Memorial of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Job 42:1-3, 5-6, 12-17; Luke 10:17-24
The leader of a small group I once belonged to began each meeting by asking us, “Did you have any ‘God moments’ this week? What did you learn? How did they help you?” I never responded, although his questions did get me to reflect on times when I saw or felt God working in my life.
If Job or the Apostles attended that small group this week, they would’ve had a lot to say. Job had just encountered God in a very profound way, and the Apostles actually witnessed God healing people through them. But today, on the Feast of St. Thérèse, let us share one of her ‘God moments.’ It was this moment that she said changed her life.
She was 12, going on 13, when she overheard an innocent but dismissive remark made about her by her tired and irritated father. Although it hurt at first, it caused Thérèse to look at herself and see that for years she had behaved like a spoiled, self-centered child. At the same time, she realized that her father, in imitation of the infinite love of God, had always looked beyond that; to him, she was a beautiful person capable of deep and authentic love.
This God moment, which Thérèse called “grace emerging from childhood,” was not far from the experience of Job and the Apostles in the readings. In fact, I think all ‘God moments’ share these three aspects: A call by God, a response of repentance and amendment, and the blessings of growth in holiness.
First, the call. To Job, it might have sounded more like a “wake-up” call. Just moments earlier, God had sternly reminded him who is God and who is not. In the gospel, it was the gentle rebuke of Jesus, reminding the Apostles not to rejoice that evil was conquered, but that their names were written in heaven. For Thérèse, it was her father’s remark, hinting at her self-centeredness. For us, it could be many things: a Scripture verse; a thought from a book we’re reading or talk we heard; something said to us by a friend or relative; a whisper of the Holy Spirit.
Whatever it is, the call awakens us to the fact that we need to make a change and stick to it. This takes plenty of humility and perseverance. Job had it; he disowned what he said and repented in dust and ashes (Job 42:6). The Apostles had it, too; after receiving the Holy Spirit, they rejoiced that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name (Acts 5:41). So did Thérèse; she faced the fact that her father was right, and changed her behavior. That leaves us with the challenge: What is God calling us to own up to and commit to change, and will we do it?
We all know how hard that is, but the readings show us that good things await those who try. After his repentance, Job was blessed far more than before (Job 42:12); long after the Apostles fled from the Passion, God poured out the Spirit upon them and set them over the whole Church (Matthew 19:28; Acts 4:34-35; 16:4). Thérèse also bears witness; she left her life as a spoiled brat to became one of the greatest saints in recent memory.
Now we can see how God moments help us. Through them, we come face to face with the deepest parts of ourselves; not just our limitations but also our potential. They are opportunities for conversion, a chance to return, to begin again, to grow more deeply in virtue. They are reminders not just that God is present and acting in the world, but that He acts in us and through us; we are a part of His plan. What an awesome thought, that there are things only we can do, and that God has given us the grace we need to do them! Above all, they are signs of God’s infinite and merciful love for us. As St. Thérèse showed so well, God measures us not by the greatness of our deeds, but by the love with which we do them.
St. Thérèse, pray for us.