HOMILY FOR THE MEMORIAL OF ST. JOHN VIANNEY/ WEDNESDAY OF THE 18TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME:
“Here is your priest, O Blessed Mother! Stay close to me. Help me to be a good priest” – St. John Vianney. We celebrate today, the Memorial of St. John Baptist Mary Vianney (1786-1859). He was born in Dardilly near France; he was not quick at study and had great difficulty in being accepted for ordination. He was sent to the parish of Ars, which he transformed by his preaching, his personal mortification, his life of prayer and charity for all, and particularly by his fame as a confessor- people came to him for spiritual help from all over the world. He is the patron saint of parish priests.
Today’s readings strongly show that faith makes the difference between life and death. A mother’s great faith in Jesus saved her daughter. The complete lack of faith of the Israelites, who had earlier on walked through the Red Sea on dry land and were sustained in the desert, meant that they would die in the desert unless they repent.
The Canaanite woman in the gospel (Matt. 15: 21-28) was ready to take whatever humiliation that comes her way because of the faith she had in Jesus’ ability to grant her request- healing to her daughter. She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters”.
In the first reading, (Num. 13: 1-2, 25- 14: 1, 26-29, 34-35). apart from Caleb, all the men who were sent to reconnoiter the land of Canaan, deceived the Israelites into believing they will not be able to take over the land as the people living in it are very strong giants and the towns are fortified and very strong. They lacked faith in God’s power to save. In your life situations, what do you see: God or giant walls?
Dear friends, we will never have faith until we stop looking at what visibly surrounds us and start looking at the unseen God Who surrounds us. As believers in Christ Jesus, we must costantly “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5: 7).
I pray as we journey in life today, we will like the Cannanite woman and Caleb realize that our God is bigger than our problem. If we walk by faith, we will surmount, but if we lack faith, we will submerge. May our faith never waver. Have a faith-full day!
Fr. Francis Onwunali