Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Times – Cycle B
Reflecting on Mark 10: 35-45
They were some of the most sophisticated men in the world in the 1630s. Highly regarded professors of language and philosophy, dozens of Jesuit priests chose to leave it all behind in order to live and die in the longhouses of the Huron Indians of Ontario, Canada. Eight of them would be horribly martyred at the hands of the ancient enemy of the Huron, the Iroquois.
“What do you expect of your priesthood?” the bishop asked Isaac Jogues on his ordination day in 1636. “Ethiopia, and martyrdom,” said the new missionary. “You’re wrong,” said the bishop. “You will die in Canada.” But, as it turned out, he was wrong. Isaac Jogues, after serving three years in the Canadian mission, was captured by the Iroquois in 1642, horribly tortured, and then forced into slavery in their village in what is now upstate New York.
After thirteen months of brutal servitude, he escaped and made his way back to France. There, he was the toast of Paris. The queen knelt before him and kissed his mangled hands. Devoteés lined up outside the church to receive his blessing. His journals―some of the most beautiful letters to come from this period of history―were bestsellers all over France.
This celebrity, he wrote, was far worse torture than what he endured at the hands of the Iroquois. He longed not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as ransom for many. And so he did. He returned to New York, and on this day in 1646, was beheaded by an Iroqouis brave, and his body tossed into the Mohawk River. Years later that brave turned himself into the French, asking for baptism.
In what ways have you been converted by those who live not to be served, but to serve?
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