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July 13-18: July 13 Monday (St. Henry): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-henry/ Mt 10:34–11:1: 34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a man’s foes will be those of his own household. 37 “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is righteous will receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple–amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.” When Jesus finished giving these commands to his Twelve disciples, he went away from that place to teach and to preach in their towns. USCCB: https://youtu.be/PVkZb6lblG8?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DCQlut1GkSO28iHCuAeFtWX
The context: Jesus makes the controversial statement that he has come to inaugurate a series of divisions in families and in the society as a whole between those who accept him as Lord and Savior and those who oppose him, his ideas and ideals. Then he concludes his great “missionary discourse” with an instruction to his twelve Apostles on the cost and the reward found in the commitment to be his disciple. The first half of these sayings of Jesus is about the behavior expected from his disciples, and the second half is about the behavior of others towards the disciples. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword: Jesus clarifies that he came to give people lasting peace, not temporary, worldly peace, by the absence of war and freedom from all conflicts in the family and society. Our role is to keep fighting against our evil habits and addictions using the spiritual sword of the word of God which is “lively and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me….” : What Jesus means is that all loyalties must give place to loyalty to God. In other words, we cannot condone immoral practices even in members of our family. Jesus is not speaking against the family, but rather reminding us that we are part of the larger family of our fellow-Christians and, hence, we have more responsibilities. We must be ready to lose our lives for Christ: By “losing one’s life” Jesus means that we must stop living for ourselves alone. Instead we must spend our lives for others and care for those who are sick and hungry. We are to give hospitality to strangers in Jesus’ name. (“offering a cup of cold water”): There are four main links in the chain of salvation: i) God who has sent Jesus with His message, ii) Jesus who has preached the “Good News,” iii) the human messenger who preaches Jesus’ message through his words and life, and iv) the believer who welcomes the message and the messengers. Hence, giving hospitality to a preacher or a believer is the same as welcoming Jesus himself. The basis of all hospitality is that we all belong to God’s family, and that every person is our brother or sister.
Life message: 1) We need to be hospitable and generous: Hospitality allows us to encounter the presence of God in others, usually in those in whom we least expect to find Him, and to share our love with them. We become fully alive as Christians through the generous giving of ourselves to others. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
July 14 Tuesday (St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin, U.S.A): https://blog.franciscanmedia.org/franciscan-spirit/topic/st-kateri-tekakwitha/page/1; Mt 11:20-24: 20 Then he began to upbraid the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it shall be more tolerable on the Day of Judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it shall be more tolerable on the Day of Judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.” USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/J5IBbzrqdTA?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DCQlut1GkSO28iHCuAeFtWX
The context: Jesus reminds these cities that they deserve God’s punishment because they have forgotten the responsibilities which their numerous meetings with the Messiah in their midst have laid upon them. They should have listened to his message, put it into practice, and borne witness to the miracles he had worked for them.
Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum: Nothing is mentioned in any of the Gospels about the “wonders” Jesus worked in these cities. Bethsaida was a fishing village on the west bank of Jordan at the northern end of the lake. Chorazin was a town one hour’s walking distance north of Capernaum. Jesus expresses his holy anger and sorrowful pity from a broken heart at the irresponsible disregard and indifference these three ungrateful cities have shown to the Good News. Jesus warns them, “it shall be more tolerable on the Day of Judgment for Tyre and Sidon .. [and] the land of Sodom” than for them, because Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom were not fortunate enough to hear Jesus and to receive the opportunity for conversion given to Bethsaida, Chorazin and Capernaum.
