"MARY" "RABBOUNI!" I have called you by name—you are mine. My sheep know my voice…
Mary, whose eyes were dim with disappointment and blurred with grief and tears and whose imagination couldn’t reach as far as Risen from the dead--
Mistook Jesus the Christ for the gardener until he called her name. "Mary" he said, and his voice rang in her like a bell---opened ears she didn’t know she had, both stunned her and embraced her in depths she had never plumbed.
"RABBOUNI" she gasped, perhaps In a voice she didn’t recognize as her own. In that moment, all had changed. Jesus wasn’t just Jesus –and she was not plain Mary anymore
The conference "Preaching the Mystery of Faith and the New Evangelization" ( Notre Dame, June 2014), opened with the keynote address by Timothy Radcliffe, OP, who began his presentation with reflection on conversation, in his eyes, the most common and necessary tool of all evangelization. Christian dialogue, carried on in every arena imaginable - small scripture group to interfaith understanding to national policy - promises an event of grace; a participation in the ongoing dialogue of God with humanity, and the eternal conversation of the Trinity.
Last week I attended the national meeting of OP Promoters of Preaching, which we dovetailed with the 2014 Marten Program Conference: "Preaching the New Evangelization," June 25-27, 2014 at the University of Notre Dame. Our meeting was held on Wednesday afternoon, and the Conference opened on Wednesday evening.
After our check-in, introductions, and some business matters, we entered into a period of Lectio Divina and shared insights about our reflection on the scripture passage and how we tended to God's Word or were tended to by the Word.
Shalom for "haves and "have-nots"—Shalom can mean many things. But what we take it to mean is not accidental. The way we define it makes sense in the context of our lives. We define the word and use it—as we do all words—as a bearer of peculiar meanings that match up with our needs, hopes, fears, and visions. People who live in the midst of precariousness shape their vocabulary and their faith, their perceptions and their liturgy, in a distinctive way. One of the most important ways the Israelites expressed their faith was around the theme of"cry out, hear, and deliver. These are the "have-nots." Their form of faith was to cry out. God's form of presence and graciousness was to hear their cry, be moved by it, and act of deliver them from the trouble in which they found themselves.
I step away this week from the peace book by Brueggemann to focus on the call to Dominican women and men to take risks for the sake of the Gospel. I serve on the Board of Trustees for The Village of St. Edward, a Catholic institution that provides nursing care, assisted living, independent living, and community services. At yesterday’s board meeting, the director of The Village addressed us about the changing scene of care giving as a result of what is happening with health care in general. He challenged us to be willing to take risks in order that our elderly population be given the best care that can be provided. His focus on risk taking reminded me the words of Simon Tugwell, OP, "The Order, if it is to be true to its calling, has always to be re-inventing itself.
The vision of shalom is so great that it would be nice to manage and control it - to know the formula that puts it at our disposal - either by a religion of piety or morality or by a technology that puts it on call (see Deuteronomy 18:9-14). But shalom is not subject to our best knowledge or our cleverest gimmicks. It comes only through the costly way of caring. Shalom is an enduring vision. It is promised persistently and hoped for always. But there are those occasions when it is an especially vital hope. One such time was during Israel’s exile. Among the eloquent spokesmen for the vision in that period was Jeremiah, who wrote to the exiles urging the validity of the vision even among displaced persons.
The vision of wholeness—total health and well-being—is the supreme will of our God and is the outgrowth of a covenant of shalom found in Ezekiel. "I will make a covenant of peace with them, and rid the country of ravenous beasts, that they may dwell securely in the desert and sleep in forests. I will place them about my hill, sending rain in due season, rains that shall be a blessing to them. The trees of the field shall bear their fruits, and the land its crops, and they shall dwell securely on their own soil" (Ezekiel 35: 24-27). In this covenant, persons are bound not only to God but to one another in a caring, sharing, rejoicing community with none to make them afraid. This shalom pertains to all creation. The prophets spoke of a world in which creation is reconciled and harmony appears between children and snakes, among all kinds of natural enemies.
In the early 2000's, Chalice Press published a series titled Understanding Biblical Themes. Biblical theologian Walter Brueggemann's book on peace is a part of that series. I will in the next few months offer on this blog excerpts from his book that we as Dominican Sisters of Peace may more understand the title we are attempting to live into. Through the Spirit, Jesus breathes on us and in us "peace that the world cannot give." In the preface of the book, highlights the sixties' and seventies' commitment to shalom, commenting that it was "on the romantic side and lacked a critical edge, a liberal propensity to think that if we all said well and we all did well, all would be well." He goes on to talk about prime texts of shalom: Psalm 85, vv. 9-13, Jeremiah 29:11-14, and Micah 5:2-5.
In our Easter Scripture readings, we see clearly that the Gospel is preached and spread by a community of preachers. No one was in the preaching endeavor alone. One of my seminary students, James Kulway, speaks to this indirectly in his final reflection paper for our class. The way of God is not always perfectly clear, distinct, and obvious at first glance. God works and moves in our lives in profound and tremendous ways but such is the design of God that God's ways take interpretation, faith, understanding; it takes naming, and it most especially often takes another person. The preacher is this other person to name the ways of God, to tell how God is moving in our lives, to speak prophetically to the people of God. James, of course, was referring to a single preacher in a homiletic event. However, his words apply well to those of us called to witnessing the Gospel by our lives.