Friday, 27 March 2009

Sir, we wish to see Jesus (Jn 12:20-33)

The Gospel is again taken from John this week (Joh 12:20-33). I will only write a very short reflection as we will be away most of the weekend and I didn't want to wait until Sunday evening before posting one.

My attention was drawn to the following passage when I read the Gospel for the first time this week.
"Sir, we wish to see Jesus."  (Joh 12:21 RSV)

There are some Greeks who came up to Philip, and subsequent Philip went with Andrew and together to Jesus with their request.During the week I was thinking a lot of the phrase "Come and see" as we can find a few times in the Gospels, for example in the Gospel of John in verse 1:39, when Andrew and John ask Jesus where he lives, and also later with the call of Nathanael.

I think the "Come and see", and the question of the Greeks if they can see Jesus, is very important. The only reason to understand Jesus, and to get to know Him is to spent time with Him. The answer to the question of Jesus, "What do you seek", asked to Andrew and John in the first Chapter of the Gospel of John is "Where do you life?". A question about the intimate life of Jesus, a question to find out who He really is. Not just some outside, abstract idea, but really the person...

In the first reading, from Jeremiah (Jer 31-31-34), we can read that God says through the prophet "I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts;" (Jer 31:33 RSV) and also "and no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, `Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD;" (Jer 31:34 RSV).

Maybe a bit far fetched, but I think we can reflect on this in combination with the "come and see". If we really start to know the Lord we don't really need anybody to tell us about Him. In the beginning we might need to be pointed in the right direction, as I needed when I converted to Christianity. I needed to be shown that it was plausible that God existed, and needed to be pointed in the right direction to meet Him, in my case initially through the Scriptures. For me the scriptures told me about Christ, through reading a few paragraphs of the scriptures every day I opened my heart to Him...

However when we start to open our hearts to Jesus, we can allow Him to come in. Jesus said "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me." (Rev 3:20 RSV), so when we open the door of our hearts to Jesus He will come in. And that event will completely change our lives, it will be the encounter with the event, the event who is a person, a person named Jesus Christ as pope Benedict XVI has put it multiple times...

"Sir, we wish to see Jesus", the voice inmost in all our hearts... "if any one hears my voice"... when we hear and respond to this voice we will not need anybody to tell us anymore about how to find the fullness of life, as the fullness of life will be within us!

(I posted an followup with some simple reflection on how to "come and see". Please follow this link)

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Lenten talks on Saint Paul: III

The third of the series of Lenten talks on St. Paul. This third talk looks at the two letters to the Thessalonians and the letter to the Galatians. Fr. John Harris OP is going to give a talk on St. Paul on every Tuesday of Lent in our priory in Dublin.

To see all the talks in this series please click here.

I will try and post all the talks on this blog (http://www.witnesschrist.com) as soon as they available. The talks are about 50-60 minutes long:

Monday, 23 March 2009

Institution of Lector

Bro. Viktor was instituted as Lector during our morning prayer yesterday, and I just wanted to post these two photo's to mark the occasion:

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Jesus the light of the world (Jn 3:14-21)

Today's gospel contains probably one of the best known Gospel passages in the world. We have seen it on the cover of one of the albums of U2, and regularly see it in the crowd at a soccer match etc.: Jn 3:16. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (Joh 3:16 RSV) An amazing passage indeed, the core of our hope, the core of our salvation...

However, I want to look at a bit a different aspect of the reading this Sunday. I was at the Lectio Divina group last Thursday here in the priory. When we read the first readings the following fragment stood really out for me: "The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place; but they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words, and scoffing at his prophets" (2Ch 36:15-16 RSV)

Especially now, I guess, with all the controversial messages we read on the front pages of the papers regarding the actions of our Pope... I will not go into the details about my opinion on the selective interpretations of the media, but just want to link it in with the reading above. God is sending messengers all the time to his people, He sends them messages because he has compassion because they are lost in the dark, but they ridicule them, they mock them and despise them. His messengers are bringing the Truth, but they do not like it, because "men loved darkness rather than light (Joh 3:19 RSV)", "for every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. (Joh 3:20 RSV)".

