Homily (Reflection) for the Memorial of Saint John Baptist de la Salle, P. (7th April, 2016) on the Gospel and the memorial
(Thursday of the Second Week of Easter)

Acts 5:27-33;
Ps 33:2.9.17-20. (R. v.7);
Jn 3:31-36.

Born at Rheims, France on April 30th in 1651 and was the eldest of ten children in a noble family. He studied in Paris and was ordained in 1678. He was known for his work with the poor. John was very involved in education. He founded the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (approved in 1725) and established teacher colleges (Rheims in 1687, Paris in 1699, and Saint-Denis in 1709). He was one of the first to emphasize classroom teaching over individual instruction. He also began teaching in the vernacular instead of in Latin. In 1705, he established a reform school for boys at Dijon. Saint John Baptist de la Salle died at St. Yon, Rouen, on April 7th in 1719. He was canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1900 and was named patron of teachers by Pope Pius XII in 1950[1]. He met with much opposition from his companions[2].

Topic: Heaven or earth.

In today’s gospel, there is a comparison between two personalities, “The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all.” The gospel also reads, “The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.”

Whoever is of the earth cannot obey the Son unless he/she is transformed, cf. Heb 11:6. Saint Paul warns against being earthly, “Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient” (Col 3:5-6).

We often talk about what God prepared for His elects, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1Cor 2:9; cf. Is 64:3). The God in question is a God of justice, cf. Is 30:18. Just as the good things He has prepared for those who love Him cannot even be imagined, so terrible are the things He has prepared for those who hate Him that they cannot also be imagined. Christ warns us that those who are earthly will be thrown into hell “where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched” (Mk 9:48). Imagine being under the torment of worm that never dies and fire that never quenches. The book of Revelation chapter 16 also tells us how terrible it will be. Try and read this passage (Rev 16).

Saint John Baptist de la Salle understood the consequences of one opting for something other than God. Despite all odds, he focused on heaven and spent himself completely working for the good of all especially the poor. What do you work for – heaven or earth? Remember, each of them has a price tag. Consider what is best for you.

Bible Reading: Col 3:1-17; Eph 5:3-20.

Thought for today: Heaven and Hell are real.

Let us pray: Lord, help us work for heaven all the days of our lives – Amen.

Saint John Baptist de la Salle – Pray for us.

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[2] The weekday missal: A new edition (1995). London: HarperCollins Religious, p. 1464.

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