Memorial of Saint Marianne Cope

“Women of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet and in finery, who decked your attire with ornaments of gold.” (2 Sm 1:24) Not only does David weep that Saul is dead (even though Saul tried to kill him repeatedly), but he even enjoins others to weep, too. Yet again, we see the value of God’s beautiful gift of memory. David can remember even the good that his would-be murderer did, not only to him, but the good he did to others! Do I ask the Lord to help me remember the good others have done, even when I am angry with them? Even some of the relatives of Jesus eventually forget. When the crowds of people who are coming to be cured prevent Jesus and the disciples from eating, the relatives think that Jesus is crazy to engage in such ministry. (Mk 3:21) They are more focused on today’s lunch than yesterday’s miracles. They have forgotten the joy of the crowds, the joy caused by Christ’s healing love.

St. Marianne Cope, whom we celebrate today, was not forgetful of that joy. When a priest sent her a letter in 1883 asking her to come to the Hawaiian Islands to take care of those suffering from leprosy, she replied “I am hungry for the work and I wish with all my heart to be one of the chosen ones, whose privilege it will be to sacrifice themselves for the salvation of the souls of the poor Islanders…. I am not afraid of any disease, hence, it would be my greatest delight even to minister to the abandoned ‘lepers’.” She left Syracuse, NY for Hawaii that same year, and built hospitals for patients and schools for their children until her death 35 years later. Peace and the answers to our prayers may not look exactly like we think. The good that Jesus does through us and around us may look different than our first plans. St. Marianne, for example, never made it back to her family and friends in New York. Yet, the peace and joy that come from doing whatever the Lord tells us are far more important than our plans.

January 23rd, 2016