Reflecting on Jeremiah 20:10-13

Reflection by Pat Schnee, OPA

In this scripture, we find Jeremiah in deep weeds.  He is being persecuted because of his message. Seems not everybody wanted to hear it, wanted to change their ways.

In the gospel, Jesus is giving instructions to his disciples on their mission going forward.  Interesting words: “Don’t be afraid of those who can kill the body…”  Not what you want to hear when you set out on a mission! That doesn’t seem to bode well. Again, it seems like sharing the message might be dangerous…especially if the message asks hearers to change their ways.

Change is hard. And we especially fight change if what we have is working for us.

Our country is finding itself in deep weeds these days. What has been true for a long time is that our way of life is not working equally well for all people. And a significant factor in how well the American way of life is working for a particular person is the color of his or her skin.

Now that is hard for me to hear. It is hard for me to hear because I try at all times to treat everyone with respect. It is hard for me to hear because I have never used a racial slur and would be horrified to hear one.

And it is hard for me to hear…because my skin color is working for me.

Really…hard to hear.

Like everyone else, I’ve had challenges and sorrows and losses, things I wanted very much but did not get. But none of that happened to me because of my skin color. No options were unavailable to me, no suspicions have been directed at me, solely because of my skin color.

Living the gospel…

Jeremiah and the disciples were entrusted with a message: The Lord hears the cry of the poor.  God considers each and every life valuable, even a sparrow’s.  It is the message I am entrusted to live, to share, to facilitate, not only in my personal life but in society, with all that implies for  health care, housing, employment, education…every facet of public life. None of us can do it all; but each of us entrusted with that mission can do something.  And do it we must, just like Jeremiah, just like those first disciples.  Even if it put us in deep weeds.

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Reflection by Patricia Herrick, OPA

In the gospel, John 16:16-20 Jesus tells his disciples, “A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me.” The disciples look at each other, struggling to understand exactly what Jesus means by this statement.

I can just see Jesus, studying their raised eyebrows, their pursed lips, their silence, reluctant to ask him for an explanation.  Jesus says to them, “You will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices, you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.”

Trying to place myself in this setting, I believe I would have reacted similarly to the disciples. As soon as I encounter something I cannot grasp, I immediately begin searching the internet, reading articles, asking questions to the point of annoyance.

Despite having the benefit of age, time and religious education, I assume I might have understood Jesus more than the disciples.

What I admire, though, is the disciple’s acceptance of the bigger picture and a willingness to delay their understanding of the details.

This is what I believe faith is, believing without seeing, hearing without understanding and placing our faith in Jesus.

Posted in Just Reflecting

“A time to embrace, a time to refrain from embracing.” so sayeth Qoheleth

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

We’re all in this together.”  You’ve perhaps heard this from Ohio governor Mike DeWine in his daily conferences, and seen in a variety of nicely composed reminders on TV.

People are living up to that exhortation., and  have shown in marvelous ways their reaching out in care for each other: comforting, cooking and distributing food, looking in on the isolated,  phoning and zooming  and when we physically cannot touch or serve others—so many needing reassuring and hope—we must trust in God’s embrace of a world in confusion and division. Do you, along with me, still wonder what we can do, how we can help while safely tucked away in our homes and convents? We turn to prayer with a certain urgency.  After all, our prayer, our dwelling in the Word of God calls Dominicans to share the fruits of contemplation…

We are in Eastertide, with earth-life blooming with vivacity around us, yet to me it feels more like Advent—or the Babylonian captivity. All around us people are in mourning, in worry, in sadness, in financial peril, in fear, anger and sadness, and here we are waiting, sharing the uncertainty, safe for the present, but anxious to know what a future for us, the U.S., the world, is going to look like, how we will come back together whenever the virus is under control. And perhaps we are even more anxious because it seems to many of us that we are not essential, we are not out there on the front lines, doing the works of mercy, and we wonder how we are living our Dominican mission—sharing the fruits of our prayer and contemplation, which is such a strong part of our heritage..

We are needed and we will be needed, because the other Dominican “pillar” we have right now, the one to which we daily witness in oh so ordinary ways, is community, our common life.  At present, we hear a good deal of “we’re in this together,” being good neighbors, supporting our brothers and sisters by staying distant.  But as we know, along with the true goodness of the many shown in this time, we also notice the great fissures in our human society. As we form a “New Normal” our charism of common life gives us the graced duty of sharing our gift of Peace which is able to collapse the physical distance or social distance we maintain.

