Friday, January 24, 220

Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, bishop and doctor of the Church

(I Samuel 24:3-21; Mark 3:13-19)

Tomorrow, the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, ends the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.  For the last six days the Church has asked Catholics to pray that all Christians will be united again.  Some Protestant denominations have their members doing likewise.  Jesus initiated the prayer at the Last Supper in John’s gospel.  He prayed that “they (his disciples) may be one.”

Today we honor one of the great saints of the Reformation, Francis de Sales.  He became the bishop of Geneva, the center of the Protestant Reformed movement.  Francis brought to the ongoing debate between Catholics and Calvinists a firm grasp of theology.  Today’s dialogue between Catholic and Protestant leaders requires such understanding.  If agreements between the churches are to have meaning, they must be based on truthful premises.

But they also require humility in approaching one another.  We can look to today’s first reading for an example.  David humbly refuses to take advantage of Saul, the king of Israel.  He would join the king in the war against Israel’s enemies.  Catholics and Protestants should likewise join forces against enemies like homelessness and anti-religious bigotry.