Dominican Sisters Cabra Dominican Sisters Cabra Wed, 04 Mar 2015 12:54:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Sr. Margaret MacCurtain awarded honorary degree by Dublin City University Wed, 04 Mar 2015 12:52:38 +0000 Sr Margaret MacCurtainCongratulations to Sr. Margaret MacCurtain OP who was awarded an honorary degree by Dublin City University on Thursday 26th February in recognition of her work as an academic, campaigner and advocate.

See more information on : Dublin City University website.

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Second Week of Lent (1st March) Fri, 27 Feb 2015 12:13:08 +0000 LENTEN REFLECTION     (Sr Columbia Fernandez O.P)

Each day we are faced with many tests – class tests, driving tests, eye tests, medical tests, etc.  With all these tests, there is always a period of waiting, waiting for results.  The outcome could either be uplifting or devastating.

Abraham was put to the test by God.  It was not any kind of test, but a test to see how deep his faith was in God.  God was asking something of Abraham that left him cold, that is, to sacrifice his own son, Isaac.  Just imagine what Abraham must have gone through in trying to obey God.  It was a trial period, just to see whether he really loved God with all his heart, at his son’s expense.2nd week of lent

We are also sometimes put to the test.  What seems to be an unfair situation or an impossible task can suddenly become a heroic experience when we put God first in our lives and allow God to do the impossible in us.

God is never far away from us when we are in a right relationship with God, because God’s promise to us is that “He will not refuse us anything He can give”.  God gave us Jesus Christ, His Son, freely, so that He could plead for us at God’s right hand.  No matter what situation we find ourselves in, God is always for us, and never against us, because we put our trust and faith in God.

When we are asked to do the impossible, or even to do something which seems scary, (in the case of Abraham having to sacrifice his son, Isaac), our faith takes a bit of a knock.  We are not sure how to react.  However, when we climb God’s mountain, i.e. exercise our faith, our lives become transfigured and we begin to see with new vision.  What initially seemed impossible and scary now seems brighter and clearer and we are able to tackle the situation with a fresh vigour of courage, hope and strength.

There is always a beautiful view from God’s mountain.  Like Peter, James and John, when seeing Christ transfigured on the mountain, they built three tents and said “Lord, it is good for us to be here…”  We are challenged too, to build our tent and allow God to come in and transfigure us, to recreate us and take us out of our shadows of darkness, into His dazzlingly bright light.  Are you up for the challenge to look into His face and behold the glory of God?

Sr Columbia Fernandez O.P

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Alzheimer Cafe – next meeting Thursday 5th March Thu, 26 Feb 2015 16:00:27 +0000 The next meeting of Alzheimer Cafe is on Thursday 5th March in Cabra.


For more details click here.Alzheimer Cafe Poster 5th March 2015

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Sr Rajaa, Dominican sister in Iraq shares with us her community’s present situation Thu, 26 Feb 2015 10:01:37 +0000 Dear Sisters,

We want to share our daily struggle with you, hoping that our cry will reach the world. Thanks for your invitation.

The aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 has been hard for many, particularly for Iraqi Christians and other religious minorities. Iraq’s Christian population declined from about 1.4 million people to only 400,000. The rapid expansion of the Islamic State group in 2014 only worsened their plight, as the group captured historic Christian towns and cities with large Christian populations such as Mosul, and imposed an extreme version of Islamic law.

f6Many Christians and Yazidis, together with a number of moderate Muslims, fled the ancient city of Mosul as Da’esh (ISIS) swept through the Nineveh Plain in early August 2014.  A few days later the predominantly Christian villages of Qaraqosh and Bartola and about 15 villages were emptied of Christians in a matter of hours, as the ISIS forces marched towards these two predominantly Christian communities.  With no time to prepare for their tragic exodus, the local people left taking with them only what they could gather in their arms, as they fled in cars or by foot towards the Kurdish region of Iraq.F15

We are now in the seventh month of displacement. As yet there is nothing promising at all. The Iraqi government has not done anything to regain the Christian towns back from the ISIS. Thanks to the Church of Iraq in Kurdistan, who opened their halls and centres to provide shelters. Yet, the number of refugees was so large that the Kurdish government had to face the stark reality and open their schools to provide additional shelter for refugees.

