The Feast of St. Monica
2 Thessalonians 3:6-10, 16-18
Readers of the daily Scriptures have another "woe" to contemplate today. This is the sixth of seven harsh words Jesus has for this particular group of scribes and Pharisees whom he calls hypocrites and blind guides. The Jesus of gentile compassion also has a side of righteous indignation as he denounces these so-called religious leaders of his day. They are like whitewashed tombs-beautiful on the outside, but inside full of dead men’s bones. One would not want to be downside of Jesus’ anger! Matthew presents Jesus as a fiery prophet equal to any of his storied ancestors who spoke in the name of the God of Israel. In our bones we know the cry of the Psalmist, "Blessed are those who fear the Lord" (Ps. 128), and, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Ps. 111).
But those who remain with Jesus and allow themselves to be called his disciples come to know, as well, that all it takes is a turn. A turn on the inside, that is, where it counts. Leave the whitewashed tomb and the dead man’s bones behind and allow the Spirit of God to work anew.
Today the Church asks us to remember St. Monica, the great model of patience and intercessory prayer, and her call to turn away from sin. Monica was the mother of St. Augustine and because she nagged him into the faith by her prayers and perseverance, her feast is rightfully celebrated the day before his. It was not just her famous son whom she brought to the Lord by her prayers, but also her husband and her mother-in-law. Truly, Monica was a woman after the heart of Jesus. To her family, to the people of her day and to the church now she speaks the challenge of conversion and fidelity to the promises of God. "If today you hear his voice harden not your hearts."
In our first reading we are given the consoling words of Paul’s 2nd Letter to the Thessalonians. Words with which the great sinner-to-saint says he ends every one of his letters to the churches.
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you.
May the Lord of peace himself
give you peace at all times and in every way.
The Lord be with all of you."
Fr. Jim Strommer, C.P. is on the provincial leadership team and lives in Chicago.