Aug 10-15: Visit http://frtonyshomilies.com for missed Sunday or weekday homilies. Aug 10 Monday (St. Lawrence, Deacon, Martyr) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-lawrence/ : Jn 12:24-26: 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/LFMSH-WN_P8?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DCsxhgfi2_b_c88OjjSNmW6
The context: Jesus tells us a short parable followed by two amazing paradoxes. The parable is that of a grain of wheat sown into the muddy field, growing up and yielding a good crop.The parable followed by the paradoxes teaches us three lessons for Christian life. The first lesson is that life comes only through death. Only when the grain of wheat dies in the muddy soil of the field does it become a seedling. In the same way, the Church would grow up and flourish in the death of its martyrs. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” When we die to our personal ambitions and desires, we are born as useful instruments in the hands of God. The second lesson is that only by spending life we can retain it. The world owes a lot to saintly people like St. Don Bosco, St. Vincent De Paul, St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa), St. Jeanne Jugan, and St. Damien, among others, who spent their energy for service of the poor and the downtrodden and gave themselves to God. The third lesson is that greatness comes through selfless and committed service. This explains why the world still honors and cherishes the memory of great souls mentioned above.
Life message: Let us surrender our lives to God in the service of others with agápe love in all humility, seeing the face of Jesus in each of them. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
Aug 11 Tuesday: St. Clare, Virgin: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-clare-of-assisi/v Matthew 18: 1-5, 10, 12-14: 1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; 10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.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 mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 ..14 USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/gdczEOQoBKw?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DCsxhgfi2_b_c88OjjSNmW6
The context: Chapter 18 of Matthew’s Gospel is a “discourse on the Church,” giving leaders of the Church instructions for administration. 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 (vv 1-5), Jesus warned his apostles and the future hierarchy of his Church against the natural human tendencies to pride and ambition. He exhorted the spiritual leaders, as well as all believers in responsible positions, to be humble, trusting and innocent – that is, to be like children. The additional parable of the shepherd rejoicing at the recovery of his lost sheep tells us that our Heavenly Father is very particular that His little ones should not perish due to our negligence.
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, with trusting Faith in a loving and providing God, to spend their lives serving others in all humility. 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 each 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/) L/20
Aug 12 Wednesday (St. Jane Frances de Chantal) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-jane-frances-de-chantal/ : Mt 18: 15-20: 15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm
The context: The first part of today’s Gospel is one of the difficult passages in Matthew’s Gospel to interpret. Many Bible commentators think that Jesus never said these things, that probably they were a later addition by the Church because 1) there was no organized Church at that time, 2) Jesus never considered a sinner as a hopeless case, and 3) Jesus loved Gentiles and tax collectors.
The real meaning: What Jesus actually meant was, “Do whatever you can to make the guilty person realize and confess his fault, thus helping him to repair the damage he or she has done to his or her personal and communal relationships.” Jesus seems to suggest the following steps to repair a broken personal relationship: 1) One-on-one encounter: If you are sure that somebody has wronged you, tell him lovingly and politely that he has hurt you. 2) The group encounter: If the first step does not work, meet him again in the company of two or three wise and honorable persons and try to make the culprit realize what he has done wrong. 3) Parish encounter: If steps one and two do not work, bring his case to the pastor or to the parish council or the Christian fellowship. 4) Leave him to Lord’s mercy: If the culprit remains stubborn, like a Gentile or proud tax collector, continue to pray for him and leave him to God’s mercy.
Life messages: 1) Let us have the good will and generosity to accept our mistakes and ask pardon and forgiveness from the offended victim. 2) Let us also learn to forgive and forget the offenses done against us (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
Aug 13 Thursday (St. Pontian, Pope and Hippolytus, Priest, Martyrs) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saints-pontian-and-hippolytus/ ): Matthew 18:21-19: 1: 21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; 25 and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, `Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 …35 USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm
The lessons taught by the parable: (1) We must forgive so that we may be forgiven. Jesus explains this truth after teaching the prayer, “Our Father.” He warns us, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mt 6:14-15). As James states it later, “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy” (Jas 2:13). Clearly, Divine and human forgiveness work together.
(2) We represent the greater debtor in the parable; that is, we owe God the ten thousand talents of the parable. We commit sins every day and, hence, we need God’s forgiveness every day. The sum total of all the offenses which our brothers and sisters commit against us is equivalent to the small debt of the second debtor in the parable, namely 100 denarii. Yet, shockingly and sadly, we are merciless towards our fellow human beings. The moral of Jesus’ story is that, as members of a community, we must treat one another as God has treated each of us. Here is a Divine call to throw away the calculator when it comes to forgiveness. We must choose the more honorable path and forgive one another “from the heart.” We have been forgiven a debt beyond all human paying – the sin of man which God forgave through the willing, sacrificial death of His own Son, Incarnate in human flesh. Since that is so, we must forgive others as God has forgiven us. Otherwise, we cannot hope to receive any mercy ourselves.