We hear a lot about world governments and organisations sending financial aid to Iraq, but the refugee gets the least –we do not know or understand why. People lost almost everything.

They do not have enough money in their pockets to survive the day. Christians became accustomed to investing their money in businesses, shops, fields, buildings etc, to build their communities. Leaving their towns meant leaving everything they had been working for all their lives. Yet, amidst losing everything, accepting their lost dignity, is the most difficult loss they may experience. Some have found shelter in tents, others in schools, still others in church halls and gardens. Children are living in unhealthy conditions; families have lost their privacy; women are exposed in these places; men have no jobs in a culture where a man is expected to support his families. Refusing to live without dignity, more and more people think of emigrating.

6.jpgWhoever owns a car or gold, sells them to buy a plane ticket out of the country. Needless to say, the buyers in Kurdistan are taking advantage and do not take into consideration the devastation these refugees face. Our church leaders are doing their best to solve the issue. They have been meeting with political leaders, with the President of Iraq and Kurdistan, but initiatives and actions of these political leaders are really slow and modest. Actually, all political meetings have led to nothing. Until now, there has been no decision made about the current situation of the displaced minorities. For this reason, trust in the political leaders has diminished, if it exists at all.

Christians in Iraq are known for their faithfulness and peaceful way of living among others. They do not believe in violence or in war as a way to solve problems. Now, they feel that they are victims because other religious and political parties are dividing the country on the account of the innocent.

a5One of the bishops in Kurdistan told us that due to the violence and the absence of any substantial help from the Iraqi government, approximately1800 Christians are leaving Iraq each month.  Some are resettling, at least temporarily, in surrounding countries (Lebanon and Jordan principally), while the others go to Europe, Australia or North America.  It is often the more educated who flee.  For many, this is the beginning of a life in exile, resigned to the possibility that they may never see their homeland again.  Some Christians say that they must leave for the sake of their children.  Those who stay are the poorest, although some Christians and moderate Muslims who have the means to leave have chosen to remain, committed to the difficult task of helping to build a new Iraq.

كرافThere are approximately 120,000 refugees in Ankawa (a Christian suburb of Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan) who are now living in one-room cubicles (called caravans) about the size of a camper-trailer.  In many shelters two caravans are joined by a common bathroom, while in other shelters there are only public bathrooms and showers.  Many people are sick with colds and other ailments, due to the unusually cold winter this year and the precarious living situations.  Some family trailers house 8-12 family members, and in one we were told that 26 people from a single extended family are living in a single caravan, an almost unbearable situation.

The psychological and mental toll on these refugees is worrisome, given that the future is so uncertain. The Yazidi refugees, many of whom are being cared for by Church aid agencies, suffer an added burden, of being considered by many of their neighbours as devil-worshippers.  The Church has called on Muslim leaders to be more forthright in denouncing the use of religion as a pretext for violence.  While some claim that Islam is a religion of peace, others say that it is a religion born in violence and that it will not stop until all ‘unbelievers’ are converted or destroyed.  Moderate Muslims, however, have bravely stood alongside their Christian and Yazidi neighbours, sharing in their struggles and offering aid to the refugees.

We were often told that in Arabic there are two words for hope. ‘Amal’ is the everyday optimism that things will go well. ‘Raja’ is a deeper hope, based on our trust in someone, above all God. Most of these Christians have lost all ‘amal.’ They see no future at all except sad exile in foreign lands. A bishop told us that even the babies in the womb were longing to go. But there are signs of that deeper hope, ‘raja’, even if it is not clear how it may come to fruition. Staying in Iraq is already a sign of hope.

r3We all wonder, is there any end in sight? We appreciate all efforts that have been made to provide aid to the displaced people. However, please note, that providing food and shelter is not the only essential thing we need. Our case is much bigger. We are speaking about two minorities (Christian and Yezedians), who lost their land, their homes, their belongings, their jobs, their money, some have been separated from their families and loved ones, and all are persecuted because of their religion.

