Feast of St. John Mary Vianney
Foibles and Fear — Faith and Forgiveness
St. John Mary Vianney, today’s celebrated saint, was known for his generous ministry of the Sacrament of Reconciliation…many sought God’s forgiveness and encouragement through the pastoral care of the Cure of Ars! Now, years later, our own sharing in the Sacrament of Reconciliation invites us to acknowledge our failures, overcome our fears, and faithfully seek God’s forgiveness and love.
Our readings highlight God’s continued outreach to us in our foibles and fears. In the Book of Numbers, Aaron and Miriam mistakenly grumbled to God about Moses’ personal conduct; realizing the gravity of their mistake, Moses interceded for them and asked God to remove the leprosy which had afflicted Miriam. The words of Psalm 51 are an inspired plea for God’s mercy, prayed by all sorts of saints and sinners. Today’s Gospel selection from Matthew highlights Peter’s lack of faith as he tried to cross the choppy waters of the lake, and Jesus’ literal reaching out to him to save him from drowning. In these scripture selections, "human nature" tried to get in the way of God’s loving plan for people – and yet nothing can hinder God’s fidelity and unconditional love for us.
God invites us to benefit from regular, in-depth reflection on our personal spiritual lives. Are we growing? Has personal sinfulness clouded our view of people and our world? Is our faith strong enough to carry us over troubled waters? Are we humble enough to reach out for the help that God offers us in so many ways, especially through the Sacraments? Such questions and reflection are at the heart of our Passionist retreats, parish missions, and other ministries.
And, "Cheerleaders" abound for us in living the Christian life — Moses, Miriam, Aaron, Peter, John Mary Vianney, Paul of the Cross … to name just a few! Their lives witness that our foibles and fears are divinely outmatched by God’s forgiveness and love, if we faithfully open our hearts to Jesus Crucified. Indeed He awaits us with outstretched arms, a loving smile, and a warm embrace.
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is the local leader of the Passionist community in Louisville, Kentucky.