Monday, March 3, 2014

What must I do?

     In Mark's gospel today we hear of a young man running up to Jesus and asking "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"  The answer given is not a surprise - follow the commandments of God.  Having assured Jesus that he had done so, Jesus looked upon him with love and said: "Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."  He went away sad.

     Jump forward to the late 1800's and we find a young lady of wealth and worldly prestige from the other end of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia who asked the same question "What must I do?"  She, too, had followed the commandments and loved her God, but felt that there must be something more.  The words of Jesus to this young man in the gospel echoed in her heart.  She had seen in her travels in this country the needs and oppression of Native Americans and African Americans.  She saw the need to not only bring the Good News to them, but to help deal with their poverty, their lack of education and advancement, and the prejudice that was found in our society.  She accepted the challenge to minister to this portion of God's flock, and dedicated her entire life to founding a religious community known as the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, to provide schools, including the first Catholic College for African Americans (Xavier University in New Orleans), and starting one hundred forty five missions and twelve schools for Native Americans before her death in 1955.  She used her fortune, her name and reputation to doing this work, but most especially she brought her faith and love of Christ to the love that she had for those greatly in need in our society.  Her name is Mother Katherine Drexel of Philadelphia, canonized a saint of the Universal Church (the second from Philly) on October 1, 2000.  I had the honor of being present for her canonization as well as having her Sisters give a Mission Co-op Appeal in one of the parishes where I served, and can attest to the pride that they have for their foundress.  The young man went away sad ... Katherine Drexel went away with a joy in her heart.  Approaching Lent, what is our response to the Lord inviting us to "Seek first the Kingdom of God?"

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