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June 22-27: June 22 Monday (St. Thomas More (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-thomas-more/), St. John Fisher (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-john-fisher/) , Martyrs; St. Paulinus of Nola, Bishop (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-paulinus-of-nola/)): Mt 7:1-5: “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/9vFXSTR_4kI?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DAlWO6X2kAG00Pyg_VQd3RD
The context: In today’s passage, taken from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus condemns our careless, malicious, and rash judgments about others’ feelings, motives, behavior, or actions.
Reasons why we should not judge others: 1) No one, except God, is good enough, and only He has the right and authority, to judge us, because only He sees the whole truth and only He can read the human heart. 2) We do not see all the facts or circumstances, nor the power of the temptation, behind a person’s evil deed. 3) We have no right to judge others because we have the same faults as the ones we are judging and often in a higher degree (remember Jesus’ funny example of a man with a wooden beam in his eye trying to remove the dust particle from another’s eye?) St. Philip Neri commented, watching the misbehavior of a drunkard: “There goes Philip but for the grace of God.” 4) We are often prejudiced in our judgment of others, and total fairness cannot be expected from us.
Life messages: 1) Let us leave the judgment to God and refrain from being critical and judgmental. 2) Let us remember the advice of saints: “When you point one finger of accusation at another, three of your fingers point at you. Let us heed the Jewish rabbi’s advice: “He who judges others favorably will be judged favorably by God.” Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
June 23 Tuesday: Mt 7: 6, 12-14: Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot and turn to attack you. 12 So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets. 13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few. USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm
The context: Today’s Gospel passage, taken from the Sermon on the Mount, speaks about the proper use of holy things, the Golden Rule we have to obey, and the less-traveled narrow way we have to take in our Christian lives.
1) Jesus advises his listeners to use holy things in a holy manner. The Jews had a statement in their Scriptures (“Do not put a golden ring in the nose of a pig or on the ears of a dog” Prv 11:22), parallel to Jesus’ statement, “Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine”(Mt 7:12) The Jews understood the injunction to mean the exclusiveness of their religion, which meant that they should not teach the Law to the Gentiles. The early Church interpreted Jesus’ statement in its earliest catechism, the Didache, to mean that only the baptized should approach the Eucharistic table. This view is reflected in the canons of the Oriental Churches, introducing a command in the text of the Mass before Eucharistic prayer, “Let the catechumens, hearers and unbelievers quit,” and a serious warning before Holy Communion, “Holy things are for holy people.” 2) The statement of the Golden Rule, “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them” (Mt 7:12), is Jesus’ positive contribution to ancient and negative Jewish principles, meaning that real Christianity consists in doing good to others by loving service and works of mercy.
3) Enter by the narrow gate: Supplementing the instructions given by Moses (Dt 30:15-20), Joshua (Dt 24:15), and Jeremiah (21:8), Jesus challenges his followers to “enter by the narrow gate and take the hard way that leads to life.”
Life message: 1) Let us learn to reverence and respect holy things in a holy manner.
2) Let us do to others what we wish them to do to us. 3) Let us choose Jesus’ narrow way of sacrificial love and humble service. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
June 24 Wednesday: (The nativity of St. John the Baptist)( https://www.franciscanmedia.org/nativity-of-st-john-the-baptist/) Luke 1:57-66: 57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to be delivered, and she gave birth to a son. 58 And her neighbors and kinsfolk heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they would have named him Zechariah after his father, 60 but his mother said, “Not so; he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “None of your kindred is called by this name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he would have him called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all marveled. 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea; 66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him. USCCB video: https://youtu.be/d12ht3GCNLA?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DAAsw34PxZGDqnI_bBKNWa9
The context: Today’s Gospel describes the birth and naming of St. John the Baptist, the last Old Testament prophet. He was given the mission of heralding the promised Messiah and of preparing the Chosen People to welcome that Messiah by preaching to them repentance and the renewal of life. John was born to the priest, Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth in their old age. Today’s Gospel passage describes John’s birth, Circumcision and Naming ceremony.
A miraculous birth and an event of double joy: His elderly parents rejoiced in John’s birth, as he was a gift from God in their old age. Since the child was a boy, all their neighbors rejoiced with them, and the village musicians celebrated the birth by playing their joyful music. The Naming followed the baby’s Circumcision, and Elizabeth insisted that the child should be named John (which means “the Lord is gracious”), the name given him by the Archangel Gabriel when he spoke to Zechariah. The mute Zechariah approved that name by writing, “His name is John.” At that action of obedient surrender to the Lord God, his speech was restored, and he loudly proclaimed the praises of God for blessing him with a son and Israel with her Deliverer, whose herald his son would be.
Life messages: 1) We need to pray for our parents and be thankful to them for the gift of life, the training and discipline they have given us, and the love and affection they have lavished on us. Let us ask God’s pardon if we are, or were, ungrateful to them, do/did not take proper care of them in their illness or old age or ever inflicted pain on them.
2) We need to remember and pray for our godparents who sponsored us in Baptism, which made us children of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus, heirs of Heaven and members of the Church.
