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Weekday homilies for the Holy Week: March 29 Monday: Jn 12:1-11: 1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 There they made him a supper; Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, “Let her alone, let her keep it for the day of my burial. 8 The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” 9 …10 USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/W1soG7QhpU0?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DBazRWSYfhGFvBAEXHvO0Cq
The context: The scene depicted in today’s Gospel reading took place exactly one week before the crucifixion of Jesus. Jesus was anointed on two different occasions — first, at the start of his public ministry, in Galilee, as recounted by St. Luke (7:36-50: Jesus was anointed by a repentant sinful woman in the house of a Pharisee), and, second, towards the end of his life, in Bethany, as reported here by St. John. Instead of brooding over the sufferings and death waiting for him, Jesus, along with his Apostles, enjoyed a party given for his friend, Lazarus by his family and friends. Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem to be crucified. Probably he halted in Bethany, both because Jerusalem was overcrowded, and because Jesus wanted to spend time in with his closest friends.
The Gospel summarizes two attitudes: Mary’s and Judas.’ Mary expressed her love for Jesus and her gratitude to God by an extravagant action. Before all the Apostles, she anointed Jesus’ feet with nard (a very costly perfume worth the wages of a laborer for 300 days), then wiped them with her hair. Her lovely deed shows the extravagance of love. Judas on the other hand criticized Mary for spending so much on perfume, suggesting that the money could have been used to help the poor. Mary’s action was extravagant, but her motive justified it. However, Judas’ motive in suggesting the good action of helping the poor was selfish and impure, spoiling the action.
Life messages: 1) We need to express our love and gratitude to Jesus during this Holy Week for what he did for us centuries ago and for what he continues to do for us now: a) He poured out his Blood for us and for our salvation. b) He anointed us with his Holy Spirit and made us the Temple of his Spirit. c) He continues to nourish us with his Body and Blood through the Holy Eucharist. 2. We can express our love and gratitude to our Savior Jesus during Holy Week a) by spending more time in prayer and adoration, especially by participating in the liturgical celebrations b) by doing acts of penance for our past sins and c) by actively engaging in acts of loving and humble service. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
March 30 Tuesday: Jn 13: 21-33, 36-38 21 When Jesus had thus spoken, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. 23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was lying close to the breast of Jesus; 24 so Simon Peter beckoned to him and said, “Tell us who it is of whom he speaks.” 25 So lying thus, close to the breast of Jesus, he said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 … 38. USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/tYJBLE5EeTk?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DBazRWSYfhGFvBAEXHvO0Cq
The context: In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus’ loving appeal to two of his chosen Apostles, Judas and Peter, who represent hard-heartedness and repentance respectively. Judas was a perfect actor and an accomplished hypocrite who could hide his motives from all except Jesus. He deliberately betrayed Jesus for money. Peter on the other hand was simple at heart, a deeply emotional disciple who really loved Jesus.
(A) Judas – a model of hard-heartedness: Jesus showed his last act of love for Judas: a) by allowing him to sit at His left so that Jesus could rest His head on his chest during the Last Supper; b) by giving him the first piece of bread from Jesus’ plate, as a sign of honor; c) by making Judas the treasurer of the group and the keeper of money received as an offering to the rabbi from the people, thus giving everyone a sign of his trust and confidence in Judas. But Jesus could not save Judas from his hard-heartedness and greed for money. Judas probably expected the triumphant Messiah in Jesus and hoped to rule Israel with him as his finance minister. If so, he must have been totally disillusioned when Jesus predicted his suffering and shameful death. This might have prompted him to betray Jesus. We, too, can become hard-hearted like Judas when we have become addicted to evil habits, and we can refuse Jesus’ call for repentance and conversion even during Holy Week.
(B) Peter – a model of true repentance: Peter showed good will and generosity in repenting of his sin – denying Jesus out of weakness – by weeping bitterly and finally by suffering a martyr’s death for his Faith in Jesus.
