October 18, 2020

O. T. XXX (October 25 Sunday)

OT XXX [A] (Oct 25) Sunday (Eight-minute homily in one page)

U. S. Presidential election homily: https://fssp.com/staring-into-the-abyss-an-election-homily-by-fr-ed-meeks/

Introduction: The central theme of today’s readings is the greatest commandment in the Bible, namely, to respond to God’s love for us by loving Him, and then to express that love in action by loving Him living in our neighbor. Our love for God is tested and put into practice by the way we love our neighbor.(Add a homily-starter anecdote). Visit (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading, taken from Exodus explains the second greatest commandment, namely, loving one’s neighbors, especially the underprivileged. The chosen people of Israel should remember that once they were aliens in the land of Egypt.  Just as God protected them and treated them kindly, so they are to protect others and treat them with kindness. Thus, they should become a humane society rooted in the basic religious concept of loving God living in their neighbor. In the second reading, St. Paul congratulates the Thessalonians on the positive effects of their example of loving one another as Jesus had commanded them to do. Their mutual love and their loving reception of Paul and response to his preaching has bolstered the Faith of Christians elsewhere who have heard about them. In the Gospel today, Jesus combines the commandment to love God with the commandment to love one’s neighbor and gives the result as the one Commandment of supreme importance in Christian life. Jesus underlines the principle that we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves because, as God’s children, both of us bear God’s image, and to honor God’s image is to honor Him. Love for our neighbor should not be a matter of feelings, but of deeds by which we share with others the unmerited love that God lavishes on us.

Life messages: 1) We need to love God: Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, in response to His total love for us, means that we should place God’s will ahead of ours, seek the Lord’s will in all things and make it paramount in our lives. There are several means by which we can express our love for God and our gratitude to Him for His blessings, acknowledging our total dependence on Him. We must keep God’s Commandments, and offer daily prayers of thanksgiving, praise and petition. We also need to read and meditate on His word in the Bible and accept His invitation to join Him in the Mass and other liturgical functions. 2) We need to love our neighbor: God’s will is that we should love everyone, seeing Him in each of them. Since every human being is the child of God and the dwelling place of the Spirit of God, we are giving expression to our love of God by loving our neighbor as Jesus loves him or her. This means we need to help, support, encourage, forgive, and pray for everyone without discrimination based on color, race, religion, gender, age, wealth, or social status. Forgiveness, too, is vital. We love others by refusing to hold a grudge for a wrong done to us. Even a rebuke can be given as an act of love, if it is done with the right heart. We also express love through encouragement and by helping others to grow. We express agápe love in meeting the needs of others by using the talents and blessings that God has given us to comfort each other, to teach each other and to share the Gospel with each other, in deeds and in words.(L/20)

OT 30 [A] (Oct 25): Ex 22:20-26; I Thes 1:5c-10; Mt 22:34-40

Homily starter anecdotes #1: The inspiring six-word sermon: There is a legend handed down from the early Church about John, the beloved disciple of Jesus. Of the twelve original apostles, only John lived to a ripe old age. In his later years, not only his body but also his eyesight and his mind began to fail him. Eventually, according to the legend, John’s mind had deteriorated to the point that he could only speak five words, one sentence, which he would repeat over and over. You can imagine the high regard in which the early Church must have held the last surviving apostle of Jesus. The legend says that every Lord’s Day, John would be carried into the midst of the congregation that had assembled for worship in the Church at Ephesus, where John spent the last years of his life. Total silence would fall over the congregation, even though they already knew what John was going to say. Then the old man would speak the words, “My little children, love one another.” Over and over, he would repeat them until he grew tired from talking, and no one yawned or looked at his watch or gazed off into space absentmindedly. They listened as John preached his five-word sermon over and over: “My little children, love one another.” Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

#2: “Christians love one another.” In the second century AD, a non-Christian named Aristides wrote to the Emperor Hadrian about the Christians. He said, “Christians love one another. They never fail to help widows; they save orphans from those who would hurt them. If one of them has something, he gives freely to those who have nothing. If they see a stranger, Christians take him home and are as happy as though he were a real brother. They don’t consider themselves brothers in the usual sense, but brothers through the Spirit, in God. And if they hear that one of them is in jail or persecuted for professing the name of their Redeemer, they give him all he needs. This is really a new kind of person. There is something Divine in them.” No wonder the non-Christians of the first century used tell one another, “See how these Christians love one another.” Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

#3: Love them anyway: In Calcutta, India, there is a children’s home named Shishu Bhavan (Children’s Home), founded by Mother Teresa. The home continues to be operated by her community, the Missionaries of Charity. On the wall of the home hangs a sign which reads:

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
LOVE THEM ANYWAY.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
DO GOOD ANYWAY.
If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
SUCCEED ANYWAY.
The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow’
DO GOOD ANYWAY.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
BE HONEST AND FRANK ANYWAY.
What you spent years building may be destroyed overnight.
BUILD ANYWAY.
People really need help but may attack you if you help them.
HELP PEOPLE ANYWAY.
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
GIVE THE WORLD THE BEST YOU’VE GOT ANYWAY.

