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Providence Associates’ Commitment and Renewal Liturgy reflection

Denise-reflect-Nov2013-1024When was the last time you commanded anyone to do something?  Been awhile?

When have you commanded someone to love you? If you’ve ever done it, how did it work out?

Today, Jesus commands us to love one another.

It’s an interesting juxtaposition of words and ideas, isn’t it? Commanded to love…not invited, not encouraged, not cajoled into loving but ordered to love one another as Jesus loves us. The command gets harder and harder, doesn’t it?

We know the love Jesus has for us is marked by compassion, inclusiveness, healing actions and often seemingly impossible challenges – like turning the other cheek,  walking the extra mile, laying down one’s life not just for friends but for those we call our enemies. That’s how we are to love one another.

And if we live the command of Jesus? What will the fruits of loving one another be?

Jesus uses lovely words – onomatopoetic words – to describe what follows our loving. We will know in ourselves the joy of Jesus and that joy will be full – plentiful and overflowing. Joy – full – imagine it! Experience it in imagination right now – a you, a we filled with joy!

Look around – do you see joy here? I mean it – look around….if you want to, stand up and look around!

Do you know joy inside of you – right now, right here? Do you experience it in this community of persons who share the charism of Providence? Joy full.

Jesus also promises that, if we love one another, we will abide in the love of Jesus for us; we will abide in the love of God.

Abide…another onomatopoetic word….a word sounding like its meaning… to stay in, to reside in…to sojourn in…that last one is my favorite …to sojourn in the love of Jesus, in the love of God for me, for us.

Abide – what feelings does the word evoke for you? If you are abiding in the love of Jesus, what are you experiencing?  Listen to the promise of Jesus…”if you keep my commandments, you abide in my love.” Take a moment to get in touch with what the words stir in your heart, in your mind, in your gut.

A space of quiet….30 seconds….

Is that the last of what Jesus assures us will be the blessing of loving one another? No – not at all – never in the providential, prodigal love of God for us: What else can we expect?

We can expect that our good works, our works of love and mercy and justice will abide. …they will last, remain. What a great promise! When we love, act justly, respond in mercy – it matters; it makes a difference; it bears a fruit that will endure.

I don’t know about you but I find that promise encouraging, reassuring, motivating…because love, mercy and justice are not always my first reaction to a person or a situation. To know that my choice not only matters but makes an enduring difference…wow!

And isn’t this the absolute most perfect gospel to proclaim today? Today we celebrate relationship!  Today we pledge relationship! Today we acknowledge a relationship among us born in the heart of God.

We celebrate a relationship based on the mutual recognition that each of us knows God most intimately and names Holy Mystery “Providence.”

Somehow, we know that – for us – we find the grace we need to love one another and to love all others and all creation in opening our deepest, most authentic selves to the God we experience as Providence.

What a gift our relationship is to all of us! What a blessing our relationship is to all of us!

What an opportunity our relationship provides for us to be providence to one another, to our families, our congregation, our ministries, our neighborhoods, our work places, our Earth.

As you, our Associates, make your first commitment or renew your commitment, know that we, your sisters in Providence, rejoice with you and pledge our support and love.

As all of us gather around the table of Eucharist, let each of us open her or himself to the power of the sacrament to make of us the body and blood of Christ, to make of us what Providence intends for us to be with one another.

As we gather around the table of Eucharist, let us promise one another to do the hard work of loving one another.

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Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise was the general superior of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods from 2006-2016. She previously served as a high school teacher, college administrator, postulant/novice director and director of advancement and communications for the Congregation. Currently, Sister Denise serves the Congregation in various volunteer positions.

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