Memorial of Saint John Vianney, Priest

Yesterday the Caananite woman said that Jesus was Lord and Master; today Peter says He is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter, like the woman, is a child of God; He has seen Jesus and believed. But Peter did not come to Jesus asking for anything; He was merely confessing the truth he had come to believe in his heart. There was a cavernous space of potentiality within him, a wide plain of faith on which something great could be built, and Jesus saw it immediately. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…” and Jesus so loved Peter that He gave the Church. Peter, in his confession, is the first to recognize Jesus’ identity as the Christ, the anointed one of God, and Jesus in turn gives Peter a new name and a new identity. Peter is the rock on which the Church is founded, the first of Jesus’ followers to “see the Son and believe” and it changed everything.

Many Christians who have a moment in life where they recognize Jesus as God—on the level of the heart, rather than merely an intellectual recognition—describe it as being “born again.” When we see Jesus and believe in Him, when we give Him our faith, when we lay bare the potential of our lives before Him, we cannot imagine the possibilities. St. John Vianney, whose feast we celebrate today, is just such a person who gave his life to the Lord, a man from a small rural town in France. He and his family survived the French Revolution, travelling many miles just to attend Mass in secret, practicing their faith with the same secrecy. As a young man he was drafted into Napoleon’s armies, but sickness prevented him from reporting for duty, and later he was drafted again, this time deserting and entering the seminary. He struggled mightily in his studies but his piety and devotion convinced his superiors to let him remain and continue; now this most unlikely French farm boy is the patron saint of priests, known not only for his wisdom but also his kindness, generosity, and gifts as a confessor.

Jesus founded the Church upon a fisherman who would later deny Him three times in His moment of greatest need. That same Jesus called St. Jean Vianney and a multitude of equally unlikely men and women—of all ages and states of life—to witness through the ages to His greatness, to confess with their whole lives that He is the Son of the living God. Do not for a moment think the same Jesus who fed thousands with a bit of bread and fish, the God who spoke the universe into being with but a word, cannot call you as well, for He is calling us in every moment. He calls you by name in the hope that you will respond and allow Him to give you a new name: His own.

Give yourself to Jesus, as He gives Himself to you, and watch how He transforms your life.

August 4th, 2016