I Cor1: 26-31
When I saw the theme of this Sunday’s so beautifully entwined readings, I immediately thought of Gladys from San Nicolas, a town near Rosario, in Argentina, and just 10 minutes drive from our own community in Sanchez. I often passed by her house.
In September 1982, Gladys, a humble housewife with little if any religious formation was visited by Our Lady. She had been ill and promised if she were cured, to make three pilgrimages to the national shrine of Our Lady in Lujan, near Buenos Aires. She fulfilled this promise and recovered her health. I often wondered if Mary chose her because she had been faithful to her promise, as well as being a humble person.
Mary became her Scripture teacher over a period of a few years, inviting her to read a text and helping her to apply and understand it. Gladys started to pray the rosary with other local women at a small grotto within sight of her home. She carried out the instructions/wishes of Our Lady, first getting her statue restored to its proper place in the parish church- it had lain hidden for years after being damaged- and in second place lobbying for the building of a large basilica overlooking the river Parana. It exists today fully completed and attracts devotees of Our Lady of the Rosary of San Nicolas all during the year, but some 300,000 of them, every September on the anniversary of the first appearance. A centre for religious formation, for help for the needy, for prayerful community has emerged in the shadow of the said basilica. Gladys has remained a self-effacing apostle, true to the Scripture: if anyone wants to boast, let him or her boast about the Lord.
Take yourselves for instance, brothers and sisters, at the time when you were called: how many of you were wise in the ordinary sense of the word, how many were influential people, or came from noble families? 1Cor 1:26
God it seems does not need us to be the best in the class or of noble stock, or full of human learning. “Jesus has become our wisdom and our virtue and our holiness and our freedom!” And indeed, if it were not for the gift of the Spirit, we would not get very far with getting to know him deeply. This Christmas it struck me how little I have grown in the wisdom of Christ, though year after year I am immersed in the liturgical texts. So vast a mystery.
No, it was to shame the wise that God chose what is foolish by human reckoning, and to shame what is strong that he chose what is weak by human reckoning; those whom the world thinks common and contemptible are the ones that God has chosen – those who are nothing at all to show up those who are everything.
Paul writes as one who would have trusted in his learning – years spent in Jerusalem studying as a fervent Pharisee – before he was exposed to the truth about Christ by Christ himself. So he knew from his own experience the contrast between human knowledge and divine wisdom.
Finally the way to true happiness is painted by Jesus himself in the beatitudes that feature in the gospel reading. So not only can we be wise, virtuous, holy and free – we can be deeply happy following this humble path.
Sr. Veronica Rafferty OP