North American Martyrs + Saints Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf & Companions

Today we honour the memory of Saints Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf, four other Jesuit priests and two lay volunteers who were martyred in their efforts to announce the Good News to the native peoples in New York and Canada.   While it is fitting to recognise the sacrifice of those who gave their lives to establish the Christian faith in North America, it seems equally appropriate to ask forgiveness for the suffering and harm caused to the native peoples who were displaced from their lands by settlers who took it by force.  Today we have a greater appreciation for the chequered history of the early years of the United States and Canada.   We can mourn lost cultures and languages that disappeared as native peoples were forcibly relocated and taught European ways.  As we remember the first North American martyrs, we thank God for the gift of faith planted in that continent, but we also ask forgiveness for the harm that accompanied that process.   Let us pledge ourselves to be aware of the consequences of our own actions.

Our Lord had just spoken at length to the crowd about essential matters of belief: knowing that we are loved by the Father and have great worth in his eyes, and trusting our lives to the care and guidance of the Holy Spirit.  But then someone interrupts Our Lord’s flow with the account we’ve just heard.  It’s a wonder Our Lord didn’t tear his hair out sometimes.  Aside from its rudeness, the interruption presents us with the kind of distractions that keep us impoverished.

Our Lord taught that it is not lack of material possessions that makes us poor.  Rather what impoverishes us is preoccupation with what and how much we have—and how to get more.  This is because it moves us to disregard the things that matter to God.  It shifts our thoughts and efforts from serving the Creator and makes us slaves to created things instead.

And so what are the things that matter to God?  First, that we would know personally his love for us.  He created us out of love, and he loves us always.  He will always take care of us because we matter to him.  God himself died and was raised from the dead that we might experience and share in his life through the Holy Spirit.  Confident in his love for us, we love and serve him by loving and serving others.

In a nutshell these are the things that matter to God.  Every time we get to our knees we can tell God how much we love him.  Better still, we can open our hearts and minds to receive his love.  Every word of Scripture can become a treasure illustrating God’s immeasurable love for us and how we can respond to that love.  Reading the lives of the saints or spiritual books enable us to soak ourselves in the things that matter, storing up treasure that will last for all eternity.


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