O. T. XV (July 11 Sunday)

OT XV [B] Sunday (July 11, 2021) Eight-minute homily in one page 

Introduction: Today’s readings remind us of our Divine adoption as God’s children and of our call to preach the Good News of Jesus by bearing witness to God’s love, mercy, and salvation, as revealed through Jesus:  “God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.” (Ephesians 1:4).

Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading (Am 7:12-15), warns us that our witnessing mission will be rejected, as happened to the Old Testament prophets like Amos. He was ordered by Amaziah, the angry chief priest serving in the Northern Kingdom of Israel at Bethel, to take his prophesying back to his own country, the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Amos defended his prophetic role with courage, clarifying that it was not his, but God’s choice to elevate him from a shepherd and tree-dresser to a prophet. Like Amos, we are chosen by God, through the mystery of Divine adoption in Jesus, to become missionaries and to preach the “Good News,” mainly by Christian witnessing. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 85) Refrain has us begging God for that Salvation, singing “Lord, let us see Your Kindness, and grant us Your Salvation.”

In the second reading (Eph 1:3-14), St. Paul explains the blessings that we have received through our Baptism and the responsibility we have to become missionaries. Then Paul reveals the Divine secret that it is God’s eternal plan to extend salvation, through Jesus, to all mankind — first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. Hence, the Jewish and the Gentile Christians need to love, help, and respect one another, and thus, to proclaim Jesus, giving true witness by their lives.

In today’s Gospel (Mk 6:1-13), the evangelist tells the story of Jesus’ commissioning of the twelve apostles to preach the “Good News” of repentance, forgiveness of sins, liberation, and salvation through Jesus. Just as God sent the prophet Amos to preach repentance to ancient Israel and St. Paul to preach the Good News of salvation to the Gentiles, so Jesus sends forth the Twelve to proclaim the Good News of God’s Kingdom and to bring healing to those who need it most. Today’s Gospel reports the instruction Jesus gave the apostles for their first mission. They are to be walking illustrations of God’s love and providence in action. They are to preach repentance — a change of heart and a change of action taking people from a self-centered life to a God-centered life.

Life Messages: # 1: We, too, have a witnessing mission: We are called to be witnessing disciples and evangelizing apostles. As witnessing disciples, we need to follow, imitate, reflect, and radiate only Jesus. As apostles, we need to evangelize the world by sharing with others our experience of God and His Son, Jesus, proclaiming Jesus’ Gospel and promised salvation through our transparent Christian lives and words, radiating the love, mercy, forgiveness, spirit of humble service and concern of Jesus to the people around us. 2) We also have the liberating mission of helping to free people from the demons of nicotine, alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography, promiscuous sex, hatred, jealousy, racial prejudice, and consumerism. We need the help of Jesus to liberate both ourselves and others from these things.

OT XV [B] SUNDAY (July 11) (Am 7:12-15, Eph 1:3-14, Mk 6:7-13)

Homily starter anecdotes: # 1: Gideon’s army and Jesus’ fishermen: An angel spoke directly to Gideon, the fourth judge of the Israelites in the 12th century B.C. This two-way conversation is recorded in detail in Jgs 6:11-25 and comprises the commissioning of Gideon to be a deliverer and “Judge” of God’s people. The angel of the Lord came to meet Gideon under the oak tree at Ophrah with specific instructions for a raid on the Midianites who were the controlling force in the land, fielding a unique and fast-moving camel-battalion. The raiders had forcefully reaped all the grain of the Israelites during the harvest season for seven years. Gideon protested that his clan, Manasseh, was the weakest in the nation. But God assured Gideon, “I will be with you, and you shall strike down the Midianites, every one of them” (v 16). Gideon asked for a sign from God, and God graciously gave it to convince Gideon that it was God who was sending him to fight, and it was God who would be fighting for him. In Judges 7:2-11 God gave additional instruction to Gideon and asked him to send home those soldiers who were afraid to fight a strong, extensive army. That reduced the number of soldiers in Gideon’s army from 32,000 to 10,000. But it was still too many in God’s sight. God further instructed Gideon to conduct a water-drinking test in the river. The test eliminated 9700 more soldiers, leaving behind only 300 soldiers of God’s selection. The story of Gideon’s calling was about strategy: “Go in My strength.” The Midianites had a force of 135,000 men with them when they invaded Israel in the 8th harvest season. But Gideon trusted in the strength of the Lord and through the Spirit of the Lord possessing him, defeated and destroyed the mighty army of the Midianites by his surprise midnight attack. Today’s Gospel tells us how Jesus selected twelve ordinary men and delegated them for preaching and healing mission trip. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 2: Prophet Amos being chased out of Bethel (First Reading, Amos 7:12-15) The text today is silent about that. Last week I talked about people who were “uncomfortable” in situations where they could control neither events nor the outcome. Today there is a different kind of “discomfort” – but this kind comes from being “disturbed” by hearing the word of God. Perhaps a better way of viewing those times when we feel “uncomfortable” hearing a reading or a homily, is to recognize that we are “being challenged” to become more responsible and just in all of our relationships. Amos was an ordinary lay person from Judah (southern kingdom) who was called by God to speak His word in Samaria (northern kingdom). Prophecy was not the normal “career path” for Amos, who worked in the vineyards and pastures. His message to Northern Israel was simple: the leaders and merchants were engaging in acts of gross injustice. This included cheating customers in the marketplace; being disdainful or inhospitable to strangers (especially females); and above all, disregarding the needs of the poor. The response of the Priest at Bethel in the north was to reject Amos as an “outsider” – after all, Amos wasn’t even a citizen of the northern kingdom! Therefore, his word was rejected, just as the “migrant” himself was rejected. In the Gospel today (Mk 6:7-13) Jesus warned the missionaries that they, too, would be rejected on many occasions. To reject the message and the messenger is to reject the sender, in this case, God Himself. Nevertheless, the duty of every disciple is to “challenge the comfortable” with the Truth. We need these reminders of the centrality of justice, charity, and dignity for all humankind. Otherwise we may, inadvertently, build walls of exclusion. God’s love knows no boundaries; neither must our love. Evangelization (spreading the Good News of God’s love for all) is not an option; it is an ordinary responsibility for each one of us (CCC #905). Justice is the keystone in all of our relationships (CCC #2411), because it is a basic right belonging to both man and God (CCC #1807). (Fr. Mac Namara). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 3: “Bring your daughter to me in three weeks’ time and I will speak to her.” There’s a story about a troubled mother who had a daughter who was addicted to sweets. One day she approached Gandhi, explained the problem to him and asked whether he might talk to the young girl. Gandhi replied: “Bring your daughter to me in three weeks’ time and I will speak to her.” After three weeks, the mother brought her daughter to him. He took the young girl aside and spoke to her about the harmful effects of eating sweets excessively and urged her to abandon her bad habit. The mother thanked Gandhi for this advice and then asked him: “But why didn’t you speak to her three weeks ago?” Gandhi replied: “Because three weeks ago, I was still addicted to sweets.” And there’s the lesson: We must do more than just point out the right road to others, we must be on that road ourselves. For this reason, the integrity of our private lives and private morals, down to the smallest detail, is the real power behind our words. (Fr. Ron Rolheiser). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Introduction:  Today’s readings remind us of our Divine Adoption as God’s children and of our call to preach the Good News of Jesus by bearing witness to God’s love, mercy and salvation as revealed through Jesus.

The Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading warns us that our witnessing mission will be rejected, as happened to the Old Testament prophets like Amos. Amos condemned the cozy lifestyle of priests who supported the king and the rich and ignored the oppression of the poor. The angry chief priest, Amaziah of Bethel in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, told Amos to take his prophesying back to his own country, the Southern Kingdom of Judah, because they did not want to listen to his prophecy in Bethel. Amos defended his prophetic role with courage, clarifying that it was not his, but his God’s choice to elevate him from a shepherd and tree-dresser to a prophet. Amos was taken away from shepherding his flock by God Himself, then sent by God to prophesy. The Twelve were called and sent forth by Jesus on a preaching mission of salvation. Like Amos, we are all chosen by God, through the mystery of Divine adoption in Jesus, to become missionaries and to preach the “Good News” by the witness of our Christian lives. The Psalmist sings in today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps. 85), that in Jesus alone, “Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice shall look down from Heaven” (Psalm 85:11-12).  In the second reading, St. Paul explains the blessings that we have received through our Baptism and the responsibility we have to become missionaries. Through Christ, God has chosen us to be holy, made us the adopted brothers and sisters of His Son, Jesus, forgiven our sins, given us a right relationship with God, and enabled us to understand His plan of salvation. Then Paul reveals the Divine secret: that it is God’s eternal plan to extend salvation, through Jesus, to all mankind — first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. Hence, the Jewish and the Gentile Christians needed to love, help, and respect one another and thus proclaim Jesus by the witness of their lives.  In today’s Gospel (Mk 6:1-13), the evangelist tells the story of Jesus’ commissioning of the twelve apostles for their first missionary journey. They are to preach the “Good News” of repentance, forgiveness of sins, liberation, and salvation through Jesus. Just as God sent the prophet Amos to preach repentance to ancient Israel and St. Paul to preach the Good News of salvation to the Gentiles, so Jesus sends forth us believers to proclaim the Good News of God’s Kingdom and to bring healing to those who need it most.

The first reading, Amos 7:12-15 explained: This first reading shows us, in the rejection of an Old Testament prophet, what would happen to Jesus and the apostles. For a long time, the territory we call the Holy Land had been divided between a northern kingdom called Israel and a southern kingdom known as Judah. The city of Jerusalem was in Judah. In the northern kingdom, at Bethel, there was a very ancient shrine with several priests. These Bethel priests sponsored the rich people and acted as cronies of King Jeroboam. The Prophet Amos was sent by God to these priests with the demand that they speak against the current neglect and exploitation of the poor by the powerful. Amos had come from Tekoa in the southern kingdom of Judah to Bethel in the northern kingdom of Israel, to pronounce God’s judgment on Israel and its King, Jeroboam. As a prophet, Amos foretold the overthrow of the throne and shrine by the hand of God. Amaziah who was the high priest told Amos that the King was angry with him and was seeking to kill him. It would be better for Amos to look for his own safety. Amos tells Amaziah that, in the eyes of God, the Temple that Amaziah served was not legitimate as it had been established by the royal household. But the furious chief priest of Bethel, Amaziah, told Amos to get out and go south to Judah “to earn your bread!” Amos retorted that he was not a professional prophet; he was a shepherd and dresser of sycamores. He had become a prophet only because God had sent him to deliver a message to Israel and its King. We are invited to see the mission of the twelve apostles and our mission as Christians as parallels of the mission of Amos.

