Introduction: During the U. S. Independence Day celebrations yesterday, Americans probably heard all or part of Emma Lazarus’ poem inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…. Send these, the homeless tempest-tossed to me.” (https://youtu.be/rsRemx7ANg4) Today’s readings, especially the Gospel, give the same message in a more powerful way: “Take my yoke . . . and you will find rest.” ( A homily starter anecdote may be added)
Scripture lessons summarized: In the first reading, the prophet Zechariah consoles the Jews living in Palestine under Greek rule, promising them a “meek” Messianic King of peace riding on a donkey, who will give them rest and liberty. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 145) praises and thanks a kind and compassionate God Who “raises up those who are bowed down” under heavy yokes. In the second reading, Paul tells the first-century Christian community in Rome about two yokes, namely, the “flesh” and the “Spirit,” and he challenges them to reject the heavy and fatal yoke of the flesh and accept the light yoke of the Spirit of Jesus. Christian spirituality, according to Paul, proceeds from the initiative of the Holy Spirit and means living in the realm of the “Spirit” as opposed to the “flesh.” In the Gospel, Jesus offers rest to those “who labor and are burdened” if they will accept his “easy yoke and light burden.” By declaring that his “yoke is light,” Jesus means that whatever God sends us is made to fit our needs and our abilities exactly. The second part of Jesus’ claim is: “My burden is light.” Jesus does not mean that the burden is easy to carry, but that it is laid on us in love, that it is meant to be carried in love, and that love makes even the heaviest burden light.
Life messages: 1) We need to unload our burdens on the Lord. This “unloading” is the main purpose of our personal and family prayers and is one of the functions of Divine Worship in the Church. During our daily prayers in the evening, we ask God’s forgiveness for the sins and failures of day and receive the consoling assurance that we are reconciled with God and our fellow human beings. During the Holy Mass in our parish Church, we place our stress-filled lives on the altar and allow Jesus to cool down the overheated radiators of our hectic lives. We also unload the burdens of our sins and worries on the altar and offer them and ourselves to God during the Holy Mass.
2) We need to be freed from unnecessary burdens: Jesus lays the light burden of his commandment of love on us and yokes us with himself, giving us his strength through the Holy Spirit to fulfill that commandment. Jesus is also interested in lifting off our backs the burdens that suck the life out of us, so that he can place around our necks his own yoke that brings to us and to others through us, new life, new energy, and new joy. We are called, not only to find peace, refreshment and rest for ourselves, but also to live the kind of life through which others, too, may find God’s peace, God’s refreshing grace, and the joy of placing their lives in God’s hands.
OT XIV (A) (July 5): Zec 9:9-10; Rom 8:9, 11-13; Mt 11:25-30
Homily starter anecdotes (Biblical reason why preachers may use a homily-starter anecdote in their homilies? Mt 13: 34: All this Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable). # 1: “Lord, I’ve done the best I can.” During the days of the Second Vatican Council, Pope St. John XXIII used to submit all his anxieties to God with this prayer every night: “Lord, Jesus, I’m going to bed. It’s your Church. Take care of it!” American President Dwight David Eisenhower knew about that inner rest derived from submitting one’s daily life to God. He had that rest even while he was the leader of armed forces in World War II. His every decision during that awful conflict had monumental consequences. How did he deal with the pressure? Ike shared with his former pastor, Dean Miller that he didn’t try to carry his burden alone. Some nights when the strain became too great, Eisenhower would simply pray, “Lord, with your grace I’ve done the best I can. You take over until morning.” And he understood very well Jesus’ advice in today’s Gospel: “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11 28). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
# 2: Disturbing statistics on stress: A few years ago, Comprehensive Care Corporation of Tampa, Florida published a booklet about stress in our modern world. The facts are disturbing. (1) One out of four (that’s 25% of Americans) suffers from mild to moderate depression, anxiety, loneliness and other painful symptoms which are attributed mainly to stress. (2) Four out of five adult family members see a need for less stress in their daily lives. (3) Approximately half of all diseases can be linked to stress-related origins, including ulcers, colitis, bronchial asthma, high blood pressure and some forms of cancer. (4) Unmanaged stress is a leading factor in homicides, suicides, child-abuse, spouse-abuse, and other aggravated assaults. (5) The problem of stress is taking a tremendous toll economically, also. Americans are now spending $64.9 billion a year trying to deal with the issue of stress. That is why Jesus shared the “Good News” with us a long time ago when He said: “Come to me all of you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
# 3: “Why me?” When we are tested with trials and overburdened with pain and suffering, we ask God, “Why me?” And we fail to count the innumerable blessings that we have received. Arthur Robert Ashe Jr. was an American professional tennis player. He is considered the best African- American male tennis player of all time. He won three Grand Slam titles. Ashe was the first black player selected to the Unites States David Cup team and the only black man ever to win the singles title at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, and the Australian Open. Arthur Ashe was dying of AIDS which he got due to infected blood received during a heart surgery in 1983. From the world over, he received letters from his fans. One of them conveyed: “Why does God have to select you for such a bad disease?”