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Aug 17-22: Aug 17 Monday: Mt 19:16-22: 16 And behold, one came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which?” And Jesus said, “You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have observed; what do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions. For USCCB video reflections, click on : https://youtu.be/h2dx_XsNra4
The context: Today’s Gospel reminds us that we do not possess anything in our life that we refuse to surrender to the Lord. Rather, it often possesses us, and we become the prisoner of our possessions, violating the First Commandment, which demands that we give unconditional priority to God. Jesus reminds the rich young man of the Commandments that deal with his relationships with other people and challenges him to sell what he has and give it to the poor. Jesus’ challenge exposed what was missing in the young man’s life: a sense of compassion for the poor and the willingness to share his blessings with the needy.
The incident of the rich, young ruler: The rich young man who came to Jesus in search of eternal life really wanted to be accepted by Jesus as a disciple. The young man claimed that from childhood he had observed all the Commandments Jesus mentioned. His tragedy, however, was that he loved “things” more than people, and his possessions “possessed him.” Jesus told him that keeping the Commandments, while enough for salvation, was not enough for perfection and challenged him to share his riches with the poor. “There is one thing lacking. Sell all you have and give to the poor, and then you will have real treasure. After that, come and be with me.” Jesus asked him to break his selfish attachment to wealth by sharing it. But “when the young man heard this, he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.”
Life messages: 1) Jesus makes the same challenge to each of us today. Our following of Jesus has to be totally and absolutely unconditional. Our attachment may not be to money or material goods, but to another person, a job, my health, or my reputation. We must be ready to cut off any such attachment in order to become true Christian disciples, sharing our blessings with others. 2) To follow Jesus, we must have generous hearts and the willingness to share our blessings with others to show our generosity. St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) puts it in her own style: “Do SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL for God. Do it with your life. Do it every day. Do it in your own way. But do it!” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
Aug 18 Tuesday: Mt 19:23-30: 23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said in reply, “Lo, we have left everything and followed you. What then shall we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And ever one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. 30 But many that are first will be last, and the last first. USCCB video reflections: click on https://youtu.be/M3Gm3f3VwBo
The context: Jesus told a rich, young man who had expressed his desire to follow Jesus as a disciple that he had to share his possessions with the less fortunate as a condition for becoming a perfect disciple. But when the young man heard this, he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions. It was then that Jesus made the comment given in today’s Gospel. Jesus uses a vivid hyperbole or “word cartoon” to show how riches bar people from Heaven. The camel was the largest animal the Jews knew, and the eye of a needle the smallest hole. The needle’s eye is variously interpreted. Most probably Jesus used it literally: a) The little, low and narrow gate on the outer wall of the city of Jerusalem through which even a man could hardly pass erect was called, “The Needle’s Eye” in Jesus’ time. b) The Greek word used in the passage for camel is kamelos, which can also mean a ship’s thick cable or hawser rope. In either case, Jesus is saying that it is not impossible, by the grace of God, for a wealthy person to keep his spiritual integrity, but it is extremely difficult and uncommon. Why do riches prevent one from reaching God? First, the rich think that they can buy their way out of sorrow and into happiness, so they don’t need God. Second, riches shackle one to this earth (Mt 6:21). Third, riches tend to make one selfish. The Bible doesn’t say that money is the root of all evil; it says that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Jesus also challenges the Jewish belief that material wealth and prosperity are signs of God’s blessings, and poverty is the sign of His punishment. Jesus condemns a value system that makes “things” more valuable than people.
