November 12, 2020

November 16-21 (Weekday homilies)

Visit http://frtonyshomilies.com  for missed Sunday or weekday homilies Nov 16-21: Nov 16 Monday: St. Margaret of Scotland: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-margaret-of-scotland/ Lk 18: 35-43: 35 As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging; 36 and hearing a multitude going by, he inquired what this meant. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” 38 And he cried, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 And Jesus stopped, and commanded him to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me receive my sight.” 42 And Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43 And immediately he received his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God. USCCB video reflections:  https://youtu.be/DTaY2_wm1NE 

 The context:  Jesus was going to Jerusalem to participate in the feast of Passover. When he reached Jericho, there was a big crowd of pilgrims walking along with him and listening to his teaching.  Beggars used to sit on both sides of the road, as the pilgrims were very generous, and the people used to line up on the roadside to greet the pilgrims.  A blind beggar on the roadside was told by his friends that Jesus of Nazareth, the miracle-worker, was passing by.  So, the blind man repeatedly cried out at the top of his voice, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” The pilgrims listening to Jesus’ teaching tried to stop the beggar’s loud cry, but in vain.  Jesus stopped, called the beggar to him and asked him his need, then gave him eyesight by a single command, “Receive your sight; your Faith has made you well!”  This miracle was Jesus’ reward to the blind man for his trusting Faith in the healing power and compassionate heart of the Messiah. St. Augustine described the urgency with which we should respond to God’s gift, to His passing us on the road: “I fear Jesus may pass by and not come back.”

Life messages: 1) We, too, need healing from our spiritual blindness which makes us incapable of seeing and appreciating the living presence of God within ourselves and others.  For that healing, we also require the same trusting Faith the blind man displayed in the healing power and mercy of Jesus, and the same persevering persistence in our prayers.  We need to pray with conviction, urgency and constancy.  2) We need to repeat the prayer of the blind man, “Lord, let me receive my sight,” when our Faith is feeble, when we cannot understand the reason behind God’s plans and when our commitments become shaky. God gave us eyes so that we can see. God gave us a heart so that we can see better. Let us use them all the time. (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

Nov 17 Tuesday (St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-elizabeth-of-hungary/ Lk 19:1-10: 1 He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector, and rich.  3 And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it they all murmured, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 …9 USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/tKgDA5qVOv0 

The context:  The theme of today’s Gospel is the benevolent and forgiving mercy of God for sinners and the response of repentance and conversion expected from us.  The story is that of the instantaneous conversion of the tax-collector, Zacchaeus.  As the chief tax-collector in Jericho, Zacchaeus was probably a man of much wealth and few friends. Since he worked for the Romans and extracted more tax money than required by the law, he was probably hated by the Jews who considered all tax-collectors as public sinners.  The account describes how Jesus recognized Zacchaeus for exactly who he was – a lost sinner in need of a Savior.  Jesus’ response lets us see how God’s grace worked in Zacchaeus to lead him from idle curiosity to repentance, conversion and the making of restitution.  The episode emphasizes the fact that such a conversion can only result from a person’s fully receiving the love, acceptance and grace of a merciful Lord.  The story of Zacchaeus reinforces the lessons of the fifteenth chapter of Luke in which a lost sheep and a lost coin are found, and a lost son is embraced.  It also demonstrates the fact that nobody is beyond the possibility of conversion.

Life messages: 1) We need to accept the Divine invitation to repentance.  We are all sinners to a greater or lesser degree.  Jesus is inviting each one of us to total conversion today by means of this Gospel lesson.  Let us remember that Jesus loves us, in spite of our ugly thoughts, broken promises, and sullied ideals, our lack of prayer, and  of Faith, our resentments, and our lusts.  Hence, let us confess to Him all our weaknesses and sins, repenting, and ask Him trustfully for his Mercy.

