Dear Parishioners & Visitors,
Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel! - I Cor 9:16
When I was in my early twenties, I started to read the Bible with certain regularity. At the time, I was living in Colombia in the midst of a very complicated political situation. There was a lot of social unrest. Every time I read the Bible, I would find hope and healing. That was a moment of abundant grace in my life. This reading of the Bible and the situation of my country moved me to grow in the understanding and practice of my faith. Soon after that, I started to attend Bible classes. I was not confirmed yet, so I also decided to seek faith formation. In the midst of this search, I was also looking for a Church where the preaching would help me to grow in faith and especially in hope.
One day, I decided to go to Parroquia de Santo Domingo, the Dominican parish in my hometown. That day, the homily of the priest really spoke to my heart. At the end of Mass, the priest also announced that the confirmation classes were about to start. I was very happy because I had found the two things I was looking for in just one place.
The priest who celebrated the Mass that day was Luis Carlos Perea, O.P. He was known as Padre Perea. He was very joyful, very passionate about God's love for us, and a very good Dominican. I started to attend mass frequently. Padre Perea and I became friends. Later on, he asked me to help him with First Communion classes since he did not have enough teachers. I accepted even though I was a little hesitant since it was my first time teaching religious classes in a Church setting.
One day, Padre Perea and I were having coffee, and he asked me if I would like to be a Dominican. When I heard this question something happened inside me. For me, it was like the whole world had stopped. I said to him that I had never thought about it. He asked me if I would like to think about it to which I said I would. Since then, I never stopped thinking about being a Dominican. Later on, with the help and guidance of Padre Perea, I decided to join the Order.
As in my personal vocation story, there are many other stories that help to highlight how essential the mission of preaching the Gospel is. This is precisely what St. Paul is reminding us in his letter today. It is very clear that the mission of preaching the Gospel is to open the hearts of the people of God to receive inspiration, healing, and conversion. It is through the mission of preaching that God makes his way in to move the hearts of his people to new opportunities and new decisions to respond to His Holy Will.
In a parish like ours, the mission of Preaching the Gospel, is not just the responsibility of the priest but of every member. Have you ever wonder how God is calling you to participate in the mission of preaching the Gospel? If not, would you like to think about it?
-fr. Jorge Rátiva, O.P