Monday, 8 August 2022 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Dominic, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord through the Scriptures, each one of us are called and reminded of the obligations that each and every one of us have as Christians, as the followers of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, to do His will and to obey His commandments. We are all called to do what we can in living our lives with faith, committing ourselves to His cause and doing all that we can to live good and virtuous Christian lives while at the same time also fulfilling our obligations to the secular world and states, wherever we are living in.

In our first reading today from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel, we heard of the story of the calling of the prophet Ezekiel, who received a glorious vision of God on His Heavenly Throne, surrounded by Angels, the Seraphim and the Cherubim in all of His glory. He saw all the wonders of God, the might of the Lord surrounded by His mighty servants, the glorious Seraphim, the wonderful Cherubim and the steadfast Thrones. To him, having seen such a vision, Ezekiel must have indeed been terrified and amazed at the same time, and this vision is told to us all so that we may know, just as Ezekiel had experienced it, that the Lord our God, is truly Almighty and Lord of all the Universe.

This is the truth about the Lord Whom we believe in and serve all the days of our lives. Our very existence in this world are all due to God’s will and works, and we are all His people. Each and every one of us are God’s people and servants, and we ought to know Who it is that we believe in and Who it is that we are serving. How can we know the way to follow and serve the Lord faithfully if we do not even know Who our Lord is? That is something that each one of us ought to ponder in our hearts and minds. We may know about it and yet at the same time, we do not appreciate its significance or importance.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the words of the Lord speaking to us through His own words in speaking to His disciples regarding how He was to be handed over to His enemies, and would suffer grievously for the sake of many people, offering Himself as the perfect and worthy sacrifice, for the salvation of all mankind and the whole world. The Lord revealed and had in fact repeatedly mentioned this to His disciples, again and again, but many of them up to then still failed to understand the significance of those words that the Lord spoke about. They only fully realised and understood their meaning after everything had happened as the Lord said it would be.

That is Who our Lord is, the same Almighty and glorious God Whom Ezekiel saw in his vision in Babylon. The same God Who loves us all mankind from the very beginning and Who loves us so much that He gave us His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man, to be born of Mary, His most blessed Mother and entering into this world so that through Him and all that He had done for us, by His most loving sacrifice on the Cross and by His revelation of God’s truths, all of us have been called and brought into the promise of eternal glory and true happiness with Him.

Then, in addition, within our Gospel passage today, we also heard the Lord speaking with regards to the matter of paying taxes, through which the temple tax collectors and the Lord’s opponents certainly would have wanted to test Him and see what He would say with regards to paying taxes to the Roman authorities and to the Temple as were required of the people at the time. If the Lord had answered that He and His disciples should not pay for either the temple tax or the Romans, it would have been dangerous for Him, as they could have easily accused Him of not obeying the Law and commandments of God as revealed by Moses, or of being a traitor to the Romans.

But the Lord wisely and aptly told His disciples and those tax collectors that they all ought to give their due to the powers of the world, although technically as children of God, they were not truly bound to their authority or obliged to fulfil the bonds given to them. What the Lord told His disciples to do was essentially telling them that they should obey the laws of the land wherever possible, as long as those laws do not contradict Divine law of God. One ought to obey God first and foremost, but at the same time, he or she should also be good citizens and people of this world as much as they can.

Doing otherwise would likely result in difficulties for them as they will face even more persecutions and hardships in the effort to evangelise and in spreading the truth of God. Hence, each and every one of us as Christians, as God’s disciples and followers should do whatever we can to obey both God’s Law and commandments as well as the laws and rules of the land, of whichever states and authorities that had dominion over us in this world. All of us should be role models in living our lives virtuously so that in all things we may always be filled with righteousness and be exemplary in our deeds so as to inspire others to follow our good examples, and more importantly, so that through us, God may be glorified and known by many more people.

Today all of us have the great example of the famous St. Dominic as an inspiration to follow, as we celebrate and rejoice together on his Feast day. St. Dominic, also known as St. Dominic de Guzman was the founder of the Order of Preachers, also known as the Dominican Order. He was a Spanish priest who had been known for his great faith and charitable acts since his early youth, and he did a lot of work especially in the area of conversion and missionary works, as he was involved in the preaching work and ministry against the heretical teachings, particularly the Cathars in the southern regions of what is now France.

