Today we honour the memory of Saint John Vianney – who struggled in his efforts to become a priest – against all the odds he responded to God’s call and was reluctantly ordained to the priesthood. His bishop despatched him to the most remote parish in the diocese where his holiness of life and sound preaching saved many souls. The Church honours him today as the patron of all pastoral priests.
Jealousy is a crippling emotion that has been around since the beginning of time. Cain killed his brother Abel because of jealousy (Genesis 4:8). Joshua asked Moses to prevent Eldad and Medad from prophesying because of jealousy (Num 11:26-29). Even Our Lord’s disciples were jealous when they saw someone who was not part of their group casting out demons in Our Lord’s name (Mark 9:38).
It was jealousy that consumed Aaron and Miriam. They resented Moses because of his role as the exclusive mediator between God and the people. They complained, “Is it through Moses alone that the Lord speaks? Does he not speak through us also?” (Num 12:2). Aaron and Miriam wanted to be something they were not, and as a result they failed to recognize and appreciate the specific gifts God had given them.
Saint Paul is very clear in his teaching that God has given each one of us gifts or talents that he wants us to use to build up his kingdom. Our gifts differ from one another, but everyone is equally vital to the kingdom of God, and everyone deserves the same amount of reverence and respect (1 Cor. 12:1-31). We aren’t all eloquent preachers or teachers. Not all of us have beautiful singing voices or a passion to care for the sick. But each of these gifts—and so many others—are absolutely necessary if we are going to see the Church make a difference in the world. We can’t all be centre stage and in the limelight with our names in the headlines. Most of us will work anonymously behind the scenes and our names may never be known, except of course to God.
May we never try to be something we are not intended to be, rather let us embrace our particular gifts and devote our energy to perfecting them. Then we will know a sense of joy and fulfilment as we see God’s eternal Kingdom established here on earth.