`NEW YEAR’S GREETINGS & GOD’S BLESSINGS
Thank you for being God’s instrument of blessing in my life by your valuable prayers and encouraging support for my Internet & Email Gospel ministry in the past years. I assure you of my special prayers every day in the New Year 2022 during my Holy Masses. May the Holy Spirit of God continue to empower you and guide you in your ministry and strengthen you in your weakness.
May God bless you every day of the New Year! Prayerful New year Greetings.
Dec 27-Jan 1: Kindly click onhttps://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed Sunday and weekday homilies, RCIA & Faith formation classes: Click on the link given after the name of the saint ,for a short biography.
Dec 27 Monday (St. John, Apostle, Evangelist): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-john-the-evangelistJn 20:2-8: 2 So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. 4 They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; 5 and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, 7 and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed. Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections
St. John, Apostle and Evangelist: John was the son of Zebedee the fisherman and Salome, a close relative of Mary. John and his brother, James the Greater, were fishermen, partners of Peter and Andrew; they were disciples of John the Baptist before they were called by Jesus as Apostles. John’s name is mentioned always after his brother’s name in Matthew, Mark, and the Acts of the Apostles. John was the Apostle who saw his only value as being “the one whom Jesus loved.” With James and Peter, Jesus’ inner circle of friends, he witnessed Jesus’ raising of the daughter of Jairus from the dead, Jesus’ Transfiguration on the mountain and Jesus’ agony in the garden of Gethsemane. After fleeing with the others from Gethsemane, John returned. He remained faithful to Jesus at the palace of the High Priest during Jesus’ trial by the Sanhedrin, and he had the courage to be at the foot of the cross, supporting and consoling Mary. Jesus entrusted the care of His mother to John, and, after the Resurrection, John was the one who first recognized the risen Jesus on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
Missionary activities: With Peter, John played a prominent role in founding and guiding the Church. John was with Peter when the latter healed the lame man (Acts 3:1), was in prison with him (Acts 4:3), and was with him when Peter visited the new Christians in Samaria (Acts 8:14). John left for Asia Minor and Ephesus when King Herod Agrippa I started persecuting Christians. He returned to Jerusalem in AD 51 to attend the Jerusalem Council. According to tradition, when the attempt of Emperor Domitian to execute John by putting him in boiling oil failed, John was exiled to Patmos Island. As an Evangelist, John wrote five books of the New Testament: The Gospel according to John, three epistles and the Book of Revelation. He preached always about God’s love in his old age. Returning to Ephesus, John lived there, dying when he was one hundred years old. John reminds us of the greatest commandment of love given by Jesus: “Love one another as I have loved you.” (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21
Dec 28 Tuesday (The Holy Innocents, Martyrs): Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/holy-innocents/Mt 2:13-18:13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” 16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: 18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more.” Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections
This Mass commemorates the deaths of all of those innocents killed by the order of Herod the Great in his fruitless pursuit of the “newborn king of the Jews,” and now includes the deaths of the untold numbers of innocent babies slaughtered by abortion.
The context:Herod the Great had been made the king of Judea by the Roman Empire although he was not even a Jew: his father was an Idumean, his mother an Arab. This cruel king was kept in power mainly by the Roman army. He brutally executed all suspected rivals to his throne including his wife, brother, and two brothers-in-law. No wonder he was terrified at the news that a rival king, a descendant of King David, had been born somewhere in Bethlehem, for this child could someday claim to be the legitimate king of Israel and Judea! Herod’s anger intensified when he realized that the Magi had not returned to his royal palace to report the whereabouts of the Child Jesus. Matthew says that the slaughter of the Innocents was in fulfillment of a prophecy of the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamenting and weeping bitterly; it is Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.” Ramah is a hill near Bethlehem and the burial place of Rachel, the wife of the patriarch Jacob. The Jews believed that she wept bitterly in her tomb when the Jews were taken as slaves by the Assyrians and later when Herod massacred the babies. The most likely scenario is that Jesus was born around 4 BC; the wise men (by their own account) arrived in Jerusalem two years later in 2 B.C., and in that same year Joseph, Mary, and Jesus fled to Egypt. When Herod died, they returned. So, the length of their sojourn in Egypt was probably about a few months.
