March 14-19:Kindly click on https://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed Sunday and weekday homilies, RCIA & Faith formation classes: March 14 Monday: Lk 6: 36-38: 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.” (Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections
The context: In today’s passage, taken from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructs his followers to be merciful, non-judgmental, forgiving, and generous. He condemns our careless, malicious, and rash judgments about another person’s behavior, feelings, motives, or actions. St. Augustine explains it thus: “What do you want from the Lord? Mercy? Give it, and it shall be given to you. What do you want from the Lord? Forgiveness? “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
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 right and authority to judge us.
2) We are often prejudiced in our judgment of others, and total fairness cannot be expected from us.
3) We do not see all the facts, the circumstances, or the power of the temptation which may have led a person to do something evil.
4) We have no right to judge others because we have the same fault as, and often to a more serious degree than, the one we are judging (remember Jesus’ funny example of a man with a wooden beam in his eye, trying to remove the dust particle from another’s eye?) St. Philip Neri commented, watching the misbehavior of a drunkard: “There goes Philip but for the grace of God.”
Life message: 1) We should leave all judgment to God and practice mercy and forgiveness, remembering the advice of saints: “When you point one finger of accusation at another, three of your fingers point at you.” Let us pay attention to the Jewish rabbi’s advice: “He who judges others favorably will be judged favorably by God. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22
March 15 Tuesday: Mt 23:1-12: 1Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, 2saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. 3Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. 4They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. 5All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. 6They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, 7greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’ 8As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. 9Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. 10Do not be called ‘Master’;you have but one master, the Christ. 11The greatest among you must be your servant. 12Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections
The context: For Jesus, it was the third day of the very first “Holy Week” in Jerusalem, a day of controversy and personal attacks. Jesus was under attack by the religious leaders of Israel for rejecting Him as the Messiah. To awaken them to their own blindness, he pronounced eight woes against these religious leaders, calling them hypocrites and publicly humiliating them because they were more concerned about self-promotion than serving others, USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm
Three sins of the Scribes and Pharisees: Jesus raises three objections to the Pharisees:
(1) “They do not practice what they teach” (v 3). They lack integrity of life and fail to practice what they preach, namely, justice, mercy, and charity.
(2) They overburden the ordinary people (v 4). The scribes and the Pharisees, in their excessive zeal for God’s laws, split the 613 laws of the Torah into thousands of rules and regulations affecting every movement of the people, thus making God’s laws a heavy burden.
(3) “They do all their deeds to be seen by others” (v 5). Jesus accuses the scribes and Pharisees of seeking the glory that rightly belongs to God. They express their love of honor in several ways, thereby converting Judaism into a religion of ostentation: (a) “They make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long” (v 5). b) They “love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues” (v 6). (c) They “love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to have people call them rabbi” (v 7).
Life messages: 1) We need servant-leaders in a serving community: The Church is a servant-community in which those who hunger, and thirst are to be satisfied; the ignorant are to be taught; the homeless are to receive shelter; the sick are to be cared for; the distressed are to be consoled; and the oppressed are to be set free. Hence, leaders should have a spirit of humble service in thought, word, and deed.
2) We need to live the Faith we profess. Our Faith tells us that we are all brothers and sisters, children of the same Heavenly Father. Hence, we should always pray for each other. Instead of judging the poor, we should be serving them both directly and through our efforts on behalf of economic justice. Instead of criticizing those of other races, we should be serving them both directly and through our efforts on behalf of racial justice. Instead of ignoring the homeless, we should treat them as human beings, our brothers and sisters, then serve them through efforts to supply them with adequate housing.
3) We need to accept the responsibilities which go with our titles. Titles and polite forms exist to remind each of us of our specific responsibilities in society. Hence, let us use everything we are and have in a way that brings glory to God, by serving His children. Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22
March 16 Wednesday: Mt 20:17-28: 20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him, with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. 21 And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Command that these two sons of mine may sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” 22 But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” 23 He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” 24 And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them.26
Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections
The context: We celebrate the feast of St. James the apostle on July 25th. James was the son of Zebedee the fisherman and Salome, Mary’s sister (Mt 27:56). John the apostle was his brother. The two, with Simon Peter, made up Jesus’ inner circle of disciples who were given the privilege of witnessing the Transfiguration, the raising to life of the daughter of Jairus, and Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane. Jesus called James and John “sons of thunder,” probably because of their volatile character and high ambitions. Later, James was known as James the Greater to distinguish him from James the Less who wrote the epistles and led the Jerusalem Church community. James the Greater was probably the first apostle to suffer martyrdom. It ws Herod Antipas who ordered the arrest and condemnation, probably in an attempt to please the Jews (Acts 12:1-3).
The Gospel episode: The incident in today’s Gospel describes how ambitious, far-sighted, and power-crazy James and his brother John were in their youth. They sought the help of their mother to recommend them to Jesus in their desire to be chosen as the two cabinet ministers closest to him when he established his Messianic kingdom after ousting the Romans. But they had picked the most inappropriate of moments to make this request — Jesus had just predicted his passion and death for a third time.