2) We need to love others in spite of their sins, as Jesus loves us.  Jesus loved Zacchaeus—a great sinner — and by that love, Zacchaeus was transformed.  As parents or teachers, can we lovingly accept our children without first setting up for them standards of behavior as conditions for being loved?  Just as Jesus loved Zacchaeus, even though he was a public sinner, so we must love others in spite of their sins.  Jesus expects this of us.  3) We need to be set free from selfishness and choose generosity: Zacchaeus was changed from being greedy to being generous, from selfishness to selflessness.  When we feel the warmth of God’s presence within us, that warmth will, in itself, melt our coldness and selfishness, leading us to repentance and generosity.  (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

Nov 18 Wednesday (Dedication of the Basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles, https://www.franciscanmedia.org/dedication-of-churches-of-saints-peter-and-paul/ St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, Virgin, U. S. A. https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-rose-philippine-duchesne/ ): Lk 19:11-28: 11 As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of  God was to appear immediately. 12 He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive a kingdom and then return. 13 Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten pounds, and said to them, `Trade with these till I come.’ 14 But his citizens hated him and sent an embassy after him, saying, `We do not want this man to reign over us.’ 15 When he returned, having received the kingdom, he commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by trading. 16 The first came before him, saying, `Lord, your pound has made ten pounds more.’ 17..28 USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/bSTlCmjubbA 

The context: The central theme of today’s Gospel is an invitation to live in such a way that we make the best use of the talents God has given us, so that at the hour of our death Our Lord will say: “Well done, My good and faithful servant!  Come and share the joy of your Master.”  The parable of the talents challenges us to do something positive, constructive, and life-affirming with our talents here and now.

The parable: A very rich Master, about to set off on a journey, entrusted very large sums of money (talents), to three of his servant-slaves (10 according to Luke 19), each according to his personal ability: five, two, and one.  He wanted them to do business with the money in his absence.  Through skillful trading and investing, the servant-slaves with the five talents and the two talents managed to double their master’s money.  But the servant-slave with one talent buried it in the ground for fear of loss in business. On the day of accounting, the Master rewarded the two clever servant-slaves and punished the third servant-slave whom he called “wicked and slothful.”  He took the third servant-slave’s talent and gave it to the first servant-slave.

Life messages: 1) We need to trust God enough to make use of the gifts and abilities He has given us.  We may be especially talented in teaching children, or cooking meals, or repairing homes, or programming computers.  Let us use our particular gifts in the service of our families, our Christian community, and the wider society.  2) We need to make use of our talents in our parish.  We should be always willing to share our abilities in creative worship in the Church and in the various ministries in our parish, such as Eucharistic minister, Lector, Usher, Sunday school teacher, singer in the choir, volunteer, and/or member of one or more of the various parish organizations and community outreach programs.  3) We need to trade with our talent of Christian Faith: All of us in the Church today have received at least one talent namely, the gift of Faith.  Our responsibility is not just to preserve and “keep” the Faith, but to work with it and grow with it  We need to promote and add value to Faith by living it out.  (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

Nov 19 Thursday: Lk 19: 41-44 41 As he drew near and saw the city he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes.  43 For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will cast up a bank about you and surround you, and hem you in on every side, 44 and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation.”USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/bVyia70-cDw

Context: It was when two-and-a-half million people were present in Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish feast of Passover that Jesus’ followers paraded with Him for a distance of two miles from the Mount of Olives to the city of Jerusalem.  But when the procession reached the spot from which there was a magnificent view of the city of Jerusalem, Jesus started to weep.  Later, Jesus explained why he loved the city, which was the center of Judaism, Yahweh’s promised place of terrestrial residence, and the culminating point of Jesus’ public ministry.  He could not foresee without tears its destruction in A.D. 70 by Titus, who would totally demolish the Temple and the city after massacring most of its residents. Jesus explained the destruction of the city as a punishment from God because its inhabitants had failed to recognize the time of their visitation.  In other words, Jerusalem had closed its doors, and her inhabitants had closed their hearts, to the salvific coming and message of the Redeemer.  In spite of Jesus’ preaching and healing ministry among the Chosen people, they had largely rejected him, and their leaders were planning to crucify him.

 Life messages: 1) Jesus visits each one of us as our Lord and Savior.  He teaches us through the teaching and preaching of his Church.  We hear his voice when we read Holy Scripture.  He offers us forgiveness of sins and grace through the Sacraments.  So we should not reject him or his message as the Jews did, nor remain indifferent to him.  Instead, we must listen to God’s warning about our need to repent, renew our lives, and walk in God’s ways of peace and holiness.

