Readings & Reflections: Friday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time & St. John Vianney, August 4,2017

Readings & Reflections: Friday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time & St. John Vianney, August 4,2017

John was born in 1786 A.D., in Dardilly, France, to devout peasants. A man of “average intelligence,” John passed his seminary exams with difficulty, and was ordained at the age of twenty-nine. He was ordained a diocesan priest and assigned to the tiny village of Ars, where he worked great good through his attention to the poor, moving preaching, and long hours in the confessional. “Lord, grant me the conversion of my parish; I am willing to suffer whatever you wish, for my entire life!” was his ardent prayer. With little sleep and less food, he catechized, preached, provided for the poor, and heard confessions. Up to sixteen hours a day were spent reconciling sinners to God. Pope Benedict XVI described this audacious “pastoral plan” as “the complete identification of the man with his ministry.” He died in 1859 A.D. at the age of seventy-three and is the patron of priests. “Were we realize fully what a priest is on earth, we would die – not of fright, but of love,” he taught. “Without the priest, the Passion and Death of our Lord would be of no avail…. What use filled with gold, were there no one to open its door?”


Opening Prayer

“Lord Jesus, you are the fulfillment of all our hopes and desires. Your Spirit brings us grace, truth, life, and freedom. Fill me with the joy of the gospel and inflame my heart with love and zeal for you and for your will.” In your Name, I pray. Amen.

Reading I
Lev 23:1, 4-11, 15-16, 27, 34b-37

The LORD said to Moses,  “These are the festivals of the LORD which you shall celebrate at their proper time with a sacred assembly. The Passover of the LORD falls on the fourteenth day of the first month, at the evening twilight. The fifteenth day of this month is the LORD’s feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first of these days you shall hold a sacred assembly and do no sort of work. On each of the seven days you shall offer an oblation to the LORD. Then on the seventh day you shall again hold a sacred assembly and do no sort of work.”

The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the children of Israel and tell them: When you come into the land which I am giving you,
and reap your harvest, you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest, who shall wave the sheaf before the LORD that it may be acceptable for you. On the day after the sabbath the priest shall do this.

“Beginning with the day after the sabbath, the day on which you bring the wave-offering sheaf, you shall count seven full weeks,
and then on the day after the seventh week, the fiftieth day, you shall present the new cereal offering to the LORD.

“The tenth of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement,
when you shall hold a sacred assembly and mortify yourselves
and offer an oblation to the LORD.

“The fifteenth day of this seventh month is the LORD’s feast of Booths, which shall continue for seven days. On the first day there shall be a sacred assembly, and you shall do no sort of work.
For seven days you shall offer an oblation to the LORD,
and on the eighth day you shall again hold a sacred assembly
and offer an oblation to the LORD. On that solemn closing you shall do no sort of work.

“These, therefore, are the festivals of the LORD on which you shall proclaim a sacred assembly, and offer as an oblation to the LORD burnt offerings and cereal offerings, sacrifices and libations, as prescribed for each day.”

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 81:3-4, 5-6, 10-11ab

R (2a) Sing with joy to God our help.
Take up a melody, and sound the timbrel,
the pleasant harp and the lyre.
Blow the trumpet at the new moon,
at the full moon, on our solemn feast.
R Sing with joy to God our help.
For it is a statute in Israel,
an ordinance of the God of Jacob,
Who made it a decree for Joseph
when he came forth from the land of Egypt.
R Sing with joy to God our help.
There shall be no strange god among you
nor shall you worship any alien god.
I, the LORD, am your God
who led you forth from the land of Egypt.
R Sing with joy to God our help.

Mt 13:54-58

Jesus came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said,
“Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds?
Is he not the carpenter’s son?
Is not his mother named Mary
and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?
Are not his sisters all with us?
Where did this man get all this?”
And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and in his own house.”
And he did not work many mighty deeds there
because of their lack of faith.

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection 1 – Jesus in his hometown

They said: “Where did this man get this wisdom and mighty deeds? Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Are not his sisters all with us? Were did this man get all this?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place.” They found him too much for them.

This was how the people of authority looked at Jesus. He was treated with great reproach and He did not get the respect He deserved. They could not accept Jesus and all the good works that He has shared with everyone. The truth and the wisdom that He brought upon them were met with great question and sarcasm for they could not believe that such a lowly and poor man could ever be endowed with such gifts. Their hearts were breaking with disgust for how can Jesus teach with great wisdom and authority when He did not even come from the elite class of learned people neither was He brought up among the wealthy and the rich as the best that He could have was a manger for His birthplace. They said Jesus was a mere carpenter and what good can come out of Him.

That was how people treated Jesus during His time. Today and thousands of years later, it is very discouraging to note that man has not changed. We still hear similar comments from people about their neighbor. As such God comes to us with His exhortation that when dealing with our fellow worker in His vineyard, we should look into the goodness that is in him rather than on his faults. We should not look on how one started in life but how one has led his life in pursuit of God and His ways. We should not be concerned if one came into the world with a silver spoon or if one came from a family that has been destitute for generations. All we should consider is the goodness of a man and how he has glorified God in his life.

Because all of us are broken and sinful, we are so susceptible not only to judge others based on our opinion of their faults and their shortcomings,

especially those who wound our feelings or those who conflict with our own way of thinking and acting. While we give little or no consideration to their good points we may judge them based on what we perceive them to be and their social standing: who they are in society, what their achievements are, how great their influence is, but most importantly, how thick their pocketbook is.  In other words, the more a man exudes with the elements of the world, the more, people are likely to accept him and give him credence as a son of God.

