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.

 Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (25 July 2021)

The first thing the strikes me while reading the Gospel for today (Jn 6:1-15) is that Jesus is, as usual, surrounded by crowds of people who are looking for a word or a gesture that will help them to continue the journey.  Jesus never seems to be in a hurry.  He always has time to listen to people, to attend to those who call on Him as He passes by. He never seems to have to get back for a meeting, hurry to another appointment or anything like that.   He attends without being 5distracted by anything else.  Here, the people follow Him and though it seems, He wanted to get away by going to the other side of the lake, when He lifts His eyes there they are again.   As He sees them he also sees their needs – not only their Spiritual needs but also their human needs.  He ‘lifted His eyes’ and ‘saw’ and then He draws the attention of Phillip to what He himself sees, and as Andrew was nearby and paying attention, he too was aware of what was happening.  Jesus doesn’t begin to worry and fuss about it, He takes the time to call their attention to the situation.   Jesus is really and truly present there in that spot at that time, He is there for His disciples and for the crowds.  He takes the opportunity to teach his friends the importance of ‘lifting up their eyes’ and ‘seeing’ and being aware of the needs.  The same thing happened with Elisha in the first reading (Give it to the people…They shall eat and have some left – 2 Kings 4:42-44).  Soo too, we read in the Psalm: ‘The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs’ (Ps 145). Often we need to move away from our everyday routine to see more clearly what is happening around us.  Jesus saw their needs and realised that if He were to cure their infirmities it was necessary that they have enough food to eat.  When Andrew saw the young man with something to offer he saw there too the beginning of a possible solution. Even though he had very little to offer, significantly, he was willing to give what he could as a starting point and Jesus went on from there.   How important it is that we give what is ours to give, for so often the solutions to our problems are right there beside us if we look for them.  We have everything we need so that the miracle can happen; we just need to open our hearts, just as St Paul calls us to do in the second reading today: ‘I urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love’ (Eph. 4:1-6), If we lift our eyes today we will no doubt see that many, many people don’t have enough to eat, a place to live, people ready to listen to them or cure their wounds, to help them find their way, to lift up their heads. The whole world is suffering from a lack of love.  Many of our problems come from not wanting to see the needs, not lifting up our eyes, or taking responsibility.    What use to us is all the wealth if we don’t have oxygen to breathe.   Jesus didn’t need money to give the people what they needed. He only needed the collaboration of all and their willingness to share the gifts they were fortunate enough to receive. Jesus could well ask us the same questions today: How can we do something to help those who are being badly treated, threatened with violence and death? How can we reach out to emigrants and immigrants looking for a place to live? What can we do to protect young children from abuse? How can we transmit a message of hope and faith to adolescents? How can we reach out to elderly people who live alone, are ill or abandoned? How can we be present with the Gospel message of hope to young people who find no meaning in their lives? Jesus takes the initiative and invites us to collaborate, remembering that there is always something or someone to start with no matter how small.  There is always some who will offer what they have as a starting point.  Jesus asks us to have faith and begin with what we have. Pope Francis invites us to share our goods and gifts, after all they are not ours but given to us to share with those who need them. Each one of us can take the initiative, by lifting our eyes, seeing, talking with others about what we see and doing something about it together. Pope Francis’s words in Fratelli Tutti echo this and urge us on: ‘Each day offers us a new opportunity, a new possibility.  We should not expect everything from those who govern us, for that would be childish.  We have the space we need for co responsibility, in creating and putting into place new processes and changes.  Let us take an active part in renewing and supporting our troubled societies’ (77). There are many ways for us to ‘go preach the liberating Word of God in today’s  world.’  Sr Brigida Fahy O.P. “Give to the people…  They shall eat and have some left” (2Kg. 4:43ff).

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the first reading today, the prophet Jeremiah rails against the shepherds who failed to take care of their sheep: “Doom for the shepherds who allow the flock of my pasture to be destroyed and scattered – it is the Lord who speaks.” The prophet understood how God’s people had been ill-treated and despised by those who preached the word of God; devotees of the law, who lacked the necessary compassion to help the suffering people to rise out of their misery. Guilt lay more with them, than with the downtrodden people. Jesus saw the misery of the people and took pity on them. The time had come for them to be brought home to the Kingdom of God. Jesus could not do this work alone. He needed disciples who, not only shared the love of His heart but had been given the grace to see how the people could be helped. He instructed the disciples, walked with them and then sent them forth, in twos, to minister with His power: A power stronger than that exercised by the Prince of Darkness. In today’s gospel, the Twelve had returned to Jesus to report on all the wonderful things that they had done in His name. “They drove out many devils and many sick people they anointed with oil and cured.” ( Mark 6:13) Knowing how tired they were, Jesus brought them by boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves, but the people had anticipated where they would go and had arrived before them. Jesus “took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd and he set himself to teach them at some length” (Mark 6:34). After that he fed them. We have a picture here of Jesus’ compassion, not only for his disciples but also, for the suffering people. Shepherds and sheep – all needed His tenderness. In our time, many people are experiencing alienation and the breakdown of community, often because of extreme poverty and addiction. In the city of Los Angeles, over 100,000 young, angry, marginalised youth, join gangs. Their tattooed bodies, scarred by violence, are often found in lonely alleyways, cut short by violent rivals. Those who survive, spend the years of their youth, rotating in and out of prison. Fr. Greg Boyle S.J., founder of Homeboys Industries, for the past thirty years, has provided employment opportunities as a way out of gang life. Rehab, including anger management and therapy, exists for those who want help. He understands that the only way for emotionally wounded gang members to heal, is for them to experience tenderness and compassion, the kind that Jesus offered in the gospel. In Homeboys Industries, young people, kicked to the kerb by life, experience a safe place of connection and kinship that ultimately offers healing. Each ‘homie’ is provided the opportunity to come to know the truth about himself and to like what he finds. “Training will come as a kind of side-order, but the main meal is tenderness and healing” (Fr. Greg Boyle in “Tattoos on the Heart”). In Fr. Greg, or ‘G’ as the homies call him, I found an authentic shepherd who believed that the poor had some privileged delivery system for giving him access to the gospel. For his part, he provided the young men who came through Homeboy Industries’ doors, a life, free from constant tension, harassment and worry. They found a community of kinship, a place where they were not judged, but accepted and affirmed, “a place soaked with the joy of the gospel,” a place apart where they could “marinate in the intimacy of God”- to use Fr. Greg’s words. Surely, this is what the Kingdom of God is all about? Maeve Mc Mahon O.P.  

