November 7, 2020

November 9-14 weekday homilies

Visit http://frtonyshomilies.com  for missed Sunday or weekday homilies Nov 9-14: Nov 9 Monday (Dedication of the Lateran Basilica) (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/dedication-of-saint-john-lateran/):Jn 2.13-22 Historical note: Today the Church celebrates the anniversary of the dedication of the Cathedral Church of Rome by Pope Sylvester I (AD 314-335), in AD 324. This Church serves as the Episcopal seat of the Pope as the Bishop of Rome and, hence, is called “the mother and head of all Churches of Rome and the world.” The basilica and baptistery were built originally by the Emperor Constantine and called Basilica Constantinia. Later it was named the Arch-Basilica of the Most Holy Savior. However, it is now called St. Johns Lateran Basilica because it was built on property donated to the Church by the Laterani family, and because the monks from the monastery of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Divine served it. The name St. Johns comes, first, from the Baptistery, rebuilt after its hard treatment by the Visigoths (AD 410), by Pope St. Sixtus II (AD 432-440), and dedicated by him to St. John the Baptist. Later, Pope St. Hilary (AD 461-468), dedicated it to St. John the Evangelist, in thanksgiving to that apostle for saving his life. [Richard P. McBrien, Lives of the Popes (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997), pp. 58-58, 71-72, 77-78.]. USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm

The context: Today’s Gospel gives us the dramatic account of Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem. He drove out its merchants and moneychangers with moral indignation at the unjust commercialization of a House of Prayer and the exploitation of the poor pilgrims in the name of religion. The merchants charged exorbitant prices for animals for sacrifices, 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 and rebuilt by Zerubbabel in 515 BC after the Babylonians had destroyed it, the Temple was renovated for the last time by King Herod the Great starting in 20 BC. The abuses which infuriated Jesus were 1) the conversion of a place of prayer to 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 and the moneychangers, quoting Zechariah the prophet, “Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace”(Zechariah 14:21).

Life messages: 1) We need to avoid the business mentality of profit and loss in Divine worship. Our relationship with God must be that of a child to his parent, one of love, respect and desire for the common good, with no thought of gain or loss. 2) We need to remember that we are the temples of the Holy Spirit. Hence, we have no right to desecrate God’s temple by 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 offer our lives and petitions on the altar. 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 and treasure in the various ministries of our parish. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/ (L/20)

Nov 10 Tuesday (St. Leo the Great, Pope, Doctor of the Church) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-leo-the-great/ : Lk 17: 7-10: 7 “Will any one of you, who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep, say to him when he has come in from the field, `Come at once and sit down at table’?  8 Will he not rather say to him, `Prepare supper for me, and gird yourself and serve me, till I eat and drink; and afterward you shall eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, `We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’ “or USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm

The context: Today’s Gospel gives Jesus’ warning on complacency in the spiritual life through a parable about a slave and his relationship with his master.  The slave had the duties of a cook as well as those of a fieldworker.  Jesus says that the master wanted him to do fieldwork till evening, then prepare the supper and serve him at the table.  Since both were parts of his duty, he need not expect a “thank you” from the master.  This parable was a warning also to the Pharisees, who thought that God was indebted to them because of their scrupulous observance of the Mosaic Law.

The teaching: We are God’s servants because God owns everything, and all our possessions have been loaned to us by a generous God.  Our efforts and accomplishments are nothing in comparison with the blessings of God which we have received.  All our devotions, prayers and works of charity form only a negligible part of our return to God, and the power to do them is another of His gifts to us.  We can never adequately repay the gifts God has given to us.  The Blessed Virgin Mary was fully aware of this truth, and that is why she responded to God’s messenger saying: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1:38). St. Bernadette of Soubirous (1844-1879), the girl to whom the Blessed Mother appeared in Lourdes, France lived a life in obscurity as a contemplative nun. A journalist was able to track her down and eventually got the permission of the Prioress to interview her. One question that the journalist asked of her was why she opted to live in obscure life when she was so well known all over the world. In answer Bernadette compared herself to a house broom which has been put aside in a closet after it had been used to clean the room.

