Witnesses To Hope

Please support
the mission of
the Dominican Friars.

1st Impressions CD's
Stories Seldom Heard
Faith Book
General Intercessions
Daily Reflections
Volume II
Come and See!
Homilías Dominicales
Palabras para Domingo
Catholic Women Preach
Homilias Breves
Daily Homilette
Daily Preaching
Face to Face
Book Reviews
Justice Preaching
Dominican Preaching
Preaching Essay
The Author


Sr. Brenda Walsh, Racine Dominican


We use the word “witness” a lot in writing and conversation. Jesus said: “Go forth and be my witnesses to the ends of the earth.” What does it mean to be a witness? How am I to understand it? “Witness means giving the whole of my life, the whole of our lives as a faith community. It is not a nice coat or suit we wear on Sundays or special occasions. It is the whole thing – who we are and what we are about. It means to know, to experience someone or something in a personal way and to give testimony to that experience by my speaking, my acting, my caring and loving. When I experience life and goodness, I am compelled to share it. In a sense that experience never leaves me alone.


Gustavo Gutierrez, in his book “We Drink from our own Wells”. speaks about the experience this way.: “We are on a journey where we have already met the one we are searching for..”  So the meeting is not just a one time event. It is ongoing.”


“In “Jesus the Stranger”,  Joseph Donders reminds us:  “ To be a witness is not something we do all by ourselves. The initiative comes from God, the success belongs to God and the credit goes to God.” God speaks to you and me in the ordinary, everyday events of our lives. How do I know it is the real, authentic voice of God?  We will know the answer deep within ourselves. There are different ways God speaks to us. That reminder of Joseph Donders comes to my mind often when I am involved in a challenging endeavor – The reminder that the initiative comes from God, success belongs to God and the credit goes to God. It keeps things in perspective.


In Nature: Take a few moments to look at and enjoy the beauty  around you. We are told that  “The heavens declare the glory of God.” This beauty is available locally and globally. It calls us to take care of the earth, to enjoy it and pass it on without abuse to future generations. George Manley Hopkins reminds us the “world is filled with the grandeur of God.” That kind of speaking and listening can nurture us day by day.


God speaks through the people and events in our lives. God spoke to Mary and she had complete trust that God would accomplish what was promised. Abraham heard God’s voice: “Get up. Leave your country and go into a land that I will show you. I will make you the father of many nations. Sara, your wife will bear a child even in her old age.” Abraham and Sara put their future in God’s hands and the promise was fulfilled.


Can you think of a time when God spoke in a challenging way to you? I recall one that happened several years ago. It was a Sunday afternoon at the parish where I worked in downtown Racine. I had just finished arranging all the program for children and adults for the Fall. We were all set to go. The phone rang: “Brenda, will you consider having your name placed in nomination for community leadership? You have 30 minutes to get out here and share your values and insights and hopes for the community?” After a time of prayer and  struggle with the question, I said “Yes.” It was a challenge. The day by day “Yes” to the call over the years was also a challenge to keep the response fresh and generous. I’m sure many of the readers can give examples of how God spoke forcefully to you and topsy-turvied your life as mine was.


Sometimes the voice of God comes gently and sometimes loud and clearly. God is willing to be put in a vulnerable position, depending on our response. It is up to you and me to be listening continually and not let God’s word fall on deaf ears. My ears and eyes and hearts must be open to hearing the voice of God in the cries and pain of the poor and powerless, the hurting, marginalized and weary. I am called to be present to them in the same way God is willing to be present to me. I cannot impose my timeline, my manner of responding, my expectations or standards on them. Neither can I give up on any person. Everyone is called to life and goodness and wholeness just like I am. I need to remind myself that success comes from God and the credit for any good response goes to God.


The invitation to us is to be a witness to radical hope. We are living in a time

of great threat to our very existence, nuclear threat, war and famine, lack of health care and more. Yet in the midst of this we are hearing of great creativity especially among the young. Many are taking responsibility for creative solutions to the problems and pushing to the brink of a new way of thinking, relating, living and acting.


Where have you witnessed radical hope? I saw it in India. There were crowds, staggering numbers of people everywhere teeming with hope. They had simple hopes … bread on the table, that most of their children would live, that they might be able to learn to read or write and more. I also saw hope driving with a friend a few years ago, through a town devastated by a tornado. The people were out with a bulldozer going through the town, ready to build again. Radical hope! I saw it in a woman who had kidney failure, both legs amputated and other major health problems. I asked here one day how she was doing: She started with a long litany: “Oh I am so blessed, I have good caregivers, a great family, faith and more. I am so blessed.  Radical hope!


Gutierrez also said, we must be distilled by suffering if we are to be authentic witnesses .When I look back, pain and suffering has helped me keep the emphasis on the right things. The challenge is to see pain as a friend and not an enemy  Another challenge is not doing something for the poor but with the poor. I walk with them, stand with them, and together push back the boundaries in both of our lives.


We give thanks that we live in this time of pain and challenge and great grace. We are called to hope as people have never hoped before, to struggle and pray and work for God’s outcome and always remember that the call comes from God, the success belongs to God and the credit goes to God. We pray that God’s plan will prevail and not ours. We know that love is stronger than destruction and death in our own lives, in our communities, our church and our world. We are all called to be witnesses to radical hope.

Justice Preaching Archive

Just click on a title below to read the article.
- The latest titles are listed first. -

• Justice Bulletin Board •
• A New Year •
• Two Essays on Peace •
• A Call To Respect and Welcome Diversity - A Challenge of Our Faith •
• Addressing White Power and Priviledge •
• An Ethical Reflection on Work... •
• A Re-energized Catholic Church •
• A Renewed Call for Nuclear Disarmament •
• Called to Proclaim and Live With Moral Courage •
• Called To Protect the Poor In Our Economic System •
• Call To Persevere In Praying and Working for Peace •
• Care For the Environment •
• Care for the Earth •
• Caritas in Veritate •
• The Challenge of Discipleship •
• Comprehensive Immigration Reform •
• The Death Penalty Revisited •
• What Is Ecological Economics •
• Eliminating Global Poverty •
• Global Warming... Calling for an Urgent and Ethical Response •
• God's Fool •
• Green Congretations - A Growing Movement •
• More Gun Control •
• Healing the Racial Divide •
• Speaking the Truth in Today's World Takes Courage •
• Justice and Compassion •
• Labor Issues and the Catholic Church •
• Is More Consumer Spending the Answer? •
• Moving from A Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace •
• Preaching Justice & Moving from Violence to Peace •
• Reaching For the Stars - Brenda Walsh •
• A Call To Reduce Prison Population •
• The Relationship Between Labor And the Catholic Church •
• Sermon On Domestic Violence •
• Sustainability •
• The Death Penalty •
• The New Economy Movement •
• The Role of Ethical Standards... •
• War Is Not the Answer •
• Witnesses To Hope •

©Copyright 1999 - 2024 Dominican Friars

HOME Contact Us Site Map St. Dominic