. To this Arthur Ashe replied: “The world over—50 million children start learning tennis. 5 million of them learn to play tennis, 500,000 learn professional tennis, 50,000 come to the circuit, 5000 reach the grand slam, 50 reach the Wimbledon, 4 to semi-finals, 2 to finals. When I was the one holding the cup, I never asked God ‘Why me?’ And today in pain, I should not be asking GOD, ‘Why me?’”http://boardofwisdom.com/togo/Quotes/ShowQuote?msgid=181446#.WVkgNMFK3cs Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
Introduction: During the U. S. Independence Day celebrations on July fourth, most Americans probably heard all or part of the Emma Lazarus poem inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…. Send these, the homeless tempest-tossed to me.” Today’s readings, especially the Gospel, give the same message in a more powerful way: “Take my yoke . . . and you will find rest” (Matthew 11:29). In the first reading, the prophet Zechariah consoles the Jews living in Palestine under Greek rule, promising them a “meek” Messianic King of peace riding on a donkey, who will give them rest and liberty. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 145) praises and thanks a kind and compassionate God Who “raises up those who are bowed down” (Psalm 145:14), under heavy burdens. In the second reading, Paul tells the first-century Christian community in Rome about two yokes, namely, the “flesh” and the “Spirit.” He challenges them to reject the heavy and fatal yoke of the flesh and to accept the light yoke of the Holy Spirit. Christian spirituality, according to Paul, proceeds from the initiative of the Holy Spirit and means living in the realm of the “Spirit” as opposed to the “flesh.” In the Gospel, Jesus offers rest to those “who labor and are burdened” (Matthew 11:29), if they will accept His “easy yoke and light burden” (Matthew 11:30). By declaring that his “yoke is easy,” Jesus means that whatever God sends us is made to fit our needs and our abilities exactly. The second part of Jesus’ claim is: “My burden is light.” Jesus does not mean that the burden is easy to carry but that it is laid on us in love, that it is meant to be carried in love, and that love makes even the heaviest burden light.
The first reading (Zec 9:9-10) explained: Alexander the Great conquered Judah in 333 BC. At the time of the prophet Zechariah, Judah had been a subject state for a very long time. The prophet began by announcing that the Lord would conquer Judah’s foes and liberate Judah. Then, he described Judah’s new king who would rule them in peace and prosperity. (Zechariah 9:1-8). Although this is interpreted as a Messianic prophecy and is applied to Jesus, the promised Messiah, in the days of Zechariah, the promise simply referred to an “anointed person,” or king, because anointing was the kernel of the royal enthronement ceremony in Judah. In those days, the king used a donkey for ceremonial rides in times of peace and a horse during wartime, indicating that the purpose of the King in Israel was not imperialism but justice and fidelity to a higher, invisible King — God. The donkey represented simplicity, stability and peaceful days of rest. Thus, the prophet was promising that the people enslaved by the Greeks and the Babylonians would have their long-awaited rest, peace and prosperity. In today’s Gospel, Jesus, the true Messiah, invites all the overburdened ones to his side for lasting peace and perfect rest.
The second reading (Romans (8:9, 11-13) explained: Here Paul speaks of two yokes, namely, the “flesh” and the “Spirit.” Before coming to Jesus, we are in the flesh (sin), debtors to the flesh; we live according to the flesh, and so we die. If we belong to Christ, the Spirit of God dwells in us, and He will set us free from the flesh and will restore our mortal bodies to life. Though we cannot rescue ourselves from “this body of death” (Romans 7:24-25), we have been rescued by Christ. Even so, we remain under the yoke of the flesh to the extent that we try to save ourselves and “earn” salvation by our own unaided efforts in keeping all the rules and regulations in the finest detail. Such a view shows pride. Rather we’re called to be yoked to the Spirit, to let the Spirit dwell in us, sanctifying us not by our works but by the undeserved grace of God, the only Power capable of bringing Life from death. We have God alone to thank for this undeserved grace, and we thank Him by willingly observing His commandments and serving others with love.
Gospel exegesis: A blow to intellectual pride: In the first part of the Gospel, Jesus is condemning intellectual pride. He knows that ordinary people with large, sensitive hearts can accept the “Good News” he preaches, while proud intellectuals cannot. Even the learned rabbis of Jesus’ time recognized that the simplest people were often nearer to God than the most learned. They composed stories to show that ordinary people often practiced great love and compassion, for instance, the story of the man who lent his tools to someone in need, or the woman who helped her neighbors. Jesus says that such people will inherit Heaven, rather than the learned and the “wise” who pride themselves on their intellectual achievements but do not love.
Jesus’ unique claim to be God’s perfect reflection: “No one really knows the Father except the Son, and him to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him” (Matthew 11:27). The claim that Jesus alone can reveal God to men forms the center of the Christian Faith. Jesus makes the same claim in different words, as we see in the Last Supper discourse. Jesus says, “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9). What Jesus says is this: “If you want to see what God is like, if you want to see the mind of God, the heart of God, the nature of God, if you want to see God’s whole attitude to men — look at Me!”
