As we prepare for the Olympics, a Dominican Sister reflects on relaying and passing on the torch of Gospel truth and love…
2 Timothy 1:1-8; Mark 4:26-34
On cold, dark wintry days, I love to sit around the light and warmth of a fire place. I also realize, however, the continuous care and hard work it takes to keep adding dry branches and to stoke the logs to keep the flames burning.
It’s a strong image for me during this time in our nation of darkness, division, and distrust. I hear Paul’s plea to Timothy and to us: “fan the flames of the gift of God that have been given.” I realized, however, that for the challenges of our day, fanning the flames and enjoying the warmth of a fireplace is, perhaps, not the best image for Dominicans. I think Paul would approve of my switching the image a bit; in fact, it’s the end of this letter to Timothy that Paul’s own words stirred me. Paul is aware that the end of his life is near and he acclaims: “I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.” He kept it by spreading it, by giving it away, “bearing his share of the hardship for the Gospel.”
Yes, a better image today may be the Olympic Torch which is on its way to its destination in South Korea for Opening ceremony in just 2 weeks. A priestess lit the torch in Greece on Oct. 24, 2017, and the relay began its 101 days journey. There are 7,500 runners to represent 75 million people of the Korean peninsula. Those runners are divided into achievers and dreamers, while the motto this year is “Let Everyone Shine.”
Paul was eager to remind Timothy of a kind of relay or passing on of the fire of faith and love from his grandmother to mother, and to him. Now he must run his lap, so to speak. Our Dominican call is to relay the torch of Gospel truth and love that we have received from Saint Dominic and that was relayed through the centuries to us. I think that our brother Dominic, Light of the Church, Teacher of Truth, Rose of Patience would say “YES!”
The words spoken by Saint Catherine of Siena enflesh Paul’s challenge: “If you are who you are called to be you will set the world ablaze.” And who are we called to be? We are bearers and recipients of God’s Love, co-creators of God’s justice and peace. It’s the words of God to Saint Catherine that give me courage: “I am the fire, and you are the sparks.” My small efforts seem so insignificant. It’s like “seed that sprouts and grows, we know not how.”
Joan Chittister writes: “Hope is not a matter of waiting for things outside of us to get better. It is about getting better inside about what is going on outside….allowing ourselves to believe in the future we cannot see, but to trust in God.”
Perhaps today we can have a little variation on the tag game that I’m assuming many of us played years ago. You know: One person was IT and chased around until she would tag another and say, “You’re IT!”
2018, and we have each committed ourselves to bearing the torch of Gospel truth and love to our darkened world in varied ways. We are each called and are each important to the relay. Only one lap at a time: maybe one call to a legislator; one email; one prayer; one act of kindness! When you have finished one lap, touch someone lightly on the arm and say: “You’re it!” meaning – I’m passing on the torch; your turn to do a single lap! Fan the flame! LET EVERYONE SHINE!”
Joan Delaplane, O.P.