11 Aug 2016
Solemnity of Saint Clare (Patronal Feast)
With the celebration of our Patroness Saint Clare today, we pay special attention to the idea of being “set apart.” As a consecrated religious woman, Saint Clare was called by God to be “set apart” from the world; to turn her attentions to the things of God, and to God himself. When Moses describes the Levites, that’s how he characterizes them: a tribe set apart “to be in attendance before the Lord and minister to him.”
And the joy of the Levites, the joy of Saint Clare, is to be a special possession of the Lord: to belong to him who “shows us the path to life, fullness of joys in his presence, the delights at his right hand forever.” To be “set apart” isn’t about withdrawing from life; it’s about allowing ourselves to be drawn into life.
This is why Saint Paul can say that “everything is so much rubbish” . . . because he’s encountered the supreme good of knowing the Lord Jesus. To know Jesus is to know life; to be committed to Jesus is to be committed to real life. But that commitment takes the form of being “set apart.”
Of course, few people feel called to join a religious order or to be ordained. Happily, though, being “set apart” for God isn’t about being ordained or taking vows. It really is rooted in our baptism. Baptism sets us apart as a special possession of God. And, while the pouring of water over our heads is important, it’s even more important to let that baptismal grace work in us.
When we strive to do what’s right and just, we’re living a life “set apart” for God. When we come to Mass and offer thanks and praise to God, we’re living a life “set apart.” When we admit our weakness and faults, and ask God for help, we’re living a life “set apart.” We’re living our life oriented toward God. And the joy in that is when we realize that the Lord himself is our prize.
Saint Clare and all the saints know that joy in heaven. And it’s the joy we hope for as well; the joy of knowing the Lord, the joy of knowing real life. But it comes by being “set apart.”