Invitation to accept Jesus’ easy yoke: Near the final section of today’s Gospel, Jesus promises a worldwide dominion of peace, not as the world gives peace but as the Spirit gives it. Here, Jesus addresses people who are desperately trying to find God, who are exhausted by the search for truth, who are desperately trying to be good, and who find the task impossible. God gave His People basic guidelines for a holy life, but the Pharisees ended up making God’s Law inaccessible and impossible to follow. For the orthodox Jew, religion was (and still is), a matter of burdens: 613 Mosaic laws and thousands of oral interpretations, which dictated every aspect of life. Jesus invites burdened Israel and us to take his yoke upon our shoulders. In Palestine, ox-yokes were made of wood and were made to fit the ox comfortably. For a contemporary analogy, consider the advantages of new, high-tech, custom-made athletic equipment. The yoke of Christ can be seen as the sum of our Christian responsibilities and duties. To take the yoke of Christ is to enter into a relationship with Christ as his loving servants and subjects and to conduct ourselves accordingly. The yoke of Christ is not just a yoke from Christ but also a yoke with him. A yoke is fashioned for a pair — for a team working together. So we are not yoked alone to pull the plow by our own unaided power; we are yoked together with Christ to work with Him using His strength. By saying that his “yoke is easy” (11:30), Jesus means that whatever God sends us is made to fit our needs and our abilities exactly.
Accept the light burden of Jesus’ teaching: The second part of Jesus’ claim is: “My burden is light” (11:30). Jesus does not mean that the burden is easy to carry, but that it is laid on us in love. This burden is meant to be carried in love, and love makes even the heaviest burden light. When we remember the love of God, when we know that our burden is to love, both directly and by loving men, the God Who loves us, then the burden becomes easy. Jesus is returning to the simplicity of God’s original Covenant and Law, giving people what they need to guide them on their path easily. By following Jesus, a man will find peace, rest, and refreshment. Although we are not overburdened by the Jewish laws, we are burdened by many other things: business, concerns about jobs, marriage, money, health, children, security, old age and a thousand other things. Jesus’ concern for our burdens is as real as his concern for the law-burdened Jews of his day. “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest” (11:28). Jesus still gives us rest! Is Jesus calling on those who are carrying heavy loads to come and add a yoke to their burden? Doesn’t that sound like adding affliction to the afflicted? No! Jesus is asking us to cast away our burdens and take on his yoke. This is because, unlike the burdens we bear, his yoke is easy and his burden light. The yoke of Jesus is the love of God. By telling us: “Take my yoke . . . and you will find rest” (11:29), Christ is asking us to do things the Christian way. When we center in God, when we follow God’s commandments, we have no heavy burdens. Our burden becomes light and easy when we remember that our burden is to love God, both directly, and by loving others, seeing God living in them.
Life messages: 1) We need to unload our burdens before the Lord. One of the effects of Worship for many of us is that it gives us a time for rest and refreshment, when we let the overheated radiators of our hectic lives cool down before the Lord. This is especially true when we unload the burdens of our sins and worries on the altar and offer them to God during the Holy Mass. But whether we are in Church, alone in our quiet spot where we come before God each day, in our homes, or in the homes of our friends and neighbors, we find that prayer and Christian fellowship bring us the rest and refreshment that we all need so much. There is nothing quite like coming to the Lord and setting aside our burdens for a while – nothing quite like having our batteries recharged, our radiators cooled down, and our spirits lifted. Jesus promises us rest from the burdens that we carry — rest from the burdens of sins, legalism, and judgment, from the weight of anxiety and worry, from the yoke of unrewarding labor, and from the endless labor for that which cannot satisfy. The absolution and forgiveness, which, as repentant sinners, we receive in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, take away our spiritual burden and enable us to share the joy of the Holy Spirit.
2) We need to be freed from unnecessary burdens: Life’s greatest burden is not having too much to do, nor having too much demanding our attention and care. Some of the happiest folk are the busiest and those who care the most. Rather, the greatest burden we have is our constant engagement with the trivial and the unimportant, with the temporary and the passing, and with the ultimately uncontrollable and unpredictable. The issue in life is not whether we shall be burdened, but with what we shall be burdened. The question is not “Shall we be yoked?” but “To what and with whom shall we be yoked?” Jesus has no interest in unburdening us from our exaggerated self-esteem and from other modern infatuations (which are themselves debilitating burdens), in order to leave us with nothing to carry, no work to do. Instead, Jesus is interested in lifting off our backs the burdens that drain us and suck the life out of us, so that he can place around our necks his own yoke, his burden, that brings to us and to others through us, new life, new energy, new joy. God’s incomparable, compassionate forgiveness is a gift that releases us into life with God as responsible human beings who want to grow deeper in love and joyful obedience. We are called not only to find peace, refreshment and rest for ourselves, but also to live the kind of life through which others, too, may find God’s peace, God’s refreshing grace, and the joy of placing their lives in God’s hands.
JOKE OF THE WEEK
1) Rest and peace: Doctor: Your husband needs rest and peace. Here are some sleeping pills. Wife: When must I give them to him? Doctor: They are for you…
2) The pills for mental rest, which make you restless: George came home from the psychiatrist looking very worried. “What’s the problem?” his wife asked. “The doctor told me I could have no worry and perfect peace of mind if I take a pill every day for the rest of my life,” he explained. “So what? Lots of people have to take a pill every day their whole lives,” she replied. “I know,” said George, “but the doctor gave me only four pills!”
