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Sept 6-11: Sept 6 Monday: (Labor Day in the U. S. –homily on next page): Lk 4:31-37: 31 And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath; 32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word was with authority. 33 And in the synagogue, there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon; and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “Ah! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in the midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. 36 And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” 37 And reports of him went out into every place in the surrounding region. USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/
Context: After the sad experience in Nazareth, Jesus used the city of Capernaum on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, the center of the fishing business, as a base for a teaching, healing, and preaching ministery. The people were impressed by the authority with which Jesus taught. The Old Testament prophets had taught using God’s delegated authority, and the scribes and Pharisees taught quoting Moses, the prophets and the great rabbis. But Jesus, as God Incarnate taught using Divine authority and knowledge. Perfect knowledge of God, perfect obedience to the will of God His Father, and absolute confidence in God were the sources and supports of Jesus’ authority. The second part of today’s Gospel describes a healing by exorcism, which Jesus performed in the synagogue. We are told how Jesus, as God Incarnate, exercised Divine authority to cast out the devil by just one command: “Be silent, and come out of him!” The demon obeyed at once, throwing the man it had possessed to the floor in the midst of the people in the synagogue on its departure. The people were impressed with Jesus’ power and authority that could command even evil spirits.
Life messages: 1) Our Faith is based on the Divinity of Christ, demonstrated by His miracles, which in turn give authority and validity to His teaching and promises. Hence, let us accept Jesus’ teachings, even if some of them are mysteries beyond our understanding 2) Let us read the authoritative word of God every day and assimilate it into our lives. 3) In our illnesses, let us confidently approach Jesus the Healer with trusting Faith first, then go to the doctors who are the ordinary instruments of Jesus’ healing ministry in our midst. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21
Sept first Monday: Labor Day in the U.S.: .:(http://shelbyvillesermons.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/ItsLaborDay.pdf) The first Labor Day was observed on September 5, 1882, to celebrate the social and economic achievements of American workers and to give them a day off on the last day of the summer. Today, Labor Day unofficially signals the beginning of a new “school” year of work and study and the end of the lazy days of summer. It was President Grover Cleveland who signed a bill into law on June 28, 1894, declaring Labor Day a national holiday.
1) It is a day to acknowledge the dignity and necessity of labor and workers. We participate in the creative act of God by the various forms of work we do, using our God-given talents, a) The Bible presents God as working six days in the creation of the world and commanding Adam to work six days and rest on the seventh as He had done. b) Jesus, God’s Son, was a professional carpenter. c) Most of Jesus’ apostles were fishermen, and Paul was a tentmaker. d) In an “Inaugural Address” in the synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus expressed a preferential option for the poor – the working class and those who cannot work. e) Work is necessary for our own wellbeing, for health of body, mind, and spirit. It enables us to support and care for all God has entrusted to us, with His help, and to help those who are less fortunate and unable to work.
f) Works of charity are the main criteria of our Last Judgement: “Whatever you did to one of these least brethren you did to Me.”
2) A day to remember the Church’s teaching on the nobility of work and the necessity of just wages. In the encyclical, Laborem exercens (September 14, 1981), Pope St. John Paul II instructs us that all of us are called to work together for a just society and a just economy which allow us all to share God’s blessings. He reminds us that governments should see that the greed of a minority does not make the life of the majority miserable. He advises labor unions to fight for social and economic justice, better wages and better working conditions. 3) It is the day to remember and pray for the job-less people: There are thousands without work and millions more who are underemployed, working at part-time jobs or jobs that do not pay a decent wage. Society has a moral obligation to reduce joblessness because it is through work that families are sustained, children are nurtured, and the future is secured. Joblessness is also a clear threat to family life. 4) It is an appropriate time to acknowledge and bless the temporal and spiritual work that our parishioners do for their families, for their neighbors and for the parish community. It is also a day to remind ourselves that our workplace gives us an opportunity to practice what we believe, and to display a level of integrity that matches our Faith, thus witnessing to Christ. 5) It is a day to pay attention to a warning: The warning is that we should be aware of the danger in work. If not properly oriented it can make us workaholics, we may turn work into our god or may consider it as an escape mechanism to run away from spouse, children, and neighbors.
