Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Memorial of Saints Jean Brebeuf, Isaac Jogues, priest and martyrs, and companions, martyrs

(Ephesians 3:2-12, Luke 12:39-48)

Catholicism experienced a new flowering in France during the seventeenth century.  The reforms of the Council of Trent had taken hold.  French kings favored the old faith as a way to consolidate his power.  Saints like Vincent de Paul breathed into the Church a spirituality centered on service.  One of the results of this renewal was a vigorous missionary spirit.  Jesuits missionaries Jean Brebeuf, Isaac Jogues, and companions went staunchly forth to proclaim Jesus Christ to native peoples of America.  They braved severe discomfort and eventually cruel martyrdom to teach the unsophisticated about Christ.

Today’s first reading provides a theological framework for their missionary activity.  Through Christ God’s calling was extended beyond the nation of Israel to all peoples of the world.  Paul was one of the first missionaries to the Gentiles, but the preaching could hardly stop hi efforts in eastern Europe.  With the discovery of new lands with different peoples the Christian message of salvation was brought to what Europeans thought was the end of the earth.

Perhaps there is always a new frontier.  Today we are to reintroduce the salvation that Christ offers to people who have heard of it but in a defective way.  Christ calls us to share his humility and love with those for whom even Christianity appears narrowly self-opportunistic.  It means sacrifice on our part in the short view of things. But as the fullness of the heavens is revealed, our efforts to share the good news will bring salvation to all.