Life messages: 1) Let us imitate Peter by repenting of our choices against Jesus and his ideals in our day-to-day lives. 2) Let us also ask God to liberate us from our evil habits and addictions before they make us hard-hearted. 3) Just as Jesus considered death on the cross as his glory, let us consider humble, committed and sacrificial service for others as our glory and learn to love others as Jesus loves us. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
March 31 Wednesday: Mt 26: 14-25: 14 Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. 17 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain one, and say to him, `The Teacher says, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'” 19 And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover. 20 When it was evening, he sat at table with the twelve disciples; 21 and as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 And they were very sorrowful, and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” 23 He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me, will betray me. 24 The Son of man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” 25 Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Is it I, Master?” He said to him, “You have said so.” USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/364fj5BRdWw?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DBazRWSYfhGFvBAEXHvO0Cq
The context: Today is traditionally known as “Spy Wednesday,” and was called by Christians as early as AD 250 the “the day of betrayal.” Today’s Gospel describes how Judas secretly planned to betray Jesus for thirty silver pieces (the price of a slave), and how he was seeking an opportunity to betray his master. We also learn how Jesus had his plans for celebrating his last Passover supper with his disciples carried out in a house prearranged by him. In Jesus’ time, the Passover supper was celebrated on the first day of the week of Unleavened Bread. During the meal, Jesus dramatically declared that one of the disciples was planning to betray Him and hinted that it was Judas.
Bible scholars suggest three reasons why Judas betrayed Jesus. The primary reason seems to have been his greed for money. John tells us that Judas used to steal from the common fund. Bitter hatred due to disillusionment might have been a second reason. As a zealot who hated the Romans, Judas might have expected that his master would overthrow the Romans using his Divine power. Instead he preached love and peace. A third reason may have been that Judas supposed that his betrayal would give Jesus an occasion to fight back and conquer the Romans. That may be the reason why he committed suicide when he saw Jesus arrested without any resistance from Him.
Life messages: 1) We, too, can betray Jesus and his ideals for money, for power and influence or for selfish pleasure. Let us examine our conscience whether we wrongly think that our God disappoints us by promoting chastity, poverty, justice and righteousness in the Holy Bible, by not answering our prayers as and when we want, by allowing suffering and premature death in our families and communities and by not punishing the wicked. Let us be on our guard not to betray Jesus as Judas did.
2) Holy Week is the time to assess our life, examine our conscience, do penance for our infidelity and make practical resolutions to reform our lives with God’s help. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
April 1 Thursday: Holy Thursday evening Mass (April 1) Introduction: We celebrate three anniversaries on Holy Thursday: 1) the anniversary of the first Holy Mass, 2) the anniversary of the institution of ministerial priesthood in order to perpetuate the Holy Mass, to convey God’s forgiveness to repentant sinners, and to preach the Good News of salvation, 3) the anniversary of Jesus’ promulgation of his new commandment of love: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34). First, we remember how Jesus transformed the Jewish Passover into the New Testament Passover. The Jewish Passover was, in fact, a joint celebration of two ancient thanksgiving celebrations. The descendants of Abel, who were shepherds, used to lead their sheep from the winter pastures to the summer pastures after the sacrificial offering of a lamb to God. They called this celebration the “Pass over.” The descendants of Cain, who were farmers, held a harvest festival called the Massoth in which they offered unleavened bread to God as an act of thanksgiving. The Passover feast of the Israelites (Exodus 12:26-37) was a harmonious combination of these two ancient feasts of thanksgiving, commanded by the Lord God and celebrated yearly by all Israelites to thank God for His miraculous liberation of their ancestors from Egyptian slavery, their exodus from Egypt, and their final arrival in the Promised Land.
Scripture lessons summarized: In the first reading, God gives the Hebrews two instructions: prepare for the moment of liberation by a ritual meal and make a symbolic mark on your homes to exempt yourselves from the coming slaughter. In the second reading, Paul teaches that the celebration of the Lord’s Supper was an unbroken tradition from the very beginning of the Church, by which Christians reminded themselves of the death and Resurrection of Jesus. Today’s Gospel describes how Jesus transformed the Jewish Passover into the Eucharistic celebration. After washing the feet of his apostles and commanding them to do humble service for each other, Jesus concluded the seder meal ceremony by giving his apostles his own body and blood under the appearances of bread and wine as spiritual food and drink, in addition to serving the roasted Paschal lamb.
Life Messages: 1) A challenge for humble service. Our celebration of the Eucharist requires that we wash one another’s feet, i.e., serve one another, and revere Christ’s presence in other persons. In practical terms, that means we are to consider their needs to be as important as our own and to serve their needs, without expecting any reward. 2) A loving invitation for sacrificial sharing and self-giving love. Let us imitate the self-giving model of Jesus who shares with us his own Body and Blood and who enriches us with his real presence in the Holy Eucharist. It is by sharing our blessings – our talents, time, health and wealth – with others that we become true disciples of Christ and obey his new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.” 3) An invitation to become Christ-bearers and Christ-conveyers: “Go forth, the Mass is ended,” really means, “Go in peace to love and serve one another.’’ We are to carry Jesus to our homes and places of work, conveying to others around us the love, mercy, forgiveness, and the spirit of humble service of Christ whom we carry with us.
April 2 Good Friday: CHALLENGE TO CARRY OUR CROSSES: A)The cross and the crucifix are meaningful symbols, as the dove symbolizes peace and the heart symbolizes love. The crucifix and the cross are the symbols of the loving and sacrificial offering of self for others. First, it is only in the cross that we see the face of God’s love. There is no greater love than that of a person who is willing to die for another, and the cross tells this love story. Second, the cross is the symbol of the remission of our sins: The Bible says that when Jesus died he took all our sins to himself on the cross, and so he conquered sin and the devil’s power forever. Whenever we see the cross we should realize that Jesus was bruised, crushed and died for our iniquities. “But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed.” (Is 53:5). Third, the cross is the symbol of humble self-emptying for others. It is the symbol of the cross-bearing Christ leading us in our life’s journey of pain and suffering, carrying his heavier cross and still encouraging us, strengthening us and supporting us. Fourth, the cross is the symbol of the risen Christ who promises us a crown of glory as a reward for our patient bearing of our daily crosses.
(B) The Cross always means pain. But the pain I suffer for myself is not Christ’s cross. The true cross of Christ is the pain I suffer for others. It is the sanctifying pain involved in sharing our blessings sacrificially with others. It is the pain involved in controlling our evil tendencies in an attempt to attain a higher degree of holiness. It is the pain involved in standing with Jesus his ideas and ideals and gladly following him even if that means scorn and humiliation from the rest of the world.
(C) We have our crosses mainly from four sources. Some of our crosses like diseases, natural disasters, death are given by Mother Nature. We face some other crosses when we do our duties faithfully. Our friends and enemies supply a few of our crosses. Finally we ourselves create many of our crosses by careless living and evil addictions.
(D) On Good Friday we should ask the question: why should we carry our crosses? First, cross-bearing is a condition for Christian discipleship. Jesus said: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Second, it is by carrying our crosses that we make reparation for our sins and for the sins of others related to us. That is why St. Paul said that he was suffering in his body what is “lacking” in Christ’s suffering. Third, it is by carrying our crosses that we become imitators of Christ in his suffering for us. St. Paul explains it thus: “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me.” (Gal 2: 19-20).
Life messages: (1) We should carry our crosses with the right motives: We should carry our crosses like a loving wife who nurses her paralyzed husband or sick child, with sacrificial love and dedicated commitment.(2) We should plant the cross of Christ in our daily lives: We have to begin every day with a sign of the cross, asking the blessing and protection of the crucified Lord in our lives that day. (3) We should heal our inner wounds through the cross of Christ: An area where it is very important for us to apply the cross of Christ in our life concerns the area of inner healing. We all need healings from those wounds to our character that we sustained early in life, especially during our first seven years.
April 3 Saturday, 2021: For any morning service: A day to remember the burial of Jesus. (The early Church commemorated the death of Jesus on Good Friday, the burial of Jesus on Holy Saturday and the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday)
- Good Friday and Holy Saturday were days of full fasting in the early Church.
- A day for baptism. After A.D. 313 when the Church got freedom of religious practice from Emperor Constantine, Holy Saturday was the day to receive the catechumens to the Church, after three years of preparation. It was considered as a ceremony reminding them that they become dead to their former gentile life by immersing themselves in water and that they emerge in to a new life in Jesus Christ by rising up from the water.
- A day for blessing baptismal water. The catechumens return the Book of Creed (catechism book) to the bishop in a morning ceremony. In the evening the bishop blesses the baptismal water.
- A day of lighting the Easter candle. The bishop re-ignites the fire extinguished on Holy Thursday and lights the Easter candle to represent Jesus as the “light of the world”. Imitating the Jewish custom of the ceremonial lighting of Sabbath lamps on Friday evenings, the early Christians lighted and displayed lamps on Saturday evenings to honor Jesus as the “light of the world”.
- A day to read I Peter 2:9 reminding the people of their worth and dignity – as “the “chosen people of God”, sanctified, appropriated by God and honored with the royal priesthood.
- A day of renewing the baptismal promises. The people were asked to repeat their baptismal promises by rejecting Satan and his empty promises, by accepting Jesus as the Lord and savior and revesting with the “new man” after removing the vestments of the “old man.”
Messages: 1) Message of expectation, change of heart and new life.
2) Lead a new life with the Risen Lord by dying to sinful life.
3) Live a new life recognizing the nobility of Christians as children of God,
brothers and sisters of Jesus and members of the mystical body of Jesus.
Holy Saturday Evening: Easter Vigil Mass confer Easter homily.