|Memorial of St. John Vianney
Leviticus 25:1, 8-17
Psalms 67:2-3, 5, 7-8
The Jubilee Year “…In this fiftieth year, your year of jubilee, you shall not sow, nor shall you reap the after growth or pick the grapes from the untrimmed vines. Since this is the jubilee, which shall be sacred for you, you may not eat of its produce, except as taken directly from the field...”
Harvest Thanks and Petition “…The earth has yielded its fruits; God, our God, has blessed us. May God bless us, and may all the ends of the earth fear him!”
Herod’s Opinion of Jesus “On one occasion Herod the tetrarch, having heard of Jesus’ reputation, exclaimed to his courtiers, “This man is John the Baptizer – it is he in person, raised from the dead; that is why such miraculous powers are at work in him!”…”
Feast of St. John Vianney, priest, born in 1786 in Dardilly (near Lyons), France. He was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1925; in 1929 he was declared the principal patron of parish priests. He overcame his lack of education with his iron will, and became a priest. He was known for his severity in the pulpit and there were many conversions because of his insight in the confessional. His reputation for holiness spread and he drew large crowds, especially to have him hear confession. Many thought he had the gift of being able to read souls. Read two of his homilies at the Saints ‘O the Day website.
Come Holy Spirit enlighten us today in your Word…
We spend only 2 days this month in the book of Leviticus, and probably most of us are thinking ‘Thanks be to God’ we don’t have to stay and read through all of those rules. But the reading guide section of the Oxford Personal Study Edition of the Catholic Bible, says we Christians “…miss the profound insights into the mystery of God that are woven into the fabric of Leviticus. Like golden thread, the insights into the holiness, majesty, power, and love of God shine through regularly and reveal the enduring value of the book.” How many other opportunities do we miss to gain insight into our powerful creator? I think I have missed many. Try as I might to spend quiet time, many of my efforts are thwarted.
Since we celebrated a Jubilee year last year, today’s first reading is familiar. Aside from the forgiveness of debt, it doesn’t seem that much of God’s instructions are observed anymore living here in the 21st century. But I heard two things in the Old Testament reading, which felt new to me, and they began to make sense. God’s instruction about returning to your family owned land, seemed a more simple way to keep the lives of His people whole and equal. The second point about not sowing or reaping in the fields, but rather to Trust in God to allow the fields to produce enough to eat, seemed at first like a big leap of faith, but even that made a lot of sense too. The end result would allow us to spend that year more in union with God, with more time to pray, and more time to pay attention to other people. Business is distracting. The act of not providing for ourselves would cause us to focus our attention on God. A great idea, but the ideas are so hard to imagine in our world today. Instead we have come up with our own way of managing our concern for others. It’s complicated, but we are sure it is better. If our way is so much better, then why are we failing to keep each other whole in so many areas of our world today? God’s commands, as expressed in today’s reading, showed a strong concern for all of His people. His commands were consistent with Jesus’ teachings for us to love one another as He has loved us.
In Matthew’s gospel, Herod, who had had John the Baptist beheaded, is shocked to hear of a man who is performing many miracles, and he is sure John the Baptist has returned from the dead. At first I thought Herod deserved to feel scared that John the Baptist had returned from his martyrdom, but then I thought that ultimately, Herod displayed a lack of knowledge of who Jesus was. If he had known about Jesus, he wouldn’t have assumed such an irrational thought. But, there are many of us who don’t always recognize Jesus, and we claim to know Him too. I am one of those Christians. Every time I heard Mother Theresa talk about seeing Jesus in the eyes of her poor in India, I marveled at her vision, instead I felt fear. Let us not pass up the opportunity to be generous with our time, or our other resources next time the opportunity presents itself. Maybe we’ll seek out the opportunity. As we are invited today in the reading, while not in a jubilee year, let us share a Jubilee spirit every day, where we take pause to see others as Christ sees us. Let us be a prayerful people everyday. It appears we are being called each day to this life of union with God. There is no escaping His Truth; He pursues us unrelentingly if we listen.
St. John Vianney writes in his catechetical instructions:
“My little children, reflect on these words: the Christian’s treasure
is not on earth but in heaven. Our thoughts, then, ought to be directed
to where our treasure is. This is the glorious duty of man:
to pray and to love. If you pray and love, that is where a man’s
happiness lies.” (Office of Readings, pg. 1573)
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