Memorial of St. John Vianney, patron of priests & parish clergy
Remembering, Celebrating, and Proclaiming…
Today’s Scripture readings and the August 4th feast of St. John Vianney challenge us to remember the “roots” of our faith, to celebrate God’s unconditional love for us — and then use our gifts and shortcomings to spread the Saving News of God’s love in the person of Jesus.
The lengthy reading from Leviticus summarizes the Israelite liturgical year, helping them remember the great events of their history whereby God saved them from harm and made them His own. They were to celebrate Sacred assemblies, consume unleavened bread, refrain from work, make sacrifices and other mortifications: to help give vitality to their relationship with God who loves and saves them. The same is true for us, centuries later!
The selection from Matthew’s Gospel recalls Jesus’ rejection by his hometown folks. They saw Him a wise and powerful Man, a convincing Speaker…but where did He get these gifts? He’s Jesus, the son of Joseph the carpenter and Mary… His message is “repentance” and God’s Kingdom…challenging the hearts of His listeners then and now. Deep faith is required to accept Him and His message– faith rooted in God’s working throughout all of history, even from earliest times.
Today we celebrate the holy life of a 19th century disciple of Jesus, St. John Vianney. A simple man with a humble background, a simple theology; his zeal in spreading God’s love helped build the Church of his day. He is especially known for his selfless ministry of celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation at his parish in Ars, France. He regularly spent long hours sharing the Sacrament of Reconciliation with thousands of penitents who at times 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 in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI as the “patron of priests” and parish clergy.
God indeed loves each of us and invites us to proclaim that love in our vocations as married, single, or priestly/religious persons. Today, Moses, Jesus, and St. John Vianney challenge us to be zealous in living our vocations and sharing our faith. Do we give ourselves special times of faith renewal and celebration (e.g., a holy hour, a retreat)? Do we seek and offer forgiveness for the sinfulness we experience in ourselves or others? Certainly Moses, Jesus, and St. John Vianney would have us 21st Century disciples humbly pray the words of today’s response-Psalm 81: “Sing with joy to God our help!” May our lives proclaim our “Amen!”
Fr. John Schork, C.P. serves as the Province Vocation Director and also as Local Superior of the Passionist Community of Holy Name in Houston, Texas.