Jesus’ response: Jesus told them that it was the spirit of service which would make his disciples great because he himself had come, ”not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Life message: 1: The leaders in Jesus’ Church must be the servants of all as Mary was (“Behold the handmaid of the Lord”). That is why the Pope is called “the servant of the servants of God.” The priesthood of the ordained is called the ministerial priesthood because the duty of ordained priests is to provide spiritual service to the people of God who share in the royal priesthood of Christ by their Baptism (Rv 1:6; cf. 1 Pt 2:5,9). Church leaders must be ready to serve others sacrificially with agape love in all humility. In other words, leaders among Christians must be humble, loving, selfless and “the servants of all.” Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22
March 17 Thursday: (St. Patrick’s Day)https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-patrickSt. Patrick was born to Roman parents in Banwen in Wales, so he called himself both a Roman and a Briton. He was the son of a deacon named Calpornius; his mother was named Conchessa. Patrick was taken captive by Irish marauders at about the age of 16. While in captivity for six years, he learned Irish (Gaelic), which would be essential for his later mission in Ireland. Since his master was a high priest of the Druids, Patrick had access to information about this religion from him, which might have proved very useful to him in his later mission, converting the Irish to Christianity. While Patrick was working as a shepherd in Ireland, he underwent a conversion experience and became a man of deep prayer. He managed to escape his captivity, return to his native England, then make his way to France for training as a missionary. A few years after his ordination, Fr. Patrick was consecrated bishop at the age of 43, and the ecclesiastical authorities sent him to Ireland, probably in 432.
Before Patrick came to Ireland, the people strongly believed in all kinds of gods, including the sun. Patrick tapped into these pagan beliefs and taught the people the true Faith about the true God. He understood the Irish clan system. Hence, he knew that if the chieftains of the various clans became Christian, the rest of the clans would also. Patrick used every means possible to spread the word of God. The shamrock was the sacred plant of the Druids, and a legend says Patrick used it to teach the people about the Trinity. He worked night and day to bring the faith all over Ireland. He was a charismatic person who preached with authority and acted with miracles. We have two of Patrick’s writings, his Confessionsin which we see his humility and his Letter to Coroticus in which we see the courage of his Christian convictions.
Contrary to popular belief, it was not St. Patrick who brought the Christian Faith for the first time to Ireland. It was there already before him in the south and east of Ireland, probably due to traders and contacts with the continent. But it was St. Patrick who revitalized the faith of the local minority of Christians and converted the whole country to the Christian faith. First, he went to the west and north, where the Faith had never been preached. He managed to obtain the protection of local kings and made numerous converts. He ordained many priests, divided the country into dioceses, held Church councils and founded several monasteries. All this groundwork done by St. Patrick later enabled the Church in Ireland to send out missionaries whose efforts were greatly responsible for Christianizing Europe. Patrick died on March 17th, 493(?) and was buried in Ulster in County Down. As we celebrate the feast of this great missionary saint, let us ask ourselves whether we are grateful to God for the gift of Faith which has been passed down to us. Do we, like Patrick, use every means to pass on this Faith and spread it? St. Patrick’s life was penitential and prayerfuil as well as active, his spirituality solid, and his dependence on God absolute. St. Patrick cn serve as a model for all of us to get our priorities straight. (Fr. Tony) _/22
Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections
March 18 Friday: (St Cyril of Jerusalem): (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-cyril-of-jerusalem)Mt 21: 33-43, 45-46: 33 Matthew 21:33-46 : 33 “Hear another parable. There was a householder who planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country. 34 When the season of fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants, to get his fruit; 35 and the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first; and they did the same to them. 37 Afterward he sent his son to them, saying, `They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, `This is the heir; come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ 39 And they took him and cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40 When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.” 42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections
The context: Told by Jesus during Passover week, the parable of the wicked tenants is actually an allegorical “parable of judgment,” accusing the Pharisees of not producing the fruits of repentance and renewal of life which God expected from them as leaders of His Chosen people. “I expected my vineyard to yield good grapes. Why did it yield sour ones instead?” The parable also explains the necessity for our bearing fruit in the Christian life and the punishment for sterility and wickedness. The meaning of the parable: As an allegory, this parable has different meanings. Like the Jews, the second- and third-generation Christians also understood God as the landlord. The servants sent by the land-owner represented the prophets of the Old Testament. They were to see that God’s chosen people produced fruits of justice, love, and righteousness. But the people refused to listen to the prophets and produced the bitter grapes of injustice, immorality, and idolatry. Further, they persecuted and killed the prophets. As a final attempt, the landowner sent his son, (Jesus) to collect the rent (fruits of righteousness) from the wicked tenants (the Jews). But they crucified him and continued to lead lives of disloyalty and disobedience. Hence, God’s vineyard was taken away from His Chosen People and was given to a people (Gentile Christians) who were expected to produce the fruit of righteousness. The parable warns us that if we refuse to reform our lives and become productive, we also could be replaced as the old Israel was replaced by us, the “new” Israel.
