July 18-23: July 18 Monday (St. Camillus de Lellis, Priest, U.S.A): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-camillus-de-lellis Mt 12:38-4238 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign; but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the South will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the Wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections.
The context: Since there had been many false prophets and false messiahs in the past, and since the pride and prejudice of the scribes and the Pharisees did not permit them to see the Messiah in Jesus, a “carpenter-from-Nazareth-turned-wandering-preacher,” these Jewish religious leaders demanded that Jesus show some “Messianic” signs and miracles from their list. They would not believe that Jesus’ numerous miraculous healings were the Messianic signs foretold by their prophets.
Jesus’ negative response: Calling them an apostate generation who refused to believe in their own prophets and who denied the hand of God in the miracles Jesus had worked, Jesus warned them that they would be condemned on the Day of Judgment by the people of Nineveh (in modern Iraq) and by the Queen of Sheba from the South. The pagan Ninevites had heard the voice of the Lord God in the prophet Jonah, had repented and had been spared. The Queen of Sheba had recognized God’s wisdom in King Solomon and had traveled 1400 miles from the south (Yemen or Ethiopia) to Israel and spent six months with him (according to tradition) to receive more of it from the God of Solomon. Nevertheless, Jesus gave the scribes and Pharisees “the sign of Jonah,” who had spent three days and three nights in the belly of the giant fish, the undeniable Messianic sign of Jesus’ own Resurrection from the tomb on the third day after dying and being entombed.
Life messages: 1) Let us recognize the God-given signs in our lives: Let us examine our conscience and see if we are able to see God’s presence in ourselves and in others, His hand behind the small and big events of our lives, and His provident care in our lives and His wisdom in the Holy Bible, Teachings of the Church and in the liturgy. 2) Let us open our ears to hear God’s message given to us through others and through nature. We should be able read God’s message in the Bible and adjust our lives accordingly.
3) Let us try our best to open our hearts to God and be receptive to His Spirit through our active participation in the liturgy, instead of looking for signs in weeping Madonnas, bleeding crucifixes, and visionaries. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22
July 19 Tuesday: Mt 12:46-50: 46 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. 48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections.
The context: As Jesus became a strong critic of the Jewish religious authorities, family members brough Jesus’ Mother with them when they came to take Jesus to Nazareth by force, perhaps because they feared that he was “out of His mind,”and would be arrested and put to death and so would they. Jesus’ plain statement: Today’s Gospel episode seems to suggest that Jesus ignored the request of the family and Jesus’ Jesus’ Mother, who had traveled such a long distance. But everyone in the audience knew how Jesus had always loved and, working as a carpenter, had taken care of Mary. Besides, Jesus’ plain answer, “My mother and My brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it,” was indeed a compliment to Mary who had always listened to the word of God and obeyed it. Jesus was declaring “Blessed are those who have heard and kept the word of God, as she is faithfully doing” (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, 58). Jesus was also using the occasion to teach the congregation a new lesson in their relationship with God. Being a disciple of Jesus, a Christian, means, first and foremost, being in a relationship – a relationship of love and unity with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and with all who belong to God as His children. Jesus changes the order of relationships and shows us that true kinship is not just a matter of flesh and blood. God’s gracious gift to us is His adoption of us as His sons and daughters. This gift enables us to recognize all those who belong to Christ as our brothers and sisters. Our adoption as sons and daughters of God transforms all our relationships and requires a new order of loyalty to God and to His kingdom. Everyone who does the will of the Father, that is to say, who obeys Him, is a brother or sister of Christ, because he is like Jesus who fulfilled the will of His Father.
[Brothers and sisters of Jesus:
The Catholic Church teaches that Jesus did not have blood brothers and
sisters. In the Hebrew and Aramaic languages, no special words existed
for cousin, nephew, half-brother, or stepbrother; so, they used the word brother
in all these cases. The Greek translation of the Hebrew texts used the word adelphos in these cases. In addition, other Gospel
passages clarify these relationships between James, Joses, Judas, and
Simon. James the Less and Joses, as
well as Simon the Cananaean
or Simon the Zealot Judas Thaddeus were the sons of Mary the wife of Clopas (Tradition holds him to be brother of Joseph) (Mk 15:40, Jn
19:25), and James the Less was also identified as “the son of Alphaeus” (Lk
6:15), a synonym of “Clopas.” James the Greater and John were the
sons of Zebedee with a mother other than our Blessed Mother Mary (Mt 20:20ff).
After the birth of our Lord, although the Gospels do not give us many details
of His childhood, no mention is made of Mary and Joseph ever having other
children. Never does it refer to the “sons of Mary” or “a
son of Mary,” but only the son of Mary. By this time, St. Joseph
has died. Since Jesus, the first born, had no “blood brother,” He
entrusted Mary from the cross to the care of St. John, the Beloved Disciple.]L/22
July 20 Wednesday (St. Apollinaris, Bishop, Martyr): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-apollinaris; Mt 13:1-9: 1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat there; and the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched; and since they had no root they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell upon thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.” 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 passage gives us the parable of the sower, the seeds sown, and the yield depending upon the type of soil. It is the first parable of Jesus in the New Testament about the Kingdom of Heaven. It is also a parable Jesus personally interprets for the Apostles. This parable was intended as a warning to the hearers to be attentive and to the apostles to be hopeful receivers, living out Jesus’ teachings and ideas. The sower is God, while the Church, with the parents in their homes, are the teachers. The seed sown is the high-yielding word of God, which has a cutting edge like “a sharp sword” (Is 49:2), “two-edged sword” (Heb 4:12), and a purifying and strengthening power like “fire and hammer” (Jer 23:29).
