All posts by Tony Kadavil

O. T. XXV Sunday homily (Sept 18, 2022)

Eight.minute homily in one page

Introduction: Today’s readings remind us that we are God’s stewards, and that God expects faithful and prudent stewardship from us. They challenge us to use our God-given talents and blessings, like wealth, wisely to attain Heavenly bliss. (You may add an anecdote)

Scripture lessons summarized: In the first reading, Amos, the prophet of social justice, condemns the crooked business practices of the 8th century BC Jewish merchants of Judea and reminds the Israelites and us to be faithful to our Covenant with Yahweh, God of Justice. We need to practice justice and mercy to all, as God’s faithful stewards. Amos warns us also against setting making money by any means as the goal of our life. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 113) reminds us that the All-seeing God protects and cares for the poor.  In the second reading, St. Paul instructs the first century Judeo-Christians to become true stewards of the Gospel of Jesus, the only mediator, by preaching the “Good News” to the pagans and by including them in intercessory prayers, too. Today’s Gospel story tells us about the crooked, but resourceful, manager and challenges us to use our blessings — time, talents, health and wealth – wisely and justly so that they will serve us for our good in eternity. We use our earthly wealth wisely when we spend it for our own needs in moderation and when we love and help the needy around us, because these are the purposes for which God has entrusted His blessings to us.

Life messages: 1) We need to be faithful in the little things of life: Let us remember Saint John Chrysostom’s warning, “Faithfulness in little things is a big thing,” and the reminder of St. Theresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa, canonized September 4, 2016 by Pope Francis), “Do little things with great love.”  Hence, let us not ignore doing little things, like acknowledging a favor with a sincere “thank you,” congratulating others for their success, sharing in their sorrows and/or offering them help and support in their needs.  2) We need to use our spiritual resources wisely. The manager in Jesus’ story used all his resources to secure his future. We must be no less resourceful. We have at our disposal the Holy Mass and the Seven Sacraments as sources of Divine grace, the Holy Bible as the word of God for daily meditation and practice, and the teaching authority of the Spirit-guided Church to direct us in our Christian life. We need to use these resources in such a way that it will be said of us, “And the master commended them because they acted so prudently.”

3) We need to be prepared to give an account of our stewardship.  We insure our houses against fire, storms, flood, and thieves, just as we insure our lives, buying life insurance, health insurance, and car insurance. In the same way, let us “insure” ourselves (with God, not Prudential!) for the one thing that most certainly will happen, namely, our meeting God to give Him an account of our lives. What really matters, at that time of our Private Judgment by God at the moment of our death is how wisely we have used our blessings during our life, lovingly and generously sharing them with others in need.

OT XXV [C] (Sept 18): Readings:  Am 8:4-7; I Tm 2:1-8; Lk 16:1-13 

Homily starter anecdotes:   # 1: “That is the hotel I have just built for you to manage.”   One stormy night many years ago, an elderly couple entered the lobby of a small hotel and asked for a room. The clerk explained that because there were three conventions in town, the hotel was filled. He added, “But I can’t send a nice couple like you out in the rain at 1 o’clock in the morning.  Would you be willing to sleep in my room?”  The couple hesitated, but the clerk insisted.  The next morning when the man paid his bill, he told the clerk, “You’re the kind of manager who should be the boss of the best hotel in the United States.  Maybe someday I’ll build one for you.”  The clerk smiled, amused by the older man’s “little joke.” A few years passed.  Then one day the clerk received a letter from the elderly man recalling that stormy night and asking him to come to New York for a visit.  A round-trip ticket was enclosed. When the clerk arrived, his host took him to the corner of 5th Avenue and 34th Street, where a grand new building stood.  “That,” explained the elderly man, “is the hotel I have just built for you to manage.”  “You must be joking,” the clerk said.  “I most assuredly am not,” came the reply. “Who–who are you?” stammered the clerk.  The man answered, “My name is William Waldorf Astor.” — That hotel was the original Waldorf-Astoria, one of the most magnificent hotels in New York. The young clerk who became its first manager was George C. Boldt. — This story reinforces today’s Gospel message about the prudent use of the earthly treasures and resources we have been given by God. If we use God‘s loving gifts to us to love others and help them in their need, He will be our reward in Heaven. (http://www.snopes.com/glurge/waldorf.asp) https://frtonyshomilies.com/
# 2: Returned overpayments:  CNN reported that In March 1994, the huge defense contractor Martin Marietta returned to the Pentagon some 540 overpayments, totaling $135 million. Of course, that was nothing compared to the $1.4 billion in overpayments various defense contractors returned to the Pentagon in 1993. — With a fresh reading of the parable of the unjust steward in today’s Gospel in mind who was not concerned with truth and justice, but with his survival by any means, a report like that can tempt us to wonder. Defense contractors do not belong to altruistic organizations. So why did Martin Marietta really return $135 million to the Pentagon? And if $1.4 billion in overpayments was returned in 1993, was there more that should have been returned? We cannot know, and we cannot judge.  We can pray for ourselves and our brothers and sisters that our own concern for truth and justice do not fail us in perilous situations!https://frtonyshomilies.com/
# 3: Waddling ducks: Søren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, once told a story about a make-believe country where only ducks lived. On Sunday morning all the ducks came into Church, waddled down the aisle, waddled into their pews and squatted. Then the duck minister came in, took his place behind the pulpit, opened the Duck Bible and read, “Ducks! You have wings, and with wings you can fly like eagles. You can soar into the skies! Ducks! You have wings!” All the ducks yelled, “Amen!” and then they all waddled home. No one flew or even tried.  [Jim Burns, Radically Committed (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1991).] — Friends, there’s just too much truth to that little fable. Using the parable of a rascal manager in today’s Gospel, Jesus challenges us to see that it is time for the children of light to quit waddling. It’s time for us to soar by using wisely our God-given talents and blessings for the welfare of others, thus glorifying God and becoming eligible for our eternal reward. May we be the people that Jesus praises because we, too,  saw something that needed to be done and we did it.https://frtonyshomilies.com/

Central theme: All three selections for today’s liturgy pertain to the subject of faithful stewardship. They remind us that we are God’s stewards and that God expects faithful and prudent stewardship from us. They challenge us to use our God-given talents and blessings wisely to attain Heavenly bliss.

Scripture lessons summarized: In the first reading for today, Amos, the Prophet of social Justice, condemns the crooked business practices of the 8th century BC Jewish merchants of Judea, and reminds the Israelites and us to be faithful to our Covenant with Yahweh by practicing justice and mercy as God’s faithful stewards. He warns us also against making the goal of our life the gaining money by any means. In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 113) , the Psalmist reminds us that the All-seeing God protects and cares for the poor, singing, “Who is like the Lord, our God, Who is enthroned on high / and looks upon the Heavens and the earth below? / He raises up the lowly from the dust; from the dunghill He lifts up the poor/ to seat them with princes, with the princes of His own people” (vv 5-8). In the second reading, St. Paul instructs the first century Judeo-Christians to become true stewards of the Gospel of Jesus, the only mediator, by preaching the “Good News” to pagans and including them in intercessory prayers as well. Today’s Gospel story tells us about a crooked, but resourceful, manager and challenges us to use our blessings — time, talents, health, and wealth – wisely and justly so that they will serve us for our good, in eternity. We use our earthly wealth wisely when we spend it for our own needs in moderation and when we love and help the needy around us, because these are the purposes for which God has entrusted His blessings to us.

First reading: Amos 8:4-7, explained:  Amos, “the prophet of justice,” was the first of the writing prophets during the                                                                                                                                                 38-year span when Uzziah was king of Judah (781-743 BC). For a long time, the territory we call the Holy Land was divided between a Northern Kingdom called Israel with Samaria as its capital, and a Southern Kingdom known as Judah with Jerusalem as its capital. In the 8th century BC, Israel was prosperous only for the upper classes.  The corrupt business community exploited the poor people while the priests ignored both the corruption and the poor who suffered from it.  In those days, commercial activities were forbidden on the Sabbath and during days around the New Moon. Not only did these predatory merchants resent the Sabbath rest as a loss of profits, but their business methods were completely unscrupulous. The businessmen wanted those sacred periods to be over so that they might get more time to make profits by their dishonest business practices like charging high prices and using false weights. Hence, the Lord God, through His Prophet Amos, warned them of the coming downfall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel because of its lack of Covenant morality, expressed by the abusive, disrespectful, arrogant treatment of the poor and the needy by the rich and powerful. “They trample the heads of the weak into the dust of the earth and force the lowly out of the way.” (2:7) In the Covenant relationship between God and his people, loving compassion and concern for the unfortunate, honesty, and integrity were supposed to be distinguishing qualities in the community.  Amos unequivocally declared that God would not tolerate the abuse of the weak. The Psalmist concurs in today’s Responsorial Psalm.

Second reading: I Timothy 2: 1-8 explained:   Paul struggled to get Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians to respect each other and not to compartmentalize God’s salvation. Hence, in today’s second reading, he reminds Timothy (a community leader equivalent to a bishop), and his congregation that God’s concern extends to all people, not just themselves. Some scholars think that some early Jewish Christians might have refused to pray for pagans, and that this passage was intended to correct that mistake. In this passage, Paul insists again that he has been called to take the Gospel to all peoples. He requests prayers for civil rulers and those in high positions, so that all people may live a quiet and peaceable life and come to salvation through the one mediator, Christ Jesus. This teaching is reflected in our modern Prayer of the Faithful, which should embrace the needs of the whole world, not just those of the Church. 

Gospel exegesis: A strange parable: The parable of the crooked steward or dishonest manager has shocked good Church people for centuries.  It appears that Truth Incarnate is praising a crooked business manager for deception, or that He who gave us the commandment, “Thou shalt not steal” is himself praising someone for violating it. St. Augustine said, “I can’t believe that this story came from the lips of our Lord.” Jesus tells a paradoxical story about the steward (manager), of the estate of a rich absentee landlord. The steward was an out-and-out rascal. But his boss praised him for his rascality because he acted with foresight. Facing the coming return of his master and an audit of his accounts, the steward cleverly converted the debtors of his master into his own debtors.  He bought “friends” with his master’s money and used these “friends” to secure a means of livelihood for the rapidly and certainly approaching point when he would be dismissed (for his previous embezzlement). In Luke’s account there are four morals drawn from the story to unfold its meaning.  The parable advises us to take inventory of the resources placed in our charge: time, talents, opportunities, health, intelligence, education, and other advantages.  It also challenges us to use these resources wisely so that they will serve for our good in eternity. 

Lessons of the parable as presented by Luke:  1. Let the children of light acquire the prudence of the children of this world (verse 8).  The steward in the parable was a dishonest rascal who had been put in charge of his master’s estate.  He was a type of broker. In business transactions, such a manager or broker would be paid by adding on something to what was borrowed, rather be given a percentage taken out of the master’s proceeds. For example, if someone borrowed 50 denarii or 50 barrels of oil, he would have to pay back the 50 to the master and another 10 — or 30 or 50 — to the broker, whatever the broker thought he could get. This dishonest steward was probably charging his clients  exorbitant commissions in order to maximize his profits. His master was probably a Palestinian landlord residing in a large city.  When caught red-handed for misappropriation of profits, the steward   cleverly falsified the entries in the account books so that the debtors appeared to owe far less than their actual debt. What he was doing was eliminating most or all of his commission to earn the favor of his customers. The steward knew that when his master fired him, he would need friends.  His dishonest plan would serve two purposes.  First, the debtors would be grateful to him and would support him financially. Second, he would be in a position to exercise a little judicious blackmail to silence them if that became “necessary.”

The children of this world’ are the children of darkness who see and value only the things of this world.  They live for this world, concentrate their attention on it, invest everything in it, give the energies of mind and body fully to it, and find in it their entire purpose for living.  Christian believers, however, are ‘the children of light’ who see real, eternal, spiritual values as primary and regard temporal values as secondary. The children of this world regard themselves as owners, while true Christians regard themselves as mere stewards of God who view their   resources as simply loaned to them by God.  To the Christian, “riches” mean spiritual and human values.  Our stewardship requires us to use our advantages to help others.

Obviously, Jesus was not commending the steward’s dishonesty. He was commending only his shrewd resourcefulness. The parable points out that Christians should be as prudent and resourceful in acquiring goodness as the steward was in acquiring money and making his future safe. Christians must give as much attention to things that concern their souls as they do to the things that concern worldly matters. In saving our souls and spreading the Good News, our Lord wants us to apply the same ingenuity and effort that other people put into their worldly affairs or into their attempts to attain some human ideal. In other words, our Christianity will begin to be real and effective when we spend as much time and effort on spiritual matters as we do on worldly activities, and when the Church uses the worldly business sense of a good steward in conducting its ministries.

2.Invest temporal goods to acquire eternal welfare.   Jesus reminds us that earthly resources will eventually run out.  Hence, our material possessions should be used for the good of others, to cement friendships wherein lie the real and permanent values of life.   This can be done in two ways.        (a) In regard to eternity.  It was a Jewish belief that charity given to the poor would stand to a man’s credit in the world to come.  A man’s true wealth consisted, not in what he owned, but in what he gave away. The right use of wealth, according to Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, means  helping  the poor, the hungry, and the starving. That is the way that we make friends with God and please God according to this text.  There are many people in our parish who live lives of generosity. There are many people in the Catholic Church who understand that God has given us money so that we can be generous to the needy, the poor and the starving. Thus, many of us are making wise investments for the future. (b) In regard to this world.  A man can use his wealth not only to make life easier for himself, but also for his brothers and sisters. Perhaps he will fund scholarships for students or give to charitable organizations and missionary endeavors.  There are a million possibilities. We are on the right path if we are using our earthly wealth to attain our heavenly goal. “Money is an instrument that can buy everything but happiness and purchase a ticket to every place but Heaven.” Hence making money should not be the goal of our existence.

3. Integrity and fidelity are the true yardsticks for promotion and eternal reward (verse 10).  A man’s way of fulfilling a small task is the best proof of his fitness or unfitness to be entrusted with a larger task. No man will be advanced to a higher office until he has given proof of his honesty and ability in a lower position.  Jesus extends this principle to eternity. He calls us to faithfulness in little things because most of our life is made up of seemingly small opportunities to do good. Few of us can hope to “save the world.”  Still, we can conduct our business in honesty, tutor a child, visit a person in a nursing home, or help a neighbor in distress and make a difference in his or her life. Then our Lord will welcome us with the words: “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.” (Mt. 25:21).

How we handle our money and our possessions is a test of our character.  It reveals whether or not we are morally qualified to receive the true riches of Heaven.  How we treat what belongs to another is a test of our fitness to be entrusted with our own possessions.  How do we treat others — their name, their possessions, their time, their ministry, their feelings, their family?  The answer will reveal our fitness for true stewardship.  This is why Jesus asked the question, “If you have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?” (verse 12).  While we live on earth, we are in charge of things which are not really ours.  We cannot take them with us when we die.  They are only lent to us–we are only stewards over them.  On the other hand, in Heaven we will receive what is really and eternally ours.  Our Heavenly destiny depends on how we use the things of earth. Jesus gives us this parable in order to help us to see that our time is coming to an end and that we need to prepare an accounting, checking whether we were using God’s gifts of wealth, health, talents, and other blessings selfishly or for His glory by sharing them with others. .

4. “No servant can serve two masters” (verse 13).  In the Greco-Roman world, the master had exclusive possession of his slave.   A slave had no spare time of his own, since every ounce of his energy belonged to his master.  In this saying, Jesus reminds us that, like slaves, we cannot serve God on a part-time basis.  Once a man chooses to serve God, every moment of his time and every atom of his energy belong to God.  God is the most exclusive of masters.  We belong to Him either totally or not at all. As Christians, we are called to serve God first.  We must not use money and possessions exclusively to serve our own purposes. Let us remember the proverb, “Money can buy everything but true happiness, and it can purchase a ticket to every place except to Heaven.” This parable of serving two masters may seem ironic.  Perhaps, Jesus was attacking the Sadducees and Pharisees.  The Sadducees cheated a bit on the Mosaic Law so that they might accommodate themselves to the Roman government.   The Pharisees made a big show of giving small amounts of money to the poor.   The lesson is that we cannot be nominal Christians, calling ourselves “Christians” and committing little wrongs while expecting God’s praise.

Life messages: 1) We need to be faithful in little things of life:  Often we get so caught up in our work that we ignore the little things of life. But let us not ignore these little matters — things like dropping someone an encouraging note or extending people a simple, “Thank you.”  Similarly, we ought to take time out of our workday to help others in small things.  As Saint John Chrysostom said, “Faithfulness in little things is a big thing.”  We may not be able to reach millions of people all over the world by satellite as famous talk-show hosts or televangelists do. But in our own part of the world, we can faithfully do little things to point people toward Jesus.  Our future opportunities in the eternal service of God largely depend on our stewardship in handling the little opportunities we have had on earth. As St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa, canonized September 4, 2016 by Pope Francis), used to recommend, “Do little things with great love.”

2) We need to act wisely, trusting in the power and assistance of God.  Today’s parable gives us some practical advice.    We are urged to stride into the future with confidence — not in ourselves or our abilities, but in the power and grace of God. The manager in Jesus’ story used all his resources to secure his future. We must be no less resourceful. At our disposal we have Hope in God’s justice, Faith in God’s assistance, trust in God’s grace and the reality of His Love within us. We have the Holy Mass and the Seven Sacraments as sources of Divine grace, the Holy Bible as the word of God for daily meditation and practice, and the Spirit-guided Church to direct us. These are the best possible resources; we need to use them in such a way that it will be said of us, “And the master commended them because they acted so wisely.”

3) We need to be prepared to give an account of our life. We are all stewards of what God has entrusted to us, so some day we will have to give Him an account of our stewardship.  We prepare ourselves for all kinds of things, most of which never happen.  But do we care enough for our souls to insure ourselves against the one thing that most certainly will happen? We must meet God and give an accounting. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil” (II Corinthians 5:10).  Jesus wants us to be as prudent in the spiritual realm as greedy businessmen are in the material realm.  Thus, the only thing that will count in our favor is the testimony of those who will say, “Lord, when I was really in need, he gave to me, at cost to himself. He helped me along. He showed love to me and proved it by giving himself to me.”

JOKES OF THE WEEK

1)“Four and take two, myself.” A businessman who heads his own company interviewed three applicants for a job. As a test, he asks: “If you divide six by two, what’s the result?” “Three,” answered the first applicant. He was not hired for being too honest. “Two,” answered the second applicant. Again, he was not hired because he was dishonest and for being an ignorant fool. This third applicant answered, “Sir, if I were to divide six between you and me, I would rather give you four and take two, myself.” He was hired for being clever.

2) Wisdom of the children of the world: The local Jewish Rabbi is out jogging through the countryside.  He encounters a man with two puppies for sale.  He asks the man what kind of puppies they are, and the man responds, “They’re Jewish puppies, Rev. Rabbi.”  The Rabbi thinks that it is so great that the next day he brings his wife to see these puppies for herself.  He asks the man to tell his wife what kind of puppies they are, and the man responds, “They’re Catholic puppies.” The Rabbi looks puzzled and says, “Yesterday, you told me they were Jewish puppies.”  The man smiles and says, “Yesterday, they were.  But today, they have their eyes opened and a Catholic priest booked them offering a higher price and paying in advance!”

3) Trustworthy with dishonest wealth?  Abraham wanted a new suit, so he bought a nice piece of cloth and then tried to locate a tailor.  The first tailor he visited looked at the cloth and measured Abraham, then told him the cloth was not enough to make a suit. Abraham was unhappy with this opinion and sought another tailor.  This tailor measured Abraham, then measured the cloth, and then smiled and said, “There is enough cloth to make a pair of trousers, a coat and a vest, please come back in a week to take your suit.” After a week Abraham came to take his new suit and saw the tailor’s son wearing trousers made of the same cloth.  Perplexed, he asked, “Just how could you make a full suit for me and trousers for your son, when the other tailor could not make a suit only?” “It’s very simple,” replied the tailor, “The other tailor has two sons.”

3) Estate Planning: Dan was a single guy living at home with his father and working in the family business. When he found out he was going to inherit a fortune when his sickly father died, he decided he needed a wife with whom to share his fortune. One evening at an investment meeting he spotted the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her natural beauty took his breath away. “I may look like just an ordinary man,” he said to her, “but in just a few years, my father will die, and I’ll inherit 20 million dollars.” Impressed, the woman obtained his business card and three days later she became his stepmother.;Are crooked women so much better at estate planning than crooked men?

USEFUL WEBSITES OF THE WEEK (For homilies & Bible study groups)

1) Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs: https://sundayprep.org/featured-homilies/  (Copy it on the Address bar and press the Enter button)

2) Fr. Geoffrey Plant’s beautiful & scholarly video classes on Sunday gospel, Bible & RCIA topics https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant20663)

3)Fr. Nick’s collection of Sunday homilies from 65 priests & weekday homilies: https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies  

4) Dr. Brant Pitre’s commentary on Cycle C Sunday Scripture for Bible Class: https://catholicproductions.com/blogs/mass-readings-explained-year-Biblical basis of Catholic doctrines: http://scripturecatholic.com/

5)    Agape Catholic Bible Lessons: http://www.agapebiblestudy.com/   

6) Cove of Catholic Links: http://catholic.8m.com/

7) Bible pronunciation- audio-guide: https://www.netministries.org/resources/resource-pronunciation-guide

8) Catholic Apologetics Resource
http://catholicapologeticsresource.com/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page

9) Movie on the gospel according to Luke: https://youtu.be/auL-ebjH-xo

24- Additional Anecdotes

1) Are you making plans for your long-term future…with God? Those who are going to retire ask two questions: 1) “How much money will I need to retire comfortably?” 2) “Will I be able to die with dignity?”  The Presidential Commission on Retirement in the U.S. informs us that we will need about seventy percent of our present income to live about as we live today. If the present lifestyle costs us about $50,000, we are going to need about $35,000 to retire comfortably. According to PCR there are three resources for our income of the future: a) Social Security, b) the retirement program from our place of employment, and c) our savings account. But everybody knows that in the not-so-distant future, Social Security benefits will be reduced because there will not be a sufficient number of workers in the workforce to pay for the huge number of previously retired people still alive.  In addition, seventy percent of the people working in America do not have a pension program through their employer. Besides, Americans in general are notoriously poor savers, and, hence, most of them have not saved enough money to pay the bills of their future retirement. So, can we be sure that when the end of our life comes we are not going to end up in bankruptcy and poverty? Are we making plans for our long-term future? How is our investment program doing? — Today’s Gospel asks the same question: Are we really wise in planning for our long-term future with God? Are we as wise in storing up for ourselves treasures in Heaven for our eternal retirement as we are in gathering treasures on earth for our retirement here? https://frtonyshomilies.com/

2) “Didn’t Speak Up:” With the Second World War behind him, the German Lutheran pastor, Martin Niemoeller, wrote his now famous confession called “I Didn’t Speak Up,” and it is apropos: “In Germany, the Nazis first came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, but I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak for me.” — Would that all of those involved in the religious enterprise were as effective as the manager in this parable! “What shall I do…?” he immediately wondered. He quickly cleared his brain to answer that one. He did not deny the reality of his need to take action, and he escaped ingeniously.   https://frtonyshomilies.com/

3) Crooked stockbroker and financial planner: Claude Lochet, of Orleans, Massachusetts, showed such charm and inspired such trust as a stockbroker and financial planner that dozens of retired persons and elderly widows invested their life savings with him. The thirty-four-year-old seemed to be the model of professionalism. Suddenly, in December 1991, Lochet disappeared. At first, foul play was suspected, but then it was learned that $1.7 million was missing from client accounts. Then Lochet’s van, with stubs for plane tickets to Paris, was discovered in the parking area of Kennedy Airport in New York. Embezzlement and larceny charges were brought against Lochet, but he could not be found. Meanwhile, Lochet’s elderly clients were left with big losses. Most who had invested through Lochet were living on fixed incomes or modest pensions. On February 21, 1992, “Prime Suspect,” a nationally syndicated television show that airs fugitive cases, described Lochet’s case. Two callers from Los Angeles telephoned to report that a man fitting Lochet’s description was living in their area. Lochet was arrested. None of the money was found. When Los Angeles Detective Carl Holmstrom asked Lochet why he stole $1.7 million from clients, the fugitive broker showed no remorse. His only comment? “Everybody does it.” [Dr. William P. Barker, Tarbell’s (Elgin, Illinois: David C. Cook Church Ministries, 1994).] — In today’s Gospel Jesus tells the story of such a con artist. https://frtonyshomilies.com/