Life messages: 1) We need to forgive: Having experienced forgiveness at the hands of God and God’s people, we are then called to make it possible for others to experience the same forgiveness. Let us forgive the person who has wronged us before hatred eats away at our ability to forgive.
2) Forgiveness will not be easy, but God is there to help us. We can call on God’s help by offering that individual to God, not by sitting in judgment, but simply by saying, “Help so-and-so and mend our relationship.” We may never forget the hurt we have experienced, but we can choose to forgive. 3) We need to remind ourselves that with God’s grace we have already forgiven the one that hurt us. As life goes on, we may remember the incident or occasion that was hurtful. Then let us offer the offender to God’s mercy and pray for God’s blessings on him or her. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
Aug 14 Friday (St. Maximilian Kolbe, Priest, Martyr) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-maximilian-mary-kolbe/ : Mt 19:3-12: 3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” 8 He said to them, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9.” 10.. 12 USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm
Jesus’ explanation of a Mosaic sanction: Jesus explains that Moses’ permission for divorce was only a temporary concession which was meant to control the growing rate of divorce in Moses’ own time by introducing a law governing 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 permanence 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 says 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 he 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; Lk 16:18; and 1 Cor 7:10-11, the Catholic Church teaches that marriage is a Sacrament involving both a sacred and 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. Besides, it claims to break 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 the families of our parish in our daily prayers, that the spouses may have a mutual understanding and appreciation of each other, the willingness to ask pardon and give pardon, the generosity to forgive and forget, and the good will to serve each other, because all these virtues help to make a marriage permanent.
2) Let us also pray for all the divorced in the parish and welcome them as active members of the parish, both those who have remained single and those who have remarried without annulment. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
Aug 15 Saturday: Lk 1:39-56: The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary(Not a holy day of obligation in the U. S.). Three Questions answered: Q 1: Do Catholics worship Mary? Fact 1: Catholics don’t worship or adore Mary because we worship only God and Mary is not God. Fact 2: We venerate her, honor her and love her as Jesus’ mother and our Heavenly Mother.
Q 2: Why do Catholics venerate Mary? Mary herself gives the reason in her “Magnificat” recorded in Luke (1: 48-49): 48: “For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. 49: The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”
- God has honored Mary in four ways, and we honor her because God honored her.
- He chose her as the mother of His Son, Jesus Christ the Messiah.
- In preparation for this role, God made her “Full of grace.”
- He anointed her twice with His Holy Spirit: at the Annunciation and at Pentecost, making her the most Spirit -filled woman.
- God allowed her to participate actively in Christ’s suffering and death, suffering in soul all Jesus suffered in body.
- Mary is our Heavenly Mother, given to us by Jesus from the cross.
- Mary is our role model of all virtues, particularly, love, fidelity, humility, obedience, surrender to the will of God, and patience.
Q 3: Why do we believe that Mary was taken to Heaven after her death and burial? (Assumption” means that after her death, Mary was taken into Heaven, both body and soul. The word Assumption comes from the Latin verb “assumere”, meaning “to take to oneself.” Our Lord, Jesus Christ took Mary home to himself where he is. It was on November 1, 1950, that, through the Apostolic Constitution Munificentimus Deus, Pope Pius XII officially declared the Assumption as a Dogma of Catholic Faith, giving the following reasons).
- Uninterrupted tradition in the Catholic Church starting from the first century.
(The first trace of belief in the Virgin’s Assumption can be found in the apocryphal accounts entitled Transitus Mariae [Latin: “The Crossing Over of Mary”], whose origin dates to the second and third centuries).
- The feast is found in all the ancient liturgies
- The belief in the assumption of Mary is taught by all early Fathers of the Church, e.g., Origen (died AD 253), St. Jerome (died AD 419) and St. Augustine (died AD 430).
- Negative evidence: that Mary’s tomb was never reported or venerated.
- Old Testament evidence of corporal assumption of Enoch ((Gn 5: 24) and Elijah (2 Kgs 2:1).
- Theological reasons: her Immaculate Conception and sinless life.
Life messages: 1) We are challenged to keep ourselves pure and holy children of a Holy Mother.
2) We are challenged to accept total liberation from all our bondages. 3) We are assured of our resurrection and given the inspiration to face pain, suffering, despair, disappointment and temptations as Mary did. For additional points, visit: https://info.franciscanmedia.org/mary (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20 USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm