Aug 15 Monday: (The Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary): Lk 1:39-56: Three Questions answered: Q 1: Do Catholics worship Mary? Fact 1: Catholics don’t worship or adore Mary because we worship only God, and Mary is not God. Fact 2: We venerate her, honor her, and love her as Jesus’ mother and our Heavenly Mother.
Q 2: Why do Catholics venerate Mary? Mary herself gives the reason in her “Magnificat” recorded in Luke (1:48-49): 48: “For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. 49: The Mighty One has done great things for me, and Holy is his Name.”
1) God has honored Mary in four ways, and we honor her because God honored her:
a) He chose her as the mother of His Son, Jesus Christ the Messiah.
b) In preparation for this role, God made her “Full of grace” by her Immaculate Conception.
c) He anointed her twice with His Holy Spirit: at the Annunciation and at Pentecost, making her the most Spirit -filled of all women.
d) God allowed her to participate actively in Christ’s suffering and death, suffering in soul all Jesus suffered in body.
2) Mary is our Heavenly Mother, given to us by Jesus from the cross.
3) Mary is our role model for all virtues, particularly, love, fidelity, humility, obedience, surrender to the will of God, and patience.
Q 3: Why do we believe that Mary was taken to Heaven after her death and burial? (“Assumption” means, after her death, Mary was taken into Heaven, both body and soul. The word Assumption comes from the Latin verb “assumere”, meaning “to take to oneself.” Our Lord, Jesus Christ took Mary home to himself where he is. It was on November 1, 1950, that, through the Apostolic Constitution Munificentimus Deus, Pope Pius XII officially declared the Assumption as a Dogma of Catholic Faith, giving the following reasons:
1) Uninterrupted tradition in the Catholic Church starting from the first century AD. (The first trace of belief in the Virgin’s Assumption can be found in the apocryphal second-to-third century AD accounts entitled Transitus Mariae [Latin: “The
Crossing Over of Mary”].
2) The feast is found in all the ancient liturgies
3) The belief in the assumption of Mary is taught by all early Fathers of the Church, e.g., Origen (died AD 253), St. Jerome (died AD 419) and St. Augustine (died AD 430).
4) Negative evidence: Mary’s tomb was never reported or venerated.
5) Old Testament evidence of corporal assumption of Enoch (Gn 5: 24) and Elijah (2 Kgs 2:1).
6) Theological reasons: her Immaculate Conception and sinless life.
Life messages: 1) We are challenged to keep ourselves pure and holy children of a Holy Mother. 2) We are challenged to accept total liberation from all our bondages. 3) We are assured of our resurrection and given the inspiration to face pain, suffering, despair, disappointment and temptations as Mary did.
Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections
Aug 16 Tuesday: (St. Stephen of Hungary): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-stephen-of-hungaryMt 19:23-30: 23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said in reply, “Lo, we have left everything and followed you. What then shall we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And ever one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. 30 But many that are first will be last, and the last first.
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 told a rich, young man who had expressed his desire to follow Jesus as a disciple that he had to share his possessions with the less fortunate as a condition for becoming a perfect disciple. But when the young man heard this, he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions. It was then that Jesus made the comment given in today’s Gospel. Jesus uses a vivid hyperbole or “word cartoon” to show how riches bar people from Heaven. The camel was the largest animal the Jews knew, and the eye of a needle the smallest hole. The needle’s eye is variously interpreted. a)Most probably Jesus used it literally. b) The little, low and narrow gate on the outer wall of the city of Jerusalem through which even a man could hardly pass erect was called, “The Needle’s Eye” in Jesus’ time. c) The Greek word used in the passage for camel is kamelos, which can also mean a ship’s thick cable or hawser rope. In any case, Jesus is saying that it is not impossible, by the grace of God, for a wealthy person to keep his spiritual integrity, but it is extremely difficult and uncommon. Why do riches prevent one from reaching God? First, the rich think that they can buy their way out of sorrow and into happiness, so they don’t need God. Second, riches shackle one to this earth, and one ignores an afterlife.; taught by Scriptures a(Mt 6:21). Third, riches tend to make one selfish. The Bible doesn’t say that money is the root of all evil; it says that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tm 6:10). Jesus also challenges the Jewish belief that material wealth and prosperity are signs of God’s blessings, and poverty is the sign of His punishment. Jesus condemns a value system that makes “things” more valuable than people.
Life messages: 1) We need to accept God’s invitation to generosity. Jesus’ Infinitely generous Self-gift to us has the crucifix as “Exhibit A,” and in the Eucharist Jesus actually becomes our spiritual Food and Drink. 2) To follow Jesus, we must have a generous, self-giving heart, and we should be willing to use it by sharing our blessings with others. 3) God does not ask us to give up our riches, but He does ask us to use them wisely in His service. 4) How do we use our talents? 5) What about time – do we use it for God? We each get 168 hours every week. How do we use our time? Are we too busy to pray each day? (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22
Aug 17 Wednesday: Mt 20:1-16: 1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; 4 and to them he said, `You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So, they went. 5 Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing; and he said to them, `Why do you stand here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, `Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, `You go into the vineyard too.’ 8 And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, `Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ 9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the householder, 12 saying, `These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, `Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.” 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 parable described in today’s Gospel is known as the “Parable of Workers in the Vineyard” or the “Parable of the Generous Landlord.” This remarkable and rather startling parable is found only in Matthew. There is Gospel, or “Good News,” in this parable because it is the story of the landlord’s love and generosity, representing God’s love and generosity. The question in God’s mind is not, “How much do these people deserve?” but rather, “How can I help them? How can I save them before they perish?” It’s all about grace and blessings. God is presented in the parable as a loving mother who cares about each of her children equally. The parable in a nutshell: The Kingdom of Heaven, says Jesus, is like a landowner who goes out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. He rounds up a group at 6 AM, agrees to pay them the usual daily wage and then puts them into action. At 9 AM, he rounds up another group. At noon, he recruits a third team, and then at 3 PM, a fourth. Finally, at 5 PM, he finds still more laborers who are willing and able to work. He sends them into the vineyard to do what they can before sundown. As the day ends, the landowner instructs his manager to pay each of the workers one denarius, the daily living wage, and to begin with those who started at 5 PM.
