Jubilee Celebrations in Rosary Priory
Homily Preached by Fr Simon Gaine OP
There’s a time for everything, the Preacher of Ecclesiastes tells us. And today, this preacher says, is a time for rejoicing. And I’m sure this whole assembly of the Order of Preachers and their friends will all agree. Today is a time of jubilant celebration. Because we have so many times to celebrate – times of being called by God, of accepting his love and forgiveness, times of contemplation and times of community, times of learning from God and learning from each other, times of activity and apostolate, times given to God and one’s soul and times given to others – all these are in our minds today in this ‘great time’ of joy and thanksgiving. And in the choice of readings made by the sisters we honour today, we can see the real reason for our rejoicing and our gratitude.
There’s so much we can say about what it is we’re celebrating in these sisters and why we’re celebrating. We can add up the hours of service, the hours of patience, and hours of sacrifice. We can add up the hours in the classroom, the hours in the parish. We can review every box that they ticked so thoroughly well. But anyone can do this kind of accounting, and still not get to the deep truth of these women. The truth is told in the readings they have chosen, in God’s Word rather than human adding up.
In these sisters we have a variety of services done to the same Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ, a variety of activities carried out by the same power of the Spirit. No doubt many of these sisters have done similar jobs, even the same job you might say. And yet there was a true variety of services. No two teachers, say, are the same teacher. Each one is unique, and each one brings her own gifts to the task. There is a variety of gifts: each sister has her won gifts, and each sister I a unique gift herself. And that is why we give thanks to her because she gave of herself, at profession she gave the gift of her whole life. And that is why we give thanks to God, because God gave these sisters to us. Each one is a gift. Each one has done service to the same Lord, and worked to build up the His Body, to build up us. They were not simply working, day after day: they were building up the Body of Jesus Christ, for own benefit, for the benefit of the common good of God’s People, for God’s glory.
At the centre of their lives is Jesus, the centre today just as He was yesterday and will be for ever. Jesus is their centre. Now I’ve said that these sisters have done service to the Lord. But they are more than servants. Throughout their years of service they have been keeping Jesus’ command – to love – and it is love that unites and makes God’s people. It is love that makes them God’s friends. In the Gospel we heard Jesus telling his disciples to abide in his love, to live in it. It is because Jesus has loved these sisters that he made them his friends. In the end they didn’t choose him; he chose them. They didn’t love him first – they had the privilege of being loved by him first. He loved them and made them his friends. What we are celebrating today is the fact that they are his true friends, true friends to God, true friends to his friends. They have loved us too. They have loved God and their love had borne fruit, fruit that will last. All of us can recognise that fruit; perhaps much of what many of us have is that fruit.
Jesus commanded his disciples to love each other and abide in love, so that their joy would be full. The Preacher of Ecclesiastes says there is a time for everything under the sun. We preachers proclaim that today is a time of jubilee on account of these sisters, a times to rejoice and give thanks to God that he has given us these sisters as his gifts, so that our joy today is full. Congratulations to these our sisters; and thanks be to God.