Gospel Matthew 15:1-2, 10-14
Some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They do not wash their hands when they eat a meal.” He summoned the crowd and said to them, “Hear and understand. It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles the man; but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one.” Then his disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” He said in reply, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”
“The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus. When you see a priest, think of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (St. John Vianney)
Why do you think that crowds followed Jesus? Did they think Him a hero?
St. Jean Marie Vianney was 13 years old during the French Revolution. He saw the priests persecuted and forced to continue their ministry in secret. They bravely continued to serve the people despite the cost. Jean (John in English) considered the priests to be heroes.
It was in 1815 on August 12th that John Marie Vianney joined the ranks of his heroes and was ordained a priest. After three years in Ecully assisting Abe Balley, Balley died and John was sent by his bishop to a village of Ars to serve 230 "souls." John decided that he would make the Church his home. First he spent many hours in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. He prayed."Lord.grant me the conversion of my parish; I am willing to suffer whatever you wish, for my entire life."
Vianney taught by example and he always stopped before the tabernacle to visit with the Lord. He encouraged his parishioners to follow his example. He would explain to them, "One need not say much to pray well. We know that Jesus is there in the tabernacle: let us open our hearts to him, let us rejoice in his sacred presence. That is the best prayer." Likewise he'd also prompt them: "Come to communion, my brothers and sisters, come to Jesus. Come to live from him in order to live with him...Of course you are not worthy of Him, but you need Him!"
St. John spent 16 hours in the confessional hearing many confess their sins. To those who were truly sorry, he would tell them to immerse themselves into the "flood of divine mercy." To those who were afraid of sinning again he would express God's love by telling them, "The good Lord knows everything. Even before you confess, he knows that you will sin again, yet he still forgives you. How great is the love of our God: he even forces himself to forget the future, so that he can grant us his forgiveness!" To those who were not sincere in their confession, he would weep because of their apathy. He would respond to them, "I weep because you don't weep. If only the Lord were not so good! But he is so good! One would have to be a brute to treat so good a Father this way!" By responding to such a poor confession he, "awakened repentance in their hearts" making them aware of the pain reflected by God in the face of their priest confessor.
The Cure` of Ars was the Face of Christ to his parishioners. And because they saw Christ in him an amazing transformation and conversion of hearts and lives occurred in the small village of Ars and beyond.
St. John Marie Vianney was a hero with a heart for God and to his people because he was Christ to them. Jesus was a hero, because he gave us His pierced heart on the cross. Jesus' heart was on fire with love for His Father and for us.
On this Memorial of St. John Marie Vianney, let us pray for all priests to be "the love of the heart of Jesus," to all people. Happy St.John Vianney's Feast Day to all Priests.
Please pray the PAPA Prayer for Priests.