4) The Dynamite King: Wise people know how to use their fortunes to improve their reputations. One morning in 1888, Alfred Nobel, one of the world’s leading industrialists, opened a French newspaper and was shocked to see his own obituary. It was a mistake, of course; it was Alfred’s brother who had died. However, Alfred Nobel had an opportunity to see himself as other people saw him. The obituary simply called him “The Dynamite King.” He had made a fortune in manufacturing and selling explosives, but it rankled with him to be thought only that way so Alfred Nobel decided to use his wealth to change his reputation. He immediately arranged his estate to establish the Nobel Prize, to be given each year to the person or persons who has done the most for the cause of world peace. — In the past century, it has long been forgotten that the name Nobel once meant “The Dynamite King.” Today the name stands synonymous with promoting world peace. (John T. Carroll and James R. Carroll, Preaching the Hard Sayings of Jesus pp. 116-117.) https://frtonyshomilies.com/

5) Shrewd farmer and the crooked lawyer: There was a story in the newspaper about a young lawyer who was called in from the big city to represent a large railroad company that was being sued by a farmer. It seems that the farmer’s prize cow was missing from a field through which the railroad passed, and the farmer was suing for the value of the cow. Before the case was to be tried, the lawyer cornered the farmer and convinced him to settle out of court for half of what he originally wanted. The farmer signed the necessary papers and then accepted the check. The young lawyer could not resist gloating a bit about his success. He said to the farmer, “You know, I couldn’t have won this case if it had gone to trial. The engineer was asleep, and the fireman was in the caboose when the train passed through your farm that morning. I didn’t have a single witness to put on the stand!” With a wry smile, the old farmer replied, “Well, I tell you young feller, I was a little worried about winning that case myself because that cow came home this morning.” — Both the farmer and the lawyer could have related to a shrewd crook Jesus told us about. https://frtonyshomilies.com/

6) Shrewd deposit of casino winnings: An elderly lady reported winnings of $6500 from the Tunica casinos last year. She claimed a charitable deduction for half of her winnings—$3250—which she gave to her Church. No, she did not tell her pastor where that contribution came from. Some of her friends asked her why she gave 50 percent to the Church rather than the customary 10 percent tithe which the Bible commends. She replied, “If God was good enough to let me win $6500, He ought to get half of it.” This lady reminds me of the dishonest steward of long ago. — We aren’t supposed to approve of the way they got their money; but we have to admire the shrewd and farsighted way in which they planned for the future. Even a crook can teach us something. https://frtonyshomilies.com/

7) Hurricane compensation: A man in Florida had survived Hurricane Andrew. One day one of his neighbors asked him, “So, what claims are you putting in?” The man had not suffered any damage to his house or car from the storm, so he answered, “None.” The neighbor couldn’t believe it. “Hey, here’s your opportunity to collect a few bucks,” the neighbor said. “The insurance companies are practically writing checks on the spot. How could anyone pass up putting in a claim for $5,000 for wet carpeting or a damaged car? After all, you’ve been paying premiums all these years. Why not get a little back?” — Does that sound familiar? The neighbor’s willingness to give in to the temptation to falsify a claim is not that unusual. One-third of those sampled by the University of Florida’s Insurance Research Center believe it’s okay to falsify an insurance application. One-half of them feel it’s all right to shade the truth in order to save on out-of-pocket deductibles. This is the state of ethics in our society today. That’s sad. For one thing, we all pay for such chicanery. And secondly, it’s getting so you don’t know whom you can trust.https://frtonyshomilies.com/

8) John D. Rockefeller in a skin-deep society: Our skin-deep society costs a lot of cash.  It’s not just the plastic surgeons who are getting rich on $10,000 face-lifts or $3000 liposuctions.  There are also the cosmetic companies, the clothing industries, the fitness gurus, the drug companies, and the diet doctors.  What would happen if we took some of the cash we spend on making ourselves look good and invested it in doing good for others, or for their souls?  A soul-deep life, Spirit-filled and Spirit-powered, remains ever vital, ever ready to serve the needs of the kingdom.  Brian Tracey tells this story about John D. Rockefeller, a “robber baron” capitalist that some might also call a dishonest manager.  “John D. Rockefeller, who became the richest man in the world, started as a clerk at $43.75 per week.  Even at that small salary, he gave as much as 50 percent of his salary to his Church every week to contribute to the betterment of others.  Years passed. When he was fifty-two years old, he was extraordinarily wealthy, perhaps the richest man in the world.  He was also extremely sick, and his doctors told him that he would die within a year.  He thought back on his early years and the pleasure he got from contributing to his Church, he resolved that he would spend his last year giving his money away.  He sold half of his stock in the Standard Oil Company.  He then began financing worthy causes around the country. —  Something incredible happened.  The more money he gave away, the better he felt.  His health improved.  His illnesses went away.  He recovered completely. He went on to live to age 91, in excellent health.  By the time he died, he had given away millions of dollars.  Meanwhile, the value of the Standard Oil Stock he had kept had increased so much that he died with more money than he had when he was on his deathbed many years before.” [Brian Tracey, Focal Point (New York: AMACOM, 2002), 182-83.]https://frtonyshomilies.com/

9)It works almost every time. “An insurance salesman stuck his head into a department store sales manager’s office. “You don’t want to buy any insurance, do you?” he asked timidly. “Young man, who taught you how to sell?” asked the sales manager. “Don’t ever ask that kind of question! Your problem is a lack of confidence. Give me an application blank. I’ll buy some insurance from you to give you confidence in yourself.” After completing the application, the sales manager gave the young man a lecture: “Now remember, each customer is different. Figure out what each one really wants. Then you will know how to develop an approach that fits.” “That is exactly what I do,” said the salesman. “I just gave you my approach for sales managers. It works almost every time.” (R. Robert Cueni, The Vital Church Leader, pp. 12-13). — Smart! In today’s Gospel Jesus challenges his followers to be, not just “smart,” but truly as wise in the things of Heaven. https://frtonyshomilies.com/

10) Armed robbery during Sunday worship: An interesting story appeared in the newspapers sometime back. Worshipers at the Second Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, had a rude interruption during worship services earlier this year. Three guys wearing masks burst into the Church. One pulled out a gun and announced that the worshipers were to get out their money and remove their jewelry and rings. It was a tense moment for this congregation. But hold on. This hold-up was not what it appeared to be. It turns out that the Church’s pastor, the Rev. Napoleon A. Harris, IV, had staged the robbery to teach his congregation a lesson. The message was about “robbing God.” Rev. Harris said the lesson was one of “responsibility, accountability, and dependability.” “It is my job to convey God’s word,” Rev. Harris said. “There’s nothing comfortable about telling God’s word,” he said about his little staged drama. The police saw the incident in a different manner. They described the lesson as a dangerous game. Rev. Harris doesn’t understand the fuss. He said, “I teach practical lessons every week.” [“Spreading the Word by Hook or by Crook,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, (March 13, 1992), pg. 3.] — In today’s Gospel, Jesus is trying to teach us a practical lesson, and his story is just about as shocking. https://frtonyshomilies.com/

11) The Sting and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels: Remember how you laughed when you saw the movie, The Sting?  Remember how great it was when Paul Newman and Robert Redford outwitted the gangsters, swindling them out of their money?  If a little guy puts one over on his rich boss, what do we care?  It’s funny.  After all, the big guy is a money-grabbing capitalist, so maybe he deserves it! Remember the movie, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels?  One crook tried to outwit another, and finally both got outwitted by a savvy woman.  That’s funny.  It is fun to see the little guy put one over on Mr. Big. In today’s Gospel, Jesus commends the clever, dishonest steward, not for what he has done to escape punishment  and to deceive his master, but for the focused intelligence and energy he used in finding his “way out.” He was teaching us that it is this focus we need to use in preparing now for own Final Audit – for death comes unexpectedly! https://frtonyshomilies.com/

12) Golden handshake: There was a Home Building company which did business was on a very large scale. There is a story told about one of their building contractors, who was approaching the age of retirement. He had become very careless, and his working standards were constantly slipping. He began cutting corners, using inferior material, and taking shortcuts. He was quite pleased with himself, and he felt he was onto a good thing here. As time progressed, the standard of his work deteriorated. The houses were new, so the faults would not show up straightaway, and he would be well out of the business by then. The time of his retiring arrived, and it coincided with what was possibly the most shoddily built house he had ever produced. Imagine his surprise, at his retirement party, when his golden handshake was to be presented with the keys of that last house he had just completed! (Fr. Jack McArdle) https://frtonyshomilies.com/

13) Money Makers: When her husband, Ray Kroc, died in 1984, Joan Kroc was left with an estimated $700 million. Her wealth included an 8.7 percent share of the common stock of the McDonald’s food empire and full ownership of the San Diego Padres Baseball Franchise. Since that time this fast-food empress has become a woman of many causes. Besides giving sizable donations to nuclear-disarmament groups, the San Diego Zoo, St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, and the American Red Cross for African Famine relief, Joan Kroc has also been a steady supporter of the arts, alcohol and drug rehabilitation, medical research, wildlife preservation and programs to combat child abuse. Some skeptics dismiss her as a jet-set do-gooder, but close friends say that she becomes personally involved in many of the causes she supports. — Today’s readings from Scripture seem to be a blueprint for Joan Kroc’s use of money. She is the antithesis of the rich decried by the prophet Amos for trampling on the needy and taking unfair advantage of the poor. The Gospel reading is a collection of three separate statements Jesus made about money and material things, which Joan Kroc seems to have taken to heart. (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds). https://frtonyshomilies.com/

14) Shrewd Paul Newman:  In the precarious movie industry, actor, director Paul Newman has managed to remain a super-star for a long time. He is a man who has developed all his personal gifts to the full. His many fans throughout the world will attest to this point. In addition, he has enthusiastically lived verse 9 of today’s Gospel. “Use your worldly wealth to win friends for yourselves, so that when money is a thing of the past, you may be received into an eternal home.” Mr. Newman has given away more than 300 million dollars to various charitable causes. Additionally, he sponsors a camp for youngsters who are terminally ill. Sixteen hundred sick children receive a summer holiday in the country courtesy of the actor. This venture has cost him additional millions.     
— Billy Graham might have had Paul Newman in mind when he said, “God has given us two hands – one to receive with and the other to give with.” (Fr.James Gilhooley)https://frtonyshomilies.com/

15) $125 billion to charitable causes: At the urging of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, forty of the world’s richest families have promised to give at least half of their fortunes to philanthropy. By taking the “Giving Pledge,” the forty families or individuals, most of whom are billionaires, are promising a collective sum of at least $125 billion to charitable causes, based on Forbes’ current estimates of their net worth and other data sources. According to the pledge, the giving can occur either during donors’ lifetimes or after their passing. Each has committed at least 50 percent of his or her net worth, but many have committed to larger percentages, Buffett said. The men and women taking the pledge are free to direct their money to causes of their choice, and the organization is not pooling any money or dictating areas of need. In fact, the pledge is non-binding, though the organizers say the billionaires are making a “moral commitment,” publicly signing their names to letters posted on a website, GivingPledge.org. (http://abcnews.go.com/WN/bill-gates-warren-buffett-organize-billionaire-giving-pledge/story?id=11325984) https://frtonyshomilies.com/


16) Make your choice: Jenny Lind, the great Swedish soprano disappointed many of her friends because she turned down so many big business contracts that would have made her world famous. One day a friend was surprised to find her sitting on a sunny seashore reading the New Testament. The friend rebuked the singer for not seizing her chances. Quickly, Jenny put her hand over the New Testament and said, “I have found that making vast sums of money was spoiling my taste for this.” Robert Kimchi says thus: “This world is a house; Heaven the roof, the stars the lights; the earth, with its fruits, a table spread; the Master of the house is the holy and blessed God; man is the steward, into whose hands the goods of this house are delivered; if he behaves himself well, he will find favor in the eyes of the Lord; if not, he will be turned out of his stewardship.” — We are all stewards; therefore, the day of accounting is there for each one of us.
(John Rose in John’s Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho)https://frtonyshomilies.com/

17) Street-smart: An up-dated but innocent example of the children of this world being enterprising is the department store clerk who had broken all sales records. Modestly disclaiming credit, he explained to his boss, “A customer came in, and I sold him some fishhooks.  “You will need a line for those hooks,” I said, and sold him some line. Then I told him, “You have to have a rod to go with the line,” and I sold him a rod. “You ought to have a boat so you can use your new rod in deep water,” I suggested, and sold him a boat. Next I told him, “You’ll need a boat trailer” and he fell for that too. Finally, I said, “How will you pull the trailer without a car? And guess what? He bought my car.” And the boss said, “But I assigned you to the greetings card department.” “That is right,” the salesman nodded. “This customer came to me for a get-well card for his girl, who had a broken hip. When I heard that I said to him, ‘You haven’t got anything to do for six weeks, so you might as well go fishing.'” (Harold Buetow in God Still Speaks: Listen!  quoted by Fr. Botelho). https://frtonyshomilies.com/

18)  An astute manager: A few years ago, a priest was giving a retreat to inmates in a federal prison in the South. One of the talks dealt with Jesus’ teaching on revenge. Jesus said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. When someone strikes you on [your] right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.” To illustrate Jesus’ point, the priest told the story of Jackie Robinson, the first black athlete to play in the major leagues. When Branch Rickey signed Jackie to a Dodger contract in 1945, he told him, “You will have to take everything they dish out to you and never strike back.” Rickey was right. On the field, pitchers brushed Jackie back with blazing fastballs, and opposing fans and teams taunted him. Off the field, he was thrown out of hotels and restaurants where the rest of the team stayed and ate. Through it all, Jackie kept his cool. He turned the other cheek. And so did Dodgers’ General Manager Rickey, who was abused by people for signing Jackie. The priest ended the story by asking the prisoners this question: “Where do you think black athletes would be today had Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey not turned the other cheek?” After the talk, a prisoner said to the priest: “That’s a nice story, Father. But why didn’t you tell the whole story? Why didn’t you tell why Rickey and Robinson turned the other cheek? It wasn’t for love of God. It was for love of money. Rickey turned the other cheek because if he succeeded, he would make a fortune too.” The priest thought to himself for a minute: “If the prisoner’s right, then he’s just shot my nice little story right out of the water.” — But then the priest thought: “Hey! Wait a minute! If the prisoner’s right, then my story makes an even more important point!” It’s the same point Jesus makes in today’s Gospel. Jesus says: “The children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.” (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies). https://frtonyshomilies.com/

19) Treason! Treason!” On 22 August 1485, in marshy fields near the village of Sutton Cheney in Leicestershire, Richard III led the last charge of knights in English history. A circlet of gold around his helmet, his banners flying, he threw his destiny into the hands of the god of battles. Among the astonished observers of this glittering panoply of horses and steel galloping towards them were Sir William Stanley and his brother Thomas, whose forces had hitherto taken no part in the action. Both watched intently as Richard swept across their front and headed towards Henry Tudor, bent only on eliminating his rival. As the King battled his way through Henry’s bodyguard, killing his standard bearer with his own hand and coming within feet of Tudor himself, William Stanley made his move. Throwing his forces at the King’s back he betrayed him and had him hacked down. Richard, fighting manfully and crying, “Treason! Treason!” was butchered in the bloodstained mud of Bosworth Field by a man who was there to support him. — This is just one the numerous examples of the dishonest stewards, found in our history. The desire for wealth and power lead men to practice injustice. That is the message that the parable of the dishonest servant gives us.https://frtonyshomilies.com/

(Fr. Bobby Jose)

20) Actor Paul Newman the superstar. In the precarious movie industry, actor Paul Newman has managed to remain a super-star for a long time. He is a man who has developed all his personal gifts to the full. His many fans throughout the world will attest to this point. In addition, he has enthusiastically lived verse 9 of today’s Gospel. “Use your worldly wealth to win friends for yourselves, so that when money is a thing of the past, you may be received into an eternal home.”  Mr Newman has given away more than ten million dollars to various charitable causes. Additionally, he sponsors a camp for youngsters who are terminally ill. Sixteen hundred sick children receive a summer holiday in the country courtesy of the actor. This venture has cost him additional millions. Billy Graham might have Paul Newman in mind when he said, “God has given us two hands – one to receive with and the other to give with.” If anyone is following the admonition of  Psalm 113, vs 7-8, it is Newman. “He raises up the lowly from the dust; from the dunghill he lifts up the poor to seat them with princes…” — The next few sentences from this preacher will come as a surprise to no one. Just as Newman is generous with the gifts that God has given to him, so should we Catholics. We need not be as lavish as he is. Yet, would it not be wonderful if proportionate to our wealth, whether large or small, we were? (Fr. Kayala).https://frtonyshomilies.com/

 21) Worldly wise: Henry Ford was known for both his frugality and his philanthropy. He was visiting his family’s ancestral village in Ireland when two trustees of the local hospital found out he was there, and they managed to get in to see him.  They talked him into giving the hospital $5,000 dollars (this was the 1930’s, so $5,000 dollars was a great deal of money). The next morning, at breakfast, he opened his newspaper to read the banner headline: “American Millionaire Gives Fifty Thousand to Local Hospital.”  Ford wasted no time in summoning the two hospital trustees. He waved the newspaper in their faces. “What does this mean?” he demanded. The trustees apologized profusely. “Dreadful error,” they said. They promised to get the editor to print a retraction the very next day, stating that the great Henry Ford hadn’t given $50,000, but only $5,000. Well, hearing that, Ford offered them the other $45,000, under one condition: that the trustees erect a marble arch at the entrance of the new hospital, with a plaque that read, “I walked among you and you took me in.”  (Billy D. Strayhorn, Let’s Make a Deal).https://frtonyshomilies.com/

22) And our dollars are God’s dollars! Some of us are good stewards – or may be just tight. Stumpy and his wife Martha went to a state fair every year and every year when Stumpy saw the antique bi-plane he would say, “Martha, I’d like to ride in that airplane.” And Martha always replied, “I know Stumpy, but that airplane ride costs 10 dollars, and 10 dollars is 10 dollars.”One year Stumpy and Martha went to the fair and Stumpy said, “Martha, I’m 81 years old. If I don’t ride that airplane, I might never get another chance.” And again, Martha replied, “Stumpy, that airplane ride costs 10 dollars, and 10 dollars is 10 dollars.” The pilot overheard them and said, “Folks, I’ll make you a deal. I’ll take you both up for a ride. If you can stay quiet for the entire ride and not say a word, I won’t charge you; but if you say one word it’s 10 dollars.” Stumpy and Martha agreed and up they went. The pilot did all kinds of twists and turns, rolls and dives, but not one word was heard. He did all his tricks over again, but still not a word. When they landed, the pilot turned to Stumpy and said, “By golly, I did everything I could think of to get you to yell out, but you didn’t.” Stumpy replied, “Well, I was gonna say something when Martha fell out, but 10 dollars is 10 dollars.” (Quoted by Fr. Larka). https://frtonyshomilies.com/

23) What impressed you most about United States? “Your garbage cans.” A famous economics professor from a great University in Europe was travelling through the United States. He visited many of the great buildings and institutions, the skyscrapers of the big cities, stadiums and hospitals. When he was about to return to Europe someone asked him: “What impressed you most about the United States?” Without a moment’s hesitation he replied: “Your garbage cans.” “Garbage cans?” echoed the interviewer, “what is so impressive about the garbage cans?” The professor explained: “Your garbage cans are loaded with wasted food. You Americans waste more food in a week than it would take to feed the children of one European country for a whole month.” — Why did the steward in today’s gospel lose his job? Because “he was wasting his master’s goods.” Every one of us is a steward. We are in charge of goods, talents, even people. All these things and persons belong to God. When we waste them, we are committing a sin of injustice and dishonesty. (Msgr. Arthur Tonne). https://frtonyshomilies.com/

24) Credit for being Enterprising: Today’s gospel parable about the wily steward is a little tricky to interpret. The steward, about to be fired by his employer for embezzling, commits one final act of embezzlement to win the favor of his master’s debtors, hoping that they will give him another job. Jesus does not praise the rascal for his dishonesty, but he does give him credit for his cleverness in “winning friends and influencing people.” Using our wits is all the more in order when we seek to win a hearing for a good cause by good means. It is only commonsense to speak to people in an idiom they can comprehend. Father Matteo Ricci followed that principle when he went to China in 1582 to bring the gospel to the proud Chinese. Ricci was a learned Italian Jesuit. He quickly realized that this “western” Gospel would sound strange to the pagan but highly cultured Chinese leaders whom he sought first to convert. He decided that he and his fellow missionaries could get nowhere with the “Mandarins” or scholars unless they first became “Mandarins” themselves. So they adopted the dress and life-style of this highly revered academic class, and set out to learn their language and literature perfectly. Ricci, in fact, succeeded so well with the language that some of his writings have become Chinese literary classics. Once he had gained the confidence of the scholars, Dr. Li (as he called himself) began by discussing with them the admirable rules of morality and social living of their great philosopher, Confucius. But Confucius had not given all the answers – nor raised all the questions. At these open points, Fr. Matteo gently interjected Christian teachings into the discussion. Thus, as Pope John Paul II recently said, “without imposing his views, he ended up by bringing many listeners to the explicit knowledge and authentic worship of God, the Highest Good.”– It was a painfully slow approach, but the only feasible one. The Gospel was not given to the West alone, but to the whole world. It must be, therefore, proclaimed, as at Pentecost, in a manner understandable to every nation. Only thus can mankind hear the message Christ addressed to all his children. (Father Robert F. McNamara). https://frtonyshomilies.com/ L/22

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle C(No. 52) by Fr. Tony:akadavil@gmail.com

Visit my website by clicking on https://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle C homilies, 141 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at akadavil@gmail.com. Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies  of Fr. Nick’s collection of homilies or Resources in the CBCI website:  https://www.cbci.in.  (Special thanks to Vatican Radio website http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html -which completed uploading my Cycle A, B and C homilies in May 2020)  Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604

Weekday homilies for Sept 12-17

Sept 12-17: Click on http://frtonyshomilies.comfor missed homilies: Sept 12 Monday: (The Most Holy Name of Mary):https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/most-holy-name-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary Lk 7:1-10: 1 After he had ended all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2 Now a centurion had a slave who was dear to him, who was sick and at the point of death. 3 When he heard of Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his slave. 4 And when they came to Jesus, they besought him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, 5 for he loves our nation, and he built us our synagogue.”6 And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; 7 therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. 8 For I am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, `Go,’ and he goes; and to another, `Come,’ and he comes; and to my slave, `Do this,’ and he does it.” 9 When Jesus heard this he marveled at him, and turned and said to the multitude that followed him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave well. Context: Jesus’ healing of the centurion’s slave, described in today’s Gospel, shows us how God listens to our Faith-filled prayers and meets our needs. Centurions were reliable, commanding officers, brave captains in charge of 80 soldiers in the first century AD.. They were the backbone of the Roman army. According to Luke’s account (Lk 7:1-10), this centurion loved the Jews, respected their religious customs, built a synagogue for them, loved his sick servant, trusted in Jesus’ power of healing, and was ready to face the ridicule of his fellow-centurions by pleading before a Jewish rabbi.

The remote healing: The centurion asked Jesus to shout a command, as the centurion did with his soldiers, so that the illness might leave his servant by the power of that order. Jesus was moved by the centurion’s Faith-filled request and rewarded the trusting Faith of this Gentile officer by performing a telepathic healing. When we ask for the intercession of the saints, we are like the centurion, acknowledging that we are not worthy, by our own merits, to stand before the Lord and bring Him our request.

Life messag: 1) We need to grow to the level of the Faith of the centurion by knowing and personally experiencing Jesus in our lives. We do so by daily meditative reading of the Bible, by our daily personal and family prayers and by frequenting the Sacraments, especially the Eucharistic celebration. The next step to which the Holy Spirit brings us is the complete surrender of our whole being and life to Jesus whom we have experienced, by rendering loving service to others seeing Jesus in them. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections.

Sept 13 Tuesday: (St. John Chrysostom, Bishop, Doctor of the Church):https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-john-chrysostom Lk 7:11-17: 11 Soon afterward he went to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the city, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a large crowd from the city was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 And he came and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17 And this report concerning him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.

The context: Today’s Gospel presents one of the three stories in the Gospel where Jesus brings a dead person back to life. The other stories are those of Lazarus and of the daughter of Jairus, the synagogue leader. Today’s story is found only in Luke. Nain is a village six miles SE of Nazareth, and it is mentioned nowhere else in the Bible. The scene is particularly sad because the mother in this story, who had already lost her husband, has now lost her only son and her only means of support.

