August 3-8 weekday homilies

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Aug 3-8: Aug 3 Monday:Matthew 14:22-36: 22 Then he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. 27 But immediately he spoke to them, saying, “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.” 28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; 30 but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32..36 USCCB video reflections

 The context: The event presented by today’s Gospel is the scene immediately following Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish.  Sensing the danger of having the people make him leader of a revolt, Jesus promptly instructed his apostles to leave the place by boat and, after dispersing the crowd, he went by himself to the mountain to pray.

 A double miracle on the sea:  When the apostles in the boat were several furlongs away from the shore, they faced an unexpected storm on the sea caused by the hot wind of the desert rushing into the Sea of Galilee through the gaps in the Golan Heights. Recognizing the danger, Jesus walked on the stormy waters toward the boat. Jesus calmed the frightened disciples as he approached the boat, allowed Peter to do a trial walk on water, then saved him from drowning when he began to get frightened. As soon as Jesus brought Peter into the boat the storm ceased miraculously. The apostles recognized the presence of God in their midst and they all worshipped Jesus.

Life messages: 1) Let us approach Jesus with strong Faith in his ability and willing availability to calm the storms in our lives and in the life of the Church. Church history shows us how Jesus saved his Church from the storms of persecution in the first three centuries, from the storms of heresies in the fifth and sixth centuries, from the storms of moral degradation and the Protestant reformation movement in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the storms of sex abuse scandals of the clergy in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. 2) Let us ask Jesus to protect us when we face storms of strong temptations, storms of doubts about our religious beliefs, and storms of fear, anxiety and worries about the future, as  in the present Covid-19 pandemic, in our personal lives. 3) Experiencing Jesus’ presence in our lives, let us confess our Faith in him and call out for his help and protection.  ( L/20

Aug 4 Tuesday (St. John Vianney, Priest)  Mt 15:1-2, 10-14: Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” 10 And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” USCCB video reflections:Nil

The context: Today’s Gospel passage describes a confrontation between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees sent from Jerusalem by the Supreme Court of the Jewish religion, the Sanhedrin. They had been sent to assess Jesus’ “heretical teachings” on clean and unclean foods as prescribed in the book of Leviticus. Their first question to Jesus was why he discouraged his disciples from the ritual washing of hands before meals.

Jesus’ explanation: Jesus shocked them by his plain statement: “It is not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” In other words, Jesus declared that all the ritual food laws of the Old Testament were null and void. For Jesus, those laws were intended to teach the people of the Old Covenant the importance of offering right sacrifice and worship to God with a clean conscience and clean mind, with clean thoughts and clean deeds, for the true source of defilement is a person’s heart and mind. True religion should not be a set of mere external observances disconnected from the mind and intentions. When the apostles pointed out later to Jesus that his revolutionary views had offended the representatives of the Sanhedrin, Jesus advised them not to follow those blind guides.

Life message: 1) We need to remember that the essence of religion is a personal relationship with God and with our fellow-human beings. What God expects from us are not the mere external observances of religion but generosity and good will which urge us to practice more mercy, more kindness, more willingness to forgive offenses and more readiness to serve others lovingly and sacrificially (Fr. Tony) L/20

Aug 5 Wednesday (Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major) : Mt 15:21-28: 21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. (Cfr Mark 7 24-30) USCCB video reflections:

The context: In the Gospel, Jesus demonstrates that salvation is meant for the Gentiles as well as for the Jews. By healing the daughter of a Gentile woman as a reward for her strong, trusting Faith expressed by her patient, persistent prayer, Jesus shows us that God’s mercy and love are available to all who call out to Him in Faith.

This is one of the two miracles of healing Jesus performed for Gentiles. The other is the healing of the centurion’s servant (Mt 8:10-12). These miracles foreshadow the future preaching of the Gospel to the whole world.  Jesus first ignored both the persistent cry of the woman and the impatience of his disciples who wanted him to send the woman away. He then tried to awaken true Faith in the heart of this woman first, by ignoring the request and then, by an indirect refusal. We notice that the woman was refused three times by Jesus before he finally granted her request the fourth time. Her patient persistence was rewarded, and her plea was answered. Jesus was completely won over by the depth of her Faith, her confidence and her wit and hence responded delightedly, “Woman, great is your Faith!  Let it be done for you as you wish.”

