October 21, 2018

October 22-27 weekday homilies

Oct 22-27: Oct 22 Monday (St. John Paul II Pope): Lk 12: 13-21: 13 One of the multitude said to him, “Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; 17 and he thought to himself, `What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, `I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20 But God said to him, `Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

The context: Jesus told the parable of the foolish rich man as a response to a Jew who had asked Jesus’ help in solving his dispute with his brother concerning their paternal inheritance.  By relating this parable, Jesus warns us against all types of greed, because greed takes our life’s focus away from God and away from serving and loving other people.  Instead, greed directs all our energy and attention to fulfilling the self, making our wealth the basis of our security.  Jesus also warns us against the temptation to place our dependence upon material things because “one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

The teaching: Through this parable Jesus teaches the audience the folly of greed and selfishness. He declares that the criterion for Heavenly bliss is not earthly wealth but how we share what we have with others. In the parable, God calls the rich man “fool” because 1) he has evicted God from his heart, enthroned money instead and worshipped it; 2) he has also evicted his brothers and sisters in need from his heart because there is place in it only for his wealth; 3) he has filled his heart with self and has become greedy; 4) he has forgotten that he will die one day and lose all his possessions.

Life messages: 1) We need to share our blessings with others because all these things have been loaned to us by God, and so we are accountable for their use. We must be generous in sharing our time, our treasure, and our talents, the three elements of Christian stewardship. 2) We need to control our greed because it diverts our life and energies from loving God and from serving and loving other people to loving ourselves alone.  Our greed takes different shapes and forms. For some it may be the desire for the approval and praise of others.  For others it is the uncontrolled desire for power, control or fame.  For a few others it takes the form of desire for excessive and sinful indulgence in eating, drinking, gambling, drugs or sexual activities.  Hence, let us rely on the strength of God to free us from all forms of greed. (Fr. Tony) L/18

Oct 23 Tuesday (St. John Capistrano, Priest): Lk 12: 35-38: 35 “Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them.  38 If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those servants!

The context: Today’s passage from Luke’s Gospel is one of three eschatological discourses in the Gospel. It gives us one of the two “Master – Servant” parables. It emphasizes the necessity of Faith and vigilant preparedness in the lives of Christ’s followers. Since a Jewish wedding feast could last a week, the servants had ample time to take their rest before the master’s return. Garments tied up about the waist are an image of readiness in the Scriptures because the Jewish soldiers wore full-length garments while Roman soldiers wore kilts, which enabled them to run at full speed when they had to. Jesus wants his disciples to be ready to do God’s will at every moment, by loving others through humble and sacrificial service.

The interpretation: In the parable, the chief characters are a master (representing the risen Jesus), and his servants (Jesus’ followers). According to the Fathers of the Church, Jesus’ words in this passage have two senses. In the narrower sense, the words refer to the Second Coming of Jesus, but in the broader sense they refer to the time of our own death, when God will call us to meet Him and to give Him an account of our life on earth.  Since the precise time of either is unknown to us, the proper attitude for us is constant watchfulness.  Since we are not sure about the day of our death we should do our present work perfectly every day, and not leave it undone, half-done or postponed.

Life messages 1) We need to stay vigilant and ready to face the Lord through prayer.  One of the traditional means for remaining alert is prayer.  The most important elements in prayer are listening to God (1 Kings 19:11-12) and talking to Him.  This means we have to set aside a quiet time every day during which we can tune our ears to God’s message of love, harmony and peace and respond to it. 2) We need to wait for the Lord.  We must wait for the Lord in our daily lives by learning to see Jesus in the least of our brothers and sisters.  In other words, we must be prepared to serve Jesus in whatever form he appears.   What we discover in serving, loving, and helping other people is that God invariably comes to us through them. (Fr. Tony) L/18

Oct 24 Wednesday (St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop): Lk 12: 39-48: 39 But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an unexpected hour.” 41 Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” 42 And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. 44 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 45 But if that servant says to himself, `My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and  drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him  with the unfaithful. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating…..48….

