Jubilarian Celebration at Wellesley
September 29, 2019
Homily by Sister Judith Park
Our Jubilarians could not have chosen more fitting Scripture for today’s celebration.
Listen again to the words of the prophet Micah: This is what God asks of you: …To act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God. These words have echoed down through the centuries … and have found a home in many a heart. Micah gives us the prescription for a loving, generous, meaningful life. When our acts of justice, our right actions, come from a love engendered and deepened by our walking the path of life with God, we understand the wholeness that can replace brokenness, we see the pain in need of healing, and the lives and situations that require of us attentive listening and effective actions. Micah reminds us that God – our God wants us near … desires that closeness with us so that we in turn can walk with all our brothers and sisters.
Our second reading from Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians has two significant messages … keep making progress in your spiritual lives and let Christ strengthen your hearts. It reminds us that a Jubilee marks the sure and steady call to keep moving forward with as much panache, purpose and commitment as ever. It reminds us that we proceed, not on our own strength but with the strength of the One who calls us.
And our Gospel today from John…..here we glimpse the heart of God revealed.
Abide in my love Jesus says … live, dwell, remain in my love …
Jesus says to all of us in this reading – everyone – right here, right now –
…I love you in the same way God loves me. And I want your joy to be full … the same joy that is in me, he says. Jesus was in Heaven before he came to earth … so he was in possession of a joy we can only imagine.
And He wants this same joy to light up our souls … and to be a light for others.
Joy deserves special mention here because as SCH we profess to give joyful witness to God’s love … not bold witness or relentless witness or righteous witness but joyful witness.
Our joy comes from knowing that God will never let go of us … will never stop loving us … will never stop seeking ways to bring us home when we are lost or tired or discouraged. Joy sinks deep roots and anchors our souls. Joy is what allows us to love and laugh and sing even in the midst of great adversity and suffering. Joy comes from experiencing God’s love. It generates breathing space, welcome lightness and fluid courage in the midst of chaos.
In this gospel Jesus call us friends and gives us the command to LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Love one another.
As friends of God, Mary Ann, Mary and Esther have been commissioned to touch the wounds of this world, to hold the hopes and pain of people and to walk lovingly in the circles in which they live and minister – and well beyond those circles.
They have been called to be sisters to the world and faithful stewards and advocates of a creation in jeopardy.
They have faithfully lived these 50 years using every gift God has given them … and they each have sterling gifts to give … as we all know.
In this Gospel reading Jesus says … ”You did not choose me … I chose you”
God issued the invitation and they said yes … because that call would not let go of them. Thus began an uncharted journey at a young age.
The American poet Mary Oliver has a wonderful line –
Tell me, what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.
Here you are after many lives in ministry, community, in your families, in Boston, Maine, Peru.
You had some great days and some not so great … all woven in to your lives. All part of the gift you have to offer again this day.
You were the first SCH to go through formation in the U.S. – right here and across the street…at the Academy of the Assumption. Many things have changed – but the essentials have not.
Joan Chittister – the Benedictine sister who has written many books on the spiritual life says this :
To live a religious life
takes all the life we have.
To live a religious life
Takes the heart of a hermit, the soul of a mountain climber,
The eyes of a lover, the mind of a rabbi.
And this has always been so.
When we celebrate Jubilee, we celebrate a love story; it is that simple and that profound.
Perhaps Khalil Gibran the Lebanese author and poet captures that truth the best ….he says….
“when you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.”
When we walk humbly with a God who asks for our whole hearts for the good of the world, we know from our toes up that we are in THE HEART OF GOD….that we abide in that lavish love.
That is our dwelling place. That is our home.
Esther, Mary, Mary Ann, as you renew your vows of poverty, chastity and obedience today, the same vows Mother Seton, our foundress pronounced and lived, we pray with you that Christ will strengthen your hearts.
We wish you joy for the journey, peace for souls and may you hold fast to that divine love which so graciously flows through you to others.
