To be a Dominican is to be a preacher.  As preachers, we share the Good News that has been entrusted to us.  Every day, we preach the word of God in hundreds of different ways through our work in the communities and with one another.

We also share the Word of God on our website through the Sacred Space. This is a collection of reflections, written by a Dominican Sister.  These works proclaim the Word of God and impart a message of hope and peace to those who need to take out of their busy daily lives to reflect and consider.

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 17, 2021)

1 Samuel 3:3-10, 19.  1 Cor 6:13 – 15, 17- 20. John 1:35 – 42 The first week of Ordinary Time began last Monday following the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This coming weekend we celebrate the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. Throughout these Sunday readings, we will see harmony in the themes emerging, especially between the Old Testament text and the Gospel. Our readings for this Sunday make this evident. The first reading tells us of the call of Samuel and this theme of call is echoed in the Gospel when two disciples of John the Baptist, one being Andrew, decide to follow Jesus. Today’s reading from the Gospel according to John, brings John the Baptist before us, standing with two of his disciples. John, often seen as a solitary figure, wondering in the wilderness, gives testimony about Jesus and identifies Jesus as the Lamb of God. Jesus having been baptized by his cousin John, begins to gather followers for the first time, actually taking the disciples of John. They seemed willing to go with Jesus because of the testimony and witness of John, who always pointed out, “Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful than I am.” We learn in today’s reading how the first two followers of Jesus were ‘caught’. One was Andrew, and there was another unnamed man.  These, having spent some time with Jesus, from four o’clock and for the remainder of the day, began to glimpse that Jesus was no ordinary man. This was a mere first step of realization for these two disciples. This has been my personal experience also. I was introduced to Jesus as a child through baptism and recommitted to that initiation when I made profession as a Dominican. And now, and after fifty years, I am still discovering in ever deepening ways, the reality of a God, whose extreme love gave us Jesus incarnate. I am grateful for this grace daily. I really like Andrew, who, with some excitement, runs off to tell his brother Simon, “We have found the Messiah” –  the Anointed one. During these days of Covid 19 restrictions, doing less driving and staying within the five kilometres limit, I have been walking, with one of my brothers. This has given us the opportunity for a weekly walk (2 meters apart!) rich conversation and chat. This helps me understand why, Andrew, wanted to share the news of the most significant person he has ever met, with his brother. He brought Simon along, and Jesus, looked hard at him and said, “You are Simon son of John; you are to be called Cephas” – meaning Rock. Jesus really benefits from the relationships John developed with his disciples, and, trusting John’s judgement, calls his disciples to an awakening and intimacy with our triune God of love. Jesus invited Andrew and his companion to “Come and see.” In these days of the Covid 19 pandemic, maybe, we are invited to do the same. Pope Francis in his book Let us Dream: The Path to a Better Future, tells us that in these times of restrictions we have more space to contemplate and to create room for an encounter with the truth.  Pope Francis in the same book speaks of the fruits of a crisis, “patience, sprinkled with a healthy sense of humour, which allows us to endure and make space for change to happen.”  Today’s readings are inviting us to go within. Ours is a continuous call to intimacy and so to come to an ever deepening encounter with Jesus. And these days of restriction provide a unique opportunity. Sr. Fionnuala Quinn O.P.

The Baptism of Jesus (10 January 2021)

