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March 23 Monday (St. Turibius of Mogrovejo, Bishop): Catholic online video: https://youtu.be/qsbldkd-xSo Jn 4:43-54: 43 After the two days he departed to Galilee. 44 For Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. 45 So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast, for they too had gone to the feast. 46 So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was a royal official whose son was ill. 47 When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 Jesus therefore said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” 49 The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went his way. .  As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was living.  So he asked them the hour when he began to mend, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.”  The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live”; and he himself believed, and all his household.  This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee. USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/QVIMCzgp2AQ?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DAoMqHc4moKtTJSI6gsth32
.The context: According to John’s Gospel, after facing rejection by his hometown, Nazareth, Jesus went to Jerusalem in Judea for the Passover feast. From Jerusalem, Jesus returned to Galilee and to his headquarters, Capernaum, where people received him as a miracle-working preacher and prophet. Today’s Gospel describes how Jesus did a long-distance (telepathic) healing for the dying son of an official employed in the royal court of king Herod.
Jesus was preaching at Cana, twenty miles away from Capernaum. Herod’s officer came on horseback from Capernaum to Cana urgently seeking Jesus’ presence for the healing of his dying son. He was desperate enough to swallow his pride and make a public request to a wandering preacher for this healing. Jesus’ critical comment on the lack of belief in the Pharisees did not discourage the official. With expectant Faith he pleaded with Jesus, reminding him of the seriousness of the illness. So, Jesus told him, “Go; your son will live.” With trusting Faith in the assurance Jesus had given him, the officer rushed back toward his house. On the way there, he received the good news that his son had been healed at the very time Jesus gave his assurance. The officer was so grateful that he and the other members of his family accepted Jesus as the promised Messiah without fearing the ridicule of fellow-officers and friends.
Life message: 1) Miraculous healings can take place in our lives, too, if we approach Jesus the healer with true humility, trusting Faith, earnest prayer and the willingness to surrender ourselves to God’s will. We have the unfailing word of Jesus to rely on, nothing less. (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
March 24 Tuesday: Jn 5:1-16: 1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, which has five porticoes. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed.5 One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your pallet, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the Sabbath, it is not lawful for you to carry your pallet.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me said to me, `Take up your pallet, and walk.'” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, `Take up your pallet, and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. 14 Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16 And this was why the Jews persecuted Jesus, because he did this on the Sabbath. USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/ZXUd3XNyEvc?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DAoMqHc4moKtTJSI6gsth32
The context: The Jews had three major feasts – the Feast of Tabernacles, the Feast of Passover and the Feast of Pentecost. Although only adult male Jews living within a 15 mile-radius of Jerusalem were bound to participate in the Passover feast, Jesus went to Jerusalem as a practicing Jew. Today’s Gospel passage describes how Jesus healed a paralyzed man who had been lying near the “Probatic” pool of Bethesda (also called Bethzatha), for 38 years, hoping for a healing when the water was miraculously stirred by an angel. Before granting the healing, Jesus asked the paralytic if he wanted to be healed. The man expressed his intense desire for healing and confessed his inability to crawl to the pond in time. At once, Jesus gave the healing command, “Take up your pallet, and walk,” and the man obeyed. The Pharisees sternly told the healed man that he shouldn’t be carrying his mat as that the day was the Sabbath. The man responded that his healer had told him to but was unable to identify Jesus as that healer when they asked. Later, when Jesus caught up with former paralytic in the Temple and warned him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you!” the former paralytic recognized that it was Jesus who had healed him and reported the fact to the Jews who had earlier questioned him about carrying his mat.
