August 11, 2020
by Candice Tucci, O.S.F.
Creighton University's College of Nursing
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of Saint Clare, Virgin
Lectionary: 414

Ezechiel 2:8—3:4
Psalm 119:14, 24, 72, 103, 111, 131
Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14

Praying Ordinary Time

An Invitation to Make the Online Retreat

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Finding Our Way Back Home: Getting Un-Stuck in Prayer Life

How well do we eat and digest the Word of God? Unlike Ezekiel in our first reading, we don’t exactly eat a scroll or the pages of a book. But every day we are given passages from Scripture to nurture us and become part of our lives. Do these words satisfy our hunger for God? Do these words, quench our thirst for what we ask of God?

Today we celebrate the memorial of St. Clare of Assisi. (1193-1253) At the age of 18 her heart was filled in hearing God’s Word presented to her through the preaching of St. Francis of Assisi.

Hearing God’s Word fulfilled her desire to follow and embrace the poor Christ.  It would be a new way of life that she would define in her Rule for the “poor ladies” as “the privilege of poverty.”

This was a radical move from the norm for women who lived in monasteries with financial support from families, a dowry, and the Church. Clare, like Francis, lived day to day relying on the providence of God. She defended her Rule of Life for the Poor Sisters to the day before she died when finally, Pope Innocent IV approved it. It was the first approved Rule written by a woman.

For both Clare and Francis, the WORD MADE FLESH, God, Jesus, who was born in a stable and died on a cross, was their “mirror” for their new ways of life as Clare would describe.  As God who through and with Jesus embraced humanity, they recognized God within the human experience. They came to know this God more intimately through contemplation, caring for the poor and seeing creation through the eyes of God. The Incarnation was real as they gazed upon the crucified Christ and realized their lives transformed.

Saint Clare in her Third Letter to Agnes of Prague wrote:

Place your mind before the mirror of eternity,
Place your soul in the brilliance of glory!
Place your heart in the figure of the divine substance!
And transform your entire being into the image
Of the Godhead Itself through contemplation.

I imagine St. Clare spent time with our Gospel for today.  She lived her vocation being the Word of God for the Gospel was her way of life. St. Clare was a strong woman who through her commitment to poverty, and in true humility, emptied herself of all possessions, was in service to the poor, and as a servant leader ministered to the women who joined her. Together with these women they fed the poor and cared for the sick and lame. They met Jesus in in the Eucharist and in those they tended contemplating Christ for the nourishment they needed to be the WORD MADE FLESH, in their world. The Eucharist was central to their lives.

Jesus answers the question of the disciples regarding who the greatest might be in the Kingdom of Heaven by saying, “Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest…whoever received one child such as this is my name receives me.  This sense of God’s own humility is poured forth in God emptying Godself out of love for a relationship with the world, in Jesus, even to emptying himself on the cross. I think, to set a child before us as an example is to remind us that we, once a child, have a lifetime to live up to the expectation of emptying ourselves in the care and service for others. It is an invitation to look at our lives and ask if we live in loving relationship with our world. Can we embrace our world as we would a child? Do we humbly recognize our dependence on God? Do we see with God’s eyes? Is the Incarnation real?

“As we become one with Jesus, we are called to imitate him.. In the Incarnation, Jesus taught us that there are no limits to God’s love for us. Contemplation calls us to that same love. As we are transformed into the image of our God, we learn to love others as Jesus does. Such self-sacrificing love could really change our world.” –Illio Delio, Clare of Assisi, p.ix

Today we are all challenged to love our world in all its brokenness. To embrace and hold it as a child may be held so tenderly. So many people have given their lives in caring for the sick, and in service for a heathy and better world. Like Jesus, and St. Clare, so many have put others before themselves.  Some have died. I heard health care professionals say after long days and hours, “I feel so empty.” They have given their all.

Blessing of St. Clare
Live without fear;
Your creator has made you holy,
has always protected you
and loves you like a mother….
May Almighty God Bless you
May He look upon you with the eyes
of His Mercy and give you His peace…

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