August 9-14 weekday homilies

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Aug 9 Monday (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Virgin, Martyr) : Matthew 17:22-27: 22 As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of man is to be delivered into the hands of men, 23 and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed. 24 When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the half-shekel tax went up to Peter and said, “Does not your teacher pay the tax?” 25 He said, “Yes.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their sons or from others?” 26 And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 27 However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook, and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel; take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.” (nil in other gospels) USCCB video reflections:;

The context: The first part of today’s Gospel gives Jesus’ second prediction of His sufferings, death and Resurrection. The second part is Jesus’ explanation of why He pays the Temple tax. Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus’ disciples were “distressed” by their master’s repeated reminders of a coming shameful death as a heretic and lawbreaker. They were distressed because the reminders shattered their dream of ruling Israel after Jesus had conquered the Romans and reestablished the Davidic kingdom. They did not understand that their master would be dying to liberate the whole of mankind from the bondage of sin. In the second part of today’s Gospel, Peter assures the Temple tax officials that the Master, Jesus, is a devout Jew and, hence, pays the Temple tax.  All Jewish males 20 years old or older had to pay a half-shekel (roughly equivalent to two days’ wages), as Temple tax for the upkeep of the Temple and its sacrifices. When they reached Peter’s home, Jesus instructed Peter to go fishing, open the mouth of the first fish he caught and, with the coin he would find there, pay both Peter’s and his own tax. Jesus’ reason was that they were to give good example to others, even though, as the Son of God, Jesus was legally exempted from paying any type of tax to anyone. The Gospel passage foreshadows a dilemma that would be experienced by the first century Jewish Christians as to whether they should continue to pay the Temple tax meant for the Jews.

Life messages: 1) Let us express our gratitude to Jesus our Savior for the price of suffering and death He paid for our sins. We can do this by avoiding all occasions of sins, by offering our pains and sufferings as atonement for our sins, and by helping others sacrificially. 2) We should obey the laws of the Church and of our country as loyal Christians and loyal citizens and contribute to the needs of the Church and its mission by our tithing, while we help the government by paying our taxes. ( L/21

Aug 10 Tuesday (St. Lawrence, Deacon, Martyr) : Jn 12: 24-26: 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  25  He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him. USCCB video reflections:;

The context: Jesus tells us a short parable followed by two amazing paradoxes. The parable is that of a grain of wheat sown into the muddy field, growing up and yielding a good crop.The parable followed by the paradoxes teaches us three lessons for Christian life. The first lesson is that life comes only through death. Only when the grain of wheat dies in the muddy soil of the field does it become a seedling. In the same way, the Church would grow up and flourish in the death of its martyrs: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” When we die to our personal ambitions and desires, we are born as useful instruments in the hands of God. The second lesson is that only by spending life we can retain it. The world owes a lot to saintly people like St. Don Bosco, St. Vincent De Paul, St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa), St. Jeanne Jugan, and St. Damien, among others, who spent their energy for service of the poor and the down-trodden and gave themselves to God. The third lesson is that greatness comes through selfless and committed service. This explains why the world still honors and cherishes the memory of great souls mentioned above.

Life message: Let us surrender our lives to God in the service of others with agápe love in all humility, seeing the face of Jesus in each of them. ( L/21

Aug 11 Wednesday (St. Clare, Virgin) : Mt 18: 15-20: 15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” USCCB video reflections:;

 The context: The first part of today’s portion of Matthew’s Gospel is one of the passages many have found difficult to interpret. Many Bible commentators think that Jesus never said these things, that probably they were a later addition by the Church because 1) there was no organized Church at that time, 2) Jesus never considered a sinner as a hopeless case, and 3) Jesus loved Gentiles and tax collectors.

The real meaning: What Jesus actually meant was, “Do whatever you can to make the guilty person realize and confess his fault, thus helping him to repair the damage he or she has done to his or her personal and communal relationships.” Jesus seems to suggest the following steps to repair a broken personal relationship: 1) One-on-one encounter: If you are sure that somebody has wronged you, tell him lovingly and politely that he has hurt you. 2) The group encounter: If the first step does not work, meet him again in the company of two or three wise and honorable persons and try to make the culprit realize what he has done wrong. 3) Parish encounter: If steps one and two do not work, bring his case to the pastor or to the parish council or the Christian fellowship. 4) Leave him to Lord’s mercy: If the culprit remains stubborn, like a Gentile or proud tax collector, continue to pray for him and leave him to God’s mercy.

Life messages: 1) Let us have the good will and generosity to accept our mistakes and ask pardon and forgiveness from the offended victim. 2) Let us also learn to forgive and forget the offenses done against us ( L/21

Aug 12 Thursday: (St. Frances de Chantal, Religious) : Matthew 18: 21-19: 1: 21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; 25 and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, `Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 …35 USCCB video reflections:;

The lessons taught by the parable: (1) We must forgive so that we may be forgiven. Jesus explains this truth after teaching the prayer, “Our Father.” He warns us, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mt 6:14-15). As James states it later, “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy” (Jas 2:13). Clearly, Divine and human forgiveness work together.