Mother Teresa counsels her young charges that the challenges offered by this sign can be met only if human beings are motivated by a love and a respect for one another which looks beyond faults, differences, ulterior motives, success and failure. Mother Teresa once said of herself, “By blood and origin, I am all Albanian. My citizenship is Indian. I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the whole world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the heart of Jesus.” (A Simple Path, Ballantine Books, New York: 1995). It is this relationship of belonging and the loving service which grows out of that belonging which the Scriptural authors called Covenant. (Sánchez Files) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

Introduction: The central theme of today’s readings is the greatest Commandment in the Bible, namely, to respond to God’s Infinite Love for us by loving Him, and to express that love in action by loving Him in our neighbor. The first reading, taken from Exodus, explains the different expressions of the love of one’s neighbor, especially of the underprivileged. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 18) is our hymn of loving trust in God Who loves us and gives us everything so that we can give it all back to Him in loving His children. So, we sing, “I love You. O Lord, my Strength, O Lord, my Rock, my Fortress, my Deliverer!” In the second reading, St. Paul praises the Thessalonian Christians for the heroic witness they bear to Christ by their loving reception of Him through Paul’s message which has resulted in their model practicing of mutual love. In the Gospel today, Jesus combines the commandment to love God with the commandment to love one’s neighbor and gives the result as the one Commandment of supreme importance in Christian life.

First reading (Ex 22:20-26) explained: Since Jesus, in today’s Gospel, sums up the Law of God in a formula of loving God and loving others, the passage chosen from Exodus prepares us for this message. This passage is part of a long narrative, Exodus, chapters 19-24, in which the Hebrews, liberated from Egypt, are in the desert of Sinai. God announces His desire to enter a Covenant with the people. Moses is the mediator. God manifests Himself in terrifying thunder, lightning and clouds. God gives the terms of the Covenant in various paragraphs, on several occasions. The people assent to the terms. These include the familiar Ten Commandments, the paragraphs that elaborate the commandments in great detail, ritual prescriptions and much more. This is the context of today’s first reading which is taken from a section of Exodus dealing with the laws of social conduct, especially the social ethic based, not on justice, but on a compassion like God’s, resulting from the love they are to have for their underprivileged fellow-human beings. The Law of Moses civilized the Jews, instilling in them the idea that it was wrong to oppress an alien or take advantage of the poor, things they themselves had suffered, because their God cared for widows and orphans and wanted them to do the same. The result was that the ancient Jews began to build an excellent, humane society rooted in the basic religious concept that loving God necessarily involves loving one’s neighbor.

The second reading (I Thes 1:5c-10) explained: First Thessalonians is the earliest letter we have from Saint Paul. The first century AD Thessalonians lived and served in a mostly pagan city with an enthusiasm so contagious as to attract others to the Church. Here Paul congratulates his audience on the positive effects of their example of loving one another as Jesus has commanded them to do. They have received the Gospel with ready Faith, he tells them, and they have withstood persecution with joy. Those actions, particularly their loving response to Paul himself, their ready belief in Jesus, and their generous living out of that Faith, have bolstered the Faith of Christians elsewhere who have heard about them. Paul and these earliest Christians believed that Jesus would come again very soon. Their conviction was that God was soon to bring history to its end with the return of Jesus in glory. [This expectation faded over the years during which the New Testament Scriptures were composed].

Gospel exegesis: The context: A Pharisee, who believed in both the written Law and the oral tradition, seeing how Jesus had defeated the Sadducee who had tried to humiliate Him with the hypothetical case of a woman who married seven husbands, asked Jesus to summarize the most important of the Mosaic Laws in one sentence. This was a challenge because, in the Judaism of Jesus’ day, there was a double tendency to expand the Mosaic Law into hundreds of rules and regulations and to condense the 613 precepts of the Torah into a single sentence or few sentences. (The Pharisees identified 613 commandments in the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). Two hundred forty-eight were positive (“thou shalt”) and three hundred sixty-five were negative (“thou shalt not”). Summarizing the Law, King David proposed eleven (Ps 15), Isaiah six (33:15), Micah three (6:8), and Amos only one (5:4)). Jesus’ answer teaches us that the most important commandment is to love God in loving others and to love others in loving God. In other words, we are to love God and express it by loving our neighbor because God lives in him or her. Some Bible scholars think that it was a trap question because the Pharisees believed that each one of the 613 commands (mitzot) in the Torah were equally important and necessary to obey. Therefore, they were trying to corner Jesus into showing either ignorance about the Law, or disrespect for parts of it by choosing one command over the others.

