8 August – Memorial for St. Dominic, Priest, Religious founder
Dominic (1170-1221) was born of wealthy Spanish nobility, and was the son of Blessed Joan of Aza. Joan had difficulty conceiving and prayed at the shrine of St. Dominic of Silos who had a tradition of patronage of that problem. When she became pregnant, she named the child in honour of the saint. While pregnant, Joan had a vision that her unborn child was a dog who would set the world on fire with a torch it carried in its mouth. A dog with a torch in its mouth became a symbol for the Order he founded, the Dominicans. At Dominic’s baptism, Joan saw a star shining from his chest, which became another of his symbols in art, and led to his patronage of astronomy.
Dominic was a priest who worked for clerical reform. He had a life-long apostolate among heretics, especially Albigensians, and especially in France. He founded the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans) in 1215, a group who lived a simple, austere life. He also founded an order or nuns dedicated to the care of young girls.
At one point, Dominic became discouraged at the progress of his mission; no matter how much he worked, heresies remained. But he received a vision from Our Lady who showed him a wreath of roses, representing the rosary. She told him to say the rosary daily, teach it to all who would listen, and eventually the true faith would win out. Dominic is often credited with the invention of the rosary; it actually pre-dates him, but he certainly spread devotion to it, and used it to strengthen his own spiritual life.
Legend says that Dominic received a vision of a beggar who, like Dominic, would do great things for the Faith. Dominic met the beggar the next day. He embraced him and said, “You are my companion and must walk with me. If we hold together, no earthly power can withstand us.” The beggar was St. Francis of Assisi.
– Patron Saint Index
On the fifth of the month – it was the fifth year of exile for King Jehoiachin – the word of the Lord was addressed to the priest Ezekiel son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldaeans, on the bank of the river Chebar.
There the hand of the Lord came on me. I looked; a stormy wind blew from the north, a great cloud with light around it, a fire from which flashes of lightning darted, and in the centre a sheen like bronze at the heart of the fire. In the centre I saw what seemed four animals. I heard the noise of their wings as they moved; it sounded like rushing water, like the voice of Shaddai, a noise like a storm, like the noise of a camp; when they halted, they folded their wings, and there was a noise.
Above the vault over their heads was something that looked like a sapphire; it was shaped like a throne and high up on this throne was a being that looked like a man. I saw him shine like bronze, and close to and all around him from what seemed his loins upwards was what looked like fire; and from what seemed his loins downwards I saw what looked like fire, and a light all round like a bow in the clouds on rainy days; that is how the surrounding light appeared. It was something that looked like the glory of the Lord. I looked, and prostrated myself.
One day when they were together in Galilee, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘The Son of Man is going to be handed over into the power of men; they will put him to death, and on the third day he will be raised to life again.’ And a great sadness came over them.
When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the half-shekel came to Peter and said, ‘Does your master not pay the half-shekel?’ ‘Oh yes’ he replied, and went into the house. But before he could speak, Jesus said, ‘Simon, what is your opinion? From whom do the kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their sons or from foreigners?’ And when he replied, ‘From foreigners’, Jesus said, ‘Well then, the sons are exempt. However, so as not to offend these people, go to the lake and cast a hook; take the first fish that bites, open its mouth and there you will find a shekel; take it and give it to them for me and for you.’
And a great sadness came over them
I always remembered the words which the Chancellor of the University spoke during my graduation ceremony. He mentioned that we had been conferred the degree with the accompanying “rights, responsibilities and privileges” At that point in time, I did not understand what those words meant but, over the course of a few years, I have discovered the meaning behind those words. Receiving an education demands from us an expectation of the behaviour of an educated person. There is a similarity between the words above and the readings of today.
Jesus shared with His apostles that His objective on earth was to die for our sins and that He would have to leave them in the process. This news probably was the reason why they felt so sad. Yet, in the same way, Jesus also had to fulfil his obligation as a Jew and pay the half-shekel. He did not have to, given that he was the Son of God; yet He continued to uphold His obligations. The Gospel of today reminds all of us that we as Christians have a responsibility towards our Christian duty of spreading the Good News to all around us. This requires us to be obedient to the word of God and to ask God what He wants from us.
Perhaps we may be worried that such a task will put us in direct opposition to the environment which we live in but this is indeed what makes us a better person, grounded in Faith and Love. The privilege of being a Christian (of having Jesus die for us) comes with it the responsibility of spreading this joy to all around us. As we begin the week, let us discover what it means to be a Christian of joy and love.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the grace to continue with our mission of spreading the Good News.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who allow us to see the goodness in others.