Reflecting on Psalm 68: 4-5, 6-7, 10-11
Come with me for a moment. I want to take you down the highest sea-cliff in the world. We can either hike down, or take a mule-ride, or take a short and beautiful plane trip down into Kalaupapa Peninsula on the Hawaiian island of Molokai.
Ah. You’ve heard of it, yes? This is the dreadful place where the unfortunate Hawaiians who had contracted Hansen’s disease (leprosy) were exiled from the 1840s until the invention of a cure in the late 1960s. And this, of course, is the only single site in the U.S. where two saints (Saint Damien and Saint Marianne) have resided.
I cannot sing the refrain of this weekend’s responsorial psalm without thinking of them and the loving care they brought to those who would never see their families again:
God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor.
Father Damien, a Belgian missionary priest, offered up his life to live and die with those who were exiled, to be the presence of God that the psalmist exalts today, to be the father of orphans and the defender of widows, and to give a home to the forsaken.
Mother Marianne Cope and other Franciscan sisters of her community from Syracuse, NY soon followed. They established a safe home for the girls and women. They built a school and a hospital, where they introduced the sanitary measures that ended the spread of the disease on Molokai. And those sisters are still there, 125 years later, tending to the needs of the thirteen remaining patients who have chosen not to return to public life.
St. Damien and St. Marianne, mahalo. Thank you.
Have you found a way to make a home for the poor?