August 6, 2018

August 6-11 weekday homilies

Aug 6-11: Aug 6 Monday (Transfiguration of Our Lord): Mk 9: 2-10: 2 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” 8 Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them anymore, but only Jesus. 9 ………….10

The context: Today’s Gospel describes the Transfiguration of Jesus, an event which is celebrated as a Feast on August 6.  The primary purpose of Jesus’ Transfiguration was to enable Him to consult his Heavenly Father in order to ascertain His plan for His Son’s suffering, death and Resurrection.  The secondary aim was to make Jesus’ chosen disciples aware of his Divine glory, that they might discard their worldly ambitions about a conquering political Messiah and that they might be strengthened in their time of trial.  

The scene: The Transfiguration took place probably on Mount Hermon in North Galilee, near Caesarea Philippi. While praying, Jesus was transfigured into a shining figure, full of Heavenly glory.  Moses and Elijah the representatives of the Law and the Prophets, appeared conversing with Jesus.  Peter, overwhelmed at the scene, exclaimed how good it was to be there. Then a Cloud covered them, and a Voice was heard speaking words from the Cloud: “This is My Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him,”

Life messages: (1) The transubstantiation in the Holy Mass is the source of our transformation and strength: In each Holy Mass, the bread and wine we offer on the altar become in reality the Body and Blood of Jesus.  Our Holy Communion with Jesus in the Eucharist should be the source of our daily “transfiguration,” transforming our minds and hearts to do more good by humble and selfless service to others.

(2) Each time we receive one of the Sacraments, we are transformed: For example, Baptism transforms us into sons and daughters of God and heirs of Heaven. Confirmation transforms us into temples of the Holy Spirit and warriors of God.  By the Sacrament of Reconciliation, God brings back the sinner to the path of holiness.

(3) A message of encouragement and hope: In moments of doubt and during our dark moments of despair and hopelessness, the thought of our transformation in Heaven will help us to reach out to God and to listen to His consoling words: “This is my beloved son.”(Fr. Tony) L/18

Aug 7 Tuesday (St Sixtus Pope and companion martyrs, St. Cajetan, priest): Matthew 14: 22-36: 22 Then he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. 27 But immediately he spoke to them, saying, “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.” 28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; 30 but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32..36 

The context: The event presented by today’s Gospel is the scene immediately following Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish.  Sensing the danger of having the people make him leader of a revolt, Jesus promptly instructed his apostles to leave the place by boat and, after dispersing the crowd, he went by himself to the mountain to pray.

 A double miracle on the sea:  When the apostles in the boat were several furlongs away from the shore, they faced an unexpected storm on the sea caused by the hot wind of the desert rushing into the Sea of Galilee through the gaps in the Golan Heights. Recognizing the danger, Jesus walked on the stormy waters toward the boat. Jesus calmed the frightened disciples as he approached the boat, allowed Peter to do a trial walk on water, then saved him from drowning when he began to get frightened. As soon as Jesus brought Peter into the boat the storm ceased miraculously. The apostles recognized the presence of God in their midst and they all worshipped Jesus.

Life messages: 1) Let us approach Jesus with strong Faith in his ability and availability to calm the storms in our lives and in the life of the Church. Church history shows us how Jesus saved his Church from the storms of persecution in the first three centuries, from the storms of heresies in the fifth and sixth centuries, from the storms of moral degradation and the Protestant reformation movement in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the storms of sex abuse scandals of the clergy in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. 2) Let us ask Jesus to protect us when we face storms of strong temptations, storms of doubts about our religious beliefs, and storms of fear, anxiety and worries in our personal lives. 3) Experiencing Jesus’ presence in our lives, let us confess our Faith in him and call out for his help and protection.  (Fr. Tony) L/18

 Aug 8 Wednesday (St. Dominic, priest): Mt 15:21-28: 21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. (Cfr Mark 7 24-30)

The context:  In the Gospel, Jesus demonstrates that salvation is meant for the Gentiles as well as for the Jews by healing the daughter of a Gentile woman as a reward for her strong Faith. Here, Jesus shows us that God’s mercy and love are available to all who call out to Him in Faith.

This is one of the two miracles of healing Jesus performed for Gentiles. The other is the healing of the centurion’s servant (Mt. 8:10-12). These miracles foreshadow the future preaching of the Gospel to the whole world.  Jesus first ignored both the persistent cry of the woman and the impatience of his disciples who wanted him to send the woman away. He then tried to awaken true Faith in the heart of this woman by an indirect refusal. We notice that the woman was refused three times by Jesus before he finally granted her request the fourth time. Her persistence was rewarded and her plea was answered. Jesus was completely won over by the depth of her Faith, her confidence and her wit and hence responded exuberantly, “Woman, great is your Faith!  Let it be done for you as you wish.”

