May 1, 2020

April 27 to May 2 weekday homilies

April 27- May 2: April 27 Monday: John 6:22-29: 22 On the next day the people who remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23 However, boats from Tiberias came near the place where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 So when the people saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/OtGHzOeINcE?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DBazRWSYfhGFvBAEXHvO0Cq

 The context: Today’s Gospel introduces Jesus’ famous discourse on the Holy Eucharist which emerged within a dialogue between Jesus and the Jews who had gone around the Lake and come to Capernaum searching for him. In answer to their question about his arrival, Jesus challenged them, saying that they were looking for him so they could get another free meal and that such meals would not satisfy them. He also instructed them to labor for food that would give them Eternal Life.

Naturally, the Jews asked Jesus what they should do to get such a food. Since the Jews believed that the Torah was the “bread of life,” many may have thought that Jesus was instructing them to keep the Torah to attain Eternal Life. So, Jesus clarified that they had to do the work of God to attain eternal life and told them that the “work of God” was not to work miracles for their own sakes but to believe in him as the Son of God, sent to give Eternal Life to those who believed in him. While regular food helps us to stay alive in this world, spiritual food sustains and develops our supernatural life, which will last forever in Heaven.  This food, which only God can give us, consists mainly in the gift of Faith in Jesus and in the Grace God gives us to live according to Jesus’ teaching.  Through God’s infinite love, we are given in the Blessed Eucharist the very Author of these gifts, Jesus Christ, as nourishment for our souls.

Life message: 1) Most of the time, we work for food which only nourishes the body. Jesus teaches that he is the Heavenly food, who nourishes the soul and gives us eternal life in union with God in Heaven. Hence, let us receive this Life-giving food both in the Holy Eucharist and in the Holy Scripture with proper preparation and reverence while repenting of our sins.  Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

April 28 Tuesday (St. Peter Chanel, Priest, Martyr (Cath online: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-peter-chanel/ : St. Louise Grignion de Montfort, Priest (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-louis-mary-grignion-de-montfort/) ): John 6:30-35: 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, `He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Lord, give us this bread always.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst. USCCB video reflections: USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/SwjtlMI7BXU?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DBazRWSYfhGFvBAEXHvO0Cq

The context: In reply to Jesus’ implied claim that he was the Messiah and his declaration that He had been sent from Heaven to give Eternal Life to those who believed in him, the Jews demanded a sign from Heaven.  Moses, they said, gave a Heavenly sign to their ancestors in the form of manna, rained down on them from Heaven. The Jewish rabbis taught that the promised Messiah would repeat the miracle of the manna as a Messianic sign, and that the prophet Jeremiah would reappear and show the Jews the Ark of the Covenant where the original manna was kept.

Jesus explained to the Jews that it was not Moses but God, his Heavenly Father, who had given them manna from Heaven. He then claimed that he was more than a provider of bread like Moses because he was himself the bread that the Father was providing.  In other words, Jesus is the Heavenly manna whom the Father has sent to the world as the Bread of Life. Thus, Jesus clarifies that the manna given to Moses and the people was not the real bread from Heaven, but only a symbol of the Bread to come. Jesus also demands from them an absolute Faith in himself as the Son of God and the Bread of Life if they do not want to hunger and thirst again. Jesus uses the metaphor of food and drink to show that He is the One Who really meets all man’s essential and noblest aspirations

Life messages: 1) Jesus kept his promise, and he continues to feed us with his Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist. So, let us nourish our souls with this Heavenly manna.

2) Let us also remember that our duty is to carry this Jesus to our homes and workplaces, radiating his love, mercy and compassion all around us.  Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

April 29 Wednesday (St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin, Doctor of the Church (https://blog.franciscanmedia.org/minute-meditations/st-catherine-of-siena-open-our-eyes) ): Matthew 11: 25-30: 25 At that time Jesus declared, “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; 26 yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. 27 All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and  anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke u+pon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/inbPBvP3C4E?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DBazRWSYfhGFvBAEXHvO0Cq

The context: Jesus knew that ordinary people with large, sensitive hearts, rather than proud intellectuals, were able accept the “Good News” he preached. Such people would inherit Heaven rather than the learned and the wise who prided themselves on   their intellectual achievements. Hence, in the first part of today’s Gospel Jesus prays in thanksgiving to His Father, praising God for revealing Himself to the simple-hearted, and thus condemning intellectual pride. Jesus’ unique claim of God’s perfect reflection: No one really knows the Father except the Son, and him to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him” (Matthew 11:27). The claim that Jesus alone can reveal God to men forms the center of the Christian Faith. John presents Jesus’ claim in different words: “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn.14:9). What Jesus says is this: “If you want to see what God is like, if you want to see the mind of God, the heart of God, the nature of God, if you want to see God’s whole attitude to men–look at Me!”

Invitation to accept Jesus’ easy yoke and light burden: For the Orthodox Jew, religion was a matter of burdens:  613 Mosaic laws and thousands of oral interpretations, which dictated every aspect of life. Jesus invites us to take his yoke upon our shoulders. The yoke of Christ can be seen as the sum of our Christian responsibilities and duties. To take the yoke of Christ upon us is to put ourselves in a relationship with Christ as his servants and subjects, and so to choose to conduct ourselves accordingly. By saying that his “yoke is easy” (Matthew 11: 30), Jesus means that whatever God sends us is made to fit our needs and our abilities exactly. The second part of Jesus’ claim, “My burden is light” (Matthew 11:30), does not mean that the burden is easy to carry, but that it is laid on us in love and is meant to be carried in love, and that love makes even the heaviest burden light.

