Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Memorial of Saint John Vianney, priest

(Jeremiah 31:1-7; Matthew 15:21-28)

When finishing the annual Passover meal, Jews say together, “Next year in Jerusalem.” Probably even Jews living in Jerusalem express this hope. For Jews Jerusalem is not so much a place as it is a state of mind. It is shalom, peace, under God’s protection. It is the heavenly state.

Jeremiah’s prophecy in the first reading promises that the Jews will return to their land which certainly includes Jerusalem. In the desert, as the city of Babylon must have appeared to them, they would be liberated from their sins. Then the Lord will look after their safe return. Christians take a broader view of the prophecy. For us liberation comes through Christ’s death and resurrection which does not put us in Jerusalem so much as puts Jerusalem in each of us. This takes place by Christ imparting his Spirit to us so that we might live intimately with him.

Today the Church remembers a man who lived a rather ordinary life in a truly remarkable way. St. John Vianney was a parish priest in the French village of Ars. Yet he dedicated himself to the Lord in every respect and became known for wisdom as well as piety. People came from all over the country seeking his solace. It was as if all the glory of Jerusalem beamed in his soul.

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