“Understanding that ‘nothing can shake a missionary who is firmly grounded on Jesus, the Rock and has eyes gazed on the Jesus, the Crucified,’ and thus always crying out, ‘I want missions!’”
(Based on Job 9:1-12, 14-16 and Lk 9:57-62: Wednesday of the 26th Week in Ordinary Time – Feast of St Jerome)
The year 1821.
The Parish of Le Chatelard, in the Archdiocese of Chambery.
Two fervent and austere priests, spent a week in praying, preaching and inviting people for a Mission Service.
But the parishioners remained indifferent.
There was an air of unwelcome apathy.
The two priests had to make a choice: Of either continuing preaching or of “shaking off the dust!”
“When the world says, “Give up”, hope whispers, ‘Try it one more time!’”
The priests – who were hopeful, zealous and committed – set out, in imitation of Jesus, their Master, to the foot of the mountains to pray for the conversion of people.
“They have gone to pray & fast for your conversion” was the reply the curious parishioners received on enquiry of their whereabouts.
Intercession proved powerful!
The two saintly priests were called back by the people…
… and the mission in the Parish resumed with much deep fervour and enthusiasm!
One of the two missionaries was Fr Peter Marie Mermier
(the other was his missions companion, Fr Joseph Favre)
Fr Peter Marie Mermier is the founder of the Congregation of the Missionaries of St Francis de Sales (MSFS)…
… known as the Fransalians!
This daring founder – a dynamic missionary – had many incidents in his life, which made him to experience the power and presence of the Spirit in the missions.
As it is said, “Problems love to haunt missionaries, but Providence lures them to depend on Him, for healing!”
When the early companions in the Congregation began to leave him – though in much agony – with an unshakeable hope and resolve, Fr Mermier declared: “…I will remain all alone. But my resolution is unshakeable as also my desires.
I want missions!”
Yes, nothing can shake a Missionary who is firmly grounded on Jesus, the Rock and has eyes gazed on the Jesus, the Crucified!
Today – on the Founder’s Day of the Congregation of the Missionaries of St Francis de Sales (MSFS) – the death anniversary of the Venerable Servant of God, Fr Peter Marie Mermier (Sep 30, 1862)…
… we are called by the Lord to follow Him more closely and to introspect our motivations and motives in being a Christian!
The Gospel passage (Lk 9:57-62) presents three people who seek to follow the Lord.
These three, present before us…
… three aspects of hurdles/barriers in following the Lord.
- A “comfortable style” of following the Lord
The first person comes up to Jesus and says: “I will follow you wherever you go” (Lk 9: 57)
But Jesus reminds him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to rest His Head” (Lk 9: 58a)
This man had probably heard or seen the Lord…
… as a mighty miracle-worker
… as a popular preacher
… as a laudable leader
These were “comforts” that would be assured in following Jesus
And so perhaps, the man chose this “comfortable style of following the Lord!”
But the Lord prohibits from seeking Him for the sake of comforts alone!
- A “convenient style” of following the Lord
The second person is asked by the Lord to “Follow” Him (Lk 9: 59b)
But he replies, “Let me first go and bury my father” (Lk 9: 59b)
“Bury my father” was a Jewish (Arabic) way of saying….
… one must stay in one’s house till the death of the father and settle the inheritance of the property.
The man was yielding into to conveniences in following the Lord…
… “when I am convenient in my family, I will follow You”
… “when I am convenient in my personal life, I will follow You”
- A “distractive style” of following the Lord
The third person said, “I will follow you Lord, but first let me say farewell to my home” (Lk 9:61)
But Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plough and looks to what is left behind, is fit for the Kingdom of God” (Lk 9: 62)
This person had the goodwill to follow Jesus…
… but was distracted in his motivation.
We need to introspect our motivations and motives in being a Christian…
Is my following of the Lord of a “comfortable style”
… looking for only the comforts of prosperity and material riches…?
… being close to the Lord only in times of comfort…?
Is my following of the Lord of a “convenient style”
… seeking to be with the Lord only when I “feel like”
… adjusting my relationship with God as per my needs and conveniences
Is my following of the Lord of a “distractive style”
… easily straying away from the path with worldly attractions
… failing to do the Will of God owing to distractive habits and tendencies
The Lord longs to have us following Him…
… more sincerely and more passionately!
Martin Luther King Jr. said:
“Consider that people are like tea bags.
They don’t know their own strength until they get into hot water”
It is essential, therefore that we “burn” our comforts and personal wishes in the fire of God’s blazing fiery Love…
… so that we can be better imitators of Him, Who demands that we be zealous in our journey towards perfection!
Today we specially seek the intercession of St Jerome
(St Jerome who was very well-versed in Scripture, is best known for his translation of the Bible into Latin – the translation that became known as the Vulgate – and his commentaries on the Scriptures.
“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ” are the famous words of exhortation of St Jerome, the doctor of the Church)
May his words, “Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better is best”
… be an inspiration for all of us
Like Fr Peter Marie Mermier, may we understand, that “nothing can shake a missionary who is firmly grounded on Jesus, the Rock and has eyes gazed on the Jesus, the Crucified” and always cry out, “I want missions!”
Happy Founder’s Day to all the Fransalians – The Missionaries of St Francis de Sales (MSFS)
God Bless! Live Jesus!
Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “There is nothing small in the service of God!
The world is a great stage…