 

The context: Today’s passage from Luke’s Gospel is the second of three eschatological discourses in the Gospel. After Jesus’ exhortation to vigilance, Peter asks a question (v. 41). Responding to Peter, Jesus tells the second “Master – Servant” parable and the parable of the treasure and the thief.  These stories emphasize the necessity for Faith and vigilant preparedness in the lives of Christ’s followers.  Jesus wants his disciples to be ready to do God’s will at every moment, rendering humble and sacrificial service to others.   

The interpretation: In the parable, the chief characters are a master (representing the risen Jesus), and his servants (Jesus’ followers).  Jesus’ words in this passage, understood in the narrower sense, refer to the Second Coming of Jesus. Taken in a broader sense, they refer to the time of our own death, when God will call us to meet Him and to give Him an account of our life on earth.  In the first part of today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us what our real treasure should be and how we are to keep it safe.  The treasure is the relationship with him (the state of sanctifying grace), which the Lord offers us in his promise of eternal life. But this treasure can be stolen by the devil or lost by a lack of vigilance in the midst of our temptations.  Jesus warns that we should be vigilant, like dutiful servants.  What Jesus teaches us through this comparison is that our relationship with God the Father and Jesus His Son and the Holy Spirit must constantly be strengthened and deepened by our prayers, our Sacramental life and the reading of Holy Scripture.  Fortunately, God gives us the grace and strength to remain faithful, and He will reward our faithfulness.

Life message: 1) We need to remain vigilant and ready to face the Lord, mainly through prayer (listening to and talking to Him). Daily prayer will help us to wait for the Lord in our daily lives and enable us to see Jesus in the least of our brothers and sisters.  It will give us the Heavenly strength to serve Jesus in whatever form he appears. What we frequently rediscover as we serve, love and help other people is that God comes to us through them (Fr. Tony) L/18 

Oct 25 Thursday: Lk 12:  49-53: 49 “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished! 51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; 52 for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three; 53 they will be divided, father against son and son against father…

 The context: In today’s Gospel, Jesus warns his disciples about the contention and division which will accompany the Gospel. He spells out the shocking agenda of his two-fold mission, namely 1) to cast fire on the earth and 2) to cause division in families and communities.

Teaching: Standing in the prophetic tradition, Jesus preaches a word which, now as then, divides families, a message which will lead ultimately to his death.  In the Bible, fire is often used to describe God’s burning love for men. This Divine love finds its highest expression in Jesus (Jn 3:16). The fire Jesus has come to bring is the fire of love, the fire of hope and the fire of justice.  His words are fire, like the words in the mouth of Jeremiah: “Is not my word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29).  The disruption, division and revolution which Jesus and his true followers cause by the fire of their sacrificial love and eagerness for justice in society are necessary to re-set what’s fractured, to put right what’s dislocated and to cleanse what’s infected.  In other words, the curative pain caused by Jesus’ ideas and ideals is necessary for the establishment of the real shalom of God. “I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed!” (Luke 12:50).  The word “baptism” in Greek means a plunging.  Jesus was on fire to have his life’s work, which would end with the “baptism” of his approaching suffering and death for us, already completed. Even though Jesus brings a sword and causes division, that sword divides the Light from the darkness within us and among us, and establishes that true and lasting peace which he alone can bring.  In pursuing his mission, Jesus brings division because some follow him and others oppose him.  We must make a decision to follow him or not, to share his baptism or not.  This choice results in division, even within families.

Life messages: 1) We need to have fire in our hearts: Our Lord Jesus continues to cast fire on the earth, the fire of the Spirit, the fire of his love, through the ministry of Word and sacraments. As Christians, our Spirit-fire should inflame people to care, to serve, and to bless one another with all the gifts of Faith. 3 We need to cooperate with that Fire as the Holy Spirit burns off our impurities and brings out the purity of God’s gold and silver within us. We need Divine fire to inflame our hearts with the love of God, love for His children and zeal for spreading His Good News. Let us remember the old saying, “He who is on fire cannot sit on a chair,” and let us carry the fire of the Holy Spirit wherever we go. Strong Faith will ignite in us the fire of the Holy Spirit and give us the courage of our Christian convictions.  (Fr. Tony) L/18

Oct 26 Friday: Luke 12: 54-59 54 Jesus said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, west, you say at once, `A shower is coming’; and so it happens. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, `There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky; but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? 57 “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?58 As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. 59 I tell you, you will never get out till you have paid the very last copper.”

