January 19, 2021

O. T. III-B (Jan 24 Sunday)

OT III [B] Sunday(Jan 24): Eight-minute homily in one page (L/21)

Introduction: The three readings today underline our absolute need of repentance and our immediate need for a prompt response to God’s call.

Scripture lessons: The first reading tells us how God had to deal with the disobedient, fleeing prophet Jonah to turn him around (convert him), so that, repenting, he would go to Nineveh to preach repentance there. The wicked people of Nineveh, however, accepted Jonah as God’s prophet at once, and promptly responded to God’s call for repentance as Jonah preached it. In the second reading, Paul urges the Christian community in Corinth to lose no time in accepting the message of the Gospel and in renewing their lives with repentance because Jesus’ second coming may occur at any moment. Today’s Gospel describes how Jesus came to Galilee and began preaching, challenging people to “repent and believe in the Gospel.” Just as John did, Jesus also called for repentance, meaning a change in one’s mind or in the direction of one’s life and setting new priorities. Repentance also means hating sin itself, not just being sorry for the consequences of one’s sins. Believing in the Gospel demands from the hearers a resolution to take Jesus’ words seriously, to translate them into action, and to put trust in Jesus’ authority. Jesus preached the Gospel, or Good News, that God is a loving, forgiving, caring and merciful Father Who wants to liberate us and save us from our sins through His son Jesus. By describing the call of Jesus’ first disciples, Andrew, Peter, James, and John, today’s Gospel also emphasizes how we, sinners, are to respond to God’s call with total commitment by abandoning our accustomed style of sinful life. Jesus started his public ministry immediately after John the Baptist was arrested. According to Mark, Jesus selected four fishermen, Andrew and his brother Peter with James and his brother John, right from their fishing boats. Jesus wanted these ordinary, hard-working people as assistants for his ministry because they would be very responsive and generous instruments in the hands of God.

Life messages: 1) We need to appreciate our call to become Christ’s disciples: Every one of us is called by God, both individually, and collectively as a parish community, to continue Jesus’ mission of preaching the Good News of God’s Kingdom and healing the sick. 2) We are called individually to a way of life or vocation: – a religious commitment (priest, deacon, missionary, religious Sister or Brother, marriage partner, or single person), plus a particular occupation rising from our talents (medicine, law, teaching, healing, writing, art, music, building and carpentry, homemaking, child-rearing ….). Our own unique vocation should enable us to become what God wants us to be.  As St. Francis Sales puts it, we are expected to bloom where we are planted. 3) Our call, of course, begins with our Baptism and the other Sacraments of Initiation. It is strengthened through the years with the Eucharist and Reconciliation, healed and consoled by Anointing and, for those so called, made manifest in the sacraments of Matrimony or Holy Orders. The amazing truth is that God is relentless in calling us back to Himself even when we stray away from Him. 4) Let us be thankful to God for His Divine grace of calling us to be members of the true Church. Let us remember that it is our vocation in life as Christians to transmit Christ’s Light through our living, radiating Jesus’ unconditional love, mercy, forgiveness, and humble service to all in our society.

OT III [B] (Jan 24, 2021) Jon 3:1-5, 10; I Cor 7:29-31; Mk 1: 14-20

Homily starter anecdotes: # 1: The management forgives you: J. Edwin Orr, a professor of Church history has described the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit during the Protestant Welsh Revivals of the nineteenth century, which resulted for many in real metanoia. As people sought to be filled with the Spirit, they did all they could to confess their wrongdoings and to make restitution. But this created serious problems for the shipyards along the coast of Wales. Over the years, workers had “appropriated,” or “borrowed,” all kinds of things, from wheelbarrows to hammers. However, as people sought to be right with God, they understood that they had actually stolen all these things from their shipyards, so they started to return all they had taken, with the result that soon the shipyards of Wales were overwhelmed with returned property. There were such huge piles of returned tools that several of the yards put up signs that read, “If you have been led by God to return what you have stolen, please know that the management forgives you and wishes you to keep what you have taken.” — In today’s Gospel, Jesus challenges each one of us to revive our life with a true spirit of repentance. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 2: Bigotry and the Church’s universal mission: Bigotry creates the gaping chasm between God’s universal vision and the often myopic and selective insight of believers. Bigotry decides that certain people are better than others and worthier of attention, while it writes off others as valueless and not worth the effort. Bigotry went to the Berlin Olympics in 1936. Jesse Owens, a black American track and field athlete won four gold medals, but the leader of the host country refused to acknowledge him. Until 1954, bigotry relegated immigrants to the United States of America to places like Ellis Island. Many remained there for months; many were unsympathetically deported. Bigotry has gone to the voting polls several times since 1954 to further limit the rights and freedoms of immigrants. Bigotry organized and executed the systematic annihilation of six million Europeans whose beliefs and traditions were considered a threat to racial purity. Bigotry rounded up and forcibly detained Asian-American citizens during World War II. Bigotry denied women in the U.S. the right to vote until 1921. Bigotry walked the streets of Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965 when advocates of civil rights were clubbed and tear-gassed by police and stoned and beaten with bottles by opponents of integration. Despite these instances of its presence (and there are countless others), bigotry is such an ugly word, that, while we readily recognize it in others, few of us are willing to consider it as a possible, personal flaw. Perhaps if we were to ask ourselves a few pointed questions. . . Do I consider anyone or any group as a lost cause and therefore beyond the scope of my ministry as a Christian? Are there people of a certain race or ethnic group I’d rather not have as neighbors? In-laws? Bosses? When ethic jokes are told, do I laugh as loudly as anyone else? What if the experience of Jonah were to be contemporized… If a call went out for a modern-day Jonah to be dispatched to [any of “countries [currently] ranked in the top 10 for extreme persecution of Christians … North Korea, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, Iraq [Ancient Assyria], Iran, Yemen, Eritrea …” where “nearly 215 million Christians face high persecution…” (Open Doors USA), and where, “between the years 2005-2015, an estimated 900,000 Christians were martyred – an average of 90,000 Christians each year” (The Center for the Study of Global Christianity)] with the duty of preaching repentance and conversion to Islamic extremists there, would I volunteer for the job? Would I think it a worthwhile endeavor? Would I put off my trip, or would I labor with the sense of urgency which Paul describes in today’s second reading? Would I rejoice if my mission were successful? Do I truly believe the reign of God and the Good News of salvation are for all, without exception? Are there discrepancies between God’s concerns and my own? Jonah, Paul, and Mark challenge each of us gathered in this assembly to consider these questions today and to deal with any discrepancies we may discover. (Sanchez Files). Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 3: Deep-sea fishing: How many of you have ever been deep-sea fishing? I was shocked to learn that more than 2.4 million people participated in this sport last year, resulting in retail sales of almost $2.4 billion dollars and a total economic impact of almost $4.5 billion dollars. Deep-sea fishing provides jobs for nearly 55,000 people. You may be asking what deep-sea fishing has to do with the Church. You are going to see over the next four weeks that deep-sea fishing is a picture of the deep-soul fishing we are to be about as Church. “As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow Me, and, I will make you fishers of men.'” (Mark 1:16-17). That one statement tells us what our primary business is as Church, both corporately and as followers of Jesus individually. If you are a follower of Jesus, I want you to understand that every day Jesus Christ wants fishermen-disciples to launch out into the sea of humanity and go deep-soul fishing, because the Church’s primary business, and so the Christian’s primary business, is the fishing business. No matter what else we do or how well we do it, if we ever get out of the fishing business, we are out of business. Your neighborhood is a lake full of fish. Your office is a lake full of fish. Your school is a lake full of fish. When Jesus said, “I will make you fishers of men,” He was saying, “I will take you, with your personality, your background, your testimony, your influence, and I will use you to catch men, women, boys, and girls and bring them into My family.” Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Introduction:  God’s call to discipleship, with the response of repentance, conversion, and renewal of life expected from each of us, is the main theme of today’s readings. No matter to what life, work, or ministry God calls us, He first calls us to conversion, to reform, to repentance – to the process of continually becoming new people. Those who are constantly being reformed by the Spirit will be able to follow, as true disciples, wherever God leads. All three readings today underline the absolute necessity of such repentance and ready response to God’s call.

