Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Jesus came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds?”
Today’s gospel retells the wonder had by the hometown friends of Jesus. No doubt, the friends and family of Ignatius were a bit surprised that their relation or friend had taken a course in life that certainly was different than the young man they knew.
By the time Ignatius had returned to Azpeitia, his home town, he had been to Jerusalem, finished his formal schooling in Paris, and had undergone a spiritual conversion which included a desire to bring other men and women closer to God. He was a changed man. In many ways he had changed but much of his dynamic personality and resolve stayed the same.
Sometimes we fear conversion because the product we foresee will be something so alien to us that the prospect of change leaves us a bit nervous. Ignatius certainly went through a conversion but perhaps it would be better to call it a refocusing of his energies. God worked through all his natural gifts, modified some, and added a few. But whatever occurred at that conversion and subsequent developments, he remained the man whose temperament forged in the Castle of Loyola served him well as superior general in Rome.
Perhaps the fear some have of religious expression is that we presume that if we talk about religion it requires some sort of sweet docility. The life of Ignatius reminds us that God works through all kinds of people, the brave, the timid and everything in between.