Thus, on this Labor Day, let us try to realize the dignity of work, the necessity for work and the dangers involved in work. Let us thank the Lord for the talents and work He has given us to do. Let us pray that we may find joy and satisfaction in our work, realizing that we are co-creators with God and stewards of His creation. By offering our work for God’s glory, let us transform our work to prayer. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21
Sept 7 Tuesday: Lk 6:12-19: 12 In those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles; 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. 17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; 18 and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19…. USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21
The context: Today’s Gospel passage gives a short account of the call of the Apostles and of the preaching and healing mission of Jesus. Jesus was the first missionary, sent by His Father with the “Good News” that God his Father is a loving, merciful, and forgiving Father Who wants to save everyone through His Son, Jesus. Today’s Gospel describes how this First Missionary selected and empowered twelve future missionaries as Apostles to continue the mission.
Special features: Jesus selected very ordinary people, most of them hard-working fishermen with no social status, learning or political influence. Jesus was sure that this strange mixture of people would be very effective instruments in God’s hands. Matthew was a hated tax collector serving the Roman Empire, while Simon the Cananaean was a Zealot, a fanatical nationalist or terrorist of those days, determined to destroy Roman rule by any means. The others were mostly professional fishermen with a lot of good will, patience and stamina. It was only Jesus‘ love for them and their admiration and love for Jesus that united them. Jesus selected them after a night of prayer and gave them His own Divine powers of healing and exorcism and made them a key part of His own Messianic mission of preaching the “Kingdom of God.”
Life Messages: 1) God wants to show us that a calling for ministry, or a vocation to priestly or religious life or family life, is an initiative of God. 2) As Christians we have the same mission that Jesus entrusted to his Apostles. 3) We fulfill this mission of preaching the word of God, primarily, by our living out of Jesus’ teachings and by promoting and helping world-wide missionary activities of the Church. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21
Sept 8 Wednesday: (Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/nativity-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary Mt 1: 1-16, 18-23: Anecdote: Life magazine estimated that the prayer “Hail Mary” is said two billion times every day, and each year five to ten million people make a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. Many others visit Marian sites elsewhere in the world. Mary is prayed to as advocate and helper, and even in the sports area there is a reference to her power: the last desperate pass by a losing football team was once called a “Hail Mary pass.” Mary is also venerated by Muslims. It is reported that when the Prophet Muhammad cleared the idols out of the Kaaba in Mecca, he allowed only a fresco of the Virgin Mary holding the Child Jesus to remain. In the Qur’an, she is described as having been sent as “a mercy for the worlds.” (http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/days/features.php?id=15974) & https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2015/12/18/what-islam-really-teaches-about-virgin-mary
History: As one of the oldest Marian solemnities, this feast is based on the second century (A.D. 175), apocryphal book Protoevagelium Jacobi (The Pre-Gospel of James), which reflects the traditions of the early Church, although it is not considered an inspired book. According to this book, Mary’s parents were Joachim and Anna. Mary was born either in Jerusalem or in Sephoris, three miles north of Bethlehem. The Annunciation is believed to have taken place later in the house of Mary’s parents. The feast originated in the fifth century in Syria or Palestine. St. Romanus of Syria is supposed to have brought it to Rome. The Roman Church adopted it in the 7th century and fixed it on September 8th. It is found in the 8th and 9th century Gregorian Sacramentary.
Importance: The feast is the birthday celebration of the mother of Jesus, our Heavenly Mother and the Mother of the Church. It is the birthday of an ordinary woman who was chosen to become the mother of an extraordinary Divine Child. The Church celebrates the death day of a saint as his/her feast day, considering it his/her “birthday in Heaven.” The three exceptions are Jesus’ birthday (Christmas), Mary’s birthday (September 8), and John the Baptist’s birthday (June 24). Mary’s birthday is celebrated because of her Immaculate Conception. John the Baptist, in Elizabeth’s womb, was filled with the Holy Spirit during Mary’s visitation of Elizabeth. We honor Mary because God has done great things for her (Luke 1:49), a) by choosing her as the mother of Jesus His Son, b) by filling her with His Holy Spirit twice, c) by making her the embodiment of all virtues (“full of grace”), and our Heavenly Mother and d) by allowing her to become the most active participant with Christ, her son, in our redemption. The readings: (Mi 5:1-4 or Rom 8:28-30; Mt 1:1-16, 18-23). Romans 1:3 states that Mary was a descendant of David, and Matthew’s genealogy in today’s Gospel also supports this truth.
