Feast Day of Venerable Elizabeth Prout
1 Samuel 4: 1-11
Mark 1: 40-45
Our first reading draws attention to the fact that battles have dominated life in the land of Israel for generations and even to the present time. Israel has been engaged in a long struggle with their Philistine neighbours in today’s reading we see that they recognise this latest defeat as a sign of God’s disfavour. However, instead of reflecting on this and asking God’s guidance they seem to manipulate God into serving their purposes. They fetch the ark of the covenant and charge into battle assuming the ark will make them untouchable. Not so, the ark is captured and the soldiers are killed including Eli’s sons and Eli also dies. They were mistaken in believing that carrying the symbols of God’s presence (the ark) they had God’s power on their side. We are invited to seek God’s guidance in our choice of actions rather than assuming that what we want is what God wants!
In the Gospel today Jesus is faced with a choice, to cure or not to cure the leper. He chooses to heal the leper which meant that he touched him, something unthinkable in those times. In doing this act Jesus himself is now placed outside the town, as the leper had been. Reflecting on the life of Elizabeth Prout, whose ministry we remember and celebrate today, in tandem with this Gospel offers an insight into our early beginnings.
Elizabeth reached out and touched the children living in squalor in Manchester in 1852. These children were exploited by working in mills, denied education and living without the basics in Manchester, often referred to, as the ‘shock city of the age’. She and the companions she gathered responded by opening up life-giving opportunities for them as Jesus did for the leper. The education opportunities gave them a passport to freedom and fullness of life. The religious community she began challenged the status quo and many wanted to suppress the early community, place her and her community outside the fold. God did guide them and the community grew and continued to share life with those whom many considered untouchable. It might be helpful to reflect on how my choices offer opportunities to those whose lives I touch and do I allow God to guide my choices and actions?
Sr. Brigid Murphy CP
Sisters of the Cross & Passion,