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April 26- May 1: April 26 Monday: John 10: 1-10: Through today’s gospel, the Church reminds us of our call to become good shepherds of God’s flock and good sheep of His parishes and invites us to pray for vocations to the priesthood, the diaconate and the consecrated life. In today’s Gospel, the two brief parables show us Jesus, first, as a selfless, caring “shepherd” who provides for his sheep protection and life itself, and second, as our unique gateway (“sheep gate“), to eternal salvation. Besides guiding his flock to Eternal Life as the Good Shepherd, Jesus is himself the gateway to Eternal Life. In the first parable of the first part of today’s Gospel contrasts Jesus, the true Shepherd, with fake shepherds, thieves and robbers. Jesus gives us warning against false shepherds and false teachers in his Church. Jesus’ love and concern for each of us must be accepted with trust and serenity because he alone is our Shepherd, and no one else deserves our undivided commitment. As a true Shepherd, he leads his sheep, giving them the food and protection only Jesus, the Good Shepherd, can provide, and he protects us and leads us to true happiness. In the second parable, Jesus compares himself to the Shepherd and to the Gate. The first title represents His ownership because Shepherd is the true owner of the sheep. The second title represents His leadership. Jesus is the Gate, the only Way in or out. He is the One Mediator between God and mankind. All must go through Him, through His Church, in order to arrive in Heaven. By identifying Himself with the sheep-gate, Jesus gives the assurance that whoever enters the pen through Him will be safe and well cared-for. Jesus is the living Door to His Father’s house and Father’s family, the Door into the Father’s safety and into the fullness of life. It is through Jesus, the Door, that we come into the sheepfold where we are protected from the wolves of life. There is safety and security in being a Christian. There is a spiritual, emotional and psychological security and safety when we live within Jesus and his Church, within the protectiveness of Christ, Christian friends and a Christian family.
Life Messages: 1) We need to become good shepherds and good leaders: Everyone who is entrusted with the care of others is a shepherd. Hence, pastors, parents, teachers, doctors, nurses, government officials, and caregivers, among others, are all shepherds. We become good shepherds by loving those entrusted to us, praying for them, spending our time, talents and blessings for their welfare, and guarding them from physical and spiritual dangers. Parents must be especially careful of their duties toward their children, giving them good example and instruction and training them in Christian principles. 2) We need to become good sheep in the fold of Jesus, the Good Shepherd: Our local parish is our sheepfold, and our pastors are our shepherds. Jesus is the High Priest, the Bishops are the successors of the Apostles, the pastors are their helpers and the parishioners are the sheep. Hence, as the good sheep of the parish, parishioners are expected to a) Hear and follow the voice of our shepherds through their homilies, Bible classes, counseling and advice. b) Receive the spiritual food given by our pastors through our regular participation in the Holy Mass, our frequenting of the Sacraments, and our participation in the prayer services, renewal programs and missions they offer. c) Cooperate with our pastors by giving them positive suggestions for the welfare of the parish, by encouraging them in their duties, by offering them loving, constructive correction when they are found misbehaving or failing in their duties, and always by praying for them d) Actively participate in the activities of various councils, ministries and parish associations. 3) We need to pray for vocations. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 21 USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/
April 27 Tuesday: May 5 Tuesday: Jn 10:22-30: Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered round him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness to me; 26 but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; 28 and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/
The context: It was December during the week of the Jewish Feast of the Dedication of the Temple or Hanukkah, a week with the year’s shortest days and longest nights. The feast was also known as the Festival of Lights because during this feast the Jews lighted lamps representing the Mosaic Law and put them in the windows of the houses. Hanukkah served as a remembrance of the cleansing and rededicating of the Temple and its altar by the Jewish military commander Judas Maccabaeus in the year 165 B.C., after he had liberated Jerusalem from the control of the Seleucid Kings of Syria. The Syrian King Antiochus IV Epiphanes had profaned the Temple and its altar. It was during Hanukkah, when Jesus was teaching in Solomon’s portico, that the Jews plotted to trap Jesus by asking him to declare whether or not he was the promised Messiah.
