OT II [B] SUNDAY (Jan 17) Eight-minute homily in one page
Introduction: The main theme of today’s Scripture readings is Divine vocation – that everyone is called by God to be a witness for Christ by doing something for others with his or her life, using his or her unique gifts and blessings. Hence, today’s readings remind us of our personal and corporate call to become witnesses for Jesus, the Lamb of God, by leading lives of holiness and purity.
Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading describes how Yahweh called Samuel to His service and how the boy Samuel responded to Him, saying, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” Hence, God blessed him in the mission entrusted to him, and Samuel became an illustrious figure, ranking with Moses and David as a man of God. In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 40), the psalmist sings, “Behold, I come to do Your will,” indicating that his vocation is to obey, to do what God commands him to do. In the second reading, St. Paul explains to the Corinthians that their Divine call is a call to holiness. Hence, they need to keep their bodies pure and souls holy, because by Baptism they have become parts of Christ’s Body and the temples of the Holy Spirit. In the Gospel, John the Baptist claims that his vocation is to introduce Jesus to two of his own disciples as the “Lamb of God,” suggesting Jesus’ vocation to become a sacrificial lamb to atone for our sins. The disciples followed Jesus to his residence, accepting his invitation to “come and see.” They stayed with him that day. Then Andrew brought his brother Simon to Jesus, presenting him to Jesus as the Messiah. Thus, today’s Gospel also describes the call or vocation of the first apostles and challenges us to invite others to Christ by our Christian witnessing.
Life messages: 1) Our Christian vocation is to live and die like the Lamb of God. (A) We live like the Lamb of God: 1) by leading pure, innocent, humble, selfless lives, obeying Christ’s commandment of love; 2) by appreciating the loving providence and protecting care of the Good Shepherd for his Church; 3) by partaking of the Body and Blood of the Good Shepherd in the Holy Eucharist and deriving spiritual strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the Sacraments. (B) We are called to die like the Lamb of God: a) by sharing sacrificially our blessings of health, wealth, and talents with others in the family, parish, and community; b) by bearing witness to Christ in our illness, pain, and suffering through our graceful acceptance of all of it; c) by offering our sufferings for God’s glory, as penance for our sins, and for the conversion of sinners. 2) Our call is to bear witness to the Lamb of God. Doing this requires a personal experience of Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We get this personal experience of Jesus in our daily lives through the meditative reading and study of the Bible, through personal and family prayers, and through our active participation in the Eucharistic celebration. Once we have experienced the personal presence of Jesus in our daily lives, we will start sharing with others the Good News of love, peace, justice, tolerance, mercy, and forgiveness preached and lived by Jesus.
OT II [B] (Jan 17): I Sam 3:3b-10, 19; I Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20; Jn 1:35-42
Homily starter anecdotes: 1: “Eureka, Eureka.” According to legend, Hieros II (the king of the Greek City State Syracuse on the island of Sicily) asked Archimedes (a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer, (287-212 BC) to find a method for determining whether a crown was made of pure gold or of gold mixed with silver. One day when Archimedes stepped into his bath and noticed that the water rose as he sat down, he ran out of the house naked shouting, “Eureka! Eureka!” (= “I have found it!”) The method to determine whether or not a crown was pure gold, discovered by Archimedes in his bathtub, was to compare its weight to its volume. If one had one pound of gold and one pound of silver and submerged them in water, the silver would make the water rise higher than the gold, because it is less dense than gold, and therefore, larger in volume, it takes up more space by displacing more water. Archimedes compared the volume of water displaced by the suspect crown with that displaced by a pure gold crown of equal weight to identify successfully the pure gold crown. Archimedes did not “find” this truth by searching after it — although he might have spent days thinking about a solution to the problem. His “find” came as an unexpected surprise. He had probably noticed the water in the bathtub rising hundreds of times before, but its significance didn’t “click” in his brain until that “eureka” moment. Today’s Gospel describes how John discovered Jesus as “the Lamb of God,” and how Andrew, Simon, and Nathaniel discovered him as the “Promised Messiah” quite unexpectedly. Jesus was their “Eureka.” Fr. Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
# 2: Albert the Andrew who brought Billy Graham to Jesus: “Albert McMakin was a twenty-four-year-old farmer who had recently come to faith in Christ. He was so full of enthusiasm that he filled a truck with people and took them to a meeting to hear about Jesus. There was a good-looking farmer’s son whom he was especially keen to get to a meeting, but this young man was hard to persuade – he was busy falling in and out of love with different girls, and did not seem to be attracted to Christianity. Eventually, Albert McMakin managed to persuade him to come by asking him to drive the truck. When they arrived, Albert’s guest decided to go in and was ‘spellbound’ and began to have thoughts he had never known before. He went back again and again until one night he went forward and gave his life to Jesus Christ. That man, the driver of the truck, was Billy Graham. The year was 1934. Since then Billy Graham has led thousands to faith in Jesus Christ. We cannot all be like Billy Graham, but we can all be like Albert McMakin – we can all bring our friends to Jesus.” (http://saltforsermons.org.uk/albert-mcmakin-billy-graham/) For true details read: https://billygraham.org/story/the-night-billy-graham-was-born-again/
## 3: A lamb on the roof: In the city of Werden, Germany, there stands a Catholic Church with a lamb carved out of stone and placed on its roof. It was said that when the Church was being built, a stone-carving mason fell from a high scaffold. His co-workers rushed down, expecting to find him dead. But to their surprise and joy, he was alive and only slightly injured. How did he survive? A flock of sheep was passing beneath the tower at that time, and he landed on top of a lamb. The lamb broke his fall and was crushed to death, but the man was saved. To commemorate that miraculous escape, he carved a lamb in stone and placed it on the tower, in gratitude for the lamb that saved his life. Today we are here at this Liturgy to remember and salute another Lamb Who died a cruel death to save not just one man, but all mankind. In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist introduces Jesus as the “Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world.” Peter said that the full weight of our sins fell upon Jesus (1 Pet. 2:24). And the apostle Paul explained, “For our sake [God] made [His Son Incarnate] to be sin who did not know sin so that we might become the righteousness of God in [Jesus]” (2 Cor. 5:21). We all have fallen in sin, but on the cross Jesus took the punishment for our sin upon Himself. He now offers eternal life to all who personally put their Faith in Him (Jn. 3:1-16). (Msgr. Arthur Tonne). Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
# 4: “I asked 300,000 to support me, but only 140 to affirm Jesus.” Former President Jimmy Carter is not shy about sharing the Faith. He and wife Rosalynn have been on numerous Faith-sharing missions in America and overseas. In his book Living Faith, Jimmy Carter recounts a humbling experience. He says that when he was preparing to run for governor a second time, he was invited to speak to a Christian men’s group about his activities as a Christian witness. In preparation for that talk, he took account of the witnessing he had done. He added up the times when he had shared the faith with other people, one-on-one, and they had made commitments to Christ. The total number came to 140. But then, said Carter, “The Lord must have been looking over my shoulder because immediately I remembered my 1966 political campaign when Rosalynn and I had traveled the state and had shaken hands with 300,000 Georgians, extolling my good points, and asking them to vote for me. I had asked 300,000 to support me, but only 140 to affirm Jesus. The terrible difference in those numbers brought me to my knees.” Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
Introduction: Today’s theme is Divine vocation. Everyone is called by God to be someone and to do something for others with his life and with his unique gifts. Hence, today’s readings remind us of our personal and corporate call to become witnesses for the Lamb of God and to lead lives of holiness and purity. We are told that each of us, as a Christian, is personally called to discipleship, which demands an ongoing response of commitment. The first reading describes how Yahweh called Samuel to His service. The boy Samuel responded to God promptly, as instructed by his master and mentor, Eli, saying, “Speak, Lord, Your servant is listening.” Hence, God blessed him in the mission entrusted to him, and Samuel became an illustrious figure, ranking with Moses and David as a man of God. In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 40), the psalmist sings, “Behold, I come to do Your will,” voicing his recognition that his vocation has called him to obey God’s command, that is, to do His will. In the second reading, we listen to St. Paul speaking to us, too, as he reminds the Corinthians that they have a Divine call, a call to holiness. He argues that Christians need to keep their bodies pure and their souls holy because in Baptism they have become parts of Christ’s Body and the temples of the Holy Spirit. In the Gospel, John the Baptist presents two of his disciples, Andrew and John, to Jesus as the, “Lamb of God.” They follow Jesus to His residence, accept his call to “come and see,“ go with Him and stay with Him the rest of that day. Then Andrew brings his brotherSimon, back, to present him to Jesus, the Messiah. Thus, today’s Gospel describes the call of the first apostles.
The first reading, 1 Samuel 3:3-10, 19 explained: The book of Samuel begins with a long narrative of what we might call ancient Israel’s middle history. Moses, Aaron, and Joshua were gone from the scene. The period of rule by Judges had begun (at about 1000 BC). The first chapter describes how Samuel was born to a long-barren couple by Divine intervention. They dedicated him in his early childhood to God’s service in the Temple at Shiloh, as an apprentice to the priest Eli. The boy’s duties included attendance during the night near “the Ark of God,” a most sacred cult object and a place of unique Divine presence among the people. God called Samuel one night, and Samuel thought it was his master Eli. Twice God called, twice Samuel went to Eli, and twice Eli told him to go back to sleep. The third time God called, and Samuel went to Eli, the old priest realized what was going on and told Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if He calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.’”(1 Sm 3:9; RSV 2 Catholic). The threefold repetition of God’s call indicates genuine experience rather than hallucination. Eli knew the proper response for all God’s followers: “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.” Only those willing to carry out the Lord’s wishes will be able to hear God calling — even in the middle of a silent night. Though Eli had served God faithfully, it was Samuel whom God called. Samuel became an illustrious figure, ranking with Moses and David as a man of God. The lesson for us is that God often calls ordinary people, including the young, to serve within the community. Consequently, we all need guidance in discerning and responding to His will. Our lives as God’s followers revolve around our seeking, finding and responding to God’s calls. Listening to the call of God is to hear, understand, and accept it in word and action. Is God calling me today for a special mission? What is He saying to me? Am I really listening?
The second reading, 1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20 explained: The letter is addressed to all members of the Church at Corinth. Corinth was a bawdy seaport in cosmopolitan Greece and the center of intellectual ferment. The vices of every seaport, plus the philosophical ferment of ancient Greece, were all part of these peoples’ lives, and gave rise, in part, to the need for this letter. One of the greatest besetting sins of the pagan port-town of Corinth was prostitution. A few Christians even tried to justify prostitution as part of the Christian liberty which Paul had preached to them. Corinth was a difficult place to preach a new doctrine and a new morality, but Paul had dared to preach both, provoking intense controversy. The pagan Corinthians believed that the soul of man was the important part and the body a mere piece of matter. They looked on the body as a matter of instincts to be fulfilled, including the sex instinct. Therefore, they argued, one ought to let the desires of the body have their way. Some of the Christian Corinthians had apparently picked up these pagan ideas. So Paul reminded them that they were “sanctified and called to be holy” like all who call on the name of Jesus. Just as God called Samuel and Jesus called his apostles, the Corinthian Christians were called to lead a life of holiness. Paul’s argument runs like this: since God’s Spirit dwells in us, we have become temples of God and consequently our bodies are sacred. In addition, Christ gave his life in order that man might be redeemed, body and soul. Hence, a man’s body is not his own to do with as he likes; it is Christ’s, and a man must use it, not for the satisfaction of his lusts, but for the glory of Christ.