3) In search of rest: A man had been driving all night and by morning was still far from his destination. He decided to stop at the next city he came to and park somewhere quiet so he could get an hour or two of sleep. As luck would have it, the quiet place he chose happened to be on one of the city’s major jogging routes. No sooner had he settled back to snooze when there came a knocking on his window. He looked out and saw a jogger running in place. “Excuse me, sir,” the jogger said, “do you have the time?” The man looked at the car clock and answered, “8:15”. The jogger said thanks and left. The man settled back again, and was just dozing off when there was another knock on the window and another jogger. “Excuse me, sir, do you have the time?” “8:25!” The jogger said thanks and left. Now the man could see other joggers passing by and he knew it was only a matter of time before another one disturbed him. To avoid the problem, he got out a pen and paper and put a sign in his window saying, “I do not know the time!” Once again, he settled back to sleep. He was just dozing off when there was another knock on the window. “Sir, sir? It’s 8:45!”
WEBSITES OF THE WEEK
The Church News: http://www.eclesiales.org/english/index.html
Catholic Resources: http://www.catholic.org/
Bible pronunciation Guide: http://netministries.org/Bbasics/bwords.htm
Word on Fire sermons by Bishop Barron: https://www.wordonfire.org/resources/browse/scripture/
(Story of Elvis Presley’s heroine Dolores Hart becoming Mother Hart)
Video resources: 1)Video Sunday-Scripture study by Fr. Geoffrey Plant: https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant2066
2) Fearless Imam refutes the terrorists: https://youtu.be/vUe4SbpN5-E
3) Cast your burden on to Jesus: https://youtu.be/5c7xqV_pbjg
28 Additional anecdotes:
1) “The tired part of me is inside and out of reach”: In 1863, the Civil War was raging, and the end was far from sight. Abraham Lincoln was out for a ride with his friend and aide Noah Brooks. Brooks, noticing the president’s obvious fatigue, suggested that he take a brief rest when they got back to the White House. “A rest,” Lincoln replied, “I don’t know about a rest. I suppose it’s good for the body, but the tired part of me is inside and out of reach.” Lincoln was acknowledging a very important truth. There are many sources of fatigue. Physical fatigue may be the most benign. There is fatigue that comes from stress, fatigue that comes from worry, fatigue that comes not only from worrying about the future but also worrying about the past, and fatigue that comes from trying to be something we are not. What we really need is not time off nor time away. Rather, what we need is time that is filled with meaning and purpose – time that is saturated with the grace of God. What we need, according to this wonderful Gospel paradox, is a different burden, Christ’s, and a new yoke, His. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
2) Overpowering or Empowering Presence: “Most great personalities have a dominating and overpowering influence on people they come in contact with. Some prefer to keep their distance from the common folk who admire them. In his biography of George Washington, Richard Brookhiser says: “George Washington is with us every day, on our dollar bills and on our quarters. He looks down on us from Mount Rushmore. In the national capital that bears his name he has the most prominent memorial. More schools, streets and cities bear his name than that of any other American, and historians rank him among the greatest Presidents America has had. However, the omnipresence of Washington does not translate into familiarity. He is in our textbooks and in our wallets, but not in our hearts. The fault is partly Washington’s, since he tended to distance himself from the people.” -But Jesus let the people, especially the simple ones, come to him! (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
3) “If I keep my bow always stretched, it will break.” Once, St. Anthony the hermit was relaxing with his disciples outside his hut when a hunter came by. The hunter was surprised and mildly shocked to see the saint taking it easy. This was not his idea of what a monk should be doing, and he rebuked the saint. But Anthony said, “Bend your bow and shoot an arrow.” The hunter did so. “Bend it again and shoot another,” said Anthony. The hunter did so– again and again. At last the hunter said, “Father Anthony, if I keep my bow always stretched, it will break.” “So, it is with a monk,” replied Anthony. “If we push ourselves beyond measure, we will break; it is right from time to time to relax our efforts.” Jesus gives us the same message in today’s Gospel. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
4) “I’m afraid they’re all wondering where I went.” An elderly woman at the nursing home received a visit from one of her fellow Church members. “How are you feeling?” the visitor asked. “Oh,” said the lady, “I’m just worried sick!” “What are you worried about, dear?” her friend asked. “You look like you’re in good health. They are taking care of you, aren’t they?” “Yes, they are taking very good care of me.” “Are you in any pain?” she asked. “No, I have never had a pain in my life.” “Well, what are you worried about?” her friend asked again. The lady leaned back in her rocking chair and slowly explained her major worry. “Every close friend I ever had has already died and gone on to Heaven,” she said. “I’m afraid they’re all wondering where I went.” (email@example.com ) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
5) Worriers or warriors? Author Stephanie Stokes Oliver in her book, Daily Cornbread, asks whether we are worriers or warriors. Chronic worriers let their anxiety and fear interfere with living their life to the fullest. They manifest their worry in physical symptoms like headaches and knotted muscles. Worriers seem unable to take control of their situation and make a positive change for themselves. Warriors, on the other hand, find healthy ways to deal with their fears. They don’t automatically shut down and go into crisis mode. They trust that God will sustain them. Warriors take positive action to change a negative situation. (Stephanie Stokes Oliver, New York: Doubleday, 1999). Astronaut Jim Lovell is a warrior. In a news conference, he was asked about Apollo 13. He was in command of that spacecraft when it experienced an explosion on its way to the moon. With their oxygen almost gone, their electrical system out, their spaceship plunging toward lunar orbit, it appeared Lovell and his crew would be marooned hundreds of thousands of miles from Earth. Lovell was asked, “Were you worried?” Such as obvious question drew snickers. But then Lovell gave a surprising answer. “No, not really.” he said. “You see, worry is a useless emotion. I was too busy fixing the problem to worry about it. As long as I had one card left to play, I played it.” [Second Thoughts–One Hundred Upbeat Messages for Beat-up Americans by Mort Crim (Health Communication, Inc., Deerfield Beach, Florida, 1997), p. 154]. Jim Lovell is a warrior. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