Jesus’ reply: 1) Jesus accuses the Jews of unbelief and challenges them to believe in his Messianic and Divine claims by truthfully assessing his miracles instead of holding to their own personal ideas about the promised messiah as a political liberator. 2) Then Jesus gives the reason why the Jews cannot believe in him. They are not among his sheep. Faith and eternal life cannot be merited by man’s own efforts: they are a gift of God, and the Jews are refusing to accept this gift from God. 3) Jesus gives the assurance that his sheep – his followers – will have eternal life and will not perish because they are protected by God his Father who is stronger than the Evil One. 4) Finally, Jesus declares that he and God the Father are one. In other words, Jesus reveals that He is one in substance with the Father as far as Divine Essence or Nature is concerned, but He also reveals that the Father and the Son are distinct Persons.
Life messages: 1) When doubts about our Faith haunt us, let us try to read more about our Faith, to consult Catholic experts in our locality or on reliable Catholic sources in the Internet and to pray for the light of the Holy Spirit. 2) Let us find protection from the temptations of the Evil One in the sheepfold of the Church by frequenting the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist, by meditative reading of the Bible, by personal prayers, and by works of charity. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 21
April 28 Wednesday (St. Peter Chanel, Priest, Martyr, (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-peter-chanel ), St. Louis Grignion, de Montfort, Priest) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-louis-mary-grignion-de-montfort : Jn 12:44-50: 44 Jesus cried out and said, “whoever believes in me believes not only in me but in Him who sent me. 45 And he who sees me sees Him Who sent me. 46 I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If any one hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings has a judge; the word that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority; the Father who sent me has himself given me commandment what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has bidden me.” USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/
The context: Today’s Gospel text, taken from John’s Gospel, is a passage from the last public discourse of Jesus before his arrest and crucifixion.
The main ideas in the passage are 1) Jesus’ relationship with the Father; 2) Jesus’ role as the Light and Life of the world; and 3) the criteria for His final judgment of us – Heaven or Hell. First, Jesus teaches us that he is one with the Father and he is the image of his invisible Father. He is one with the Father, so that Father speaks through him and operates through him. Hence, those who accept Jesus and his message accept God the Father’s message. Second, Jesus claims that he is the Light and Life of the world. Psalm 27 exclaims, “The Lord is my Light and my salvation!” As Light, Jesus removes the darkness of evil from the world and from our souls, shows us the correct way to go in life, and gives us the warmth of his sharing, sacrificial love. As Light, God’s word enables those with eyes of Faith to perceive the hidden truths of God’s Kingdom. As the Life of the world, Jesus, by his words, produces the very Life of God within those who receive these words with Faith. Third, we are rewarded or punished eternally based on whether or not we accept Jesus and his teachings and whether or not we live our lives accordingly.
Life messages: 1) As Christians our duty is to reflect and radiate the light of Jesus in the darkness of evil around us by acts of sharing love, kindness, forgiveness and humble service. 2) Let us ask for the strength of the Holy Spirit to choose Christ and his ideals every day and to reject everything contrary to Christ’s teachings. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 21
April 29 Thursday (St. Catherine of Sienna, Virgin, Doctor of the Church) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-catherine-of-siena : Jn 13:16-20: 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of you all; I know whom I have chosen; it is that the scripture may be fulfilled, `He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I tell you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives any one whom I send receives me; and he who receives me receives him who sent me.” USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/
The context: Today’s Gospel is the second part of the explanation Jesus gave to his disciples after washing their feet before the Last Supper. He promised his disciples that that whoever listened to them would be listening to him as well, provided his preaching disciples became the humble servants of others.
Gospel lessons: In the first part of today’s Gospel, Jesus emphasizes the fact that the hallmark of his disciples must be their readiness and generosity in offering humble and sacrificial service to others, because that was the model Jesus had given them by his life and especially by washing their feet. It is by serving others that we become great before God. In the second part of today’s Gospel, Jesus shows his apostles how to treat people who are unfaithful and disloyal. Jesus hints at the betrayal of Judas by quoting Psalm 4:9: “He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.” Instead of distancing himself from Judas, Jesus offers him reconciliation, showing him more affection by washing his feet and by giving him a morsel of bread dipped in sauce with his own hand. In the third part, Jesus gives the basis for apostolic succession, stating that one who receives his apostles and messengers receives him, thereby receiving God the Father who sent Jesus.
