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.

The Third Sunday of Advent Yr A (11 Dec. ’19)

READINGS:  Is 35:1-6,10, Ps 145, James 5:7-10, Mt 11:2-11 THE JOY OF EXPECTANCY We have reached the midpoint in the Advent season.  Today in our Advent liturgies, we light the pink candle in our Advent wreath, as a symbol of celebration.  This is called Gaudete Sunday which means that we rejoice with joyful expectancy that the coming of the Lord is near. In Isaiah 35:1-6,10, we are encouraged to rejoice and bloom in the wilderness.  What kind of wildernesses are we facing these days?  We are living in a consumerist society where everything is centred on me, myself and I.  We want things that we don’t need.  We yearn for things that do not give us lasting joy because they are not life-giving.  Our experience of wildernesses may consist of hate, power, fear, anxiety, deprivation, greed, and so many other types of darkness that we find it hard to be joyful.  Yet through all our materialistic vices, there is hope that God is coming to save us.  God is coming to give us new life in our wilderness.  No more shall the blind be blind, or the deaf remain deaf.  God is offering us life that we are unable to fathom, a life that will make us exuberant with everlasting joy! In the Second Reading, James teaches us to be patient as we await the Lord’s coming.  As the farmer waits patiently for the autumn and spring rains to fall in order to produce a great crop, so it is with the coming of Christ.  He will water the soil of our hearts and it will produce good crops of goodness, kindness and joyfulness.  In Matthew’s Gospel today, we hear of John the Baptist in prison, who has heard of what Jesus was doing through curing the sick, healing the lame, giving sight to the blind and preaching the Kingdom of God and raising the dead.  John sends messengers to Jesus to ask if He was “the one who is to come.”  John is shown in another Gospel calling his disciples to “prepare the way of the Lord, make His path straight.”  John seems confused or doubtful about Jesus.  Jesus does not answer his question but tells John’s messengers “not [to] lose faith in me, for the deaf hear, the blind see, the lame walk, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”  Jesus, here, does not proclaim Himself as the Messiah, but proclaims the Kingdom of God.  Isaiah had prophesied before (Is. 26:19) “that the dead will live.” This has come to pass, because Jesus, the Messiah has brought the dead to life.  By asking John’s disciples three questions about John, Jesus enlightens them – that they have gone to the wilderness to see a prophet.  But He conveys that John is “more than a prophet”.  He is the Messenger sent by God to “prepare the way of the Lord.  We read in Isaiah 40:3: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God’…”  Indeed, John is presented as the greatest of human beings.  John himself, however, proclaims, “There is one greater than I, and I am not worthy to undo the strap of His sandal.”  In the Gospel, (Mt 11:11), Jesus speaks of His disciples (including us) when He declares that “the least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than John the Baptist”.  So, as children of Mary, the new Eve, we are called like her to proclaim the Good News of salvation right where we are.  We are called to re-think our lives, to repent of our old ways and to live straight paths for God.  How do we do this?  By aligning our ministry with Jesus’s, by caring for one another, by being His true disciples and by bringing hope and joy. FOR FURTHER REFLECTION If you were John the Baptist today, how would you convince people of true repentance? How can we re-think our lives in order to live more generously and joyfully? What in our lives need changing and renewing? (Sr Columbia Fernandez O.P)

The Second Sunday of Advent Yr. A (8 Dec ’19)

