DMITTEDLY, THE FIRST READING from the Prophet Isaiah might be rather hard to understand. One can more or less sum up his message in the following way: the Prophet is condemning the people of his time for their apparent exactness when it came to the offering of the sacrifices and observance of rites. But they failed to observe God’s other commandments which had to do with love of neighbor, especially when it came to concern for widows and orphans and other unfortunate people. Failing to do these latter things made their religious practices useless in the eyes of God.
Now it might not be too hard to apply some of these ideas to our own lives. It isn’t too hard to imagine how a person might be faithful and exact when it comes to going to Church and Mass on Sunday, but be very remiss in their practice of charity or love of neighbor. Needless to say, this is a case where we want a person to be doing both.
TODAY IS THE FEAST OF ST. KATERI, the First Northern Native American to be canonized. She was a member of the Mohawk tribe, and was canonized in 2012. This was a very special event for all Native Americans especially in our country and in Canada. De facto she lived in both counties and both countries have shrines in her honor. She was very faithful to the practice of her religion and also to the virtue or practice of love of neighbor during her short life of twenty four years.
In the Gospel, Jesus tells us how following Him might even cause division between a person and members of one’s own family. I would say that Jesus tells us this to forewarn us in case it does happen. It isn’t something that we want to happen, but can for a variety of reasons. If it does, we have to be prepared to face and accept it. Unfortunately it seems to happen more in our day than it used to. It often happens when some members of our family give up the practice of their religion. It is usually difficult to say what one should do, and often there isn’t much one can do, except to pray.
St. Kateri’s conversion to Catholicism caused distress in her community, so much so that her confessor feared for her safety and urged her to flee. She fled under cover of night to a Christian village two hundred miles away near Montreal, Canada. There on Christmas Day, 1677, she made her First Communion. Even there, she had to face opposition. She resisted the idea of marriage, wanting instead to found a convent, but that did not work out. She did make a public vow of chastity, however. Soon after she fell ill and died at the age of twenty-four.
St. Kateri grew up in very unlikely circumstances of ever becoming a saint. But she did. I am sure there were many uncertain days in her life. Apparently her spirituality or way of life was very simple. It was just total dedication of herself to Jesus. We too can do that. We don’t have to do it all our life all at once, we just have to do it day to day, and not even that; just moment to moment.
We hope you enjoyed this homily by Fr. Valentine Young, OFM.