As I ponder this feast today, I am led to reflect on two Baptisms of Jesus. It is helpful to remember that before it was overladen with religious ritual meanings, the word baptism in the Greek language means immersion, dipping, plunging and similar activities, even dyeing. What is set before us as we celebrate this feast today is the story of Jesus being baptized in the Jordan by John. Jesus is the recipient of the immersion.  The event, with some detail, is told in Matthew and Mark. Luke refers to it, and it is perhaps implied in John. This event no doubt is the prelude to Jesus’s public ministry. Into what was Jesus immersed or dipped on this occasion? It was more than the waters of the river Jordan. All four Gospels mention something else. The Spirit was seen to descend on Jesus, and John’s Gospel adds ‘and remain on him.’ This is the immersion (baptism) to celebrate, that Jesus was immersed, plunged, dipped in the Holy Spirit of God and it remained on him. This brings me to the second Baptism of Jesus. John made it clear that his Baptism was with water, but that the one who was coming would baptize with the Holy Spirit. All four Gospels mention this, and Matthew and Luke add fire. Jesus is presented as the Immerser. So, what is this Baptism with the Holy Spirit with which Jesus immerses (baptizes)? What Jesus is offering is not a ritual cleansing, but an immersion into the Holy Spirit of God. This is immersion into Ruah, Sophia, the Wisdom of God, who was present at creation, and whose presence is now signaling a new or rather renewed creation. Being immersed in the Spirit by Jesus, is being immersed in the renewed creation with a new vision of how to live, to love and to be at one in the divine presence. What of our own baptism or immersion? The majority of us went through a religious rite of baptism, mostly unaware. However, that may be of little consequence in our lives if we do not take a daily dip or immersion into the Spirit of God. John did not see his immersion or dipping in water as permanent. But he pointed to the one mightier than he who would immerse or dip us into Ruah, Sophia, the Wisdom of God who was present at creation. We are invited to a daily renewal by intentionally immersing in the Spirit of God. A nightly reflection might ask, into what did I dip or immerse my life today? Was it into the frivolous, or was it into the creative Spirit of Life? Sr. Elizabeth Ferguson, OP

Second Sunday of Christmas (3 January 2021)

Sir 24:1-2, 8-12; Ps 147:12-15,19-20 (Resp. Jn 1:14) Eph 1: 3-6, 15-18; Jn 1: 1-18. At the beginning of this New Year, it is fitting that we have as gospel reading this Sunday the start of John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word…”. John echoes the first words of Genesis: “In the beginning when God created… then God said, ‘Let there be light…”. The same presence of God’s Word (Logos) which was active in bringing creation into being, is now to be found in the person of Jesus. As John goes on to say that the Word was “with God in the beginning,” and that “through him all things came to be,” he also wants to recall the action of Lady Wisdom (Sophia), who in many passages of the Bible (e.g.  Proverbs 8; Wisdom 7:22-30; Sirach 24), is portrayed as beside God in the act of creating the world. John, then, uses both masculine (Logos) and feminine (Sophia) images from the Hebrew Scriptures to try to explain the wonder of what has happened in the coming of Jesus. Later in the gospel passage, he will speak of Jesus as the exegete of the Father, the one who, while always dwelling “in the bosom of the Father,” reveals the human face of God to us (Jn 1:18). The second reading, from Ephesians, spells out what this means for us: the realisation that we become, in Jesus, God’s adopted children. We can recall the words of Meister Eckhart: “Today we commemorate a 3-fold birth. The first is that in which the heavenly Father begets his only Son within the divine essence. The second is that of maternal fruitfulness. The third is effected when God is born within a just person every hour, by grace and out of love.” It is no accident that the first reading given today is one of those beautiful passages from the Bible about Lady Wisdom (Sophia). The text from Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) was chosen because of the image of Wisdom “pitching her tent” with the people of Israel; the image goes back to the nomadic existence of the early Israelites. It can call us to be concerned for those many refugees who live in tented villages today. John’s Gospel takes up the phrase and has the Word  “pitching his tent” among us (the usual translation of “he lived among us” misses the allusion). Just before that phrase is the statement: “the Word was made flesh.” The Word who was with God from the beginning, and always dwells in the bosom of the Father, becomes flesh (sarx). It does not say “the Word became man,” or even “a human being” but sarx, a word which implies a deep relationship with the material world around us. Elizabeth Johnson points out that it signifies the, “radical divine reach through human flesh all the way down into the very tissue of biological existence with its growth and decay, joined with the wider processes of evolving nature that begets and sustains life… The flesh assumed in Jesus Christ connects with all humanity, all biological life, all soil, the whole matrix of the material universe down to its very roots” (E. Johnson, Ask the Beasts, 2014). That insertion of Jesus into the real world is portrayed in Ted Hughes’s The Coming of the Kings in a more homely way:           He will be born to the coughing of animals       Among the broken neglected objects          In the corner that costs not a penny          In the darkness of the mouse and the spider. Pope Francis’s encyclical, Laudato Si’ spells out our place within the earth community: “The ultimate purpose of other creatures is not to be found in us. Rather, all creatures are moving forward with us and through us towards a common point of arrival which is God” (LS’ 83). Day by day in this coming year we are called to hear the Word of God through Wisdom in the events of our ordinary lives. It is there that we will experience the cry of the world around us, whether of the earth itself, or of those suffering within it. Sr. Céline Mangan, O.P.