7 Apr – Memorial for St. John Baptist de la Salle, priest
John (1651–1719) studied for the priesthood in Paris, France, but quit to care for his brothers and sisters upon the death of his parents. When his siblings were grown, John returned to the seminary. He was canon of Rheims, France in 1667 and was ordained in 1678. He became a doctor of theology in 1680.
He was spiritual director of the Sisters of the Holy Infant who were devoted to teaching poor girls. He founded the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (Christian Brothers) in 1681, and established and supported academic education for all boys.
He liquidated his personal fortune, and his Brothers expected him to use it to further his education goals, but he surprised them by saying they would have to depend on Providence. The money (about $400,000) was given away to the poor in the form of bread during the great famine of 1683-1684. St. John kept enough to endow a salary for himself similar to that which the Brothers received so that he wouldn’t be a burden on them.
He instituted the process of dividing students into grades, established the first teachers’ school, started high schools and trade schools, and was proclaimed the patron of all teachers of all youth by Pope Pius XII in 1950.
- Patron Saint Index
I hear so many disparaging me,
‘“Terror from every side!”
Denounce him! Let us denounce him!’
All those who used to be my friends
watched for my downfall,
‘Perhaps he will be seduced into error.
Then we will master him
and take our revenge!’
But the Lord is at my side, a mighty hero;
my opponents will stumble, mastered,
confounded by their failure;
everlasting, unforgettable disgrace will be theirs.
But you, O Lord of Hosts, you who probe with justice,
who scrutinise the loins and heart,
let me see the vengeance you will take on them,
for I have committed my cause to you.
Sing to the Lord,
praise the Lord,
for he has delivered the soul of the needy
from the hands of evil men.
The Jews fetched stones to stone him, so Jesus said to them, ‘I have done many good works for you to see, works from my Father; for which of these are you stoning me?’ The Jews answered him, ‘We are not stoning you for doing a good work but for blasphemy: you are only a man and you claim to be God.’ Jesus answered:
‘Is it not written in your Law:
I said, you are gods?
So the Law uses the word gods
of those to whom the word of God was addressed,
and scripture cannot be rejected.
Yet you say to someone the Father has consecrated and sent into the world,
“You are blaspheming,”
because he says, “I am the son of God.”
If I am not doing my Father’s work,
there is no need to believe me;
but if I am doing it,
then even if you refuse to believe in me,
at least believe in the work I do;
then you will know for sure
that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.’
They wanted to arrest him then, but he eluded them.
He went back again to the far side of the Jordan to stay in the district where John had once been baptising. Many people who came to him there said, ‘John gave no signs, but all he said about this man was true’; and many of them believed in him.
Even if you do not believe me, believe the works so that you might realize and understand
The concept of ‘frenemies’ is as old as the days of Christ it seems – false friends who pretend to come to your aid, but who in reality, can’t wait till you screw up, so that they can renounce you. Stoning may have gone out of fashion, but gossiping and backstabbing never will. Many of the men looking to persecute Jesus in today’s gospel reading would have witnesssed for themselves the miracles he performed. Some might even have been his followers who, at the first sign of hardship, turned and deserted him. It is heart-breaking when people you think you can count on disappoint you. Jesus may have been able to discern his genuine followers from his fairweather friends, but it would still have hurt him to be betrayed.
Our actions speak volumes about what’s in our hearts. How genuine we are becomes plainly obvious when we are put to the test. Jesus said, even if you don’t believe who I say I am, look at what I have done. “Believe the works, so that you may realize and understand”. In his life’s work there was a consistency. When we look at our own lives, is there a disconnect between our words and our actions? When we reflect on our faith journey, do we find that we often say what we don’t do?
“Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing… You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit… therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:15-20)
(Today’s Oxygen by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for the presence of mind to be consistent in our thoughts, in our words, in what we do and what we restrain ourselves from doing.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the examples from Scripture, of men who live, think and speak their convictions.