6) “My yokes fit well.” In Jesus’ time, oxen were linked together by means of a wooden yoke across their necks. The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible teaches this about yokes: “The carpenter probably made both yokes and plows. Joseph and Jesus undoubtedly had experience in making yokes.” William Barclay makes the following statement in his commentary on Matthew: “There is a legend that Jesus made the best ox-yokes in all Galilee, and that from all over the country men came to him to buy the best yokes that skill could make. In those days as now, shops had their signs above the door; and it has been suggested that the sign above the door of the carpenter’s shop in Nazareth may well have been: “My yokes fit well.” It may well be that Jesus is here using a picture from the carpenter’s shop in Nazareth where he had worked throughout the silent years.” Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
7) WORK, PLAY, LOVE and WORSHIP: The Mayo Clinic announced a sure cure for getting rid of that tired feeling. Tests revealed that people are chronically tired because they live unbalanced lives. And so they took Dr. Richard Clark Cabot’s famous formula for life – WORK, PLAY, LOVE and WORSHIP. These are the ultimates of life that must be held in proper balance – work, play, love and worship. The Mayo Clinic made them a symbol, four arms of equal length. They said that whenever one or more of those arms becomes a stub, then the result in unhappiness, and unhappiness is usually the forerunner of fatigue. Thus, a businessman’s arm may be long on work but short on play and worship. A debutante’s arm may be long on play and short on work. A spinster may be long on work and worship and short on play and love. The old saying that “all work and no play make Jack a dull boy” is psychologically sound. And so, “all work and no worship” leads to chronic fatigue. It’s a simple, psychological and physical fact. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
8) Twenty-four hours’ work: Grandpa clocked in long hours on the railroad or in the mines, but when he came home there were no faxes waiting for him to answer, no cellular phones or e-mail to interrupt his after-dinner smoke. Home was home, not a pit-stop for data-gathering before heading back to the office. Today, there is no downtime, no escape from other people. We have cell phones in the car and beepers in our pockets. We carry them to the Church, to the beach, and to the bathroom. Says Dr. Mark Moskowitz of the Boston Medical Center: ”A lot of people are working twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, even when they’re not technically at work. It’s a guaranteed formula for breakdown.” Today’s Gospel message is for them. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
9) Shirt of a happy man: A story is told of a king who was suffering from a malady and was advised by his astrologer that he would be cured if the shirt of a contented man were brought to him to wear. People went out to all parts of the kingdom after such a person, and after a long search they found a man who was really happy…but he did not possess a shirt. (Pastor’s Professional Research Service, “Happiness”). That is why Oscar Wilde wrote, “In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.” He was trying to warn us no matter how hard we work at being successful, success will not satisfy us. By the time we get there, having sacrificed so much on the altar of being successful, we will realize that success was not what we wanted. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
10) Pacifier for stress: A young mother was describing a terrible day she had experienced. The washing machine broke down, the telephone kept ringing, her head ached, and the mail carrier brought a bill she had no money to pay. Almost to the breaking point, she lifted her one-year-old into his highchair, leaned her head against the tray, and began to cry. Without a word, her son took his pacifier out of his mouth and stuck it in hers. It goes with the pressures of modern life. Some of us are stressed out, and we are tired. Today’s Gospel prescribes a way out for stress. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
11) “And now, with God’s help, I shall become myself.” Soren Kierkegaard (pronounced Kerkegor) was a Danish philosopher who suffered bouts of extreme melancholy, undoubtedly due to a difficult upbringing. One day he wrote in his Journal, “And now, with God’s help, I shall become myself.” What a liberating thought: “And now, with God’s help, I shall become myself.” Not what others exp ect me to be. Not some unrealistic image I have of myself. No, with God’s help I shall become who I really am. No more stressful pretenses. No more misguided strivings. I will relax and be me. When we feel accepted by Christ, then for the first time in our life we become free. When we are yoked to Jesus, we no longer have to prove to the world that we belong. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
12) “A Work-Weary World?” Michael Boyer wrote an article for National Geographic entitled, “A Work-Weary World?” that may give us a little comfort. He notes that Americans are famous for their work ethic. However, according to a study by the International Labor Organization we are no longer the world leaders in hours worked per year. South Korea’s booming economy necessitates a six-day work-week. In the past few years, South Koreans have averaged 2,390 hours of work per year, as compared to the 1,792 hours of work per year in the U.S. Workers in Japan, Poland, Australia, and New Zealand also worked more hours than U.S. workers. Swedish workers clocked the fewest work hours in an average year, only about 1,337. (2) Now before you pack your bags for Sweden, remember those cold, dark winters. Also, you don’t speak the language. Some of you, I know, are weary from work. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