Gospel exegesis: John the Baptizer’s selfless witnessing: John’s Gospel presents John the Baptist as a self-effacing figure whose role is preeminently one of witnessing. Instead of building up his own following, John selflessly directed his disciples to Jesus. John the Baptist gave testimony to Jesus by pointing Him out as the Lamb of God (vv 29, 36); Andrew called him the Messiah (v 41), and Nathaniel called Jesus Rabbi, Son of God, and King of Israel (v 49). Jesus completed the epiphany, declaring Himself the Son of Man (v 51). In the Synoptic gospels, Jesus called the disciples away from their fishing boats to follow him (Mt 4:18-22, et al.). But in the Fourth Gospel, they went to Him at John’s direction rather than in response to Jesus’ call. Instead of leaving their boats, they left John. On the second day of Jesus’ public ministry, John the Baptist introduced Jesus to the Jews as the “Lamb of God.” (Jn 1:29). On the third day, he pointed out Jesus, the Lamb of God, to two of his own disciples, Andrew and John, as described in today’s Gospel.
The Lamb of God: This is the most meaningful title given to Jesus in the Bible. It is used 29 times in the book of Revelation. It sums up the love, the sacrifice, and the triumph of Christ. John’s introduction might have brought five pictures of the “lamb” to the minds of his Jewish listeners. 1) The Lamb of Atonement (Lv 16:20-22). A lamb was brought to the Temple on the Day of Atonement (“Yom Kippur”). Placing his hands over its head, the high priest transferred all the sins of his people to the lamb. It was then sent into the wilderness (as the lamb who takes away the sins of the Jews) to be killed by some wild animal. 2) The Lamb of Daily Atonement (Ex 29:38-42; Nm 28:1-8). This was the lamb sacrificed on the “Black Altar” of the Temple every morning and evening to atone for the sins of the Jews. 3) The Paschal Lamb (Ex 12:11ss.). The Paschal Lamb’s blood saved the firstborn of the Jewish families in Egypt from the “Angel of destruction.” The event was memorialized yearly in the sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb at Passover. 4) The Lamb of the Prophets, an image portraying One Who, by dying a sacrificial death, would redeem God’s people: “The gentle lamb led to the slaughterhouse” (Jer 11:19), “like a lamb to the slaughter” (Is 53:7). Both, as we know, refer to the sufferings and sacrificial death of Christ. 5) The Lamb of the Conquerors. The picture of a horned lamb on the Jewish flag at the time of the Maccabaean Liberation War was used as a sign of conquering majesty and power. The great Jewish conquerors like Samuel, David and Solomon were described by the ancient Jewish historians as “horned lambs.”
Addressing Christ as Lamb of God has become familiar to us in the Eucharist, when, at “the breaking of the bread,” we proclaim our traditional “fractional anthem” three times in word or song what the Baptist said: Agnus Dei – “Lamb of God, Who take away the sin of the world, … have mercy on us (twice)/ …grant us peace (once).” In this prayer, we give expression to our deepest understanding of the identity and purpose of Jesus Christ in coming to earth as the Messiah of God. He has come to be both our Lamb and our Lord. Because Jesus lived out his life on earth as one of humility, obedience to His Father, love, and sacrifice, we believe and affirm that Jesus is the One Who came and continues to come into a broken world to take our sins upon himself in the Holy Mass.
Stages in God’s call: In the opening verses of today’s Gospel, John points out to his disciples that the One who is passing by is the “Lamb of God.” Two of John’s disciples follow Jesus Who turns and asks them what they are seeking. Somewhat confused, they ask Jesus where he is staying. Jesus does not tell them. Instead, he invites them to “come and see.” “Each one of us is called personally by God to “stay with” Jesus, to follow His way, and to continue His mission of spreading the Good News (in a manner appropriate to our vocation in life)” (CCC #871). For each of us, belief in Jesus develops in stages, which John appears to be describing. First, we respond to testimony given by others. Then, having “seen” where Jesus dwells – within believers — as individuals and as community — we move to a commitment which is based on our own experience of the risen Lord. Finally, our conversion is completed when we become witnesses for Jesus. In Andrew’s case, his conversion reveals his belief in Jesus as the Messiah. He then brings his brother Peter to Christ. Jesus looks at Simon and says, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called ‘Cephas’ or ‘Peter.’” Cephas is the Aramaic word for “rock” while the Greek word for rock is “Petros.” This kind of name-change has precedents in the Old Testament (Gn 17:5, 32:28). Such name-changes indicate the beginning of a new life—a new purpose—a new relationship with God. Simon’s new life in Christ is symbolized by his new name, “Peter,” conferred by the Master. The evangelist sets out a challenging pattern for evangelization. The first people to be evangelized preached Jesus in their turn to relatives, friends, and even to strangers. We, too, must find and grow in Faith through our grace-assisted lifelong seeking of God’s will, as we come to God through Jesus, Whom we find in the local Christian community, as well as in the Church, the Sacraments –particularly the Eucharist — and the Scriptures.
Life Messages: 1) Our Christian call is to live and die like the Lamb of God. (A) We live like a lamb: 1) by leading pure, innocent, humble, selfless lives, obeying Christ’s commandment of love; 2) by appreciating the loving providence and protecting care of the Good Shepherd in his Church; 3) by partaking of the Body and Blood of the Good Shepherd in the Holy Eucharist and by deriving spiritual strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the Sacraments. (B) We die like a sacrificial lamb: 1) by sharing our blessings of health, wealth and talents with others in the family, parish and community; 2) by bearing witness to Christ in our illness, pain and suffering; 3) by offering our suffering for the salvation of souls and as reparation for our sins and those of others.
