July 13, 2020

O. T. XVI (July 19)

OT XVI [A] Sunday (July 19) (Eight-minutes homily in one page)

Introduction: Today’s readings tell us about a very patient and compassionate God Who is hopeful that the so-called “weeds” among us will be converted. They warn us that we should not be in a hurry to eliminate such elements from the Church or society or the family based on unwarranted and hasty judgment. (An anecdote may be added)

Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading from the Book of Wisdom shows us a merciful and patient God, rather than the disciplining and punishing God presented in the book of Genesis. The second reading from Romans reminds us that the Spirit of God constantly empowers us in our prayers and in our weakness. So, we should be patient with ourselves and with others. Finally, in the Gospel parable of the wheat and the weeds, Jesus presents a wise and patient God who allows the good and the evil to coexist in the world and blesses the evil ones for the little good they may have done, so that they may come to conversion before their time ends. “Let the wheat and the weeds [darnel] grow together till the harvest time.” In other words, God awaits repentant sinners, giving them the strength and good will to get reconciled with Him. God calmly recognizes that there is evil in the world, but He sees that evil is no excuse for the good people not to do good with the power of God at their disposal. Through the parable of the wheat and the weeds in today’s Gospel, Jesus calls us to be patient with those who fail to meet the high ethical standard expected of a Christian.

Life messages: 1) We need to practice patience and show mercy. Let us patiently and lovingly treat the “weeds” in our society as our brothers and sisters and do all in our power to put them back on the right road to Heaven, especially by our good example, encouragement and our fervent prayer for their conversion. Let us remember that most of us have been “weeds” in God’s field more than once, and God has showed us mercy. God is so merciful that He allows evil to exist in order that what is good may grow. He allows evil to exist also because He can turn it into good. Through the power of the Spirit, God can change even the ugliest thorn into a blossom of Faith. In God’s field, we have two responsibilities: to grow in grace or God’s favor and to share His Word and love with others. 2) We need to grow up as healthy wheat in God’s field, leaving the “weeds” for God to take care of. The Good News is that growth and maturity are probably the most effective forms of weed control. Our transparent and exemplary Christian lives will be a compelling challenge and a forceful invitation to evildoers to repent of their sinful lives and turn to a loving and forgiving God. Our acts of charity, kindness, mercy, encouragement, loving correction and selfless service can prompt the “weeds” in our society to reassess their lives, modify them and become useful members of society.

OT XVI [A] (July 19) Wis 12:13, 16-19; Rom 8:26-27; Mt 13:24-43

Homily starter anecdotes (Biblical reason why should preachers use anecdotes 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: untitled Leo Xii Pius VIII “Throw them out! Throw them out!” The year was 1770, and in a small Italian church, two altar boys prepared for Benediction. Annibale Della Genga and Francesco Castiglioni entered the sacristy, put on their albs, and grabbed the heavy brass candlesticks. And then they began to bicker.
Arguing over who would stand on the priest’s right for the procession, their quibble escalated into a shouting match. Alarmed parishioners turned their heads to the back of the Church to see the commotion, and that’s when it happened: Castiglioni cracked Della Genga over the head with his candlestick.
Blood dripped from Della Genga’s injury, and both boys began shoving each other. Shocked parishioners screamed, “Throw them out! Throw them out!” So, the embarrassed priest grabbed the boys, led them to the door, and tossed them out of the church. Now fast-forward several decades to 1825. Half a million-people gathered in Rome for the great Jubilee celebration. The Jubilee occurred every 25 years, and its grand climax was the opening of the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica. Traditionally, the Pope would knock on the door three times with a large silver hammer and sing, “Open unto me the gates of justice!” On the third knock, the door would swing open, and the Pope would lead his people through. The symbolism was rich: pilgrims from all over the world coming back home to the Church, following their leader through the great porta fidei, the “door of Faith.” That Jubilee year, in front of thousands of pilgrims, Cardinal Della Genga made his way to the door. It was fifty-five years after the candlestick incident. Cardinal Della Genga who had become Pope Leo XII neared the door. Turning to the Cardinal beside him—Cardinal Castiglioni, the Pope said, “Let me have the hammer.” With a sly grin, Castiglioni replied, “Just like I gave you the candlestick?” Amazingly, four years later Castiglioni succeeded his friend and became Pope, taking the name Pius VIII. Now if you told any of those pew sitters back in 1770 that they had two future-Popes in the back of their church, they’d have laughed you out of the building: “Those two boys? The ones shoving and whacking each other with candlesticks? Today’s Gospel gives us the good news that God can change even “weeds” to wheat and that we should be patient. (Rev Greg Willits quoted by Fr. Kayala in his blog). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

2) Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a gothic novella by the Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson first published in 1886. The work is also known as The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or simply Jekyll & Hyde. As a story, it talks about the concept of good and evil that exists in all of us. In the novel, Stevenson creates a hero in Dr. Jekyll, who aware of the evil in his own being, and sick of the duplicity in his life, succeeds by way of his experiments on himself using a self-made potion, in freeing the pure evil part of his being as Mr. Hyde, so that each can indulge in a life unfettered by the demands of the other. After taking the potion repeatedly, he no longer relies upon it to unleash his inner demon, i.e., his alter ego. Eventually, Hyde grows so strong that Jekyll becomes reliant on the potion to remain conscious. Finally, Dr. Jekyll kills himself in order to save his fellow people from the evil of his alter ego Edward Hyde. (http://www.covenanteyes.com/2014/07/25/killing-mr-hyde-bible/) — Today’s Gospel teaches us that we are all a mixture of good and evil and hence how we should be patient and merciful with the evil ones in our families, parishes and society. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

Related image 3) “The vine that ate the South.” Kudzu (Pueraria lobata of the Pea family) was introduced to the United States in 1876 at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Countries were invited to build exhibits to celebrate the 100th birthday of the U.S. The Japanese government constructed a beautiful garden filled with plants from their country. The large leaves and sweet-smelling blooms of kudzu captured the imagination of American gardeners who used the plant for ornamental purposes. As an exotic import, it became popular as a shade plant on canopies, and was seen as a God-given solution to the soil-erosion problem, following the Great Depression. Between 1935 and 1942, government nurseries produced 84 million kudzu seedlings, planting them wherever they would grow. By 1943, there was a Kudzu Club of America with 20,000 members and an annual “Kudzu Queen.” So, what’s the problem? I’ll tell you what! Kudzu is a vine with phenomenal growth. Twelve inches in 24 hours is not unusual. And 50 feet in a single growing season is well within the norm. People in the South have a saying: “If you’re gonna plant kudzu, drop it and run.” Which explains why some have called it “the vine that ate the South.” It can cover anything and choke everything. It can twine itself around fruit trees until it kills the entire orchard — which is why the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) eventually demoted kudzu to “weed status” … with the definition of a weed being “any plant that does more harm than good.” The weeds in Matthew’s little parable are “darnel.” Botanists call them Lolium termulentum. They are members of the wheat family, which look like wheat and hide out in wheat-fields, producing poisonous seeds. Darnel is the villain in today’s Gospel story of the wheat and the weeds. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