Life messages: 1) We need to offer our prayers of thanksgiving and acts of charity to God so that we may grow in God’s grace.  2) We need to consider our service to our neighbors as a sacred duty we owe to God in return for His innumerable blessings. 3) God’s love and generosity should compel us to give Him the best that is in us as our acts of thanksgiving. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/ (L/20)

Nov 11 Wednesday (St. Martin of Tours, Bishop) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-martin-of-tours/ : Luke 17: 11-19: 11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then said Jesus, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”  19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” For USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm

 The context: Jesus was on the border between Galilee and Samaria when he was met by a band of ten lepers, both Jews and Samaritans. By describing Jesus’ miraculous healing of the ten lepers from a physically devastating and socially isolating disease, today’s Gospel presents a God Who desires only gratitude from us for the many blessings we have received from Him, and Who feels pain at our ingratitude.  The Gospel story tells of a single leper (a “Samaritan heretic”), who returned to thank Jesus for healing him, while the others went their way, the Jews perhaps under the false impression that healing was their right as God’s chosen people.  They did not seem to feel indebted to Jesus for the singular favor they had received.  Instead, they hurried off to obtain a health certificate from the priests. “Where are the other nine?”  Jesus asked the Samaritan leper.  “Did only one come back to say ‘thank-you?’”  Today’s reading also presents Faith and healing going hand in hand, as do Faith and reconciliation.

Life messages: 1) We need to learn to be thankful to God and to others.  Often, we are ungrateful to God.  Although we receive so much from Him, we often take it all for granted without appreciating His gifts. Often, we are ungrateful to our parents and consider them a nuisance, although in the past we were dependent on them for literally everything.  Similarly, we owe a great debt of gratitude to our friends, teachers, doctors and pastors — but we often fail to thank them. Hence, in the future, let us be filled with daily thanksgiving to God and to others for the countless gifts we have received.  Let us pray: “Please, God, heal my heart of ingratitude.”

2) We need to celebrate the Holy Eucharist as the supreme act of thanksgiving.  When we celebrate Holy Mass together, we are thanking God for the great gift of His Son, whose Sacrifice formed us into the People of God.   We thank God for the gift of the Spirit, through Whom we bring the presence of the Lord to others.   3) We all need healing from our spiritual leprosy.  Although we may not suffer from physical leprosy, when we suffer from the “spiritual leprosy” of sins, Jesus, our Savior, wants to heal us through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/ (L/20)

Nov 12 Thursday (St. Josaphat, Bishop, Martyr) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-josaphat : Lk 17:20-25: 20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be  observed; 21 nor will they say, `Lo, here it is!’ or `There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” 22 And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and you will not see  it. 23 And they will say to you, `Lo, there!’ or `Lo, here!’ Do not go, do not follow them. 24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of man be in his day. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. For USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm

The context: The Jews believed that the sudden and unexpected arrival of the promised Messiah would be accompanied by special signs.  They also believed that he would be a political Messiah, who would rule Israel forever after overthrowing all other rulers.  Hence, they asked Jesus about the signs accompanying his arrival as the Messiah – if he were the Messiah.

Jesus’ reply: Jesus replied that the kingdom of God was already within them, and that was the greatest messianic sign.  The Greek word we translate as “within” means both within you and among you.  Considering the kingdom of God as within you, we are to understand that the Messiah is going to rule the hearts and minds of individuals, creating a revolution in human hearts and converting them from stony hearts to Spirit-filled loving, merciful, and compassionate hearts.  Considering the kingdom of God as among you, we are to understand that God Himself is present among His people in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth, representing the Kingdom of God and doing God’s will in the most perfect way possible.  Jesus also warned the Pharisees not to search for the Messiah anywhere else.  He would appear again in Jesus’ Second Coming, quite unexpectedly, and as unmistakably as a flash of lightning that “lights up the sky from one side to the other.”

