A NEW CENTRAL GOVERNMENT: THE WORK BEGINS!The newly elected Superior General of the Oblates, Fr. Louis LOUGEN, preached this homily in the chapel of the Oblate General House in Rome on January 6, 2010, Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. This Eucharistic celebration was a solemn moment of prayer as the new Central Government, elected by the 35th General Chapter in late September, prepares to begin its first formal plenary session.
“Father, draw us beyond the limits which this world imposes to the life where your Spirit makes all life complete.” (Opening Prayer, Solemnity of the Epiphany)
I wish to thank Fr. Steckling and Fr. King for being here with us today. We are grateful to you and to all the members of the previous General Council for the leadership and vision with which you have animated the Congregation during the past twelve years.
We, the new General Council and Superior General, already installed (!), begin our ministry to the Congregation in a solemn way on this missionary feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I think of three missionary dimensions of this celebration:
1. The passage from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians invites us to marvel at the MYSTERY God has revealed, the mystery of fullness of life in Jesus Christ. This is the heart of our missionary proclamation to the poor. Called to ongoing conversion by our recent Chapter, we are drawn to dwell more deeply in this MYSTERY and to announce this Good News with our whole being: who we are, what we do, our options, our commitments and priorities, what we say and preach.
2. The Epiphany renews our missionary conviction that the Father is drawing all nations on earth to adore Jesus as Lord and Light of the world. As Oblates who bear the charism of St. Eugene de Mazenod, we seek conversion to Jesus Crucified ever anew; we are passionate about Jesus and desire “…to know him more deeply, to identify with him, and to let him live in us” (Constitution #2).
3. The celebration of the Epiphany also is a missionary invitation to be travelers on a journey, pilgrims walking by the light of faith. The call to ongoing conversion requires bold availability to cross borders on this journey so that we respond to the needs of the Church and of the poor.
As we inaugurate our work together on this Solemnity of the Epiphany, many things come to mind such as leadership, administration, governance, challenges, ordinary and general sessions, portfolios, finances, strategies, objectives, goals, etc. We hope to work well together in a collaborative, co-responsible way in service to the Congregation’s mission to preach the Gospel to the poor and abandoned. We will use our knowledge, intelligence, wisdom, skills and experience so that we can best respond to the challenges of the mission today.
The Word of God on this feast of the Epiphany also brings to mind an important awareness for us. While King Herod, his well-prepared court, chief priests and scribes had the Scriptures and knew the prophecy regarding Bethlehem, they didn’t see the star nor were they searching for anyone outside of themselves. Instead of welcoming and marveling at the Magi’s quest, King Herod and all Jerusalem became alarmed and perturbed by the presence and questions of the Magi.
In the spirit of the Chapter’s invitation to continue embracing conversion at all levels of Oblate life and mission, a process that has only just begun, the Epiphany celebration poses several considerations for this new leadership and for all Oblates.
We learn from the Magi who…
- were humble enough to ask questions and admit that they did not know everything;
- overcame fear and left familiar territory, their ‘little kingdoms’ and ventured out to cross borders;
- searched, followed, asked for guidance and looked up to the heavens, not held back by fear of trying or of failing; of being laughed at and rejected;
- allowed their hearts to throb with joy as they saw the Child and his mother, suspending attitudes like “been there, done that” and cynicism;
- prostrated themselves in adoration, their whole beings given in loving surrender, oblation;
- offered gifts in joy and gratitude with generous hearts because they were able to see.
We pray today to Mary Immaculate and St. Eugene de Mazenod for the wisdom and skills for the ministry of leadership, governance and administration for the benefit of the mission entrusted to the Congregation. We ask too for hearts like those of the Magi, shaped and animated by the beauty and wonder of the great MYSTERY in which we live and which it is our mission to preach to the poor.
Please pray for us.