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Homily for Sunday, July 29th

Fr. Brian J. Pierce, OP 

   bleu line

17th Sunday - Ordinary Time - July 29th

The image of Abraham knocking on God's door, begging for mercy on behalf of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, is a fitting image for all of us who call ourselves members of the Family of St Dominic. We, like Abraham, are beggars. We too stand knocking at the door of the heart of God, our hands empty and our hearts hungering, begging for a piece of bread, for a Word, for mercy. The Our Father which Jesus taught to his disciples is a prayer for beggars. In it we beg for the coming of God's Kingdom, we beg for God's will, we beg for daily bread and we beg for forgiveness.

Somos mendicantes, nuestras manos vacias, nuestros corazones hambrientos. Como Abraham y Santo Domingo, le mendigamos a Dios el don de su misericordia.

" Knock and the door will be opened. "

God is a Door that is always open. " Please, Lord, what if there are at least ten innocent people there? " was Abraham's plea. God opens the door again and again and again.

In the words of Jesus in Luke's gospel today: " Pide y recibiras ; busca y encontraras ; llama y se te abrira. " Dios es una puerta siempre abierta.

Our Christian story, in fact, begins with the opening of a door - the door of a humble home in Nazareth in Galilee. It is Luke again who paints for us the scene. Mary hears a knock at the door and opens it up to a stranger, an angel named Gabriel, and since that day the world has never been the same. We are here today, preachers in the spirit of Dominic, because this woman of great faith risked to open her door to a stranger, an unfamiliar Word, a surprise from God.

Maria abre su puerta a un extraño, una Palabra sorprendente. Su vida cambia, y la nuestra tambien.

But she who opened her door to the Word-made-flesh was herself met by many closed doors. Along the windy, cobblestoned streets of Bethlehem Mary and Joseph experienced what the poor experience the world over : closed doors. As in today's gospel, they heard from behind many a closed door : " Do not bother me ; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. "

" No molesten. La puerta ya esta trancada. Mis hijos y yo ya estamos acostados. "

" Llama y se te abrira. " ?Y si no se abre ? Que hacemos cuando la puerta no se abre ? En muchas partes de America Latina se celebra cada año antes de navidad Las Posadas. Maria y Jose, buscando una puerta abierta para compartir con el mundo el don de Dios.

I remember Sr Mary O'Driscoll, a Cabra Dominican sister, asking a question at a conference many years ago : " Do the poor feel comfortable in our homes ? " Does this question not penetrate to the very heart of our call, as Dominicans, to be open to the Word of God in our sisters and brothers ? Are the doors of our convents and priories, our universities and our parishes open to the poor ? Is our dinner table a place where we break bread with strangers ?

One of the great national symbols of my own country is the Statue of Liberty (Perhaps some of you were hoping to sneak away today to New York to see it !!) The Statue of Liberty was given as a gift from the people of France, and the poet, Emma Lazarus, named it " Mother of Exiles. " (Madre de los exiliados) In her poem inscribed on the statue are the following words :

" Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free… Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. "

Beautiful words. But do they speak the truth ? And our words… our many words. Do they speak the truth ? Do they open doors or close doors ?

Sr. Gabriella, from the monastery in Turino, said in our commission meeting the other day that community life and contemplative life are two open doors - in communication with one another : " Due porte aperte che comunicano l'una con l'altra. "

These are the same two doors which appear in today's gospel : " Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me 3 loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my home from a long journey…' "

The main character of this story is literally caught in the middle - between two friends. He has opened his own door to his tired, hungry friend, and now finds himself pounding on another door - at midnight, the text points out - begging for bread.

Is this not the experience of our Holy Father, St Dominic, who wept late into the night, begging God on behalf of the poor, the hungry, the sinner? Mission and contemplation meet when the door opened to my neighbor and the Door opened in my midnight calling out to God become, in fact, one and the same.

" Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter and dine with him and he with me" (Book of Revelation) and this from the One who taught his disciples to pray : " Knock and the door will be opened. "

El Dios a cuya puerta llamamos en la oracion de medianoche es el mismo que nos llama a la puerta, pidiendonos posada y pan. Es una sola puerta.

We are beggars, hungry beggars, walking along the road to Emmaus, pounding on God's door for an answer to our prayer. " Give us this day our daily bread. "

" Donne-nous aujourd'hui notre pain de ce jour. "

And then, unexpectedly, we spot him again - the Stranger, knocking at the door - and something deep within us urges us to invite him inside, into our house. And through the open door he walks. And he sits down at table with us and tells us some stories and shares with us a bit of wine.

" Y lo reconocemos al partir el pan. " puce


Design & management : Fr. Yves Bériault, o.p.