Jesus’ touch of human kindness: Jesus was visibly moved by the sight of the weeping widow, perhaps because he could foresee his own mother in the same position at the foot of his cross. His compassionate heart prompted him to console the widow saying: “Do not weep.” Then Luke reports, “He touched the bier and when the bearers stood still, he said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise.’ And the dead man sat up and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother,” and participated in her indescribable joy. There were instances in the Old Testament of people being raised from death, by Elijah (1 Kgs 17:17-24), and Elisha (2 Kgs 4:32-37). Jesus’ miracle took place near the spot where the prophet Elisha had brought another mother’s son back to life again (see 2 Kgs 4:18-37). These miracles were signs of the power of God working through His prophets. In the case of the widow’s son in today’s Gospel, the miracle showed the people that Jesus, like Elijah and Elisha, was, at the least, a great prophet.

Life messages: 1) St. Augustine compares the joy of that widow to the joy of our Mother the Church when her sinful children return to the life of grace: “Our Mother the Church rejoices every day when people are raised again in spirit.” 2) The event also reminds us to have the same love and compassion for those who suffer that Jesus had. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections.

Sept 14 Wednesday: (The Exaltation of the Holy Cross) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/-Exaltation-of-the-Holy-Cross : John 3:13-17.

Introduction: We celebrate this feast of the Exaltation of the Cross for two reasons: (1) to understand the history of the discovery and recovery of the True Cross and (2) to appreciate better the importance of the symbol and reality of Christ’s sacrificial love, namely, the cross in the daily life of every Christian.

History:The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is one of twelve “Master feasts” celebrated in the Church to honor Jesus Christ, our Lord and Master. This feast is celebrated to memorialize the first installation of the remnants of the true cross of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher at Mount Calvary, September 14, AD 335, and its reinstallation on September 14, AD 630. The original cross on which Jesus was crucified was excavated in AD 326 by a team led by St. Helena, the mother of the first Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine. The Emperor built the Church of the Holy Sepulcher on Calvary, it was consecrated on September 14, AD 335, and the remains of the cross were installed in it by Archbishop Maccharios of Jerusalem. After three centuries, the Persians invaded Jerusalem, plundered it of all valuables and took with them the relic of the Holy Cross. In AD 630, Heraclius II defeated the Persians, recaptured the casket containing the holy relic, and reinstalled it in the rebuilt Church, which was destroyed by Muslims in 1009. The crusaders rebuilt it as the present Church of the Holy Sepulcher in 1149. The largest fragment of the holy cross is now kept in Santa Croce Church in Rome. The first reading today (Nm 21:4b—9) describes how God healed the complaining Israelites through the brazen serpent. The second reading Phil 2:6-11) reminds us that Jesus, “ humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross,” In today’s Gospel, answering the question raised by Nicodemus, Jesus cites the example of how, when the Israelites were in the desert, the impaled brazen serpent (representing the healing power of God), which God commanded Moses to raise, saved from death the serpent-bitten Israelites who looked at it (Nm 21:4-9). Then Jesus explains how He is going to save the world by dying on the cross.

Life messages: 1) We should honor and venerate the cross and carry it on our person to remind ourselves of the love of God for us and the price Jesus paid for our salvation. 2) The cross will give us strength in our sufferings and remind us of our hope of eternal glory with the risen Lord. With St. Paul, we express our belief that the “message of the cross is foolishness only to those who are perishing” (1Cor 1:18-24), and that we should “glory in the cross of Our Lord” (Gal 6:14). 3) We should bless ourselves with the sign of the cross to remind ourselves that we belong to Christ Jesus, to honor the Most Holy Trinity, and to ask the Triune God to bless us, save us and protect us from all danger and evil. 4) The crucifix should remind us that we are forgiven sinners and, hence, we are expected to forgive those who offend us and to ask for forgiveness whenever we offend others or hurt their feelings. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections.

Sept 15 Thursday: (Our Lady of Sorrows or Mother of Sorrows) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/our-lady-of-sorrows/: Jn 19:25-27 or Lk 2:33-35:

Today we remember the spiritual martyrdom of the Mother of Jesus and her participation in the sufferings of her Divine Son. Mary is the Queen of martyrs because she suffered in spirit all Jesus suffered during His Passion and death, her spiritual torments were greater than the bodily agonies of the martyrs, and Mary offered her sorrows to God for our sake. The principal Biblical references to Mary’s sorrows are found in Lk 2:35 and Jn 19:26-27. Many early Church writers interpret the sword prophesied by Simeon as Mary’s sorrows, especially as she saw Jesus die on the cross. In the past, the Church celebrated two feasts to commemorate separately 1) the spiritual martyrdom of the Blessed Virgin Mary throughout her life as the mother of Jesus and 2) her compassion for her Divine Son during his suffering and death. The devotion to the Seven Dolors (sorrows) of Mary honors her for the motherly sufferings she endured during the whole life of Jesus on earth.In 1239 the seven founders of the Servite Order took up the sorrows of Mary who stood under the Cross as the main devotion of their religious Order. Originally, this day was kept on the Friday before Good Friday. It was Pope Pius XII who changed the date of the feast to the 15th of September immediately after the feast of the Triumph of the Cross. The nineteenth-century German mystic Anne Catherine Emmerich claimed to have received a vision in which Mary actually kisses the blood of Jesus in the many sacred places on the way of the cross. In his film, The Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson, inspired by this vision, pictures Claudia, Pontius Pilate’s wife, secretly handing Mary cloths to collect the blood of Jesus from the streets of Jerusalem.The seven sorrows:There are seven times of great suffering in Mary’s life. These events remind many parents of their personal family experiences of sorrow and mourning for their dear children. 1) Hearing the prophecy of Simeon, 2) Fleeing with Jesus and Joseph into Egypt, to escape Herod’s soldiers sent to kill Jesus, 3) Losing Child Jesus in Jerusalem, 4) Meeting Jesus on the road to Calvary, 5) Standing at the foot of Jesus’ Cross, 6) Receiving the Body of Jesus as it is taken down from the Cross, and 7) The burial of Jesus.

Life message: 1) On this feast day let us pray for those who continue to endure similar sufferings that they may receive from God the strength that they desperately need to continue to carry their spiritual crosses. Let us try to enter into the sorrowing hearts of the mothers in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Nigeria and other terrorist-haunted nations and the mothers in the United States and other countries grieving for their children, soldiers and civilians alike. 2) Let us also remember with repentant hearts that it is our sins which caused the suffering of Jesus and Mary. [“At
the
cross her station keeping
,/ Stood
the mournful
mother weeping, / Close to Jesus to the last.// Through her
heart, his sorrow
sharing
, / All his bitter
anguish bearing, /
Now at length the sword has passed.”
(Stabat
Mater
)] (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections.

Sept 16 Friday: (St. Cornelius, Pope )(https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-cornelius and St. Cyprian, Bishop, Martyrs (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-cyprian ), Luke 8:1-3: 1 Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, 2 and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3 and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.

The context: Today’s Gospel describes how Jesus began his preaching and healing ministry in the company of the twelve Apostles and a group of women volunteers. Luke’s Gospel pays special attention to women. The female following of Jesus was out of the ordinary at the time and in the place where Jesus lived. In those days, strict rabbis would not speak to a woman in public, and very strict ones would not speak to their own wives in the streets or public places. In his Gospel, Luke provides Mary’s recollections of her own history with Jesus whom she outlived, describes several women around Jesus, like Elizabeth, Mary’s kinswoman, the prophetess Anna, the sinful woman, Martha and Mary, the crippled woman, the woman with hemorrhage, the women who supplied the needs of Jesus and his Apostles out of their own resources, and, in the parables, the woman kneading yeast into the dough, the woman with the lost coin and the woman who tamed the judge.

The ministry and the associates: Jesus started preaching the “Good News” that God His Father is not a judging and punishing God, but a loving and forgiving God Who wants to save mankind through His Son Jesus. Luke mentions the names of a few women who helped Jesus’ ministry by their voluntary service and financial assistance. Some among them were rich and influential like Joanna, the wife of King Herod’s steward, Chuza. We meet Joanna again among the women who went to the tomb on the morning of the Resurrection (Luke 24:10). Some others like Mary of Magdala were following Jesus to express their gratitude for the healing they had received from Jesus. This mixture of different types of women volunteers, all attracted by the person and message of Jesus, supported his Messianic Mission by providing food and other material assistance to Jesus and the Apostles who proclaimed the Gospel by word and deed and by their communal and shared life. It is nice to know that our Lord availed Himself of their charity and that they responded to Him with such refined and generous detachment that Christian women feel filled with a holy and fruitful envy (St. Josemaria Escriva). At crucial moments, Jesus was better served by the women disciples than by the men.

Life message: 1) The evangelizing work of the Church needs the preaching of the missionaries and preachers, feeding and leading the believers in parishes. 2) This work also needs the active support of all Christians by their transparent Christian lives, fervent prayers and financial assistance. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections.

Sept 17 Saturday: (St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop, Doctor of the Church),(https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-robert-bellarmine) St. Hildegard of Bingen, Virgin, Doctor of the Church) https://mycatholic.life/saints/saints-of-the-liturgical-year/saint-hildegard-of-bingen/ Luke 8: 4-15: 4 And when a great crowd came together and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell along the path, and was trodden under foot, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns grew with it and choked it. 8 And some fell into good soil and grew, and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said this, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” 9 And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand. 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy; but these have no root, they believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.

The context: Today’s Gospel passage gives us the parable of the sower, the seeds sown, and the yield (depending upon the soil type). This, the first parable of Jesus in the New Testament about the Kingdom of Heaven, is also a parable interpreted by Jesus himself. It was intended as a warning to the hearers to be attentive, and to the apostles to be hopeful, about Jesus’ preaching in the face of growing opposition to Jesus and his ideas. The sower is God—through Jesus, the Church, the parents, and the teachers. The seed sown is the high-yielding word of God which is also described as “a sharp sword” (Is 49:2), “two-edged sword” (Heb 4:12), and “fire and hammer” (Jer 23:29).

Soil type and the yield: The hardened soil on the footpath represents people with minds closed because of laziness, pride, prejudice, or fear. The soil on flat rock pieces represents emotional types of people who go after novelties without sticking to anything and are unwilling to surrender their wills to God. “I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19). The soil filled with weeds represents people addicted to evil habits and evil tendencies, those whose hearts are filled with hatred, jealousy, or the greed that makes them interested only in acquiring money by any means and in enjoying life in any way possible. The good and fertile soil represents well-intentioned people with open minds and clean hearts, earnest in hearing the word and zealous in putting it into practice. Zacchaeus, the sinful woman, and the thief on Jesus’ right side, St. Augustine, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Francis Xavier, among others, fall into this category of the good soil.

Life message: Let us become the good soil and produce hundred-fold harvests by earnestly hearing, faithfully assimilating and daily cultivating the word of God we have received, so that the Holy Spirit may produce His fruits in our lives. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections.

O. T. XXIV (Sunday Sept 11th) homily

O.T. XXIV [C] (Sept 11) Eight-minute homily in one-page (L/22)

Introduction: Today’s readings invite us to believe in a loving, patient, merciful, forgiving God. The Good News Jesus preached was that God is not a cruel, judging, punishing God. He is our loving and forgiving Heavenly Father Who wants to save everyone through His Son Jesus. He is always in search of His lost and straying children, as Jesus explains in the three parables of today’s Gospel. (Add a homily starter anecdote).

Scripture lessons summarized: Today’s first and second readings and Responsorial Psalm (Ex 32:14 + Psalm 51+ 1 Tm 1:16) point to God’s patience with his wayward children, and the Gospel selection (Lk 15:6,9-24) demonstrates His festive joy at their return. In today’s first reading, taken from Exodus, Moses is imploring a forgiving God to have mercy on the sinful people who have abandoned Him and turned to idol-worship. He reminds God of His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and to show mercy to His unfaithful people. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 51) is the song of the sinful man returning to God to seek His mercy. In today’s second reading, Paul tells Timothy that, although he, Paul, had been the greatest of sinners (as the former persecutor of the Church), God has shown great mercy towards him. Chapter 15 of Luke’s Gospel has been called “the Gospel within the Gospel,” because it is the distilled essence of the Good News about the mercy of our forgiving Heavenly Father. The whole chapter is essentially single parable, the “Parable of the Lost and Found,” with three parable illustrations: the story of the lost sheep, the story of the lost coin and the major story of the lost son. These stories remind us that we have a God who welcomes sinners and forgives their sins whenever they return to Him with genuine contrition and resolution. The Hebrew term forrepentance, teshuvá, means a return to God by a person who has already experienced God’s “goodness and compassion” (Ps. 51).

Life messages: 1) We need to live every day as our merciful God’s forgiven children: Let us begin every day offering all our actions for God’s glory and praying for the strengthening anointing of the Holy Spirit so that we may obey God’s holy will by doing good and avoiding evil, and try to live in God’s presence everywhere. Before we go to bed at night, let us examine our conscience and confess to God our sins and failures of the day, asking His pardon and forgiveness. Let us resolve to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation if we have fallen into serious sins. Let us continue to ask for God’s forgiveness before we receive Jesus in Holy Communion during the Holy Mass. Thus, let us live a peaceful life as forgiven prodigal children, getting daily reconciled with God our merciful and forgiving Father.

2) Let us ask God for the courage and good will to extend His forgiveness to others: Let us realize the truth that our brothers and sisters deserve and expect from us the same compassion, kindness, and forgiveness which we receive from our merciful God. As forgiven prodigals, we must become forgiving people, for Jesus taught us to pray, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” As we continue with the celebration of the Holy Mass, let us pray also for God’s Divine mercy on all of us who have fallen away from God’s grace. Let us open our eyes to see and ears to hear that Jesus is welcoming us back home!

OT XXIV [C] (Sept 11) Ex 32:7-11, 13-14; I Tm 1:12-17; Lk 15:1-32

Homily starter anecdotes # 1: Prodigal son’s prodigal father: He was a rebel, a college drop-out, a carouser, and a partier. He smoked, he drank Johnnie-Walker, he was a brawler, and he had more run-ins with the law than you would care to count. By his own admission, he was the quintessential prodigal son. But now, following the most respected, admired, and perhaps famous American of the twentieth century, Billy Graham, Franklin Graham not only has a tremendous, benevolent ministry called The Samaritan’s Purse, from which he meets needs all over the world, but is preaching the Gospel just as his dad did, to thousands and thousands of people. — He is where he is today because he had a father who made sure the door was always open for his prodigal son. (https://hopeonfranklingraham.weebly.com/). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 2: <1987 <2007 Miraculous rescue of Jessica McClure: For two days in October of 1987, not just a community, not just a state, not just a nation, but the entire world was watching with bated breath the drama of an eighteen-month-old little girl named Jessica McClure who had fallen twenty-two feet through an eight-inch opening in an oil pipeline at a daycare center. For fifty-eight solid hours over two and one-half days, drilling experts, highway construction equipment, pneumatic drills, special air vents, high pressure hydraulic drills, were employed in an unbelievable Herculean effort to rescue this one little girl. When she was finally pulled from that hole, an entire world cheered. When rescuers finally brought her to the surface, her head was bandaged. She was covered with dirt and bruises, and her right palm was immobilized to her face. She had to undergo five surgeries and lost one of her toes. Despite the size and diversity of the United States, the drama of Baby Jessica’s being lost and found touched hearts nationwide. Every parent hugged his/her own child a little tighter. For just a moment in time, one lost little girl became lost to each of them. And when everyone’s child, Baby Jessica, was found at last, an entire nation rejoiced. (Jessica is thirty years old in 2016, happily married to Daniel Morales and is a stay-at-home mom of two children, still carrying a scar on her forehead. At 25, she received $ 800,000 from the bank, the gifts people donated for her after her miraculous rescue as a child). — In today’s Gospel text, Jesus has the courage to suggest to his audience, especially those surly, grumbling Pharisees and scribes, that this is the kind of rejoicing that goes on in Heaven every time a sinner repents. (https://youtu.be/HBk5mlVYAZ4). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

3)  “They’re looking for me:” There’s an old, old story, that I think is still funny. The phone rings and a little boy answers in a whisper: “Hello?” The caller says: “Hi, is your Mommy there? “Yes!” “Can I talk to her?” “No!” “Why not?” “She’s busy.” “What about your Daddy, can I talk to him?” “No! He’s busy.” “Well, is there anyone else there?” “My little sister.” “Is there anyone else there? Another adult?” “Uh, huh. The police.” “Can I talk to one of them?” “No, they’re busy.” “Is there anyone else there?” “Yes, the firemen.” “Can I talk to one of them?” “No, they’re busy, too.” Caller: “Good heavens, your whole family’s busy, the police and fire departments are there and they’re busy! What’s everybody doing?” The little boy giggled and whispered: “They’re looking for me.” — Today’s passage of Scripture is about searching and finding. And that’s an old story that illustrates the frantic nature of people who have lost something and are in search of it. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 4: Prodigal grandfather’s returned prodigal grandson: Billy Graham and Ruth Bell Graham also have a prodigal grandson Tullian Tchividjian, the middle of seven children born to Stephan Tchividjian and Billy Graham’s eldest daughter, Gigi. At 16, unable to obey his parents’ basic rules (like not bringing drugs in the house), he was escorted by police from his home. He dropped out of school and spent the next five years partying on South Beach. “I was a wild man. I lived a no-holds-barred lifestyle,” Tchividjian said. “If I believed it would bring me maximum pleasure in the moment, I did it, no matter what it was.” Eventually, he said, he bottomed out. He arrived home late one night, coming down from a high, and literally fell to the floor. “God, I have tried my best to ignore you and to do things my way,” he remembers praying. “I’m broken. I’m broken and in need of fixing.”– A classic prodigal son story followed. Tchividjian recommitted himself to Christ, entered the seminary, became a minister. He married and had three children. He started the New City Presbyterian Church, a 450-member church in Coconut Creek. He wrote a book, “Do I Know God?” It was published in 2007 and asks readers to ponder the title’s question. ( http://www.nbcnews.com/id/20377310/ns/us_news-faith/t/billy-grahams-kin-shares-prodigal-son-story/#.XUNfiknsbcs). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

The central theme of today’s readings is the invitation to believe in a loving, patient, merciful, forgiving God. Today’s readings remind us that God actively seeks out the lost, wants their repentance and rejoices when the lost are found. God is eager to be merciful toward us, not vengeful and punishing. He is always in search of His lost and straying children, as Jesus explains in the three parables of today’s Gospel.

Scripture readings summarized:   Our God has always been a God of mercy and patience, a God who seeks out the lost, as shown in the experience of Israel in the desert (the first reading), and through the amazing mercy shown to Paul, the former persecutor of the Church (the second reading). The bridge between them, the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 51) is the song of the repentant sinner: “A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me.” Chapter 15 of Luke’s Gospel has been called “the Gospel within the Gospel,” because it is the distilled essence of the Good News about the mercy of our forgiving Heavenly Father. The whole chapter is essentially one single parable, the “Parable of the Lost and Found,” developed in  two parabolic illustrations: the story of the lost sheep, the story of the lost coin, climaxed with the major parable of the lost son. All explore the experience of finding something that has been lost: a sheep, a  coin and a son. Loss, searching, finding, rejoicing, and sharing of the joy is the pattern in the first two stories.   All three stories remind us that we have a God who welcomes sinners and forgives their sins whenever they return to Him with genuine contrition and resolution. The Hebrew term for repentance, teshuvá, means a return to God by a person who has already experienced God’s “goodness and compassion” (Ps. 51).

The first reading (Exodus 32: 1-14) explained:  The rhythm of man’s sin and God’s forgiveness pervades the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. In today’s passage, taken from Exodus, Moses is imploring God to have mercy on the sinful people who have abandoned Him and turned to idol-worship (the golden calf). Moses reminds God of His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and insists that the people belong to God not to Moses whom God had commanded and authorized to lead them out of Egypt. God’s people break their covenant with the God who has just saved them. Such rank ingratitude calls for retribution, but God hears Moses’ plea and takes his people back. The reading concludes with the consoling passage: “So the Lord relented in the punishment He had threatened to inflict on His people,” in response to the audacious and unselfish plea of Moses. [Some Bible scholars consider this incident of idol-worship as an anachronized event: an event which took place later in Israel’s history and was then incorporated into the book of Exodus. They say the apostasy of the golden calf actually took place during the tenth century B.C.E. during the reign of Jeroboam I the first king of the northern kingdom of Israel.  Jeroboam set up two golden calves in his sanctuaries, to keep the northern people from going to Jerusalem for worship in God’s Temple,   thus safeguarding his own position as King of a separate Kingdom.

Second reading (I Tm 1:12-17) explained: The source for our second reading for today, 1 Timothy, is classified among the Pastoral Letters along with 2 Timothy and Titus. (It is believed by some Bible scholars to have been written by a disciple of Paul who was familiar with his mentor’s teachings and sympathetic to his concerns). Here Paul repeats his story of conversion, intending to offer to everyone who will listen, a challenge to conversion. As Saul of Tarsus, a zealous Jew,  Paul  persecuted the church of God,  but not only is he forgiven, he is called to be an apostle. Paul always contrasts his life before Christ with his life after his Damascus experience. In today’s passage (1:12-17), Paul tells Timothy that, although   he, Paul, had been the greatest of sinners, as a blasphemer and arrogant persecutor, God showed great mercy towards him. Paul’s sin was self-righteousness:  he had been a zealot ready to persecute anyone he judged doctrinally unsound.  It was Paul, then called Saul, who, approving the actions of St. Stephen’s stoners, had watched over their cloaks.  In his letter, Paul reminds young Bishop Timothy of how God in His mercy changed Paul’s mind and pardoned him.  “But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the Faith and Love that are in Christ Jesus.” Paul acknowledges the fact that he had wandered from the truth and rejoices that God first found him, then commissioned him to preach the Good News of God’s unconditional love, calling every prodigal home. Like John Newton, the eighteenth-century English composer of Amazing Grace, Paul declared his past openly. . . “I once was lost” . . . “I once was a blasphemer, a persecutor, a man filled with arrogance” (v. 13). Calling himself, “the worst of sinners,” and, “an extreme case,” (vv 15, 16), Paul invites us to marvel at the mercy of God and to find hope and help for dealing with our own need for conversion. Every forgiven and transformed prodigal can rejoice with Paul by offering honor and glory to the merciful and forgiving God.

Gospel exegesis:  The parables of a loving and forgiving God: In the first two parables, there are the common elements of loss, searching, finding, rejoicing, and sharing of the joy. These parables show a God seeking sinners, but in the third parable, we see a God forgiving and receiving sinners.  As a group, the parables tell us about God’s generosity in   seeking and receiving the sinner and the joy of the sinner in being received by a forgiving and loving God. All three parables of Luke 15 end with a party or a celebration of the finding.  Since the self-righteous Pharisees, who accused Jesus of befriending publicans and sinners, could not believe that God would be delighted at the conversion of sinners, Jesus told them the parable of the lost sheep and the shepherd’s joy on its discovery, the parable of the lost coin and the woman’s joy when she found it, and the parable of the lost and returned son and his Father’s joy. Besides presenting a God who is patiently waiting for the return of the sinners, ready to pardon them, these parables teach us of God’s infinite love and mercy.  These three parables defend Jesus’ alliance with sinners and respond to the criticism by certain Pharisees and scribes of Jesus’ frequent practice of eating with and welcoming tax-collectors and sinners and of his receptivity to the lost among God’s people.

The lost sheep: Shepherding in Judaea was a hard and dangerous task.  Pasture was scarce, and thorny scrub jungles with wild animals and vast desert areas were common, posing a constant threat to the wandering sheep.  But the shepherds were famous for their dedicated, sacrificial service, perpetual vigilance, and readiness for action.  Hence, the shepherd was the national symbol of Divine Providence and self-sacrificing love in Israel.  Two or three shepherds might be personally responsible for the sheep owned by several families in a village.   If any sheep was missing, one of the shepherds would go in search of it, sending the other            shepherds home with the flock. The whole village would be  waiting for the return of the shepherd with the lost sheep and would receive him with shouts of joy and of thanksgiving.  That is the picture Jesus draws of God.  God is as glad when a lost sinner is found as a shepherd is when a strayed sheep is brought home.  Men may give up hope of reclaiming a sinner, but not so God.  God loves those people who never stray from Him, but He expresses even greater joy when a lost sinner comes home.