Is this how Jesus wants us to treat each other? Given some degree of authority within God’s family, is this how we will address our other co-workers and those who shall endeavor to work for Him?

Jesus was looked down upon by the church elders and this hampered his fruitfulness as Scripture says,” He could work no miracle there, apart from curing a few who were sick by laying hands on them, so much did their lack of faith distress him.” If we discriminate a fellow worker in Christ we hamper not only His ministry but also his spiritual growth and we are therefore answerable to God.

If ever we will be set aside and be treated the way they treated Jesus, let us not fight back but humbly receive the insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when we are weak, that is when we are strong. That is when Christ dwells in us, the time when His grace is more than sufficient for us, when we are able to do what others may consider as impossible and beyond us!


Every man who endeavors to work for the Lord has been blessed with God’s goodness and love.  Always decide based on the goodness of the heart of a man rather than his sins and faults.


Heavenly Father, when I chance to see a co-worker do something seemingly imperfect, give me the grace to see the goodness in the person and to credit him with the good intentions he no doubt possesses because He is one of your children whom You love so well. In Jesus, I hope and pray. Amen.

Reflection 2 – They took offense at Jesus

Are you critical towards others, especially those who are close to you? The most severe critics are often people very familiar to us, a member of our family, a relative, neighbor, student, or worker we rub shoulders with on a regular basis. Jesus faced a severe testing when he returned to his home town, not simply as the carpenter’s son, but now as a rabbi with disciples. It would have been customary for Jesus to go to the synagogue each week during the Sabbath, and when his turn came, to read from the scriptures during the Sabbath service. His hometown folks listened with rapt attention on this occasion because they had heard about the miracles he had performed in other towns.

What sign would he do in his hometown? Jesus startled them with a seeming rebuke that no prophet or servant of God can receive honor among his own people. The people of Nazarethtook offense at him and refused to listen to what he had to say. They despised his preaching because he was a carpenter from the working class, and a mere layman untrained by religious scholars. They also despised him because of his family background. After all, Joseph was a tradesman as well and Mary had no special social distinctions.

Familiarity breeds contempt
How easily familiarity breeds contempt. Jesus could do no mighty works in his hometown because the people who were familiar with him were closed-minded and despised his claim to speak and act in the name of God. If people come together to hate and refuse to understand others different than themselves, then they will see no other point of view than their own and they will refuse to love and accept others. How do you view those who are familiar to you? With kindness and respect or with a critical and judgmental spirit?

The Lord Jesus offers us freedom from sin, prejudice, contempt, and fear. His love and grace sets us free to love others with the same grace and mercy which he has shown to us. Only Jesus can truly set us free from the worst tyranny possible – slavery to sin and the fear of death. His victory on the cross brings us pardon and healing, and the grace to live holy lives by the power of the Holy Spirit. Do you know the joy and freedom which Christ’s love brings to our hearts?

“Lord Jesus, your love conquers every fear and breaks the power of hatred and prejudice. Flood my heart with your mercy and compassion, that I may treat my neighbor with the same favor and kindness which you have shown to me.” – Read the source:

Reflection 3 – How could I miss that?

The French author George Sand remarked that “admiration and familiarity are strangers.” This is surely a variation on the old saying about familiarity breeding contempt. Both observations seem pertinent in light of today’s gospel passage (Mt 13:54-58). When Jesus returns to his home town of Nazareth, he is greeted with suspicion and even derision. Why? Apparently because the people there know him too well! The Latin root of the word familiarity (and family) means “pertaining to a household,” and, sure enough, those questioning the credentials of Jesus do so by making reference to his relatives. They seem to be implying that since they know all of his kinfolk, Jesus can’t be all that special. There is an odd logic at work here, but this passage captures accurately a puzzling aspect of human nature. Why couldn’t the people of Nazareth see greatness in their own son?

Perhaps a couple of philosophers might provide more insight into this problem. The great philosopher/ logician Ludwig Wittgenstein once observed, “The aspects of things that are most important for us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity.” In other words, maybe we “overlook” because we’re looking too hard!

The French philosopher Gabriel Marcel expresses a similar notion in his observation about “mystery.” He argues that a mystery isn’t something that is so far beyond us that we can’t grasp it. Rather, it’s something so near to us that we can’t “get a fix on it.” It’s so close that it simply eludes us. That may be why we have such a hard time explaining and grasping something as important, pervasive, and seemingly simple as love.

Jesus stood before the people of Nazareth as one of their own, yet they could not bring themselves to acknowledge him. The mystery of their salvation was, so to speak, “hidden in plain sight.” The implications of this are both comforting and terrifying. On the one hand, it’s good to know that what is most important for us in our lives is close by, literally within our reach. On the other hand, it’s frightening to think that precisely because it’s so close, so familiar, we just might miss it! (Source: Jim Johnston, Weekday Homily Helps, Ohio: St. Anthony Messenger Press, August 1, 2008).

Reflection 4 – The blessing of being rejected

Do you feel opposed? Treated unjustly? Are there friends who wrongfully reject what you’ve said, as if you’re an enemy trying to hurt them or mislead them? Are you bearing insults because of your faith? Do your own family members outcast you because of your zeal for the house of God? If so, Psalm 69 is your song!

