Pune, India 1`7-18/03/2016
Homily on the Occasion of the Perpetual Oath of Michael Mandagiri and Yacob Chilka
Your Lordship, Rt. Rev. Thomas Dabre, Fr. Brian and staff, Michael and Yacob who will be making their Perpetual Missionary Oath today, my fellow priests, Sisters, Brothers, family members of Michael and Jacob who came from different parts of India, students and friends: we are all gathered here in great joy and thanksgiving for three main reasons: first, for these two brothers of ours who will be committing themselves perpetually to missionary life in the charism of the Mill Hill Missionaries, amare et servere, to love and to serve, under the patronage of St. Joseph; second, to pray that the Lord will bless this newly constructed Mill Hill Formation House for the training of young men for mission, and third, to raise our voice in Thanksgiving to God for the 150 years of Love and Service of the Mill Hill Missionaries throughout the word.
I am new in India, this is only my 2nd visit here, but I notice that Indians love using acronyms. I give you some of the common Indian acronyms, and please give me the meaning… BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), ….EOD – End of day… NRI – Non-Resident Indian… BCCI – Board of Control for Cricket in India … JDV – Jnana Deepa Vidjapeeth… RGIA – Ragiv Gandhi Int’l Airport … PIO – Person of Indian Origin… MHM
As Michael and Yacob will commit themselves today into a life of obedience, apostolic simplicity and celibate living, I would like to share with them an acronym which hopefully they will remember throughout their missionary life.
LGS – Love, Grow, Serve
L for LOVE
I am not referring here to a mere emotional attraction or personal attachment to someone or something, but to a biblical sense of the word, in Greek, agape, that is, a conscious choice or decision of God to love us and that there is nothing we can do to make God stop loving us. Each of us has been called, chosen, elected, not because of any merits of ours, because it was while we were still sinners that God loved us. God may not like what we do at times, does not love our sins, but never stops loving us. St. Paul said in Galatians 2:20, I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
“Caught up in the love of the Father who sent the Son to bring the Good News to all people, responding to Jesus’ invitation to follow him and make disciples of all nations, and filled with hope and joy of the Holy Spirit, we, Mill Hill Missionaries strive to incarnate the Kingdom of God among the poor, the oppressed and those in greatest need whom we are privileged to love and serve” (Chapter 2010). Christ loves us with a personal and faithful love, merciful and eternal, understanding towards our frailty and our sins, but demanding: he does not admit hypocrisy and lies.
As missionaries, we are receivers and transmitters of the love of God. We let this love permeate our being, radiate from us and overflow to others. It does not matter whether we live a long life or a short one, whether we are sickly or healthy, whether we are assigned abroad or within our country of origin, what is important is that we make the love of God visible in us, that we give the love of God credibility so that others may believe, hope and love and be happy to be called children of God.
G for Grow
In the first reading, St. Paul explained that Christian growth is a lifelong process. We are tempted to think that after Theology or Ordination we already know everything and solutions to every human problem. As missionaries, we have to understand that there are no overnight solutions to human problems. There are no quick fixes and easy answers to difficult problems. This calls us to be gracious and patient with ourselves and with one another. We will commit mistakes and experience failures, but we have to get up again and continue the race.
In a fast changing world distorted by violence, instability, extremism, division and disparity, the road ahead may appear uncertain, if not dangerous. Pope Francis warns us not to be more concerned with the road map than with the journey itself. In Evangelii Gaudium (EG82), the Pope says that it is God who has called us to cooperate with him and who leads us on by the power of the Spirit (EG12). Therefore we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcaste (Eg24).”
Matthew and Yacob, your coming forward to make a perpetual commitment to mission is of great witness to us. It is a great gift to the Church. You have walked with us for these past few years in Formation and your Missionary Experience in Kenya and Cameroon, and now join the ranks of those whose footsteps form the path for all those who will come in the years ahead. The legacy of those who have gone before you is now yours to preserve and to share with the future. Remember, too, that today is a beginning, not an end. We pronounce our promise in a moment, but living them for the sake of the kingdom is the work of a lifetime. That fulfillment demands of us more than the mere wish, more even than the firm decision. It demands the conversion of our habits, our character, our attitudes, our desires. Michael and Yacob, let us keep growing.
S for Service
Today you will receive two symbols of our Missionary Service and Dedication – the red sash and the crucifix. The red sash signifies our readiness to serve the people entrusted to our care even to the point of shedding our own blood for them, for the greater glory of God and for the salvation of souls. The crucifix is our concrete reminder of the self-sacrificing love of Christ, of which we as Mill Hill Missionaries are called to imitate in our day to day living. We are called to imitate Christ who knelt down and washed the feet of his disciples and shed his own blood on the cross for our salvation.
Love, Grow and Serve – LGS In this year of mercy, the Church is inviting us first and foremost to accept the love and mercy of God in our lives and become missionaries of God’s mercy especially to those in the existential peripheries of the society.
St. Teresa of Avila had a mystical experience on the day after her religious profession. She chose as her name, Teresa of Jesus, when she made her final vow. The day after the profession of her vows, while walking in the cloister of the convent’s religious enclosure (where no one but the sisters were allowed and had access), she came across and met a young boy of about twelve. Before she could ask who this intruder was, the boy asked her: “What is your name?” She of course answered: “I am Teresa of Jesus.” Then she asked him: “Who are you?” The boy smiled and answered: “I am Jesus of Teresa.”
From this true occurrence, Michael and Jacob, remember that you are not the only ones making a commitment here today. The Lord, who called and elected you, is also, and even more deeply, committing himself to you. Today by pronouncing your Missionary Oath, you will forever be Michael of Jesus and Yacob of Jesus. Indeed, be Jesus in the world today. Be Jesus to everyone that you meet and encounter. Bring Jesus into all that you do and say and in all that you are. May our Blessed Mother intercede for you and may St. Joseph protect you and win for you the grace of perseverance and fidelity. Amen.
Jimmy Lindero mhm, General Councillor