Scripture readings summarized: The first reading tells us about the prophet Jonah, whose response when God first called him and told him to go to Nineveh was to take ship immediately for the furthest point he could get to in the opposite direction! Why? We don’t know. Perhaps he was scared. Or perhaps it was because he hated the Gentile people of Nineveh and thought that they were not worthy of God’s gracious mercy. In any case, Jonah ran away. God had to halt Jonah in his flight, then give him a three-day “time-out” in the belly of that great fish, before the prophet was ready to accept the Lord God’s “second chance” to obey Him and go to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh. Far from being hostile, however, the people and the King of Nineveh, promptly responded to God’s word as preached by His prophet, repenting in sackcloth with a fast — just on the outside chance that the Lord God ”might” spare them! In the second reading, Paul urges the community in Corinth, and us, to lose no time accepting the message of the Gospel because Jesus’ second coming may occur at any time. Today’s Gospel describes how Jesus entered Galilee and began preaching. Like John, Jesus also called for repentance.  But Jesus added the Good News that the Kingdom of God was at hand. It still is, for where Jesus is, there is the Kingdom of God. Then Jesus called on his listeners to believe in the Gospel or the Good News of God’s love, mercy and salvation. When Jesus invited Simon, Andrew, James, and John to join him and help in his preaching and healing ministry, they promptly accepted his call, for discipleship is the only complete response a believer can make to that proclamation and invitation. The two greatest aspects of discipleship in Mark are being with Jesus and sharing in his mission. Disciples are invited to be with Jesus on a great spiritual journey and to share in Jesus’ mission of proclaiming God’s Kingdom in word and deed. In describing the call of Jesus’ first disciples, today’s Gospel also emphasizes how we, sinners, are to respond to Him with total commitment, abandoning our accustomed attitudes and styles of life to follow Him in thought, word, and deed.

First reading, Jonah 3:1-5 explained: The first reading shows us that we should respond promptly to God’s call for repentance. Our passage comes from the beginning of the second part (Jonah 3-4), where Jonah finally obeyed the Lord God by preaching of repentance to the Ninevites. The call to repentance delivered by Jonah to the people of Nineveh demanded they make a radical change in their manner of living. Jesus makes the same demand of us in today’s Gospel: “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” The Book of Jonah was written in Palestine around the 5th century BC, after the Babylonian exile. Some of the Jews were strongly nationalistic, filled with a smug sense of their superiority over all other nations. Like Jonah, they wished God would destroy the nations they perceived as His enemies. For Jonah, the Ninevites were terrible people doing terrible things. The city was notorious for its lack of morals and the idolatrous, decadent life-style of its inhabitants. The story of Jonah was intended to rebuke the Palestinians’ smallness of vision, and to teach them that God had care for other peoples besides themselves. Reading (Jonah 3:1-5, 10) we have a condensed version of the “Jonah story,” which helps us keep our focus on the workings of the Lord. The Lord “calls” and “sends” Jonah to warn the Ninevites about their need to repent and reform their lives before it is too late. The Ninevites believed the Lord’s message and responded immediately in penitential fashion, thus softening their hearts to receive God’s mercy. The first two chapters describe how God responded to Jonah’s flight from His call and the mission He had assigned the prophet: He allowed him to experience a deadly storm followed by an excruciating experience in the belly of a whale. At God’s second call to preach repentance in Nineveh, Jonah obeyed – but he was disappointed to see the ready response of that evil city to God’s message of repentance and a change of life! Jonah had not even finished the first day of his preaching journey before the people had totally turned around – doing visible penance while asking and hoping for God’s love, reconciliation and forgiveness. Contrary to Jonah’s expectations, the pagan peoples of the city “believed in God” and “renounced their evil behavior”. But perhaps the greater change, the more radical turnabout, happened in Jonah himself. Jonah had been an arrogant, bigoted, narrow-minded prophet. But he finally realized that God’s love is not limited – God’s forgiveness is not to be contained – God’s offer of salvation is for all – and we’d best not thwart it.

[Lessons taught by Jonah story: Not an historic account, but a didactic fiction, i.e., a story told in order to educate, the Jonah narrative had a double lesson for the inhabitants of Judah. First, in sending the main character of the story to foreign, pagan, Nineveh, the universality of God’s saving purpose was underscored. Second, in the bigoted persona of Jonah, the parochial and nationalistic Judahites were to recognize a caricature of themselves and to accept the challenge to broaden their concerns in order to bring them into line with God’s Will. Moreover, the value and quality of spirit attributed to the Ninevites was intended to awaken in the people of Judah an attitude of respect for and acceptance of others, who were often regarded as sub-human or as animals (dogs, swine). We notice that, when Jonah preached his short message, the Ninevites believed God (v. 5). Conversion in Nineveh was effected, not by prophetic eloquence (“Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed!?!”) but by God’s power. http://www.ncrpub.org)] .

