March 20-25 weekday homilies

March 20 Monday: (St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

For a brief account, click here: Sm 7:4-5, 12-14, 16; Rom 4:13-14, 18-22; Mt 1: 16, 18-21, 24; Lk 2:41-51): Video:

ST. JOSEPH IN THE HOLY BIBLE: We have the description of St. Joseph only in the Gospels of Mathew and Luke. They present him as Joseph, the just man, the dreamer, and the silent saint who was the custodian and protector of Jesus and Mary, always doing the will of God.

(A) Joseph, the just man: (Matthew. 1:19). In the Biblical sense, a just man is one who faithfully does his duties to God, to lawful authorities, and to his fellow human beings.

(1) Joseph did his duties to God faithfully by obeying His laws revealed through Moses, through his king, and through his foster-son Jesus.

a) He obeyed the Mosaic laws: i) by circumcising and naming Jesus on the 8th day, ii) by presenting Mary with her child in the Temple for the purification ceremony, iii) by making Jesus “son of the Law,” bringing him to the Temple of Jerusalem for the feast of Passover at the age of twelve.

b) He obeyed his King’s law by taking his pregnant wife Mary to Bethlehem for the census ordered by the emperor.

c) He loved, cared for and protected Jesus during the Flight into Egypt (Mt 2:13)and after their return to Nazareth (Mt 2:20), and he and Mary searched for him when he remained in the Temple at the age of 12 when they wen up to Jerusalem for the Passover (Lk 2:44-48) and afther they went back to Nazareth (Lk 2:51-52

(2) Joseph did his duties to others faithfully:

a) to his wifeby giving her loving protection in spite of his previous suspicion about her miraculous pregnancy. He could have divorced her. Pope St. John Paul II: St. Joseph protects Mary “discreetly, humbly, and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand.”

b) to Jesusby loving him as his own son, giving him corrections and praise when merited, and teaching him to be a good, responsible man, training him in his trade, in the Law of Moses and in good conduct (Lk. 2:52).

c) to his neighborsby being an ideal carpenter and good neighbor.

(B) Joseph, the dreamer (like Joseph in the O.T.) received answers to his fervent prayers as dreams. Joseph raised his heart and mind to God in all his needs and dangerous situations in life, besides praising and thanking Him.

Dreaming in the Old Testament was one way God used to communicate His will to men. Joseph received instructions from God through four dreams: i)Do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife” (Mt.1:20); ii)Get up, take the Child and his mother and escape to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you to leave” (Mt. 2:13); iii)Get up, take the Child and his mother, and go back to the land of Israel” (Mt.2:20); iv) as a confirmation of Joseph’s prudent thought of taking Mary and Jesus out of Jerusalem (where a worse ruler might endanger them), and back to Nazareth, a small, out-of- the-way village in the country.

(C) As a silent saint, Joseph always did the will of God and protected and provided for Jesus and Mary. Hence, he continues to protect the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church.

How did Joseph provide this protection and provision? By his unfailing presence and committed fidelity. He did it silently, justly and doing the will of God. He is a silent saint in our noisy world, giving himself to others. He continues to protect those who protect and take care of elderly parents, the aged and the sick in nursing homes. He courageously fulfilled his protective role, starting with his receiving his wife into his home at the angel’s command in a dream and continuing through the flight to Egypt with Mary and the Child and their sojourn there, all the way to Nazareth and their life there, where, at some point, he died peacefully in their presence.

Life Messages: 1) We need to lead saintly lives by becomingfaithful in little things, as St. Joseph was. “Bloom where you are planted” was the favorite advice of St. Francis de Sales. Let us love our profession and do good to others.2)We need to consult God daily in prayer to know His will and to do it. 3)We need to be just, as St. Joseph was, by “giving everyone his or her due.” 4) We need to raise our families in the spirit of the Holy Family and to be responsible, God-fearing, ideal parents like Joseph and Mary. 5) Let us become protectors like St. Joseph, by keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts which are the seat of good intentions that build up ourselves and others, and which prompt us to reject evil intentions that tear everything and everyone down! “We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!” (Pope St. John Paul II). ( L/23

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March 21 Tuesday: Jn 5:1-16: 1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, which has five porticoes. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed.5 One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your pallet, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the Sabbath, it is not lawful for you to carry your pallet.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me said to me, `Take up your pallet, and walk.'” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, `Take up your pallet, and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. 14 Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16 And this was why the Jews persecuted Jesus, because he did this on the Sabbath.

