May 9-14: Kindly click on https://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed Sunday and weekday homilies, RCIA & Faith formation classes: May 9 Monday: John 10:1-10: 1Jesus said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. 2But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. 5But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.” 6Although Jesus used this figure of speech, the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them. 7So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the door. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.10A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
Through today’s Gospel, the Church reminds us of our call to become good shepherds of God’s flock and good sheep of His parishes and invites us to pray for vocations to the priesthood, the diaconate and the consecrated life. In today’s Gospel, the two brief parables show us Jesus, first, as a selfless, caring “shepherd” who provides for his sheep protection and life itself, and second, as our unique gateway (“sheep gate”), to eternal salvation. Besides guiding his flock to Eternal Life as the Good Shepherd, Jesus is himself the gateway to Eternal Life. The first parable of today’s Gospel contrasts Jesus, the true Shepherd, with fake shepherds, thieves and robbers. Jesus gives us warning against false shepherds and false teachers in his Church. Jesus’ love and concern for each of us must be accepted with trust and serenity because he alone is our Shepherd, and no one else deserves our undivided commitment. As a true Shepherd, he leads his sheep, giving them the food and protection only Jesus, the Good Shepherd, can provide, and he protects us and leads us to true happiness. In the second parable, Jesus compares himself to the Shepherd and to the Gate. The first title represents His ownership because Shepherd is the true owner of the sheep. The second title represents His leadership. Jesus is the Gate, the only Way in or out. He is the One Mediator between God and mankind. All must go through Him, through His Church, in order to arrive in Heaven.By identifying Himself with the sheep-gate, Jesus gives the assurance that whoever enters the pen through Him will be safe and well cared-for. Jesus is the living Door to His Father’s house and Father’s family, the Door into the Father’s safety and into the fullness of life. It is through Jesus, the Door, that we come into the sheepfold where we are protected from the wolves of life. There is safety and security in being a Christian. There is a spiritual, emotional and psychological security and safety when we live within Jesus and his Church, within the protectiveness of Christ, Christian friends and a Christian family.
Life Messages: 1) We need to become good shepherds and good leaders: Everyone who is entrusted with the care of others is a shepherd. Hence, pastors, parents, teachers, doctors, nurses, government officials, and caregivers, among others, are all shepherds. We become good shepherds by loving those entrusted to us, praying for them, spending our time, talents and blessings for their welfare, and guarding them from physical and spiritual dangers. Parents must be especially careful of their duties toward their children, giving them good example and instruction and training them in Christian principles. 2) We need to become good sheep in the fold of Jesus, the Good Shepherd: Our local parish is our sheepfold, and our pastors are our shepherds. Jesus is the High Priest, the Bishops are the successors of the Apostles, the Pastors and their Deacons are their helpers, and the parishioners are the sheep. Hence, as the good sheep of the parish, parishioners are expected to a) hear and follow the voice of our shepherds through their homilies, Bible classes, counseling, and advice: b) receive the spiritual food given by our Pastors through our regular participation in the Holy Mass, our frequenting of the Sacraments, and our participation in the prayer services, renewal programs, and missions they offer; c) cooperate with our Pastors by giving them positive suggestions for the welfare of the parish, by encouraging them in their duties, by offering them loving, constructive correction when they are found misbehaving or failing in their duties, and always by praying for them;andd) actively participate in the activities of various councils, ministries and parish associations. 3) We need to pray for vocations. Fr. Tony (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 (Copy and paste these web addresses on the Address bar of any Internet website like Google or MSN and press the Enter button of your Keyboard).L/22
May 10 Tuesday: St. John of Avila, Priest, Doctor of the Church; (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-john-of-avila) St. Damien de Veuster of Molokai, Priest (U. S. A. )(https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-damien-de-veuster-of-molokai.) Jn 10:22-30: Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered round him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness to me; 26 but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; 28 and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections
The context: It was December during the week of the Jewish Feast of the Dedication of the Temple or Hanukkah, a week with the year’s shortest days and longest nights. The feast was also known as the Festival of Lights because during this feast the Jews lighted lamps representing the Mosaic Law and put them in the windows of the houses. Hanukkah served as a remembrance ofthe cleansing and rededicating of the Temple and its altar by the Jewish military commander Judas Maccabaeus in the year 165 B.C., after he had liberated Jerusalem from the control of the Seleucid Kings of Syria. The Syrian King Antiochus IV Epiphanes had profaned the Temple and its altar. It was during Hanukkah, when Jesus was teaching in Solomon’s portico, that the Jews plotted to trap Jesus by asking him to declare whether or not he was the promised Messiah.
Jesus’ reply: 1) Jesus accuses the Jews of unbelief and challenges them to believe in his Messianic and Divine claims by truthfully assessing his miracles instead of holding to their own personal ideas about the promised Messiah as a political liberator. 2) Then Jesus gives the reason why the Jews cannot believe in him. They are not among his sheep. Faith and eternal life cannot be merited by man’s own efforts: they are a gift of God, and the Jews are refusing to accept this gift from God. 3) Jesus gives the assurance that his sheep – his followers – will have eternal life and will not perish because they are protected by God his Father Who is stronger than the Evil One. 4) Finally, Jesus declares that he and God the Father are one. In other words, Jesus reveals that He is one in substance with the Father as far as Divine Essence or Nature is concerned, but He also reveals that the Father and the Son are distinct Persons.