The second reading, Ephesians 1:3-10, explained: This reading, taken from the letter to the Ephesians, is a prayer praising God for what God has accomplished in Jesus. In other words, Paul offers us the exercise of counting our blessings in the form of a benediction and thanksgiving in which we point to God as the Source of our blessings, in and through Jesus’ life, death and Resurrection. Through Christ, God has given us a clear purpose in life—to praise and to serve God and one another—with the Holy Spirit as a Helper in carrying out the task. Paul advises the Ephesians to count their blessings instead of focusing excessively on their inadequacies and deficiencies. In this prayer, Paul also reveals a Divine secret to the Jewish Christians: It was not God’s plan to keep the Jews as His Chosen People exclusively, but for all mankind to be saved, so that Gentiles would eventually be included! That inclusion had begun formally when Jesus sent Paul to preach to the Gentiles. Hence, the Jewish and the Gentile Christians were to respect and help each other, as both were now adopted children of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus.

Gospel exegesis: 1) The context: Jesus, like the prophets before Him, was rejected by the people of his hometown as he corrected the people of Nazareth for their prejudice. But instead of getting discouraged, Jesus went with his disciples to the neighboring towns and villages, preaching and healing all who believe. Jesus then prepared the apostles to go serve as heralds to announce to the towns the Master would soon visit, bringing the Good News of the salvation. Today’s Gospel repeats for us the instruction Jesus gave the apostles for their first mission.

2) Travelers’ kit in Palestine: In Jesus’ time, the Jews of Palestine ordinarily wore five articles of clothing.  The innermost garment was called the tunic; and the outer garment was used as a cloak by day and as a blanket by night.   Next, there was a girdle, which was worn over the tunic and cloak.   The skirts of the tunic could be hitched up under the girdle for work or any strenuous activity.  A headdress was also worn in order to protect the neck, the cheekbones, and the eyes from the heat and glare of the sun.  Finally, the Jews wore   sandals made of leather, wood or matted grass.  They also carried a wicker basket within which was an ordinary traveler’s bag made of kid’s skin. The Jewish priests and devotees, who were often very covetous, carried these bags supposedly to collect contributions. No wonder, people labeled them “pious robbers” with their booty growing from village to village.

3) The meaning of Jesus’ instructions: Why did Jesus send the Apostles in pairs? Because according to Jewish law, two witnesses were needed to pronounce a truth. Going two-by-two brought with it the authority of official witnesses. By Jesus’ instructions, it is clear that that his disciples should take no supplies for the road but simply trust in God for their requirements.  God, the Provider, would open the hearts of believers to take care of the needs of the disciples.  Jesus’ instructions also suggest that the apostles should not be like the acquisitive priests of the day, who were interested only in gaining riches.  Instead, as disciples of Jesus, they must be concerned with “giving” rather than “getting.” They should be walking examples of God’s love and providence. By making their mission trip this way, they would also have the maximum of freedom and the minimum of burdens in their preaching and healing ministry. Jesus wanted his apostles to be rich in all the things which really mattered, so that they might enrich those who came into contact with them. Statistics tell us that most people who come to join a Church do so because a friend or relative brought them. So the best advertisement for any Church is the number of the faithful – men, women, and children, whose daily lives show forth some of the radiance of the Gospel.
3) “Shake off the dust from your feet:” Jesus knew that when the apostles went into any town or village to evangelize, a family or house would take them in, welcome them, and give them what they needed, because hospitality was an important religious tradition in Palestine. By His stern instruction, Jesus seems to be saying, “If people refuse to listen to you or to show you hospitality, the only thing you can do is to treat them as an orthodox Jew would treat a Gentile or a pagan.”  The Rabbinic law stated that the dust of a Gentile country was defiled, so that when a Jew entered Palestine from another country, he had first to shake off every particle of the unclean land’s dust from his clothing and sandals.

4) Convey the Good News of God’s love and mercy: Jesus’ disciples were to preach the Good News that God is not a punishing judge, but rather a loving Father Who wants to save men from their bondage to sin through Jesus His Son. The disciples were to preach the message of metanoia or repentance–which has disturbing implications.  To “repent” means to change one’s mind and then fit one’s actions to this change.  Metanoia literally means change your mind.  It can also mean taking a new direction. Thus, repentance means a change of heart and a change of action–a change from a self-centered life to a God-centered life.  Such a change may hurt a bit at times.  It is also interesting to note that Jesus commanded his disciples to anoint with oil.  In the ancient world, oil was regarded as a sort of cure-all.  In the hands of Christ’s servants, however, the old cures would acquire a new virtue through the power of God.

Life Messages: # 1: We, too, have a witnessing mission: Each Christian is called not only to be a disciple but also to be an apostle. As disciples, we are to follow and imitate Jesus. As apostles, we are to evangelize the world. We are called to share with others not just words, or ideas, or doctrines but an experience, — our experience of God and His Son, Jesus. Like the apostles, like St. Francis of Assisi, like St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa), we are all chosen and sent to proclaim the Gospel through our living.  It is through our transparent Christian lives that we must show, through our own actions, the love, mercy and concern of Jesus for the people around us. Since we are baptized, Jesus is calling us in our working and living environment to evangelize, to invite people to know, love, serve, and follow Jesus for the rest of our lives. An important part of evangelism is the simple act of inviting a friend or family member to join us in worship. This is where reconciliation between persons and God is most likely to take place. We do not have to commit verbal assault on someone with our convictions. A simple invitation, offered out of a loving and joyful heart, is the most powerful evangelistic message of all.