Jesus is the light of the world: "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (Joh 8:12 RSV). I am a herald of this, as since I came to know God things around me really started to make much more sense: "If any one walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world (Joh 11:9 RSV)".

In the book of Samuel we can read that God says to Samuel "for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me" (1Sa 8:7 RSV), and in my opinion, so it exactly seems to be in the world. The people have not just rejected the messengers, but have put God aside especially in the Western World.

God is love and God has fully revealed himself through His only Son "not to condemn the world", but out of love, so "that the world might be saved through him" (Joh 3:17 RSV). However, "He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God" (Joh 3:18 RSV). God is ready to open us with open arms, but He cannot force us to come to Him, it is our own decision.

A week and a half ago we heard the gospel in Luke about Lazarus and the rich man, where the rich man begs Abraham to sent a Lazarus to his brothers to warn them, but Abraham replies "They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them." (Luk 16:29 RSV). God has fully revealed Himself to us, though His Son. This weeks gospel tells of His love for us, where He give His only Son, so we might be saved. All the signs are there, if only we open our hearts and welcome God into our lives. If we would only embrace the offer of His love, if we encounter the event, a person who is Jesus Christ, if only we would step into the light so we can see clearly what it is all about... only them would we find happiness, only then can we experience true love!

Again, I don't intent the above to be a homily or talk, but just some reflections of myself, which might help you in your own meditations. Last week I promised to but a bit more preparation in the reflection.... but I don't known if this is what anybody was waiting for!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

St. Patrick's day!!!

Today is St. Patrick's day!!!

Well, this is probably most well know fact in on the earth, especially in the English speaking world, but still...
It is a great occasion, especially as it is kind-of the middle point in Lent, and we get a short breeder with the calibrations.

The picture on the side is of one of our brothers who is completely in the mood for the festival!!
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Saturday, 14 March 2009

Keep the Sabath Holy (Jn 3:13-25)

(Sorry my reflection this week is a bit weak... I will try and prepare myself better during the coming week)

This Sunday, the 3rd Sunday of Lent, tells us about the first time Jesus goes to Jerusalem for the Passover during His public ministry. Jesus went up to Jerusalem for this import Jewish feast, a custom He always observed as we can read in the gospel of St. Luke: "Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. (Luk 2:41 RSV)" in accordance with the Law (Ex. 23:17).

We can see here that Jesus was an observant Jew, he followed the rules of the Jewish religion. A first reaction could be that God is above the law and that it does not apply to God, but that is not the point I think. At the baptism Jesus himself said "Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness. (Mat 3:15 RSV)".

The point is that the Law was created to help the Jews to live lives orientated towards God. The command to come three times a year before God (cf. Ex 23:17) is not there to annoy them, but so that they would stay in touch with God, so God would become a real part of their lives. The law is there to lead the people of God to a real relation with him, and prevents them from staying.

And so it is the same for us. In the first reading (Ex 20:1-17) we read the commandment to keep the Sabbath holy. This, and the Church's subsequent teaching that we have to attend mass on the Sunday, is not there to annoy us, but to help us. For God worked for six days "and rested (Exo 20:11 RSV)" the seventh. I think this word rest is very important.

In Genesis 2:15 we read that God took the man and rest (נוח in Hebrew) him in the garden. Man was in the garden with God, he rested there, he dwelt with God in peace. This was before the fall, when all was still in harmony. So too for us, we need a day of rest. It is imoprtant to have a balance in our lives, to spent time with the family etc, but it is even more important to find rest in God. God is an intergral part of our life, or atleast shoud be... Knowing God has to make a difference, and we will start noticing the difference it makes in our lives when we find this rest in God, the deep peace that Adam had when he dwelt in the garden before the fall... a deep unity...

So when Jesus drove out all those who "make my Father's house a house of trade (Joh 2:16 RSV)" we have to remind ourselves that we should not make the Sunday a day of trade. We should instead make it a day centered on the essentials of life. Our bodies are "a temple of the Holy Spirit (1Co 6:19 RSV)", so in a way we should not only go to Church and attend mass for 40 minutes, but also make our whole day, and indeed out whole being, "a house of prayer (Mat 21:13 RSV)".

