April 24-29 weekday homilies

April 24-29: Click on http://frtonyshomilies.com for missed homilies:

April 24 Monday: (St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Priest, Martyr):For a short biography, click on:https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-fidelis-of-sigmaringen/ Jn 6:22-29: 22 On the next day the people who remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23 However, boats from Tiberias came near the place where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 So when the people saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”)

The context: Today’s Gospel introduces Jesus’ famous discourse on the Holy Eucharist which emerged within a dialogue between Jesus and the Jews who had gone around the Lake and come to Capernaum searching for him. In answer to their question about his arrival, Jesus challenged them, saying that they were looking for him so they could get another free meal and that such meals would not satisfy them. He also instructed them to labor for food that would give them Eternal Life.

Naturally, the Jews asked Jesus what they should do to get such a food. Since the Jews believed that the Torah was the “bread of life,” many may have thought that Jesus was instructing them to keep the Torah to attain Eternal Life. So, Jesus clarified that they had to do the work of God to attain eternal life; he told them that the “work of God” was not to work miracles for their own sake but to believe in Him as the Son of God, sent to give Eternal Life to those who believed in him. While regular food helps us to stay alive in this world, spiritual food sustains and develops our supernatural life, which will last forever in Heaven. This food, which only God can give us, consists mainly in the gift of Faith in Jesus and in the grace God gives us to live according to Jesus’ teaching. Through God’s infinite love, we are given in the Blessed Eucharist the very Author of these gifts, Jesus Christ, as nourishment for our souls.

Life message: 1) Most of the time, we work for food which only nourishes the body. Jesus teaches that he is the Heavenly food, who nourishes the soul and gives us eternal life in union with God in Heaven. Hence, let us receive this Life-giving food both in the Holy Eucharist and in the Holy Scripture with proper preparation and reverence while repenting of our sins. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/23

For additional reflections, click on: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

April 25 Tuesday: (St. Mark, Evangelist):For a short biography, click on:https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-mark/

April 25 Tuesday: (St. Mark, Evangelist): For a short biography, click on: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-mark/  On April 25, we celebrate the Feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist who is also referred to as John Mark. As an evangelist, he is writer of the earliest of the gospels and the author of the second gospel. According to a first century Father of the Church, known as John the Presbyter, Mark, as the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ. St. Jerome tells us that Mark the disciple and interpreter of Peter wrote a short gospel at the request of the brethren at Rome embodying what he had heard Peter tell.  The symbol for Mark is a lion with wings. That is because his Gospel begins with the story of John the Baptist, a “voice crying in the wilderness” (Mark 1:3), like the roaring of a lion. Lions are called the kings of the jungle. Mark’s Gospel tells us about Jesus’ royalty as God’s Son, a kingship we share through our Baptism.

He played a vital role in spreading the Gospel as a missionary in the early church. He is usually identified with the Mark of Acts 12:12. After the martyrdom of James the son of Zebedee, the Jews caught Peter. But he was miraculously saved from the prison.  Acts 12:12 tells us that when Peter escaped from prison, he went to the home of Mark’s mother. Mark was also    a cousin of Barnabas. Hence Paul and Barnabas took him along on the first missionary journey as a companion. But Mark quit the company of Paul and Barnabas after a while (Acts 13:13) which displeased Paul.   So, later, Paul refused to take him with him on another missionary journey (Acts 15:37-40) while Mark kept the company of his cousin, Barnabas in his missionary journeys. But later Paul while he was in prison, got reconciled with Mark. In his letter to Philemon, Paul introduces Mark as a fellow-worker. Mark had become not only a valuable member of Paul’s circle but also someone personally close to Peter. Taking the gospel which he himself composed, he went to Egypt and first preaching Christ at Alexandria he formed a church so admirable in doctrine and continence of living that he attracted all followers of Christ to his example. He was later appointed the first bishop of Alexandria, in Egypt. He died there sometime between the years 68-74 AD as a martyr for his belief in Jesus.