Jesus’ contribution: Jesus gave the Pharisee a straightforward answer, quoting directly from the Law itself, startling his listeners with his profound simplicity and mastery of the Law of God and its purpose. Jesus’ answer was very orthodox, and very traditional. (“The summary of the law is not original with Jesus. Its two parts represent a combination of Dt 6:5 and Lev 19:18. Nor is the combination itself original to Jesus, for it is found in at least one earlier Jewish work, the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, an amalgam of wisdom and apocalyptic materials.” Reginald H. Fuller). Jesus cited the first sentence of the Jewish Shema prayer: … “Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5). Then He added its complementary law: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). Finally, He declared that the “whole Law and the prophets” depended on the commands to love God “with all your heart, with all your soul and all your mind” and to love “your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus combined the originally separate commandments and presented them as the essence of true religion. The uniqueness of Jesus’ response consisted in the fact that he understood the two laws as having equal value or importance. We are to love our neighbor and our self as a way to love God: God gives us our neighbors to love so that we may learn to love Him. God contacts us daily through our neighbors. Thus, Jesus proclaims that true religion loves God both directly and as living in our neighbor. Biblical love of God is responsive gratitude for, and remembrance of, what God has done for us, rather than an independent project we undertake for God. (“Without the love of neighbor, the love of God remains a barren emotion; and without the love of God, love of neighbor is but a refined form of self-love.” Reginald H. Fuller).

Catechism on the greatest commandment (CCC #2083 & #2196): Love of God means putting Him first, respecting His Name, and keeping His Day [the Sabbath; Sunday for us] holy. To love God means a dedication of the entire person to His will, placing Him first in one’s mind and the heart, speaking respectfully about Him, and keeping His Day as one of prayer and true recreation, a day to keep His Law. Love of God transforms lives every waking moment of every day.

Love of neighbor means respect for others, their relationships, their reputations, and their property. Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 indicate love in action. Loving our neighbor as ourselves means looking at and treating others with the respect God gives them. This love begins at home with one’s parents. It then extends to others. Love of neighbor extends beyond our family and friends to strangers, especially to the poor, the sick, and the sinner. Love of neighbor knows no national borders or class distinctions or barriers of any kind, because God knows no such impediments.

To love our neighbor: Jesus underlines the principle that we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves because both of us bear God’s image, and to honor God’s image is to honor Him. The love of God has priority and is our source of love for neighbor. In our neighbor we see something of God, His creature, His image and likeness, and His adopted child. So, if we love God, we must also love His image, the work of His hands. God makes daily contact with us through the people around us. Love for our neighbor is a matter, not of feelings, but of deeds by which we share with others the unmerited love that God lavishes on us. This is the love for neighbor that God commands in His law. Since the Jews considered only their fellow-Jews as neighbors, Jesus, challenged, used the parable of the Good Samaritan, as reported in Luke’s Gospel, to show them what God means by “neighbor.”

Life messages: 1) We need to love God: Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength as our response to His Love for us means that we should place God’s will ahead of ours, seek the Lord’s will in all things, and make it paramount in our lives. There are several means by which we can express our love for God and our gratitude to Him for His blessings, acknowledging our total dependence on Him. We must keep God’s commandments, and offer daily prayers of thanksgiving, praise and petition. We also need to read and meditate on His word in the Bible and accept His invitation to join Him in the Mass and other liturgical functions when we can.

2) We need to love our neighbor: God’s will is that we should love everyone, seeing Him in our neighbor. Since every human being is the child of God and the dwelling place of the Spirit of God, we are actually giving expression to our love of God by loving our neighbor as Jesus loves him or her. This means we need to help, support, encourage, forgive, and pray for everyone without discrimination based on color, race, gender, age, wealth, personal attractiveness, or social status. Forgiveness, too, is vital. We love others by refusing to hold a grudge for a wrong done to us. Even a rebuke can be an act of love, if it is done with the right heart. We also express love through encouragement and by helping each other to grow. We express agápe love by meeting a need that God has given us the power to meet, by comforting each other, by teaching each other and by sharing the Gospel, in deeds and in words. We express our love for our neighbor by waiting upon the aged, nursing the sick, patching up quarrels, and listening to the broken-hearted. In short, loving our neighbor is feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, meeting the basic needs of the poor, helping the unemployed, educating the young and taking care of the old.

Jokes of the week

#1:Spousal love: One Sunday the pastor was finishing up a series on marriage. At the end of the service he was giving out small wooden crosses to each married couple. He said, “Place this cross in the room in which you fight the most and you will be reminded of God’s commandment of love and you won’t argue as much.” One woman came up after the service and said, “You’d better give me five crosses.”

#2: “How much would you give me not to love my big sister?”  A pastor was speaking to a Sunday school class about the things money can’t buy. “It can’t buy laughter and it can’t buy love” he told them. Driving his point home, he said, “What would you do if I offered you $1000 not to love your mother and father?” Stunned silence ensued. Finally, a small voice queried, “How much would you give me not to love my big sister?”

#3: “I’m tired of you too.” An old couple was sitting by the fireside. He looked over at her, had a romantic thought, and said, “After fifty years, I’ve found you tried and true.”
The wife’s hearing wasn’t very good, so she said, “What?”
He repeated, “After fifty years, I’ve found you tried and true.”
“After fifty years, I’m tired of you too,” she replied.

