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.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Dominic, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 15 : 21-28

At that time, leaving that area, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from the area, came and cried out, “Lord, Son of David, have pity on me! My daughter is tormented by a demon.”

But Jesus did not answer her, not even a word. So His disciples approached Him and said, “Send her away! See how she is shouting after us.” Then Jesus said to her, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the nation of Israel.”

But the woman was already kneeling before Jesus, and said, “Sir, help me!” Jesus answered, “It is not right to take the bread from the children and throw it to puppies.”

The woman replied, “That is true, Sir, but even puppies eat the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said, “Woman, how great is your faith! Let it be as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Dominic, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Jeremiah 31 : 10, 11-12ab, 13

Hear the word of YHVH, o nations, proclaim it on distant coastlands : He Who scattered Israel will gather them and guard them as a shepherd guard his flock.

For YHVH has ransomed Jacob and redeemed him from the hand of his conqueror. They shall come shouting for joy, while ascending Zion; they will come streaming to YHVH’s blessings.

Maidens will make merry and dance, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness, I will give them comfort and joy for sorrow.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Dominic, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Jeremiah 31 : 1-7

YHVH declares that when that time comes He will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be His people. Thus says YHVH : The people who survived the sword have found grace in the desert. As Israel was seeking for his rest YHVH appeared from afar saying, I have loved you with a love everlasting, so I have kept for you My mercy. I will restore you again, and you shall be rebuilt, o virgin Israel!”

“You will take up your tambourines and go out dancing joyfully. You will plant vineyards again on the hills of Samaria, and the farmers who plant them will enjoy their fruit. There shall be a day when watchmen will call out on the hills of Ephraim, “Come, let us go to Zion, to YHVH our God!”

For YHVH says this, “Shout with joy for Jacob; rejoice for the greatest of nations. Proclaim your praise and say : ‘YHVH has saved His people, the remnant of Israel!’”

Tuesday, 8 August 2017 : 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 heard the passage from the Book of Numbers, telling to us the moment when divisions rocked the community of the people of Israel, with the siblings of Moses, the one whom God appointed to be the leader over the entire people of Israel, trying to stake a claim on leadership and power over the whole community.

Aaron and Miriam resented the fact that even though they were the siblings of Moses, whom God appointed to be leader and to be the one through whom He spoke to Israel, they had no authority or power whatsoever. They were not given the position of honour, even though Aaron was indeed appointed as the leader of the priests, the Levites. In all of these, we can see how human pride and ego had taken the better of both Aaron and Miriam.

Then, in the Gospel today, all of us heard of another confrontation that occurred between Jesus and His disciples with the Pharisees, who in many occasions continued to hound the Lord and follow His works closely, often with contempt and criticism, because in their eyes, what the Lord Jesus and His disciples had done did not conform with their teachings and the way approved by them.

However, the Pharisees had become drunk with the temptation of worldly power and glory. They occupied the upper strata of the society at that time, and they were highly esteemed, and even feared by the others in the society. They had the influence and the power to even dictate the life of others, as those appointed to be the guardians of the laws and customs of the Jewish people. But, they have misused the authority granted to them and ended up opposing God's good works, just as Aaron and Miriam had risen up against God and Moses.

In all of these, we see the dangers of the temptation of worldly power, the ego that lies inside each and every one of us, which is a great obstacle on our path to reach the Lord. The devil is always active in his efforts to tempt us with power, worldly glory, fame and all other forms of persuasions, through which he convinced us that all that we have attained in life are due to our own power and might.

But we must know that all of us humans are intrinsically greedy and filled with ego, ambition and desires, and unbridled power can corrupt us in heart and mind, as we end up as what Aaron and Miriam had done, desiring control, glory and prestige of the position that they desired, and as what the Pharisees had done, in jealously guarding the power, authority and the prestige which they had attained in the society, refusing to let even the Lord Who came to bring His truth to the people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all remember what the Lord said in the Gospel today, that all those that do not belong to God shall be uprooted and destroyed, all those who have refused to obey the Lord and walk in His ways and instead preferring to follow their own standards and ways. Let us not be taken over by our ego and by our greed, and instead, let us actively seek to be true Christians, who is humble, obedient and loving in all of our actions and deeds.

