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.

Third Sunday in Ordinary – Sunday of the Word of God (26 Jan ’20)

By a recent promulgation, called “Aperuit Illis” (“He opened to them [the Scriptures]”), Pope Francis has designated the third Sunday of the Year as Sunday of the Word of God. In it he tells us that:             Devoting a specific Sunday of the liturgical year to the word of God can enable the Church to experience anew how the risen Lord opens up for us the treasury of his word and enables us to proclaim its unfathomable riches before the world. Here, we are reminded of the teaching of Saint Ephrem: “Who is able to understand, Lord, all the richness of even one of your words? There is more that eludes us than what we can understand. We are like the thirsty drinking from a fountain. Your word has as many aspects as the perspectives of those who study it. The Lord has coloured his word with diverse beauties, so that those who study it can contemplate what stirs them. He has hidden in his word all treasures, so that each of us may find a richness in what he or she contemplates.” He reminds us that:             When sacred Scripture is read in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written, it remains ever new. The Old Testament is never old once it is part of the New, since all has been transformed thanks to the one Spirit who inspired it. The sacred text as a whole serves a prophetic function regarding not the future but the present of whoever is nourished by this word. Jesus himself clearly stated this at the beginning of his ministry: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk 4:21). Those who draw daily nourishment from God’s word become, like Jesus, a contemporary of all those whom they encounter: they are not tempted to fall into sterile nostalgia for the past, or to dream of ethereal utopias yet to come. Today’s Gospel (Mt 4:12-23), takes up the first reading from Isaiah ((Isa 8:23-93) in which the prophet says that a “people that walked in darkness has seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone.”  Matthew, looking back on the life of Jesus and recalling the prophecy of Isaiah, suggests that Jesus, in his coming, burst on the Galilee of his time like a meteor. But Jesus, plodding along the roads of Galilee, lived out that coming day by day, as we are called to do. We are to become, as the Pope puts it, “like Jesus, a contemporary of all those whom we encounter… not tempted to fall into sterile nostalgia for the past, or to dream of ethereal utopias yet to come.” It is in the here and now that we must live the reality of the Kingdom which is “close at hand.” Matthew goes on to show how the early disciples were drawn by the Spirit into the ambiance of Jesus, leaving all to become his followers and to learn how to bring his light to the people of their own time. It wasn’t all plain sailing, as Paul in the 2nd reading reminds us: disunity could break out among disciples very easily, especially when, as in the case of the Corinthians to whom Paul was writing, they were puffed up with their own insights as to how the faith should be lived out. Paul brings them back solidly to the light which Christ had brought them, a light which shone on them from the Cross of Christ. So Sunday by Sunday, and in particular this Sunday of the Word of God, we are challenged to live anew by the light of the Gospel. As the Pope says:             The sweetness of God’s word leads us to share it with all those whom we encounter in this life and to proclaim the sure hope that it contains (cf. 1 Pet 3:15-16). Its bitterness, in turn, often comes from our realization of how difficult it is to live that word consistently, or our personal experience of seeing it rejected as meaningless for life. We should never take God’s word for granted, but instead let ourselves be nourished by it, in order to acknowledge and live fully our relationship with him and with our brothers and sisters. (To read the full text of “Aperuit Illis” see: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-09/pope-motu-proprio-sunday-word-of-god.html and for resources on it from Maynooth see: https://maynoothcollege.ie/news-events/2019/resources-for-sunday-of-the-word-of-god) Céline Mangan, O.P.

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (19 Jan ’20)

