Dec 3-8: Dec 3 Monday St. Francis Xavier, Priest): Mt 8: 5-11: 5 As he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, beseeching him 6 and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.” 7 And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion answered him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I am a man 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.” 10 When Jesus heard him, he marveled, and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.
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, brave captains in charge of 100 soldiers. They were used to giving and receiving commands. They were the backbone of Roman army. According to Luke’s account (Lk 7:1-10), this centurion loved the Jews and respected their religious customs. He knew that Jews incurred ritual uncleanness on entering the house of a pagan, and, wanting to save Jesus this inconvenience, said he was unworthy to have Jesus come into his pagan house. The Centurion 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 just to shout a command as he did with his soldiers, so that the illness might leave his servant by the power of that order. Jesus was moved by his Faith and rewarded the trusting Faith of this Gentile officer by telling him: “Go; be it done for you as you have believed.”
Life messages: 1) We need to grow to the level of Faith of the centurion by knowing and personally experiencing Jesus in our lives. 2) We do so by our meditative daily reading of the Bible, by our daily personal and family prayers, by frequenting the Sacraments, especially the Eucharistic celebration, and by surrendering our lives to Jesus in rendering loving service to others in all humility. (Fr. Tony) L/18
Dec 4 Tuesday (St. John Damascene): Lk 10: 21-24: 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 anyone 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: When the seventy-two disciples returned after successfully completing their mission, Jesus rejoiced with them and thanked his Father saying aloud a spontaneous prayer expressing three great thoughts.
1) The first thought is that God hates intellectual pride and loves childlike simplicity and humility. Jesus says that only humble people with open minds can experience him as Lord and Savior.
2) The second thought is about the unique relationship between Jesus and his Father. The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are equal in being, possessing the same Divine life and knowledge. Since the Son is no less perfect than the Father, He is uniquely qualified to reveal the inner life of the Trinity to the world. Jesus was sent to show the world what God looks like and how God behaves.
3) The third thought is Jesus’ claim that He is the expected Messiah Whom the prophets have foretold. Hence, Jesus asserts that his disciples are blessed with the great privilege of seeing, hearing and experiencing God in human form.
Life messages : 1) We need to make use of our blessings. We are more blessed than many who lived in Jesus’ time because we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and have him with us in the Eucharist, in the Bible, in the worshipping community and in each one of us as Emmanuel. 2) Hence, let us participate in Jesus’ Divine life by Holy Communion, hear His words by meditative reading of the Bible and worship Him as a community of believers. (Fr. Tony) L/18
Dec 5 : Wednesday: Mt 15:29-37: 29 And Jesus went on from there and passed along the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain and sat down there. 30 And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the dumb, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, 31 so that the throng wondered, when they saw the dumb speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel. 32 Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days, and have nothing to eat; and I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” 33 And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get bread enough in the desert to feed so great a crowd?” 34 And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves have you?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” 35 And commanding the crowd to sit down on the ground, 36 he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 37 And they all ate and were satisfied; and they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over.
The context: The Decapolis was a loose federation of ten cities with a mixed population of Jews and Gentiles. Jesus took six months to travel to the Decapolis via Tyre and Sidon and to return to Galilee. The healing and feeding described in today’s Gospel took place on a hill near the Sea of Galilee after Jesus’ return from the Decapolis. He healed the lame, the maimed, the blind, and the dumb. Then he felt pity for the hungry multitude and instructed his Apostles to feed them with what they had, namely, seven loaves of bread and a few small fish. At Jesus’ command, the Apostles brought these to Jesus who said a prayer of thanksgiving over them and instructed the Apostles to distribute them to the people. After the crowd had eaten their fill, the Apostles, again at Jesus’ command, collected the broken pieces; they filled seven baskets with the fragments.
Life messages : 1) We need to help Jesus to heal the blind, the lame, the deaf and the mute today. Jesus desires to open our blind eyes and to loosen our tongues so that he may see and speak to the spiritually hungry through us. Jesus invites us to lend him our hearts so that he may touch the lives of people in our day through us, just as he touched the lives of millions through saintly souls like Francis of Assisi, Fr. Damien, Vincent de Paul and Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa.)
2) We need to be fed by Jesus. Jesus continues to feed us in his Church with His own Body and Blood in Holy Communion and with the word of God through the Holy Bible. (Fr. Tony) L/18
Dec 6 Thursday (St. Nicholas, Bishop): Mt 7:21, 24-27: 21 “Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; 25 and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; 27 and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.”
