Homily: Welcome and Reception of Maryknoll Sister Candidates 2008

It’s with hearts full of gratitude and joy that we gather here today to celebrate the Welcoming of Jareen into the Maryknoll Sisters' community as a Sister Candidate.
We also celebrate on this special occasion, the Reception into Canonical Year of Genie, Laura and Linda, as they continue to deepen the journey that they began with Maryknoll as Sister Candidates just last year.
Without a doubt, each of these young women is a special blessing to the greater Maryknoll community, who welcomes them and commits to help nurture their vocation.
These women have heard that same call from God as Samuel, crying out in the inner depths of their being. They have had to discern the voice of God calling by attuning their hearts to listen for a deeper meaning of life.
And they have responded, “Speak God, your servant is listening!” In the Gospel reading they chose for today, Jesus tells us: “If you obey my commandments, You will abide in my love.”
Interestingly enough, the root word for obedience means “to listen.” Have you ever noticed that many children start to get earaches at around the same time that they’re learning to obey their parents? This is indicative of the fact that “to learn to obey” We must adjust our ears to better listen.
Listening and attuning our ears to hear God’s call isn’t the easiest thing to do in this day and age. When we receive so many false messages from the media and the world around us about what will make us happy and bring us fulfillment in life.
In the Gospel passage from John today, Jesus says “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be yours and your joy may be complete.” It’s clear, Jareen, Genie, Laura and Linda, that you have heard the voice of God calling and that you have chosen to respond with open hearts, “Here I am!” You know that the Way of Love is the path to the fullness of life and true joy.
Incidentally, the first name for Christianity was “The Way.”  Those first Christians made a conscious decision to follow an alternative way of life, the Way of Jesus Christ, the way of love and justice. 
This past week I had the privilege to sit down with these four exemplary young women
and hear about their life experiences, which have led them to respond to God’s call to love and service. 
Jareen had already been teaching about the history of the Maryknoll Sisters in the Philippines, but she said that what attracted her to join the Maryknoll Sisters was the “vibrancy of life” that she found in the living history of those Sisters she met.
Laura, Linda and Genie expressed how through their respective ministries last year, they came up against their own limitations and were challenged to go beyond “self” and learn from those with whom they ministered.  Each of them spoke of how much they grew in patience and love through their ministry.
They were each able to listen to the voice of God speaking to them through their life experience.  This is what “true obedience” to the Holy Spirit means.  When we are able to listen, we’ll learn and grow more deeply in love with God and all of God’s creation.
Jesus says that when we learn to listen to God’s voice within we are not mere servants, but friends.  And friends don’t spend time together out of obligation, but they enjoy being in one another’s company, walking together and sharing life with one another.
The words from the prophet Micah 6,8 say it so well: "Only this does God ask of us: to love tenderly, to act justly, and to walk humbly with God.” 
When I began preparing my thoughts for what I was going to say today, I paid a visit to the grave of Mother Mary Joseph to seek some guidance.  While spending some time there,  I was struck by the sculpture of the Mother of the Thorn Crowned. 
I noticed the water flowing out from the side of the cross, and the deer crouched down at the foot of the cross with its mouth open ready to drink up that life giving water.  I was reminded of Psalm 42, one of Mother Mary Joseph’s favourites: “As the deer thirsts for running waters, so my heart yearns for you, O God.” 
What better image have we of the central meaning of religious life, the witness that we are all yearning for the fullness of love and life that only God can satisfy.  This same spirituality must have been what inspired MMJ in the quote that we find on the back of our booklets for today’s Mass:  “There is nothing more astonishing than life, just as it is, nothing more miraculous than growth and change and development, just as revealed to us.  And as happens so often when we stop to regard God’s work, there is nothing to do but wonder and thank God, realizing how little we planned, how little we achieved, and yet how much has been done.” 
And so as God said to Samuel in days of old, so God too, must be saying to us on this special day of welcoming and reception of these young women:  “See, I am about to do something new in Maryknoll that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle.”
And so let us attune our ears to the voice of God speaking to us today through the lives of Genie, Linda, Laura and Jareen, and let’s give thanks for the special blessing they are to us. 

August 11, 2008

Fr. Dennis Moorman, MM