03 Jan “Remain in my love”
The final profession of Oanh and Michelle (United States Province)
Our final profession may have looked different if we weren’t in the middle of a sudden surge in our ongoing pandemic: more family, friends and sisters would have been able to be present, we might have celebrated in our own house, we would have felt freer to embrace one another and take pictures together. While it could have been different, the essential was present and all that really mattered: we were becoming once and for all members of this universal Body of the Handmaids, offering the entirety of our lives to our mission of reparation in a world where there is so much need for healing, and declaring our desire to identify with Christ in the wounds of our world “at any cost.” It was a privilege for us to be consecrated by God in this way, and we are humbled by what God has done in and with us throughout our individual and collective journeys. Yes, things could have been different, but we wouldn’t change a thing from what God gifted us with on such a grace-soaked day.
I (Michelle) shared that there is a lot right now that can leave us feeling hopeless, but it’s precisely in these places —in what appears to us to be a total mess–it’s precisely here where God remains and lives into fully. It is here where we can meet this God who decides to become implicated with us and what appears to be our messy existence. God has done this in me, teaching me to embrace the whole of my reality so I can embrace it outside of myself. For me, this is what it means to remain in Love. Somehow it’s seeking to live into this God, who lives so fully into us, that we’re transformed and everything becomes different to us. I have witnessed for some time how God works to transform all that seems to be insurmountable obstacles into places of possiblity—and the incredible freedom that can come from this. God’s love knows no limit or boundary, and I feel that I can only inadequately express my gratitude by responding to this love that I’ve come to know with this offering of my existence in service of God and God’s dream for creation.
For me (Oanh) the final profession is my definitive response to God’s call to greater intimacy, and as a Handmaid, this intimacy is realized in the Heart of Jesus. During my month of spiritual exercises in Rome, Jesus placed me in his heart and let me hear his heartbeat, the rhythmic lup-dup sound. He revealed to me that the lup-dup is made of the heartbeats of God and humanity, of Jesus and me…beating together side by side. In God’s heart there is always a space for the YOU, for each of us, for all of God’s creation.
It wasn’t a mere coincidence that we professed our final vows in the Christmas Season, during which we contemplate in a special way the mystery of the Incarnation. Through Jesus, the Trinity says YES forever to humanity, YES to be intimately one with each of us, YES to embrace our vulnerability, sufferings, and wounds to the extreme. Through these final vows, I join my YES with God’s YES to embrace what God embraces, to remain where God remains, to desire what God desires.
We are called to be experts in detecting this Divine heartbeat in our deepest being, in each person we encounter, especially our brothers and sisters who are marginalized in our Church and in our world, and in all of creation. In this “beating with you” God whispers tenderly to each of us, “I love you. I am always with you. Nothing can separate you from my love. Don’t be afraid…let us walk together, let us beat together for my Body until the end.” So let us beat with God, let us beat with each other as a body of Christ, let us beat together with Christ for his Body until our last beat.