Life messages:1) We need to persist in prayer with trustful confidence.  Christ himself has told us to keep on asking Him for our needs: “Ask and you shall receive. “Asking with fervor and perseverance demonstrates our “great Faith.” 2) We must realize and remember that we do not always get exactly what we ask for, but rather what God knows we actually need, and what is really best for us,  at the time most appropriate to meet our need. 3) We need to pull down the walls of separation we have built between ourselves and others and share in the universality of God’s love. Today’s Gospel reminds us that God’s love and mercy are extended to all who call on him in Faith and trust, no matter who they are.  It is therefore fitting that we should pray that the walls our pride, intolerance and prejudice raise, should crumble. ( L/20

Aug 6 Thursday TRANSFIGURATION OF THE LORD 17: 1-9: After six days, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud  overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well  pleased; listen to him.” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces, and were filled with awe. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” 8 …9 USCCB video reflections:

The context: Today’s Gospel describes Jesus’ Transfiguration during prayer on a mountain. It invites us to welcome the transformation of our lives caused by the Holy Spirit and to radiate the grace of the transfigured Lord around us by our Spirit-filled lives. The primary purpose of Jesus’ Transfiguration was to consult his Heavenly Father and to ascertain His plan for Our Lord’s suffering, death and Resurrection.  The secondary aim was to make his chosen disciples aware of his Divine glory so that they might discard the worldly ambitions planted in their notions of a conquering political Messiah and remain faithful to him during his trial and the execution which would follow.  The location of the Transfiguration was probably Mount Hermon in North Galilee, near Caesarea Philippi.             The event:  While praying, Jesus was transformed into a shining figure clothed with heavenly glory. Representing the Law and the Prophets, Moses, the great Law-giver, and Elijah, the great prophet, appeared, speaking with Jesus in His glory. These representatives of the Law and the Prophets, in their lives on earth, foreshadowed Jesus who is the culmination of the Law and the Prophets. Then “a bright Cloud overshadowed them, and a Voice from the Cloud said, ‘This is My beloved Son, with Whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.’” God revealed Jesus as His Son — His beloved — the one in whom He is well pleased and to whom we must listen.

Life messages: (1) The transfiguration by transubstantiation in the Holy Mass is the source of our strength. In the Holy Mass, the bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus.  Hence, just as the Transfiguration of Jesus was meant to strengthen the apostles in their time of trial, each Holy Mass should be our source of Heavenly strength against our own temptations, and a source of renewal for our lives. In addition, each Holy Communion should transform us both internally and externally.  2) God gives us a message of Hope in Jesus’ Transfiguration. In moments of doubt, despair and helplessness, Jesus’ Transfiguration reminds us of our own coming transfiguration in Heaven, and helps us to reach out to God to hear again His consoling words, “This is my beloved son/daughter in whom I am well pleased.” (Fr. Tony) L/20

Aug 7 Friday (St. Sixtus II, Pope and companions, Martyrs) , St. Cajetan, Priest: Matthew 16: 24-28: 24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? 27 For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” USCCB video reflections:

The context: After Peter made his famous declaration of Faith in Jesus as God and Messiah, Jesus plainly warned his disciples about his approaching suffering and death and his promised his Resurrection. But the apostles were unwilling to accept such a fate for their Master. Peter even took Jesus aside and prayed, “God forbid, Lord! This must never happen to you!” It was after Peter’s protest that Jesus declared three conditions of the discipleship which he expects from his followers. We hear them in today’s Gospel.

Conditions of Christian discipleship: 1) Deny yourself 2) Take up your cross. 3) Follow Me. Denying oneself means evicting the self, with its selfish thoughts and desires, from one’s heart. It also means cleansing the heart of all bad habits and evil tendencies.  Finally, it means enthroning God in one’s cleansed heart and surrendering one’s life to God’s service by serving others. Carrying the cross means willingly accepting the pain involved in serving others sacrificially. It also means spending our time, talents, wealth and health for others until it hurts us. Cross-bearing is also our sacrificial sharing of God’s blessings with others. Further, it includes our doing penance to make reparation for our sins and to grow in self-control. Carrying one’s cross becomes easier and more meritorious when we accept life’s crosses as loving gifts given by a loving Father. The comparison of our light crosses with the heavy crosses given to others should make us grateful. Finally, we should carry our crosses, praying for Heavenly strength. “Follow Me” means the disciple should be ever ready to obey as Jesus directs him or her through his words in the Bible and through the teaching authority he instituted in the Church.

Life message: We need to love the cross, wear the cross, and transform the God-given crosses of our life into the instruments of our salvation by working with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. ( L/20

Aug 8 Saturday (St. Dominic, Priest) : Matthew 17: 14-20:  14 And when they came to the crowd, a man came up (Matthew 17: 14-20): 14 And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and kneeling before him said, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; for often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. 16 And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” 17 And Jesus answered, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, `Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will  be impossible to you.” USCCB video reflections:

The context: When Jesus came down from the mountain of the Transfiguration along with Peter, John and James, the father of an epileptic son knelt before Jesus and asked Jesus to heal his son. The father’s complaint was that the other nine disciples of Jesus waiting for their master to come down from the mountain could not heal the boy.

The healing: After expressing impatience with the crowd for their lack of Faith, Jesus rebuked the demon and cast him out of the boy. Later when the apostles asked Jesus why they had been unable to do the same although they had been given the power of exorcism, Jesus pointed out their lack of Faith. Jesus said further that even a small amount of Faith would enable them to do great things. Faith moving mountains was a Jewish phrase meaning that God can remove all difficulties for one who places his trusting Faith in Him.

Life message: We will be able to solve our problems and many of the problems of our fellow-human beings if we place our trusting Faith in God’s power and goodness and ask for His strength in prayer. ( L/20