Sept 17-22: Sept 17: Monday (St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop, Doctor of the Church): Lk 7:1-10: 1 After he had ended all his sayings in the hearing of the people he entered Capernaum. 2 Now a centurion had a slave who was dear to him, who was sick and at the point of death. 3 When he heard of Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his slave. 4 And when they came to Jesus, they besought him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, 5 for he loves our nation, and he built us our synagogue.”6 And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; 7 therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. 8 For I am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, `Go,’ and he goes; and to another, `Come,’ and he comes; and to my slave, `Do this,’ and he does it.” 9 When Jesus heard this he marveled at him, and turned and said to the multitude that followed him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave well.
Context: Jesus’ healing of the centurion’s slave, described in today’s Gospel, shows us how God listens to our Faith-filled prayers and meets our needs. Centurions were reliable, commanding officers, brave captains in charge of 100 soldiers. They were the backbone of the Roman army. According to Luke’s account (Lk 7:1-10), this centurion loved the Jews, respected their religious customs, loved his sick servant, trusted in Jesus’ power of healing and was ready to face the ridicule of his fellow-centurions by pleading before a Jewish rabbi.
The remote healing: The centurion asked Jesus to shout a command, as the centurion did with his soldiers, so that the illness might leave his servant by the power of that order. Jesus was moved by the centurion’s Faith-filled request and rewarded the trusting Faith of this Gentile officer by performing a telepathic healing.
Life messages: 1) We need to grow to the level of the Faith of the centurion by knowing and personally experiencing Jesus in our lives. We do so by daily, meditative reading of the Bible, by our daily personal and family prayers and by frequenting the Sacraments, especially the Eucharistic celebration. The next step to which the Holy Spirit brings us is the complete surrender of our whole being and life to Jesus by rendering loving service to others seeing Jesus in them. (Fr. Tony) L/18
Sept 18 Tuesday: Lk 7:11-17: 11 Soon afterward he went to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the city, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a large crowd from the city was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 And he came and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17 And this report concerning him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.
The context: Today’s Gospel presents one of the three stories in the Gospel where Jesus brings a dead person back to life. The other stories are those of Lazarus and of the daughter of Jairus, the synagogue leader. Today’s story is found only in Luke. Nain is a village six miles SE of Nazareth, and it is mentioned nowhere else in the Bible. The scene is particularly sad because the mother in this story, who had already lost her husband, has now lost her only son and her only means of support.
Jesus’ touch of human kindness: Jesus was visibly moved by the sight of the weeping widow, perhaps because he could foresee his own mother in the same position at the foot of his cross. His compassionate heart prompted him to console the widow saying: “Do not weep.” Then Luke reports, “He touched the bier and when the bearers stood still, he said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise.’ And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother,” and participated in her indescribable joy. There were instances in the Old Testament of people being raised from death: by Elijah (1 Kings 17:17-24), and Elisha (2 Kings 4:32-37). Jesus’ miracle took place near the spot where the prophet Elisha had brought another mother’s son back to life again (see 2 Kings 4:18-37). These miracles were signs of the power of God working through His prophets. In the case of the widow’s son in today’s Gospel, the miracle showed the people that Jesus, like Elijah and Elisha, was, at the least, a great prophet.
Life messages: 1) St. Augustine compares the joy of that widow to the joy of our Mother the Church when her sinful children return to the life of grace: “Our Mother the Church rejoices every day when people are raised again in spirit.”
2) The event also reminds us to have the same love and compassion for those suffer that Jesus had. (Fr. Tony) L/18
Sept 19 Wednesday (St. Januarius, Bishop, Martyr): Lk 7: 31-35: 31 “To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the market place and calling to one another, `We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep.’ 33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine; and you say, `He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of man has come eating and drinking; and you say, `Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”
The context: The message of John the Baptist and the message of Jesus fell on deaf ears and met with stiff resistance from the scribes and the Pharisees because of their pride, jealousy, prejudice and spiritual blindness. Hence, they attributed the austerities of John the Baptist to the devil and saw Jesus’ table fellowship with sinners as evidence against his being the Messiah. In today’s Gospel, Jesus compares these Scribes and Pharisees with irresponsible street-children.
