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Aug 24-29: Aug 24 Monday (St. Bartholomew/Nathaniel, Apostle) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-bartholomew/ : Friday Jn 1:43-51: 43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. And he found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” USCCB video reflections:
The context: In today’s Gospel of John (John 1:43-51), Nathanael, also called Bartholomew or “son of Tholomay,” is introduced as a friend of Philip. He is described as initially being skeptical about the Messiah coming from Nazareth, saying: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” But he accepts Philip’s invitation to meet Jesus. Jesus welcomes him saying, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” Jesus’ comment, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you” is probably based on a Jewish figure of speech referring to studying the Torah because the rabbi used to give Bible classes for small groups under the shade of fig trees. Nathanael immediately recognizes Jesus as “the Son of God” and “the King of Israel.” Nathanael reappears at the end of John’s Gospel (John 21:2), as one of the disciples to whom Jesus appeared at the Sea of Tiberius after his Resurrection from the tomb. The Gospels thus present Bartholomew as a man with no malice and lover of Torah with openness to truth and readiness to accept the truth. Nathanael was the first Apostle to make an explicit confession of Faith in Jesus as the Messiah and as the Son of God.
Life messages: 1) Let us pray for the grace to love the word of God as Bartholomew did. 2) Let us also pray that we may accept the teaching of the Bible and the Church with open heart and open mind, without pride or prejudice. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
Aug 25 Tuesday (St. Louis IX, King of France; https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-louis-of-france/ St. Joseph Calasanz, Priest) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-joseph-calasanz/ : Scripture: Mt 23: 23-26: 23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and rapacity. 26 You blind Pharisee! first cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate, that the outside also may be clean. USCCB: https://youtu.be/jQLh1buGMkQ?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DCsxhgfi2_b_c88OjjSNmW6
The context: Chapter 23 of Matthew’s Gospel presents the rolling thunder of Jesus’ anger and sorrow at the blatant hypocrisy of the Pharisees, in the form of a series of eight denunciations. Today’s Gospel passage contains the fourth, fifth, and sixth charges: unauthorized extra tithing, exaggerated zeal for the Law and undue emphasis on external cleanliness as a cheap substitute for internal purity. For Jesus, the essence of religion is offering a clean heart to God, a heart filled with love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness. Mere external observance of rituals without cleansing the heart is hypocrisy.
The fourth of the eight accusations is that the Pharisees practice non-required and silly tithing of herbs in the kitchen garden, while they fail to observe “the weightier matters of the Law, Justice, Mercy and Faith,” thus missing the spirit of tithing. Tithing was intended to acknowledge God’s ownership of all our possessions, to support the Temple worship, and to help the poor in the Jewish community. The fifth denunciation is of their exaggerated zeal for observing the letter of the Law, for instance filtering the drinks to avoid unclean insects, while committing serious sins without any prick of conscience. The sixth indictment is of their exaggerated zeal for ritual, external cleanliness while they leave their minds and hearts filled with pride, evil intentions, prejudice and injustice and do not practice mercy or offer compassion to suffering people.
Life message: 1) Let us not be pharisaical in our religious life by meticulously practicing external observance of piety and devotion while remaining unjust, uncharitable, arrogant, impatient, cruel, stubborn, irritable, and judgmentalWe are tempted to hide the bad things about ourselves and advertise the good things. So, the bad things grow, and the good things are dissipated. Let us try to have noble intentions for all our good deeds. Let us learn to love God living in others by rendering them sacrificial service with agápe love. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/19
Aug 26 Wednesday: Matthew 23:27-32: 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. 29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, `If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/85gQhIQUJSQ?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DCsxhgfi2_b_c88OjjSNmW6
The context: Today’s passage, again taken from chapter 23 of Matthew’s Gospel, gives the seventh and eighth accusations Jesus made against the Pharisees on the third day of the original “Holy Week” in Jerusalem, as he addressed them in the Temple precincts. Jesus told them plainly that they were whitewashed tombs containing rotten stuff inside.
Hypocrisy exposed: Jesus compared the scribes and Pharisees to the tombs on the sides of the road leading to Jerusalem. In preparation for the three major Jewish feasts, the Scribes and Pharisees used to have these tombs whitewashed, so that the pilgrims would not be ritually defiled by unknowingly walking over one. In this seventh charge, Jesus accused the Pharisees of moral filth, of hiding injustice and immorality inside themselves and covering the corruption with “whitewash” — the pretenses of piety and religious fervor. In his eighth and final indictment, Jesus also criticized their false zeal in decorating the old monuments and rebuilding new monuments for the past prophets who had been persecuted and murdered by the forefathers of the Pharisees because these modern Pharisees had neither learned nor been changed by the messages of the now-dead prophets.
Life messages: 1) We need to be men and women of integrity and character without any element of hypocrisy in our Christian life. 2) We should not make a show of holiness and religious fervor when we are not internally holy. Here is St. John Chrysostom’s (4th century) comment on the matter: “You have been counted worthy to become temples of God. But you have instead suddenly become more like sepulchers, having the same sort of foul smell. This is dreadful. It is extreme wretchedness that one in whom Christ dwells and in whom the Holy Spirit has worked such great works should turn out to be a sepulcher, a place for death, carrying a dead soul – a soul deadened by sins, a soul paralyzed – in a living body.” (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
Aug 27 Thursday (St. Monica): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-monica/ Matthew 24: 42-51: 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, `My master is delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eats and drinks with the drunken, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, 51 and will punish him, and put him with the hypocrites; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/u-CY5mJgLro?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DCsxhgfi2_b_c88OjjSNmW6
The context: The central theme of today’s Gospel passage is the necessity for Faith and vigilant preparedness in the lives of Christ’s followers. The passage contains a pair of short parables in which the chief characters are a master (representing the risen Jesus), and his servants (Jesus’ followers, ourselves). Jesus warns his disciples that they must be prepared at all times because the Son of Man will come at an unexpected hour. According to the Fathers of the Church, Jesus’ words in this passage have two senses. In the narrower sense, the words refer to the Second Coming of Jesus, but in the broader sense they refer to the time of our own death, when God will call us to meet Him and to give Him an account of our life on earth. Jesus wants his disciples to be ready at every moment to do God’s will by loving others through humble, sacrificial service.