St. Dominic established the foundation of his new religious order, dedicating himself and all others to a new way of life, focusing on God and leading a more ascetic and holy way of living, distancing themselves from worldly temptations and desires, and spending the time and effort to get ever closer to God. And through his extensive travels and missionary works, St. Dominic inspired many people to turn back towards the Lord in faith and many people were also inspired to join his religious order. He showed great example of faith and became a great inspiration for many down the centuries, and his devotion to Our Lady, the Blessed Mother of God and one of the earliest use of the rosary also brought many great graces for the Church and the people of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today therefore let us all do our very best to renew our commitment to God, knowing that He is truly our Lord, Master and King, the same Almighty One surrounded by His mighty Angels as seen by the prophet Ezekiel. Let us all do our best so that in our actions, words and deeds we may inspire others in the manner that the saints, especially that of St. Dominic, to follow the Lord and to believe in Him as well. May God be with us always and may He bless us all in our every endeavours and good works. Amen.

Monday, 8 August 2022 : 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, “Yes.” 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 strangers and aliens?”

Peter replied, “Strangers and aliens.” 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 give it to them for you and for Me.”

Monday, 8 August 2022 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Dominic, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 148 : 1-2, 11-12, 13, 14

Alleluia! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise Him in the heavenly heights. Praise Him, all His Angels; praise Him, all His heavenly hosts.

Kings of the earth and nations, princes and all rulers of the world, young men and maidens, old and young together.

Let them praise the Name of the Lord. For His Name alone is exalted; His majesty is above earth and heaven.

He has given His people glory; He has a praise to His faithful, to Israel, the people close to Him. Alleluia.

Monday, 8 August 2022 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Dominic, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ezekiel 1 : 2-5, 24-28c

On the fifth of the month (it was the fifth year of the exile of king Jehoiachin) the word of YHVH came to Ezekiel, son of Buzi, the priest, in the land of the Chaldeans by the banks of the Kebar. There the hand of YHVH was upon me.

I looked : a windstorm came from the north bringing a great cloud. A fiery light inside it lit up all around it, while at the centre there was something like a glowing metal. In the centre were what appeared to be four creatures with the same form.

I heard the noise of their wings when they moved, similar to the roar of many waters, similar to the voice of the Most High, the noise of a multitude or of a camp. When they were not moving they lowered their wings. I heard a noise above the platform over their heads. Above it was a Throne resembling a sapphire; and high on this Throne was a Figure similar to that of a Man.”

“Then I saw a light as of a glowing bronze, as if fire enveloped Him from His waist upwards. And from His waist downwards it was as if fire give radiance around Him. The surrounding light was like a rainbow in the clouds after a day of rain. This vision was the likeness of YHVH’s glory. On seeing it I fell on my face.

Saturday, 8 August 2020 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Dominic, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today, from the first reading in which we heard the words of the prophet Habakkuk, we heard of the words of anguish spoken by the prophet on behalf of the people highlighting their frustrations and desperation seeing how those who were righteous and faithful suffered and endured bitter trials while those who were wicked seemingly managed to live on without harm or trouble.

But the Lord reassured His people and told them that He will never abandon them no matter what, and that everything will happen as it has been deemed by God, and everything will happen in due time. When we think that why is it that those who were wicked rejoiced and lived while the righteous and the faithful suffered, then we must remember that every bits of sin, no matter how small, will be left untouched, when the Lord judges all of His people at the time of the Last Judgment.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord Jesus and His interaction with a man who approached Him begging on Him to heal his son, who had been afflicted with epileptic activity, which at that time was also one of the signs of the demonic possession. The man said that although he had sought the disciples, but they were not able to heal the child from his condition, and he therefore asked the Lord to help him.

The Lord rebuked His disciples and those who followed Him for their lack of faith, and after immediately healing the man’s child without issue, spoke of just how little faith they truly had in Him, that they doubted Him and doubted the ability and power by which He could have saved the child. We may indeed be a bit confused by everything that happened, but contextually, it was likely that first of all, the disciples thought that the miracles they performed were because of their own power and might, and not by God’s power.

And it was also likely and possible that the disciples themselves had doubts in their hearts and minds, and they had not yet trusted the Lord completely, as what the Apostle St. Thomas frequently showed during the days of his ministry with the Lord, as he constantly spoke out showing his doubt and disagreements with the Lord, in the midst of the other disciples. The other disciples, although they might not be as skeptical as St. Thomas had been in those days, but they were likely to have their doubts as well.

This is just like what the prophet Habakkuk, speaking the sentiments of the people as included in our first reading today, was exactly speaking about. The prophet’s words was a representation of the people’s doubts, and how those doubts in fact became themselves obstacles in the path of the people in realising that God truly cared for each and every one of them. God reassured His people and showed His love, that no power on earth or beyond earth, are capable of standing between us and Him.

Just as the Lord spoke of the coming of reckoning for Assyria and all the enemies of the faithful, thus, in our Gospel passage today, the Lord showed before all those who doubted Him, either intentionally or unintentionally, those with weak and wavering faith, that He is truly faithful to the Covenant He had made with us, and He will always uphold His words, as He liberated and healed the man’s son from his troubles, from whatever demonic possessions or other shackles he had been troubled with.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, how about us then? Do we still doubt the Lord and do we still lack the faith that God is always with us and by our side even in our darkest times and in our most challenging moments? Especially as many of us suffered during these past weeks and months, losing our jobs and livelihood, suffering in health, in body or in mind, and as we endure the continuing and depressing impacts of the global coronavirus pandemic, the associated economic collapse and troubles, among other things.