Judy Park September 29, 2019
1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2
John 15: 9-17
Jubilarian Celebration at Caritas Residence in Halifax, NS
September 20, 2019
Homily by Sister Roberta Kerins
There are so many things about a jubilee that invite reflection. Of course, there is the acknowledgment of this significant milestone for Mary, Esther, Mary Anne, and Elaine Biollo. For those of us who share their commitment, and others here who share life commitments a jubilee reminds us of our own years as Sisters of Charity and what that has meant to each of us. It allows us to reflect on people and places, ups and downs, the love and grace that have been part of our lives. Jubilee is all of that, yet in our Judeo-Christian tradition it is also so much more.
In the biblical context jubilee was that unique time, the 7×7 years event, when social imbalance in Israel was corrected – debts were forgiven, the indentured were freed, lands returned to original owners. Jubilee was a year of favor. Though expressed or celebrated in the very concrete ways of restoration, freedom, and healing, jubilee was/is primarily about God, God’s love of a people – So great a love! Jubilee wove and weaves together both that extraordinary love of God and the living out of that love. Jubilee is about forgetting and remembering. Today’s readings hold these two opposites.
In the first reading from Isaiah we have a beautiful prayer of praise to God, Israel’s God of holiness and strength, of fidelity, of great deeds and wonders, of presence. Isaiah proclaims, “Great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” Strangely, the sentence before this passage, the first verse of this chapter, says in effect, when you return from exile you will pray (today’s reading). In this beautiful passage Isaiah actually was making a harsh prediction. Jerusalem was on the brink of destruction, and the people on the brink of exile. Israel had lost its way, had forgotten who they were. Yet, Isaiah puts on the peoples’ lips this prayer of joyful anticipation of God’s restoration. Isaiah knew who God had been and would be for God’s people. He summoned their religious memory to reassure a forgetful people. Great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.
Paul’s letter to the Church of Rome exhorts these Christians, also, to remember who they are too. “We, who are many, are one body in Christ.” They are members of one another. Being a Jewish convert or a gentile convert is irrelevant. They are one in Christ with differing but complementary gifts. Paul says out of that oneness, that sacred source, that great love, they are to live genuinely, to give generously, to minister with zeal, with patience and perseverance, and be hospitable. Love always moves to service.
The gospel reading from John presents us with another remembering – that profound message Jesus shared with his disciples. “As the Father loves me so I love you.” God’s love that possessed Jesus, enlivened his being, was with him always, was the same love that possessed the disciples, enlivened them, and was with them always. That same love which possesses us, enlivens us, and is always with us, too. The question for the disciples and us is, “What do we do with so great a love?”. For the disciples and us abiding in that love always finds expression, as Jesus said, in keeping the commandments, love God totally and love your neighbor. Abide in my love. Out of that profoundly holy space we are impelled, like Jesus, to reach out and bear fruit, fruit that will last .
Which brings us to today – The Jewish people of Isaiah’s time, the Romans Paul addressed, or John’s community, memory is still central to who we are. This jubilee is an occasion to remember and give praise. We remember God’s graciousness especially today in Mary, Esther, Elaine, and Mary Anne. In looking at these women we see the love of God made visible. We can imagine the 100’s and 100’s of children, young adults, and adults they have touched with love, compassion, healing and challenge, helping these people to see the possibilities of a life well lived, and encouraging them to seize their moment to live genuinely and wholly. In addition, Esther, Mary Anne and Mary have graciously and generously served the congregation: Esther as a past member of the CLT and liturgist, etc. etc. at Wellesley. Mary Anne also shares her financial talents at Wellesley as well as her gift of healing and presence with the sisters at Marillac and ESR. And in keeping with remembering Mary gave untolled/untold hours to shepherding to completion “the book” Steadfast Charity. This was no small task.
Our constitutions say, “The charity of Christ gathers us together to live in love (to abide in love) so that the love of God may be made visible in the world.” We see the love of God made visible in those we honor today. We, your sisters and friends, are grateful.
In that spirit of gratitude shall we continue, in memory of Jesus, our great prayer of thankssgiving.