Restoration

Restoration

Posted February 11, 2010:
“It’s a Deal,” Said God

by Fr. Bob Wild.

My ways are not your ways, … and my thoughts are not your thoughts. As high as the heavens are from the earth, so are my thoughts above your thoughts, and my ways above your ways (Deut 55:8-9).

There are a lot of evils in the world. We often look to God and say, "God, don’t you know what’s going on? Why don’t you do something?"’ Often there’s a great silence. Then we wonder if God really does know what’s going on.

When St. John Vianney was assigned to be pastor of the little village of Ars, France, around 1830 or 1840, that village was a spiritual disaster area. Nobody was going to the sacraments. People were drinking like crazy.

John Vianney made a pact with God. He promised: "God, I will give my life. I will fast and pray if you will save my people." And God replied, "O.K., it’s a deal."

John Vianney fasted and prayed like few priests in history have ever fasted and prayed. He slept about an hour a night, hardly ate anything, and spent many hours in the confessional serving his people.

Little by little, over the years, people’s hearts were changed. By the time he died, thousands of people were coming to Ars. Even today, that area of France is known for its deep and profound faith.

In our trials we say, "God do something!" And God says, "O.K., you give me your life. Let me invade your life. Let me come to the people through you, and things will happen."’ We ask, "Can’t you do it some other way? Isn’t there some other way besides me giving my life?" God answers, "No, there isn’t."

John Vianney had no technique. He didn’t develop a new school of mysticism. He just read the Desert Fathers. The key to his life was that he had compassion on God’s people.

He wasn’t just trying to work out his own perfection. He wasn’t just trying to become holy for some reason. That’s good, but it’s not really enough. It’s not deep enough, and it won’t last. "My life for theirs," he said. And God saved his people.

Very simply, that’s the message of his life. His pact with God really worked. The question that his life puts to us is, "How much compassion do we have? What will we give? How far will we go? How much will we pray? How long will we fast? How much will we love?" Isn’t there another way? No, there isn’t.

We have to let God invade our lives and allow him to come to others through us. There really is no other way, no lasting way.

"God, give us a realistic desire to change the world. Not a ‘pie in the sky,’ not a theory that we can work out, but give us such a compassion for the world that we will allow you to change our lives so that you can come to the world through us."

That’s a real desire. If we all did that, then the world would change. We would know in our hearts how God heard our prayers and hears our thoughts. Let us pray for that true compassion so that God might work through us and transform his world.

 

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