Life messages: 1) Let us prove that we are true disciples of Jesus by rendering others humble and loving service today. 2) Let us learn to be reconciled with those who offend us by unconditionally pardoning them, by wishing them the very best and by keeping them in our prayers. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 21
April 30 Friday (St. Pius V, Pope): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-pius-v ; Jn 14:1-6: 1 “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/
The context: Jesus consoles his apostles who are sad and disheartened at the prospect of his arrest and crucifixion by assuring them that he is going to prepare an everlasting accommodation for them in his Father’s house in Heaven. He gives them the assurance that he will come back to take them to their Heavenly abodes. It is then that Thomas says to Jesus, “Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus answers Thomas’ question with, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.”
Jesus the Way, the Truth and the Life: The basic doctrine of Judaism is that Yahweh is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Hence, Jesus is making the revolutionary claim that he is equivalent to Yahweh. Jesus declares that he is the safest and surest way to God, thus discrediting the notions that all religions are equally sure ways to reach God, or that no organized religion, but only living a good life of sharing love, is necessary to reach God. Jesus is the Way which he calls narrow, for it is the way of loving, sacrificial service. Jesus is the Truth who revealed truths about God and God’s relationship with man in his teaching. Jesus also taught moral truths by demonstrating them in his life. Jesus is the Life because he himself shares the Eternal Life of God, and because He shares his Divine Life with his disciples through the Word of God and the Sacraments.
Life messages: We should share the Divine Life of God by making use of the means Jesus established in his Church: a) by actively participating in the Eucharistic celebration and properly receiving the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion; b) by the worthy reception of the other Sacraments; c) by the meditative and daily reading of the Word of God; d) by following the guidance of the life-giving Spirit of God, living in the Church and within us; e) by communicating with God the Source of Life, in personal and family prayers and f) by going to God to be reconciled with Him daily by repenting of our sins, by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, at a minimum, when we are in mortal sin (so that we can receive Him in the Eucharist), by forgiving others who offend us, and by asking God’s forgiveness of our own sins. Fr. Tony Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 21
May 1 Saturday (St. Joseph, the Worker): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-joseph-the-worker; Mt 13:54-58: (alt=Jn 15:1-8): Introduction: Today we celebrate the liturgical feast of St. Joseph the Worker to honor St. Joseph, to highlight the dignity and importance of labor and to honor the workers who are dignified by their labor and who bring Christ to their workplace. This is the second feast of St. Joseph; the first was the feast of St. Joseph, husband of Mary and the patron of the universal Church which we celebrated on the 19th of March.
History: In response to the May Day Celebrations of workers in the Communist countries where workers were considered mere “cogs in the machine,” Pope Pius XII (declared Venerable December 19, 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI; Wikipedia), instituted the feast of St. Joseph the Worker in 1955 to Christianize the concept of labor, to acknowledge the dignity of labor and to give all workers a role-model and heavenly patron.
Theology of work: The Bible presents God as a worker (Gen 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”) Who is engaged in the work of creation and of providing for His creatures. God the Father assigns His Son Jesus the work of human redemption and gives the Holy Spirit the work of our sanctification. That is why Jesus said: “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work (John 5: 17). Further, it was God’s command that man should work: “You have to earn your bread by the sweat of your brow” (Genesis 3: 19). Jesus showed us the necessity and nobility of work by working in Joseph’s carpentry shop until he started his public life — a preaching and healing Messianic ministry. The workers are important and their work noble, not only because they obey God’s command to work, but also because they sustain and promote social welfare and the progress of societies.
Joseph as an exemplary worker: Joseph worked to support his family by helping his neighbors, using his skill in carpentry. He was a just worker, honest in his trade of buying wood, selling his finished products and charging for his services. He was a working parent laboring hard to support his family. He was a praying worker who prayed in all his needs, got answers from God in dreams on important occasions, and kept God’s presence in his workshop. He was an obedient worker who kept the Mosaic Law of Sabbath rest and spent the day of rest to take Jesus to the local synagogue and to teach Jesus God’s Law given through Moses.
Life messages: 1) Let us appreciate the dignity of all forms of work and all types of laborers as they glorify God and promote the welfare of society. 2) Let us be sincere and committed to our work as St. Joseph was, working in the constant awareness of the presence of God. 3) Let us love our work and convert it into prayer by offering it for God’s glory. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 21 USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/