Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Memorial of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), virgin and martyr

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

As a student, Edith Stein distinguished herself. Her search for truth did not lead her to the halls of academia, however, but to the chapel of a Carmelite monastery. Growing up a Jew, she converted to Catholicism and eventually became a nun given to prayer and contemplation.

Living in the turbulent nineteen thirties, Sr. Teresa moved from a monastery in Germany to one in Holland to avoid trouble for her companions. Still she could not escape the voracious intolerance of the German Gestapo. In 1942 she was sent to Auschwitz where she perished in a gas chamber.

The situation of Moses in the reading today reminds us of that of St. Teresa. Like Moses she was a Jew and like him she desired to enter the Promised Land. But where he was too feeble to cross over the Jordan, Sr. Teresa dauntlessly went forward. She was heard telling her sister Rosa who was with her when the Gestapo came: “Come, we are going for our people.” She was going not only because she was a Jew but for the sake of the Jews. She gave a martyr’s witness that Christ suffers and dies for Jews as well as for all others.