Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Today is the feast of St. Catherine of Sienna, 1347-1880. Hers was one of those voices from the Middle Ages which continues to bring wisdom and virtue to our modern times. She was declared a doctor of the Church in 1970. She became a Dominican tertiary and was a mystic known for her writings and ascetical way of life. Although coming from a very different time in history she provides a helpful backdrop to the liturgical readings for today.
Had she been present, she would have applauded St. Paul taking the opportunity to give his missionary exhortation in the first reading. She would urge St. Paul and all missionaries to be courageous just as she was in sharing the truth of the Gospels even if it meant confronting those who were in positions of leadership to reach out in compassion. The end of the first reading has St. Paul coming to the point where St. John the Baptist acknowledges his own unworthiness, even to untie the Lord’s sandals. It ends on a note of humility.
The Gospel picks up on this note of humility. Jesus is teaching his disciples the most profound example of humble service. They have just seen Jesus their Rabbi washing their feet which was the work of a slave. Serving one another in genuine love taps into renewable energy and a new world view. Perhaps this is the secret the saints of old and the saints of today can share with us. No one can operate on a consistent level of generosity and kindness unless they are convinced that their relationship with Christ is real and it is always, and first of all, the ongoing gift of the Father.
Reflection: Can I see that true joy and freedom in my life must always come from genuine humble service?
Reflection by Fr. Daniel Petsche, OSB