Memorial of St. John Bosco, Priest
In our struggles to live a virtuous life and overcome bad habits, there is one great recourse that is mentioned in the first reading and lived out in the Gospel: to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. (Heb 12:2) Jesus has sacrificed much more for our sakes than we have. Having our minds filled with thoughts of how the Father has been at work in Jesus, His Son, will give us great courage when we ourselves must make acts of self-denial and sacrifice rather than acts of self-reliance and pride.
     St. John Bosco was a man who knew well how to keep his eyes focused on Christ. In a time that had either given up on the many children left without home or education by industrialization in 19th century Italy, he took to the streets and sought to find children in order to lead them to Christ and to greater learning. Such work required (and still requires) much patience. To those who sought advice from Don Bosco on how to punish recalcitrant pupils, the Saint always counseled patient kindness rather than the standard recourse of many educators of the time: corporal punishment. He wrote, “Master your own character, and then you will succeed in mastering those of your pupils. Show them that uncontrolled emotion plays no part in your actions; they will respect you for that, […b]ut betray the least sign of weakness, of passion, of impatience, and your authority and prestige will not long endure. Besides, your punishment will not be taken as a remedy for the boy’s fault, but as a vent for your own passion. It can bear no fruit!” The reasonableness of St. John’s patient charity won the day, and now the Salesians operate over 3000 schools and training centers around the world. Such is the good fruit of those who are patient for Christ’s sake rather than impatient for their own.
     May St. John Bosco intercede for us, that with him we may keep our eyes fixed on the reasonable patience and love of Christ, and apply that love to those whom we hope to serve.
January 31st, 2017