February 2, 2022 – Day of Consecrated Life
HAIFA, STELLA MARIS (ISRAEL)
In one song Leonard Cohen sang
The little birds chirp
I heard them say
don’t dwell too long
about what it was
or on what still has to be.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offer
there is a breach in everything
and that’s where the light comes in
We present our song to the Lord united, we want to sing like birds every morning: everything can begin and everything begins in God, for him nothing is impossible. Don’t get stuck in the past. The sound of God’s heart tells us: forget your perfect offering. The Light enters through the smallness, the fragility and the breach of our poverty.
. To be aware of the earth on which we walk, is to listen to the root that gave us the Light, in this land of the origins. The image of doctors during the pandemic, with the stethoscope around their neck, listening to the breath of each person, reflects the attitude of the Religious Life of today, to AUSCULT the life that breathes and beats in the heart of this earth, to be rooted in it, because we are citizens born on this land. What a privilege to be here! Here he was incarnated, here he was born, here our Lord, our Love and our Hope died. Religious life in the Holy Land wants to continue to be incarnated today in the open wound of our world, which is the wound of God.
. We are the sacred ground in which He wants to incarnate today, in each of us. We are the cave of his desire for refuge, we are the crib of his birth, we are the source of his thirst. In today’s Eucharist we will allow Him to become flesh in the fragile and vulnerable land of our poverty … Each Eucharist is infinitely more than all holy places, because today He becomes alive and real, gives himself to us, and is the more beautiful truth of our consecration and our faith. Today we receive the Eucharist, that is, today we are Nazareth and Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
But today we are also an obedient exodus, with the people and the world in search of a homeland, we are diaspora and exile in many people without freedom and without dignity, we are the sacred temple of God’s presence and the Ark of the ever-new Covenant, and we are also the destroyed temple in every person who is crushed and broken for the consumption of the arrogant and the proud.
I indicate here where we find the strength and fire of Elijah, which is the bond of communion between the three great religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Elijah, the ALWAYS ALIVE. Let us accept his challenge and allow ourselves be contaminated by his spirit and his zeal for the glory of God. We want to be wakeful men and women religious, not sleeping, with the freshness of our founders and in the air of the Spirit. It is the time of the crisis, that is the time to wake up.
This is not the time to count soldiers, nor to enumerate our tanks. The million-dollar questions: How many are you? How many vocations do you have? How many are you in the world? Any novices? These questions are incorrect. It is the hour of trust and courage for those who take their first steps of faith in the desert, and discover wells where there was no hope, rain where there was drought, springs in the rock and a living presence in the absence of God. Monsignor Agrelo says, in the Moroccan context, that he thanks God for the failure of our attempts to fill our convents with vocations. Because now our life is not in numbers and strength, but in the strength of weakness, in the fruitfulness of failure and in the faith that he glimpses hope, because God is always, always in the most difficult moments of history. We don’t need to be many, but to be united, we don’t need to have a lot of money, but to be poor to listen well, we don’t need to be close to power, but to be free and be prophetic, we don’t need to be cheered or shine in someone’s eyes, but be authentic.
- Someone has announced the end of religious life, the end of orders and congregations, as a thing of the past. We do not live to perpetuate ourselves, to maintain buildings, to preserve walls, we live to heal a life, to listen to a Word born today, to fuel a fire that will not be extinguished. The more one gets lost in the gift of oneself, more the consecrated life is fruitful. And this also involves, of course, taking care of the inheritance received and treating the places and stones with affection. They continue to be a vivid reminder of the love and fire that forged them.
- The book of Malachi invites us to be messengers of a word that is not ours. Like Mary in the Magnificat. Channels of a life He wants to give. We are a bit distracted and busy with many things. But his coming is a foundry fire, which purifies and refines, and which transforms us into an OFFER that pleases the Lord as in those times when faith was born, with which God dreams TODAY in the heart of each of us.
The icon given to us by today’s Gospel, an old man with a child in his arms, symbolizes the religious life of our time… an ancient religious life, wrinkled, tired of giving itself, and yet full of prophecy. and germs of life. Religious life carries within it a child full of the future and the freshness of God’s surprise. Both are one life, memory, prophecy, birth and future. We give thanks for all the inheritance we have received, for all the brothers and sisters who have given themselves and for those who will come.
May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind always be behind you.
May the sun shine warm on your face.
And the rain falling lightly on your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
(Ancient Irish Blessing)