It is hard to believe that this is happening in the 21st century. We wonder what is exactly happening. Is it another plan or agreement to subdivide Iraq? If this is true, by whom and why? Why are the events of dividing the Middle East, which happened in 1915, being repeated now? At that time it was a political issue and innocent people paid for it. It is apparent that there are sinful, cunning people dividing Iraq now. In 1915, we lost seven of our sisters, many Christians died, and more were scattered. Is it just circumstance we face this division again, or is it deliberate?

As for our community, we know that our convent in Tel Kaif is being used as an IS headquarter. Also, we know that they had entered our convent in Karakosh. Those that recently arrived have stated that all the holy pictures, icons, and statutes are being destroyed. Crosses have been taken off the top of churches and they have been replaced with the IS flags.   Sr. Maria Hanna, an Iraqi Dominican Sister of St Catherine of Siena has been named one of the Outstanding Catholic Leaders of the Year 2014.  This is in recognition of her role in saving many Iraqi Christians and minorities during the darkest days of the ISIS invasion of Iraq.

r21Despite the crisis, fear, loss, miserable accommodations, daily worries, and the terrible reality of the unknown destiny that awaits us, we still witness the presence of God’s embrace; truly an oasis of joy and sisterhood. Most of our sisters are still working at the camps everyday (8:30-1:00 and 17:00-20:00). They offer their services and solidarity, attend to the social, medical, and spiritual needs of the people and pray with them. Our sisters realise that women and children need special care in times like these, so they pay attention to them in a particular way. Their needs are simply overwhelming.  The heroism of aid workers, volunteer doctors, nurses and pharmacists, priests and sisters, many of whom are refugees themselves, is incredibly moving in such circumstances.

There have been some initiatives to deal with housing problems, and as the school year starts, some houses and flats have r5been offered to the displaced people who had been staying in tents and at various schools. One school where 300 families were placed has been evacuated, and two others now also, one with thirty-five families and another with seventy-five. Still the needs are great, winter is coming soon, and the number of displaced people remains very high.

Everyday, many families leave Iraq, without having a specific place to go, to countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to apply to the UN for immigration. Some have managed to travel directly to France. Of course, among these people are families of our sisters, a fact that causes additional pain as they see the members of their families scattered in different countries throughout the world.

c1In our convent in Ankawa/Erbil, the containers (temporary housings) are now set up, and on the 28th of September the sisters left the seminary and moved there. They are equipped to provide the sisters with a decent accommodation. Thus, we celebrated our being together for the first time since we left Karakosh on the 6th of August—praying and eating together. It is wonderful to be together, sharing at the end of the day our difficulties, our problems, and also the wonderful initiatives and activities that bring joy to the hearts of all the children and adults we encounter.

Additionally, sisters thought of the orphans and children who have special needs. So, they decided to repair and expand the other convent we have in Ankawa (very close to Al-Bishara convent) to accommodate ten girls. The work is in process, and hopefully girls will move soon to the house where they can live peacefully with two of our sisters taking care of them.

We have hope, this hope shines through in the Christian commitment to go on caring for others even when our own future is so uncertain.baghdad

We continue to thank you for your prayers and help. Your support is truly significant to us.


By Sr. Mary Rajaa OP who spoke at Leadership Conference 2015

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Inspirational life that changed girls at Muckross forever Fri, 20 Feb 2015 13:16:56 +0000 Below is article from The Irish Times by Breda O’Brien on Sr. Barnabas Kett OP who died on 1st February 2015.

Here’s a thought experiment. Imagine that you worked closely with thousands of people, and your phenomenal memory allowed you not only to remember the vast majority of them, but also their families, spouses and children.

