Thursday, 9 August 2018 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Virgin and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 16 : 13-23

At that time, Jesus came to Caesarea Philippi. He asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They said, “For some of them, You are John the Baptist; for others Elijah, or Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”

Jesus asked them, “But you, who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “It is well for you, Simon Barjona, for it is not flesh or blood that has revealed this to you, but My Father in heaven.”

“And now I say to you : You are Peter; and on this Rock I will build My Church; and never will the powers of death overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven : whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you unbind on earth shall be unbound in heaven.”

Then He ordered His disciples not to tell anyone that He was the Christ. From that day, Jesus began to make it clear to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem; that He would suffer many things from the Jewish authorities, the chief priests and the teachers of the Law; and that He would be killed and be raised on the third day.

Then Peter took Him aside and began to reproach Him, “Never, Lord! No, this must never happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an obstacle in My path. You are thinking not as God does, but as people do.”

Thursday, 9 August 2018 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Virgin and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 50 : 12-13, 14-15, 18-19

Create in me, o God, a pure heart; give me a new and steadfast spirit. Do not cast me out of Your presence nor take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Give me again the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will show wrongdoers Your ways and sinners will return to You.

You take no pleasure in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, You would not delight in it. O God, my sacrifice is a broken spirit; a contrite heart You will not despise.

Thursday, 9 August 2018 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Virgin and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Jeremiah 31 : 31-34

The time is coming – it is YHVH Who speaks – when I will forge a new Covenant with the people of Israel and the people of Judah. It will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of Egypt. For they broke My Covenant although I was their Master, YHVH declares.

This is the Covenant I shall make with Israel after that time : I will put My Law within them and write it on their hearts; I will be their God and they will be My people. And they will not have to teach each other, neighbour or brother, saying : ‘Know YHVH,’ because they will all know Me, from the greatest to the lowliest, for I will forgive their wrongdoing and no longer remember their sin.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Dominic, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the feast of St. Dominic, a holy priest and renowned saint of the Church. St. Dominic is remembered for his great piety and devotion to God, for his great missionary zeal and sanctity in life. He was particularly touched by the dangers of the Cathar heresy in southern part of what is now known as France. St. Dominic worked among the people who had been swayed by the Cathar or Albigensian heresy.

Concluding that it requires holy, dedicated and committed preachers and missionaries to convert the Cathar heretics and turn them back into the true faith, St. Dominic came to establish the religious order which would come to be known as the Order of Preachers, or Ordo Praedicatorum. This order would later on be more commonly known as the Dominicans after their famous founder.

St. Dominic never stopped labouring and working for the sake of God’s people, leading an austere and holy life thoroughly dedicated to God. Through the works that he and his many other fellow religious in the Dominican order had done, many of those who have fallen away into heresy had returned towards the Lord and were reconciled to Him.

St. Dominic has shown all of us what each one of us should be doing as Christians. There are many out there who are still lost from God, separated from the love of God and isolated away from the mercy and forgiveness of God. St. Dominic showed us of the need for us to reach out to these lost brothers and sisters of ours, or else they will be lost forever in damnation. Is this what we want to happen to them?

In the Gospel passage today, we heard about the faith which a Syro-Phoenician woman, a pagan according to the Jewish people, had in the Lord Jesus. She believed in Him wholeheartedly even when many others among the Jewish people failed to do the same. Among the Jewish people, they even doubted Him and opposed Him, refusing to believe in the truth that He has brought into the world.

The Syro-Phoenician woman came to the Lord asking for Him to heal her sick daughter, trusting in His power and ability to make her whole again. However, the Lord Jesus initially seemed to be unwilling to help her, and He appeared to be even very rude to her when He alluded to her being unworthy as compared to a dog unworthy of bread from the house master’s table.

But the Lord Jesus knew the faith that was in her heart, and He sees beyond just appearances alone. He was in fact pointing out to the people the meaninglessness of their racist and prejudiced attitude against the non-Jewish people or the Gentiles. At that time, the Jews, descendants of the people of Israel looked highly upon themselves and thought well of themselves as the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as God’s chosen people.

And thus, they looked down on others, the pagans and Gentiles, whom they considered to be unworthy of God and His salvation, unless they adopt their Jewish customs and traditions in its entirety. They thought that they alone deserved God’s love and mercy, and not any others. But they were wrong, and the Lord Himself pointed out the fallacy of their haughtiness and pride.

There were great faith amongst those who were non-Jewish and those who were considered as pagans. It is the fact that each and every one of us must realise, that no sinner is beyond God’s redemptive grace and love, and God freely gives to all of us, His love and mercy. And indeed, it is through us all, Christians and members of the Church, that God exercises His work of love and mercy among all of His people.

God is calling all of His people to be reconciled to Him, just as He proclaimed through His prophet Jeremiah. He promised healing and comfort for all of His people whom He would call from among the nations, after having suffered the effects of their disobedience and the consequences for their sins. He still loved each and every one of them, despite all of their trespasses and sins against Him.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we stirred in our hearts to bring God’s words and truth to all of our fellow brethren who are still living in darkness and ignorance of God’s saving truth? We are all called to follow in the path set by St. Dominic, God’s faithful servant, whose faith and great zeal had caused countless souls to be reconciled with God and found God’s salvation.

Are we able to commit ourselves as St. Dominic had done? St. Dominic had given his whole life and dedicated himself to work of charity and evangelisation among God’s people, even enduring difficult trials and tribulations along the way. The same trials and tribulations will be part of our lives as well if we decide to follow in his footsteps. But that is what the Lord has called us all to be, to be His disciples, carrying our crosses and following Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore devote ourselves wholeheartedly, and renew our faith and zeal for the Lord. Let us all no longer be proud and arrogant, thinking that we are better than others, but instead, let us all realise that we have the capacity and the ability to help all those who are still struggling in faith. May the Lord bless us all, and be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.