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HOMILY OF THE MINISTER GENERAL AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE MEETING WITH THE PRESIDENTS OF CONFERENCES

Homily of the Minister General at the Conclusion of the Meeting

Br. Michael A. Perry, ofm
May 24, 2019

It is written in the Gospel of John: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain…”

My dear brother Ministers and Presidents of the Conferences, brothers of our local fraternity, the starting point of discipleship in the community of Jesus, the church, and in the fraternity of Francis is nothing other than the calling that we have received from the Lord Jesus. This calling expresses itself first and foremost in the community of the beloved disciples – or, at least what should be the community of the beloved disciples, the Church. As we know, sin and human limitations do not always allow this to be realized, even within the Order, except in those regions of the Order you represent and where everything is going so well, without any difficulties!

The grace of our vocational calling is, however, not some diffuse, spiritual force, the likes of which is spoken about by Yoda in Star Wars. Jesus’s vision of grace is relational. Grace operates between two or more people who have found themselves drawn together for a common purpose, a common mission, a shared identity that gives shape to all thought and action. We all would do well to remind one another about this fundamental truth: common calling; common purpose; common mission.

This fundamental relational nature of the calling we have received from birth and confirmed through baptism and religious profession is driven home forcefully in today’s Gospel where we hear Jesus call his beloved disciples to leave a mentality of slavery, a mercantile manner of dealing with one another that focuses on turning one another into objects from whom we can extract something. Pope Francis has spoken to this matter on any number of occasions, and most forcefully in his Encyclical on integral ecology, Laudato si’. We know all too well the consequences of relationships that are based on seeking only to gain something from others without being willing to pay the price for being in relationship, in friendship with another person, or for that matter with God. Yes, we sometimes even reduce our relationship with God to a form of transaction. We promise God we will do such and such IF God will do such and such for us.

The Gospel text we have before us today calls, challenges us to leave this slave mentality and to enter into an entirely new type of relationship with God. ‘I no longer call you slaves. I call you friends!” To my mind, this is revolutionary! Perhaps it would have been more politically correct for Jesus to invite his disciples to become ‘brothers’. The designation “brothers” implies much less of a quality of exchange, and for that matter of responsibility, for the subject of our attention. When Jesus names those who come to follow him, who entrust their entire lives into his hands and into the hands of God, Abba, he is opening a new path for how we might relate to him, how we might relate to God.

As a consequence of the calling to friendship with God we have received from Jesus, the nature of our relationship with one another, with ourselves, and with the entire created universe changes. The type of friendship envisioned and actually put into practice by Jesus implies undertaking the way of poverty, humility, minority, and solidarity. It involves following the say long walk to freedom as the Abraham and Sarah, as Moses and Miriam, as Mary, Joseph, and also as Jesus. Ultimately, discipleship in Jesus will lead us to suffering and death, the price for entering into friendship with Jesus and allowing this friendship to open us to friendship with all of God’s people, and most especially with those who are poor, oppressed, and excluded in whatever way imaginable. But just as we saw in the life of Jesus, suffering and death do not have the final word. Love, reconciliation, peace, and joy, the ‘fruits’ of which St. John speaks, are what will ‘last’ if we are faithful to our calling, faithful to living in an abiding friendship with God, with Jesus, with the Spirit.

Perhaps this is the deeper message that the Gospel offers to us as we read the signs of the times, as we enter into a deeper dialogue with the world, the Church, and with one another in our fraternities, our Provinces/Custodies/Conferences, that which the process of the Plenary Council of the Order called us to embrace, a process that we hope might continue in a dynamic way until and throughout the General Chapter in 2021.

In his reflection on sexuality and chastity in religious life, Timothy Radcliffe writes: “To open oneself to love is extremely dangerous. There is a great probability that we will remain wounded. The last supper [in the Gospel of John] describes well the risks that result from loving. For this reason, Jesus died, because he loved” (cf. Amare nella liberta’, 2007, p. 16). My brothers, we have been called by a God who willingly handed over His Beloved Son out of an act of pure love, and not as repayment for paradise lost. God seeks our friendship, our hearts, and invites us to embrace a new vision, a new ethic, a new way of living the divine-human adventure that is present within us, within each of the friars of the Order. This is the vocation to which each of us is being called, a vocation defined by love, mercy, joy but also by suffering, pain, and death for the sake of the other.

May the power of God’s grace and friendship constantly stir within us an ardent desire to remain in this love always. And may we like Francis return always to the source of our ‘first love’, Jesus Christ who journeys with us each and every day of our lives.

 

ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI

ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI

ST. FRANCIS

ST. FRANCIS

FRIARS' BIRTHDAY (November)

Date

Name of the Friars

Events

Year

01

Charles Mathew Kolanchery

Deepak Kumar

Birth

Birth

1947

1994

02

Joseph Raj M.

Birth

1975

04

Charles Bernard

Birth

1963

05

Lawrence Simon

Bala Marneni

+ Thomas Thannikary

+ Bernard D’ Silva

Birth

Birth

Home

Home

1949

1962

1996

2010

06

Singarayar A.

Salvador D’Souza

Clinton J.

Birth

Birth

Birth

1970

1979

1992

07

Hemant Xess

Birth

1975

09

Saji P. Mathew

Birth

1975

10

Augustine Pinto

+ Wilbert Smit

Birth

Home

1936

2003

11

Fulgence Ekka

Basil S. Lobo

Birth

Birth

1964

1971

14

+ Mark O’Rourke

Salvador Drego

Kalyan Kumar

Home

Birth

Birth

1974

1984

1994

15

+ Anthony Almeida

Home

1970

17

Elizabeth of Hungary

Vinoth Kumar T.

Feast

Birth


1993

18

Blessed Salome

Feast


19

Agnes of Assisi

Thomas Joseph

+ Kamal Ekka

Feast

Birth

Home


1962

2008

20

Irudayaraj Fernando

+ Bonaventure Davis

+ Bishop Ambrose Y.

+ Jesu Irudayam

Birth

Home

Home

Home

1966

1971

1997

2009

21

Silash Panna

Birth

1990

23

+ John C. O’Dowda

Home

1982

24

Rajesh Praveen Kumar

Birth

1994

25

Gregory Fernandes

Carlos Dias

Tojy M.

Birth

Birth

Birth

1930

1959

1970

26

Balthazar Pinto

Birth

1960

27

Johnson M. V.

Abraham Vadana

Birth

Solemn Vows

1969

1976

29

All Saints of the Seraphic Order

Dependent Custody

Foundation,North East.

Amaladass Manickam

Feast


Erection

Erection

Ordination



2008

2008

1985

30

Prasad Papabathuni

Birth

1970