The Lost Coin: The coin in question in this parable was a silver drachma. Since the houses were very dark, with one little circular window, and since the floor was made of beaten earth covered with dried reeds and rushes, it was practically impossible to find such a tiny coin. But the woman tried her best to get it back because   it was worth more than a whole day’s wage for a workingman in Palestine.  If the coin had been one of the ten silver coins attached by a silver chain to the traditional headdress of a married woman, it would have been as important to her as the wedding ring is in our society.   Thus, we can understand the woman’s joy when at last she saw the glint of the elusive coin.  God, said Jesus, is like that.  The joy of God and of all the angels when one sinner comes home is like the joy of a woman who loses her most precious possession with a value far beyond money and then finds it again.  We believe in the seeking the Love of God because we see that Love Incarnate in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came to seek and to save that which was lost.

The lost son:  This has been called” the greatest short story in the world.”  It speaks about the deep effects of sin, the self-destruction of hatred and jealousy, and the infinite mercy of God. This is a story of love, of conflict, of deep heartbreak, and of ecstatic joy. The scene opens on a well-to-do Jewish family. With the immaturity of a spoiled brat the younger son demands impudently of his gracious father, “Give me the portion of goods that falls to me.” Demanding one’s inheritance while one’s father was alive was equivalent to treating the father as dead. Under Jewish law, when a father divided his property between two sons, the elder son had to receive two-thirds and the younger one-third (Dt 21:17). In Jesus’ parable, the younger son offends his father a second time by selling out his share of the inheritance, and a third time by going to a “far country”  and squandering all the money there.  The land was sacred to the Jewish people because it was the Promised Land given to the Chosen People. Hence, each bit of land was considered holy, and no Israelite could lawfully sell his property (Lv 25:23, I Kgs 21). Ancient “social security” basically consisted in sons farming their father’s land and taking care of their parents until their parents died. death. Thus, in selling his land, the prodigal has sold his parents’ social security.

The conversion, return, and confession: When he becomes bankrupt, the prodigal son ends up feeding pigs, a task that was forbidden to a Jew (Lv 11:7; 14:8).  Having sunk to the depths of economic, spiritual, and moral depravity, the prodigal finally “comes to his senses” (v 17).  So he decides to return to his father, to ask his forgiveness and to beg for the status of a hired servant.   When he sees his son returning, however, the ever-watchful father runs to him and gives him a cordial welcome along with a new robe, a ring and new shoes. (Why did the father run to receive his returning son? 1) To save him from stoning by others who would recognize him as a “stubborn and disobedient son.” “If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother … all the men of the city shall stone him with stones, that he die ….(Dt. 21:18, 21). 2) To show his son his forgiving love.”). Symbolically, the robe stands for honor; the ring for authority (the signet ring gave a person the power of attorney), and the shoes for the son’s place as a member of the family (slaves did not wear shoes).   The father also throws a great feast killing the “fatted calf’ reserved for the Passover feast so that all may rejoice at the wanderer’s return.  The Vatican II document Lumen Gentium # 1 has a beautiful description of sin, saying that sin is before all else an offense against God and a rupture of communion with Him. At the same time, it damages communion with the Church. Hence conversion entails both God’s forgiveness and reconciliation with the Church which are expressed and accomplished liturgically by the sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation. So as we continue with the celebration of the Holy Mass, let us pray for those who have fallen away from the grace of God so that Divine mercy and forgiveness may reach out to them before it is too late. May their ears be opened so they will hear that Jesus is welcoming them back home.

The “Prodigal Father” and the self-righteous elder brother:  The parable illustrates the wonder of God’s love and unconditional forgiveness. God seeks out the sinner and forgives him unconditionally. Jesus recounts the story of the elder brother as his response to the accusation by the self-righteous Pharisees that he was the friend of sinners.  The elder brother represents the self-righteous Pharisees who would rather see a sinner destroyed than saved.  He reflects the Pharisees’ attitude that obedience to Mosaic Law is a duty, not a loving service.  Like the Pharisees, the elder brother resents and is jealous of  his younger sibling, now restored to his place in the family, and levels accusations against him. As a self-righteous person, he refuses to forgive and refuses the love his father assures him is his (“All that I have is yours!” ) Thus, his grudge becomes a sin in itself, resulting in his self-exclusion from the banquet of his father’s love.  That is what we all do when we sin.  We exclude ourselves from the banquet of God’s love. Jesus does not tell us what the elder brother did then – leaving us to  ponder the question and its application to ourselves!

Life messages: 1) We need to live every day as our merciful God’s forgiven children: Let us begin every day by praying for the strengthening anointing of the Holy Spirit, so that we may learn how to obey God’s holy will by doing good, avoiding evil, and trying to live in God’s presence everywhere. Before we go to bed at night, let us examine our conscience and confess to God our sins and failures of the day, asking His pardon and forgiveness.  Let us resolve to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation if we have fallen into serious sins. Let us continue to ask for God’s forgiveness before we receive Jesus in Holy Communion during the Holy Mass. Thus, let us live a peaceful life as forgiven prodigal children, getting daily reconciled with God, our merciful and forgiving Father.

2) Let us ask God for the courage and good will to extend God’s forgiveness to others:  Let us realize the truth that our brothers and sisters deserve and expect from us the same compassion, kindness and forgiveness which we receive from our merciful God. As forgiven prodigals, we must become forgiving people, for Jesus taught us to pray, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” As we continue with the celebration of the Holy Mass, let us pray also for God’s Divine mercy on all of us who have fallen away from God’s grace.  Let us open our eyes to see and ears to hear that Jesus is welcoming us, and the, back home!

3) We need the Father’s Compassion: Some of us take the prodigal son as a role-mode: go astray at will and come back to be welcomed back!  Some others are ‘good’ like the elder brother —  not willing to forgive. Once we have returned to the Father and have been welcomed and accepted, we must emulate the love and forgiveness as shown by father in the story. As heirs to our Father we must practice love and forgiveness for all in need.  Jesus is not asking us to be like either of the two brothers.  Let us try and be like the father in the story. “Be made perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Be compassionate as my Father.” (Joe Vempeny)

4) We need to forgive ourselves: There are many areas in our lives that need forgiveness and therefore repentance. A good place to start is ourselves. We often say to ourselves, ‘I can never forgive myself for doing that stupid thing.’ Because we have not forgiven ourselves, we feel bitter and angry – with ourselves, with others, with the world, and even with God. When we forgive and are forgiven, a great healing takes place in us. We learn to be humble. We also develop a positive outlook not only about God but also about ourselves, others, and our society. We then think and speak well of them and do them good. This transformation in ourselves is certainly cause for great rejoicing in heaven.

JOKE OF THE WEEK: 1) The most unhappy character:  The pastor told the story of “The Prodigal Son” to a first-grade class. To check on their understanding, he asked; “Who was the unhappy character in the story when the prodigal son returned?”  An eager boy raised his hand and stated the simple truth.  “The Fatted Calf.”

2) The self-righteous admirer.  Bishop Sheen once told a story about a trip he made by plane, and how one of the attendants made a big fuss over him.  “Do you want some more coffee, Your Excellency?”   “Oh, my mother prays for you every day.”  “I must write to her and tell her about seeing you.”  About that time a big Texan who had had a little too much to drink, started cursing, making passes at the attendant and creating a big ruckus.  Finally, the attendant who had had enough, walked up to the Texan and said, “Sir, I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to be quiet.  Bishop Sheen, the famous televangelist is flying with us.”  “Bishop Fulton J. Sheen is flying with us?” the Texan asked with surprise.   Then he stumbled back to where Bishop Sheen was sitting and said, “Bishop Sheen, I’m so glad to meet you.  I just want you to know how much your sermons have helped me to live an ideal Christian life!”

3) Pastor for the dinner on the return of the prodigal son. Mr. & Mrs. Dennis invited their pastor for the dinner hosted in honor of the return of their son after long years of his wandering life. As Mrs. Dennis busied herself preparing food, she asked her little daughter to set the table. When the pastor started the prayer before the meals, Mrs. Dennis noticed that her daughter forgot to place silverware for the pastor. Embarrassed at the oversight, Mrs. Dennis asked her little girl why she had not placed silverware for the pastor. “Because, Mom, I have heard Papa saying that our pastor eats like a horse!”

USEFUL WEBSITES OF THE WEEK (For homilies & Bible study groups)

1) Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs: https://sundayprep.org/featured-homilies/   (Copy it on the Address bar and press the Enter button)

 2) Fr. Geoffrey Plant’s beautiful & scholarly video classes on Sunday gospel, Bible & RCIA topics:   https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant20663)

3)Fr. Nick’s collection of Sunday homilies from 65 priests & weekday homilies: https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies

4) Dr. Brant Pitre’s commentary on Cycle C Sunday Scripture for Bible Class: https://catholicproductions.com/blogs/mass-readings-explained-year-Biblical basis of Catholic doctrines: http://scripturecatholic.com/

5)    Agape Catholic Bible Lessons: http://www.agapebiblestudy.com/

6)   Word of God Every Day: http://wordofgodeveryday.com/

7)  Bible Study Tools: http://www.biblestudytools.com/

8)Movie clip:  https://youtu.be/X_QCQ5i7NKs  & Church of God homily: https://youtu.be/IC3RnCVnjnQ 

9) Text Week homilies on Luke 15: 1-32: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk15.htm

21 Additional anecdotes:

1) “Paco, meet me at the Hotel Montana noon Tuesday.  All is forgiven.”  In Ernest Hemingway’s short story, a Spanish newspaper carried a poignant story about a father and his son.  It went like this.  A teen-aged boy, Paco, and his very wealthy father had a falling out, and the young man ran away from home.  The father was crushed.  After a few days, he realized that the boy was serious, so the father set out to find him.  He searched high and low for five months to no avail.  Finally, in a last, desperate attempt to find his son, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper.  The ad read, “Dear Paco, Meet me at the Hotel Montana noon Tuesday.  All is forgiven.  I love you.  Signed, Your Father.   On Tuesday, in the office of Hotel Montana, over 800 Pacos showed up, looking for love and forgiveness from their fathers!!  — What a magnet that ad was.  Over 800 Pacos because Paco was a very common name!!  In today’s Gospel Jesus tells the story of such a Paco and the joy it brings to his father and his heavenly Father. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

2) Prodigal girl December’s return: Many years ago, comedian Chonda Pierce met a young woman named December. December’s father was a pastor. December got the message early on that pastor’s children are supposed to be perfect. December knew she would never be good enough for the people at Church. So December began rebelling against her family’s and her Church’s expectations. By her late teens, she was living on the streets. She spent her nights partying, sleeping with any man who caught her eye. Sometimes, she would slip into her parents’ Church during the service, but she always left before anyone could talk to her. After she became pregnant, December decided to return to her parents. She expected shame and condemnation. Instead, December’s parents welcomed her back with open arms. — As she says, “The bottom line is that I came back to my family and God because they love me with no strings attached. They forgave me. . . I thought I could do something to make them disown me, but I was wrong.” [Chonda Pierce, It’s Always Darkest Before the Fun Comes Up (Grand Rapids, MI.: Zondervan, 1998), pp. 80-84).] (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

3) Newsweek story of the return of the meth addict prodigal: In 1990, Michale Mohr’s son, Jeff, moved to Arizona to work as a computer technician. Michale, back in Portland, Oregon, looked forward to her son’s weekly calls. But after a few years in Arizona, Jeff’s phone calls began to taper off. When Michale’s letters to him were returned, she decided to investigate. Michale found out from Jeff’s friends that he had become addicted to crystal meth, a powerful drug. One day, Jeff had just walked away from his apartment. No one knew where he was. For the next three years, Michale Mohr made it her mission in life to find her son. She flew back and forth between Oregon and Arizona, canvassing Jeff’s old neighborhood and talking to his friends and associates. The police offered little help. Michale’s quest to find her drug‑addicted son led her into dangerous, run‑down neighborhoods. At one point, she even dressed as a homeless woman in order to relate to the street people she interviewed. Finally, after three years, Michale made contact with someone who knew Jeff. She remembers distinctly the day she found him. Jeff rode up on his bicycle. He had lost weight, his teeth were rotting, he was bruised from a recent beating. But he had ridden on his bicycle for ten miles in the sweltering Arizona heat to find her. They ran into each other’s arms. Jeff had been trying to fight his addiction, but he had been afraid to contact his mother, afraid of how his addiction might hurt her.– You will be happy to know that Jeff Mohr moved back to Oregon, got a steady job, and joined Narcotics Anonymous. (“The Seamier Side of Life” by Michale Mohr, Newsweek, August 18, 1997, p. 14.) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

4) From the Den of Lions to the land of freedom: In his book, Den of Lions (Crown Publishers, Inc., New York: 1993), Terry Anderson chronicled his journey from terrorist captivity for 12 months to freedom. Anderson, the Chief Middle East Correspondent for the Associated Press, was kidnapped from a street of Moslem West Beirut on March 16, 1985.  In his book he recollects how he left the Church when he was young and slowly moved toward agnosticism for several years, “losing his way for a while,” doing evil things as did the “Prodigal Son.” During his first few weeks of confinement, Anderson was deprived of food, slapped, punched, kicked, cursed at and spat upon. With his legs and arms chained to a metal cot, he felt that he was, as he said, “on the edge of madness, of losing control completely, of breaking down.” From the edge of madness, he began to plead with his captors.  His request for a Bible was granted and, in that moment,, he began the journey that would lead him back to God.  By the time he had marked his fifth month in captivity, Anderson realized that it had been twenty-five years since he had admitted his weaknesses and failures through sacramental reconciliation. So, when the opportunity to do so arose, he was grateful.  The chance for reconciliation with God was given through Father Lawrence Jenco, a Catholic priest and fellow hostage. As they sat together on the floor, Jenco’s warm smile and kindly manner enabled Anderson to ask God for forgiveness. “I have sinned,” he admitted, “in word and in thought, and in what I have done and what I have failed to do.” With his hand resting lightly on Anderson’s head, Father Jenco assured him, “In the name of a gentle loving God, you are forgiven.” Then he pulled the younger man’s head to his shoulder and hugged him. Both men were crying as one received the full flood of the other’s anger, guilt and remorse and returned only warmth, love and understanding.  Although he would not be free to return home to the U.S. for another seven years, Anderson had already found his way home to God and the freedom of forgiveness. Secure in that experience, he also found the spiritual strength and stamina that enabled him to survive the remainder of his captivity. — Today’s Gospel passage describes how God rejoices at the return of his prodigal children, in the shepherd who found his lost sheep, the woman who found her lost silver coin, and the father of the prodigal son who got back his lost son. (Patricia Datchuck Sánchez). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

5) God of justice or God of forgiveness:  On February 3rd of 1998, the State of Texas executed Miss Karla Faye Tucker Brown for her part in two extremely brutal murders committed in 1983.  Karla was the first woman executed by Texas since the 1860’s and she was a born-again Christian. She had a childhood full of abuse and neglect, a youth as a prodigal daughter immersed in a world of drugs and immorality leading her to a sensational, brutal crime earning society’s ultimate punishment. In an attempt to steal a motor bike from the house of Jerry Lynn Dean, she and her boyfriend, Daniel Garrett, brutally murdered Jerry Dean and his girlfriend Deborah Thornton with pickaxes in Jerry’s house at night. — Karla was, to all appearances, a repentant murderer in the jail for 15 years. At the moment of her execution there were two groups of people outside the Texas state prison in Huntsville: a group protesting her execution, who were there praying for her, and a group demanding her execution, who were there cheering and jeering as she was received her lethal injection and died. The praying group was calling for love and mercy, and forgiveness, while the cheering group was calling for justice. The parable of the Prodigal Son reminds us today that for God, love, compassion, and forgiveness take precedence over blind justice. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

6) Prodigal son in Johannesburg: In his novel, Cry the Beloved Country (1948), South African educator, author and reluctant politician, Alan Paton, told the story of a father and son in Johannesburg. The boy had strayed to what Winston Churchill had called “that alien land where standards and ideals are lost” (a far country). Desperate to find his lost son, the father searched the entire city, street by street. Relentlessly, tirelessly, he traveled from reform school to Shanty Town, to the jails, inquiring of everyone he met until, at last, he found his wandering boy and brought him home. —Like the loving father featured in today’s Gospel, he did not reproach his son but rejoiced in the fact of their reunion. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

7) “Well, that’s cute, Mom.  What is it?” A divorced woman found herself struggling with an increasingly rebellious teenage daughter. It all came to a head late one night when the police called her to pick up her daughter who had been arrested for drunk driving.  The two of them didn’t speak on the way home or next day either, until at last the mother broke the tension by giving her daughter a small, gift-wrapped package.  The girl opened it with an air of indifference and found inside a small rock.  “Well, that’s cute, Mom.  What is it?” “Read the card, dear,” the mother replied.   As the girl did so, tears began to trickle down her cheeks, and she gave her mom a hug as the card fell to the floor.  On the card her mother had written: “This rock is more than 200 million years old.  That’s how long it’ll take before I give up on you.” —That’s what Jesus is telling us about God in today’s readings: He never gives up on us. (Fr. Clarke). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

8) “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree.” In 1973, Tony Orlando recorded the song, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree.” It became the number one hit record for the year, became Tony Orlando’s theme song and grew into an American anthem of hope and homecoming, reunion and renewal. We have used it (and its yellow ribbon symbol), to welcome home soldiers, POW’s, hostages, and lost children. The song was probably inspired by the following story. A young man is on a train. He seems deeply troubled — nervous, anxious, afraid, fighting back the tears. An older man seated beside him senses that something is wrong, and he asks the younger man if he is all right. The young man, needing to talk, blurts out his story: Three years before, after an argument with his father one evening, the young man had run away from home! He had chased back and forth across the country looking for freedom and happiness and, with every passing day, had become more miserable. Finally, it dawned on him that, more than anything, he wanted to go home. Home was where he wanted to be, but he didn’t know how his parents felt about him now. He had written ahead that he would be passing by their back yard on the afternoon train on this day and if they forgave him, if they wanted to see him, if they wanted him to come home, to tie a white rag on the crabapple tree in the back yard. If the white rag were there, he would get off the train and come home; if not, he would stay on the train and stay out of their lives forever. Just as the young man finished his story, the train began to slow down as it pulled into the town where his family lived. Tension was heavy, so much so that the young man couldn’t bear to look. The older man said: “I’ll watch for you. You put your head down and relax close your eyes. I’ll watch for you.” As they came to the old home place, the older man looked and then touched the young man excitedly on the shoulder and said: “Look, son, look! You can go home! You can go home! There’s a white rag on every limb!” — Isn’t that a great story? The truth is: that powerful story is simply a modern re-telling of the greatest short story in history, namely, Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son. The story was probably inspired by the Parable of the prodigal son. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

9) “But he nearly killed the prodigal son!” A teenager came to his pastor for advice: “I left home,” said the boy, “and did something that will make my dad furious when he finds out. What should I do?”  The pastor thought for a moment and replied, “Go home and confess your sin to your father, and he’ll probably forgive you and treat you like the prodigal son.”  Sometime later the boy reported to his pastor, “Well, I told Dad what I did.”  “And did he kill the fatted calf for you?” asked the priest. “No,” said the boy, “but he nearly killed the prodigal son!” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

10) Rescue of nine miners: On Wednesday, July 24, 2002, nine Pennsylvania miners were trapped 240 feet underground. For three days Americans followed the drama hoping and praying for a miracle. Within twenty-four hours of the disaster, the rescuers successfully lowered an air pipe to where they believed the miners were. By banging on the pipe, the miners signaled that they were alive. Only about a third of the way into the solid granite a 1500-pound drill bit broke. One miner later said, “We fought despair when the drilling stopped.” He found a pen and wrote a good-bye note to his family. Rescuers would not give up. Eventually they reached the miners and lifted each one to safety to the thundering applause of colleagues, reporters and family. — Today’s Gospel reminds us that the Church must recover its search and rescue mission, return to its apostolic roots, and start caring for lost people. That is our mission. As long as there is one lost person, all Heaven is concerned. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

11) “I once was lost, but now am found.” “Amazing Grace” is always listed among the favorite hymns. It is an old one, goingback to the 18th century. It was written by John Newton, who was on the sea from the time he was a little boy. When he was a young man, he became the captain of his own ship, a ship that brought African slaves to the colonies to work the plantations. Back in England, between voyages, he went to hear George Whitefield preach and was converted. He realized the evil of his occupation, left it, and became a priest in the Church of England and served the rest of his life as the rector of a little church in a town called Olney. He wrote a number of hymns which were printed in a collection called the “Olney Hymns,” (a classic collection of hymns in the Church), and “Amazing Grace” was one of them. Even people who are not members of churches, and those who do not profess Faith, find something about this hymn touching them. It is over two hundred years old. It is uncompromisingly Christian in its language. It is evangelical in its message, reflecting John Newton’s experience of being found: “I once was lost, but now am found.” — Maybe that is the clue to its popularity, because it could be called the Christian understanding of our relationship with God. God has found us. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

12) Rembrandt’s painting of the Prodigal Son: In 1986 Henri Nouwen, a Dutch theologian and writer, toured St. Petersburg, Russia, the former Leningrad. While there he visited the famous Hermitage where he saw, among other things, Rembrandt’s painting of the Prodigal Son. The painting was in a hallway and received the natural light of a nearby window. Nouwen stood for two hours, mesmerized by this remarkable painting. As he stood there the sun changed, and at every change of the light’s angle he saw a different aspect of the painting revealed. He would later write: “There were as many paintings in the Prodigal Son as there were changes in the day.” — Just as Henri Nouwen saw a half dozen different facets in Rembrandt’s painting of the Prodigal Son, so, too, are there many different angles in the story itself. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

13) Create him not: An old Jewish legend describes what happened when God created man. The legend says God took into counsel the Angels that stood about his throne. The Angel of Justice said; ‘Create him not, for if You do, he will commit all kinds of wickedness against his fellow man; ‘ The Angel of Truth said, ‘Create him not, for he will be false and deceitful to his brother and even to Thee.’ The Angel of Holiness stood and said; ‘Create him not, for he will follow that which is impure in Your sight and dishonor You to Your Face.’ Then stepped forward the Angel of Mercy, God’s most beloved angel, and said; ‘Create him, Heavenly Father, for when he sins and turns from the path of right and truth and holiness, I will take him tenderly by the hand, and speak loving words to him and then lead him back to You.’ (Fr. Chirackal). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

14) Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy: In her novel, Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy, author Rumer Godden tells an intriguing tale. The heroine of the story is Lise an English army girl who falls on hard times and becomes a prostitute after the liberation of Paris in World War II. Within a short time, she becomes the leading Madame in one of Paris’ smartest brothels owned by a man named Patrice. But Patrice soon tires of Madame Lise as his mistress and she is humiliated. In trying to help a younger prostitute escape from the same fate she suffered, Lise shoots and kills Patrice. So she is sent to prison where she meets the French Dominican Sisters of Bethanie. This is a community dedicated to serving whores, drug addicts and vagrants; some of the sisters were once themselves such unfortunates. Lise becomes one of the Sisters of Bethanie. — Sister Lise is a prototype of the lost sheep and the lost coin in today’s Gospel, reminding us that God’s grace is greater than our sins. (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

15) Lost and Found: Everyone has lost something at one time or another. There is even a website complete with mobile app, http://www.lostandfound.com, that acts as a global ‘lost and found’ box. Users can report items missing and users can report items found. It is a good example of how technology can help people connect in a useful way. This is a gateway site for all of the physical things that can be retrieved and returned to their rightful owners. According to their statistics, about twice as many objects have been reported lost as have been reported found in the U.S. So, the site’s users are losing things at twice the rate they are finding them. — Haven’t we all had the experience of losing things that we know deep down we will never recover? Depending on the situation, we can feel disappointed, heartbroken, hopeless, or simply discouraged by our own inability to keep up with things. Isn’t it a wonderful relief to know that we will never fall into the ‘Lost Forever’ category? Isn’t it reassuring to know that God will never give up on us? Let us include a word of thanks in our prayers this week to acknowledge how grateful we are for that kind of gracious love.  (Staff, www.Sermons.com). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

16)   God Loves Me: There is a wonderful story about Maya Angelou. She is an active member now of Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco. She wrote that years ago when she first came to San Francisco as a young woman she became sophisticated. She said that was what you were supposed to do when you go to San Francisco, you become sophisticated. And for that reason, she said she became agnostic. She thought the two went together. She said that it wasn’t that she stopped believing in God, just that God no longer frequented the neighborhoods that she frequented. She was taking voice lessons at the time. Her teacher gave her an exercise where she was to read out of some religious pamphlet. The reading ended with these words: “God loves me.” She finished the reading, put the pamphlet down. The teacher said, “I want you to read that last sentence again.” So, she picked it up, read it again, this time somewhat sarcastically, then put it down again. The teacher said, “Read it again.” She read it again. Then she described what happened. “After about the seventh repetition I began to sense there might be some truth in this statement. That there was a possibility that God really loves me, Maya Angelou. I suddenly began to cry at the grandness of it all. I knew if God loved me, I could do wonderful things. I could do great things. I could learn anything. I could achieve anything. For what could stand against me with God, since one person, any person, with God, forms a majority now.” (Mark Trotter, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

