Friday of the 17th week in ordinary time year A

Lev. 23:1.4-11.15-16.27.34b-37 Mat. 13:54-58

Theme: Perseverance in faith

Today the church celebrates the memorial of St. John Mary Vianney a priest. Going through his journey as a catholic and eventually to the priesthood, one thing that was very clear was his desire to follow God closely. This stems from the fact that he went through his preparation to receive the sacraments in secrecy. It was at a time when the church was going through difficult times because of the French revolution.

He did not allow all these difficulties and challenges to make him lose sight of his desire to serve God. He remained persistent in faith and was later ordained a Catholic priest. His feast day used to be celebrated on the 9th of August but was later shifted to the 4th of August. As a priest, he was popularly known as a great confessor and people traveled long distance to him for confession. It is also believed that people receive healing when they go to him for confession. He is the patron saint of parish priests.

The persistence of St. John Mary Vianney is a great challenge to all of us as Christians in our own time. He did not allow the difficulties on his way to discourage him or make him lose focus from his initial plan to serve God. In the same way we are all encouraged today to remain focused in our quest to serve and worship God, amidst the difficulties and challenges that we encounter on our way. An example that readily comes to mind right now is when some of us fail to come to mass because there were showers of rain. While some others will make effort and attend mass. We are all encouraged today to emulate the saint we celebrate today at such moments in our life.

The experience of Jesus amongst his people in today’s gospel, shows how our human bias and sometimes familiarity can act as a barrier between us and the blessings of God. One thing we must always be conscious of is the fact that God chooses whoever he like as an instrument to the glory of his name. Never use your knowledge of an individual to rate the work of God that he or she is doing, you may get it wrong. Remember that we are talking about the God who chooses the weak to shame the strong; his ways are different from our human ways. May the Lord bless his words in our hearts in the name of the father and of the son and of the holy spirit. Amen. Peace be with you.

Memorial of St. John Mary Vianney, priest, by Fr. Jude Ifeanyi Ifezime, C.S.Sp