Saint Boniface, bishop and martyr
2 Timothy 4:1-8
Today the church remembers a man who went out of his way to live and proclaim the Gospel. His name is St. Boniface. While in his youth he heard a missionary speaking of the power and word of God and he was left with a conviction that would change his life forever. The conviction of this missionary entered into Boniface’s heart, and remained with him his entire life. He would live his life speaking, proclaiming, in word and in daily deeds from this conviction. Even his death and martyrdom was interpreted by St. Boniface as the fulfillment of this conviction.
As I attend to the readings of the day, I find St. Boniface stands as a bridge between the two main characters of our gospel story. Jesus begins by telling us about some of the scribes who do many things for self-promotion. Jesus cautions his disciples about this kind of people. They are easy to spot. For they frequently put themselves in the spotlight. And the Gospel writer contrasts these loud, somewhat narcissistic men with an invisible woman. She is not born into a situation of honor, nor is she calling any spotlights onto herself. Jesus sees her because she is quietly contributing to something beyond herself, sharing the desire to see the Glory of God yet again. The scribe on the other hand is certainly not seeing his life in terms of service to God. He is simply using God to try to puff himself up. Yet it is the woman who demonstrates her trust and reliance upon the Lord. St. Boniface for me is the bridge which links action, faith, belief, trust and passion. He backs up his loud proclamations with actions and deeds. As a result, he will die a martyr.
Back in the Gospel story, one of the pieces which intrigues me is the recognition of what Jesus sees. He not only sees the invisible woman (and by invisible I mean that she has been overlooked by nearly every person in the temple area), Jesus actually sees into her heart. Her heart and her motivation resonates with his own as they both share a fundamental trust in the faithfulness and the promise of their heavenly father. Jesus goes so far as to acknowledge this woman whom all others choose not to see. The reward then for the woman is not that perhaps Jesus will recognize her. The reward is that today the Glory of God is going to be made manifest. And it is only going to cost a few cents.
Throughout this past retreat season, I have been amazed at how many retreatants have been able to articulate their inability to trust God. Of course, I certainly don’t deny the severity and unpredictability of external forces. However, doesn’t this Gospel reading speak profoundly to us today? Doesn’t this Gospel reading invite us to trust a little more deeply? I guarantee, if you pay attention you will see people today trying to convince others how important they think they are. And perhaps if you are attentive today, you may just see someone inviting you to see the Glory of God. It will only cost you a few small coins.
Fr. David Colhour, C.P. is on the staff at Christ the King Passionist Retreat Center, Citrus Heights, California.