December 8, 2018

December 10-15 weekday homilies

Dec 10-15: Dec 10 Monday: Lk 5: 17-26: 17 On one of those days, as he was teaching, there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was with him to heal.  18 And behold, men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they sought to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; 19 but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus.  20 ……. 26 .. (Cfr. Mt 9: 1-8)

The context: Beyond showing his authority over temptation, over the lives of men, over nature, over demons and over sickness, in today’s Gospel we see Jesus demonstrating a new form of authority – his authority to forgive sins. Jesus miraculously restores a paralyzed man to health. The healing episode presents Jesus as God Incarnate, sent to save us, restore us and make us new. So we have to look beyond the boundaries of our religious experience if we are to appreciate the healing and forgiving operation of our God in newer and newer ways.

Many kinds of sickness were seen by the Jews as punishment for one’s personal sin or the sins of one’s parents.  This man’s paralysis was also seen by the people around him as a punishment for some sin in his own life or in the lives of his parents.  It was a common belief that no sickness could be cured until sin was forgiven.  For that reason, Jesus had first to convince the paralyzed man that his sins had been forgiven. Once Jesus granted the paralytic the forgiveness of God, the man knew that God was no longer his enemy, and he was ready to receive the cure which followed.  It was the manner of the cure which scandalized the Scribes.   By forgiving sin, they thought Jesus had blasphemed, insulting God, because forgiving sin is the exclusive prerogative of God. In addition to showing Jesus’ own direct connection to God, this healing demonstrates the fact that we can never be right physically until we are right spiritually, that health in body and peace with God go hand in hand.

Life messages: 1) We need God’s forgiveness to live wholesome lives.  The heart of the Christian Faith is the “forgiveness of sins.”  In the Creed we say, “I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins.”  While we have the power to forgive others, we need to be forgiven ourselves by the One who has the authority to forgive.  In Jesus we see this authority, the same authority He gave to his Apostles and so to his Church. 2) Today’s Gospel gives us an invitation to open ourselves to God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and to hear from in the priest’s words the voice of Jesus speaking to the paralytic: “Your sins are forgiven.” 3) The Gospel also instructs us to forgive others their sins against us and to ask God’s forgiveness for our daily sins every day of our lives. (Fr. T. Kadavil) L/18 

Dec 11 Tuesday (St. Damasus I, Pope): Mt 18: 12-14: 12 What do you think?  If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go in search of the one that went astray?  13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14  So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

The context: Since the self-righteous Pharisees who accused Jesus of befriending publicans and sinners could not believe that God would be delighted at the conversion of sinners, Jesus told them the parable of the lost sheep and the shepherd’s joy on its discovery, the parable of the lost coin and the woman’s joy when she found it, and the parable of the lost and returned son and his Father’s joy on his return.   These three parables defended Jesus’ alliance with sinners and responded to the criticism that he was welcoming tax collectors and sinners. The central theme of today’s Gospel is that our God is loving, patient, merciful, and forgiving.    This parable reminds us that we have a God who welcomes sinners and forgives their sins when they return to Him with genuine contrition and resolution to amend their lives.

Shepherding in Judaea was a hard and dangerous task.  Pasture was scarce; thorny scrub jungles with wild animals, and vast desert areas were common, posing constant threats to the wandering sheep.  But the shepherds were famous for their dedicated, sacrificial service, perpetual vigilance and readiness for action.    Two or three shepherds might be personally responsible for the sheep owned by several families in a village.   If any sheep were missing, one of the shepherds would go in search of it, sending the other shepherds home with the flock of sheep. The whole village would be waiting for the return of the shepherd with the lost sheep and would receive him with shouts of joy and of thanksgiving.

Life messages: 1) We need to confess our sins to regain peace and Gods friendship.  We have to be humble enough to recognize that we need God’s forgiveness to be whole. If we have been in sin, our God is ready to receive and welcome us back, just as Jesus welcomed sinners in his time.   Let us pray today that we may allow God’s love and forgiveness into our lives.2)   We should also ask God for  the  courage  to  extend  this  forgiveness  to  others  who  have offended us.  As we continue with the celebration of the Holy Mass, let us pray also for God’s Divine Mercy on those who have fallen away from grace.  (Fr. T. Kadavil) L/18

Dec 12 Wednesday (USA: Our Lady of Guadalupe): Lk 1: 39-47: 39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” 46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.

