Friday, September 8, 2017
Homily of the Abbot General in the opening mass of the General Chapter
In the opening words of his letter to the Colossians we learn something of the joy of Saint Paul as he rejoices in the Christians of Colossae, the saints, because of their faith in Christ, their love for the community of believers and their hope for a future with God in heaven. Like Paul himself they have understood what Gods grace really is the joy of being saved by God, not because of anything they have done but out of Gods gracious love for them. The message of Gods love for us is the truth that possesses Saint Paul and so he is so happy when others can know what it is to be loved by God. He can trust in the goodness of God because he has known it in his life. And he can offer it to others with assurance. This is not a theory Paul is talking about but an experience, an experience that has taken over his whole life. He knows that he is loved by God, and that is his life, and he wants to share it with others so that they may have true life. And like Jesus before him he is one sent by God an apostle of the goodness of God for all that he has made.
Pauls intensity can at times be a deterrent for us who may feel somewhat overwhelmed by it. The Gospel reading offers us in the person of Jesus a gentler entry of God into our lives. Jesus comes to us, sent by God indeed and God himself present but a healing presence and we see him healing Peters mother in law. But we need to remember too that this healing is a struggle against evil. The fever is rebuked and leaves her so she is made whole and well and she puts herself at the service of Jesus and his companions. This shows us in a more modest key how the Good News frees us up for service. It is a response to the goodness of God towards us. At sunset, after the heat and the labour of the day people bring their suffering and diseased friends to Jesus for healing and he cures them and delivers them from evil. But next morning he is on his way because he has a mission, he was sent to proclaim the Good News and he must move on. Jesus follows Gods agenda.
In Jesus and in Paul the servant of Jesus we see the Spirit of God at work, preaching, teaching, healing and giving new life. We pray that the same Spirit may make our service pleasing to God, bless our Chapter, our work and our fellowship and accomplish his purposes for us.