Feb 6 :Monday: (Saint Paul Miki and Companions, Martyrs) For a short biography, click on https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-paul-miki-and-companions ; Mk 6: 53-56: 53 And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret, and moored to the shore. 54 And when they got out of the boat, immediately the people recognized him, 55 and ran about the whole neighborhood and began to bring sick people on their pallets to any place where they heard he was. 56 And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and besought him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment; and as many as touched it were made well.
The context: Gennesaret was a tract of land four miles long on the western border of the Sea of Galilee, lying between current day Tabgha and ancient Magdala. Known as the “Paradise of Galilee,” the land was rich soil for farmers to grow walnuts, dates, olives, figs, and grapes and it was a fishing center as well. Today’s Gospel passage describes the reaction of the people of Gennesaret when the healing and preaching miracle-worker, Jesus, unexpectedly landed on their shore. They considered it a golden opportunity to hear his message and to get all their sick people healed by bringing them to Jesus with trusting Faith in his Divine power. They were confident that even touching Jesus’ garment would heal the sick. Actually, they may have been more interested in using the healer to heal their sick people than in hearing Jesus’ preaching. Our innate human tendency is to use others to get something from them. We make use of God when we call Him only when we are in need or when we are sick or when tragedy strikes us. Some of us make use of the Church only to get baptized, married and buried. Often, we make use of our friends to get their company, help and support. Sometimes even grown-up children make use of their parents’ home for eating and sleeping without returning anything to their parents, who might rightly expect, but do not ask, a return, from them.
Life message: 1) A healing greater than physical healing is available to us especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Hence, we should have a much deeper desire to seek out Jesus in the confessional than the people of Jesus’ day had for physical healing. 2) Instead of making use of God, let us learn to live in His presence, and recognize His presence in others in the community. 2) When we present our needs before Him, let us do so with expectant Faith and gratitude, and promise Him with the help of His grace that we will do His will. 4) Let us also “scurry” to Mass, scurry to bring people to Jesus, or scurry to say prayers with your children at night? Do we scurry to see the face of Jesus in our neighbors? Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/23
Feb 7 Tuesday: Mk 7:1-13 : 1 Now when the Pharisees gathered together to him, with some of the scribes, who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they wash their hands, observing the tradition of the elders; 4 and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they purify themselves; and there are many other traditions which they observe, the washing of cups and pots and vessels of bronze.) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with hands defiled?” 6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, `This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ 8 You leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men.” 9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God, in order to keep your tradition! 10 For Moses said, `Honor your father and your mother’; and, `He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die’; 11 but you say, `If a man tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is Korban’ (that is, given to God) — 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God through your tradition which you hand on. And many such things you do.”
The context: Today’s Gospel passage describes Jesus’ confrontation with the Scribes and the Pharisees sent from Jerusalem by the Jewish religion’s Supreme Court, the Sanhedrin, to assess Jesus’ “heretical teachings.” Their first question to Jesus was why he did not command his disciples to do the ritual washing of hands before meals or during a banquet. Ex 30:17ff had laid down rules for how the priests should wash their hands before offering sacrifice. Jewish tradition had extended this purification to all Jews before every meal, in an effort to give meals a religious significance. Ritual purification was a symbol of the moral purity a person should have when approaching God. One should have a clean conscience and clean mind. But the Pharisees had focused on the mere external rite. Therefore, Jesus restored the genuine meaning of these precepts of the Law, the purpose of which was to teach the right way to render homage to God.
Jesus’ explanation: Jesus shocked his questioners by accusing them of hypocrisy and giving lip-service to God while ignoring His teachings, replacing them with man-made interpretations. As an example, Jesus pointed out how they were cleverly evading God’s commandment to honor one’s parents by falsely interpreting the precept of Korban. According to their interpretation, one could be freed from taking care of one’s parents in their old age by declaring the money or property meant for their support as “Korban,” or a special offering to God. Jesus told them that the true source of defilement was a person’s heart and mind. True religion should not be mere external observances disconnected from the mind and the intentions.