Life messages: (1) We need to follow God’s example and show grace to our neighbor. When someone else is more successful than we are, let us rejoice with him and assume he needs the success. When someone who does wrong fails to get caught, let us remember the many times we have done wrong and gotten off free. We mustn’t wish pain on people for the sake of “fairness.” We become envious of others because of our lack of generosity of heart. 2) We need to express our gratitude to God in our daily lives. God personally calls each of us to a particular ministry. He shows his care by giving us His grace and eternal salvation. All our talents and blessings are freely given us by God, so we should thank Him by avoiding sins, by rendering loving service to others, and by listening and talking to Him. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22
Aug 18 Thursday: Mt 22: 1-14: Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. A second time he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.” ‘Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests, he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. The king said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment? ‘But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.” Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections
The parable and its meaning: This is one of the three parables of judgment or “rejection parables” that Jesus told in the Temple of Jerusalem during the week ending his public life. It was addressed to the “chief priests and elders of the people”, i.e., the Jewish religious and civic leaders. By telling this allegoric parable of judgment in the Temple of Jerusalem two days before his arrest, Jesus is accusing the Jewish religious and civil leaders of rejecting God’s invitation to the Heavenly banquet which the Incarnate Son of God is giving them. They have made the refusal by not listening to the Good News preached by Jesus and by not reforming their lives. This invitation had been repeatedly extended to Israel through the prophets, including John the Baptist. But the leadership contemporary with Jesus, by rejecting the reality that Jesus is the fulfillment of all prophecy, has refused to accept God’s invitation to righteous living (given first through John the Baptist, now through Jesus), and is currently planning to kill God’s own Son, Jesus. Hence, God is inviting the sinners and Gentiles to His banquet, and that is why Jesus is keeping the company of sinners.
Life messages: 1) We need to keep wearing the wedding garment of holiness and righteousness, the state of grace, all the time and appreciate and make use of the provision for God’s graces in the Church: a) We received the “wedding garment” of sanctifying grace in Baptism, and we receive additional graces to retain it through the other Sacraments. b) Our participation in the Eucharistic celebration and in personal and family prayers helps us to recharge our spiritual batteries and enables us to lead Spirit-filled lives. c) Jesus nourishes us in the Church through the proclamation of the word of God and through the Eucharist, His own Body and Blood in the Holy Communion.
2) We need to participate in the Eucharistic banquet with proper preparation by repenting of our sins and by actively participating in the prayers and singing during the Holy Mass. Participating in Holy Mass is the best preparation and source of power for our future participation in the Heavenly banquet. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22
Aug 19 Friday: (St. John Eudes, Priest): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-stephen-of-hungaryMatthew 22:34-40: 34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment.39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” .”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 Pharisees, who believed in both the written Law and the oral tradition, were pleased to see how Jesus defeated the Sadducee who had tried to humiliate him with the hypothetical case of a woman who married seven husbands in succession. So, a lawyer challenged Jesus to summarize the most important of the Mosaic Laws into one sentence. Jesus’ answer teaches us that the most important Commandment isto love God in loving others and to love others in loving God. In other words, we are to love God completely, and express our love by loving our neighbor who is a son or daughter of God in whom God lives.
Jesus’ novel contribution: Jesus gives a straightforward answer, quoting directly from the Law itself and startling his listeners with his profound simplicity and mastery of the law of God and its purpose. He cites the first sentence of the Jewish Shema prayer (Dt 6:5) “Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Then He adds its complementary law (Lv 19:18): “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus combines the originally separate commandments and presents them as the essence of true religion. We are to love our neighbor as our self because this is a way to love God: God gives us our neighbors to love so that we may learn to love Him.
Life messages: 1) How do we love God? There are several means by which we can express our love for God: a) by thanking God daily for His blessings and expressing our gratitude by obeying His Commandments; b) by being reconciled with God daily, confessing our sins, and asking His forgiveness; c) by acknowledging our total dependence on God, presenting our needs before Him with trusting Faith; d) by keeping friendship with God, daily talking to Him in prayer and listening to Him in reading the Bible; and e) by recharging our spiritual batteries through participating in Sunday Mass, receiving Jesus in Holy Communion, and leading a Sacramental life. 2) How do we love our neighbor? Since every human being is the child of God and the dwelling place of the Spirit of God, created in the “image and likeness of God” and saved by the precious Blood of Christ, we are actually giving expression to our love of God by loving our neighbor as Jesus loves him, and by loving Jesus in our neighbor. This means we need to help, support, encourage, forgive, and pray for every one of God’s children without discrimination based on color, race, creed, gender, age wealth or social status. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22
Aug 20 Saturday: (St. Bernard, Abbot, Doctor of the Church): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-bernard-of-clairvauxMt 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 fire by the religious leaders of Israel and challenged them, pronouncing eight woes against them, calling them hypocrites and publicly chastening them because they were more concerned about self-promotion than serving others and shepherding God’s Chosen People.
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 be serving 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. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22