Today is the Memorial of Kateri Tekakwitha. This article was published in 2017 from Liturgical Press, Colleville, MN
Scars, Tenderness, and the Heart of Faith
Kateri Tekakwitha, an Algonquin-Mohawk woman, was baptized in 1674 at age nineteen. Her face scarred by smallpox as a young girl, she carried in her heart a faith-filled relationship with Jesus. She died at age twenty-four, bearing the tension of scars and tenderness within her body.
We all carry ugliness and beauty, despair and hope, insecurity and faith. We are deeply, profoundly human and yet long for the freedom and love only Jesus can offer us. We are sent into the world to bring joy to the dark places of people’s lives. We are to witness the Kingdom of God no matter the threats we face each day.
When we believe in the love of Jesus, we will be in conflict with the world. The heart of faith rouses mistrust, fear, and anger in a world that is threatened by love and gentleness. We carry the scars in our vocations, within our commitments to serve. Yet we possess within our hearts the voice of Jesus that provides food and hope for our journey.
St. Kateri roused conflict among her people when she converted to Christianity. The fire of her heart sent her fearlessly into faith, relying only on the love of Jesus. She endured until the end. Witnesses reported that within minutes after Kateri’s death, the scars on her faced were healed. The love of her heart prevailed.
Take delight in the Lord, and he will grant you your heart’s request.
Fr. Ronald Raab