Associate Ceremony Reflections

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

When I was invited to share some reflections with you tonight, I struggled with whether to accept this inaugural preaching moment.  Having wrestled with what it means to be a Dominican and an Associate, I questioned what salient words I could offer you.  How could I encourage you to continue your journey to walk humbly with God when I struggled to carry out the four Dominican pillars of prayer, ministry, study, and community.  Preaching, especially, is the least likely activity that I envisioned myself engaging in.  Yet, here I am – called to be the Holy Preaching.  May we all be open to those moments when God calls us to be a voice of hope, healing, and compassion to each other.

As we heard in tonight’s opening song, we are invited to be companions on the journey, boldy responding to God’s call to break bread with each other and to share with each other, in true Dominican fashion, the fruits of our contemplation.  As companions on the journey, who seek to live a life grounded in truth and faith, let us listen to how God wants to speak to us in this moment.

As I read over the selected Scripture reading for tonight from the Gospel of John, I was immediately comforted about preaching to you by the first words in this reading, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God.”  So I am entrusting my reflections to God and trusting that the Spirit will work through me to speak to you, to your heart, and to your circumstance wherever you are on your life’s journey.

Immediately, we hear the words “Trust in God” in this first verse in John’s Gospel reading.  These words can elicit many different thoughts and feelings in us, depending on our personal relationship with God and our experiences with others.  For some, trust may not come easily because our personal experiences with others may have led to disappointment, humiliation, or regret in entrusting our heartfelt feelings to another person.  Or, our trust in God, when in the throes of a crisis, may have left us wondering why suffering happens and wondering why waiting for God’s response seems to take forever.  On the other hand, trust may come easily for you because time has taught you that God is always present in our lives and that God can bring about good from difficult situations.

Trust can be a difficult virtue to nurture.  It requires letting go and giving over our fears and concerns to a God who asks us to faithfully believe that our prayers and our hopes will be fulfilled.  We know though from experience, from living a life of faith, that trust can ask much of us.  Trust may call us to be patient with God’s ways, to be open to new possibilities, to accept our limitations and to let God enfold God’s plan in God’s time and to trust in the truth of God’s promise to be with us always in life, in death, and eternally thereafter.

As you reflect on the difficult moments and positive memories from your own life’s experiences, I hope you can see God’s footprints imprinted on your path. We must hold onto this memory of God’s abiding presence in our lives when we hit the inevitable bumps in the road and find it difficult to trust or to believe that God is with us.  And, we must be beacons of hope to others, whose trust in God or in others may be clouded by darkness and despair.  By sharing the fruits of our prayer and our study with a broken world, we, as Dominican Sisters and Associates, can bring healing and light to others.  We need only to trust in God to provide what we need for the ministry we are about and we can find strength for the journey from being in community with each other as we go forth in our call to be disciples of Christ.

In the next verse from the Gospel of John, we hear Jesus declare to his disciples that there are many places where they can live in his Father’s house and that Jesus is preparing a place in his Father’s house for his disciples.  Being invited to someone’s dwelling place is a loving gesture that says I want to be with you, to share my life with you.  So, we hear in this verse Jesus’ desire to be with his disciples, to be with us, to get to know us and for us to get to know Him.  We are invited into a personal relationship with Jesus and told that he is preparing a welcoming place for us in God’s kingdom. Knowing that Jesus is preparing and has prepared a place for us with God should offer us comfort and reassurance that God provides for us.  What I hear also in this verse is the voice of hospitality, of being welcome to enter God’s kingdom as we are and no matter who we are. This message of being a welcoming community is certainly one our world needs to hear and where our advocacy for the marginalized is essential.  We are all welcome into God’s kingdom; there are no walls, no stipulations or conditions that we must satisfy to live in God’s dwelling place as Jesus tells us there are many places we can live in God’s kingdom.  We are blessed again, as Dominican Sisters and Associates of Peace to have a statement in the 2015 Chapter Commitments about “creating welcoming communities, inviting others to join us as vowed members, associates, volunteers, and partners in our mission to be the Holy Preaching.”

The final verse that I want to reflect on briefly is Thomas’ question to Jesus when he asks “Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”  Jesus responds by assuring Thomas that he can always be found by saying, “I am the Way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”  We are reminded that when we are struggling to find our way or the truth in life that we can turn to Jesus and through understanding Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection that we can know God.

As I end my reflections, I invite you to consider how each of us can continue our journey through the words of this poem from St. Teresa of Avila, entitled Christ Has No Body.

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

As Dominican Sisters and Associates of Peace and as followers of Jesus’ teachings, we are called to be Christ’s hands and feet as we pray, study, minister, and live in community. We are here tonight to affirm our commitment or recommitment to preach a message of hope through our words and actions. We are here to proclaim that we are willing to be Christ’s hands and feet, so that all of God’s people may come to know and trust in God’s love for each person and to create a better world for everyone.  May God bless our paths as we continue our journey and may we trust in God’s providence to work in and through us for the greater good of all God’s people.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

6 responses to “Associate Ceremony Reflections

  1. Mary Ellen George OPA
    I find that you are a Holy Preacher in this reflection. I know it is real in your heart because your message reached my heart. Welcome to you and all our NEW and Past committed Associates.

  2. Mary Ellen George:

    How beautiful your words. They touched me in a way that I will never forget. Thank you for being the beacon of light that I needed today.
    Blessings.

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