Searching for Answers in Jesus’ Life and Teachings

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

I remember in my senior year of undergraduate college browsing through the library shelves searching for an author or a title that resonated with me for writing my Senior Thesis.  As a serious student, majoring in Religion and Philosophy, with burning questions about God and Jesus, I was determined to find the book that would satisfy my thirst for knowledge and give me answers to my searching questions.

After many agonizing weeks of combing through books in the religion and philosophy section of the library stacks, I discovered a trilogy of works combined into one book by John Knox.  This trilogy was entitled Jesus Lord and Christ and included these three titles:  The Man Christ Jesus, Christ the Lord and On the Meaning of Christ. What delighted me about this book was that it easy to read and understand, with language that spoke to my intellectual interests at the time. 

What I explored ultimately in my thesis was the question of how the historical Jesus relates to the Christ of faith based on John Knox’s writings.  I still have this thesis as the writing of it was significant in my faith journey.  The question of Who was this man Jesus? intrigued me and was at the core of my searching.  This question still offers moments of reflection, but my ponderings now take me from an intellectual search to a contemplative quest for understanding the life and teachings of Jesus.

So, who was this man Jesus?  What in his life and teachings is the most powerful message to us?  Of his life, I find that Jesus’ work with the marginalized (the poor, the hungry, the disenfranchised, the sick, the imprisoned) is both an example and challenge for how we are to live individually and communally.  It is in helping the marginalized where we can find Jesus and experience a transformation of heart and mind. Being with the marginalized teaches us not just humility but also about having faith and hope,despite our circumstances.

We are told in Matthew 25:35-36 that Jesus can be found in the marginalized:  “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” And then later, in verse 40 of this same chapter, we hear Jesus’ words “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”  So,when we are looking for Jesus, it is to the marginalized where we will find him.

Of Jesus’ teachings, two Scripture passages communicate to me Jesus’ message for how we are to live our life:

“Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth. It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes. Love never comes to an end.”  1 Corinthians 13:4-8

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.  The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12: 30-31

Love is clearly the central message in Jesus’ teachings.  Story after story in Scripture, we hear and see how Jesus’ actions spring from a place of love.  From the story of the women caught in adultery (John 8:1-11) to the story of the ‘sinful’ woman who bathes Jesus’ feet with her tears (Luke 7:36-50), Jesus conveys a message of forgiveness, compassion, and love for the person.  By his example, Jesus teaches us to live a life free of condemnation and judgement.  We do not see Jesus burdened with guilt or tormented with second-guessing his actions because he is grounded in God’s love.  It is this trust and belief in God’s love that empowers him to minister to so many and to advocate for justice for all people.  And when  Jesus needed to be refueled with this love or to understand the path he was called to follow, he went away to a quiet place to pray.

And so we pray that in our search for answers to life’s struggles that we turn to Jesus’ life and teachings for answers and take time to pray and listen to God’s unfolding message of love to us.

Are you searching for answers to what to do with your life? Why not consider exploring the religious life as a Dominican Sister of Peace?  Come and be the feet and hands of Jesus.  Our Vocation Ministers are happy to walk with you as you seek to answer God’s call in your life.

Posted in God Calling?, News

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Sr. Pat Thomas, OP
Blog by Sr. Pat Thomas, OP

How often have you said to someone or has someone said to you: “I cannot thank you enough”? Why not? What’s stopping you? Usually we say it when someone has gone above and beyond in doing us a favor or a donation. So our humble thanks seems lacking somehow but we say thank you anyway.

But who are the people in your neck of the woods who need to hear thank you again and again and again for the simplest of reasons? I am thinking of our garbage collectors…does anyone ever just say thank you for doing a job that needs to be done? How about the people who clean up the highways, those folks out there with garbage bags and picks picking up our trash…I know some times they are inmates from the local hoosegow but does that make them less useful?