Life Messages: 1) Let us, as Mary’s children, give a suitable birthday gift to our Heavenly Mother. Every mother wants her children to inherit and acquire all her good qualities. Hence, the best birthday gift to Mary is for us to become holy children of a Holy Mother. 2) Let us make this day a day to start practicing Mary’s virtues. Let us practice her virtues of a) trusting Faith in the power of God (“nothing is impossible for God’), b) perfect obedience to the will of God (“be it done to me according your will”). c) the spirit of sacrificial and sharing love and d) the acceptance of suffering with one hundred percent commitment to her heroic mission. (Fr. Tony) L/21 (Gospel readings suggested: Matthew 1:16, 18-23, 24a or Mt 1: 18-23)
Sept 9 Thursday (St. Peter Claver, Priest, U. S. A.):https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-peter-claver Lk 6:27-38: 27 “But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again. 31 And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. 37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21
The context: Today’s Gospel passage is the second part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain as given by Luke. It describes the power of Christian love when exercised by practicing the golden rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” This golden rule is amplified by a string of particular commands: 1) “Love your enemies…Do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you and pray for those who maltreat you.” Jesus orders us to love our enemies. 2) Show your Christian love to everyone, especially to your enemies by treating them with mercy and compassion because our Heavenly Father is merciful and compassionate to all His children. “Be compassionate, as your Father is compassionate.”3) Stop judging and start forgiving.
Life messages: 1) We need to answer the invitation to grace-filled behavior: What makes Christianity distinct from any other religion is the quality known as grace, i.e., our ability to treat others, not as we think they deserve, but with love, kindness, the spirit of forgiveness and mercy. 2) We need to accept the challenges of day-to-day life. Jesus challenges our willingness to endure unjust suffering for His sake and the sake of His Gospel. 3) We need to pray for the strength to forgive. At every Mass we pray the “Our Father,” asking God to forgive us as we forgive others. We must forgive, because only forgiveness truly heals our relationships and heals us. If we remember how God has forgiven us, it will help us forgive others. 4) We need to live our lives in accordance with “the Golden Rule.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21
Sept 10 Friday: Lk 6: 39-42: He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully taught will be like his teacher. 41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 Or how can you say to your brother, `Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye. USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21
The context: In today’s passage, taken from the Sermon on the Plain given in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus condemns our careless, malicious and rash judgments about the behavior, feelings, motives, or actions of others by using the funny examples of one blind man leading another blind man and one man with a log covering his eyes trying to remove a tiny speck from another’s eye.
Reasons why we should not judge others: 1) No one except God is good enough to judge others because only God sees the whole truth, and only He can read the human heart. Hence, only He has the ability, right, and authority to judge us. 2) We do not see all the facts or circumstances or the power of the temptation which has led a person to do something evil. 3) We are often prejudiced in our judgment of others, and total fairness cannot be expected from us. 4) We have no right to judge because we have the same faults as the one we are judging and often to a greater degree (remember the critical man with a wooden beam in his eye?) St. Philip Neri commented, watching the misbehavior of a drunkard: “There goes Philip but for the grace of God.” Abraham Lincoln said that only he has the right to criticize who has the heart to help (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21
Sept 11 Saturday: Lk 6: 43-49: 43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. 46 “Why do you call me `Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep, and laid the foundation upon rock; and when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house, and could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49 But he who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation; against which the stream broke, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21
The context: In today’s passage, taken from the Sermon on the Plain given in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus teaches the necessity for cultivating a strong Christian moral character as the foundation of our Christian life. The teaching: In the first part of the Gospel, Jesus teaches us that the good fruits of Christian virtues, like love, mercy, forgiveness, and service, result only from an upright character trained in and cultivated by the repeated practice of Christian principles. Jesus compares good works with figs and grapes and reminds us that thorny shrubs and bramble bushes cannot produce them. In the second part, Jesus gives us two warnings: that we must match our profession of Faith with actual obedience to the will of God, and that we must build a life on the firm foundation of Jesus’ teachings. Jesus emphasizes the truth that we should not be mere hearers of the word of God but also consistent doers of that word. In other words, our profession of Faith should match our practice. Jesus compares mere hearers of the word to a foolish man who built his house on a sandy foundation, and the doers of the word to a wise man who built his house on strong and solid rock.
Life messages: 1) We need to be men and women of character with the courage of our religious convictions, doing what is right at all times. Such persons are honest and reliable before God, themselves, and their neighbors. 2) We need to build our family on a strong Christian foundation. There can be no great marriage and no great family without a solid foundation, and that foundation begins with the husband and wife doing and being the love of Christ for each other and for their children. 3) We need to get ready to face the storms of life: Jesus wants us to follow his words and to build our lives and our families on these words. He wants us to be ready for the storms of life, including, among others, the current Covid-19 pandemic, economic downturns, pension defaults, war, depression both mental and economic, relationships that fade, the deaths of those who love us and whom we love, devastating illness, and protracted disease. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21