Homilette for Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Memorial of St. John Mary Vianney, priest

(Numbers 12:1-13; Matthew 14:22-36)

In this year dedicated by Pope Benedict XVI to priests it is fortuitous that the first reading on the feast of St. John Mary Vianney, the patron of parish priests, concerns the priest Aaron. Of course, Aaron and his sister Miriam hardly display exemplary behavior as they criticize their brother Moses for marrying a non-Israelite and attempt to usurp the prophet’s authority. The Lord, however, indicates to the disgruntled pair that as distinguished a place as priests have in the hierarchy of God’s holy people, their office and their wisdom are not necessarily of the highest grade. Rather they too have to listen to what the Lord himself speaks through the voice of His prophet.

The pretension of Aaron in the reading today could never be attributed to St. John Vianney. He lived a life quite to the contrary. As a priest he served simple people in a humble way but with a consistency and a purity that drew the attention of thousands of people who lived around him. He remains a model not just for priests but for everyone on the road to salvation. Realizing that grace abounds in a world that often seems hopelessly corrupt, John Mary Vianney stuck to the path of goodness and peace that brings us true happiness.