The context: The Jews had three major feasts – the Feast of Tabernacles, the Feast of Passover, and the Feast of Pentecost. Although only adult male Jews living within a 15 mile-radius of Jerusalem were bound to participate in the Passover feast, Jesus went to Jerusalem as a practicing Jew. Today’s Gospel passage describes how Jesus healed a paralyzed man who had been lying near the “Probatic” pool of Bethesda (also called Bethzatha), for 38 years, hoping for a healing when the water was miraculously stirred by an angel. Before granting the healing, Jesus asked the paralytic if he wanted to be healed. The man expressed his intense desire for healing and confessed his inability to crawl to the pond in time. At once, Jesus gave the healing command, “Take up your pallet, and walk,” and the man obeyed.The Pharisees sternly told the healed man that he shouldn’t be carrying his mat as that the day was the Sabbath. The man responded that his healer had told him to but was unable to identify Jesus as that healer when they asked. Later, when Jesus caught up with former paralytic in the Temple and warned him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you!” The former paralytic recognized that it was Jesus who had healed him and reported the fact to the Jews who had earlier questioned him about carrying his mat.

Life message: 1) We, too, will experience miracles in our lives when we approach God with trusting Faith in His power to do the impossible and in His mercy for His children. But we need to express our desire to Him with persevering and fervent prayers. 2) This miracle challenges us to give up the blindness of our heart, the lameness of our mind, and the paralysis of our spirit, and to focus on the positive of God’s unconditional healing and love made visible in Jesus. (Fr. Tony) ( L/23

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March 22 Wednesday: Jn 5:17-30: 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working still, and I am working.” 18 This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath but also called God his Father, making himself equal with God. 19 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all that he himself is doing; and greater works than these will he show him, that you may marvel.

Context: Today’s Gospel passage gives Jesus’ explanation, vindicating himself when he has been accused by the Jews of breaking the Sabbath by healing on that day, and of being a blasphemer, by claiming, as God’s Son, equality with God and the same authority and power as God.

Jesus’ claims and justification: In general, Jesus claims that he is one with the Father in all he does as Mediator, and that there is a perfect understanding between him and his Father in the whole matter. But, at the same time, he is obedient, and so entirely devoted to his Father’s will that it is impossible for him to act separately from his Father in anything. Thus, Jesus claims that his identity with the Father is made visible in his complete obedience: Jesus always does what his Father wants him to do. Then Jesus proves his equality with the Father by doing some works that are the exclusively works of God Who is his Father. For example, it is God’s prerogative to forgive sins, and to raise the dead, restoring them to life, and Jesus exercises these prerogatives. Jesus has received Divine power from the Father to exercise His judgment and authority over life and death. That is why Jesus’ words bring healing and restore life to those who believe in the One Who sent him, and condemnation to those who do not. At the last judgment, all who have heard Jesus’ voice and obeyed his word will be raised to eternal life.

Life message: True Christian life is the surrender of our lives to God with the same love and obedience which Jesus demonstrated for his Father. ( L/23

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March 23 Thursday: (St. Turibius of Mongorvejo) For a short biography, click here: 5:31-47: If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony cannot be verified. But there is another who bears witness to me, and I know that the testimony which he bears to me is true. 33 You sent emissaries 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. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness to me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen; 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe him whom he has sent. 39 You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from men. 42 But I know that you have not the love of God within you. 43 … ..47

The context: In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus defends His Messianic claims. The Jews demanded proofs for Jesus’ Messianic claims, quoting Dt 19:15 which requires two or three witnesses to substantiate a person’s claims. Here, Jesus presents four witnesses who approved His Messianic and Divine claims:1) John the Baptist, 2)his own miracles, 3) his Heavenly Father, and 4) the Hebrew Scriptures (our Old Testament).1) John the Baptist, whom many Jews considered a prophet, bore witness to Jesus as the “Lamb of God” and the Holy One whose paths he had come to prepare. 2) The miracles Jesus worked could only have been done by the power of God his Father. 3) God the Father attested to the Divinity of Jesus at Jesus’ Baptism (cfr. Jn 1:31-34); at the Transfiguration (cfr. Mt 17:1-8), and later, in the presence of the whole crowd (cfr. Jn 12:28-30). 4) The Hebrew Scriptures, especially, the Law and the Prophets, [Toa
& Nebim] bear testimony to Jesus’ Divine and Messianic claims. It was the Spirit of God Who prompted the prophets of the Old Testament to record their Messianic prophecies. Then Jesus identifies four obstacles which prevented the Jews from recognizing him as the Messiah and Son of God: 1) their lack of love of God, 2) their striving after human glory, 3) their prejudiced interpretation of Sacred texts, and 4) their lack of Faith in Moses and the prophets.

Life message: When we have doubts about Faith and the Church’s teachings we need to 1) read the Bible with trusting Faith; 2) pray for an increase of Faith; 3) learn the teachings of the Church, starting with the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the official documents of the Church; 4) accept the mysteries of our Faith, relying on the Divine Authority and veracity of Jesus; and 5) examine how strong our own Christian testimony is. Does our life reflect the light of Christ so much that it brings light to the darkness in others? (Fr. Tony) ( L/23

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March 24 Friday: Jn 7:1-2, 10, 25-30: Judea, because the Jews sought to kill him. 2 Now the Jews’ feast of Tabernacles was at hand. 10 But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private. 25 Some of the people of Jerusalem therefore said, “Is not this the man whom they seek to kill? 26 And here he is, speaking openly, and they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Christ? 27 Yet we know where this man comes from; and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.” 28 So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I come from? But I have not come of my own accord; he who sent me is true, and him you do not know. 29 I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.” 30 So they sought to arrest him; but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come

The context: Today’s Gospel passage describes Jesus’ secret journey to Jerusalem to participate in the Feast of Tabernacles (Booths), amid rumors of his possible arrest. But Jesus courageously made his public appearance in the crowd in Jerusalem and started teaching in the Temple. Naturally, people started wondering why the authorities did not arrest him.

