• Is 60: 1-6
On this beautiful feast of Epiphany – we celebrate God’s appearing in our world and in our lives as light and hope. Light and hope make us radiant causing our full hearts to throb although it is still dark and night covers the earth, as the reading says. Isaiah describes a resurrection vision, a vision of restoration not to how things were before the disaster of the exile but rather a new glorious age, an age in which God shares life, love, joy, suffering and peace with each of us and with all people and all creation.
• Eph 3:2-3, 5-6
The revelation of God which Paul describes transforms his and our way of seeing those who differ from us – nonbelievers are included, this is because of the unconditional love that God has for each person no matter where they are from or what their lives are like. So many of us here have been blessed to spend our lives in places and with people not our own, we have been drawn into this mystery of the light of Christ, the light that is Christ, and that we are celebrating today.
• Mt 2: 1-12
In God’s vision for us and our world, which is described so beautifully in the reading from Isaiah, we see that the heart of that vision is relational. Each one of us celebrates our being transformed by this vision and into this vision so – ‘Lift up your eyes and look around you’ – this has to include some star gazing – -which of course brought the Magi from the East on their amazing adventure.
They brought gifts rich in value and richer still in symbolic meaning: Gold – royalty – you will be glorious – the glory of the Lord is rising on you: Frankincense and Myrrh – anointing, cleansing, suffering and death. Reassuring us, that everything in our lives has deep and profound meaning – this life that is an eternal life. We grow in and through relation into union with God even though our efforts at recognizing God present each moment, often falter.
Following our Star is how we often like to describe our life’s journeys. There is always a sense of adventure and excitement, and we can imaging it was so for the Magi who set out following a new, bright and alluring star. Their journey included an encounter with Herod and did lead them into the mystery of ‘God with us’ as described in today’s Gospel.
Following her star Sr Ada entered the Congregation in 1944 and made her first vows in 1947 after which in preparation for mission, she trained as a nurse in the Mercy Hospital in Cork. In 1951, she was assigned to the Ruttonjee Sanatorium in Hong Kong. After a short time, there she became seriously ill and needed years of difficult treatment both in Hong Kong and in Ireland. Following her recovery, she obtained her BTA, (further qualification in nursing) and returned to Hong Kong in 1960, where she spent the next twenty-seven years on the staff of Ruttonjee, working as Ward Sister on the wards and managing the Out Patient Department.
Following our withdrawal from Ruttonjee in 1989 Ada was assigned to Sau Mau Ping and began working at the Home of Love run by the Missionaries of Charity of Mother Teresa. She cared for the sick poor, the elderly and other vulnerable residents of the Home until she returned to Magheramore in 1999.
Like St Therese, whom she had great devotion to and whose life was cut short by illness – Ada’s early religious life as a
Columban Sister was over-shadowed by serious illness. Herown sickness and pain seemed to open up her heart to others who were ill and in need of care and healing. Through out her many years in HK and up to her last few days here in Magheramore she always showed genuine concern for others who are ill or vulnerable.
We usually consider illness, as a diminishment of our life – but is it so? – as you know God appears in the most unlikely, unexpected and mysterious ways. Our quest and desire for God in our daily lives is lived out in the midst of our own and our world’s sinfulness and weakness.
The letter to the Ephesians describes God’s way of seeing all those who are ‘outside’ ‘different’ Ada held a similar vision of the people she was called to love and care for in her ministry to the sick; anyone who experienced her empathy and compassion was deeply touched. She was able to accept others often those whose behaviour or lifestyle posed a challenge to rest of us.
The Gospel of compassion and love was the heart of her spiritual life and caring relationships. Ada may have had dreams and hopes for where and how the star would lead and shine for her and it did but in ways, she could not have anticipated. Serious illness and long years of suffering prepared her for a life long faithfulness in seeking the will of God. The will of God for her unfolded through her own illness and as she cared for others, who were living with chronic illness and the diminishment that often, goes with it.
Sr Ada had a love and appreciation for beautiful things, for nature, for flowers, music, greeting cards and the joy of sharing little gifts or a nice chocolate with others.
She would go to endless trouble to find ways and means of doing what she believed she ought to do both for herself and especially for others.
She loved and was devoted to her family, and we remember today her late sisters Peg and Loretta and her brother Ted. This love and concern was also for all her nieces, nephews, and particularly Mary who has shared so much of life’s joys and sorrows with her aunt Ada.
A woman of independent mind and spirit – she took a few risks and set off for her daily walk in the grounds here, often ignoring advice that she might be ‘take a stroll in the quadrangle in case you might fall’
She had a wonderful little prayer that she said as she set out on her walks and indeed repeated it as she carefully made her way along. In spite of the danger of falling, she often returned with a flower, or leaf to cheer her heart and to keep the big world of nature and beauty before her – symbols of God’s presence in her life and her openness to the fullness of that presence and the eternity that she now enjoys.
Take my hand O Blessed Mother.
Guide me over every crossing;
Let me know you are beside me, listen to my fervent prayer, Bring me to my destination, safely.
And when evening falls upon me and I fear to be alone take my hand, O blessed Mother once again and lead me home.