Life messages: 1) We need to remember that the essence of religion is a personal relationship with God and with our fellow-human beings, not merely the external observances of religion. 2) God expects from us that generosity and good will which urge us to practice more mercy, offer more kindness, show more willingness to forgive offenses, and exercise more readiness to serve others lovingly and sacrificially. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/23
Feb 8 Wednesday: [Saint Jerome Emiliani)For a short biography, click onhttps://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-jerome-emiliani & (Saint Josephine Bakhita, Virgin) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-josephine-bakhita : Mk 7:14-23: 14 And he called the people to him again, and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 there is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him.” 17 And when he had entered the house, and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a man from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters, not his heart but his stomach, and so passes on?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. 21. From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,22adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.23All these evils come from within and they defile.” All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man
The context: Today’s Gospel passage continues Jesus’ explanation to the public of his revolutionary views on the ritual washing of hands before meals. The Law (Ex 30:17ff) had laid down how priests should wash before offering sacrifice. Jewish tradition had extended this to all Jews before every meal in an effort to give meals a religious significance. Ritual purification was a symbol of the moral purity a person should have when approaching God. But the Pharisees had focused on the mere external rite. For Jesus, true religion should not be mere external observances disconnected from the mind and the intentions.
Jesus’ explanation: Jesus shocked the people by his plain statement: ” … there is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him.” In other words, Jesus made the shocking declaration that all the ritual food laws of the Old Testament about Kosher food were null and void! For Jesus, those laws were intended to teach the people of the Old Covenant the importance of offering acceptable sacrifice and worship to God with a clean conscience and clean mind, with clean thoughts and clean deeds. Hence, the true source of defilement is a person’s heart and mind because “out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.”
Feb 9: Thursday: Mk 7:24-30:24 And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house, and would not have any one know it; yet he could not be hid. 25 But immediately a woman, whose little daughter was possessed by an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And he said to her, “Let the children first be fed, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 And he said to her, “For this saying you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 And she went home, and found the child lying in bed, and the demon gone.
well as for the Jews by healing the daughter of a Gentile woman as a reward for the mother’s strong Faith. Thus, Jesus shows that God’s mercy and love are available to all who call out to Him in Faith.
This is one of the two miracles of healing Jesus performed for Gentiles. The other is the healing of the centurion’s servant. (Mt 8:10-12). These miracles foreshadowed the future preaching of the Gospel to the whole world. Jesus first ignored both the persistent cry of the woman and the impatient demand of his disciples that the woman be sent away. Jesus then tried to awaken true Faith in the heart of this woman by an indirect refusal. We notice that the woman was refused three times by Jesus before he granted her request. Finally, the fourth time, her persistence was rewarded, and her plea was answered. She recognized Jesus as the Messiah (the Son of David) and expressed her need in clear, simple words. She persisted, undismayed by obstacles, and she expressed her request in all humility: “Have mercy on me.” (Navarre Bible commentary). Jesus was completely won over by the depth of her Faith, her confidence and her wit, and responded exuberantly, “Woman, great is your Faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”
Life messages: 1) We need to persist in prayer with trustful confidence. Christ himself has told us to keep on asking him for what we need: “Ask and you shall receive.” Asking with fervor and perseverance proves that we have “great Faith.” We must realize, and remember, that we do not always get exactly what we have asked for, but rather what God knows we need and what is really best for us at the most appropriate time.
2) We need to pull down our walls of separation and share in the universality of God’s love. 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 that the walls which we raise by our pride, intolerance and prejudice may crumble Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/23
Feb 10: Friday: (Saint Scholastica, Virgin) For a short biography, click on https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-scholastica:Mk 7:31-37: 31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, through the region of the Decapolis. 32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech; and they besought him to lay his hand upon him. 33 And taking him aside from the multitude privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue; 34 and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 And he charged them to tell no one; but the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well; he even makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.”
The context: Today’s Gospel describes how Jesus, by healing a deaf and mute man, fulfilled Isaiah’s Messianic prophecy, “The eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped”(Isaiah 35:5). The Gospel invites us to become humble instruments of healing in Jesus’ hands by giving a voice to the needy and the marginalized in our society. It also challenges us to let our ears be opened to hear the word of God, and to let our tongues be loosened to convey the Good News of God’s love and salvation to others. Through this miracle story, Mark’s account also reminds us that no one can be a follower of the Lord without reaching out to the helpless (“preferential option for the poor”).
