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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Celebrating the Dominicans

At 4:00pm today, at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, the Holy Father, Pope Francis presided over the celebration of a Mass marking the conclusion of the Jubilee of the Dominicans (7 November 2015 - 21 January 2017), which has been celebrated around the theme Sent to preach the Gospel for 800 years since the confirmation of the foundation of the Order of Preachers by Pope Honorius III.

Homily of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
for the conclusion of the 800th anniversary
of the founding of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans)

The Word of God presents us today with two opposing human scenarios: on one hand, the carnival of worldly curiosity, and on the other, the glorification of the Father through good works.  Our lives are always moving between these two scenarios.  In fact, this has been the case throughout every age, as the words of Saint Paul spoken to Timothy can attest (cf 2 Tim 4:1-5).  Saint Dominic too, with his first brothers - eight hundred years ago - continually moved between these scenarios.

Paul warned Timothy that he should proclaim the gospel in the midst of an environment where people were always on the lookout for new masters, fairy tales, diverse doctrines, ideologies ... Prurientes auribus - with ichy ears (2 Tim 4:3).  This is the carnival of worldly curiosity, of seduction.  For this reason, the Apostle instructed his disciple using some strong verbs: insist, admonish, scold, urge ... and then vigilance, endure afflictions (2 Tim 2:5).

It is interesting to see how even then, two thousand years ago, the apostles of the gospel found themselves confronted with this scenario, which in our days has become extremely developed and globalized because of the seduction of subjective relativism.  The tendency for seeking out novelty that is proper to human beings finds an ideal environment in the society based on consumption, in which at times old things are recycled, but the importance is to make them appear new, attractive, appealing.  Even truth is based on appearance.  We move toward a so-called liquid society, free of fixed points of reference, unhinged, deprived of solid and stable references; into a culture of passing realities, one based on using things and throwing them away.

Against the backdrop of such a mundane carnival, the opposite starkly stands out, found in the words of Jesus which we have just heard: give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Mt 5:16).  And how does this transformation from pseudo-festive superficiality to glorification, which is truly festive take place?  It happens as a result of the good works of those who, having become disciples of Jesus, have become salt and light.  Let your light shine before men - says Jesus - that seeing your good works, they may give glory to your Father in heaven (Mt 5:16).

In the midst of yesterday's and today's carnival, this is Jesus' response and the response of the Church, this is solid support in the midst of the fluid environment: the good works that we can accomplish thanks to Christ and his Holy Spirit, which give rise within our hearts to a desire to give thanks to God the Father, to praise Him or at least to wonder and to ask: why? - why that person behaves in that manner? - that is to say why the world should be concerned with the witness of the gospel.

But in order that such a shock should occur, it is necessary that the salt not lose it's flavour and that the light not be hidden (cf Mt 5:13-15).  Jesus says this very clearly: if salt should lose its taste, it is no longer good for anything.  Woe to the salt that loses its flavour!  Woe to a Church that loses it's flavour!  Woe to a priest, to a consecrated man or woman, to a congregation that has lost its flavour!

Today we give glory to the Father for the work that Saint Dominic, filled with light and the salt of Christ, accomplished eight hundred years ago; work in service to the gospel, preached in word and with his life; work which, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, made it possible for many men and women to be helped so that they would not become lost amidst the carnival of worldly curiosity, but rather that they would have had a taste of sound doctrine, a taste of the gospel, and that they in turn have become light and salt, artisans of good works ... and truly brothers and sisters who glorify God, having been taught to glorify God through the performance of good works and lives of faithfulness.

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