Memorial of St. John Vianney
Discipleship, Hope, and Healing
…St. John Marie Vianney…
Today the Church calls us to a deeper sense of discipleship as we meet the serious challenges of today’s health and social pandemics. The prophet Jeremiah, Jesus, and St. John Vianney team up to bolster our sense of discipleship.
The Scripture readings are dramatic. Jeremiah is sent to witness hope to the people of Israel who had betrayed their faith and now faced serious military opposition; God reminds them “…you shall be my people, and I will be your God.” We see Jesus preaching to multitudes in today’s selection from Matthew’s Gospel; He sends His disciples to the next ministry location as He pauses for prayer; while they boated there a fierce storm repeatedly rocked their boat – they were afraid! Jesus comes towards them walking on the stormy waters; Peter tries to walk towards Jesus, but his lack of faith causes him to sink…and Jesus to snatch him from the water! The result: the disciples’ faith was strengthened, and Jesus continues to teach and heal.
We are called to a deeper faith. We are to witness God’s healing love by our lives – in all our humanness. Such was the case with the 19th Century saint we celebrate today: St. John Vianney. A simple parish priest, he served God’s people in Ars, France. Flowing from his intense spiritual life based on prayer and mortification, John Vianney regularly spent long hours sharing God’s love in the Sacrament of Reconciliation…ministering to thousands of penitents who at times travelled great distances to share a few moments celebrating God’s mercy, forgiveness and love in the Sacrament. God used John Vianney to prophetically witness to the transforming power of God’s love for people who need healing and hope. In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI named him patron of priests and parish clergy worldwide…yes!
We are called to discipleship in a world in need of healing and hope on many levels. We may not have the personal gifts of Jeremiah or John Vianney – yet as women and men of faith we are invited to make the most of our strengths and weaknesses. A listening ear, a gentle smile (even from behind our facemasks!), a kind thought, a simple prayer, an encouraging word or deed of affirmation or forgiveness: there is no limit to the hope and healing God can share through you and I. May we and our world experience divine hope, healing, and love!
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is the Vocation Director for Holy Cross Province. He lives at St. Vincent Strambi Community in Chicago, Illinois.