For missed Sunday & weekday homilies, visit http://frtonyshomilies.com: June 15-20: June 15 Monday: Mt 5:38-42: “You have heard that it was said, `An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; 40 and if anyone would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; 41 and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you. USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/qdWBo4_IQP8?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DAlWO6X2kAG00Pyg_VQd3RD
The context: During their captivity in Egypt, the Jews became familiar with the crude tribal law of retaliation called Lex Talionis (=Tit-for-Tat) given by the ancient lawmaker Hammurabi during the period 2285-2242 BC. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus rejects even the concession of milder retaliation allowed by Moses. In its place, Jesus gives his new law of love and grace — and no retaliation.
“An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” Moses instructed the Israelites to follow tit-for-tat retaliation, rather than to wreak total destruction upon their enemies. That is, instead of mutilating or murdering all the members of the offender’s family or tribe, they should discover, then punish by an equal mutilation or harm, only the offender. Later, a milder version of this law was substituted. It demanded monetary compensation, as decided by a judge, in place of physical punishment. Moses also gave the Israelites several laws commanding merciful treatment for the enemy if he also was a Jew (e.g., Lv 19:18).
The true Christian reaction: For Jesus, retaliation, or even limited vengeance, has no place in the Christian life. Jesus illustrates the Christian approach by giving three examples:
1) Turn to him the other cheek: Striking someone on the right cheek (with the right hand), requires striking with the back of one’s hand, and, according to Jewish concepts, the blow inflicts more insult than pain. Jesus instructs his followers to forgive the insult gracefully and convert the offender. 2) “Let him have your cloak as well.” Jesus instructs his followers that they should show more responsibility and a greater sense of duty than to fight over possessions. 3) Go with him two miles. A Christian has the duty of responding, even to seemingly unjust demands by helping or serving gracefully not grudgingly. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20.
June 16 Tuesday: Mt 5:43-48: “You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/EG4WVcGsUpg?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DAlWO6X2kAG00Pyg_VQd3RD
The context: Today’s Gospel passage is perhaps the central and the most famous section of the Sermon on the Mount. It gives us the Christian ethic of personal relationship: love one’s neighbors and forgive one’s enemies. Above all, it tells us that what makes Christians different is the grace with which they treat others, treating them with loving kindness and mercy, especially when those others don’t deserve it. The Old Law never said to hate enemies, but that was the way some Jews understood it. Jesus commands that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us in order to demonstrate that we are children of a merciful Heavenly Father. From the cross, Jesus prayed for all of those who were crucifying him – which includes all fallen humankind, and so ourselves — saying, ‘Father forgive them; they know not what they do.’” (Lk 23:34). A Christian has no personal enemies. If we only love our friends, we are no different from pagans or atheists.
We need to love our neighbors and our enemies, too: The Greek word used for loving enemies is not storge (affection or natural love towards family members), or philia = friendship (love of close friends), or eros (=romance) (passionate love between a young man and woman), but agápe =unconditional love which is the invincible benevolence or good will for another’s highest good. Since agápe or unconditional love is not natural, practicing it is possible only with God’s help. Agápe love is a choice more than a feeling. We choose to love, not because our enemies deserve our love, but because Jesus loves them so much that he died for them, and they, too, are the children of our God. We have in the Acts of the Apostles the example of St. Stephen, the first martyr, who, like Jesus on the cross, prayed for those who were putting him to death.
Life Messages: We are to try to be perfect, to be like God: 1) We become perfect when we fulfill God’s purpose in creating us: with His help, to become God-like. 2) We become perfect when, with His ongoing help, we try to love as God loves, to forgive as God forgives and to show unconditional good will and universal benevolence as God does. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20.
June 17 Wednesday: Mt 6:1-6, 16-18: “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 “Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 16 “And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. USCCB video reflections:https://youtu.be/CqOluw43TDY?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DAlWO6X2kAG00Pyg_VQd3RD
The context: In today’s passage from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus takes three cardinal works of religious life in Judaism, namely, almsgiving, prayer and fasting and instructs his followers on the principles underlying these acts of personal piety.
Life Messages: 1) Almsgiving becomes a noble and meritorious religious act when we give to bring glory to God. a) We are to help the poor as an expression of our sharing love, in thanksgiving for the blessings we have received from God. b) But Almsgiving becomes an act of self-glorification when we do it as the Pharisees did, to demonstrate our generosity in public and to get popular acclaim.
2) Fasting becomes a noble act pleasing to God when we do it: a) to experience what the real hunger of the poor is, b) to help the poor better by giving the price of what we do not eat to feed them, c) to discipline ourselves in eating and drinking and d) to appreciate better God’s blessings of good health, good appetite and generous provisions. e) Fasting for show, as the Pharisees did, is wrong and sinful.
