The Gospel Matt 10:34—11:1
Jesus said to his Apostles:
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth.
I have come to bring not peace but the sword.
For I have come to set
a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one’s enemies will be those of his household.
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,
and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
and whoever does not take up his cross
and follow after me is not worthy of me.
Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
“Whoever receives you receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet
will receive a prophet’s reward,
and whoever receives a righteous man
because he is righteous
will receive a righteous man’s reward.
And whoever gives only a cup of cold water
to one of these little ones to drink
because he is a disciple–
amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”
When Jesus finished giving these commands to his Twelve disciples,
he went away from that place to teach and to preach in their towns.
After the Gospel:
The sword which Jesus brings is The Gospel, The Word of God, living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, sharp enough to cut into and cut away the pride, lust, greed and other forms of selfishness, by which we hurt others.
But sometimes the gospel message can be misunderstood, misused, to justify how we inflictsuffering and pain.
We all knew the last Refectory book would have a sad ending,
we knew the “Shepherd Who Didn’t Run” would ultimately die a martyr for the sake of his flock.
What made his death at age 46 even more tragic, were the events preceding it,
which Fr Joachim read to us in a section simply called “The Letters,”
which told how Fr Stanley Rother came home to Oklahoma from his missionary post in Guatemala, for a family visit, during which, he broke his custom of not speaking in public, and agreed to preach just this once because the pastor was his good friend.
As Fr Stanley gave the homily at Sunday Mass, he spoke passionately about his work to help the poor, build a farmers’ co-op, a school, a hospital, a Catholic radio station, he told it like it was, with powerful anecdotes about persecutions, sufferings, and disappearances of his beloved native parishioners.
About 1,000 people heard him preach, thought his homily was an example of the true social meaning of the gospel … a lesson on the Way of the Cross in modern times.
But after Mass, out of those thousand people, one man walked up to Fr Stanley and said,
“I don’t agree with anything you said.
I’m sorry I’m a Catholic.
I’m going to inform the archbishop.”
Fr Stanley later received a copy of the letter sent to the archbishop.
However, there was a second letter, sent to the “Embassy of Guatemala” in Washington, D.C.,
detailing a long list of grievances and complaints, stating:
“Our pastor frequently visits your nation. He just invited a Catholic mission priest visiting from Guatemala to use God’s pulpit for political dogma, urging our parishioners to pressure the US government to drop military support for your administration in Guatemala…
I feel obliged to warn your nation of the church’s involvement in leftist organizations, and I will no longer offer money to support Catholic endeavors overseas.”
That letter was unsigned, anonymous … but the damage was done.
Fr Stanley’s name was put on the black list.
Shortly after he returned to Guatemala, it would be on the Death List.
We don’t know who wrote the unsigned, anonymous letter,
what kind of person, what kind of Catholic they were,
what motivation “obliged” them to act.
All we know for sure is that there will be a Judgment Day,
for me… for you… for the person who wrote that fatal letter.
On that Day it will be hard enough to answer the regular questions on how we treated each other, about how many cups of water we offered to the little ones,
much less answer for an unsigned, anonymous letter that stabbed a missionary in the back.
Lord Jesus, forgive us! In our misguided ways, we do not realize what we are doing to others!
= = = = = =
Refererence to the book:
The Shepherd Who Didn’t Run
Fr Stanley Rother, Martyr from Oklahoma
by Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda
Our Sunday Visitor Press $19.95
Note: Fr Stanley Rother, first US-born Saint, died 1981,
will be beatified in Oklahoma City on Sept. 23, 2017.