So in normal life, the six days can be very hectic, and even if we want to we sometimes do not get a good oportunity to get in touch with Jesus, to spend some quality time with Him in somekind of way. But we should try at least to keep the Sunday holy, and make it a day in which we encouter our God... the only Truth that can set us free and fullfill the deepest disire of our hearts.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Lenten talks on Saint Paul: II

The second talk in this series on St. Paul is about the letter to the Romans. There will be no talk coming Tuesday as it falls on St. Patrick's day, but we will be back the week after. Fr. Nelson Medina OP is standing in this week for Fr. John Harris OP this week.

To see all the talks in this series please click here.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Drama @ Youth 2000 retreat in Newbridge

There seems to be a steady flow of video these last few weeks...
Below is a recording of one of the Drama's performed at the Youth 2000 Christmas retreat which was held in Newbridge, December 2008. I think it portrays the tensions between God an life very well!

Saturday, 7 March 2009

The transfiguration (Mk 9:2-10)

This Sunday's gospel is the story of the transfiguration, as narrated by Mark. The first thought that came to my mind when I saw it, is that it seems a bit strange so in the beginning at lent. We just about got used to this fasting season, now underway for about a week and a half, and suddenly we have Jesus there in all His glory.

However, having a quick look back, we see that in the previous story Jesus was saying that "Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again" (Mk 8:31). So we have there a brief prophesy of Jesus on what is to happen in the near future. He explains them how His glory is going to come to pass, through obedience, subjection and rejection as He completely gives Himself up for our sakes to be sacrificed. However, the disciples didn't really understand it, as we can see in St. Paul his reaction and Jesus subsequent rebuke: "Get behind me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men." (Mk 8:33)

Now six days later Jesus shows another side of Himself as the three apostles who are with Him on the mountain get a glimpse of His glory. It was when He was alone with them when he transfigured "and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white" (Mar 9:3 NAS).

I like to take that point out of the reading, especially as it is very appropriate for lent. In lent we are journeying towards the Easter. It is the time in the desert, a time in which Jesus prepared himself for His ministry. He prayed and fasted during this time, and so do we, so we might be prepared when Easter comes. But lent is not only about denial, it is much more. Christianity is not a religion of separate events, but a complete way of living our live to the full. During lent we deny ourself things so we can focus better on God. In this way we become closer to God, and therefore (the word lent comes from Spring) indicates that it is also a growth into new life. Like we see it around us in nature during spring, where the first hints of green are appearing on some tries, and flowers will start to come up out of the ground... it is a time of renewal, of a fresh start!

Jesus transfigured in front of them when they were alone. I think that we can take an important lesson from this, that we need time to spend with Jesus alone, so He can show us a glimpse of His glory. He took the three disciples with Him, and so He invites us personally to come with Him. When we spend time with Him in prayer, like Jesus spend time in prayer in the desert, He will show us a glimpse of His glory, of His love. When we follow Him up to this high place, which can take a good bit of perseverance on our part, we meet Him as He really is, we find ourselves gazing into the depths of love itself... everything else around us seems to disappear, and we find ourself suspending in a timeless void, opening our hearts fully to this silent love...

Peter did not know what to say... and this is I think the natural reaction when we are really finding Our Lord in prayer... there might even be this sense of holy fear... but it is only in Him that we can find these moments of fullness which nothing else can give us...

But then off-course, these moments of revelation of such Glory are not the ordinary experience of prayer. Like I have said so often we would become prayer junkies if it did. Generally is is a hard climb up to a mountain of which we don't know how high it is, and we can easily make the mistake to think that through our own effort we can reach it quicker...

We can also see that after this short period of revelation the cloud comes and overshadows the apostles. After the cloud leaves everything is back to normal, and they only saw Jesus... they went down the mountain, steering the way to Jerusalem...

I belief, or actually I know, that if we spend time with Jesus in prayer He will show us the way. It might not always be easy, and sometimes we might feel we go nowhere, either having lost the path climbing up or lost our way in the cloud. But Jesus will guide us if we trust in Him and completely surrender our will to Him. He might not always appear glorious, but is always Jesus, and He will permanently change our lives once we open our heart to Him!

Friday, 6 March 2009

Lenten talks on Saint Paul

The first of the series of lenten talks on St. Paul. This first talk gives an overview of the life of St. Paul. Fr. John Harris OP is going to give a talk on St. Paul on every Tuesday of Lent in our priory in Dublin, except next week when Fr. Nelson Medina OP will stand in and talk about the letter to the Romans.