#2: We have a liberating mission: Although many people don’t believe in real demonic possession in our age, there are many demons which can control the lives of people around us, making them helpless slaves. For example, there are the demons of nicotine, alcohol, gambling, pornography, promiscuous sex, materialism, consumerism, or of any other activity which somehow can take control of people’s lives and become an addiction over which they have no control. All of these, or any one of them, can turn people into slaves. We need Divine help to cooperate with Jesus today to become instruments in liberating ourselves and others from these things, helping them and ourselves to recover our freedom. We are meant to help people to cure their sicknesses – bodily, psychological, and emotional. As a family member, a friend, a colleague, an evangelizer, when we work with Jesus, we can truly exercise a healing influence.

#3: We have a mission to live as children of God.  Realization of our dignity as children of God should change our outlook on life.  We are to be children filled with love, rather than selfishness and disobedience.  We are to respect our brothers and sisters in Christ.  As God’s children, we should live lives of absolute trust in the goodness of our Heavenly Father, Who knows what is best for us. The realization that we are the children of God should bring us great comfort, peace and joy–even in our worst moments.

#4: We have a mission to grow in Divine adoption: It is in the Church–principally through the seven Sacraments–that our Divine adoption is made possible.  We are chosen by God in Christ, we are baptized into Christ’s death and Christ’s Church, or Mystical Body. We are healed by Jesus’ forgiveness, and we are nourished at the Eucharistic table on Jesus’ Body and Blood ad our Food and Drink .  Today, when we gather as His adopted sons and daughters at this table of Christ’s sacrificial banquet, we can rightly address God as our Divine Father and ask Him for the special anointing of the Holy Spirit that we may grow daily in the true spirit and practice of our Divine adoption.

Jokes of the week:

1) If Jesus was from Alabama: A little Baptist girl from Alabama went to church for the first time ever, when she was visiting her grandparents in Michigan. When the pastor announced it was time for the Lord’s Supper, she was excited–and hungry. The congregation filed up to the altar rail, and the child watched in confusion as her grandparents received a wafer and small plastic cup of wine. She could hardly wait to get back to the pew to tell her grandma that Jesus wasn’t from Alabama. “How do you know that dear?” asked her grandma. “Because that was the poorest  meal I’ve ever seen,” she said. “Mama would’ve at least given everybody some corn bread and sweet tea.”

2) Fond of spicy food, the pastor kept a jar of pure, hot horseradish on his kitchen table. One evening an unsuspecting dinner guest took a big spoonful of the stuff and was taken aback. When he finally regained the ability to speak, he gasped, “I’ve heard ministers preach hellfire before, but you’re the first one who passed out samples!”

WEBSITES OF THE WEEK

1-The National Catholic Reporter: http://ncronline3.org/

2- Parish World – Catholic Lifestyle magazine: http://www.parishworld.net/

3- St. Anthony Messenger Magazine Online & books: http://www.americancatholic.org

4- YOUTUBE VATICAN: http://www.youtube.com/vatican

5-Dr. Bryant Pitro’s commentary on Cycle B Sunday Scripture: https://catholicproductions.com/blogs/mass-readings-explained-year-b

6-Video Sunday-Scripture study by Fr. Geoffrey Plant:

https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant2066

7-Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs: https://lectiotube.com/

 

off in pairs

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B (No 39) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com

25- Additional anecdotes:

1. Three hundred thousand visits for myself in three months, and 140 visits for God in fourteen years.” Jimmy Carter, the former president, in his autobiography, Why Not the Best? shares an incident that made him aware of his failure in his mission to evangelize by bearing witness to Christ. Each year the congregation of Plains Baptist Church held a one-week revival service. In preparation for the week, the leaders of the congregation would visit the irregular and non-churched members and invite them to the services. As a deacon, Carter always participated in this exercise. He would always visit a few homes, read the Scriptures and have prayer, share some religious beliefs; then he would talk about the weather and crops and depart. One day Carter was asked to speak at a church in Preston, Georgia. The topic he was assigned was “Christian Witnessing.” As he sat in his study writing and thinking, he decided he would make a great impression upon the audience by sharing with them how many home visits he made for God. He figured in the fourteen years since returning from the Navy he had conducted 140 visits. As Carter sat there, he began to reflect on the 1966 governor’s election. As he campaigned for the state’s highest office, he spent sixteen to eighteen hours a day trying to reach as many voters as possible. At the conclusion of the campaign, Carter calculated that he met more than 300,000 Georgians. As he sat in his study the truth became evident to him. “The comparison struck him–300,000 visits for myself in three months, and 140 visits for God in fourteen years!” — Today’s Gospel reminds us that each Christian is sent with a preaching and evangelizing mission. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