The miracle is described in seven ritual-like steps: (1) Jesus leads the man away from the crowd; (2) puts his fingers into the man’s ears; (3) spits on his own fingers; (4) touches the man’s tongue with the spittle; (5) looks up to Heaven; (6) sighs; (7) and speaks the healing command: “Ephphatha” (“be opened.”). Jesus carries out this elaborate ritual probably because the dumb man could not hear Jesus’ voice nor express his needs. Jesus applies a little saliva to the man’s tongue because people in those days believed that the spittle of holy men had curative properties. The miracle is about the opening of a person’s ears so that he will be able to hear the word of God, and the loosening of his tongue so that he will be able to profess his Faith in Jesus.
Life messages: 1) Jesus desires to give us his healing touch in order to loosen our tongues so that he may speak to the spiritually hungry through us. Jesus invites us to give him our hearts so that, through us, he may touch the lives of people in our day.
2) We must allow Jesus to heal our spiritual deafness and muteness because otherwise we may find it hard to speak to God in prayer and harder still to hear Him speaking to us through the Bible and through the Church.
3) Let us imitate the dumb man in the Gospel by seeking out Jesus, following him away from the crowd, spending more of our time in getting to know him intimately through studying the Holy Scriptures and experiencing him personally in our lives through prayer. The growing awareness of the healing presence of Jesus in our lives will open our ears and loosen our tongues. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/23
For a short account, click on https://www.franciscanmedia.org/our-lady-of-lourdes/; Mk 8:1-10 : https://www.franciscanmedia.org/our-lady-of-lourdes/and the 29th World Day of the Sick (introduced by Pope St.John Paul II in 1992):It was four years and two months after the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception by Blessed Pope Pius IX (1854) that Mary appeared for the first time on February 11, 1858, to St. Bernadette Soubirous in the grotto at Massabielle, in Lourdes, France. Bernadette, a 14-year-old peasant girl was the oldest daughter among the six children of Francois Soubirous and Louise Casterot. One day Bernadette went to the rocky area to collect firewood with her sister and a friend. It was when she was left behind by the other two near a big rock that Bernadette heard a loud noise. As she turned to investigate, she caught sight of a very beautiful Lady clothed in white with a rosary hanging on her arm standing in a grotto in the rock wall. The beautiful Lady smiled at her and summoned her to pray the rosary and they prayed together. Bernadette received 18 apparitions of our Lady starting in February and ending in July 1858. (Watch the movie: Song of Bernadette:https://youtu.be/wLKFAKIfn-w )
On the 18th appearance the Holy Virgin gave the young visionary the answer to her pastor’s question, “Who are you?” In the local language Mary said, ‘I am the Immaculate Conception.”During her previous appearances, theBlessed Virgin Mary had instructed Bernadette to tell people to pray and do penance. All must pray especially for the conversion of sinners. Our Lady instructed Bernadette to go and tell her pastor that she wished a chapel to be built on the spot and processions to be made to the grotto. But it wasn’t until four years later, in 1862, that the Bishop of the diocese declared the faithful “justified in believing the reality of the apparition,” and Pope Pius IX authorized him to permit the veneration of the Virgin Mary in Lourdes. A basilica was built upon the rock of Massabielle by the parish priest in 1865. It was consecrated, and the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes was solemnly crowned. In 1883 the foundation stone of another Church was laid, as the first was no longer large enough. It was built at the foot of the basilica, was consecrated in 1901, and was named the Church of the Rosary. Pope Leo XIII authorized a special office and a Mass, in commemoration of the apparition, and in 1907 Pius X extended the observance of this feast to the entire Church to be observed on 11 February. Since apparitions are private revelation and not public revelation, Catholics are not bound to believe them. However, all recent Popes have visited the Marian shine. Benedict XV, Pius XI and St. John XXIII went there as bishops, Pius XII as papal delegate. Pope Pius XII also issued a Lourdes encyclical on the 100th anniversary of the apparitions in 1958. Pope St. John Paul II visited Lourdes three times, Pope Benedict XVI completed a visit there on 15 September 2008 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the apparitions, and Pope Francis visited Lourdes in 2015.
Life Messages: The 30th World Day of the Sick will be observed on February 11, 2022. This day serves the purpose of reminding the members of the Church of the healing ministry of the Church. It reminds us of our Christian obligation to attend to the sick and the suffering around us. 2) This is a day to show our gratitude to the caregivers, the doctors, the nurses, the health care workers, the pastoral ministers and all those who strive to restore the physical and spiritual health of the sick Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20 Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/23