The homily by Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna
Dear Sister Sarah Rayah of God, you have asked for three things which today’s liturgy helps us to meditate upon. We commend you to the intercession of Our Lady Immaculate, to her Immaculate heart.
You have asked for the mercy of God; you have asked for the poverty of the Order and the society of the sisters. It is good to learn to rely on the mercy of God. Our Lady herself praising the Lord for His greatness, reminds us that his mercy extends to time and to all peoples.
As we heard at the Second Reading (Ef 1:3-6.11-12) we are indebted to the mercy of God because he chooses the weak in the world; he chooses what is low and despised in the world because we need to boast in his mercy and not on our merits. It would be foolish to rely on our merits. Our strength is the mercy of God. And we address our Lady with the beautiful title of Mater Misericordiae, Mother of Mercy. So when you ask for the mercy of God, never forget that you have an ally and she is the Mother of Mercy.
You have asked for the poverty of the Order. Poverty is not fashionable. Many people do lots of things for money. They think they can do whatever they want because they have money. Your witness today turns this fashion upside down. You are embracing poverty because you want to be rich before the Lord. You have learned, together with your sisters, to rely on providence and we are there to guarantee that you don’t go hungry or thirsty but your choice is a witness to us, to each and every one of us. At the end of the day, as Pope Francis reminds us very often, we will not take anything with us when the time comes for that last important journey. And so as you embrace the poverty of the Order today, Sr Sarah, pray that we also may be encouraged by your witness to place God at the centre of our lives and to embrace providence by being instruments of providence for each other.
You have asked also for the society of the sisters. Now I know that the society of the sisters can be glory but also the cross. This is the way the Lord has chosen for your holiness. You will become holy through the society of the sisters where you will embrace chaste love and humble obedience. You have not relinquished love; you have embraced love. Never forget that your solemn vows today are an engagement of love and this will be the source of your joy, the source of your cross, the source of your holiness.
In this church, the first church dedicated to St Theresa of Jesus after her canonisation, you are embracing a society of sisters dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, in the monastery dedicated to her under the title of Mother of God. May you flourish, may you grow in holiness and may your witness attract more vocations. We need them, because as you know, the Lord is asking you to be at the heart of his Church. Your prayers, your penance, your intercession, your witness will give life to the Church, to its members. It will be the wisdom for bishops, the holiness for priests, the zeal for missionaries, the candour of chaste spouses. It will be also the integrity of people who serve society in so many professions. You are called to be at the heart of the Church. You are a guarantee of that fidelity to the Spirit. You are a guarantee of her love to her groom Jesus Christ. You are a guarantee of obedience to the Father.
So thank you, sister, for accepting this vocation, accepting it with humility in the spirit of obedience and sacrifice. And may the Lord grant you what you ask: the mercy of his divine heart, the poverty of the Order, and the society of the sisters.
✠ Charles J. Scicluna
Archbishop of Malta
Reading I: SS 8:6-7
Psalm: 45:10-12, 13b-15, 16-17
Reading II: I Cor 1:22-31
Gospel: Lk 1:26-38