Introduction: Today’s readings tell us about a very patient and compassionate God Who is hopeful that the so-called “weeds” among us will be converted, and that we should not be in a hurry to eliminate such elements from the Church or society or the family on the basis of unwarranted and hasty judgment. The first reading gives us a picture of a merciful and patient God rather than the strict, angry and judging God presented in the book of Genesis. The Refrain for today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 85) has us singing, “Lord, you are Good and forgiving!” The second reading reminds us that the Spirit of God goes on empowering us in our weakness, and, hence, we should be patient with ourselves. Finally, the long form of today’s Gospel contains the parable of the wheat and the weeds, an agricultural parable with allegoric interpretation. Through this parable, Jesus assures us that we are the field of God. We are the ground He works as well as the plants He nurtures. We are the people He rests His hopes upon and the people in whom He plants good seed. We are the congregation He anoints with the Holy Spirit. In today’s parable, Jesus presents a wise and patient God Who allows the good and the evil to coexist in the world, so that the evil ones may come to conversion before their time ends and God must punish them. “Let the wheat and the weeds [darnel] grow together till the harvest time.” God gives all of us sinners ample time to repent and, with His grace, change our lives. God calmly recognizes that there is evil in the world, but He sees that evil as no excuse for the good people not to do good with the power of God at their disposal. Through the parable of the wheat and the weeds in today’s Gospel, Jesus calls us to be patient with those who fail to meet the high ethical standard expected of a Christian. The parable tries to teach the need for tolerance, patience, and the acceptance of God’s judgment to the Judeo-Christian community as well as to His Church and to us, His members.. The parablealso encourages us when we discover sin and weakness within ourselves and challenges us to open ourselves to God’s love more and more.

The first reading: Wisdom 12:13, 16-19 explained: Today’s first reading is part of the second half of Wisdom (11:2–19:22) reminding us of God’s tolerance and merciful patience. God is forbearing because He loves all that He has made (11:17-12:8) and because He is the sovereign master of His great power (12:9-22). The Book of Wisdom, written a century before Christ in Alexandria by a pious Jew, shows us a merciful and patient God rather than the strict, angry and judgmental God presented in the book of Genesis. Today’s passage tells us that God exercises leniency and clemency: “But though You are master of might, You judge with clemency, and with much lenience You govern us.” The emphasis on God’s forbearance underlies this reading.  The God shown in this reading is so powerful and wise that He need not be vengeful and quick to punish. This God can afford to let His enemies live, for they can never prevail, and, given time, might repent.

The second reading: Romans 8:26-27 explained: Like the previous selections from Romans, Chapter 8 tells us how helpless we are on our own but shows us how the Spirit of God nevertheless empowers us. The Spirit prays within us and enables us to pray in accordance with the Father’s will. Paul tells us that when things are not going well, when we do not even know how to pray, when our weakness in whatever form is overcoming us, the Spirit moves in and takes over. St. Paul understands well the power and centrality of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian. The real message of this reading is that we should be patient with ourselves, because even at our worst moments the Holy Spirit is there guiding us, acting in us, bringing us along, though we may not recognize His action.

Gospel exegesis (of the short form of the gospel): Today’s Gospel contains three parables, namely the parable of the mustard seed, parable of the yeast and the parable of the wheat and weed. The parables of the mustard seed and yeast tells us how God’s kingdom or His rule grows in human heart and human lives from a very small beginning, by the power of the Holy Spirit. The parable of the wheat and weeds tells us how and why evil coexists with good in the world and how we should treat the evil ones.

The troublesome weeds: The “weeds” among the wheat in the parable are a variety of tares known as “bearded darnel.”  They resemble wheat plants so closely that it is impossible to distinguish the one from the other until the ears of seed appear. By that time, the wheat and darnel roots are so intertwined that the tares cannot be weeded out without plucking the wheat out with them.  At the end of the harvest the tares must be removed from the wheat by hand, because they are slightly poisonous. Sowing them in the wheat field was a crude way for an enemy to take revenge on a farmer. The weeds in the parable stand for unrepentant sinners, people whose priority is themselves, who use others for their own advancement or pleasure, instead of serving them. These unrepentant sinners, unless they cooperate with God’s grace, repent and change their lives, will end up in Hell, “the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” The wheat stands for the righteous, those who have resisted the seductions of evil, repented of their sins, and battled against selfishness in order to follow Jesus Christ.

We should not be discouraged because of the “weeds” in the Church: Why does God permit evil to triumph so often in this world?  Why the wicked are allowed to prosper?  Jesus answers these questions in the parable.  The triumph and prosperity of the wicked are short-lived, whereas the reward of the Christian who suffers from their wickedness is everlasting.  God uses the very wickedness and injustices of evildoers to perfect His elect.  “From research and personal experience,” says Dr. Howard Hendricks, “I’ve come to the conclusion that in every Church, 16 percent of the members will never change.  But the tragedy I see is that the young pastors are leaving the ministry every day or getting disappointed because of that 16 percent “weeds.”  What they should be doing is concentrating on the 84 percent who are ripe for change.  That’s where the real ministry of the local Church takes place.”  Bishop Sheen is presumed to have made this comment in one of his radio speeches: “The history of the world would have been different if the Christian authorities had shown compassion, patience and mercy instead of expelling Hitler and Mussolini from the schools and Stalin from the seminary in disgrace as ‘weeds.’” (Young Mussolini was expelled from his first boarding school at age 10 for stabbing a fellow student. Adolf Hitler was expelled from  the monastery school at Lambach, when  he was caught smoking on the monastery grounds. Joseph Stalin was  expelled in 1899 the Tiflis Theological Seminary for revolutionary activities like secretly read Karl Marx, the chief theoretician of international Communism, and other forbidden texts. But they became tyrant dictators partly because of the physical and mental abuse caused in their school days by their strong-willed fathers. Unfortunately, the church did not always show her master’s tolerance. Galileo could testify to that. The spirit of the Inquisition lives on. Excommunications and anathemas may be out of fashion, but old habits die hard. Even in Christian countries the  handicapped are institutionalized, the delinquents are penalized, the deviant are ostracized and the poor are patronized.

We need to pray for the conversion of “weeds” to wheat: We are called to recognize evil, name it and then to give it to God in prayer so He can take care of it, the way the farmer in the parable told his servants that he would take care of the weeds. God wants us to do good instead of evil, to bless instead of cursing, to praise instead of criticizing, to help instead of standing aside, to love instead of hating, to forgive instead of resenting and to tell the truth instead of lies. The disciples to whom Jesus addresses this parable include Judas who will betray Jesus, Peter, who will deny him, Thomas, who will doubt him and James and John, who cherish personal ambitions. In the end, only Judas is (apparently) lost, showing us that many “weeds” can become high yielding wheat.

