Thought for the Day – 13 August – Tuesday of the Nineteenth week in Ordinary Time, Year C and the Memorial of St John Berchmans SJ (1599-1621)
The fierce, passionate “muscular” Christianity of John Berchmans seems unreal, even horrifying to many of today’s Catholics brought up on soft-focus posters, self-affirming books and the belief that Christian love means primarily kindness – but let us not be deceived. It seems we have 3 ‘handles’ ‘don’t judge’, God is love and God is merciful – He will understand. All true but it doesn’t leave us free to live, as if we have no responsibility and no commandments and rules, which we MUST obey to gather those amazing graces of God’s love and mercy and judgement. We need to walk the narrow road, preferably barefoot, to excel in holiness and fulfil our mission, ‘to love God, to serve God and to live with Him forever in heaven.’ Holy Mother Church guides and leads us and best of all, our Lord Jesus Christ walks with us, before us, behind us, in us and He is barefoot too!
The seventeenth century was a cruel time all round, with no punches pulled and no anaesthetics. But Catholics, like John, had the hardest feet imaginable and besides fortitude (“guts”) and self-sacrifice, they excelled in virtues that the 21st century West ignores or treats almost as a joke, such as humble obedience, temperance, diligence and chastity.
Hence St John’s value to us as a guide today lies in his youthful, clear vision in areas where our own times have gaping blind spots.
Let us go forward, barefoot and become the Saints we are called to be!