February 4 is the feast of St. Maria de Mattias, Founder of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ
By Fr. Bill Nordenbrock, C.PP.S.
The readings for the feast of Maria de Mattias not only are appropriate inspiration for our reflections on this great saint, but are very apropos for me as I sit in a hermitage on sabbatical hoping to discern a call that will guide the next leg of my journey of life.
We read the story of the reluctant prophet Jeremiah. God speaks plainly to him. “I knew you in the womb and this is who you are—you are my prophet. So stop being afraid and making excuses and go out and speak the words that I will put in your mouth.” No much room for confusion there!
In the wonderful Gospel story we have another commissioning story as Mary Magdalene is anointed the first apostle to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus. And what a message she is given to proclaim. Jesus tells her to tell my bothers: “My Father is your Father and my God is your God.” While the twelve were hiding on the upper room afraid that they would be found guilty by association, Mary brought them a message that offered them holiness through communion. It was an invitation to accept communion with Jesus and all that he was and did and was yet to do.
These great readings are reflected in the life of St. Maria de Mattias. Maria accepted a call to be a messenger, a proclaimer of God’s word and the Word made flesh. As unlikely a prophet as Jeremiah and as unlikely an apostle as Mary Magdalene, both with words and through the care of her “dear neighbors,” she joyfully proclaimed the Word of God. In the face of cultural and societal obstacles, she took heart and accepted her commission to proclaim, and to inspire future generations of Adorers to proclaim, the word of God.
What can we learn and imitate from the lives of Jeremiah, Mary Magdalene and St. Maria?
As I reflect on these three holy messengers of God, I see holy people who came to know their identity “in God.” They came to know themselves as God had created and knew them in the womb. As we read in the epistle from Peter, their hearts accepted and were empowered by the hearing and believing that the Lord was saying to them: Beloved, you will be holy, because I am holy.
Vocation and mission begins here–discerning and knowing who we are in God. As Thomas Merton and others have written, it begins with knowing our true self. When we know who we are in God and know the gifts that God has given us to form that identity, then we are ready to be commissioned. Then we can go out and do the good work of God. Maybe we will not be fearless, but with a heart full of the belief in our own holiness, we can take heart and be courageous in proclaiming the word of God with our lips and our lives.
So let us look to the lives of the prophet Jeremiah and the joyful apostles Mary Magdalene and Maria de Mattias. Let us take the examples of their lives to heart. Like them, we are the beloved of God we have been made holy.
How will that holiness shine through us today? Let your heart sing today’s psalm response: Lord, give me the joy of proclaiming your word.
Fr. William Nordenbrock, C.PP.S., is the former moderator general of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.