3) Prayer: Prayer is opening our connection to God by talking to Him and listening to Him, convinced of His all-pervading holy presence within us and all around us. a) By prayer we acknowledge our total dependence on God, draw from Him our daily spiritual strength and recharge our spiritual batteries from God’s infinite power. b) Long, noisy, repetitious prayer performed in public for show as the Pharisees did is no prayer at all. It is hypocrisy. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20.
June 18 Thursday: Mt 6: 7-15: 7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their 10many words. 8 “So do not be like them; for 11your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. 9 “12Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 ’13Your kingdom come. 14Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 ’15Give us this day our daily bread. 12 ‘And 16forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but 17deliver us from 18evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] 14 “19For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 “But 20if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. 5USCCB video reflections:https://youtu.be/HkzlmdtA-74?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DAlWO6X2kAG00Pyg_VQd3RD
The context: In today’s passage from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructs the crowd that they should not pray like the Gentiles, repeating empty phrases. He means that true prayer is not so much a matter of the number of words as of the frequency and the love with which the Christian turns towards God, raising his or her mind to God. So, Jesus teaches them a model prayer. Jesus’ prayer, “Our Father,” consists of two parts. In the first part, we praise and worship God addressing Him as our loving, caring, and providing Heavenly Father and promising Him that we will do His holy will in our lives, thus remaining in His kingdom. In the second part, we present our petitions before the Triune God.
First, we ask God for our present needs (“give us this day our daily bread”), our past needs “ forgive us our trespasses”(forgiveness of sins) and our future needs, “deliver us from evil” (protection against the tempter and his temptations). In this part, we also bring the Trinitarian God into our lives. We bring in: 1) God the Father, the Provider, by asking for daily bread; 2) God the Son, our Savior, by asking forgiveness for our sins; and 3) God the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete Who is our Guide, Advocate, Comforter and Illuminator, by asking for protection and deliverance from evil.
Special stress on the spirit of forgiveness: We are told to ask for forgiveness from others for our offenses against them and to offer unconditional forgiveness to others for their offenses against us as a condition for receiving God’s forgiveness. Jesus further clarifies, “If you forgive others their wrongs, your Father in Heaven will also forgive yours. If you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive you either” (Mt 6:14-15).
“For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory, now and forever. Amen.” The manuscripts of the Gospel of Matthew do not contain this phrase, nor do any of the Catholic translations. Martin Luther added this doxology to Our Father in his translation of Matthew’s Gospel, and the King James editions of the Bible keep it. The doxology is actually taken from the Divine Liturgy or Catholic Mass. Known as the final doxology, it takes up the first three petitions to our Father. By the final “Amen,” which means, “So be it”, we ratify what is contained in the prayer that God has taught us. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20.
June19 Friday (The most Sacred Heart of Jesus) USCCB: https://youtu.be/duVEc2PfdtE?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DAlWO6X2kAG00Pyg_VQd3RD) Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the second most popular Catholic devotion (the first being the Rosary). The other devotions are morning and evening prayers, prayers before and after meals, the Angelus, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, making the Sign of the Cross praising the Holy Trinity, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, novenas, the Stations of the Cross, Litanies, etc.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus: The infinite love and mercy of God is shown in many different metaphors and symbols. First of all, his undeserved mercy is shown in the fact of the Incarnation symbolized by the image of baby Jesus in the manger: God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son who became one of us. The primitive Church expressed the love of Christ in the symbol of the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep. The symbols of this love vary from age to age. The Medieval Period used the symbol of the crucifix which showed the tortured body of Jesus. In the seventeenth Century, the symbol of the Sacred Heart of Jesus began to be used. The Sunday after Easter has been designated by Pope John Paul II as Divine Mercy Sunday: This commemorates the lavish and undeserved love of God for all of us.
History: The devotion to the sacred Heart is based on the apparitions of Our Lord from 1673 to 1675 to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a nun of the Visitation Convent at Paray-le-Monial in France. In her mystical experiences, Jesus revealed to St. Margaret Mary the great mystery of his infinite love for us, represented by his Sacred Heart. Jesus asked that homes be consecrated to his Sacred Heart as a sign of his living presence with us in the Church, especially through the Holy Eucharist. The Gospel passage, “They shall look on him whom they have pierced” (Jn 19:35-37) is at the foundation of the whole tradition of devotion to the Divine Heart. The practices of the “Enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus” in the home and the consecration and dedication of the family to the Sacred Heart were begun by Father Mateo Crawley-Boevey of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. His work was first confirmed and blessed by Pope St. Pius X and then by every later Pope. The Catechism of the Catholic Church,, quoting Pope Pius XII’s beautiful encyclical Haurietis Aquas (1956), states, “[Jesus] has loved us all with a human heart. For this reason, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced by our sins and for our salvation, ‘is quite rightly considered the chief sign and symbol of that…love….” (no. 478). The “Holy Hour,” the “Litany of the Sacred Heart,” “The Act of Consecration of the Family and the Human Race to the Sacred Heart,” the “First Friday Devotion” and the “Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus” are different forms of this devotion.
