Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are reminded today, of our own weaknesses, of our own vulnerabilities, and the need for all of us to follow the will of our God, and follow the thinking of our God, trusting in Him fully with all our hearts, our minds, and all our beings, instead of trusting our own instincts and human emotions.
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Dominic, also known as St. Dominic de Guzman, a well known preacher who lived in the high Middle Ages Europe in the twelfth and thirteenth century Europe. He was the founder of the Dominican religious order, also known as the Order of Preacher. St. Dominic was well known for his strong devotion in the Lord, and his unshaken faith, in which he emphasized on the importance of having a strong and vibrant faith in God, as our armour, and put our trust in the Lord, instead of trusting in the power of men.
St. Dominic worked hard to spread the words of the Gospel, preaching to many people of God who had gone astray from the faith, and those in whom the flames of faith had died down. He had made much impact in strengthening the faith and zeal among the faithful at a time when heresies were commonplace in the Medieval Europe, particularly the Albigensian heresy or the Catharian heresy widespread in the Christendom at the time. Not only that, St. Dominic de Guzman was also well-known for being the one who propagated the devotion to the mother of our Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, through the Rosary.
St. Dominic and his successors in the Dominican religious order continued the spreading of the holy Rosary, as a potent tool and weapon which we can use, in our fight and constant struggle against the devil, as something that can help us anchor our faith firmly in the Lord, through the inspiration of the faith that His Blessed Mother has, that is the faith of Mary. The Dominican friars, monks, and priests continued until today the works and passions of St. Dominic, bringing more and more lost souls back to the embrace of the Lord who loves them.
Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is important for all of us to continue to have faith in our Lord and in His saving power. Not just any faith, but a strong and immovable faith like that of a rock, faith that will never be shaken by any power of the devil or the temptations of this world. If our faith in the Lord is not strong, the devil can easily sow the seeds of rebellion and distrust in our hearts, and that will make our faith even weaker and less anchored.
That was what happened to the people of Israel during their journey in the desert, when the Lord led them through Moses to walk through the desert of Sinai from Egypt towards the Promised Land of Canaan. Even though the Lord had shown them His power and might through the miracles He had shown them via Moses and Aaron, by the Ten Plagues He had sent to punish their former Egyptian slavemasters, and despite His opening of the Red Sea for them to cross, and finally, even giving them manna, the bread of heaven to eat, and sweet water to drink from rocks, they still rebelled against Him and constantly complained against Him throughout the journey.
They abandoned the Lord immediately after He made them walk through the Red Sea, when Moses went up the Mountain of God and did not come down for forty days, when they decided to take the matter on their own hands, and made a new ‘god’ of gold shaped into a calf, abandoning the Lord their God who had shown them their might, for the pagan idol of gold and the world. They did not have true faith in their heart, nor true love for God, but they merely have amazement, wonder, and even fear for the Lord, for all the things He had done for them, but that is not love or faith.
We must be strong and have our faith firmly rooted in the Lord, that we will not be tempted nor give in to our human weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Ever since our ancestors ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, we have been exposed to such weaknesses, negative things such as lust, greed, wrath, anger, pride, and many others. These can derail us from the path towards salvation, that is the path for us to return to our Lord.
What happened to Moses and Peter in the first and the Gospel readings respectively are also examples of what can happen, even to those whose faith are firm and strong in the first place, if we do not keep our faith strong at all times and let it to waver or allow evil to dwell within us and plant his seeds of evil within us. Moses as the leader of the people of Israel and Peter as the leader of all the Apostles, the one to whom God entrusted all His people on earth to.
As the leader of the people, Moses certainly had a great responsibility, and his role as the one who speaks directly to the Lord God made his works even more demanding on him. When the people constantly complained and rebelled against his leadership and the Lord Himself, the strain went too much for him and indeed, at Massah and Meribah, as we heard from the reading today, Moses snapped. In his anger and wrath, he disobeyed the Lord in order to chastise the people. Yes, the Lord in His love still allowed the water to flow through the rocks for His people to drink, but Moses’ disobedience is something that he should not have done. As a result, he was not to enter the Promised Land together with the rebellious people, who had been punished for their lack of faith in the Lord.
Peter, the leader of the disciples of Jesus in his fear that the Lord would suffer and die under the Jewish authorities, rebuked Jesus in that he said that Jesus should not face His death and therefore complete what He was born into this world for. Peter gave in to his fear and uncertainty, and his faith was shaken. But the Lord rebuked Satan who was inside him, and rebuked the one who sowed the seeds of uncertainty in the heart of Peter, and reminded Peter as well, that one ought to put their full trust and attention to the Lord their God and not in the wisdom and power of men.
Yet, despite the apparent weakness of faith of Peter, and his later abandonment of the Lord in his three times denial that he knew Christ, Peter, who was Simon son of John has great faith in his heart, that the Lord who sees all knew about the true faith in Peter. That was why, He named Simon as Peter, which means ‘Rock’ or Cephas in the approximate Aramaic language used by the people of Jesus’ time.
That is because Peter truly is faithful to the Lord, and he truly loved Him, and he showed that in the end by giving up his own life for the sake of the Lord, as the martyr of the faith. He led the people of God in the Church faithfully and dutifully, ensuring that a stable foundation of God’s Church was built, and behold! The Church of God that He established on Peter as foundation remains today as our Church, with our current Pope Francis, as the successor of Peter as the head of the Universal Church.
We too, brothers and sisters in Christ, ought to strengthen our faith and our love for the Lord our God. There are many ways to do this, that our faith will blossom and grow together with our love, both for God and for our fellow men. Pray often, speak to the Lord our God through prayer, that we constantly remain in connection to His will and His words, that we do not easily fall astray of the true path to God.
And following the push by the Dominicans and their founder, St. Dominic, let us pray the rosary often with meaning and devotion, and not just merely chanting the prayers, but that we really mean the prayers in the rosary that we offer to the Blessed Virgin Mary, that she will then deliver our prayers to the throne of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, God and King of all the Universe, who will hear us, and succour us at all times.
May the Lord who is faithful and loving be with us always and give us His love and kindness, strengthening us whenever we are weak, and planting the seeds of faith in us, anchoring it on solid rock foundation, that we will withstand whatever assault Satan tries to make, and whatever temptations this world attempt on us, to lead us astray from salvation into damnation. Let us, inspired by the example of St. Dominic, reach out to one another and help one another in our devotion to the Lord, that all of us will be saved together. Amen.