November 26, 2018

Weekday homilies for Nov 26- Dec 1

Nov 26- Dec 1: Nov 26 Monday: Luke 21: 1-4: He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury; 2 and he saw a poor widow put in two copper coins. 3 And he said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; 4 for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living that she had.”

The context: There were 13 trumpet-shaped receptacles that stood up against the wall of the Court of Women.  They were intended to hold the gifts of the faithful for the Temple treasury. As Jesus and his disciples sat and watched the comings and goings of those offering their gifts of support, they observed many wealthy worshipers placing significant sums into the Temple treasury.  But it was not until Jesus observed the tiny gift of two lepta (equivalent to a couple of pennies), given by a poor widow, that he was moved to comment on the proceedings.

Beginning with chapter 11 of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is seen confronting the Temple authorities and challenging abuses in the “organized religion” of his time. Complimenting the poor widow in today’s Gospel, Jesus contrasted the external signs of honor sought by the scribes with the humble, sacrificial offering of a poor widow and declared that she had found true honor in God’s eyes. The Gospel presents a poor widow who sacrificially gave her whole life and means of livelihood to God, symbolizing the supreme sacrifice Jesus would offer by giving his life for others. The episode invites us to a total commitment to God’s service with a humble and generous heart free from pride and prejudice.

Life messages: # 1: We need to appreciate the widows of our parish:    Their loneliness draws them closer to God and to stewardship in the parish.  They are often the active participants in all the liturgical celebrations, offering prayers for their families and for their parish family.  Frequently, they are active in parish organizations, as well as in visiting and serving the sick and the shut-ins.  Hence, let us appreciate them, support them, encourage them and pray for them.

#2: We need to accept Christs criteria for judging people: We often judge people by what they possess.  But Jesus measures us on the basis of our inner motives and the intentions hidden behind our actions.  He evaluates us on the basis of the sacrifices we make for others and on the degree of our surrender to His holy will. What is hardest to give is ourselves in love and concern, because that gift costs us more than reaching for our purses. (Fr. Tony) L/18 

Nov 27 Tuesday: Luke 21: 5-11: 5 And as some spoke of the Temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, 6 “As for these things which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” 7 And they asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign when this is about to take place?” 8 And he said, “Take heed that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name, saying, `I am he!’ and, `The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. 9 And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified; for this must first take place, but the end will not be at once.” 10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11 there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.

The context: Today’s Gospel begins with Jesus’ reaction to the comments his disciples had been making about the splendor of the Temple in Jerusalem. The forty-foot tall pillars supporting the beams of the front porch were made of solid marble. Most of the decorations and the large vine on the front porch with six-foot long grape clusters were made of solid gold plates, while the dome was gold-plated. But Jesus prophesied this Temple’s total destruction. In AD 70, the Roman army invaded the city, plundered everything valuable, set fire to the Temple, pulled down its walls, killed one million Jews and took 97,000 healthy Jews as captives. Jesus also gave his disciples warning about false military messiahs and their deceptive doctrines about overthrowing the Romans. Then Jesus listed some signs of the end of the world like wars between nations, earthquakes, famines, plagues and unnatural movements of the heavenly bodies.

Life message: We need to learn from the signs of the times, like crises in morality, a culture of death, an increase in violence and terrorism, the “normalization” of sexual deviations, the breaking down of families and the moral degradation of society, and to prepare ourselves for the end times by living ideal Christian lives, helping others, sharing our blessings with others and getting reconciled with God and our neighbors. (Fr. Tony) L/18 

Nov 28 Wednesday: Luke 21: 12-19: 12 But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. 13 This will be a time for you to bear testimony. 14 Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer; 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death; 17 you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish.19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.

The context: Today’s Gospel gives Jesus’ prophetic warning to his Apostles and followers about the sufferings they would have to bear for their faith in him until his Second Coming. Jesus advised them to bear witness to him in spite of persecutions. Persecutions would also encourage the disciples to flee to remote places and to preach the Gospel among the Jews and the Gentiles. Believers would be locked up in prisons and brought for trial before kings and governors. Jesus assured them that he would give them words of defense and witness-bearing through the Holy Spirit. (In the Acts of the Apostles, we read how Stephen was given the wisdom to bear witness to Jesus in Jerusalem). Since there would be a split in families between believers and non-believers, close relatives would betray their Christian family members to the pagan authorities and cause their martyrdom. But Jesus assures his followers in today’s Gospel passage that their suffering for him would be amply rewarded.

 Life messages: 1) Although we may not get a chance to die for the Faith, we are invited to face “dry martyrdom,” a “living death” as outcasts in our contemporary materialistic, secular, liberal, agnostic and atheistic society.