Second Reading, 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 explained: The second reading also urges us to be converted and to accept the “Good News’ preached by Jesus. Thinking that the end was near and the second coming of Jesus would happen soon, Paul preferred that no one get married and that slaves not try to gain their freedom (1 Cor 7:8, 17-24). But the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World makes clear that it is precisely through engagement with the concerns of the world that Jesus’ followers are to exercise their discipleship. Saint Paul had to be strict and detailed in his moral teaching to the Christians in Corinth because Corinth was a bawdy seaport with a typical seaport’s set of ethics and some very bizarre philosophical ideas. Hence, Paul spent all of chapter 7 on marriage and sexual morality. He told the Corinthians to live in total freedom and detachment because nothing they had, whether things or personal attachments, was permanent, and everything could disappear at a moment’s notice. Whether life is very good or very bad, nothing lasts except the fundamental values of truth and love, of freedom and justice. In the end, it is who and Whose we are, not what we have that counts. Hence, let us ask to have the freedom to follow the call of God and to be ready to go at once wherever Jesus is asking us to go.

Gospel exegesis:  “The time is fulfilled.” The meaning of this verse hinges on the Greek word used for ‘time’: “The time is fulfilled…” There are two different words in Greek for ‘time’, and they carry very different meanings. Mark does not use the word ‘chronos’ for ‘time’ here; ‘chronos’ indicates a moment in historical time, a date on the calendar, an hour in the day…Instead, he uses the word ‘kairos’, which still means ‘time’ but is more to do with the eternal quality inherent in any given moment. So Jesus does not announce the historical moment in time when the kingdom of God came to earth. Instead, he is alerting us to the possibility of encountering the kingdom of God at any given moment in historical time, if we repent and believe.

Invitation to repentance: Some Bible scholars believe that after his baptism, Jesus became a disciple of John, preaching his message of repentance and baptizing others (see Jn 3:22). Over the course of time, Jesus began to discover a new ministry for himself. According to Mark, Jesus embarked upon it after John was arrested (Mk 1:14).It is highly likely that Jesus and the four followers he summoned here were not strangers. Even if they had not personally met each other before this time, they were aware of each other’s aspirations and objectives.  Jesus used exactly the same words John the Baptist had used: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near.” The Greek word used “metanoeo” means to change one’s mind or direction. But Jesus must have used the Hebrew shûbh, or its Aramaic equivalent, which means to turn around 180 degrees, to reorient one’s whole attitude toward Yhwh in the face of his coming kingdom. It therefore includes within it the demand for faith. Thus, repentance means that we make a complete change of direction in our lives.  This involves a radical conversion (metanoia), a change of direction and priorities in our lives. The mark of genuine repentance is not a sense of guilt, but a sense of sorrow, of regret for having taken a wrong turn. For Jesus, repentance is not merely saying, “I’m sorry,” but also promising, “I will change my life.” Real repentance means that a man has come, not only to be sorry for the consequences of his sin, but to hate sin itself. We often think of repentance as feeling guilty, but it is really a change of mind or direction — seeing things from a different perspective. Once we begin to see things rightly, it might follow that we will feel bad about having seen them wrongly for so long. But repentance starts with the new vision rather than the guilt feelings. By true repentance we are giving up control of our lives and throwing our sinful lives on the mercy of God.  We are inviting God to do what we can’t do ourselves — namely to raise the dead — to change and recreate us.  “Repent” is used in the present tense — “Keep on repenting!”  “Continually be repentant!”  This means that repentance must be the ongoing life of the people in the Kingdom.

The Kingdom of God is the theme of Jesus’ preaching. This Kingdom is any society where God’s will is done as it is done in Heaven. Hence, a person who does the will of God perfectly is already in the Kingdom of God. Being in the Kingdom offers us a new healing and freeing access to God, already to be tasted in Jesus’ own ministry. Matthew, as a devout Jew, consistently uses the phrase “Kingdom of Heaven,” while Mark, writing for Gentile converts, uses the phrase “Kingdom of God,” without any scruples about using God’s name. We probably shouldn’t interpret the “Kingdom of God” as Heaven where God rules.   In telling us that the Kingdom has come near, Jesus is telling us that we can dwell in this Kingdom now, provided we repent or turn away from the idols that crowd our lives and do the will of God as it is done in Heaven, thus allowing God to reign in our lives.

Believe in the “Gospel” or “Good News.” It was preeminently “Good News” that Jesus came to bring to men. The Good News is that God is our loving and forgiving Father and not a punishing judge, and that He wants to save us through His son Jesus. So St. Paul calls it the Good News of truth (Gal 2:5; Col 1:5), Good News of hope (Col 1:23), , Good News of God’s promise of salvation (Eph 1:13, 3:6), Good News of peace with God and man (Eph 6:1), and Good News of immortality (2Tim 1:10). To believe in the Good News simply means to take Jesus at his word, to believe that God is the kind of God that Jesus has told us about, and to believe that God so loves the world that He will make any sacrifice to bring us back to Himself. To believe in the “Good News” involves a total commitment – the investing of one’s whole self in God without any guarantees or preconditions.

The call of the apostles: “The evangelists were not precise chroniclers of Jesus’ words and works. Rather each inspired writer, with his own personal talents and sources, has taken the oral tradition preserved within his community and has shaped a Gospel according to his own Christological and soteriological insights, and in keeping with the pastoral situation and concerns of his readers. For this reason, the same events, e.g., Jesus’ calling of his disciples, have been presented somewhat differently by each of the evangelists.” (http://www.ncrpub.org). Just like Matthew’s, Mark’s account of this call is very brief. Jesus calls two pairs of brothers – Andrew and Peter, James and John – inviting them to become his disciples. The men respond immediately, leaving their nets, their boats, and their father “in the boat along with the hired men, (1:20),” to follow Jesus. These fishermen immediately accept Jesus’ invitation to use their skills to “fish for people.” Abandoning their nets is a way of speaking of what must be left behind when one embraces radical discipleship. Usually rabbinical students sought out their teachers and attached themselves to them.  However, Jesus, as rabbi, takes the initiative and calls some probably less-than-ideal candidates to be his students. The disciples were simple fishermen with no great background.  In Cicero’s ranking of occupations (De Off 1.150-51), owners of cultivated land appear first and fishermen last.  What Jesus needs are ordinary folk who will give Him themselves.  What Christ needs is not our ability, but our availability.  What Jesus teaches His disciples is not a course of study, but a way of life to follow. Hence, Jesus offers these men the opportunity to observe him at close range on a daily basis.  Perhaps Peter, Andrew, James, and John fundamentally misunderstood the call and believed it to be the way out of their poverty and powerlessness. Here was a call to a new life in which they would have power and authority and would be respected by everyone as a result.