Imagine that you also had a unique ability to make and maintain vibrant connections with dozens of friends and family of all ages. Imagine possessing highly honed intuition of a kind that prompted contact with people when they most needed words of encouragement.

Finally, imagine that, although you suffered from poor health for much of your life, you retained all your faculties and were as sharp as a tack right up to the age of 98.

Until last Sunday, when she closed her eyes for the last time, those of us privileged to be connected with the Dominican Sisters in Muckross Park, Donnybrook, did not have to use our imaginations.

We simply looked in awe at the human dynamo that was Sr Barnabas Kett OP, known to everyone as Barnie. The convent in Muckross is full of exceptional women, but none of them would begrudge praise given to her, as they grieve for her just as much as her beloved family of origin do.

Barnie was the beating heart of the Muckross Past Pupils’ Union. The current newsletter, Muckross Mail, features a tribute full of affection and grief – emotions mirrored at her huge funeral last Wednesday.

As many people reminded me at her removal and funeral, when Barnie had a plan that involved you, it was best to capitulate immediately. Resistance was always futile.

Her brain teemed with schemes, which fell into two rough categories – things that she believed would be good for Muckross Park, or for one of the people she cared about.

How was she to achieve these two goals unless she managed to persuade someone to make use of the talents God had given them?

She worked her phone in a way that made American political activists look like rank amateurs. At nine or ten o’clock at night, the call would come. Often, there was no preamble, just a simple command or announcement.

sr barnabasPersonal warmth
Her immense personal warmth, and a smile that could have melted polar icecaps, meant that capitulation usually happened with good grace. It probably helped, too, that the person she phoned was just as often a recipient of care, and not merely always a conscripted accomplice.

Barnie was a person of deep feeling, yet utterly devoid of sentimentality. And sometimes she could be too tough. If you were a young teacher, and she felt you were failing to communicate a topic to a pupil, you might get the rough edge of her tongue.

Pupils who were acting up would receive the same treatment. And yet, one past pupil now in her 30s told me that Barnie was the first adult who ever apologised to her.

Barnie had walked into a classroom where there was a row, and jumped to conclusions about who was guilty.

The past pupil tried to point out that Barnie had not got the full picture, and got a tongue lashing. But later, Barnie returned to apologise, an event that left a deep impression.

Enclosed order
Born in Clare in 1917, Barnie’s connection with Muckross Park began at eight, when she came to the school as a boarder. She made her religious vows with the Dominicans in 1941. At the time, the Dominican Sisters were fully enclosed, not even allowed out for family funerals. Then came the late 1960s. Enclosure ended, and those feisty women adapted gracefully and, perhaps in some cases, gleefully to a wider world.

The Dominicans have always had a profound commitment to educating women. When the primary and secondary schools opened in Muckross Park in 1900, they also ran lectures for women undergraduates, who in a classic catch 22 had been allowed to sit university exams, but not to attend lectures. If you can’t join them, outmaneuver them, seems to have been the philosophy.

Like all the sisters who taught, Barnie believed that education was the key to a good life, one where you could be useful. For example, she organised driving lessons in the 1960s for sixth years, all part of her grand plan to make those young women independent, participating citizens. She also promoted sex education long before it was mandatory.

She organised exchanges with French schools, and instituted Muckross’s involvement with Lourdes. The pilgrimages where teenagers worked selflessly with the elderly and the sick proved life-changing for many, and some return every year.

She would have been so proud of the current pupils ranged along the railings in a guard of honour at her funeral, immaculate in their green and black. Her dearest wish for them, and for all whom she loved, would have been that they continue the tradition of veritas , the school motto, and that they would find their way to the truth that sets all human beings free.

The final lines of an eloquent poem written for Barnie by Valerie Cox, RTÉ reporter and past pupil, speak for many of us: “Your work is done/Go, with our love.”

