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Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: October 30, 2020
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor preached the following homily during a Mass to install Sister Kimberly Prohaska, OSB, as prioress of St. Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020.
There was a time when in many towns the local electric company included the words "power and light" in its name. Even today we have the Arkansas Power and Light Company in England, Arkansas serving Lonoke County. I like to use that image of electricity when speaking about grace, because that is what grace is: power and light. Light to understand what to do, and then power to go and do it.
If you think of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, you can see that they all fall into one of these two categories: wisdom, understanding, counsel fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. There are two reasons why I draw your attention to this understanding of grace as power and light:
First, we are gathered here for the formal installation of Sister Kimberly as prioress of your monastic community, and she chose “Trusting Grace” as the theme of this ceremony, and this is reflected clearly in the special readings she chose for this Mass.
So today we are gathered to pray for you, that God will shower upon you the trusting grace you will need to pour yourself out in love for the sisters entrusted to your care.
Second, by doing so Sister Kimberly is recognizing that in her role as your new prioress, she will need to draw on this trusting grace to lead you well as your community faces an uncertain future. It is all in God’s hands and so we trust in his grace, his power and light.
In our first reading from Jeremiah, the Lord says: “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future … you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” And to this, our second reading adds: “The Spirit helps us in our weakness … and we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Trusting grace! Power and light!
And then for our Gospel reading Sister Kimberly chose one of the most powerful passages and most important commandment in the entire Bible, John 15:9-17. I know most people think that the greatest commandment in the Bible is Jesus’ response to the question about what is the greatest commandment in the Law, to which he answers by quoting Deuteronomy, “Love God with all your heart, mind and soul” and Leviticus, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
But of course those are not the greatest commandments in the Bible, they are the greatest commandments in the Law, in the Old Testament, and as for loving our neighbor as ourself, there are plenty of people who don’t love themselves very much. No, the greatest commandment of the entire Bible, including the New Testament, is in the passage you just heard: “My command is this: “Love each other as I have loved you.”
And how has Jesus loved us? More than he loved himself. Totally, unreservedly, not holding back, all the way to the death on a cross for our benefit. And that is how we are to love each other: more than ourselves, not merely as much as ourselves.
And Sister Kimberly, as prioress you will have many opportunities to do just that. So today we are gathered to pray for you, that God will shower upon you the trusting grace you will need to pour yourself out in love for the sisters entrusted to your care. Power and light. The light to understand clearly what the Lord is asking of you in every decision you will have to make, and then the power to do it, always with self-sacrificing love.