Col 1:21-23; Ps 54:3,4,6,8; Lk 6:1-5
"Behold, God is my helper!"
On the 5th of September 1997, God called Mother Teresa of Calcutta home to himself. This tiny and universally recognized woman prayed daily to the LORD God and worked tirelessly for the poorest of the poor. She knew that God was her helper. In His name she was saved and by his might she was defended. The LORD heard her prayers and harkened to the words of her mouth. Despite her faithful life of prayer and service, this holy woman was criticized throughout her life and even during her funeral. One British commentator, who had been a long time critic of Mother Teresa, accused her of using the poor to make herself feel virtuous and look good in the public eye. This man had nothing to say when one of his fellow commentators said, "If thatƆs the way you feel then why don't you go and live the way she did, in simplicity and with the poor, for six months, then come back and tell us if you still feel the same way." Mother Teresa trusted in the LORD to whom she offered her daily sacrifice of praise. She founded religious communities of contemplative sisters, active sisters, brothers, and priests. She heard clearly the call of the LORD to reveal his goodness and mercy to the poorest of the poor in the slums. The hundreds who joined Mother Teresa continue to follow Christ into the slums to serve him. In the Mass to celebrate her beatification, Pope John Paul II called Mother Teresa, "one of the most relevant personalities of our age and an icon of the Good Samaritan." He said that her life was a bold proclamation of the gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
One of the spiritual insights that Saint Paul discovered in his prayer and ministry is that our reconciliation in the Body of Christ is something that demands a constant perseverance in virtue and contemplation. Mother Teresa of Calcutta and all her fellow servants of Christ in those who live in the slums discovered the same wisdom. To be holy, without blemish and irreproachable before the Blessed Trinity demands that we persevere in the faith, firmly grounded, stable and not shifting from the hope of the Gospel we have heard. This Gospel has been preached to every creature under heaven, and of which Saint Paul is a minister. This Gospel has the power to alienate us from our hostile minds and evil deeds. Indeed, his grace and mercy alone can enable us to detest all our sin and to love God above all else and our neighbor as our selves. The apostolic work of Saint Paul and Mother Teresa would have been impossible without a genuine intimacy with the Lord Jesus and the Father in the Holy Spirit. Our continuation of this Christ-like compassion demands of us a similar commitment to prayer and fasting to cast out demons and to heal the sick. Signs and wonders abound in the lives of those who pray and live a life of self-sacrifice.
The Lord Jesus wants his disciples, great ones like Saint Paul and Mother Teresa, as well as everyday disciples, like us, to know who they are and to whom they belong. He takes on the public criticism of those who condemn his disciples. As their Lord and Master, he holds himself responsible for their behavior. Some Pharisees are scandalized that this great preacher and worker of miracles seem to be unfaithful to the Law. The Lord Jesus challenges them to remember their own Scriptures; after all, they are the readers and commentators on these holy documents. If David can get away with doing what is unlawful, eating the bread of offering, then I who am the true and faithful Son of David can let my disciples get away with picking the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands and eating them. The Lord Jesus is more than the Son of David; he is the Son of Man and Lord of the Sabbath. In his very person the whole law and the prophets are fulfilled. His faithfulness is seen and proven upon the Cross-that establishes the Day of Rest. His Sabbath is greater than any Sabbath yet observed in Israel. Indeed, he is the Sabbath Rest, "come to me, you who are weary and find life burdensome and I will give you rest." Indeed, this Son of Man, this full human and fully divine Son of God knows the love of the Father that can alone give us our true identity. We too, are lord of the Sabbath because we know the Father's heart. Indeed we know that he wants us to eat and drink, to rest, in his Son in whom we know who we are and to whom we belong.