Life message: 1) We too will experience miracles in our lives when we approach God with trusting Faith in His power to do the impossible and in His mercy for His children. But we need to express our desire to Him with persevering and fervent prayers (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
March 25 Wednesday (The Annunciation of the Lord): (Lk 1: 26-38: 26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 ..38… USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/2gvJCuAI8GI?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DAoMqHc4moKtTJSI6gsth32
The context: Today’s Gospel tells us the story of the Annunciation, explaining how God began to keep the promise He had made to King David through the prophet Nathan, that David’s descendant would rule the world in an everlasting Kingdom ( II Samuel 7: 12-16). Venerable Bede, remarks: “Today’s reading of the Gospel calls to mind the beginning of our redemption, for the passage tells us how God sent an angel from heaven to a virgin to proclaim the new birth, the incarnation of God’s Son, who would take away our age-old guilt; through him it would be possible for us to be made new and numbered among the children of God.” Confronting his lack of trust in the Lord, the prophet Isaiah declares to King Ahaz in the first reading (Is 7:10-14; 8:10): “The Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.” The annunciation to Mary is the fulfillment of both these prophecies. The second reading (Heb 10:4-10) explains the reason for God’s incarnation, i. e., the Son of God became man so that through his “body” he could offer a sacrifice of perfect obedience to the Father’s saving will. The angel’s salutation to Mary: “Hail, full of grace,” reminds us of God’s words to Moses at the burning bush (Ex 3:12), and the angel’s salutation to Gideon, (Jgs 6:12). Mary is described as “full of grace,” filled with God’s favor and graciousness. She is the new Ark, a tent and temple. God is literally and physically in her, and, thus, she is the greater House of God promised to David. Mary’s question, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” is natural. That is why the angel reminds Mary, “Nothing is impossible with God.” The Lord God will “empower” her (“the Spirit will come upon you“), and “protect” her (“overshadow you“). In Luke’s narrative, Gabriel points out that the Child would not only be a distant grandson of David — he would be God’s own Son: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.” Mary does not require confirmation but responds in Faith. She agrees to carry out the Word Gabriel has addressed to her. Since Mary is really a true hearer and doer of the Word of God, she immediately makes a response with faith and trust. Mary thus became the virgin-mother who fulfills Isaiah 7:14 in a way that Isaiah could not have imagined. She is united with her son in carrying out the will of God (Psalm 40:8-9; Hebrews 10:7-9; Luke 1:38). The Annunciation touches both the Good News that God has become one like us so that we might become as God is, and the greater news that God, in the person of Jesus, has “paid the price” for achieving this end. When we pray the “Angelus” prayer three times a day, we gratefully remember the great gift of God’s Incarnation. When we pray the Rosary, we refer to the Incarnation fifty-three times — each time we pray the “Hail Mary” — and the first of the “Joyful mysteries” is the Annunciation, the Incarnation of Our Lord.
Life message: 1) We need to be humble instruments in the hand of God, trusting in His power and goodness, and Mary shows how an ordinary human being can reflect God in the ordinary circumstances of life. St. Augustine reminds us that God who created us without our permission cannot save us without our active cooperation. Hence, let us cooperate in the fulfillment of God’s plan for us, by doing His will with Mary’s trusting Faith and humility, through which she brought Jesus to the world, giving him flesh and blood. Can we also bring Jesus to others in our day-to-day lives? Like Mary who brought God to us as Jesus our Savior, it is our duty to carry Jesus and bring him to the lives of others around us in love, mercy, forgiveness and service. “Let the soul of Mary be in each one of you to magnify the Lord. Let the spirit of Mary be in each one to exult in Christ.” (St. Ambrose). (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
March 26 Thursday: Jn 5:31-47: If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony cannot be verified. But there is another who bears witness to me, and I know that the testimony which he bears to me is true. 33 You sent emissaries to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony which I receive is from man; but I say this that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father has granted me to accomplish, these very works which I am doing, bear me witness that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness to me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen; 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe him whom he has sent. 39 You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from men. 42 But I know that you have not the love of God within you. 43 … ..47 USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/cAU__zuLHYY?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DAoMqHc4moKtTJSI6gsth32
The context: In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus defends his Messianic claims. The Jews demanded proofs for Jesus’ Messianic claims, quoting Dt 19:15 which requires two or three witnesses to substantiate a person’s claims. Hence, Jesus presents four witnesses who approved his Messianic and Divine claims: John the Baptist, his own miracles, his Heavenly Father, and the Sacred Scriptures of the Old Testament.
1) John the Baptist, whom many Jews considered a prophet, bore witness to Jesus as the “Lamb of God” and the Holy One whose paths he had come to prepare. 2) The miracles Jesus worked could only have been done by the power of God his Father. 3) God the Father attested to the Divinity of Jesus at Jesus’ Baptism (cfr. Jn 1:31-34); at the Transfiguration (cfr. Matthew 17:1-8), and later, in the presence of the whole crowd (cfr. John 12:28-30). 4) The books of the Old Testament, namely the Law and the Prophets, bear testimony to Jesus’ Divine and Messianic claims. It was the Spirit of God who prompted the prophets of the Old Testament to write their Messianic prophecies. Then Jesus identifies three obstacles which prevented the Jews from recognizing him as the Messiah and Son of God: 1) their lack of love of God, 2) their striving after human glory, and 3) their prejudiced interpretation of Sacred texts and lack of faith in Moses and the prophets.
