December 12-17 weekday homilies

Dec 12-17:(Click on http://frtonyshomilies.comfor missed homilies)…

Dec 12 Monday: Our Lady of Guadalupe:For a short account, click here: 26-38:Most of us know the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe. On December 9, 1531, an elderly Indian man named Juan Diego (57) had a vision of Mary, the mother of Jesus, at Tepeyac, a poor Mexican Indian village outside Mexico City. Mary directed Juan Diego to tell his Bishop to build a Church in Tepeyac. The Spanish Bishop, however, dismissed the Indian’s tale as mere superstition. But to humor Juan Diego, the Bishop demanded that the visionary bring some sort of proof. Three days later, the Virgin Mary appeared again and told Juan Diego to pick the exquisitely beautiful roses that had miraculously bloomed amidst December snows, and take them as a sign to the Bishop. When Juan Diego opened his poncho (tilma) to present the roses to the Bishop, the flowers poured out from his poncho to reveal an image of the Virgin Mary painted on the inside of the poncho. That image hangs today in the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City and is venerated by thousands of pilgrims from all over the world. This apparition occasioned the conversion of nine million Indians to Christianity in twenty years. Saint John Paul II, who in 1979 became the first pope to visit the shrine in Mexico City, described the Guadalupe event as “the beginning of evangelization with a vitality that surpassed all expectations. It is estimated that ten million pilgrims visit the Basilica every year. The original Church was built in 1533 at la Villa de Guadalupe, the second in 1556 and the third in 1709. The 488-year-old (in 2019) Guadalupe apparition is not only one of the earliest Marian apparitions, but also the only time in history that Our Lady has shared her portrait. Our Lady not only appeared as an indigenous woman, but she also recruited an indigenous native from Cuautitlán to proclaim her message. The Virgin of Guadalupe was declared the Patroness of Latin America by Pope St. Pius X (1907). In 1945, the year that World War II ended, Pope Pius XII looked at the suffering, fragmented world and declared Our Lady of Guadalupe patroness of the Americas. Pope St. John XXXIII (1961) and Pope St. John Paul II (1979) called her Mother of America and Star of Evangelization.

Life messages: 1) The story of the apparition tells us how Jesus, as Emmanuel, and Mary his mother, want to be among us, especially among the poor, the downtrodden and the marginalized in society who have neither voice nor political or social influence. That is why Our Lady appeared to a poor Indian in a village, not as a white woman but as a brown-skinned Indian princess, speaking his native Nahuatal language, and why Mary did not appear to any of the Spanish overlords. God wanted the Basilica in honor of Jesus’ mother built in the village, not in the city. 2) The vision challenges us to listen to the ordinary people who do not look or act like important people and to treat them with reverence. While it is true that God loves each and every one of us, there is a special place in God’s heart for the poor and the powerless – God’s preferential option for the poor. So, the feast challenges us to see and serve Jesus in the poor and the broken-hearted in our communities. (Fr. Tony) ( L/22 Additional reflections:;;

Dec 13 Tuesday: St. Lucy, Virgin, Martyr: For a short biography, click here: Matt: 21: 28-32: 28 “What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he repented and went. 30 And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him; and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him.

The context: Jesus entered Jerusalem, which was to be the scene of all the Passion events he had predicted. After he had cleansed the Temple with prophetic indignation and had started teaching in the Temple area, the priests and the elders approached him and asked for his credentials to teach. Jesus used the parable of two imperfect and disobedient sons to give them a wake-up call. Through this parable, Jesus gave them the warning that, because of their pride and their refusal to obey God’s call to repentance, they would exclude themselves from God’s Kingdom, while the tax-collectors and sinners would repent of their sins and would be accepted there.

In the parable, a man who has two sons tells both to go out to work in the vineyard. The first says he will go but he does not. The second says he won’t go, but later regrets his refusal and goes to work. The second son who first refused to go to work in the vineyard represents the tax collectors and sinners, while the first son who agreed to work but did not go represents the scribes and the Pharisees. The parable gives us the warning that it is our final decision for or against God that is most important, because we are rewarded or punished according to it. The message of the story is crystal clear. There are two very common classes of people in this world. First, there are the people whose profession of Faith is much better than their practice. Second, there are those whose practice is far better than their profession. The ideal son for this parable would be a son who accepted the father’s orders with grace and respect and who unquestioningly and fully carried them out as Jesus did his Father’s will.

