December 5-10 weekday homilies

Dec 5-10:(Click on http://frtonyshomilies.com for missed homilies).

Dec 5 Monday: Lk 5: 17-26: 17 On one of those days, as he was teaching, there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. 18 And behold, men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they sought to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; 19 but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. 20 ……. 26 .. (Cfr. Mt 9: 1-8)

The context: Beyond showing Divine authority over temptation, over the lives of men, over nature, over demons and over sickness, in today’s Gospel we see Jesus demonstrating a new form of Divine authority – the authority to forgive sins: Jesus offers a miraculously restored paralyzed man to health as proof. The healing episode presents Jesus as God Incarnate, sent to save us, restore us, and make us new. So we have to look beyond the boundaries of our religious experience if we are to appreciate the healing and forgiving operation of our God in newer and newer ways.

Many kinds of sickness were seen by the Jews as punishment for one’s personal sin or the sins of one’s parents. This man’s paralysis was also seen by the people around him as a punishment for some sin in his own life or in the lives of his parents. It was a common belief that no sickness could be cured until sin was forgiven. For that reason, Jesus had first to convince the paralyzed man that his sins had been forgiven. Once Jesus granted the paralytic the forgiveness of God, the man knew that God was no longer his enemy, and he was able to receive the cure which followed. It was the manner of the cure which scandalized the Scribes. By forgiving sin, they thought Jesus had blasphemed, insulting God, because forgiving sin is the exclusive prerogative of God. In addition to showing Jesus’ own direct connection to God, this healing demonstrates the fact that we can never be right physically until we are right spiritually, that health in body and peace with God go hand in hand.

Life messages: 1) We need God’s forgiveness to live wholesome lives. The heart of the Christian Faith is the “forgiveness of sins.” In the Creed we say, “I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” While we have the power to forgive others, we need to be forgiven ourselves by the One who has the authority to forgive. In Jesus we see this authority, the same authority He gave to his Apostles and so to his Church. 2) Today’s Gospel gives us an invitation to open ourselves to God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and to hear, in the priest’s spoken words of absolution, the Voice of Jesus speaking to the paralytic: “Your sins are forgiven.” 3) The Gospel also instructs us to forgive others their sins against us and to ask God’s forgiveness for our daily sins every day of our lives. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

Dec 6 Tuesday: (St. Nicholas, Bishop): For a short biography, click here: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-nicholasMt 18: 12-14: 12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14 So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

The context: Since the self-righteous Pharisees who accused Jesus of befriending publicans and sinners could not believe that God would be delighted at the conversion of sinners, Jesus told them the parable of the lost sheep and the shepherd’s joy on its discovery, the parable of the lost coin and the woman’s joy when she found it, and the parable of the lost and returned son and his Father’s joy on his return. These three parables defended Jesus’ alliance with sinners and responded to the criticism that he was welcoming tax collectors and sinners. The central theme of today’s Gospel is that our God is loving, patient, merciful, and forgiving. This parable reminds us that we have a God who welcomes sinners and forgives their sins when they return to Him with genuine contrition and resolution to amend their lives.

Shepherding in Judaea was a hard, dangerous task. Pasture was scarce; thorny scrub jungles with wild animals, and vast desert areas were common, posing constant threats to the wandering sheep. But the shepherds were famous for their dedicated, sacrificial service, perpetual vigilance, and readiness for action. Two or three shepherds might be personally responsible for the sheep owned by several families in a village. If any sheep were missing, one of the shepherds would go in search of it, sending the other shepherds home with the flock of sheep. The whole village would be waiting for the return of the shepherd with the lost sheep and would receive him with shouts of joy and of thanksgiving.

Life messages: 1) We need to confess our sins to regain peace and God’s friendship. We have to be humble enough to recognize that we need God’s forgiveness to be whole. If we have been in sin, our God is ready to receive and welcome us back, just as Jesus welcomed sinners in his time. Let us pray today that we may allow God’s love and forgiveness into our lives.

