Be Rocks in the World

Feast of St. Dominic

Dear Friends,

This morning’s readings lend us the opportunity to make a few observations for Christian living, becoming true disciples of the Lord.  

The 21st Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew is the great election of Simon as head of the Church after his confession of faith.   Jesus asks his disciples who people think he is.   Simon responds with resounding confidence “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  Simon’s confession is the foundation of the Church today, for it rests on the faith of the Apostles, specifically this: that Jesus is the Son of God.   In response to this Jesus calls him “Peter”, from the Greek “petros” or “petra” meaning “rock”.    It is on this “rock” that Jesus will build his Church.    For the centuries the responsibility of announcing that “Jesus is Lord” is left to Peter (the office we call today the Pope).   When Pope Francis was in Brazil they made him a beautiful chair with the symbol of the Franciscan Tau Cross, on the cross beam was his name “Francis” and on the stem the phrase “You are Peter”.  

The Pope constantly reminds us however, that the charge of announcing the Gospel, bringing others to this intimate encounter with the Lord is not just his, but every disciple.   That means that you and I are also called to be “little rocks” echoing Peter’s confession to the world.   This raises an important question though, “how”?   How can we live up to the example of Simon Peter or Pope Francis in proclaiming the Gospel?   How are we supposed to do what seems impossible for us to do?

When we look at the task it can be overwhelming, however our readings provide us a hidden hope and encouragement.  Consider again the “rock” on which this mission of preaching is built.   Look at it again, consider the characteristics.   It is a hardened rock, rather stubborn.  Remember the Lord’s words to Simon Peter almost immediately following the confession of faith, “get thee behind me Satan, you are thinking as man thinks not as God thinks.”   It is also a shaky rock.  This is the same Peter that will later fail in his steadfastness when he denies the Lord on the night of the Last Supper.   This rock is weak.

The first reading is taken from the Book of Numbers chapter 20.   The Israelites are complaining to Moses that they are dying of thirst in the desert.    God instructs Moses to strike the “rock” so that life giving water may flow from it.   Water isn’t natural to the rock.   It is foreign to it.   Life giving water comes from God, but God is using the rock to be the spring of that water.   God’s “rock” is lifeless without him.   Remember Moses had to strike it twice before water flowed.   This water is the life giving spring of the faith of the Church. It is God’s Word and the grace of the Sacraments that are given to the Christian.   Simon Peter was called to be this rock, weak as he was, nonetheless from him flowed the life of faith.   Whether it be Pope Francis, priests, deacons, religious men and women, or the lay faithful, we are all called to be “rocks” instruments of God’s saving work to the world.   The world is complaining, they are dying of thirst, they need this water of faith in the desert of our culture.

Allow me to make one last point.   If you had a precious rock that gave this water, what would you do?   Wouldn’t you attempt to protect it, to keep it clean of build up or weeds that might prevent it from allowing the water to flow freely?   St. Dominic, whose feast we celebrate today, understood that in order to make evangelizing priests and preachers of his community one thing was very necessary --- evangelical poverty.   Simplicity is the key.   We must not allow the build-up of sin to become obstacles from us being “little rocks” so that the water of God’s Word and his grace can freely flow.   We must continually purify ourselves through Sacramental confession so that God’s grace can bring life to the lifeless rock that we are.  

Be not afraid to be “rocks” in the world.   Don’t worry about your worthiness, because none of us are worthy, but we are chosen.   Go out to the corners of the world and let God’s water of life flow.

Fr. Vásquez

St. Dominic

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