As I type, a heatwave has descended upon Western Michigan and surely much of the country. Mid-July is not known for the most pleasant of weather, especially for one who sports a 30–week pregnant belly. It reminds me of the years I lived in Kentucky, when I couldn’t even touch my steering wheel without burning my hand and instead of being greeted by cool early morning air as I headed to work, I breathed in sweltering temps already in the mid 80’s. Yet even this suffering pales in comparison to the heat spoken about in today’s Gospel. “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” Oh, the fires of Gehenna! How hot they must be! It makes me cringe just thinking about it.
Yet Jesus does not speak this way in order to instill fear in us, but rather the plain truth, a pointed reality. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, in other words, everything we do bears consequences. Even so, Jesus goes on to reassure us of His deep and infinite love: “All the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Today we remember the life and legacy of St. Kateri Tekakwitha. I have always been drawn to her, since my niece bears her name and because of her courage and early death. Even during my time in “The Bible Belt” I was still able to find like-minded Catholics to befriend and share my faith with, but she was surrounded by pagan Mohawks who treated her as a slave upon her conversion. She escaped to a Christian village on foot, a 200-mile journey, to continue her journey of faith. A woman of prayer and penance, she vowed to remain a virgin and died at the tender age of 24.
It causes me to reflect upon the things I have suffered that now seem so small. I recently had to make a trip to the hospital due to pregnancy related issues. And although all turned out well, I still bear the “battle scars” of large yellow and purple bruises on my hand and arms after 5 attempts to insert an IV. Did I pay this price as lovingly as she would have? Did I acknowledge my Lord before the healthcare professionals through my words and attitude even while I “suffered”?
Today’s reflection on franciscanmedia.org states, “We like to think that our proposed holiness is thwarted by our situation. If only we could have more solitude, less opposition, better health. Kateri Tekakwitha repeats the example of the saints: Holiness thrives on the cross, anywhere.”
So may we thrive on the cross no matter where we find ourselves, whether it be in extreme heat, on a hospital bed, or in a hostile environment, knowing that in the end, the Lord will acknowledge us before His heavenly Father.
Tami Urcia is wife and mother to her small army of boys. She works full time at Diocesan and is a freelance translator and blogger (BlessedIsshe.net and CatholicMom.com) She loves tackling home projects, keeping tabs on the family finances, and finding unique ways to love. Tami spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree. Her favorite things to do are spending time outside with the kiddos, quiet conversation with the hubby, and an occasional break from real life by getting a pedicure or a haircut. You can find out more about her here.