From Irish Times 7th February 2015 . See more at

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First Profession of Sr Eileen O’Connell on Sunday 15 February, 2015 Thu, 19 Feb 2015 15:29:38 +0000 First Profession of Sister Eileen O'Connell. Dominican Convent Chapel, Cabra. 15th of February 2015The Congregation of Dominican Sisters, Cabra, celebrated the first profession of Sr Eileen O’Connell on Sunday 15 February, 2015. Sr Eileen is from Ballincollig, Co. Cork and was joined in this celebration by her parents Mary and John, her brother Tim and his wife Ailish and their two sons, Sam and Joe.  Sr Helen Mary Harmey,OP Congregation Prioress, described it as a privilege and a delight to be welcoming everyone to the profession ceremony. Sr Eileen’s cousin, Rev.Derry Murphy, a priest with the Pallotine Order was the chief celebrant.

First Profession of Sister Eileen O'Connell. Dominican Convent Chapel, Cabra. 15th of February 2015As part of the ceremony Eileen made profession into the hands of the Congregation Prioress, Sr Helen Mary Harmey OP, “You will notice that Eileen will only vow obedience, according to our Dominican tradition” explained Sr Helen Mary. “This is because for us obedience refers not just to one of the vows, and not even to all three vows at once. It refers to the call of being a Dominican, inclusive of all elements of our life- community, prayer, study and preaching. This is our Obedience and it is marked by the value of freedom, freedom to listen to God, self and community. Our freedom is not license but has within it the demands and choice of personal and communal responsibility.”


Profession_(123_of_135)It was a beautiful day, marked with the choir made up of the Dominican sisters whose singing held the beauty of the Dominican tradition of liturgical prayer. Sr Eileen felt the joy and prayer of so many sisters, family members and others who have journeyed with her to this day and who will continue to be of support to her along her journey.


Sr. Edel Murphy OP

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First Sunday of Lent (22 February) Thu, 19 Feb 2015 14:45:26 +0000 LENTEN REFLECTION     (Sr Columbia Fernandez O.P)

The Covenant in the First Reading, speaks very much of a Relationship.  God established His Covenant with Noah and his descendants.  Everything that God created is precious to Him.  He therefore, wants a relationship with everything that He has made.  This also applies to us.  God wants a relationship with you and me.  Even though there will be storms, not even the floods of our lives should destroy that covenant.

Picture 1 Lent 1Through the floods which Noah and his family endured, (in the second reading), God saved them through water.  Water can either be destructive, or it can be life-giving.  The waters of our Baptism is God’s way of showing us that through water and the Spirit, we can all be saved into Christ.  However, we do go through trials and are in our own prison because of our sins.  We need God’s purifying water to cleanse us of our sins so that we can be set free.  Once we are free because of our baptism and repentance of our sins, we re-establish our covenant with God and enter into a new relationship with Him.

In the Gospel, the desert was the home of Christ for forty days.  It was in the desert, where He encountered many temptations.  Yet, He was strong, even though He was weak.  He knew how to handle the challenges of temptations because He relied not on His own strength, but totally on the strength of His Father.  It was in a desert that the Father was preparing Him for His mission.  God wanted Jesus to understand that there would be many conflicts out there.  He wanted Jesus to rely totally on the strength of His Father and the Holy Spirit.

Lent 2There is always a period of dryness in our lives when we experience a desert.  It can be a very unpleasant feeling, a feeling of loneliness, fear, isolation from family and friends, the desert of jealousy, victimisation, ingratitude, hatred, addiction to alcohol or drugs, the list is endless.  All of these are deserts in different forms.  We encounter our own human weakness in our desert.  These are the wild beasts in our lives, and we need to break free of them.  We need God’s angels to look after us, just as God looked after Jesus when He was suffering from temptation and hunger.  How do we break free from all the temptations which separate us from God?  We need to seek God and yearn for Him.  We need to be dependent on Him alone.  We need to let go of our insecurities and our strange notions that we can do it all by ourselves.  It is through our selfishness and our pride, that we constantly drift away from God and that eour relationship with God gets distorted and broken.