  Life message: 1) Let us be Kingdom people by allowing Jesus the true Messiah to have complete control of our lives. Let us allow Him to rule our lives by giving priority to him in all our actions. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/ (L/20)

Nov 13 Friday: St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, Virgin (U. S. A.) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-frances-xavier-cabrini/ : Lk 17: 26-37: 26 As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of man.  27 They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed  them all. 28 Likewise as it was in the days of Lot — they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom fire and sulphur rained from heaven and destroyed them all — 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of man is revealed. 31 On that day, let him who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away; and likewise let him who is in the field not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it. 34 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding together; one will be taken and the other left.” 37 And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.” For USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm

The context: In today’s Gospel, Jesus is prophesying three endings: 1) the end of his public life, 2) the destruction of Jerusalem, and 3) the end of the world.  He warns his listeners to be ready and not to think that they can postpone their preparations, because when the end strikes it will already be too late.  Through this prophecy and warning, Jesus asks us, too, 1) to be ready to meet him as our Judge at his Second Coming, whenever that may take place, and 2) to be prepared to meet him and to give an account of our lives at the moment of our death, which is also unknown to us.

We need to learn lessons from the past: Jesus gives the example of the Flood during Noah’s time, when people ate and drank right up to the moment of disaster.  Similarly, He goes on, in the days of Lot, people were leading their ordinary, sinful lives when fire and brimstone rained down on the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Only Lot and his family, who had been previously warned, and directly assisted, by the angels, escaped.  The same events would be repeated at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem (AD 70), and will be repeated again at the end of the world.  Some will be saved and others destroyed.  Some will be prepared to meet their God and will be rewarded, while the unprepared will be punished.  The criterion of selection will be our intimacy with Jesus in a life of grace.  If we really want to see the Kingdom of God on earth in our times, we need only look at people’s lives.  The Kingdom is there when people are reflecting in their lives the vision of life and the values that Jesus revealed to us, that is, loving God in offering loving service to all they encounter. 

Life messages: 1) We need to stay ready always by living holy and prayerful lives spent in doing good for others.  2) We need to make reparation for our past sins and to prepare our lives to meet our Savior as our Judge by living lives of penance and prayer and by doing works of charity. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/ (L/20)

Nov 14 Saturday: Lk 18:1-8: 1 And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.  2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man; 3 and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, `Vindicate me against my adversary.’  4 For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, `Though I neither fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.'” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7…8. For USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm

The context: Today’s Gospel gives a parable Jesus told during his last trip to Jerusalem.  When Luke recorded this passage, the Parousia or Second Coming of Jesus had been delayed beyond what the early Church had expected.  Further, the Church was experiencing persecution from both the Jews and the Romans.  The persecuted early Christians were finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their Faith.  Today’s Gospel lesson, addressing the issues of Faith in difficult times, must have reassured those disciples, as Jesus reassured His own contemporaries, that God was listening to their persistent prayers and would grant them justice and vindicate their Faith in the end.  Jesus presents the widow in today’s Gospel as a model of the trust and tenacity with which all his disciples are to pray.

The parable: This parable is based on the corrupt Roman legal practices prevalent in Palestine at the time of Jesus.  The judge in the parable was a magistrate appointed either by Herod or by the Romans.  Such judges were avaricious, corrupt, and without fear of God or the public.  By publicly badgering the judge every day, the woman was trying to shame this shameless person.  Finally, the unjust judge was forced to yield.  Hence, this parable is not only about the efficacy of persistent prayer, but also about the character of God, His Trustworthiness and Justice.  His is a Justice that reaches out to the poor and the weak, enabling them to fight against injustice.  The parable teaches us that the purpose of all our prayers is the augmentation of our trusting Faith in a loving and caring God Who is our Father.

Life messages: 1) Prayer attunes our minds to God’s, enabling us to do what God wants.  The parable teaches us that our prayers do not change God’s will.  Instead, they bring our hearts into line with His purposes.  Sincere and persistent prayer makes us ready to accept and live out His will in love and trust. 2) We should not expect to get whatever we pray for. We prefer to get from God what we want , when we want it!  God hears all our prayers.  But He knows how and when to grant our prayers.  Only God sees time whole, and, therefore, only God knows what is good for us, and when, in the long run.  Hence, we have to leave it to God’s decision saying, “Thy will be done,” and to express our trusting Faith in, and dependence on, Him by persevering in our prayers. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/ (L/20)