Aug 13 Monday (St. Pontian, Pope & Hippolytus, Priest- Martyrs): Matthew 17:22–27: 22 As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of man is to be delivered into the hands of men, 23 and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed. 24 When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the half–shekel tax went up to Peter and said, “Does not your teacher pay the tax?” 25 He said, “Yes.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their sons or from others?” 26 And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 27 However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook, and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel; take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.” (nil in other gospels)
The context: The first part of today’s Gospel gives Jesus’ second prediction of his sufferings, death and Resurrection. The second part is Jesus’ explanation of why he pays the Temple tax. Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus’ disciples were depressed by their master’s repeated reminders of his coming shameful death as a heretic and law-breaker. They were distressed because the reminders shattered their dream of ruling Israel when Jesus would conquer the Romans and reestablish the Davidic kingdom. They did not understand that their master would be dying to liberate the whole of mankind from the bondage of sin. In the second part of today’s Gospel, Peter assures the Temple tax officials that his master Jesus is a devout Jew and, hence, pays the Temple tax. All Jewish males 20 years old or older had to pay a half-shekel (roughly equivalent to two days’ wages), as Temple tax for the upkeep of the Temple and its sacrifices. When they reached Peter’s home, Jesus instructed Peter to go fishing, open the mouth of the first fish he caught and, with the coin he would find there, pay both Peter’s and his own tax. Jesus’ reason was that he wanted them to give a good example to others, even though, as the Son of God, Jesus was legally exempted from paying any type of tax to anyone. The Gospel passage foreshadows a dilemma that would be experienced by the first century Jewish Christians as to whether or not they should continue to pay the Temple tax meant for the Jews.
Life messages: 1) Let us express our gratitude to Jesus our Savior for the price of suffering and death he paid for our sins. We can do this by avoiding all occasions of sins, by offering our pains and sufferings as atonement for our sins and by helping others sacrificially. 2) We should obey the laws of the Church and of our country as loyal Christians and loyal citizens and contribute to the needs of the Church and its mission by our tithing, while we help the government by paying our taxes. (Fr. Tony) L/18
Aug 14 Tuesday (St. Maximilian Kolbe, Priest, Martyr): Matthew 18:1–5: 1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me;
The context: Chapter 18 of Matthew’s Gospel is a “discourse on the Church,” giving leaders of the Church instructions for administration. Jesus’ apostles shared the Jewish hope that the Messiah would be a political ruler; they hoped that they would hold important portfolios in the Messianic kingdom. Hence, in today’s passage (vv. 1-5), Jesus warned his apostles and the future hierarchy of his Church against the natural human tendencies to pride and ambition. He exhorted the spiritual leaders, as well as all believers in responsible positions, to be humble, trusting and innocent – that is, to be like children. The additional parable of the shepherd rejoicing at the recovery of his lost sheep tells us that our Heavenly Father is very particular that His little ones should not perish due to our negligence.
Child–like qualities: Children are basically innocent and honest. They are naturally humble because they depend on their parents for everything. They trust and obey their parents because they know their parents love them. Hence, Jesus advises his disciples to forget their selfish ambitions and, with trusting Faith in a loving and providing God, to spend their lives serving others in all humility. Then they will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Life Messages: 1) We need to practice humility in thoughts, words and actions. “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart.” “What is the essential thing in the religion and discipline of Jesus Christ?” St. Augustine asks, and then responds, “I shall reply: first humility, second humility and third humility.” 2) We should not seek recognition and recompense for the service we do for Christ and the Church as parents, teachers, pastors, etc. 3) Trusting Faith resulting from true humility is essential for all corporal and spiritual works of mercy. 4) Since children reflect the innocence, purity, simplicity and tenderness of our Lord, and since they are given the protection of a guardian angel, we are to love them, train them and take care not to give scandal to them. 5) We need to try to treat everyone with love and respect because, “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life,” (St. Basil) CCC # 336. (Fr. Tony) L/18
Aug 15 Wednesday (The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary): (Lk 1:39-56). We honor Mary, venerate her, express our love for her and never worship her. Why do we honor Mary: 1) Mary herself gives the most important reason in her “Magnificat:” “All generations (ages), will call me blessed because the “The Mighty One has done great things for me”; a) by choosing Mary as the mother of Jesus; b) by filling her with His Holy Spirit twice, namely at the Annunciation and at Pentecost; c) by making her “full of grace,” the paragon or embodiment of all virtues; and d) by allowing her to become the most active participant with Christ, her Son, in our Redemption, suffering in mind and heart what Jesus suffered in body. 2) Mary is our Heavenly Mother. Jesus gave us his Mother as our Mother from the cross: “Woman, behold your son.” … “Behold your mother” (John 19: 26-27). 3) Mary is the supreme model of all virtues and hence our role model, especially in holiness of life (“full of grace”), obedience to the will of God (“fiat”) and true humility (“Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me as you have said”).