We need to be fed, not with bread which gives us and others indigestion, (the bread of our sins) but with the Good News of Christ.  May Christ change the stones in our desert into the living bread of His Word, so that we can be fed and nourished and thus be free to be bread for others by spreading the Good News.  (This is our mission).  May God turn our deserts into streams of living water, so that others can live in truth and in love, in justice and in peace.

Sr Columbia Fernandez O.P


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Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (15th February 2015) Fri, 13 Feb 2015 21:13:21 +0000 Closing out this first chapter of Mark’s gospel is another healing story. The leper approached Jesus and made it clear that he knew Jesus could make him clean if he wanted to. We are told that Jesus replied that he did want to, and he touched the leper and made him clean. Certainly, there is a lot here that might help our faith in the power of Jesus to heal our ills. But there is a much deeper message here that helps in our grasping of the teaching of Jesus concerning the concept of the reign of God.

This is not a pretty story of Jesus being moved by compassion to heal this ill and rejected person. It is not placed in the Gospel to strengthen our faith or encourage our good works. This act of Jesus was a challenge to the religious prescriptions regarding ritual cleansing, an oppressive system which bound the people in spiritual bondage, especially the most vulnerable. Economically the system benefited the Temple and the priests of the Temple, because of offerings that were required in order to be reestablished among the “clean.” Wherever a group gains economically from a system there will be great opposition to anyone who challenges the system. When an oppressive system is shrouded in religious garb, the opposition is even stronger and the courage to challenge it more demanding.

This story is not about healing but about cleansing. The leper asked to be made clean. Jesus granted this wish and sent him to make the ritual offering, to prove to the Temple priest that he was indeed cleansed. Jesus’ thrust was for a greater cleansing than this. It was for the cleansing of faith which had been corrupted by the oppressive rules and rituals of religion. It was to show the people that they had been cleansed by God’s love, a totally free gift, for which they had no need to make ritual offering.


Up to this point in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus has been doing that. He had driven out unclean spirits, he had laid his hands on the sick and restored them to health, he had touched the woman with the fever. By this stage in the narrative, Jesus was pretty contaminated. Then, unto his horizon came the highly contaminated outcast, the epitome of uncleanliness, offering a challenge. Would Jesus dare to make him clean? The leper had already broken the law by coming so close to other people. But, he had nothing to lose. What could the pure and holy ones do to him without contaminating themselves? When it came to breaking oppressive laws, Jesus had nothing to lose either. Their observance was not his driving force, but God’s universal love and care for all was. We can imagine the ripple through the crowd as Jesus did the unthinkable – reached out and touched the man with the leprosy. This was the one who had taught with authority and now acted with authority too, breaking the burdens and loosening the yokes that held people in bondage to the demands of a false deity.

God’s reign was dawning and God’s liberation was free of charge. This was a dangerous gift to offer in a system where Temple laws and rituals had a solid economic base. The truth of Jesus’ preaching and actions was truly good news to the poor and those whose power had been stripped away. He had been raised in such a milieu, his family low on the social ladder. He was familiar with the burdens of rules and ritual cleansings, but he was also familiar with the true ways of God and driven to announce that truth by his every word and deed.

What a challenge he has commissioned us with!

Elizabeth Ferguson, OP

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Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, (8th February) Fri, 06 Feb 2015 10:53:15 +0000 Today we are presented with some rather hectic scenes of clamoring crowds and cures. Jesus’ fame and reputation had surely spread around after his preaching with authority in the synagogue and his expelling the unclean spirit. When he entered Simon’s house they were quick to tell him about Simon’s mother-in-law, ill with a fever. He approached her, grasped her by the hand and helped her up. Renewed by his energy, she set about serving. There is no doubt that the news of her healing ran wild in the neighborhood. So much did this news “go viral” that the whole town was gathered at the door that evening, bringing their sick, their demons, and their many needs.

