18th Week, Thursday, Aug 6

Jeremiah 31;31-34 / Matthew 16:13-23
God makes a promise: “I will make a new covenant

At the Last Supper, Jesus said, “This cup is God’s new covenant sealed with my blood.” Luke 22:20. When the disciples heard these words, their thoughts went immediately to today’s reading from the Book of Jeremiah. From Jesus’ viewpoint, the new covenant didn’t destroy the old one any more than adulthood destroys childhood. It grew out of the old covenant as naturally as adulthood grows out of childhood. It brought the old covenant to its fulfillment. Speaking about the new covenant, Paul said, “No longer do we serve in the old way of a written law, but in the new way of the Spirit.” Romans 7:6
Do we still serve in the old way by asking, “How far can I go before I break the law?” Or do we serve in the new way by asking, “How much more can I do because I love?” “In the evening of life we will be judged by how Well We loved.” John of the Cross
If we are to look at some of the pictures of St John Vianney (patron saint of parish priests), we might come to think that as far as looks are concerned, he does not make an impression. But not just looks, as far as intellectual capacity and ability is concerned, St John Vianney was also not that impressive. Because he had difficulties with his priestly studies and didn't do well in his exams. He was eventually ordained as a priest, but initially on the condition that he did not preach at Mass or even teach catechism, for fear that he would end up teaching something heretical.
But how did a priest like St John Vianney eventually be proclaimed by the Church as the Patron Saint for Priests?

Firstly, it was in the confessional that he received the grace of spiritual insight and helped people in repentance and conversion.

St John Vianney spent many hours everyday in the confessional, helping people see their sinfulness and experience the mercy and forgiveness of God.

Later when he was allowed to preach, he spoke in simplicity about the love of God, and he also spoke with passion.

He worked himself tirelessly to serve the people by bringing them closer to God, besides having to face temptations from the devil, and also persecutions from members of the clergy and others.

Indeed, St John Vianney was a model of dedication, of holiness, of prayer and of faithfulness.

Like the prophet Jeremiah in the 1st reading, St. John Vianney helped people to realize what God has planted and written deep within their hearts, and the gates of the underworld can never lock it out.

But we must put our faith and trust in the Lord who is merciful and compassionate and grants us forgiveness and healing through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

As we celebrate this feast, let us pray for our priests that they too will remain dedicated to God, faithful to God, and strive for holiness and be models of prayer to us.

When priests serve the Lord like St John Vianney did, then the Church would indeed be a priestly and holy people.