2) We are called to bear witness to Christ by loving those who hate us, by showing mercy and compassion to those who hurt and ill-treat us, by forgiving those who continue to offend us, by accepting our sufferings without complaint and by continuing to keep Jesus’ word in our lives. (Fr. Tony) L/18 

Nov 29 Thursday: Luke 21: 20-28: 20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it; 22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 23 Alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! For great distress shall be upon the earth and wrath upon this people; 24 they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led captive among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. 25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world; for the powers of the
heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

The context: Jesus is prophesying the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world in today’s Gospel passage. He says that God is going to punish the city of Jerusalem for its sins, for its indifference shown to Christ and its rejection of Christ’s preaching as foretold by the prophets: “Behold the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger to make the earth a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it” (Isaiah 13:9-13; Joel 2:1-2; Amos 5:18-20; Zephaniah 1:14-18).  Josephus, the Jewish historian, reports that over a million inhabitants died when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem with the Temple in AD 70. Jesus also warns his disciples about the end of the world and the second coming of Jesus, this time in glory as Judge of the whole human race, quoting Daniel’s prophecy 7:13-14. There will be visible changes in nature, in heavenly bodies and in the universe as a whole: “The powers of the heavens will be shaken.” But Jesus encourages his followers to be prepared for the event with the assurance of their Heavenly reward. Sacred Scripture describes the solemnity of this event, when the sentence passed on each person in the particular judgment will be confirmed, and God’s justice and mercy to men throughout history will shine out for all to see.   Life messages: 1) Today’s Scripture readings warn us to be ever prepared to give an account of our lives to Jesus, our Judge, at the moment of our death, which nobody knows.  2) They also tell us to be ready to meet Jesus coming again, this time as the Judge of the universe, by avoiding sins and doing good to others, seeing the face of Jesus in each one of them. (Fr. Tony) L/18 

Nov 30 Friday (St. Andrew, Apostle): (St. Andrew the Apostle): Mt 4: 18-22: 18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea;  for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him.  21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them.  22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. (Mark 1: 14-20)

The context:  Today’s Gospel describes the beginning of Jesus’ preaching and healing ministry and the call of his Apostles who were to continue that ministry. Jesus started his public ministry immediately after John the Baptist was arrested. Following John’s pattern, Jesus, too, invited his hearers to repent as a condition for believing in the Gospel, or the Good News, of the Kingdom of God. Jesus preached the Good News that God is a loving, forgiving, caring and merciful Father who wants to liberate us and save us from our sins through His son Jesus. According to Matthew and Mark, Jesus selected four fishermen, Andrew and his brother Peter, with James and his brother John, right from their fishing boats. Jesus wanted ordinary, hard-working people as assistants for his ministry because they were very responsive instruments in the hands of God. Peter and Andrew “immediately” left their nets and followed Him.  Similarly, James and John “immediately” left the boats and their father and followed him. According to John’s Gospel, John and Andrew were the disciples of John the Baptist, and they had been encouraged to follow Jesus by their master John the Baptist, who pointed out Jesus as “the Lamb of God”(John 1: 38-30), suggesting that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. Before the multiplication of the loaves, it was Andrew who spoke up about the boy who had the barley loaves and fishes (see John 6:8-9).  John 12:20-22 tells us how Philip sought the help of Andrew to introduce the Greek Gentiles to Jesus. Andrew is believed to have preached the Gospel in Greece and Turkey and was crucified at Patras on an X-shaped cross to which he was tied. St. Andrew is the patron saint of Russia, Scotland, and fishermen.

Life messages:  1) In order to be effective instruments in the hands of God and to continue Jesus’ preaching, healing and saving ministry, we, too, need to repent of our sins on a daily basis and to renew our lives by relying on the power of God.

2) As the first four apostles, including Andrew, gave priority to Christ and left behind everything, we, too, are to give priority to Jesus and his ideals in our vocation in life.  (Fr. Tony) L/18

 Dec 1 Saturday: Lk 21: 34-36: 34 “But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; 35 for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth. 36 But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man.”

The context:  In St. Luke’s version of Jesus’ advice to his disciples before his passion and death, as given in today’s Gospel, Jesus emphasizes that every Christian needs to be vigilant and prepared because we cannot be sure of the time of our own death when we will be asked to give an account of our lives. Hence, Jesus advises us to be strengthened by prayer so that we may be free from evil addictions and unnecessary attachment to worldly pleasures.  Jesus also instructs us to be vigilant because we do not know the time either of our own death or of the end of the world and his Second Coming. St. Paul repeats this advice: “You are not in darkness, brethren, for that day to surprise you like a thief” (I Thes 5: 4). 

 Life messages: 1) We need to avoid spiritual laziness and indifference. 2) We need to be freed from excessive and crippling anxiety, needless worries and evil habits. 3) We need to get our strength from God by prayer, which means listening to God and talking to Him. (Fr. Tony) L/18