Life message: 1) An invitation to generosity. Jesus was so generous that he gave us his very self. The crucifix is “Exhibit A.” To follow Jesus, we must have a generous heart, and we should be willing to use it by sharing our blessings with others. God does not ask us to give up our riches, but He does ask us to use them wisely in His service. How do we use our talents? What about time – do we use it for God? We each get 168 hours every week. How do we use our time? Are we too busy to pray each day? (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
Aug 19 Wednesday (St. John Eudes, Priest) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-john-eudes/ : Mt 20:1-16: 1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; 4 and to them he said, `You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So, they went. 5 Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing; and he said to them, `Why do you stand here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, `Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, `You go into the vineyard too.’ 8 And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, `Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ 9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the householder, 12 saying, `These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, `Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.” USCCB video reflections: click on https://youtu.be/2oQziVcczBE
The context: The parable described in today’s Gospel is known as the “Parable of Workers in the Vineyard” or the “Parable of the Generous Landlord.” This remarkable and rather startling parable is found only in Matthew. There is Gospel, or “Good News,” in this parable because it is the story of the landlord’s love and generosity, representing God’s love and generosity. The question in God’s mind is not, “How much do these people deserve?” but rather, “How can I help them? How can I save them before they perish?” It’s all about grace and blessings. God is presented in the parable as a loving mother who cares about each of her children equally. The parable in a nutshell: The Kingdom of Heaven, says Jesus, is like a landowner who goes out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. He rounds up a group at 6 AM, agrees to pay them the usual daily wage and then puts them into action. At 9 AM, he rounds up another group. At noon, he recruits a third team, and then at 3 PM, a fourth. Finally, at 5 PM, he finds still more laborers who are willing and able to work. He sends them into the vineyard to do what they can before sundown. As the day ends, the landowner instructs his manager to pay each of the workers one denarius, the daily living wage, and to begin with those who started at 5 PM.
Life messages: (1) We need to follow God’s example and show grace to our neighbor. When someone else is more successful than we are, let us assume he needs the success. When someone who does wrong fails to get caught, let us remember the many times we have done wrong and gotten off free. We mustn’t wish pain on people for the sake of “fairness.” We become envious of others because of our lack of generosity of heart. 2) We need to express our gratitude to God in our daily lives. God personally calls each of us to a particular ministry. He shows his care by giving us His grace and eternal salvation. All our talents and blessings are freely given us by God, so we should thank Him by avoiding sins, by rendering loving service to others, and by listening and talking to Him. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
Aug 20 Thursday (St. Bernard, Abbot, Doctor of the Church) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-bernard-of-clairvaux/; : Mt 22: 1-14: Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. A second time he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.” ‘Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests, he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. The king said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment? ‘But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.” USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/3Txt-6rOvIs
The parable and its meaning: This is one of the three parables of judgment or “rejection parables” that Jesus told in the Temple of Jerusalem during the last week of his public life, addressing the “chief priests and elders of the people”, i.e., their religious and civic leaders. By telling this allegoric parable of judgment in the Temple of Jerusalem two days before his arrest, Jesus accuses the Jewish religious and civil leaders of rejecting God’s invitation to the Heavenly banquet given through Him, God’s Son. They have rejected the invitation by not listening to the Good News preached by Jesus and by not reforming their lives. This invitation was repeatedly extended to Israel through the prophets, including John the Baptist. But the leadership contemporary with Jesus rejected the reality that Jesus was the fulfillment of all prophecy, refused to accept God’s invitation to righteous living given through John the Baptist and through Jesus, and is now planning to kill God’s own Son, Jesus. Hence, God is inviting the sinners and Gentiles for His banquet, and that is why Jesus is keeping the company of sinners.
Life messages: 1) We need to keep wearing the wedding garment of holiness and righteousness, the state of grace, all the time and appreciate and make use of the provision for God’s graces in the Church: a) We received the “wedding garment” of sanctifying grace in Baptism, and we receive additional graces to retain it through the other Sacraments. b) Our participation in the Eucharistic celebration and in personal and family prayers helps us to recharge our spiritual batteries and enables us to lead Spirit-filled lives. c) Jesus nourishes us in the Church through the proclamation of word of God and through his own body and blood in the Holy Communion. 2) We need to participate in the Eucharistic banquet with proper preparation by repenting of our sins and by actively participating in the prayers and singing during the Holy Mass. Participating in Holy Mass is the best preparation and source of power for our future participation in the Heavenly banquet. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
Aug 21 Friday: Matthew 22:34-40: 34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment.39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/IXU5sguGGGA
The context: The Pharisees, who believed in both the written Law and the oral tradition, were pleased to see how Jesus defeated the Sadducee who had tried to humiliate him with the hypothetical case of a woman who married seven husbands in succession. So, a lawyer challenged Jesus to summarize the most important of the Mosaic Laws into one sentence. 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 our love by loving our neighbor who is a son or daughter of God in whom God lives.