Dog-in-the-manger attitude: Jesus compares the attitude of the Scribes and the Pharisees with that of street-children who want to entertain themselves by acting out wedding and funeral songs. They divide themselves into two groups. But when one group proposes to sing wedding songs and asks the other group to dance, the second group will refuse, proposing funeral songs instead, and asking the first group to act as a funeral procession, carrying one of them on their shoulders. In the end both groups will be frustrated. Jesus states that the scribes and Pharisees act exactly like these irresponsible and immature children because of their pride and prejudice. Jesus criticizes the unbelieving Jews for not listening either to John the Baptist, who preached a message of austerity and repentance, or to Jesus, who preached the Good News of love, mercy and salvation.
Life messages: 1) Jesus’ parable about disappointed playmates challenges us to examine whether we have selective hearing, so that we hear only what we want to hear. Jesus’ message of the Kingdom of God is Good News and it produces true joy and spiritual freedom for those who will listen, but it is also a warning for those who close their minds and refuse to listen. 2) Hearing the Gospel implies the total acceptance and assimilation of what we hear and the incorporation of it into our daily lives. 3) Like the generation of Jesus’ time, our age is marked by indifference and contempt, especially in regard to the things of Heaven. Indifference dulls our ears to God’s voice and to the Good News of the Gospel. Only the humble of heart can find joy and favor in God’s grace. (Fr. Tony) L/18
Sept 20 Thursday (St. Andrew Kim Taegon, Priest, Paul Cong Ha-sang and companion martyrs): Luke 7: 36-50: 36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house, and took his place at table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “What is it, Teacher?” 41 …43 ……………………………………
The context: The central theme of today’s Gospel is an invitation to repent, do penance and renew our lives instead of carrying the heavy baggage of our sins. It celebrates the gift of God’s forgiveness. Our God is a God Who always tries not to punish but to rehabilitate, so that we may be made whole and experience inner peace and harmony. The sinner at the feet of Jesus: The Gospel story tells of a woman of the street who washes Jesus’ feet with her tears, wipes them with her hair, and perfumes them with costly oil. On the other hand, the host, Simon the Pharisee, has purposely omitted these Jewish customs of welcoming a guest. When one invited a Rabbi to one’s house, it was normal to place one’s hand on his shoulder and give him the kiss of peace, to bathe his feet (Palestine is a very dusty country), and to burn a grain of incense or put a drop of attar of roses on his head. Jesus contrasts Simon’s rudeness with the prostitute’s public expression of repentance and says that her sins are forgiven because of her love. By telling the short parable of the two debtors, Christ teaches us three things–his own Divinity and his power to forgive sins; the merit the woman’s love deserves; and the discourtesy implied in Simeon’s neglecting to receive Jesus in the conventional way.
Life messages: 1) We can accept or reject the mercy of God: We are challenged to accept or reject the mercy of God. We often share Simon’s mentality by displaying an attitude of lovelessness and harshness. We need to love Jesus because he is the one and only Savior who has died for our sins. 2) We need to be grateful to our forgiving God: Our serious attempts to avoid the occasions of sin will be both the proof of our sincere repentance and the expression of our gratitude to the merciful God who has forgiven our sins. 3) We need to cultivate a forgiving attitude towards our neighbor: Although it is not easy, we must learn to forgive those who hurt us if we want to be able to receive the daily forgiveness we need from a merciful God. (Fr. Tony) L/18
Sept 21 Friday St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist: Mt 9:9-13: 9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. 10 And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, `I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The context: Today’s Gospel episode of Matthew’s call as Jesus’ apostle reminds us of God’s love and mercy for sinners and challenges us to practice this same love and mercy in our relations with others.