2) We should also ask God for the courage to extend this forgiveness to others who have offended us. As we continue with the celebration of the Holy Mass, let us pray also for God’s Divine Mercy on those who have fallen away from grace. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

Dec 7 Wednesday: (St. Ambrose, Bishop, Doctor of the Church): For a short biography, click here:https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-nicholas : Mt 11: 28-30: 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

The context: In today’s Gospel, Jesus offers rest to those who labor and are burdened, if they are ready to accept his easy yoke and light burden. For the Orthodox Jew, religion was a matter of burdens, namely, 613 Mosaic laws and thousands of oral interpretations, which dictated every aspect of life. Jesus invites the overburdened Israel, and us, to take his yoke upon our shoulders. In Palestine, ox-yokes were made of wood and were carved to fit the ox comfortably. The yoke of Christ can be seen as the sum of our Christian responsibilities and duties. Jesus’ yoke is light because it is given with love. It is the commandment to love others as Jesus did. Besides, the yoke of Christ is not just a yoke from Christ but also a yoke with him. So, we are not yoked alone to pull the plow by our own unaided power. We are yoked together with Christ to work with him using his strength. Jesus is inviting each one of us to be yoked with him, to unite our life with him, our will with his will, our heart with his heart. By saying that his “yoke is easy,” Jesus means that whatever God sends us is made to fit our needs and our abilities exactly.

The second part of Jesus’ claim is: “My burden is light.” Jesus does not mean that his burden is easy to carry, but that it is laid on us in love. This burden is meant to be carried in love, and love makes even the heaviest burden light. By following Jesus, one will find peace, rest, and real refreshment. We are burdened with many things: business, concerns about jobs, marriage, money, health, children, security, old age, and a thousand other things. Jesus is asking us to give him our burdens and take on his yoke. By telling us, “Take my yoke . . . and you will find rest,” Christ is asking us to do things the Christian way. When we are centered in God, when we follow God’s commandments, we have no heavy burdens.

Life messages: 1) We need to be freed from unnecessary burdens: Jesus is interested in lifting off our backs the burdens that drain us and suck the life out of us, so that he can place around our necks his own yoke and his burden, that bring to us, and to others through us, new life, new energy, new joy.

2) We need to unload our burdens before the Lord. One of the functions of worship for many of us is that it gives us a time for rest and refreshment, when we let the overheated radiators of our hectic lives cool down before the Lord. This is especially true when we unload the burdens of our sins and worries and evil addictions on the altar and offer them to God during the Holy Mass. (Fr. Kadavil) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

Dec 8 Thursday: (The Immaculate Conception of Blessed Virgin Mary)

(A day of obligation in the U. S.) For a short account, click here:https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/immaculate-conception-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary: Lk 1: 26-38: (U.S.A: A holy day of obligation in 2020)

Mary’s prophecy, given in her Magnificat, “Behold all generations will call me blessed,” was fulfilled when the Catholic Church declared four dogmas of Faith about her: 1-The Immaculate Conception, 2-The Perpetual Virginity, 3-The Divine Maternity, 4-The Assumption. The Immaculate Conception is a dogma based mainly on Christian tradition and theological reasoning. It was defined in 1854 by Pope Pius IX as a dogma of Faith through Ineffabilis Deus. Definition: From the first moment of her conception, Mary was preserved immune from original sin by the singular grace of God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race. (CCC #491). This means that original sanctity, innocence and justice were conferred upon her, and that she was exempted from all the evil effects of original sin, excluding sorrow, pain, disease and death which are temporal penalties given to Adam. (Catholic Encyclopedia).

Basis on Tradition and the Bible: (A) Basis in Church tradition: The Immaculate Conception is a dogma originating from sound Christian tradition. Monks in Palestinian monasteries started celebrating the feast of the Conception of Our Lady by the end of the 7th century. The feast spread as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in Italy (9th century), England (11th century), and France (12th century). Pope Leo VI propagated the celebration, and Pope Sixtus IV approved it as a Feast. Finally, in 1854, Pope Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception to be a dogma of Faith. Mary herself approved this in 1858 by declaring to Bernadette at Lourdes, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” (B) Basis in Holy Scripture: 1) God purified the prophet Jeremiah in the womb of his mother (Jer 1:5 –“Before I formed you in the womb of your mother I knew you and before you were born, I consecrated you”), and anointed John the Baptist with His Holy Spirit before John’s birth as John’s mother attests. (Lk 1:43-44 – “And how does this happen to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.” Hence, it is reasonable that God kept the mother of His Son free from all sins from the first moment of her origin. 2) The angel saluted Mary as “full of grace.” The greeting means that she was never, even for a moment, a slave of sin and the devil. 3) Gn 3:15 — “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and hers; He will strike at your head while you strike at His heel.” The woman stands for Mary, and the promise would not be true if Mary had original sin. (C)-Basis in reasoning: 1-If we were allowed to select our mother, we would select the most beautiful, healthy and saintly lady. So did God. 2-The All-Holy God cannot be born from a woman who was a slave of the devil, even for a moment in her life. “Deus potuit, decuit, fecit.” (Don Scotus).

