Commentary on the Gospel of
Memorial of Saint John Vianney, Priest
I climbed a mountain this week with my son. And this wasn't just a high hill. I'm talking about hiking above the tree line where oxygen levels are thin. We planned the hike, of course, bringing food, snacks, and plenty of water for the climb. We knew the hike would be hard. The path was narrow, stony, slippery, steep, difficult. The oxygen levels above 12,000 feet make breathing hard, deep, and labored. Even knowing the hike would be strenuous, halfway up I began to fail. My son, however, is an outdoorsman of sorts, a trail runner, an endurance racer, athletic and strong. He is everything the outdoors is demanding when it comes to climbing mountains. He had encouraged me to exercise before, walk as much as possible, run if I can, exercise thinking of the mountaintop as the goal. I prepared the best I could but still encountered a losing battle. I told him to go ahead and I would follow. So he made it to the top and waited for me.
I continued. I labored, concentrated on each breath, on each step, placing each foot in a specific spot, repeating and repeating. I had prepared the best I could.
And there it is. I began to think of Jesus having gone before. He encouraged us even though the path would be narrow and difficult. Even if we fall, he is waiting for us at the top.
I made it to the top, and there was my son waiting for me with open arms. With tears we embraced and walked on the mountain top together.
"Sing with joy to God our help." "Alleluia, alleluia."