Homily – Solemnity of Saint Mary of the Cross

The readings for the Solemnity of our first Australian Saint, Mary of the Cross, speak to us about trusting in God’s providence.  The Gospel of Luke is an invitation to us to hand over our worries and concerns to God:

“I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and what you are to wear.  Surely life is more than food, and the body more than clothing!  Look at the birds in the sky.  They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not worth much more than they are?  Can any of you, however much you worry, add one single cubit to your span of life?”

It is easier said than done, of course.  It is natural for us to worry about food, clothing, and tomorrow.  This is even more so for those who do not know from where tomorrow’s food will come.  And it is hard not to worry about life when so many are still dying from the pandemic across the globe.

Of course, the gospel does not tell us not to worry about those who are suffering and those who hunger and thirst.  Think of the Gospel of Matthew, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.  I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (cf Matthew 25:34-40).

Trusting in providence doesn’t mean neglecting our call to respond in love to our sisters and brothers.  In this sense, the very practical spirituality of Saint Mary of the Cross urges us, ‘never see a need without doing something about it’.

These two appeals of the gospel, “do not worry about tomorrow” and “whatever you did for one of the least of my sisters or brothers, you did for me,” need to sit side by side.  They are exhibited beautifully in today’s First Reading from the Book of Kings (Kings 17:8-16).

Saint Mary of the Cross seemed to have the ability to focus on others and allow God to do the rest.  Do not worry.  I see similar things happening when I witness the way in which spouses care for one another as ageing and illness progress.  Eyes seem always focused on what I can do to assist my partner.  Tomorrow will take care of itself.  We see it also in parents who work hard and give of themselves so that their children may flourish.  We see it in community groups like St Vincent de Paul, CatholicCare and many others who focus on the needs of others and let each day take care of itself.

We are indeed lucky to have Saint Mary of the Cross as our first Australian Saint.  May she intercede for us all, that we may trust in the providence of God and never stop doing something about the needs we see.

Fr Brendan Reed

 

Homily

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