Pastor’s Message — Feast of St. Sharbel (English)

We get the celebrities we deserve, but the saints we need. 

When you look at how certain people stand out above others — our celebrities in entertainment, sports and politics — they are often no more than a high-profile reflection of who we are.  And we have a love-hate relationship with them that is strange and not helpful. We idolize them too much, then we kick them when they are down, sometimes we cheer for their rehabilitation and other times we are stuck in vengeance, and then we move on to the next one. Anthony Fauci today, Jennifer Lopez tomorrow, LeBron James the next day, and so on.  Someone will be the hero in the Olympics in Tokyo one day, and if we find out something we don’t like about them tomorrow, they will be the enemy.  This is not normal.

The saints who enter our lives in powerful ways come with a different dynamic, however.  They point beyond themselves to Christ, in the first place, which is why they are saints, but their presence seems especially right for the signs of the times.  Their presence are invitations to conversion. Notice all the saints of extraordinary compassion in recent decades: Maximilian Kolbe, Oscar Romero, Mother Teresa, St. Therese the Little Flower, just to name a few, who counter all the hostile, violent and inhuman forces in our world with their unique witness to selflessness.

So, when we wonder why, all of a sudden, St. Sharbel, the Hermit of Lebanon, is becoming more and more popular with each passing year, nearly 125 years after his death, in more places around the world, from Lebanon to Mexico to Slovakia, we can look at his witness versus the signs of the times.  He is a saint of contemplation, of silence, of humility, of healing, of manual labor and fervent dedication to the Eucharist.  When we look at just those 6 qualities, we see how threatened they are in today’s world and church, and yet how vital they are. 

Our parish presence in social media is weak. We don’t put a lot of time into it.  But would you believe that this week, because of our messages announcing this feast, people from around the world have found us and affirmed us.  St. Sharbel as a social-media influencer, imagine that, it’s just crazy.  And yet, I think the real message here is the hunger and the need, for the kind of contemplative discipleship in Christ that the life of St. Sharbel  – and his ongoing intercession – is all about.

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