Thursday, January 30, 2014

St John Bosco

“To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it?" Mk 4:30

In every age, following the lead of Jesus, believers have searched for images, metaphors and parables to help them understand and announce the Good News. We need only to read the lives of the saints to learn what scripture passages and stories most encouraged and challenged them.

Reminding his followers that they could never put down their cross, not even for a day or an hour, St John Bosco favored this passage from St Luke's gospel, "If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me," (Luke 9:23) Burdened by the death of his father when he was only two years old, John Bosco knew what it meant to carry his cross. Though his mother was a strong and pious woman, she was unable to work their family farm without the steady help of her three sons, and though John worked willingly with his brothers to keep their family together, his spirit yearned to follow Christ more directly, especially as a catechist.

Even though burdened by hard farm work, John did everything he could to teach the faith to other young farm boys, but regularly came home with a bloody nose for his troubles. Tempted to respond with violence, he heard a woman's voice tell him that only unremitting kindness would win over his antagonists. Strengthened by the lady's encouragement, he learned to juggle and perform magic tricks as a way to get his peers attention, and after performing would lead everyone to church for the celebration of the Eucharist.

After his ordination as a priest, John never deviated from the lessons he learned as a boy. Always incorporating play, song, study, prayer, and manual work, John Bosco spent his life helping young boys find God in the ordinary events of everyday life. Today the Salesians, a religious community he founded to help poor boys, numbers more than 15,000 men.

Today, take a moment to dream about how best to spend your life.

What helps people, despite their heavy crosses, to maintain faith and hope?

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