Soil type & the yield: The hardened soil on the foot path represents people with minds closed because of laziness, pride, prejudice, or fear. The soil on flat rock pieces represents emotional types of people who go after novelties without sticking to anything and who are unwilling to “put down roots” surrendering their wills to God. The soil filled with weeds represents people addicted to evil habits and evil tendencies and those whose hearts are filled with hatred, jealousy, and greed. They are interested only in acquiring money by any means and in enjoying life in any way possible. The good and fertile soil represents well-intentioned people with open minds and clean hearts, earnest in hearing the word and zealous in putting it into practice. Zacchaeus, the sinful woman, and the thief crucified on Jesus’ right side, St. Augustine, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Francis Xavier, among others, fall into this category of the good soil.
Life message: Let us become the good soil and produce hundred-fold yields by earnestly hearing, faithfully assimilating and daily cultivating the word of God we have received, so that the Holy Spirit may produce His fruits in our lives. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22
July 21 Thursday: (St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest, Doctor of the Church): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-lawrence-of-brindisi ; Mt 13:10-17: 10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to him who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.14 With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says: `You shall indeed hear but never understand, and you shall indeed see but never perceive. 15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn for me to heal them.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections.
The context: Jesus’ disciples wanted to know why Jesus spoke in parables to the common people but explained to his disciples the parables’ implicit and hidden meanings.
Reasons: Jesus gives two reasons for using parables. 1) The so-called intellectuals, like the scribes and the Pharisees, had closed their minds and hearts to his preaching. That is one of the reasons why Jesus started speaking to the common people with open minds and receptive hearts, using their simple language and telling them stories and parables based on their lives. 2) The secrets of God’s kingdom are meant for humble people with open minds and large receptive hearts, not for proud intellectuals who are closed to them.
Blessing: Then Jesus congratulates his apostles and the common people on their good fortune in seeing the long-awaited Messiah, hearing his words and experiencing his company.
Life message: 1) We are more blessed than Jesus’ first-century audience because we have his message in written form and his Presence in the Holy Eucharist, in the Holy Bible and in the praying community. Hence, let us read the Bible with open minds and welcoming, responsive hearts. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22
July 22 Friday: (St. Mary Magdalene): (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-mary-magdalene )Jn 20:1-2, 11-18: 11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but “…18 Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her. 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 presents the great recognition scene in the New Testament when Mary Magdalene, at the tomb early in the morning, was not able to recognize the Risen Jesus until Jesus called her by name. Gradual recognition, or misunderstanding, as a stage on the path to belief and understanding occurs frequently in the narratives of John’s Gospel. [See, for example, the conversations Jesus had with Nicodemus
(ch. 3), and the Samaritan woman (ch. 4).] In today’s passage, we find it once again: Mary thought at first that Jesus was the gardener.
Mary Magdalene failed to recognize Jesus because of her false assumption that Jesus’ dead body had been taken away from the tomb. Her attention was concentrated on the now-empty tomb. Her tears of intense grief could also have blurred her vision. Once Mary had recognized Jesus, exclaiming “Rabboni!” Jesus told her, “… go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary did so at once, her introduction being, “I have seen the Lord,” with Jesus’ message following. This became the basis and essence of the later preaching of the apostles and of all Christian witness-bearing. St Thomas Aquinas said that one old lady (una vetera), might have more Faith than a host of learned theologians.
Life messages: 1) We need to be open in mind and heart to experience the presence of the Risen Lord in our lives through our prayer, our Sacramental life, and our meditative reading of the Bible. These all enable us to bear witness to the Risen Lord in our daily lives.
2) It is our powerful conviction of the Real Presence of the Risen Lord, both in the Eucharist and in our lives, which gives us the strength to fight temptations and to serve our brothers and sisters in corporal and spiritual works of mercy. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22
July 23 Saturday: (St. Bridget, Religious): (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-bridget-of-sweden ) Mt 13:24-30: 24 Another parable he put before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the householder came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?’ 28 He said to them, `An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, `Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, `No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'”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 readings give us the warning that we should not be in a hurry to eliminate the “weeds” or so called “bad people” from the parish or society or the family on the basis of unwarranted or hasty judgment, because our compassionate God patiently waits for them to be converted into good people. The parable of the wheat and the weeds: The weeds among the wheat in the parable are a variety of tares known as “bearded darnel.” They resemble wheat plants so closely that it is impossible to distinguish the one from the other except when the heads of seed appear. By that time, their roots are so intertwined that the tares cannot be weeded out without plucking the wheat out with them. At the end of the harvest, tares and wheat must be separated by hand, through examining the color difference between darnel and wheat grains. The darnel grains must be removed, not only because they are not wheat, but because they are slightly poisonous.
Why we should be tolerant and patient instead of treating “weeds” as lost cases: The parable tells us why we should not treat others as “weeds,” i.e. evil or wicked. 1) Each one of us is a combination of wheat and weeds; as the saying goes, “There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it ill behooves any of us to find fault with the rest of us.[James Truslow Adams from website: www.brainyquotes. com]Since it is impossible for us to judge people as evil or good, we must learn to be kind to them relying on the power of God to convert them. 2) Many people who do evil are converted at a certain time in their lives because of the grace of God. Our God awaits repentant sinners, giving them the strength to acknowledge their weakness and come to for Mercy. . 3) Since the good example and the fervent, ongoing prayers and penances of practicing Christians can influence and occasion the conversion of people who do evil, it is the duty and the joy of all Christians to live exemplary lives and to treat them with love, compassion, and the spirit of forgiveness. Hence, let us grow up as healthy wheat in God’s field, leaving the weeds for Jesus to take care of. 4) There will be a separation of weeds and wheat, good and bad fish (13:47-50), sheep and goats (Matthew 25:31-46). But this separation will take place at the end of the world, on God’s timetable not ours. Hence, let us leave the judgment to God. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22