The Dominican Sisters of Peace 2015 Chapter began on Monday with Sr. Margaret’s invitation to dance and follow these A,B,C's in the days to come: be adaptable, balanced, confident, courageous and civil. She introduced the story of "doubting Thomas," who needed to see Jesus' wounds himself, but then was transformed by his act of faith. Associate Ginger Kroos reflected on the Chapter experience as one which "invited Sisters and Associates out of our comfort zones." (Click here)
Walter Brueggemann again, but from a different book: The Threat of Life. Those present at the General Chapter heard some of the following.
The Church must give an account of its Easter faith. In Acts 4:7, the prosecutor asks: By what power or by what name did you do this? The authorities ever since Pharaoh in the Old Testament and Herod in the New Testament have recognized that a dangerous power is on the loose, which they cannot administer. The answer is given by Peter, filled with the spirit powered by freedom, saturated with courage, unintimidated. He says:
If we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you...that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. (Acts 4:9-10)
Recently Cory Lockhart, a member of the Christian Peacemaking Team, spent six weeks in Hebron, Palestine focusing often on the treatment of Palestinian children. These are children living in an occupied land, just striving to survive, with family lands taken away, and homes bulldozed. Palestinian families, including children, protest the loss of basic human rights. Israel’s response: violence. These peacemakers could not stop the violence, however, they could document events and stand with the children as they waited for the gas to dissipate. On one day, canisters were fired directly into a schoolyard, several at another school entrance.
Children in Hebron grow up fast. Education is a basic human right, and yet that right is threatened. Should parents keep children home or walk with them to school? How can schools address the emotional and physical needs of children?
The fact that our congregation, the Dominican Sisters of Peace, was founded on Easter, has always held special significance to me. By our very name we are called to preach peace, build peace, and be peace--Easter Peace! It's not a peace that ignores or turns a blind eye to injustices and wrongdoing. It's a peace that is born of an understanding unconditional love, and fueled by forgiveness as modeled by Christ in the Resurrection stories proclaimed during Eastertime. His disciples who had been his close companions, heard his teachings, seen his miracles, and witnessed his undiscriminating love and compassion--had even so abandoned him as he faced the ordeal of his crucifixion. Surprisingly, after these disappointing events the first words Jesus spoke to them were "Peace be to you." No words of accusation or recrimination that you might expect from someone so badly treated by friends.
Happy Easter! Christians around the world have gladlymoved from the penitential days of Lent and the solemn celebrations of the Sacred Triduum – Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil - to the joyful wonder of the Resurrection. Easter bunnies, chicks and ducks, baskets filled with colorful Easter eggs, and beautiful spring flowers proclaim new life and the end of winter. Snow is melting, grass is greening, crocus burst out, and buds push upwards. Good bye, Winter, and Welcome, Spring!
"Do you realize what I have done for you? If I, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do." (John 13:14-15)
Every good parent and teacher knows that the best way to teach is to teach by example, to model the behavior that you are trying to impart. Almost immediately after we hear in John’s gospel that Jesus is "fully aware" that God has put everything in his power, and that the time had come for him to return to God, Jesus begins the act of washing the feet of his disciples. Fully aware of who he was, Jesus performs an act that could not be required of the lowest servant during his time.
My assignment for my preaching students last Thursday was to compose a homily for the Easter Vigil. Anthony Simone began his homily asking "Do you ever look at yourself in the mirror? This morning perhaps when you were shaving or doing your hair? Most likely, but have you ever looked in the mirror...just looking into your eyes…at a moment when you felt particularly good or full of joy? Or at a time when you were under great pressure, undue stress or just felt overcome with negativity? He goes on to comment further on reasons for looking into our eyes...or not looking! "Maybe we don’t want to do that. But who we are is a dynamic, ongoing story and a mystery that unfolds from moment to moment. Do we sometimes dull down that mystery? Do we limit this very unique image of ourselves that is constantly forming and growing?"
Every two years I have the privilege of meeting with Dominican Justice Promoters from North America and International Co-Promoters. We met at the Divine Word Retreat Center in Techny, Illinois, March 25-27 with a full and challenging agenda.
Ever present on everyone’s agenda—Iraq and its future. Mike Deeb, International Co-Promoter of Justice from South Africa focused on what must happen for Iraq to achieve peace and stability. He emphasized three actions that must happen:
Palm Sunday begins Holy Week when we remember with stark detail the love of Christ poured out in the sufferings and humiliations He endured for us. In today's first reading, the prophet Isaiah describes God's "servant whom I uphold, my chosen with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my Spirit; who shall bring forth justice to the nations..." Believers and disciples of Christ receive Christ's Spirit - as God's servants called like Christ for the victory of justice, grasped by God's hand, formed and set as a light for the nations.
There are many ways that this light shines in our world:
Come to the Water...Taste and See...Plunge into the PEACE of Christ! In Jesus' day his disciples asked, "Lord, teach us to pray." Is it any wonder that Jesus' disciples today, some of whom are feeling the Spirit's nudge towards consecrated life, are voicing this same desire? Dominican Life attracts, and one attractive and important aspect is our prayer that is both personal and liturgical. As faith is handed on, and as we each begin to develop a very personal relationship with God, we are graced with a desire to deepen this connection. We are invited by God into God's very heart!