Today is the memorial for Saint Kateri Tekakwitha. When she was 4, small pox ravaged her Mohawk village. She lost her parents and she was left disfigured and half blind. She was adopted by her uncle and raised in a village that was often visited by Jesuit missionaries. When she was 19, she had the choice of getting married or being treated as a slave. She refused marriage and became an outcast when she was baptized.
Her conversion created great opposition in her village, and she walked 200 miles into Canada to find a place she could practice her faith. She grew in grace and was moved by God’s love to see the dignity of all people. She gave herself to God in long hours of prayer and practiced severe fasting as penance for the conversion of her nation. After 4 years, her health failed, and she died in 1680 at the age of 23.
St. Kateri would have been a great role model for the characters we meet in our reading from Isaiah this morning. King Ahaz and his people are living in fear of the surrounding armies. The prophet Isaiah is sent to King Ahaz to tell him to not fear and stand firm in his faith instead of going to war. Isaiah shares God’s saving plan with the king and tells him: “Unless your faith is firm you shall not be firm!”
We won’t need to walk to Canada to practice our faith like St. Kateri or stand up to an advancing army like King Ahaz but staying firm in our faith is just as important in our lives. There is no way to avoid hardships in this life and St. Kateri’s timeless example helps us understand that holiness thrives on the cross. It requires a faith that goes beyond words. It requires a faith that is puts into action our belief that God can always bring good out of evil and allows us to push ahead humbly in the midst of hardship.
May the intercession of St. Kateri help us remain firm in faith today.
-Deacon Steve Whiteman