Dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord grant you His peace!

In the biblical passage of Isaiah which we have heard, there is the joyful announcement of the good news, that is the salvation of Zion, the proclamation that God, the God of Israel, is king.

This salvation is not only a good news for Jerusalem, but it is also a gospel for all the nations, for all the ends of the earth. The prophet is proclaiming his message of happiness and comfort, as he started to do in chapter 40: there he said נַחֲמוּ נַחֲמוּ עַמִּי («Comfort, comfort my people,» Is 40:1) and here he says כִּֽי־נִחַם יְהוָה עַמּוֹ («for the Lord has comforted his people,» Is 52:9). Thus, what the one who brings good news told to his people once, now has been accomplished. Jerusalem has been redeemed, not just in hope, but in reality, because salvation (יְשׁוּעָה) came to her. And not just to her, but to all the peoples of the earth.

To the people of Israel in despair, perhaps in exile, in the Babylonian exile (according to the traditional dating of the text of the Deutero-Isaiah), the prophet is proclaiming the return of the Lord to his people, the return of the Lord in Zion, after many years when God had apparently abandoned the Holy City, as a divorced wife.

This is the sign that the God of Israel is going to become the God of all the nations, because they are going to experience יְשׁוּעַת אֱלֹהֵינוּ, «the salvation of our God.» When all the peoples will see the marvelous works of the Lord, they will acknowledge that He, the Lord, is king, above all the earth (as the responsorial Psalm told us). That is why the Psalm also invited us to shout our joy, to sing and bless the holy Name of the Lord, to proclaim His salvation from day to day. Here again, as in Isaiah, the psalmist uses the Hebrew verb בשׂר, to gladden with good tidings, to herald a good news. בַּשְּׂרוּ מִיּוֹם־לְיוֹם יְשׁוּעָתוֹ, «tell of his salvation from day to day,» proclaim always his victory, his יְשׁוּעָה!

The world was waiting for this good news at that time, but it seems that also today it is yet seeking for salvation. The condition of men and women has not changed at all, notwithstanding the prophetic ministry of Isaiah, notwithstanding the coming of Jesus of Nazareth.

For sure, St. Paul told us today that «God our Savior desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth» (1 Tm 2:3-4). The salvation of God came to us, when God sent the only one mediator between Him and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all (1 Tm 2:5-6). Salvation has been accomplished by Jesus in His death and resurrection, but we are still waiting that this salvation, God’s victory, could reach all the ends of the earth.

The Gospel of Matthew told us that the expectations of the prophets of old have been fulfilled in Jesus. He is the king, to Him God the Father gave all authority in heaven and on earth. He came to bring salvation and consolation to every human heart.

What Jesus did for our ransom, he did once and for all. But now our duty is to spread the gladness of the good tidings so that all the peoples of the earth would listen to the good news in order to be saved by the never-ending Mercy of God. It is the commandment which Jesus left to his disciples before coming back to the right hand of his Father: Go therefore… and teach…

All of us are invited to share this good news all over the world, because we know that the salvation of the Lord came to us in Jesus of Nazareth. We know, we experienced, that “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). We are witnesses that God gave life to the world in the resurrection of His Son from the dead. And we see how much the world is in need of this redemption! Here, in the very place where the Word of God became flesh for our sake, we see how many marks of death are surrounding us: war, violence, a tragic failure to communicate each to his/her neighbor… And if we broaden our gaze, our sight, just a little out of the border of the Holy Land, we see again signs of death and the apparent defeat of the Redeemer and of his work of redemption. Societies are filled by hatred, wars are opposing peoples who used to live side by side, borders became not legitimate signs of identity, but marks of unresolved conflicts. And each one of the fighting parties has its proper narrative, and thus the fake news (often from both sides!) are spreading, instead of the good news of salvation.

At the time of our holy father Dominic (that was also the same time of St. Francis), the situation was not better than today. Europe knew internal wars and war against the external enemy, Islam, and a very dreadful danger was threatening the inner cohesion of Christendom: the heresy of the Cathars. So, violence and errors, offences to life and to truth, were the usual scenario of existence at that time, as it is today, in many ways. Facing those circumstances, Dominic, a member of the canonry of the Cathedral of Osma, decided to engage himself in the challenge, coming from the religious-historical situation. Following his bishop, Diego de Acebo, Dominic, travelling to Denmark for a diplomatic affair, came to know the diffusion of heresy in South France and the inefficacy of the “official” reply by the Church.

Dominic understood that only a life consistent with the Gospel could have been an answer to the questions posed by the heretics. As the messenger of prophet Isaiah (Is 52:7), who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, as the psalmist (Psa 96:3), who tells of Lord’s salvation from day to day, declares his glory among the nations, and his marvelous works among all the peoples, as Paul (1 Tm 2:7), who has been appointed a herald and an apostle, a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth, Dominic felt as a message coming directly to him from God the words of the Gospel: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you” (Matt 28:19-20). Equipped with the Gospel of Matthew and the Letters of Paul, which were his daily bread according to his biographers, and praying in every place, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument (1 Tm 2:8), Dominic started to preach the good news not just with his mouth, but with the example of his life. A life of penance and prayer, a life of continuous meditation of the Word of God, a life of fraternity and mutual love, a life wholly committed to the sake of the kingdom of God. Thus, he achieved the goal to bring back many heretics to the bosom of Mother Church, and to fire anew the Christian society with the flame of his (and his companions’) ardor, zeal, fervency and piety.

After eight hundred years his charism is still living and up-to-date. The Cathars are no more among us, but new types of heresies are sprouting all around. And the substance of many of them is the same as Catharism: a refusal of the truth, kept and transmitted in the Church along the centuries, a new form of Gnosis, that is the temptation to find salvation not in the Sacrifice of the divine Lamb, but in my human efforts and in a secret, esoteric knowledge.

That is why the life and work of St. Dominic continues to speak to us today. And not only to you, my beloved Dominican Fathers, but to all the Christian who take the good of the Church and of the human beings at their heart.

May the Almighty God grant us, through the intercession of St. Dominic, the grace to see the needs of the world in which we are living and to answer to its deep and often unexpressed demands, in the same way as Dominic did, pursuing always the truth, that is not simply a right doctrine, but a Person, the one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, the Son of God, our Savior, Amen.

Alessandro Coniglio, OFM