Memorial of Saint Rose of Lima, virgin
(I Thessalonians 2:1-8; Matthew 23:23-26)
A priest ministering to the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa’s congregation, rightly feels humbled. The sisters sit at his feet seemingly attending to every word that he utters. The priest knows that they, much more than he, exemplify the work of Jesus in their service among the poorest of the poor. In her daily life St. Rose of Lima demonstrated an even greater self-effacement and dedication than the Missionaries of Charity. Her care for the poor was overshadowed only by her acts of piety as she demonstrated for an entire city love for God.
St. Paul in the reading today sees himself as the same kind of servant. “…we were gentle among you,” he writes, “as a nursing mother cares for her infants.” Paul likely means that he was patient in his work among the Thessalonians taking pains to explain the gospel in simple terms that these simple people could understand. Evidently he also labored at his own trade of tent-making while among the people so that he would not burden them with requests for his upkeep.
The piety and service of saints move us from self-concern to devotion to others. Certainly our times provide no ready outlet in the race for vainglory. However, we can see saints among us today as certainly as in the seventeenth century when St. Rose of Lima lived and in the first century when St. Paul worked shining like stars in the sky. They remind us that there is one greater and better than we who commands our constant effort to purify our love for others.