Call to make fishers of men:     There is a similar passage in Jeremiah 16:16 – “I am now sending for many fishermen, says the Lord, and they shall catch them”.  In the ancient world fishing was a metaphor for two distinct activities: judgment and teaching.  “Fishing for people” meant bringing them to justice by dragging them out of their hiding places and setting them before the judge. And “fishing” was also used of teaching people, of the process of leading them from ignorance to wisdom. Both cases involve a radical change of environment, a break with a former way of life and entrance upon a new way of life.  We are the fish, and what God promises us, who are dragged out of the water in the nets to die, is a Resurrection, a new life, a new family, a new future, all under God’s control, all within the Kingdom of Heaven, which has come near in Jesus. We have very little control over our own lives, but as fish caught in the net of God’s love, we can trust that we are under God’s control.  We have to believe that being captured by God’s love, that responding to the command to repent and die to self, that being raised to a new life by God, is not only right for us, but is a message we need to share with the entire world.  The disciples will be trained to do precisely what Jesus is doing right now: proclaiming the Kingdom, recruiting people for it, and drawing them into a community that experiences God’s reign.

Life messages: 1) Let us appreciate our call to be Christ’s disciples: Every one of us is called by God, both individually and collectively. The mission of preaching, teaching, and healing which Jesus began in Galilee is now the responsibility of the Church.  Our own unique vocation and our relationship with the risen Lord are the same as that of the universal Church.  Be we religious, priests, married or single people, we are all called, and in this call we become what God wants us to be.  The call, of course, begins with our Baptism and the other Sacraments of Initiation, is strengthened throughout the years with the Eucharist and Reconciliation, healed and consoled by Anointing, and (for those so called), made manifest in Matrimony, or Holy Orders.  God is relentless in calling us back to Himself, even when we stray away from Him. Perhaps, God is asking us to see His hand in unexpected changes, reminding us that we are a pilgrim people who cannot be settled down into comfortable routine! Even when the changes are, apparently, not for the better, how we deal with them is what matters.

2) Let us be thankful to God for His Divine grace of calling us to be members of the true Church. Let us make personal efforts to see in her the Light of Christ and to grow in holiness, learning the truths that are revealed through the Church and receiving her Sacraments.  Let us be shining lights in the world as Christ was and make a personal effort to bring others to the truth and the light, so that they may rejoice with us in the Mystical Body of Christ, the invisible Kingdom of God.

3) God is constantly calling each one of us to repent, to confess our sins, to do penance, and to amend our lives. I cannot receive communion if I have sinned mortally, without first confessing my sins and receiving absolution in the Sacrament of Penance (Confession) (CCC #1415). If I do receive communion while not in the state of grace, I have committed a sin of irreligion called a sacrilege which is a very serious offense against the 1st Commandment (CCC #2120). Is God calling me right now to respond to His call to repent by seeking out a priest and making a good confession?

JOKES OF THE WEEK: 1) Good News and Bad News: An old man visits his doctor and after thorough examination the doctor tells him: “I have good news and bad news; what would you like to hear first?” Patient: “Well, let me have the bad news first.” Doctor: “You have cancer. I estimate that you have about two years left.” Patient: “Oh no! That’s just awful! In two years my life will be over! What kind of good news could you probably tell me, after this?” Doctor: “You also have Alzheimer’s. In about three months you are going to forget everything I told you.”

2) Jonah and the whale: There was this Christian lady that had to do a lot of traveling for her business, so she did a lot of flying. But flying made her nervous so she always took her Bible along with her to read, and it helped relax her. One time she was sitting next to a man. When he saw her pull out her Bible he gave a little chuckle and went back to what he was doing.
After a while he turned to her and asked, “You don’t really believe all that stuff in there do you?”
The lady replied “Of course I do! It is the Bible.”
He said, “Well what about that guy that was swallowed by that whale?”
She replied “Oh, Jonah. Yes, I believe that; it is in the Bible. The Bible says Jonah was swallowed by a whale, and I believe it. And if it had said that Jonah had swallowed the whale, I would believe that too!”
He asked “Well, how do you suppose he survived all that time inside the whale?”
The lady said “Well I don’t really know. I guess when I get to Heaven I will ask him.” “What if he isn’t in Heaven?” the man asked sarcastically.
“Then you can ask him when you reach the Hell,” replied the lady.

3) The best prayer I ever heard was: “Lord, please make me the kind of person my dog thinks I am.”

4) A young boy wanted to go down to the lake to fish, and his mother asked him to take his little sister with him. He said, “Mom, don’t make me take her with me. The last time she came with me, I didn’t catch a single fish.” The mother said, “I’ll talk to her, and I promise this time she won’t make any noise.” The boy said, “Mom, it wasn’t the noise. She ate all my bait!”

WESITES OF THE WEEK

  1. Patron saints of the day: http://www.catholicforum.com/saints/patron02.htm ; https://www.franciscanmedia.org/
  2. Online marriage preparation: http://www.catholicmarriagepreponline.com/
  3. http://www.andiesisle.com/ThisBlessingIsForYou.html (Irish blessing video)

25- Additional anecdotes:

1) They abandoned their father: Columban, who died in AD 615., was the greatest of the Irish medieval monk-missionaries. A well-educated youth, he had a very passionate nature that caused him great concern. “Flight from the world is the only solution,” a holy anchoress ( a woman living enclosed in a cell abutting ad Church with a window into the Church for Mass and the Sacraments, and a window to the outside world to counsel those who came to her for advice), advised him: “flight even from your own native land.” Following her counsel, he entered the monastic life and studied the spiritual way at the feet of some of the most noted – and strictest – Irish monks. He lived in the monastery of Bangor until he was about forty-five. Then he sought permission of the abbot to head a group of monks as missionaries among the Germans. In Germanic Burgundy he founded the monastery of Annegaray, and then the more famous one of Luxeil. To the men who flocked to become monks under his tutelage, he gave a very strict rule, heavy with penalties for even slight infractions. If his followers observed so stringent a way of life at all, it was doubtless because they saw St. Columban himself observing it to the last letter. On account of political opposition, Abbot Columban moved away from Burgundy into Switzerland, and eventually into northern Italy. Here the Germanic King Agilulf gave him land for a new monastery, and the Abbot, now in his seventies, erected the Abbey of Bobbio, where he died not long afterward. When young Columban had first felt the call to become a monk, his mother had objected very strongly. To prevent his departure, she had even thrown herself across the doorway of their home. This did give the saint pause, but only for a moment. He stepped over her and went his way, never to return.

