July 27- Aug. 1 (L-20)

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July 27- August 1: July 27 Monday: Mt 13:31-35: 31 Another parable he put before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; 32 it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” 33 He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” 34 All this Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed he said nothing to them without a parable. 35 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.” USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/lV6cFKIy-4g?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DCQlut1GkSO28iHCuAeFtWX; 

The context: Today’s Gospel contains two of Jesus’ one-line parables about the Kingdom of God. The parable of the mustard seed probably shows that Gentiles in the Church will one day outnumber Jews.  The parable of the yeast indicates that all are invited to salvation, and that the power of the Holy Spirit working within the Church will enable it to grow.

The small beginnings and great ending: Using a pair of mini-parables of the mustard seed and yeast, Jesus explains how the Kingdom of God, or rule of God, grows within us by the power of the Word of God and power of the Holy Spirit living within us. When we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ and allow his Word to take root in our hearts, we are transformed and made holy by the power of the Holy Spirit Who dwells in us. In the parable of the mustard seed, the primary point of comparison is the contrast between the smallness of the seed and the greatness of the result (“the largest of plants”). The life-principle in a small mustard seed enables it to grow into a large bush by a slow but steady process. The microscopic yeasts within a small piece of leaven transform a thick lump of dough overnight into soft and spongy bread. Christianity had a small beginning, like a mustard seed or yeast, with Jesus and a band of twelve apostles in a remote corner of the world. But through the power of the Holy Spirit living in individual Christians, Christianity has become the largest religion in the world, spreading in all countries embracing all races of people.

Life messages: 1) We need to allow the Holy Spirit to transform us, changing our evil ways and tendencies to a life of holiness; from unjust and uncharitable conversations to speaking with God and listening to Him (prayer); from a judgmental attitude expressed in scornful criticism, and destructive gossip to a loving, welcoming attitude live out in willing help, patience, and consoling, encouraging, inspiring support.

2) We need to act like yeast, influencing the lives of others around us: Just as Christianity in the past transformed the treatment of women, children, slaves, the sick, and the poor by the power of Jesus’ Gospel, we Christians, in our time, have the duty to transform the lives of people around us by our exemplary lives, led according to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

July 28 Tuesday: Mt 13:36-43: 36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “He who sows the good seed is the Son of man; 38 the field is the world, and the good seed means the sons of the kingdom; the weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. 41 The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42 and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/uMK6GS3bCkc?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DCQlut1GkSO28iHCuAeFtWX 

The context: Today’s Gospel text is Jesus’ explanation of his parable of the wheat and weeds.  This parable teaches us that a very patient and compassionate God 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, society, or the family, on the basis of unwarranted and hasty judgment.

Through the parable of the wheat and the weeds, Jesus assures us that we are the field of God.  We are the ground Jesus works as well as the seed he plants, and the seedlings he nurtures.  We are the people upon whom He rests his hopes, and the folk in whom He plants the seeds — the Word of God.  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 He must punish them.  “Let the seed and the darnel grow together till the harvest time.”  In other words, God awaits repentant sinners, giving them the strength to acknowledge their weakness.  God calmly recognizes that there is evil in the world, but sees that evil as no excuse for the good people who have God’s grace at their disposal not to do good.  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. If we don’t spend all our time wondering why there is so much evil in the world, we may have a little left over for wondering why there is so much good!

Life message:  1) We need to practice patience.  We need to be patient with ourselves and with others, especially those who annoy us and those who offend us. 2) 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. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

July 29 Wednesday (Feast of St. Martha) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-martha/ :Jn 11: 19-27 or Lk 10: 38-42):  19 many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary sat in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world.” USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/tAjFts1EXdE?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DCQlut1GkSO28iHCuAeFtWX 

The context: Today we celebrate the feast of St. Martha, the sister of Mary and Lazarus, who used to welcome Jesus into her house at Bethany during his Jerusalem journeys. Martha was a dynamo of action. Jesus loved her and her family. It was during the last month of his public life that Jesus visited her house for the last time. Jesus praised Mary for finding time to listen to him, while giving Martha a gentle correction for complaining about Mary’s “laziness” while Martha was rushing about frantically, preparing a grand meal for Jesus. Today’s Gospel describes how Jesus later came to Bethany in secret during the seven-day period of deep mourning for the sudden death of Lazarus. Although Lazarus had been in the tomb four days, Martha, grieving the premature loss of her brother, sprang into action and launched her heartfelt complaint that her brother would have been healed if Jesus had come when notified that he was sick, but she assured Jesus that she knew that the Father would give Jesus whatever he asked, even now. Jesus consoled her declaring: “I am the Resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” Martha’s response was a great profession of Faith in the Divinity of Jesus: “I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world’” (John 11:25-27). With Peter’s, hers is the most explicit confession of Jesus as Messiah. Mary, coming from the house at Martha’s message that the Lord had come and wanted to see her, made the same tearful complaint Martha had. Asking where they had laid Lazarus, Jesus wept at Lazarus’ tomb, then called him forth and gave him back alive to Martha and Mary by a miraculous resuscitation.