WEBSITES OF THE WEEK

  1. Dad’s useful resources: http://www.dads.org/
  2. Deacon Hunt’s Catholic links: http://members.cox.net/leehunt1/WebSite/2/2.html
  3. Video Sunday-Scripture study by Fr. Geoffrey Plant: https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant2066
  4. New Collection of video homilies: https://lectiotube.com/
  5. U. S. Presidential election homily: https://fssp.com/staring-into-the-abyss-an-election-homily-by-fr-ed-meeks/

24-Additional anecdotes

1) “Yes,” said God, “but not in My lifetime.” You may not know it, but years ago Nikita Khrushchev, John F. Kennedy and Golda Meir had a summit meeting with God. Each of them was allowed to ask one question. “God,” asked Nikita Khrushchev, “do you think the U.S. and Russia will ever have peace?” “Yes,” answered God, “but not in your lifetime.” Then Kennedy spoke. “God, do you think there will be peace between blacks and whites in our land and around the world?” “Yes,” replied God, “but not in your lifetime.” Then it was the Israeli leader’s turn. “God,” she asked, “do you think there will ever be peace between the Jews and the Arabs?” “Yes,” said God, “but not in My lifetime.” Do you get the feeling, sometimes, that if there is a third World War, it will not be over politics or over economics? Rather, it will be over religion as it was in the Middle Ages when much of the killing and torture and hatred in this world was done in the name of religion. Today’s Gospel describes a confrontation between Jesus and the religious fanatics of his day. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A HOLY WAR. The two words are a contradiction in terms. Love of God and love for neighbor are oars of the same boat. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

2) “How can you say you love me?” Hasidic Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of the Ukraine was fond of saying that he had learned the true meaning of love from a drunken peasant. While visiting the owner of a tavern in the Polish countryside, the rabbi overheard the conversation of two men seated at a nearby table. Both had had a fair amount to drink and both were feeling quite mellow. With their arms around one another, they were professing how much each loved the other. Suddenly, the older of the two, Ivan, looked at his friend and asked, “Peter, tell me, what hurts me?” Bleary-eyed but slightly sobered by such a question, Peter looked at Ivan and answered with a question of his own: “How do I know what hurts you?” Ivan’s response came quickly. “If you don’t know what hurts me, how can you say you love me?” In today’s Gospel Jesus teaches us that the most important commandment is to love God living in others. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

3) Love God living in your neighbor: “In the most striking finding, Dr. Harold Koenig of Duke University Medical Center has calculated that, with regard to any mainstream Faith, ‘lack of religious involvement has an effect on mortality that is equivalent to 40 years of smoking one pack of cigarettes per day.’” Further, “Another new study, conducted mainly by researchers at the University of Texas, found that those who regularly attended worship services lived an average of seven years longer than those who never attended.” (The New Republic (July 19 & 26, 1999). Cited at tim@cybersalt.org (Tim Davis).) What can I say? Listening to me each week is good for you! A healthy bank account and a healthy body will take you a long way in our society. And if you have both, you are blessed indeed. But neither will bring you any comfort if your own children hate you. Neither will suffice for companionship if your neighbors avoid you. There are plenty of lonely, rich, old people in this world who would give anything to be loved. YOU AND I WERE CREATED FOR RELATIONSHIPS. It is built into every fiber of our being. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

4) “Did you ask a good question today?” Isidor Isaac Rabi, a Nobel Prize winner in Physics, and one of the developers of the atomic bomb, was once asked how he became a scientist. Rabi replied that every day after school his mother would talk to him about his school day. She wasn’t so much interested in what he had learned that day, but how he conducted himself in his studies. She always inquired, “Did you ask a good question today?” “Asking good questions,” Rabi said, “made me become a scientist.” In order to ask a good question I think you need to have noble motives behind the question. You have to want to know the truth. The Pharisees, by contrast, already had the answers to their questions. They felt they already knew the truth. The Pharisees come to Jesus once again with a question designed to do damage to the reputation of Jesus. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

5) “I am not much of a judge of religion.” In our nation’s archives there is an account of two ladies from Tennessee who came before President Abraham Lincoln at the conclusion of the Civil War. They were asking for the release of their husbands, held as prisoners of war at Johnson’s Island. Lincoln put them off until Friday, when they came again. Again the President put them off until Saturday. At each of the interviews one of the ladies stressed to Lincoln that her husband was a religious man. After the Saturday interview the President ordered the release of the prisoners. Then he turned to this lady and said, “You say your husband is a religious man. Tell him when you meet him, that I say I am not much of a judge of religion. In my opinion, however, the religion that sets men to rebel and fight against their government is not the sort of religion upon which people can get to Heaven!” I think Abe was a pretty good judge of religion. Any religion that tells me that I can hate or exploit or mistreat any person regardless of their race, nationality or religion is not the kind of religion upon which people can get into Heaven. Love for God, love for neighbor. They must forever be one (Gerard Fuller in Stories for all Seasons). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

