St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Luke 9 : 57-62
Jb 9: 1-12, 14-16 / Ps 88: 10-15

No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.
(Luke 9:62)

No ifs or buts, no fear or doubt,
This is what faith is all about...
Be resolute when we aspire
To serve God, this He will require.

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9: 57-62)

Reflection

Jesus’ parable in today’s Gospel presents to us a clear idea of what it means when we are called to mission, or to witness for the kingdom of God. Jesus was actually citing the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 19:19-21) when he called Elisha to service, as the latter was plowing his field. But in the case of Elijah, he allowed his protégé Elisha to tarry by slaughtering his oxen and giving a feast to his kinsmen before he followed Elijah. This is not to be so with Jesus. The conditions for following Him are absolute, and leave no room for concessions. Nothing in this world is more important than God’s call to mission. Neither a burial nor a celebration takes priority or precedence.

The Church commemorates this day in honor of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, also known as “The Little Flower of Jesus”, and a patron saint of missions. She and her 3 sisters were dedicated by their devout parents to the service of God, and all became cloistered nuns in a Carmelite convent. Being the youngest, St. Therese was not deterred when the Carmelite Superior and the bishop refused to admit her as a novice because she was only fourteen years old. On a pilgrimage to Rome with her father and a chance audience with the pope, she broke protocol and begged the pope’s intercession for her vocation. Impressed by her courage and determination, the Vicar General interceded on her behalf, and soon she was accepted as a novice in the Carmelite convent with her two elder sisters. St. Thérèse never went on a mission, but the hundreds of prayers and letters that she wrote in support of the missionaries of the Church brought her the recognition that she had always avoided. In her humility she did not aspire to achieve great deeds, but her numerous little sacrifices inspired thousands of the faithful to imitate this “Little Flower of Jesus” on her path to holiness and sainthood. She never looked back, but plowed on inspite of her severe illness, which led to her death at the young age of 24.

Let us honor St. Thérèse of Lisieux by following her example when we are called to serve in our community, or simply to give witness about our conversion. Let her be our model in our struggle to be pure and faithful to God’s will. As St. Paul said in his letter to the Galatians, “Stand firm and never submit again to the yoke of slavery (sin)… Live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.” (Gal.5:1,17) Let us pray to St. Therese, that in this battle against the flesh, our spirit may be victorious.

Keep always before me, Lord, so that I may never be shaken, for in You my heart is glad, my soul rejoices, my body dwells secure. Show me the right path (Psalm 16:9-11) that I may persevere in serving You until the end of this earthly journey. Amen.

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