Monday, October 18, 2010

Blessed are Vigilant Servants

October 19, 2010
Memorial of Saint John de Brébeuf and Saint Isaac Jogues, priests and martyrs, and their companions

By Beth DeCristofaro

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the Blood of Christ. … Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; in him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:13, 19-22)

Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. (Luke 12:37)

Jesus, our Brother, you won the heart of St. Isaac Jogues and helped him grow as a caring, courageous person. He dedicated his life to sharing his love for you by carrying the Good News about your love for all people to others. Remembering the spirit of St. Isaac Jogues, may we all grow in caring and courage. Help each of us, Jesus, to be strong and gentle messengers of your love. Amen.

What a gift – unearned and free – we have been given, that Jesus calls us to be part of the dwelling place of God which He is building here on earth. Each day, each minute that we breathe that call is renewed, such is the generosity of a God who would “wait on us” out of His great love.

Yet why do I find myself in such difficulty with this gift? What Jesus asks of me, vigilance and constancy to Him and help in building of the Kingdom, just seems overwhelming much of the time. While I sure spend enough time preparing for a family trip or projects at work perhaps part of my problem can be illustrated in my attitude about housework. And that analogy is apt with Jesus’ example of the servants waiting the return of the master. For me, housework is always there, it is boring, it can feel demeaning and if I don’t get it done then I can do it tomorrow…or the next day. At times I treat Jesus the same way. Because Jesus is always with me, if I don’t talk to Him today then I can talk with Him tomorrow…or the next day. If you saw my house, you’d know how that goes! That is certainly not vigilance.

And then there are stories like those of Saint John de Brébeuf and Saint Isaac Jogues. Their stories are inspiring and frightening. Their vigilance was to be called thousands of miles from their lives, agreeing to live in cold, primitive, dangerous conditions out of love for God and then to be horribly tortured and killed. No wonder I’m overwhelmed with the thought of being so vigilant. But I have never been called to such faithfulness. I am called to be faithful here in this relatively safe although fast-paced, materialistic and decadent country. May my prayer be for courage to remain vigilance when boredom, distractions and arrogance tempt me.

Pray for those who have difficulty with vigilance. Pray that they might be given the perseverance and courage to await the bridegroom with enthusiasm and service. Pray also for people around the world, of many faiths, who are being persecuted for their faith. An interesting article, one of a series on the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, can be found in National Catholic Reporter about the state of Christians (and Muslems) in Iraq.