Most of us know the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe. On December 9, 1531, an elderly Indian man named Juan Diego had a vision of Mary, the mother of Jesus, at Tepeyac, a poor Mexican-Indian village outside Mexico City. Mary directed Juan Diego to tell his Bishop to build a Church in Tepeyac.  The Spanish   Bishop, however, dismissed   the   Indian’s   tale   as   mere superstition. But to humor Juan Diego, the Bishop demanded that the visionary bring some sort of proof. Three days later, the Virgin Mary appeared again and told Juan Diego to pick the exquisitely beautiful roses that had miraculously bloomed amidst December snows, and take them as a sign to the Bishop. When Juan Diego opened his poncho to present the roses to the Bishop, the flowers poured out from his poncho to reveal an image of the Virgin Mary painted on the inside of the poncho. That image hangs today in the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City and is venerated by thousands of pilgrims from all over the world. This apparition occasioned the conversion of nine million Indians to Christianity in twenty years. It is estimated that ten million pilgrims visit the Basilica every year. The original Church was built in 1533, the second in 1556 and the third in 1709. The Virgin of Guadalupe was declared the Patroness of Latin America by Pope St. Pius X (1907), Queen of Mexico and Empress of America by Pope Pius XII (1945), Mother of America by Pope St. John XXXIII (1961) and Star of Evangelization by Pope St. John Paul II (1979).

Life messages:   1) The story of the apparition tells us how Jesus, as Emmanuel, and Mary his mother, want to be among us, especially among the poor, the downtrodden and the marginalized in society who have neither   voice   nor    political or social influence.  That is why Our Lady appeared to a poor Indian in a village, not as a white woman but as a brown-skinned Indian princess, speaking his native Nahuatal language, and why Mary did not appear to any of the Spanish overlords. God wanted the Basilica in honor of Jesus’ mother built in the village, not in the city.
2) The vision challenges us to listen to the ordinary people who do not look or act like important people and to treat them with reverence. While it is true that God loves each and every one of us, there is a special place in God’s heart for the poor and the powerless – God’s preferential option for the poor. So the feast challenges us to see and serve Jesus in the poor and the broken-hearted in our communities. (Fr. T. Kadavil) L/18

Dec 12 Wednesday: Regular reading: Lk 1:26-38: 26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How shall this be, since I have no husband?” 35 And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. 36 And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”38 ….

The context:  Today’s Gospel describes the story of the Annunciation, explaining how God began to keep the promise He had made to King David through the prophet Nathan, that David’s descendant would rule over the world as its Messiah.

The Archangel Gabriel’s salutation to Mary: “Hail, full of grace,” reminds us of God’s words to Moses at the burning bush (Ex 3:12), and the angel’s salutation to Gideon, (Jgs 6:12).  Mary is described as “full of grace”, filled with God’s favor and graciousness.  She is the new Ark, a tent and temple.  God is literally and physically in her, and thus she is the greater House God promised to David. Mary’s question, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” is natural.  That is why Gabriel reminds Mary, “Nothing is impossible with God.”  God will “empower” her (“the Spirit will come upon you“) and “protect” her (“overshadow you“).  Luke’s narrative points out that the child would not only be a distant grandson of David — he would be God’s own Son.  “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.” Mary does not require confirmation but responds in Faith.  She agrees to carry out the Word Gabriel has addressed to her.

Life messages: 1) We need to be humble instruments in the hand of God, trusting in His power and goodness.  St. Augustine reminds us that God Who created us without our permission cannot save us without our active cooperation.  Hence, let us cooperate in the fulfillment of God’s plan for us with Mary’s trusting Faith and humility.  2) Like Mary who brought God to us as Jesus our Savior, it is our duty to carry Jesus and bring him to the lives of others around us through love, mercy, forgiveness and service. “Let the soul of Mary be in each one of you to magnify the Lord.  Let the spirit of Mary be in each one to exult in Christ.” (St. Ambrose).  (Fr. T. Kadavil) L/18

Dec 13 Thursday (St. Lucy, Virgin, Martyr): Matthew 11:11-15: Jesus said to the crowds: 11 Amen I say to you among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John; 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

The context: John the Baptizer preached the coming of a fiery Messiah. But what he heard about Jesus from prison was that Jesus was a loving, merciful and forgiving preacher who befriended tax collectors and sinners. Hence, John sent some of his disciples to Jesus to learn whether Jesus was, or was not, the expected Messiah. After sending them back to John to report the actions by which He was fulfilling the Messianic prophecies, Jesus gave the highest compliments to John in today’s Gospel.

