June 1, 2019

June 3-8 weekday homilies

June 3-8: June 23 Monday (St. Charles Lwanga and companions, Martyrs): John 16: 29-33: His disciples said, “Now you are talking plainly, and not in any figure of speech. 30 Now we realize that you know everything and that you do not need to have anyone question you. Because of this we believe that you came from God.”* 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you believe now? 32 Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered* to his own home and you will leave me alone. But I am not alone, because the Father is with me. 3I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” 

Context: Jesus is speaking to his apostles after the Last Supper. 

Scripture lessons: In this Last Supper discourse, Jesus explains his Divine origin and his relationship to God his Father in clear terms without using any metaphors. The apostles acknowledge that they understand the Divinity of Jesus. But Jesus prophesied that they would soon desert him and seek their own safety, while he would be arrested, brought to trial and crucified. Our Faith is tested every day when we live in a world filled with agnostics, atheists and pleasure-seekers who see true believers as superstitious people and hate them. That is why Jesus gave his apostles and all his future disciples the assurance of the anointing of the Holy Spirit Who would strengthen them and guide them.  The Second Vatican Council teaches in connection with this passage: “The Lord Jesus who said `Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33), did not by these words promise complete victory to his Church in this world.  This sacred Council rejoices that the earth which has been sown with the seed of the Gospel is now bringing forth fruit in many places under the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord, who is filling the world” (Presbyterorum Ordinis, 22).

Life messages: 1) Our Faith is firmly rooted in the Divinity of Jesus demonstrated by his Messianic miracles, most of which were foretold by the prophets. The Resurrection of Jesus is the miracle of miracles proving Jesus’ Divinity beyond doubt. 2) We need to get our daily quota of spiritual strength by recognizing the presence of God – the Father, the Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit — living within us wherever we are and by communicating with our indwelling God in prayer. (Fr. Tony) L/19

June 4 Tuesday: Jn 17:1-11a 1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify thy Son that the Son may glorify thee, 2 since thou hast given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom thou hast given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. 4 I glorified thee on earth, having accomplished the work which thou gave me to do; 5 …… ….11

The context: Today’s Gospel passage is taken from the “High Priestly Prayer” of Jesus for himself, his apostles and all future believers. He offers this prayer at the end of his long Last Supper discourse. It is called the High Priestly Prayer because it is as the High Priest that Jesus offers to God, his Father, the imminent sacrifice of his passion and death, his apostles and their mission and all future believers.

Glory in crucifixion: In the first part of the prayer, Jesus asks for the glorification of his human nature and the acceptance of his sacrifice on the cross by his Father.  Jesus considered his crucifixion as his glorification — just as the martyrs would later do.  The cross was the glory of Jesus because it was the completion of his work of saving mankind and demonstrating to us how much God loves us. Further, it was his death on the cross that led to his Resurrection in glory.   Jesus glorified God 1) by accepting death on the cross in perfect obedience to God, to complete His eternal plan of salvation; 2) by revealing God to men as a loving, forgiving and saving Father; and 3) by giving believers Eternal Life in making them his disciples and teaching them to obey his new commandment of love.

The essence of Eternal Life: According to the New Testament, Eternal Life is: “to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent(John 17:3).  To know God in the Gospel sense is to have a deep, personal experience of God Who is working in one’s life.  It involves a close, intimate relationship which matures eventually into mutual love and trust.  Christian faith is essentially a “believing in”- a total surrender.  It is the way we come to “know” Christ closely, to experience him intimately and love him personally.

Life message: 1) Let us center our Christian life on prayer and glorification of God.  Prayer means getting into contact with God — listening to Him and talking to Him.  If we are convinced of the presence of God within us, we can talk to Him even while we are driving, waiting in a queue or doing routine work in the kitchen or yard. Our talk with God can include praise and thanksgiving, pleas for forgiveness and prayer for our needs and those of others. A few minutes spent in reading the Bible is the best way of listening to God. (Fr. Tony) L/19

June 5 Wednesday (St. Boniface, Bishop, Martyr): Jn 17:11b-19: 11 And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast  given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in thy name, which thou hast given me; I have guarded them, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them thy word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that thou should take them out of the world, but that thou should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.17 Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth. 18 As thou didst send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.

The context: Today’s Gospel passage is taken from the second part of the “High Priestly Prayer” of Jesus at the Last Supper in which he prays for his Apostles.

Prayer for the Apostles: Jesus asks the Father to give his disciples five things—perseverance, unity, protection, joy and holiness. First, Jesus prays for their perseverance in the teaching he has given them (v.6), and their communion with him. Then he prays for unity among his apostles as a reflection of the unity of God in His three Divine Persons. Next Jesus prays that the Father may guard and protect them, just as he himself is protecting them now while he is still with them. Fourth, Jesus prays that they may share his joy in this life and in eternity, the result of their union with God and perseverance. Finally, Jesus prays for those who, though living in the world, are not of the world, that they may be truly holy and carry out the mission he has entrusted to them, just as he has been doing the work his Father has given him to do. Jesus concludes his prayer by asking for holiness for his disciples. As persons consecrated to God and made holy, they need to have moral sanctity, and the constant practice of the moral virtues.

