(Readings: Ephesians 1, 3 – 14; Mark 6, 7 – 13)
This homily will be special, woven together by two voices, so that a beautiful Trinitarian prayer of Pope Francis for the Year of consecrated Life may be heard as an echo of the Gospel (Mark 6, 7-13). A beautiful Gospel that invites us to leave all at the word of Christ. A beautiful Gospel that call us to question ourselves on the sense of the choice that we have made to consecrate all of our energies, those of loving, and those of living, to Him.
Consecrated Life is made up of faces. Your faces. These faces speak. They can reveal our age, but today, given the diversity of our cultures, our insertions, our passions, they reveal above all a joy that is stronger than all of our reasons for being anxious about the future. The essential question for you should not be only that of knowing how many you will in twenty or fifty years, but rather of recognizing here and now that you are living the promise of Christ. In multiple forms, in community and personally, in good health, in loss of autonomy or in illness, you are bound to the heart of God, to the Father in Heaven, who, through his Son, commits himself to live with us and in us. The beautiful canticle of St Paul in the Letter to the Philippians says this very thing : “ Praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ … in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding …in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ might be for the praise of his glory.”
A sister: Father, in your free plan of love,You call us, in stability or in wandering, to seek in the Spirit your Face. Help us to carry in us your eternal memory: that it may be a source of life in solitude and in fraternity, and that we may be, in the events of our time, a reflection of your love.
As in the Gospel, believe first of all in grace : “God wished that we should live to the praise of his glory.” That is the secret in each one of you. You have learnt that it is sometimes painful to prefer the Love of Christ above all else. But let us be honest: this preference will always pass by way of a combat, a peaceful combat which opens us up and which, through us, opens our world to the Kingdom of God.
This combat is more than ever essential for the Church. This combat is presently awakening the Church from the inside. We need to be more aware that, by means of its structures, its movements, its services, the Church is living out the Love of God. The Church needs to cultivate in itself an eagerness for the Kingdom of God, there where the laws of the world will seek no longer to dehumanize us.
And it is why there is, in the heart and depth of the consecrated life, this eagerness, this strong and pure desire not to retreat from the world, but to not be of the world in order to be living signs of the newness of God.
A sister: Christ, Son of the living God, who walked on our roads, chaste, poor and obedient, our companion in silence and in listening, keep in us the source of our filial identity. May we live out the Gospel of encounter : help us to humanise the Earth and to create fraternity, bearing together the fatigue of those who are worn out and no longer seek, the joy of those who are still waiting or have already sought, of those who live always in hope.
As in the Gospel, accept the risk : Yes, dare to « awaken the world », as Pope Francis asks you to ! Dare to show that your ways of living are not a retreat, but a prophetic engagement. That is the sense of poverty, chastity and obedience : they are calls to new life, not constraints.
It is to say ‘yes’ to poverty by sharing ! It is a way of resisting the law of calculation and competition. Being dispossessed is to become free to live from the Charity of Christ, which, itself, cannot be measured. It is also being alongside the poor that we meet on the road and learning with them, that the love that we give and receive can never be calculated.
It is to say ‘yes’ to the chastity that liberates us from our possessive instincts, that detaches us from our impulsions, our passions and our dreams. Little by little, it lightens our bodies and our hearts.
As for obedience, it prevents us from giving ourselves our own self-appointed mission and it upsets the relations of domination and submission that are so often prevail in our society.
Lord, you know us ! You know our resistances, our inertia, our fears ! Encourage us to live out in ourselves these combats that allow us to participate actively, in our flesh, in the growth of your Kingdom through the pascal mystery of death and resurrection.
A sister: Holy Spirit, burning Fire, light our way in the Church and the world. Give us the courage to announce the Gospel and the joy of service in our daily lives. Open our spirit to the contemplation of beauty. Open us to gratitude and admiration before the creation, so that we may recognise the marvels that You accomplish in each living person.
As in the Gospel, make an effort to act as Jesus did : Give us too Lord, the joy of knowing that, beyond all calculation, these given lives, your lives given to Christ and to his Body are fruitful, yes fruitful with a fruitfulness that is hidden, that can take the form of fraternal love, but also paternal and maternal.
And if you do not see it, I can assure you that others do. They may not know how to, or they may not dare say it to you. But I would like to be their spokes-person and their witness. You are yourselves the germs of life and of resurrection ! You express it in your lives as women, you express it in your engagements across the world. There in our societies, where there is brokenness and questioning and where you know how tocontinue to be present, you show it by the actuality of your charism, « Honouring the humanity of the Son of God. ». You also show it in your prayer, when you carry and name those people that you confide to the Lord, and also to the saints who are your friends ! Prayer is also a great link of friendship.
And then there are the gestures of daily life, the visits, the meetings, the moments of listening and the art of devining what hurts and what makes happy, all of this diffuse presence to our common humanity ! To each one of you, in the name of our diocese, I say with all my heart, and over and above my personal recognition, that you are known to God and that he gives us this time of meeting, and this Eucharist, so that we may recognise him as the source of our joy and our hope.
Mary, Mother of the Word made flesh, watch over our consecrated lives. May the joy we have received in the Word of God fill our existence and may your invitation to do as the Master asks (cf. John 2, 5) make of us resourceful interpreters of the announcement of the Kingdom.
Fr. Maurice ROGER, Vicar General