Life messages: 1) When doubts about our Faith haunt us, let us try to read more about our Faith, to consult Catholic experts in our locality or reliable Catholic sources on the Internet, and to pray for the light of the Holy Spirit. 2) Let us find protection from the temptations of the Evil One in the sheepfold of the Church by frequenting the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist, by meditative reading of the Bible, by personal prayers, and by works of charity. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22
May 11 Wednesday: Jn 12:44-50:44 Jesus cried out and said, “whoever believes in me believes not only in mebut in Him who sent me. 45 And he who sees me sees Him Who sent me. 46 I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If any one hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings has a judge; the word that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority; the Father who sent me has himself given me commandment what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has bidden me.”Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections
The context: Today’s Gospel text, taken from John’s Gospel, is a passage from the last public discourse of Jesus before his arrest and crucifixion.
The main ideas in the passage are 1) Jesus’ relationship with the Father; 2) Jesus’ role as the Light and Life of the world; and 3) the criteria for His final judgment of us – Heaven or Hell. First, Jesus teaches us that he is one with the Father and he is the image of his invisible Father. He is one with the Father, so that Father speaks through him and operates through him. Hence, those who accept Jesus and his message accept God the Father’s message. Second, Jesus claims that he is the Light and Life of the world. Psalm 27 exclaims, “The Lord is my Light and my salvation!” As Light, Jesus removes the darkness of evil from the world and from our souls, shows us the correct way to go in life, and gives us the warmth of his sharing, sacrificial love. As Light, God’s word enables those with eyes of Faith to perceive the hidden truths of God’s Kingdom. As the Life of the world, Jesus, by his words, produces the very Life of God within those who receive these words with Faith. Third, we are rewarded or punished eternally based on whether or not we accept Jesus and his teachings and whether or not we live our lives accordingly.
Life messages: 1) As Christians our duty is to reflect and radiate the light of Jesus in the darkness of evil around us by acts of sharing love, kindness, forgiveness, and humble service. 2) Let us ask for the strength of the Holy Spirit to choose Christ and his ideals every day and to reject everything contrary to Christ’s teachings. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)
Fr. Mark Link S.J. story: W.C. Fields was a film comedian. A story–maybe apocryphal–says that near the end of his life he spent a lot of time reading the Bible. Someone asked him about this, Fields replied, “I’m looking for any loopholes I can find.” The implication was that Fields knew that he had not lived his life in full accord with Jesus’ teaching. Now he was looking for a way to excuse himself for this failure when he appeared before God How fully am I living in accord with the teaching of Jesus? (http://www.staygreat.com/).L/22
May 12 Thursday: Saints Nereus and Achilleus, Martyrs; (https://mycatholic.life/saints/saints-of-the-liturgical-year/may-12-saints-nereus-and-achilleus-martyrs/)St. Pancras, Martyr (https://mycatholic.life/saints/saints-of-the-liturgical-year/may-12-saint-pancras-martyr/)Jn 13:16-20:16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of you all; I know whom I have chosen; it is that the scripture may be fulfilled, `He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I tell you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives any one whom I send receives me; and he who receives me receives him who sent me.” Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/;https://www.epriest.com/reflections
The context: Today’s Gospel is the second part of the explanation Jesus gave to his disciples after washing their feet before the Last Supper. He promised his disciples that that whoever listened to them would be listening to him as well, provided his preaching disciples became the humble servants of others.
Gospel lessons: In the first part of today’s Gospel, Jesus emphasizes the fact that the hallmark of his disciples must be their readiness and generosity in offering humble and sacrificial service to others, because that was the model Jesus had given them by his life and especially by washing their feet. It is by serving others that we become great before God. In the second part of today’s Gospel, Jesus shows his apostles how to treat people who are unfaithful and disloyal. Jesus hints at the betrayal of Judas by quoting Psalm 4:9: “He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.” Instead of distancing himself from Judas, Jesus offers him reconciliation, showing him more affection by washing his feet and by giving him a morsel of bread dipped in sauce with his own hand. In the third part, Jesus gives the basis for apostolic succession, stating that one who receives his apostles and messengers receives him, thereby receiving God the Father who sent Jesus.
