World Day for Consecrated Life is celebrated on the Presentation of the Lord as a reminder of our mission
by Sister Sally Ann Brickner
Our lives are marked by a series of encounters. As we grow older we have a tendency, and the grace, to review many of them, tracing how the Holy Spirit moved in our hearts so that we would do God’s will. Remembering is certainly true for me as this year I celebrate my 60th jubilee as a Sister of St. Francis of the Holy Cross. Significant encounters in my life included my parents and siblings; my great uncle, Rev. Urban De Cleene, who brought me to the “Bay Settlement Sisters”; my teachers who widened my world; my Sisters in Community; and people living in poverty who awakened in my heart a call to justice and peace.
The Sacred Scriptures for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also the World Day of Consecrated Life, portray a powerful encounter. Luke’s Gospel describes Joseph and Mary presenting their newborn son in the Temple in Jerusalem along with a simple offering called for by Jewish law. While there, they encountered Simeon and Anna who had prayerfully longed for the Messiah and who recognized Him in the child Jesus who, as foretold by the Prophet Isaiah, would bring light to the nations and salvation to the ends of the earth. In Him, all would be made new! The encounter moved Simeon to welcome his death and Anna to break forth in glad thanksgiving.
Every day we also encounter Jesus through Word and sacrament, and in one another. How do these encounters transform us? How do they enable us to “grow in wisdom and grace before God and others?” For me, my life as a woman religious in our Franciscan community has been filled with holy encounters. They have helped me become more fully human, as God calls each of us to be. This week, may we allow our encounters to deepen our communion with Jesus so that, as His servants, we can bring His light to the ends of the earth!
I always like to think of the words of John in his opening account of the gospel: 1: 6-9, and how John's mission, as in "being sent by God," is to witness to the Fullness of Light/Life/Love, JESUS. As John knew, so we -- that we, ourselves are not THE Light, but we all bear light 'through him -' through his Being and Person, and through our relationship with him.
Another way I experienced this 'truth' was when I made T.E.C. (Teens Encounter Christ Retreat) back in the early '80's. John's way of of knowing THE Christ, and we, bearing his his likeness as 'Christ-ians,' became very real to me in one of the more striking community prayer-gatherings. Every person, venturing through darkness and forming a circle, held their candle in the darkness. They let their own light shine as we all awaited THE Light to enter in. It was most beautiful, most holy, most amazingly profound and awesome.
I think these are the times we live in: we are being called to let our light-of-truth shine through the darkness of deceit, trickery, lies until the One True Fullness of Light/Life/Love appears, in all glory. And then, we, with our lights burning, join with him in his glorious state.
There is real meaning, truth, and power in the song, "This Little Light of Mine ...." We probably should sing it every day, while in prayer and while in our work for justice and healing.