Life messages: 1) We need to lead a responsible Christian life, saying “yes” to God. We should become men and women who profess our Faith in word and deed, knowing that, “Not all those who say to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but those who do the will of my Father Who is in Heaven.” 2) The Christian way lies in performance, not just promise, and the mark of a Christian is obedience, graciously and courteously given. (Fr. Tony) ( L/22

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Dec 14 Wednesday: St. John of the Cross, Priest, Doctor of the Church: For a short biography, click here: Luke 7: 18-23: 18 The disciples of John told him of all these things.19 And John, calling to him two of his disciples, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?’” 21 In that hour he cured many of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many that were blind he bestowed sight. 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is he who takes no offense at me.” (Cfr Matt 11: 2-6)

The context: John the Baptist sent a few of his disciples to Jesus to clarify whether he was truly the fiery Messiah John had described, then introduced to the people. Jesus encouraged John the Baptist to cast away the popular expectations about the Messiah and simply to accept Jesus’ healing and preaching ministry as the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah.

Explanations by Bible scholars as to why John sent his disciples to Jesus: 1) John knew that Jesus was the Christ and, as a prisoner, he wanted his disciples to follow Jesus as their new master. Jesus told them a prophecy from Isaiah to help them understand the purpose of his healing miracles. 2) John began to doubt Jesus’ identity as the promised Messiah. The silent healing, preaching, saving, and empowering ministry of Jesus was a surprise to John and to those who expected a fire-and-brimstone Messiah. Nor did Jesus conform to popular Jewish beliefs about a wealthy, warrior-politician Messiah who would bring political, social, and economic deliverance to Israel. Instead, Jesus pronounced blessings on the poor in spirit, the meek, and peacemakers (5:1-11). Jesus called the disciples to love their enemies (5:42-48). Furthermore, Jesus moved away from Jerusalem, the home of the Temple and the center of religious authority and began preaching and healing in Galilee among the common people (4:12). John had proclaimed the power of the coming Messiah to bring in a new age, and instead, he found himself imprisoned in the dungeon of Herod’s prison fortress at Machaerus, southeast of the Dead Sea, wondering why the expected Messiah was not setting him free as Isaiah (61:1) had predicted.

Life messages: 1) We need to learn how to survive a Faith-crisis: If John the Baptist, even after having had a direct encounter with Jesus the Messiah, could come to the point of question, doubt and revision of his Faith, then so can we. 2) Let us remember the truth that all our Christian dogmas are based on our trust and Faith in the Divinity of Jesus who taught them. It is up to us to learn our Faith in depth and to remove our doubts. (Fr. Tony) ( L/22

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Dec 15 Thursday:Lk 7: 24-30: 24 When the messengers of John had gone, he began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 What then did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, those who are gorgeously appareled and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. 26 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.’ 28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29 (When they heard this all the people and the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John; 30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.) The context: Since Jesus’ ministry, as reported to John the Baptist, did not match with his expectations of a fiery Messiah, John wanted to clear his doubts. When he sent his disciples for this purpose, Jesus encouraged John the Baptist to cast away the popular political expectations about the Messiah and simply to accept his healing and preaching ministry as the fulfilling of the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah. When John’s disciples had left, Jesus, paid the highest compliments to John the Baptist as his herald and the last of the prophets, and to the courage with which John had proclaimed his prophetic convictions. John completed the cycle of prophets begun by Elijah (Mt 11:13-14). He had the moral courage to criticize the immoral life of Herod the king with prophetic conviction. He convinced the Jews of his time that they needed to repent and renew their lives to receive the long-expected Messiah into their midst. Then he introduced Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world“ (Jn 1:29), or the true Messiah who would redeem mankind from the bondage of sin. But Jesus declares that his followers are greater than John the Baptist, because by Baptism we are made children of God, heirs of Heaven and temples of the Holy Spirit.

Life messages: 1) We have the same mission as John the Baptist, namely, to bear witness to Christ the Messiah by our exemplary Christian lives in a world controlled by agnostic and atheistic media, by liberal and leftist politicians, and by liberal judges. 2) Hence, we, too, require grace and the courage of our Christian convictions to live a Sacramental life, and exercising a spirit of prayer. (Fr. Tony) ( L/22

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Dec 16 Friday: John 5: 33-36: You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony which I receive is from man; but I say this that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father has granted me to accomplish, these very works which I am doing, bear me witness that the Father has sent me.