Life message: Bishops, as the successors of the apostles, and priests, as the helpers of the bishops, need the supporting prayer of the faithful entrusted to their care, so that they may lead holy lives bearing witness to the love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness of Christ in their ministry. (Fr. Tony) L/19

June 6 Thursday St. Norbert, Bishop): Jn 17:20-26 20 “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that  thou hast sent me. 22 The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as  thou hast loved me. 24 …26

The context: Today’s Gospel passage is the concluding part of Jesus’ “High Priestly Prayer” in his Last Supper discourse. Here, Jesus prays for true unity among his followers who accept him as their Lord and Savior.

Divisions in Christianity: The first major division in Christianity, which took place in the fifth century, was caused when the Eastern Orthodox Churches under the patriarchs separated themselves from the Western Church under the Pope.  Next, the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century separated its followers from unity with the Church centered in Rome and freed them from her Authority. This separation resulted in the formation of more than 30,000 Protestant denominations during the following five centuries. According to Blessed Pope Paul VI [Beatified October 19, 2014 by Pope Francis], “the Church founded by Jesus Christ and for which he prayed is indefectibly one in Faith, in worship and in the bond of hierarchical communion” (Creed of the People of God, 21).

Jesus’ prayer for unity:  In his prayer for unity among his disciples, Jesus mentions that the basis and criterion of unity must be the Unity of God in His Three Divine Persons among Whom there is eternal, mutual love and Self-giving.  The unity of Jesus and his Father is a unity of love and obedience and a unity of personal relationship. Another reason for Christian unity is the union of the faithful with Jesus Christ and through him with the Father (verse 23). This means that the fullness of Unity is attained through the supernatural grace, which comes to us from the Father through Christ (cf. John 15:5). Jesus mentions that unity among the believers is essential for the world to acknowledge him as Lord and Savior, because the disunity among Christians acts as the biggest block for evangelization, giving living counter-witness to the Good News of Redemption.

Life messages: 1) Since Jesus Christ himself left us his final wish for unity through his prayer to the Father: “that they all may be one as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me” (John 17:21), it our duty to pray for and work for meaningful unity among Christians.

2) Let us learn to appreciate each other’s common beliefs and enter into genuine dialogue and cooperation with members of other Christian denominations instead of accusing each other of heresy. We need to remember that the present non-Catholic Christians are not responsible for the historical events and actions from which the various denominations originated in the past. (Fr. Tony) L/19

June 7 Friday: John 21:15-19: 15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would;..19…

The context: This is a post-Resurrection apparition scene. After miraculously providing breakfast for his apostles who had been fishing all night, Jesus conferred on Peter the primacy in the Church, which he had promised as a reward for Peters’ profession of Faith (Mt 16:16-19).

The triple question: As if to give him a triple chance to atone for his triple denial, Jesus asks Peter, three times, “Simon, son of John, do you love me (agápe love) more than these?” Jesus asks Peter if he loves Jesus more than his boat and fishing equipment, occupation, family and friends. He is also asking whether Peter loves his master more than the other Apostles do. Peter humbly puts everything in Christ’s hands. “Lord, You know well that I love (philia love=love of a friend) You.”

The dual reward: 1) Primacy of jurisdiction over the Church, Vatican I defined: “We therefore teach and declare that, according to the testimony of the Gospel, the primacy of jurisdiction over the universal Church of God was immediately and directly promised and given to Blessed Peter the Apostle by Christ our Lord. […] And it was upon Simon Peter alone, that Jesus, after his Resurrection, bestowed the jurisdiction of chief pastor and ruler over all his fold in the words: “Feed My lambs; feed My sheep” (Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 1).

2) Peter was also given the promise of a martyr’s death because real love involves responsibility as well as sacrifice. According to Tradition, St. Peter followed his Master to the point of dying by crucifixion, head downwards because he felt unworthy to die as Jesus had done. This happened during Nero’s persecution of the Christians, which took place between the years 64 and 68 in Rome.

Life messages: 1) We need to pray for the Pope, the successor of Peter, and for the bishops, the successors of the Apostles, and to support them in their ministry. 2) Jesus is a God of second chances who gives chances after chances to sinners to return to his love, as is made clear by Jesus’ conferring primacy in his Church on Peter. (Fr. Tony) L/19

June 8 Saturday: Jn 21:20-25: 20 Peter turned and saw following them the disciple whom Jesus loved, who had lain close to his breast at the supper and had said, “Lord, who  is it that is going to betray you?” 21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!” 23 The saying spread abroad among the brethren that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If  it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” 24 This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true. 25 But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

Context: Today’s Gospel passage describes the role of Peter as the chief shepherd of Christ’s folk and John as a long-lived witness to Christ in the early Church. The last part of the passage was intended to correct the false notion in the early Church that John would not die until the much-expected, imminent “second coming” of Jesus.

Jesus’ reply: Jesus’ response implies that what is important is not to be curious about what the future will bring but to serve the Lord faithfully each day, keeping to the way He has marked out for one.

John’s testimony about his Gospel: The passage concludes with John’s testimony about the truth of the content of his Gospel. It also explains the purpose of John’s Gospel: to strengthen our Faith in what Jesus did and taught. In addition, it tells us that the written Gospels contain only a fraction of what Jesus taught and did, implying that we have to depend upon the Sacred Tradition of the early Church handed down to us by the early Fathers of the Church to complete the truth of the written testimony.

Life messages: 1) Just like Peter and John, each believer has his or her unique role in the Church. 2) It is our duty to bear witness to Christ by surrendering our lives to Christ on the altar of service for the people of God and by offering ourselves as humble instruments in the hands of Christ. (Fr. Tony) L/19