Reasons why we believe in the dogma of Assumption: Pope Pius XII in the papal document Munificentimus Deus (1954), gives four reasons why we believe in the Dogma of Assumption of Mary: 1) the uninterrupted tradition about Mary’s death and Assumption starting from the first century; 2) the belief expressed in all the ancient liturgies of the Church; 3) the negative evidence of the absence and veneration of a tomb of Mary, while most of the apostles have their tombs; 4) the possibility of bodily assumption warranted in the Old Testament in the cases of Enoch (Gn 5:24), perhaps Moses (Dt 34:5), and especially Elijah (II Kgs 2:1). 5) The theological reasons: a) The degeneration of the body after death is the consequence of “original sin,” and Mary, as “immaculately conceived,” is exempted from the post-mortem decay of the body. b) As receiver of the fullness of grace and holiness because she is mother of Jesus and co-redeemer with Him, Mary’s place is with her son, God’s Son Jesus, the Redeemer, in the abode of holiness, Heaven.
Life messages: 1) As Mary’s Assumption was a reward for a holy life, this feast invites us to keep our bodies pure and holy. Paul gives three additional reasons: a) Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. b) Our body parts are the members of Christ’s Body, and c) our bodies are to be glorified on the day of the Last Judgment. 2) We are given an assurance of hope in our resurrection and a source of inspiration during moments of despair and temptations.
3) We receive a message of total liberation from all our bondages: impure, unjust and uncharitable thoughts, desires, words and actions, addiction to evil habits, drugs, alcohol and gambling, pornography and sexual aberrations. (Fr. Tony) L/18
Aug 16 Thursday (St. Stephen of Hungary): Matthew 18:21-19: 1: 21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; 25 and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, `Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 …35
The lessons taught by the parable: (1) We must forgive in order to be forgiven. Jesus explains this truth after teaching the prayer, “Our Father.” He warns us, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mt 6:14-15). As James states it later, “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy” (Jas 2:13). Clearly, Divine and human forgiveness work hand-in-hand.
(2) We represent the greater debtor in the parable; that is, we owe Him the ten thousand talents of the parable. We commit sins every day and, hence, we need God’s forgiveness every day. The sum total of all the offenses which our brothers and sisters commit against us is equivalent to the small debt of the second debtor in the parable, namely 100 denarii. Yet, shockingly and sadly, we are merciless towards our fellow human beings. The moral of Jesus’ story is that, as members of a community, we must treat one another as God has treated each of us. Here is a Divine call to throw away the calculator when it comes to forgiveness. We must choose the more honorable path and forgive one another “from the heart.” We have been forgiven a debt beyond all human paying – the sin of man which God forgave through the willing, sacrificial death of His own Son. Since that is so, we must forgive others as God has forgiven us. Otherwise, we cannot hope to receive any mercy ourselves.
