Feast of Saint Charles Borromeo
Today’s Gospel selection includes Jesus’ parable of a generous man giving a great dinner, inviting many – and yet "one by one, they all began to excuse themselves." The excuses offered for not participating in the festive dinner were varied, and perhaps even ridiculous; those first invited were replaced by others from the streets at and alleys – the poor, the crippled, the blind, the lame, folks from the highways and hedgerows. The message? God freely offers us the gift of faith in Jesus and Life eternal; we are free to accept or reject that invitation…with far-reaching, long-term consequences!
Saint Paul writes the Philippians and summarizes the heart of our faith in Jesus: He came in human likeness, served humanity and humbled himself even to his sacrificial death on the cross. We believers are privileged to "bend our knee" at the name of Jesus, and confess aloud that Jesus Christ is Lord. This dynamic faith calls for courage as we share in the Cross of Jesus – a courage nurtured in personally meditating upon the cross of Jesus as did St. Paul of the Cross, Founder of the Passionists.
The invitation to faith and a life of service was shared with St. Charles Borromeo — a zealous man of the 16th Century Church, credited for helping reform the Church in a variety of ways.
As a bishop and Cardinal, Charles was one to encourage the intellectual and moral growth of clergy and religious, especially in forming new seminaries. He also helped author the catechism that was called for during the Council of Trent and started the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) for children’s growth in their faith. He held many special meetings in his home diocese of Milan, seeking to incorporate the message and teachings of the Council of Trent. In all this, he reached out to the poor and needy of his day, sacrificing wealth, honor and influence to serve them – even in the challenges of the plagues and famines of his day, ministering to the sick, the hungry, and the dying. Truly a zealous man during his relatively short 46 years of life!
We are personally invited by Jesus to the table of the Eucharist and lives of service. It’s up to each of us to accept this invitation as women and men of faith – and to generously live our vocations as true disciples and faithful citizens of the world. With God’s help, we can bypass excuses and respond with a lived, resounding "yes!" as did Charles Borromeo and countless others we recently celebrated in the feast of All Saints. With St. Paul, we lovingly proclaim: "Jesus is Lord!"
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is the local leader of the Passionist community in Louisville, Kentucky.