3 Sunday Easter B 2012
TODAY WE HAVE ANOTHER ACCOUNT of Jesus appearing to his disciples on Easter Sunday. This time it is from Luke.
As today’s Gospel opens, the disciples, gathered in the room, are hearing the account of the two disciples who have just returned from Emmaus after a powerful experience of meeting the Risen Jesus.
On the evening of the first Easter two disciples walked down a road, seven miles from
And then the Lord appeared to them. Now, you would think that when the Lord appeared to them, they would have recognized him immediately. But he didn't want it that way--he transformed his appearance so that they wouldn't recognize him just with their eyes--they would recognize him by what he would say and do that evening. This is a story of resurrection of faith.
First he explained the Scripture to them. He gave them a sermon about the Messiah. They heard what he had to say and felt such a burning within themselves that they didn't want him to leave them. They begged him to stay for supper, so he entered their house and their lives. He broke bread, blessed it and gave it to them to eat. It was at this point that they fully recognized his presence. It was at this point that he disappeared. He disappeared, but he didn't leave them. They had received the Lord.
They hurried off to tell the disciples in
Kateri (Pron: gaderi)Tekakwitha, was born in 1656 of an Algonquian Indian mother who was a devout Christian and a Mohawk chief who remained an unbeliever. Tekakwitha's mother was baptized and educated by French missionaries in Trois-Rivieres. Her mother was captured at the start of a war with the Iroquois and taken to the Mohawk homeland. But in accord with the matrilineal traditions of her people Kateri belonged to the Algonquin nation although she was brought up in the Mohawk community in what is now Auriesville, N Y.
Both her parents and her brother died in a smallpox epidemic when she was about five years of age. She was then adopted by her uncle. Although Kateri survived the ravages of her illness, it left her frail for the rest of her life.
Kateri, had the common experience, of First Nations as they interacted with European colonists. It was an experience of domination and imposing of a culture and religion, seen as superior by the Colonizers as a gift to “Savages”. In 1666, French troops attacked the Mohawk people, burning their villages and food supply. When a peace treaty was drawn up, one of the conditions for this alliance was that they accept Jesuit missionaries. The Colonizers and the presence of the European Missionaries went hand in hand.
When Catherine was eleven years old, in 1667, she had her first encounter with Jesuit missionaries. Jesuit missionaries flooded her village. Her uncle was extremely against any contact with them because he did not want her to convert to Christianity. But when she interacted with a missionary in the spring of 1675 at age eighteen, while resting in bed after sustaining a foot injury. “Were not our hearts burning within us” Her heart was burning by the teachings of these men and she began attending catechism. She was able to identify with Christ and embrace his message of love and forgiveness in spite of the horific negative impact on their community through communication of disease, military dominance and cultural suppression. She like the disciples on the road to Emmaus would recognize Christ by what the Jesuits would say and do; in the word and the Breaking of the Bread.
The Jesuit who visited her in her illness was named Father Jacques de Lamberville. As she advanced in her learning, he suggested baptism for her. This is significant because according to the Jesuit policy, baptism was withheld for new converts usually until they were on their deathbed or until the missionaries could be certain that they would be faithful. This shows that Kateri was extremely devout and was prepared to embrace this life forever. At the age of 20, Tekakwitha was baptized on Easter Sunday, April 18, 1676, by Father Jacques.
After baptism, she only remained in the village for another six months because she was persecuted by others who were closed the gospel message from the oppressors whose culture dominated their own. Beatings, continual criticism, sarcasm and mockery were her constant lot. Kateri made her way to Caughnawaga, a community of Christians, near
Piercing the body to draw blood, I understand, was a traditional practice of the Hurons, Iroquois, as well as the Mohawks. So for Kateri to embrace extreme physical mortification of the body, that was also more clearly the spiritual practices of the Christian faith of that day, was in harmony with her native spirituality. She believed that offering her blood through penances was a way to imitate Christ's crucifixion. Known for her chastity and corporal mortification of the body, she was the first Native American woman to be venerated in the Roman Catholic Church.
Kateri brought guidance from her sick bed, saying; “Be assured that you are pleasing in the sight of God and that I shall help you when I am with Him”. Kateri Tekakwitha died on April 17, 1680 at the age of 24. Fr. Chauchetière reports her final words as “I will love you in heaven”, in a murmur, before she died.
After her death, the people surrounding her body noticed a change in her appearance and as Fr. Cholenec reports “This face, so marked and swarthy, suddenly changed about a quarter of an hour after her death, and became in a moment so beautiful and so white that I observed it immediately”. Her renown for heroic sanctity soon spread and many miracles have been attributed to her intercession. Tekakwitha will be canonized on October 21, 2012.