The wonderful feasts of Christmas and Epiphany are still in our hearts and thoughts; yesterday we began the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and today we pray for PEACE in our times.  Peace has many meanings: non-violence, forgiveness, dialogue, acceptance of others, trust.  Jesus said, “My peace I give you, not as the world gives it”. His peace is truth, life, light and joy – figurative terms reflecting different facets of the great gift that Jesus brought from the Father to us. In today´s Gospel, John the Baptist says, “Look, there is the Lamb of God.” This is followed by a description wherein the prophet reveals the mystery of the person´s mission. This formula has its roots in the Old Testament, for example in 1 Samuel 9:17, When Samuel saw Saul, The Lord said to him, “ Look ! Here is the man  . . . who shall rule over my people”. John the Evangelist gives us three meanings of the symbol of Jesus as the Lamb of God: Jesus as the Apocalyptic Lamb. Jesus as the lamb of Jewish expectation who was raised up by God to destroy evil (sin) in the world; Jesus as the Suffering Servant – portrayed a as the suffering servant in Isaiah as the servant who, like a sheep led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearers, “opened not his mouth”; Jesus as the Pascal Lamb – Jesus was the Passover lamb, a slain lamb in 1 Peter: 1: 17 -18  – “You know what was paid to set you free. It was not something that can be destroyed like silver or gold, it was the costly sacrifice of Christ, who was like a lamb without defect or flaw.” At Mass, before receiving Holy Communion, we pray to the Lamb of God three times and we are reminded of the meanings of each one. Here, John the Baptist declares that he saw the Holy Spirit coming down on Jesus after His baptism and that Jesus is “the Chosen One of God”. We have already seen in John´s gospel (ch. 1 ) where the evangelist speaks of the pre -existence of Jesus as the Word of God, that  “[t[he Word was in God´s presence and the Word was God. He was present with God in the beginning.” In his book, Jesus in an Emerging Universe, Cletus Wessels O.P. gives a deeper insight into the mystery of Jesus. If it is crucial to believe that Jesus is the pre- existent Word of God who has come from God and is of God, then we believe that Jesus is infinite love and divine energy and power. And we know that God is a God of love who so loved the world that He was willing to give of Himself, in His Son (Jn. 3:16; 1 John 4:8-9). We receive the invitation, summed up in a still more ancient idiom from the prophet Micah This is what Yahweh asks of you only this  To act justly, To love tenderly, To walk humbly with your God  May Peace, Love and Light be with you throughout the year (Mic. 6:8).   Sr. Aedris Coates OP  

The Baptism Of The Lord (12 Jan ’20)

Isaiah 42, 1-4,6-7.Acts 10: 34-38, Mt 3:13-17. At the time the events in today’s gospel occurred Palestine was under Roman occupation. The Jewish people were allowed to practise their religion but were burdened with heavy taxes for the support of the Roman armies employed in extending the Empire and what was called the Pax Romana, a euphemism for Roman Order at the expense of its subjects who disobeyed its commands at their peril. This resulted in severe suffering for the ordinary people but it meant misery for the poor, the prisoners, the widows,the sick, the disabled and those who couldn’t fend for themselves. This was the world that Jesus grew up in in Nazareth with his mother Mary and father Joseph. He probably worked at his father’s trade of carpentry but we know that he attended the synogogue for prayers and for study of the Hebrew scriptures. He would have been familiar with the prophesy of Isaiah  in today’s first reading promising a saviour who would bring true justice to the people. While Jesus was growing up in Nazareth in the North,his cousin John was living an austere life in the desert of Judaea to the South. John was a member of the Essenes, a devout Jewish sect, which preached repentence for the forgiveness of sins. Crowds followed him into the desert to hear his powerful preaching and went through a ritual of cleansing by being immersed in the river Jordan. Jesus too presented homself for this ritual of cleansing. Knowing how devout and upright Jesus was, John at first refused saying “No. It is I who need to be baptized by you” but when Jesus insisted he eventually consented. It was then that Jesus had a profound experience.  He saw, as it were the Spirit of God coming down on him. He experienced himself to be the beloved Son of God. When retelling this event to a Roman centurion some years later Peter in the second of today’s readings said, “God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and because God was with him, Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil” This anointing by John in the Jordan is seen as the beginning of Jesus’s public ministry. After that he went back to Galilee where he began his preaching and where he also called his disciples. He went into the symnagogue in Nazareth where he read from the Hebrew scriptures: ”The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour”. Then he sat down and said to them “ Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Understanding this to mean a claim to be the One sent by God, the people, knowing him to be the son of Joseph, threatened to kill him. So he left Nazareth and went on his way preaching about what he called the  Kingdom of God, a kingdom of love, justice, compassion and especially care for the weak.  This was not the first time that a prophet had been rejected in his own country. John the Baptist too paid for his courageous preaching with his life. Every age needs its prophets. Who are the prophetic people in our time? Is Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish girl who is challenging Religious and World leaders to wake up to the peril our planet is in before it is too late? Some people applaud her courage while others revile her, mocking her tender age and autistic condition and dismissing her warnings. That will always be the way with prophets.To discern between the true prophets and the false prophets is the work of the Holy Spirit. This Spirit has also been given to us at Baptism and Confirmation and indeed whenever we call for and seek wisdom and power. The Spirit speaks to us in silence and solitude as he spoke to John and Jesus in the desert. Perhaps this week we could allow ourselves some quiet time to listen to what the Spirit may be trying to say to us. It may even be that we are challenged to be prophets ourselves, to speak Truth to Power and to call out the false prophets who continue to try to tell us that we need more and more things in order to be happy. Try it and see.  Sr. Marian O’Sullivan OP