2) Our call is to rebuild broken lives. Like the missionary call of Samuel and the apostles, we too are called. Our call is to rebuild broken lives, reconciling our brothers and sisters to God’s love and justice through Christ Jesus, our Lamb and Lord: A. Through Baptism into the Body of Christ, we are empowered and enabled by the Holy Spirit to free the oppressed. B. Through the love of the Lamb of God, we are called to better the lot and improve the broken spirit of anyone who has been exiled from the possibility of hope, exiled from God’s righteousness, or burdened by the yoke of spiritual, social, economic and/or political dislocation. C. In other words, through the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the glorified Lamb, we are called to be His conduit, carrying an empowering sense of identity and of purpose to each human spirit we encounter.
3) Our call is to bear witness to the Lamb of God. Today’s Gospel reminds us that being a disciple of Jesus means that we are to grow in Faith and become witnesses for him. A. Bearing witness to Christ is an active rather than a passive enterprise. Knowing Jesus is a matter of experience. One could know the Catechism of the Catholic Church, all 700 pages of it, by heart, and still not know Jesus. B. Bearing witness to Christ, then, demands that we should have personal and first-hand experience of Jesus. 1. We get this personal experience of Jesus in our daily lives – through the meditative reading and study of the Bible, through personal and family prayers, and through the Sacraments, especially by participation in the Eucharistic celebration. 2. Once we have experienced the personal presence of Jesus in our daily lives, we will start sharing with others the Good News of the love, peace, justice, tolerance, mercy, and forgiveness that Jesus preached. C. The essence of our witness-bearing is to state what we have seen, heard, experienced, and now believe, and then to invite others to “come and see.” Other people will see Jesus in our lives when we love, forgive, and spend time doing good for all we meet. D. A dynamic and living experience of Jesus will also enable us to invite and encourage people to come and participate in our Church activities.
JOKES OF THE WEEK
1) A little boy was listening to a long and excessively boring sermon in Church on vocation to priesthood and religious life. Suddenly the red sanctuary lamp caught his eye. Tugging his father’s sleeve, he said, “Daddy, when the light turns green can we go home?”
2) A Catholic boy and a Jewish boy were talking, and the Catholic boy said, “My priest knows more than your rabbi.” The Jewish boy said, “Of course he does! That is because you tell him everything in confession.”
3) The son-in-law’s testimony: A rich Jewish businessman named Raymond went to meet Ben, his new son-in-law to be. He said to Ben, “So, tell me, Ben, my boy, what you do?” “I study the Theology,” Ben replied. “But Ben, you are going to marry my daughter! How are you going to feed and house her?” “No problem,” says Ben, “I study Theology, and it says God will provide.” “But you will have children; how will you educate them?” asked Raymond. “No problem,” says Ben, “I study Theology, and it says God will provide.” When Raymond returned home, his wife anxiously asked him what Ben was like. “Well,” said Raymond, “he’s a lovely boy. I only just met him, and he already thinks I’m God.” (Source: Jewish Jokes)
4) Worse pastors: At morning Mass, the pastor announced to the congregation that the bishop had just appointed him to another parish. After the Mass, a woman came up to him and expressed her dismay at his leaving. “Oh, I’m sure the bishop will send you someone who’s far better than I am,” The pastor tried to console her. “No,” the woman replied, “that won’t happen, and that can’t happen.” “Why not?” asked the priest, unable to resist the temptation to hear a compliment in the superlative about himself. “Because,” the woman said, “I’ve seen five pastors now in this parish, and each new pastor was worse than the last.”
USEFUL WEBSITES OF THE WEEK
- Focus on the family: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting
- Warning website for abusive priests: Database of Publicly Accused priests: http://app.bishop-accountability.org/member/index.jsp
4) Capsule Movie reviews: http://www.cdowk.org/catholic_advance/capsules.html
5) Sunday-Scripture study video by Fr. Geoffrey Plant: https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant2066
6) Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs: https://lectiotube.com/
“Scriptural Homilies” no. 11 by Fr. Tony (firstname.lastname@example.org) L/21
23- Additional anecdotes
1) “Evangelism – Andrew style”: Shaquille O’Neal played in the NBA for the Los Angeles Lakers. He loved coming up with nicknames for himself. When he received his first Most Valuable Player award, Shaq gave himself a new nickname. He said, “From this day on I want to be known as ‘The Big Apostle’ because Aristotle once said that excellence is not a singular act; it is a habit – you are what you repeatedly do.” Shaq was right… and Aristotle was right. Excellence is not one single act. It is found in what we repeatedly do well… and here is where we see the excellence of Andrew. He repeatedly introduced people to Jesus. He repeatedly brought people into the presence of Jesus. He repeatedly included people in the circle of his love and Christ’s love. This was the greatness of Andrew. Today’s Gospel challenges us to bring our friends to Christ. Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
2) “Evangelization – St. Francis of Assisi style”: One day, Francis of Assisi invited one of the young friars to join him on a trip into town to preach. The young friar was so honored at receiving such an invitation from St. Francis that he quickly accepted. They paused beneath a tree and Francis stooped to return a young bird to its nest. They went on and stopped in a field crowded with reapers and Francis bent his back to help load the hay onto a cart. From there they went to the town square where Francis lifted a bucket of water from the well for an old woman and carried it home for her. All day long he and St. Francis walked through the streets and byways, alleys and, suburbs, and they rubbed shoulders with hundreds of people. Each time they stopped, the young friar was sure that St. Francis would stop and preach. But no words of great truth or wise discourse issued from the saint’s mouth. Finally, they went into the Church, but Francis only knelt silently to pray. At the end of the day, the two headed back home. Not once had St. Francis addressed a crowd, nor had he talked to anyone about the Gospel. The young monk was greatly disappointed, and he said to St. Francis, “I thought we were going into town to preach?” St. Francis responded, “My son, we have preached. We were preaching while we were walking and in everything we did. We were seen by many and our behavior was closely watched. It’s of no use to walk anywhere to preach unless we preach everywhere as we walk! Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words only if necessary.” Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