Jesus praised John first as a prophet and second as the expected Elijah. As a prophet, John had God-given wisdom in his mind, God’s truth on his lips and God-given courage in his heart. He had been heralding the Messiah with the courage of his prophetic convictions. John had lived like the Prophet Elijah who was expected to come just before the Messiah. He had spoken with the same prophetic authority and had corrected the self-righteous, attracting Jewish followers by the hundreds to receive the baptism of repentance. Jesus, however, stressed the fact that His own followers were greater than John because, while John knew only God’s judgment and punishment, we know  God’s  love,  forgiveness  and  the salvation, given through Jesus. But Jesus warned his followers that they would be persecuted for their trust in God’s Kingdom, and that they would have to use force on their selfish and evil tendencies to reach God’s Kingdom.

Life message: We need to have the courage of our Christian convictions to profess in public what we believe and to practice what the Church teaches.  (Fr. T. Kadavil) L/18

Dec 14 Friday (St. John of the Cross, Priest & Doctor): Mt 11: 16-19: 16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places and calling to their playmates, 17 `We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’ 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, `He has a demon’; 19 the Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, `Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”  (Cfr. Luke 7: 31-35)

The context: Both the message of John the Baptizer and the message of Jesus fell on deaf ears and met with stiff resistance from the self-righteous scribes and the Pharisees because of their jealousy, prejudice and spiritual blindness. Hence, they attributed the austerities of John the Baptist to the devil and called Jesus, in his table fellowship with sinners, “a drunkard and a glutton,” evidence contraindicating any Messianic possibility.  In today’s Gospel, Jesus compares these scribes and Pharisees to irresponsible street-children.

Dog-in-the-manger attitude: Jesus compares the attitude of the scribes and the Pharisees to that of street-children who want to entertain themselves by playing 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 proposes funeral songs and asks the first group to carry one of them on their shoulders as they act out a funeral procession. 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 are buffet Catholics with 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 refuse to listen and close their minds. 2) Hearing the Gospel implies the total acceptance and assimilation of what we hear and the incorporation of it into our daily lives. 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. T. Kadavil) L/18

Dec 15 Saturday: Matthew 17: 9-13:  9 And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of man is raised from the dead.” 10 And the disciples asked him, “Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” 11 He replied, “Elijah does come, and he is to restore all things; 12 but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not know him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of man will suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.

The context: Today’s Gospel describes the warning and instruction given by Jesus to Peter, James and John as they were coming down the mountain after witnessing Jesus’ Transfiguration. Jesus forbade them to give any publicity to what they had seen, because people were expecting a conquering political messiah with Elijah as his forerunner, and a powerful reformer who would destroy evil and restore justice in the land for the messiah to rule.

The Expected Messiah. Then Jesus indicated that he was the expected Messiah, and that John was the Elijah they had been waiting for. John’s mission was to prepare the way for the first coming of the Messiah, as Elijah’s mission would be to prepare the world for the Messiah’s second coming at the end of the world. The scribes misunderstood and taught that Elijah would come before the first coming of Jesus, the Messiah, and    Jesus told his disciples that for those who were willing to believe it, John the Baptist had served as Elijah in announcing His own coming and preparing the people to receive Him.  Jesus also reminded his  disciples that  he  would  fulfill  his  role  as  the Messiah not by gaining political power but by his suffering and death.

Life messages: 1) Let us accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, who became our Messiah through his death on the cross. 2) We do so by cooperating with our Savior in our eternal salvation, by obeying his commandment of love and by following the instructions given by the Church Jesus founded.  (Fr. Tony) L/18