Homily for Mass – 1 October 2012 – Memorial of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus

Deschatelets Residence, Ottawa

[Readings: Job 1:6-22;  Ps 17;  Lk 9:46-50]


Our gospel this morning parallels the text we reflected on in yesterday’s liturgy.  We see the humanity – and indeed the pettiness – of the disciples, who argue about which of them is the greatest.  We also see their jealousy and suspicion that someone outside their number was casting out demons in Jesus’ name.

 We know well that unhealthy competition, suspicion and jealousy are poisonous in community life;  and they are poisonous within ourselves.  They prevent us from being who we should be, and cause us to act in ways that prevent others from being who they should be.  When these attitudes become dominant we no longer rejoice in the gift that other people are;  we no longer appreciate the unique contribution that each one is able to make.

 In the writing of St Therese of Lisieux, there are many things that can help us in our Christian living.  One of the things she writes about is how the Lord helped her to appreciate the unique difference of each believer.  She writes:  “Jesus deigned to teach me this mystery.  He set before me the book of nature; I understood how all the flowers He has created are beautiful, how the splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the Lily do not take away the perfume of the little violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy.  I understood that if all flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose her springtime beauty, and the fields would no longer be decked out with little wild flowers.  And so it is in the world of souls, Jesus’ garden.  He willed to create great souls comparable to lilies and roses, but He has created smaller ones and these must be content to be daisies or violets destined to give joy to God’s glances when He looks down at His feet.  Perfection consists in doing His will, in being what He wills us to be.

 Therese had big ambitions.  She dearly wanted to be a missionary.  She wanted to be a martyr.  She also wanted to be a priest.  She had a desire to live all the vocations.  And yet the Lord led her to know what He willed her to be.  “At last I have found my vocation” Therese declares, “in the heart of the Church, I will be love.”

 When Therese came to the realization of her vocation, she was fully free to see the beauty of all the vocations.  There was no need for competition, jealousy or suspicion, because she could enter into the perfection of God by doing His will, and in being what He willed her to be.

 One thing we could pray for today is for the Lord to confirm in us our vocation – the unique call that the Lord has placed on the heart of each of us.  And even though we share common aspects of ‘call’ – whether it be consecrated life, or priesthood – still the Lord has unique plans for each of us: particular ways that we are to live his will.   The closer we can come to that, then the more freely will His graces and blessings flow through us for the sake of others, just as they did through Saint Therese.