6) “You’re still you, and I love you.” “Actor Christopher Reeves had everything–wealth, fame, fabulous health. He was one of the most handsome, physically fit men in Hollywood. Then he fell from a horse. And suddenly he was a quadriplegic. When he awoke from his accident, his first thought was that maybe he should go ahead and die. But one thing stopped him and gave him the will to live. His wife, Dana, spoke to him firmly, yet gently. “I am only going to say this once,” she said. “I will support whatever you want to do, because this is your life and your decision. But I want you to know that I’ll be with you for the long haul, no matter what. You’re still you, and I love you.” Those words gave Christopher Reeves the strength to go on. [Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Mark & Chrissy Donnelly, and Barbara DeAngelis, Ph.D. Chicken Soup for the Couple’s Soul (Deerfield Beach, FL.: Health Communications, Inc., 1999), pp. 104-105.] There are times in life when all of us wonder where we will find the strength to go on. Maybe it will come from a spouse, or our offspring, or a friend. Other people are a great source of consolation and comfort. But there will come a time when all of us will have to lean on our ultimate Friend, God. There will be no one else who can help. And why shouldn’t we turn to God? This is that for which He created us –relationships. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

7) “No longer was Jesus only the handsome man.” One day Ron was serving a hot meal at a soup kitchen. They were serving chili with two pieces of buttered bread on that particular day. A man came through the line who looked even more scruffy and broken than the others. Ron was overwhelmed by his stench. “Like the pull of a magnet,” Ron recalls, “my gaze went to the dirt and dried blood on his hands.” Before he realized what was happening, the man clasped Ron’s hand in both of his. “Brother,” said the scruffy man, “I love you. Thanks for being here.” “I’m glad you came,” Ron replied after swallowing hard. Ron tried to smile as the man shuffled over to one of the tables with his meal. The next man stepped up. As Ron handed him a bowl of chili, a little of the chili spilled on Ron’s hand. Without thinking he licked it off. Then it hit him. That was the hand the other man had just clasped! Ron momentarily froze, repelled to think that he had licked something that smelly, dirty man had just touched. It was a moment of revelation for Ron. “The light of awareness changed my vision and my heart warmed with new understanding,” Ron says. “No longer was Jesus only the handsome man I had pictured in my mind and seen in paintings,” he continued. “Now he had a scarred, stubbled face and fingers stained yellow; he was dirty, he smelled bad, and he wore cast-off clothes. I had just served him chili and bread.” [Ron DelBene, From the Heart (Nashville: Upper Room Books, 1991), pp. 32-33.] There’s a reason we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. When we love God with all our heart, soul, and mind and love our neighbors as ourselves, we experience the risen Christ. v

8) “He is going to get his hand blown off.” Charles L. Allen, in God’s Psychiatry, tells about a scene from Amos and Andy. “There was a big man who would slap Andy across the chest whenever they met. Finally, Andy got enough of it and said to Amos, ‘I’m fixed for him. I put a stick of dynamite in my vest pocket, and the next time he slaps me, he is going to get his hand blown off.’ Andy had not reasoned that at the same time he would get his heart blown out.” When we refuse to love our neighbor, we blow out our own heart. It all goes together. The brotherhood of people can become a reality only when we have the fatherhood of God. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

9) Self-hate leading to suicide: In an average year in the United States, 22,000 people kill themselves, and 100,000 more try. The real cause for such attempts, say the psychiatrists, is a sense of guilt and a desire to punish oneself. G. K. Chesterton says the great lesson of “beauty and the beast” is that a thing must be loved before it is loveable. If we are God’s creation, and if we are created like God because He loves us, we must think well of ourselves. We are well-made, we are God’s handiwork and we are created like our Creator. There is an important message here – we are to love ourselves. In a day when self-worth is low, in a time when so much introspection is encouraged, and when human nature is looked at with suspicion, we need to say boldly – we are God-made! And let’s remember, God makes us well. It would be blasphemy to hate ourselves, since God is our Creator. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

10) “That was John D. Rockefeller, Sr.” The story is told of an East Coast fishing village that was nearly destitute. The townspeople decided to hold a meeting in an attempt to resolve their complicated problems. A stranger showed up to the meeting, and he tried several times to speak. But there was a bit of community prejudice in that town, and the visitor was interrupted each time he opened his mouth. The locals didn’t care for an outsider to become involved. A latecomer to the meeting showed up just as the visitor was leaving, and they passed each other in the entrance. The latecomer asked, “What was he doing here? Did he offer help? Is he going to aid us?” Not knowing what to make of this, the members of the assembly asked if he knew who the stranger was. The latecomer replied, “I saw his boat docked in the harbor. That was John D. Rockefeller, Sr.!” They ignored the one person who had the resources to help them. How often God comes to us, but we do not recognize Him or receive Him! Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