Why we should not treat others as “weeds:” The parable hints at why we should not treat others as “weeds,” i.e. evil or wicked. 1) Each one of us is a combination of wheat and weeds.  In each of us there are elements of the Kingdom of God and elements that are deeply opposed to it.  Even Paul recognized that struggle within himself (cf. Romans 7:21-25).  God told Paul that it was precisely through his weaknesses that He could reveal His glory.  “My power is made perfect in [your] weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).  Relying on the power of God, we, too, must learn to be patient with the evil ones. 2) The time for judgment is not yet come because the Kingdom of God is still in the growing stage. Now is the time to expect conversion, because with the help of God’s grace sinners can change. 3) Another reason we should avoid judgment is that we cannot draw a line which would neatly separate the good from the bad because everyone is a mixture of good and evil. Here is Karl Rahner’s piece of advice to enthusiastic “weed”-gatherers: “The number-one cause of atheism is Christians themselves. What an unbelieving world finds simply unbelievable is the presence of those who proclaim God with their mouths and deny Him with their lifestyles. Perhaps, the best defense of God would be to just keep our mouths shut and to live as He told us to. The Gospel would then have such a power and attraction that we wouldn’t have to worry about defending it.”

Chance of conversion and the need for Christ’s mind: This parable indicates that there will be a separation of “weeds” from wheat, good from bad fish (13:47-50), and sheep from goats (25:31-46). But this “harvest” will take place on God’s timetable not ours. Hence, instead of asking why God allows evil to exist (terrorists, criminals, diseases, hurricanes, etc.), let us ask what God expects from us. God wants us to take a good look into the field of our own lives to see what is growing there. Let us work with Him to pull out the “weeds” in our own personalities.  Then we need to start treating the so called “evil ones” as Christ did. Why did he not weed out Judas who betrayed him, or Peter, who denied him? Jesus saw the “weeds” in their lives, but he saw also saw the wheat. He knew that with encouragement the wheat could prevail. And often it did. “Even the most honest man has stolen something in his life, but this doesn’t mean that all people are thieves.” (Dostoyevsky)

Life messages: 1) We need to practice patience. First, we need to be patient with ourselves. We may not get everything done perfectly this week, but so what?  Then we must be patient with the others – those who annoy us by the way they drive their cars, those whose opinions differ from ours, those who make too much noise and disturb us and those who make our spiritual progress more difficult for us by their bad example and counter-witnessing. Let’s practice patience, remembering that, in the end, it is God who controls. Let us patiently and lovingly treat the “weeds” in our society as our brothers and sisters and do all in our power to put them back on the right road to Heaven, especially by our good example and our fervent prayer for their conversion.

2) We need allow God to judge us and others as “weeds” or wheat: This parable was told so that we might not go around judging others as “weeds” or wheat. Judgment is the function of God the Father and His angels. Instead, the parable asks us to take a close look at our own life with the understanding that, with God’s grace, one can judge one’s own heart, then repent and bear good fruit. It is a time to look at our own sins and at the way we conduct our own life, then to make a decision about our own repentance so that, with God’s grace, we can turn around and bear fruit for Jesus. Our Gospel lesson asks us whether we are secure in our Faith life. Are we secure in the knowledge that one day we will be judged as wheat or “weed”? How often have we been a “weed” in the garden of the Lord? Would we, knowing what we know now, like to have been plucked up at those times?  God is so merciful that He allows evil to exist in order that what is good may grow. He allows evil to exist because He can turn it into good. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God can change even the ugliest thorn into a blossom of Faith. In God’s field we have two responsibilities: to grow in grace as we do His will, and to share His Word and love with others.

3) We need to grow up as healthy wheat in God’s field, leaving the “weeds” for Jesus to take care of. We live in a violent and impassioned culture.  Christians often appear too self-righteous, suggesting that those who disagree with them are the “weeds” in the garden of life. Some are judged as being too radical and others as not being radical enough. Some are judged for embracing doctrinal errors, others for appearing not to have any doctrine at all. Some are condemned for not caring for the poor, others for caring too much for the poor.  We often forget that appearances can be deceptive.  The old saying, “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s a duck,” may be true in the secular realm, but not in the Kingdom of God.  If one talks like a Christian, sings like a Christian, etc. it doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is a Christian. While we do our best to exercise right judgment as to what is or isn’t correct (John 13:35; I John 2:5, 3:10), the final determination will be made by God. Evil will coexist with good until the second coming of Jesus. The Good News is that growth and maturity are probably the most effective forms of “weed control.” In the end, it’s enough to know that we are “seeds” who have been planted by the “Son of Man,” and that we’re part of a healthy harvest that will someday be reaped by the angels of God.

WEBSITES OF THE WEEK

  1. Pastoral resources: http://www.bible.claret.org/Resources/index.html
  2. The Crisis Magazine: http://www.crisismagazine.com/feature1.htm
  3. Online Latin Dictionary: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/lexindex?lookup=laudabilis&lang=la
  4. Online Catholic Bible: http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/index.shtml
  5. Orthodox liturgical music: http://www.liturgica.com/
  6. Orthodox Christianity: http://www.oca.org/OCIndex.asp?SID=2
  7. Wheat& weed parable video sermon: https://youtu.be/SXqKxfq3H2k & https://youtu.be/kKz3C4jGL0c
  8. Video Sunday-Scripture study by Fr. Geoffrey Plant: https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant2066

JOKE OF THE WEEK: 1) Who created the weeds? In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth and populated the Earth with broccoli, cauliflower and spinach, green and yellow and red vegetables of all kinds, so Man and Woman would live long and healthy lives. Then using God’s great gifts, Satan created Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream and Krispy Creme Donuts. Satan said, “You want chocolate with that?” And Man said, “Yes!” and Woman said, “And as long as you’re at it, add some sprinkles.” And they gained 10 pounds. And Satan smiled.

And God created the healthful yogurt that Woman might keep the figure that Man found so fair. And Satan brought forth white flour from the wheat and sugar from the cane and combined them. And Woman went from size 6 to size 14. So God said, “Try my fresh green salad.” And Satan presented Thousand-Island Dressing, buttery croutons and garlic toast on the side. And Man and Woman unfastened their belts following the repast.

God then said, “I have sent you heart-healthy vegetables and olive oil in which to cook them.” And Satan brought forth deep fried chicken, fish and chicken-fried steak so big it needed its own platter. And Man gained more weight and his cholesterol went through the roof.

God then created a light, fluffy white cake, named it “Angel Food Cake,” and said, “It is good.” Satan then created chocolate cake and named it, “Devil’s Food.” God then brought forth running shoes so that His children might lose those extra pounds. And Satan gave them cable TV with a remote control so Man would not have to toil changing the channels. And Man and Woman laughed and cried before the flickering blue light and gained pounds.

Then God brought forth the potato, naturally low in fat and brimming with nutrition. And Satan peeled off the healthful skin and sliced the starchy center into chips and deep-fried them. And Man gained pounds. God then gave lean beef so that Man might consume fewer calories and still satisfy his appetite. And Satan created McDonald’s and its 99-cent double cheeseburger. Then he asked, “You want fries with that?” And Man replied, “Yes! And super-size them!” And Satan said, “It is good.” And Man went into cardiac arrest. God sighed and created quadruple bypass surgery. Then Satan created HMOs.