Life messages: 1) We need both Marthas and Marys in the Church – women of action and women of contemplation. How would the Church survive if not for the Marthas and Bills who sing in the choir, teach in the Sunday school, work with the youth, run the altar guild, work with the homeless, and build the Church? The same is true with the family. We need responsible people to do the work in the house: to cook, to clean, to keep the house operating, to pay the bills, to keep the cars running, not to speak of rearing the children and loving the spouse. Households can’t survive without Marthas and Bills. Nor can offices, schools or businesses. 2) But we must find time to listen to God speaking to us through His word and time to talk to God. Where would we all be without the cloistered monks and nuns who spend their lives praising God and praying for all of us? Jesus clearly said: be hearers and doers of the word. Jesus never reversed that order. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

July 30 Thursday (St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop, Doctor of the Church) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-peter-chrysologus/ : Mt 13:47-53: 47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind; 48 when it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, 50 and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. 51 “Have you understood all this?” They said to him, “Yes.” 52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his  treasure what is new and what is old.” 53 And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there. . USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/w5mKVL6VrOk?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DCQlut1GkSO28iHCuAeFtWX 

 The context: Today’s Gospel presents the third in a set of three parables Jesus preached on the Kingdom of God/Heaven and the conditions for entering it.  The parable of the fishing net: In Palestine, there were two main ways of fishing. The first was with the casting-net, which required a keen eye and great skill in throwing the net at the correct moment. The second was with a dragnet or seine. Galilean seine nets were tied to two boats and drawn through the water. The catch was sorted only afterwards, with edible or kosher fish going to market and unacceptable fish being thrown away. Just as a dragnet collects good and bad fish indiscriminately, so the Church is bound to be a mixture of all kinds of people, good and bad, useless and useful. This parable encourages the Church to adopt an open approach to Evangelization. The parable also teaches that the time of separation will come in the Final Judgment, when the good and the bad will be sent to their respective destinies. This parable is, thus, a counterpart to the parable of the weeds and the wheat. The concluding simile or mini parable: Jesus concludes his parables by advising the listeners to imitate wise scribes (Jewish religious teachers who specialized in Sacred Scripture and its application to life). A scribe/scholar need not give up his scholarship when he became a Christian; rather he should use his learning for Christ. Christians are also expected to be like scholars who study both the old wisdom of their ancestors and the new vistas of knowledge. They have a duty to pass on to others the Christian teaching they have received in language their hearers can understand.

Life message: We need to learn tolerance and compassionate understanding.) The lesson of this parable is that the Church is a mixed body of saints and sinners (good and bad fish).  There will be always a temptation on the part of some who feel they are more “faithful” to separate themselves from the “unfaithful.”  But Jesus reminds us that the final judgment resulting in reward or punishment   is the work of God. Thus, we must   learn to be tolerant, patient, compassionate, and understanding of those who seem to us to fall far below the requirements of the Gospel and the Kingdom.  Let us humbly admit the fact that only Jesus and Mary were not a mixture of good and evil.  Let us acknowledge as St. Paul did, “I am what I am with the grace of God Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

July 31 Friday (St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest) https://blog.franciscanmedia.org/franciscan-spirit/lent-with-the-saints-ignatius-of-loyola :St. Ignatius of Loyola: Ignatius was born in a Spanish noble family. After his initial studies, he was sent to the royal court to serve as a page boy. As he grew up as a young Knight, he joined the royal army. At the battle of Pampalona, a cannon ball hit his leg, making him cripple. During his recovery at the Loyola Castle hospice, he was given only Life of Christ and Lives of Saints to read. As a result, he had a conversion experience. Ignatius asked himself the question, “these were men and women like me, so why can’t I do what they have done?”  Then he had the vision of the Mother of Jesus, holding child Jesus in her hands.  It prompted him to go on a pilgrimage to the Marian Shrine at Monsterrat, near Barcelona where he remained making retreat nearby Manresa, staying sometimes with Dominicans and other times in a paupers’ hospice, spending most of his time praying in caves, while fighting with scruples by prayer, fasting, sacraments and penance until peace returned to him. It was at this time at Manreza that he wrote down his “Spiritual Exercises.”

He then went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. But because of the hostility of the Muslims, he had to return to Spain. It was there that he planned to start a religious group of men to support the Pope in his ministry. As preparation, he decided to restart his studies, learning Latin grammar, by sitting in the class of young boys when he was thirty-three.  Then he went for his college studies. At forty-three, he graduated from the University of Paris. At Montmartre, with six other student friends, Ignatius professed religious vows in 1534, founding a new religious order the “Company of Jesus” or the “Society of Jesus.” They were ordained priests after five years.   Along with the triple vows of poverty, chastity and obedience they promised to work for God in whatever way the Holy Father thought best. The new Society of Jesus was approved by Paul III in 1540, and Ignatius was elected to serve as the first general. The spirituality of Ignatius is expressed in the Jesuit motto, AMDG (ad majorem Dei gloriam)— “for the greater glory of God.” Ignatius recommended this prayer to penitents: “Receive, Lord, all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will. You have given me all that I have, all that I am, and I surrender all to your divine will, that you dispose of me. Give me only your love and your grace. With this I am rich enough, and I have no more to ask.” Before Ignatius died, there were one thousand members of the Society of Jesus or “Jesuits. Ignatius died in Rome, on July 31, 1556. Pope Gregory XV proclaimed him a saint in 1622.

