AD SENSE

18th Week, Tuesday, Aug 4 - St. John Vianney

Jeremiah 30:1-2, 12-15, 18-22 / Matthew 14:22-36
God speaks to his people: “I will restore my people.”

Jeremiah prophesied in Judah in the most critical time in the nation’s history: before and after the destruction of the city and the Temple by the Babylonians. Today’s reading is addressed to the people in their darkest hour: after the fall of the city and the Temple. It assures the people that God will eventually restore their nation to its former glory. He will wipe away their tears and, once again, make them dance for joy.
****
How do we respond when sorrow or tragedy invades our lives? Do these imposters tend to make us bitter or better as persons? “How often we look upon God as our last and feeblest recourse! We go to him because we have nowhere else to go. And then we learn that the storms of life have driven us not upon the rocks, but into the desired haven.” George MacDonald
****
It is always necessary to be cautious whenever we put anything into writing. That is because the written word cannot be changed, and it can have a long-term effect, if not a lasting effect. Especially when writing about God. All the more, caution must be exercised.

Yet God Himself didn't seem to hold back any sentiments when He told the prophet Jeremiah to put His words down in writing, as we heard in the 1st reading.  Certainly, we can feel the cutting edge of those words addressed to the people - your wound is incurable, your injury past healing. There is no one to care for your sore, no medicine to make you well again. Why bother to complain about your wound? Your pain is incurable.

Yet, as much as God lets His people be punished by their enemies for their sins and infidelities, God is also there to heal and restore His people.

So, for as much as His people turned away from God, He still keeps His promise - You shall be my people and I will be your God.

And Jesus would reinforce that promise by saying to His disciples - Courage, it is I! Do not be afraid. So whether we are walking tall in the sunshine of confidence or spiralling down into the murky waters of darkness, let us keep those three words of Peter - Lord! Save me! Yes, those three simple words will certainly bring about salvation and healing for us.


Tuesday August 4

Tuesday of 18th Week of Ordinary Time

WALKING ON WATER

Introduction
The prophet Jeremiah first reminds the people of the punishment for their infidelity, but then he opens the perspectives to a beautiful restoration, when Israel shall be again God’s people and God will be their God.
The symbolism of the gospel narrative is very strong. Water is evil, which swallows up. Jesus, the Lord, is mightier. He invites the disciple and the whole Church to take the risk of faith of following him. Faith is insecure by itself; we have to pass through the storms of life between faith and fear. But the Lord is there, unseen: It is I, I am with you. Do not be afraid.

Opening Prayer
Lord our God,
there is a constant tension in us
between fear and faith
as we are battling with the winds and the waves
that threaten our faithfulness to the Gospel.
Make us accept Lord,
that faith is never secure
or acquired once and for all.
Make it grow in us day after day,
that we may not be faint-hearted
but resolutely follow your Son,
Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Commentary
There were many times in the Old Testament when Yahweh threatened his people with punishment. But he relented. In today’s Gospel, Peter steps out boldly on the water to meet the Master but soon begins to sink. Christ’s extended hand saves him from drowning. Then there is the sinful woman of the Gospels whose accusers wanted to stone. Scarcely able to speak in her shame, she receives forgiveness from Jesus without reproach.
Jeremiah today sees a sinful Israel. Struck in her sinfulness and crying out in her wounds, Israel senses deeply her alienation. But Yahweh pledges a rebuilding and resettlement, a city on a hill and a splendid palace, with songs of laughter and of praise. It is a new and restored Jerusalem, a place where forgiveness has been assured.
We have all been guilty of sin, some more serious than others. But those sins, once as red as scarlet, are now white as snow. The saddest thing is to slink away and wallow in our guilt. It takes no more than an act of sorrow. What was true in Jeremiah’s time is equally true today.
Lord, forgive me a repentant sinner.

Points to Ponder
Attitudes of intransigence
Christ’s helping hand in times of distress

Intercessions
– For the Church, when it has to pass through difficult moments of persecution, ridicule or inner conflict, that it may keep trusting in the Lord, we pray:
– For Christians beset by doubts or facing hard decisions of conscience, that they may see the hand Jesus extends to them, we pray:
– For people who have to do dangerous work, that the Lord may protect them we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
You wish to reassure us,
Lord our God,
how much you are with us
through him who is our food and drink,
your Son, Jesus Christ.
Through him, give us the power
to walk the stormy road of faith
and to take the risks of love,
that we may overcome our fears
and make his reassuring word
the foundation of our life and work
now and till the end of time.

Prayer after Communion
Our all-powerful God,
you invite us through Jesus, your Son,
to leave our timid security
and to come across the water with him
in commitment to you and to our neighbor.
Even though, we do not see his hand
put out to us and holding us,
give us enough faith to be certain
that with him, we shall overcome
and build up your future in our human world,
until he leads us across to you,
our God, for ever and ever.

Blessing
“Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid,” says Jesus. He is with us in our struggles, for he will never desert us. May Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

*****

Saint John Vianney’s Story

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.
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.

Reflection

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.

Saint John Vianney is the Patron Saint of: Priests

****
Prayer for Priests: By St. John Vianney
God, please give to your Church today, many more priests after your own heart. May they be worthy representatives of Christ the Good Shepherd. May they wholeheartedly devote themselves to prayer and penance; be examples of humility and poverty;
shining models of holiness; tireless and powerful preachers of the Word of God; zealous dispensers of your grace in the sacraments. May their loving devotion to your Son Jesus in the Eucharist and to Mary his Mother be the twin fountains of fruitfulness for their ministry.
Amen.