Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Thursday, September 10, 2015 - St. Francisco Garate SJ - Will you let your actions speak louder than your words today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Eph 6:10-18; Lk 14:1,7-11

During his childhood and adolescence, Francisco Garate was bound to see the Jesuits being expelled from Loyola, first in 1868 by the “gloriosa revoluci√≥n” of the First Republic, and later on in 1870, in the wake of the carlist revolt of Azpeitia and Azcoitia.

This is why, when he wanted to join the Society in 1874, he had to do so at Poyanne, France, where the Castile Province had its novitiate since 1869. Two years later, he took his first religious vows at Poyanne itself, which he left on 29 October 1877 to be sacristan and infirmarian in the college of La Guardia. He took his Last Vows there on 15 August 1887.

Toward the end of March 1888 he was appointed to the University of Deusto, where he was Doorkeeper and Sacristan for over 41 years, till his death on 9 September 1929. In the performance of these duties he distinguished himself by his courteous ways (he was nicknamed Brother Courtesy), his welcoming and negotiating skill, his serenity, discretion, humility, detachment and union with God. Daily virtues practised in a heroic degree all through his life.

His remains, initially buried in the local cemetery, were later transferred to the University of Deusto and placed in the pavement of its public chapel.

The Gospel text chosen for the feast is from the Gospel of Luke (14:1,7-11). Since the text includes 14:1, which spoke of a Sabbath setting, this text must be seen in that light. The text is set in the context of a meal, and contains instructions on behaviour to guests who were invited. Meals were important social ceremonies, and very little was left to chance. In his instructions, Jesus advocates what may be termed as practical humility, with words from Proverbs 25:6-7. It must be noticed that when the host asks the guest to move down from the place of honour, no term of address, respect or affection is used, whereas when the host invites the guest to move up, the guest is addressed as “friend”. The future tense that is used in 14:11 (“will be humbled”, “will be exalted”) points beyond the immediate situation to the reversal of values that is characteristic of the economy of God’s kingdom. When one realises that God accepts one unconditionally, the result is practical humility.

Brother Garate practised this humility all through his life and even in his seemingly simple vocation and ministry won over thousands not so much by his word but by his actions. In his case, like in the case of his master Jesus, actions spoke louder than words.

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