Reflection by Sr. Rosemary Finnegan, O.P.
Readings from: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/112823.cfm
Years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Greenwich, England, home of the Prime Meridian. This Greenwich Meridian separates east from west in the same way that the Equator separates north from south. Greenwich literally sits at the center of our system of time zones and is the place where world time is set, down to the milli-second. I actually stood over the line where East meets West, having one foot in the East and one foot in the West!
I think having a foot in two different time zones is a lot like being a disciple; in a real sense we’re living as citizens of two worlds, and we’re reminded of that in our gospel today. We’ve got one foot pointed in the direction of our true home in heaven, even though we don’t know when that time will come for us. Our other foot is planted temporarily on earthly soil, so it can be said, we have a dual citizenship with Jesus as the head of both worlds. God wants us to be actively engaged here on earth spreading the gospel of the kingdom, serving the poor, and working for justice and peace in this world. But we must also keep that other foot focused on the next world and be ready when our time comes. The people in our gospel were just as anxious to know when that time would be. To them, Jesus responds: “…Many will come in my name, saying, 'I am he,' and 'The time has come. 'Do not follow them!”
As an example of someone who lived in both worlds, we can look to the saint whom we celebrate today, St. Catherine Laboure, whose shrine and tomb our pilgrimage group had the privilege of visiting and celebrating Mass there when we went to France.
St. Catherine Labouré was born in 1806, in a quaint village in Burgundy, France. She was the ninth of eleven children. At the age of nine, her mother died, and in her sorrow, St. Catherine turned to the only other mother she knew. Standing on her tiptoes to see the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in her home, St. Catherine tearfully said, “Now, dear Blessed Mother, you will be my mother.”
She never learned to read or write, and often she visited a hospital where she served the sick. At the age of 23, she joined the Daughters of Charity. It was here that our Blessed Mother appeared 3 times to St. Catherine in 1830 and told her to have a sacred medal made, and we know that medal to be the Miraculous Medal. Over the years, God has worked countless miracles through this medal, and it has become a source of prayer and grace for many.
All her life she wanted nothing more than to humbly devote herself to the care of the sick and elderly. It was only after her passing in 1876 that her superior revealed that it was Catherine who had the apparitions from Mary. For 46 years Catherine chose to keep it quiet, only speaking to her confessor and her superior about Mary’s appearances and the origin of the medal. St. Catherine is now known as the “Saint of Ordinary People.”
Like St. Catherine, may we live our lives knowing we have one foot on earth doing God’s work, and the other foot facing forward toward our heavenly home to come.