Life message: When we have doubts about Faith and the Church’s teachings we need to 1) study the Bible with trusting Faith, using all available resources; 2) pray for an increase of Faith; 3) learn the teachings of the Church, starting with the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the official documents of the Church; 4) accept the mysteries of our Faith, relying on the Divine Authority and veracity of Jesus; and 5) examine how strong our own Christian testimony is, checking whether my life reflects the light of Christ so much that it brings light to the darkness in others? (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
March 27 Friday: Jn 7:1-2, 10, 25-30: Judea, because the Jews sought to kill him. 2 Now the Jews’ feast of Tabernacles was at hand. 10 But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private. 25 Some of the people of Jerusalem therefore said, “Is not this the man whom they seek to kill? 26 And here he is, speaking openly, and they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Christ? 27 Yet we know where this man comes from; and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.” 28 So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I come from? But I have not come of my own accord; he who sent me is true, and him you do not know. 29 I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.” 30 So they sought to arrest him; but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come. USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/rxnUMQ9sJss?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DAoMqHc4moKtTJSI6gsth32
The context: Today’s Gospel passage describes Jesus’ secret journey to Jerusalem to participate in the Feast of Tabernacles (Booths), amid rumors of his possible arrest. But Jesus courageously made his public appearance in the crowd in Jerusalem and started teaching in the Temple. Naturally, people started wondering why the authorities did not arrest him.
Jesus’ Messianic claim and the Jewish reaction: Jesus made two unique and seemingly blasphemous claims. 1) He claimed that he was the Messiah, God’s Anointed One. 2) Jesus made the additional claim that only he knew God as He is because Jesus had come from God. By this claim Jesus contradicted the Jewish belief that they had the perfect and final revelation of God given through Moses and the prophets. In addition, Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah, and the “Son of Man” prophesied by Daniel, with exclusive and intimate knowledge of God was, they thought, nothing but blasphemy. The Jews argued that a mere carpenter-turned- wandering-preacher from Nazareth could not be the Messiah because nobody was supposed to know where the Messiah would come from. According to Jewish belief, the Messiah would emerge quite unexpectedly from Mount Olivet, cross the Kedron Valley, enter the city of Jerusalem, be anointed by Elijah the prophet, take possession of the City and the Temple and establish His Messianic kingdom.
Life messages: 1) Like the Jews, we, too, can be prejudiced and occasionally refuse to accept and follow the teachings of the Church. We need to have the humility to honor the teaching authority of the Church and its guidance by the Holy Spirit. 2) We need to accept Jesus as our Lord and personal Savior, experience him through prayer and the Sacramental life and surrender our lives to him. 3) Like the Jews who expected the surprise appearance of a super-human Messiah we, too, show the tendency to seek God only in miraculous and extraordinary events, ignoring His presence within us and in everyone around us. (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
March 28 Saturday: Jn 7:40-53: 40 When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This is really the prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? 42 Has not the scripture said that the Christ is descended from David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” 43 So there was a division among the people over him. 44 Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him. 45 The officers then went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” 46 The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this man!” 47 The Pharisees answered them, “Are you led astray, you also? 48 Have any of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 But this crowd, who do not know the law, are accursed.” 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, 51 “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” 52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and you will see that no prophet is to rise from Galilee.” 53 They went each to his own house. USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/9cR3bRbd3No?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DAoMqHc4moKtTJSI6gsth32
The context: Today’s Gospel describes the reaction of the people, the Pharisees, the Temple police, and Nicodemus, the Sanhedrin member, to Jesus’ pubic claim to be the promised Messiah and the “Son of Man” prophesied by Daniel.
The common people say that Jesus probably is the expected Messiah because of His authoritative teaching and authentic miracles. But the Pharisees, the Scribes and the Jewish priests can only see Jesus as a Galilean from Nazareth, and they argue from Scripture that the real Messiah must be born in David’s family in Bethlehem. The Temple police, whom they have sent to arrest Jesus, report that they have not arrested Jesus because, “nobody ever spoke like Him.” They are impressed by Jesus’ wisdom and authoritative teaching. Nicodemus, a prominent member of the supreme council of the Jews defends Jesus, demanding that the Sanhedrin give Jesus a fair trial before they have Him punished for blasphemy on unfounded claims.
Life messages: 1) We believe in Jesus’ teachings based on His authority as God. We believe in the Sacred Scriptures based on the teaching authority Jesus gave to Peter and his successors. Since Jesus and His Apostles believed in the Old Testament Books as the inspired word of God, and since the Church teaches the same thing, we, too, believe them to be the real word of God, and we follow the instructions given in the Bible. Hence, we need to follow the Bible as the guide of our Christian life and accept the traditional interpretation given to the word of God by the teaching authority in the Church.
2) Today we Christians are also “a sign of contradiction,” as Simeon described Jesus, because we are different and challenging when we stand for Christ and choose His teachings while others reject them. We need to have, and act on, the courage of our Christian convictions. (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20