2) Political weeds: “Bet she regrets asking Brigitte Gabriel that question:”

Click on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Ry3NzkAOo3s

Brigitte Gabriel’s website: https://youtu.be/mD0uKeqZszM

   

Lolium termulentum= the “Bearded Darnel” weed

30- Additional anecdotes:

1) Disastrous elimination of weeds in history: In an effort to separate “good” from “bad”, or the law-abiding from the insurgents, Claudius forced a separation and commanded all Jews to leave Rome (ca. AD 49-50.). Centuries later, Jews would be similarly expelled from Spain (1492). Later yet, and in an act of unique horror, Adolf Hitler attempted to definitively separate and annihilate every Jewish person in order to construct what he perceived to be a superior race. When he was finally stopped in 1945, only 3,000,000 out of a population of 9,000,000 Jews in Europe remained alive. Millions of non-Jews were also killed during the third Reich, their only crime being the fact that they were judged as different and therefore lesser than their persecutors. During the Middle Ages (ca. 1150) formal investigative tribunals were established with an eye to safeguarding the integrity and authenticity of the Faith. But when Pope Innocent III declared heresy a capital crime in 1199 and when the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) provided secular punishment for heretics, all manner of cruelty and injustice ensued. Inquisitors were ruthless in their prosecution of those whose ideas ranged anywhere from the truly heretical to the merely diverse. Those alleged to be heretics had no rights; they were forced to prove their own innocence without benefit of counsel. Similar attempts at separating those judged to be orthodox from those who were not resulted in the infamous witch trials, which swept Europe from the thirteenth to the early eighteenth century and crossed the Atlantic to take hold in the Americas in the seventeenth century. Religious intolerance perpetrated the torture and deaths of actual practitioners of black magic, necromancy, etc. as well as others who were accused simply because they happened to have red hair, or who, because of nervousness may have stumbled through the Lord’s Prayer. Segregation and separation of peoples because of their different ideas, or social mores, has been a blight on the visage of humanity for centuries. The readings for today’s liturgy proffer a challenge to this gathered assembly that this blight should be eradicated. (Patricia Datchuck Sánchez). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

2) “Your Excellency, your cabin-mate left his valuables with me for the same reason!” A Bishop was sailing for Europe on one of the great transatlantic ocean liners.  When he went on board, he found that another passenger was to share a cabin with him. After unpacking his bags, he went to the purser and inquired if he could leave his gold watch and other valuables in the ship’s safe. He explained that he had just met the man who was to occupy the other berth in his cabin and he was afraid that the man might not be trustworthy. The purser smiled, accepted the valuables and remarked, “It’s all right, Bishop, I’ll be very glad to take care of them for you. The other man has just been up here and left his valuables for the same reason!” Today’s Gospel reminds us that we should not judge others hastily.  There is a lot of good in the worst of us and a lot of evil in the best of us. In other words, the best of us are still “weeds” in God’s garden. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

3) Elimination of Jewish “weeds” by Hitler: Later still, Adolf Hitler attempted to separate and annihilate every Jewish person in order to construct what he perceived to be a superior race. Prior to and during World War II, Jewish persons in Europe were told by the Nazis that if they boarded the trains provided for them, they would be resettled in comfortable, peaceful areas. But the truth was that the trains were headed for Auschwitz and other death camps. Some Jews who knew the truth tried to warn the others, but the majority hushed them up, saying, “That’s ridiculous. If you talk like that, you will terrorize people.” Today many Christians are being herded aboard another train of false promises called universalism. It is the belief that all persons are bound for Heaven whether they wish it or not. Scriptural verses contradicting this false belief are discarded as spurious additions by early churchmen with hearts full of judgment. But real love does not tell people what they want to hear; real love tells the truth. It does not pretend that a train to Auschwitz is a train to triumph. The recent trial of former Nazi officer Klaus Barbie brings to our consciousness the barbarity of that page in human history. The most infamous of the Nazi death camps was the one at Dachau. A monument there memorializes the victims of the Nazi terror. Alongside, a series of exhibits depict Nazi methods of annihilating the Jews, the wretched detention camps, the extermination ovens, the mass graves. A huge sign proclaims in French, German, Russian and English: “Never Again!” We need to be reminded of Dachau. We need to keep thundering in every generation, “Never Again!” Evil within the hearts of men and women: the hatred, bigotry, envy, bitterness, lust, anger, greed, etc. result in more terrible events than Jewish extermination by Hitler. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

4) “Weeds” of pornography and obscenity: Obscenity, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. With words to that effect more than two decades ago the Supreme Court of the United States of America left the decisions regarding pornography in the hands of local communities. During the intervening years states and cities have struggled with the issue, desiring to uphold the basic rights of freedom of speech and expression, and at the same time attempting to establish and maintain what is decent and acceptable to the majority. The latest entry to invade this debate and garner headlines is music. Now, it seems, obscenity may also be in the ear of the beholder. But the issue goes much deeper than “X-ratings” and warning labels on album covers or motion picture posters. If anything, it is symptomatic of a more pervasive problem than simply pornography in theatres or music. So, then, what do we do about the presence of the various expressions of evil in our world – what Jesus would call weeds? Whether it takes the form of dehumanizing depictions of sexual violence on the screen, of suggestive lyrics, of environmental pollution, or of the tragedies of greed and self-serving possessiveness, the presence of evil rears its head seemingly at every turn. So what are we to do? The “weeds” comprise all that is contrary to the spirit and work of Christ, of what is good and decent and upright — in our eyes and to our ears! What are we going to do about them? Can we do anything at all? Historically, the Church has attempted to be a “weed-puller,” zealously trying to eliminate all that is perceived as rotten and wrong in society. The world has, unfortunately, had to face the onslaught of the wrath of well-meaning Christians. It has endured the violence of the Crusades of the Middle Ages and the Salem witch hunts in colonial America. The Church has conspired to commit numerous acts of violence and has violated the lives and livelihoods of countless numbers of persons in an attempt to convert sinners and purge society. In the name of pulling “weeds” and eliminating evil, great harm has been inflicted on humanity. At the other extreme, and just as frightening — perhaps more so — the Church has also been quiet when someone rises to power with a message of hate for those who are different. It has remained on the sidelines while misguided ideas have taken over and wrecked lives and societies. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

5) Recording angels to ascertain the weeds: Michener, in one of his first novels, The Fires of Spring, tells about a couple who are burdened with a load of guilt from their past. They wander into a Quaker meeting. They sit with the others for what seems like hours waiting for something to happen. Finally, an elderly man stands up and speaks. He says, “The most misleading concept in religion is that of the recording angel. I cannot believe that God remembers or cares to remember a single incident of our lives. [Rather] I am the recording angel. My spirit and my body are the record. My good deeds show in me, and my wrong deeds can never be hidden. My spirit either grows to fullness or declines to nothing. God has no need of recording devices. We must not think of [God] as a vengeful or shop-keeping dictograph. [God] has created a better instrument. [God] has made me. [God] needs only to look at me, and all is recorded.” The old man goes on to conclude that with God’s permission we have the privilege of erasing our past mistakes. God offers us repentance, redemption, the opportunity to start fresh and make our lives useful by forgiving our past sin and by opening our lives to wisdom. (http://gbgmchurches.gbgm‑umc.org/aldersgate‑ma/s030713.htm). Missionary and best-selling author E. Stanley Jones said that God does not need to punish us for our sins. Our bodies and souls carry within them the record of our sins. “We do not break the Ten Commandments,” said Dr. Jones, “We break ourselves upon them.” (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

