As a heavy spring rain fell at Nazareth, inside, the Motherhouse was bustling with cause to celebrate many years of loving service and commitment for Sisters of Charity of Nazareth on their Rainbow Jubilee.
Sister Mary Elizabeth Miller welcomed everyone with these opening remarks:
Today, on this feast of the Annunciation, we are privileged to celebrate and give thanks to God for the lives and commitment of our 18 Jubilarians. We, the SCN congregation, the Church, and the world, have been blessed with your 40, 55, 60, 65, 70, and, yes, 75 years of commitment as women religious in loving service to the people of God over a total of 1,140 years!
You responded to gentle whisperings of the Spirit, calling you to leave family and friends to become a Sister of Charity, a decision that would change your life forever, in ways that you could never imagine. With energy and enthusiasm, you took up ministries as teachers, nurses, social workers, pastoral ministers, and congregational leaders. You witnessed to God’s life within you in so many ways.
Mary’s “yes” to God, celebrated on this feast day, has been echoed down through the centuries, and is echoed in a special way today as we celebrate our with Jubilarians.
And so, as we gather to celebrate this Liturgy, we joyfully proclaim God’s faithfulness, and give thanks for your “yes” to God and generous service over the years!
Sister Rhoda Kay Glunk shared the following reflection:
Feast of the Annunciation
Jubilee Liturgy Reflection
March 25, 2021
Today, we gather to celebrate… to celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation: we come together to Rejoice…as we celebrate God’s goodness and love, blessing and gracing the world through Mary’s YES.
And we celebrate with joy our Sister Jubilarians.
We give praise and glory to God for the many ways God’s grace and love has filled each of your lives these past years as a Sister of Charity of Nazareth and blessed our Congregation and world through you.
Do you realize if each one you, our Jubilarians, touched just one life in God’s name for each year, that is over1100 people who received a glimpse of God through you. And we all know, you have graced so many more lives with your ministries and presence. We THANK YOU.
Today’s Scriptures speak to us of Invitation and Promise
The greeting of Gabriel says it all: “Hail, full of grace, the God is with you.”
Hail to you Mary, whom God fills with love, and Mary’s response is yes…” You will be done”….and God’s love becomes Incarnate in Jesus, the Word is made flesh and dwells among.
Mary’s response challenges us to look and live more deeply; to look beyond the realities of life and see God within us and around us. It means trusting that God sees far more for and about us than we often see for ourselves. That is what Mary did, even as she asked “How can this be?” Mary trusted God more than she trusted her own life’s situation. She felt the movement of God within her, perhaps the kick of new life, and the growth of something holy. The favoring and blessing of God wasn’t just around her, it was within her. The power of God was manifested in her very being.
We, too, have been favored and blessed by God. Like Mary, we must look deeper than the changing circumstances of our lives and the challenges we face. Even when we do not see or understand, God is present deep within us, working quietly, creating, and bringing forth goodness. As the angel says: “For nothing is impossible for God”….”Nothing.” DO we dare to believe?… God within us and working through us…
Like Mary we are invited to say yes…and go to that deep place within our very being, where we ponder and treasure the wonders of our loving God. Pondering and treasuring requires us to wait, to be quiet, to listen, to be still and receptive, to be open and vulnerable to God’s life within our own, and we are invited to respond with Mary: “Your will be done.”
In response to Gabriel, Mary trusted God’s word…”Nothing is impossible with God”. Gabriel isn’t speaking of what God has done in the past, but what God will do with Mary, what God is bringing to birth in and through Mary. This is God’s promise.
Mary opened herself up to true joy, declaring who she is and who God is for her, as she proclaims that wonderful prayer: “My soul magnifies the Lord”… “let it be done according to your will.”
As we gather here, today, around this table of Eucharist – where we proclaim Christ’s very presence, we are invited to remember our yes to the invitation of God. When we said yes to embrace God’s call, accepting God’s will, we were brought into a deeper relationship with our loving God.
For the rest of her life, Mary must have pondered her extraordinary encounter with God, reviewing the angel’s message over and over again in her heart. From the manger to the cross and beyond, Mary’s life was radically changed – her relationship with God profoundly deepened, the moment she said yes… and with every yes along the way.
Angels might not appear to us, but we have and do encounter God, and, in the still quiet of our heart, God whispers to us a similar invitation:
Will we trust in God’s providence, even when we cannot see the path ahead?
Amid the noise and demands of everyday life, do we listen for and embrace once again God’s call?
Do we accept God’s love, and bring it joyously to those around us?
This is not a once and for all yes, but over and over, we are asked to reaffirm our yes, to say as Mary said: “Your will be done.”
Our “yes” opens us to the mystery of God’s grace working deep in our human hearts. Our “yes” allows us to experience and grow in the awareness of God’s divine presence in and around us, and moves us to say again and again “yes” to this presence of God in every fabric of our life.
It is good that we can come together today to celebrate the gift, the gift of
the individual “yes” of each of our Jubilarians
the communal “yes” of our Congregation as all SCNs present join in renewing our vows,
the wondrous “yes” of each person here joined in faith.
The hope and promise of God’s enduring love is alive…and as the people of God we say: Amen…so be it…Yes,… God,… Your will be done… Your will be done…in all that lies before us,
And so we pray: may Your will be done
in our lives,
in our church,
in our world,
For, in God,.. “all things are possible!” Amen.