On this feast day of the presentation of the lord we as the Congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill celebrate religious life, we celebrate our calling, we celebrate who we are, the followers of Christ, the bearers of Christ and the messengers of God. It is a spirit filled celebration where we get to renew our commitment to God in our congregation and we witness our fellow brothers making their final commitment to God through the missionary mandate of the congregation for the propagation of the good news to the world.
A call to consecrated life is a call and response to the invitation to repentance thus baptism that was proclaimed by John the Baptist and made divine by Jesus Christ himself that when we are Baptist we shed off completely our old selves, die in our weak nature and embrace the new self and become the image of God, one with Christ who became one with us by being immersed in the waters of Baptism.
A call to consecrated life is a call to transformation for just like Jesus we are transfigured in our discernment process. We just like Peter, James and John who were led up the mountain by Jesus and there they saw with their own eyes the Glory of God through Jesus Christ who transformed before them. Surely as they climbed up the mountain they must have one way or the other found it hard, tough and painful It is the same with your journey, our journey to transformation , we had to and have to climb, put efforts and no matter how difficult life has ever been to us we trusted in the one who invited us and climbs with us and there his clothes became as bright through the amazing works of God uplifting us, through God’s work of restoring our spiritual sight and being able to see Him as he truly is.
A call to consecrated life is a call to prayer not only just mere prayer but consistency and a stern commitment to prayer. While being baptized by John, a baptism he immersed his true divinity in the baptismal waters identifying himself with us, Jesus prayed and the heavens opened revealing God the Father and the Holy Spirit confirming God the Son. In our moments of strength we do not pride for that strength does not come from us but from God, it is thus as well with us we pray to God and God the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit confirm their presence as the heavens open while we pray and assures us to be there for us and with us always. While in the Gethsemane awaiting to be taken away, in his greatest weakness and fear in flesh, Jesus prayed accepting a cup that cannot pass but the will of God the Father to be done. Many times we will be weak in flesh, tortured for Christ and many of us will give up, ask that the cup may pass away, and we run away as far as we can. We should but remember Christ did not run away from his torturers but awaited them and prayed. When his time had come to be glorified in John 17:1-25 He gave glory to God in prayer. At times when all is now at peace, when we are at comfort zone, delivered from our pains and uplifted to glory we tend to forget who we are and why we have been set aside. Instead of forgetting give Glory to God, do not hesitate.
A call to consecrated life is a call to a personal relationship with God. In our reading today St Paul says to us the contemporary Philippians, Not that I have become perfect yet, I have not yet won but I am still running, trying to capture the prize for which Christ captured me. Yes Christ who sent us is truly present in us; he protects us, defends us, and fights our every battles. That on its own is not enough we are not yet perfect, renewing and maintaining a personal relationship with God assures us of the graces that we receive, it assures our on-going perfection through inner transformation by the working of the Holy Spirit.
A call to consecrated life is an embracement of our Trinitarian God through the evangelical counsels. Pope John Paul II in the Apostolic Exhortations state that the evangelical counsels are an expression of the Son for the Father in the Unity of the Holy Spirit. The chastity of celibates and virgins, as a manifestation of dedication to God with undivided heart is a reflection of infinite love which links three Divine Persons in the mysterious depth of the life of the Trinity. He goes on to say that when poverty is lived according to the imitation of Christ, who though he was rich became poor for our sake, the gift of self-shared among the Three Divine Persons overflows to our nature. Obedience practised in the imitation of Christ, whose food was to do the will of God shows the liberating beauty of dependence which is filial and animated by mutual trust. The life of consecration is indeed a response to a life of pure Holiness.
A call to the life of consecration is a response to the primary and central mission of our Mother Church, the mission of ministry, the evangelization and the propagation of the Gospel. We through our ministry have become the hand of God at healing, the mouthpieces of God at preaching, spreading the word, the feet of Christ of travelling as missionaries to places where Christ is not yet known or rather lost, provided we ourselves do not loose Christ we possess along the way. We become the liberators of those imprisoned by sin and evil, the defenders of our own faith when the Church faces internal and external persecutions. We become the heart of Jesus that bleeds when the world is at wrong and yet still forgives, provided we do not later find ourselves adjusting to sit and not minding when things go wrong and hence we lose the heart of Christ.
In his message in mission month of October 2019, Pope Francis stated that, ‘the missionary mandate touches us personally; I am a mission, always, you are a mission, always, every baptised man and woman is a mission. People in love never stand still, they are drawn out of themselves to others and build relationships that are life-giving. As far as God’s love is concerned no one is useless or insignificant. Each of us is a mission to the world, for each of us is the fruit of God’s love.’
As the people chosen and set aside to be consecrated by Jesus Christ himself we have been commissioned to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world that will illumine the communities, the families that are in darkness, the people we meet who will see us as the light that they will follow and we lead them to Bethlehem to the manger just as the wise men from the east were lead to the place where Jesus had been born. Well when you lose your saltiness, and your light grows dim do you realise that you are still pointing, people are still following you, do not lead them to doom but rather come back to the alter, renew your light and your saltiness that you may not lead the people of God astray, you may not point at wrong directions but a consistent and perpetual sign that points at Christ all the times, a light that illumines the way to God.