for the future.
The Pope then cited a favorite verse, from St. Paul, in regard to Timothy:
“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and now, I am sure, dwells in you” (2 Tm 1:5). Saint Timothy too was a great pastor, and he too learned in the school of life of his grandmother and his mother, in a family and in a community.
Always cherish your roots. I want to repeat this: always cherish your roots, not so much to turn them into a badge of honour or a bulwark to be defended, but rather as a wealth to be shared. […]
To love your roots is therefore for you to love the Gospel of Jesus and to love as Jesus loved in the Gospel! This is what your history as a land and as a Church teaches you. And from your roots comes the sap to move forward, to grow, and also to give your children and grandchildren a history and a meaning in life. Love your roots, do not detach the tree from its roots: it will not bear fruit. Always try to progress in harmony with your roots, in tune with your roots.
See the rest of his reflection here.