It was a tense afternoon in the September of the year 1594.
The Bishop of Geneva in France, had convoked a meeting of all his clergy.
>> There was an urgent need for priests to go to a place named Chablais.
Chablais was a territory in Geneva, which had been under political and religious siege.
>> Around fifty priests in this place had been banished.
>> Many churches had been burnt and devastated.
Chablais had become a place of terror for the Catholic Church.
>> It had became infamous for its terrible persecution of the Catholic Faith.
It’s in this horrifying situation, that the Bishop of the place had called for a meeting…
… to ask for volunteers to go to this place and renew the faith.
But none came forward…
>> None were willing to risk their lives…
It’s at this point, that there came a gentle yet firm voice – “My Lord, if you think that I am capable of it, command me, I am ready!”
The voice was of St Francis de Sales.
His own father considered this decision as “utter madness”
>> Perhaps, the other priests and clergy would have also felt this decision as a “crazy one”
The risk of being driven out, failing in his undertaking and of becoming a laughing stock of the world was great indeed.
>> But St Francis de Sales stood firm to His decision.
>> It was a decision which perhaps defied reasons…
>> It was a decision which perhaps seemed out of senses…
But this decision was to become the turning point of a spiritual revolution!
St Francis de Sales was convinced, that nothing is greater than “seeking and doing” the Will of God.
>> He would in fact, later in life, say:
“Do everything calmly and peacefully.
Strive to see God in all things without exception, and consent to His will joyously.
Do everything for God, uniting yourself to him in word and deed.”
What about our Christian Life?
>> Is it centred on seeking and doing the Will of God, at every moment, in every situation?
The Gospel of the Day is a narrative of Jesus displaying His conviction and commitment on the most vital dimension of the Kingdom of God: Doing God’s Will.
Jesus was in the thick of His ministry.
>> The place was packed with people sitting on the floor, in the passage-way, around the doors and windows, craving to listen to what Jesus was speaking.
It’s at that time that His family members arrived.
His family couldn’t get through to Him
>> So they send a message in, and it passed from one person to person: “Tell him that his mother and brothers are outside looking for him” (Mk 3: 32)
The message finally reached Jesus.
It is interesting to consider the feelings and reactions of the different persons…
• The family of Jesus…
….were eager and concerned to get the Lord back home
… were wanting to meet Him and if possible to give Him a break in His ministry
• The crowd around Jesus…
… were understandable that the family of the Lord are keen to meet Him
… were expecting Jesus to stop His preaching, to accommodate meeting His kith and kin
It is in such critical moments and crucial situations…
… that the Lord loves to make use, to put across a message…
… that the Lord loves to thrive on, to send forth a teaching…
Jesus uses the arrival of His physical family as an opportunity to teach about His relationship with His spiritual family.
What is most needed…
… is not human relationships
… is not human affairs
>> Rather, spiritual relations and spiritual affairs!
Jesus brings to focus the importance…
… to seek and do God’s Will
… to become related in the Kingdom.
What is our own attitude and mentality…
>> Am I concerned more with worldly affairs or do I engage myself more into spiritual realities?
>> Am I disturbed more by earthly concerns or do I share more the anxiety for spiritual growth?
>> Am I obsessed more with worldly gains or do I be zealous for spiritual graces and blessings?
Very often we lose our focus…
>> Very often we lose sight of the proper track…
The Lord, today, brings back the “spotlight” on the essentials of a Christian Life.
>>Christian life sometimes gets diluted with too many “social” concerns…
… at the expense of spiritual realities.
>> Christian life sometimes gets polluted with too many “interdisciplinary” matters…
… at the expense of true faith and teachings.
>> Christian life sometimes gets ruined with too many “compromising” practices…
… at the expense of Gospel values and standards.
Today we celebrate the Feast of St Francis de Sales.
…. the Doctor of Love!
… the Gentleman Saint!
>>He, today, invites and encourages us to embrace this path of constantly seeking and doing the Will of God!
In His book – The Introduction to the Devout Life (a book recommended for all, especially those in family life) ….
>> He clearly enunciates simple and practical tips of how one can grow in devotion and holiness…
… by constantly remaining in the presence of God
… by continually doing the Will of God
Undoubtedly, in doing the Will of God, we will have to…
… we will have to face moments of loneliness, ‘cos we will find ourselves, swimming against the currents of the world
… we will have to encounter hardships and rejections, ‘cos we would become a subject of calumny and mockery, as others may oppose us
… we will have to go through situations of darkness, ‘cos we would find it hard to even have clarity in our life of faith
But in all such situations, the Lord assures us, with the 5 magical words: I WILL BE WITH YOU!
This was the conviction that led St Francis de Sales to become a Great Saint…
… treading confidently and optimistically in the Path of Holiness and Sanctity.
He would say:
“In all your affairs, rely wholly on God’s providence, through which alone you must look for success.
>> Nevertheless, strive quietly on your part to cooperate with its designs…
… Imitate little children who with one hand hold fast to their father while with the other they gather strawberries or blackberries from the hedges.”
May we seek the mighty intercession of the Gentleman Saint to “Seek and Do” God’s Will at all times and thus “soar in the skies of sanctity”
May the following words and quotes of St Francis de Sales inspire and strengthen us:
>> “Bloom where you are planted”
>> “Be what you are and be at its best”
>> “I have made a pact with my tongue… not to speak, when my heart is troubled!”
>> “A spoonful of honey attracts more bees than a barrel of vinegar”
>> “Be patient with all things; but first of all, with yourself!”
>> “Praying daily for half an hour is essential, except when you are busy… in those times, an hour!”
Wish you all a very Happy Feast of St Francis De Sales!
>> With joy and love, let us proclaim with him, “Vive Jesus…Live Jesus!”
God Bless! Live Jesus!