September 30, 2018

October 1-6 weekday homilies

Oct 1-6: Oct 1 Monday (St. Teresa of child Jesus, Virgin, Doctor of the Church): Mt 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.

Marie Therese Martin was born on Jan 2, 1873 as the youngest of nine children of a silk merchant, Louis Martin, and his wife, Zelie Guerin. Therese lost her mother at 4 and four of her siblings in their early childhood. She was the “little flower” of her father. One of her older sisters joined the Visitation convent and three others became Carmelite nuns. Therese joined the Carmelite convent at Lisieux at 15 with special permission from Pope Leo XIII. She died of tuberculosis when she was 24 years and 9 months old on September 30, 1897. Pope Pius XI declared her a saint on May 17, 1925, just 28 years after her death. Pope St. John Paul II declared her a “Doctor of the Church” in 1997.

Sources of her life history: 1) Autobiography of a Little Flower (The Story of a Soul); 2) 300 letters; 3) 8- One act Plays; 4) 50 poems.

Secret of her Little Way and short-cut to Heaven: Do ordinary things in an extraordinary way out of love for God, with 100% dedication and child-like trust, being ever ready to undertake any type of sacrifice. Convert suffering into redemptive suffering and use it for the apostolate.

Conditions: 1)   Be child-like and innocent with trusting Faith in a loving Heavenly Father. 2)    Do everything with 100% dedication as being done for our caring and forgiving God, our Father.  3)    Be ready to undertake sacrifice for others. St. Therese offered all her sacrifices a) in reparation for the sins of others and for her own sins b) for missionaries c) for the conversion of sinners.

Message: Let us follow the shortcut of Little Flower by becoming child-like in our relationship with God and by doing His will with 100% sincerity, commitment and love. (Fr. Tony) L/18

Oct 2 Tuesday (The Holy Guardian Angels): Mt 18:1-5, 10: 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; 10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven 1 angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven. 

The Guardian Angel: Although the doctrine and traditional belief in the Guardian Angel is not a dogma of Faith, it is based on the Bible. Each person’s Guardian Angel is an expression of God’s enduring love and providential care extended to him or her every day.  Today’s prayers in the breviary and in the Roman Missal mention the three-fold function of the angels: a) they praise and worship God, b) they serve as His messengers, c) they watch over human beings.

Historical note: Devotion to the Guardian Angels began to develop in the monasteries. St. Benedict gave it an additional impetus and St. Bernard of Clairvaux (12th century reformer), spread the devotion in its present form. The feast of the Guardian Angels originated in the 1500s. It was placed on the official liturgical calendar of the Church by Pope Paul V in 1607.

Biblical teaching: Today’s Gospel (Mt 16:10), clearly states that even children have their Guardian Angels: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in Heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father Who is in Heaven.” Psalm 91:1 teaches: “For He has given His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.”  

Life messages: 1) The conviction that we are protected by an angel is an encouragement against our baseless fears and unnecessary anxieties. 2) The thought that a messenger from God is constantly watching our thoughts, words and deeds is an inspiration for us to lead holy lives and to do good for others and avoid evil. 3) We need to be grateful to God every day, thanking Him for His loving care given us through His angel. (Fr. Tony) L/18

Oct 3 Wednesday Lk 9:57-62: 57 As they were going along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 But he said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

The context: Today’s Gospel passage explains the cost of Christian discipleship and the wholehearted constancy, commitment and sacrificial ministry that the Christian mission requires.

The requests and the challenge:I will follow you wherever you go!” was the offer of a would-be follower. But Jesus made him no false promises. Instead, he told the man: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has not whereon to lay His head.” Being a Christian is not an easy or comfortable affair: It calls for self-denial, self-control and putting God before everything else. Jesus’ answer to the man whom Jesus himself had invited to follow him – to be allowed more time before becoming a disciple – sounds harsh:   “Let the dead bury their dead.” But this man’s father was not dead or sick. What the man was asking for was permission to stay with his father until the father’s death. Jesus knew that later he would find another reason to delay answering the call. To the volunteer who wanted to “say  farewell to those at my home”  Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God.”

Life messages: 1) We need to honor our commitments: Today, more than ever, people make marriage commitments too easily and then break them.  The problem today is that the couples do not have the courage to make the commitment of marriage work. We all know there is a tremendous shortage of priests because our young people are unwilling to make commitments to God by committing themselves to life-long celibacy, to a diocese or to the vowed life of a religious community.

