February 24, 2019

Feb 25- March 2 Weekday Homilies

Feb 25- March 2: Feb 25 Monday: Mk 9:14-29:   14 And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd about them, and scribes arguing with them. 15 And immediately   all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed, and ran up to him and greeted him. 16 And he asked them, “What are you discussing with them?” 17 And one of the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a dumb spirit; 18 and wherever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” 19 And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” 20 And they brought the boy to him; and when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has he had this?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “If you can! All things are possible to him who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again.” 26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse; so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29 And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”

The context: Today’s Gospel passage describes an exorcism and healing which Jesus performed after coming down from the mountain of Transfiguration.

Why did the Apostles fail to heal the epileptic?  The father of the epileptic boy complained to Jesus about the inability of His Apostles to cure his son.  They failed to heal the boy because 1) although they had been given the power of healing, they failed to vitalize or activate it by prayer as Jesus did; 2) they did not have strong, trusting and expectant Faith in God’s power; 3) as Jesus remarked, exorcism requires not only healing power but also a life of prayer and penance.

Jesus heals the epileptic by a word of Divine command: Jesus demanded strong Faith from the boy’s father as a condition for healing.  Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”  Then Jesus commanded the evil spirit, using His Divine authority: You dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again.” As the evil spirit left the boy, he was healed of his epilepsy.

Life messages: 1) God will work daily miracles in our lives, provided we pray with trusting Faith.    Jesus offers us freedom from bondage to sin, evil habits and addictions. Let us make full use of the protection and help God offers to those who seek Him with Faith in His power and trust in His mercy. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/19

Feb 26 Tuesday: Mk 9: 30-37: 30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he would not have any one know it; 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him; and when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to ask him. 33 And they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 34 But they were silent; for on the way they had discussed with one another who was the greatest. 35 And he sat down and called the twelve; and he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 And he took a child, and put him in the midst of them; and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”

Context: Today’s Gospel outlines the criteria for greatness.  Jesus’ Apostles shared the Jewish hope that the Messiah would be a political ruler, and that they would hold important portfolios in the Messianic kingdom. Hence, in today’s passage, Jesus warns his Apostles and the future hierarchy in his Church against the natural human tendency to pride and ambition. He exhorts the spiritual leaders, as well as all believers in responsible positions, to be humble, trusting and innocent, that is, like children.

Child-like qualities: Children are basically innocent and honest. They are naturally humble because they depend on their parents for everything. They trust and obey their parents because they know their parents love them. Hence, Jesus advises his disciples to forget their selfish ambitions and to spend their lives serving others in all humility, with trusting Faith in a loving and providing God.  Then they will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Life Messages: 1) We need to practice humility in thoughts, words and actions. “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart.” “What is the essential thing in the religion and discipline of Jesus Christ?” St. Augustine asks, and then responds, “I shall reply: first humility, second humility and third humility.” 2) We should not seek recognition and recompense for the service we do for Christ and the Church as parents, teachers, pastors etc. 3) Trusting Faith resulting from true humility is essential for all corporal and spiritual works of mercy. 4) Since children reflect the innocence, purity, simplicity and tenderness of our Lord, and since they are given the protection of a guardian angel, we are to love them, train them and take care not to give scandal to them. 5) We need to try to treat everyone with love and respect because, “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life,” (St. Basil) (CCC #336). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

Feb 27 Wednesday:Mk 9: 38-40: 38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me. 40 For he that is not against us is for us.

The context: Ecclesiastical structures and lines of authority were not as clearly defined in the early Church as they are now.  There were several Christian communities in big cities, each established by a different evangelist with different preachers, and each with its own practices.  Rivalries could develop among them. In such circumstances, perhaps the incident and instruction of Jesus presented in today’s Gospel passage was recalled.  In the passage, the Apostles complained about someone using the name of Jesus for healing the sick.  They were upset at seeing someone who did not belong to their group using Jesus’ name to cast out demons.  They were under the false impression that healing and exorcism in Jesus’ name was their sole right.  They had forgotten the truth that God can use anybody as an instrument of healing.

“Whoever is not against us is for us:Jesus tells his disciples that there should not be any rivalry, jealousy or suspicion as long as all hold the same belief.  Since the present-day divisions in Christianity are substantive, rising from differences over the basic tenets of Faith, today’s Gospel passage does not apply to them. However, Jesus’ instruction invites all Christians who accept him as Lord and Savior to work together for the common welfare of all, especially the poor, the sick and the marginalized.  There is no reason for any Christian denomination to be jealous of another denomination because of the greater good they do for people for God’s glory.  True love seeks the highest good of our neighbor while envy results from the selfishness and pride contrary to true Christian love.

Life messages: 1) Let us not try to prevent anyone from doing good to others because of envy or jealousy.  Envy and jealousy are sinful because they lead us to sadness over what should make us rejoice.  True love always seeks the highest good of the neighbor. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/19 

Feb 28 Thursday: Mark 9: 41-50: 41 For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means lose his reward. 42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. 49 For every one will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

The context: After cautioning his disciples against jealousy and envy, Jesus explains to them the rewards for good works and warns them of the punishment reserved for scandal-givers.  Jesus promises a reward for even the smallest act of charity for two reasons: 1) in performing the action, we are recognizing the truth that the beneficiary belongs to Jesus and that Jesus lives in him or her.  2) We perform the action as an expression of our gratitude for the numerous favors we have received from God.