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (11 July 2021)

READINGS:  Amos 7:12-15, Eph 1:3-14, Mk 6:7-13 THE MISSIONARY CHURCH What is Evangelization?  How does it apply to you and me?  By virtue of our Baptism, we have been called and set apart for the preaching of the Gospel and in turn hopefully win souls for God. There is a story of daily life where we are in constant relationship with others.  How we communicate with others, how we reach out and give a helping hand, how we can be used by God in ordinary circumstances of our normal day without even realizing that God is actually using us to be prophets, to evangelize, to convey spiritual blessings on to others and by just living out the Gospel by the richness of His grace. In the First Reading today, Bethel means “The House of God” in Hebrew.  This House of God, the royal sanctuary, or the national temple, is where Amos was forbidden to do any prophesying.  Yet it is precisely mentioned in Genesis 12:8 where Abram pitched his tent.  It is there at Bethel that he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. The prophesying of Amos was done in the name of the Lord as he was specially chosen to “Go and prophesy to my people Israel”.  Amos was an ordinary herdsman, herding flock, yet God chose him to do a great task. In the Second Reading of Ephesians, we are told that before the world was made, God chose us in Christ.  He endowed us with spiritual blessings and set us apart for a special purpose.  Through our Baptism, we are called from time eternity to act out of this mysterious grace and to run the race to the end which God has predestined for us.  In Baptism and Confirmation, we have been sealed with the Holy Spirit in order to evangelize and to bring people close to God. In the Gospel today, we hear of how Jesus summons the Twelve and sends them out in pairs to have authority over the unclean spirits.  They are to travel lightly and preach in His Name, healing the sick, and casting out demons.  He gave them authority to preach, even though they were uneducated, just simple fishermen.  Going back to Amos, he was just a herdsman looking after flock, yet God chose him to go and prophesy. If we apply all this to our lives, we can learn from the prophet Amos and from the Twelve that God uses ordinary people to preach in His name.  A way to evangelize simply and to preach His Word does not require doctorates in theology or having a specialized education.  A simple conversation in a plane with your neighbour can strike a chord and can really bring Jesus home to people.  Jesus promises the Twelve that He will be with them always until the end of time.  They are to baptize people in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and make His name known to all nations.  We can take a leaf out of their book and imitate their bravery.  It is not always easy to prophesy like Amos or to evangelize like the Twelve especially if we fear being ridiculed and insulted.  Yet, men and women today who take their faith seriously and who have a deep relationship with Christ find themselves swimming against the tide as they are sent to preach and witness their faith in God to all people whom they encounter.  They are great imitators of Christ.  They identify with Him. They sit and listen to people.  They give of themselves by an extension of the Eucharist.  Without doing much, we can be called by God to heal the sick, cast out demons, give sight to the blind and encounter Christ in each other.  This is what evangelization means; we are to become like Jesus, loving like He does, caring for others like He does and being a light in the darkness. To quote Saint Mother Teresa, on working for Christ means: “To do, the work of Christ is really quite simple.  It means to be faithful, in little things, for to be faithful in little things is a big thing.  It means to do one’s task, no matter how humble it may be, not only thoroughly but joyfully.  It means to make oneself available, yet never to seek the limelight. It means to strive to make oneself useful without seeking to push oneself.  It means to carry one’s burden, without –  as far as possible – becoming a burden on others.  In a word, it means to be at one’s post, helpful and faithful, loyal, and constant”. In conclusion, when Pope Francis on 29 June 2013, released Evangelii Gaudium: The Joy of the Gospeli, he put before the Church her primary mission of evangelization in the modern world.  In his opening paragraph, Pope Francis urged the entire Church to “embark on a new chapter of evangelization”. Let us take these words of Pope Francis seriously, modern day disciples of Christ as we are, taking His Word to the ends of the earth.  In so doing, we are not just on fire with the Word, but we become the Word, being instruments of His love, joy, mercy and compassion to all whom we encounter. It is helpful for us to reflect on where God has sent us to tell about the Kingdom and to ask ourselves, how is it going? Sr Columbia Fernandez O.P