There will be no talk on St. Patricks day, the 17th of March.

To see all the talks in this series please click here.

I will try and post all the talks on this blog (http://www.witnesschrist.com) as soon as they available. The talks are about 50-60 minutes long:

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Video's of the Youth 2000 Christmas retreat

Some video's made at the Youth 2000 Christmas retreat last December. Truly an amazing weekend were 500 young people came together to celebrate their faith! Have a look at some of the impressions below:

Like to know the Dominicans?

The Dominicans are organising a day for those men and women who are discerning a call to the Dominican way of life. The day is organised by the friars, nuns, sisters and members of 3rd Order.

The theme of the day is: Like to know the Dominicans? It is envisaged that the primary focus of the day will be on the theme of discernment. Prayer and the celebration of the Eucharist will be central to the work of the day. Those who are participating or who would like to take part will have an opportunity to meet Dominican friars, nuns, sisters and laity to discover more about our life.

The event will begin at 10 a.m. and conclude at 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 14th, 2009.
For more information about this event and how to possible sign-up have a look on the Blog of our Vocations Director:
http://irishdominicanvocations.blogspot.com/2009/02/year-of-vocation-next-dominican-event.html

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Request for prayers

The Dominican nuns in Drougheda will have another "life-in weekend" the weekend coming up, the 6th - 8th of March. In such a weekend a small group of young woman who are interested in the Dominican Order come and life with them in the retreat house of the convent.

The weekend is really a chance for them to get a bit a better idea of the way they live. During the weekend they will be participating in the communal events. Such weekends are always a time of blessings I feel, there is always a great sense of God working in the people involved!

Please keep this weekend and the people participating in your prayers!

Monday, 2 March 2009

Recordare Virgo

The Dominican anthem Recordare Virgo:



RECORDARE, Virgo Mater Dei, dum steteris in conspectu Domini, ut loquaris pro nobis bona et ut avertat indignationem suam a nobis.

REMEMBER, O Virgin Mother of God, when thou shalt stand in the sight of the Lord, speak good things for us and to turn away His indignation from us.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

The desert experience (Mk 1:12-15)

Today we read the account in Mark, that Jesus is driven into the wilderness for forty days. Mark does not give as much details as Matthew (4:1-11) and Luke (4:1-13) do in their accounts, which are good additional texts for reflection for the start of lent as well. I think it is good to specifically reflect on these passages of the Gospel during the time of Lent, regards Jesus being sent into the wilderness. Jesus goes into the wilderness, and as we can read in more detail in the other accounts that He is tempted in different ways.

After receiving the Holy Spirit in baptism Jesus' his ministry is beginning, and the Spirit he just received during His baptism leads Him into the wilderness as a necessary preparation for His mission. I myself am thinking straight away of the Dominican Vocation, seeing the parallel in Saint Dominic's life. Our life is in a way modelled on this Gospel, as we spend time in prayer/contemplation and also study in which we in a way separate ourselves from the world (while being in the world) to try and strip our lives down in order to be able to focus on the essential, on God. Then as Jesus does after the forty days (Mk 1:14-15) we go out and preach. Contemplata aliis Tradere, in a way a perpetual Lent :-).

But so it is similar in each one of our lives, and especially during this period of Lent. It is an opportunity to deepen our relation with God and to try and strip ourselves from our worldly distractions in order to be focus on what is important. During this forty day period we live towards Holy week and we prepare ourselves for this. On Good Friday Jesus was completely stripped naked to be crucified....

So I belief that Lent is a challenge, but also an invitation, to give ourselves completely up to the Will of the Father. To try and completely empty ourselves out during this period, and to give ourselves unconditionally to God... it is a time in the desert, among the wild beasts of temptation and discouragement but with the angels to support us, preparing ourselves to be able to fully participate in the light of Easter, in the resurrection, now and forever!

"[Jesus] being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross." (Phi 2:8 RSV).

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The Irish Dominicans have a website called Dominicans Interactive with online resources. We also have an iPhone/iPad App, which can be found in the iTunes App Store.


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