8 August, Monday — Picking the Battles

Aug 8 – 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 of 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

Eze 1:2-5,24-28
Mt 17:22-27

“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.”

Today’s Gospel is a bit of a surprise. On the surface, it appears that Jesus has capitulated to the pressures of the world and its rules and regulations. But even in this situation, He does not fail to teach us through His words and actions.

Let’s look at this situation more closely and try to understand the lesson given. Jesus is the Son of God, the Creator of the world, He does not need to pay the half shekel temple tax. He clearly reminds Peter that He does not need to pay the tax. But, in order not to offend these people, He offers to pay it in the most extraordinary way. From the mouth of a fish! Is that not miraculous?

Now let us go deeper into the meaning of Jesus’ actions. Our dear Lord understands that we are bound to this earth and live within its limitations. We should never compromise on the truth and capitulate to the pressures of society or the world. But we should not be up in arms in every little thing. Not only will we burn out, but we would alienate or ‘offend’ those around us. The ideal is to pick our battles to fight. There are some battles that we must stand our ground, even though we will be ridiculed, mocked, beaten or alienated. There are some battles that are not ‘worth the effort’; in truth, unimportant in life, and we should not be drawn in needlessly.

This is not to say that we compromise ourselves, our faith or our integrity. In all things, we admit one Truth, live that truth to our best abilities. And in doing so, we may suffer small injustices within our journey. However, we cannot get discouraged or despair. If we face these small injustices with humility and with the love of Christ and offer them to His cross, it would be so much more fruitful than engaging in an argument or battle.

We don’t want to become a pushover — someone who doesn’t stand up for their rights or beliefs; but that doesn’t mean we need to carry a big stick and beat everyone who comes within arm’s distance. Remember, we are trying to live our faith and lead others to Christ. What better way than to lead by example in our daily lives? To be honest, humble, faithful, strong, compassionate. These qualities are not contradictory, but complementary. Let us use these gifts every day, but pick our battles wisely so that we may become more fruitful.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Winnie Kung)

Prayer: Dear Jesus, strengthen us so that we live according to the Truth. Guide us and grant us the wisdom to understand, to pick the battles that matter and stand our ground. Grant us the humility to endure any injustices and uniting them to Your cross, so that the battles not fought become more fruitful in Your kingdom.

Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, thank you giving us Jesus as our teacher and guide. His strength amongst opposition shall be our aim and example.

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