Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Lord Will Not Abandon His People.

Memorial of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, virgin
Reading 1
Isaiah 10:5-7, 13b-16
Thus says the LORD:
Woe to Assyria! My rod in anger,
my staff in wrath.
Against an impious nation I send him,
and against a people under my wrath I order him
To seize plunder, carry off loot,
and tread them down like the mud of the streets.
But this is not what he intends,
nor does he have this in mind;
Rather, it is in his heart to destroy,
to make an end of nations not a few.

For he says:
"By my own power I have done it,
and by my wisdom, for I am shrewd.
I have moved the boundaries of peoples,
their treasures I have pillaged,
and, like a giant, I have put down the enthroned.
My hand has seized like a nest
the riches of nations;
As one takes eggs left alone,
so I took in all the earth;
No one fluttered a wing,
or opened a mouth, or chirped!"

Will the axe boast against him who hews with it?
Will the saw exalt itself above him who wields it?
As if a rod could sway him who lifts it,
or a staff him who is not wood!
Therefore the Lord, the LORD of hosts,
will send among his fat ones leanness,
And instead of his glory there will be kindling
like the kindling of fire.
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Psalm 94
The Lord will not abandon his people.
Your people, O LORD, they trample down,
your inheritance they afflict.
Widow and stranger they slay,
the fatherless they murder.
The Lord will not abandon his people.
And they say, "The LORD sees not;
the God of Jacob perceives not."
Understand, you senseless ones among the people;
and, you fools, when will you be wise?
The Lord will not abandon his people.
Shall he who shaped the ear not hear?
or he who formed the eye not see?
Shall he who instructs nations not chastise,
he who teaches men knowledge?
The Lord will not abandon his people.
For the LORD will not cast off his people,
nor abandon his inheritance;
But judgment shall again be with justice,
and all the upright of heart shall follow it.
The Lord will not abandon his people.
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Matthew 11:25-27
At that time Jesus exclaimed:
"I give praise to you, Father,
Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him."
Today Catholics celebrate the “Lily of the Mohawks,” Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (“Gaw-deh-lee De-ga-kwe-tha”). Kateri was born near the town of Auriesville, New York, in the year 1656, the daughter of a Mohawk warrior. Her mother died when she was young, she was raised by aunts and uncles, and eventually rejected by her tribe when she converted to Christ. She had to leave her family to practice her faith. In the four years that she lived as a disciple of Jesus before her death at age twenty-four, she cared for the sick and aged and dedicated herself to prayer and penance. Her greatest devotion was to the crucified Jesus and the Eucharist. Blessed Kateri lived a simple, humble life. She is a beautiful “icon” through whom we can catch a glimpse of the message of today’s scriptures.

In the Isaiah passage the Lord pronounces woes against the nation Assyria. Why? Assyria was an instrument God used to punish other nations but then attributed its might and wisdom to itself. It’s as if an axe is boasting about its ability to chop wood and forgets the hands that wield it. Assyria is boastful and proud and for this God plans to bring punishment. Blessed Kateri is the anti-Assyria for she never forgets her maker and never exalts herself. In humility and love she serves God.

The refrain of the responsorial psalm is “The Lord will not abandon his people.” Blessed Kateri was persecuted by her own tribe. Although she loved her people, she felt compelled to travel to a place where she could practice her faith. I cannot fathom the courage required of a twenty-year-old, single, Native American, young woman living in 1676 who abandoned all to embrace the crucified Jesus. Yet, through it all she experiences the love of God. The one who made the ear hears her cry. The one who made the eye sees her faith. Her inheritance is the Spirit who does not abandon his people.

The gospel lesson records one of the prayers of Jesus. Jesus praises the Father for hiding his will for the world from the wise and learned and revealing it to the childlike. It is the Blessed Kateris of the world to whom the Father reveals his will. The haughty, the proud, the wise, the learned simply are not enough like children to be able to receive it. God would give it to us but we are too full of ourselves. There is no room within our hearts for the gracious will of God.

Blessed Kateri is the first Native American to be declared a Blessed. Recently I visited the St. Augustine Mission in Winnebago, Nebraska, and observed the beautiful ministry that Fr. Dave, Fr. Mike, and the Benedictine sisters have on the Winnebago Indian Reservation. Fr. Dave told me that the Native Americans may be the only people not to have a Catholic saint and that they regularly pray for the canonization of Blessed Kateri. I include the prayer for her canonization for all who wish to join them.

“O God, who, among the many marvels of Your Grace in the New World, did cause to blossom on the banks of the Mohawk and of the St. Lawrence, the pure and tender Lily, Kateri Tekakwitha, grant we beseech You, the favor we beg through her intercession; that this Young Lover of Jesus, and of His Cross may soon be counted among her Saints by Holy Mother Church, and that our hearts may be enkindled with a stronger desire to imitate her innocence and faith. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.”

George Butterfield
School of Law Library
Daily Reflection
Creighton University's Online Ministries

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