The Jubilee of the Order and the Gospel of Luke

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fr. Léon Cyrille Kéressé, op.
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Does the Gospel of Luke have a place in the Dominican life when our Father Saint Dominic is passionate by the Gospel of Matthew and the Letters of Paul?

The Gospel of Matthew is destined for believers who were originally Jewish and who became Christian (Judeo - Christians) but this Gospel ends in this way: « Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit » (Mt 28, 19). Likewise, the first speech of Paul, located in Antioch of Pisidia and addressed to Jews ends in this way: « We had to speak the Word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles » (Ac 13, 46). These two books (Matthew and Paul) strongly underline the missionary dimension. I think that our Father Saint Dominic understood, through the Gospel of Matthew and the Letters of Paul, the universalism of salvation that is to say, to any man, salvation is offered, without distinction of race or social situation: « There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus» Saint Paul writes (Ga 3, 28; cf. 1 Cor 12, 13). Consequently, Paul’s missionary conduct has marked our Holy Father Dominic devoured, in turn, of the desire to proclaim the Gospel to all people, on foot and bare hands.Even if our Father Saint Dominic is passionate by the Gospel of Matthew and the Letters of Paul, the Gospel of Luke is of utmost importance for every Christian especially for our Dominican life. I will mention three main reasons:

The first, the ongoing liturgical year (year C) is devoted to the Gospel of Luke. Any Christian (the Dominican family) is invited to revisit the Gospel of Luke usually known as « the Gospel of mercy». Just open the Gospel of Luke in Chapter 15 to become aware of three parables called «mercy» for a God of mercy and tenderness that we do not find anywhere among other evangelists. This particularity underlines how Luke shows, with acuity, merciful God. Thus we should not be surprised that our Pope Francis has dedicated this year to the year of mercy. Every Christian is invited to rejoice, by discovering the mercy of God toward every human being. Our Father Saint Dominic shouted for men, cried for them baring all their miseries in the mercy of God: « What will become of the sinners?» Our Father shared the same concern as the Evangelist Luke whose parables exalt the merciful God as Saint Thomas Aquinas said: « It is proper to God to exercise mercy, and he manifests his omnipotence particularly in this way ».

The second, the Gospel of Luke (the Gospel of mercy), in my opinion, underlines the quintessence of our Dominican life. I remember my first commitment (first profession) in the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) in Brazzaville on 08 August 1994, the provincial asked me this question: « what do you want » and I answered: « the mercy of God and yours ». Each Dominican brother or sister count on the mercy of God and that of the superior. This jubilee year must mobilize all the Dominican family to live in an intensive way the mercy regarding his/her brother or sister. It is time for us to live and to relive this « Sacrament of mercy ». In the Old Testament tradition, the Jubilee is a time where each believer makes an effort to heal his/her relationship not only with God but also with his/her brother or sister. Therefore the year is characterized by the year of justice (cf. Lv 25, 8-17). Thus, our Jubilee Year should be a year of justice toward our neighbour, a pure imitation of God our Father, « gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love » (Jl 2, 13). Thus Jesus recommended us in these words: « Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful » (Lc 6. 36-38).

The third, I evoke the story of Martha and Mary (LC 10, 38-42), I would say rather the story of Mary and Martha because if we observe verses 39 and 40, Luke first presents Mary at the feet of Jesus while listening to his Word (V. 38) and finally Martha comes absorbed by her many cares for the service (V.40). In my humble opinion, this episode underlines the dual essential dimension of the Dominican life. Marie, contemplative figure and Martha, active figure. There is this risk to qualify the Dominican Nuns of « Mary » and the apostolic Dominican sisters of « Martha ». In reality, the two figures are intrinsically linked to all the sons and daughters of Saint Dominic. Both figures do not oppose or contradict themselves because they do indeed meet the motto of the Order: « contemplari et contemplata et aliis tradere » (contemplate and pass on to others what you have contemplated). Thus the figures of Mary and Martha may translate into these terms: « from contemplation to action ».

To conclude, in my humble opinion, the Gospel of Matthew and the Letters of Paul underline the missionary dimension (recipients) of our Dominican preaching, and the episode of Mary and Martha the spiritual dimension (or contemplative) and active (or apostolic).

fr. Léon Cyrille Kéressé, op.

 

(22 October 2016)