13) “I have lots more remedies!” Have you heard about the farmer who went to a government bureaucrat specializing in animal health? The farmer sought help from the “expert” because ten of his chickens had suddenly died. The government expert instructed the farmer to give aspirin to all the surviving chickens. Two days later, however, the farmer returned. Twenty more chickens had died. What should he do now? The expert said quickly: “Give all the rest castor oil.” Two days later, the farmer returned a third time and reported 30 more dead chickens. The government expert now strongly recommended penicillin. Two days later a sad farmer showed up. All the rest of his chickens had now died. They were all gone. “What a shame,” said the expert, “I have lots more remedies!” The world offers many so-called remedies to the problem of stress: – Get away – Run away – Fly away – Take a pill to ease your nerves – Take a drink to drown your sorrows – Take a shot to kill the pain – Get drunk, take drugs, sleep a lot. But the truth is most of them don’t work. Jesus prescribes just one remedy for stress: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
14)” Veni, vidi, dormivi!”: National Public Radio had a story about a club that has been formed at a high school in Greenwich, Connecticut. The club is called the Power Nap Club! A student group goes to a room at the end of the school day where they turn off the lights, put their heads on their desks, plug in a tape of quiet classical music, and take what they call a “power nap” for about a half hour. “Their club tee‑shirts are decorated with a cardinal (the school mascot), wearing a little nightcap on his head. Inscribed on the tee‑shirt is a new version of an old Latin motto, “Veni, vidi, dormivi: I came, I saw, I slept!” The club was formed not because these are lazy high school students, but exactly the reverse. These kids are going to school all day, participating in sports, volunteering in the community, going to Church or mosque or synagogue, and holding down part‑time jobs. They’re exhausted. And they’ve learned that just a little nap makes all the difference in the world” (Carlton Young). In today’s Gospel, Jesus says to us and to them, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
15) The Jewish parable on the burden of Mosaic Law: “There was a poor widow who had two daughters and who owned a field. When she began to plough, Moses said to her through his Law, ‘You must not plough with an ox and an ass together.’ When she began to sow, the Law said, ‘You must not sow your field with mingled seed.’ When she began to reap and to make stacks of corn, it said, ‘When you reap your harvest in your field, and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it’ (Deut.24:19), and ‘You shall not reap your field to its very border’ (Lev.19:9). When she began to thresh, the law said, ‘Give me the heave-offering, and the first and second tithe.’ She accepted the ordinance and gave them all to God.
“What did the poor woman then do? She sold her field, and bought two sheep, to clothe herself from their fleece, and to have profit from their young. When they bore their young, Aaron the priest (who represented the Law) said, ‘Give me the first-born.’ So she accepted the decision, and gave them to him. When the shearing time came, Aaron said again, ‘Give me the first of the fleece of the sheep’ (Deut.18:4). Then she thought: ‘I cannot stand up against this man. I will slaughter the sheep and eat them.’ Then Aaron said, ‘Give me the shoulder and the two cheeks and the stomach’(Deut.18:3). The woman said, ‘Even when I have killed them, I am not safe. Behold they shall be devoted.’ Aaron said, ‘In that case they belong entirely to me’ (Num.18:14). He took them and went away and left her weeping with her two daughters.” — The story is a parable of the continuous demands that the Law made upon men in every activity of life. These demands were indeed a burden. Jesus invites us to take his yoke upon our shoulders. (Taken from William Barclay). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
16) “Do you have any idea who I am?” The Los Angeles Times published the story of a commercial airline flight cancellation which resulted in a long line of travelers trying to get bookings on another flight. One man in the line grew increasingly impatient with the slow-moving line. At last, he pushed his way to the front and angrily demanded a first-class ticket on the next available flight. “I’m sorry,” said the ticket agent, “First I’ll have to take care of the people who were ahead of you in the line.” The irate man then pounded his fist on the ticket counter, saying, “Do you have any idea who I am?” Whereupon, the ticket agent picked up the public address microphone and said, “Attention, please! There is a gentleman at the ticket counter who does not know who he is. If there is anyone in the airport who can identify him, please come to the counter.” Hearing this, the man retreated, and the people waiting in line burst into applause. — We are like this man. We have forgotten how to wait patiently. In today’s Gospel, Jesus invites us to learn his meekness and humility. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
17) The buzzard, the bat and the bumblebee: If you put a buzzard in a pen that is 6 feet by 8 feet and is entirely open at the top, the bird, in spite of its ability to fly, will be an absolute prisoner. The reason is that a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of 10 to 12 feet. Without space to run, as is its habit, it will not even attempt to fly, but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top. The ordinary bat that flies around at night, a remarkably nimble creature in the air, cannot take off from a level place. If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly and, no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air. Then, at once, it takes off like a flash. A bumblebee, if dropped into an open tumbler, will be there until it dies, unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom… It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself. — In many ways, we are like the buzzard, the bat, and the bumblebee. We struggle about with all our problems and frustrations, never realizing that all we have to do is look up! That’s the answer, the escape route and the solution to any problem! Just look up. Sorrow looks back, Worry looks around, But Faith looks up! Listen to Jesus’ invitation in today’s Gospel: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
