Faith-St. Francis de Sales

HOMILY WEEK 03 02 – Year I

Fearless Faith:

Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales

(2 Tim 1:1-8; Ps 96; Lk 10:1-9)


From seventy disciples to two, the readings today focus on the importance of the gift of faith and the difference it makes in our lives.

Ultimately, we are invited to re-kindle our faith, to live in Christ forgiven and healed, to proclaim the kingdom of God, and to share our faith with others as his disciples and wounded healers.

It is hard to imagine that Jesus found seventy poorly educated Galileans, perhaps women as well as men, to set out on a mission he has entrusted to them. They first of all had to believe in him and his message, when the religious establishment in Jerusalem refused to do so.

They were sent to bring the peace only faith in Jesus can give to all they meet, to trust in Divine Providence, to heal the sick, and to proclaim that the reign of God was breaking into human history. Can you imagine their feelings – trusted, honored, perhaps some fear of their inadequacy, yet buoyed up by the magnitude of their mission?

Their mission is also ours. We may not see ourselves as healers, yet I suspect many of us have helped to heal others just by being good listeners, truly attentive to and present to the suffering of others. Alice Miller, author of Drama of the Gifted Child, towards the end of her career as a psychologist, claimed that all that people really needed to heal is a “listening witness.” I know that I have had that experience of a dramatic transformation of my emotions and personal well-being when sharing my vulnerability with a trusted other who truly listened, understood and accepted my feelings. That is also a big part of what the Worldwide Marriage Encounter encourages couples to be for each other and the church. That is what they were to me and to each other on the most recent weekend I helped to facilitate.

In his last words to Timothy in today’s passage, St. Paul adds a challenging invitation – to accept suffering for the sake of the gospel. That is a call to radical discipleship – to have a faith strong enough to accept suffering and inconvenience in our lives without bitterness or resentment, as Jesus did. Then our suffering takes on deeper meaning, as it is connected to the suffering of Jesus on the cross, and becomes redemptive as it helps, in a mysterious way, to build up that kingdom of God here on earth.

St. Francis de Sales

The Church today honors someone who was truly good soil for God’s Word, and who lived out an intimate covenant relationship of love with God, St. Frances de Sales. A leader of the Catholic Reformation, Francis was born in France in 1567. His family insisted he study law rather than enter the seminary. After obtaining doctorates in both canon and civil law by the age of 24, Francis chose religious life instead. His family eventually became reconciled to his choice and he was ordained in 1593. Appointed bishop of Geneva in 1602, Francis reorganized the diocese, reformed religious education, established a seminary and founded schools. He lived a life of austerity and simplicity, sharing with the poor. Wise and intelligent, he emphasized both the loving kindness of God, and the human capacity for love. Francis was beatified the year he died, 1622 – the first formal beatification to take place in St. Peter’s – and canonized in 1665. He is the patron saint of writers, journalists and of the deaf. He is a great example for us of someone who was both good soil for God’s word, and also poured out God’s unconditional love on all to whom he ministered.

May the Eucharist we celebrate today strengthen our faith in Jesus and empower us to go out as his disciples, to both offer healing in the many ways it is needed by others, and to proclaim that because of Jesus, the kingdom of heaven has indeed come near.



Updated: January 23, 2023 — 11:06 pm

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