On November 29, 2014 men and women religious of Macau inaugurated the Year of Consecrated Life with the Bishop of the Diocese. The brothers of St. Dominic’s Priory attended and participated actively in the liturgical celebration, which was followed by a simple fraternal agape for all the participants. (By the way, two of our brothers were members of the Ad Hoc Committee that prepared and executed the opening program: Fathers Jarvis and Fausto). Over two hundred consecrated persons and some lay faithful took part in the evening liturgical celebration held at the Cathedral of Macau and consisting of the solemn recitation and singing of the Vespers of the First Sunday of Advent and an added Liturgy of the Word with two biblical readings and two short reflections – one in Cantonese by a sister, and the other in English by a brother. We are printing the text of the brief reflection in English. (Editor)
We are women and men consecrated to God. We are here opening with our dear Bishop Joseph Lai the Year of Consecrated Life in the company of lay faithful, our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our Year of Consecrated Life is a marvelous opportunity for each one of us to be grateful for our vocation, sorry for our failures, faithful to our present and hopeful for the great future of consecrated life in the Church, in our Diocese of Macau.
Two biblical readings have been proclaimed to us: one from the prophet Isaiah (Is 66:10-14), and the other from the Gospel of St. Luke (Lk 14:25-33). The first speaks of joy and the second, of the cost of discipleship. In the context of our religious vocation, God tells us to be joyful disciples of Jesus.
This wonderful evening of prayer and song, Jesus has two questions for each one of us: “Do you remember radically that “I called you”? “Do you love me”? Our vocation is “a response to a call of love.” It is a passion of love for Jesus. Pope Francis is asking us to be passionate lovers of Jesus (cf. EG, 209, 266). All our Founders and Foundresses point charismatically to Jesus: Jesus Christ is the center of their lives – and ours, too. We must deny ourselves by putting Jesus at the center of our hearts: by decentering, decentralizing – “unselfing!
Moreover, our Holy Father is asking us – religious men and women -, to be passionate lovers of all peoples, our neighbors: The world is our parish, and the faithful of the Diocese of Macau are our proximate neighbors! Of the first Christians, the unbelievers said: “Look how they love each other.”
Charity begins at home; fraternal love, too: it starts with our brothers or sisters in the community. Jesus called you and me: He called us to live together as brother and sisters. The Pope requests from us to be witnesses of fraternal love, to show to the world that “it is possible to live together as brothers and sisters in diversity.” The Holy Father says that we should treat brothers (and sisters) with “Eucharistic tenderness” (Conversation in Rome: November 29, 2013). Our dear Pope insists on our need of continuing prayer: the Eucharist, the Hours, adoration, contemplation, the Rosary, etc.
We are passionate lovers of all people, and primarily – Pope Francis adds – passionate lovers of the poor and vulnerable (EG 266, 268). Our witnessing demands loving others with Christ’s love, a love manifested in serving others unconditionally. This loving service is shown in witnessing: what the world expects from us, our Pope says, is authentic witnessing of a simple, humble, sober life style – the evangelical life style: “Let us live simply so that others might simply live.” The Pope is asking us to leave the comfort zone and walk on the periphery of life to see the excluded and marginalized. We are asked time and again to be close to the poor and needy: “Jesus wants us to touch human misery, to touch the suffering flesh of others” (EG 270).
Jesus urges us to carry our cross with love and also with joy The prophet Isaiah says, “Rejoice, Jerusalem! Rejoice all you who love her!” Pope Francis proclaims: “This is the beauty of religious consecration: it is joy, joy, joy” (To Seminarians and Novices, July 6, 2013). We are asked to show “the joy of evangelization.” Joy is a blessing of the Holy Spirit, an effect of charity or love, and a characteristic of hope, the virtue of the pilgrim. Theological hope helps us journey to a glorious future by doing what we ought to do every day, every moment – the only thing in our hands -; by doing everything, every moment with love. Indeed, “Life is a series of moments either lived or lost.”
As we journey together as sisters and brothers through the Year of Consecrated Life, we pray for each other so that we all may possess what Pope Francis wants us to possess: “missionary enthusiasm,” “joy of evangelization,” “joy of mission,” and “joy of community.” The poet and mystic Rabindranath Tagore writes: I was sleeping and dreamed that life was joyful; / I woke up and saw that life was service; / I began to serve and saw that serving was joy”
May we experience through 2015, the joy of renewal by becoming more passionate lovers of our neighbor, in particular of our community brothers or sisters, and, above all, passionate lovers of Christ, who is our priority, our love, our life. May Our Lady, Mary Mother of Jesus and Our Mother bless us all. Amen
Fray Fausto Gomez, OP
November 29, 2014