The context: Some of Jesus’ Jewish listeners, particularly among the leadership, lacked the necessary good will and upright intention to listen and believe. Hence, they just closed their eyes to the light of the Gospel preached by Jesus.  They knew the signs of the Messiah’s coming as announced by the prophets. In fact, they had heard Jesus’ preaching and witnessed his miracles.  But their pride and prejudice prevented them from arriving at the logical conclusion that Jesus was the Messiah.  Hence, in today’s Gospel, using a vivid illustration from first century Palestinian weather forecasting, Jesus points out the urgency of getting right with God before it is too late. 

Palestinian farmers studied the sky, observing the color and shape of the clouds, the direction and strength of the wind, and so on, to forecast the weather.  The wind from the west came from the Mediterranean Sea and so brought rain.  The south wind blew from the desert and so brought hot weather. The “signs of the times” are the earliest appearances of events. St. Thomas Aquinas teaches  that God is in all things, “by essence, presence, and power” and that God providentially cares for every aspect of his creation. Therefore, we should expect to see signs of his presence and activity in nature, in history, and in human affairs.  So, Jesus challenges his hearers to read the signs of the Messianic time in his preaching and healing ministry, and then to act accordingly.  Next, he asks them to judge for themselves what is right, urging them to solve issues here and now by getting reconciled with God and their fellow-men every day instead of incurring God’s punishment.

Life messages: 1) It is time for us to read the clear signs of God’s call for repentance and renewal of life coming through Jesus and to respond by a change of heart and behavior. 2) In the same way, forgiveness and reconciliation should be a high priority for us. There should be no place in our lives for vindictive litigations in this litigation-crazy period, because each of us stands in constant need of God’s help, mercy and forgiveness. (Fr. Tony) L/18

Oct 27 Saturday: Lk 13: 1-9: 1 There were some present at that very time who told him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? 3 I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” 6 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, `Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?’  8 And he answered him, `Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure. 9 And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'”

The context: Today’s Gospel passage explains how God, our merciful and compassionate Father, disciplines His children, giving them painful experiences in life so that they may  repent of their sins, renew their lives and produce the fruits of love, mercy, forgiveness and service. Citing two tragic events, Jesus exhorts the Jews of his time to repent and reform their lives.  With the parable of the barren fig tree, he also warns them that the merciful God will not put up with them indefinitely. Although God patiently waits for sinners to repent, giving them grace to do so, He will not wait forever.  Time will run out; therefore, timely repentance is necessary.

The teaching: Jesus uses two local tragedies to teach us about our need for repentance and a renewal of life.  On one occasion, Pilate killed many Galilean Jews who had protested when he appropriated money from the Temple treasury to build an aqueduct in Jerusalem in order to obtain a better water supply for the pilgrims.  Jesus then connects his warning to another episode, namely, what appears to have been an accident, related to renovation work on the control tower of the water supply scheme at Siloam, in which eighteen people died.  The Jews interpreted this tragedy as God’s punishment of the workers who were co-operating with Pilate in his sacrilegious aqueduct project.  Jesus denies that the Galileans suffered because of their sins, but calls his listeners to repent lest they suffer for theirs. In fact, he presents both these incidents as timely reminders of the need for all to repent. He says, “… unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

Life Messages: 1) We need to live lives of repentance, because (a) we never know when we will meet a tragedy of our own; (b) repentance helps us in life and in death. 2) Repentance helps us to live with peace of mind as forgiven people, and helps us to face death without fear. 3) Scripture says repentance results in forgiveness, renewal, and redirection. (Fr. Tony) L/18