The prophet Jeremiah felt the same way. As we see in today’s first reading, he delivered the message that God had commissioned him to speak, and the people hated him for it. Whenever we stand up for the truth, there are always those who resent us. But if we’ve spoken with compassion, without an attitude of superiority, and with genuine concern for others, the only reason we get rejected is that they prefer to live in darkness.

Jesus understands how you feel. In today’s Gospel reading, he was disbelieved simply because he was too familiar to the people of his home town. They remembered him as Joseph’s kid or maybe as a baby conceived illegitimately. Their memories of his youthfulness distracted them from seeing his true identity as the Savior of the world. Similarly, you and I are rejected by those who know us too well. When they see us, they look at “US” – they have difficulty expanding US to JES-US.

Rather than get upset about this, we should use it to deepen our own humility. Being accepted by God should be our primary goal; it’s only his opinion of us that really matters. As long as God approves of us, the fact that others accept us or reject us is a moot point.

As a matter of fact, being rejected by the very people who should praise us is beneficial to our spiritual growth! St. Teresa of Avila said: “God deliver us from people who wish to serve him yet who are mindful of their own honor” (from “The Way of Perfection”, chapter 12). When we want to be accepted because it feels good, we’re caught in the trap of self-centeredness. St. Teresa called it the temptation of “vainglory” (vanity); to do God’s will and then expect others to praise us for it is a “poison” that is “fatal to perfection” (it destroys the love and holiness within us).

We should want nothing but to please God and we should expect no reward but his happiness.

It’s difficult to remain humble while being accepted and praised. It’s harder still when, after being rejected, we become focused on “I’m right! They’re wrong!” When we exercise humility, we mourn the darkness in the other person’s soul more than we cry about being rejected. In humility, we pray: “Lord, replace my anger and my self-pity with tears of concern.”

Thus we become united to the healing wounds of Jesus, and the rejection no longer stings as a personal attack. (Source: Terry Modica, Good News Ministries)

Reflection 5 – They took offense at him

Are you critical towards others, especially those familiar to you? The most severe critics are often people very familiar to us, a member of our family, a relative or neighbor we rub shoulders with on a regular basis. Jesus faced a severe testing when he returned to his hometown, not simply as the carpenter’s son, but now as a rabbi with disciples. But the people of Nazareth took offense at him and refused to listen to what he had to say. They despised his preaching because he was a carpenter from the working class, and a mere layman untrained by religious scholars. They also despised him because of his family background. After all, Joseph was a tradesman as well and Mary had no special social distinctions. If you are in that kind of situation, how do you managed yourself to win this kind of people?

Let us be challenged by the life story of Joshua Chamberlain. Before he enlisted in the Union Army to fight during the US Civil war, Joshua Chamberlain was a quiet and unassuming college professor. In the crucible of military combat he distinguished himself for his heroism in holding the line on Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg. He was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

To recognize Chamberlain’s contribution to the Union victory, General Ulysses S. Grant designated him to receive the first flag of surrender at Appomattox Courthouse. The defeated troops of the South expected to be ridiculed and humiliated. Instead, Chamberlain showed them kindness and respect. For this, the Confederate commanding officer wrote in his memoirs that Chamberlain was “one of the knightliest soldiers of the Federal Army.”

As a committed Christian, Chamberlain reflected the grace of Christ. We too need to stand for what we believe but also to be kind to those with whom we disagree. St. Paul the Apostle exhorted Timothy, “as a good soldier of Christ… be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition” (2 Tim 2:3,24-25). In conflict and in reconciliation, our response should reflect the gracious heart of a knightly soldier of Christ.

“Oh, to be like Him, tender and kind, gentle in spirit, lowly in mind; More like Jesus, day after day, filled with His Spirit now and always.”

There is nothing so kingly as kindness; there is nothing so royal as truth (Source: Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).

Reflection 6 – The Priests and Prophets laid hold of Jeremiah

After King Jehoiakim was installed as a vassal king of Judah in 609 B.C., “Jeremiah took center stage in Jerusalem by preaching his famous Temple Sermon (7:1-15, 26:2-19). His theme was in the tradition of his classical forebears: because ritual sacrifice without obedience to God and justice to neighbor provokes God’s wrath, he will destroy even the Temple in Jerusalem as he had obliterated the sanctuary at Shiloh (cf. Am 2:6-4:12; Hos 4:1-19; Mi 7:1-7) (M. Duggan, The Consuming Fire, Ignatius Press, 295).

During the time of the Judges, from Joshua to Samuel, the Ark of the Covenant was housed at Shiloh, the capital of Israel. After the Ark was captured in battle by the Philistines and given back to the Israelites some months later, it was taken to Kirjath-jearim for twenty years. King David moved the Ark to the house of Obed-edom for three months and then brought it to Jerusalem, where his son, Solomon, built the temple. However, during the time of Jeremiah, the city of Shiloh lay in ruins. The punishment for the people’s disobedience, idolatry and injustice would be the destruction of the Temple just as Shiloh was destroyed.

The people do not want to listen to Jeremiah’s prophesy and laid hold of him, crying out that he should be put to death for speaking against the temple, the house of the Lord. In this way, Jeremiah prefigures Jesus Christ, who will foretell the destruction of the Second Temple: “Amen I say to you, there will not be left here a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:1-3). Like Jeremiah, Jesus is arrested and put on trial by priests who demanded his death. False witnesses will accuse Jesus of saying that he can destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days (Matthew 26:61). They confused his words and did not know that he was speaking about the temple of his body (John 2:19-21).

