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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Discernment Meditation from the Sisters of Life for June 2008


"If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have, give to the poor and
then come, follow me." (Mt.19: 21)

The answer our Lord gives to the rich young man confirms what the man has
already recognized: following the commandments alone is not enough to
satisfy his thirsty heart. His question, "What more do I lack?" implies that
there is still a lack - there is something in him not yet given, and that
not-givenness is experienced as a poverty, as a yearning, as a need to be
met. I am not yet who I am meant to be.

"What more do I lack?" And Jesus says, "If you wish to be perfect..." If you
wish not to lack, then "go, sell what you have, give to the poor and then
come, follow me." If you wish to have that interminable human lack filled,
stop reaching out habitually for things that can never reach the depths of
who you are. Empty yourself, attend to the needs of others, and then train
your eyes, your heart, your life, on me.

Don't we ask this question of Jesus? What more do I lack, Lord? For I know I
lack, I know I am not yet who I am to be. His answer is always the same, and
always imbued with our greatest reality: his look of love. When we allow
ourselves to meet the intensity and tenderness of His gaze, it's as if a
burning ember of love leaps from His Sacred Heart and penetrates our own,
lodging itself there, insisting on response.

Last Thursday evening, in the chapel of our Formation House, eleven young
women turned the eyes of their hearts and minds in a more definitive way
towards the fire-y gaze of the Divine Bridegroom. One by one, they were
called by a new name and approached the altar to receive their religious
habit and the constitutions of the Sisters of Life. As Mother Agnes clipped
each new novice's hair she said, "I take a lock of your hair as a sign of
your desire to be totally dedicated to Christ in this way of life. May He
one day receive you as His spouse." Because they were more divested by His
Love, they became- necessarily - more invested in His Love. The word "habit"
has the same root as the word habitat. It comes from the latin habitare - to
dwell, to live. These new novices choose to dwell in the Heart of Jesus, and
literally place their bodies within clothing that marks them, to the world
and to themselves, as His alone.

In this month of June we honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the source of the
Divine Love poured out for us on Calvary and at every Mass - the source of
the fire of Divine Love that captures the hearts and imaginations of those
called to religious life. Religious are brides of Christ - icons of the
Church, the Bride of Christ. Religious, smitten by Jesus' crucified love,
are a living pledge of the Church's virginal, bridal love for the Lord. In
our very persons, religious cry out in response to our amazing God, "We
believe! We have known your love. We await your return with lamps alight:
Come, Lord Jesus!" We are living brides who know a living love - the living,
burning embers of Divine Love. These embers are not meant to smolder out but
to leap up into blazing flames that consume within us all that is not Him
and in the process, transform us into who we truly are.

The prophet Ezekiel tells us of God's promise: "I will give you a new heart
and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your hearts of stone and
give you a heart of flesh" (Ez. 36:26). This new heart is the Lord's Heart,
which still beats as does yours and mine. Being devoted to the Sacred Heart
of Jesus is being devoted to His sacred humanity. Whenever we are devoted to
another's heart, we seek to ease that heart, to be a balm to that heart, to
delight that heart. Jesus' Heart needs that love, too, and He looks for it
from you, from me. His Heart, so tender, is continually hurt by neglect,
indifference, contempt. Each of us has experienced a hurt of the heart - we
tend to build walls in response. Jesus, the Lamb of God, never turns away
from these hurts but remains open and exposed in them. His Love is stronger
than any suffering, than any evil, and His Sacred Heart stands before every
lack of love without defense, suffering the pain and offering to bring new
life where there is none.

But He does not wish to accomplish this alone. He asks us to bear His Life
to the world: "with God all things are possible." And so we turn to the
tenderness and the intensity of His gaze, which divests us of all that is
not Him and pierces us anew with the flaming embers of His love. "Go, sell
what you have, give to the poor and then come, follow me." May the union of
our trust with His power satisfy every lack and bring an explosion of Mercy
and Life to the world!

Sr. Mary Gabriel, S.V.
Vocations Director/Sisters of Life
St. Jane Frances de Chantal Convent

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