Weekday Homilies for Oct 4-9

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Oct 4-9:Oct 4 Monday (St. Francis of Assisi) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-francis-of-assisi(Mt 11:25-30): St. Francis of Assisi is the best known and the most loved thirteenth century Italian saint. He was born in Assisi, Italy, the son of a rich merchant. As a carefree young man, he loved singing, dancing and partying. He joined the military and returned ill, as a changed man. He marked his conversion by hugging and kissing a leper. While at prayer in the Church of St. Damiano, he heard the message: “Francis go and repair my Church because it is falling down.” Francis took the command literally and got money by selling goods from his father’s warehouse. His father was furious and publicly disowned and disinherited Francis. Francis promptly gave back to his father everything except his underclothes and started living as a free man, wearing sackcloth and begging for food. Possessing nothing, he started preaching the pure Gospel of Jesus. Strangely enough, a few youngsters were attracted to Francis’ way of life and joined him.

Pope Innocent III had a vision of Francis supporting the leaning Church of St. Johns Lateran in Rome. Subsequently, he approved the Religious Order begun by Francis, namely the Friars Minor [Lesser Brothers] which practiced Charity as a fourth vow along with Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. Soon, the Franciscan Order became very popular, attracting large numbers of committed youngsters. The friars traveled throughout central Italy and beyond, preaching and invitation to their listeners to turn from the world to Christ. In his life and preaching, Francis emphasized simplicity and poverty, relying on God’s providence rather than worldly goods. The brothers worked, or begged, for what they needed to live, and any surplus was given to the poor. Francis wrote a more detailed Rule, which was further revised by the new leaders of the Franciscans. He gave up leadership of the Order and went to the mountains to live in secluded prayer. There he received the Stigmata, the wounds of Christ. Francis became partially blind and ill during his last years. He died at Portiuncula on October 4th, 1226 at the age of 44.

Francis called for simplicity of life, poverty, and humility before God. In all his actions, Francis sought to follow, fully and literally, the way of life demonstrated by Christ in the Gospels. Francis loved God’s gifts to us of nature, animals, and all natural forces, praising God for these “brothers and sisters.” One of Francis's most famous sermons is one he gave to a flock of birds during one of his journeys. "From that day on, he solicitously admonished the birds, all animals and reptiles, and even creatures that have no feeling, to praise and love their Creator." Francis is well known for the "Canticle of Brother Sun." Written late in the saint's life, when blindness had limited his sight of the outside world, the canticle shows that his imagination was alive with love for God in His creation. 
Life messages: 1) Let us learn to practice the spirit of detachment of St. Francis that we may be liberated from our sinful attachments, addictions and evil habits. In poverty one makes oneself available for the Kingdom. Once the goods are no longer one's own, they become available for all. Goods are made to be shared. 2) Let us preach the Good News of Jesus’ love, mercy and forgiveness as St. Francis did, by imbuing the true spirit of the Gospel, loving all God’s creation and leading transparent Christian lives radiating Jesus all around us. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 5: Matthew 11: 25-30: 25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; 26 yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. 27 All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” USCCB video reflections:  https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

The context: Jesus knew that ordinary people with large, sensitive hearts, rather than proud intellectuals, were able accept the “Good News.” Such people would inherit Heaven rather than the learned and the wise who prided themselves on their intellectual achievements. Hence, in the first part of today’s Gospel Jesus prays in thanksgiving to His Father, praising God for revealing Himself to the simple-hearted, and thus condemning intellectual pride. Jesus’ unique claim: that He Is God’s perfect reflection: No one really knows the Father except the Son, and him to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him” (Matthew 11:27). The claim that Jesus alone can reveal God to men forms the center of the Christian Faith. John presents Jesus’ claim in different words: “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (Jn.14:9). What Jesus says is this: “If you want to see what God is like, if you want to see the mind of God, the heart of God, the nature of God, if you want to see God’s whole attitude toward men–look at Me!”

Invitation to accept Jesus’ easy yoke and light burden: For the Orthodox Jew, religion was a matter of burdens: 613 Mosaic laws and thousands of oral interpretations, which dictated every aspect of life. Jesus invites us to take His yoke upon our shoulders. The yoke of Christ can be seen as the sum of our Christian responsibilities and duties. To take the yoke of Christ upon us is to put ourselves in a relationship with Christ as servants and subjects, and so to choose to conduct ourselves accordingly. By saying that His “yoke is easy” (Matthew 11: 30), Jesus means that whatever God sends us is made to fit our needs and our abilities exactly. The second part of Jesus’ claim, “My burden is light” (Matthew 11:30), does not mean that the burden is easy to carry, but that it is laid on us in love and is meant to be carried in love, and that love makes even the heaviest burden light.