11) That’s loving God. An old Russian woman lay on a sofa. Multiple sclerosis had twisted her body almost beyond recognition. The simplest tasks had become almost impossible for her. Corrie Ten Boom visited her at night, using the cover of darkness to escape detection by the Lithuanian authorities. Corrie kissed the woman’s wrinkled cheek. The old woman could respond only by rolling her eyes and smiling because the atrophied muscles in her neck would no longer allow her to move her head. The only part of her body she could still control was her right hand. With her gnarled knuckles she stroked Corrie’s face. Corrie reached up to take her hand, and kissed her index finger–for a special reason.
The routine was the same every morning as the old lady’s husband propped her into a sitting position on the sofa. A battered old typewriter was placed on a little table in front of her. Every day the old woman would begin to type. She could only use that one index finger to peck out the letters. This woman served God by translating Christian books into Russian. It was slow going–sometimes only typing a page or two a day but this was her way of loving God. She typed portions of the Bible as well as some of the books of Billy Graham and other Christian witnesses. The woman’s attitude was extraordinary. She saw her sickness as a prerequisite, not a detriment, for the work she did. Every other Christian in the city was watched by the secret police. But because she had been sick for so long the police took no interest in her, and she could work undetected spreading the Good News of Jesus to a people who were starving for good news.
“Not only does she translate these books,” her husband told Corrie, “but she prays while she types. Sometimes it takes a long time for her finger to hit the key, or for her to get the paper in the machine, but all the time she is praying for those whose books she is working on.” [Annie Chapman, Smart Women Keep It Simple (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1992), pp. 151-152.] That’s loving God. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

12) “Don’t be foolish! You were my guest.” There is a Jewish story about a Mr. Kleinman who finds himself alone in a strange town on the Sabbath. He goes to the local synagogue. After services, a Mr. Putterman comes over and invites Mr. Kleinman to be his guest for the evening. They go to Mr. Putterman’s home. Mr. Kleinman takes a beautiful hot bath with scented soap, and dries himself with fluffy towels. They have a delicious meal. Afterwards Mr. Kleinman falls asleep on a comfy bed with fresh sheets. In short, for the entire Sabbath the Puttermans treat Mr. Kleinman like royalty. Now, it’s time to go. Mr. Kleinman says, “This was a delightful Sabbath. Thank you so much. What can I do to repay you?” And Mr. Putterman presents Mr. Kleinman a bit of paper on which is written: “Warm bath, six dollars. Two cakes of soap, four dollars. Clean towels, three dollars. Full dinner, twenty dollars. Overnight lodging, forty dollars. Fresh sheets, three dollars. Total: Seventy-six dollars.” “You’re charging me?” asks the incredulous Mr. Kleinman. “Certainly,” replies Putterman. “But you invited me!” Kleinman protests. ” I was your guest! I’ve never heard of such a thing! This is outrageous!” “Nevertheless, if you could just settle up,” says Putterman. “I will do no such thing!” Kleinman responds. “All right,” sighs Mr. Putterman. “Let’s not argue. Let’s take this case to the rabbi and let him decide.” “That suits me fine,” says Kleinman and off they went to the local rabbi. In the Rabbi’s study Kleinman lays out his case. The rabbi listens and strokes his beard. When Kleinman finishes he asks Putterman, “Do you have anything to add?” “No,” says Putterman, “It happened exactly as Mr. Kleinman described.” “In that case,” says the rabbi, “based on numerous Talmudic precedents and on similar cases found in the Reposa, it is my decision that Mr. Kleinman should pay Mr. Putterman.” Kleinman is dumbfounded. Still a rabbi had heard, a rabbi had considered and a rabbi had reached a decision. The two men thanked the rabbi and left. Outside, Mr. Kleinman begins counting out his money. “What are you doing?” asks Putterman. “I’m going to pay you,” says Kleinman. “Don’t be foolish,” says Putterman. “You were my guest. I was honored to have you spend the Sabbath with me. I hope you’ll come again.” “But you gave me a bill,” says the confused Kleinman. “We had a dispute; a decision was rendered.” “Oh, that!” says Putterman. “I just wanted you to see what kind of schmuck we have for a rabbi.” (The Jewish Humor List, 5, pp. 140-41) The lawyer who came to Jesus probably didn’t really want to know Jesus’ views on the great Commandment. He simply wanted to show him up as a schmuck, as a fraud. Imagine how surprised the lawyer was when Jesus answered his question in such a way that Jesus’ authority could not be denied. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

13) “That’s how God works.” There is a story about a young woman who was in great distress because she had lost a sense of God in her life.  She complained to her elderly grandmother, “Why doesn’t God let me feel His presence? If only I could feel Him and know that He has touched me.”  Her grandmother said, “Pray to God, right now.  Close your eyes and pray to him.  Ask Him to put out his hand and touch you.”  The girl closed her eyes and prayed fervently.  Then she felt a hand on her hand.  “He touched me.  He touched me,” she cried out.  Then she said, “You know, his hand felt just like your hand.”  “Of course it was my hand,” her grandmother said.  “That’s how God works.  He takes the hand that is nearest and uses that.” (Fr. Pellegrino). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