Life message: We need to raise our voice against the 21st century massacre of the Innocents: As in other advanced countries, the cruel massacre of the innocents continues in North America by state-permitted abortion. While Herod killed at the most a hundred children, nearly four thousand unborn babies are slaughtered in the United States every day. They are killed because, like the infants of Bethlehem, they are inconvenient. Children are sacrificed also for the most powerful king of the twenty-first century, Science. Babies are killed in their embryo stage to harvest their “stem cells” for medical experiments intended to heal the illnesses of their parents and grandparents. Along with prayer, let us do everything in our power to stop this brutal murder of the helpless babies. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21
Dec 29 Wednesday(St. Thomas Becket, Bishop, Martyr): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-thomas-becket
Lk 2:22-35: The context: Today’s Gospel presents the head of the Holy Family, Joseph, faithfully obeying God’s law given through Moses concerning the purification of the mother and the redeeming of the child by presenting Mary and the Baby Jesus in the Temple. The events recounted are those we traditionally celebrate on February 2nd with the Feast of Presentation of Jesus. We celebrate them today in order to group all the events of Christ’s infancy within the Octave of Christmas. Today (and on February 2nd), we celebrate a combined feast, commemorating the Jewish practice of the purification of the mother after childbirth and the presentation of the child in the Temple. It is known as the Hypanthe feast or Feast of the Purification of Mary (by the offering two pigeons in the Temple), the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (by prayers and a sacrifice offered in the Temple to redeem or buy back the firstborn male child from the Lord), and the Feast of Encounter (because the New Testament, represented by the Baby Jesus, encountered the Old Testament, represented by Simeon and Anna). On February 2nd we celebrate these events as a formal ending of the Christmas season. On that day we also celebrate the Feast of Candlemas (because candles are blessed then for liturgical and personal use).
Purification and redemption ceremonies: The Mosaic Law taught that, since every Jewish male child belonged to Yahweh, the parents had to “buy back” the child (“redeem” him), by offering lambs or turtledoves as a sacrifice in the Temple. In addition (Nm 18:15), every mother had to be purified after childbirth by prayers and an offering made to God in the Temple. Joseph kept these laws as an act of obedience to God.
The encounter with Simeon and Anna: By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the old, pious and Spirit-filled Simeon and Anna had been waiting in the Temple for the revelation of God’s salvation. Simeon recognized Jesus as the Lord’s Anointed One, and in his prayer of blessing, he prophesied that Jesus was meant to be the glory of Israel and a light of revelation to the Gentiles. While he blessed Mary, he warned that her child would be “a sign of contradiction” and that she would be “pierced with a sword.” Simeon was prophesying both the universal salvation that would be proclaimed by Jesus and the necessity of suffering in the mission of the Messiah.
Life message:1)Every Holy Mass in which we participate is our presentation. Although we were officially presented to God on the day of our Baptism, we present ourselves and our dear ones on the altar before God our Father through our Savior Jesus Christ at every Holy Mass. Hence, we need to live our daily lives with the awareness both that we are dedicated people consecrated to God and that we are obliged to lead holy lives. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21
Dec 30 Thursday: Luke 2:36-40, There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher; she was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, 37 and as a widow till she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. 39 And when they had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him. Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections
The context:Today’s Gospel presents Anna the prophetess who greeted the Baby Jesus as the Redeemer when Joseph presented Mary and the Infant in the Temple for the purification of the mother and for the “redemption” of the Baby Jesus.
Anna and her testimony: Anna was an eighty-four-year-old widow who spent her days in the Temple in fasting and prayer, waiting for the promised Messiah. She was rewarded with the joy of seeing her Redeemer as a Baby. In her excitement she praised God and introduced the Infant to others around her as the expected Messiah.
The Child Jesus’ growth in wisdom and the favor of God: Commenting on the last sentence of today’s Gospel St. Bede says: “Our Lord Jesus Christ, as a Child clothed in the fragility of human nature, had to grow and become stronger. But, as the eternal Word of God, He had no need to become stronger or to grow. Hence, He is rightly described as full of wisdom and grace.”
Life messages: 1)The Holy Spirit uses ordinary men and women with simple Faith as His instruments to bear witness to Christ, His ideals and teachings. 2) We need praying Annas in all our parishes to offer prayers for all the members of our parish families. Let us cooperate with the Spirit in everything. 3) Anna’s prophetic life tells us that we each must live our lives in constant preparation for meeting our Divine Lord in the Temple of Heaven, remaining alert, as Anna did, to recognize, love, and serve Jesus hidden in the people we encounter. 4) Like Anna, we must all foster an interior life of ongoing prayer and penance, and we must direct all our actions in life to the praise and glory of God and the salvation of our souls. Anna’s life is a symbolic prophecy of every vocation. (Catholic Daily reflections). (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21
Dec 31 Friday (St. Sylvester I, Pope): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-sylvester-i John 1: 1-18 God; 3 all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light. 9 The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. 11 He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. 15 (John bore witness to him, and cried, “This was he of whom I said, `He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.'”) 16 And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections
The context and the content: Bible scholars generally agree that the Prologue (1:1-18) of John’s Gospel is a hymn, the overall purpose of which is to highlight the historical and theological significance of Jesus’ origins as “Word,” “true Light,” and the “Only-begotten Son,” thus tracing Jesus’ genealogy to God Himself. The Navarre Bible commentary summarizes the main teachings in the prologue thus: 1) the Divinity and Eternity of the Word; 2) the Incarnation of the Word and His manifestation as man; 3) the part played by the Word in creation and in the salvation of mankind; 4) the different ways in which people react to the coming of the Lord — some accepting the Word made Flesh with Faith, others rejecting Jesus; 5) finally, John the Baptist as witness-bearer to the presence of the Word in the world.