Life message: We need to unload our burdens on the Lord. This is one of the functions of Divine Worship in the Church and the main purpose of our personal and family prayers. These are given to us by God as a time for rest and refreshment, when we let the overheated radiators of our hectic lives cool down before the Lord, unload the burdens of our sins and worries on the altar, and offer them and ourselves to God during the Holy Mass. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 5 Tuesday (Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, Priest, U. S. A.): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/blessed-francis-xavier-seelos Lk 10:38-42: 38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a village; and a woman named Martha received him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; 42 one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.” USCCB video reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

The context: Today’s readings are about hospitality and the necessity of listening to God before acting. Jesus welcomed and tended to the needs of all, reflecting in His actions the very hospitality of God. All four Gospels recount Jesus’ welcoming and feeding of the multitudes of people who came to hear the Good News. The Gospel passage describes how Martha, a true child of Abraham, wanted to extend the traditional generous hospitality of her people to Jesus, the true Messiah, by preparing an elaborate meal, while her sister Mary spent her time in talking and listening to Jesus.

Jesus’ advice: The episode is also intended to teach us where we should place our priorities. Presenting Martha as a dynamo of action and Mary as a true listener to the word of God, today’s Gospel invites us to serve others with Martha’s diligence, after recharging our spiritual batteries every day by prayer, listening to God and talking to God as Mary did. We are able to minister truly to the needs of others only after welcoming God’s words into our hearts, minds, and living.

Life messages: 1) We need to recharge our spiritual batteries: Without the “fuel” of prayer, silence, and communion with God, service can become a crushing responsibility, a burden rather than a vocation, an annoyed grumbling rather than a response to the invitation of God.

2) We need listening Marthas and serving Marys: Martha has become a symbol of action-oriented, responsible people who get the job done. Our world needs such men, women, boys and girls who get the job done. This is certainly true in the Church where we need the active cooperation of many parishioners in its various ministries. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 6 Wednesday (St. Bruno, Priest); https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-bruno ; Blessed Marie Rose Durocher, Virgin, U.S.A https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/blessed-marie-rose-durocher .) : Lk 11:1-4: 1 He was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread; 4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive every one who is indebted to us; and lead us not into temptation.” USCCB video reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video;   Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

The context: The disciples were fascinated by watching their master Jesus at prayer. They knew that John the Baptist had taught his disciples how to pray. In response to the request made by one of the apostles, Jesus taught the beautiful prayer, Our Father. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the Our Father “is truly the summary of the whole Gospel” (CCC #2761).

A prayer in two parts: In the first part of the prayer, we address God, lovingly acknowledging Him as our Heavenly Father, praising and worshipping Him. Then we promise Him that we will try to do His Holy Will in our lives on earth as perfectly as it is done in Heaven. In the second part, we ask our Father’s blessings on our present time (daily bread), our past (forgiveness of sins) and our future (protection against the tempter and his temptations). In this part we also invite the Triune God into our lives. We bring in 1) God the Father, the Provider, by asking for daily bread, 2) God the Son, our Savior, by asking forgiveness for our sins and 3) God the Holy Spirit, our Guide, Advocate, Comforter, and Illuminator, by asking for protection and deliverance from evil.

Special stress on spirit of forgiveness: In this prayer, Jesus instructs us to ask for forgiveness from others for our offenses and to give unconditional forgiveness to others for their offenses against us as a condition for receiving God’s forgiveness ourselves. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 7 Thursday (Our Lady of the Rosary): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/our-lady-of-the-rosaryhttps://www.franciscanmedia.org/our-lady-of-the-rosary/ : Lk 1:26-38: This feast was established by Pope St. Pius V in thanksgiving for the victory at Lepanto, 7 Oct 1571, which stopped the Turkish invasion of Europe. Importance: The word Rosary means “Crown of Roses,” and each prayer in the Rosary is considered a flower presented to Mary. It is called the “Breviary of the Common People” and the “Psalms of the Illiterate.” The prayers we repeat are Biblical and hence “inspired,” and the mysteries we meditate upon are taken from the lives of Jesus and Mary. The “Our Father” is a prayer taught by Jesus Himself. The “Hail Mary” is also rooted in the Scriptures. Its first half echoes the words of the Archangel Gabriel and those of Elizabeth, both addressed to Mary. The rest of our petition , “pray for us, sinners, now and at the hour of our death” is added by the Church, seeking Mary’s intercession.  The third prayer — the “Glory be to the Father” — ancient in its wording, surely reflects the unceasing prayer of adoration and praise found in the Book of Revelation. The various events in the lives of Jesus and Mary on which we meditate during the Rosary are expressions of the Paschal Mystery, that is, the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus, in which Mary shared.

