thoughts and observations on the daily readings
Wednesday of the Third Week of Easter
Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Readings may be found here
In ancient Israel, the strong family culture required that family members assist each other in times of war, famine, or other calamities. If a member of the family should be taken prisoner or enslaved, it was the duty of the other family members to “redeem” that person – to pay the ransom or buy the person out of slavery.
The prophets took this family role and pointed to the Lord’s similar role in the family of Israel – the Redeemer of Israel from slavery in Egypt. The prophets went on to proclaim the Lord’s particular role as Redeemer in the lives of the most vulnerable – those who did not have family members to assist them – the widow, the orphan, the poor, the stranger.
This truth of God’s desire to redeem us from sin and death lies at the heart of the Good News. We apply the language of redemption to the work of Jesus Christ and He points out this sacred purpose today in the passage from John, part of the Bread of Life discourse.
The passage from Acts offers a different aspect of the redemption made possible in the Christ event – the Divine grace that draws life from death, goodness from moments of evil. We have a picture here of a suffering Church. And at the same time we see how their trusting faith participates in God’s power to redeem – the moment of suffering and death becomes a moment of new life as the faith spreads ever further and more rapidly beyond Judea.
The Saint of the Day, Catherine of Siena offers similar testimony with her life and work. She lived in tragic time of plague, division, and conflict. As a woman there were many constraints placed upon her in Medieval society. And yet this woman, entirely devoted to God from childhood became peace-making diplomat, intercessor for the condemned and persecuted, influential author, and a voice of conscience and truth to confront the powers of her time.
The Holy Scriptures and our Saint today teach us a critical truth: that when God is present and men and women of good will respond with willing hearts - even the most difficult circumstances will see an outpouring of goodness, blessing, and new life. Love redeems.