Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, religious
(I John 3:22-4:6; Matthew 4:12-17.23-25)
As a new year takes hold, the gospel today pictures Jesus’ new, vigorous ministry. People come to him from all over for healing. His popularity will last only a short time. Soon the Pharisees will begin to oppose him, and the people will lose faith.
Opposition sets the tone of the first reading. The author takes to task former members of his community who follow another “spirit” or belief. Evidently, the opposition believes that Jesus did not come “in the flesh” but was a purely spiritual being. Such a belief has enticing corollaries. One is that the body is unimportant and may be treated in any way one likes. Sexual promiscuity would even be possible with such an ideology.
Today the Church remembers Elizabeth Ann Seton, a person for whom the body was very important. This American Catholic convert saint suffered much grief with the loss of loved ones. She also worked tirelessly to build up a religious congregation to educate Catholic children. In following Jesus, she serves as a model of courageous witness and good deeds.