2) We are the temples of the Holy Spirit, and we have no right to desecrate God’s temple by harboring jealousy, discrimination, injustice, and/or impurity in our hearts (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

Nov 20 Friday: Lk 19: 45-48: 45 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, 46 saying to them, “It is written, `My house shall be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of robbers.” 47 And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people sought to destroy him; 48 but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people hung upon his words. For USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/bVyia70-cDw 

Context: Today’s Gospel gives us the dramatic account of Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem.  He drove out its merchants and money-changers with moral indignation at the unjust commercialization of God’s House of Prayer and the exploitation of the poor pilgrims in the name of religion.  The merchants charged exorbitant prices for the animals to be sacrificed, and the moneychangers charged unjust commissions for the required exchange of pagan coins for Temple coins.  The Temple Jesus cleansed was the Temple in Jerusalem, originally built by Solomon in 966 BC, rebuilt by Zerubbabel in 515 BC after the Babylonians had destroyed it, and in Jesus’ day was still being renovated, a work begun by King Herod the Great in 20 BC.  The abuses which infuriated Jesus were: 1) the conversion of a place of prayer into a noisy marketplace, and 2), the unjust business practices of animal merchants and moneychangers, encouraged by the Temple authorities.  Hence, Jesus made a whip of cords and drove away the animals, the dealers and the moneychangers, quoting the prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah, “Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace”(Lk 19:46; see also, Is 56:7; Jer 7:11).

Life messages: 1) We need to avoid the business mentality of loss and profit in Divine worship.  Our relationship with God must be that of a child to his parent, with no thought of loss or gain, but only of mutual love, respect and the common good.  2) Secondly, we need to remember that we are the temples of the Holy Spirit.  Hence, we have no right to desecrate God’s temple by acts of impurity, injustice, pride, hatred or jealousy.  3) We need to love our parish Church and use it.  Our Church is the place where we come together as a community to praise and worship God, to thank Him for His blessings, to ask pardon and forgiveness for our sins, and to receive His offered healing and nourishment.  Let us make our Church an even more holy place by adding our prayers and songs to community worship and by offering our time and talents in the various ministries of our parish. (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

Nov 21 Saturday (The Presentation of Blessed Virgin Mary) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/presentation-of-mary/ : Lk 19:11-28 & Mt 12:46-50 This feast commemorates the presentation of the Blessed Virgin as a young girl in the Temple. (Mary’s house was in Nazareth, 95 miles away from Jerusalem which meant 4-5 days walking distance). Tradition holds that all young Jewish girls were left in the care of the Temple for a period, during which they were educated in reading Scriptures, singing liturgical songs and helping in the Temple. As with Mary’s birth, we read of Mary’s presentation in the Temple only in apocryphal literature. The Protoevangelium of James (recognized as an unhistorical account), tells us that Anna and Joachim offered Mary to God in the Temple when she was very young. Later versions of the story (such as the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew and the Gospel of the Nativity of Mary), tell us that Mary was taken to the Temple at around the age of three in fulfillment of a vow made by her parents. Tradition held that she was to remain there to be educated in preparation for her role as Theotokos- Mother of God. This was to carry out her mother’s promise made to God when Anna was still childless. The feast originated as a result of the dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary the New, built in AD 543 by the Byzantines under Emperor Justinian I near the site of the ruined Temple in Jerusalem. The feast originated in the Orient probably about the 7th century. The Eastern Orthodox church celebrates it on November 21 as one of its twelve “Great Feasts.” The feast which continued to be celebrated throughout the East, was being celebrated in the monasteries of Southern Italy by the ninth century. It was introduced into the Western Church in the 14th century. In the 1974 encyclical Marialis Cultus, Pope St. Paul VI (canonized by Pope Francis, October 14, 2018) wrote, “despite its apocryphal content, it presents lofty and exemplary values and carries on the venerable traditions having their origins in the Eastern Churches.” Though it cannot be proven historically, Mary’s presentation has an important theological purpose. It continues the impact of the feasts of the Immaculate Conception and of the birth of Mary. It emphasizes that the holiness conferred on Mary from the beginning of her life on earth continued through her early childhood and beyond.

Life message: 1) Every Holy Mass in which we participate is our presentation. Although we were officially presented to God on the day of our Baptism, we present ourselves and our dear ones on the altar before God our Father through our Savior Jesus Christ at every Holy Mass. Hence, we need to live our daily lives with the awareness both that we are dedicated people consecrated to God and, therefore, that we are obliged to lead holy lives. We offer ourselves to God, asking to be made holy under the patronage of Mary and assisted by her powerful intercession and the union of her merits. For USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20 (Read: https://www.americamagazine.org/issue/555/article/historical-mary 

USCCB reflections: https://youtu.be/ttyb2ZZ6sCQ