3) The be-all and end-all of a dog’s life: In the book, No Bad Dogs, British dog trainer Barbara Woodhouse says dogs understand love better than we do. She writes, “In a dog’s mind, a master or a mistress to love, honor, and obey is an absolute necessity. Love is dormant in the dog until brought into full bloom by an understanding owner. Thousands of dogs appear to love their owners, they welcome them home with enthusiastic wagging of the tail and jumping up, they follow them about their houses happily and, to the normal person seeing the dog, the affection is true and deep. But to the experienced dog trainer this outward show is not enough. The true test of love takes place when the dog has got the opportunity to go out on its own as soon as the door is left open by mistake, and it goes off and often doesn’t return home for hours. That shows that the dog loves only its home comforts and the attention it gets from its family; it doesn’t truly love the master or mistress as they fondly think. True love in dogs is apparent when a door is left open and the dog still stays happily within earshot of its owner. For the owner must be the be-all and end-all of a dog’s life.” The real meaning of our Divine call and the test of our walk of Faith is not to be seen in our work or activity, or even in our theological purity. It is found in our desire to remain with God. This is the essence of our call to Christian discipleship as shown by Andrew and the other disciples described in today’s Gospel. It means that when we have an opportunity to wander away, to disobey, to leave His presence, we choose instead to stay close to Him, to abide in Christ, and to obey Him. Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
4) “Operation Andrew.” Popular talk show hostess Oprah Winfrey has lots of influence. She has 15 to 20 million daily viewers. Evidently, she has the power to create a best-seller. Since she has started recommending books on her show, sales of the titles chosen have skyrocketed. For example, the first book she recommended, a novel entitled The Deep End of the Ocean, had only sold about 100,000 copies. After being featured on her program, the book sold 850,000 copies propelling it to the top of the New York Times best-seller list. Though none of us has the influence of an Oprah Winfrey, each of us has influence with some people. My big question today is this – Are you using your influence for Jesus Christ? Are you commending him openly, by word and deed, when you have opportunities? Have you ever introduced another person to Jesus Christ, and helped him or her claim Christ as Savior and Lord? If not, why not? Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
5) “Come and see:” George Barna, in his book Marketing the Church, writes: “The most effective means of getting people to experience what a Church has to offer is having someone they know who belongs to the Church simply invite them to try it. Call it whatever you wish – word-of-mouth, personal invitation, friendship, evangelism – this is indisputably the most effective means of increasing the church rolls.” [George Barna, Marketing the Church (NavPress, Colorado Springs, 1988), p. 109.] I don’t want to bore you with statistics, but these are not boring statistics. There are 160 million Americans who are unchurched. If invited to attend Church, 31% said they would be very likely to come – 51% said they would be somewhat likely to come. That means 82% of the people who do not go to Church in America are likely to attend if they are invited – Only 21% of active Church goers ever invite anyone to Church. Only 2% of active Church-goers invite the unchurched. Do you know what Jesus needs more than anything else? He needs more fishing buddies. Do you know what fishing buddies need? They need a Church that will be fish friendly. Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
6) “Come and see.” There’s a beautiful instance of Jesus’ inviting style in the book, The Horse and his Boy (p. 79), one of C. S. Lewis’ stories of Narnia. Aslan, the great lion, is the Christ-figure in those stories. The lad Shasta is walking on a steep mountain pass in the middle of a dense night fog. He senses a huge presence walking beside him. Shasta finally gets the courage to whisper out, “Who are you?” The resonant golden voice of Asian answers, “One who has waited long for you to speak.” That’s Jesus’ style: “Come and see,” he invites us. Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
7) “We are a family, so love each other, help each other, support each other.” Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski wrote a book called Leading with the Heart. Coach K was the highly successful basketball coach at Duke University, who led his team to back-to-back national championships in 1991 and 1992, and to eight Final Four appearances, beginning in 1986. In his book, Coach K speaks out of his own experiences of what he has learned about leadership in basketball, business, and life. His philosophy at Duke is very simple, but very profound. In essence, he says to his team: “We are a family, so love each other, help each other, support each other. We are a family, so use plural pronouns. It’s not about ‘me,’ it’s about ‘us’ and what we can do together… so don’t do anything detrimental to our family.” If two freshmen oversleep and miss the team bus… he doesn’t just deal with the two freshmen, he deals with the whole team. “Why didn’t someone miss them? Why didn’t someone check on them? Why didn’t someone wake them up? If one of us is late, all of us are late! What happens to one of us… it happens to all of us… because we are a family.” Isn’t that a great philosophy for a basketball team… and a Church? We learn it from Andrew! It is our responsibility, our privilege, our joy, to bring our brothers and our sisters into the presence of Christ. That’s number one… Andrew brought his brother. Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
8) “Evangelism –Jesus’ Style”: In a book entitled, The View From a Hearse, Joe Bayly, who lost three of his children, tells this story. He was sitting, torn by grief, over his wrenching loss. Someone came and talked to him about God’s dealings, of why it happened, of hope beyond the grave, the fellow talked constantly, saying things that Bayly knew were true. But Bayly said, “I was unmoved, except to wish he would go away. He finally did.” Then said Bayly, “Another came and sat beside me. He didn’t talk. He didn’t ask me leading questions. He sat beside me for an hour or more, listened when I said some thing, answered briefly, prayed simply, left. I was moved, I was comforted. I hated to see him go.” (Charles Swindoll in Killing Giants and Pulling Thorns, p. 39). Most people don’t need advice from us — they get plenty of that. They don’t need us to preach to them, or to argue with them, or try to convince them of some theological proof. Most people don’t need advice from us – they need love — and isn’t that the Gospel? Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
