Jesus came for the salvation of everyone and He calls everyone to follow Him. And we would like to but selfishness, fears, laziness hold us back, lead us to put off, convince us to give up. Jesus, who came to proclaim liberation to the prisoners, to set the oppressed at liberty (Lk 4:18), truly man, showed a life free to love.
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and then lose his own soul? (Mk 8, 36) Jesus asked the crowds who cheered Him for the bread. Free from living only to produce and consume, we are free to work to live our values, to love. Free from artificial suggestions, we are free to know the value of things, to savor, sober and essential, life to the fullest. Free from the frenzy of accumulating or squandering, we are free to give thanks, to appreciate the fruit of work, to save, to invest, to help, to donate. Some live this in detachment, others in caring for the world, all in justice. Jesus invites us to be free in our relationships with things and the world, to be poor.
Maybe you want to leave too? (Jn 6, 67) Jesus asked the disciples He had chosen, who had followed Him but who, at His words, doubted. Free from lust for domination, we are free to walk with those who are close, to let go those who look far away, to welcome those who come and those who return. Free from masks to intimidate or seduce, we are free to touch and be touched intimately, to desire, to give ourselves in communion of love. Free from the nihilism of the flesh, we are free to respect the freedom and dignity of every person, to immerse ourselves in the mystery of life, in every joy, in every pain. Some live this in predilection for a person of marriage, others in universal availability of celibacy, all in faithful care of our families, friends, communities. Jesus invites us to be free in our relationships with others, to be chaste.
Not my will, but yours be done (Lk 22, 42) Jesus asked the Father at the hour of His Passion. Free from claims of individualism and self-sufficiency, we are free to have “the same mind that was in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:5). Free from the lie that God is the Opponent, the Enemy of our will, that others are wills opposed to our to be kept away or bent, we are free to live, with others and for others, as children and brothers. Free from believing ourselves masters of History, we are free to cooperate in His work of redemption. Some live this in referring to their community, others to their superior, all in discernment. Jesus invites us to be free in our relationship with Him, to be obedient.
So why profess vows?
Because the choice to follow Him becomes real life by incarnating in a concrete style, faithful to our history, identity and calling. Among the countless paths to follow Him, we novices discern whether the way of proceeding indicated by the Constitutions and the tradition of the Company is ours. The water, over obstacles and ditches, tends to the sea, to return whence it came; and it returns there through paths carved out over time. Holiness is not a dried up stream, nor a lost swamp but a river that flows, irrigates and gives life.