Life message: We need to unload our burdens on the Lord. This is one of the functions of Divine Worship in the Church and the main purpose of our personal and family prayers. These are given to us by God as a time for rest and refreshment, when we let the overheated radiators of our hectic lives cool down before the Lord, unload the burdens of our sins and worries on the altar and offer them and ourselves to God during the Holy Mass. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

April 30 Thursday (St. Pius V, Pope) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-pius-v/ : John 6:44-51: 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, `And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father except him who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.” USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/wO3xzQZZy0I?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DBazRWSYfhGFvBAEXHvO0Cq

The context: Today’s Gospel passage is the continuation of Jesus’ teaching on the Bread of Life. Jesus declares that he has seen God his Father because he has come from Heaven. Jesus also states that we hear God the Father’s Voice through him and through the Holy Spirit because the Father draws us to Jesus through the Holy Spirit.

Jesus reminds the Jews that they cannot be his disciples unless God his Father draws them to him and teaches them. The Magisterium of the Church has repeated this teaching in Vatican II: “Before this Faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior help of the Holy Spirit, Who moves the heart and converts it to God, Who opens the eyes of the mind and makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth” (Dei Verbum, 5). Once they become his disciples, Jesus will feed their souls with the Bread from Heaven, and this Heavenly Bread is his own Body. Eternal Life is reserved for such disciples. This Eternal Life is a Life of love, fellowship, communion, and union with God.

Life message: 1) Holy Communion is the wonderful banquet at which Christ gives himself to us: “The Bread which I shall give for the life of the world is My Flesh.) Hence, let us receive the glorified Body and Blood of the Risen Lord Jesus in the Holy Eucharist with a repentant heart, proper preparation, reverential fear and grateful joy. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

May 1 Friday: Feast of St. Joseph the Worker (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-joseph-the-worker/): Mt 13:54-58: (alt=Jn 15:1-8): Introduction: Today we celebrate the liturgical feast of St. Joseph the Worker to honor St. Joseph, to highlight the dignity and importance of labor and to honor the workers who are dignified by their labor and who bring Christ to their workplace.  This is the second feast of St. Joseph; the first was the feast of St. Joseph, husband of Mary and the patron of the universal Church which we celebrated on the 19th of March.

History: In response to the May Day Celebrations of workers in the Communist countries where workers were considered mere “cogs in the machine,” Pope Pius XII (declared Venerable December 19, 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI; Wikipedia), instituted the feast of St. Joseph the Worker in 1955 to Christianize the concept of labor, to acknowledge the dignity of labor and to give all workers a role-model and heavenly patron.

Theology of work: The Bible presents God as a worker (Gen 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”) Who is engaged in the work of creation and of providing for His creatures. God the Father assigns His Son Jesus the work of human redemption and gives the Holy Spirit the work of our sanctification. That is why Jesus said: “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work (John 5: 17). Further, it was God’s command that man should work: “You have to earn your bread by the sweat of your brow” (Genesis 3: 19). Jesus showed us the necessity and nobility of work by working in Joseph’s carpentry shop until he started his public life — a preaching and healing Messianic ministry. The workers are important and their work noble, not only because they obey God’s command to work, but also because they sustain and promote social welfare and the progress of societies.

Joseph as an exemplary worker: Joseph worked to support his family by helping his neighbors, using his skill in carpentry. He was a just worker, honest in his trade of buying wood, selling his finished products and charging for his services. He was a working parent laboring hard to support his family. He was a praying worker who prayed in all his needs, got answers from God in dreams on important occasions, and kept God’s presence in his workshop. He was an obedient worker who kept the Mosaic Law of Sabbath rest and spent the day of rest to take Jesus to the local synagogue and to teach Jesus God’s Law given through Moses.

 Life messages: 1) Let us appreciate the dignity of all forms of work and all types of laborers as they glorify God and promote the welfare of society. 2) Let us be sincere and committed to our work as St. Joseph was, working in the constant awareness of the presence of God. 3) Let us love our work and convert it into prayer by offering it for God’s glory. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

May 2 Saturday (St. Athanasius, Bishop, Doctor of the Church) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-athanasius/ :John 6:60-69: 60 Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you that do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that would betray him. 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” 66 After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. 67 Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/8wl18metAVA?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DA8uaxE25BlBvINntS5bWpi

The context: Today’s Gospel passage explains the reaction of Jesus’ listeners when he unequivocally offered eating and drinking of his Body and Blood as an essential condition for Eternal Life which would thus begin on earth. Many Jews in the crowd stopped listening to Jesus. Even some of his disciples started murmuring.

Jesus challenged them, asking how they would they react when they saw his Ascension to Heaven, if they found it difficult to accept this doctrine. He clarified that only someone who listened to His words and received them as God’s Revelation, which is “Spirit and Life,” would be in a position to accept them. Jesus Christ requires his disciples to accept his words because it is He Who has spoken them.  That is what the supernatural act of Faith involves–that act “whereby, inspired and assisted by the grace of God, we believe that the things which He has revealed are true; not because of the intrinsic truth of the things, viewed by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God Himself Who reveals them, and Who can neither be deceived nor deceive” (Vatican I, Dei Filius, Chapter 3). But the Apostles were not scandalized by our Lord’s words.  They said that they already had a deep-rooted confidence in Jesus, and hence, they did not want to leave him.  What St. Peter says (v 68), is not just a statement of human solidarity but an expression of genuine supernatural Faith which is the result of the influence of Divine Grace on his soul.

Life message: 1) The mystery of the Eucharist does call for a special act of Faith from us believers. We believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the consecrated Host and Wine because we believe that Jesus is God, and nothing is impossible for God. Even if we cannot explain the “how” of this mystery we accept it as a doctrine of Catholicism based on the authority and veracity of the Gospels. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20