Steadfast Faith and eternal vigilance: In the first part of this discourse, prior to today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches his followers the need for constant vigilance, using the mini parable of the thief and the treasure. We should not lose our treasure of Divine grace or close relationship with Jesus, like the man who awoke one morning to discover that a thief had stolen his wealth in the night. In the second part (today’s Gospel), Jesus exhorts his followers to be steadfast in their Faith and ever vigilant. When he had to be away from home, a master would make a servant his steward and entrust to him the management of the household. A trusted steward was expected to run his master’s house well, to govern the master’s servants, and to administer the master’s estate. When his master was not at home, a wise and trustworthy steward was ever vigilant. He prepared himself for his master’s return at any time of the day or night by always doing his duties faithfully. Jesus illustrates the same point by using another mini parable of the foolish and wicked steward who got drunk and was caught red-handed by his master.
Life message: 1) These parables encouraging “wakefulness” and “preparedness” are addressed to all believers. Since the time of our death is quite uncertain, we, too, must be ever ready to meet our Lord at any moment. Our Master should find us carrying out our tasks of love, mercy and service, rather than leaving things undone or half-done or postponed. He should also find us at peace with God, ourselves and with our fellowmen (Eph 4:26) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
Aug 28 Friday (St. Augustine, Bishop, Doctor of the Church) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-augustine-of-hippo/ : Mt 25:1-13: 1 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, `Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, `Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise replied, `Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, `Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 …13 USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/Jw-oq1vhm7U?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DCsxhgfi2_b_c88OjjSNmW6
The context: Today’s parable, taken from Matthew’s Gospel, brings the usual warnings about preparation for the end of our own world, the end of our own times, and our own passage to another world. The parable tells us that a searching, watching, and growing heart is essential for a lively, dynamic Faith in God; it also asks us whether we are ready for these events and how we are preparing for them.
The parable: Since a wedding was a great occasion, the whole village would line up at the sides of the road to wish God’s blessings on the bride and groom in procession. The invited ones would join the procession, which started from the bride’s house, and ended at the groom’s house to take part in the week-long celebration. Since the bridegroom might come to the bride’s house unexpectedly, the bridal party had to be ready at any time, with virgins carrying lighted torches and reserve oil in jars. The five foolish virgins who could not welcome the groom’s party lost not only the opportunity of witnessing the marriage ceremony, but also of participating in the week-long celebration that followed. The local meaning is that the foolish virgins represent the “Chosen People of God” who were waiting for the Messiah but were shut out from the Messianic banquet because they were unprepared. The universal meaning is that the five foolish virgins represent those who fail to prepare for the end of their lives and for the Final Judgment. They do not put their Faith in Jesus and live it out by keeping his Commandment to love others as he did.
Life messages: 1) We must be wise enough to remain ever prepared: Wise Christians carefully make their daily choices for God. They are ready to put the commandment of love into practice by showing kindness and forgiveness. 2) Let us be sure that our lamps are ready for the end of our lives: Spiritual readiness, preparation and growth come as a result of intentional habits built into one’s life. These include taking time for prayer and being alone with God; reading God’s Word; leading a Sacramental life; cooperating with God’s grace by offering acts of loving service to others; practicing moral faithfulness, and living always in loving obedience to Him. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
Aug 29 Saturday (The Passion of St. John the Baptist) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/martyrdom-of-john-the-baptist/ https://mycatholic.life/saints/saints-of-the-liturgical-year/august-29the-beheading-of-st-john-the-baptist/ : Mk 6: 17-29: 14 King Herod heard of it; for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” 17 For Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife; because he had married her. 18 For John said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly. 21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee. 22 For when Herodias’ daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will grant it.” 23 And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out, and said to her mother, “What shall I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the baptizer.” 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her….29 USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/c83kCTQ78lQ?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DCsxhgfi2_b_c88OjjSNmW6
The context: Today’s Gospel presents the last scene of a tragic drama with three main characters, Herod, Herodias, and John the Baptist. Herod was a jealous, weak puppet-king with a very guilty conscience, who answered to Rome for his rule of one section of Israel, at that time a Roman subject-province. Herod feared the prophet John because John had publicly scolded him for divorcing his legal wife without adequate cause and for marrying his sister-in-law Herodias who was his niece, thus committing a double violation of Mosaic Law. Herodias was an immoral and greedy woman, stained by a triple guilt. She was enraged by John’s public criticism of her: 1) She was an unfaithful woman of loose morals. 2) She was a greedy and vengeful woman. 3) She was an evil mother who used her teenage daughter for the wicked purposes of murder and revenge by encouraging the girl to dance in public in the royal palace against the royal etiquette of the day. John the Baptist was a fiery preacher and the herald of the Promised Messiah. He was also a Spirit-filled prophet with the courage of his prophetic convictions who dared to criticize and scold an Oriental monarch and his proud wife in public.
God’s punishment: After the martyrdom of John, Herod was defeated by Aretas, the father of his first wife. Later, both Herod and Herodias were sent into exile by Caligula, the Roman emperor. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20