3) We should have the courage of our Christian convictions as John the Baptist did, and we should become heralds of Christ as John was, by our transparent Christian lives. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
June 25 Thursday: Matthew 7:21-29: 21 “Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, `I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’ 24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; 25 ….29 USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/z3UBujgDFik?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DAlWO6X2kAG00Pyg_VQd3RD
The context: Today’s Gospel is the concluding part of the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus gives us two warnings: 1) that we must match our profession of Faith with actual obedience to the will of God, and 2) that we must build our life on the firm foundation of his teachings. Jesus warns us against hypocrisy and challenges us to make a radical commitment to his word by putting it into action.
Criterion for entrance to Heaven: In the first part of the Gospel for today, Jesus asserts that fidelity, both in Faith and in its practice, is what gives one admission into the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus is speaking about the future leaders in his Church who will prophesy, cast out demons, and accomplish deeds of power in the cause of Christ without stopping to reflect on whether they are obeying Jesus and living according to his ideals. Fine words can never be a substitute for fine deeds. We may deceive men with our words, but we cannot deceive God who reads our hearts. That is why the Apostle James advises us in his epistle, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves (James 1: 22).
The obedient wise man and the non-obedient fool: Jesus contrasts a wise man who practices what he believes with a fool who does not practice his religious beliefs, using the images of one man who built his house on firm rock and another who built his house on loose sand in summer, right in the rainy season flood-plain of a river.
Life messages: 1) We need to build our family on a strong foundation: There can be no great marriage and no great family without a solid foundation, and that foundation begins with the husband and wife doing and being the love of Christ for each other and for their children. The members of the family must love one another the way Jesus wants us to love, to forgive each other as he teaches, and to become servants of one another the way Jesus was to everyone.
2) We need to synchronize our living with our profession of Faith: The test of our Sunday worship is the effect it has on us during the rest of the week in our homes and workplaces and the way it influences our relationships with friends and neighbors. The great test is the care, consideration, and sensitivity we show to our neighbors, many of whom would otherwise lack affection, words of encouragement, and forgiveness. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
June 26 Friday: Mt 8: 1-4: 1 When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; 2 and behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 3 And he stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4 And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to any one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to the people.” USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/6Gb4CBaLghc?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DAlWO6X2kAG00Pyg_VQd3RD
The context: Today’s Gospel describes Jesus healing a leper as soon as he had finished his Sermon on the Mount and come down the mountain. In those days, all skin diseases were considered leprosy, and leprosy was known to be highly contagious. Hence “lepers” were separated from their families and society and considered ritually unclean. In addition, they were treated as sinners who had been punished by God with a contagious disease. The punishment given to Miriam, the complaining sister of Moses (Numbers 12:9-10), to Gehazi the greedy servant of the prophet Elisha (II Kings 5: 27) and to the proud king Uzziah (Chronicles 26:19) supported this Jewish belief. As a general rule, when a Jewish leper was healed (from any of the skin diseases considered as leprosy), he had to go to the local priest to have him confirm that the healed one was now clean and was permitted to mix with the general public.
Jesus rewards the trusting Faith of a humble leper: It is such a leper who has the courage to approach Jesus in public with trusting Faith in Jesus’ power to heal him. In all humility he kneels down and says to Jesus, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” Jesus violates the social taboo against touching a leper, and He heals the leper by a single command, “I will; be clean.”
Life message: 1) We all need healing from our spiritual leprosy. Although we may not suffer from physical leprosy, we all suffer from the “spiritual leprosy” of sins. It is sin that we carry with us that keeps us unclean. Jesus is our Savior who wants to heal us. Since Jesus is not afraid to touch our deepest impurities, let us not try to hide them from him. Just as the lepers cried out to Jesus for healing, let us also ask him to heal us every night before we go to sleep from the spiritual leprosy of sins, and let us approach him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation whenever we are in grave sin. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
June 27 Saturday (St. Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop, Doctor of the Church) (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-cyril-of-alexandria/): Mt 8: 5-17: 5 As he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, beseeching him 6 and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.” 7 And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion answered him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, `Go,’ and he goes, and to another, `Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, `Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard him, he marveled, and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” 13 And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; be it done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment. 14 And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever; 15 he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and served him. 16 That evening they brought to him many who were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.” USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/vpbZGbdBPHo?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DAlWO6X2kAG00Pyg_VQd3RD
Context: Jesus’ healing of the centurion’s slave, described in today’s Gospel, shows us how God listens to our Faith-filled prayers and meets our needs. Centurions were brave, reliable commanding captains in charge of 100 soldiers. They were used to giving and receiving commands. They were the backbone of Roman army. According to Luke’s account (Lk 7:1-10), this centurion loved the Jews and respected their religious customs. He knew that Jews incurred ritual uncleanness on entering the house of a pagan, and he wanted to save Jesus this inconvenience by requesting him not to go to his pagan house. Further, he loved his sick servant, trusted in Jesus’ power of healing and was ready to face the ridicule of his fellow-centurions by pleading before a Jewish rabbi.
The remote healing: The centurion asked Jesus just to shout a command as he did with his soldiers, so that the illness might leave his servant by the power of that order. Jesus was moved by his Faith and rewarded the trusting Faith of this Gentile officer by telling him: “Go; be it done for you as you have believed.”
Life messages: 1) We need to grow to the level of Faith of the centurion by knowing and personally experiencing Jesus in our lives. 2) We do so by our meditative daily reading of the Bible, our daily personal and family prayers, our frequenting of the Sacraments, especially the Eucharistic celebration, and by surrendering our lives to Jesus in rendering loving service to others in all humility. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20