Assurance – Feast of St. Claude de la Colombiere

Photo by Marco Millan (G12 E), XS Media Team

Last 15 February 2017, the high school unit celebrated the Feast of St. Claude de la Colombiere. In the same Mass, Bro. Cosme Carlo A. Lacang , S.J. pronounced his “Renovation of Vows.” Below is the homily he delivered. 

Good morning.

By now, I’m sure, you have watched the three Jolibee commercials that have left the entire country crying and tweeting and posting and even debating. Maybe some of you have had enough with these videos, but let’s talk very briefly about them.

The first to be released, of course, is about two people who, sharing the same liking for spicy fried chicken and pineapple juice, become best friends. And despite the man’s showing of great care and affection for the girl, he ends up being just a guest at her wedding. We can deeply love without expecting to get anything in return, we are told.

The second commercial has a happier ending. The boy who leaves behind burgers with sweet messages for the girl he has a crush on ends up spending the rest of his life with her. Don’t give up on love, we are told.

The third, for me, is extra special and a little unique. Here we do not see blossoming love—we see instead what real love might more realistically look like. In this story, we see love not as an act of possessing, not as a glowing feeling that comes with “happy ever after”—we see love as an abiding presence that assures and never abandons. It might help if we watch this short video again. (video)

The father, who had passed away maybe months before that scene, makes it a point to still remind his wife, through their son, of his undying love for her. See, fleeting love wants to posses; real love stays, real love assures. We stay with people we truly care for. We always feel the need to assure them that they are OK, that things will be fine, that they have nothing to worry about.

I don’t know about you, but when my parents call me and tell me that things are not fine at home or that one of them needs to go to the doctor for check-up, I always grope for words that would allow me to reach out to them and offer them assurance. Assurance is a fundamental need of the human heart.

The Jesuit vocation of St. Claude de la Colombiere, whose feast we celebrate today, can best be understood when we link it to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

A few years after his ordination, the young and promising Claude de la Colombiere was missioned to a little-known faraway village in eastern France. This puzzled many and led people to believe that his Jesuit superiors wanted Fr. Claude to be the spiritual director and companion to a Visitation nun, Sr. Margaret Mary Alacoque, who was gaining some prominence because of her claim to seeing Jesus in private visions. Alacoque at that point was greatly suffering because people did not believe her, and some members of her local community even persecuted her and made her feel unwanted and isolated. With the guidance and careful spiritual accompaniment of Fr. Claude, Sr. Margaret Mary felt assured in her desire to make the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus known. The once timid and hesitant nun was transformed (by St. Claude’s gentle assurance) into a tireless propagator of this great devotion. Assurance of other people’s worth—to tell them that they are good, that they’re doing well—can go a long way. When was the last time you strengthened someone with a kind work or your assuring presence?

What is the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus all about? Simply put, it is us, broken people, coming near to Jesus who promises to give the overflowing richness of his open heart. It is God reaching out to us, offering his heart, assuring us that no matter how far we run away from him, no matter how often we choose to let go of him, he is there, waiting to receive us back with forgiveness. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is God’s supreme assurance that nothing can ever separate us from his love.

How do I understand my act of “renovating” my three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in the Society of Jesus? I see it as way to renew my part in this very important ministry of assurance. I want to continue being an instrument of God in his work of assuring people—that they are loved, that there is a way to see hope in every situation, and that life is beautiful. It is to people like “John” (a former student of mine, not his real name) who yesterday (Valentine’s Day) posted on social media: “Hi, I am John and no one loves me” that you and I are being called to do the work of assurance.

I ask, too, for your prayers: that this God who has called me to Jesuit life may continue to assure me along this path.”

 

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