Feast of St. John Vianney
Remembering, Celebrating, and Proclaiming…
Today’s Scripture readings and the feast of St. John Vianney challenge us to remember the “roots” of our faith, to celebrate God’s unconditional love for us, and then to use our talents – and even our limitations – to spread the Good News of God’s love…in the person of Jesus. Definitely, God loves us!
The reading from Leviticus summarizes the liturgical year for the Israelites, helping them remember the great events of their history whereby God saved them and established them as his own people. Sacred assemblies, consuming unleavened bread, refraining from work, making sacrifices and acts of mortification: these various dimensions of their religious life were to be celebrated to help keep vital their relationship with God who loves and saves them…and ourselves, centuries later!
The selection from Matthew’s Gospel recalls Jesus’ rejection by the people of his home town. A wise and powerful Man, a convincing Speaker…but where did He get these gifts? Jesus, the son of Joseph the carpenter and Mary? His message is one of repentance which challenges the hearts of his listeners of times past and present. Deep faith is required to accept Him, faith rooted in God’s working throughout all of history – even from the earliest of times.
And today we celebrate the life of a 19th century disciple of Jesus, St. John Vianney. A simple man with a humble background and a simple theology, his zeal to spread God’s love helped build up the Church in his day. He is especially known for his generous ministry of proclaiming God’s love through the Sacrament of Reconciliation at his parish in Ars, France — regularly spending hours sharing the Sacrament of Reconciliation with the thousands of penitents who traveled great distances for a few graced moments with him. His loving priestly ministry flowed from his intense spiritual life based on both prayer and mortification, leading him to being named “patron of priests” by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009.
Let’s remember God’s love for us and celebrate our relationship with God and with one another as members of the Church – thus proclaiming God’s love in our vocations as married, single, or priestly/religious persons. Moses, Jesus, and St. John Vianney challenge us to be zealous in living and sharing our faith. Do we make the effort for special times of faith renewal and celebration (e.g., a retreat)? Do we seek and offer forgiveness for the sinfulness we experience in ourselves or others? Moses, Jesus, and St. John Vianney encourage 21st Century disciples to sincerely pray the words of today’s response-Psalm 81: “Sing with joy to God our help!” May our lives say “Amen!”
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is a member of the Passionist community in Chicago, Illinois.