17) Which Color Would You Be? Ralph Milton tells of the teacher who, for reasons of her own, asked the kids one day, “If all the bad children were painted red and all the good children were painted green, which color would you be?”  Think about it. What color would you be? Red or Green? It is a tough question isn’t it when you pose only two options.  One very wise child answered the teacher: “Striped.” — The reason I am going on about this point is simple. It seems to me that in the frame of the story – everyone but Jesus is striped. It is the same in the world today. We are a curious combination of the lost and the found. We are striped. We are, in some sense, not completely complete. It is hard language, this language of lost and found, especially for folks in the middle, as most of us are, most of the time. It seems too absolute.  Rarely are we completely lost. And rarely are we completely found. There is always a part of us that needs to be dragged and cajoled into the light, and there is always a part of us that is already there in the light. For some it is more and for some it is less, but always some part.  The wonderful thing is that God wants us to enter fully into the light. The wonderful thing is that God wants to bless us all richly to keep us safe, to make us strong, to help us be like a Shepherd who really cares for his sheep, or like a poor widow who really values all her coins. (Richard Fairchild, Seeking the Lost). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/

18) Joy of reconciliation: This story took place when I was a teenager.  My father, who was seriously ill, emotionally vulnerable, and exceedingly sensitive, had an argument with my brother who was going through the pains of a teenage crisis. I do not remember what the conflict was about, but the mutual hurt it generated is forever etched in my memory. My weeping brother packed up his clothes and, before running away from home, advised me to take care of our beloved father and mother. A sense of sadness pervaded each family member. In the afternoon, my mother went to look for my brother. After many moments of anxious searching, my mother finally found him. She pleaded and prevailed upon him to come home. My father was very relieved to see him again safe and sound. My brother was equally happy to be home. It was a moment of joy for all. — Indeed, the grace of reconciliation is a cause for rejoicing. (Lectio Divina). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

19) For a shepherd, to save one erring soul is recompense enough:  How intense the joy of a parent whose little one has wandered off, when the child has finally been recovered, safe and sound! In today’s parable, Jesus depicts the joy of a spiritual shepherd who has anxiously sought out and finally rescued a strayed soul. For a shepherd to save one erring soul is recompense enough. An American Franciscan priest, Father Sixtus O’Connor, had the privilege of saving more than one of the Nazi war criminals condemned at the Nuremberg Trials of 1946.  According to the National Catholic News Service, Fr. O’Connor, who had been a parish priest in Manhattan, served during World War II as a U.S. Army chaplain in Germany. He had studied earlier in universities there and spoke German fluently. It was doubtless because of this fluency that he was retained in service after the close of the war and assigned as chaplain to the Nazi war-criminals imprisoned in the Nuremberg jail while they awaited trial. The prisoners came to respect this man of God because of his realism, Faith, serenity and compassion. Among the prisoners were found men who had held high positions in Nazidom: Baldur von Schirach head of the Nazi youth movement; Hans Fritzsche, deputy minister of propaganda; Hans Frank, Governor of Nazi-held Poland; and Ernst Kaltenbrunner, in charge of the Austrian Gestapo. Through prayer and patient discussion, Fr Sixtus had the happiness of changing the hearts of these four major leaders. Von Schirach, a lapsed Catholic, sentenced to 20 years in prison, returned to devout Catholicism. Herr Fritzche lived to praise the priest in memoirs. Kaltenbrunner was grateful for the priest’s defense when the Allied officials called him a total liar. He and Hans Frank made their peace with God before they were hanged. Frank, bound for the gallows, offered his life in atonement for his sins. What must have been Fr. O’Connor’s gratitude to God at that moment. And on the day that Hans Frank died contrite, how great must have been the “joy in heaven.” (Fr.  Robert F. McNamara). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

20) Tony, Tony, turn around. Something’s lost that must be found.” The tradition of invoking St. Anthony’s help in finding lost or stolen things traces back to a scene from his own life. As the legend goes, Anthony had a book of psalms that, in his eyes, was priceless. There was no printing press yet. Any book had value. This was his book of psalms, his prayer book. Besides, in the margins he’d written all kinds of notes to use in teaching students in his Franciscan Order. A novice who had already grown tired of living a religious life decided to leave the community. Besides going AWOL, he also took Anthony’s Psalter! When he went to his room to pray and found it missing, Anthony prayed it would be found and returned to him. After he prayed this prayer, the thieving novice fleeing through the forest, was met by a demon (okay, this part of the story is murky—how a negative could be an avenue of God’s good). Anyway, the demon told the thief to return the Psalter to Anthony and to return to the Franciscan Order. He did and was accepted back. Soon after Anthony’s death, people began praying through him to find or recover lost and stolen articles. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 

21) “Oh, Daddy! I’ve found you at last!” In the timber mountains of the Northwest of USA a five-year-old boy was lost. Night came. The citizens and rangers searched frantically every cave and mountainside. Snow began to fall. Blanket upon blanket covered the forest floor, but no Bobby could be found. The next morning the father, fatigued from an all-night search, kicked against what seemed to be a log in the path but when the snow fell loose, a small boy sat up, stretched, yawned, and exclaimed: “Oh, Daddy! I’ve found you at last!”

— When we commit sin, we also wander away from God and are lost to Him. But God out of His abounding love and bountiful mercy goes out in search of us until He finds us. He is ‘the Father Who is ever eager to receive us back.’ (Fr. Lakra). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).   (L/22)

 “Scriptural Homilies” Cycle C (No. 51) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com

Visit my website by clicking on https://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle C homilies, 141 Year of FaithAdult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at akadavil@gmail.com. Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies  of Fr. Nick’s collection of homilies or Resources in the CBCI website:  https://www.cbci.in.  (Special thanks to Vatican Radio website http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html -which completed uploading my Cycle A, B and C homilies in May 2020)  Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604

September 5-10 weekday homilies

Click on http://frtonyshomilies.com for missed homilies.

Sept 5-10: Sept 5 Monday (St. Teresa of Calcutta= Mother Teresa) (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-teresa-of-calcutta) (Labor Day homily on page 2): Lk 6:6-11:6 On another Sabbath, when he entered the synagogue and taught, a man was there whose right hand was withered. 7 And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him. 8 But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. 9 And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” 10 And he looked around on them all, and said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. 11 But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.

The context: Today’s Gospel describes a miraculous healing performed by Jesus one Sabbath as a public violation of Sabbath laws, in order to prove that God’s intention for the Sabbath was for His people to do good and to save life rather than to do evil or to destroy life. The incident and the reaction: Ex 20:8 and Dt 5:12 instructed the Jews to keep the Sabbath holy. But the scribes and the Pharisees hadamplified God’s law on the Sabbath, misinterpreting it and making it burdensome for the common people through man-made laws. Jesus wanted to demonstrate in public the original intention of God in declaring Sabbath holy. For Jesus, the Sabbath was a day of rest on which Israelites were meant to adore God, to learn and teach His laws, and to do good to/for others. Hence, Jesus took the liberty of healing a man with a withered hand in the local synagogue immediately after the worship service, thus infuriating the scribes and the Pharisees.

Life messages: 1) Our Catholic “Sabbath” observance of participating in the Eucharistic celebration on Sunday is meant to recharge our spiritual batteries for doing good to/for others and avoiding evil. 2) Our Sunday observance is further meant to be an offering of our lives to God on the altar, to praise God, to thank Him for His blessings, to ask God’s pardon and forgiveness for our sins, to present our needs before the Lord, and to participate in the Divine Life by receiving Holy Communion. 3) It is finally a day to spend with the members of the family and to help our neighbors in the activities of our parish and neighborhood. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

Sept 5: Labor Day in the U. S. The first Labor Day was observed on September 5, 1882, to celebrate the social and economic achievements of American workers and to give them a day off on the last day of the summer. Today, Labor Day unofficially signals the beginning of a new “school” year of work and study and the end of the “lazy days of summer.” It was President Grover Cleveland who signed a bill into law on June 28, 1894, declaring Labor Day a national holiday.

1) It is a day to acknowledge the dignity and necessity of labor and workers. We participate in the creative act of God by the various forms of work we do using our God-given talents, a) The Bible presents God as working six days in the creation of the world and commanding Adam to work six days and rest on the seventh. b) Jesus, God’s Son, was a professional carpenter. c) Most of Jesus’ apostles were fishermen, and Paul was a tentmaker. d) In his inaugural speech in the synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus expressed his preferential option for the poor – the working class and those who cannot work. Work is necessary for our own well-being, for health of body, mind, and spirit. It enables us to be independent and to help those who are less fortunate and unable to work. e) Works of charity are the main criteria of our Last Judgement: “Whatever you did to one of these least brethren you did to Me.”

2) A day to remember the Church’s teaching on the nobility of work and the necessity of just wages. In the encyclical, Laborem exercens (September 14, 1981), Pope St. John Paul II instructs us that all of us are called to work together for a just society and a just economy which allow us all to share God’s blessings. He reminds us that governments should see that the greed of a minority does not make the life of the majority miserable. He advises labor unions to fight for social and economic justice, better wages and better working conditions.

3) It is the day to remember and pray for the jobless people: There are thousands without work and millions more who are underemployed, working at part-time jobs or jobs that do not pay a decent wage. Society has a moral obligation to reduce joblessness because it is through work that families are sustained, children are nurtured, and the future is secured. Joblessness is also a clear threat to family life.

4) It is an appropriate time to acknowledge and bless the temporal and spiritual work that our parishioners do for their families, for their neighbors, and for the parish community. It is also a day to remind ourselves that our workplace gives us an opportunity to practice what we believe, and to display a level of integrity that matches our Faith, thus witnessing to Christ.

5) It is a day to pay attention to a warning: The warning is that we should be aware of the danger in work. If not properly oriented it can make us workaholics: we may turn work into our God or may use it as an escape mechanism to run away from spouse, children, and neighbors.

Thus, on this Labor Day, let us try to realize the dignity of work, the necessity of work, and the danger involved in work. Let us thank the Lord for the talents and work he has given us to do. Let us pray that we may find joy and satisfaction in our work, realizing that we are co-creators with God and stewards of His creation. By offering our work for God’s glory, let us transform our work to prayer. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Sept 6 Tuesday: Lk 6:12-19: In those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles; 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. 17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; 18 and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19….

The context: Today’s Gospel passage gives a short account of the call of the Apostles and of the preaching and healing mission of Jesus. Jesus was the first missionary, sent by His Father with the “Good News” that God his Father is a loving, merciful, and forgiving Father Who wants to save everyone through His Son, Jesus. Today’s Gospel describes how this First Missionary selected and empowered twelve future missionaries as Apostles to continue his mission.

Special features: Jesus selected very ordinary people, most of them hard-working fishermen with no social status, learning, or political influence. Jesus was sure that this strange mixture of people would be very effective instruments in God’s hands. Matthew was a hated tax collector serving the Roman Empire, while Simon the Cananaean was a Zealot, a fanatical nationalist or terrorist of those days, determined to destroy Roman rule by any means. The others were mostly professional fishermen with a lot of good will, patience and stamina. It was only Jesus‘ love for them and their admiration and love for Jesus that united them. Jesus selected them after a night of prayer and gave them His own Divine powers of healing and exorcism and made them a key part of His own Messianic mission of preaching the “Kingdom of God.”

Life Messages: 1) God wants to show us that a calling for ministry, or a vocation to priestly or religious life or family life, is an initiative of God. 2) As Christians we have the same mission that Jesus entrusted to his Apostles. 3) We fulfill this mission of preaching the word of God, primarily, by living out Jesus’ teachings and by promoting and helping world-wide missionary activities of the Church. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

Sept 7 Wednesday: Luke 6:20-26: 20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 “Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh. 22 “Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. 24 “But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 “Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger. “Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. 26 “Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their

The context: Luke presents the Sermon on the Plain as following immediately upon the choosing of the twelve Apostles. Today’s Gospel passage, taken from Luke’s Sermon on the Plain, teaches us that true happiness or beatitude lies in the awareness of who we are and what we are supposed to do. The eight beatitudes Jesus gives in Mathew, like the four in Luke, contradict the ideas of “real” happiness prevalent in the Jewish culture of Jesus’ day (and in our modern society as well), according to which wealth, health, power, pleasure, and influence are the “true” beatitudes.

The Beatitudes: Jesus instructs his disciples in the paradoxical blessedness of poverty, hunger, sorrow, and persecution, which contradict our natural expectations in every way. Blessed are those who are poor, hungry, weeping, hated, excluded, insulted, and denounced because in poverty, we recognize God’s reign; in hunger, His providence; in sorrow, true happiness; and in persecution, true joy. Experiencing these miseries opens the way for us to receive the true riches….the food, comfort and acceptance we find only in His love and His presence here and in His Kingdom forever. The Beatitudes are commands for how we should live, and what we should do. What makes one blessed is not simply poverty or hunger or sadness or suffering for one’s Faith, but commitment to Jesus and His spirit of sharing.

Life messages: 1) We need to respond to the challenges of the Beatitudes in our daily life.  Millions are starving, persecuted, and homeless, leading hopeless lives. When we reach out to help them, we are living out the Beatitudes.  In addition, Jesus tells us that we are serving him in these suffering people. We are also loving our neighbors as Jesus loves us.  That is why we are told that we will be judged on the basis of our acts of mercy and charity (Mt 25:31-46). 2) Let us also remember that each time we reach out to help the people who are needy, sick, and/or oppressed, we give them the experience of God’s love for them. 3)  Just as the Apostles were called to minister to society’s untouchables, so all Christians are called to minister to the untouchables, the discriminated against,  and the marginalized in our own modern society, so that they may meet God’s love in human flesh. (USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm ((https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22) Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

Sept 8 Thursday (Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary):  https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/nativity-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary Mt 1: 1-16, 18-23: Anecdote: Life magazine estimated that the prayer “Hail Mary” is said two billion times every day, and each year five to ten million people make a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.  Many others visit Marian sites elsewhere in the world. Mary is prayed to as advocate and helper, and even in the sports arena there is a reference to her power: the last desperate pass by a losing football team was once called a “Hail Mary pass.” Mary is also venerated by Muslims. It is reported that when the Prophet Muhammad cleared the idols out of the Kaaba in Mecca, he allowed only a fresco of the Virgin Mary holding the Child Jesus to remain. In every Muslim mosque, the “mihrab” or prayer niche in the wall is dedicated to Mary. In the Qur’an, she is described as having been sent as “a mercy for the worlds.” (http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/days/features.php?id=15974)

History: As one of the oldest Marian solemnities, this feast is based on the second century (A.D. 175), apocryphal book Protoevagelium Jacobi (The Pre-Gospel of James), which reflects the traditions of the early Church, although it is not considered an inspired book.  According to this book, Mary’s parents were Joachim and Anna. Mary was born either in Jerusalem or in Sephoris, three miles north of Bethlehem.  The Annunciation is believed to have taken place later in the house of Mary’s parents. The feast originated in the fifth century in Syria or Palestine. St. Romanus of Syria is supposed to have brought it to Rome. The Roman Church adopted it in the 7th century and fixed it on September 8th. It is found in the 8th and 9th century Gregorian Sacramentary.

Importance: The feast is the birthday celebration of the mother of Jesus, our Heavenly Mother, and the Mother of the Church. It is the birthday of an ordinary woman who was chosen to become the Mother of an extraordinary Divine Child. The Church celebrates the death day of a saint as his/her feast day, considering it his/her “birthday in Heaven.” The three exceptions are Jesus’ birthday (Christmas), Mary’s birthday (September 8), and John the Baptist’s birthday (June 24). Mary’s birthday is celebrated because of her Immaculate Conception. John the Baptist, in Elizabeth’s womb, was filled with the Holy Spirit during Mary’s visitation of Elizabeth. We honor Mary because God has done great things for her (Lk 1:49), a) by choosing her as the mother of Jesus His Son, b) by filling her with His Holy Spirit twice, c) by making her the embodiment of all virtues (“full of grace”), and our Heavenly Mother and d) by allowing her to become the most active participant with Christ, her son, in our redemption.  The readings: (Mi 5:1-4 or Rom 8:28-30; Mt 1:1-16, 18-23).  Romans 1:3 states that Mary was a descendant of David, and Matthew’s genealogy in today’s Gospel also supports this truth.

Life Messages: 1) Let us, as Mary’s children, give a suitable birthday gift to our Heavenly Mother. Every mother wants her children to inherit and acquire all her good qualities. Hence, the best birthday gift to Mary is for us to become holy children of a Holy Mother.  2) Let us make this day a day to start practicing Mary’s virtues. Let us practice her virtues of a) trusting Faith in the power of God (“nothing is impossible for God’); b) perfect obedience to the will of God (“be it done to me according your will”); c) the spirit of sacrificial and sharing love; and d) the acceptance of suffering  with one hundred percent commitment to her heroic mission. (Fr. Tony) L/21  (Gospel readings suggested: Matthew 1:16, 18-23, 24a or Mt 1: 18-23). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22 Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

Sept 9 Friday: (St. Peter Claver, Priest, U. S. A.) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-peter-claver Lk 6: 39-42: He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully taught will be like his teacher. 41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 Or how can you say to your brother, `Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye. Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: In today’s passage, taken from the Sermon on the Plain given in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus condemns our careless, malicious and rash judgments about the behavior, feelings, motives, or actions of others by using the funny examples of one blind man leading another blind man and one man with a log covering his eyes trying to remove a tiny speck from another’s eye.

Reasons why we should not judge others:  1) No one except God is good enough to judge others because only God sees the whole truth, and only He can read the human heart. Hence, only He has the ability, right, and authority to judge us.  2) We do not see all the facts or circumstances or the power of the temptation which has led a person to do something evil. 3) We are often prejudiced in our judgment of others, and total fairness cannot be expected from us.  4) We have no right to judge because we have the same faults as the one we are judging and often to a greater degree (remember the critical man with a wooden beam in his eye?) St. Philip Neri commented, watching the misbehavior of a drunkard: “There goes Philip but for the grace of God.” Abraham Lincoln said that only he has the right to criticize who has the heart to help (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

Sept 10 Saturday: Lk 6: 43-49: 43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. 46 “Why do you call me `Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep, and laid the foundation upon rock; and when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house, and could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49 But he who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation; against which the stream broke, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

The context: In today’s passage, taken from the Sermon on the Plain given in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus teaches the necessity for cultivating a strong Christian moral character as the foundation of our Christian life.   The teaching: In the first part of the Gospel, Jesus teaches us that the good fruits of Christian virtues, like love, mercy, forgiveness, and service, result only from an upright character trained in and cultivated by the repeated practice of Christian principles. Jesus compares good works with figs and grapes and reminds us that thorny shrubs and bramble bushes cannot produce them.  In the second part, Jesus gives us two warnings: that we must match our profession of Faith with actual obedience to the will of God, and that we must build a life on the firm foundation of Jesus’ teachings. Jesus emphasizes the truth that we should not be mere hearers of the word of God, but also consistent doers of that word. In other words, our profession of Faith should be matched by our practice. Jesus compares mere hearers of the word to a foolish man who built his house on a sandy foundation,  and the doers of the word to a wise man who built his house on strong and solid rock.

Life messages: 1) We need to be men and women of character with the courage of our religious convictions, doing what is right at all times. Such persons are honest and reliable before God, themselves, and their neighbors. 2) We need to build our family on a strong Christian foundation. There can be no great marriage and no great family without a solid foundation, and that foundation begins with the husband and wife doing, and being, the love of Christ for each other and for their children. 3)  We need to get ready to face the storms of life: Jesus wants us to follow his words and to build our lives and our families on these words. He wants us to be ready for the storms of life, including, among others, the current Covid-19 pandemic,  economic downturns, pension defaults, war, depression both mental and economic, relationships that fade, the deaths of those who love us and whom we love, devastating illness, and protracted disease. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

 

O. T. XXIII Sunday Sept 4, 2022

OT XXIII [C] (Sept 4) Eight-minute homily in one page (L/22)

Central theme: Today’s readings challenge us to the true Christian discipleship of total commitment to the will of God, putting God first in our lives.

Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading, taken from the Book of Wisdom, instructs us to ask for the gifts of discernment and strength from the Holy Spirit so that we may do the will of God as His true disciples. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 90), instructs true disciples to lead holy lives by remaining constantly aware of the brevity and uncertainty of life. The second reading, taken from St. Paul’s letter to Philemon, teaches us that detachment and renunciation are necessary for a true disciple of Christ. As a responsible Apostle and zealous disciple of Christ, Paul had to renounce the service of his new helper, Onesimus, and return him to his master. As a new disciple of Christ, Onesimus had to leave Paul, face his owner as a runaway slave, and accept the consequences. Today’s Gospel reminds us to count the cost of being a disciple and follower of Christ because the cost is high: true Christian discipleship requires one to “renounce” both earthly possessions and possessions of the heart (i.e., one’s relationships). In today’s Gospel, Jesus lays out four conditions for true Christian discipleship. 1) Renounce too much attachment to family, giving priority to God and His commandments. 2) Break off the excessive attachment to possessions by leading a detached life, willingly sharing one’s blessings with others.3) Be ready to carry the cross and follow Jesus by i) gracefully accepting and lovingly offering our pains and suffering with Jesus on the cross for the salvation of all of us ii) sharing our blessings sacrificially with others iii) accepting the pain involved in controlling our evil habits and tendencies and iv) by welcoming the pain and humiliation we suffer in professing our faith in public and in practicing it in daily life, standing with Jesus, his ideas and ideals. 4) Calculate the cost involved in following Jesus. Using the two parables of the tower-builder and the king defending his country, Jesus says we must think long and hard about Christian discipleship before we commit ourselves to Jesus in this full, life-long surrender.

Life messages: We need to accept the challenge of Christian discipleship with heroic commitment and practice it. We do so: 1) by daily recharging our spiritual batteries through prayer, i.e., by talking to God, and by listening to Him through our meditative reading and study of the Bible; 2) by sharing in God’s life through frequent and active participation in the Eucharistic celebration; 3) by practicing the spirit of detachment and the renunciation of evil habits; 4) by giving our time, talents and resources generously, for the Lord’s work in the Church universal, and especially in our parish community, relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, 5) by loving all God’s children, especially the less fortunate ones, through humble, selfless acts of kindness, mercy, forgiveness, and service; 6) by showing true commitment to the obligations and duties entrusted to us by our vocation in life and our profession, for example, by fidelity in marriage and firm adherence to justice in our living and profession.