18) They sent two limousines to the airport to receive the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize winner: Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a Roman Catholic nun of Albanian stock who had cared for the poor and sick in India for more than 30 years, was named the winner of the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Committee said that it had decided to honor her as much for her organizing and managerial skills as for her compassion and dedication to the poor. Mother Teresa founded her order, the Society of the Missionaries of Charity, in Calcutta’s slums in 1948 when she opened her first school with special permission from Rome to live outside a convent. Her work among the poor of Calcutta, where her society’s workers collect the dying and destitute from the streets, has spread to 50 Indian cities and more than 25 countries, from Papua, New Guinea to the United States, with a branch also in the South Bronx. But the “powers-that-be” didn’t know how to deal with her! They sent two limousines to the airport to meet her, one for her, and one for her luggage! She arrived smiling, with her personal belongings in a shopping bag, and the welcoming committee was completely at a loss what to do. They would have no problem at all with heads of state, and other dignitaries but, with this little frail woman who had some sort of extraordinary aura about her, this made them feel powerless, and they were in awe in the presence of a power and a strength with which they were totally unfamiliar. That is what Jesus speaks of today in the Gospel. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
19) My Mother taught me Humility and Real Responsibility: Indra Nooyi from Chennai, India is the fifth CEO in PepsiCo’s 44-year history. She recounted the day 14 years ago when she was told that she would be made president of PepsiCo and be named to the board of directors. She said she was “overwhelmed” but her mother’s reaction was, she said, “Let the news wait. Can you go out and get some milk?” Ms Nooyi recalled her mother telling her when she reacted to this “disregard” of her good news, “Let me explain something to you. You might be president of PepsiCo. You might be on the board of directors. But when you enter this house, you’re the wife, you’re the daughter, you’re the daughter-in-law, you’re the mother. You’re all of that. Nobody else can take that place. So leave that damned crown in the garage. And don’t bring it into the house.” “You know, I’ve never seen that crown,” the corporate honcho said. [Fr. Kayala (http://www.tkayala.com/2014/07/14-sunday-come-to-me-all-who-are.html#more)] Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
20) The Sweetest Sound: There is a story that Hebrew families tell their children to help them understand the third commandment. The third commandment reads, “Six days you shall labor but on the seventh you shall rest.” The story is called, “The Sweetest Sound.” The main character in the story is King Ruben. It goes something like this. The king asked his royal subjects, “What is the sweetest melody of all?” Early the next morning they gathered all sorts of musicians. The sound awoke the king and all morning he listened to their tunes. But, after listening to all of them he could not tell which was the sweetest sound. Finally, one subject suggested they all play together. It was so noisy the king couldn’t think. About that moment a woman, dressed in her Sunday best, pushed to the front of the crowd and stepped forward. “O, king,” she said, “I have the answer to your question.” The king was surprised since she had no instrument. “Why didn’t you come earlier?” he asked. She replied, “I had to wait until the setting of the sun.” The musicians were still playing, and the king told them all to stop. The woman then took two candles and placed them on the king’s balcony rail. She lit them just as the sun continued to set. The flames glowed in the evening darkness. She then lifted her voice and said, “Blessed art thou, O Lord, Our God, King of the universe, who sanctified us with the Commandments and commanded us to kindle the Sabbath lights.” She then said, “He who has an ear, let him hear.” Everyone was completely still. “What is that?” asked the king. He could not hear a sound. The woman then replied, “What you hear is the sound of rest, the sweetest melody of all.” — Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” This is also the sweetest sound any of us can hear. [Keith Wagner, True Freedom; quoted by Fr. Kayala (http://www.tkayala.com)] Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
21) Adding to our burdens or lightening them: Once upon a time an abbot and a young monk lived together in a hut. Eventually the abbot was impressed by the spiritual progress of the young monk. He let him live on his own in a riverbank hut. Each night the young monk used to put out his religious habit to dry. It was his only possession. One morning he was dismayed to find that his only habit had been torn by rats. He begged for a second habit from the villagers. When the rats destroyed that one, he got a cat. But now he had to beg not only for food for himself but milk for the cat. To get around that, he bought a cow. Then he had to buy a land for the cow to graze. Then he hired workers to cultivate the excess land. Checking on the workers was heavy work. So, he married a wife to do the job. Soon he was the wealthiest person in the village. He built himself a beautiful mansion where his hut stood. After several years the abbot visited him and asked the young monk. “Why are you living in such a mansion? What is the meaning of all this?” The young monk answered, “There was no other way to protect my religious habit from the rats!” (John Pichappilly in The Table of the Word; quoted by Fr. Kayala). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
