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.

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Numbers 12 : 1-13

Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman he had married and they said, "Has YHVH only spoken through Moses? Has He not also spoken through us?" And YHVH heard.

Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than any man on the face of the earth. Yet suddenly YHVH said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, "Come out, all three of you, to the Tent of Meeting." The three of them came out.

YHVH came down in the pillar of cloud and, standing at the door of the Tent, called Aaron and Miriam. They both went out and He said, "Listen carefully to what I say, 'If there is a prophet among you, I reveal Myself to him in a vision and I speak to him in a dream. It is not so for My servant, Moses, My trusted steward in all My household.'"

"'To Him I speak face to face, openly, and not in riddles, and he sees the presence of YHVH. Why then did you not fear to speak against My servant, against Moses?'" YHVH became angry with them and He departed. The cloud moved away from above the Tent and Miriam was there white as snow with leprosy. Aaron turned towards Miriam and he saw that she was leprous.

And he said to Moses, "My lord, I beg you, do not charge us with this sin that we have foolishly committed. Let her not be like the stillborn whose flesh is half-eaten when it comes from its mother's womb."

Then Moses cried to YHVH, "Heal her, o God, I beg of You."

Monday, 8 August 2016 : 19th 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 message of the Scripture, beginning with what we heard from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel, describing how he was called by the Lord to become the servant and the messenger of His will to the people of Israel in exile in Babylon. The prophet Ezekiel saw the Lord in all of His glory, and he saw the truth about the One Whom he worshipped and praised.

And through what he had seen in the vision, Ezekiel was called by God to be His mouthpiece to Israel, calling them to repent from their sins and to leave behind their sinful ways, following instead the way of the Lord, their God, the only way which guarantees the salvation of their souls. The Lord wanted to forgive His people who have betrayed Him and disobeyed Him, and thus He called on Ezekiel to be that instrument of His salvation.

And in the Gospel today we heard about the Lord Who spoke to His disciples regarding the apparent conflict between obeying the Lord and obeying the laws of men. There seemed to be a conflict between the obligations to pay tax to the Temple and to obey the Lord, Who needs no tax or payment from us, but just our love and devotion. The Lord made it clear that we should just obey things as they are, so long as these do not contradict our faith.

And how do these relate to us, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is because very often we do not follow the Lord because of that conflict that are existing between ourselves and our worldly ways, with the ways of the Lord. It is often that we cannot commit ourselves because we thought that if we follow the Lord, then we will be closing our opportunities and chances in this world.

Many of us said no to the Lord because we wanted to settle our own lives first, or that we could not commit ourselves fully to serve Him and His purposes because we are concerned with our own wants and desires in this world. We are often in our comfort zones, unable to move out of those comfort zone, worrying about the challenges and the difficulties that we may face if we walk beyond that security and comfort we have in life.

But we have to realise that, for many of us, our lives are not perfect. There are many of us who live in poverty and great sufferings every single day of our lives. We have that commitment to each other, to love those who have little or none, and share whatever blessings we have with them, so that everyone may have enough for themselves and not suffer from hunger or thirst, of from the lack of love. And that is the essence of what being a Christian is truly about.

And perhaps that is why we should heed the examples of St. Dominic, the holy priest and saint whose life was truly exemplary and great, as a devoted servant of our God, who disposed of the ways of the world and sin, in order to attain the greater glory found in God alone. And having found his way to God, he endeavoured to bring many more people, many more souls to the presence of God, followed by many who thought in the same manner, which was the reason for the now famous Dominican religious order.

St. Dominic was a Spanish priest and friar, who was renowned for his great and moving sermons and homilies, through which he called many people to repent from their sins and to obey the Lord their God. It was told that he had devoted himself to the Lord since the years of his youth, and he worked very hard, after joining the priesthood, working among the heretics of the Cathar heresy in order to convert them back into the true faith in God.

He gathered many people with the same aim and the same desire to bring their fellow brethren back into the loving embrace of God, focusing on preaching and the teaching of the truth in order to dispel the falsehoods and lies of Satan. And thus, the Dominican Order, also known as the Order of Preachers, was born. St. Dominic spearheaded its efforts to bring the people of God back to a disciplined life in the faith, and a life where it is often filled with difficulties and challenges.

Certainly, St. Dominic himself led by example, living frugally and acted in accordance with the laws of the Lord. He became an inspiration to many people across many ages, and we too should walk in his footsteps. We as Christians need to work together and overcome that fear and reluctance we have. Do not fear and do not be worried, for God will take care of us of all that we need.

Let us all work together and go forth confidently, filled with faith, zeal and love for God. Let us all help one another to reach out to the Lord our God, and achieve together the justification and salvation which He had promised all those who kept their faith in Him. God bless us all, now and forever. Amen.

Monday, 8 August 2016 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Dominic, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 17 : 22-27

At that time, when Jesus was in Galilee with the Twelve, He said to them, “The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. But He will rise on the third day.” The Twelve were deeply grieved.

When they returned to Capernaum, the Temple tax collectors came to Peter and asked him, “Does your Master pay the Temple tax?” He answered, “Certainly.” Peter then entered the house, and immediately Jesus asked him, “What do you think, Simon? Who pay taxes or tribute to the kings of the earth : their sons or the other people?”

Peter replied, “The other people.” And Jesus told him, “The sons, then, are tax-free. But so as not to offend these people, go to the sea, throw in a hook, and open the mouth of the first fish you catch. You will find a coin in it. Take the coin and let it pay for you and for Me.”