St Alphonsus Rodriguez SJ

Today is Thursday the 31 October, the Memorial of St Alphonsus Rodriguez SJ, in the Thirtieth Week of Ordinary Time.

The monks of Glenstal Abbey sing Ubi caritas est vera, Deus ibi est. Wherever love is true, God is there. Look at the people around you.  Look into their faces. Think of the lives they lead, when they get off this bus or this train, their work, their worries, their passions, their loves. God is present here: the God who is love. Present, living, dwelling in every one of these people, and in you.

Today’s reading is from the Letter to the Romans.

At first glance St Alphonsus Rodriguez (whom we remember today) may not seem particularly remarkable. Born in Spain in 1532, St Alphonsus married and had three children but found himself a widower aged only 31. Despite some fairly major setbacks he finally entered the Society of Jesus aged 40. For the next forty-six years he served as Porter in the College at Valencia where, so he said, he imagined God Himself standing outside the door every time he heard a knock. In this way he served all who knocked at his door with humility and devotion. It’s quite clear from the way St Alphonsus behaved that he was truly committed to reflecting that immense love of God that St Paul speaks about in the letter to the Romans. Could the same be said of us?

If the image of God is present in those we like then we have to accept – and this can be difficult – that it is also present in those we find harder to relate to. Think of someone who falls into that category and consciously try to find God in them; Try and pray for them today.

As you listen again, reflect on the actions of St Alphonsus. He was able to see God in all things and in all people. Think for a moment of those people who have really shown you God; Give thanks for them as you listen now.

In his letter, St Paul says that love is stronger than force; nothing can overcome the love of Christ! Spend some time also opening your heart to God.