Called to discipleship

Column: You cannot give what you do not have

Father Andrew Strobl is the archdiocesan director of evangelization.

Father Andrew Strobl is the archdiocesan director of evangelization.

St. Anthony of Egypt is the patron saint of bacon

by Father Andrew Strobl

Technically, he is the patron saint of pigs, but bacon does not grow on trees so he has been adopted as a patron saint by bacon lovers. How he became the patron saint for pigs is amusing. St. Anthony’s intercession was known to help people with skin diseases and ailments. In more ancient times, if you didn’t ask for St. Anthony’s intercession, you were left to try alternatives like treating skin conditions with pig fat.

As a result of St. Anthony’s supernatural remedy having a similar effect to a natural treatment, he was often pictured in sacred art with a pig. Because of the appearance of pigs in art honoring St. Anthony of Egypt, swineherds began to seek his intercession. It is the classic case of being associated with the company you keep.

Jesus Christ spent a lot of time associating with sinners at the beach, the dinner table, the well, and the Temple. Ultimately, Jesus was accused of being a great sinner and handed over for punishment. His captors told Pontius Pilate, “If he were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you” (Jn 18:30). As a result, Jesus was crucified next to criminals.

Each day, people meet us where we are at. Our families, coworkers, neighbors, and friends all encounter us

in the midst of the mess of our lives. The question we need to ask is: Are we company worth keeping? We are if we have kept company with Jesus.

Pope Francis tweeted on Oct. 21 of this year: “If we are to know the Lord we must go to him. Listen to him in silence before the tabernacle and approach him in the sacraments.”

Jesus has given us the privilege of being his witnesses. The world is to come to know him through us. There are no shortcuts. If we are to share Jesus with others, we must share ourselves with Christ. Prayer and the sacraments are essential points of sharing ourselves with Christ. We must go to him. Evangelization is sabotaged when we try to give what we don’t have. We need to know the Lord if we are to share the Lord.

St. Anthony of Egypt claimed: “The days are coming when men will go mad; and, when they meet a man who has kept his senses, they will rise up against him, saying, ‘You are mad, because you are not like us.’”

The world should mistake us for Christ. Jesus must increase and we must decrease (cf. John 3:30). If we have kept company with Jesus, it won’t be a case of mistaken identity.


About the author

Fr. Andrew Strobl

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