What did Zebedee the fisherman say when his sons, James and John, left him for good to follow Christ? The Scriptures do not tell us. He quite likely grumbled for a while about the fate of the family business. What did St. Columban’s mother do when he stepped over her and left? History does not tell us. Being a sensible Irishwoman, she quite likely got up, dusted off her clothes, and sought consolation in a cup of tea. Both she and Zebedee, God-fearing persons that they were, probably came to realize all the more clearly thereafter that children are a gift from God, and so He has first claim on their service. “They abandoned their father Zebedee.. . and went off in His company.” (Mk 1:20. Today’s Gospel). (Father Robert F. McNamara). Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

2) Four reasons why people do not catch fish: I have come to the conclusion that there are basically four reasons why people do not catch fish: (1) Some people are using the wrong bait. (2) Some people are fishing in the wrong lake, that is, they don’t know where the fish are. (3) Some people have got the right bait and they’re in the right lake, but they don’t know how to fish. (4) Then there are some people who have the right bait, and they’re in the right lake, and they know how to fish but they’re just not going fishing. The Lord Jesus came not only that we might put our Faith in Him, but that we might go fishing with Him. You see, our problem is not that we have the wrong lake. The water is full of fish. The problem is not that we have the wrong bait. We have the Gospel which can hook any fish. Our problem, I believe, is one of ignorance and apathy. There are many Christians who believe they do not know how to share the Lord Jesus, and then there are many who just don’t want to go. (Rev. Maxie Dunnam). Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

3) Then we can have the greatest renewal: Years ago, Richard Cardinal Cushing (b. August 24, 1895- d. Nov. 2, 1970. Archbishop of Boston 1944-10=970l created Cardinal, 1958), wrote: “If all the sleeping folks will wake up, and all the lukewarm folks will fire up, and all the disgruntled folks will sweeten up, and all the discouraged folks will cheer up, and all the depressed folks will look up, and all the estranged folks will make up, and all the gossiping folks will shut up, and all the dry bones will shake up, and all the true soldiers will stand up, and all the Church members will pray up, and if the Savior of all will be lifted up . . . then we can have the greatest renewal this world has ever known. Amen.” Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

4) “Follow me.” Billy Graham was in a certain town years ago, and he wanted to mail a letter, but he had no idea where the Post Office was. So he stopped a little boy walking the street and asked him if he could direct him to the nearest Post Office. Well, the little boy said, “Yes sir, go down to the red light, turn right, go two blocks to the second red light, turn left, go one block, turn back to the right and you will be right there.” Dr. Graham thanked him and said, “Son, if you will come to the Convention Center this evening, you can hear me telling everybody how to get to Heaven.” The boy said, “Well, I don’t think I’ll be there, Mister; you don’t even know your way to the Post Office.” Well I want to tell you that Jesus not only knows the way to Heaven, He is the Way to Heaven. He not only knows how to live, He is Life more abundant. The very first command He ever gave to any disciple was: “Follow Me.” For that is where discipleship begins and ends, in following Jesus. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

5) “Follow the Leader” Has any of you ever played “Follow the Leader?” Of course you have! I played the game when I was a child — my father played the game when he was a child — his father played the game when he was a child. Follow the Leader is a game that is played and enjoyed by children all over the world. The rules are very simple. You choose a leader and you follow him wherever he goes — and do whatever he does. In our daily lives, too, we play follow the leader. In school, in Church, in sports, in any activity we join, there are always leaders. Every day we are faced with making a choice of which leader we will follow. But we must be sure to choose a leader who will lead us in the right direction. Today’s Gospel tells us how Jesus selected his first disciples and instructed them to follow him as the leader. As Jesus was walking along the seashore he saw two fishermen, Peter and Andrew, and called out to them, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” The Gospel tells us that they laid down their nets and followed Jesus. Jesus went a little farther and he saw two more men, James and John sitting in their boat mending their nets. Jesus called out to them and the Bible tells us that they left their boat and their father and followed Jesus (Mt 5:19-20). Jesus is still calling people to follow him today. He has called you and me to follow him. Now it’s up to us to decide if we will follow the Leader. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

6) “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken.” Purdue Farms had the same problem when they tried to expand their chicken business. Their popular slogan tried to appeal to women by making men prepare a chicken dinner. Do you recall the slogan? It was, “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken.” Desiring to reach into the Spanish market they translated their slogan and announced to the entire Latino world, “It takes a virile man to make a chicken affectionate.” Now that’s a personal touch but not the kind I had in mind. How can we reach others for Christ? We can do it by speaking their language – understanding their jobs, taking an interest in their hobbies, speaking to them about their families. We can do it with a personal touch. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

7) “Come to the Chapel,” and “Jesus Sets the Prisoners Free!”  Some of you are familiar with the name Charles Colson. Chuck Colson was, at one time, a power player in Washington politics, a member of President Richard Nixon’s inner circle. He was one of Nixon’s most enthusiastic “hatchet men.” Those who knew him best described him as a man of few principles. But his involvement in the infamous Watergate scandal led to his disgrace.  It was while serving time in prison for his role in the scandal that Charles Colson came to an authentic relationship with Christ.  After his release, Colson founded Prison Fellowship, a ministry to inmates in prisons around the world. Many years ago, Colson started a Prison Fellowship group with just eight young inmates at a maximum-security prison in Delaware.  One young inmate was deeply affected by what he learned in the Prison Fellowship Bible study. When a judge reviewed his case and unexpectedly set him free, this young man asked to be allowed to remain in prison until he had finished the study. About a year after Colson’s first visit to the Delaware prison, he returned for an Easter morning service.  Dozens of prisoners stood outside the chapel and held up signs announcing, “Come to the Chapel,” and “Jesus Sets the Prisoners Free!”  Hundreds of inmates packed the chapel that morning to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. [Charles Colson.  Loving God (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing House, 1987), pp. 21-24.]  Christ reaches out to all kinds of people. They don’t have to be special people. But he turns them into special people. All they have to do is say, “Yes.” Here’s what we need to see: it can happen to us. Christ can turn us into someone special if we will let him. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