OT XXIII (Sept 4) Wis 9:13-18b; Phlm 9-10, 12-17; Lk 14:25–33

Homily starter anecdotes # 1: ‘We will drill you and drill you, then drill you again.” Each Fall, a lot of young boys aspire to become football players. But only a few will find their way onto the high school or university teams. Every year a coach challenges the hopefuls, explaining the cost involved: “Your muscles will ache from calisthenics. We’ll run you till you think you can run no more. We will drill you and drill you, then drill you again, every day, after school. There’ll be no drugs, no alcohol. Only if you work hard will you make the team. If you don’t, you won’t.” The personal, economic, and emotional cost of becoming a professional athlete or an Olympics Medalist is still higher. Young children spend hours a day practicing their skills and submitting themselves to rigorous programs of diet and exercise to become great gymnasts or dancers. Others accept the cost of dedicating years to study and hard work to become outstanding doctors or lawyers or scientists or writers. — In today’s Gospel, Jesus challenges his would-be followers to calculate the cost in following him, because they will have to leave their families and possessions and accept the pain and suffering involved if they are to follow him as true disciples. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 2: Hating father and mother: St. Thomas More was the Lord Chancellor, when Henry VIII was the King of England. More, with a wife and children, was a successful lawyer, a great linguist and a renowned spiritual and political writer. His book, Utopia, has become a classic. More refused to take an oath supporting the Act of Succession, which a) recognized the offspring of the self-divorced Henry and his second wife Anne Boleyn as the heir to the throne; b) declared Henry’s first marriage with Catherine as null and void, and so c) repudiated the Pope (who had given Henry a dispensation for that first marriage). Consequently, More was imprisoned in the Tower of London in the year 1534. Thomas More could not, with any honesty, approve Henry’s second marriage to Anne, and he could not acknowledge the King as the supreme head of the Church of England. His family implored him – for his sake and theirs – to take the oath. More’s beloved daughter, Margaret, took an oath to persuade him to do so, in order that the family might visit him in prison. With More’s wife and son-in-law, Margaret tried hard, but Thomas refused. He spent fifteen lonely months imprisoned in the Tower of London – in poor health, isolated from the other prisoners, deprived of his beloved books; not even paper and pen were given to him. Thomas More was convicted of treason, sentenced to death and, on July 6th, 1535, he was beheaded. — On mounting the scaffold, Thomas More proclaimed that he was “the king’s good servant but God’s first.” St. Thomas More paid the price for his discipleship by loving God more than his wife, children, nay, even his life. (John Rose in John’s Sunday Homilies). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 3: “The beauty remains; the pain passes.” French artists Henri Matisse and Auguste Renoir were close friends and frequent companions despite the fact that Renoir was twenty-eight years the senior of Matisse. During the last several years of his life, Renoir was virtually crippled by arthritis; nevertheless, he painted every day, and when his fingers were no longer supple enough to hold the brush correctly, he had his wife, Alice, attach the paintbrush to his hand in order that he might continue his work. Matisse visited him daily. One day, as he watched his older friend wincing in excruciating pain with each colorful stroke, he asked, “Auguste, why do you continue to paint when you are in such agony?” Renoir’s response was immediate, “The beauty remains; the pain passes.”– Passion for his art empowered Renoir to paint until the day he died; those who continue to admire the enduring beauty of his smiling portraits, his landscapes, his still life studies of flowers and fruit will find no trace therein of the pain required to create them. Most will agree that the cost was worth it. (Patricia Datchuck Sánchez). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Central theme:  Today’s readings challenge us to make a total commitment to the will of God, putting God first in our lives.

Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading instructs us to ask for the gifts of discernment and wisdom from the Holy Spirit, so that we may obey the will of God as disciples. In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 90), the Psalmist has us pray to the Lord God, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of Heart” (Ps 90:12), so that we may constantly be aware of the brevity and uncertainty of life.   The second reading teaches us that detachment and renunciation are necessary for a true disciple of Christ. As a responsible Apostle and model disciple of Christ, Paul had to renounce the service of his new helper, Onesimus, and return him to Philemon, his master.  As a new disciple of Christ, Onesimus had to leave Paul, whom he had come to love, and return to his owner (with this powerful letter from Paul to his owner, an old friend, pleading for mercy for Onesimus ), and face the ordinary consequences of his theft and flight, — being branded, sold in the slave markets or simply killed. Today’s Gospel reminds us to count the cost of being a Christian because the cost is high.  Christian discipleship requires that one “renounce” both earthly possessions and possessions of the heart (i.e., one’s relationships).  In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus lays out four conditions for true Christian discipleship: i) renouncing the attachment to family by putting God first, before other relationships and self-interest; ii) severing the attachment to possessions by leading a detached life, willingly sharing our blessings with others; iii) accepting the hard consequences of discipleship which include offering daily sacrificial service to others  and  being ready die, rather than to deny Jesus and/or betray the brethren. We must also be faithful in our stewardship, faithful in our worship attendance, faithful in our sexuality, honest in our business practices, and accurate on our tax returns — and we must show compassion for the less fortunate;  iv) calculating the cost involved. Using the two parables of the tower-builder and the king defending his country, Jesus says that we must think long and hard about Christian discipleship before we commit ourselves to Jesus in this full, life-long surrender.

The first reading, Wisdom 9:13-18 explained:  This selection tells us that the will of God can only be discerned by the help of God’s Wisdom (the Spirit of God). God gives us this Divine Wisdom directly in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, and the Spirit empowers and instructs us through Divine Revelation in Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Hence, we must prepare our plan of action in Christian discipleship, relying on the power and light of the Holy Spirit. Our decisions as true disciples of Christ must flow from our religious values, what the author of Wisdom calls “things [that] are in Heaven.” This means that we are called to make decisions as disciples of Jesus, not as merely foolish people caught up in the cultural values of our time. (The book of Wisdom was written in Alexandria, Egypt a century before Christ.  It was the work of a pious Jew and was intended to bolster the Faith of his fellow-Jews who were tempted to “assimilate” into the dominant pagan culture). Today’s passage is about deep theological issues, such as the ability of the human mind to grasp the ways of God, and the interaction between body and soul.  God’s mind is  Infinite, so we finite creatures, His children,  must constantly, and deliberately, pray for Heavenly wisdom.

The second reading, Philemon 9-10, 12-17 explained: This letter provides another lesson in the detachment and renunciation necessary for Christian discipleship.  The cost of his discipleship had already landed Paul in prison once, probably in Ephesus (ca. AD 52-54). Philemon was a wealthy Colossian and a friend of Paul. Philemon had been converted to the Christian Faith through Paul’s ministry.  Philemon had a slave called Onesimus who had robbed his master and fled to Rome. God’s grace led Onesimus to the prison where Paul was being held, and the Apostle took compassion on him, leading Onesimus also to the Christian Faith. Then Paul sent Onesimus back to his master in Colossae with a letter pleading with Philemon, not only to spare Onesimus severe punishment, but also to show him sympathy, affection and Christian brotherhood (with a broad hint that Onesimus would be most “useful” to Paul, himself, should Philemon send him back to Paul!) Paul asked Philemon to receive Onesimus not as a slave but as a brother in the Lord, as a spiritual sibling and to welcome him as he would welcome Paul himself or even Christ himself. Paul means that Onesimus should not be marked by a red-hot iron with a F for “fugitive” on his forehead. We hear this appeal in the second reading. As a responsible Apostle and model disciple of Christ, Paul had to renounce the service of his new helper and return him to his master.  As a new disciple of Christ, Onesimus had to leave Paul, face his owner as a runaway slave and accept the consequences. Paul challenged Philemon to express his commitment to Christ as a true disciple by treating Onesimus “no longer as a slave but a brother,” thus transforming the relationship between master and slave, bravely facing the contempt and scorn of his social equals and incurring social and economic liability as well.   (The traditional belief is that Onesimus was later made the bishop of Ephesus and suffered martyrdom in Rome.)

Gospel exegesis: The context: Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem where he would be crucified. But the crowd thought that he was going to Jerusalem to oust the Romans and to reestablish the old Davidic kingdom of Israel.  Jesus was enormously popular with the crowds as a great healer, brave teacher and miracle worker. Looking at the cheering masses, however, Jesus frankly put before them the strenuous conditions for discipleship:

1) We must renounce family relationships, giving priority to God.  Today’s passage in Luke puzzles a lot of people, because in the Middle East, anyone who deliberately cut ties with family and social network would lose the ordinary means of making a living.   Further, a person’s life and family relationships were a necessity for security and identity, regardless of social position.  Why was Jesus, who had been recommending that his followers love everybody –including their enemies–suddenly announcing that no one could be his disciple unless he hated his own family?  The Hebrew language does not have comparatives — it is not possible in Hebrew, for example, to speak of loving something “more” or “less” than another thing. It is only possible to speak of loving or hating. The phrase, “If anyone follows me and does not hate father and mother” should be understood in this way: “If anyone follows me, without preferring me to father and mother….” To see that this is so we only need to look at the same matter in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus says: “Whoever loved father and mother more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37). Besides, the word hate, as used in this case, “is Semitic exaggeration and may reflect an idiom which means ‘love less than’ (Oxford Bible Commentary). So, it is clear that Jesus’ “hating” one’s family is a Semitic hyperbole or exaggeration, spoken for effect.  Matthew’s Gospel makes it clear. “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Mt 10:37-38).  This is Semitic hyperbole or exaggeration-for-effect. The word “hate,” in Hebrew, does not mean “detest” but to “put in second place. Jesus is not calling us to hate father and mother but is instead calling us to a commitment above all other commitments, including commitment to family. When Jesus said, “hate your family,” he was talking about spiritual detachment, the ability to put God first, before other relationships and before self-interest. Without such detachment, one does not have the ability truly to follow Jesus. Jesus cannot just be a part of our life but must be its center. Love for Christ does not exclude the other loves, but rather orders them. Indeed, it is in him that every genuine love finds its foundation and support and the necessary grace to be fully lived out. This is the meaning of the “grace of state” that the sacrament of marriage confers on Christian husbands and wives. It assures that in their love they will be sustained and guided by the love that Christ has for his Church.

2) We must bear our crosses: Taking up our own cross does not mean seeking out suffering. Jesus did not seek out his cross; he took on himself, in obedience to the Father, what men put on his shoulders, and with his obedient love , he transformed it from an instrument of torture into a sign of redemption and glory. Jesus did not come to make human crosses heavier, but rather to give them meaning. It has been rightly said that “whoever looks for Jesus without the cross will find the cross without Jesus,” that is, he will certainly find the cross but not the strength to carry it. Though “bearing a cross” is often equated with welcoming chronic illness, painful physical conditions, or trying family relationships, it also includes what we do voluntarily, as a consequence of our commitment to Jesus Christ.  Further, it is the spirit in which we freely and deliberately accept and endure the pain, the difficulties, and even the ridicule involved with these choices, that transforms them into real cross-bearing. We need to be prepared to suffer out of love for Jesus. For the early Christians, however, cross-bearing had a far more literal meaning.  Just as Jesus went to the cross, some of his followers would also taste death for their devotion to the Master.  Only if the disciple is firmly committed to Christ will he be able to spend his life in sacrificial service for others. We observe this  integrity in Christian doctors, medical students, and pharmacists who refuse to take part, in any way, in abortions, even if they might suffer professionally; in people who stick up for Christ and his teachings (even when they suffer derision as a result), at school, work, or in their families; in those who sacrifice money and time to care for others and for the mission of the Church. “Discipleship not only means to follow the Master with our ‘cross.’ It also means to reveal the crucified Christ to others. In other words, through our struggles and in consequence of Faith, Christ is present, to us and to those who see us.” (CCC #618).

3) We must calculate the cost of discipleship: Using the two parables of the tower-builder and the king defending his country, Jesus says we must think long and hard about Christian discipleship before making this commitment. In the first parable, the builder was not financially able to finish the building. The second parable spoke of a king planning strategy against a belligerent opponent.  Could the king win the battle against an army twice the size of his own?  Or should he sue for peace?  Just as a tower builder needs to have enough in the budget for materials and as a general to win a war needs to have enough well-trained troops to defeat his opponents, so we, to be followers of Christ need to know the sufferings that  keeping this commitment will demand.  Perhaps these parables also illustrate that discipleship is not a one-time decision and that the commitment involved needs to be an ongoing decision to persevere in the ministries that are integral to following Jesus.  When we first decide to follow Christ, we know simply that there will be a price to pay.  Only as life unfolds can we begin to assess the full cost.  Jesus warns us to expect significant cost overruns because the cost for him was the cross at Calvary.

4) We need to say good-bye to possessions: The fourth condition for being a disciple of Jesus means not only surrendering material possessions but sometimes one’s very life.  In today’s reading, we hear the phrase, “whoever does not renounce all of his possessions and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.” Jesus asserted it in the Sermon on the Mount: “No one can serve two masters; for he will either hate the one and love the other or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Mt 6:24).  When Jesus says that we must give up all our possessions in order to follow him, he doesn’t mean that we must all hold a giant yard sale and live as mendicants on the streets.  He means that we should lead a detached life, willingly sharing our blessings with others. The four conditions of discipleship as outlined by Jesus indicate a kind of total commitment that every follower of Christ should be prepared to live. The radical demands of Jesus call us to center our lives on the suffering and risen Christ.

5) The paradox of Jesus’ strenuous conditions: Jesus commanded us to make disciples of all nations (not “make members”).  On the one hand, our text repeats the necessity of putting Jesus first – an extremely demanding condition.  On the other hand, even “street people” are generously invited to the banquet.  The only “demand” is that we come, eat, and enjoy the feast that has been prepared. Do we live in this tension between free grace and costly discipleship?  Is there a difference between believing in Jesus and being a disciple?  Yes!  Just being an active Church member is not enough.    Jesus doesn’t want disciples who just “go along with the crowd.”    He wants committed Christians — those who are aware of the costs of following him — who choose to follow him anyway.  Being Jesus’ disciple has never been convenient.  It is costly — costly in terms of money, time, relationships, and priorities.

6) Cheap grace and costly grace: According Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran theologian, martyred by Hitler, “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, Baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, and grace without Jesus….Cheap grace costs us nothing (in the short term). Costly grace costs us our life, but it is also the source of the only true and complete life.”   (The Cost of Discipleship). (http://peterfaur.com/2012/12/18/study-guides-for-dietrich-bonhoeffers-the-cost-of-discipleship#axzz4JI86fUOI)  Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field and the pearl of great price for which the one who believes in Jesus  is willing to sell everything one has. Costly grace is the Gospel which must be lived and preached; it is the gift which must be asked for, the door at which every disciple must knock. Costly grace means following Jesus, aware of and prepared for the pitfalls of discipleship but still willing to meet them and manage them daily with his help. “A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth nothing. “(Martin Luther). It is strange to see how some of the present followers of Martin Luther preach and practice a diluted, cost-free Christianity, assuring eternal salvation to all who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and ask his pardon and forgiveness for their sins – and that is  “preaching forgiveness without requiring repentance”!

7) Cafeteria Christians versus committed Christians: Soren Kierkegaard said that there are a lot of parade-ground Christians who wear the uniforms of Christianity, but few who are willing to do battle for Christ and his kingdom. When it comes to doing battle for the Lord, too many church members are just sitting on the premises instead of “standing on the promises of God.” Jesus does not want a large number of “half-way” disciples who are willing to do a “little bit” of prayer, a “little bit” of commitment, a “little bit” of dedication, a “little bit” of love. Jesus wants disciples who are truly committed to prayer, to discipleship and to being ruled by him as their king.  With a few such dedicated disciples, Jesus could change the world.  Today, more than a billion people gather to worship, but many of them are half-hearted Christians. We are tempted to forego the call to faithful stewardship, faithful worship attendance, faithful sexuality, honest business practices, accurate tax returns, and compassion for the less fortunate.  Ironically enough, Churches with high standards attract people with high standards.   Integrity and commitment attract others.  On the one hand, Jesus makes it very difficult to be his disciple.  On the other hand, Jesus is making it impossible to be his disciple just using only our own abilities. When we confess, “I can’t,” then we are open for God’s “I can.” With God’s grace everything is possible.

Life messages: 1) We need to practice true Christian discipleship.  In the book Power Surge, Mike Foss lists “six marks of discipleship for a changing Church” which he expects Christians to practice: 1) daily prayer, 2) weekly worship by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, 3) diligent study of the Bible,  4) service in and beyond the parish, 5) spiritual friendships, and 6) giving time, talents, and resources to the Lord’s work.

2) We need to accept the challenge with heroic commitment: Jesus’ challenge of true Christian discipleship can be accepted only if we practice the spirit of detachment and renunciation in our daily lives.  Real discipleship demands true commitment to the duties entrusted to us by life, circumstances, the community, or directly by God Himself, and by loving acts of selfless, humble, sacrificial love offered to all God’s children around us.  Let us remember that all this is possible only if we rely on the power of prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Mother Teresa said, “If we have our Lord amid us, with daily Mass and Holy Communion, I fear nothing for the Sisters nor myself; he will look after us. But without him I cannot be. I am helpless” (MFG, p. 26).

JOKE OF THE WEEK: 1) President in search of a true Christian disciple: Abraham Lincoln was debating whom to hire as Indian Commissioner. He called his advisors Ben Wade and Senator Daniel Voorhees for assistance in selecting the right man. “Gentlemen,” said President Lincoln, “I want an honest, decent, caring, moral Christian man, a man frugal and self-sacrificing!”  “Mr. President, I feel certain you won’t find him,” said Voorhees.  “And why not?” asked the President.  “Because he was Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified eighteen hundred years ago,” said the Senator.

2) Christian burial for a non-disciple?  One morning Rev. Desmond went to the front door of his rectory to get his newspaper and found a dead mule on the street.  He quickly called the city health department and asked to have the mule disposed of.  The smart secretary on duty said, “Hey, Reverend Pastor, I always heard that you pastors buried your own dead even if they are not practicing Christian disciples”.  “Yes, we do, “the pastor, replied. “But not in all cases.  In this case, I would like to meet the deceased’s close relatives in the Health Department in person to offer my condolences and to give a special blessing!

Websites of the week

1) Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs: https://sundayprep.org (Copy it on the Address bar and press the Enter button)

 2) Fr. Geoffrey Plant’s beautiful & scholarly video classes on Sunday gospel, Bible & RCIA topics https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant20663)

3)Fr. Nick’s collection of Sunday homilies from 65 priests & weekday homilies: https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies

4) Dr. Brant Pitre’s commentary on Cycle C Sunday Scripture for Bible Class: https://catholicproductions.com/blogs/mass-readings-explained-year-Biblical basis of Catholic doctrines: http://scripturecatholic.com/

5) http://www.scotthahn.com/introductory-manuals-and-commentaries.html Biblical resources by Scot Hahn

6) Totally Catholic Link Directory: http://www.catholiclinks.com/classic/links.php

7) Spirit Daily: http://www.spiritdaily.com/

For pictures for the parish bulletin:  Type Luke 14:25–33 under Google images and press the Enter button of your Keyboard.

22-Additional anecdotes

1)  Cheap grace and costly grace: During the era of World War II, the great German Protestant theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), wrote a book entitled The Cost of Discipleship.  “’Cheap grace,’” Bonhoeffer wrote in his book “is the grace we bestow on ourselves…grace without discipleship, while   ‘costly grace’ is the Gospel that must be sought again and again, the gift, which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock…  It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.”   As a religious scholar in a country where the Nazis were bent on expanding an ideology of national and racial superiority, Dietrich Bonhoeffer struggled inside himself and chose to resist the Nazis as a true disciple of Christ. He joined the underground in the conviction that it was his duty as a Christian to work for Hitler’s defeat.  His convictions inspired many to resist, but this cost them their freedom and lives at the hands of the Gestapo. Bonhoeffer’s theologically rooted opposition to National Socialism first made him a leader, along with Martin Niemoeller and Karl Barth, as an advocate on behalf of the Jews. Indeed, his efforts to help a group of Jews to escape to Switzerland were the cause of his arrest and imprisonment in the spring of 1943.  He was hanged in the concentration camp at Flossenbürg on April 9, 1945, on the false charge of plotting to assassinate Hitler. Thus, he paid the cost of discipleship with his life and death. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

2) The cost paid by great musicians: Someone once said to Paderewski, the great pianist, “Sir, you are a genius.” He replied, “Madam, before I was a genius, I was a drudge.” He continued: “If I missed practice one day, I noticed it; if I missed practice two days, the critics noticed it; if I missed three days, my family noticed it; if I missed four days, my audience noticed it.” It is reported that after one of Fritz Kreisler’s concerts a young woman said to him, “I would give my life to be able to play like that.” He replied, “That’s what I gave.” — The door is narrow. Why should we think we can “drift” into the Kingdom of God? The Christian life is a constant striving to do the will of God as Jesus revealed it. We need to strive because there are forces of evil within us and around us, trying to pull us down. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

3) The cost of discipleship for Dr. David Livingston. Livingston was a brilliant scholar. He studied Greek, theology, went to Glasgow University and was graduated with a degree in Medicine. He could have been anything he wanted to be: a professor, an author, a doctor. But God had called him to the mission field in the interior of Africa where no white man had ever entered.  The sacrifice he made was incredible. While he was out in the bush, preaching the Gospel one day, a huge lion leaped on him, clamped its teeth on his shoulder and crushed it, leaving his left arm totally useless. One of his helpers killed the lion and saved him. He was taken back to Scotland for treatment. Through that ordeal, Livingston was nursed back to health by a woman named, Mary, who became his wife. She went with him to Africa. As the years passed, they had five children. While they were crossing one of those vast plains of Africa, one of their children died. They concluded that it would be safer for his wife and four remaining children to go back to Scotland. Livingston said that decision was the most difficult of his life. They left, and for five years Livingston did not see the faces of his wife and children. The loneliness was unbearable. Finally, when Livingston was able to return home to see his relatives, it was to see them returning from the cemetery after burying his beloved father. Another price had been paid. Many years after his return to Africa he received a letter that caused his heart to leap. The children were now grown, and Mary was coming to Africa. But she had barely arrived when she was struck down by an African fever. Dr. Livingston used every ounce of his medical skill to try to save her, but he could not. He buried his wife under a huge African Baobab tree. After having a short memorial service, he went back to his cottage and wept like a baby. He wrote that day in his diary: “My Jesus, my King, my Life, my All; I again dedicate my whole self to Thee. I shall place no value on anything I possess or on anything I do except in relation to the Kingdom of Christ.”  –Was his sacrifice worth it? Well, consider this. Twenty-five years after his death in 1900, there were ten million Christians in Africa. Today, there are over 300 million. Nothing great is ever done without sacrifice. But any sacrifice for Jesus is always great. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

4) Cost paid by famous golf & basketball players: Arnold Palmer, for many years, was one of America’s finest golfers. Certainly, he was our most popular golfer. Wouldn’t it be great to be a “natural” athlete like Arnold Palmer? Except that Arnold Palmer practiced golf eight hours a day, day after day after day. Being a great golfer requires commitment. Some of you who play the game are thinking to yourselves that even being a poor golfer requires commitment!  You don’t excel in athletics or anything else unless you are willing to pay the price. Larry Bird won the Most Valuable Player award in the National Basketball League for three years in a row. How did he achieve such excellence? Larry Bird is legendary for his dedication to the game of basketball. An opposing player tells of arriving at Boston Garden with his teammates to play the Boston Celtics several hours before an important game. There was the great Larry Bird standing at the foul line of dark, deserted Boston Garden practicing free throws over and over again. The coach of the opposing team preached a little sermon about dedication to the game using Larry Bird as the prime example.–  Successful living requires commitment. It requires dedication. That’s true in athletics. It is also true in business. Jesus says in today’s Gospel that it is true in our relationship with God. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

5) Cost of being soldiers of Alexander the Great: In his world-conquering march, Alexander the Great approached a highly fortified city and through a messenger demanded to see the king and set out his terms of surrender. The king laughed at him and said, “Why should I surrender to your emperor Alexander? You can’t do us any harm! We can endure any siege.” As the messenger returned Alexander ordered his men to line up in single file and to march towards the cliff within sight of the city walls. The city’s citizens watched with horrified fascination as one by one Alexander officers marched over the edge of that cliff and plunged to their deaths. After several men had obeyed his orders, he commanded them to halt. He then called his troops back to his side and stood silently facing the city. The effect on the citizens and the king was stunning. From spellbound silence they moved to absolute terror. They realized they had no walls thick enough and no defense strong enough to protect themselves against that kind of commitment and that kind of devotion. Spontaneously they rushed through the gates to surrender themselves to Alexander the Great. — That is the kind of surrender and sacrifice that Jesus is asking for. One thing you have to say about today’s terrorists is that they are willing to die for what they believe. The tragedy is that terrorists are more willing to pay a price and are more willing to die for a lie than Christians are to live for the truth. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

6) Tie for No. 14: Some years ago, Time magazine asked a group of Americans to rate one hundred famous events in history as to their significance. The results of that poll are quite amazing. Number one was Columbus’ discovery of America. Three events tied for fourteenth on the list: the discovery of X-rays, the Wright brothers’ first plane flight, and the crucifixion of Jesus. — Notice that: Jesus tied for fourteenth! That poll indicates that you and I have not done a very good job of communicating to the world the meaning of the cross and the price Jesus paid for our salvation. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

7) The NCAA cross-country championship: Back in 1994, 128 runners lined up to compete in the NCAA cross-country championship in Riverside, California. Unfortunately, one of the turns on the 10,000-meter course was not well marked.  Only five of the 128 runners stayed on the correct path. Mike Delcavo was the first runner to notice the problem. He began waving at the other runners to follow him, but most refused. Can you blame them? One-hundred-and-twenty-three runners took the wrong path, only five took the right one. What did the 123 runners think of Delcavo? He commented later, “They thought it was funny that I went the right way.” (Leadership, Summer 1994, p. 49.) — We all like to think that we’re on the right path; what a rude awakening it will  be to discover we have taken the broad way leading to eternal damnation! (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

8) Twenty million tons of cement. In 1974, in the wake of the oil boom, the government of Nigeria decided to bring the country at a single leap into line with most developed Western nations. The planners calculated that to build the new roads, airfields, and military buildings which the plan required would call for some 20 million tons of cement. This was duly ordered and shipped by freighters from all over the world, to be unloaded onto the docks at Lagos, Nigeria. Twenty million tons of cement. Unfortunately, the Nigerian planners had not considered the fact that the docks at Lagos were only capable of handling two thousand tons a day. Working every day, it would have taken twenty-seven years to unload the ships that were at one point waiting at sea off Lagos. These contained a third of the world’s supply of cement much of it showing its fine quality by setting solid in the holds of the freighters. —  Hasty transactions bring painful losses. Poor planning causes disastrous results. Building a tower before counting the cost? Three guesses! (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

9) “The Road Less Traveled”:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And, sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
……….…………………………………….