Ignatius founded the Roman College, intended to be the model of all other colleges of the Society. The Jesuits became the greatest force in the Catholic Counter-Reformation.  They continue to have a tremendous influence on politics and education throughout the world.

 Life messages: 1) Let us try to do everything AMDG, trying to do it better each time. 2) Let us consider ourselves as trustees of God, as St. Ignatius did, responsible to and accountable to Him as our Lord and Master. 2) Let us try to be men and women for others, caring for their material and spiritual welfare.

Today’s gospel: Mt 13:54-58 54 He came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished* and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds?” 55 Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? 56 Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?” 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.” 5 8And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith. USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/9P3yywnqZG4?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DCQlut1GkSO28iHCuAeFtWX; 

The context: Today’s Gospel describes how, on a Sabbath, Jesus stood before the people in the synagogue of his hometown, Nazareth, reading and interpreting what Isaiah had prophesied about the Messiah and his mission. Jesus claimed that he was the One sent “to bring glad tidings to the poor, liberation to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and freedom for the oppressed.” To the great amazement and disbelief of his own townsmen, Jesus declared that Isaiah’s prophecy was being fulfilled at that very moment “in your hearing,” because the prophet was foretelling and describing Jesus’ mission and ministry. Luke reports that the initial reaction of the people was surprise at the power and eloquence of this son of their soil. They were amazed that one of their fellow villagers could speak with such grace and eloquence and with such authority. Luke says they were “amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips,” because they knew him only as a carpenter from a poor family, with no formal training in Mosaic Law. But their amazement turned into displeasure when, during his “Inaugural Address” or “Mission Statement,” Jesus took upon himself the identity of a prophet, different from the image of the miracle-worker that people wished to see.   Then their displeasure turned into anger when Jesus claimed that he was the promised Messiah of Isaiah’s prophecy.   They challenged his Messianic claim, asking, and “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”   They could not understand how a mere carpenter could be the Messiah who would liberate them from Roman rule and reestablish the Davidic kingdom.  Jesus explained their attitude by saying “No prophet is accepted in his native place.”

Life messages: 1) We need to face rejection with prophetic courage and optimism. Perhaps we have experienced the pain of rejection, betrayal, abandonment, violated trust, neglect, or abuse, even from friends and family members, when we reached out to them as God’s agents of healing and saving grace. Perhaps we ourselves are guilty of the same rejecting of God in His agents. Perhaps we, too, have been guilty of ignoring or humiliating people with our arrogance and prejudice. Let us learn to correct our mistakes and to face rejection from others with courage. 2) Let us not, like the people in Jesus’ hometown, reject God in our lives. We reject God when we are unwilling to be helped by God, or by others.   Such unwillingness prevents us from recognizing God’s directions, help and support in our lives, through His words in the Bible, through the teaching of the Church, and through the advice and examples of others. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20

August 1 Saturday (St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop, Doctor of the Church) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-alphonsus-liguori/ : Mt 14:1-12: 1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus; 2 and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist, he has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him.” 3 For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison, for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife; 4 because John said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet. 6 But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and pleased Herod, 7 so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” 9 And the king was sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given; 10 he sent and had John beheaded in the prison, 11 and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. 12 And his disciples came and took the body and buried it; and they went and told Jesus. USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm

The context: Today’s Gospel presents the last scene of a tragic drama with three main characters, Herod, Herodias and John the Baptist. Herod Antipas, (4 BC – AD 39), was a jealous and weak puppet-king with a guilty conscience. He feared the prophet John because John had publicly scolded him for divorcing his legal wife without adequate cause and for marrying his sister-in-law, Herodias, thus committing a double violation of Mosaic Law. Herodias was an immoral, greedy woman, stained by a triple guilt and publicly criticized by John. 1) She was an unfaithful woman of loose morals. 2) She was a greedy and vengeful woman. 3) She was an evil mother who used her teenage daughter for the wicked purposes of murder and revenge by encouraging her to dance in public in the royal palace against the royal etiquette of the day. John the Baptist was a fiery preacher and the herald of the Promised Messiah. He was also a Spirit-filled prophet with the courage of his convictions who criticized and scolded an Oriental monarch and his proud wife in public.

God’s punishment: After the martyrdom of John, Herod was defeated by Aretas, the father of Herod’s first wife. Later, both Herod and Herodias were sent into exile by Caligula, the Roman emperor.

Life messages: 1) As Christians we need to have the moral integrity and the courage of our convictions as John had. 2) Let us remember that sins of revenge and cruelty will never go unpunished. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20