Homily for October 21, 2012: Fr. Scott Bullock

Homily for October 21, 2012

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In 1656, a small girl names Tekakwitha was born into the Mohawk tribe of Native Americans near what is now Auriesville, New York, upstate towards the Canadian border. All was normal in this life of relative obscurity until, at age 4, her mother was stricken with small pox and died, a disease which left Tekakwitha disfigured.

Seven years later, Jesuit missionaries arrived in her village and brought a message of hope that she readily accepted. But due to the opposition of her tribe and her father, she remained a secret believer until she chose to be baptized at the age of 19, as “Catherine.” This choice left her shunned by her people and cast out of her village, for she refused to work on Sundays and consecrated herself to Jesus, refusing any other marriage.

Despite great suffering, she adopted as her life’s motto: “Who can tell me what is most pleasing to God, that I may do it?”

Taken in by a French settlement many miles from her village, she became renowned for her heroic sanctity, caring for the sick and aged and spending many hours in prayer, even in the harshest winter months.  She lived until the age of 24, though her death did not end her renown, as many miracles were attributed to her intercession.

This humble, faithful, Mohawk woman, born into such obscurity and living only 24 years has become, today, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, when she was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI as model of heroic virtue and holiness for the whole Church, together with another American woman, St. Marianne Cope.  To both women has been bestowed the highest honor in our Church:  canonization as a saint.

Was this type of renown and fame the glory to which the apostles James and John longed when they asked to be seated, one at Jesus’ right, the other at his left, when Jesus entered into the glory of His Kingdom?  What is this glory which they desire, and how does Jesus teach that we can attain it? 

Glory: the weighty importance and shining majesty which accompany God’s presence.  So, Christ’s glory is when the presence of the divine shines forth into the world through Him. For example, Christ shows God’s glory when he is transfigured in glory on the Mount of Transfiguration. But, as St. Andrew of Crete said, “the glory of God is the cross of Christ.” The glory of God, seen in St. Kateri Tekakwitha, is her share in the glory of the cross. For she so loved God that she could not renounce Him by renouncing the share of his cross that came her way.

Do we desire a vision of God’s glory? Do we desire to enter into God’s eternal Kingdom of glory? If so, it must entail a drawing close to the cross of Christ, trusting in his power and glory shining through our weakness and need. For it is not James and John who get seats, one at Jesus’ right and the other at his left, when he comes into His glory on the cross at Calvary; rather, it is the two thieves. The good thief discovers eternal glory, paradise, offered to him as he has his place beside the glory of God, Christ crucified, when he asks Jesus to save him.

Soon we will pray: “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts, heaven and earth are full of your glory.” If we want to live in the presence of God’s glory even now on earth, Jesus and his saints show us the way – the cross.

What is the cross like?

-          “Father, not my will, but yours.”

-          A daily, hourly denying ourselves and laying down our lives for others.

-          Each moment of service is an opportunity to behold the glory of God.

-          It’s happening all around: parents sacrificing for children, spouses bearing with each other, elderly bearing illness with grace, youth misunderstood, but not resorting to revenge.

Lord, give us your strength to love the cross and behold your glory!