What our police and fire personnel? Teachers? Mail carriers? The grocery baggers at the store—I know that at Kroger’s in Gahanna they usually want to take your cart out for you and load your cars if you wish; don’t think they get extra pay for this but how about “I can’t thank you enough”s?

Of course, all of these thoughts are surrounding Thanksgiving Day, but “thank you” never takes a holiday!

Posted in News, Weekly Word

More on Food Waste

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP, Justice Promoter

My comment in last week’s blog about throwing out food touched a nerve for several people so I thought I’d dig into it a little more.  Globally, food waste or unused edible food weighs in at 1.3 billion metric tons or 1/3 of all food produced. Recovering just 25% of that would feed 870 million hungry people. 

In the U.S., we throw away an average 430 pounds per person which can cost a family of four around $1,500 per year. 30 – 40% of all food grown is not eaten. That’s a lot of food. And it costs $218 billion annually to grow, manufacture, process, distribute and dispose of that food.  That’s a lot of money.  

The Environmental Protection Agency reported that food waste is 21.6% of garbage shipped to municipal landfills and incinerators.  This is problematic because the produce in landfills produces methane gas which contributes to climate change. 

The United Nations recognizes this problem and Number 12.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals (Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns) proposes to halve the per capita food waste at the retail and consumer level by 2030. In fact, France is the first country to pass legislation prohibiting supermarkets from throwing away unused food. It must be donated or the market faces stiff fines.  Denmark has opened ‘ugly’ produce grocery stores.  (Ugly produce is produce that is below the standard for size, shape, color, or appearance but still perfectly good to eat/use.)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has also proposed to reduce food loss and waste by half by 2030. Kroger will be introducing a new line of Ugly Food called Pickuliar Picks beginning next year.  This is part of Kroger’s Zero Hunger/Zero Waste program launched in 2017. Remember, nearly one in seven Americans suffer from “food insecurity” or limited or uncertain access to adequate food.

Another reason to support the Senate version of the Farm Bill is that several measures to address food waste are included.  These include Food Donation Standards for Liability Protections, Spoilage Prevention, Milk Prevention Program, and others.

Also on the Federal Level, in July 2017 bills were introduce into both the House and the Senate to provide funding and establish requirements to reduce food waste by encouraging food donations and liability protection and standardize date labeling on food.  Unfortunately, neither bill has moved past committee. In our litigious society, grocery stores and restaurants are hesitant to donate food should someone eating it get sick.   

One big reason that individuals throw away food is because of the confusion about the “use by” and “sell by” dates on the label. “Best if used by” means the food is tastiest close to the date on the label but it’s still safe to eat once that date is passed. “Use by” is more concerned with safety, not quality, meaning the food becomes less safe to eat after the date. 

What can we do to reduce food waste? Consider these tips from Toby Amidor, a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. 

  • Make a shopping list to avoid buying duplicates of items you have and prevent impulse buys.
  • Understand the food labels (see above.)
  • Buy the exact amount you need. Buying more because it’s a bargain might result in waste.
  • Practice FIFO. First In, First Out means using up food you have in the fridge before using newer food.
  • Eat leftovers. Or cook only what you will eat in that meal.
  • Use leftover scraps.
  • Preserve. Pickle, freeze, can and/or dehydrate fruit or vegetables that were abundant in the summer or fall.

We can all take action to reduce food waste and encourage your legislators to support the Senate Farm Bill and those House and Senate Bills that address this issues. (HR 3444: Food Recovery Act of 2017, HR 954: FoodDonation Act of 2017, S 1680: Food Recovery Act of 2017)

You can also check out for more information on food saving actions.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog


Blog by Associate Colette Parker

Aisha Fraser and Tamara O’Neal were murdered within three days of each other.

One was a devoted Emergency Room Physician in Chicago.

One was a dedicated Elementary School Teacher near Cleveland, Ohio.

Both were described as being committed to helping and serving others.

Both of their deaths were attributed to what some call “the silent epidemic” — domestic-violence.