Jesus is also rejected in today’s Gospel. Jesus comes to his native place, his hometown of Nazareth and taught in the synagogue. This time, the people are not amazed in a positive way, but rather in a negative way and take offense at Jesus: they cannot believe that the humble carpenter that they knew for so many years now speaks with wisdom and works mighty deeds. Jesus, however, is the prophet-like-Moses, and, like the prophets of old, is not honored in his native place and in his own house.

“Jesus did some miracles in Nazareth, but not many, because of their lack of faith. He refuses to perform miracles to convince his opponents (see 12:38-39). The word for lack of faith is literally ‘unbelief’, a word Matthew uses only to describe those who oppose and reject Jesus. When the apostles struggled in faith, they are called ‘men of little faith’ (6:30), whereas the people in Jesus’ hometown are outright unbelievers who take offense at him and reject him” (C. Mitch and E. Sri, The Gospel of Matthew, Baker Academic, 185).

When we preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, we too will sometimes encounter opposition and be rejected like Jeremiah and Jesus. On that day, we are not to worry what to say, for the Holy Spirit will teach us and give us the words we are to say (Matthew 10:19; Luke 12:11-12). As the psalmist sings, we bear insult and rejection, for the sake of the Lord. The risen, glorified body of Jesus is the New Temple of God, and our zeal for this Temple, the Body of Christ, consumes us. We pray that God help us with his grace and favor in our mission to announce his Kingdom. We pray also that men and women do not reject Jesus, but rather welcome him and his reign. – Read the source text:

Reflection 7 – Their lack of faith

To form an interior spirit, or to be more exact, to allow God to form it within us, we must first of all look at everything in the light of faith. The life of interior union, of docility, that is, of loving and faithful attention to God teaching us, to God training and testing us, to God present and acting within us – this life is a life of faith.

Faith in this context does not mean a passing act by which we accede to God and are justified by him. It means the virtue of faith, the stable and infused gift that obtains its normal, supernatural effects within us. In short, we are speaking of “the supernatural habit that gives the diverse manifestations of Christian life their impulsion, their orientation, and their tonality” (F. Prat)….

Faith is indeed an act commanded by the will that acknowledges and loves God, and hopes in him as the First Good, the Supreme Good, the Last End, the One without whom nothing can endure, or satisfy, or beatify – the One who contains in himself in plenitude and perfection all that we can think, desire, or will that is beautiful, right, and good…. The just man lives by faith. What does this mean? It means that the just man lives by God through faith. God alone matters to him, God alone suffices for him. (Fr. Leonce de Grandmaison, S.J., Magnificat, August 2013 – Vol. 15, No. 6, pp. 40-41).

Reflection 8 – Dealing with our lack of faith

The people of the Lord’s “native place” are “astonished” at Jesus’ “wisdom and mighty deeds.” But they refuse to let that astonishment transform their way of judging things. Jesus did not work many mighty deeds there “because of their lack of faith.” Faith is acknowledging the Astonishing Presence that God sends us through everyday “prophets” in order to move us to “listen and turn back, each from his evil way.”

Here’s a reflection of Jacques Fesh (+1957), a murderer who experienced a profound conversion before his execution in a French prison said: “Faith is not a means but an end, and your formal refusal of it comes only from a lack of humility. You are refusing the most powerful help that can be given! All the same, I understand this very well, because I used to have the same reactions. We do not want to see. We need to take only a little step, but it means leaving behind our bitterness and pride and surrendering to the will of the One who can do everything. You especially, …who are so unhappy and so alone!

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I give you rest…” What more do we want? What are we all chasing after, if not relief from our misery? Oh Creator, have pity on your creatures. Consider that we do not understand ourselves, that we do not know what we want, that we have no idea what we are asking for. Lord, give us light. How hard it is to love someone who does not love you, to open to someone who enjoys being sick and cultivates illness! “Have pity on those who have no pity for themselves!”

“You see, when I did not believe, I imagined that faith was merely autosuggestion, and that a person could come to belief simply by saying “I believe.” My reasoning was based on my feeling that understanding was impossible, and on the contradictions I thought I had observed. I was sure that this reasoning was logical and true, and so it strengthened my conviction that God did not exist.

“Now, I no longer understand how I ever managed not to believe. It all seems so far away. The most judicious reasonings and deductions, which used to attract me, now seem vain and above all “highly improbable!”

“Because of this, I can see that faith is truly a gift of God. One believes with the heart, without knowing why or even seeking to know. The intimate certitude that fills one is enough. Of all things, love is the most powerful” (Source: Magnificat, Vol. 14, No. 6, August 3, 2012, pp. 49-50).

Reflection 9 – Dealing with our lack of faith

“During a time of desolation one should never make a change. Instead, one should remain firm and constant in the resolutions and in the decision which one had on the day before the desolation, or in a decision in which one was during a previous time of consolation.

“For just as the good spirit is chiefly the one who guides and counsels us in time of consolation, so it is the evil spirit who does this in time of consolation, so it is the evil spirit who does this in time of desolation. By following his counsels we can never find the way to a right decision.

“Although we ought not to change our former resolution in time of desolation, it is very profitable to make vigorous changes in ourselves against the desolation, for example, by insisting more on prayer, meditation, earnest self-examination, and some suitable way of doing penance.

