Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Personal Love

Readings for Wednesday, August 4/Memorial of St. John Vianney:
Jeremiah 31:1-7
Jeremiah 31:10-13
Matthew 15:21-28

Our scripture readings today tell us two stories about love. In the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, we hear the Lord speaking to His people: “With age-old love I have loved you; so I have kept my mercy toward you. Again I will restore you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin Israel.” In these consoling words He addresses the people of Israel, the chosen people. This promise of restoration is a promise of hope to all of Israel and stands as a sign for God’s love for that people.

In the Gospel reading from Matthew, we hear a different story of love, a personal story of love. The woman pleads at Jesus’ feet that He might heal her daughter and we see this apparent harshness in Jesus’ response; an apparent rejection because of her status as a gentile. But then, she persists, and we realize that the Lord allowed her to endure rejection to pull from her an even deeper act of faith in Himself. And filled with faith, she again calls on Him and He, because He is compassionate and loving, hears her prayer and answers it. This shows the attentiveness that the Lord pays to each one of us, knowing what each of us needs personally and desiring to give it to us.

Today, the Church celebrates the memorial of Saint John Vianney, the Curé of Ars. A humble parish priest in a little town in France, Saint John took up the task of being Christ to the people by his witness to prayer and His desire to spread the Good News. But above all, Saint John was truly Christ to the people because of his love. The love that led him to spend up 16 hours a day in the confessional, the love that led him to intense fasting and prayer, and the love that led him to reach out to individuals so that they might experience Christ’s presence. The love of God, which he certainly experienced himself in a powerful way, was what compelled him in all things.

As we come to this sacred altar to receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ, let us ask ourselves what it is that the Lord desires us to do today out of love for Him. What act of love does he compel us to do?