The objectives of this devotion and the aims of “enthronement” of the picture of the Sacred Heart in a prominent place in the house are:
a) “Official and social recognition of the rule of Jesus over the Christian family” (Mateo Crawley-Boevey). b) The Enthronement is a way of life, the acceptance of Christ as King of our hearts, as our constant Companion, as our Brother, and as our Friend, helping us and guiding us in the small and big matters of daily life. c) The Enthronement daily reminds each member of the family to follow in Christ’s royal way by making reparation for sins committed and by striving to serve God and neighbor more lovingly. d) The Enthronement gives every member of the family an occasion daily, and perhaps, many times daily, to gaze upon the Face of Christ and to have Christ gaze upon his/her face, thus reminding him/her that s/he is under the protection of Jesus. e) The Enthronement is a source of special blessings to the members of the family from the Lord. f) The essence of this devotion is to create awareness in us of the merciful love of Christ, a love he offers to all who come to him with Faith and the willingness to obey his teaching.
Life messages: a) An invitation for a “heart transplant.” Our hearts become stony and insensitive through our daily exposure to acts of cruelty, terrorism, injustice, and impurity. Hence, God prescribes a change of heart through His prophet Ezekiel (Ez 11:19-20) to make our hearts soft, elastic, large and sensitive:” I will give them a new heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove the stony heart from their bodies, and replace it with a natural heart.” The Sacred Heart of Jesus should be the ideal heart for this medical procedure: “Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” Let us have and use the Heart of Jesus as He wishes.
b) An invitation to love. The Sacred Heart of Jesus challenges us to love others as Jesus loved: selflessly, unconditionally and sacrificially, and to express this love in humble and loving service done to others.
c) An invitation to pray: First, let us pray for all suffering from, and killed by Corvid-19. Then, let us continue to pray for the grace of healing for those who have been the victims of sexual abuse by the clergy, as the Church expresses its sorrow and seeks forgiveness from these victims. Let us also pray that these victims may, in turn, accept the grace to forgive those who have harmed and betrayed them.Next, let us pray for the grace of courage for our bishops to be true shepherds in caring for their flocks; in restoring restore discipline in clerical and religious life and in ending the dissent that has undermined the Magisterium. Finally, let us pray for the grace of perseverance, that clergy and laity alike will keep the Faith and not lose hope in this difficult time of purification. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20.
June 20 Saturday: The Immaculate Heart of Mary:(USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/CueVwOW_hXk?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DAlWO6X2kAG00Pyg_VQd3RD )Lk 2:41-51: 41 Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. ……51 USCCB video reflections:
Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a special form of devotion to the venerable person of Mary, similar to devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Mary’s Immaculate Heart represents her interior life and the beauty of her soul. Devotion to the Heart of Jesus is especially directed to the Divine Heart as overflowing with love for men. This devotion is an attempt to respond to Jesus’ love and to make reparation for the lack of love on the part of mankind. In the devotion to the Heart of Mary, on the other hand, what seems to attract us above all else is the love of Mary’s Immaculate Heart for Jesus and for God. The objective is to love God and Jesus better, by uniting ourselves to Mary for this purpose and by imitating her virtues. In this devotion, we think of the love, virtues, and sentiments of Mary’s interior life and try to put them into practice.
Scriptural basis of this devotion: It was mostly the love, humility, faith, and other virtues of the Heart of Mary that attracted early Christians to Mary, the mother of Jesus. They saw Mary’s heart in its true color at the foot of the Cross. Simeon’s prophecy furnished this devotion with its most popular representation: the heart pierced with a sword. St. Augustine remarks: “At the foot of the cross, Mary cooperated with Jesus in the work of our redemption through charity.” One Scriptural passage in support of this devotion is the twice-repeated saying of St. Luke given in today’s Gospel that Mary kept all the sayings and doings of Jesus in her heart, that she might ponder over them and live by them. A few of the sayings of Mary recorded in the Gospel, particularly the Magnificat, disclose new features in Marian psychology. Elizabeth proclaims Mary blessed because she has believed the words of the angel. The Magnificat is also an expression of her humility. Answering the woman in the crowd who praised Jesus’ mother as blessed, Jesus commented “Blessed rather are they that hear the word of God and keep it.” It was Mary’s readiness to hear and do the will of God that endeared her to God and caused her to be selected as the Mother of Jesus.
Life message: Let us take Mary as our role model and practice her virtues of trusting Faith, serving humility and readiness to do God’s will in our daily lives, thus becoming immaculate children of an Immaculate Heavenly Mother. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20.
The Miraculous Medal also known as the Medal of Our Lady of Grace, is a devotional medal, the design of which was originated by Saint Catherine Labouré following her apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Rue du Bac, Paris, France, on 19 July 1830. The saint saw the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate heart of Mary pierced with a sword in an oval frame in her vision. This caused the devotion of wearing the miraculous medal honoring devotion to Jesus and Mary.