praying hands

To celebrate a jubilee is to give thanks to God for all the ways that God has allowed each jubilarian to be an instrument, a means, a pencil in the hand of God (to use Mother Teresa’s phrase). And partly because God, it seems, delights in very unique, unusual, unrepeatable people, God’s deep dream of the kingdom is realized in very many idiosyncratic ways.

rosary on bible

Photo by Pixabay

Perhaps a friar is a great teacher of faith, not teaching at Roger Bacon, but through his determined faith for people on the edge of life. That friar believes in the person who lost their way. “You can do it!” is his phrase of faith for him or her, learning to break down insurmountable goals into the tiny pieces of achievement. Another friar could teach at Roger Bacon. Alumni and students become totally committed Catholics, not from the content of his course, but because that curmudgeonly friar cared about them under a very gruff display.

Friars find ways to walk together. We are a brotherhood that lives on the road, as St. Francis hoped we always would! Even on the occasion that we are alone, we feel dynamically connected as a family of “brothers.” The good of one friar is cheered by all the friars, who see God using us to move forward that dream of God: healing, setting captives free, reconciling cultures, appealing for the poor and those living on the edge. Jesus called it the kingdom. We try to listen for the voice of God in our world, in the brothers that we live with, in the Scriptures, the Church, the poor. What does this humble God invite us to do? We move in the direction of that voice.

It works this way for the friar. We say yes to God and an unknown future only to discover with amazement that God used us in ways we could never have determined on our own. The journey begins with a single step, and a jubilee is a time to look back over that path. We remember the various serendipitous encounters that moved us from where we believed God was calling into an entirely new adventure. We learn in this issue something that might surprise people about our jubilarians. But I imagine no one is more surprised by the ways that God has used the jubilarian, than the jubilarian!

(Fr. Mark Soehner, OFM, is the Provincial Minister of the Province of St. John the Baptist.)