(The 14th Sunday in Ordinary time marks the anniversary of the St Dominic Sunday Vespers – this year it marks the 6th anniversary.)
For our group, this six anniversary of our Sunday Vespers marks both the passing of time as well as a reminder of our participation in the eternal.
We have met for almost 316 Sundays to worship our Lord in this Liturgy of the Hours. Along with the universal church we have answered Jesus’ who commanded us to “pray at all times and not lose heart.” (Lk 18:1) By our prayer together we strengthen our faith life, affirm our brothers and sisters and we sanctify the day as we (and I am quoting the General Instruction for the Liturgy of the Hours) “extend the praise and thanksgiving, the memorial of the mysteries of salvation, the petitions and the foretaste of heavenly glory that are present in the Eucharistic mystery, ‘the center and high point in the whole life or the Christian community.’” Together we have celebrated the liturgical year six times over – we have honored martyrs, venerated Mary and other saints, and have delved deeply into the life of Holy Mother Church – which is the life of Christ. We have allowed our lives to be united more intimately with Our Lord and with each other.
With this action of prayer we are participating in the eternal. Like those who came before us and those who will come after us our prayers are met by the Holy Spirit who “helps us in our weakness” and “intercedes for us with longings too deep for words”. By our actions we are assured that our Lord comes among us as He promised in Matthew 18:30 “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in their midst.” With this eternal promise to everyone – He binds us all together in a communion of love. By participating in Sunday Vespers, we (again from the General Instruction for the Liturgy of the Hours) “unite ourselves with that hymn of praise sung throughout all ages in the halls of heaven”. We become one with the eternal family of God’s people. Though we can’t physically see them we are surrounded by the heavenly hosts as we all face the throne in adoration and praise.
They say you judge messages and actions by their ‘fruits’; and the ‘fruits’ of this Sunday Vesper group shows that God approves. If we look back we can see that our group has become family, we have participated with each other in our lives. Together we have celebrated our joys, strengthened each other in our weaknesses, and stood by each other in trying times. But it is a family with a mission, God’s word proclaimed to the world. Though we are the least of His servants we are important none-the-less; and as his servants we live out Christ’s ministry today. But the readings today remind us we are not welcomed by many. Many will listen, few will absorb, and many will reject; but whether they hear and understand or reject the message, God’s message is powerful and active and it will succeed. Let’s take strength from the Letter to the Hebrews 4:12 where we are told that “the word of God is living and active. It cuts more keenly than a two-edged sword.” We succeed when we are heard – regardless.
So as our seventh year starts we go forward into the world and witness to our Lord and His plan, and we come back here to Church, to the Mass, to our Vesper Group and we gather as family to do what family does best – what we have been doing – growing in the Love of the Lord and each other and participating in God’s eternal plan.
Happy anniversary to everyone in our Vespers family, both here and not here – ad multos annos!