Sept 10 Monday: Lk 6:6-11: 6 On another Sabbath, when he entered the synagogue and taught, a man was there whose right hand was withered. 7 And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him. 8 But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. 9 And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” 10 And he looked around on them all, and said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. 11 But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.
The context: Today’s Gospel describes a miraculous healing performed by Jesus one Sabbath as a public violation of Sabbath laws, in order to prove that God’s intention for the Sabbath was for His people to do good and to save life rather than to do evil or to destroy life.
The incident and the reaction: Ex 20:8 and Dt 5:12 instructed the Jews to keep the Sabbath holy. But the scribes and the Pharisees had amplified God’s law on the Sabbath, misinterpreting it and making it burdensome for the common people through man-made laws. Jesus wanted to demonstrate in public the original intention of God in declaring Sabbath holy. For Jesus, the Sabbath was a day of rest on which Israelites were meant to adore God, to learn and teach His laws and to do good to others. Hence, Jesus took the liberty of healing a man with a withered hand in the local synagogue immediately after the worship service, thus infuriating the scribes and the Pharisees.
Life messages: 1) Our Catholic Sabbath observance of participating in the Eucharistic celebration is meant to recharge our spiritual batteries for doing good to others and avoiding evil. 2) Our Sunday observance is further meant to be an offering of our lives to God on the altar, to praise God, to thank Him for His blessings, to ask God’s pardon and forgiveness for our sins, to present our needs before the Lord and to participate in the Divine Life by receiving Holy Communion. 3) It is finally a day to spend with the members of the family and to help in the activities of one’s parish and neighborhood. (Fr. Tony) L/18
Sept 11 Tuesday: Lk 6:12-19: 12 In those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles; 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. 17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; 18 and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19….
The context: Today’s Gospel passage gives a short account of the call of the Apostles and of the preaching and healing mission of Jesus. Jesus was the first missionary; he was sent by his Father with the “Good News” that God his Father is a loving, merciful and forgiving Father Who wants to save everyone through His Son, Jesus. Today’s Gospel describes how this first missionary selected and empowered twelve future missionaries as Apostles to continue his mission.
Special features: Jesus selected very ordinary people, most of them hard-working fishermen with no social status, learning or political influence, because he was sure that they would be very effective instruments in God’s hands. It was a strange mixture of people. Matthew was a hated tax collector serving the Roman Empire, while Simon the Cananaean was a Zealot, a fanatical nationalist determined to destroy Roman rule by any means. The others were mostly professional fishermen with a lot of good will, patience and stamina. It was only their admiration and love for Jesus that united them. Jesus selected them after a night of prayer and gave them his own powers of healing and exorcism and his own mission of preaching the “Kingdom of God.”
Life Messages: 1) God wants to show us that a calling for ministry, or a vocation, is an initiative of God. 2) As Christians we have the same mission that Jesus entrusted to his Apostles. We fulfill this mission of preaching the word of God, primarily by our living out of Jesus’ teachings and also by promoting and helping world-wide missionary activities of the Church. (Fr. Tony) L/18
Sept 12 Wednesday (The Most Holy Name of Mary): Luke 6:20-26: 20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 “Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh. 22 “Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. 24 “But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 “Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger. “Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. 26 “Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.
The context: Luke presents the Sermon on the Plain as following immediately upon the choosing of the twelve Apostles. Today’s Gospel passage, taken from Luke’s Sermon on the Plain, teaches us that true happiness or beatitude lies in the awareness of who we are and what we are supposed to do. The eight beatitudes Jesus gives in Mathew, like the four in Luke, contradict the ideas of real happiness prevalent in the Jewish culture of Jesus’ day (and in our modern society as well), according to which wealth, health, power, pleasure and influence are the true beatitudes.
The Beatitudes: Jesus instructs his disciples in the paradoxical blessedness of poverty, hunger, sorrow and persecution because they contradict our natural expectations in every way. Blessed are those who are poor, hungry, weeping, hated, excluded, insulted, and denounced because in poverty, we recognize God’s reign; in hunger, His providence; in sorrow, true happiness; and in persecution, true joy. Experiencing these miseries opens the way for us to receive the true riches, the food, comfort and acceptance we find only in His love and His presence here and in His Kingdom forever. The Beatitudes are commands for how we should live, and what we should do. What makes one blessed is not simply poverty or hunger or sadness or suffering for one’s Faith, but commitment to Jesus and His spirit of sharing.
Life message: 1) We need to respond to the challenge of the Beatitudes in our daily life. Millions are starving, persecuted, homeless, and leading hopeless lives. When we reach out to help them, we are living out the Beatitudes. In addition, Jesus tells us that we are serving him in these suffering people. We are also loving our neighbors as Jesus loves us. That is why we are told that we will be judged on the basis of our acts of mercy and charity (Mt 25:31-46). Let us also remember that each time we reach out to help the needy, the sick and the oppressed, we give them the experience of God’s love for them. Just as the Apostles were called to minister to society’s untouchables, so all Christians are called to minister to the untouchables, the discriminated against and the marginalized in our own modern society, that they may meet God’s love in human flesh. (Fr. Tony) L/18
Sept 13 Thursday (St. John Chrysostom, Bishop, Doctor): Lk 6:27-38: 27 “But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30 Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again. 31 And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. 37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
The context: Today’s Gospel passage is a part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain as given by Luke. It describes the power of Christian love when exercised in unconditional forgiveness.
The teaching: Lk 6:27-38 gives us Jesus’ revolutionary moral teaching about correct choices in our human relationships, placing special emphasis on the golden rule, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” This golden rule is amplified by a string of particular commands: “Love your enemies…Do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you and pray for those who maltreat you.” For Jesus, love is a fundamental attitude that seeks another’s good. Jesus orders us to love our enemies and to be merciful as God our Father is merciful. Jesus challenges us to do for others what God does for us. “Be compassionate, as your Father is compassionate.” He concludes by instructing us to stop judging and start forgiving.
Life messages: 1) We need to answer the invitation to grace-filled behavior: What makes Christianity distinct from any other religion is the quality known as grace, i.e., our ability to treat others, not as they deserve, but with love, kindness, the spirit of forgiveness and mercy. 2) We need to accept the challenges of day-to-day life. Jesus challenges our willingness to endure unjust suffering for his sake and the sake of his Gospel. 3) We need to pray for the strength to forgive. At every Mass we pray the “Our Father”, asking God to forgive us as we forgive others. We must forgive, because only forgiveness truly heals our relationships and heals us. If we remember how God has forgiven us, it will help us forgive others. 4) We need to live our lives in accordance with “the Golden Rule.” (Fr. Tony) L/18
Sept 14 Friday (The Exaltation of the Holy Cross): John 3:13-17: The Feast of Exaltation of the Holy Cross is one of twelve “Master feasts” celebrated in the Church to honor Jesus Christ, our Lord and Master. This feast is celebrated to remember the first installation of the remnants of the true cross of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher at Mount Calvary, September 14, AD 335 and its reinstallation on September 14, AD 630. The original cross on which Jesus was crucified was excavated in AD 326 by a team led by St. Helena the mother of the first Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine. The Emperor built the Church of the Holy Sepulcher on Calvary, it was consecrated on September 14, AD 335, and the remains of the cross were installed in it by Archbishop Maccharios of Jerusalem. After three centuries, the Persians invaded Jerusalem, plundered all valuables and took with them the relic of the Holy Cross. In AD 630, Heraclius II defeated the Persians, recaptured the casket containing the holy relic and reinstalled it in the rebuilt Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The largest fragment of the holy cross is now kept in Santa Croce Church in Rome.
In today’s Gospel, answering the question raised by Nicodemus, Jesus cites the example of how, when the Israelites were in the desert, the brazen serpent representing the healing power of God, which God commanded Moses to raise, saved from death the serpent-bitten Israelites who looked at it (Numbers 21:4-9). Then Jesus explains how he is going to save the world by his death on the cross.
Life messages: 1) We should honor and venerate the cross and carry it on our person to remind ourselves of the love of God for us and the price Jesus paid for our salvation. 2) The cross will give us strength in our sufferings and remind us of our hope of eternal glory with the risen Lord. With St. Paul, we express our belief that the “message of the cross is foolishness only to those who are perishing” (1Cor 1:18-24), and that we should “glory in the cross of Our Lord” (Gal 6:14). 3) We should bless ourselves with the sign of the cross to remind ourselves that we belong to Christ Jesus and to honor the Most Holy Trinity, asking the Triune God to bless us, save us and protect us. 4) The crucifix should remind us that we are forgiven sinners and, hence, we are expected to forgive those who offend us and ask for forgiveness whenever we offend others or hurt their feelings. (Fr. Tony) L/18
Sept 15 Saturday (Our Lady of Sorrows or Mother of Sorrows): Jn 19:25-27 or Lk 2:33-35: Today we remember the spiritual martyrdom of the Mother of Jesus and her participation in the sufferings of her Divine Son. Mary is the Queen of martyrs because she went through spiritual torments greater than the bodily agonies of the martyrs and offered her sorrows to God for our sake. The principal Biblical references to Mary’s sorrows are in Luke 2:35 and John 19:26-27. Many early Church writers interpret the sword prophesied by Simeon as Mary’s sorrows, especially as she saw Jesus die on the cross. In the past, the Church celebrated two feasts to commemorate separately 1) the spiritual martyrdom of the Blessed Virgin Mary throughout her life as the mother of Jesus and 2) her compassion for her Divine Son during his suffering and death. The devotion to the Seven Dolors (sorrows) of Mary honors her for the motherly sufferings she endured during the whole life of Jesus on earth.
In 1239 the seven founders of the Servite Order took up the sorrows of Mary who stood under the Cross as the main devotion of their religious Order. Originally, this day was kept on the Friday before Good Friday. It was Pope Pius XII who changed the date of the feast to the 15th of September immediately after the feast of the Triumph of the Cross. The nineteenth-century German mystic Anne Catherine Emmerich claimed to have received a vision in which Mary actually kisses the blood of Jesus in the many sacred places on the way of the cross. In his film, The Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson was inspired by this vision and pictures Claudia, Pontius Pilate’s wife, secretly handing Mary cloths to collect the blood of Jesus from the streets of Jerusalem.
The seven sorrows: There are seven times of great suffering in Mary’s life. These events remind many parents of their personal family experiences of sorrow and mourning for their dear children. 1) The prophecy of Simeon, 2) The flight into Egypt, 3) The loss of the Child Jesus at Jerusalem, 4) Meeting Jesus on the road to Calvary, 5) The standing at the foot of the Cross, 6) The descent of Jesus from the Cross, and 7) The burial of Jesus.
Life message: 1) On this feast day let us pray for those who continue to endure similar sufferings that they may receive from God the strength that they desperately need to continue to carry their spiritual crosses. Let us try to enter into the sorrowing hearts of the mothers in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Turkey, Nigeria and other terrorist-haunted nations and the mothers in the United States and other countries grieving for their children, soldiers and civilians alike. 2) Let us also remember with repentant hearts that it is our sins which caused the suffering of Jesus and Mary. [“At the cross her station keeping, Stood the mournful mother weeping, Close to Jesus to the last. Through her heart, his sorrow sharing, All his bitter anguish bearing, Now at length the sword has passed.” (Stabat Mater)] (Fr. Tony) L/18