Jesus’ novel contribution: Jesus gives a straightforward answer, quoting directly from the Law itself and startling his listeners with his profound simplicity and mastery of the law of God and its purpose. He cites the first sentence of the Jewish Shema prayer (Deuteronomy 6:5): “Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Then He adds its complementary law (Leviticus 19:18): “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus combines the originally separate commandments and presents them as the essence of true religion. We are to love our neighbor as our self because this is a way to love God: God gives us our neighbors to love so that we may learn to love Him.
Life messages: 1) How do we love God? There are several means by which we can express our love for God: a) by thanking God daily for His blessings and expressing our gratitude by obeying His Commandments; b) by being reconciled with God daily, confessing our sins, and asking His forgiveness; c) by acknowledging our total dependence on God, presenting our needs before Him with trusting Faith; d) by keeping friendship with God, daily talking to Him in prayer and listening to Him in reading the Bible; and e) by recharging our spiritual batteries through participating in Sunday Mass, receiving Jesus in Holy Communion, and through leading a Sacramental life. 2) How do we love our neighbor? Since every human being is the child of God and the dwelling place of the Spirit of God, created in the “image and likeness of God” and saved by the precious blood of Christ, we are actually giving expression to our love of God by loving our neighbor as Jesus loves him, and by loving Jesus in our neighbor. This means we need to help, support, encourage, forgive, and pray for every one of God’s children without discrimination based on color, race, creed, gender, age wealth or social status. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
Aug 22 Saturday: Lk 1:26-38: (The Queenship of Blessed Virgin Mary) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/queenship-of-mary/
This special Liturgical Feast was proclaimed by Pope Pius XII on October 11, 1954 through his Encyclical Letter Ad Caeli Reginam. But Mary’s title as “Queen of Heaven and Earth” is a great scandal to many non-Catholic Christians. Here is the Biblical argument supporting her Queenship.
Biblical basis of the feast: Since Holy Scripture presents Jesus Christ as a king, his mother Mary is the Queen-Mother. Jesus is King by Nature, as God; she is Queen by “Divine relationship,” that is, by being the Mother of God. In most of the Messianic prophecies given in the Old Testament books of Samuel, Micah (5:1), Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel (7: 13-14), Christ, the Messiah, is represented as a King, an identity given to Jesus in the New Testament: Lk 1:32-33, Mt 2:2, Lk 19:38, Jn 18:37. The beginning of the concept that Mary is a Queen is found in the annunciation narrative, given in today’s Gospel (Lk 1:26-38). For the angel tells Mary that her Son will be King over the house of Jacob forever. So, she, His Mother, would be a Queen. Mary is also Queen by grace. She is full of grace, the highest in the category of grace, next to her Son. She is Queen by singular choice of God the Father. If a mere human can become King or Queen by choice of the people how much greater a title is the choice of the Father Himself! Mary’s Queenship can be seen in the great vision described in Revelation 12: “And a great portent appeared in Heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery” (Rv 12:1–2). Revelation 12 portrays Mary as the new Queen-Mother in the Kingdom of God, sharing in her Son’s rule over the universe.
Role of Queen-mother in the Bible: In the monarchy of King David, as well as in other ancient kingdoms of the Near East, the mother of the ruling king held an important office in the royal court and played a key part in the process of dynastic succession. In fact, the king’s mother ruled as queen, not his wife or one of his wives. The prophet Jeremiah tells how the queen-mother possessed a throne and a crown, symbolic of her position of authority in the kingdom (Jer 13:18, 20). Probably the clearest example of the queen-mother’s role is that of Bathsheba, wife of David and mother of Solomon (1 Kgs 1:16–17, 31; 1 Kgs 2:19–20; 1 Kgs 2:19–20). Some Old Testament prophecies incorporate the queen-mother tradition when telling of the future Messiah. One example is Isaiah 7:13-14.
Life message: 1) Understanding Mary as Queen-Mother explains her important intercessory role in the Christian life. Just as the King responded to the queen-mother of the Davidic kingdom (“Ask it, my Mother, for I will not refuse you” 1 Kings 2:20), Jesus the king of the universe, responds to Mary, his Mother, whose will is completely one with that of God, and who serves Him in acting as our advocate before her Divine Son. Hence, we should approach our Queen-Mother with confidence, knowing that she carries our petitions to her Royal Son. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20 USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/KBfN4VZ-BEA