When we  see a ministry assignment to “prayer and presence” we know that the word “Presence” is a multi-layered word with  a range of possibilities for loving and caring and tending to sorrow and pain, offering kindness and cheer, taking time to listen to a person in distress. We are connected.  We participate in the loving-kindness of a God who desires not only presence but Embrace in the now of Eastertide, celebrating the Paschal Mystery of Jesus, opened to us in the spaciousness of the Holy Spirit. This is truly an other-centered way of living, the Good News which those newborn Christians shared with such joy in those first communities of Christians, as Acts has been recounting.

“We are in this together.”  We have two precious gifts to offer in helping to mend and to heal and to reconcile– our rootedness in contemplation, and witness through common life, our sisterhood.  And a title that reveals the power of our prayer and presence: Dominican Sisters of Peace.

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A Reflection by Sr. Ellen Dunn, OP

In these precious hours of time on our hands, day after day, there is a unique opportunity at our individual doorsteps. I’m just now waking up to it in a new way. Mindful of our scriptural preparation for pre-chapter and Chapter 2021, I have been reading about Ruth and Naomi, about Mary and Elizabeth. Since I feel that I can understand the Visitation story better than Ruth, I recently decided to think about my time here in Mingo Junction as time spent in companionship with Mary and Elizabeth. The biblical account is pretty straightforward with few details—just the facts. But I noted the simple verse: Mary remained with her about three months and then she returned to her home. It was the ‘about three months’ part that grabbed me—hearing daily news reports of scenarios about the immediate future.

As I continue to reflect on the days Mary spent in the hill country with Elizabeth, attending to her needs, helping with household chores, the more I realize that it’s really Elizabeth I am aware of. I am clearly Elizabeth in this duo, and as I begin to meditate on this truth, I recall the many ‘Marys’ who have been doing kind things for me over these odd weeks in my home cloister—my next door neighbor, Deana, who gets me groceries & sometimes dinner, then there is Karen (a former student of mine) who calls nightly, and still another Karen who brought Easter dinner & additional cooked meals. So Mary has been quite present to me in these strange days of Covid-19. She has not been sitting idle by the well or by the kitchen fire. And when Mary wasn’t assisting Elizabeth in some way, there was always Zachary who surely needed attention as well.

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A Reflection by Associate Patricia Herrick, OPA

How many times have you heard these old expressions: Every cloud has a silver lining. When God shuts one door, he opens a window. There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in. I am thankful for my struggle because without it, I wouldn’t have stumbled upon my strength?

What motivates you to find the good in a bad situation? What can we gain from an examination of the pandemic we are now experiencing?

I am amazed by how not being able to attend Mass has contributed to a deeper relationship with my God.

First, I have found myself with plenty of time to pray, no excuses.

I have also found myself with absolutely no distractions while listening to the world of God via YouTube. It has increased my listening ability drastically. I almost feel as if the priest (or God) is speaking directly to me.

I find myself trying new things, listening to biographies of saints, finding new ways to pray, reading the oppeace.org website, exploring Christian blogs, etc. One link leads to another, putting me on a more expansive and exciting fact-finding spiritual journey.

Being sequestered in my home has been the ultimate challenge. There’s only myself, my husband and our youngest daughter. We are finding it hard to avoid each other’s nerve endings, yet good things have resulted.

We have become involved in good family activities — reading, watching movies, playing cards, working puzzles, watching church services and praying more together than ever before. The time that we are spending together is enriched and has more depth and meaning. It is helping us expand and deepen our relationships with each other.

I am flabbergasted by the response of the common person to this global crisis.

I see and hear about people who are feverishly sewing masks, gowns, or caps for medical personnel. I am amazed at the medical personnel who have the courage to expose themselves and their families to the virus so that others may benefit. I am impressed by all the stories that I am hearing about how communities are coming together to provide food for the poor, the unemployed, and the homeless.

I’m astounded at the number of businesses who have provided supplies for masks and gowns; schools that are staying in touch with their students; and magazines that are offering free entrance to websites so parents can find activities for keeping their children busy and engaged. It’s truly fulfilling to witness the number of people who have stopped to ask themselves the question, “What can I do to help?”

The coronavirus is frightening and devastating. When we look back on this time period 10 years from now, we will not only recall the negative aspects of a deadly disease and the number of people who succumbed to the illness. We will also recall all the good that came from the global and individual effort to sustain ourselves during the crisis.

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