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.”

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 94 : 1-2, 6-7, 8-9

Come, let us sing to the Lord, let us make a joyful sound to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him giving thanks, with music and songs of praise.

Come and worship; let us bow down, kneel before the Lord, our Maker. He is our God, and we His people; the flock He leads and pastures. Would that today you heard His voice!

Do not be stubborn, as at Meribah, in the desert, on that day at Massah, when your ancestors challenged Me, and they put Me to the test.

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Numbers 20 : 1-13

The whole congregation of Israel came to the wilderness of Zin in the first month and the people stayed in Kadesh. Miriam died and was buried there.

Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered together against Moses and Aaron. They disputed with Moses saying, “Would that we had perished with our kinsmen in the presence of YHVH! Why have you led YHVH’s community to this desert to die here with our cattle? And why did you bring us out of Egypt to this wretched place? It is no place for grain or figs or vines or pomegranates and there is not even water for drinking.”

Moses and Aaron fled from the assembly to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting and fell on their faces. Then the glory of YHVH appeared and YHVH spoke to Moses, “Take your rod and assemble the community, you and Aaron, your brother. In their presence command the rock to give forth water and you will make water gush from the rock for the community and their livestock to drink.”

So Moses took the rod from before YHVH as he had been ordered. Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly in front of the rock and said to them, “Listen, you rebels. Shall we bring water for you from this rock?” Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod. And then water in abundance gushed out for the community and their livestock to drink.

But YHVH said to Moses and Aaron, “You did not trust Me nor treat Me as the Holy One in the sight of the Israelites; because of that you shall not lead this community into the land that I am giving you.” It was at the waters of Meribah that the sons of Israel quarrelled with YHVH and where He showed His holiness to them.

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.”

Monday, 8 August 2016 : 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 given a praise to His faithful, to Israel, the people close to Him. Alleluia.