Homilette for Friday, August 8, 2008

Memorial of St. Dominic, priest

(Matthew 16:24-28)

When William Jefferson Clinton was first inaugurated President of the United States, his wife Hillary was wearing a cross on a chain around her neck. Radio commentators asked whether the cross was an appropriate symbol on such a civic occasion. A more poignant question would have been whether Mrs. Clinton knew the significance of her jewelry.

In the gospel Jesus tells us that to be his disciples we must take up our cross and follow him. Wearing a cross signifies that we have accepted the terms. As his disciples, everyday we will encounter challenges because we are opting for self-denial which goes against our hard-wired fallen human nature. Sometimes – like when the cross demands that we give up the possibility of marriage to someone we are exceptionally fond of – it will seem too much to bear. But, of course, we can always count on Jesus himself to help us carry it.

It seems that St. Dominic never flinched in carrying his cross. His followers saw him as both austere and amiable. He would stay up all night praying on the floor of the Dominican basilica in Rome. However, such piety did not leave him too weary the next day to graciously encourage his brother friars. Several witnesses summed up Dominic’s virtue by testifying in his Acts of Canonization, “He spoke only of God or to God.”