Jn 16:16-20: 16 “A little while, and you will see me no more; again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 Some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, `A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, `because I go to the Father’?” 18 They said, “What does he mean by `a little while’? We do not know what he means.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him; so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, `A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.

The context: In the Last Supper discourse, Jesus tells the Apostles about leaving them in order to return to his Father and about coming again at the end of time to usher in the new age of God’s kingdom. When they start asking each other the meaning of these statements, Jesus explains to them the hardships they will have to face after his departure and the glorious reward waiting for them in his Second Coming. But as he had consoled them earlier, promising to send a Paraclete, now Jesus assures them that his absence is only temporary.

A little while: Jesus is speaking about a three-level disappearance and reappearance. The first level is Jesus’ death and Resurrection. The apostles will no longer see Jesus when he dies. But they will see Jesus again in three days as their risen Lord. The second level is the mystical level: They will lose sight of Jesus physically when he ascends to the glory of the Father. But they will see Jesus again in many ways by Faith when the Holy Spirit comes (e.g., in the Holy Eucharist, in the Holy Bible, in the praying community, and in people we meet). There is also a third level. Jesus is not now visible physically to the world but will manifest his glory to the whole world when he comes again in glory for the Last Judgment. In the light of eternity, a few thousand years are but an instant, a very short while.

Life messages: 1) Let us try to recognize the presence of the living Lord in our midst here and now. 2) Let us ask Him to help us adjust our daily lives accordingly, so that we, too, may inherit the eternal joy prepared for us. Fr. Tony (frtonyshomilies.com) L/23

For additional reflections, click on: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

April 26 Wednesday: Jn 6:35-40: 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; 39 and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

The context: In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus repeats his claim that he is “the Bread of Life.” He means that, just as God sent manna from heaven to sustain the physical life of his people in the desert, so He has sent His Son Jesus to sustain the spiritual lives of His people. Spiritual life is actually Sanctifying Grace, our living relationship with God the Father, through His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Jesus makes three claims: 1) He claims to be our spiritual Food and offers himself in order to produce God’s life within us. 2) He promises to those who believe in him unbroken friendship with God. 3) Jesus also promises to those who believe in him a share in his own Resurrection at the end of this world and share of Eternal Life with him in Heaven.

Life messages: 1) We need to live dynamic spiritual lives, sharing in God’s Life, Sanctifying Grace, through the Holy Eucharist. 2) We can keep the friendship of Jesus only by leading holy lives free from sin. 3) We can enjoy and share the joy of Jesus’ Resurrection only by realizing and appreciating his presence within us and all around us. Only God can satisfy our deepest needs. Fr. Tony: (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)L-23

For additional reflections, click on: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

April 27 Thursday: Jn 6:44-51: 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, `And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father except him who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

The context: Today’s Gospel passage is the continuation of Jesus’ teaching on the Bread of Life. Jesus declares that he has seen God his Father because he has come from Heaven. Jesus also states that we hear God the Father’s Voice through him and through the Holy Spirit because the Father draws us to Jesus through the Holy Spirit.

Jesus reminds the Jews that they cannot be his disciples unless God his Father draws them to him and teaches them. The Magisterium of the Church has repeated this teaching in Vatican II: "Before this Faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior help of the Holy Spirit, Who moves the heart and converts it to God, Who opens the eyes of the mind and makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth" (Vatican II, Dei Verbum, 5). Once they become his disciples, Jesus will feed their souls with the Bread from Heaven, and this Heavenly Bread is his own Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Eternal Life is reserved for such disciples. This Eternal Life is a Life of love, fellowship, communion, and union with God.

Life message: 1) Holy Communion is the wonderful banquet at which Christ gives himself to us: “The Bread which I shall give for the life of the world is My Flesh.) Hence, let us receive the glorified Body and Blood of the Risen Lord Jesus in the Holy Eucharist with a repentant heart, proper preparation, reverential fear, and grateful joy. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/23

For additional reflections, click on: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

April 28 Friday: Jn 6: 52-59: 52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; 54 he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me.

