This reflection was given at the Jubilee celebration on July 16, 2017 at the Church of Our Lady or Loretto, Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana. Scripture passages referenced in this reflection are Isaiah 55:10-11, Romans 8:18-23 and Matthew 13:1-9.
The scripture today from Isaiah speaks of ordinary life. Rain and snow water the earth. Seed sown in rich soil produces fruit. Creation waits with eager expectation and we, too, once we have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan within ourselves for more. Perhaps, surprisingly, our creative God, imitates creation. God declares just as water makes the earth fertile and fruitful, so MY word goes forth to do MY will.
Words are such ordinary things. Yet, they can have such extraordinary effects. We can speak healing words, encouraging words or helpful words. We speak words that solidify bonds, declare what we value or set a direction for our daily lives. We can hear words that call us to be our best selves. We can hear words, words that entice us to see life in a new way. Much of our ministry and community living depends on words. Are we able to “hear with our ears” so that we can speak words that fit the situation, the ordinary life?
At the Brothers of Holy Cross Jubilee, Brother Chester often reminds us that the jubilarians have ministered for a total of oh so many of years and have probably reached a total of so many people.
Today, I wonder how many words our Jubilarians have uttered? Some more than others, we know! But the numbers don’t really matter. The seed produced fruit a hundred fold, or sixty fold or thirty fold. Whatever the number, the seed produced fruit – in the ordinary course of things!
Our Jubilarians have gathered us this morning. Did you know that each of them is on life support? We are their life support system and they are ours. These women have taught in classrooms and in daily life. They have heard a variety of calls over the course of their lives and responded to those calls whole-heartedly. They have walked the sea shores and treasured the beauty of flowers and plants. They have birthed new ministries and maintained close friendships.
Long ago—25, 50 or 75 years—these sisters uttered words that vowed them to God in the Church and in our Congregation. Today we stand with them, to listen together to God’s continuing words of love and hope. We stand with them to proclaim God’s fidelity; to re-affirm that we love and support one another whether in ordinary times or times of trouble. We stand with them awaiting the next revelation of God’s Word.