During the past week, you will have heard the news of two major earthquakes, one in Ecuador and one in Japan. I suppose every day brings news of a tragedy somewhere but every now and then, something touches us more immediately. One of the people who died was Sr. Clare Crockett from Derry. Her story is very interesting. According to herself, she was no different from any young adult. She was in a youth group in Derry and she met some visiting sisters from a community in Spain. A while later, she went with a group to stay with them for a few days, simply because someone suggested it and it seemed like a good idea at the time.
There is a YouTube video clip of her in Spain during that visit and it is clear that she is already considering the possibility of a vocation. She did, in time, join the sisters to give her life to Jesus. That’s how she ended up as a missionary in Ecuador, working with young people and bringing them the message of God’s love. That’s how she ended up in an earthquake. She was only thirty. By all accounts she was a lovely vibrant young woman, filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Today, we remember her family and her community in our prayers.
Now here’s the question? When she decided seven or eight years ago to join the Sisters, she didn’t know that she would be going to Ecuador and she didn’t know that she would be in an earthquake. She probably didn’t plan to die for Jesus; she intended to live for Him. So what does that say about her decision? Does it mean that she made a mistake; that somehow her life was a waste? No it doesn’t.
Sr. Clare understood very well that disciples sometimes have to experience hardship, just like Jesus Himself did. She knew that Jesus died on the cross. But she also knew that He rose from the dead; that He is still alive among us and that He is still working in the world through the power of His Holy Spirit. That’s what gave her the courage to leave her home and her family to follow Jesus on the other side of the world. That was her mission and she knew that Jesus would always be there for her, even if the whole world fell apart.
The biggest challenge facing the Church today is to do what Paul and Barnabas were doing; to put fresh hearts in the believers. Either we believe that Jesus is alive and among us, and He is the inspiration of our lives, or we are going nowhere as Christians. There are different ways of putting fresh hearts in the believers. We do it by “loving as He loved.” We do it by our joy-filled attitude to life; Christians with long faces are no encouragement to anyone. We do it through the dedication of our lives in service as Sr. Clare did.