“When we are in desolation we should think that the Lord has left us to our own powers in order to test us, so that we may prove ourselves by resisting the various agitations and temptations of the enemy. For we can do this with God’s help, which always remains available, even if we do not clearly perceive it. Indeed, even though the Lord has withdrawn from us his abundant fervor, augmented love, and intense grace, he still supplies sufficient grace for our eternal salvation” (Source: St. Ignatius of Loyola, S.J., +1556 A.D., Magnificat, Vol. 17, No. 5, July 2015, p. 436).

Reflection 10 – The prayer tears of rejection

How do you handle the times when your desire to serve God with your gifts and skills is met with a closed door? Or when you’re rejected for speaking the truth or for using your talents for the glory of God instead of some worldly purpose? What do you do when you know a problem can be resolved through the power of God — you know how and you know why — but your advice is ignored?

How did Jesus feel in today’s Gospel reading when he saw the need for his miraculous healing touch, but the people chose to suffer because they would not trust him? How do you think he feels when this happens today?

Sometimes all we can do is weep: Weep for the ignorance and the stubbornness of those who shut their ears and their hearts. Weep while praying for them. Each tear is a drop of prayer, precious to Jesus.

Personally, I don’t like to cry. My eyes get puffy, and I don’t want to draw attention to myself. Lord God, take away this ministry of tears! Yet, I have seen Jesus cry. The first time I saw this was when I visited a college professor-friend who was dying of cancer. He asked me if I, as a Christian, could heal him. I told him I could not, only Jesus could. My friend replied that he wanted no part in such fantasy. I just stood there and blinked. Jesus cried.

Rejected prophets must leave those who refuse to believe and seek out those who will listen. Jesus didn’t stay in Nazareth after his neighbors rejected his ministry. And he later told his disciples that instead of trying to nag and cajole others into believing, we’re to wipe the dirt from our shoes and walk away.

But even though we depart, we must continue to love and pray for those who’ve refused our ministry of love. It’s holy to feel the pain of their refusal — it’s the pain in their soul that we’re feeling, a pain created by the hole that’s eating away at their soul like an ulcer. Feeling their pain gives us tears for prayer.

When we give to Jesus our prayer-tears for others, we’re joining ourselves to his ministry. And by following him, we will arrive at a place where we will make a difference.

On a different topic, I’d like to explain that in verses 55 & 56, “brothers” and “sisters” means relatives, because I’m usually asked about it when this scripture comes up. Research this by going to Matthew 27:55-56, where it’s clear that the mother of James is not the mother of Jesus; James is not literally Jesus’ brother.

Perhaps he was a half-brother. Many early Christians believed so. In the “Protoevangelium of James,” an apocryphal Gospel written around A.D. 150, Joseph is named as the father of James by a deceased first wife. According to this book, by the time he became betrothed to Mary, he already had a family and thus was willing to become the guardian of a virgin who was consecrated to God. The Catholic Church teaches that Joseph remained chaste throughout his marriage to Mary.

Although the “Protoevangelium of James” was not accepted into the Canon of Scripture (the Bible), it is considered an apocryphal Gospel. It is neither accepted nor rejected as legitimate by the Church. Rather, the Church Magisterium recognizes it as a document that most early Christians took seriously. This is where we get the names of Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anna.

It was common belief held by many early Christians that Jesus had brothers from his father but not his mother. All the early Christians believed that Mary was ever-virgin. – Read the source:

Reflection 11 – On The Joy Of Prayer

Consider, children, a Christian’s treasure is not on earth, it is in heaven. Well then, our thoughts should turn to where our treasure is.

Man has a noble task: that of prayer and love. To pray and to love, that is the happiness of man on earth.

Prayer is nothing else than union with God. When the heart is pure and united with God it is consoled and filled with sweetness; it is dazzled by a marvelous light. In this intimate union God and the soul are like two pieces of wax moulded into one; they cannot any more be separated. It is a very wonderful thing, this union of God with his insignificant creature, a happiness passing all understanding.

We had deserved to be left incapable of praying; but God in his goodness has permitted us to speak to him. Our prayer is an incense that is delightful to God.

My children, your hearts are small, but prayer enlarges them and renders them capable of loving God. Prayer is a foretaste of heaven, an overflowing of heaven. It never leaves us without sweetness; it is like honey, it descends into the soul and sweetens everything. In a prayer well made, troubles vanish like snow under the rays of the sun.

Prayer makes time seem to pass quickly, and so pleasantly that one fails to notice how long it is. When I was parish priest of Bresse, once almost all my colleagues were ill, and as I made long journeys I used to pray to God, and, I assure you, the time did not seem long to me. There are those who lose themselves in prayer, like a fish in water, because they are absorbed in God. There is no division in their hearts. How I love those noble souls! Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Colette saw our Lord and spoke to him as we speak to one another.

As for ourselves, how often do we come to church without thinking what we are going to do or for what we are going to ask.

And yet, when we go to call upon someone, we have no difficulty in remembering why it was we came. Some appear as if they were about to say to God: ‘I am just going to say a couple of words, so I can get away quickly.’ I often think that when we come to adore our Lord we should get all we ask if we asked for it with a lively faith and a pure heart. – Source: St. John Vianney Catechism on Prayer (from the Office of Readings)

Reflection 12 – ….because of their lack of faith

“A lukewarm soul is not yet quite dead in the eyes of the Lord, because faith, hope, and charity, which are its spiritual life, are not entirely extinguished in it. But it is a faith without zeal, hope without firmness, love without ardor. Let me describe to you a zealous Christian, i.e., a Christian who really and ardently longs to save his soul, and then a person who leads a lukewarm life in the service of God. Then we will compare the two, and you will see to which class you belong.

