Your Friendly Neighborhood…Saint?
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
Yesterday Stan Lee, one of the great cultural figures of the past 50 or 60 years, died at age 95. He was the creative and entrepreneurial genius behind Marvel Comics, now part of a global entertainment empire. He helped create many of the characters of what is now known as the Marvel Universe: Spiderman, Thor, the Incredible Hulk, the Avengers, Fantastic Four and others.
One of the hallmarks of Lee’s work was to make his superheroes relatable. While they had extraordinary powers, they also experienced the full array of joys, hopes, griefs and sorrows of everyday people: cranky bosses, up-and-down relationships, and the desire to fit in but never feeling quite at home. They were often humbled, if not humble, heroes.
Our readings today provide some simple but important advice on how to live as superheroes of love and service, disciples of Jesus. The Lord tells us in the gospel to serve with humility and to remember that service is an essential part of the Christian life.
When we forget to live and serve with humility, our families and communities suffer from the kinds of conflict and disorder St. Paul addresses in our first reading. Paul’s friend Titus was trying to build the church on the island of Crete. But it was difficult. The community was infected with unsound doctrine, various vices and gossip. Paul urged them to turn from sin, division and egotism to virtues like temperance, self-control justice and devotion to each other and to Christ.
Living in any community—family, church, school, business, neighborhood—can be difficult. But God gives us a way to make it easier. That way starts with us, our desire to become saints (holy people) and our cultivation of the virtues, the spiritual superpowers.
Today we remember St. Francis Xavier Cabrini, who founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart and was the first U.S. citizen to be canonized a saint. She was in fact an immigrant ministering to immigrants in some of the toughest neighborhoods in cities like New York and Chicago. Her decision to become a citizen was an expression of her gratitude for the extraordinary ways in which God had used her and her community to bless others. She had the powers of compassion, creativity, tremendous energy and creativity, along with humility, and she put them at the service of others. We hope to do the same. –JC