August 1-6: Aug 1 Monday (St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop, Doctor of the Church):https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-alphonsus-liguoriMatthew 14:13-21: 13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 As he went ashore, he saw a great throng; and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a lonely place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; and taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. (Cfr also MK 6:30-44, LK 9: 10-17, JN 6: 1-14)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 describes Jesus’ miraculous feeding of a great multitude. The story is told in all four Gospels and serves as Jesus’ way of introducing to those listening a merciful and providing God. This miraculous feeding was meant to remind people of God’s provision of manna in the wilderness and to foreshadow the true Heavenly Bread which Jesus would offer those who listened, believed, and chose to receive. Moses, Elijah, and Elisha had all fed people without the benefit of resources. The present miracle resembles particularly the one performed by Elisha in 2 Kgs 4:42-44.
Jesus took pity on the growing physical hunger of his listeners as they listened and challenged the apostles to feed them. They brought him what they had — five loaves of bread and two dried fish. Jesus took these, said a prayer of blessing, broke them and asked the apostles to distribute them. Since it was mid-April, springtime in Israel, the people could sit comfortably on green grass in groups of hundreds and fifties as Jesus asked. After serving a sumptuous meal which satisfied everyone’s hunger, the apostles collected twelve wicker baskets filled with leftover bread and fish pieces, a vivid demonstration of God’s generosity in giving.
Life messages: 1) We may not be able to feed the hungry millions in the world, but today’s Gospel challenges us to do our humble share in alleviating hunger and poverty in our neighborhood. God will amplify our little contributions and reward our good will and generosity. 2) Let us be thankful to Jesus for feeding us spiritually with the word of God and with the Holy Eucharist. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22
Aug 2 Tuesday: (St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop);https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-eusebius-of-vercelli; St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-peter-julian-eymardMatthew 14:22-36: 22 Then he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is aghost!” And they cried out for fear. 27 But immediately he spoke to them, saying, “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.” 28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; 30 but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32..36 Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections.
The context: The event presented by today’s Gospel is the scene immediately following Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish. Sensing the danger of having the people make him leader of a revolt, Jesus promptly instructed his apostles to leave the place by boat and, after dispersing the crowd, went alone to the mountain to pray.
A double miracle on the sea: When the apostles in the boat were several furlongs away from the shore, they faced an unexpected storm on the sea caused by the hot wind of the desert rushing into the Sea of Galilee through the gaps in the Golan Heights. Recognizing the danger, Jesus walked on the stormy waters toward the boat. Jesus calmed the frightened disciples as He approached the boat, allowed Peter to do a trial walk on water, then saved the apostle from drowning when he panicked. As soon as Jesus brought Peter into the boat the storm ceased miraculously. The apostles recognized the presence of God in their midst and they all worshipped Jesus.
Life messages: 1) Let us approach Jesus with strong Faith in his ability and willing availability to calm the storms in our lives and in the life of the Church. Church History shows us how Jesus saved his Church from storms of persecution in the first three centuries, storms of heresies in the fifth and sixth centuries, storms of moral degradation and the Protestant reformation movement in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and storms of sex abuse with scandals among the clergy in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. 2) Let us ask Jesus to protect us when we face storms of strong temptations, storms of doubts about our religious beliefs, and storms of fear, anxiety (as in the present Covid-19 pandemic), and worries about the future, in our personal lives. 3) Experiencing Jesus’ presence in our lives, let us confess our Faith in him and call out for his help and protection. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22
Aug 3 Wednesday: Mt 15. 21-28: And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon.  And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.”  But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and begged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying after us.”  He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  But she came and knelt before Him, saying, “Lord, help me.”  And He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”  She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”  Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.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
Jesus withdrew to Tyre and Sidon to escape persecution from Herod and from the Jewish authorities and to concentrate on training the apostles. Tyre and Sidon were Mediterranean coastal cities in Lebanon, outside the territory of Herod Antipas. Today’s Gospel episode speaks of the expansive and universal nature of the “Kingdom of God,” in contrast with the theory that salvation was offered first to the Jews and through them alone to the rest of the world. In fact, God included all nations in His plan for salvation, and He blessed all the families of the earth in Abraham (Gn 17:1-5). In today’s Gospel episode, Jesus demonstrates that salvation was meant for the Gentiles as well as for the Jews by healing the daughter of a Gentile woman as a reward for the mother’s strong, trusting Faith, unwavering trust, perseverance, and humility. Thus, Jesus shows that God’s mercy and love are available to all who call out to Him in Faith.
Life messages: 1) We need to persist in prayer with trustful confidence. Although the essential parts of prayer are adoration, thanksgiving, and contrition, the prayer of petition plays a big part in our daily lives. Christ Himself has told us to ask him for these needs: “Ask and you shall receive.” Asking with fervor and perseverance proves that we have the “great Faith” we need to receive what Christ wants to grant us in response to our requests. We must realize and remember, however, that we do not always get exactly what we ask for. Rather, God gives us what He knows we really need, what He wants for us, and what is really best for us. If our prayer is sincere and persevering, we will always get an answer — one which is better than what we asked for.
2) We need to pull down our walls of separation and share in the universality of God’s love: Very often we set up walls which separate us from God and from one another. Today’s Gospel reminds us that God’s love and mercy are extended to all who call on Him in Faith and trust, no matter who they are. It is therefore fitting that we should pray and work sincerely so that the walls which our pride, intolerance, fear, and prejudice have raised may crumble. . (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22
Aug 4 Thursday: (St. John Vianney, Priest): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-john-vianney : Mt 16: 13-23:13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. 21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men 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/2
The context: Today’s Gospel passage is the first of the three times when Jesus foretold His passion, death and Resurrection. The passage consists of two sections, the Messianic confession of Peter and Jesus’ prophecy of a swiftly approaching passion and death.