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference
(Robert Frost). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

10) Beats me too.” A man remarked to a woman sitting to his left at a Super Bowl game that he was surprised that there was an empty seat between them. The woman said, “Oh, that belonged to my husband, but he died.” The man offered his condolences and went on to express amazement that another member of her family of a relative of friend hadn’t wanted to use his seat. “Beats me too,” said the woman, “but they all insisted they needed to go to his funeral!” — How’s that for a story about values and commitment? (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

11) Clenched fists or open hands: African aboriginals have an ingenious way of trapping monkeys. They carve out a small cavity in the bark of a tree just big enough for a monkey to slip his hand in. Then, they fill the cavity with peanuts – or ‘monkey nuts’, as we call them in India – and lie in wait. Soon, curious monkeys come to investigate. They smell the peanuts and sure enough one of them squeezes his hand through the cavity to grab the nuts. But the cavity isn’t big enough for the monkey to pull out his clenched fist. The monkey stupidly refuses to open his clenched fist and let go of the nuts. He’s trapped. — How often, like a monkey, I refuse to let go of trifles and lose Life in the bargain. Let us listen to the conditions placed by Jesus in today’s Gospel (Francis Gonsalves in Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

12) Cost of architectural masterpiece of Antonio Gaudi: Visitors touring the city of Barcelona in Spain are invariably drawn to the Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) Church. An architectural masterpiece designed by Antonio Gaudi, this neo-Gothic structure has been described as biological surrealism in that it is comprised of human figures, vegetative formations, molten-like cornices and cubistic towers, topped with twisted, mosaic-covered finials. All of these elements are permeated by a logically ordered Marian iconography. –However, visitors are also invariably surprised to discover that, since it was commissioned in 1882, only the choir and front of the church’s east transept have been completed. Gaudi’s ornate and unusual architecture proved too costly to build. —  Therefore, behind the church’s impressive façade stands an emptiness that bears silent witness to the lesson taught through the twin parables in today’s Gospel, viz., that those who would become the disciples of Jesus must first appreciate the cost, accept it, and then be willing and prepared to persevere in meeting that cost daily. (Sánchez Files). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

13) Cost of discipleship paid by a modern saint: St. Gianna Berretta Molla understood well the cost of discipleship and all its implications. Her canonization on May 16, 2004 was one of the last canonizations celebrated by Pope St. John Paul II.  She is a modern saint, who died on April 28, 1962.  Her husband and children were present for her canonization.  We haven’t heard a whole lot about her in the United States, something in which we priests, and I as your pastor, are remiss.  I intend to remedy this today. Gianna Berretta was a doctor living outside of Milan, Italy.  She had a double residency and practice in pediatrics and obstetrics/gynecology.  After she finished her residencies, her desire to reach out to the people influenced her to open a clinic in a small town in her native Italy. She was not a wealthy doctor; she never hesitated to give her services free to those who could not afford to pay. A good doctor works long hours and Gianna was no exception. Pregnant mothers felt very secure in her care because they knew no matter what time of night, they needed her, she would be there for them. After becoming a doctor, Gianna met and became engaged to the man of her dreams, Pietro Molla.  They were married on September 24, 1955. In November 1956, to her great joy, she became the mother of Pierluigi; in December 1957 of Mariolina; and in July 1959 of Laura. With simplicity and equilibrium, she harmonized the demands of being mother and wife with those of her continued practice as a doctor, all with the passion that she had for life. In 1961, Gianna became pregnant with the Molla’s fourth child.  In September, towards the end of the second month of pregnancy, she was touched by suffering and the mystery of pain. She had developed a tumor in her uterus. She was given the choice of having the uterus removed, thus killing the child, or risk surgery that might save the child but kill her.  She was an Ob-Gyn.  She knew the risk that her continued pregnancy brought, but she pleaded with the surgeon to save the life of the child she was carrying and entrusted herself to prayer and Providence. The baby’s life was saved, for which she thanked the Lord. She spent the seven months remaining until the birth of the child in incomparable strength of spirit and unrelenting dedication to her tasks as mother and doctor. She worried that the baby in her womb might be born in pain, and she asked God to prevent that. A few days before the child was due, although trusting as always in Providence, she was ready to give her life in order to save that of her child.  She repeated to her husband: “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate choose the child – I insist on it. Save the child.” On the morning of April 21, 1962, Gianna Emanuela was born. Despite all efforts and treatments to save both of them, on the morning of April 28, amid repeated exclamations of “Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you,” Gianna Berretta Molla died. She was 39 years old.   —  Was Gianna foolish for making the decision to allow her death rather than the death of her child?  Shouldn’t she have considered staying alive for the sake of her other three children, her husband, and even her medical practice? These arguments were presented to her by those whom she had respected, doctors, family members, etc.  But their thinking was the thinking of the world. Gianna knew that she would accomplish nothing in killing a child to keep her own life. The child that was saved, Gianna Emanuela, followed in her mother’s footsteps and is now a medical doctor and consulter to the Saint Gianna Berretta Molla Society. The cost of discipleship seldom makes the demand on us that it made on Gianna Molla, but we are all continually confronted with the choice of standing up for our Faith or joining the world that rejects the Lord.  (Fr. Pellegrino) Homilies.net  (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

14) “We saw your smoke signal.” The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed earnestly to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but no one seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements and in which to store his few possessions. One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened; everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger. “God, how could you do this to me!” he cried. Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. The weary man asked his rescuers: “How did you know I was here?” They replied: “We saw your smoke signal.” — God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering. But we fail to see the invisible hand of God. (Fr. Bobby Jose). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

15) The real cost of Christian discipleship is meeting daily the demands Jesus makes upon his followers. The Italian freedom fighter Garibaldi offered his men only hunger and death to free Italy. Winston Churchill told the English people that he had nothing to offer them but “blood, sweat, toil, and tears” in their fight against the enemies of England. Jesus demands that his followers carry a cross– the sign of death.

Andrew died on a cross

Simon was crucified

Bartholomew was flayed alive

James (son of Zebedee) was beheaded

The other James (son of Alphaeus) was beaten to death

Thomas was run through with a lance

Matthias was stoned and then beheaded

Matthew was slain by the sword

Peter was crucified upside down

Thaddeus was shot to death with arrows

Philip was hanged

— The demands that Jesus makes upon those who would follow him are extreme. Christianity is not a Sunday morning religion. It is a hungering after God, to the point of death if need be. It shakes our foundations, topples our priorities, pits us against friend and family, and makes us strangers in this world… (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

16) Calculate the cost before a war: Napoleon Bonaparte, the French Emperor, decided to campaign against Russia, in 1812. Napoleon was pushing on with preparations for war on a colossal scale. By the summer of 1812 he had about 750,000 men under arms of whom 450,000 were destined for the actual invasion. On 28 May this army of armies set out towards East. Immense stores were collected. Two million pairs of boots were held in reserve. The baggage was hauled by 18,000 heavy draft horses, the siege-guns and pontoons by 10,000 oxen. A million great coats had been bought. The army passed into Russia unopposed. As Napoleon reached Moscow, he understood the mistake he had made. The marshals too were reluctant to march northwards. With the first fall of snow the story of the march became an epic of human misery; no food, no shelter, no fuel. Icy gales froze them and killed scores every night. History testifies that it was one of the great errors of Napoleon. Out of 450000 who had crossed into Russia only 20,000 marched back. If Napoleon had corrected himself 430000 men who had crossed into Russia would not have lost their lives or pushed into misery. — Human history gives evidence that such human errors have often proved fatal. The history of salvation too is a sum total of such errors, often willful, that have estranged man from God, and God’s interventions to make man aware of his own mistakes and of God’s offer of mercy. (Fr. Bobby Jose) . (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

17) Seeing the white rabbit and chasing it: One day, a young disciple of Christ who wanted to become everything that God had in mind for him visited the home of an elderly Christian seeking his advice. He had heard that this old man had never lost his love for Christ in all the years he had known the Savior.

The old man smiled and replied, “Let me tell you a story: One day I was sitting here quietly in the sun with my dog. Suddenly a large white rabbit ran across in front of us. Well, my dog jumped up, and took off after that big rabbit. He chased the rabbit over the hills with a passion. Soon, other dogs joined him, attracted by his barking. What a sight it was, as that pack of dogs ran barking across the creeks, up stony embankments and through thickets and thorns! Gradually, however, one by one, the other dogs dropped out of the pursuit, discouraged by the course and frustrated by the chase. Only my dog continued to hotly pursue the white rabbit. In that story, young man, is the answer to your question.”  The young man sat in confused silence. Finally, he asked, “I don’t understand. What is the connection between the rabbit chase and the quest for God?” “You fail to understand,” answered the older man, “because you failed to ask the obvious question— ‘Why didn’t the other dogs continue on the chase?’ And, the answer to that question is that they were only joining the excitement of the group. They had not seen the rabbit. Unless you have actually seen the rabbit, the chase is just too difficult. You will lack the passion and determination necessary to keep up the chase.” — And this brings us to the pertinent topic of this particular discourse: Have you seen the Lord? Have you really seen Him? Do you realize and accept that He is carrying a cross? Do you understand what it means to be a Christian? In order to follow after Him, the first prerequisite is that we actually see Him and understand what it means to be called to Christian discipleship. (Rev. Byron Perrine). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

18) The beggar boy or the beggar girl? A beggar boy had staked himself on a bridge in Rome w/ an old violin on which he played pitifully. The only people who gave money were those who felt sorry for him. One day a man came by who after listening asked the boy if he could hold the violin. Reluctantly, the boy surrendered his instrument. After the stranger tuned it, he began to play a beautiful melody. Suddenly, a crowd gathered to listen and began dropping money into the case As the crowd grew, the money increased. When the man finished, he handed the boy his violin, along with the money in the case. Who was the stranger? It was the great   Paganini, the renowned Italian violinist! Around the same time, a little beggar girl knocked on the door of Adelina Patti, the renowned Italian-Spanish opera singer looking for a handout. The great singer gave her no money but invited her momentarily into her home and asked her to sing. Puzzled, the girl fulfilled her request and sang. Patti detected a tiny spark of musical promise in the girl and invited her to return the following day where she began to give the girl daily lessons. The great opera diva trained the girl for seven years – when finally, she introduced her to the world in concert. For the rest of her life, the female urchin-turned-singer, trained by Adelina Patti, earned a large salary and blessed multitudes of people. — Of these stories, which account do you think most portrays Jesus’ concept of making disciples? Then why is it that we tend to default to the first method? Chinese Proverb: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Discipling is teaching a man to follow Jesus so he can feed on God for himself. It’s leading a man to take responsibility for himself and for others. The call of every Christian is to become broken bread and poured out wine to others until they can feed on God for themselves.  (Rev. Joseph Rogers). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 19)  The cost of Christian discipleship: Two years ago in China, I met many pastors and church leaders who had suffered terribly during the years of the Cultural Revolution under Chairman Mao and his fanatical following of students. Their churches had been shut down, and they had been sent to years of harsh living away from home and family for what was called re-education on the factory floor or in the rice paddies of rural villages. Some watched family members sent off to prison, and many endure chronic health problems today resulting from the brutal treatment they received in those awful years. All had productive years of ministry stolen from them. Yet, none of the people I visited spoke of those times with bitterness or resentment. None of them held up their personal experience as cause for special commendation. It was simply the cost they had to bear in their time and place for being a disciple of Jesus. — One old pastor put it well: “God used those years in the fields to help us learn how to be a church of the poor. Before that, we had been a church of the educated, of the intellectuals. Now we know how to be a church for the poor.” His simple eloquence reminded me of Joseph, after his father’s death, meeting the brothers who had tried to kill him. “You meant it for evil,” he told them, “but God meant it for good that an entire people might live.” (Rev. John Thomas). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

20) Fathers in Christ: Catholics have a lovely tradition of calling priests “father”. For centuries this tender name has been applied to priests in religious orders. Our American Catholic custom of calling diocesan priests by the same term is scarcely a century old. But it is equally appropriate – never more so than when we are addressing the priests who baptized us. In a very special way they are our spiritual parents. That is why St. Paul, in today’s second reading, calls the slave Onesimus who he had recently baptized “my child whom I have begotten.” The Catholic priesthood has had a rough time in America over the past twenty years. Not a few “fathers” have left its service. The number of aspirants to the priesthood has plummeted. (This is true, at least, in the Western World; in Iron Curtain lands and in the Third World, the number of vocations is rising dramatically). Part of the fault is ours. Forgetful of what priests mean to us, we have too often neglected to praise the priesthood in our homes. Thus our sons never think of priesthood as a great and wonderful vocation to which they, too, are possibly called. Recently a Connecticut woman spoke out, albeit anonymously, in praise of priests. Her letter appeared in the Hartford Catholic Transcript. “Dear Fathers, brothers, but most of all, priests in Christ, we who have been blessed so much of our lives, to have been fed, consoled and cared for by so many of you, want to say over and over again how grateful we are to God and to you for your compassion, love, and all that you have done for us. We hope that you know how much we love and need you in these dark hours in our world and in our Church! We realize today that you are fewer in number, and we are sorry to have added our heavy burden to those you already bear. Please forgive us…Surely you must know how much your family (your church family) needs you to help to reap the harvest of so many lost souls in our world today. There are so many hungers that need to be filled. With His help, and yours, we know this can be done.”– Our priests needed that word of acknowledgement. “Thanks, Mrs. Calabash, whoever you are!” (Father Robert F. McNamara). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

21) Paul sends the runaway slave Onesimus back to his legal owner, Philemon. Is this his way of saying that slavery is “okay” for Christians? After the customary “greetings” and “farewells,” this tiny letter has only twelve verses to make its message heard. And it reflects Jesus’ own methods when it came to challenging the cultural “standards” of a “status society” (called an “honor-shame” society) such as the Mediterranean world of those days, when those standards impinged upon the dignity of humans. The message is extremely potent and powerful, yet masterful in its subtle approach. Paul and Philemon live in a world where legal rights were dictated by a military power, such that one could not safely challenge the social structure and survive. So Paul is forced to appeal to Christian love: when it comes to the Christian community, we are to treat each other as blood brother and sister, not as a caste system of master and slave. That is a direct challenge to the existing cultural standards, because the slave owner is being asked “in the name of (Christian) love” to treat Onesimus as a beloved brother. Slavery as an institution is not even a direct issue; the human dignity of the slave Onesimus is the issue, as well as the response demanded by any and every Christian in such a situation. That is a very high price for a slave owner to pay, in a society structured around honor and shame, where “control” was the top priority to preserve the status quo. Today is one of those rare Sundays when the Second Reading fits so perfectly, although unintentionally, with the Gospel (Lk 14:25-33). — Jesus spells out very clearly the high price a committed Christian may be called to pay to follow him — even at the cost of breaking with family and social structures that might insert barriers between humans who are equal in God’s eyes. The name “Onesimus” means “profitable” in Greek, and our Church teaches with utmost clarity that it is a sin against the dignity of persons to reduce them to their productive value or to a source of profit (CCC #2414). Paul was laying the foundation for social advocacy to help those powerless to help themselves. What have you done to improve social justice concerns in your city? (Father Robert F. McNamara). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

22) You mean I have to give up everything I own and become materially poor, to become a disciple? : Quick answer: you don’t! When most folks hear the phrase about renouncing their “possessions,” they usually picture their retirement savings, their new car, home, and other kinds of property. Visions of living like a homeless street person or vagrant bring on the goose bumps. Well, relax; that is not the kind of life Jesus is calling you to live. Now, just suppose we do have some of these things – and you pick which one appeals to you: a Mercedes or a Ford; a Rolex or a Timex; a mansion or a log cabin; pricey designer clothes or a Wal-mart outfit on sale. Well, no matter what you pick, it still identifies your “status” in society. You are labeled Upper Class, Middle Class, or Lower Class, because almost everyone in a consumer society is “class conscious” and one keeps one’s eye on the next rung up on the ladder. Jesus is calling us to make a radical change away from that kind of thinking. No longer is “social status” an important guideline and goal. Instead, an uncompromising loyalty to Jesus – demonstrated today by an unconditional acceptance of his teachings, those proclaimed to us by our Catholic bishops – is the sole criterion to true discipleship. In the kind of kingdom envisioned by Jesus, we renounce the attitude that drives us to seek and cling to greater social status, and we refocus our attention on loving God and loving all his children. In this kind of kingdom, everyone has the same status – not the social kind, but the greatest status of all: the knowledge that I belong to God’s household, that I am one of His kingdom kids. Our bond with Jesus takes absolute precedence over all other bonds, familial or social (CCC #1618). Love of riches or their selfish use is absolutely incompatible with love for the poor (CCC #2445). — One’s attitude toward one’s possessions – all of which one holds in stewardship for God – shows where one’s heart is in relation to true discipleship. Take a journey through Romans 12:9-21 if you have doubts about how kingdom kids need to live (CCC #1971). (Father Robert F. McNamara). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).   L/22

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle C (No. 50) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com

Visit my website by clicking on https://frtonyshomilies.com/for missed or previous Cycle C homilies, 141 Year of FaithAdult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at akadavil@gmail.com. Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies  of Fr. Nick’s collection of homilies or Resources in the CBCI website:  https://www.cbci.in.  (Special thanks to Vatican Radio website http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html -which completed uploading my Cycle A, B and C homilies in May 2020)  Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604

Aug 29- Sept 3

Aug 29- Sept 3: Kindly click onhttps://frtonyshomilies.com/for missed homilies:

Aug 29 Monday: (The Passion of St. John the Baptist): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/martyrdom-of-saint-john-the-baptist

Mk 6:17-2914 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.

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 and 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.

Life message: 1) Like John, we need to have courage of our Christian convictions in practicing what we believe and we have to pray for that courage. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22 (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

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

Aug 30 Tuesday: Lk 4:31-37: 31 And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath; 32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word was with authority. 33 And in the synagogue, there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon; and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “Ah! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in the midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. 36 And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” 37 And reports of him went out into every place in the surrounding region.

Context: After the sad experience in Nazareth, Jesus used the city of Capernaum, 30 miles away from Nazareth, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, the center of the fishing business, as a base for a teaching, healing, and preaching ministry. The people were impressed by the authority with which Jesus taught. The Old Testament prophets had taught using God’s delegated authority, and the scribes and Pharisees taught quoting Moses, the prophets and the great rabbis. But Jesus, as God Incarnate taught using Divine authority and knowledge. Perfect knowledge of God, perfect obedience to the will of God His Father, and absolute confidence in God were the sources and supports of Jesus’ authority. The second part of today’s Gospel describes a healing by exorcism, which Jesus performed in the synagogue. We are told how Jesus, as God Incarnate, exercised Divine authority to cast out the devil by just one compound command: “Be silent, and come out of him!” The demon obeyed at once, throwing the man it had possessed to the floor in the midst of the people in the synagogue on its departure. The people were impressed with Jesus’ power and authority that could command even evil spirits.

Life messages: 1) Our Faith is based on the Divinity of Christ, demonstrated by His miracles, which in turn give authority and validity to His teaching and promises. Hence, let us accept Jesus’ teachings, even if some of them are mysteries beyond our understanding 2) Let us read the authoritative word of God every day and assimilate it into our lives. 3) In our illnesses, let us confidently approach Jesus the Healer with trusting Faith first, then go to the doctors who are the ordinary instruments of Jesus’ healing ministry in our midst. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

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

Aug 31 Wednesday: Lk 4:38-44: 38 And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they besought him for her. 39 And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her; and immediately she rose and served them. 40 Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to him; and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. 41 And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them, and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ. 42 And when it was day he departed and went into a lonely place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them; 43 but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.” 44 And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea. .

The context: Today’s Gospel tells us that preaching the Good News of God’s love, mercy, and salvation, and healing the sick were the means Jesus used to build up the Kingdom of God. By preaching and healing, Jesus drew listeners to belief in a loving and providing God and to loving obedience to His will. We are told that Jesus drew renewed spiritual strength from God, His Father, every day by talking with and listening to Him, often in a desolate place at night.

Healing mission: Jesus never tired of healing the sick, thus demonstrating the mercy and compassion of His Heavenly Father to every sick person who approached with trusting Faith. Having finished the day’s preaching in the synagogue on one Sabbath, Jesus went to Simon’s home and healed Simon’s mother-in-law of a fever. In the evening, when the Sabbath rest was over, people brought all their sick dear ones to Jesus for healing and exorcism. Jesus either concluded the day or, as here, began the new day, by spending time with the Father in prayer in a lonely place.

Life messages: 1) We are called to continue Jesus’ preaching mission primarily by bearing witness to Christ through our day-to-day lives, radiating Christ’s mercy, love, forgiveness, and spirit of humble service to all around us. 2) We can participate in Jesus’ healing mission by praying for the sick and by visiting, helping, and encouraging the sick and shut-ins. 3) We, too, need to have our spiritual batteries recharged by prayer every day, as Jesus did. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

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

Sept 1 Thursday: Lk 5:1-11: 1 While the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret. 2 And he saw two boats by the lake; but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, 7 they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9 For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of fish which they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men.” 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

The context: The scene is the Sea of Galilee (Gennesaret in Greekand Tiberius in Latin). The story of the miraculous catch of fish described in today’s Gospel is similar to the post-Resurrection appearance of Jesus recounted in Jn 21:4-14. It is one of the “epiphany-call stories” which direct our attention to the fact that Jesus had distinct criteria for selecting people to be apostles. The reading challenges us to examine our own personal calls to conversion and discipleship.

The miraculous catch followed by the call: After teaching the crowd from a seat in the boat of Simon, Jesus said to him “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” Simon and his companions were stunned by the biggest catch of their lives. This event led Simon to acknowledge his unworthiness, as a sinner, even to stand before the Divine Presence of Jesus. Impressed by Simon’s obedience and confession of unworthiness, Jesus immediately invited Simon, Andrew, James and John to become close disciples and so to “catch men” instead of fish.

Life Messages: 1) Our encounter with the holiness of God needs to lead us to recognize our sinfulness. The Good News of today’s Gospel is that our sinfulness — our pride and self-centeredness – does not repel God. That is why we offer this Mass asking God’s pardon and forgiveness, and why we receive Jesus in Holy Communion only after acknowledging our unworthiness.

2) With Jesus, the seemingly impossible becomes possible. Today’s Gospel passage tells us an important truth about how God works in and through us for His glory. God chooses ordinary people – people like you and me – as His ambassadors. He uses the ordinary circumstances of our daily lives and our responses. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

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

Sept 2 Friday: Lk 5:33-39: 33 And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees do the same; but yours eat and drink.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Can you make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? 35 But the days will come, and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days.” 36 And he also told them a parable. “No one tears a piece from a new cloak to patch an old one. Otherwise, he will tear the new and the piece from it will not match the old cloak. 37 Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined. 38 Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins. 39 (And) no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’

The context: Today’s Gospel passage gives Jesus’ reply to the question asked by a few disciples of John the Baptist about fasting and feasting. Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving were three cardinal works of Jewish religious life. Hence, John’s disciples wanted to know why they and the Pharisees fasted while Jesus’ disciples were seen feasting with him and never fasting.

Jesus’ reply: Jesus responds to their sincere question using three metaphors: the metaphor of the “children of the bridal chamber,” the metaphor of patching torn cloth, and the metaphor of wineskins. First, Jesus compares the apostles with the children of the bridal chamber, the selected friends of the bride and groom who feasted in the company of bride and groom during a week of honeymoon. Nobody expected them to fast. Jesus explains that the apostles will fast when Jesus, the bridegroom, has been taken away from them. In the same way, we are to welcome both the joys of Christian life and the crosses it offers us. Jesus uses the comparisons of the danger of using new, unshrunken cloth to make a patch for an old garment and of using old wineskins to store freshly fermented wine, to tell the questioners that they must have more elastic and open minds and larger hearts to understand and follow the new ideas they are hearing, which are in many cases different from the traditional Jewish teachings.