2) We need to pray for strength to honor our commitments. We are here this morning because, in one way or another, we have said to Jesus, “I will follow you.” Sometimes we are faithful to him, but at other times we are not. Hence, we need to pray for strength to honor our commitments. We need to ask for forgiveness when we fail, and we need to renew our determination to walk with Jesus by being loyal to our spouse and family, by earning our living honestly, and by living, not only peacefully, but lovingly, with our neighbors.  (Fr. Tony) L/18

Oct 4 Thursday (St. Francis of Assisi) (Mt 11:25-30): St. Francis of Assisi is the best known and the most loved thirteenth century Italian saint. He was born in Assisi, Italy, the son of a rich merchant. As a carefree young man, he loved singing, dancing and partying. He joined the military and returned ill, as a changed man. He marked his conversion by hugging and kissing a leper. While at prayer in the Church of St. Damiano, he heard the message: “Francis go and repair my Church because it is falling down.” Francis took the command literally and got money by selling goods from his father’s warehouse. His father was furious and publicly disowned and disinherited Francis. Francis promptly gave back to his father everything except his underclothes and started living as a free man, wearing sackcloth and begging for food. Possessing nothing, he started preaching the pure Gospel of Jesus. Strangely enough, a few youngsters were attracted to Francis’ way of life and joined him.

Pope Innocent III had a vision of Francis supporting the leaning Church of St. Johns Lateran in Rome. Consequently, he approved the Religious Order begun by Francis, namely the Friars Minor [Lesser Brothers] which practiced Charity as a fourth vow along with Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. Soon, the Franciscan Order became very popular, attracting large number of committed youngsters. The friars traveled throughout central Italy and beyond, preaching and invitation to their listeners to turn from the world to Christ.  In his life and preaching, Francis emphasized simplicity and poverty, relying on God’s providence rather than worldly goods.  The brothers worked, or begged, for what they needed to live, and any surplus was given to the poor. Francis wrote a more detailed Rule, which was further revised by the new leaders of the Franciscans.  He gave up leadership of the Order and went to the mountains to live in secluded prayer.  There he received the Stigmata, the wounds of Christ. Francis became partially blind and ill during his last years. He died at Portiuncula on October 4th, 1226 at the age of 44. Francis called for simplicity of life, poverty, and humility before God. In all his actions, Francis sought to follow, fully and literally, the way of life demonstrated by Christ in the Gospels. Francis loved God’s gifts to us of nature, animals, and all natural forces, praising god for these “brothers and sisters.” One of Francis’s most famous sermons is one he gave to a flock of birds during one of his journeys. “From that day on, he solicitously admonished the birds, all animals and reptiles, and even creatures that have no feeling, to praise and love their Creator.”   Francis is well known for the “Canticle of Brother Sun.”  Written late in the saint’s life, when blindness had limited his sight of the outside world, the canticle shows that his imagination was alive with love for God in His creation. Life messages: 1) Let us learn to practice the spirit of detachment of St. Francis that we may be liberated from our sinful attachments, addictions and evil habits. In poverty one makes oneself available for the Kingdom. Once the goods are no longer one’s own, they become available for all. Goods are made to be shared. 2) Let us preach the Good News of Jesus’ love, mercy and forgiveness as St. Francis did, by imbuing the true spirit of the Gospel, loving all God’s creation and leading transparent Christian lives radiating Jesus all around us. L/18

Oct 4 Thursday: Lk 10:1-12: — 1 After this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come. 2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. 4..9

The context: Today’s Gospel describes the sending forth of another group of paired disciples by Jesus to prepare towns and villages for his own arrival there. Sent out with power and authority from Jesus, they exercised their preaching and healing mission according to the action plan given by Jesus. Jesus sent out seventy disciples, just as God had Moses commission 70 elders to be prophets in Israel. (Nm 11:24-25). Their ministry anticipates the Church’s mission to the nations.

Jesus’ instructions and travel tips. Elisha gave similar instructions when he sent his servant on a pressing mission (2 Kgs 4:29). By his instructions, it is clear that Jesus meant his disciples to take no supplies for the road. They were simply to trust that God, the provider, would open the hearts of believers to take care of their needs. Jesus’ instructions also suggest that his disciples should not be like the acquisitive priests of the day, who were interested only in gaining riches.  They were to be walking examples of God’s love and providence. The Jews supported their rabbis and judged doing so a privilege as well as an obligation, for hospitality was an important religious tradition in Palestine. The Apostles and disciples were to choose temporary accommodation in a reputable household, they were to bless the residents with God’s peace and they were to be satisfied with the food and accommodation they received, without searching for better.

