Reflection on a Community that embraces Agape
Before the earth was formed, God had a dream, God took clay and out of love and with love, he created earthen vessels. You and I are those “Earthen Vessels”, made in God’s image, and we have been given “the breath of life”.
All of creation is woven out of love and that is why God said, “it is very good”.
God is love, where there is love there is God, and where there is God there is love.
In the beginning was the Word and the Word became flesh in Jesus Christ. God became incarnate, the Emanuel. By Word and deed, Jesus manifests God’s love for His sons and daughters.
Jesus broke cultural, religious, political and sexist barriers.
Jesus touched the lives of those who were untouchable and who had very little value in his time, such as children, woman, gentiles, slaves, the poor, the unclean, the sick, and those considered as outcasts by the religious authorities of his day.
St Dominic always spoke either to God or about God. The Dominican, Renaissance Painter, Fra Angelico has several paintings that depict Dominic praying at the foot of the cross of the Incarnate Jesus. Dominic never points to himself, but only directs our attention to Jesus. Jesus is Love, and he paid the ultimate price on the cross. He cried out to his Abba, “forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”. Jesus was truly putting his words, “love thy enemy” into practice. Fra Angelico also paints Dominic, studying the Word of God in a very reflective manner, demonstrating Dominic’s love of scripture
St Jerome states, “Ignorance of Scripture is Ignorance of Christ”. One of our four pillars is study. In our Rule, the study of scripture is listed as number one. You can’t love someone if he or she is a stranger. You must listen to many stories about an individual to get a complete picture. To love God intimately, can only happen if we ponder on the words of love in the scriptures. I consider Scripture, as God’s “love letters” to God’s people.
Dominican spirituality is Christocentric. Dominican evangelical spirituality is rooted in the Words and deeds of Jesus where he asks his followers to “Go and proclaim the Good News to all creation”. Spirituality that is not anchored in the Gospel of Jesus, is not Christian spirituality, which is why Dominicans in Dominic’s time and those who came after him, never made Dominic into a cultic figure.
After listening to the first reading from Dominican, Theologian, Philosopher and Mystic Meister Eckhart, I think he is suggesting we need to be prepared to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, so that we may become full of Grace and the Word of Love can take birth in us?
Dominican spirituality is one of mercy, compassion and tenderness. It is said, that on one occasion Dominic offered himself as ransom so a slave could be freed from prison. In another situation it is said that during a time of a terrible famine Dominic sold his precious books thinking that the living skins of the famished were more valuable than the dead skin bound books.
Without mercy and compassion, all religious practices and beliefs are useless, empty and without love.
In our third reading, our compassionate Father is waiting for us at the door.
When Abba sees us coming home, he runs out to meet us, he does not scold, does not ask why we left, but embraces us in in his loving arms, and joyfully whispers, my son, my daughter, I love you.
In today’s second reading, St Paul gives us insight into what a Christian community based on Agape should look like.
The challenge is for Dominican Chapters/Fraternities to be communities of Agape. Agape is the highest form of love, for God and for God’s people. It is the love of God for us and our love for God in return. Agape is divine love. It is the heart of God expressed through us to others. St John in chapter 3 says, “my dear children, lets not just talk about love, lets practice real love”.
What kind of a community will those who are seeking and those who thirst and hunger for Jesus find in a Dominican Chapter/Fraternity?
Will your communities be welcoming, joyous, compassionate and merciful?
Will they be an oasis of love, hope, prayer, faithfulness, fellowship and charity?
Agape love is only possible when we empty ourselves to the Lord.
Jesus said and did what Abba would have done if Abba walked physically among us.
The Father and Jesus, were and continue to be one in spirit and of one heart.
Will seekers find Jesus in your midst, as in the words “ They will know we are Christians by our Love” that we sang earlier.
St James makes it clear to us, that faith, but without good works, or with out responding in love to the needs of our neighbor, is dead faith.
Dominican Chapters need to be a place of refuge like a running stream is for deer.
Keep your eyes and hearts open to the pain and hurt in your midst. Model yourselves after Jesus and Dominic being in solidarity with those who need your love. Be people of the Beatitudes.
People are seeking genuine places to meet God intimately and a community that cares for each other, a place of fellowship, and communion of heart.
St Paul says Love should be patient, kind, not self-seeking and not easily angered
Dominic adopted the Rule of St. Augustine, that reads: “The main reason for you having come together is to live harmoniously in your house, intent upon God in oneness of mind and heart” In the Acts of the Apostles, we are told that the early Christians sold their property, and shared what they had with the whole community. Dominic lived like Jesus in Apostolic poverty.
The spirituality of Dominican, fraternal communities, exist to create a communitarian experience.
Jesus dared to hope for a community where no one would be left out of his love.
May you dare, to have your dreams fulfilled by building such a community?
Be assured that God loves you, and The Dominican family loves you.