Friday, May 26, 2017

Memorial of Saint Philip Neri, priest

(Acts 18:9-18; John 16:20-23)

Today’s first reading tells of Jesus encountering Paul.  The Lord tells him not to be afraid of Jewish persecution in Corinth because he has “many people” in the city.  Then the reading gives an example.  Gallio, the Roman leader, refuses to hear the accusation made by the Jews against Paul.  St. Philip Neri had a similar mystical experience that moved him to become one of the most celebrated Catholics of his time.

In the middle of the sixteenth century Philip was pursuing a career in business.  A mystical experience, however, set him on a different course.  He went to Rome where there was a malaise after the scandals of the Renaissance popes and the initial jolts of the Reformation.  Philip began to preach openly on the streets where the people responded in droves to his wisdom, devotion, and cheerfulness.  He became venerated as a saint in his last years and was canonized one just twenty-seven years later.

Some people claim to have visions of the Lord.  They speak of Jesus telling them to do something or not to do another.  It may seem weird, but why deny it?  Rather let us pray that the Lord may at least consider us one of his “many people.”  And let us also respond to such a positive designation by being cheerful, wise and devoted like Philip Neri.