Are we still having faith in God, and believe that even in the midst of great challenges, that God is still there with us? If we do not, then perhaps it is because our relationship with God is not strong and good enough as it should have been. As unless we are deeply committed to God, and live in the midst of His love and grace, and appreciating His daily blessings, it is unlikely that our faith in God will be strong and enduring.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why this day as we celebrate the feast of one of the most renowned saints in the Church, namely St. Dominic, also known as St. Dominic the Guzman, the Founder of the Order of Preachers, also famously known after their founder as the Dominicans, we ought to look upon St. Dominic as our great example and inspiration in faith. St. Dominic was remembered for his tremendous zeal and commitment in serving the Lord, his great piety and dedication he showed in serving the Lord and His Church.

St. Dominic had been renowned for his piety even from a very young age, when he was still very young and famine ravaged the lands. It was told that St. Dominic donated part of his possessions to help the poor and feed those who had been terribly afflicted by the great hunger. St. Dominic then dedicated himself to be a holy and devout priest, and dedicated his time to preach to the people, especially in his efforts to convert the Cathar heretics who have abandoned the true faith in the region now part of southern France.

As St. Dominic began his efforts in trying to convert the heretics, he began gathering the effort to establish a religious order of like-minded men who would reach out to those who have erred and fell away from the right path, as what the charism of the Order of Preachers is all about. St. Dominic led the efforts of the Dominicans as they were all came to be known for, in preaching the words of truth to the people and calling them to embrace once again the truth and love of God.

St. Dominic also helped the faithful to renew their faith and commitment in God through the deepening of their spiritual lives, most well-known being through the popularisation of the use of the rosary as a prayer, which eventually would become one of the most popular of devotions in the Church, helping to connect countless souls throughout the ages to the Lord, with the assistance of His blessed mother, Mary.

Through his many great contributions and his establishment of the Dominicans, St. Dominic showed us all that God can do so many great deeds before us, if only that we allow Him to act through each and every one of us just as He had done with St. Dominic. And this is only possible if we lead a life of virtue, faith and love as St. Dominic had done, and all of us are called to follow in his footsteps, in putting our trust and faith in God, and in obeying His will at all times, in our lives. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 8 August 2020 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Dominic, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 17 : 14-20

At that time, when Jesus and His disciples came to the crowd, a man approached Him, knelt before Him and said, “Sir, have pity on my son, who is an epileptic and suffers terribly. He has often fallen into the fire, and at other times into the water. I brought him to Your disciples but they could not heal him.”

Jesus replied, “O you people, faithless and misled! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus commanded the evil spirit to leave the boy, and the boy was immediately healed. Later, the disciples approached Jesus and asked Him privately, “Why could we not drive out the spirit?”

Jesus said to them, “Because you have little faith. I say to you : if only you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could tell that mountain to move from here to there, and the mountain would obey. Nothing would be impossible for you.”

Saturday, 8 August 2020 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Dominic, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 9 : 8-9, 10-11, 12-13

But YHVH reigns forever, having set up His throne for judgment. He will judge the nations with justice and govern the peoples in righteousness.

YHVH is a rampart for the oppressed, a refuge in times of distress. Those who cherish Your Name, o YHVH, can rely on You, for You have never forsaken those who look to You.

Sing praises to YHVH, enthroned in Zion; proclaim His deeds among the nations. For He Who avenges blood remembers, He does not ignore the cry of the lowly.

Saturday, 8 August 2020 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Dominic, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Habakkuk 1 : 12 – Habakkuk 2 : 4

But You, are You not YHVH from past ages? You, my holy God, You cannot die. You have set these people to serve Your justice and You have made them firm as a rock, to fulfil Your punishment. YHVH, Your eyes are too pure to tolerate wickedness and You cannot look on oppression. Why, then, do You look on treacherous people and watch in silence while the evildoer swallows up one better than himself?

You treat human beings like the fish in the sea, like reptiles who are nobody’s concern. This nation catches all on its hook, pulls them out with its net and piles them up in its dragnet. Pleased and delighted at their catch, they offer sacrifices to their net and burn incense to their dragnets, since these supplied them with fish in plenty and provided them with food in abundance. Will they continue, then, to constantly empty their nets, slaughtering nations without mercy?

