This year we begin a period of reflection leading up to the celebration of the 200 anniversary of our foundation. This will be a time of reflection, remembering who we are, where we have come from and where we are going. I am struck by the two-fold meaning of the word “re-member” – calling to mind and coming together again. We call to mind our past story and, in the re-telling of that story, we come together as members of the one Family. This is what we aspire to during this time – to draw more closely together as one Family of five vocations as we retell the story of our Family in preparation for the bicentenary in 2020.
Story – telling, as we know, is very important; we humans are story-telling creatures. We have been telling stories for thousands of years and we continue to be fascinated by story in our love for fiction, TV dramas, and films. When we come together, our conversations are often interspersed with stories about ourselves or others, or happenings in the world around us. Stories provide a way of comprehending our place in the world; they help us to structure our understanding of events and they root us in history, thereby providing us with a sense of belonging and identity.
Our Scriptures are full of stories. As we see from the Old Testament the Jewish people were a people who remembered and who chronicled their memories as stories. They weren’t passive in remembering. Instead, they actively set aside time to retell stories, recalling God’s hand at work in their lives. And that ritual of remembering propelled them forward, giving them confidence that the God who was faithful to their forbears in the past could be trusted to be with them in the future.
Jesus also used stories or parables to deliver his message. Parables were a common form of teaching in Judaism and they had the advantage of being easily remembered and of communicating profound, divine truths in simple, everyday language that appealed to the heart and spoke immediately to the simple people of his day.
We have set aside this special time to remember. We look back in thanksgiving for all the blessings given to us in our 200 year history. We also look forward to new beginnings – to future times of possibility. Just as we have responded to the challenges of the past, we pray that we will be given the grace and courage to respond to the challenges that await us in the future.
This time of Jubilee calls us to deeper conversion and a new beginning in living out the Gospel. It will be a time for asking questions like: What is in need of liberation in the Holy Family? In what ways are we being called to practice forgiveness? What are the calls we hear coming to us from a world that is divided and suffering the effects of war, terrorism, racism, sexism, lack of communion? What contribution are we being called to make to draw all people into the one Family of God? Can this be a new springtime for us – a new Pentecost?
We must never forget that we have already been gifted with the power to live in communion, to forgive and to work for justice.
“Declaring a Jubilee is an act of faith and hope and an act of conviction that grace, goodness and holiness exist despite our brokenness. Despite war and violence there is forgiveness. Despite inequality there is prophetic justice. Despite slaughter, our world looks toward Bethlehem where a new world order aches to be born” (Maria Harris: Proclaim Jubilee: Spirituality for the 21st Century).
Sr. Gemma Corbett