The context: The Jewish audience for Jesus’ teaching on the Bread of Life were scandalized at his statement that he was going to give them his Flesh to eat, for it suggested to them cannibalism, forbidden in the Jewish Scriptures. Hence, they wanted to know how Jesus could give his Flesh to eat as a means to gain Eternal Life. Jesus asserted that it was a must for them to eat his Body and drink his Blood if they were to receive Divine Life, Eternal Life, and resurrection from the dead. There is no way to interpret Jesus’ words as “simply symbolic,” which would mean that receiving Communion is only a metaphor, and not really eating and drinking the Body and Blood of Christ. Jesus stresses very forcefully that it is necessary for us to receive him in the Blessed Eucharist in order to share in Divine Life and to develop the life of grace we have received in Baptism. “We receive Jesus Christ in Holy Communion to nourish our souls and to give us an increase of grace and the gift of eternal life” (St. Pius X Catechism, # 289). “Really sharing in the body of the Lord in the breaking of the Eucharistic bread, we are taken up into communion with him and with one another.” (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, 7). Jesus adds that eating his Body and drinking his Blood are essential for abiding in him, which is, on this earth, the beginning of the Eternal Life of Heaven. Communion with Jesus enables us to start enjoying Eternal Life with God here on earth, while resurrection gives us eternal life with God forever. St. Thomas Aquinas gives this explanation: “The Word gives life to our souls, but the Word made Flesh nourishes our souls.” (“Commentary on St. John, in loc.”).

Life message: 1) We need to receive Holy Communion with the full awareness that we are abiding in Jesus, carrying him wherever we go. Hence, we are expected to radiate to all around us the love, the mercy, the spirit of service, and the forgiveness of Jesus. Fr. Toy; (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)L 23

For additional reflections, click on: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

April 29 Saturday: (St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church)For a short biography, click on: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-catherine-of-siena : Matthew 11: 25-30: 25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; 26 yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. 27 All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 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: Jesus knew that ordinary people with large, sensitive hearts, rather than proud intellectuals, were able accept the “Good News.” Such people would inherit Heaven rather than the learned and the wise who prided themselves on their intellectual achievements. Hence, in the first part of today’s Gospel Jesus prays in thanksgiving to His Father, praising God for revealing Himself to the simple-hearted, and thus condemning intellectual pride. Jesus’ unique claim: that He Is God’s perfect reflection: No one really knows the Father except the Son, and him to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him” (Matthew 11:27). The claim that Jesus alone can reveal God to men forms the center of the Christian Faith. In another context, In John’s account of the Last Supper conversation, Jesus declares: “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (Jn.14:9). What Jesus says is this: “If you want to see what God is like, if you want to see the mind of God, the heart of God, the nature of God, if you want to see God’s whole attitude toward men–look at Me!”

Invitation to accept Jesus’ easy yoke and light burden: For the Orthodox Jew, religion was a matter of burdens: 613 Mosaic laws and thousands of oral interpretations, which dictated every aspect of life. Jesus invites us to take His yoke upon our shoulders. The yoke of Christ can be seen as the sum of our Christian responsibilities and duties. To take the yoke of Christ upon us is to put ourselves in a relationship with Christ as servants and subjects, and so to choose to conduct ourselves accordingly. By saying that His “yoke is easy” (Matthew 11: 30), Jesus means that whatever God sends us is made to fit our needs and our abilities exactly. The second part of Jesus’ claim, “My burden is light” (Matthew 11:30), does not mean that the burden is easy to carry, but that it is laid on us in love and is meant to be carried in love, and that love makes even the heaviest burden light.

Life message: We need to unload our burdens on the Lord. This is one of the functions of Divine Worship in the Church and the main purpose of our personal and family prayers. These are given to us by God as a time for rest and refreshment, when we let the overheated radiators of our hectic lives cool down before the Lord, unload the burdens of our sins and worries on the altar, and offer them and ourselves to God during the Holy Mass. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/23

For additional reflections, click on: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections