Tìm Kiếm

11 tháng 8, 2014

Homily for The Feast of Blessed Father Saint Dominic (August 10, 2014)

(August 10, 2014)

Fr. Joseph Nguyen, O.P.

All three readings of today talk about evangelization. In the first reading, the Prophet Isaiah praises the steps of those who evangelize : How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Is 52, 7-10).   In the Letter to Timothy, Saint Paul reminds his beloved disciple of the necessity of evangelizing, that he should preach the Gospel every time and everywhere, in all circumstances, whether favorable or unfavorable : Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage —with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.”  (2 Tim 4, 1-8). And, finally, in the Gospel, Jesus Christ demands that proclamation of the Gospel be made without delay for whatever reason ( Lk 9, 57-62).

From the very beginning of the history of the Church, there have been thousands and thousands of missionaries, who, following the instruction of Jesus Christ, went about to the end of the globe, preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God, among whom, of special mention, were the apostles, then their disciples, and then all the missionaries the world over, up to the present time. These have been evangelizers “ex professo”, of whom Saint Paul, Saint Dominic and Saint Francis Xavier emerge to be champions  of evangelization of all times.

Saint Paul, in his three extensive missionary journeys, covered most the Asia Minor, and a part of the Roman Empire, up to Rome, the Capital of the Roman Empire. Saint Francis Xavier, on the other hand, evangelized the immense Continent of Asia, particularly India, Japan and China. Today, we only focus on the evangelization of Saint Dominic during the 13th century in Europe, specially at the Southern part of France where the Albigensians florished and had their stronghold.

We may say that Saint Dominic became a missionary only by accident. At that time, he joined the Canons Regular at the Osma Cathedral in Spain. Never before did he have any idea to become a missionary, much less to establish an order wholly dedicated to evangelization. But as a member of the delegation of bishop Diego to Scandinavia, Dominic happened to meet the owner of a hotel, a fanatic follower of the Albigensians. He spent the whole night talking with the owner and was able to convert him back to the Faith of the Church. From that incident, Dominic realized that many Catholics fell away from the Church simply because they did not have enough undertanding of catechism. At that time, preaching the Gospel was still the monopoly of the bishops, so the problem was how to get the Holy See’s relaxation to allow all priests to preach the Gospel as well.

With the approval of the Holy See, Saint Dominic founded an Order called the Order of Preachers totally committed to the proclamation of the Gospel. On the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15, 1216 Saint Dominic sent his first 16 Brothers to preach to all Europe. We may well call this “the Pentecost of the Dominican Order.” Meanwhile, Saint Dominic himself went preaching during the day and spent the night praying. He even went to the most dangerous places, where the Albigensians had their stronghold, including Carcassonne. Once he was captured by the heretics and they threatened to kill him. Saint Dominic told them boldly : ”Don’t kill me right away. Cut my hands and my legs first, then place them before my eyes before you kill me.”

Saint Dominic was indeed most impressed by the warning of Saint Paul : “Woe to me, if I do not preach the Gospel.” (1Cor. 9, 16-18). He spent his whole life going here and there, untiringly, preaching the Good News to all people until the last minute of his life. He died at Bologna, Italy August 6th, 1221. He deserved to be called “the champion of evangelization” of the world. We thank God for having given us such a great evangelizer, and try our best in sharing the task of bringing the Good News of God’s Kingdom to people everywhere.
Fr. Joseph Nguyen, O.P.