History: Prayer using rosary beads is as old as mankind. The Hindus in India used to recite the thousand names of their gods and goddesses and their “mantra” prayers using multi-beaded rosaries, and their sages wear such rosaries around the neck, constantly rolling the beads in prayer. The Jews used beads to repeat the psalms, the Laws of Moses and the memorized sayings of the prophets. The Muslims use rosaries with a hundred beads for their prayer. In the ninth century, the Christian monks who recited the 150 psalms instructed the illiterate common people to recite the Our Father 150 times. It was in the eleventh century that the Europeans added the Hail Mary to the Our Father. In 1214, according to the legend, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Dominic Guzman and instructed him to pray the Rosary in a new form as an effective antidote against the Albigensian heresy. The Rosary devotion attained its present form around 1500 A.D. An additional boost to the Rosary devotion was given in 1917, when our Blessed Mother, in her sixth apparition to the three shepherd children, on the thirteenth of May, asked them to, “Say the Rosary every day… Pray, pray a lot and offer sacrifices for sinners… I am Our Lady of the Rosary.” The “Fatima prayer(O my Jesus forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell and bring all souls to Heaven, expecially those who are most in need of Your mercy), requested by Mary herself at Fatima (July 13, 1917), was added following the “Glory be…”n after the 1930 acceptance of the Bishop of the apparitions as genuine century. Pope St. John Paul II enriched the Rosary by adding the “Luminous Mysteries” (Rosarium Virginis Mariae).

How to pray the Rosary: The ideal is to recite at least five decades of the Rosary (and if possible, the entire twenty), with one’s whole family daily. We need to say the Rosary slowly enough to make its recitation devout and reverent. We are to reflect for a minute or two on the mystery, and then concentrate on the meaning of the prayers as we say them, to avoid distractions. Besides saying the Rosary with others in the family before bedtime, let us make it a habit of reciting the Rosary during our journey to the workplace and during our exercises. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20 (USCCB video reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; ). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 8 Friday: Lk 11:15-26: 15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons”; 16 while others, to test him, sought from him a sign from heaven. 17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. 18 And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. 19 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore, they shall be your judges. 20 But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace; 22 but when one stronger than he assails him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoil. 23 He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. 24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest; and finding none he says, `I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when he comes he finds it swept and put in order. 26 Then he goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. USCCB video reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video;  https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

The context: When Jesus healed a mute man by exorcism, the jealous scribes and the Pharisees spread the malicious slander that Jesus was collaborating with Beelzebul, the head of the devils, to cast out smaller devils.

Jesus’ response: Jesus makes his counterattack, first by asking the rhetorical question “By whom do your sons (the Jewish exorcists), cast them out?” The implication is that, if what they say about Him, Who casts them out with a single command, is true, the Jewish exorcists, who require so much more prayer and so many more exercises to do exorcisms, must certainly have to seek the help of the big devil to exorcise minor devils. Then Jesus asserts that no kingdom, divided against itself, can survive for long. Obviously, then, the chief devil will not help any exorcists to cast out devils. Jesus then claims that His exorcisms are proof that He has brought the Kingdom of God. When people are liberated from the control of evil spirits, it is a sure sign that the loving power of God (the finger of God), is at work. Then Jesus uses the image of a strong man guarding his house and keeping his possessions safe until someone stronger attacks and overthrows him. Jesus claims that He is the stronger one and the evil spirits are being driven away by Him. They are helpless before him. This liberation of people and society from evil powers is one of the most dramatic proofs that the all-powerful reign of God is present in the Person of Jesus.

Life messages: 1) Jesus teaches us that the devil is relentless in his struggle against man. The devil continues to lay his traps, in spite of man’s rejecting him with the help of grace. That is why St. Peter warns us to be sober and vigilant because, “your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your Faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9). 2) We have to fortify ourselves against the devil by prayer, penance, the Sacraments and the effective use of the word of God. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 9 Saturday(St. Denis, Bishop and Companions, Martyrs); https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-denis-and-companions St. John Leonardi, Priest): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-john-leonardiLk 11:27-28: 27 As he said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!” 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” USCCB video reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video;  (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

The context: A woman in the audience was so impressed by Jesus’ powerful refutation of the slander (that Jesus collaborated with the devil in exorcisms), that she shouted a blessing, praising the mother of Jesus: “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!” She meant that any woman would be proud to have such a great son. Jesus tells her that His mother is more blessed for obeying the word of God throughout her life.

The reason for real blessedness: Completing the truth of the blessing the woman had pronounced, Jesus states that the real source of blessedness is the willingness to hear and the readiness to obey the word of God. Mary heard God’s message at the Annunciation, and her prompt response was, “I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). That is why she could boldly proclaim to her cousin Elizabeth in her canticle, “All generations will call me blessed(Lk 1:48). No one listened more attentively to the word of God than Mary did. She “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart(Lk 2:10). Jesus clarified the same truth on another occasion, stating that His true mother and brothers and sisters are those who hear the word of God and do it (Lk 8:21). In today’s Gospel, Jesus declares that that those who hear God’s word and keep it are more blessed than those who are related to Him only by blood.

Life messages: 1) We become the members of the Heavenly family of the Triune God, that is, we are made children of God and brothers and sisters of Jesus, by our Baptism. 2)But it is our fidelity in hearing the word of God and in putting that word into practice in our daily lives that makes us really blessed. 3) What makes a person happy in this life and in the life to come is precisely the fulfillment of God’s will, as we learn through the attentive reading of, and listening to, His words. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21