Homilette for Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Memorial of St. Clare, virgin

Deuteronomy 31:1-8; Matthew 18:1-5.10.12-14)

Cardinal John Foley recently told the story of how he became a priest. After high school he entered the Jesuit novitiate but left the Society of Jesus thinking that he might be happier as a diocesan priest. After enrolling in college, he did volunteer work teaching catechism to mentally handicapped children. One day the principal of the school where he taught entered his class and asked the students if they liked Mr. Foley. “No,” one boy answered, “We love Mr. Foley. “Why do you love Mr. Foley?” the principal queried. “Because he teaches us about Jesus” was the boy’s response. Cardinal Foley says that the boy’s answer solidified his vocation. Not long afterward he entered the diocesan seminary.

As Jesus makes clear in the gospel today, working with children or any marginalized people is a sure measure of having accepted Jesus himself. Cardinal Foley considers his mission to children as solidifying his vocation to the priesthood. We might say that work among the marginalized solidifies anyone’s vocation to Christian holiness. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a Christian without genuine concern for the lowly.