Jesus’ Messianic claim and the Jewish reaction: Jesus made two unique and seemingly blasphemous claims. 1) He claimed that he was the Messiah, God’s Anointed One. 2) Jesus made the additional claim that only he knew God as He is because Jesus had come from God. By this claim, Jesus contradicted the belief of the Jews that they had the perfect and final revelation of God given through Moses and the prophets. In addition, Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah, and the “Son of Man” prophesied by Daniel, with exclusive and intimate knowledge of God was, they thought, nothing but blasphemy. The Jews argued that a mere carpenter-turned-wandering-preacher from Nazareth could not be the Messiah because nobody was supposed to know where the Messiah would come from. According to Jewish belief, the Messiah would emerge quite unexpectedly from Mount Olivet, cross the Kedron Valley, enter the city of Jerusalem, be anointed by Elijah the prophet, take possession of the City and the Temple and establish His Messianic kingdom.

Life messages: 1) Like the Jews, we, too, can be prejudiced and occasionally refuse to accept and follow the teachings of the Church. We need to have the humility to honor the teaching authority of the Church and its guidance by the Holy Spirit.

2) We need to accept Jesus as our Lord and personal Savior, experience him through prayer and the Sacramental life and surrender our lives to him.

3) Like the Jews who expected the surprise appearance of a super-human Messiah we, too, show the tendency to seek God only in miraculous and extraordinary events, ignoring His presence within us and in everyone around us. (Fr. Tony) ( L/23

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March 25 Saturday: (The Annunciation of the Lord)

For a brief account, click here: (Lk 1: 26-38: 26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 ..38…

The Solemnity of the Annunciation is celebrated nine months before the Nativity of the Lord, a feast which came about earlier historically. The Annunciation recalls the day when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary and revealed God’s will that she become the Mother of the Son of God, and she accepted. At that moment, the “Word became Flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1: 14). It is called “Little Christmas” because it commemorates the great day when God entered our world through the incarnation. This is a joyful annunciation because it is aimed towards our salvation. Fulton J Sheen in his book ‘Life of Christ’ says, “Divinity is always where one least expects to find it” (Life of Christ: page 27). It was mother Mary’s humility and sincere heart that made her worthy to be the mother of the creator. Every day, similar annunciations happen. Usually, doctors make an announcement of pregnancy of would be mothers. Then, mothers will announce them to their husbands and other relatives. Usually, it is a moment of joy and excitement.

Historical note: The Eastern Church started celebrating the feast of annunciation in the 5th century, probably about the time of the Council of Ephesus in AD 431. It is mentioned between AD 530 and 533 by Abraham of Ephesus. In the Western Church the first authentic reference is found in the 7th century, fixing it on March 25th, exactly nine months before Christmas.

 Today’s readings explain how God began to keep the promise to a send a redeemer He made to Adam and Eve (Gen 3-15) and His promise to King David through prophet Nathan (II Sam 7: 1216) about his descendant ruling the world in an everlasting kingdom and the promise made to King Ahaz through prophet Isaiah (Today’s I reading: Is 7: 10-14, 8:10) about a virgin bearing a son whose name would be Emmanuel. The second reading (Heb 10: 4-10) explains the purpose of incarnation as doing the will of God in the most perfect way by Christ’s perfect obedience to God his Father’s will, leading to his death by crucifixion and to his glory by his resurrection. The gospel explains the annunciation scene and Mary’s obedient “yes” to the will of God.

 Life messages: 1) We need to be doers of God’s will as Mary did: This feast is a reminder to us of the importance of following God’s will. It is His will which should prevail more than anyone’s will. God knows the best for us. Just like Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, following of God’s will,  we should do the same.  St. Augustine reflecting on the annunciation event reminds us that ‘God created us without our permission, but He will save us only with our consent and permission by cooperating with His Holy will.’

2)  We need to be grateful to God as Mary was, for His love and Mercy: As we are created in the image and likeness of God, and further we became his adopted children through Jesus Christ at the time of baptism. So let us be humble enough to thank God for this great privilege and live like the children of God.

3) We need to be humble instruments in the hands of God by allowing Jesus to be reborn in us and radiate him all around us as agape love and by saying a generous and courageous “yes” to God in our everyday choices and by appreciating God’s plan for us in every event of our life. (L-2023)

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