The call and the response: Jesus went to the tax-collector’s office to invite Matthew to become his disciple. Since tax-collectors worked for a foreign power and extorted more tax money from the people than they owed, they were hated and despised as traitors by the Jewish people, and they were considered public sinners and ostracized by the Pharisees. But Jesus could see in Matthew a person who needed Divine love and grace. That is why, while everyone hated Matthew, Jesus was ready to offer him undeserved love, mercy and forgiveness. Hence, Matthew abandoned his lucrative job, because, for him, Christ’s call to follow him was a promise of salvation, fellowship, guidance and protection. Scandalous partying with sinners. It was altogether natural for Matthew to rejoice in his new calling by celebrating with his friends. Jesus’ dining with outcasts in the house of a “traitor” scandalized the Pharisees, for whom ritual purity and table fellowship were important religious practices. Hence, they asked the disciples, “Why does your master eat with tax collectors and sinners?” In answer to their question, Jesus stressed his ministry as healer: “Those who are well do not need a physician; the sick do.” Then Jesus challenged the Pharisees, quoting Hosea, “Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’” (Hosea 6:6). Finally, Jesus clarified his position, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” [After the Ascension, Saint Matthew remained for over ten years in Judea, writing his Gospel there in about the year 44. Then he went to preach the Faith in Egypt and especially in Ethiopia, where he remained for twenty-three years. The relics of Saint Matthew were for many years in the city of Naddaver in Ethiopia, where he suffered his martyrdom, but were transferred to Salerno in the year 954].
Life messages: 1) Jesus calls you and me for a purpose: Jesus has called us through our Baptism, forgiven us our sins, and welcomed us as members of the Kingdom. In fact, Jesus calls us daily through the Word and through his Church, to be his disciples and to turn away from all the things that distract us and draw us away from God. 2) Just as Matthew did, we, too, are expected to proclaim Christ through our lives by reaching out to the unwanted and the marginalized in society with Christ’s love, mercy and compassion. (Fr. Tony) L/18
Sept 22 Saturday: Luke 8: 4-15: 4 And when a great crowd came together and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell along the path, and was trodden under foot, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns grew with it and choked it. 8 And some fell into good soil and grew, and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said this, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” 9 And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand. 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy; but these have no root, they believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.
The context: Today’s Gospel passage gives us the parable of the sower, the seeds sown, and the yield depending upon the type of soil. It is the first parable of Jesus in the New Testament about the Kingdom of Heaven. It is also a parable interpreted by Jesus himself. This parable was intended as a warning to the hearers to be attentive and to the apostles to be hopeful about Jesus’ preaching in the face of growing opposition to Jesus and his ideas. The sower is God, the Church, the parents, the teachers. The seed sown is the high-yielding word of God which is also “a sharp sword” (Is. 49: 2), “two-edged sword” (Heb 4: 12), and “fire and hammer” (Jer 23:29).
Soil type and the yield: The hardened soil on the footpath represents people with minds closed because of laziness, pride, prejudice or fear. The soil on flat rock pieces represents emotional types of people who go after novelties without sticking to anything and are unwilling to surrender their wills to God. “I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19). The soil filled with weeds represents people addicted to evil habits and evil tendencies, those whose hearts are filled with hatred and jealousy or the greed that makes them interested only in acquiring money by any means and in enjoying life in any way possible. The good and fertile soil represents well-intentioned people with open minds and clean hearts, earnest in hearing the word and zealous in putting it into practice. Zacchaeus, the sinful woman and the thief on Jesus’ right side, St. Augustine, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Francis Xavier among others, fall into this category of the good soil.
Life message: Let us become the good soil and produce hundred-fold harvests by earnestly hearing, faithfully assimilating and daily cultivating the word of God we have received, so that the Holy Spirit may produce His fruits in our lives. (Fr. Tony) L/18