The significance of the text: (Verses 6-9) introduce John the Baptist in a manner that clearly distinguishes him from Jesus – “John himself was not the Light, but he came to testify to the Light. The true Light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world…” Some scholars maintain that the author of the Gospel may be making such a forceful differentiation in order to counter a sect claiming that John the Baptist was the Light and the Messiah, and not simply the one testifying to the Light. In all he did and said, the Baptist always bore witness to Jesus and Jesus’ messianic identity: “John testified to Him and cried out, saying, ‘The One Who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because He existed before me'”(Jn 1:15). Jn 1:19-28 is an Advent and Christmas text that calls us to remember the origins and purposes of Jesus and His coming with the kind of devotion that challenges us to be witnesses for Jesus. John the Baptist demonstrates what it means to bear witness to the true Light coming into the world.
Life messages: 1) We need to bear witness to Christ the Light: By Baptism we become members of the family of Christ, the true Light of the world. Jesus said: “You are the light of the world.” Hence, our mission as brothers and sisters of Christ and members of His Mystical Body, the Church, is to reflect Christ’s Light to others, just as the moon reflects the light of the sun. 2) It is especially important during the Christmas season that we reflect on Christ’s unconditional love and forgiveness. Very many people live in spiritual darkness and poverty and lack real freedom. There are others who are deafened and blinded by the cheap attractions of the world. Still others feel lonely, unwanted, rejected, useless, and marginalized. All these people are waiting for us to reflect the light of Christ and to turn their lives into experiences of joy, wholeness and integrity. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21
Jan 1 Saturday(Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God & New Year’s message- 2022:
Lk 2: 16-21: (https://blog.franciscanmedia.org/franciscan-spirit/the-solemnity-of-mary-mother-of-god). Introduction: Since we celebrate the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God on New Year’s Day, may I take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy and Peaceful New Year? I pray that the Lord Jesus and His Mother Mary may enrich your lives during the New Year with an abundance of Divine blessings. Today’s Feast of Mary, the Mother of God, is a very appropriate way to begin a new year, reminding us to rely on the powerful intercession of our Heavenly Mother. The Church has, since 1968, also observed a yearlyWorld Day of Peace; this year, 2022, marks the 54th celebration. On this day, the Church invites us to pray specially for lasting peace in the world throughout the New Year. Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections
Scripture lessons summarized: Today’s first reading gives us the beautiful Divine blessing from the book of Numbers for the New Year, and the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 67) begs for that blessing. In the second reading, Paul reminds the Galatians and us that God’s Son has become one of us through Mary, and that it is through Jesus that we have become the children of God. Today’s Gospel describes how the shepherds spread to all their neighbors the Good News surrounding the birth of Jesus which the angel had revealed to them, and how Mary treasured “all these things” in her heart. The Gospel also tells us that on this day, the eighth day after His Birth, the Child was circumcised and received the name Jesus that had been chosen by God Himself.
Traditional belief and Church doctrine: We honor Mary primarily because God honored her by choosing her to become the mother of Jesus, the Incarnate Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Who remained God, when He took on human flesh and became Man, as stated in the Bible. The angel said to Mary: “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His Name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High…” (Lk 1:31-32a; RSV 2 Catholic). After the angel had appeared to her and told her that she was to be the mother of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary visited Elizabeth. At Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? (Lk 1:42-43; RSV 2 Catholic). Hence, the Council of Ephesus affirmed in AD 431 that Mary was truly the Mother of God (Theotokos), and in AD 451, the Council of Chalcedon affirmed the Divine Motherhood of Mary as a dogma, an official doctrine of the Holy Catholic Church.
Life messages: 1) Let us strive to be pure and holy like our Heavenly Mother. All mothers want their children to inherit or acquire their good qualities. Hence, let us honor Mary, our Heavenly Mother, by practicing her virtues of trusting Faith, obedience to the word of God, purity, and humble, selfless, committed service. 2) Let us make the New Year meaningful by having every day a) some noble thing to dream, b) something good to do, and c) Someone to love, the first person being Jesus. 3) Let us sanctify every day of the New Year: a) by offering every morning, all the activities of the day to God for His glory, thus transforming them into prayers, b) by asking for the anointing and strengthening of the Holy Spirit to do good to others and to avoid evil, c) by remaining faithful to our family prayers and Bible reading at night, d) by asking God’s pardon and forgiveness for our sins committed during the day, and e) by seeking God’s special protection during sleep. Before we sleep, let us say, “Good night, Lord,” repeating Jesus’ last words from the cross, “Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit.” (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22