WEDNESDAY 29TH APRIL 2020
MEMORIAL OF ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Third week of Easter
Acts 8:1-8, John 6:35-40
I once visited an old friend of mine who was in prison for a crime he never committed as it was later discovered. What baffled me when I saw him in prison, was the calmness and positive mind with which he stayed there. Other inmates spoke so highly of him that he is a very religious man. He led them at prayers in the morning and evening, and he read the bible to others and try to explain it to them. Asking him how he was able to still preach the word of God and practice his faith in that situation, he said that God knew that he was there, and had sent him there for a purpose.
This is the situation I see with the early Christians and Apostles. Sometimes, tough moments come our way, but they are geared towards a greater good. The scribes and pharisees have started a fierce persecution of the early Christians who entered every street corner to preach the word of God to all who cared to listen. With this came persecution as we see in the lynching of Stephen in the first reading of yesterday. The persecution of the Christians made many of them to run to different parts of the world. With this, they carried the gospel and the church with them, just as my friend carried the gospel to the prison. Therefore, the Church which was only in Jerusalem, now entered different parts of the world. Every ugly situation we find ourselves is a very good opportunity to witness to the faith. God works in mysterious ways and he will never abandon those who hope and trust in him.
St Catherine of Siena who we celebrate today is a very good example of one who was concerned with the smooth running and spreading of the Church of Christ. Seeking perfection, she entered the Third Order of the Dominicans when she was still in her teens. In 1370 she was commanded by a vision to leave her secluded life and enter the public life of the world. She wrote letters to many major public figures and carried on a long correspondence with Pope Gregory XI, urging him to reform the clergy and the administration of the Papal States. She burned with the love of God and her neighbour. As an ambassador she brought peace and harmony between cities. She fought hard to defend the liberty and rights of the Popes and did much for the renewal of religious life. She died on 29 April 1380. In 1970 Pope Paul VI declared her a Doctor of the Church. This zeal we are called to carry with us daily. Turn the ugly and unpleasant situations and persecution around you into an opportunity to evangelise today. God help us. Amen
Fr Michael Osatofoh Eninlejie MSP