2) “Friend lend me your hands.” During the wind-swept city Bridge-War, a small Korean village came under heavy artillery fire.  When the smoke of the battle cleared away, the pastor of the parish sought the help of some American soldiers in restoring to its pedestal a fallen statue of Christ.  Since the statue’s hands were gone, the soldiers planned to mould two new hands.  The pastor, however, came up with a very meaningful suggestion: “Let us leave the statue as it is and write on the front of the pedestal the words, “Friend, lend me your hands.” — Sending apostles as ambassadors to preach the “Good News” and to heal the sick, Jesus, in today’ Gospel, reminds us that we are, and only have the gifts of — working hands to raise the fallen; feet to seek out the lost; ears to listen to the lonely; and a tongue to speak words of sympathy and encouragement to those weighed down by sorrow, pain and failure — that Jesus may work through us to heal, strengthen, comfort and teach on earth in our day. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

3) “We will do this.” This is what Francis used as the first rule for his order, the Franciscans. He just took the words of Jesus’ instruction to his disciples on their first missionary journey, and said, “We will do this.” There would be other rules for the Franciscans later on, much more lenient after St. Francis died, but this was the first rule for the Franciscans. And they took it literally. “Take nothing with you on your journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in your belts; but wear sandals and only one tunic.” Incidentally, the robe the Franciscans wear even today, the brown robe, is the robe that they wore in the 13th century. It was the garment of the peasant, and they identified with the poor, with the peasant, not only in dress, but also in poverty. They vowed of absolute poverty: they owned nothing, not even the tunic on their back. So, if they found somebody who had less than what they had, they were to share what they had; they worked and begged for their daily sustenance. They were called “mendicant” friars, which means they begged for their living. — So, we must ask, is that what Jesus had in mind for us in today’s Gospel? The apostles did not take the practice of poverty literally. Paul continued to work at his trade and earn an income –with which he support himself and his companions. The Book of Acts says that in the Church in Jerusalem – the original Church after Pentecost – the members sold all their property, and held all things in common, which is just another way of owning property, not individually, but as a community. Further, the early Church itself called its members to a life of giving to the poor. We know that they took collections for the poor. So, the counsel in the Bible is not that we should get rid of all our property and become poor, but that we should manage our property as good stewards for God, caring for those in need as well as for our own families. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

4) “Because there is no fourth-class!” This is a story told about Albert Schweitzer who was visiting a certain city. Dignitaries were awaiting him at the train station. But he was not to be found among the first-class passengers. Then they waited while the second-class passengers disembarked. Still no Schweitzer. Finally, they saw him coming out of the third-class compartment, carrying his own suitcase. “Why on earth do you travel third-class?” they asked him. “Because there is no fourth-class!” he replied. — The fact of the matter is that Jesus called his disciples to be apostles (those sent with a message), and evangelists (those who proclaim the Good News), as described in today’s Gospel. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

5) “We make Marines. We win battles.” One of the most eye-catching commercials on television, is the one that is sponsored by the United States Marine Corps. They have one that shows a young man fighting, and then slaying a fire-breathing dragon with an Excalibur-like sword. At the end of that commercial, the young man with that sword stands tall, gleaming in the light, decked out in that resplendent dress blue uniform, and the commercial ends with these words: “The Few – the Proud – the Marines.” The mission statement of Marines is, “We make Marines. We win battles.” — That is not only the mission of the Marine Corps; that was the mission of the Lord Jesus Christ when He was on earth, and that is still His mission through the Church today. From the time Jesus began his ministry, to this very moment, Jesus has been looking for “spiritual Marines.” May I be very honest with all of us, including myself? If our Commander-in-Chief, Jesus, were to return today, I believe that our General with the badge of Five-Stars-arranged-in-a-circle would find many, if not most, of his soldiers a disgrace to the uniform. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

6) “Do you really believe that?” A prison chaplain went to talk with a man sentenced to die in the electric chair. He urged him to believe in Jesus Christ and be baptized; that forgiveness and eternity with God awaited him if only he would turn towards God. The prisoner said, “Do you really believe that?” “Of course, I do,” replied the chaplain. “Go on,” scoffed the prisoner. “If I believed that I would crawl and hands and knees over broken glass to tell others, but I don’t see you Christians making any big thing of it!” — He had a point. How do we get the Gospel out? By taking it with us when we go! Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

7) “Former TV evangelist.” A few years ago, Pat Robertson got extremely upset when a reporter referred to him as a “former TV evangelist.” In Robertson’s camp, this was considered slander. A cynic said recently in Quote magazine, “Parents used to worry if they caught their children playing doctor. Now they worry if they’re playing evangelist.” — In Sinclair Lewis’ 1927 novel, Elmer Gantry, a classic portrayal of the yearning of the spirit in battle with the weakness of the flesh, the flesh wins. Lewis saw in a clear and unforgiving way, the potential for abuse that the role of the modern evangelist entails. For many years, the clergy ranked first as the institution in which we placed the most confidence. But those days are gone, according to a recent Gallup poll. Only 57 percent of respondents had “a great deal” of confidence in Churches, down from 66 percent in 1985. Jesus sent his disciples out two by two. This was the first evangelistic visitation. But they didn’t travel in Lear Jets. They didn’t beam their message from satellites. Dr. Martin E. Marty recently declared. “Less than one tenth of one percent of the American people who are members of a Church tell the polltaker they joined a particular denomination because of a radio or television message,” he noted. “But 80 percent say, ‘I got there through someone who was important to me.’” Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