14) “The fire, Lord, not the scrap heap”: Arthur Godfrey, the radio and early TV star, used to keep a sign that read: ‘”The fire, Lord, not the scrap heap.” He said the sign reminded him of a story about a blacksmith who suffered much illness but still maintained a strong Faith in God. When an unbeliever asked the blacksmith how he could keep trusting God in spite of his illness, he replied: “When I make a tool, I take a piece of iron and put it into the fire. Then I strike it on the anvil to see if it can take temper. If it does, I can make a useful article out of it. If not, I toss it on the scrap heap.” When we suffer because of love, we can rejoice because we know that God is using us (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

15) “You must be related to Him!” Just before Christmas, there was a boy who was wandering through a shopping complex. He was admiring the colorful display of the Christmas gifts. A lady closely watched him moving from one shop to another. Realizing the poverty of the boy, she took him inside the shop and showed him the Christmas tree and explained him about the meaning of Christmas. “God loves us,” she said, “And to save us from our sins. He was born in a manager as little babe.” Then she bought him a set of new clothes and a pair of shoes, along with some Christmas gifts and a candy and some refreshments. The little boy was thrilled. As she led him out of the shop, he looked at her and asked her, “Are you God?” “No,” she replied, “I am only one of His children.” “Ah! Said the boy, “I knew that somehow you were related to Him.” (John Rose in John’s Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

16) “I have broken the commandment of men…” In the time of the desert monks, there was an abbot by the name of Moses who had a great reputation for holiness. Easter was approaching, so the monks met and decided to fast the entire length of Holy Week. Having come to this decision, each monk went off to his cell to fast and pray. However, about the middle of the week, two wandering monks came to visit the cell of Abbot Moses. Seeing that they were starving, he cooked a little vegetable stew for them. To make them feel at ease he took a little of it himself. Meanwhile the other monks had seen the smoke rising from the abbot’s cell. It could mean only one thing –he had lit a fire to cook some food. In other words, he had broken the solemn fast. They were shocked. And in the eyes of many of them, he fell from his pinnacle of sanctity. In a body they went over to confront him. Seeing judgment in their eyes, he asked, “What crime have I committed that makes you look at me like this?” “You’ve broken the solemn fast,” they answered. “So I have,” he replied. “I have broken the commandment of men, but in sharing my food with these brothers of ours, I have kept the Commandment of God, that we should love one another.” On hearing this, the monks grew silent, and went away, humbled and wiser. (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

17) Greater love than this…There was an article written in Time magazine years ago, about an airplane suddenly crashing into the sea. The writer claimed that it was one of America’s worst tragedies because of the large number of lives that were lost. It was also America’s hour of heroism. Immediately on hearing of the crash, several rescue operations were set into motion and the rescue workers, saved many survivors. There were several heroes who distinguished themselves that day by their life-saving action. The first heroes were the rescue workers, and when they were later interviewed on TV, they were asked one question: “Why did you risk your life?” They said that it was their job, and they were expected to do. These rescue workers perhaps symbolize people who will do things if it is their job. “If it is not my job then I will not lift a finger to help.” The second hero was one of the passengers, who was rescued and was being taken to the lifeboats.  He noticed a lady drowning, dived into the waters, and pulled her to the safety of the lifeboat. When asked later why he had risked his life he replied: “She called out to me and asked for help so I had to help.” The hero could perhaps represent people who will do things if they are asked. “If you want my help, ask for it!” The third hero was also one of the passengers of the ill-fated plane. After the tragedy struck, he found himself floating among the debris. Fortunately, one of the rescue helicopters noticed him and lowered a halter, which he grabbed and held on to. He could easily have saved himself but he saw a young lady drowning and he quickly put the halter around her and the helicopter was able to rescue her. Soon the helicopter came again and once again the man grabbed the lifeline. Instead of helping himself, he looked around and noticed another old lady struggling and got the halter around her and she was rescued. Six times the man had a chance to save himself but six times he gave the lifeline to another, who, he felt, had a greater need. The seventh time when the helicopter came to the spot where the man had been floating, he was gone! History will never know who exactly this heroic passenger was, but he symbolized what Christ meant when he said: “Greater love than this no man has, than that he lays down his life for a friend!” (Quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

18) Film: Father Damien: The Leper Priest: Father Damien: The Leper Priest is a movie made for television. The program dramatizes the story of Fr. Damien who came from Belgium to the Hawaiian island of Molokai in 1873 to serve the lepers there until he too contracted leprosy and died in 1889. At that time in history, the colony of Molokai was a dumping ground for lepers and it was like a death sentence to be put there. There was little law and order, medical help and supplies were non-existent, and housing and sanitation were so bad that the island seemed like a sewer. At first Fr. Damien found the lepers repulsive. But as he suffered with them, struggled with them and served them, he overcame his revulsion towards the lepers and developed deep feelings of love for them. Fr. Damien dedicated almost two decades of his life to the lepers because he believed that in doing so he was demonstrating both his love for God and for his neighbour. (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

