Please press here to listen to the homily or download
Feast of All Saints of the Order of Preachers
Readings: Sir 44:1-15 or II Cor 6:4-10; Psa. 24; Mk 10:28-30
1/ First Reading: (Sirach 44:1-15)
Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers in their generations. 2 The Lord apportioned to them great glory, his majesty from the beginning. 3 There were those who ruled in their kingdoms, and were men renowned for their power, giving counsel by their understanding, and proclaiming prophecies; 4 leaders of the people in their deliberations and in understanding of learning for the people, wise in their words of instruction; 5 those who composed musical tunes, and set forth verses in writing; 6 rich men furnished with resources, living peaceably in their habitations — 7 all these were honored in their generations, and were the glory of their times. 8 There are some of them who have left a name, so that men declare their praise. 9 And there are some who have no memorial, who have perished as though they had not lived; they have become as though they had not been born, and so have their children after them. 10 But these were men of mercy, whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten; 11 their prosperity will remain with their descendants, and their inheritance to their children’s children. 12 Their descendants stand by the covenants; their children also, for their sake. 13 Their posterity will continue forever, and their glory will not be blotted out. 14 Their bodies were buried in peace, and their name lives to all generations. 15 Peoples will declare their wisdom, and the congregation proclaims their praise.
2/ Gospel: (Mark 10:28-30)
INTRODUCING THEME: Following our forefathers’ footsteps, heroic witnesses in the Order’s history
Christ and many witnesses in history teach us that: We live in this life is for a purpose. For example, in the short passage of Mark’s Gospel today, when Peter, the head of the Twelve, asked Christ, “Lo, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.”
We believe God shall fulfill what He promises; but so many times, we let the three enemies mislead our life so that we only aim at temporal attractions such as richness, fame, power and fleshy satisfaction. They try to persuade us that either what God promise can’t be fulfilled or people have no strength to reach it.
According to tradition, the Church uses the solemn day, the first of November, to celebrate all the saints in heaven. Her purpose is to remind all the faithful to meditate about the vocation to be holy of all people. The Dominican Order adds one more day, a week after the All-Saints Day, to celebrate all the saints of the Order. The purpose is to invite all the Order’s members to follow the footsteps of all the saints of the Order in order to be firm in their vocation to be holy and to help others to reach their final destiny.
DEVELOPMENT OF THE THEME
1/ The first reading: Praising of all the heroic Jewish ancestors in the history
1.1/ The Jewish heroic witnesses in their history: The Book of Sirach was written after the Babylon exile of the Israelites, the period which their faith was tested and confirmed by many events which God did to them and to their enemies. The author wrote the book to invite them to look back at their history to see all the heroes to confirm their faith in God. He reminded them generally heroes of the following areas:
(1) The heroic leaders and kings: Before the Israelites have kings, they had many clear-minded and wise leaders as reported in the Book of Judges. Then comes to the time of kings, the most outstanding of all are the two kings, David and Solomon. Although they sinned and felt as everyone; but the importance fact is that they recognized their sin, repented and returned to God.
(2) The advisers for leaders and kings: The advisers for the judges like Samuel and Nathan or the prophets for the kings as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos… They were enlightened by God to know His will before they reveal to the leaders and the kings. Although they were despised, maltreated, persecuted and killed; but they still had courage to speak and to witness for the truth.
(3) Those who wrote all the Books of Wisdom: The author of the Book of Psalms which the Israelites regarded as written or collected by King David, the Book of Job, the Book of Proverbs, the Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, the Book of Wisdom and the Book of Sirach were enlightened by God to reveal God’s wisdom for people by poems or stories.
1.2/ The Dominican Saints: In parallel with heroes in the Jewish history, we also have many heroes of the Dominican Order after 800 years of establishment. Due to the limit of time, we can only mention a few of the important ones:
(1) The founder of the Order, St. Dominic: If one wants to find out the reason why the Dominican Orders has so many saints and in so many areas, one can’t overlook the life of the Founder Saint; because of his establishment of the Order, their sons and daughters were successful on the way to holy life. The Blessed Jordan of Saxony wrote about him as follows: “He displayed his true poverty by sight, by dress, and by his behavior. Constant in prayer, great in compassion by pouring out tears for his children, and he was fervent in zeal for souls. His works testify and his virtues and miracles give witness to what kind of man lived among us on earth. What kind of man even now lives with God in these last days, in which we have translated his holy body from its undefiled sepulcher to a venerable tomb, is clear from the signs worked there and is proved by his virtues. With all these things our Redeemer, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, is glorified, who deigned to choose such a man as His servant and set him over us as our father. His ideals now breathe life into our rule and the example of his shining sanctity inflames us.” (Encyclical Letter 1223, 182-85)
(2) The Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas: This is the saint who many consider he has possessed angelic knowledge. The priceless work which he let behind among so many other works is the Summa Theologiae of which the Church still refers to solve problems in many areas, especially in dogmatic and moral areas.
