“We are unprofitable servants;
we have done what we were obliged to do.”
Those words could well have been said by Mother Cabrini. She was a humble woman of great faith and fortitude, who stayed with her mission. She was refused entrance to the religious order that had educated her. So she began working at an orphanage, eventually becoming a sister in the religious order that ran it. She later became their prioress. She went to New York intending to found an orphanage there. The house they were to use turned out not to be available, and the bishop advised her to return to Italy. But she stayed, and eventually founded not only that one orphanage, but 67 institutions dedicated to caring for the poor, the abandoned, the uneducated and the sick. She died at Columbus hospital in Chicago, which she also founded. She was the first American citizen to be canonized a saint.
Frances Xavier Cabrini knew well that servanthood was not for one’s own glory, but instead for the glory of God. We disciples are called to do all sorts of things, and we would be well-advised not to look for glory for them in this lifetime. After all, we have done only what we were obliged to do, as the Gospel reminds us today. I think the words of encouragement that we must live and die for should be “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into your Master’s joy.” That’s what we all hope to hear on that great day when we stand before our Creator in judgment. What a glorious day that will be for those servants who considered themselves unprofitable, working with fortitude as did Mother Cabrini, and who did what they were obliged to do.
Our first reading echoes that very sentiment. The just may indeed be mocked and chastised by people in the world. But those who persevere though those trials will be blessed by God, and their hope will be full of immortality. The souls of the just are always in the hands of God, and no torment can ever reach us there.