To celebrate the recent Golden Jubilees of Srs Catherine & Christina, Sisters of St. Joseph, our own Sister Bernie was asked to address the Congregation during the celebration Mass. Here’s what she said:
‘Now thank we all our God’. The first line of our opening hymn is a familiar one to all of us. How appropriate it is for today’s celebration of Sr. Catherine’s and Sr Christina’s Jubilee.
The moment is NOW for celebration and Thanksgiving, and we who are gathered here are focused on the God for whom nothing is impossible – our God.
Now thank we ALL our God:
It is important for us to realize that this is not only a day of celebration for the two Jubilareans; rather it is a day and an opportunity for all of us to celebrate and give thanks.
We are all here because we belong to one another. Catherine and Christina are real witnesses to that belonging. They have worked tirelessly in the parish and way beyond to make all people welcomed and valued.
In the rule of Life of the Sisters of St Joseph it says:
“Our Mission flows from the Father’s call to work at what brings about the unity of all people in Jesus Christ” Christina and Catherine live out that mission of unity day by day and that is why they have invited us to sing with them:
NOW THANK WE ALL OUR GOD
It may seem to us on this Golden Jubilee day that we are gathered here to celebrate the 50 years of generous service of two Sisters of St. Joseph.
Nothing, of course, is more important than that special and personal invitation from God to Catherine and Christina. In the first reading we hear how God speaks of being united to the beloved in justice, in steadfast love and in faithfulness.
We are here especially today to celebrate God’s faithfulness, and that faithfulness is to each one of us.
Let us pause for a moment and remind ourselves of one special experience of God’s faithful love in my life…….
We all know and have experienced the wonder of God’s faithful love. Only we know in the depths of our hearts, when we allow ourselves to go there how precious is that faithfulness of God – and how it makes life possible for us.
St. Paul has just invited us, in his beautiful letter to the Philippians to:
“Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, and being in full accord and of one mind”.
These words could be Catherine’s and Christina’s invitation to each of us to be united with them in recognising God’s faithful love.
This is the love which gave us Jesus as the perfect example of a servant- who emptied himself, who was humble, and generous, who was self giving looking to the needs and concerns of others, obedient even to death.
When Christina and Catherine started out in their life of service, it was an offering of trust. They had little idea of what was ahead of them. Much has changed. There have been joys and challenges, hopes and dreams, some fulfilled and some not. And so it is with each one of us. Think back just ten years age and none of us had much idea of what was going to happen in our lives.
If we are people who pray, people who long to come closer and closer to God, people who try to follow the way of Jesus and all he teaches about love and building his Kingdom here on earth, we can see that God indeed has been faithful to us no matter what.
God may not have done what we expected or wanted, but God has been there for each of us, accepting us as we are, cajoling us, forgiving us, consoling us, uplifting us, comforting us, challenging us – and amazing us with unending LOVE.
That is faithfulness.
Faithfulness is not just about keeping promises and rules, it is about everyday loving, beginning again when we trip up, keeping on trusting and offering what we have to offer - our very selves.
Peter, we are told in the Gospel today, reminds Jesus:
“What about us, we have left everything and followed you”.
Peter has just heard this alarming statement about how hard it is for anyone who has riches to get to heaven – he wants reassurance.
So do we! Along with Catherine and Christina I am sure!
But – we might miss the point if we are not focused on Jesus.
It is God alone who makes it possible for us to let go, to leave what we think are our precious possessions, our nearest and dearest, our homes and families even – but none of that is impossible to God.
God helps us see everything with a different perspective.
Christina and Catherine are here after fifty years because of that perspective,
Because of God’s love for them,
Because of God’s faithfulness,
Because nothing is impossible for God.
We are here united with them in this joyful celebration because whatever God has called us to be, whatever God wants us to do, what ever we have done or not done, God’s love will never fail us. And that is why we can sing with hearts and hands and voices: NOW THANK WE ALLOUR GOD.
Bernadette Arscott R.L.R.