October 1, 2020
by Maureen McCann Waldron
Creighton University's Office of Ministry - Retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 458

Job 19:21-27
Psalm 27:7-8, 8-9, 13-14
Luke 10:1-12

Praying Ordinary Time

Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, taught that we are called into a deep and intimate friendship with Jesus, something lived out in our everyday lives.  He believed that God sent Jesus on a mission to save the world, and that Jesus calls us to be side-by-side with him on that mission. We are called, as today’s gospel says, to be laborers in harvesting the field.

Each one of us is called by Jesus in a deeply personal and loving way to go with him into the fields.  Our harvest work might include loving a difficult person more deeply or listening more carefully in conversation, especially when we hear a point of view different from our own.  We can reach out to the many people isolated by the pandemic and ask how they are.  And really listen.

I could add to the harvest by stopping myself from a snarky comment and holding back on my judgements of others.  Each one of these are small steps, or as St. Thérèse of Lisieux would call them, the Little Way.

Today’s gospel is a fitting one to celebrate the Memorial of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, whose brief and cloistered life in a French convent sent spiritual ripples around the world.  She wrote that each task she took on at the convent was always her way of serving God.  The dirtiest kitchen work, the tedium of the laundry and the routine chores of the chapel were all little ways she saw as doing God’s work.

But her most inspiring “little” acts teach us how she got along with difficult people.  In her convent she lived with several women who had little patience with her.  She was devastated at first and deeply hurt by them.  Then she had the insight to pray for a particular sister who seemed to dislike her intensely.  When Thérèse felt her constant prayers for this nun were not enough, and she decided to do more. 

As she wrote in her Story of A Soul, “I tried to do as many things for her as I could, and whenever I was tempted to speak unpleasantly to her, I made myself give her a pleasant smile.” After a while, she reports that her feelings truly began to change, and she began to like this sister more.

One memorable day, the sister came to her with a beaming smile.  “Sister Thérèse, will you please tell me what attracts you so much to me?  You give me such a charming smile whenever we meet.”  Her small acts of humility and service, what she called her “self-forgetfulness,” had turned into love for this sister.

Jesus tells us today, “Go on your way.”  He sends us into our everyday life, carrying an awareness that he is beside us, as we practice our own “self-forgetfulness” by putting the needs of another ahead of our own.

Dear Jesus, help me today to forget myself a little.  Help me to realize that my life is privileged and that there are so many I will meet today who need something from me.  St. Thérèse believed that true love, true charity meant bearing our neighbor’s defects.  Give me the strength to love others more deeply, especially those I find annoying.  Help me to listen to complainers with more sympathy and to love those who are such a challenge. 

I know you are sending me into your field today and I ask you for the courage and humility to carry out your love. 

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