6) Bad choices are “weeds” ruining our lives: You may have read about a 61‑year‑old Massachusetts grandmother who ended up in a mess of trouble sometime back. It was on the first day of her new job as a school bus driver. She took some wrong turns and made some poor decisions as to which roads to take. She got so lost that she wound up in the state of Connecticut. Because she had already picked up ten kids on her route, an all‑points bulletin was issued for her on charges of kidnapping, and, since she had crossed the state line, the F.B.I. was called in. After finally locating the lady and interrogating her, the police and F.B.I. agents concluded that she had made some wrong turns and had simply lost her way. So, they released her. (A few wrong turns. It happens in life. It happens to good people. A few bad judgments and suddenly you are lost, entangled, trapped in the weeds, a golfer might say. Sometimes much is at stake. A marriage. Your health. The safety of others. Pulling weeds is an important part of a successful life. http://www.firstpcavillarica.org/Sermon%20Notes/THE%20LAMP%20WITHIN.htm). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

7) Good folks sometimes do stupid things: Fans of country music revere the name of George Jones. Jones has had enough hit songs on his hundred or so albums to make the careers of ten singers. Sometime back, George was nearly killed in an automobile accident. He was talking on his cell phone. When the news first came out, many of his fans probably assumed that George was off the wagon again. Along with George Jones’ talent and genius came a dark side. Jones had a reputation for wild living and self-destructive behavior. In the past he had struggled with a serious addiction to alcohol and drugs. His addictions were so severe that Jones would literally do anything to fuel his habit. At one time, George was almost outwitted by his then-wife, Tammy Wynette. To keep him away from the local bar, Tammy took George’s car keys. But George’s determination to feed his addiction won out. He hopped on his riding lawn mower and rode ten miles to the nearest bar. [Randy Scott, Country Music Revealed (New York: MetroBooks, 1995), p. 60.] Why otherwise good people allow themselves to get trapped in self-destructive patterns of behavior is beyond our understanding. And where does such behavior come from? Can we get off the hook by saying, “The devil made me do it?” Is it genetic? (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

8) “Weeds” among dogs: An instructor in a dog training workshop in Salt Lake City noted that a dog’s disposition can be tested by the owner. If the owner will fall down and pretend to be hurt, a dog with a bad temper will tend to bite him. But a good dog will show concern and may lick the fallen owner’s face. Susan Matice attended the class and then decided to test her two dogs. While eating pizza in her living room, she stood up, clutched her heart, screamed and fell to the floor. Her two dogs looked at her, looked at each other, then raced to the coffee table for her pizza. [Associated Press (1-17-91). Cited in Edward K. Rowell, Humor for Preaching and Teaching (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996).] (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

9) What is it that causes some people to act irresponsibly? Just a few short years ago, we had a President of the United States who was guilty of irresponsible behavior. He was not the first President to behave badly, just the most recent. But somewhere along the way, the American people made a decision that President Bill Clinton was not an evil man. Most people believed him to have a good heart, but even his most rabid fans have to agree he had a serious problem that he did not seem able to control. What causes some good people to lose control of their lives? Even more important, how can we help these people and even help ourselves when we are drawn toward similar self-destructive patterns?

10) “Weed” control: Journalist Bob Garfield specializes in reporting on the quirky and unique aspects of human nature. When Garfield traveled through Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1992, he thought that he’d hit the mother lode of quirkiness. He met people from all walks of life who were trying to find healing or wholeness through such things as aura-balancing, drum-beating ceremonies, ancient mystical therapies, crystals, astrology, spiritual channeling, and the like. Even in a Santa Fe health food store, Garfield found some highly unusual approaches to medicine. Rather than containing the average mix of vitamins and herbs, this store offered vitamin and herb mixes called, “Luminous Spirit, Positive Attitude, Women’s Courage, Emotional Rescue, Clearing Hate, Clearing Greed, Humiliation, (and) Children of Divorce. . . .” [Bob Garfield, Wake Up Screaming from the American . . . (New York: Scribner’s, 1997), p. 94] If only we could find emotional rescue or spiritual growth in a pill! But it’s not that easy. Where do we turn for help?

11) Positive view enables us to make positive choices: Former President Jimmy Carter often reflects on the changes he sees in people’s lives because of the work of Habitat for Humanity. “We see extraordinary commitments and lives changed among forgotten people,” he says. “A Habitat family that lived near Washington had been living in an abandoned automobile. One of their children was an eight-year-old boy. He was very excited about getting a new house. When the family was chosen, he jumped up and down and said, ‘We won, we won.’ After the home was finished and the family had moved in, the little boy attended a different school. He had always been in a slow learners’ class, but when he moved his records had been lost, and he was put into a regular class by mistake. No one noticed the error, and at the end of the first half of the year, his lowest grade was a B. Now he is still learning with the smartest of students. This is what having a decent home for the first time in life can do.” [From the book Living Faith, by Jimmy Carter, Random House (Audio Books, 1996).] Now, you tell me. Was it the change of houses that made a difference, or did the boy change his view of himself? How we view ourselves is often reflected in the choices we make. If we have a positive view of ourselves, we will make positive choices. If we have a negative view of ourselves, then watch out! (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

12) Christian cruelty of searching for “weeds”: The English author, C. S. Lewis, in one of his books, points out that when people become Christians, if they are not careful, their sinning often shifts from the overt, outward, visible sins of lying, cheating, stealing, cursing and swearing, to the more inward, hidden, non-apparent, invisible ones … and among them he lists “a critical spirit” … a spirit of judgmentalism, a censorious attitude. In fact, he points out that this sin is one of transgressions which is more commonly committed by Church people than by those who are not. So prevalent is it in Churchly circles that it is sometimes labeled “Christian cruelty.” This squares with Webster’s definition: “Judging is to criticize or censure, to think or suppose … by pretending to know the motives of the person doing the acting.” The sin of judging is dangerous business and should be carefully avoided by those who wish to prevent this sin from becoming part and parcel of their lives. A pastor in a teetotaling denomination in a small Illinois town was seen leaving a tavern at 12:45 AM. “He was with another man, and both were drunk,” swore the informant. When confronted with the accusation, the pastor readily admitted that he had left the tavern with another man at that late hour, but it was not as it seemed. He, at the request of a distraught wife, had entered the place to persuade the husband, who was squandering his paycheck, to go home. His efforts met with success at precisely 12:45 in the morning at which time they both left the tavern. The pastor had not been imbibing. He stumbled while trying to hold the inebriated husband upright. But the story with all its lurid implications would not die. It grew and spread out of all proportion in that small town. The pastor’s Bishop upbraided him for what the Bishop considered an indiscretion, and finally the priest was transferred from his parish. This exemplifies the “Christian cruelty” which is frequently practiced. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

