“Let your light shine…..”
This 800 year Jubilee is a unique period of joyous celebration and reflection. We recall the past as it takes priority and we awaken to a clearer vision of our identity. Blessed Savanarola reminds us “to take heed of the name you bear.” This is what we do on such occasions. We recognise our ancestry in the Order and acclaim and thank many powerful forerunners who have held the torch of Dominic high for all to emulate. We also acknowledge the role we have played and constantly return to the source and original spirit of Dominic who was a man foremost of the Gospel.
He was constantly aware of challenges and faced the reality of his day in a spirit of love and as a true hero. Dominic was a “chosen vessel of grace,” a man carrying the firebrand of truth, love, compassion and joy as he kept walking and carrying God’s Word through many countries. His chief aim and ministry was preaching truth. Through his study and prayer he was imbued with intense love of God and neighbour, compelling him to share truth, his faith and to bring the light of Christ to all whom he encountered. He understood the value of study which supported his prayer and ministry to a wider community than just the brethren.
The Word of God and his deep union with Christ, was his source of comfort and companionship. Contemplation, gratitude and joy fed his soul and apostolic life as it was perfectly compatible with the busyness of his life. He lived an outgoing attitude to the world, sensing and sharing the sufferings and failures of all, yet remained within – deeply aware of God’s presence in his life.
Dominic’s attitude and spiritual joyfulness was very evident in his love of liturgy and communal chant which today is our heritage. His heart was filled with joy, yet in imitating Christ in his ministry, was deeply moved to pity and saddened at the sight of suffering. He gave himself totally for caring for neighbour and the unfortunate.
Pope Francis who seems to mirror Dominic suggests, “in order to be capable of mercy we must first of all dispose ourselves to listen to the Word of God” (MV13 Zenit)
Following Dominic’s example, our apostolate and ministry is nurtured and supported through prayer and meditation. In immersing ourselves in the Word, we become empowered through contemplation, to be realistic and life-giving, to speak truth to power, to identify future goals, adapt and accept challenges and demands of the present time. By listening, sensing and sharing the sufferings of others, our hospitality in the circumstances becomes vital for spreading the Gospel.
In this year of Jubilee and year of Mercy, we cannot withdraw from the many challenges the world presents. The best way to find Christ as Dominic did, is to seek places where Christ is to be found, to hear the cry of the poor: amongst the marginalized, the poor, the rejected and homeless, the refugees, the abused and violated, the disabled, the aged and those neglected, in order to show mercy, love and concern. Dominic had great confidence in God’s mercy for all.
We heed Pope Francis’ directive, “Be God’s mercy”, ‘be symbols of fraternity and union with the Church.’ Imitating Dominic in his love for the Church we should be ‘salt of the earth and light of the world’ transforming lives where we find ourselves. Let us place our energy, time and ability at the service of the Gospel. We need God’s mercy but we also need each other’s mercy to be life-giving.
We are all pilgrims moving, travelling from one place to another, but we need to put faith into action even though we are making our journey to our final end. Look anew with hope for the future. Pope Francis says “Faith has feet”. Dominic was proof of that.
What matters now is our response to God’s demands as they present themselves and attempt to move with the times as Dominic did – adapt to change but always with the Word of God as guide. In this way we carry Dominic’s spirit forward – we carry the torch of truth, love and compassion to the world.
Dominic in his day would affirm his brethren and Pope Francis constantly urges us,
“Keep walking together and seek the fullness of love and communion which God holds before us.”
(Zenit May 2016)
In this manner our light will shine forth and Dominic’s spirit and passion for the Word of God will live on.
Sr Cynthia Thompson OP