The context: In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus is concluding his keynote address, recorded in John 5:19-30. Jesus challenges his doubting Jewish opponents. He presents three witnesses who confirm his identity and Divine authority.

First, Jesus presents John the Baptist, whom many Jews considered a prophet, as his human witness and compliments him, calling him a burning light radiating the light of God. Second, Jesus presents the miracles he works, the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies, as his witness. They prove that the holy Scriptures are his witnesses. Third, Jesus brings God the Father as his witness because Jesus preaches and works signs as instructed by his Heavenly Father. He works signs to fulfill the Scriptures and in obedience to his Heavenly Father. Thus, John the Baptist, Holy Scriptures and his Heavenly Father are Jesus’ witnesses proving his Divine identity and authority.

The implications of our text for today are both comforting and challenging. That Jesus is the final and ultimate revelation of God by which we may judge all other revelation gives Christians confidence. The witnesses to Jesus mentioned in this text are all still available to us: The witness of the Old Testament is obviously still present, but so is the witness of the Baptist and the words and works of Jesus. The latter three come to us in the New Testament, not least in the Gospel of John. In addition, Christians have the witness of the Holy Spirit, who has enabled the Church to understand the revelation of God in Jesus. Faith in Jesus gives believers confidence, joy and peace because of Who He is – the unique Son of God, equal with God.

Life messages: 1) We should rejoice in all that God gives us in Scripture, in the Church and in natural revelation. But to benefit from these gifts of God, we must be humble before God. Let us make real effort to hear and grasp the message of these witnesses to Jesus, understanding the true significance of the Old Testament, John the Baptist and Jesus’ own words and works. (Fr. Tony) L/22:

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Dec 17: Saturday: Mt 1:1-17:1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, 4 and Ram the father of Ammin’adab, and Ammin’adab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Bo’az by Rahab, and Bo’az the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uri’ah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehobo’am, and Rehobo’am the father of Abi’jah, and Abi’jah the father of Asa, 8 and Asa the father of Jehosh’aphat, and Jehosh’aphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzzi’ah, 9 and Uzzi’ah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezeki’ah, 10 and Hezeki’ah the father of Manas’seh, and Manas’seh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josi’ah, 11 and Josi’ah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. 12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoni’ah was the father of She-al’ti-el, and She-al’ti-el the father of Zerub’babel, 13 and Zerub’babel the father of Abi’ud, and Abi’ud the father of Eli’akim, and Eli’akim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eli’ud, 15 and Eli’ud the father of Elea’zar, and Elea’zar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. 17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

The context: Starting with a genealogy was the Jewish way of beginning a biography because the Jews gave importance to the purity of the lineage which made them part of God’s Chosen People. For a noble Jew, the line must be traceable back through five generations, and for a Jewish priest traceable back to Aaron. Matthew presents Jesus’ human ancestry, indicating that salvation history has reached its climax with the birth of the Son of God through Mary by the working of the Holy Spirit. The Jewish genealogies followed the male line. Hence, Joseph, as the husband of Mary, was the legal father of Jesus, and the legal father was on a par with the real father regarding rights and duties. Thus, it is through Joseph, His legal father, that Jesus became the descendant of David. Since the Jews generally married within their clan, the early Fathers of the Church believed that Mary also belonged to David’s family. As a legal son of David, Jesus is the fulfillment of prophecies. The genealogy of Jesus Christ in today’s Gospel is carefully arranged into three groups of fourteen generations each. The three groups are based on 1) the rise of Israel to a great kingdom under David and Solomon, 2) the fall of the nation in the Babylonian exile and 3) the raising of the nation after the exile. The three groups symbolically represent the creation of man in God’s image, the loss of man’s greatness in Adam’s sin and the regaining of greatness through Christ Jesus.

Life messages: 1) We need to accept and support, lift up, and correct the bad members of our family, acknowledging the truth that every family has some black sheep. Jesus’ genealogy mentions a harlot named Rahab, an adulteress named Tamar and a Moabite Gentile woman named Ruth. We need to remember that God can bring good out of the worst persons and circumstances. We need to appreciate our membership in the Divine family of God by Baptism and behave as holy children of a Holy God. (Fr. Tony) ( L/22

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