Good morning! This is a good morning, a very special morning, and we welcome all who have come to celebrate with Laura, Anastasia and Genie, particularly the families of Laura and Anastasia, the friends of all three of the women, and our celebrants who are both friends and co-consecrators of this special First Profession Mass.
Now, I know that on a day like this, energy and thought revolve around the pivotal moment that is about to come, the commitment to be made by these women to their God and to Maryknoll through the vow ceremony. I understand fully that a homily in the midst of this anticipation is a challenge to listen to! I’ll try to make it as painless as possible.
If the readings of today were reversed and the Gospel was first, we would be assured of strength for the hardships of our lives from the food that Jesus offers to us: Himself. The manna given the Israelites long ago in the desert has been changed. Jesus says, “I am the bread of life.”And then He goes on to tell us that He gives Himself for the life of the world. We’ve heard these words so often that they can roll by and we can lose energy to translate into our time the meaning of Jesus’ giving himself for the “life of the world”.
But I think the first and second readings, from Isaiah 42 and 1 John 4 tell us. God is calling us, appointing us to be a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes of the blind and to free prisoners. And we are to do this fortified by the love of Jesus has for each one of us, knowing that in loving one another we abide in God and God in us. It is in these actions of accepting God into our lives and going out to oppressed and suffering people that the “life of the world”emerges.
Laura, Anastasia and Genie, right now in this time of waiting it must be hard for you to grasp the meaning of this covenant, to imagine who the prisoners are that you will free, the moms you will listen to and give courage, the children you will hold on your laps, the tears you will wipe away, the strength you will find in your communities. In good time all of this will be clear! Soon you will know that the former things have come to pass and that God has declare new things to you.
You, Sisters, are the new. You will move forward with Jesus’ hopes. You will interpret them in the light of your inspirations as we, Maryknoll Sisters of generations past, have done in the light of ours. Jesus smiles on you, His new prophets, vineyard workers, teachers and care givers.
The Maryknoll Sisters belong to each successive generation, born to announce the Good News according to the time and place where each Sister finds herself. Together you will do this too. The prisoners in the dungeons of life will respond!
Pope Benedict has published a new Encyclical: Caritas in Veritate. As I’m sure you all remember well, his first Encyclical was on Charity, now he has added the subject of truth to his reflections. We know that our world is in a moment of chaos and uncertainty. Pope Benedict tells us: “The current crisis obliges us to re-plan our journey, to set ourselves new rules and to discover new forms of commitment, to build on positive experiences and to reject negative ones.”
It is in your readings chosen for today, Laura, Anastasia and Genie, that you will continue to find the strength and courage to live out your covenant. Jesus is with you. That is His promise. You will find yourselves in a love affair with your God and with your people. Any struggles you encounter will find their place. And we, your Sisters around the world will be with you in spirit, love and prayer.
Aug 9, 2009
Sr. Suzanne Moore, MM