I will stand in my watchtower and take up position on my battlements; I will see what He replies, if there is an answer to my question. Then YHVH answered me and said, “Write down the vision, inscribe it on tablets so it can be easily read, since this is a vision for an appointed time; it will not fail but will be fulfilled in due time. If it delays, wait for it, for it will come, and will not be deferred. Look : I do not look with favour on the one who gives way; the upright, on the other hand, will live by his faithfulness.”

Thursday, 8 August 2019 : 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 listened to the words of the Scripture by which each and every one of us are reminded to put our trust in God and have complete faith in Him, the One Who alone is the source of our strength and our lives, and also the one and true firm foundation of our lives. We must not allow the forces of those who seek our downfall to have their way with us.

What do I mean by this, brothers and sisters in Christ? The reality of our world is that there are plenty of forces out there seeking our destruction, namely Satan and his fallen angels, all those who have rebelled against God and planted the same seeds of disobedience and rebellion that we too will end up falling into the same damnation and suffering that they are to suffer for eternity for having rejected God.

In our first reading today from the Book of Numbers, we heard of the rebellion of Israel against God at the place called Meribah, when they complained and grumbled against God for having led them through the desert to such a desolate and undesirable place, arguing that they would have been better had they remained in Egypt even though they would have remained under slavery there.

And all of these happened despite God having cared for them, protected them, guided them and blessed them each and every days of their entire journey, providing them with food and drink, even in the middle of the barren desert. But the people of Israel were not satisfied, and they craved and desired for more. They wanted more things to satisfy their own greed and desire for earthly satisfaction, and thus they complained and grumbled without end.

The people would not believe because they did not have true faith in God, and this caused frustration in Moses and Aaron who were the leaders of the people. And in a moment of anger and frustration, Moses actually disobeyed the Lord Who commanded him to speak to the rock to provide water to the people, and instead struck it with his rod. Moses must have been truly frustrated with the endless complaints and grumblings from the people and as a result, Satan managed to enter into his heart and mind, and made him to falter.

In the Gospel passage today, there is also a parallel in which St. Peter the Apostle tried to prevent the Lord and persuade Him not to follow through the sufferings that He had to endure in His Passion as part of the mission entrusted to Him by His Father. But the Lord quickly brushed St. Peter’s comments and rebuked Satan who had spoken through him. As the Lord Himself said that His Apostle was thinking as how man thinks and not as how God thinks, thus, Satan was trying to tempt Him to turn away from the work of salvation He was to do.

In all of these we have seen how the desires and greed for this world, the desire for the satisfaction of our bodies, our stomachs and other form of desires can lead us into temptation and Satan and all of his wicked allies are fully aware of this. They will do their best to try to turn us into the path of sin and therefore bring about our downfall. The Lord warned us all to be vigilant and to be strong in our faith, lest we fall into the temptations and sin.

In the same Scripture passages, we hear the allusion of a rock in both the Old Testament and New Testament passages. It was told that in the time of the Exodus, according to Scriptural tradition, there is a rock that always followed the Israelites wherever they go, and it was this rock that provided the people of Israel with the much needed water for them to drink. It was this same rock that Moses hit with the rod in today’s passage.

And then, in the Gospel, the Lord Jesus uttered His famous words, entrusting the Church that He has established on the ‘Rock’ of faith, and this rock is referring to St. Peter himself, to whom God has entrusted the keys of the kingdom of heaven, for the name Petros of St. Peter means ‘Rock’, and as the appointed Vicar of Christ, he is the direct representative of the True Head of the Church, none other than the Lord Himself.

Thus, the Rock of faith is ultimately a reference to the faith in God, that rock-solid and firm faith in God’s providence and strength, which will never fail, that even the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church because of this very reason. If we are to resist the temptations of Satan and all of his persuasions and coercions, and not to fall into the temptations just like what Moses, St. Peter and the people of Israel had experienced, then we must adhere strongly to the ‘Rock’ of our salvation, that is Christ.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today also marks the feast of a great saint whose life will become an inspiration for each and every one of us on how we can be truly faithful to God and be firm in our commitment to Him. St. Dominic was the founder of the Order of Preachers, also known after their founder as the Dominicans. He was renowned for his great piety and zeal, for his missionary efforts in reaching out to the people of God.

He performed many works and helped to make firm the foundations of his rapidly growing Dominican order, travelling from place to place, preaching and doing the work of God, while leading a very holy personal life and practice. St. Dominic truly devoted himself to the Lord and gave his whole being to the service and to the greater glory of God. His exemplary life should be an inspiration to all of us in how we should live out our own lives as well.

May the Lord continue to guide us in our journey of faith, and may through the intercession of St. Dominic, the Lord may continue to strengthen us and encourage us to live with strong and genuine faith from now on, that we will draw ever closer to God and be ever more devoted. May God bless us all in everything we do, for the greater glory of His Name. Amen.

Thursday, 8 August 2019 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Dominic, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

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.”