Feast of Saint Gabriel Possenti, C.P.
“Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, you are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me. At that statement, the young man’s face fell and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.”
Lately I have been using my cell phone navigator to get around. It’s okay, with the exception that it constantly seems to be recalculating my route. Sometimes I just want to put my hands around its skinny little cyber neck and throw it to the bottom of the nearest river! Recalculating can be a challenging experience. Yet in today’s Gospel, Jesus is asking a young man to recalculate his life for the sake of the kingdom.
Saint Gabriel, a member of our Passionist family, whose feast we celebrate today, also was asked to recalculate the direction of his own life. As a young man, he gave up a very promising and profitable future to follow Jesus as a Passionist. Then, while studying to be a Passionist, he caught tuberculosis. He joined his own sufferings with the sufferings of Jesus and his mother Mary. Even before he died at 24, he was known for his sanctity, his smile, and his unfailing love of Jesus Crucified. Gabriel had to recalculate his life path and he handled it well!
Some of us live lives with frequent recalculations. Some of these recalculations are voluntary and some seem forced upon us. People die, get sick, lose relationships, experience poverty, and make both wise and unwise choices. People sometimes make commitments they can’t keep and commitments they shouldn’t have made in the first place. Some people like Gabriel, choose wisely and follow their hearts in the direction they feel called. Recalculations are a part of life, both welcome and unwelcome.
As I reflect on the life of Saint Gabriel, I think about my own recalculations. They are very human, steeped in emotions, full of change and sometimes even mystery. St. Gabriel was able to recalculate by keeping the end in mind. As he made his choices he kept his focus on Jesus Crucified and his mother Mary. As we celebrate this feast, a comfort to every member of our Passionist family, let us pray with joy the prayer of Passionist students and youth.
“Thanks for your help and example, St. Gabriel. With Mary at our side, with Christ Crucified as a shining light to guide us, we will walk the road of love for God and come at last to our heavenly home. Amen.” (Taken from “Prayers – Passionist Seminarian”)
Terry McDevitt, Ph.D. is a member of the Passionist Family in Louisville, Kentucky.