Homily for the First Monastic Profession of Rosy Kandathil
September 20, 2015
Texts: Sirach 51:12-20
Acts 4: 32-37
Stories can move people to live differently. Stories do this because our own experiences easily resonate with them. Our reflections on Scripture stories are an investment of time and energy in coming to know who we are, where we are going and who we are going with. This is part of the discovery process that Thomas Merton speaks of: finding yourself within God’s conception of yourself.
Rosy chose today’s readings as an expression of her coming to know God in an intimate and compelling way. My reflections on these readings are interspersed with Rosy’s reflections about her year as a Sojourner. They were written as sojourner blogs for Benedictine Bridge.
The first reading from Sirach describes the author’s search for and discovery of wisdom and his effort at living by wisdom. I quote, “When I was young and innocent, I sought Wisdom. Outside the sanctuary I would pray for her and to the last I will continue to seek her. From her blossoming to the ripening of her grape, my heart has taken its delight in her.”
From Rosy’s blog, September, 2013:
“When I packed up my things and left my cherished work as pastor of contemplative arts at New Life Fellowship Church in New York City, I did not know what God was calling me toward. I only knew that I heard the Voice of my Beloved clearly, and that I wanted to follow–even if it meant going out into the unknown prairies of Wisconsin, living closely in a community of women that I did not yet know, doing work that I could not fully fathom, while praying and singing words I only dimly grasp.”
In our second reading St. Luke holds before us the value of community. Luke describes the believers as of one mind and one heart. Perseverance in the spiritual life is sustained by a community of common faith—with one heart and one mind. This sharing involves not only the universal Church but also a more localized communion, our parish, congregation or assembly.
For St. Benedict too, community becomes the very language and texture of growth into Christ, as the call to monastic life is tested and refocused in the myriad interactions, formal and informal, that create monastic community. He says in Chapter 72 of the Rule of Benedict, “This, then, is the good zeal which members must foster with fervent love: They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other, (Rom. 12:10), supporting with the greatest patience one another’s weaknesses of body or behavior, and earnestly competing in obedience to one another.”
Bernard of Clairvaux, Abbot of Cluny, in his reflection on Eccl 4:10, says, “Community corrects individual defects; what one lacks another supplies, what one breaks another repairs, when we fall there is someone to lift us up.”
From Rosy’s blog, May, 2014
“As I reflect on the end of my Sojourner year and all I’ve experienced, it is hard to say what has impacted me most. What could have prepared me for this year of living in community with women I did not know, of praying the Liturgy of the Hours, of eating regularly with strangers and finding camaraderie and common ground at the table, of learning to pay attention to the gifts in the present moment, of kindling a recognition of God in everything and everyone? It has been a year of changes and interior surprises, but simultaneously, perhaps paradoxically, of deep stability and predictability.”
Today’s gospel finds the disciples arguing who was the greatest among them. They were unable to hear Jesus’ prediction of his suffering and death. Instead they were entertaining moments of glory and status in their political tradition of a victorious warrior who would defeat the Romans and re-establish the glorious Davidic kingdom. Jesus realizes how far the disciples still are from understanding his upcoming passion, death and resurrection. His response reverses all socially acceptable thinking about greatness. To emphasize his point he picks up a child and tells them that the least or most insignificant persons in society are the greatest. In the society and culture of Jesus’s time, the child had no standing or status. For Jesus, the child was a model of radical humility.
Humility is a matter of truth, of recognizing the truth about oneself, of growing in awareness of one’s true self where God has already planted in our souls all the direction we need to find our vocation in life.
Let us hear again the words from Sirach, “My soul has struggled to become one with her, I have been scrupulous in keeping the law; I have stretched out my hands to heaven and bewailed my ignorance of her; I have directed my soul toward her, and in purity found her; having my heart fixed on her from the outset, I will never be deserted; my very core having yearned to discover her, I now have a love fulfilled.”
We all rejoice with Rosy, her parents, Mary and Matthew, her brother, Mathew and his wife Amy Jo and their son Sam, friends; Angel, Helen, Christine and Patrick, and our community of communities: Oblates, Sunday Assembly, coworkers and of course the sisters. It takes a village to raise a vocation to monastic life at Holy Wisdom. We are grateful, Rosy, for your open and loving heart, and the sisters promise our love and support in return.
September 20, 2015
Mary David Walgenbach, OSB