13) Seeds for sale: A woman dreamed one night that she walked into a brand-new shop. Much to her surprise, she found God working behind the counter. She asked God, “What do you sell here?” “Everything your heart desires,” God replied. It was incredible. She was talking face to face with God.  “I want peace of mind and love and happiness and wisdom and freedom from fear,” she told God. Then almost as an afterthought she added, “not just for me, but for everyone on earth.” God smiled, “I think you’ve got me wrong, my dear. We don’t sell fruits here. Only seeds.” (Anthony De Mello, S. J., in “Taking Flight”) (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

14) Here is a “weed-gatherer”: A teenage daughter asks her father, “Why don’t you go to Church?” He replies, “Because the Church is full of hypocrites.” “What do you mean by a hypocrite?” she asks. He thinks for a moment and answers, “A hypocrite says one thing and does something else.” “That sounds like you, Daddy!” she replies. “I’m no hypocrite!” he responds. “Yes, you are,” she says. “You tell me that going to Church is important. You say that I have to go to Church, but then you don’t go. You say one thing and do another. Doesn’t that make you a hypocrite? I wish you could go with me because there is room in the Church for one more hypocrite.” (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

  1. Wheat among the Weeds: One day, when the inimitable Groucho Marx was getting off an elevator, he met a priest who immediately recognized the famous comedian. The excited clergyman extended his hand, saying, “I want to thank you for all the joy you’ve put into the world.” Groucho replied, “And I want to thank you, Father, for all the joy you’ve taken out of it.”–Application: Many of us become so concerned with pulling out the “weeds” we lose the sense of hope and spirit of joy. Do we experience deep joy because we are disciples of Jesus? We often approach religion as a deadly serious business; we lose the spirit of joy and the sense of hope that are part of the promise of the Risen Christ.  We become so concerned about pulling out the “weeds” that we forget to harvest the grain; we become so focused on the evil and abuses that surround us and “threaten” us that we fail to realize and celebrate the healing and life-giving presence of God in our very midst; we become so intent in upbraiding and punishing sinners that our own lives become mired in gloom and despair.  The task of judging sinners belongs to God; to us belongs the work of compassion and reconciliation. (Gerard Fuller in Stories for All Seasons; quoted by Fr. Jude Botelho in Net for Life)(Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
  1. “You are a good boy.” A little boy not familiar with an echo thought he had heard in the woods the voice of another boy not far off. He shouted: “Hello, there!” and the voice shouted back, “Hello, there!” He cried again: “Who are you?” and the voice replied, “Who are you?” He cried once more: “You mean boy,” and the cry came back: “You mean boy.” Then this little boy went home and told his mother that there was a bad boy in the woods. His mother understood how it was and said to him, “Well, speak kindly to him and see if he does not speak kindly to you.” The boy went to the woods again and shouted, “You are a good boy.” Of course, the echoing reply came, “You are a good boy.” “I love you,” he said loudly. “I love you,” replied the faithful echo. The story of the echo is the story of the good and bad in life. (Vima Dasan in His Word Lives). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

17)“Two wolves within.” Have you ever noticed that the people who are bad sometimes are the very same people who are good sometimes? It reminds us of a story called, “Two Wolves.” It goes like this: An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.” (Anonymous). Today’s Gospel parable reminds us that we are a mixture of good and evil and, hence, instead of judging others we have to lead exemplary Christian lives and leave the judgment to God.

18) The Beauty and the Beast: The film Beauty and the Beast is based on a classic French fairy tale. It tells the story of a beautiful girl who loved books and wanted to live like the characters of the book. Her father Maurice was a petty inventor. Gaston the village tavern owner loved the beautiful girl Belle. In that village there was a prince who was handsome but vain. One day an old lady came to him to ask for shelter but he turned her away. She was a fairy and with her magic wand she turned him into a Beast and gave him a mirror to see the world. She also gave him a rose saying that before the last petal fell he must find someone to love him in his condition as a Beast. One day Maurice went to the woods and was lost and captured by the Beast. Belle went to release him. She was captured and imprisoned for life by the Beast. Belle did not love the Beast but tolerated him. One day she was attacked by a pack of wolves. The Beast saved her life. The beast gave Belle the magic mirror in which she could see her father who was so sick that he was considered a lunatic. Belle went home to save her father and told him all about the Beast. Gaston wanted to kill the Beast. Belle ran to save the Beast. Just before the death of the Beast she told him that she loved him. At these words the beast turned back into a handsome, and loving, prince. –Within every one of us and in the world, there is beauty and there is a beast. There is good and evil, there is virtue and vice. There are wheat seeds and there are weeds. (Elias Dias in Divine Stories for Families; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

19) Evil is Deceptive: Albert Speer was an important member of the Nazi hierarchy during Hitler’s reign. He was Hitler’s architect, and Minister of Armament, Munitions and War Productions. After the defeat of Hitler and Germany, he was tried at Nuremberg for crimes against humanity and subsequently condemned to serve 20 years in prison. Albert Speer was one of the most intelligent, educated and principled persons in Germany. How he was captivated by Hitler’s magnetism to accept such bizarre ideologies — the secret policies, the concentration camps, the nonsensical rhetoric of Aryan Supremacy and anti-Semitism — is beyond anyone’s comprehension. During his trial at Nuremberg, he took responsibility for the horrors of the Nazi regime, although most of the time, he was not aware of the happenings around. Later in life, he sincerely regretted his association with Hitler. He could still not explain completely why he had subscribed to Hitler’s evil idiosyncrasies. (John Rose in John’s Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

20) Who is a Saint and who is a sinner? There was this village, which was plagued with sheep thieves, and it was about time they were taught a lesson. Two of them were caught and branded on their foreheads with the letters ST standing for sheep thieves, that would be their punishment for life! Unable to bear the shame one of them ended his life, while the other decided to mend his ways. He set about doing all the odd jobs in the village and would help all those who needed help. Years passed and his misdeed was forgotten. As an old man now he was looked upon as someone who could be relied upon to help anyone in need. One day as he was passing by, he heard little children talking about him. One remarked: “I wonder what those letters ‘ST’ on his forehead stand for?” Another child replied “I am not sure, but he is such a kind man, I am sure ‘ST’ stands for Saint!” (Anonymous; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

21) A “self-test” for your patience. “Imagine yourself in the following situation: It’s Saturday at 5:45 PM. You’re flying in a plane at 35,000 feet. The plane is an hour-and-a-half late. People are grumpy; some are angry. Flight attendants are apologizing and offering complimentary cocktails to soothe the raw nerves and roiled tempers. To top it all off, the meal is late and the passenger on your left has a cold and gives out a big sneeze about every ninety seconds.  What would be your response to these problems?” (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

“Or…imagine another situation. You are at the grocery store; busy evening, long lines ahead of you; your shopping cart has a wheel that drags; the fruit juice aisle is blocked off as two shoppers lean over their carts to chat; you do a U-turn and rush down another aisle; you finally finish and choose a check-out line with only two shoppers ahead of you; the cashier  at the register is new; her hands tremble; beads of perspiration form on her forehead; slowly she begins to tally your total; her cash register tape runs out; she doesn’t know how to change it; she calls for help from the manager.  What’s your response?”

