On June 19, the feast of the Sacred Heart, a year began in honor of the priest, inaugerated by Pope Benedict XVI. In his letter to the priest, explaining the purpose of the holy year, the pope used as a model Saint John Vianney, whose memorial we celebrate today.
St. John was born in France in 1786 and ordained in 1815. Shortly after becoming a priest he was appointed to the parish of a little village where religious devotion was at an all time low. Through the example of their priest however the people slowly came around and began to find in their church a new relevance for their lives. It is this example of inspiration and witness in the everydaylife of a pastor that Pope Benedict hopes today’s priest will find in Vianney.
Of course the true source of inspiration for us all is the example of Christ who leads us on regardless of our vocation in the Church. While holy priests are desirable for the life of the Church all Christians by virtue of their baptism are called to be Priest, Prophet and King. In todays gospel we find Jesus, having just fed 5000 people, now bring peace of heart to his disciples in the midst of a storm. He saves Peter from drowing by taking his hand, all who are sick and infirmed are brought to him for healing and perhaps the most important words that he has to say to any of us are, “Be not afraid”.
We might be inclined in the face of such deeds to respond with doubt about our own ability to make such a difference in people’s lives, but that would be selling ourselves short. Like Peter, who suffered from, “little faith” and quickly sank beneath the waves, we need only take the hand of Christ and we will be helped in all tat we choose to do for the sake of the kingdom.
For some this will take place in small everyday tasks, a lifetime of which will amount to a holy life that will have made enormous impact in the lives of the thousands of people that have been affected along the way. Others may be called to more heroic action in the places of the world where those who bring the Gospel are still being persecuted, even martyred. While these two courses may seem radically different ultimately they amount to the same outcome as God’s presence is made known to the world.
St. John Vianney was not particularily notable for any one thing that he did. Simply by being faithful, by being constant in his care for the people, by dedicating all that he did to the honor of God did he made inroads in the lives of the people that he met. It is this example that should continue to inspire us all to discover our own path of holiness.
Who are the example of holiness in your life?
What is your path of holiness leading you to do today?