The seriousness of scandal: Jesus tells scandal-givers that suffering a dire punishment like drowning in the deep sea with a millstone hung around their necks would do them less harm than they will suffer for committing the horror of giving scandal to one of His “little ones.” This is because 1) every scandal causes a chain reaction, resulting in the victims’ abusing and giving scandal to others in turn, adversely affecting the whole community in the process.  2) Scandals, like the sexual abuse of children, lead many to serious sins and lead both victims and scandal-givers away from Faith and religious practices.

What does Jesus mean by amputation? Jesus teaches that, just as a doctor might remove an infected hand or leg or some other part of the body in order to preserve the life of the whole body, so we must be ready to part with anything that causes us to sin and which leads us to spiritual death.  This means that we should abandon certain evil habits, bad friendships and undue attachments to avoid giving serious bad example and committing grave sins.  Jesus does not teach that we should literally cut off hand or foot or pluck out our eye.  Rather, using a Semitic idiom, he teaches that the most important aspect of our life is our Faith, and that it is better to suffer any calamity rather than to lose this precious gift.

Life messages: 1) We need to have salt in our lives: Jesus declares that, as the salt of the earth, our duty is to purify, preserve and give flavor to people’s lives by using the blessings given to us instead of leading others to sin by bad example.  2) As salt penetrates what it is placed upon, let us penetrate the society around us, radiating Jesus’ love, mercy, forgiveness and spirit of service. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/19

March 1 Friday: Mk 10:1-12: 1 And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again; and again, as his custom was, he taught them. 2 And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3……………………….12

The context: King Herod had married his brother’s wife, Herodias, violating the Mosaic Law.  John the Baptist showed courage in condemning the king in public and lost his head for it.  In today’s Gospel, the Pharisees were setting a trap for Jesus asking whether he agreed with his cousin John’s position on divorce.  Jesus used the occasion to declare unequivocally that the bond of marriage comes from God, and that it is permanent and indissoluble:What God has joined, man must not separate.” Today’s Gospel gives Christ’s explicit teaching on marriage and divorce, the Divine origin of marriage, the sacredness of family life and the indissolubility of marriage.

 Jesus’ explanation of Mosaic sanction: Jesus explains that Moses’ permission for divorce was only a temporary concession to control the growing rate of divorce in his time, by introducing a law-governed divorce.  Jesus adds that it was because of the hard-heartedness of the Jewish men that Moses allowed such a concession.  By denying the man’s right to divorce, Jesus places the husband and wife on an equal footing in marriage and teaches that no Mosaic regulation dealing with a temporary situation can alter the permanency and unity of marriage.

 Jesus’ clear teaching on divorce: Jesus reminds us that his doctrine goes back to the original intention of God.  Citing the book of Genesis, Jesus proves that God made us male and female and commanded that “the two shall become one flesh.”  He then draws the conclusion that “they are no longer two, but one body” – partners with equal rights – and declares  that no man is allowed to separate what God has joined together (Mt 19:6).

Catholic teaching: Based on the NT teachings given in Mk 10:1-12, Mt. 5:31-32; Mt. 19:3-9; Luke. 16:18; and 1 Cor 7:10-11, the Catholic Church teaches that marriage is a Sacrament involving both a sacred and a legal contract between a man and a woman and, at the same time, a special Covenant with the Lord.  “Divorce is also a grave offense against the natural law.  In addition, it breaks the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death……  Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society” (CCC #2384, 2385).

Life messages: 1) Let us keep all families of our parish in our daily prayers.  Mutual understanding and appreciation of the spouses, openness and frankness, a spirit of sacrifice, adjustment, tolerance, the willingness to ask pardon and give pardon, the generosity to forgive and forget –  all these-  help to make a marriage permanent. 2) Let us also pray for all divorced men and women in the parish and also for those who have married again without an annulment, and welcome them as active members of the parish, although the latter cannot receive Holy Communion.  (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

March 2 Saturday: Mk 10:13-16:Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”  13 And they were bringing children to him, that he might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it he was indignant, and said to them, “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands upon them.

The context: Today’s Gospel passage describes one of the loveliest incidents in the Gospel story.  Jewish mothers used to bring their children to the great rabbis that they might pray over the children, especially on their first birthday.  Naturally, mothers wanted the healing touch and blessing of the most popular rabbi, Jesus.  In an attempt to protect their Master from the crowd of mothers and noisy children, the Apostles started rebuking them.  The passage describes Jesus’ reaction and teaching.

Childlike qualities for entrance into Heaven:  By showing his displeasure at the rough reaction of his Apostles, Jesus made it clear that everyone is equally important to him as a child of God.  The mothers came to Jesus because he was affable, jovial and approachable.  Jesus decided to use the occasion as a teachable moment.  He taught his disciples that entry into Heaven demands the childlike qualities of humility, innocence, obedience, total trust in a loving and providing God, confidence in the essential goodness of people and readiness to forgive and forget.

 Life messages: 1) Let us live in the awareness that we are the children of a loving and providing Heavenly Father and that by Baptism we are members of God’s family.  Hence, we are expected to behave well every day as worthy children of a Holy Father. 2) Let us pray for all children in our families and for all our young parishioners and let us find time to cooperate in the parish ministries meant for children and young people. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/19