Friday, March 17, 2017

Remember the Marvels the Lord Has Done

Today, March 17th, is Friday of the Second Week of Lent and/or St. Patrick's Day.  It is also the third anniversary of the death of my teacher and friend, Fr.Egon Sendler SJ (aka Pere Igor).  

Reflecting on the daily readings for today, I was struck by the ways in which God's redemptive purpose is able to to be found even in circumstances of  great suffering and injustice.  In the first reading is the familiar story of Joseph, and how his brothers, out of jealousy and hatred, throw him into a cistern to die and then, when the opportunity presents itself, sell him into bondage in Egpt.  In the gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the vineyard, in which the wicked tenants beat and kill the servants of the owner of the vineyard and then in their greed, kill his son.

/But God's redemptive purpose cannot be thwarted, even by the intransigence and violence of sinners.  Joseph forgives his brothers and reconciles with them.  Jesus, from the Cross, forgives those who are putting him to death and even excuses their actions before God, "because they know not what they are doing."

St. Patrick was kidnapped by Irish pirates and enslaved in Ireland.  Yet after his escape from bondage he returned and shared Christ with the people of Ireland.  In a similar way, my friend Pere Igor, conscripted into the war with Russia, was a German prisoner of war in Siberia for three years, where he worked as slave laborer.  He vowed, if he survived his imprisonment, to devote the rest of his life to the service of the Church in Russia and to work for Christian unity.  Which he did, for the rest of his long life.

Like Joseph and like Patrick,  Igor, (the name the Russian inmates gave him in the labor camp) had to chose whether or not to be consumed by hatred and bitterness towards those who mistreated and enslaved him.  It would have been understandable, reasonable even, for each of them to have responded that way to undeserved suffering.  

But grace and a willingness to be open to grace made it possible to chose to live and act in a different way. That they chose to love and not to hate allowed God to use their suffering for his own mysterious but always redemptive purpose.

Memory eternal, Pere Igor!

St. Patrick, Apostle to the Irish, pray for us!     

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