We all know that if we are living righteous lives, according to the beatitudes, we can give taste and meaning to the world like the salt. We can give joy and fulfillment. We can also preserve our communities and families, we can keep them from being spoiled, rotten or disintegrated. Like the salt, we can purify our communities, we include our parishes and shrines, this year is Year of the Parish, from sins and impurities. Salt purifies, kills germs, even ants do not step on it. They go around it according to an observation.
We also know that if we are living the beatitudes, we are giving light to all, especially to those who are confused about how to live their faith, those who want to know the truth about themselves, about the world and about God. We, especially you Dominicans, can clarify the truth, that veritas that sets us free, the truth that we are God’s children enjoined to keep his commandments, for our salvation. St. Dominic shined during the Dark Ages of the Church.
The last part of the gospel passage read this evening is about keeping the Word of God, obeying his commandments, the law and the prophets. Those who fulfill God’s commands and teach them are considered great in the kingdom of God. If we seriously take the words of God preached by Jesus, we become great in God’s kingdom.
In the first reading, what the prophet, second Isaiah, considered great are the feet of the preachers. Kasama dito ang mga Dominicans. Walang alipunga.Beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings to the Exiles, to those who were forcibly evicted, uprooted from their homes, that soon God will restore Zion, that city of Jerusalem, ruined by the Babylonian invasion and was abandoned. Once more, the Israelite nation will be restored and will live in peace and freedom. Great are those who preach giving hope to the people who await salvation.Beautiful and great indeed are the feet of the prophets who preach the good news of liberation.
The author of the second reading, believed to be St. Paul, has long reflected on the importance of preaching. He charges Timothy, whom he assigned bishop of the great city of Ephesus, to preach the Word, without conditions, constantly teaching without let up, and doing it patiently. That’s the main work of the shepherd to strengthen the faith of his nascent community.St. Paul has anticipated that time is coming when people do not tolerate sound doctrine anymore, because they would rather prefer listening to the false gospel peddled by false preachers. They will no longer listen to the truth but entertain some other teachings, not in conformity with Paul.St. Paul instructs Timothy, his spiritual son, how to become a good and powerful preacher: The preacher should be steady, stable, unshakable. He must be self-possessed, meaning he takes hold of himself, must have self-control, have mastery of self, not swayed by others, not easily intimidated. He must be able to take up the burden, the hardship of his ministry or mission as evangelist or a preacher at that. He too must look forward to receive a crown on the day of the Lord.
I believe that St. Dominic captured the Word of God and the apostolic traditions and he has transmitted well to his brothers and sisters who belong to the Dominican Order. He knew very well the Old and New Testaments.He lived according to his times, in the Medieval Ages.St. Dominic was challenged by the spiritual destruction caused by the Albigensian heresy when on a mission passing by Tolouse. It was here that he thought of founding an Order, the Ordo Praedicatorum, (I have to confess that I know very little of St. Dominic, trying hard po ako, compared to you who have been following him through and through), to combat this heresy and to preach the Gospel, to be the light of the Gospel to the ends of the known world. St. Dominic was well prepared to engage as a preacher because he loved to study. He was disciplined and focused. He was not discouraged to do his homework even if the environment where he studied in the University of Palencia was degenerating. He was also tender hearted. He helped the starving poor of Palencia by selling his books.
Dominic and Francis
St. Dominic was born earlier than our saint St. Francis, around 10 years earlier. To some historians too bad that St. Dominic is associated with Inquisition and crusades, unlike St. Francis who is remembered by his poverty, humility and simple lifestyle and non-violence stance. But the truth is St. Dominic is acknowledged by the Church that knows better, that he was a noble preacher of grace. St. Dominic and St. Francis, his younger brother, have some similar teachings according to a study made, so much so that both saints are considered united in “one heart and mind.”In terms of obedience, St. Dominic urged the brothers to an obedience of love, not to be legalistic in their obedience, like Francis who exhorted the brothers to obey one another.In terms of humility, St. Dominic writes, “Humility will remove from your heart all false pretension, free from all proud ambitions, and relieve them of heavy weight of temporal dignities.” St. Francis taught the same.In terms of poverty, St. Dominic commends his brothers voluntary poverty. He says, “O my children, my brethren, love, revere and observe Holy Poverty.” St. Dominic refused the riches and pleasures of this world, in favor of mission.Francis and Dominic knew that poverty would free the brothers from worldly cares, to occupy themselves solely the preaching of the Gospel.Tradition tells us that Dominic and Francis met together in one of the churches in Rome in 1216. They were there to approach the Cardinal Hugolino to help them obtain the papal confirmation of their respective Orders – the Order of Preachers and the Order of Friars Minor. According to a story, Dominic previously saw Francis in a dream. When they met each other, Dominic rushed to greet him. From that time on, they became friends. I don’t know if they embrace each other. Maybe beso beso lang. Until now, Dominicans and Franciscans exchange visits on each other’s founder’s feastdays as a sign of unity towards a common goal, like what we are doing now. Fr. Jun will also come to us on October 4.
Today, we still have a common goal. We Dominicans and Franciscans are seen in the AMRSP as big and stable congregations, both male and female. In the last Joint Biennial Convention, there were many female Dominican superiors who attended.We are seen also to be active in the biblical studies, in the Catholic Biblical Association of the Philippines. Once in a while, the Pius Center here at Santo Domingo is being utilized for biblical conventions. We can do great things through our collaborations, not only between Dominicans and Franciscans, but also with other religious congregations that are in the Philippines.When we have board of trustees meetings, we obey one another. Brother, can you draft our statement; Sister, can you edit this? Can you contact this person? Father, can you sign this paper? Opo, sister secretary. Walang matigas ng ulo. In this eucharist, we pray for ourselves that St. Dominic will serve as our inspiration in being the salt and light of the Word. Beautiful are our feet who bring the truth and consolation and good news to the victims of violence, terrorism and war, victims of fake news in the social media, victims of human rights violations, human trafficking, victims of disasters and social injustice.In collaborating, we can do more to clarify things that something can be much better than the status quo and that religious life cannot be emasculated and even if our numbers are decimated due to old age and lack of vocations, we can still do great things for the Lord, for the Church and for our country.
God bless you all. Happy Fiesta Po. Mabuhay po kayong lahat. Mabuhay si Sto. Domingo.