Thursday, January 4, 2018

Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, religious

(I John 3:7-10; John 1:35-42)

There is an old saying as remarkable for its simplicity as for its truth: “The one who loves much, does much.”  Certainly today’s patron, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, demonstrates this proverb as well as anyone.  She raised a family as a widow before she became a religious.  Then her works multiply like visible stars as evening turns into night.  Elizabeth Ann Seton founded a religious congregation and a school, wrote textbooks and spiritual reflections, trained teachers, and established orphanages.  She demonstrates what the two Scriptural readings of today’s mass teach.

The First Letter of John reads like a child’s textbook, but its meaning is still profound.  Christians show themselves to be true children of God by living righteously.  As children of God, we have to love others, especially the poor, as sisters and brothers.  In the gospel John testifies that Jesus is the Lamb of God.  He means this in two senses.  Like a lamb is thought to be innocent because of its white wool, Jesus never sinned.  Also, as a lamb was slaughtered in old Jewish rites to atone for sins, Jesus will be crucified to redeem sinners.

Heeding John’s testimony, two of his disciples begin to follow Jesus.  So did Elizabeth Ann Seton, and so should we.  It entails more than going to mass on Sunday even though this practice is indispensable.  It includes being ready to sacrifice ourselves for God to help the needy.