19) On Hospitality: A man attending a crowded Church service refused to take his hat off when asked to do so by the ushers. The preacher was perturbed too, and after the service told the man that the Church was quite happy to have him as guest, and invited him to join the Church, but he explained the traditional decorum regarding men’s hats and said, “I hope you will confirm to that practice in the future.” “Thank you,” said the man. “And thank you for taking time to talk to me. It was good of you to ask me to join the congregation. In fact, I joined it three years ago and have been coming regularly ever since, but today is the first day anyone ever paid attention to me. After being an unknown for three years, today, by simply keeping on my hat, I had the pleasure of talking to the ushers. And now I have a conversation with you, who have always appeared too busy to talk to me before!” –- What do we do to make strangers welcome? Are we too busy that we have no time to keep the greatest commandment? (Anonymous; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

20) Topping the List: There is an immortal song written by an English poet, Leigh Hunt about a man named Abou Ben Adhem. Abou Ben Adhem woke from his sleep one night and saw in his room an angel writing in a book of gold the names of those who love God. “Is my name one of those in your book?” inquired Abou. “No, Not so,” replied the angel. “I pray you, then,” said Abou, “Write me as one who loves God’s fellowmen.” The following day the angel came again and displayed the names of those who love God, and Abou Ben Adhem’s name topped the list. This story makes the point that true love of God and true love of our fellowmen are two sides of the same coin. One cannot exist apart from the other. That is what we find in today’s Gospel. (John Pichappilly in The Table of the Word; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

21) Savior Heroes: Years ago, there was a movie called Little Lord Fauntleroy. It was about a seven-year-old boy who went to live with his grandfather, a wealthy man who had many people working under him. The old man was basically selfish and mean. But the little boy idolized him so much that he couldn’t see this. He thought his grandfather was generous and kind. Over and over he would say to him, “Grandfather! How people must love you! I’ll bet they love you almost as much as I do.” The little boy’s love gradually softened the old man’s heart, and he became the kind of person his grandson thought him to be. This story is like a parable of Jesus. It shows how his love for us can change us and give us the power to become the kind of loving people he sees we can be. -Arthur Godfrey, the early TV star, used to keep a sign that read: ‘The fire, Lord, not the scrap heap’. He said the sign reminded him of a story about a blacksmith who suffered much illness but still maintained a strong faith in God. When an unbeliever asked the blacksmith how he could keep trusting God in spite of his illness, he replied: “When I make a tool, I take a piece of iron and put it into the fire. Then I strike it on the anvil to see if it can take temper. If it does, I can make a useful article out of it. If not, I toss it on the scrap heap.” When we suffer because of love, we can rejoice because we know that God is using us. (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

22) Neighbor and self: God’s way of saying thank you? Bill was the head of an engraving firm in New York City. He and his wife, Billie, wanted very much to have a family. Several years after their marriage, when it seemed as though God intended them to be childless, they adopted a baby boy. After a while they decided that they should adopt a girl, too. Among those available for adoption, there was one sweet child who had a cardiac disorder. Because of the ailment, the physician who examined the little girl advised against taking her. To the doctor’s amazement, Bill disagreed. “No,” he said, “we’ll adopt her anyhow. A daughter of ours might have been born with the same condition.” After sixteen years of marriage, Bill and Billie welcomed a third child into their family circle. This baby was their own flesh and blood…. God’s way of saying thank you? The second commandment is like the first: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39. Gospel of the day). (Father Robert F. McNamara) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

23) “Love me, love my rag dolls.” There is a natural, logical kind of loving that loves lovely things and lovely people. That’s logical. But there is another kind of loving that doesn’t look for value in what it loves, but that creates value in what it loves. Like Rosemary’s rag doll. When Rosemary was three years old, she was given a beautiful little rag doll, which quickly became an inseparable companion. She had other toys that were intrinsically far more expensive, but none that she loved like she loved the rag doll. Soon, the rag doll became more and more rag and less and less doll. It also became more and more dirty. If you tried to clean the rag doll, it became more ragged still. And if you didn’t try to clean the rag doll, it became dirtier still. The sensible thing to do was to trash the rag doll. But that was unthinkable for anyone who loved Rosemary. If you loved Rosemary, you loved the rag doll too — it was part of the package. “Love me, love my rag dolls,” says God, “including the one you see when you look in the mirror. This is the first and the greatest commandment.” ( Fr. Lakra). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

24) “I wouldn’t do that for £1,000.” Once a British journalist visited Kolkata, India to see the works of the Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Teresa. He went to their old-age house at Kali-ghat Temple and watched an attractive young Nun dressing the wounds on a man with gangrene in his leg. The journalist was appalled by the very sight of the wound, but at the same time he was full of admiration for the young nun who seemed to show no disgust as she was cleaning the suppurating wound. “I wouldn’t do that for £1,000,” said the journalist. “Neither would I,” said the Nun, “I do it for love.” Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) (L/20)

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle A (No. 56) 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 or  Fr. Tony for my website version. (Special thanks to Vatican Radio website- http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html -which completed uploading my Cycle A, B and C homilies in May 2020) Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604