Tuesday, August 4, 2009


“St. John Vianney”
Artist and Date are UNKNOWN


Biographical Information about St. John Vianney [1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. John Vianney

Readings and Commentary:

Ezekiel 3:17-21

The word of the LORD came to me:
Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman
for the house of Israel.
When you hear a word from my mouth,
you shall warn them for me.

If I say to the wicked man,
You shall surely die;
and you do not warn him or speak out
to dissuade him from his wicked conduct so that he may live:
the wicked man shall die for his sins,
but I will hold you responsible for his death.
If, on the other hand, you have warned the wicked man,
yet he has not turned away from his evil
nor from his wicked conduct,
then he shall die for his sin,
but you shall save your life.

If a virtuous man turns away from virtue and does wrong
when I place a stumbling block before him, he shall die.
He shall die for his sin,
and his virtuous deeds shall not be remembered;
but I will hold you responsible for his death
if you did not warn him.
When, on the other hand, you have warned a virtuous man not to sin,
and he has in fact not sinned,
he shall surely live because of the warning,
and you shall save your own life.

Commentary on
Ez 3:17-21

This passage from Ezekiel is what is called the “Fourth Commission” of the Prophet (the fourth of five elements of the prophet’s call to the Lord’s service. In this fourth commission he is called to be the “Watchman” of the people. (Scholarly study of this passage proposes it was not originally placed in this place but is actually much later in the narrative and is actually a parallel to
Ezekiel 33:1-9.) The prophet is called to address the captives of Israel whom he is to keep faithful to Yahweh as they are confronted with the temptations of an affluent pagan society. This “watchman” role also finds parallels in Hosea 9:8; Isaiah2l:6ff.; 56:10,58:7; and Jeremiah 6:17. “In Ez, it embodies the principle of personal responsibility applied to the prophetic office.” [3]

Psalm 117:1bc, 2

R. (Mark 16:15) Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.

Praise the LORD, all you nations;
glorify him, all you peoples!
R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.

For steadfast is his kindness toward us,
and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever.
R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
Commentary on
Ps 117:1bc, 2

“This shortest of hymns calls on the nations to acknowledge God's supremacy. The supremacy of Israel's God has been demonstrated to them by the people's secure existence, which is owed entirely to God's gracious fidelity.”[iv] Using a refrain from St. Mark’s Gospel, the psalm is one of praise for the Good News of God’s salvation.

Matthew 9:35-10:1

Jesus went around to all the towns and villages,
teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom,
and curing every disease and illness.
At the sight of the crowds,
his heart was moved with pity for them
because they were troubled and abandoned,
like sheep without a shepherd.
Then he said to his disciples,
"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest."

Then he summoned his twelve disciples
and gave them authority over unclean spirits
to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness.
Commentary on Mt 9:35-10:1

This selection emphasizes Jesus early struggle to accomplish what he came to do by himself. We sense the humanness as he says; "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few". Notably he gives the disciples his authority prior to sending them into the world.

CCC: Mt 9:38 2611

St. John Vianney’s story is an inspiration to all the faithful who seek to do God’s will as Christ commanded. He was not given a great intellect with which to astound the great and powerful of the Church in the Napoleonic era into which he was born. His spiritual practices of austerity did not make him into an imposing figure physically. Yet his dedication to Christ in the practice of his hard won priesthood has become a model not only for the Presbyterate (Priests) but for all the faithful.

It is with good reason we hear the Fourth Commission of Ezekiel as the first reading. The prophet is called to be a watchman, a guard against the allure of secular hedonism. St. John Vianney similarly tasked himself with guarding against the same kinds of excesses in his own time through his teaching and counsel. While he did not call himself “prophet” his apparent knowledge of events outside his personal timeline speaks of a grace from God which surly must have existed to an extraordinary extent. His influence on the world around him through his advice and teaching labeled him as a chief laborer in the harvest of souls to which the Lord calls all his disciples.

As we once more hear Jesus reach out to us through Sacred Scripture telling us “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few” let us be inspired by the life and works of St. John Vianney and work tirelessly, as he did, to bring about the Kingdom of God.


[1] The picture is “St. John Vianney” Artist and Date are UNKNOWN
[2] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 1973, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.
[3] See Jerome Biblical Commentary, Prentice Hall, Inc., © 1968, pp.350, 22.

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