Homily: Birthday Celebration of Mother Maria, Capuchin of Poor Clare
The Carpenters depicted in a song what I wish to share with you in this homily on the occasion of the birthday of Mother Maria. “Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near? Just like me, they long to be close to you”.
Nosotros, somos como esos pajaritos que se acercan al verte venir. La imagen de San Francisco de Asis siempre lleva unos pajarillos alrededor. Madre, como esos pajarillos, estamos aqui porque queremos estar muy cerca de Usted. Just like these birds around the statue of St. Francis of Assisi, we are here because we want to be close to you on this very memorable day. However, I would like to point out three specific and deeper reasons why we are here, and why we want to be “close to you”.
First, we long to be close to you because you give us a testimony of what heaven is like. Your life of self-surrender, of abandonment in the hands of God, of total trust in God, to the point of embracing God’s gift of celibacy and chastity – this life is a witnessing of a life in heaven. We know that this witnessing is a vocation. And as the First Reading says, “You carry this treasure in vessels of clay, so that this all-surpassing power may not be seen as (yours) but as God’s”.
Know that we are praying hard for you, so that this treasure, this vocation of giving testimony on earth of what heaven is like would not be harmed as you face life’s trials. St. Paul assures us that “Trials of every sort come to us, but we are not discouraged. We are left without answer, but do not despair; persecuted but not abandoned, knocked down but not crushed”. Con nosotros, Usted puede decirle al Señor:
Soy barro, bien lo sabes; frágil y maleable como él. A veces me rompo, pero tú con amor de Padre, recompones los fragmentos, y me das una forma nueva. Vuelves a poner dentro de mí tu imagen, la energía inmensa de tu amor, que me hace sentir tan fuerte y capaz de todo. Esa es mi riqueza, mi único valor. No permitas que el barro lo ensucie, Señor, porque es un regalo a repartir.
Haz con mi barro un vaso para quien tenga sed, una lámpara para quien necesite luz. Que a cada hermano que me encuentre en el camino vaya entregando tu amor sin reservarlo, sin miedo al derroche, como si fuera la única persona de esta tierra; con la urgencia del fuego, con el ímpetu del torrente, sabiendo que al final de la tarde podré levantar mi rostro hacia ti, cansada pero feliz, porque cada una de mis grietas tendrá sentido (http://www.reflejosdeluz.net/Paginas/lampara8.htm)
Secondly, we long to be close to you today because you teach us how to live what St. Clare calls the “Privilege of Poverty”. With your life of simplicity, you have shown us that there is joy in putting totally our life into the hands of God. True poverty is abandonment of everything in God’s hands.
Your founders, St. Francis and St. Clare, followed our Lord Jesus Christ and His most holy Mother by having nothing of their own under heaven. As you have been called to follow their footsteps and live this poverty, looking at Christ Jesus, who was poor while lying in the manger, poor while living in the world, and poor while naked on the cross, you promise to serve the Lord in poverty and humility. May be poor in material means, but you have the power to become rich in virtue because yours is a poverty that is inspired by the Gospel and is supported by a firm faith in the Divine Providence of our Heavenly Father who has His eyes fixed on those who have left all for Him.
This “Privilege of Poverty” that you strive to live faithfully inspires us to look into our lives and to ask ourselves: How much trust we put on God’s providence rather than on our own efforts? How do we abandon every concern and worry of ours into God’s hands? How do we keep ourselves detached from whatever hinders us from living in communion with God? Que sigas mostrandonos que como dice el Señor, “Bienaventurados los pobres de espíritu, porque de ellos es el Reino de los Cielos”.
Lastly, we long to be close to you today because you show us that there is real, authentic joy in doing the will of God. Real obedience is uniting our will with the will of the other so that there will not be TWO WILLS but ONE. Jesus showed us how this is done during His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Not my will be done but yours”, which means, from now on, there will be no two wills for I unite my will with your will.
Without this union of two wills, the fusing of two wills into one, there will be no authentic obedience. In this context, we comprehend the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel: “Do not commit adultery… But anyone who looks at a woman to satisfy his lust has in fact already committed adultery with her in his heart”. Adultery is committed even by mere lustful look. It means to say that the law is violated or disobeyed not only by doing what it prohibits, but also by failure to follow it in spirit, that is, by not obeying the spirit for which it is established. The disobedience to the spirit of the law is precisely the failure to unite one’s will with that of the other.
In our vocation and life of self-surrender in the priesthood and religious life, the demand for obedience is as radical as the Gospel demand of pulling out one’s sinful eyes or of cutting off one’s right hand that causes one to sin. Pero, Usted, Madre, nos ha mostrado que esta radicalidad conlleva tambien una autentica alegria. You have shown us that there is authentic joy in obeying radically the will of God. Thank you for such a wonderful smile on your face whenever we see you!
The Carpenters continue: “On the day that you were born, the angels got together and decided to create a dream come true. So they sprinkled moon dust in your hair of gold and starlight in your eyes of blue”. El día que Usted nacio’, los ángeles se reunieron, y decidieron crear un sueño hecho realidad. Así que rociaron polvo de luna en tu pelo dorado y luz de estrellas en tus ojos azules. And these angels are now grown up. Ya han crecido. Y ahora estan aqui. And they are now here, again longing to be close to you. Why? Three points: We long to be close to you because…
a) … you give us a testimony of what heaven is like – a life of celibacy and chastity.
b) … you teach us how to live what St. Clare calls the “Privilege of Poverty” – a life of poverty.
c) … you show us that there is real joy in doing the will of God – a life of obedience.
CHASTITY, POVERTY & OBEDIENCE. Big words! But thank you for teaching us these big words with a big heart. Happy birthday!