Every Sunday, Catholics gather to celebrate Mass in response to God's command to "keep holy the Sabbath day." That is the most important way to experience holiness, offering the very sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ here on the altar, hearing God's Word, professing our faith, receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. It is for this reason that the Church tells us that Holy Mass, the Eucharist, is the "source and summit of Christian Life," where holiness begins and where it leads. Let's keep that in mind as we look back on today's scripture readings.
In the first reading from the Book of Wisdom, we hear King Solomon's prayer for wisdom. He reminds us that no one knows the mind of God. In fact, it's hard enough for us to understand earthly things let alone God's mind. God alone gives us wisdom, opens our eyes to his plan, his call for us in our lives. God's grace bring enlightenment and understanding. We should pray for that grace. Mother Teresa of Calcutta did, every day. It made her a saint.
Next, we read Paul's Letter to Philemon, a brief, private letter. One wonders why such a letter became part of canon of Sacred Scripture. Yet, even in reading Paul's short letter where he attacks slavery, we see how faith and holiness can and must address social structures that are contrary to God's plan, that are sinful, like slavery. Many social structures present in the world fall into that category: social structures that create and sustain poverty; social structures that foster homelessness and the abandonment of children, the sick and disabled, the vulnerable the elderly among us. Such human tragedies demand our attention, our advocacy, our working to bring about social change as a witness to holiness. Mother Teresa of Calcutta did. It made her a saint.
Finally, in our Gospel today, Luke writes about the demands and conditions of discipleship, of holiness: a full hearted response to the Lord Jesus Christ, his message and his mission. Jesus urges us to think before acting and to renounce the things the stand as an obstacle to true holiness and union with God. Mother Teresa of Calcutta did. It made her a saint.
Holiness begins on the altar, in the Eucharist. But it doesn't end there. Holiness leads us to seek the mind of God and his will. Holiness leads us to express our faith in action. Holiness leads us to bring the presence of Christ into every moment, into every experience, into every encounter with human tragedy and human triumph. Mother Teresa of Calcutta did. It made her a saint. And it will make saints of us all.
Today, the Catholic Church pronounces Mother Teresa of Calcutta a saint. This ancient declaration of canonization before the world adds to her name, a title of holiness. But it was her life of holiness that made her --- this humble little nun bringing the presence of Christ to the streets of Calcutta --- the saint we now venerate. The Church speaks of the canonization of a saint as "raising one to the honors of the altar." For St. Teresa of Calcutta, the only honor she sought was Christ's Eucharistic presence on the altar. She once said, "If Jesus had not established the Eucharist, we would have forgotten the crucifixion ... To make sure that we do not forget, Jesus gave us the Eucharist as a memorial of his love ... When you look at the Crucifix, you understand how much Jesus loved you then. When you look at at the Sacred Host, you understand how much Jesus loves you now."
It was the love of Christ in the Eucharist that led Mother Teresa to holiness. It was the love of Christ in the Eucharist that led Mother Teresa to be God's presence for the poor, among the poor. It was the love of Christ in the Eucharist that led Mother Teresa to establish her Missionaries of Charity. Celebrating her canonization today at Mass, during this Year of Mercy, can you just imagine where the Eucharist will lead us all? Mother Teresa of Calcutta did. It made her our saint!