Today is the Memorial of St. Philip Neri, who according to some accounts, was known for not taking himself too seriously. St. Philip was a sixteenth century man of modest means who was sent from his home, Florence, to wealthier relatives for studies in Rome.
There he encountered the poor of the city, especially those who came as pilgrims for religious celebrations. For some years, he resisted the idea of becoming a priest as he felt unworthy, but finally his spiritual advisor prevailed. He entered a seminary and was ordained three years later.
Though he continued his work with laymen ministering to the material needs of poor pilgrims, he discovered a love for the ministry of the confessional. He often spent long hours into the nights with penitents. Young men seemed to be particularly attracted to his counsel. One of the strategies he used was the practice of inserting humility, e.g. practical jokes in his ministry.
Philip did not escape this spiritual mortification himself. As with others, his own humbling held humor. There are stories of him wearing ridiculous clothes or walking around with half his beard shaved off. The greater his reputation for holiness the sillier he wanted to seem. When some people came a great distance to see the great saint, they found him listening to another priest read to him from joke books.
The Scriptures today continue the account of the Acts of the Apostles, in which Peter confronts the Apostles with the truth that Gentiles also have the right to salvation under Christ! It seems a bit silly now to us that there would have been any doubt.
The Gospel is a small excerpt of the fifteen chapter of St. John. Nice as this segment is, there are even juicer words if one reads farther. For example, “You are my friends, if you do what I command you. I shall not call you servants any more, because a servant does not know his master’s business, because I have made known to you everything I have learned from my Father.” And even farther, “What I command you is to love one another.”
There are so many amazing ideas to pray with in this chapter of St. John that I will suggest only that you spend some time letting these words of Christ as written by St. John wash over you and speak to your heart.