October 21: God’s Children at the Border! (29 B)

“The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10: 35 -45.

We have been reading Mark’s gospel and hearing the Lord’s call to “servant leadership” among his followers.

This is an especially telling passage that contrasts the earthly rewards of service to the great, and how Jesus speaks up for service to the very least.

Interestingly, the gospel writers Mark and Matthew differ slightly in how they report about Jesus’s ministry.

Matthew views Jesus as the great teacher, a person of sacred eloquence in his preaching of the Beatitudes. Mark, on the other hand, presents Jesus as a man who revealed himself by healing the sick, in casting out demons and being attentive to the needs and painful hurts of the poorest among us.

As we read this passage, we hear James and John, the “Sons of Thunder,” boast about their own glory and possible fortune.

We have to remind ourselves that these followers of Christ – were rookies or new recruits that were not fully aware of what Jesus’s message and life of service would mean long term.

Here Jesus provided a more profound lesson about human nature and how his ministry might profoundly change people’s lives.

In other words, we find ourselves genuinely Christ-like when in service to the least of God’s children.

So let’s talk for a moment about “God’s children.”

This past week, I completed an episode of my “Sunday to Sunday” television program at Saint Dominic’s Church in San Francisco.

I interviewed Sister Patricia Bruno, a San Rafael Dominican religious, who, for years, has worked on the Dominican preaching team along with Father Jude Siciliano.

Sister Patricia spoke to me about the social justice efforts of the Dominican sisters, including the development of affordable housing in San Francisco and the Saint Rose Community, on the property of the former Saint Rose High School.

The second item on Sister Patricia’s list also struck me as a bold move in the effort in support of the least of God’s children.

And here it is– this is a holy card, the artwork of Sister Joanne Cullimore now retired from full-time teaching. Sister Joanne taught art at the high school and college level for fifty years.

This holy card depicts Our Lady of Guadalupe guiding and caring for children separated from their parents at the border of the United States and Mexico.

As Sister Joanne watched the news in 2018, she was deeply troubled about the separation of families seeking refuge. The holy card explains in greater detail how Sister Joanne considered this work of hers.

“What can I possibly do?” She thought. “I am not physically able to go. I am not a writer. But as an artist, perhaps I can make a difference.

How about contemporary retablo or an ex-voto with an urgent prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe? A retablo is a form of Mexican folk art, and an ex-voto is a personal petition seeking divine grace or special thanks for God’s help.

The card reads: “Our Lady of Guadalupe, have compassion and protect all of the children and parents separated at the border.”

Over many years, Sister Joanne’s artistic works have been exhibited internationally. Many of her paintings are scenes from trips she took to Mexico, the southwestern states, and part of California.

Recently, a group of concerned Catholics provided the impetus to send every member of the U.S. Congress – a copy of Sister Joanne’s holy card.

Their intent is a prayerful reminder — like the message of today’s gospel — to identify the work of Christ with service to the least of God’s children.

To me, that’s “servant leadership” of an artist and a teacher, our Sister Joanne Cullimore.

So the “Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

As this holy card asks – “Please join your prayers with ours that families will be reunited and able to find the peace, security, and dignity they seek and deserve.”

Rosary Chapel, Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA.












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