9) “I just climbed up on her lap and cried with her.” Chuck Swindoll, in his book, Killing Giants and Pulling Thorns, tells about a little girl who “lost a playmate in death and one day reported to her family that she had gone to comfort the sorrowing mother. ‘What did you say?’ asked her father. ‘Nothing,’ she replied. ‘I just climbed up on her lap and cried with her.’ [Charles R. Swindoll, Killing Giants and Pulling Thorns (Portland, Oregon: Multnomah Press, l979), pp. 39-40.] That little girl had the right idea — be a caring person who majors in encouragement. Lonely, hurting, suffering people need a friend who cares. Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
10) Redhead got the job: A company advertised an opening in its sales force. It received more than 1000 applications for the job. But of those many letters and resumes, one letter stood out: “I am presently selling furniture at the address below. You may judge my ability as a salesman if you will stop in to see me any time, pretending that you are interested in buying furniture. When you come in, you can identify me by my red hair. I will have no way of identifying you. That way, the sales abilities I exhibit will be no more than my usual everyday approach and not a special effort to impress a potential employer.” The sales manager took the applicant up on his challenge and visited the furniture store. You won’t be surprised to learn that the redhead got the job. Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus’ criteria for the selection of his apostles were different. He chose the weak and the least qualified and made them his strong and powerful witnesses. Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
11) “We are here to help each other. That’s what it’s all about.” Some years ago, a fifth grade school teacher named Diane Williams had a dramatic experience while sky-diving. Skydiving was one of her hobbies. One Saturday morning, she met her sky-diving group for a jump, but this day was different from all the rest. Apparently, Diane was trying to join three other divers in a hand-holding formation when she accidentally slammed into the backpack of another skydiver and she was knocked unconscious. This caused her to hurtle head over heels like a rag doll toward the ground at a speed of 150 miles per hour. Fellow skydiver, Gregory Robertson, saw that Diane was in big trouble. Immediately, he straightened himself into a vertical dart, arms pinned to his body, ankles crossed, head aimed at the ground in what parachutists call a no list dive. In effect, he became a human dive bomber plummeting toward the earth and Diane at 200 miles per hour. At 3500 feet, about ten seconds from impact, Gregory caught up with Diane. He managed to pull the rip cord on her emergency chute, as well as his own… and they both floated safely to the ground. Greg’s heroic efforts saved Diane’s life. When asked later about his incredible feat, he said simply, “We are here to help each other. That’s what it’s all about.” He paused for a moment, and then he said, “Someone tried to die in my drop-zone this morning. No one dies in my drop-zone!” I suppose at that moment somewhere in Heaven God was smiling… because nothing pleases God more than to see us helping and serving one another, our sisters and brothers, in unselfish, sacrificial, self-giving ways. Andrew found the Christ… and immediately ran to get his brother. This is a beautiful mountain-peak moment in the Bible. He brought his brother into the presence of Christ. Andrew’s simple, thoughtful act of sharing with his brother is a poignant reminder to us that we in the world are not isolated individuals just existing alongside each other, selfishly hoarding whatever we can accumulate. No, we are family… and life is better when we act like a family… loving each other, supporting each other, helping each other, respecting each other, treasuring each other… and, like Andrew, bringing each other into the presence of Christ and the circle of Christ’s love. Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
12) “The Praying Hands” by Albrecht Durer: We are incredibly indebted to Simon Peter’s brother, Andrew, for the gift of Peter to the Church and to the world. Andrew was the one who brought his brother, Simon Peter, into the presence of Jesus. Andrew was the one who encouraged Simon Peter. Andrew was the one who presented Peter to Jesus. It’s recorded in the first chapter of John’s Gospel. Andrew, finding the Messiah, immediately brings Simon to Him. Back in the 15th century in a tiny village near Nuremberg, Germany there lived a family with eighteen children. That’s right… eighteen! In order merely to keep food on the table for this large family, the father (who was a goldsmith by profession), worked almost eighteen hours a day at this trade and any other paying job he could find in the neighborhood. Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of the older children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew full well that their father, with all that he had on him, would never be financially able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the Art Academy there. After much discussion, the two boys finally worked out a plan. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the Art Academy. Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies in four years, he would in turn support the other brother at the academy either with sales of his artwork, or, if necessary, also by working in the mines. So, one Sunday morning after Church, they tossed a coin. Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to Nuremberg to study art. His brother, Albert, went down into the dangerous mines and for the next four years, financed his brother whose work at the Art Academy was almost an immediate sensation. Albrecht Durer’s etchings, his woodworks, and his oils were far better than those of most of his professors, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned works. When the young artist returned home to his village, the Durer family held a festive dinner on their lawn to celebrate Albrecht’s triumphant homecoming. After a delightful meal with lots of music and laughter, Albrecht Durer rose from his honored position at the head of the table to express his deep appreciation to his beloved brother, Albert, for the years of sacrifice he had put in that had enabled Albrecht to fulfill his ambition. His closing words were: “And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream and I will take care of you.” All heads turned in love and eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert sat. Tears were streaming down his face. Slowly, Albert stood to his feet and softly he said, “Thank you, my brother, but no, I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look, look what four years in the mine have done to my hands. The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately, I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, much less, make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush. No, my brother, for me it is too late.”