8) Integrity, intelligence, and energy: Warren Buffett, the nation’s most successful financial investor and the second-richest man in America, has some very valuable advice on hiring the best people for your business. He says, “Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.” [Omaha World Herald, Feb. 1, 1994. Cited in Thoughts of Chairman Buffett, (New York: HarperBusiness, 1998).] If you were looking to hire someone to work for you, where would you begin? Wouldn’t you begin with someone you could trust? Jesus saw something in these men that helped him to know that he could depend on them. This is not to say that the disciples were perfect. Certainly they were not. There is a silly story about Jesus having his Last Supper with his disciples. As they ate, he looked around at them. There, in one direction, he saw Judas Iscariot, who would betray him to the authorities before three hours had passed. On the other side was Peter, who would deny him three times before the cock crowed. And almost immediately opposite him was Thomas, who, on a crucial occasion, would express doubts. There seemed only one thing to do. Jesus called over the headwaiter, “Max,” he said, “separate checks.” Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

9) Do you remember “Top Gun”? Remember how planes took off and landed on aircraft carriers? These sleek, large, worth-more-than-their-weight-in-gold jets sit on even bigger, more expensive ships. In order for both pieces of equipment to function without disaster, a bond of complete trust and genuine teamwork must be established between those who fly and those who remain grounded. Those trained to pilot the most powerful and sophisticated aircraft in the world must rely upon and wait for a series of “go-ahead” hand signals from their always-grounded “air boss.” Each step must be carried out in proper sequence before the big jets can set off on their appointed missions. The first duty of the air boss is to signal the removal of the “chocks,” the small clamps that lock in place the aircraft’s wheels and keep them from rolling. When Jesus utters his first proclamation of the Good News, “the Kingdom of God has come near” (Mk 1:15), he follows it with the command to “repent.” Before anything else can happen, even before he urges listeners to “believe in the Good News,” Jesus preaches repentance. Jesus knows that our sins and shortcomings, prejudices and preconceived notions can effectively block us from making any headway in our search for God’s kingdom. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

10) Word-of-mouth evangelization in a world of commercials: One of the biggest industries in the United States today is the production of advertising. Billboards, signs on benches, magazines, newspapers, placards on the sides of buses, messages on the insides of match books, “junk” mail, computer phone calls, radio and, of course, television, all seek to commercial-ize us, to sell us something. Commercials make a host of promises. We’re told that if we just use what they sell, people will notice us; we’ll be healthier, happier, sexier; smell better; look better; feel better; get just about everything we want. I’d hate to add up the amount of time each day that is ruined by commercials. Kids, especially, are fascinated with them and affected by them (most of the time affected badly). About forty years ago there used to be an automobile named the Packard. Packard was the last car manufacturer to get into advertising, It didn’t happen until old man Packard died, because whenever he was approached to buy some advertising for his cars he always said, “Don’t need any; just ask the man who owns one.” Our Lord Jesus Christ is also known through word-of-mouth advertising. That’s how the word about him gets out. Only the Shepherds at the first Christmas heard the Good News from angels. Only the Wise Men were led by a Star. Just a comparative few were touched by miracles. But almost everybody came to know Jesus Christ, and is still coming to know him, through word-of-mouth advertising, one person telling another. There are other names we use: preaching, witnessing, sharing, testifying, evangelizing. Basically, however, it’s all word-of-mouth advertising, one person telling another. Our Gospel lesson reminds us that John the Baptizer was one of the first to get the word out about Jesus. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

11) “MVSU was the only school to come to my house and give me a personal visit.” Some of you will remember the 1989 MVP of Super Bowl 23: Jerry Rice. There is an interesting story about him. He was the longtime star for the San Francisco 49ers, considered one of the greatest receivers in the history of football; he played for the 49ers for 15 years, 1985 to 2000. He is a famous athlete, and you would think he came from some legendary college team but he didn’t. He played for Mississippi Valley State University, in Itta Bena, Mississippi, a virtual unknown. He was once asked, “Why did you attend a small, obscure university like Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, Mississippi?” Rice responded, “Out of all the big-time schools (such as UCLA) to recruit me, MVSU was the only school to come to my house and give me a personal visit.” The big-time schools recruited through cards, letters, and advertisements, but only one came to meet him and showed Rice personal attention. It makes a difference in this world to meet people eye to eye and invite them to be a part of something. As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, the Scriptures say, he saw Simon and his brother casting a net into the sea. He approached them and Personally invited them to be a part of His ministry and mission. They followed Him. He went a little further and he saw two more brothers: James and John. He went up to them extending the same Personal invitation, and they followed. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

12) “Unlike a religious fanatic, a football fanatic can be perfectly harmless.” A man in one Church recalled how during football season he and his son watched football on television the whole weekend. On Saturdays it was college football, on Sundays, professional football, and then to cap it off professional football on Monday evenings. This same father was uncomfortable with his son being away for a weekend religious retreat, fearing his son might turn into a religious fanatic! I asked him if he thought being a sports fan was okay for his son. Of course, he replied. But when I pointed out that “fan” is the shortened form of “fanatic,” he was taken aback. His long-neglected wife, a football widow of the first rank, wondered aloud why it was perfectly acceptable to be a football fanatic and not a religious fanatic. “Because,” replied her husband without thinking, “unlike a religious fanatic, a football fanatic can be perfectly harmless.” “Yes,” said the long-unnoticed football widow, “I can vouch for that!” Neither fanaticism nor academism by themselves will do for discipleship. The word “disciple” means “learning follower.” It is the root of the word “discipline.” And the discipline required of Jesus’ disciples is thinking and acting, learning and following. Jesus calls all of us to renewed discipleship, to follow him toward new goals and priorities, to be faithful fishers of men, like Peter, Andrew, James, and John– and look how they changed the world! Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

