Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Profession of Life Vows by Brother Luke Ditewig, SSJE
Now I can’t claim to be the list king in this community. There is another brother, who will remain nameless, who is the king of lists, charts and calendars in this community. But what I can claim to be is the brother obituariest (the brothers call me something else, but it’s a little rude so I won’t repeat it!). Anyway, I am the one responsible for writing the obituaries which we read at Compline, on the anniversary of a brother’s death. It’s a job that I take great delight in. One thing I have done is to make lists of all the brothers who have died in the community since our founding in 1866 beginning with Father Coggeshall, who was the first in our community to die in 1876, up to and including Brother Bernie whose death earlier this year was the most recent. By my count there have been 153 deaths in the community. But while I was making that list, I became curious about another list. I began to wonder how many men have made their life profession in our community, and when. So I began to dig, and it has taken quite a lot of digging, because our records are somewhat incomplete. But according to my count Luke, you are at least the 201st person since Father Benson to make his life profession in the Society of Saint John the Evangelist and the 47th to make his life profession here in this Chapel since Father Lockyer, who was the first to be professed here, on 21 July 1938.
“Abide in me as I abide in you.” John 15:4
In these few words Jesus reveals the secret of the abundant life he is bringing into the world and which he offers to each of his disciples. This is the secret not only to our own happiness and fulfillment, but also to our fruitfulness, our ability to positively influence others by bringing them to share in the Divine Life. This is the abundant life he is offering us, a life lived in union with the Triune God, a life of untold blessings and riches, far beyond any abundance that the world can offer us.
When we pause to think of how desperately people in our world seek for happiness and of the ends to which they are willing to go to find personal fulfillment, we can wonder that such a simple path has been outlined for us. “Abide in me as I abide in you,” says Jesus. “Join your life to mine, and my life will be yours.” All that I am and have I give to Jesus, and all that he is and has he gives to me. And in this union there is joy and safety and happiness and riches beyond measure. “I came that [you] might have life,” he reminds us, “and have it abundantly!” (John 10:10)