More than 450 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durer’s hundreds of masterful portraits, pen and silver-point sketches, watercolors, charcoals, woodcuts, and copper engravings hang in every great museum in the world, but the odds are great that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of Albrecht Durer’s works. More than merely being familiar with it, you very well may have a reproduction hanging in your home or office. One day, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer painstakingly drew his brother’s abused hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply “Hands”, but the entire world almost immediately opened their hearts to this great masterpiece and renamed his tribute of love, “The Praying Hands.” The next time you see a copy of this touching creation, take a second look; let it be a reminder that no one– no one — ever makes it alone! Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
13) “Come and see.” Two men, who had been business partners for over twenty years, met one Sunday morning as they were leaving a restaurant. One of them asked, “Where are you going this morning?” “I’m going to play golf. What about you?” The first man responded rather apologetically, “I’m going to Church.” The other man said, “Why don’t you give up that Church stuff?” The first man asked, “What do you mean?” His partner said: “Well, we have been partners for twenty years. We have worked together, attended board meetings together, and had lunch together, and all of these twenty years you have never asked me about going to Church. You have never invited me to go with you. Obviously, it doesn’t mean that much to you.” (John A. Stroman, God’s Downward Mobility, CSS Publishing Company) Don’t get yourself in that fix. Don’t let others think your Faith doesn’t matter that much to you. Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
14) Gone With the Wind. I imagine most of you have seen the film, Gone With the Wind. If not, you have a treat waiting for you. It is interesting how Director David O. Selznick chose the leading lady. Everyone knew that no one but Clark Gable could be Rhett Butler, but who should play Scarlett O’Hara? David Selznick considered a few dozen actresses for the role of the Southern belle. Finally, he made a surprising selection: not a girl born in the South or even in America, she had been born in India of British parents. Her name was Vivien Leigh. Almost everyone agrees that she played a superb, unforgettable Scarlett O’Hara. David Selznick took great care in picking just the right person for that famous role. Similarly, but with infinitely greater care, God selects us for a part in the Divine drama. We see it today in the call of the prophet, Samuel. Bottom line: Like a great director, selecting exactly the right person for a part, God chooses you or me! (Fr. Phil Bloom). Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
15) Someone is always listening: In St. Paul’s Cathedral in London there is a circular gallery where any spoken sound bounces back from the hard smooth stone walls. If you put your ear close to the wall, you can hear what is even whispered on the other side of the wall, many meters away. Many years ago a poor shoemaker whispered to his beloved that he could not marry her because he could not afford to buy any raw material for his work and his business was on the verge of ruin. The poor girl wept as she listened to the sad news. A gentleman on the other side of the gallery more than sixty meters away heard the story and the shoemaker’s whispered prayer and decided to do something about it. The gentleman followed the shoemaker out of St. Paul’s and after finding where he lived, had some leather sent to his shop. Naturally the young man was delighted. He made good use of the gift, and his business prospered, and he was able to marry the girl of his heart. It was not until a few years later that he learned the name of his unknown friend. It was Prime Minister William Gladstone of Great Britain. Today’s Gospel tells us that God is calling each one of us giving him or her a unique mission. Do you listen to God’s call? (From The Sunday Liturgy; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
16) “What’s your profession?” A stranger once asked a teacher, “What’s your profession?” The teacher replied, “Christian,” The stranger continued, “No, that’s not what I mean. What’s your job?” The teacher asserted, once again, “I’m a Christian!” Puzzled, the stranger clarified, “Perhaps I should ask, what you do for a living?” The teacher replied, “Well, I’ve a full-time job as a Christian. But, to support my sick husband and children, I teach in a school.” That teacher had certainly understood the meaning of discipleship summarized by today’s Responsorial Psalm (40): “Here I am, Lord, I come to do Your will.” (Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
17) “I need a person who is on the alert!”: Waiting in a steamship office to be interviewed for the job of a wireless operator, a group of applicants filled the room with such a buzz of conversation that they were oblivious to the dots and dashes that began coming over the loudspeaker. About that time another man entered and sat down quietly by himself. Suddenly he snapped to attention, walked into the private office, and a few minutes later came out smiling with the new job. “Say,” one of the group called out, “how did you get in ahead of us? We were here first.” “One of you would have gotten the job,” the successful applicant replied, “if you had listened to the message from the loudspeaker.” “What message?” they asked. — Do we listen to God? (Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
18) Called by name: You may remember the story of Helen of Troy. According to legend this beautiful queen was captured and carried away and became a victim of amnesia. She became a prostitute in the streets. She didn’t know her name or the fact that she came from royal blood. But back in her homeland, friends didn’t give up on her return. An old friend believed she was alive and went to look for her. He never lost faith. One day while wandering through the streets, he came to a waterfront and saw a wretched woman in tattered clothes with deep lines across her face. There was something about her that seemed familiar, so he walked up to her and said, “What is your name?” She gave a name that was meaningless to him. “May I see your hands? He pursued. She held out her hands in front of her, and the young man gasped, “You are Helen! You are Helen! Do you remember? She looked up at him in astonishment. “Helen!” he yelled out. Then the fog seemed to clear. There was recognition in her face. The light came on! She discovered her lost self, put her arms around her friend and wept. She discarded the tattered clothes and once more became the queen she was born to be. –God searches for you in the same way. He calls you by name. He uses every method possible to look for you and try and convince you of your worth to him. (Brian Cavanaugh in The Sower’s Seeds; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
19) “Follow me!” Albert Schweitzer was a concert pianist in Europe who gave up his career in music to become a doctor and work as a missionary in Africa. Albert Schweitzer writes in his book The Quest for the Historical Jesus, “Jesus comes to us as one unknown, as he did long ago to the apostles on the seashore. He speaks to us the same words that he spoke to them: ‘Follow me!’ And to those who accept his invitation, whether they be wise or simple, young or old, he will reveal himself to them in their toils and sufferings. And they shall learn through their own experiences who he is.”