“A good Christian is not satisfied simply to believe in the truths of our holy religion. He loves them, he ponders over them, he tries in every possible way to acquire a knowledge of them; he loves to hear the Word of God, and the more he hears it, the more he longs for it. He believes not only that God sees him in all his actions, and judges them all at the hour of death, but he trembles at the thought that he will have to render an account of his whole life to God. He not only thinks of this, and trembles over it, but he strives earnestly to improve himself daily. He never ceases in his endeavors to find new ways in which to do penance.

“How different from this is the Christian who lives a lukewarm life! He still believes in all the truths which the Church believes and teaches, but his faith is so weak that his heart has no part in it at all. He does not doubt that the good Lord sees him, and that he is ever in his holy presence. But while believing this, he does not amend, nor sin the less. He falls into sin as easily as if he did not believe in anything….

“The hope of a good Christian is firm; his trust in God is unshaken. He never loses sight of the next life. The remembrance of the sufferings of Jesus Christ is ever present to his mind, is always in his heart….

“He raises his thoughts to heaven, to arouse his love of God, and that he may be sensible of the happiness of those who prefer God above all things. He represents to himself how great the reward is of those who forsake all things to do the holy will of God. Then he longs for God alone, and desires him only. – (Source: St. John Vianney, +1859 A.D., Magnificat, Vol. 19, No. 6, August 2017, pp. 59-60).

Reflection 13 – St. John Vianney (1786-1859 A.D.)

A man with vision overcomes obstacles and performs deeds that seem impossible. John Vianney was a man with vision: He wanted to become a priest. But he had to overcome his meager formal schooling, which inadequately prepared him for seminary studies.

His failure to comprehend Latin lectures forced him to discontinue. But his vision of being a priest urged him to seek private tutoring. After a lengthy battle with the books, John was ordained.

Situations calling for “impossible” deeds followed him everywhere. As pastor of the parish at Ars, John encountered people who were indifferent and quite comfortable with their style of living. His vision led him through severe fasts and short nights of sleep. (Some devils can only be cast out by prayer and fasting.)

With Catherine Lassagne and Benedicta Lardet, he established La Providence, a home for girls. Only a man of vision could have such trust that God would provide for the spiritual and material needs of all those who came to make La Providence their home.

His work as a confessor is John Vianney’s most remarkable accomplishment. In the winter months he was to spend 11 to 12 hours daily reconciling people with God. In the summer months this time was increased to 16 hours. Unless a man was dedicated to his vision of a priestly vocation, he could not have endured this giving of self day after day.

Many people look forward to retirement and taking it easy, doing the things they always wanted to do but never had the time. But John Vianney had no thoughts of retirement. As his fame spread, more hours were consumed in serving God’s people. Even the few hours he would allow himself for sleep were disturbed frequently by the devil.

Who, but a man with vision, could keep going with ever-increasing strength? In 1929, Pope Pius XI named him the patron of parish priests worldwide.


Indifference toward religion, coupled with a love for material comfort, seem to be common signs of our times. A person from another planet observing us would not likely judge us to be pilgrim people, on our way to somewhere else. John Vianney, on the other hand, was a man on a journey with his goal before him at all times.


Recommending liturgical prayer, John Vianney would say, “Private prayer is like straw scattered here and there: If you set it on fire, it makes a lot of little flames. But gather these straws into a bundle and light them, and you get a mighty fire, rising like a column into the sky; public prayer is like that.”

Patron Saint of: Parish priests, Priests

Related St. Anthony Messenger article(s) 

John Vianney: The Saint Who Read Souls at a Glance, by Greg Heffernan

Read the source: 

Catholic saints are holy people and human people who lived extraordinary lives. Each saint the Church honors responded to God’s invitation to use his or her unique gifts. God calls each one of us to be a saint. 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:  

BORN 8 May 1786
Kingdom of France
DIED 4 August 1859 (aged 73)
Ars-sur-FormansAin, France
VENERATED IN Catholic Church
BEATIFIED 8 January 1905, Rome, Italy byPope Pius X
CANONIZED 1925, Rome, Italy by Pope Pius XI
MAJOR SHRINE Shrine of St. John Vianney
Ars-sur-Formans, Ain, France
FEAST 4 August
9 August (1950s)
8 August (1960s)
4 August (1970s onward). (General Roman Calendar)
PATRONAGE parish priests;[1] Personal Apostolic Administration of Saint John Mary Vianney;Archdiocese of Dubuque;confessorsArchdiocese of Kansas City

Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney, T.O.S.F. (8 May 1786 – 4 August 1859), commonly known in English as St. John Vianney, was a French parish priest who is venerated in the Catholic Church as a saint and as the patron saint of parish priests. He is often referred to as the Curé d’Ars (i.e., Parish Priest of Ars), internationally known for his priestly and pastoral work in his parish in ArsFrance, because of the radical spiritual transformation of the community and its surroundings. Catholics attribute this to his saintly life, mortification, his persevering ministry in the sacrament ofconfession, and his ardent devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. His feast day is August 4.

Early life[edit]

Statue of Jean-Marie Vianney in the church of a small village in France.

