This morning, the feast of Our Lady's Nativity, we had a joyful celebration as two of the friars here celebrated their Diamond Jubilee of Profession as Franciscans. Sixty years!
Writing of the Profession we make to God, the General Constitutions of our Order (article 5) emphasise the totally of the self-giving and its deep connection with the fundamental grace of Baptism. “In a more complete fulfilment of their baptismal consecration and in answer to the divine call, the friars give themselves totally to God, their supreme love. Through profession of obedience, poverty and chastity, which they are to live in the spirit of St Francis, they contract a covenant with God and life becomes, as it were, for their whole existence, a sacrifice offered to God in charity.’
Reading that understanding of our religious profession, we friars surely realise yet again that there is no way that we can even begin to desire, let alone carry out, what we have promised to the Lord without the action and strength of God in our lives.
The God who calls is the One who alone can give the grace to respond.
The God who is faithful is the One who alone can restore what is broken by our sin and frailty.
The God who journeys with us is the One who alone can guide, support and protect us till the end.
Our Franciscan path, as all the Christian journey, is sustained absolutely by the sheer goodness and compassion of the Lord. The grace of the Spirit is at the origin of our vocation and is its daily strength.
Anyone celebrating their jubilee knows that it is above all a jubilee of grace.
So this morning in the Eucharist, as we thanked God for our brothers who 60 years ago consecrated their lives to the Lord as friars minor, we above all celebrated the gracious goodness at work in their lives. And we entrusted them and ourselves once again to tender prayers of Our Lady and the loving fidelity of our God.