St Elizabeth Ann Seton
When St John says that “no one who is begotten by God commits sin”, he means something like “people conceived and brought into life by God don’t make a practice of sin”. Sin is not the normal accepted way in their lives, but the abnormal moment of defeat.
And the ones who are the most acutely conscious of their sins are the saints of the Church, including today’s saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton. She used to keep a notebook, which today we would call a journal. In her entry for October 15, 1807, she notes that it was the feast of St Teresa of Avila, and she writes: “Holy Mother, you called yourself a sinner, the worst of sinners. What then am I? The sins of your whole life would be balanced by the sum of any one of my days”.
But she goes on to say: “My Jesus, hide me, shelter me, shelter the shuddering trembling soul that lays itself in thy hand”. Immediately after acknowledging her sins, St Elizabeth Seton did what every saint of the Church has always done: she turned to Jesus, like the two disciples in today’s Gospel. She asked him to shelter her; they asked him, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” And Jesus simply replied, “Come, and you will see”.
He brought them to his home. Where was that home of his? St John tells us in the prologue to his Gospel. It is the place “nearest to the Father’s heart”. It was there that the disciples were taken, and they stayed there. And it is there that Jesus took Elizabeth Seton, and where he also invites us. May we respond in the words of Ruth: “Wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you live, I will live. Your people are my people, your God is my God. Not even death itself is going to come between us!”
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