Life messages: 1) Let us prove that we are true disciples of Jesus by rendering others humble and loving service today. 2) Let us learn to be reconciled with those who offend us by unconditionally pardoning them, by wishing them the very best, and by keeping them in our prayers. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)L/ 22
May 13 Friday: Our Lady of Fatima (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/our-lady-of-fatima) : John 15:1-8: Today is the 105thanniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady to three shepherd children,Lúcia Santos (10) who later became a Carmelite nun (Sister Lúcia) and died in 2005 at the age of 97, and her cousins Francisco Marto (9) who died at 11 in 1919 and Jacinta (7) who died at 10 in 1920. The apparitions took place on a small spreading holm oak tree, six times in five months, on the thirteenth of each month from May through October 1917, at Fatima, a village 110 miles North of Lisbon in Portugal. Mary instructed the children to pray the Rosary for world peace, for the end of World War I, for sinners and for the conversion of Russia. On October 13th, 1917, seventy thousand people witnessed the dancing sun miracle without hurting their eyes. They saw the sun rotating, enlarging, shrinking, approaching and retreating.(https://youtu.be/-vIRDTmrUZU?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DA8uaxE25BlBvINntS5bWpi /)
The three secrets of Fatima: On July 13, around noon, the Lady is said to have entrusted three secrets to the children. Two of the secrets were revealed in 1941 in a document written by Lúcia, at the request of José da Silva, Bishop of Leiria, to assist with the publication of a new edition of a book on Jacinta. The first secret was a vision of hell and its torments. The second secret was a statement that World War I would end and supposedly a prediction of the coming of World War II, should God continue to be offended and if Russia were not converted. The second half requests that Russia be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart. When asked by the Bishop of Leiria in 1943 to reveal the third secret, Lúcia struggled for a short period, being “not yet convinced that God had clearly authorized her to act.” However, in October of 1943 the bishop of Leiria ordered her to put it in writing. Lucia then wrote the secret down and sealed it an envelope not to be opened until 1960, when “it will appear clearer.” Pope John Paul II directed the Holy See’s Secretary of State to reveal the third secret in 2000. It spoke of a “bishop in white who was shot by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows into him.” Many people, including Pope St. John Paul II himself, linked this secret to the May 13, 1981 assassination attempt against him in St. Peter’s Square by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca. Some claim that this was not the real secret revealed to Lúcia, despite assertions from the Vatican and Sister Lucia herself to the contrary. According to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, “it appeared evident to his Holiness that it was a motherly hand which guided the bullets past, enabling the dying Pope to halt at the threshold of death.” (BBC). The local bishop approved the feast of Our Lady of Fatima in 1930; and it was added to the Church’s worldwide calendar in 2002.
Life messages: 1) We need to become holy children of a holy Mother by leading pure lives. 2) We need to imitate Mary’s trusting faith in God’s power, her unconditional surrender and obedience to God’s will, and her spirit of selfless and humble service. 3) We need to obey the Fatima message of repentance, renewal of life and praying the Rosary. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22Additional 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
May 14 Saturday: St. Matthias, Apostle (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-matthias) (Jn 15: 9-17 or 12-17: 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 This I command you, to love one another. Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections (Copy and paste these web addresses on the Address bar of any Internet website like Google or MSN and press the Enter button of your Keyboard).
The context: Today’s Gospel passage is a part of Jesus’ Last Supper discourse. Jesus reminds his disciples that he has chosen them as his friends with a triple mission. First, they are to love others as he has loved them. Second, they are to bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Third, they are to ask God the Father in Jesus’ Name, for whatever they need.
First, Jesus modifies the Old Testament command from “love your neighbor as you love yourselves” (Lv 19:18) to “love others as I have loved you.” This means that our love for others must be unconditional, forgiving, and sacrificial. We, too, must be ready to express our love for others by our readiness to die for them as Jesus died for us. Jesus reminds the apostles that the ultimate expression of love (and especially Christian love, agápê) lies in self-sacrifice for others. Second, Jesus explains that the calling to produce fruits which the Apostles received, and which every Christian also receives, does not originate in the individual’s good desires but in Christ’s free choice. Third, Jesus concludes his advice by referring to the effectiveness of prayer offered in his Name. That is why the Church usually ends the prayers of the liturgy with the invocation “Through Jesus Christ our Lord….”
Life messages: 1) Let us cultivate an abiding and loving friendship with Jesus: a) The qualities we normally expect from our friends are trust, mutuality, faithfulness, equality, forgiveness, joy, and self-sacrifice. Jesus offers us all these qualities in our friendship with him. b) As a friend, Jesus has trusted us by sharing with us everything that he has heard from his Father. Hence, we have to trust him as a friend by listening to him through the Bible and talking to him by prayer. c) As our friend, Jesus will be always faithful to us. Let us return this fidelity by being faithful to him in doing His will. d) By calling us his friends, Jesus makes us equal to him. Let us be proud of this and lead lives worthy of our unique status. e) As an understanding friend, Jesus is ready to forgive us time and time again. Let us also forgive those who offend us. f) As a friend, Christ has told us everything so that our joy might be complete in him. Let us enjoy Jesus’ Divine friendship. g) Jesus declared that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend. He has done it for us. Hence, let us also love others sacrificially.
#2: Let us be persons for others: Jesus demonstrated the love God, his Father, has for us by living for us and dying for us. Hence, as his disciples, we are to be persons for others, sacrificing our time, talents, and lives for others. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22.