Recently I have been struck by the way Jesus calls, commissions, chooses, and selects specific people for specific roles in the Gospels. A few truths come to mind: He knows what He’s doing; even the seemingly “lesser” figures are part of God’s eternal plan, and He desires their contribution; and there is something utterly profound and unique in what plays out for each of us as we respond to what He is asking.
On a personal level, this has hit close to home for me recently. One of the many things that I love about our way of life is the explicit desire that we state in our vows formula “to live the Gospel more intensely in the spirit of St. Francis and St. Clare.” Over the last couple of months, we have had the unusual situation here in Ireland of a prolonged period of waiting for the arrival of our new Local Servant (superior), Sr. Agnes. During that interim, I found myself in the unique position of “filling in” in different ways for various things. For me, there is something familiar about the experience of “filling in.” Perhaps it comes from my childhood experiences of growing up in a big family, and maybe it was further developed during my many years of playing basketball and often being the first one off the bench to “fill in” for whoever needed a sub, jumping into just about any position on the court, or maybe it’s just something common to all of us human beings. Can’t we all readily call to mind many occasions where it’s fallen to us to “fill in” for this or that need, regardless of how prepared or equipped we are?
Whatever the case may be, in my recent experience, while my first instinct was to go into “filling in” mode, upon further reflection, I experienced something deeper. The Lord had appointed me for this role, for this time, and He had chosen it especially for me. He helped me to become aware of this when I had the unique privilege of being delegated to receive the renewal of vows of Sr. Rosa, one of our temporary professed sisters, who is living here in Ireland. Normally our Community Servant (superior) receives the renewal of vows of the sisters; however, in our mission convents the local servant does so in her place. But, when the Local Servant cannot do so (because she is still awaiting her immigration approval back in the States, or for whatever reason), our Rule states that the Community Servant can delegate someone else to receive the vows. And that is how I happened to find myself sitting before the altar on October 3rd with Sr. Rosa kneeling before me with her hands placed in mine as she renewed her vows. Through that experience I began to catch on to what God was doing.
As a result, I started to approach this time differently: as the Lord’s delegate, instead of as someone who was just “filling in.” In each moment of each day, I was being appointed by the Lord for a particular situation, role or task. This new perspective has been a blessing for me. It is not an ego-trip or that I’ve become enamored with a false sense of self-importance, rather it has refocused me on the beauty of a life lived for God, and it is true for all of us. The objective importance of the task itself doesn’t matter; it is the fact that God is asking it of me. I am delighted that Sr. Agnes has arrived, and I am no longer “filling in” for her here. And I am very grateful for what the Lord has taught me through these months. I am happy to take up the daily tasks which have been appointed for me and for which I have been appointed. “It was not you who chose Me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain…” (John 15:16)
Sr. Kelly Francis, CFR