(Mark Link in Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
20) “Discovering God’s plan for me”: Coach Grant Teaff of Baylor University in Texas has written a book called I Believe. In it he describes an incident that happened earlier in his career at McMurry College. One Saturday night, he and his team had taken off in a chartered plane to return to Texas. Suddenly the plane developed serious trouble. The pilot announced that he would attempt a crash landing. The plane was loaded with fuel, so an explosion was likely. As the plane sped downwards one of the players called out, “Coach Teaff would you lead us in prayer? We’re all pretty frightened.” Teaff prayed aloud for everyone. Seconds later the plane bellied across the ground. A shower of sparks engulfed it. Miraculously, however, it didn’t explode and no one was hurt. The next night Teaff and his family were in the Church together. Right in the middle of the services Teaff got up and left the church and went to the McMurry Fieldhouse about a mile away. He went directly to the team’s dressing room and knelt down and prayed: “God, I know You have a plan, a purpose, and a will for my life and the lives of these young men. I do not know what it is but I’ll…. try to impress upon the young men I coach this year and forever that there is more to life than playing football; that You do have a purpose for our lives.” (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
21) St. Marcellus’s sleepless search for God: Saints are the ones who discovered the true value of this intimate, personal relationship, and refused to compromise it. St Marcellus [march-EHL-oose] the Righteous is a prime example. He came from a good family in Syria and lived in the 400s. He received a good education, and reached adulthood with a bright future. Then his parents died, and he inherited their considerable fortune. He had to decide what to do with it. Most people wouldn’t think twice! They would simply enjoy it. But Marcellus was a man of reflection, and he detected something unsatisfying about an existence dedicated unthinkingly to the affairs and enjoyments of the world. He thought: “If everything in this world is going to pass away, myself included what’s the point?” As he prayed and studied the Faith in order to work through this dilemma, the following analogy came to him. Little kids make a big deal out of their toys, but adults recognize the paltriness of toys. They, instead, make a big deal out of money, success, and pleasure. But, reasoned Marcellus, what do such things look like from God’s perspective if not foolish toys? And so, in pursuit of lasting values, he moved to Ephesus (in modern day Turkey) and put himself under the direction of some well-known Christians. He grew in holiness and wisdom, and eventually became the revered abbot of a gigantic monastery near Constantinople and an influential adviser to emperors, bishops, and Church councils. In his monastery, the monks were divided into many different small choirs, so that at every hour of the day and night, at least one choir could be singing God’s praise. For this reason, the monastery was called “Akimetes” [ah-KEY-meh-tehz], which meant “sleepless.” It was a living testimony to the source of life’s true meaning: an ongoing, personal relationship with Jesus Christ. (E-Priest) Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
22) A Quiet Nun Is Heard around the World: St. Catherine Laboure is an example showing that God likes to use messengers, especially messengers who stay focused on the message. St Catherine was born to a large family in central France in the 1800s. When her mother died and her older sister entered the convent, she took over the housekeeping responsibilities for her father, until she too felt a call to the religious life. She joined the Sisters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul in Paris, where she was graced with a series of visions in which the Blessed Virgin Mary asked her to have a medal struck for the benefit of the faithful throughout the world. The medal was later known as the “miraculous medal” because of its origin in these miraculous visions. The Blessed Virgin explained in detail everything that was to appear on the medal. St Catherine confided the Heavenly task to her confessor, who went and carried it out. But Catherine made him promise not to reveal her identity. She herself didn’t mention the visions to anyone else. And she was persistently unwilling to appear before ecclesiastical authorities, even when the bishop of Paris was questioning the authenticity of the visions. A first batch of medals was eventually made, and since then it has become a sign of hope and Faith for millions of Catholics throughout the entire world. (E-Priest). Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
23) Speak to me, O God: Come and See:
I begged the May flower tree: “Speak to me of God,” and the May flower tree showed herself to me in full bloom.
I asked a poor man: “Please, speak to me of God,” and the poor man shared his tea with me.
I entreated the house: “Speak to me of God,” and the door opened welcoming me.
I asked a child: “Speak to me of God,” and the child smiled at me.
I told a farmer: “Speak to me of God,” and the farmer showed me his standing crops.
I begged nature: “Speak to me of God,” and nature decked herself with luscious beauty.
I asked my friend: “Speak to me of God,” and my friend caressed me warmly.
I asked a nightingale: “Speak to me of God,” and she filled the air with silvery tunes.
I asked a soldier: “Speak to me of God.” and in shame, the soldier threw away his weaponry.
I besought a suffering man: “Speak to me of God,” and I saw in his eyes a quivering tear of accepting joy.
I asked a fountain: “Speak to me of God,” and the fountain merrily spilled out its crystal water.
I begged my mother: “Please, speak to me of God, ” and she stamped a soothing kiss on my forehead.
I entreated my enemy: “Speak to me of God, ” and he, in forgiveness, stretched out his hand to me.
I asked the voice: “Speak to me of God,” but the voice could not find words. It remained silent.
At last, I asked the setting sun: “Speak to me of God,” and the sun mysteriously set down and left me in darkness.
But next day, at dawn, when I opened the window of my room, mischievously with his warmth he kissed me on both my cheeks.
(Adapted from a poem of Maria Luisa Brey) Quoted by Fr. Tony Kayala L/21
“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B, no. 11 by Fr. Tony (email@example.com) L-21
Visit my website by clicking on https://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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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