Reflection On Consecrated Life - Fifth Sunday In Ordinary Time
There was a wise rabbi named Zerusha who was dying. His followers asked him for a wisdom saying by which they could remember him. He said, “When I come before my creator, I don’t think I’m going to be asked, ‘Why weren’t you more like Abraham and Moses?’. I’m going to be asked, ‘Why weren’t you more like Zerusha?’”.
In today’s second reading and in the gospel passage, we can see this piece of wisdom being lived. Paul says, “Woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel!” It is in his bones to do this.
In the same way, we witness Jesus being totally who he is in giving himself completely to healing the sick, to going to a deserted place to pray, and in moving to the neighbouring towns to proclaim the message of God’s love there.
Both Jesus and Paul know at the centre of their being what it means to be themselves – and it means to give themselves and all of their energy to God and to proclaiming God’s goodness.
As Christians, we are most like ourselves when we are in touch with God who dwells within us, and when all that we do flows from our relationship to God, which encompasses our relationship to our own deepest being.
I am grateful for my vocation to the consecrated life because I experience it as helping me to be who I am, Pat Boucher. As a Sister of St. Joseph, I have had many and varied opportunities for growth in coming to know who I am. The more I know who I am, the more my relationship with Jesus grows.
I think many people see a vocation to consecrated life as a difficult calling. I thought it would be when I first entered the Sisters of St. Joseph right after high school. I thought I was giving up a lot and doing a great thing for God. One of the Sisters told me I would receive far more than I would give, and I was quite sceptical about that. However, it didn’t take me long to realize how right she was. I found real happiness as I learned about the life of a sister and began to live it.
I am deeply grateful to God for the gift of my vocation. It really helps me to be the best Pat I can be.
So, I have received a treasured gift from God, and I believe consecrated life is a treasured gift to the church and the world. I believe this because we need the witness of men and women who live the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience in a public way. As Christians, whether married, single, or called to live a consecrated life, we live these counsels.
Our vow of chastity does not mean that we do not have wonderful relationships with others. It means that our primary relationship and one that we work at, as married people work at their relationship with their spouse, is with Jesus.
Through the vow of poverty, women and men religious are called to be a counter-sign to the consumerism that is so much a part of our society today. We are blessed to have what we need to live a balanced and healthy life.
The third vow, obedience, calls us to testify by our lives to what it means to listen for God’s voice in making decisions. That is what obedience is about.
In a world that fosters individualism and looking out for oneself, consecrated life is called to exemplify, by life in community and by relationships through ministry, that we are all brothers and sisters called to live in loving union with one another.
In summary, I am grateful that the way I am called to be most like Pat is by living in fidelity to my vocation as a Sister of St. Joseph. And I know that the more I am my authentic self, the more I will grow like Jesus. I pray that like Jesus and Paul, each of us may be more and more true to the call of our particular vocation to proclaim the gospel by our lives.
By Pat Boucher CSJ