Memorial of Saint Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr
November 12, 2019
Today, in Mercy, as we remember St. Josephat, our readings instruct us on what it means to be God’s faithful servant.
A 17th century saint born in Lithuania, Josephat was a humble and self-sacrificing Bishop. But his life was embroiled in the social and religious unrest subsequent to the Union of Brest.
(The Union of Brest, was the 1595-96 decision of the Ruthenian Orthodox Church eparchies (dioceses) in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to break relations with the Eastern Orthodox Church and to enter into communion with, and place itself under the authority of, the Roman Catholic Pope. – Wikipedia)
To a much greater degree than it would today, such a decision carried immense political import, creating the deadly oppositions to which Josephat ultimately lost his life.
Our first reading today, which is so familiar from the funerals we’ve attended, reminds us that all our lives will eventually return to God (hopefully not so dramatically as Josephat’s did).
Our Gospel too enjoins us to live humble, grateful lives of service, recognizing that everything we have and are belongs to God:
Is the Master grateful to that servant
because he did what was commanded?
So should it be with you.
When you have done all you have been commanded, say,
“We are unprofitable servants;
we have done what we were obliged to do.”
If we do this, we shall be blessed as described in Wisdom:
Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love:
Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and his care is with his elect.
These are sobering but necessary thoughts. As I write today (on November 11th), I think of the humble servant Catherine McAuley who died on this date in 1841. She has certainly sent sparks through the stubble. On this Veterans’ Day, I think of all who have died in war. I think of our Sister-veterans, Sister Bernard Mary Buggelein and Sister Dorothy Hillenbrand who served in WWII and now rest in our community cemetery. All of their lives have been called into the great embrace of our Eternal God. May all our lives inspire one another to humble service and praise.
Music: The Souls of the Righteous – Geraint Lewis, sung by Jesus Choir- Cambridge
The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God,
and the pain of death shall not touch them.
To the eyes of the foolish, they seemed to perish,
but they are in peace.