Memorial of Bl. John Beyzym, Priest
One of the consequences of truly accepting that God is our Father is to accept even our enemies as our brothers. Another consequence is that we accept as our brothers even those whom we would be tempted to ignore. Those who do not necessarily have others upon whom they can make demands of financial support, medical support, educational support, etc., and yet who still have desperate need of money, doctors and schools. We may be tempted to remain ignorant of such people because they do not ask us personally or directly, or because they may live very far away from us. But it is the nature of charity to seek out the beloved. If we do not know any such persons in our lives yet, perhaps we could take the example of Bl. John Beyzym (1850-1912).
This Polish Jesuit as a seminarian served others in the region of the seminary when cholera was spreading from village to village. As a young priest he not only ministered as a priest and taught classes, he also took care of the sick at his school. From the age of 29 he asked he religious superiors to send him to work with lepers. Sent to Madagascar at 40, he was the first there to set up his home among those suffering from leprosy. In addition to caring for their wounds, even when those wounds were incurable, he also would also travel and send fundraising letters back to Poland to beg food for them. One Jesuit noted that his efforts to provide food for the sick reduced the number of deaths from 57 a week to 5 a year.
For 22 years, Beyzym labored in Madagascar for those suffering from leprosy until his death at the age of 62. Beyzym once wrote, “One’s country is where the greater service of God and help of the souls is found. It does not matter where you live: at the equator or at the North Pole. What really matters is to die in the service of the Lord Jesus…” That is a grace. To seek out our brothers in need, to serve Jesus in serving them, to do so faithfully not just in the short term but over the course of years… for that we need the grace of the Lord. Does such a grace seem beyond our capacity to receive? “And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Lk 11:9) In our prayers this day, let us ask the Lord to help us bear the fruit of perseverance in charity like Bl. John.