Life messages: 1) We have a witnessing mission:   Each Christian is called, not only to be a disciple, but also to be an apostle. As apostles, we are sent out to evangelize the world by sharing with others, not just words, or ideas, or doctrines, but our experiences of God and His Son. We are to make Jesus “visible” through our transparent Christian lives, showing the love, mercy and concern of Jesus to the people around us. 2)  We also have a liberating mission: There are many demons which can control the lives of people around us making them helpless slaves —the demon of nicotine, the demon of alcohol, the demon of gambling, the demons of pornography and promiscuous sex, the demons of materialism and consumerism. We need the help of Jesus to be liberated from these demons ourselves and to help Him liberate others from these bondages. 3)  We have a supporting mission: According to Catholic tradition and Canon Law (Canon 222 #1), Christians are obliged to contribute to the Church from their earnings to help to support the clergy, to provide for the necessities of liturgical worship and to equip the Church to minister to the needy (CCC #2043, 2122). (Fr. Tony) L/18

Oct 5 Friday (Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos): Lk 10:13-16: 13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it shall be more tolerable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. 16 He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

The context: Jesus reminds three cities, including Capernaum, his headquarters, that they deserve God’s punishment because they have forgotten the responsibilities which their numerous meetings with the Messiah in their midst have laid upon them. They should have listened to his message, put it into practice, and borne witness to the miracles he had worked for them.

Chorazin and Bethsaida: Nothing is mentioned in any of the Gospels about the “wonders” Jesus worked in Chorazin and Bethsaida. Bethsaida was a fishing village on the west bank of Jordan at the northern end of the lake. Chorazin was a town one hour’s walking distance north of Capernaum. Jesus expresses his holy anger and sorrowful pity from a broken heart at the irresponsible disregard of, and indifference to, his Good News, which these two ungrateful cities have shown. Jesus also warns them that, “it shall be more tolerable on the Day of Judgment for Tyre and Sidon,” than for them, because Tyre and Sidon were not fortunate enough to hear Jesus and to receive the opportunities for conversion given to Bethsaida and Chorazin.

Life Messages: Privileges always carry responsibilities: 1) We are privileged to have the Holy Bible, so we have the responsibility to make use of it. 2) We have the Eucharistic celebration every day in our Churches, so we have the responsibility to participate in it when we are able to do so. 3) We have the Sacrament of Reconciliation, so we have the responsibility to use it to be reconciled with God and His Church. 4) We are blessed with having Holy Spirit to guide the teaching authority in the Church, so we have the responsibility to study and follow the Church’s directions.  5) We have Mary the mother of Jesus and numerous saints as our role models, so we have the responsibility to follow Jesus in their footsteps. (Fr. Tony) L/18

Oct 6 Saturday (St. Bruno, Priest, Blessed Marie Ross Durocher, Virgin): Lk 10:17-24: 17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” 21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. 22 All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” 23 Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

 The context: Today’s Gospel describes how the seventy disciples, sent by Jesus to prepare people in the towns and villages He was going to visit, returned joyfully to Jesus who rejoiced aloud at the success of their preaching and healing mission. This passage of the Gospel is usually called our Lord’s “hymn of joy.”  Jesus rejoiced to see how humble people understood and accepted the word of God. The teaching: Jesus declares that the right reason for rejoicing must be the hope of reaching Heaven by doing the will of God at all times and that that is more important than working miracles. He also gives his disciples a warning against taking pride in the success of their mission. Jesus repeats his claim that he is God, equal in everything with his Father and that only he can reveal God his Father to others. Then he congratulates his disciples at their good fortune in living to see, hear and experience the Messiah in their midst, a privilege which generations before them would have rejoiced to receive.

 Life messages: 1) We have received the same mission given to the seventy disciples, a mission to preach Jesus as Lord and Savior.  2) We may have success as well as failure when we bear witness to Christ and his teachings through our lives. But we, too, have reason to rejoice even when our attempts at evangelization are not visibly successful because we are assured of a great reward in Heaven. We rejoice also because we have the presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, we can hear him through the Gospels and we can experience him through prayers and Sacraments. (Fr. Tony) L/18