Brother Michael’s Solemn Profession
Jesus tells us, “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit…Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also my servant will be.” Jesus is saying these words to us, as he is heading towards Calvary and his own death. Seeing Jesus is more than just looking at him or even believing the things he said and did. Seeing Jesus and following him and dying are intimately related. We follow Jesus not as spectators but as participants. If we really want to see Jesus, we must learn to die – to follow him and be with him where he is.
Seeing and following Jesus means dying to all the parts of our lives that blind us: fear, the need to be in control, resentment, guilt and disappointments over our past, all the ways in which we separate ourselves from the present moment and the present reality of our lives and from one another; dying to our agendas and obsessions. Ultimately it means dying to our self-sufficiency. To really follow Jesus, we must let go of our life in order to receive God’s life and love. Michael, you demonstrated this dying and letting go when you prostrated on the floor of this church. And in a few moments, you will demonstrate your willingness to let go of your self-sufficiency when you plead three times, “Receive me, O Lord, as you have promised.”
Saint Benedict describes the monastery as a ‘school of the Lord’s service,’ a place where we learn how to serve the Lord through the means that monastic living offers – liturgy, labor, lectio, relationships with the brethren. The Lord’s service can also mean the service that the Lord renders to us, for Jesus came not to be served but to serve and to give up his life for us. The greatest service we can offer Jesus is to let him serve us and receive the gift of his life and love. Brother Michael, letting God be God in you and through you in all your uniqueness, is another way of saying – let the Lord serve you, let the Lord love you.
Thank you, Michael, for your self-offering to God and to us, your brothers.
Excerpts from Abbot Damian’s homily for the celebration of Brother Michael’s Solemn Profession on Saturday, May 25, 2019.