Life messages: 1) We need to persist in prayer with trustful confidence.  Christ himself has told us to keep on asking him for our needs: “Ask and you shall receive.” Asking with fervor and perseverance proves that we have “great Faith.” 2) We must realize and remember that we do not always get exactly what we ask for, but rather what God knows we need, what He wants for us and what is really best for us at the most appropriate time. 3) We need to pull down the walls of separation and share in the universality of God’s love. Today’s Gospel reminds us that God’s love and mercy are extended to all who call on him in Faith and trust, no matter who they are.  It is therefore fitting that we should pray that the walls our pride, intolerance and prejudice raise, should crumble. (Fr. Tony) L/18

 Aug 9 Thursday (St. Teresa Benedicta of the cross, Virgin, Martyr): Mt 16: 13-23: 13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth  shall be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. 21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men.”

The context: Today’s Gospel passage is the first of the three times when Jesus foretold his passion, death and Resurrection. The passage consists of two sections, the Messianic confession of Peter and the prediction of his passion by Jesus.

Jesus as the Christ, our Lord and Savior: Today’s Gospel explains the basis of our faith as the acceptance of Jesus as the Christ, our Lord and Savior. It also tells us that Christ Jesus became our Savior by his suffering, death and Resurrection. This famous profession of Faith by Peter took place at Caesarea Philippi, at present called Banias, twenty-five miles northeast of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus realized that if his disciples did not know who he really was, then his entire ministry, suffering and death would be useless. Hence, he decided to ask a question in two parts. 1) “What is the public opinion about me?” 2) “What is your personal opinion?” Their answer to the first question was: “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Peter volunteered to answer the second question saying:  “You are the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God.” Jesus confirmed Peter’s insight as a special revelation from God. “No mere man has revealed this to you, but my Heavenly Father.”

Life message: 1) Let us experience Jesus as our Lord and Savior and surrender our life to him. We experience Jesus as personal Savior by listening to him through the daily, meditative reading of the Bible, by talking to him through daily, personal and family prayers, by frequenting Holy Mass and offering him our lives on the altar, by being reconciled with him every night, asking his pardon and forgiveness for our sins and by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation whenever we are in mortal sin. The next step is the surrender of our lives to Jesus by rendering humble and loving service to others with the strong conviction that Jesus is present in every person.  (Fr. Tony) L/18

Aug 10 Friday (St. Lawrence, Deacon, Martyr): Jn 12:2426: 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  25  He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  26 If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him.

The context: Jesus tells us a short parable followed by two amazing paradoxes. The parable is that of a wheat grain sown into the muddy field, growing up and yielding a good crop.

The parable followed by the paradoxes teaches us three lessons for Christian life. The first lesson is that life comes only through death. Only when the grain of wheat dies in the muddy soil of the field does it become a seedling. In the same way, the Church would grow up and flourish in the death of its martyrs. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” When we die to our personal ambitions and desires, we are born as useful instruments in the hands of God. The second lesson is that only by spending life we can retain it. The world owes a lot to saintly people like St. Don Bosco, St. Vincent De Paul, St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa), St. Jeanne Jugan, and St. Damien, among others, who spent their energy for service of the poor and the downtrodden and gave themselves to God. The third lesson is that greatness comes through selfless and committed service. This explains why the world still honors and cherishes the memory of great souls mentioned above.

Life message: Let us surrender our lives to God in the service of others with agápe love in all humility, seeing the face of Jesus in each of them. (Fr. Tony) L/18

 Aug 11 Saturday (St. Clare, Virgin): Matthew 17: 14-20:  14 And when they came to the crowd, a man came up (Matthew 17: 14-20): 14 And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and kneeling before him said, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; for often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. 16 And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” 17 And Jesus answered, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, `Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will  be impossible to you.”

The context: When Jesus came down from the mountain of the Transfiguration along with Peter, John and James, the father of an epileptic son knelt before Jesus and asked Jesus to heal his son. The father’s complaint was that the other nine disciples of Jesus waiting for their master to come down from the mountain could not heal the boy.

The healing: After scolding his apostles for their lack of Faith Jesus rebuked the demon and cast him out of the boy. Later when the apostles asked Jesus why they had been unable to do the same although they had been given the power of exorcism, Jesus pointed out their lack of Faith. Jesus said further that even a small amount of Faith would enable them to do great things. Faith moving mountains was a Jewish phrase meaning that God can remove all difficulties for one who places his trusting Faith in Him.

Life message: We will be able to solve our problems and many of the problems of our fellow-human beings if we place our trusting Faith in God’s power and goodness and get His strength in prayer. (Fr. Tony) L/18