Saint for the day: Charles of Sezze (October 19, 1613 – January 6, 1670)
Hebrews 7:1-3, 15-17 – Psalm 110 – Mark 3:1-6
“Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom and cured every disease among the people.” (Today’s ‘Alleluia Verse before the reading of the Holy Gospel)
We often ‘poo-paw’ these stories of early saints and Martyrs as being a kind of ‘crazy’ way to follow Jesus. But, today’s saint, Charles of Sezze, seems to have known that he was being called to be a “lay brother,” in the Franciscan Order with a special gift of taking care of the poor who came to the door of the friary where he lived. Be sure to follow the “link” to his story to see how took to heart the words of Jesus in the Gospels to have a special care for the poor and homeless.
In today’s first reading from the letter to the Hebrews, we hear about Melchizedek in the Old Testament who had no beginning or end which makes him a kind of “pre figure” of Christ. And so often their hagiographers begin by saying, “Almost nothing is actually known about this saint…” The same might be said about Melchizedek ‘who had no beginning or end.’ In the end, both Melchizedek & the saints are “figures’ of Jesus who, as the ‘Word of God’ always was and always will be.” Almost nothing is known about the early life of Jesus and most of what we celebrate in liturgy throughout most of the year is put together from OT prophesies and beliefs of the early church community. Today’s “saint,” Charles somehow heard the words of Jesus in regard to taking care of the poor and homeless which he did for most of his life. We don’t know much about Melchizedek but we know that he was King of Salem – without any beginning or end. He is a pre-figuring of Jesus, our true King of Kings who brings real peace into our world. But not without having to pay a price – the shedding of His blood. Like so many of the Saints who shed their blood rather than deny their faith in God we must seek to have that kind of commitment to God rather than being like the S & P’s who only had the following of the Law – often at the expense of neglecting the person in need. Do we let the law become a God for us and blind & deafen our senses to the real needs of those around us? We can never love perfectly in this world. We will always fall short of the full glory of God. But what we can do is open our eyes & ears to this world around us and do the best we can to lift up and heal the hurt people that we encounter along the way. To the S & P’s the healing of the withered arm of the man in the Temple – which was done on the Sabbath, broke the law and was not allowed. Yesterday, Jesus reminded us that the Sabbath was meant for man and not the other way around. Amen!