Life Messages: Privileges always carry responsibilities: 1) We are privileged to have the holy Bible, so we have the responsibility of making use of it. 2) We have the Eucharistic celebration every day in our Churches, so we have the responsibility of participating in it when we are able to do so. 3) We have the Sacrament of Reconciliation, so we have the responsibility of using it to be reconciled with Jesus and his Church. 4) We are blessed with having the Holy Spirit to guide the teaching authority in the Church, so we have the responsibility of studying and following the Church’s directives and teachings. 5) We have Mary, the mother of Jesus, and numerous saints as our role models, so we have the responsibility of following Jesus in their footsteps. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
July 15 Wednesday (St. Bonaventure, Bishop, Doctor of the Church) https://blog.franciscanmedia.org/franciscan-spirit/topic/st-bonaventure : Mt 11: 25-27: 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 any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/56UD6hFLE1A?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DCQlut1GkSO28iHCuAeFtWX
The context: Jesus knew that ordinary people with large, sensitive hearts, rather than proud intellectuals like the Scribes and the Pharisees, 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 loudly, thanking God his Father and praising Him for revealing Himself to the simple-hearted, thus condemning intellectual pride. A person who is full of self-centeredness fails to perceive supernatural things.
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 records Jesus’ claim in different words which He spoke at the Last Supper: “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!”
Life message: We need to know and love God better by studying Jesus’ revelation about God his Father. We do it by daily reading the Holy Bible, especially the Gospels, by meditating on the passages read and by applying them to our lives. The more we study the Bible, the more we learn about the Triune God, and especially about Jesus our Savior. This knowledge will help us to love Jesus more, experience his presence in our daily lives, see his face in everyone around us and surrender our lives to Jesus by rendering humble service to everyone around us. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
July 16 (Our Lady of Mount Carmel): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/our-lady-of-mount-carmel/ Mt 11:28-30): Mount Carmel is a mountain in northern Palestine about twenty miles from Nazareth, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, three miles south of Haifa in modern Israel. 1 Kings Chapter 18 describes how the prophet Elijah’s prayer on Mount Carmel for rain was answered and how he defeated the 450 pagan priests of Baal on the same mountain. He challenged them to bring fire from Heaven to burn the sacrificed bulls placed on the altar, and he proved that only Yahweh was the true God. According to the most ancient Carmelite chronicles, the Order had its origins with the disciples of the prophets Elijah and Eliseus on Mount Carmel. They lived very ascetic lives in caves on Mount Carmel honoring the “Holy Virgin” of the Messianic prophecies who would give birth to the promised Messiah. When the Apostles started preaching Jesus, the pious ascetics of Carmel accepted the Christian Faith. In the 13th century, a group of pilgrims who followed the Crusaders was impressed by the lifestyle of the disciples of Elijah. Hence, they set up a religious community on the western slopes of Mount Carmel and started living very ascetic lives. This was the beginning of the modern Carmelite Order, whose members started leading a contemplative life under the patronage of Mary, honoring her as the Mother of God and Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The people began to call them Friars of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. Pope Honorius III approved the order’s rule in 1232 (or 1236?) . Since the Turks had started conquering Palestine by 1235, the hermits decided to go back to Europe, where they built monasteries in Cyprus, Italy, France, and England. Simon Stock, an English Carmelite, became the superior of all the Carmelites in 1247. He helped the order expand and adapt to the times, patterning the order on the Dominicans and Franciscans. The feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was instituted first for the Carmelites in 1332 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the approval of the rule of the Carmelite Order. The Order of Discalced Carmelites of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel (OCD) resulted from 16th century reforms of the Carmelites by St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross and later by reforms made by the order Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI) in the Kerala State of India
Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Brown scapular: According a popular legend, Mary appeared to St. Simon Stock on July 16, 1251, and gave him the Brown Scapular with the following words: “This will be for you and for all Carmelites the privilege, that he who dies in this will not suffer eternal fire.” Mary promised her protection to all those who would wear the blessed habit and lead a life of prayer and sacrifice. Pope St. Pius X (1903 -1914) declared that that the common people could have the same blessings if they would wear the metal scapular medal carrying the picture of Our Lady of the Scapular on one side and the Sacred Heart on the other. The feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel challenges us both to imitate the simple and ascetic life of the Blessed Virgin Mary with her trusting Faith in God and her humility, and to seek her guidance and maternal protection in our Christian lives. (USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/KIYe1cYR55Y?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DCQlut1GkSO28iHCuAeFtWX ) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
July 17 Friday: Mt 12:1-8: 1 At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath; his disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” 3 He said to them, “Have you not read what David did, when he was hungry, and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have you not read in the law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are guiltless? 6 I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. 7 And if you had known what this means, `I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of man is lord of the Sabbath.” USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/AaycEA5uA7Y?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DCQlut1GkSO28iHCuAeFtWX
The context: Today’s Gospel passage gives Jesus’ teaching on the purpose of the Sabbath and on its proper observance. This was his response to a criticism and a silly accusation made by Pharisees against his disciples who, on a Sabbath, to satisfy their hunger, plucked ears of grain from a field and ate the grains after removing the husks by rubbing the grains between their palms. The Pharisees accused them of violating Sabbath laws by performing three items of work forbidden on Sabbath, namely, harvesting, threshing and winnowing.
