This image of St. Gaspar del Bufalo preaching to the people of Rome can be found in Precious Blood Church, Trotwood, Ohio.
This weekend, the Precious Blood family celebrates the feast of St. Gaspar del Bufalo, the founder of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. For us Missionaries, this feast ranks as a solemnity, so we have the privilege of transferring it to a nearby Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings assigned to the Feast of St. Gaspar are: Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 96:1-3, 7-8a, 10;Hebrews 31:12-15, 15-21; and Luke 4:16-21.
By Fr. Steve Dos Santos, C.PP.S.
In the Gospel, St. Luke gives us the story of Jesus reading from the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue in Nazareth. Jesus tells those gathered that the passage is “fulfilled in your hearing.” He is telling them that the long-awaited time for salvation has come. In essence he is telling them “I am the Messiah.” We know that his message was not well received by the leaders of his day, but that didn’t make it any less true. For them salvation was at hand; for us it is already accomplished.
St. Gaspar spent much of his life trying to remind people that the Messiah had already come. Jesus has already died to save us. We have been purchased at the price of his Precious Blood. We belong to Jesus, if only we would take up the gift we have been given. As much as Gaspar longed to follow in the footsteps of the great missionary, St. Francis Xavier, his heart burned with love for those all around him, who were living lives oblivious to the great gift of Jesus’ Precious Blood.
For Gaspar, the sinfulness of his day was an offense against the Precious Blood. He longed to help people know the degree to which God loved them. We can look around and notice that not much has changed. Like Gaspar, we are to call people into or back into relationship with the Blood that was shed for us.
More than anything else, Gaspar wanted people to understand just how much Jesus loved them. While we may do it in ways different than Gaspar did, we are called to proclaim the same truth, helping people know that God loves them, and has already done the work of saving them.
St. Gaspar was a tireless apostle of the Precious Blood. He often sought out those who were farthest from the Church to share with them the Good News. In the image above we see St. Gaspar out on the streets, preaching to the people there. While he spent plenty of time “in the sacristy” he was very much a missionary after the heart of Pope Francis, who spent ample time out on the streets seeking out those who were at a distance.
All of us (Missionaries, Sisters, Adorers, or Companions) are called to learn from St. Gaspar and to emulate his love for others. We are called to help them know that they are loved, and that the Messiah has already come. They have been saved. It is a reality that all of us are called to live more fully every day of our life.
Fr. Steve Dos Santos, C.PP.S., is the pastor of St. James the Less Church in Columbus. He previous served as vocation director of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.