Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Monday Reflection - Peter Garvie

St. John Bosco (image from google)

This homily was given by Peter Garvie, a final year ordinand, at Evening Prayer on Monday 31st January 2011.


The Church and sanity have often been confused in the past, and there are few instances where this is more true than in the figure of Saintt John Bosco…

It was said by many, and probably thought by more, that John Bosco must have been insane, and an attempt was made at one stage to even put him into an asylum.

But what on earth could provoke such a reaction, to a man who’s legacy is still educating thousands of disadvantaged children and who is responsible for founding the third largest religious order in the Catholic Church?

It was when visiting prisons as a seminarian that John Bosco found it difficult to take lightly his calling to live out his vocation in dedication to abandoned young people. He was moved to find a way of providing spiritual and educational nourishment for these people through the threefold method of education: reason, religion, and loving kindness. This method combined with his charismatic charm and deep devotion inevitably produced remarkably positive results. He gained the attention of many and soon had the political movers at the time sitting uneasily as he was seen to be not just a nuisance but also politically dangerous. Time and time again obstacles were deliberately put in his way to stop his work and under overwhelming adversity he persevered with all the odds stacked against him.

But look a little deeper and we can begin to see that he brought to bare the gospel in a way which is just as relevant today as it always has been.

We ought to be perplexed when the world is not challenged by the gospel. Look around us and it is quite easy to see that if the church were to take its vocation as seriously as John Bosco did his, many would suspect that we too are insane and what an astonishing compliment that might be.

Like John did, we too are discerning how to live out our vocation. We find ourselves at this time in the reassuring confines of a seminary, located in a former monastery no less, with the privilege of praying together with other Christians every single day. But lets not be under any allusions of the subtle suspicions that are awaiting us.

By agreeing to serve the church in such a public way we set ourselves up to have stones thrown at us, and that is foolish. John Bosco could quite easily be described as the clown for Christ (he was even known to juggle and dance around to engage the young people with his teachings).

Today we ask for the intercession of John Bosco, and all the saints, that we too may find what living out our vocation might look like, as we discern what God might be telling us in each of our various placements wherever they might be. What is it that might characterise the way in which we are to work with our fellow members of Christ's body, in searching out the poor and weak, the sick and lonely and those who are oppressed and powerless, to bring them to the foot of the cross and to reveal the process of the resurrection life, the love of God made visible.

And above all, we ask for the sort of perseverance that characterised John Bosco, and in doing so we can turn to our Lord for our guidance, whom this evening we have had recounted the events that led to his being delivered to be crucified. This, the greatest of all obstacles, death itself, which he overcame. May we share in that vocation, may we share in him.

Let us pray;

We praise you, Lord
for calling Saint John Bosco
to be a loving father and prudent guide of the young.
Give us his fervent zeal for souls
and enable us to live for you alone.
We make our prayer through our Lord.