“Silent” because many of us are unaware of it, until it touches us personally. I urge you to not wait until it becomes personal but to be proactive. Now is the time to speak up and take action.

According to the Violence Policy Center, three women in the United States are murdered every day by a current or former romantic partner and when men murder women, 93 percent are killed by someone they know. (Aisha’s alleged killer is her ex-husband. Tamara’s alleged murderer is her ex-fiance)

Statistics on the National Domestic Violence Hotline website show that more than 12 million women and men are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner annually in the United States and that:

  • 1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced various forms of domestic violence in their lifetime.
  • Women ages 18 to 24 and 25 to 34 generally experienced the highest rates of intimate partner violence.
  • Most female victims of intimate partner violence were previously victimized by the same offender, including 77% of females ages 18 to 24, 76% of females ages 25 to 34, and 81% of females ages 35 to 49.

Does that alarm you? If it doesn’t, it should.

Combing through those statistics and many more (including the fact that five million children are exposed to domestic violence every year), I was reminded that Domestic Violence is an insidious problem deeply rooted in our culture. (Aisha’s daughters, ages 8 and 11, witnessed the brutal beating of their mother four years ago by their father and were again traumatized when witnessing her murder at the hands of the same alleged perpetrator).

I am incensed and I want to see a system put into place that protects those who need to be protected.

October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s theme was #1Thing, accompanied by a challenge for each person to do just “one thing” to end Domestic Violence. It is clear to me that we need to continue doing our part each day.

If you don’t know what to do, I suggest beginning by raising your awareness – the hotline’s website ( is a great place to start.

Here are some other suggestions: know the warning signs; don’t ignore the warning signs; listen without judgement, if someone confides in you; keep the numbers to a nearby shelter and National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233) in your phone; be available to help someone in need; assist a local shelter or domestic violence organization; advocate for victims of domestic violence.

Family and friends of Aisha and Tamara will gather on Friday for visitation, continue to pray for them (and add a special prayer for Audrey and Ava, Aisha’s daughters).

Posted in Associate Blog, News

What does God See?

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

Lately I have been asking this question: What does God see? When we were growing up we learned that God sees EVERYTHING. But think about the question, what does God see?

God sees us as whole human beings, our past, our present, our hopes, our fears, our struggles and our faith, but most of all God sees in us, all of that ALL AT THE SAME TIME. It is all one for God. God does not see your good parts one day and your failings another day. We might see that– but God just sees you and God just sees me. God sees your youth, your middle years, your old age. God sees you now whole and holy, somewhat incomplete, but on the way to being a fully realized person.

No moment in time, no slip up, no sin, no failure or defect can separate us from God.  Even if there still remains in us some lack of forgiveness perhaps or an unfinished “something”.

This is the message of Paul in Roman 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I would add, not even our past.

When we remember family and friends that have gone home to God, it is all love now.  God now sees those we have lost in a most complete and fully realized way.  God sees those we love with the eyes of love. God sees each of us as whole, that is, God cannot see just one part, God sees every part of each of us as one life: one precious, beautiful, exquisite son or daughter.  Nothing now, in the past, or in the future, can separate us or our loved one from the love of God.

What does God see when God looks at us, when we fail or when something we did hurts another person? God sees people of faith, people of hope, even if on some days we only see a small slice of what God sees.  If we can look at each other the way God looks at us, would there be anyone hungry among us? Would there be anyone a stranger among us? Would there be any room for hate? Could we do anything less than feel compassion and offer forgiveness?

When we look at each other the way God sees us, there is no hate, there is no fear, nor judgment, no disappointment – only forgiveness and joy.

This is what it might be like in heaven. God’s gaze is on those who have gone before us and God looks at them and is smiling, God is satisfied, is happy that our mother, our father, our brother or sister, friend or family member is now home. When we look at our own lives and the lives of others the way God sees us, freedom is born anew. We are free from regret, we gain a capacity for forgiveness, and compassion is planted in our souls.

Posted in News, Weekly Word