(2) We represent the greater debtor in the parable; that is, we owe God the ten thousand talents of the parable. We commit sins every day and, hence, we need God’s forgiveness every day. The sum total of all the offenses which our brothers and sisters commit against us is equivalent to the small debt of the second debtor in the parable, namely 100 denarii. Yet, shockingly and sadly, we are merciless towards our fellow human beings. The moral of Jesus’ story is that, as members of a community, we must treat one another as God has treated each of us. Here is a Divine call to throw away the calculator when it comes to forgiveness.  We must choose the more honorable path and forgive one another “from the heart.” We have been forgiven a debt beyond all human paying – the sin of man which God forgave through the willing, sacrificial death of His own Son, Incarnate in human flesh. Since that is so, we must forgive others as God has forgiven us. Otherwise, we cannot hope to receive any mercy ourselves.

Life messages: 1) We need to forgive: Having experienced forgiveness at the hands of God and God’s people, we are then called to make it possible for others to experience the same forgiveness. Let us forgive the person who has wronged us before hatred eats away at our ability to forgive.

2) Forgiveness will not be easy, but God is there to help us. We can call on God’s help by offering that individual to God, not by sitting in judgment, but simply by saying, “Help so-and-so and mend our relationship.” We may never forget the hurt we have experienced, but we can choose to forgive.

3) We need to remind ourselves that with God’s grace we have already forgiven the one that hurt us. As life goes on, we may remember the incident or occasion that was hurtful. Then let us offer the offender to God’s mercy and pray for God’s blessings on him or her. ( L/21

Aug 13 Friday (Saints Pontian, Pope and Hippolytus, Martyr) : Mt 19:3-12: 3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” 8 He said to them, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9.” 10.. 12 USCCB video reflections:;

Jesus’ explanation of a Mosaic sanction: Jesus explains that Moses’ permission for divorce was only a temporary concession which was meant to control the growing rate of divorce in Moses’ own time by introducing a law governing divorce.  Jesus adds that it was because of the hard-heartedness of the Jewish men that Moses allowed such a concession.  By denying the man’s right to divorce, Jesus places the husband and wife on an equal footing in marriage and teaches that no Mosaic regulation dealing with a temporary situation can alter the permanence and unity of marriage.

Jesus’ clear teaching on divorce: Jesus reminds us that His doctrine goes back to the original intention of God.  Citing the book of Genesis, Jesus says that God made us male and female and commanded that “the two shall become one flesh.”  He then draws the conclusion that “they are no longer two, but one body” – partners with equal rightsand he declares that no man is allowed to separate what God has joined together (Mt 19:6).

Catholic teaching: Based on the NT teachings given in Mk 10:1-12, Mt 5:31-32; Mt 19:3-9; Lk 16:18; and 1 Cor 7:10-11, the Catholic Church teaches that marriage is a Sacrament involving both a sacred and legal contract between a man and a woman and, at the same time, a special Covenant with the Lord.  “Divorce is also a grave offense against the natural law.  Besides, it claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death……  Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society” (CCC #2384, #2385).

Life messages: 1) Let us keep all the families of our parish in our daily prayers, that the spouses may have a mutual understanding and appreciation of each other, the willingness to ask pardon and give pardon, the generosity to forgive and forget, and the good will to serve each other, because all these virtues help to make a marriage permanent. 2) Let us also pray for all the divorced in the parish and welcome them as active members of the parish, both those who have remained single and those who have remarried without annulment. ( L/21

Aug 14 Saturday (St. Maximilian Kolbe, Priest, Martyr) : Mt 19:13-15: 13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people; 14 but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away. USCCB video reflections:;

The context: Today’s Gospel passage describes one of the loveliest incidents in the Gospel story.  Jewish mothers used to bring their children to great rabbis to have them pray over the little ones, especially on their first birthday.  Naturally, mothers wanted the healing touch and blessing of the most popular rabbi, Jesus.  In an attempt to protect their master from the crowd of mothers and noisy children, the apostles started rebuking them.  The passage describes Jesus’ reaction and teaching.

Childlike qualities for entrance into Heaven:  By showing his displeasure at the rough reaction of his apostles, Jesus made it clear that everyone is equally important to him as a child of God.  The mothers came to Jesus because he was welcoming, warm, and approachable.  Jesus decided to use the occasion as a teachable moment.  He taught his disciples that entry into Heaven demands the childlike qualities of humility, innocence, obedience, simplicity, openness, teachability, freedom from prejudice, readiness for change and adaptation, total trust in a loving and providing God, confidence in the essential goodness of people and  the readiness to forgive and forget. Only such people are ready to hear the message of the Gospel in its fullness and accept it.

Life messages: 1) Let us live in the awareness that we are the children of a loving and providing Heavenly Father and that, by Baptism, we are members of God’s family.  Hence, we are expected to behave well every day, as worthy children of a Holy Father.

2) Let us pray for all the children in our families and for all our young parishioners and let us find time to cooperate in the parish ministries meant for children and young people. ( L/21