“Or, how about this one: It’s dinner-out-with-the family night in that special place. You have fasted most of the day so that you may eat what you’d like tonight. You’re shown to a table and given a menu but the restaurant is very crowded and the waiters are extremely busy. So you sit there, hungry as a wolf with only a glass of water and a menu that you’ve begun to gnaw on. What’s your response?”

Swindoll in his book Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life insists that in these relatively unimportant situations, “the rubber of Christianity meets the road of proof.”  In other words, it is at such times that our Faith is really tested.  Indeed, the best test of our growth as Christians occurs in situations like the ones mentioned above. Today’s Gospel reminds us of God’s patience, leniency and willingness to wait – to allow time for the wicked to come to conversion and for good people to overcome their small faults. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

22) “It is with straw that I start My fires.” (Blessed Anne Garcia and Some Straw (linked to Second Reading): St. Paul understood this and so, as we hear in in today’s Second Reading, he was able to explain how our frequent sense of helplessness in spiritual things is no cause for panic, because “the Spirit, too, comes to the aid of our weakness.” This was an especially difficult lesson for Blessed Anne of St Bartholomew to learn. She came from a poor shepherding family in sixteenth-century Spain. While still young, she became a disciple of St. Theresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church and foundress of the Discalced Carmelite order — one of the most remarkable Saints in the history of the Church. Blessed Anne was one of St. Theresa’s closest collaborators and friends, and St. Theresa actually died in her arms. But then Blessed Anne was sent to Belgium and France to start Carmelite convents, and to be prioress in some of them. She would often complain to our Lord that she was too ignorant and shy to be given such important responsibilities. In fact, she complained so much that finally our Lord appeared to her. She had just tried to convince him that he should choose someone else, someone more intelligent, better educated, and more outgoing to do the work she was being asked to do — she had none of those gifts. So our Lord appeared to her and said, “It is with straw that I start My fires.” He didn’t comfort her by telling her how great she was. He simply pointed out that He is the one who will do wonderful things in and though her, if she will let Him. When we feel helpless to do all that Christ is asking of us, or to bear our crosses, we need to remember that “the Spirit, too, comes to the aid of our weakness.”(E- Priest) (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

23) St Francis the Crusader: Sometimes we think that the Saints were born with special saint-genes. But that’s not true. Every Saint was a fallen human being just like us. The difference is that they understood God’s greatness, and let their lives become instruments of that greatness. Few people remember that St. Francis of Assisi participated in the fifth Crusade. He travelled to Egypt, where the Crusaders were trying to conquer one of the powerful Muslim strongholds. St. Francis didn’t fight with sword and spear. Instead, after the military effort got bogged down, he and another friar made their way to the enemy lines, dressed in their humble robes, weaponless, and singing Psalm 22: “Though I walk through a valley as dark as death, I shall fear no evil.” Thinking Francis was an ambassador sent to negotiate a truce, the sentries brought him to headquarters, where St. Francis explained that he wanted to speak to the Sultan about the Gospel. The Sultan received him and enjoyed the conversation so much that he invited Francis to stay with them. Francis said he would, if the Sultan would become a Christian. And to prove the superiority of the Christian religion, St. Francis offered to undergo a trial. “Heat a large oven,” he suggested. “Your priests and I will get into it, and you can judge by what happens which of our two religions is more holy and true.” The Sultan said that he didn’t think his priests would climb into a hot oven. So St Francis said, “Very well, I’ll get in by myself. If I die, you can put it down to my sins; but if the Divine power protects me, will you swear to recognize Christ as true God and Savior?” The Sultan would not, and so the oven-trail never happened. St. Francis wasn’t a saint because he was super-smart or super-strong. St. Francis was a saint because he had learned to believe in and depend on the supernatural, all-powerful, smarts and strength of God Himself. (E- Priest). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

24) St. Victoria Wins the Victory over the “weeds” of pagan religion: If all religions were the same, Jesus should never have started a new religion — plenty were already available. And if all religions were the same, the Church would never have survived its first three centuries of existence, during which believing in Christ instead of the false pagan gods of the Roman Empire was a capital crime. The martyrs who gave their lives for Christ in those times did so only because they recognized that Jesus was different from Jupiter. Take St. Victoria, for example. Victoria lived in North Africa in a pagan family, around the year 300, when severe, legal persecutions against the Christians were frequent and violent. As a teenager, she converted to the Christian Faith, though her family stayed pagan. Soon she fell so in love with Christ, that she desired to give her whole life up to him, and made a vow of virginity. Her parents were furious, because she was their only daughter and they had arranged a profitable and honorable marriage for her. They refused to accept her refusals and forced her to go through with it. But when the wedding day came, she put her trust completely in Jesus, and instead of going downstairs to be received by her husband, she said a prayer and then escaped, unhurt, from the upper story window of her room. She fled to a nearby Church and started serving Jesus and his Kingdom full time. One Sunday morning some years later, when she was in her early twenties, she was with a group of about fifty Christians attending a Mass being celebrated in a private home. Suddenly, a platoon of Imperial soldiers burst in, broke up the Mass, and arrested the whole group. They boldly stood trial, professing their Faith courageously and eloquently even after being tortured. Victoria’s brother (still a pagan) attended the trial and pleaded for her release on the grounds of insanity, but she debated so intelligently with the judge that she disproved the charge. The judge, in fact, was so impressed with her valor and wisdom that he stepped down from his bench and pleaded with her merely as a friend not to throw her life away. She responded, “I have already told you. I am a Christian. And I attended the Mass.” Eventually, all the Christians having firmly held their Faith, the authorities lost patience and threw them into prison, where one by one, through long hours and longer days of suffering born with love, they entered into the joy of the Lord. This is one example of thousands from the history of the Church. If all religions are the same, then Victoria’s brother would have been right, and all these canonized saints were really just insane. (E-Priest). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

25) Reincarnation vs. Resurrection: Let’s take one example to make this clear. Most of us have heard about the doctrine of reincarnation, a common belief among the ancient Hindu and Buddhist religions that originated in the Orient. Reincarnation teaches that at death, unenlightened human souls transmigrate from our body into another body, either of an animal, vegetable, or mineral. That process of transmigration is repeated over and over, until the soul (Athman) is completely enlightened and fit for communion with God (Brahman). No good and evil here, no Heaven and Hell – just a forced recycling process ending when the enlightened individual self finally dissolves into nirvana (which means “nothingness”). Some people who say that all religions are the same claim that reincarnation is just an eastern version of what Christians in the west call resurrection. Really? In the Bible we read, “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people” (Hebrews 9:27-28). Once. Christ died once, and rose again once. We will all die once, and will be judged, and then spend eternity either with God or without God. Jesus says the same thing in today’s Gospel. At the end of time there will be the harvest, and the “weeds,” unrepentant sinners, will not be planted again to see if they come up as wheat, but will be “thrown into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” But the “wheat,” the righteous, who spent their brief earthly lives resisting the seductions of evil, repenting of their sins, and battling against selfishness in order to follow Jesus Christ, will enter into the joy of eternal life, shining “like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” That doesn’t sound like reincarnation at all. To claim that they are the same empties both doctrines of their real meaning. That’s why this approach is so tempting. If doctrines don’t really mean anything, we have a good excuse to just go around doing whatever we feel like, instead of trying to follow a clear moral code. It’s easy to say all religions are the same; it’s hard to follow Jesus Christ. (E- Priest). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