Life messages: 1) Every mother wants her children to inherit or acquire all her good qualities. Hence, our Immaculate and holy Heavenly Mother wants us to be holy and pure children. 2) Let us honor her by practicing her virtues of Faith and obedience. 3) Let us respond to God’s grace by using it to do good to others. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

Dec 9 Friday: (St. Juan Diego Cuhtlatoatzin)au): For a short biography, click here: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-juan-diego Matt 11: 16-19: 16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places and calling to their playmates, 17 `We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’ 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, `He has a demon’; 19 the Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, `Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” (Cfr. Luke 7: 31-35).

The context: The message of John the Baptist and the message of Jesus fell on deaf ears and met with stiff resistance from the self-righteous Scribes and the Pharisees because of their jealousy, prejudice, and spiritual blindness. Hence, they attributed the austerities of John the Baptist to the devil and Jesus’ table fellowship with sinners as the behavior of a glutton and a drunkard, evidence contraindicating any Messianic possibility. In today’s Gospel, Jesus compares these Scribes and Pharisees to irresponsible street-children.

Dog-in-the-manger attitude: Jesus compares the attitude of the Scribes and the Pharisees to that of street-children who want to entertain themselves by playing wedding and funeral songs. They divide themselves into two groups. But when one group proposes to sing wedding songs and asks the other group to dance, the second group will propose funeral songs and ask the first group to carry one of them on their shoulders as they act out a funeral procession. In the end both groups will be frustrated. Jesus states that the Scribes and Pharisees act exactly like these irresponsible and immature children because of their pride and prejudice. Jesus criticizes the unbelieving Jews for not listening either to John the Baptist, who preached a message of austerity and repentance, or to Jesus preaching the Good News of love, mercy, and salvation.

Life messages: 1) Jesus’ parable about disappointed playmates challenges us to examine ourselves to see if we are buffet Catholics with selective hearing, so that we hear only what we want to hear. Jesus’ message of the kingdom of God is Good News and it produces true joy and spiritual freedom for those who will listen, but it is also a warning for those who refuse to listen and close their minds.

2) Hearing the Gospel implies the total acceptance and assimilation of what we hear and the incorporation of it into our daily lives. Like the generation of Jesus’ time, our age is marked by indifference and contempt, especially in regard to the things of Heaven. Indifference dulls our ears to God’s voice and to the Good News of the Gospel. Only the humble of heart can find joy and favor in God’s grace. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

Dec 11 Saturday: (Our Lady of Loretto): For a short account, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BA7TPU2DQI; For a short history, click herehttps://www.ourladyofloreto.org/historyMatthew 17: 9-13: 9 And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of man is raised from the dead.” 10 And the disciples asked him, “Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” 11 He replied, “Elijah does come, and he is to restore all things; 12 but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not know him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of man will suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.

The context: Today’s Gospel describes the warning and instruction given by Jesus to Peter, James, and John as they were coming down the mountain after witnessing Jesus’ Transfiguration. Jesus forbade them to give any publicity to what they had seen, because people were expecting a conquering political messiah with Elijah as his forerunner, and a powerful reformer who would destroy evil and restore justice in the land for the Messiah to rule.

The Expected Messiah. Then Jesus indicated that He was the expected Messiah, and that John was the Elijah they had been waiting for. John’s mission had been to prepare the way for the first coming of the Messiah, as Elijah’s mission would be to prepare the world for the Messiah’s second coming at the end of the world. The scribes misunderstood and taught that Elijah would come before the first coming of the Messiah. But Jesus told the disciples that (for those who were willing to believe it), John the Baptist had served as Jesus’ Elijah in announcing and preparing the people to receive a Messiah, who would fulfill the Messianic mission not by political power, but by suffering and death.

Life messages:1) Let us accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, Who became our Messiah by dying for us on the cross. 2) We do so by cooperating with our Savior in our eternal salvation, by obeying Jesus’ commandment of love and by following the instructions given by the Church Jesus founded. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections