Thursday, January 24, 2019

Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales, bishop and doctor of the Church

(Hebrews 7:25-8:6; Mark 3:7-12)

St. Francis de Sales lived at a particularly difficult time in Church history.  Protestantism had rent Western Christianity in pieces.  At his death the Thirty Years War was eviscerating the faith of evangelical love.  In the particularly contentious Swiss nation Francis preached reconciliation.  His early understanding of a universal call to holiness would serve this end.  In the Introduction to the Devout Life he wrote that all Christians are called to sanctity.  All Christians without exception have to pray as well as avoid wrongdoing and love their enemies.

A parallel message is given in today’s first reading.  The Letter to the Hebrews describes Jesus as “holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners,…”  In fact, all Christians are called to holiness because Jesus is holy.  Likewise, all Christians are priests because they share in Jesus’ high priesthood.  Their prayers for others have weight when they are spiritually conformed to Christ.

In striving for perfection like Christ’s, we should be concerned with interior disposition.  We should seek and promote the good in every person.  We should as well take note and strive to eliminate selfishness.  Pursuing these virtues with a prayerful spirit, we will attain holiness.