Thought for the Day – 16 January – The Memorial of St Joseph Vaz (1651-1711) Apostle of Sri Lanka
“Saint Joseph shows us the importance of transcending religious divisions in the service of peace. His undivided love for God opened him to love for his neighbour; he ministered to those in need, whoever and wherever they were. His example continues to inspire the Church in Sri Lanka today. She gladly and generously serves all members of society. She makes no distinction of race, creed, tribe, status or religion in the service she provides through her schools, hospitals, clinics and many other charitable works. All she asks in return is the freedom to carry out this mission.
Religious freedom is a fundamental human right. Each individual must be free, alone or in association with others, to seek the truth and to openly express his or her religious convictions, free from intimidation and external compulsion.
As the life of Saint Joseph Vaz teaches us, genuine worship of God bears fruit not in discrimination, hatred and violence but in respect for the sacredness of life, respect for the dignity and freedom of others and loving commitment to the welfare of all.” (From the Homily of Pope Francis on the Canonisation of St Joseoph Vaz – 14 January 2015)
“Joseph Vaz was on fire with faith. Guided by the example of his Divine Master, he travelled the whole Island, going everywhere, often barefoot, with a rosary round his neck as a sign of his Catholic faith. As a true disciple of Jesus, he endured innumerable sufferings with joy and confidence, knowing that in those sufferings too God’s plans were being fulfilled. His heroic charity, shown in a particular way in his selfless devotion to the victims of the epidemic in 1697, earned him the respect of everyone.
May the example of Father Joseph Vaz speak to your hearts…He welcomed everyone as a child of God. And because of this love his name is now invoked as a blessing, here in Sri Lanka and throughout the world. “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Mt. 5: 9). When lasting peace comes, all Sri Lankans will be blessed and your country will be restored in its full dignity and greatness. May Almighty God achieve this through you. Amen.
May Almighty God through the intercession of Our Lady and of blessed Joseph Vaz achieve this through you.” (St Pope John Paul on the Beatification of St Joseph Vaz – 21 January 1995)