Memorial of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin
For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes. (Mt 11:21)
The proofs of God’s love given in the Incarnation, teachings, miracles, suffering, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ are not only enough to convince us of who Jesus is and how we should respond to Him, they are superabundant. And yet, at times we can behave like spoiled children and treat as insufficient what in fact is more than enough. “One more sign and then I will be sure. Just give me X and then I will know that you love me.” Having acquired X, we then let X consume our attention rather than noting the love with which X was given. Until, of course, we are bored with X, and then we ask for Y.
Not so, St. Kateri, not so. She was born in 1656 to an Algonquin-Christian mother and a Mohawk father. Kateri could have asked for more signs of God’s love. At four, not only her mother, but also her father and brothers were taken from this life by small pox. Kateri herself was left scarred on her face by the disease and had fragile health the rest of her life.
And yet, at the age of eight when arrangements began to be made for her future marriage, Kateri could say that she instead wanted to give her life only to God. When some years later Jesuit missionaries came to her town, she sought them out and attended Mass at 4am as well as lessons on the Catholic faith at midday and evening because she learned more about the God she loved. At the expense of losing the approval of non-Christian family and neighbors she was baptized at the age of twenty. So strong was the disapproval, in fact, that the next year Kateri had to move to a completely different town. Finally, at only 24, after an illness which confined her to bed, she died. After a life which so resembled that of Job, one might expect some Job-like questions to God at the end of her life. Instead, we have the tradition that her last words were, Jesus, I love you… By the intercession of St. Kateri, may the Lord give us that gift of faith.