Counterarguments: Jesus gives three counterarguments from Holy Scripture defending his apostles. (1) Basic human needs, like hunger, take precedence over Divine worship and Sabbath observance. Jesus cites from the Scripture the example of the hungry David and his selected soldiers. They approached Ahimelech, the priest of Nob, who gave them for food the “offering bread” which only the priests were allowed to eat (1 Samuel 21:1-6). (2) No law can stand against Divine worship. That is why the priests were not considered as violating Sabbath laws although they did the work of preparing two rams for sacrifice in the Temple (Numbers 28:9-10). (3) God desires that we practice mercy: Jesus quotes the prophet Hosea to tell the accusers God’s words: “I want mercy, not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6).
Life messages: Like the Jewish Sabbath, the Christian Sunday is to be 1) a day for rest and refreshment with members of the family; 2) a day for thanksgiving and the recharging of spiritual batteries through participation in the Eucharistic celebration for Catholics and worship service for the Non-Catholics); 3) a day parents should use for teaching religious Faith and Bible lessons for their children; 4) a day for doing works of charity in the neighborhood and in the parish; 5) a day for socializing with family members, neighbors and fellow parishioners. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
July 18 Saturday (St. Camillus De Lellis, U.S.A., Priest) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-camillus-de-lellis/ : Mt 12:14-21 14 The Pharisees went out and took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. 15 Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all, 16 and ordered them not to make him known. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: 18 “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles. 19 He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; 20 he will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick, till he brings justice to victory; 21 and in his name will the Gentiles hope.” USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/sPujvd-_zz0?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DCQlut1GkSO28iHCuAeFtWX
The context: The confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees reached its climax with Jesus’ “blasphemous” statement: “The Sabbath is made for man and not man for the Sabbath. The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Jesus realized that he had more work of preaching and healing to do before his death. So, he withdrew to a less-known place to avoid a premature arrest and asked people not to give publicity to his healing ministry. Besides, he did not want to be labelled a false messiah or revolt-inducer against the Roman empire. Jesus uses the occasion (quoting from the “Suffering Servant” prophecy, Isaiah 42:1-4), to teach his disciples and the people that his role as the messiah is not using crushing power to subdue people but sacrificial service to uplift them. Isaiah 42:1-4 directly refers to the conquering Persian king Cyrus (whom God used as His instrument to discipline His people), but indirectly and in its full meaning, it refers to the promised Messiah, Jesus. The prophecy teaches that 1) the Messiah will be anointed with God’s Spirit; 2) he will bring justice to the Gentiles in the sense that he will show them how to give to God what is due to Him and to men what is due them; 3) he will preach gentle and forgiving love; 4) he will bring his healing love of hope and encouragement to the Gentiles, although their Faith and witnessing are weak as a reed or feeble as a flickering lamp.
Life messages: 1) Let us have the courage of our Christian convictions in the face of opposition to our practice of the Faith. 2) Let us keep hoping in God and trusting in His mercy and justice in our pains and suffering inflicted by others. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20