Vianney was born on 8 May 1786, in the French town of DardillyFrance (near Lyon), and was baptized the same day. His parents, Matthieu Vianney and his wife Marie (Beluze),[2]had six children, of whom John was the fourth. The Vianneys were devout Catholics, who helped the poor and gave hospitality to St. Benedict Joseph Labre, the patron saint of tramps, who passed through Dardilly on his pilgrimage to Rome.

By 1790, the anticlerical Terror phase of the French Revolutionforced many loyal priests to hide from the regime in order to carry out the sacraments in their parish. Even though to do so had been declared illegal, the Vianneys travelled to distant farms to attend Masses celebrated by priests on the run. Realizing that such priests risked their lives day by day, Vianney began to look upon them as heroes. He received his First Communion catechism instructions in a private home by two nuns whose communities had been dissolved during the Revolution. He made his first communion at the age of 13.[3] During the Mass, the windows were covered so that the light of the candles could not be seen from the outside. His practice of the Faith continued in secret, especially during his preparation forconfirmation.

The Catholic Church was re-established in France in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte, resulting in religious peace throughout the country, culminating in a Concordat. By this time, Vianney was concerned about his future vocation and longed for an education. He was 20 when his father allowed him to leave the farm to be taught at a “presbytery-school” in the neighbouring village of Écully, conducted by the Abbé Balley.[3] The school taught arithmetic, history, geography and Latin. Vianney struggled with school, especially with Latin, since his past education had been interrupted by the French Revolution. Only because of Vianney’s deepest desire to be a priest—and Balley’s patience—did he persevere.[4]

Vianney’s studies were interrupted in 1809 when he was drafted into Napoleon‘s armies.[3] He would have been exempt, as an ecclesiastical student, but Napoleon had withdrawn the exemption in certain dioceses because of his need for soldiers in his fight against Spain.[5] Two days after he had to report at Lyons, he became ill and was hospitalized, during which time his draft left without him. Once released from the hospital, on 5 January, he was sent to Roanne for another draft.[3] He went into a church to pray, and fell behind the group. He met a young man who volunteered to guide him back to his group, but instead led him deep into the mountains of Le Forez, to the village of Les Noes, where deserters had gathered.[5] Vianney lived there for fourteen months,[6] hidden in the byre attached to a farmhouse, and under the care of Claudine Fayot, a widow with four children. He assumed the name Jerome Vincent, and under that name he opened a school for village children.[7] Since the harsh weather isolated the town during the winter, the deserters were safe fromgendarmes. However, after the snow melted, gendarmes came to the town constantly, searching for deserters. During these searches, Vianney hid inside stacks of fermenting hay in Fayot’s barn.

An imperial decree proclaimed in March 1810 granted amnesty to all deserters,[6] which enabled Vianney to go back legally to Ecully, where he resumed his studies. He was tonsured in 1811, and in 1812 he went to the minor seminary atVerrières-en-Forez. In autumn of 1813, he was sent to major seminary at Lyons. Considered too slow, he was returned to Abbe Balley. However, Balley persuaded the Vicar general that Vianney’s piety was great enough to compensate for his ignorance, and the seminarian received minor ordersand the subdiaconate on 2 July 1814, was ordained a deacon in June 1815, and was ordained priest on 12 August 1815 in the Couvent des Minimes de Grenoble. He said his first Mass the next day,[6] and was appointed assistant to Balley in Écully.

Curé of Ars[edit]

In 1818, shortly after the death of Balley, Jean-Marie Vianney was appointed parish priest of the parish of Ars, a town of 230 inhabitants.[6] When Vianney’s bishop first assigned him to Ars, he got lost trying to find the town. Two young men tending flocks in the fields pointed him in the right direction.[8] With Catherine Lassagne and Benedicta Lardet, he established La Providence, a home for girls.[9]

As parish priest, Vianney realized that the Revolution’s aftermath had resulted in religious ignorance and indifference, due to the devastation wrought on the Catholic Church in France. At the time, Sundays in rural areas were spent working in the fields, or dancing and drinking in taverns. Vianney spent time in the confessional and gave homilies againstblasphemy and dancing.[6] If his parishioners did not give up dancing, he refused them absolution.[10]

Abbe Balley had been Vianney’s greatest inspiration, since he was a priest who remained loyal to his faith, despite the Revolution.[11]Vianney felt compelled to fulfill the duties of a curé, just as did Balley, even when it was illegal.

Later years[edit]

Vianney came to be known internationally, and people from distant places began traveling to consult him as early as 1827. “By 1855, the number of pilgrims had reached 20,000 a year. During the last ten years of his life, he spent 16 to 18 hours a day in the confessional. Even the bishop forbade him to attend the annual retreats of the diocesan clergy because of the souls awaiting him yonder”.[5] He spent at least 11 or 12 hours a day in the confessional during winter, and up to 16 in the summer.[12]

Vianney had a great devotion to St. Philomena. Vianney regarded her as his guardian and erected a chapel and shrine in honor of the saint. During May 1843, Vianney fell so ill he thought that his life was coming to its end. Vianney attributed his cure to her intercession.

Vianney yearned for the contemplative life of a monk, and four times ran away from Ars, the last time in 1853.[12] He was a champion of the poor as a Franciscan tertiary and was a recipient of the coveted French Legion of Honor,[8]

Death and veneration[edit]

The body of Saint John Marie Vianney, found to be incorrupt by the Catholic Church. The body, wearing a wax mask, is entombed above the main altar in the Basilica at Ars, France.

On 4 August 1859, Vianney died at the age of 73.[13] The bishop presided over his funeral with 300 priests and more than 6,000 people in attendance. Before he was buried, Vianney’s body was fitted with a wax mask.[14]

On 3 October 1874 Pope Pius IX proclaimed him “venerable”; on 8 January 1905, Pope Pius X declared him Blessed and proposed him as a model to the parochial clergy. In 1925 John Marie Vianney was canonized by Pope Pius XI,[13] who in 1929 made him patron saint of parish priests.[15] In 1928 his feast day was inserted into the General Roman Calendar for celebration on 9 August. Pope John XXIII’s 1960 revision, in which the Vigil of Saint Lawrence had a high rank, moved the feast to 8 August. Finally, the 1969 revision placed it on 4 August, the day of his death.

In 1959, to commemorate the centenary of John Vianney’s death, Pope John XXIII issued the encyclical letter Sacerdotii nostri primordiaJohn Paul II visited Ars in person in 1986 in connextion with the bicentenary of Vianney’s birth and referred to the great saint as a “rare example of a pastor acutely aware of his responsibilities … and a sign of courage for those who today experience the grace of being called to the priesthood.”[8]

In honor of the 150th anniversary of Vianney’s death, Pope Benedict XVI declared a Year of the Priest, running from the Feast of the Sacred Heart 2009-2010.[16][17]

The Vatican Postal Service issued a set of stamps to commemorate the 150th Anniversary. With the following words on 16 June 2009, Benedict XVI officially marked the beginning of the year dedicated to priests, “…On the forthcoming Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Friday 19 June 2009 – a day traditionally devoted to prayer for the sanctification of the clergy –, I have decided to inaugurate a ‘Year of the Priest’ in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the dies natalis of John Mary Vianney, the Patron Saint of parish priests worldwide…”[18]

Pope Benedict XVI declared 19 June 2009 – 19 June 2010 the Year of the Priests to encourage priests to strive for spiritual perfection.[1] In the Holy Father’s words the Curé d’Ars is “a true example of a pastor at the service of Christ’s flock.”[19]

There are statues of Vianney in many French churches and in Catholic churches throughout the world. Also, many parishes founded in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries are named after him. Some relics are kept in the Church of Notre-Dame de la Salette in Paris.

Institutions carrying his name[edit]

There are dozens of institutions including schools, seminaries, churches named after him including:

  • St. John Vianney Catholic School, Barrie, Ontario
  • St. John Vianney Catholic School, Windsor, Ontario
  • St. John Vianney Catholic Church, Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia
  • St. John Vianney Catholic Church, Penticton, British Columbia
  • Iglesia del Santo Cura de Ars, Jardines de Asuncion Sur, Zone 5, Guatemala City
  • St. John Vianney Roman Catholic Church, Ardlea Road, Artane, Dublin 5
  • St. John Vianney Church, Dhowatand, Govindpur, Dhanbad, Jharkhand
  • St. John Vianney Catholic Church, Alva, Clackmannanshire
United States

See also[edit]


  1. Jump up to:a b Pope Benedict XVI, “Letter Proclaiming a Year for Priests on the 150th Anniversary of the ‘Dies Natalis’ of the Curé of Ars”, 16 June 2009
  2. Jump up^ Risso, Paolo. “The Life of St Jean-Marie Vianney”, L’Osservatore Romano, 27 July 2005, p.9
  3. Jump up to:a b c d Walsh, Michael, ed. Butler’s Lives of the Saints(New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1991), 236.
  4. Jump up^ Marshall, Bruce. The Curé of Ars (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1952), 273.
  5. Jump up to:a b c “Otten, Susan Tracy. “St. Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 30 Dec. 2012″. Retrieved June 2013. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  6. Jump up to:a b c d e Walsh, p. 237.
  7. Jump up^ “Graf, Dom Ernest, ”The Cure of Ars”. Incorporated Catholic Truth Society,, London, 1952″. Retrieved June 2013.Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  8. Jump up to:a b c Heffernan, Greg. “John Vianney: The Saint Who Read Souls at a Glance”, St. Anthony Messenger
  9. Jump up^ “Foley, O.F.M., Leonard. ”Saint of the Day”, Franciscan Media, ISBN 978-0-86716-887-7″. Retrieved June 2013. Check date values in: |access-date=(help)
  10. Jump up^ Walsh, pp. 237-8.
  11. Jump up^ Marshall, p. 275.
  12. Jump up to:a b Walsh, p. 238.
  13. Jump up to:a b “Who is the Cure of Ars?”, Sisters of the Cure of Ars, Diocese of Portland, Maine
  14. Jump up^ Cruz, Joan Carroll. The Incorruptibles: A Study of the Incorruption of the Bodies of Various Catholic Saints and Beati, TAN Books and Publishers, Inc, June 1977. ISBN 0-89555-066-0
  15. Jump up^ Walsh, p. 239.
  16. Jump up^ “Independent Catholic News, May 5, 2009”. 2009-05-28. Retrieved June 2013. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  17. Jump up^ “Congregazione per il Clero – Annus Sacerdotalis – Letter proclaiming a Year for Priests”. Annus Sacerdotalis. 2009-06-19. Retrieved June 2013. Check date values in:|access-date= (help)
  18. Jump up^ “Year for Priests – 150th Ann. of St John Vianney”. World Stamp News. June 18, 2010. Retrieved September 12, 2010.