(3) The saint of the suffered and the poor, St. Martin de Porres: Many people are surprised when they learn the Dominican Order has a saint like St. Martin de Porres. He didn’t work a great work like the Founder Saint nor possessed wise knowledge as St. Thomas Aquinas; but only did many small and normal works as a co-operator brother, but with a greatest love. He let God’s charity and the founder’s love permeated his soul in order to love all people, especially the poor and the sick. He took care all these suffered as he did for God Himself.
1.3/ The good fame is all what the heroes wished to leave for their descendant:
Many Jewish and Vietnamese ancestors recognized the main inheritance to leave for their descendant is the good fame, as many proverbs such as: “A dead tiger leaves his skin, a dead person leaves his fame,” or “If one possesses some virtue, he can live a good life with them, or: “Good parents leave their virtues for their children.” They don’t wish to leave money nor great material inheritance for their children but a spiritual inheritance of virtues because they know this will be necessary for them. The author of the Book of Sirach has the same idea where he stresses what the Jewish heroes left behind for their descendant:
(1) Their descendant must keep God’s covenant: God repeated many times what He has promised with the Israelites’ ancestors: “If you and your descendant keep my covenant and walk in my way, I will bless and protect you all days of your life. No power on earth can touch and destroy you” (cf. Gen 17). The first law they and their descendant must keep is to love God above all things (Deut 5:6-7); after that, they must love neighbors as themselves (Lev 19:18b).
(2) The difficulties will happen and are opportunity for them to purify their faith and learn other virtues on the way to perfection. They must overcome all trials to keep their faith and be perfected. Many people felt under the pressure of difficulties and got far away from God.
(3) If they keep God’s covenant, their descendant shall remain forever: When God blesses and protects anyone, their descendant shall be remained forever. In contrary, when God turns His face away, that person and his descendant shall be wiped out on the mountain and in history. Many generations after them still remember their heroes in their history; those who did wicked shall be forgotten right after they died.
2/ Gospel: The rewards for those who left everything to follow Christ.
2.1/ The conditions one must have to follow Christ:
(1) To give up material things: The Gospel stresses two elements: First is the house where one needs for eating, drinking and resting; second is lands where one works to earn his living. Christ requires one to give up these two basic things before he can become His disciple and to use all of one’s time for preaching of the Good News.
(2) To give up one’s parents and all members of his family: When one is called for preaching the Good News, he can’t put his parents and all members of his family above God. Moreover, when his parents recognized God’s will for him, they must be happy for him and find all necessary means so that their son can fulfill his vocational call. No parents can prevent him because they want him to marry to have descendant nor to take care of them when they grow old. The preaching of Good News must be the first duty of a person before God.
(3) To give up one’s own will: Today passage doesn’t have “to give up one’s own will” as in other passages (cf. Mk 8:34-38; Mt 16:24-28; Lk 9:23-27); but it is an important factor as many said: If one can’t give up his will to do God’s will, one shall gradually take everything back, things he gave up before following Christ.
2.2/ What a Christ’s disciple will be rewarded:
(1) Persecution: When one follows Christ to preach the Good News, he shall be persecuted as Christ often reminds His disciples: A servant isn’t above his master, nor a student, his teacher… If they persecuted me, they shall also persecute you; but have courage because I won over them. A disciple has a reason to welcome the persecution as St. Paul when he wrote, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us” (Rom 8:18).
(2) To receive a hundredfold comparing with what one gave up: First, when one gives up his parents and all members of his family, he shall have many other parents, brothers and sisters in God’s spiritual family. Second, about house and land: a disciple during the time he preaches the Good News, God, through the help of His faithful, shall give generously all which are necessary for the preacher’s health and things for the success of the preaching of the Good News. The experience of many priests and religious brothers and sisters are proofs of this fact.
(3) The eternal life: In heaven, the most notable reward which one shall possess is God Himself because when one has God, he has everything. St. Paul expresses well this fact as follow: “For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn within a large family. And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified; and those whom He justified He also glorified” (Rom 8:29-30).
APPLICATIONS IN LIFE:
1. We must firmly believe in God’s promises; what He promises it shall be fulfilled.
2. We need to read Scripture and the history of all Dominican saints in order to find the zeal which shall help us to be firm on the way to our perfection.
3. We need to practice virtues to have courage to overcome difficulties, persecution and all temptations which the three enemies offer to us in this world.