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Feasting on Silence

Late-Christmas-season greetings from RENEW’s newest staff member! I am a Dominican sister from Caldwell, NJ, who professed first vows in August 2019. As we celebrate Sunday’s great feast, I share an adapted reflection on the Baptism of the Lord that I wrote in 2018 while at the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate in St. Louis, MO.
It was the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, and I was at a vigil Mass in my home parish. The homilist spoke of Isaiah 42’s “bruised reed” and “smoldering wick”: God’s love for each of us is so extravagant that God refuses to break the reed or quench the wick that still might have some life, some potential to live and love as we are called. I thought of the great commissioning that we share with Jesus through our own baptism. The Spirit who opens the heavens to rush upon Jesus yearns also to rush upon us, to anoint us to do God’s work. Dare we believe this? If we do, we must change—a daunting prospect!
The homily that night offered challenge, yet it also gave hope, calling us deeper into life as God’s beloved sons and daughters. It called us to know that God’s words about Jesus, “This is my beloved” (Mt 3:17), are words that God speaks of us, too.
Even with these joyful tidings, something greater happened for me that night. Indeed, it was something beyond the joy of the music, beyond the beauty of the church adorned with evergreens and lights.
It was the meditation after Communion that spoke to my soul. What words did that meditation speak? None! It was a prolonged silence, punctuated by a child who babbled and someone who coughed. The silence continued several minutes. How fitting, I thought. We, the baptized, have been commissioned, but the next step is to be still. How else to answer the wondrous call to share the very work of God’s own Son? The call to know our belovedness and to preach it in word and deed is, surely, a call to action. But first, we must ponder the gift of this call. We must be still.
So sit for a minute, or more! As January’s routine resumes, the Baptism of the Lord is easy to overlook. Make some time for silence. Bless yourself with some holy water, if you can. Remember your own baptism. Remember that you are God’s beloved. Bask in that certainty. And then, give God’s love to someone else. Happy feast.
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
Image courtesy of
Sr. Gina Scaringella, OP, is a Communications Associate at RENEW International. She is a newly professed Sister of Saint Dominic of Caldwell, NJ, who worked in medical communications for many years.

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