Clamoring-crowds-in-Capernaum    These were some of the reasons why people flocked to Jesus. Most of them were driven by the hope that their needs would be satisfied. They turned up again very early in the morning when he had withdrawn for some moments of prayer. Peter spoke on their behalf and most likely on his own behalf also. “Everyone is looking for you!” However, Jesus had a rather unexpected reaction. Most people would be very flattered to learn that the crowds were looking for them. Performers always keep the encore act for that very purpose, in order not to disappoint the crowd, as well as to boost their popularity.

Jesus knew what he was about, and it was not popularity. He had a message to preach. He had come for that purpose. The message of the reign of God could not be preached among others if he were to stay in Capernaum working miracles. It is possible that his preaching there was the means through which so many found healing for their various illnesses of body and spirit.

Jesus was compelled to preach the reign of God. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul, a disciple, expressed his need to preach the Gospel because an obligation had been placed on him. Dominic was compelled to preach the Gospel’s truth in the face of a theology that was binding the human spirit. As followers of Dominic, we have the obligation to preach the truth of the Gospel, the message of the reign of God, in the face of the political, economic, social and ecclesial systems that ensnare and imprison our earth and humanity with physical and spiritual chains.

Yes, but what words have we to say that won’t fall flat unless we too are one with the clamoring crowd, seeking the healing of oppressive systems, naming the unclean spirits of greed, and offering the alternative lifestyle of the reign of God.

Elizabeth Ferguson, OP

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Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (1 February) Fri, 30 Jan 2015 10:27:00 +0000 Into the synagogue in Capernaum that day came Jesus to teach, and some people to listen. We can assume that some there had heard a little bit about him, the baptism scene, the calling of followers. Whatever the buzz may have been, it was probably well worth going to the synagogue that day to hear for themselves. Those who showed up for the most part were not disappointed. His word had authority. It meant something. While we do not know the content of his word, we do know that it fell upon the ears and the hearts of the listeners as bearing a wisdom and a force that they were not used to. This was not ‘Sabbath in the synagogue’ as usual, such as the scribes and Pharisees might conduct. This teaching of Jesus amazed and exited them.

However, there was one sitting there in their midst that day who was not so excited and awe struck. He had an unclean spirit. Perhaps that was a spirit resistant to the message of Jesus, a spirit opposed to the new teaching. He called out a question which we might all ponder and with which we might have wrestled, at some time, deep in our own souls. “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?”

Jesus didn’t respond in words. However, his actions showed that he had everything to do with this man and the spirit that ruled him, and yes, indeed, he had come to destroy it. He commanded the spirit to leave them man, and there was a great struggle and convulsion in the departure.

We know the Word of God is a two-edged sword. Where Jesus takes over our lives there must be a necessary destruction. In our many Christian denominations around the world we offer great lip service of praise and worship and kindly deeds. But do we dare allow that Word to slice through our social structures, our dearly held beliefs and customs, our acceptance of the economic systems that govern and destroy our planet and its people? Do we dare allow the Word to destroy the unclean spirits which sometimes govern our own lives? Perhaps, we fear the ensuing struggle and convulsions at their departure.

While the people may have been amazed and wondering what kind of teaching they had heard and who this person was, the unclean spirit(s) recognized the teacher both as Jesus of Nazareth and the Holy One of God. The man with the unclean spirit engaged with Jesus, and put out there the hard question for his own life. Jesus responded to him, giving him a new life, but not without a struggle for the man.

Jesus as Beggar Sculpture (2)“What have you to do with me, Jesus of Nazareth?” Jessica Powers gives us some insights into the struggle with this question in her poem The Master Beggar.

“Worse than the poorest mendicant alive,

the pencil man, the blind man with his breath

of music shaming all who do not give,

are You to me, Jesus of Nazareth.


Must You take up Your post on every block

Of every street? Do I have no release?

Is there no room of earth that I can lock

to your sad face, Your pitiful whisper ‘Please’?”


Elizabeth Ferguson, OP

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