In 1997, Pope Saint John Paul II instituted a day of prayer for women and men in consecrated life. This celebration is attached to the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2nd. This Feast is also known as Candlemas Day – the day on which candles are blessed symbolizing Christ who is the light of the world. So too, those in consecrated life are called to reflect the light of Jesus Christ to all peoples. The celebration of World Day for Consecrated Life is transferred to the following Sunday, which is today – in order to highlight the gift of consecrated persons for the whole Church.
In our Diocese of Metuchen, there are many religious houses where the members have made a gift of themselves to God in consecration, making their light shine through their vowed commitment to making Jesus Christ the center of their lives. In our own parish, we are blessed to have the presence of two such consecrated persons – Sr. Marie Therese Sherwood, OSF and Sr. Maria Derecola, OSF. They belong to the “School Sisters of St. Francis”, an international religious order that originally came to the United States in 1913 to serve as teachers to immigrant children. Of course, the original mission of their community – and Catholic Sisters in general – has evolved over the years in order to meet the differing needs of the times. The Sisters of the United States Province serve in three states (Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Texas) and two countries (USA and Italy) with a single common denominator — outreach to God’s people wherever they are and for whatever their needs may be. We are grateful to Sr. Marie Therese and Sr. Maria for their presence and ministry in our community of St. Matthias.
Today’s Gospel passage has Jesus asking us to be the salt of the earth and light of the world. The religious men and women do that in a very visible way by consecrating themselves with religious vows. But that is not the vocation of the vast number of people. So how can an ordinary Catholic, who is not in the lime light of public sphere, become the light of the world?
A woman in Bible study related that when she recently went into her basement, she made an interesting discovery. Some potatoes had sprouted in the darkest corner of the room. At first she couldn’t figure out how they had received enough light to grow. Then she noticed that she had hung a copper kettle from a rafter near a cellar window. She kept it so brightly polished that it reflected the rays of the sun onto the potatoes. She exclaimed, “When I saw that reflection, I thought, I may not be a preacher or a teacher with the ability to expound upon Scripture, but at least I can be a copper kettle Christian, catching the rays of the Son and reflecting his light to someone in a dark corner.”
This woman’s experience is an inspiration for all of us that we too can become the light of the world by radiating the light of Jesus Christ.
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal