Memorial of Kateri Tekakwitha, virgin
(Exodus 2:1-15a; Matthew 11:20-24)
Kateri Tekakwitha’s life was short and hard. At the age of four she and her family contracted smallpox which left her both orphaned and physically impaired. In becoming a Christian she was rejected by the Iroquois tribe among whom she grew up in what is now New York State. She emigrated to the indigenous Christian community near Montreal. There she might have chosen resentment for all the setbacks she experienced. Instead, she devoted herself to prayer to God and concern for others. She can be seen as a model of the conversion which Jesus desires in today’s gospel.
Jesus laments over the towns of Galilee where he has worked wonders to no avail. Despite his preaching and cures, the people carry on with life as usual. Whether they do not accept his message or refuse to respond out of laziness, Jesus cannot but regret their failure. The prophetic “woes” he utters are condemnations for the refusal to live in accordance with God’s loving mercy.
The life that Jesus calls for is not that we begin to pray all the time although that would be helpful. He wants us to change our hearts - to live with compassion for others like Kateri Tekakwitha. He wants us to imitate the very goodness of God.