Thursday, August 4, 2016

Memorial of Saint John Vianney, priest

(Jeremiah 31:31-34; Mathew 16: 13-23)

The law, of which Jeremiah speaks in the first reading, has been associated with the grace of the Holy Spirit.  Because it is written on the heart, it becomes as natural to practice as walking to the kitchen.  Christians gain access to this grace through faith in Christ.  With it they can love when it is difficult.  They can even assist those whom others consider unlovable.  As much as any ordained minister in modern times, the law foretold by Jeremiah is illustrated in the life of today’s festal saint, John Vianney.

 Vianney’s story has been emblazoned in literature by Georges Bernanos in The Diary of a Country Priest.  The novel portrays the saint’s untiring efforts to change the hearts of pharisaical Christians.  It pictures him serving God and neighbor without concern for his own welfare. In the face of premature death, it has the pastor reaffirm his trust in God’s goodness.  His last words are: “…grace is everywhere…”

We are not deprived of the grace to love others.  We should practice it by saying a kind word to the person who seems to growl at us.  The more we do so, the more we too will recognize the ubiquity of grace.