Life messages: 1) We need to be good fruit-producers in the vineyard of the Church. Jesus has given the Church everything necessary to make Christians fruit-bearing. Having already received the Gift of Life in Baptism, we find we also have the following: a) the Bible to know the will of God; b) the priesthood to lead the people in God’s ways; c) the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the remission of sins; d) the Holy Eucharist as our spiritual food; e) the Sacrament of Confirmation for a dynamic life of Faith; f) the Sacrament of Matrimony for the sharing of love in families, the fundamental unit of the Church, g) the Sacrament of Holy Orders by which the priesthood of Jesus is continued on earth and will be continued until the end of the world, and i) the Sacrament of Final Anointing to prepare us for our death and judgment.
2) We are expected to make use of these gifts and to produce fruits for God and to be good fruit-producers in the vineyard of our family. By our mutual sharing of blessings, by our sacrificing of our time and talents for the welfare of all the members, by our humbly and lovingly serving others in the family, by our recognizing and encouraging each other, and by our honoring and gracefully obeying our parents, we become producers of “good fruit” or good vine-branches in our families. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22
March 19 Saturday (St. Joseph, Spouse of Blessed Virgin Mary) .Sm 7:4-5, 12-14, 16; Rom 4:13-14, 18-22; Mt 1: 16, 18-21, 24; Lk 2:41-51) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-joseph-husband-of-mary : Video: https://youtu.be/E8FAcs6lh_A
ST. JOSEPH IN THE HOLY BIBLE: We have the description of St. Joseph only in the Gospels of Mathew and Luke. They present him as Joseph, the just man, the dreamer, and the silent saint who was the custodian and protector of Jesus and Mary, always doing the will of God.
(A) Joseph, the just man: (Matthew. 1:19). In the Biblical sense, a just man is one who faithfully does his duties to God, to lawful authorities, and to his fellow human beings.
(1) Joseph did his duties to God faithfully by obeying His laws revealed through Moses, through his king, and through his foster-son Jesus.
- He obeyed the Mosaic laws: i) by circumcising and naming Jesus on the 8th day, ii) by presenting Mary with her child in the Temple for the purification ceremony, iii) by making Jesus “son of the Law,” bringing him to the Temple of Jerusalem for the feast of Passover at the age of twelve.
- He obeyed his King’s law by taking his pregnant wife Mary to Bethlehem for the census ordered by the emperor.
- He obeyed Jesusby respecting his desires and opinion. (Lk.2: 49)
(2) Joseph did his duties to others faithfully:
- to his wifeby giving her loving protection in spite of his previous suspicion about her miraculous pregnancy. He could have divorced her. Pope St. John Paul II: St. Joseph protects Mary “discreetly, humbly, and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand.”
- to Jesusby training him in his trade, in the Law of Moses and in good conduct (Lk. 2:52).
- to his neighborsby being an ideal carpenter and good neighbor.
(B) Joseph, the dreamer (like Joseph in the O.T.) received answers to his fervent prayers as dreams. Joseph raised his heart and mind to God in all his needs and dangerous situations in life, besides praising and thanking Him.
Dreaming in the Old Testament was one way God used to communicate His will to men. Joseph received instructions from God through four dreams: i) “Do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife” (Mt.1:20); ii) “Get up, take the Child and his mother and escape to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you to leave” (Mt. 2:13); iii) “Get up, take the Child and his mother, and go back to the land of Israel” (Mt.5:20); iv) as a confirmation of Joseph’s prudent thought of taking Mary and Jesus out of Jerusalem (where a worse ruler might endanger them), and back to Nazareth, a small, out of the way village in the country.
(C) As a silent saint, Joseph always did the will of God and protected and provided for Jesus and Mary. Hence, he continues to protect the mystical body of Christ, the Church.
How did Joseph provide this protection and provision? By his unfailing presence and committed fidelity. He did it silently, justly and doing the will of God. He is a silent saint in our noisy world, giving himself to others. He continues to protect those who protect and take care of elderly parents, the aged and the sick in nursing homes. He courageously fulfilled his protective role, starting with his receiving his wife into his home at the angel’s command in a dream and continuing through the flight to Egypt with Mary and the Child and their sojourn there, all the way to Nazareth and their life there, where, at some point, he died peacefully in their presence.
Life Messages: 1) We need to lead saintly lives by becomingfaithful in little things, as St. Joseph was. “Bloom where you are planted” was the favorite advice of St. Francis de Sales. Let us love our profession and do good to others.2)We need to consult God daily in prayer to know His will and to do it. 3)We need to be just, as St. Joseph was, by “giving everyone his or her due.” 4) We need to raise our families in the spirit of the Holy Family and to be responsible, God-fearing, ideal parents like Joseph and Mary. 5) Let us become protectors like St. Joseph, by keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good intentions that build up ourselves and others, and of evil intentions that tear everything and everyone down! “We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!” (Pope St. John Paul II). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/(L/22)