Let us all follow the example of St. Dominic, the founder of the Order of Preachers, also known as the Dominicans after their founder. St. Dominic is one of the most influential and well-known saints, remembered for his hard work and evangelisation drive among the people of God, and he worked hard to convert many people who have fallen into heresy, particularly in what is now southern France, where the Albigensian heresy was at its height at that time.

He founded the Dominicans as a religious order, gathering many other people who were willing to give their lives for the sake of the Lord, doing His will and caring for His people, by teaching them the Word of God. They travelled frequently, preaching the faith to the people through words as well as through actions, in their many works of charity among the people, resulting in many souls being saved from damnation due to heresy and sin.

The hard work of St. Dominic and his companions, and many other holy men and women of God throughout the ages are reminders that we as Christians are also able to do the same in our own respective lives. It is too often that we have been preoccupied with our attempts to bring more wealth, power, fame and glory upon ourselves, at the expense of our relationship with God, distancing ourselves from Him because of our sins.

Let us therefore strive to do more in our lives, to devote ourselves to the Lord and His cause. Let us commit ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord, that we will no longer seek personal glory or worldly pleasures, but instead, following the examples of St. Dominic and the many other holy men and women who had gone before us to the glory of heaven, by doing God's holy will, we too may be worthy to share in the glory of the saints in heaven. Let us cast aside our pride and therefore be worthy in the sight of God, our Lord and loving Master. Amen.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Dominic, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 15 : 1-2, 10-14

At that time, some Pharisees, and teachers of the Law, who had come from Jerusalem, gathered around Jesus. And they said to Him, "Why do Your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders? For they, they do not wash their hands before eating."

Jesus then called the people to Him, and said to them, "Listen and understand : What enters into the mouth does not make a person unclean. What defiles a person is what comes out of his mouth."

After a while the disciples gathered around Jesus and said, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended by what You said?" Jesus answered, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted shall be uprooted. Pay no attention to them! They are blind, leading the blind. When a blind person leads another, the two will fall into a pit."

Alternative reading

Matthew 14 : 22-36

At that time, immediately, Jesus obliged His disciples to get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowd away. And having sent the people away, He went up the mountain by Himself, to pray. At nightfall, He was there alone.

Meanwhile, the boat was very far from land, dangerously rocked by the waves, for the wind was against it. At daybreak, Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. When they saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, thinking that it was a ghost. And they cried out in fear. But at once, Jesus said to them, "Courage! Do not be afraid. It is Me!"

Peter answered, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." Jesus said to him, "Come!" And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water to go to Jesus. But seeing the strong wind, he was afraid, and began to sink; and he cried out, "Lord, save me!"

Jesus immediately stretched out His hand and took hold of him, saying, "Man of little faith, why did you doubt?" As they got into the boat, the wind dropped. Then those in the boat bowed down before Jesus, saying, "Truly, You are the Son of God!"

They came ashore at Gennesaret. The local people recognised Jesus and spread the news throughout the region. So they brought to Him all the sick people, begging Him to let them touch just the hem of His cloak. All who touched it became perfectly well.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Dominic, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 50 : 3-4, 5-6a, 6bc-7, 12-13

Have mercy on me, o God, in Your love. In Your great compassion blot out my sin. Wash me thoroughly of my guilt; cleanse me of evil.

For I acknowledge my wrongdoings and have my sins ever in mind. Against You alone, have I sinned.

What is evil in Your sight, I have done. You are right when You pass sentence; and blameless in Your judgement. For I have been guilt-ridden from birth; a sinner from my mother's womb.

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.