8) Lesson from the AIDS patient: Gaetan Dugas is assumed to be the first man to bring the AIDS virus to the United States. A French-Canadian airline steward, he came New York in 1976 for the visit of the Tall Ships. Once he knew he had the disease, he sought sexual contacts with other men, afterward announcing, “I’ve got gay cancer. I’m going to die, and so are you.” Dugas wickedly plotted to spread his misfortune to anyone who was foolish enough to step in his path. (Little over a decade later, one man’s aggressive crusade had impacted the world.) — What a motivation this should be to those of us who have met the One who has power over sin to begin a counter-revolution in our society a counter-revolution of decency, of love and acceptance of all persons, of binding up the wounds of society and declaring the Lordship of Christ over human society. That is your business and that is mine. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

9) “Why didn’t you tell me it was so beautiful?” A young boy who had been blind from birth had just been operated on. The new procedure offered the possibility of sight for this young boy who had never seen the light of day. As the parents waited for the doctor to remove the patches which had covered his eyes since surgery, they were uncertain about what his response would be. Blinking his eyes, adjusting to the sights and colors around him, the boy suddenly began to take it all in. Full of excitement, he said to his parents, “Why didn’t you tell me it was so beautiful?” — This is the work of evangelism. It is the business of helping persons open their eyes and see the world as they have never seen it before. It is not the pressuring of people to come to Church. Such pressure is in the long run nonproductive and basically unchristian. Rather, evangelism is the introduction of persons to a new way of living, a new way of relating, a new way of perceiving the meaning of existence. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

10) Evangelism deals with causes, not symptoms: The police deal with symptoms. Welfare workers deal with symptoms. Crisis- intervention persons deal with symptoms. When the Church provides housing to the homeless, it is dealing with symptoms. When we provide counseling to unwed teens, families that are splintering, persons who are battling chemical addictions and a host of other problems that people have, usually we are dealing with symptoms. — When we seek to do the work of evangelism, however, we are going beyond symptoms to causes. What is at the heart of people’s distress? What is it that causes them to mess up their lives, betray their values, barter their futures? Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

11) The Haggadah and the Halakkah: Rabbinic tradition divides its teachings into two distinct areas. Both are necessary to the continued life and health of the Faith. The Haggadah refers to the body of narrative or devotional materials which communicate God’s heart to the believer. The Halakkah encompasses all God’s requirements, the laws, for living an obedient life of Faith. The name Halakkah literally means “walking,” and refers to Exodus 18:20, “You shall teach them the statutes and the decisions and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do.” — David, sitting prayerfully before his God, represents the Haggadah portion of this week’s texts. Strength and endurance are available to us through prayer. The disciples boldly setting out on their mission embody the spirit of Halakkah, for they know the “way in which they must walk and what they must do.” Jesus has sent them on their mission and has entrusted them with Divine authority. Now it is their responsibility to get out on the road. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

12) “The first task of the minister is to make people aware of their predicament.” In his sermon to the graduates of a Seminary in New York City, Paul Tillich, the theologian, preached on the theme of healing and casting out demons. He told the graduating seminarians that they would experience two difficulties as they went to their new parishes with this message of healing and casting out demons: (1) Many people will say that they do not need to be healed and (2) Many will laugh at the absurdity of casting out demons that rule their lives; they may tell the proclaimer that he or she is possessed by a demon for saying so – just as they did to Jesus. “Therefore,” Tillich said, “the first task of the minister is to make people aware of their predicament.” [Paul Tillich, The Eternal Now (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1963), p. 58.] — The predicament of people’s insensitivity to their own needs and to the forces of evil is further complicated by the fact that we don’t know what demons are. The human predicament of insensitivity and lack of clarity regarding the forms of evil is even further complicated by the fact that every pastor who goes forth to heal the sick and cast out demons is, himself or herself, in need of healing and cleansing. In addition, some of the difficulty with this predicament comes from the multitude of misunderstandings about this ministry — especially the miracle/magic association we often make between healing and casting out demons. Today’s Gospel explains how Jesus commissions his disciples with preaching healing and exorcising ministry. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

13) “People need no proofs for the existence of God if we are witnesses.” Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel was one of the most influential religious thinkers of our time. In one of his writings, he said these startling words: “If there are no witnesses there is no God to be met…. For God to be present we have to be witnesses… There are no proofs for the existence of God; there are only witnesses.” Did you know that our English word “martyr” comes from a Greek word which simply means “to witness”? The word became associated with death because that was the end result of one’s witnessing during the first centuries of the Christian era. This is not to suggest that God’s existence depends solely on our witnessing. The point here is that God’s Reality for us, God’s relevance in our lives, God’s reality in the world, is dependent upon our bearing witness to Him. So God should not be found at the end of a philosophical or theological argument, but in the midst of life. — But the opportunity to relive some chapters in the lives of Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan, and the cover photo of the slain Archbishop Oscar Romero, now Saint (canonized 14 October, 2018, by Pope Francis) shakes me from my two-car garage attitude that Christian suffering and death are confined to the first century. To refresh your memory: Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan were two of the four missionaries slain by “death squads” in El Salvador on December 2, 1980. The transition from “witness” to “martyr” is more than linguistic. It is life. Do you know that the first-century Christians were called atheists, immoral and cannibals by their enemies? They were called “atheists” because they refused to accept the popular gods of the day; “immoral” because they amazed the world by the way in which they loved one another; and “cannibals” because they regularly partook of the Body and Blood of Christ, even at great risk! And it is still going on. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

14) Our mission is to purify a contaminated world. There are two rivers in Europe named the Roan and the Arf. The Roan is a beautiful, pure river, with fresh clear water cascading down from snowcapped mountains. The Arf River is a muddy waterway, wandering like a slimy dirty brown snake through the countryside. For many miles the two rivers run alongside each other. Even when they finally merge, the two rivers don’t immediately mix, the pure Roan and the filthy Arf still flow side by side for many more miles, until, at last, the putrid Arf consumes its pure brother and the two become dirty. –That is the sort of thing that happens in the real world. The purest and the most loving heart in the land will not stay so very long, working in most offices or factories, attending most schools, living in most communities. We take on the attitudes and the values of the society around us, and our views of others and of ourselves and even of God become distorted. We become weighted down with the burdens of the world without realizing the truth that our mission is to purify the little world around us. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

15) The undelivered message: George Sweeting, in his book The No-Guilt Guide for Witnessing, tells us of John Currier who in 1949 was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Later he was transferred and paroled to work on a farm near Nashville, Tennessee. In 1968, Currier’s sentence was terminated, and a letter bearing the good news was sent to him. But John never saw the letter, nor was he told anything about it. Life on that farm was hard and without promise for the future. Yet John kept doing what he was told even after the farmer for whom he worked had died. Ten years went by. Then a state parole officer learned about Currier’s plight, found him, and told him that his sentence had been terminated. He was a free man. Sweeting concluded that story by asking, “Would it matter to you if someone sent you an important message—the most important in your life—and year after year the urgent message was never delivered?” — We who have heard the Good News and experienced freedom through Christ are responsible to proclaim it to others still enslaved by sin. Are we doing all we can to make sure that people get the message? Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

16) Witnessing by living During the American Civil War, President Lincoln had a strapping athletic young man as his secretary. In those days before office machinery, such a man would literally be pushing a pen or pencil. This particular man was not happy about it. He wanted to get out where the action was – on the battlefield. He wanted to go out and do great things for his country. He was quite willing to die for his country. So he kept complaining to Lincoln about the women’s work he was doing, when he could be in uniform confronting the enemy. After hearing the usual complaint one day, Lincoln stared at him, rubbed his hands in his beard and said in his philosophical way, “Young man, as I see it, you are quite willing to die for your country, but you are not ready to live for it.” — Martyrs (just a Greek word for witnesses) give their lives by dying or by living. [Frank Michalic, Tonic for the Heart; quoted by Fr. Botelho.] Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

17) Saint Oscar Romero (canonized 14 October, 2018, by Pope Francis) is an outstanding example of being a true witness of Christ. When he was made Archbishop of El Salvador in 1997, Romero was a conservative. But he soon changed when he saw what was happening. Every Sunday he preached at the Cathedral. His homilies so electrified the country that national affairs halted when he spoke from the altar. He made public the unspeakable crimes being committed by many agents of the government. He was under constant threat of death. Some of his best friends were murdered. And still he would not be silenced. Nor would he go into hiding or exile. “At the first sight of danger the shepherd cannot run and leave the sheep to fend for themselves. I will stay with my people,” he said. He was shot in March 1980 while saying Mass. According to Romero, staying in the open and bearing direct witness to the Truth Jesus IS didn’t take courage. All it took was the understanding that his enemies dwelt in fear, and the fact that he was not afraid of them, to take away any power they thought they had over him. They might be able to kill his body, but they would not and could not kill his soul. There is also a story of a Protestant minister who, during the genocide in Rwanda (1994), sheltered Tutsis in his house. When a mob arrived at his door and ordered him to release them, he refused to do so. They shot him and took the people away. Even though we may not aspire so such heights of heroism, people like these are an inspiration to us. (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

18) What’s really important? A few years ago, at the Seattle Special Olympics, nine contestants, all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at the starting point for the 100-yard dash. At the gun they all started out, not exactly in a dash, but with the relish to run the race to the finish and win. All, that is, except one boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over a couple of times, and began to cry. The other eight heard the boy’s cry. They slowed down and paused. Then they all turned around and went back. Every one of them. One girl with Down’s syndrome bent down and kissed him and said, “This will make it better.” Then all nine linked arms and walked together to the finish line. Everyone in the stadium stood, and the cheering went on for ten minutes. [Author unknown; quoted by Fr. Botelho] Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

19) Being a witness: A group of young people from many nations was discussing how the Gospel might be spread. They talked of propaganda, of literature, of all the ways of disseminating the Gospel in the twentieth century. Then a girl from Africa spoke. “When we want to take Christianity to one of our villages,” she said, “we don’t send them books. We take a Christian family and send them to live in the village and they make the village Christian by living there.” [William Barclay; quoted by Fr. Botelho.] Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

20) Success and failure mean different things to different folks. Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary were driving through a city up east and noticed they were low on gas. They pulled over at the first exit and came to a dumpy little gas station with one pump. There was just one attendant working at the place, and as he began to pump the gas, the President went to the bathroom. Then it happened. Obviously, the gas station attendant and Hillary recognized each other. They began to talk and laugh and were having a very animated conversation when the President came out of the bathroom. The President was surprised, and the attendant was embarrassed. The attendant walked away, pretending that nothing had happened. The President followed him, paid for the gas and as they pulled out of that seedy little service station, he asked Hillary how it was that she knew that attendant and what they were talking about. She told him that they had known each other in high school, that they had been high school sweethearts and that they had dated rather seriously for about a year, her first year in college. Well, the President couldn’t help bragging a little and he said, “Boy, were you lucky I came along, because if you had married him, you would be the wife of a gas station attendant instead of the wife of the President of the United States.” Hillary replied, “My dear, if I’d married him, you would be the gas station attendant and he would be President of the United States!” — It’s a matter of perspective isn’t it? Success and failure mean different things to different folks. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

21) “Well, I’m not going to carry this anvil any longer.” A short in stature young blacksmith in a small town fell in love with a tall local girl, but he was so short that he was too bashful to tell her. One day she came into the smithy to call for a tea kettle that he had fixed for her and she had thanked him so nicely that he suddenly found courage to ask her to marry him. She consented, and he got up on the anvil and put his arms around her and sealed it with a kiss. Then they took a walk out through the fields together and after some time he asked her for another kiss. When she refused, he said, “Well, I’m not going to carry this anvil any longer.” [Printed 1978 for Wider Quaker Fellowship with permission of Douglas V. Steer.] Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

22) Rejection: “But for now, we have coffee.” In Margaret Jensen’s book, First We Have Coffee, there is a touching scene of her Baptist preacher father’s being voted out of the congregation. She describes how the news reached her. Called to the dormitory phone, she heard her sister saying, “Margaret, this is Grace.” Then after a momentous pause, “Papa has been voted out.” Margaret Jensen goes on to write: “Unable to share the family’s disgrace with anyone, I went to class, and failed the biology exam for which I was well prepared…I tried to figure out what could have gone wrong with Papa’s call. In my mind, the ministry had somehow been disgraced.” For ten years he had shepherded and loved that congregation, but now they didn’t want him anymore. When Margaret arrived home, she found her sister Leona furious. She explained life as she saw it for the Norwegian immigrant pastor, “They wanted an American pastor, one more geared to the change in times.” “What will we do now?” Margaret asked. Her mother’s answer reflected a Faith that seemed never to change: — “God never fails, but it will be interesting to see how God works this one out. But for now, we have coffee.” (Quoted by Rodney E. Wilmoth, “The Day He Was Rejected”) \ Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

23) Film: A cry in the dark – Evil Angels: In 1980, the Chamberlains, a devout Seventh Day Adventist family is camping at Uluru in Central Australia. When the family is eating supper, Azaria, the baby daughter disappears from the tent. Lindy, the mother hears a cry and rushes to check on the baby. Lindy sees a dingo (wild dog) running away but no trace of the child is ever found. Lindy is charged with the murder of her child, and the father, Michael, a pastor as accessory to the murder. The couple pleads innocent and professes their Faith in God. In the trial Lindy is found guilty and sentenced to life in prison at hard labor. The Chamberlains, supported by friends, lose appeal after appeal. Finally, new evidence is discovered, the Chamberlains win the fight to prove their innocence. A panel of three judges exonerates Lindy and Michael in 1988. –Lindy and Michael were people of Faith who were forced to go through public trial and punishment, and who suffered hostility and calumny. In today’s Gospel, Jesus instructs the twelve, telling them how to deal with injustice, false accusations, and calumny. He assures his followers that their faith in God will be justified. [Peter Malone in ‘Lights, Camera, Faith’] Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

24) His religion ought to come out of his fingers: A minister was being shown through a section of a Detroit automobile factory by the foreman. Among the workers was a parishioner of the minister, a fellow named John. Knowing that John was a skilled mechanic the minister remarked, “I guess John is one of your best workers.” “Sorry to disagree,” replied the foreman. “True, he could be one of our best, but John stands around talking about his religion, when he should be attending to his machine. Personally, he is a fine fellow, and he is a good man when he works, but he still has to learn that when he is running that machine, his religion ought to come out of his fingers and not out of his mouth.” (Msgr. Drinkwater; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

25) Your Contribution is Important! The mayor of a certain town decided to hold a harvest festival. All, without exception, were invited. The mayor himself offered to provide the food. To ensure that there would be adequate wine, each guest was asked to bring along a bottle of white wine. The wine would be poured into a huge cask from which all could drink. The day of the festival arrived. Everyone in town showed up. Thanks to the generosity of the mayor, there was an abundance of food. Each guest duly arrived with a bottle of wine and poured it into the cask. When all was ready the mayor went to the cask. An aide tapped it and filled the mayor’s glass. Holding up the glass, the mayor said, ‘I declare the festival open.’ Then he took a drink out of the glass only to discover that it was not wine but water. It seems that each guest had argued like this: ‘My contribution won’t be missed.’ So instead of bringing a bottle of wine they had brought a bottle of water. The festival was ruined! — It is a great challenge to us all to be active, not passive followers of Christ; to be not only receivers but also givers. Something is asked of every person. And everybody’s contribution, no matter how small, is important. For the forest to be green the individual trees must be green. (Anthony Castle in Quotes and Anecdotes; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/). L/21

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B (No 41) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com

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 akadavil@gmail.com. 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

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