The context: In today’s Gospel, the concluding part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives us two warnings: that we must match our profession of Faith with actual obedience to the will of God and that we must build a life on the firm foundation of his teachings. Worship of God without commitment to the word of God is hypocrisy. Sincerity in a Christian can be demonstrated not by what he says but by what he does. Fine words can never be a substitute for fine deeds. Thus, today’s Gospel gives Jesus’ call to authentic discipleship based on the strong foundation of Gospel teaching. Acting on the words of Christ shows the authenticity of one’s Christian commitment. Jesus contrasts a wise man who practices what he believes with a fool who does not practice his religious beliefs, using the images of one man who built his house on firm rock and another who built his house on loose sand in summer. Only a house with solid and firm foundation can resist the storm and flood, and only a person whose life has strong spiritual foundations can stand the test. Building on loose sand is the way to destruction. Thus, the two builders sum up two ways – the way of perfect righteousness and the way of self-righteousness. On the Day of Judgment, the first will stand; the second will fall.
Life messages: 1) We need to synchronize our practice of the Faith with our profession of it: The test of our Sunday worship is the effect it has in our homes and workplaces and the way it influences our relationships with friends and neighbors. The great test is the care and consideration we show to our neighbors, many of whom experience the absence of affection, of words of encouragement and of forgiveness. 2) We need to build our families on strong foundations: There can be no great marriage and no great family without a solid foundation. Such a foundation exists when the husband and wife are the love of Christ for each other and for their children, in deeds as well as in words. Our culture and nation also need strong foundations based on the moral law of God and love of Jesus Christ, and this is possible only if our families are built on these foundations. (Fr. Tony) L/18
Dec 7 Friday (St. Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church): Mt 9:27-31: 27 And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” 28 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” 29 Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” 30 And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly charged them, “See that no one knows it.” 31 But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.
The context: Today’s Gospel describes Jesus’ miraculous healing of two blind men who approached him with trusting Faith. Blindness was common in Palestine because of the intense glare of the eastern sun, clouds of unclean flies and people’s ignorance of cleanliness and hygiene. The two blind men followed Jesus from the street up to his place of residence expressing loudly their confidence in the “Son of David” and requesting his mercy. Jesus found in these men what was required for receiving a miracle, namely a strong and expectant Faith, an earnest desire for vision and a sincere prayer for mercy. Although they were instructed not to tell any one of their healing, they expressed their gratitude to Jesus by bearing witness to his healing power in the town as soon as Jesus had healed them. Life messages: 1) We, too, need light and eyesight because we are often blind to the needs and expectations of others living with us. We are also often blind to the presence of Jesus living in us and in others, to the blessings God showers on us and to the protection God gives us every day. Hence, let us pray for the spiritual eyesight to realize and experience the presence of Jesus in ourselves and others, and for the good will to do good to and for others. (Fr. Tony) L/18
Dec 8 One-page synopsis: Homily on Immaculate Conception of BVM
Mary’s prophecy given in her Magnificat, “Behold all generations will call me blessed,” was fulfilled when the Catholic Church declared four dogmas of Faith about her: 1-The Immaculate Conception, 2-The Perpetual Virginity, 3-The Divine Maternity, 4-The Assumption. The Immaculate Conception is a dogma based mainly on Christian tradition and theological reasoning. It was defined in 1854 by Pope Pius IX as a dogma of Faith through Ineffabilis Deus. Definition: From the first moment of her conception, Mary was preserved immune from original sin by the singular grace of God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race. (CCC #491). This means that original sanctity, innocence and justice were conferred upon her, and that she was exempted from all the evil effects of original sin, excluding sorrow, pain, disease and death which are temporal penalties given to Adam. (Catholic Encyclopedia).
Evidences: (A) From Church tradition: The Immaculate Conception is a dogma originating from sound Christian tradition. Monks in Palestinian monasteries started celebrating the feast of the Conception of Our Lady by the end of the 7th century. The feast spread as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in Italy (9th century), England (11th century), and France (12th century). Pope Leo VI propagated the celebration, and Pope Sixtus IV approved it as a Feast. Finally, in 1854, Pope Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception to be a dogma of Faith. Mary herself approved it in 1858 by declaring to Bernadette at Lourdes, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” (B) From Holy Scripture: 1) God purified the prophet Jeremiah in the womb of his mother (Jer. 1:5 –“Before I formed you in the womb of your mother, I knew you and before you were born, I consecrated you”), and anointed John the Baptist with His Holy Spirit before John’s birth as John’s mother, speaking to Mary, attests (Lk 1:43-44: “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy!”) Hence, it is reasonable that God kept the mother of His Son free from all sins from the first moment of her origin. 2) The angel saluted Mary as “full of grace.” The greeting means that she was never, even for a moment, a slave of sin and the devil. 3) Gen. 3:15: — “I will put enmity between you and the woman and her seed shall crush your head.” The woman stands for Mary, and the promise would not be true if Mary had original sin. (C)-Argument from reason: 1-If we were allowed to select our mother, we would select the most beautiful, healthy and saintly lady. That is what God did. 2-The All-Holy God cannot be born from a woman who was a slave of the devil, even for a moment in her life.
Life messages: Every mother wants her children to inherit or acquire all her good qualities. Hence, our Immaculate and holy Heavenly Mother wants us to be holy and pure children. Let us honor her by practicing her virtues of Faith and obedience. (Fr. Tony) L/18