Jesus as the Christ, our Lord and Savior: Today’s Gospel explains the basis of our Faith as the acceptance of Jesus as the Christ, our Lord and Savior. It also tells us that Christ Jesus became our Savior by His suffering, death, and Resurrection. This famous profession of Faith by Peter took place at Caesarea Philippi, at present called Banias, twenty-five miles northeast of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus realized that if the apostles did not know Jesus’ real identity, then the whole of the entire Messianic ministry, suffering, death, and Resurrection would be useless. Hence, the Teacher decided to ask a question in two parts. 1) “What is the public opinion about Me?” 2) “What is your personal opinion?” Their answer to the first question was: “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Peter volunteered to answer the second question saying: “You are the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God.“ Jesus confirmed Peter’s insight as a special revelation from God. “No mere man has revealed this to you, but my Heavenly Father.”
Life message:s1) Let us experience Jesus as our Lord and Savior and surrender our life to God We experience Jesus as personal Savior by listening to God’s Word through the daily, meditative reading of the Bible, by talking to Him through daily, personal, and family prayers, frequenting Holy Mass and offering Jesus our lives on the altar, being reconciled with God every night, asking His pardon and forgiveness for our sins and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation whenever we are in mortal sin) and by receiving the strengthening power of God’s grace through the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist. 2) The next step is the surrender of our lives to Jesus by rendering humble and loving service to others with the strong conviction that Jesus is present in every person. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22
Aug 5 Friday: (Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/dedication-of-saint-mary-major-basilicaMatthew 16: 24-28: 24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? 27 For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” 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
The context: After Peter made his famous declaration of Faith in Jesus as God and Messiah, Jesus plainly warned his disciples about his approaching suffering, death and Resurrection. But the apostles were unwilling to accept such a fate for their Master. Peter even took Jesus aside and prayed, “God forbid, Lord! This must never happen to you!” It was after Peter’s protest that Jesus declared three conditions of the discipleship which he expects from his followers. We hear them in today’s Gospel.
Conditions of Christian discipleship: 1) Deny yourself 2) Take up your cross. 3) Follow me.
Denying oneself means cleansing the heart of all bad habits and evil tendencies and evicting the self, with its selfish thoughts and desires from one’s heart. It also means enthroning God in one’s cleansed heart and surrendering one’s life to God’s service by serving others.
Carrying the cross means willingly accepting the pain involved in serving others sacrificially. It also means spending our time, talents, wealth, and health for others until it hurts us. Cross-bearing is also our sacrificial sharing of God’s blessings with others. Further, it includes our doing penance to make reparation for our sins and to grow in self-control. Carrying one’s cross becomes easier and more meritorious when we accept life’s crosses as loving gifts given by a loving Father. The comparison of our light crosses with the heavy crosses given to others should make us grateful. Finally, we should carry our crosses, praying for Heavenly strength.
“Follow me” means the disciple should be ever ready to obey as Jesus, the Incarnate son of God directs him or her through the Bible as interpreted by the Church and through the teaching authority (Magisterium) the Church guided by the Holy Spirit.
Life message: We need to love the cross, wear the cross, and transform the God-given crosses of our life into the instruments of our salvation by working with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22
Aug 6 Saturday: (The Transfiguration of the Lord): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/transfiguration-of-the-lordThe Transfiguration of the Lord: Lk 9: 28-36:
28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, and when they wakened, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah” — not knowing what he said. 34 As he said this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silence and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen. 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
The context: In the Transfiguration story in today’s Gospel, Jesus is revealed as a glorious figure, superior to Moses and Elijah. The primary purpose of Jesus’ Transfiguration was to allow him to consult his Heavenly Father and ascertain His plan for His Son’s suffering, death and Resurrection. The secondary aim was to make his chosen disciples aware of his Divine glory, so that they might discard their worldly ambitions and dreams of a conquering, political Messiah and might be strengthened in their time of trial. On the mountain, Jesus is identified by the Heavenly Voice as the Son of God. Thus, the Transfiguration narrative is a Christophany, that is, a manifestation or revelation of who Jesus really is. Describing Jesus’ Transfiguration, the Gospel gives us a glimpse of the Heavenly glory awaiting those who do God’s will by putting their trusting Faith in Him.
Life messages:(1)The “transfiguration” in the Holy Mass is the source of our strength: In each Holy Mass, the bread and wine we offer on the altar become “transfigured” – more properly, transubstantiated — into the living body and blood of the crucified, risen and glorified Jesus. Just as Jesus’ Transfiguration strengthened the Apostles in their time of trial, each Holy Mass should be our source of Heavenly strength against temptations, and our renewal of Christian living.
(2) Each time we receive one of the Sacraments, we are transformed: For example, Baptism transforms us into sons and daughters of God and heirs of Heaven. Confirmation makes us temples of the Holy Spirit and warriors of God. By the Sacrament of Reconciliation, God brings back the sinner to the path of holiness.
(3)A message of encouragement and hope: In moments of doubt and during our dark moments of despair and hopelessness, the thought of our future transfiguration in Heaven will help us to reach out to God and to listen to His consoling words: “This is My beloved Son; listen to Him.” Let us share the glory of His Transfiguration with all we encounter. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22