22) The Gospel of service: One of the “saints” of the Zen religion is a priest named Tetsugen, who was the first to translate the holy books of his Faith into Japanese. Many years ago, the priest sought to print several thousand copies of the books in order to make the texts of Japan’s religion available to everyone. He traveled the length and breadth of Japan to raise the money for the printing. Rich and poor alike donated to the project. The priest expressed equal gratitude to each donor, whether their gift amounted to hundreds of pieces of gold or a few pennies. After ten long years, Tetsugen had enough money for the printing. But just as the making of the holy books was about to begin, the river Uji overflowed its banks, leaving thousands of people without food and shelter. The priest halted the project immediately and used all of the money he worked so hard to raise to help the hungry and homeless. Then Tetsugen began the work of raising the funds all over again. It took another ten years of travel and begging before he collected the money, he needed to publish the holy book. But an epidemic spread across the country. Again, the priest gave away all he had collected to care the sick, the suffering and dying. A third time Tetsugen set out on his travels and, twenty years later, his dream of having the holy books printed in Japanese was finally realized. The printing blocks that produced the first edition are on display at the Obaku Monastery in Kyoto. The Japanese tell their children that Tetsugen actually published three editions of the holy book; the first two are invisible, but far superior to the third. — Jesus invites us to embrace the joyful sense of fulfillment that can only be realized by “learning” from his example of humility and gratitude, to take on his “yoke” of humble, joyful service to one another as we journey together to the dwelling place of God. Like Tetsugen, we proclaim the Gospel most effectively and meaningfully not in words but in the generosity and compassion we extend to others. In our work for justice, in our dedication to reconciliation, in our welcome to all who approach our tables, we make the word of God of a living reality in our own time and place.(Connections). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
23) Worries of the rich: In his book Affluenza, the psychologist Oliver James points out that ‘almost a quarter of Britain suffers serious emotional distress, such as depression and anxiety, and another quarter are on the verge thereof. Put bluntly, half of us are in a bad way… those earning over £50,000… were recently shown to be more prone to depression and anxiety than those earning less.’ Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
24) Jesus the yoke maker: There is a wonderful legend concerning the quiet years of Jesus, the years prior to his visible ministry. The legend claims that Jesus the carpenter was one of the master yoke-makers in the Nazareth area. People came from miles around for a yoke, hand-carved and crafted by Jesus son of Joseph. When customers arrived with their team of oxen Jesus would spend considerable time measuring the team, their height, the width, the space between them, and the size of their shoulders. Within a week, the team would be brought back and he would carefully place the newly made yoke over the shoulders, watching for rough places, smoothing out the edges and fitting them perfectly to this particular team of oxen. That’s the yoke Jesus invites us to take. Do not be misled by the word “easy,” for its root word in Greek speaks directly of the tailor-made yokes: they were “well-fitting.” The yoke Jesus invites us to take, the yoke that brings rest to weary souls, is one that is made exactly to our lives and hearts. The yoke he invites us to wear fits us well, does not rub us nor cause us to develop sore spirits and is designed for two. His yokes were always designed for two. And our yoke-partner is none other than Christ himself…(Sermons.com) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
25) Gossiping secretary: There is a story told of a woman who had a terrible problem with gossip. She worked as a parish secretary, knew a lot about the comings and goings of parishioners, and related these facts almost compulsively to whoever would listen. She heard the Gospel all the time; she knew it was wrong; but she couldn’t stop. One day she admitted her problem to a priest. The priest simply asked her what she feared would happen if she stopped gossiping. After reflecting for a moment, she finally replied, “I’m afraid that I’ll be boring, that people will lose interest in me.” Deep down, she was afraid that she was not lovable in her own right. The priest then suggested that she bring this fear to Christ in prayer. When this woman did so, she sensed Christ telling her, “Fear not.” She felt Christ loving her, supporting her and giving her strength. She kept the practice up; she kept going to Christ with the root of her temptation; she kept receiving his assurance. Things didn’t change overnight, of course. But little by little she was transformed. Because she became convinced that she was loved quite apart from her gossip, she gradually let go of the habit and she experienced peace and consolation. Often, when we struggle with a burden of sin and are not at peace, it’s because there’s a deeper cause, some fear or insecurity that we have not yet brought to Christ for healing. Christ invites us today saying, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Fr. Lakra) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
26) POPE FRANCIS’ WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT
Weep not for what you have lost, fight for what you have.
Weep not for what is dead, fight for what was born in you.
Weep not for the one who abandoned you, fight for who is with you.
Weep not for those who hate you, fight for those who want you.
Weep not for your past, fight for your present struggle.
Weep not for your suffering, fight for your happiness.
With things that are happening to us, we begin to learn that nothing is impossible to solve, just move forward. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
27) Growing in humility St. Benedict of Nursia, the founder of Western monasticism, laid down in his famous Rule, twelve steps for a monk to grow in the virtue of humility. Here are a few of them, summarized and adapted for laypersons today. (Of course, to apply these also requires the virtue of prudence.) Consciously obey all of God’s commandments and whatever you see to be his will. Obediently submit to those persons in authority over you. Endure difficulties without complaining inwardly or outwardly. Confess your sins and faults in the sacrament of Penance. Admit to yourself you are full of faults and not all that special. Restrain yourself from speaking and say only what is necessary. http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=34023 (L/20) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle A (No. 36) by Fr. Tony: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit my website by clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle A homilies, 141 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at email@example.com. Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies under CBCI or Fr. Tony for my website version. Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604