Tuesday, August 4, 2015
God's ministers: Daily Mass Homily--Tuesday, August 4th, 2015
(Listen to this homily here).
God chooses His ministers.
Whenever I hear Aaron and Miriam’s grumbling against Moses I think of those who want to change the priesthood. Listen again to what they said: “Is it through Moses alone that the LORD speaks? Does he not speak through us also?” [emphasis added]. Aaron and Miriam, either out of jealousy or bitterness, want to push themselves into Moses’ unique call from God.
Many today say, “Priests should get married,” or “Women should be priests” or, “Who lets these guys run the place?” Now it is a good thing to ask questions in our faith—even about who can be a priest or how a priest should live. Unfortunately, many have already answered the questions themselves and want to change the Church, being unopen to our traditions. But at the end of the day, God calls men to be priests. God asks priests to be celibate. No one has a right to be a priest anyway—it is a humble honor that I am thankful for every day. And contrary to an American rights mentality, this does not suggest a priest is better than or more powerful than anyone else. We are all equal in dignity as God's sons and daughters.
God chose a special priest whom we celebrate today—St. John Vianney. He is the patron saint of priests—imagine that role as a saint! He lived in the 19th century and barely made it out of seminary because he couldn’t learn Latin. He was assigned to a small town in France—Ars—as it was a small parish and out of the limelight. No one could have predicted how much God worked through the Cure of Ars!
His reputation as a confessor quickly grew. Men and women traveled all across Europe simply to go to him for confession. On his part, John Vianney heard confessions upwards of sixteen hours a day!
He lived a life of simplicity, austerity and penance. His diet—one potato a day.
He battled the devil. One night he heard something at the foot of the bed. He opened his eyes, saw the evil one standing there, chuckled and said, “Oh, it’s just you.” He rolled over and went back to sleep.
He was not only concerned with his parish, but the town of Ars. He went around to try to prohibit excessive drinking and dancing that distracted the community from God. At one point, he bought out a bar in order to help the owner get out of the business.
I also appreciate one of his maxims: poverty ends at the sanctuary. In his personal life, he was the most simple in order to be most generous to the poor. Yet at the same time, he gave his best—especially money—to adorn God’s house. He fully believed in having beauty in Churches—in the vessels, vestments and building. Today, some would suggest we never use money for church stuff in order to give to the poor. John Vianney shows this is not an either/or but a both/and situation.
It is a great day to be thankful to God for the priesthood and for the great example of one of the finest priests, St. John Vianney.