Life messages: 1) We need to forgive: Having experienced forgiveness at the hands of God and God’s people, we are then called to make it possible for others to experience the same forgiveness. Let us forgive the person who has wronged us before hatred eats away at our ability to forgive. 2) Forgiveness will not be easy, but God is there to help us. We can call on God’s help by offering that individual to God, not by sitting in judgment, but simply by saying, “Help so-and-so and mend our relationship.” We may never forget the hurt we have experienced, but we can choose to forgive. 3) We need to remind ourselves that with God’s grace we have already forgiven the one that hurt us. As life goes on we may remember the incident or occasion that was hurtful. Then let us offer the offender to God’s mercy and pray for God’s blessings on him or her. (Fr. Tony) L/18
Aug 17 Friday: Mt 19:3-12: 3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” 8 He said to them, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9.” 10.. 12
Jesus’ explanation of a Mosaic sanction: Jesus explains that Moses’ permission for divorce was only a temporary concession, meant to control the growing rate of divorce in his own time by introducing a law governing divorce. Jesus adds that it was because of the hard-heartedness of the Jewish men that Moses allowed such a concession. By denying the man’s right to divorce, Jesus places the husband and wife on an equal footing in marriage and teaches that no Mosaic regulation dealing with a temporary situation can alter the permanency and unity of marriage.
Jesus’ clear teaching on divorce: Jesus reminds us that his doctrine goes back to the original intention of God. Citing the book of Genesis, Jesus says that God made us male and female and commanded that “the two shall become one flesh.” He then draws the conclusion that “they are no longer two, but one body” – partners with equal rights – and he declares that no man is allowed to separate what God has joined together (Mt 19:6).
Catholic teaching: Based on the NT teachings given in Mk 10:1-12, Mt 5:31-32; Mt 19:3-9; Lk 16:18; and 1 Cor 7:10-11, the Catholic Church teaches that marriage is a Sacrament involving both a sacred and legal contract between a man and a woman and, at the same time, it is a special Covenant with the Lord. “Divorce is also a grave offense against the natural law. Besides, it claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death…… Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society” (CCC #2384, #2385).
Life messages: 1) Let us keep all the families of our parish in our daily prayers, that the spouses may have a mutual understanding and appreciation of each other, the willingness to ask pardon and give pardon, the generosity to forgive and forget, and the good will to serve each other, because all these virtues help to make a marriage permanent. 2) Let us also pray for all the divorced in the parish and welcome them as active members of the parish, both those who have remained single and those who have remarried without an annulment (and so cannot receive Holy Communion). (Fr. Tony) L/18
Aug 18 Saturday: Mt 19:13-15: 13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people; 14 but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away.
The context: Today’s Gospel passage describes one of the loveliest incidents in the Gospel story. Jewish mothers used to bring their children to great rabbis to have them pray over the little ones, especially on their first birthday. Naturally, mothers wanted the healing touch and blessing of the most popular rabbi, Jesus. In an attempt to protect their master from the crowd of mothers and noisy children, the apostles started rebuking them. The passage describes Jesus’ reaction and teaching.
Childlike qualities for entrance into heaven: By showing his displeasure at the rough reaction of his apostles, Jesus made it clear that everyone is equally important to him as a child of God. The mothers came to Jesus because he was welcoming, warm and approachable. Jesus decided to use the occasion as a teachable moment. He taught his disciples that entry into Heaven demands the childlike qualities of humility, innocence, obedience, simplicity, openness, teachability, freedom from prejudice, readiness for change and adaptation, total trust in a loving and providing God, confidence in the essential goodness of people and the readiness to forgive and forget. Only such people are ready to hear the message of the Gospel in its fullness and accept it.
Life messages: 1) Let us live in the awareness that we are the children of a loving and providing Heavenly Father and that, by Baptism, we are members of God’s family. Hence, we are expected to behave well every day, as worthy children of a Holy Father.
2) Let us pray for all the children in our families and for all our young parishioners and let us find time to cooperate in the parish ministries meant for children and young people. (Fr. Tony) L/18