13) Just 6 were about the Bible, 4 about Jesus, and 3 about evangelism. In the “prosperity gospel” that has gripped so many of our Churches and most of our minds, “conversion” is less a turning toward Christ than a turning toward success or fame or fortune, especially a turning towards self. Just check out “best-seller Christianity,” which has become ladder-climbing wrapped up as spirituality. A survey of CBA’s best-selling books as we began the 21st century found that family and women’s topics accounted for nearly half of the titles, with the rest focused mainly on success and the self. Of the top 100 books, just 6 were about the Bible, 4 about Jesus, and 3 about evangelism. The rest of them were about how to climb higher and higher on the ladders of success. “The Christianity of the bestseller lists tends to be personal, private, and interior,” writes Gene Edward Veith in World magazine (July 2008), “with little attention to objective theology or to the Church.” We have even made conversion primarily about ourselves, a finding of ourselves and a fulfilling of ourselves, a journey of self-discovery rather than a journey of God-discovery. “Any version of the Gospel that substitutes the message of personal success for the cross is a manipulative counterfeit,” writes A. C. Thiselton in his commentary on The First Epistle to the Corinthians. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

14) There are people who are unhappy with their lives and situations. In 1957, as John Galbraith was about to describe us as “the affluent society,” our per-person income, expressed in today’s dollars, was less than $10,000. Today it is more than twice that – making us The More Than Doubly Affluent Society. Compared to 1957, we have more than twice as many cars per person; we have digital TVs, satellite dishes, cell phones and $15 billion a year worth of brand name athletic shoes. So are we happier than we were sixty-four years ago? We are not. In 1957, thirty-five percent of Americans told The National Opinion Research Center they were very happy. By 1991, our per-capita income had already doubled, and yet only thirty-one percent said they were very happy. And the trends continue. “Judged by soaring rates of depression, the quintupling of the violent crime rate, the doubling of the divorce rate, the slight decline in marital happiness among the marital survivors, and the tripling of the teen suicide rate, we are richer and unhappier.” [Adapted from James Merritt, Friends, Foes & Fools, Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holmes, 1997.] The first disciples of Jesus were probably dissatisfied with their lives. So when Christ showed them something better – when he offered to give them a dynamic new purpose for their lives – they did not hesitate. They dropped everything and followed him. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

15) Decide between a new car and getting engaged. There are some issues too important to put off. A decision has to be made. Once, an Ann Landers column told about a dilemma faced by another young man: “Dear Ann, I have got to decide between a new car and getting engaged. I really love this wonderful young lady. But every night when I go to sleep, I dream about the car.” When we hear an invitation from Christ, we often find two conflicting inner voices within our spirit. One is telling us, look before you leap; don’t get involved; you can always do it later on. Then there is a voice urging us to trust and be obedient to the call. We can’t have it both ways. We must respond to one voice or the other. We can’t waver between two opinions. The disciples were teachable; they were decisive. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

16) “And those who quit will be doctors, lawyers, and captains of industry.” Some of you football fans will remember when Bo Schembechler was the coach of the Michigan Wolverines. It’s said that Schembechler used to work his players especially hard during spring practice to see what kind of young men he had, winners or quitters.  He made a sign with a slogan on it and hung it above the locker room door. The sign read like this: “Those Who Stay Will Be Champions.” Of course, not everyone stayed. One morning Schembechler came to the office and looked at the sign. Underneath the words “Those Who Stay Will Be Champions,” someone had written, “And those who quit will be doctors, lawyers, and captains of industry.” Not everyone has what it takes to answer the call to be a champion, regardless of the field or profession. Well, you get the idea.  Not everyone is cut out to play football. Not everyone will be happy as a sailor. And not everyone was called to be among Jesus’ original twelve disciples. Jesus calls many, but only a few heed his summons.  In most Churches, only about twenty percent of the congregation is really involved in the life of the Church. Another twenty percent are relatively faithful in worship, but can’t truly be counted on for anything else. Another twenty percent are sporadic attenders. And then there are about forty percent who are of the hatched, matched, and dispatched variety. That is, they are here when they need to be baptized, married and finally buried – hatched, matched, and dispatched – but they couldn’t be much more nominal in their devotion. So the fact that these first disciples were willing to not only say “yes” to the Master, but also to leave their nets and follow him is no little matter. As they say, “showing up is half the battle.” Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

17) Radical conversion of Honest Jake: Former Massachusetts congressman Tip O’Neill tells the story of a metanoia or change – the story of a man named “Honest Jake.” Honest Jake became well-known in the Boston area because of his assistance to three generations of immigrant families. He owned a little variety store and would extend credit to the poor immigrants to help them get started in their new land. As Honest Jake neared his sixtieth birthday, a group of people he had helped decided to give him a party and a generous gift of money. Jake received the money gratefully and began to use it for his own makeover. He had his teeth capped. He bought a hairpiece. He invested in a diet and exercise program and lost a lot of weight. He purchased a whole new wardrobe. Then he boarded a plane and a few hours later the new Honest Jake hit the beach at Miami. He met a beautiful young woman, asked her for a date, and she accepted. But before they could go out on the date, a thunderstorm came up, and Honest Jake was struck by a lightning bolt and died instantly. In Heaven, he said to God, “After all those years of hard work in Your service, I was just trying to enjoy myself a little. Why? Why me?” And God said to him, “Oh, is that you, Jake? I’m sorry, I didn’t recognize you.” The Scripture for this Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is about change, about the radical change we make by repentance – not in the way of Honest Jake, perhaps, but making ourselves over into the image to which the love of God and the ministry of Jesus Christ call us. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

18) Whom and what are your ready to renounce? Hermit’s loin-cloth (‘Baavaani Iangoti’) is a popular Gujarati folktale of a devoted hermit (sadhu) who owned nothing but a pair of loin-cloths and lived a life totally committed to God. Once, a rat nibbled a hole in one of his loin-cloths and so he got a cat to protect it. However, he had to beg for extra food and milk to feed the cat. “I’ll keep a cow to get milk for the cat and myself,” thought he. So he got a cow, but had to find fodder for the cow. “Too troublesome!” mused he, and married a woman to look after the cow. With wife, cow and cat to feed, he got some land and hired laborers to work upon it. Soon, he became the richest man in town. When asked about why he renounced discipleship, he explained, “This is the only way I could preserve my loin-cloths!” To become fishers of Man, Jesus’ first disciples renounced everything. Whom and what are you ready to renounce? (Francis Gonsalves in Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

