The feast day of our founder, St. Gaspar del Bufalo, is October 21st but will be celebrated at some of our C.PP.S. parishes and ministry sites on Sunday, October 20th. This reflection is about the readings for St. Gaspar’s feast day.
By Fr. Jim Smith, C.PP.S.
Words on a page. They have such power, such potential. Yet still, they’re just words on the page, or rather more likely these days, words on a screen.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.
Powerful words, but empty if left on a page or screen.
In the TV series This Is Us, the stories of four characters who share the same birthdate are told. The audience learns in a tearjerker of an opening episode that two of the four characters are biological siblings, one of the characters is their adopted brother, and the fourth character, Jack, is their father. Plot twists abound in the story, and the show’s timeline leaps back-and-forth from the present day back to “The Big Three” as children and even earlier in the story of Jack. The story of this family’s life plays out across multiple decades. Things that might seem or be assumed to be over aren’t quite over—they remain a part of the story.
The lives of the saints are the same. If we partition them off into historical sketches or wrapped-up stories we’re mistaken. The same can be applied to the words of Luke on this feast of St. Gaspar and the words of Isaiah of anointing and good news to the poor. We could roll up the scrolls of these words and of the words of Gaspar and put the scrolls away. We could take the common approach of seeing the past—the past of the life of Gaspar, the past of the life of Jesus, the past of Isaiah—as over, done and closed. We can celebrate what Gaspar preached and what he did and leave it there, a little more than a reunion of sorts.
We could also allow the weaving of the words of Isaiah, of Jesus, and of Gaspar to be the words on our screen and page of our lives today. We could see Isaiah, Jesus and Gaspar active in our work of reaching out to the margins and announcing the good news here and now. The Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, liberty to those in captive, to overthrow all oppression, and to bring into the world God’s mercy today. We can celebrate what Gaspar did, and we can continue to respond to the cry of the blood as we venture into this new creation in the United States. We can reverence where we responded to the cry of the blood in the past and open our ears and our hearts to the cries of the blood in our midst today. We can allow the words of Isaiah, of Jesus, and of Gaspar to be enfleshed and have a story in the 21st century in continuing to build a year acceptable to the Lord and bursting at the seams in God’s mercy and reconciliation.
Scripture for the feast day:
Psalm 96:1-3, 7-8a, 10
Hebrews 13:12-15, 20-21
Fr. Jim Smith, C.PP.S., is the parochial vicar of the St. Henry cluster of parishes in and around St. Henry, Ohio.