Gospel Reflection for the 2nd Sunday of Advent “You brood of vipers!”  This is more than an unfriendly greeting that John is giving the Pharisees and Sadducees. It is a loaded statement addressed to them, and one found on the lips of Jesus in Mt. 12:13. John is addressing them as the offspring of the snake, the symbol of Satan in Genesis. We can imagine their astonishment. By the Law they are righteous. They know every detail of the written law and the oral tradition handed down to them. They are meticulous in observing every detail and ensuring that other people do the same. How can they be the brood, the offspring, of evil? Just in case they haven’t got it, John hastens to let them know, “Don’t go calling on Abraham as your father. That’s not going to work.” Being a true offspring of Abraham has nothing to do with the DNA, nor the adherence to traditions. Abraham, that ancestor in faith, represents the one who listens to God, and who can leave behind customs and traditions to follow where that voice leads. Now, in case we are feeling any way smug about this, in Luke’s version John calls everyone who comes out to him for baptism a brood of vipers. John is not some new guru in town, or in this case in the wilderness, drawing crowds to himself. John has a mission. He is preaching that the reign of God is at hand, but repentance is required. His baptism may be a symbol of repentance, but the fruit of repentance is a changed life. That changed life is part of the wrath to come. Real repentance is the great upheaval of our lives.  It cannot be avoided by stepping into the waters of the Jordan. It cannot be avoided by our baptisms and rituals of repentance. It cannot be avoided. What about this beautiful image of justice and tranquility presented by Isaiah? Here justice reigns, innocence leads and opposites dwell together in harmony.  Is it a pipe dream or an achievable goal? I suggest that it is an achievable  goal, if we go through the upheaval of true repentance. But the good news is that already the axe has been laid at the root of the tree, so that the necessary chopping down can begin. Every tree and shrub and branch of our living that produces no fruit or bad fruit can be chopped off. Then from their stumps the new shoot of the repentant heart can sprout and grow into a living tree that bears a lot of fruit by the good works it accomplishes. In Eden, the problem tree was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The new trees, raised up from the new shoots, can become the trees that fill the earth with the knowledge of God. For, in Isaiah’s opinion, it is that knowledge of God which fills the earth that brings about God’s reign of justice and tranquility. Elizabeth Ferguson, OP

The First Sunday of Advent Yr. A (1 Dec ’19)

Readings:  Is  2: 1-5.      Rom 13:11-13.     Matt 24:37-44. We Christians are an ‘Advent’ people – something our earliest Christian ancestors were keenly aware of but which we had almost forgotten.  It has not traditionally been to the forefront of our minds. Scripture readings of Advent are rich in poetry and images, and wide in scope and vision. We have tended to limit their scope and narrow their vision.  The Church most of us grew up in, with its emphasis on individual ‘salvation’ dependent on moral behaviour, presented the ‘Last Day’ as Doomsday, the day when judgement would seal our fate for all eternity -and the ‘expected’ was the human birth of Jesus. The firm linking of Advent to Christmas has perhaps led us to miss the original powerful point. Maybe the ‘new’ (to us) Creation/Incarnation theology may help us to reclaim it. In our first reading the prophet presents a different picture.  In terms of the Jewish culture and mythology of his time, he depicts a coming perfect time of universal unity and peace, when the Lord will hold sway over all the nations and all will be well.  In the second reading, Paul has a sense of great urgency.  The coming end is imminent – it could come tomorrow or next week taking us by surprise in spite of our awaiting it.  So, we should be awake and alert, ready to go with it and be part of it.  He takes up the prophet’s admonishing to ‘Walk in the light of the Lord’.  In the gospel, Matthew repeats this warning and expands on it, emphasising the unexpectedness and the need for readiness for ‘the Son of Man’s coming’, without giving any idea of what exactly that means, assuming perhaps that his hearers/readers already know.   Both Paul and Matthew seem to give the impression that ‘the time’ will be a single, sudden, and – although we know it is coming – an unexpected apocalyptic event.  Isaiah’s vision is more of something happening over time and building up to completion. This resonates more with how we see things now.  We are beginning to see that our ideas have been much too small and we need to embrace a far bigger and more universally significant picture.  The ‘Last Day’ and the love-led process leading to it embraces the whole of creation and all time.  Each of us is part of it, not as separate individuals but as integral parts of the whole. The Parousia is the advent of the Cosmic Christ, when all there is is ‘in Christ’ and ‘Christ is all in all’. ‘Advent is the beginning of the end of all in us that is not (yet) Christ’ (Daniélou).                                                                                                                                                                            Genevieve Mooney OP