26) The Kingdom of God is always growing: It started small when Christ established it, like a mustard seed as told by Jesus in today’s Gospel. Just a few disciples gathered in a room on the first Easter Sunday. And it starts small wherever it goes. St Augustine of Canterbury had only a handful of monks when he crossed the English Channel around the year 600 to evangelize the barbaric Anglo-Saxons. Just over a century earlier, St Patrick had gone to the even more barbaric land of Ireland, which even the Roman Empire had never conquered, all by himself. It starts small inside our souls as well. The voice of conscience, God’s voice within us, is often only just a whisper, like a tiny breeze. Christ’s Kingdom starts small, like a mustard seed, like a little bit of yeast in a huge batch of flour – but it’s alive, and so it is always growing. And so, 100 years after St Augustine and a couple of buddies arrived in England, the English Church was exporting hundreds of saints and missionaries back to continental Europe to evangelize the new waves of barbarian invaders. And so, by the time of St Patrick’s death, an entire nation of primitive tribes had begun to be civilized and united under the Christian Faith. And so, even if God’s voice is only a whisper in our conscience, when we follow it, He works wonders. Some critics of the Catholic Church say that today’s Church is too big and developed to be the descendent of that small group of fishermen that Jesus started with. But when you plant a mustard seed, you expect something to happen. You expect to go back and find a vibrant bush (mustard shrubs grow to about 10 feet in height) which doesn’t look anything like the seed. Christ’s Kingdom is always alive, dynamic, always growing. And so, if we ever find ourselves bored with our Christian Faith, it’s simply because we have wandered away from Jesus. (E- Priest). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

27) The Kingdom of God’s impact is out of proportion to its size: How odd, for example, that St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa), was as famous as the world’s great Kings and Queens, Presidents and Prime Ministers, business tycoons and movie stars. A tiny nun from Albania, working with the poorest of the poor in Calcutta was the commencement speaker at Harvard University’s graduation. She was the keynote speaker at the United States’ National Prayer Breakfast. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace prize. This is way out of proportion. A little leaven makes the whole loaf rise. As if to make this point abundantly clear, Jesus specifies the amount of flour being used in the parable: three measures. That would make a colossal amount of bread – enough to feed 100 people. And that huge lump of dough is penetrated and transformed by a pinch of yeast. Just so, a little bit of Christian courage sends ripples far and wide. One act of forgiveness, of mercy, can put an end to decades of bitterness, hatred, and resentment. One young man saying yes to God’s call to the priesthood can send tidal waves of truth reverberating throughout the world – as it did with Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and as it is doing with Pope Francis. Just so, the faithful mom and dad, lawyer, business person, and teacher who let Christ reign in their hearts and actions are spreading God’s saving grace far and wide. Just how far-and-wide will only be known at the end of the age, when everything is revealed. The impact of saying yes to Christ can never be exaggerated, as explained in today’s Gospel parable of the mustard seed and the yeast. (E-Priest). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

28) Lighting a light rather than cursing the darkness: Terry Fox was a 22 year of student at Simon Fraser University in Canada. In 1977 he contracted bone cancer and had to have his right leg amputated. When his old high school basketball coach heard about the tragedy, he sent Terry a newspaper article about an amputee who ran in the New York Marathon. The article triggered Terry’s imagination. He knew he had only a few years to live, and he wanted to do something significant with them. He decided he would try to run across Canada from Newfoundland to British Columbia, a distance of 5,000 miles. He would ask people to sponsor him and give the proceeds to cancer research. For 18 months, Terry practiced running on the artificial leg. Finally, on April 12, 1980, he began his run. He dipped his artificial leg into the Atlantic and set out across Canada. In his pocket he had pledges totaling over a million dollars. Then 114 days and 3,000 miles into the run, Terry suddenly collapsed. The cancer had spread to his lungs. He would be unable to complete the run. When news of Terry’s collapse broke, people from all over Canada began sending pledges to him in the Hospital. In hours, over $24 million was pledged. A few days later, Terry died. If anyone had a right to curse the darkness, it was Terry. But he was too big for that. He decided to light a candle. And that light has been shining ever since. A movie has been made of his life. A stamp has been issued in his honour. And he is the youngest person ever to receive his nation’s highest honour, the Order of Canada. To this day, Terry still excites the imagination of people. (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

29) Light a candle: Rascals in Paradise is a book written by James Michener. In its introduction, the author tells how in the late 1930s, a learned Australian saw World War II coming. He got out a world atlas and looked for the safest place to be when the war came. He decided on a little-known island in the South Pacific. One week before Hitler invaded Poland, the Australian moved to his safe haven. The island was Guadalcanal. As fate would have it, it was destined to become the site of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

Therefore, instead of running away from evil or remaining indifferent to it, the Lord is calling us to do our bit to remove evil wherever we can and, if we can’t remove it, at least protest against it. Instead of cursing the darkness, He is calling us to light a candle. A little boy not familiar with an echo thought he had heard in the woods the voice of another boy not far off. He shouted: “Hello, there!” and the voice shouted back, “Hello, there!” He cried again: “Who are you?” and the voice replied, “Who are you?” He cried once more: “You are a mean boy,” and the cry came back: “You are a mean boy.” Then this little boy went home and told his mother that there was a bad boy in the woods. His mother understood how it was and said to him, “Well, speak kindly to him and see if he does not speak kindly to you.” The boy went to the woods again and shouted, “You are a good boy.” Of course, the echoing reply came, “You are a good boy.” “I love you,” he said loudly. “I love you,” replied the faithful echo. The story of the echo is the story of the good and bad in life. (Vima Dasan in His Word Lives; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

30) Schindler’s List is a 1993 biographical film which tells the story of Oskar Schindler, a businessman, who saved the lives of more than one thousand Polish Jews during the Holocaust. The film was based on the novel Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally. The film was both a box office success and the recipient of seven Academy Awards. Oskar Schindler, a successful businessman, arrives in Krakow (Poland) from Czechoslovakia hoping to use the abundant cheap labor force of the Jews to manufacture goods for the German military. Schindler, a nominal Catholic and an opportunistic member of the Nazi Party, lavishes bribes upon the army officials and Nazi leaders and acquires a factory for the production of army mess kits. But he is a mixture of good and evil. Unfaithful to his wife, he certainly knows how to enjoy the so-called “good life” -cigars, drink, women. He exploits his Jewish workers as a source of cheap labor. But as he witnesses the horrors endured by the Jews, the good elements in his character wake up. So, he starts saving Jews, using his immense wealth and his political influence. At great personal risk, he protects his workers from the death camps, thereby showing that he is undoubtedly a courageous man with basic goodness. In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the wheat and weeds, explaining how we all are a mixture of good and evil and why God tolerates evil in the world. (Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/ L/20

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle A (No. 40) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com

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 akadavil@gmail.com. Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies  under CBCI and 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

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Lolium termulentum= the “Bearded Darnel” weed