Deacon Steven M. Johnson – St. James, Belvidere, IL
Homily for the 4th Week of Easter, Thursday, 4-29-21, Year B
Memorial of Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor
St Catherine was born in 1347 in the Siena region near Tuscany, Italy.
She was a Dominican tertiary and mystic who lived in Italy in the 1300s.
She was known for her holiness, asceticism, and spiritual visions and was said to have received stigmata.
She was also a reformer and political activist and was influential in religious and political affairs of the Church.
She was a defender of the Roman Pontiff and was influential in working to reunite the Church during the great schism of 1378.
St. Catherine died in 1380 and is buried at St. Maria Sopra Minerva Basilica in Rome, Italy.
She was canonized in 1461 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970.
She is a patron saint of Europe.
READINGS: 1st Acts 13:13-25, Gospel Jn 13:16-20
Theme: Humility and Service
St. Catherine knew the truth about God and His singularity as the one and only creator of the universe. She also knew the humility of which God expressed Himself in His Son Jesus who died on the cross for us. It was obvious to her.
But it was not obvious to many in Jesus’s time. The God of the Hebrew people, who eventually became the Jewish people, is one and the same God that the newly formed Christian people believe in. In the first reading today, Paul is trying to get this point across to the people in the synagogue.
The problem is that they just cannot see God for who He really is, and they overlooked Him when He finally came. So, the Jewish people continue to wait for the Messiah because of their preconceived notions of how He should look, where He should come from and the show of power and might that He will demonstrate upon His coming.
But God is not about flashy shock and awe but of meekness and humility. The Jewish officials and religious leaders had become hardened with pride, rules, prestige, and honor, and they lost the true meaning of who God really is. Their prophets knew it, but the Jewish leaders did not pay any attention, and because of their stubbornness they missed the great Messiah they had been waiting for.
Jesus continues this theme of humility and service in today’s Gospel. He explains that no servant is greater than their master, and yet a true master should serve his servant thus exhibiting the great virtue of a master, which is humility. And for Jesus, the true Master, suffering and dying on the cross is the ultimate show of humility for us as His servants.
We can be a little like the Jewish Leaders of Jesus’s time, too. We can formulate our thoughts of who God should be based on our experiences. We can be persuaded by our world and convinced into forming a rigid version of our faith, one that loses sight of the real Messiah. We should never think ourselves greater than our master, and we should never take for granted we know who our master is because it is not us.
We should try to see everything with a servant’s eye. By doing this maybe we will receive the one Jesus sends to us and thus receive Jesus Himself and the One who sent Him.