Greetings on this feast day of Australia’s first saint.
It seems that whatever we do nowadays, we cannot escape from stress. In our homes and at work, we can experience stress that causes worry and anxiety. Some of us have experienced even more so in this time of pandemic, when there is much uncertainty, fear and so on. Of course, we can’t be pious and pretend that Christians are exempt from stress just because we believe in a God who provides for and meets our needs. We worry just the same as everyone else.
Amidst all of the challenges that the pandemic imposes, it is providential that we come to the readings of this Sunday on the Feast of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop. These readings speak to the very heart of where most of us – perhaps all of us – are at: the question of how to deal with and what our attitudes should be to facing the challenges of our present time?
The readings of this Sunday, especially our first reading and the Gospel, beautifully bring us to the theme of trust in God’s providence and care. Our first reading from the Book of Kings, tells the story of the prophet Elijah who asks a widow to provide him with drink and food. In all sincerity, she tells him that she has only a little left, and that when it is finished she and her son will starve to death. Elijah then cites to her a promise from the Lord: she will not want for flour or oil until the day the rains return. In a marvellous act of trust, and in spite of her fear and hopeless situation, she shared with him what she had. Through Elijah, God’s promise was confirmed for the widow. From then on, her supply of food never run out. Such is the providence of God.
This theme continues in our Gospel reading, which is a part of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. Jesus instructed his disciples on how they must “set your hearts on the kingdom first, and on his righteousness, and all these other things will be given to you as well”. These words of Jesus resonated with his disciples, but also with Mary Mackillop. She would have heard these words and embraced them throughout her life.
Having read the life of Mary Mackillop, I was struck by how many obstacles and challenges that she encountered. She had so much to worry about: her endless problems with her health, setting up a religious community, schools, orphanages, and homes to help poor children and destitute women. Also, she had a lot of worries in dealing with the local church authorities, especially when the local bishop erroneously excommunicated her from the Church.
Worries and anxiety seemingly were part of her life but Mary never failed to set her heart on Jesus and his Kingdom. Once her heart was firmly set on Jesus, she had nothing to fear. She was resilient and had a deep trust that God would provide everything as long as she was engaged in doing God’s will in her life.
Mary MacKillop’s courage and faith in dealing with the challenges of her time offers us inspiration and hope as we are face the challenges of our times. As we celebrate her Feast day, may each one of us follow her example with similar faith, trust and hope that God offer all people who we keep their eyes fixed on Jesus and His Kingdom.
“Whatever troubles may be before you, accept them bravely, remembering Whom you are trying to follow. Do not be afraid. Love one another, bear with one another, and let charity guide you all your life. God will reward you as only He can.” Mary Mackillop.
On her feast day, may Mary of the Cross Mackillop bless us all today,