19)“I, and this nation, should be on the Lord’s side.” A friend of Abraham Lincoln one day tried to console the President in his many problems by saying: “I hope that the Lord is on our side.” Lincoln replied kindly but firmly that this was not his hope. Everyone was amazed! Then he went on to say: “I am not at all concerned about that, for we know that the Lord is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I, and this nation, should be on the Lord’s side.” If we are on the Lord’s side and for His Kingdom, we will use the countless gifts He has given to each of us to advance his Kingdom. (Vima Dasan in His Word Lives; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

20) Who and what am I working for? There was once a holy rabbi who lived in a town where the houses of the rich stood in an isolated area so that they had to hire men to watch over their property at night. Late one evening as the rabbi was coming home, he met a watchman walking up and down. ‘For whom are you working?’ the rabbi asked. The man told him and then inquired in his turn, ’And for whom are you working, rabbi?’ The words struck the rabbi like a shaft. ‘I am not working for anyone just now,’ he barely managed to say. Then he walked up and down beside the man for a long time. ‘Will you be my servant?’ he finally asked. ‘I should like to,’ the man replied, ‘but what would be my duties?’ ‘To ask me that question every now and then,’ said the rabbi. It’s a question each of us might ask ourselves every now and then: Who or what am I working for? (Flor McCarthy in Sundays and Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

21) On whose side? A Russian youth who had become a conscientious objector to war, through reading of Tolstoy and the New Testament, was brought before a magistrate. With the strength of conviction he told the judge that he believed in a life which loves its enemies, which does good to those who despitefully use it, which overcomes evil and which refuses war. “Yes,” said the judge, “I understand. But you must be realistic. These laws you are talking about are the laws of the Kingdom of God, and it has not come yet.” The young man straightened and said, “Sir, I recognize it has not come for you, nor yet for Russia or the world. But the Kingdom of God has come for me! I can’t go on hating and killing as though it had not come.” In a way, the Russian youth summed up what we believe about the Kingdom of God. –How soon will the plan of God for his Kingdom be realised? It depends much on how earnest we are to be on God’s side and cooperate with his plan. (Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

22)Turning Evil to Good: A lady once showed Ruskin a costly handkerchief on which had fallen a large blot of ink. “What a shame!” she moaned. “It is absolutely good for nothing now. It is totally spoiled. Ruskin said nothing but asked to borrow the handkerchief for a day. The next day he handed it to her without a word, and the lady delightedly saw that, using the blot as a starting point, the great artist had designed an intriguing pattern on that corner of the handkerchief. Now it was actually worth more than it had ever been before the blot had disfigured it. God can draw forth good from evil! (Bruno Hagspiel, from Tonic from the Heart in 1000 Bottles; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

23) History Changed by One Man: In September of 1862, the Civil War tilted decisively in favour of the South. The morale of the Northern army dipped to its lowest point of the war. Large numbers of Union troops were in full retreat in Virginia. Northern leaders feared the worst. They saw no way to reverse the situation and turn the beaten, exhausted troops into a useful army again. There was only one general who might be able to work this miracle. That was General McClellan. He had trained men for combat, and they loved and admired him. But the War Department didn’t see this, nor did the Cabinet see it. Only President Lincoln saw it. Fortunately, Lincoln ignored the protests of advisors and put McClellan back in command. He told him to go to Virginia and give those soldiers something no other man on earth could give them: enthusiasm, strength, and hope. McClellan accepted the command. He mounted his great black horse and cantered down the dusty roads of Virginia. What happened next is hard to explain. Northern leaders couldn’t explain it. Even McClellan couldn’t quite explain it. McClellan met the retreating Union columns. He waved his cap in the air and shouted words of encouragement. When the tired men saw their beloved leader, they began to take heart. They began to get the unexplainable feeling that now things could be different. Now things could be right again.  Here’s how Bruce Catton, the great Civil War historian, describes the excitement that grew and grew when word spread that McClellan was now back in command. “Down mile after mile of Virginia roads the stumbling columns came alive, and threw caps and knapsacks into the air, and yelled until they could yell no more…. because they saw this dapper little rider outlined against the purple starlight. And this, in a way, was the turning point of the war…. No one could quite explain it.” And whatever it was, it gave Lincoln and the North what was needed. And history was forever changed because of it. — That is what Jesus did by choosing his apostles. (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

24) An epitaph to God’s grace: In the small cemetery of a parish churchyard in Olney, England, stands a granite tombstone with this inscription: “John Newton, clerk [pastor], once an infidel & Libertine, a servant of slavers in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the Faith he had long labored to destroy.” You may not remember his name, but all of us know the song he wrote as a testimony of his life: Amazing Grace.” Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

25) A Priest is always wrong

If he waits for people, they say he has never been punctual.

If he starts the Mass on time, they say his watch is wrong.

If he owns a car, people say he is luxurious.

If he does not have one, they say he is always late.

If he asks for donation, people say he is a money-grubber.

If he does not ask, they say he is proud and lazy.

If he is seen with women, people say he is a playboy.

If he goes with men, they say he is a sissy.

If he preaches too long, they say they get bored.

If his homily is too short, they say he is unprepared.

If he visits houses, people say he is always out.

If he stays in the rectory, they say he has no time for them.

If he is young, they say he has no experience.

If he is old, they say he should have retired.

But when a priest dies nobody takes his place. Perhaps, we should put this into our minds — that being God’s priest does not abolish his humanity. When he is ordained as a priest, he does not become an angel. Pride, ambition, personal interest, greed for power and materials, and even sensuality are very much present in a priest, and they can blind him just as they can other people. But the Lord called and selected imperfect men — just like St. Peter who was so sensitive and denied Him three times, and yet he became the head of His universal church. These church leaders on their part have the obligation by virtue of their Divine calling, to strive constantly to overcome their human weaknesses and, so, to become better priests and servant-leaders. Concretely, they should continue to pray, and to strive to live as good shepherds, servants and stewards of people whom God has entrusted to them, and always to seek help from Him Who can and will make them what they cannot make themselves. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).L/21.

“Scriptural Homilies” (B) no. 12 by Fr. Tony (akadavil@gmail.com)

Visit my website by clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle B homilies, 141 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at akadavil@gmail.com. Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies  under CBCI or  Fr. Tony for my website version. (Special thanks to Vatican Radio website- http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html -which completed uploading my Cycle A, B and C homilies in May 2020) Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604