Life messages: 1) We need to be adjustable Christians with open and elastic minds: The Holy Spirit, working actively in the Church and guiding the Church’s teaching authority, enables the Church to have new visions, new ideas, and new adaptations and to replace old ways of worship with new. So, we should have the generosity and good will to follow the teachings of the Church.

2) At the same time, we need the assistance of the Holy Spirit, Who works through the Church’s magisterium to interpret and apply Scripture – the Old Testament revelations and the New Testament teachings — and Sacred Tradition to our daily lives. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L22

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

Sept 3 Saturday: (St. Gregory the great, Pope, Doctor of the Church): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-gregory-the-greatLuke 6:1-5: 1 While he was going through a field of grain on a Sabbath, his disciples were picking the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands, and eating them. Some Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” Jesus said to them in reply, “Have you not read what David did when he and those (who were) with him were hungry? (How) he went into the house of God, took the bread of offering, which only the priests could lawfully eat, ate of it, and shared it with his companions.” Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

The context: Today’s Gospel passage gives Jesus’ teaching on the purpose of the Sabbath and on its proper observance. This was Jesus’ response to a criticism and a silly accusation made by some Pharisees against the apostles who, to satisfy their hunger on a Sabbath, had plucked ears of grain from a field for their snack, removed the husks by rubbing the grain between their palms and blowing away the chaff. The Pharisees accused them of violating Sabbath laws by performing three items of work forbidden on Sabbath, namely, harvesting, threshing and winnowing!

Counter-arguments: Jesus gives three counter-arguments from Holy Scripture defending the apostles. (1) Basic human needs, like hunger, take precedence over Divine worship and Sabbath observance. Jesus cites from Scripture the example of the hungry David and his selected soldiers. They approached Abimelech, the priest of Nob, who gave them for food the “offering bread” which only the priests were allowed to eat (1 Sm 21:1-6). (2) No law can stand against Divine worship. That is why the priests were not considered as violating Sabbath laws, although they did the work of preparing two rams for sacrifice in the Temple (Nm 28:9-10). (3) Jesus quotes the prophet Hosea to remind the accusers of God’s words: “I want mercy, not sacrifice” (Hos 6:6). Further augmenting the counter-arguments, Jesus, as Son of Man (a Messianic title), claims Lordship over the Sabbath itself.

Life messages: Like the Jewish Sabbath, the Christian Sunday is to be 1) a day of rest and refreshment with members of the family; 2) a day for thanksgiving and the recharging of spiritual batteries, (through participation in the Eucharistic celebration, for Catholics); 3) a day for parents to teach religious Faith and the Bible to their children; 4) a day to do works of charity in the neighborhood and in the parish and 5) a day for socializing with family members, neighbors and fellow-parishioners. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

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

O. T. XXII (C) AUGUST 28th SUNDAY

O.T. XXII [C] (Aug 28) Eight-minute homily in one page (L/22)

Introduction: The common theme of today’s readings is the importance practicing humility and avoiding self-glorification or pride. Humility enables us first to accept others as God’s children, our brothers and sisters, redeemed by the blood of Jesus. It also encourages us to do loving and sacrificial service to them by acts of charity, mercy and forgiveness. It enables us to accept us as we are before God with all our defects and demerits. It also prompts us to be thankful to God for giving us His blessings, talents and capabilities and strengthening us every day by His grace. It is humility which opens our eyes, ears, hearts and minds to the   poor, the needy, the disadvantaged, and the marginalized people in our society, thus practicing Christ’s option for the poor. Today’s Gospel teaches us that we must act with humility and see ourselves as the servants of the community rather than those whom the community might feel honored to serve.

Scripture lessons: The first reading, taken from the book of Sirach, reminds us that if we are humble, we will find favor with God, and others will love us. The second reading, taken from the letter to the Hebrews, gives another reason for us to be humble, comparing and contrasting the frightening majesty of the Old Testament God with the meek and humble New Testament God in the person of Jesus.  Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God humbled Himself, taking on human flesh and choosing to die the most humiliating death by crucifixion. In today’s Gospel, Jesus explains the practical benefits of humility, connecting it with the common wisdom about dining etiquette. Jesus advises the guests to go to the lowest place instead of seeking places of honor, so that the host may give them the place they really deserve. Jesus’ words concerning the seating of guests at a wedding banquet should prompt us to honor those whom others ignore, because if we are generous and just in our dealings with those in need, we can be confident of the Lord’s blessings.

Life Message: We need to practice humility in personal and social life: In personal lives we become humble when we realize that everything we have is a loving gift from God and, therefore, we have no reason to elevate ourselves above others. True humility requires that we neither overestimate us nor underestimate our worth. We must admit the truths that we are sinners, that we do not know everything, and that we do not always act properly.  Nevertheless, we must also recognize that we are made in the image and likeness of God, and that we are called to help build the kingdom of God with our God-given gifts. We are of value, not because of those gifts, but because we are loved by God as His children and redeemed by the precious blood of His son Jesus. Such a conviction should lead us to associate ourselves with the so-called marginalized or “lower classes” of the society — even the outcasts, because they too are the children of the same God. Such a humble heart will change our social patterns in such a way that we connect with and serve the homeless, the handicapped, the elderly, and the impoverished – the “street people” of the world – with agápe love. The family life also becomes holier and more enjoyable when the husband and wife, in all humility, accept each other as God’s gifts and show the generosity and good will to serve each other, forgive each other and offer their lives prayerfully and sacrificially for the welfare of their children.

OT 22 [C] (Aug 28): Sir 3:17-18, 20, 28-29; Heb 12:18-19, 22-24a; Lk 14:1, 7-14

Homily starter anecdotes

Cardinal Léger’s option for the poor:  Most Rev. Paul-Émile Léger served as Archbishop of Montreal from 1950 to 1968, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1953 by Pope Pius XII. He was   one of the most powerful men in Canada and within the Catholic Church. He was a man of deep conviction and humility. Then on April 20, 1968 he resigned his office with Pope’s special permission.  After leaving his red vestments, crosier, miter, and pallium in his Montreal office, disappeared. Years later, he was found living among the lepers and disabled, outcasts of a small African village. When a Canadian journalist asked him, “Why?” here is what Cardinal Léger had to say: “It will be the great scandal of the history of our century that 600 million people are eating well and living luxuriously and three billion people starve, and every year millions of children are dying of hunger. I am too old to change all that. The only thing I can do which makes sense is to be present. I must simply be in the midst of them. So, just tell people in Canada that you met an old priest. I am a priest who is happy to be old and still a priest and among those who suffer. I am happy to be here and to take them into my heart.” (http://www.rockies.net/~spirit/sermons/a-or09-2-keeping.php — Is that your calling? Is it mine? Probably not. Today’s Gospel says: “Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (For a short biography of Cardinal Leger visit: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/leger_paul_emile_22E.html. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/

2) Mother Teresa’s Humility List: 1. Speak as little as possible about yourself. 2. Keep busy with your own affairs and not those of others.3. Avoid curiosity.4. Do not interfere in the affairs of others. 5. Accept small irritations with good humor. 6. Do not dwell on the faults of others. 7. Accept censures even if unmerited. 8. Give in to the will of others. 9. Accept insults and injuries. 10. Accept contempt, being forgotten and disregarded. 11. Be courteous and delicate even when provoked by someone. 12. Do not seek to be admired and loved. 13. Do not protect yourself behind your own dignity. 14. Give in, in discussions, even when you are right. 15. Choose always the more difficult task.

Learn to be humble by doing all the humble work and doing it for Jesus. You cannot learn humility from books; you learn it by accepting humiliations. Humiliations are not meant to torture us; they are gifts from God. These little humiliations—if we accept them with joy—will help us to be holy, to have a meek and humble heart like Jesus. (St. Teresa of Calcutta). (https://www.goodcatholic.com/mother-teresa-humility-list/).

3) The humble Gandhi: One man who took Jesus seriously was Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi acknowledged that he had been much influenced by the Gospels and touched by the life of Christ. As he once remarked, “I might have become a Christian had it not been for Christians!” Gandhi did not lead the masses by standing like a monarch above them but by identifying with them and sharing in their circumstances. He identified himself with the half-naked rural masses by rejecting his attorney’s pants and coat and dressing himself with a loincloth and cotton shawl.  While the other high caste Indian politicians were not willing to associate themselves with the untouchables, Gandhi chose to live, eat and march with the untouchables, and he gave them a new dignity and a new name. He honored them by calling them “harijans,” “the people of God.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

4) America’s “First Lady of Etiquette,” Emily Post, versus Jesus Christ: Luke 14 focuses on etiquette for guests and hosts at dinner parties. I thought I should see what the original “Miss Manners,” Emily Post, had to say on that subject in her “Emily Post’s Etiqutte”. So, I consulted the twelfth edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette. (Centennial edition published in 2022). I learned to kneel, kiss his ring, and address him as “Your Holiness” when having a private audience with the Pope. I learned replies to lunch invitations to the White House must always be handwritten and always returned that same day — and the answer is always, “Yes.” Emily Post was very specific about planning formal dinners. Seating charts were included showing which seats the guests of honor should get. Who’s seated next to whom is also important. Emily Post sums it up: “The requisites for a perfect formal dinner … are … Guests who are congenial, Servants who are competent, A lovely table setting — Food that is perfectly prepared … A cordial and hospitable host and a charming hostess” (and a good seating chart). —  But there is another source we can turn to on how to throw a perfect party. The source is Scripture. And the “etiquette expert” is Jesus himself. In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives guidance on party protocol while attending a formal dinner. When God is throwing a party, all the “right” people will be there — that is everyone who responds to (God’s) invitation.  But seated next to the host (Jesus) in the places of honor are not the dignitaries, the celebrities, the distinguished people of position and prominence, but rather the poor, the hurting, the outcast — people who have distinguished themselves only by their need. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Introduction:  The common theme of today’s readings is the need for true humility which leads to a generous blessed sharing with the needy. The readings warn us against all forms of pride and self-glorification.  They present humility not only as a virtue but also as a means of opening our hearts, our minds, and our hands to the poor, the needy, the disadvantaged, and the marginalized of society. For Jesus, the daily human needs of the poor are the personal responsibility of every authentic, humble believer. In addition, humility is the mother not only of peace, but also of many virtues, like obedience, fear, reverence, patience, modesty, meekness, and gentleness. The first reading, taken from the book of Sirach, reminds us that if we are humble, we will find favor with God, and others will love us. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 68) shows us God’s eternal awareness of the least of His children. The Psalm Refrain has us sing, “God, in Your Goodness, You have made a Home for the Poor!” while the verse reminds us,  “The Father of orphans and the Defender of widows  is God in His  Holy Dwelling. / God gives a home to the forsaken; He leads forth prisoners to prosperity.”(vv 6-7). The second reading, taken from Hebrews, after contrasting the majestic God of the Old Testament  with the huble God of the New Testament, gives another reason for us to be humble. Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God humbled Himself, taking on human flesh and living our lives so that he might die to save us. He invites his followers to learn how to live from him because he is “meek and humble of heart.    Paul reminds us that Jesus was lowly, particularly in his suffering and death for our salvation (Heb 2:5-18), so we should be like him that we may be exalted with him at the resurrection of the righteous. Paul seems to imply that we have to follow Christ’s example of humility in our relationships with the less fortunate members of our society. In today’s Gospel, Jesus explains the practical benefits of humility, connecting it with the common wisdom about dining etiquette (see Prv 25:6-7; Sir 3:17-20). Jesus advises the guests to go to the lowest place instead of seeking places of honor so that the host may give them the place they deserve. Jesus’ words concerning the seating of guests at a wedding banquet should prompt us to honor those whom others ignore, because if we are generous and just in our dealings with those in need, we can be confident of the Lord’s blessings. On the other hand, if we act out of pride and selfishness, we can be sure that our efforts will come to nothing.

The first reading, (Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29) explained:  Today’s reading, taken from Sirach, gives a lesson in humility. Jesus ben Sirach was a Jerusalem sage living about 200 years before Jesus of Nazareth. This selection, taken from his book of moral instruction and proverbs, is part of the Wisdom literature of the Hebrew Scriptures. As a world traveler (34:12-13) and a respected scribe and teacher, Jesus ben Eleazar ben Sirach, presided as the headmaster of an academy for young men (57:23-30). Today’s reading presents excerpted portions of two of ben Sirach’s short essays, the first on humility (3:17-24), the second on docility, almsgiving and social conduct (3:25-4:10). Like a parent or an elder brother offering wise counsel, the author recommends that his readers find true greatness in living humbly. “Conduct your affairs in humility,” ben Sirach writes. “The more you humble yourselves, the greater you are.” He instructs us to be honest about ourselves and to become conscious of our limitations, acknowledging our true position before God as creatures and sinners. Humble people do not deny their gifts and talents. They recognize that their gifts and talents come from God and use them accordingly.

The second reading: (Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24) explained: The Letter to the Hebrews was written in the last quarter of first century AD. Although many of the apostolic eyewitnesses to Jesus had died, the expected Second Coming of Jesus had not taken place. So, the Hebrew Christians (Judeo-Christians), subjected to hostilities from both Judaism and the Roman Empire, grew lax in their Christian commitment.  Hence, the author of Hebrews asks his readers to choose either the ways of the former Covenant, symbolized by the fire, storm, darkness, trumpet blast, and the Voice, speaking words that they begged not to hear, or the ways of the new Covenant, mediated by Jesus and celebrated by the angels and the assembly of the firstborn. St. Paul compares and contrasts the picture of God in the Old Testament with that found in the New Testament. Instead of the frightening manifestation of God’s glory under the Old Covenant, the New Testament offers the picture of a loving and humble God as revealed by Christ. Christ did not humble himself as a mere slave, but as the Beloved Son of the Father, in whom the Father was well pleased. Thus, his humility flows from his exalted status as Son of the Father.  Paul seems to imply that we need to follow Christ’s example of humility in our relationship with those members of our society less fortunate than we. We are gathered around “Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.” Jesus was lowly, particularly in his suffering and death for our salvation (Heb 2:5-18).  If we are humble, like Jesus, and with him, we will be exalted with him at the resurrection of the righteous. We are challenged here to imitate Jesus whose “sprinkled blood” saved all his sisters and brothers who choose to be saved. We are all called to give of ourselves for others, to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of those who most need our compassion and care.

Gospel exegesis: Instruction at a party: The reason why Jesus was invited to the Sabbath dinner, given for his friends by  a prominent Pharisee, was that he was already a sort of celebrity, noted for curing the sick. People are always drawn toward celebrities.  But Jesus was not interested in such fame. Without putting on an air of superiority, he used the occasion to teach a lesson about the Kingdom, presenting humility as the essential condition for God’s invitation to His Heavenly banquet. Humility must be expressed in the recognition of one’s lowliness before God and one’s need for salvation. Based on his observation of a gross breach of social etiquette at that party, Jesus taught those Jewish religious teachers what genuine humility was and what the dangers of pride were. “Go and take the lowest place,” Jesus recommends, “so that when the host comes to you he may say, `My friend, move up to a higher position.'” In other words, we are always to situate ourselves in such a manner that the only way we can go is up.

Humility and its importance: “It’s hard to be humble when you’re as great as I am,” boasted the great boxer Mohammed Ali.  Humility is “not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” (C.S. Lewis). Others remind us that: “Pride makes us artificial, and humility makes us real.” (Thomas Merton). However, a common theme in the definitions of this virtue, is that: “humility equals realism” (James Kinn, 22C, p. 285.) In other words, “humility involves measuring myself by Reality; it involves relating myself realistically to God and others.” (Kinn, p. 285). Humility is an attempt to try to see ourselves as God sees us. True humility is recognizing that everything good we have, comes from God. A humble person is one who knows one’s gifts and talents and is thankful to God for them. Humility does not imply denying our gifts, or not sharing our talents with others. God made us.  We, in turn, are thankful to God for those gifts, and show our thankfulness by using our talents in service to one another. The word humility comes from the Latin word humus which means “fertile soil.” In other words, to be humble is to be ready to accept who we are, especially with our talents, abilities, limitations, and weaknesses. Humility does not mean thinking less of ourselves. It means living as Jesus lived – not for ourselves, but for others. For just as pride is the root of all sins, “humility is the root, mother, nurse, foundation and bond of all virtue,” as St. John Chrysostom once remarked.

When God became man, He chose to occupy the lowest possible seat. Paul describes in Phil 2:7-8, the six steps in humility that God took in coming to this earth. “Jesus emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” Humility was Jesus’ favorite theme. “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11); Whoever humbles himself like a little child is the greatest in the kingdom of God” (Matthew 18:4);  “Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart”(Matthew 11:29).  Humility is a strange phenomenon. As a rule, when we discover we have it, we lose it. Humility is like a rare flower — put it on display, and it instantly wilts and loses its fragrance! St. Augustine said: “Humility is so necessary for Christian perfection that among all the ways to reach perfection, humility is first, humility is second, and humility is third.” He added, “Humility makes men angels, and pride makes angels devils.” St. Bernard declared, “Pride sends man from the highest elevation to the lowest abyss, but humility raises him from the lowest abyss to the highest elevation.”

Humility with a hook: Both pride and false humility are self-deceptions which blind us to this path. Pride makes us self-centered and so full of our own importance that there is no place for God in our lives. Here is a portion of one of Mother Teresa’s exhortations to her novices: “If I try to make myself as small as I can, I’ll never become humble. It is humility with a hook. True humility is truth. Humility comes when I stand as tall as I can, and look at all of my strengths, and the reality about me, but put myself alongside Jesus Christ. And it’s there, when I humble myself before Him, and realize the truth of who he is, when I accept God’s estimate of myself, stop being fooled about myself and impressed with myself, that I begin to learn humility. The higher I am in grace, the lower I should be in my own estimation because I am comparing myself with the Lord God.” Thus, humility is an attempt to see ourselves as God sees us. It is also the acknowledgement that our talents come from God who has seen it fit to work through us. Baron Rothschild once, when asked about seating important guests, said, “Those that matter won’t mind where they sit, and those who do mind, don’t matter.” In their efforts to encourage such humility at every level of the hierarchy of the Church, Latin American theologians challenged believers to develop and foster “a preferential option for the poor.” Jesus understood that the daily human needs of the poor are the personal responsibility of every authentic humble believer.

Lesson in true humility: In today’s Gospel story, Jesus gives his host a lesson in humility. “When you hold a banquet, don’t invite friends or relatives or wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather invite the poor, the cripples, the lame, and the blind, who are unable to repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” St Francis expressed this attitude perfectly when he said: “What I am before God is what I am, and nothing more.“ Thomas Carlyle, the British historian, put it succinctly, “Show me the man you honor, and I will know what kind of man you are.” The Pharisees were preoccupied with “earning” a high place in heaven. Jesus counsels them to practice what they preach about God’s concern for the poor and thereby to gain true merit. In other words, Jesus suggests, “Do something really different! Invite to your parties the people who have little to bring with them. The blessing, recognition and benefit you are worried about will come, though not through the means you expect.” The freedom that comes with knowing we are loved and sustained by God is a freedom to give generously of our resources, to give the best place to others without concern for ourselves. Just as Jesus challenges his fellow guests, so he challenges us. He warns us that those who will be saved will not be people like the Pharisees. The deeper message of this parable is that if we exalt ourselves, we are going to face embarrassment before the judgment seat of God, the Host who has invited us to the banquet of life.

Life Messages: 1) We need to practice humility in personal and social life: Humility is grounded in a psychological awareness that everything I have is a gift from God, and, therefore, I have no reason to boast. I must not use these God-given gifts to elevate myself above others. Hence, humility means the proper understanding of our own worth. It requires us neither to overestimate nor to underestimate our worth. The humility that the Gospel urges upon us has nothing to do with a self-deprecation that leaves a person without proper self-esteem. We must simply admit the truth about ourselves: we do not know everything, we do not do everything correctly, and we are all imperfect sinners. Nevertheless, we also recognize that we are made in the image and likeness of God and that we are called to help build the kingdom of God with our God-given gifts. We are not of value because of those gifts but because we are loved by God as His children, redeemed by the precious blood of His son Jesus. The quality of humility that Jesus is talking about has a sociological dimension too. For Jesus is inviting us to associate with the so-called “lower classes” of society — even the outcasts. Jesus invites us to change our social patterns in such a way that we connect with the homeless, the handicapped, the elderly, and the impoverished — the “street people” of the world – with agápe love.

2) We need to remember that we are the invited guests: We celebrate that coming Banquet Feast in Heaven every time we come together for Our Lord’s Supper in Holy Mass. We are the (spiritually) poor, crippled, lame, and blind that Christ calls to himself. We are poor in need of the Lord’s true riches, crippled in need of the Lord’s help to straighten ourselves out, lame in need of the Lord’s grace to walk by Faith, and blind in need of the light of Faith to see things clearly. Our place is assured. Let us accept Jesus’ invitation by actively participating in this Eucharistic celebration. Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk and writer, on receiving Holy Communion, writes that, as he received the Sacrament for the first time, as an adult, he thought to himself: Heaven was entirely mine … Christ, hidden in the small host, was giving himself for me and to me, and with himself the entire Godhead and Trinity … Christ was born in me, his new Bethlehem, and sacrificed in me, his new Calvary, and risen in me … (God) called out to me from His own immense depths [The Seven Storey Mountain, (New York: Doubleday Image Books), pp. 273-274).] Thomas Merton sensed the wonder of God’s invitation to Communion and received it joyfully. So, should we.

3) We need to become the guests of God and the hosts of everyone else: As God’s guests in this world, we should act humbly and remember that we are always in the presence of Someone greater than we are. As hosts of God’s people, we should offer hospitality to those who cannot reward us. Surely, we do not have to leave out our friends and families. But neither should we leave out the poor and disabled. We are asked to look upon ourselves as having received everything we are and have, from its true source, God, and to acknowledge Him as the giver of all blessings. We should choose the lowest place and never think of ourselves as better than anyone else, for all we are is due to God’s grace. This is the way to form our hearts in humble gratitude and to live with that peace of heart that only true Christian humility can bring us.

JOKES OF THE WEEK: 1) Christian Archibald Herter (March 28, 1895December 30, 1966) was a United States politician and statesman, governor of Massachusetts, and Secretary of State 19591961. When Christian Herter was governor of Massachusetts, he was running hard for a second term in office. One day, after a busy morning chasing votes (without lunch), he arrived at a church barbecue. It was late afternoon and Herter was famished. As Herter moved down the serving line, he held out his plate to the woman serving chicken. She put a piece on his plate and turned to the next person in line. “‘Excuse me,” Governor Herter said, “do you mind if I have another piece of chicken?” “‘Sorry,” the woman told him. “I’m supposed to give one piece of chicken to each person because you are going to get other food items also from other servers.” “‘But I’m starved, and I love chicken,” the governor said. “‘Sorry,” the woman said again. “Only one to a customer.“ Governor Herter was a modest and unassuming man, but he decided that this time he would throw a little weight around. “‘Do you know who I am?” he said. “I am the governor of this state!” “‘Do you know who I am?” the woman retorted. “I’m the lady in charge of the chicken. Move along, mister.”

2) Winston Churchill was once asked, “Doesn’t it thrill you to know that every time you make a speech, the hall is packed to overflowing?” “It’s quite flattering,” replied Sir Winston. “But whenever I feel that way, I always remember that if instead of making a political speech I were being hanged, the crowd would be twice as big.”

3) George Washington Carver, the scientist who developed hundreds of useful products from peanuts, once told this story about himself. “When I was young, I said to God, ‘God, tell me the mystery of the universe.’ But God answered, ‘That knowledge is reserved for Me alone.’ So I said, ‘God, tell me the mystery of the peanut.’ Then God said, ‘Well, George, that’s more nearly your size.’ And He told me.” L/22

Websites of the week:

1) Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs: https://sundayprep.org (Copy it on the Address bar and press the Enter button) 

2) Video Sunday-Scripture study by Fr. Geoffrey Plant:

https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant2066

3) Dr. Brant Pitre’s commentary on Cycle C Sunday Scripture for Bible Class: https://catholicproductions.com/blogs/mass-readings-explained-year-Biblical basis of Catholic doctrines: http://scripturecatholic.com/

4) Cartoons for printed homilies: https://www.the-cartoonist.com/gospel/

5) Website on Catholic Liturgy: http://www.catholicliturgy.com/

6)Catholic Calendar: http://www.easterbrooks.com/personal/calendar/index.php

7) Councils’ and Papal Documents: http://www.shc.edu/theolibrary/docs.htm

8) Video: Gospel according to Luke: https://youtu.be/auL-ebjH-xo

For pictures on gospel theme:  Type Lk 14:1, 7-14  in Google image “search” and press the Enter Button of your keyboard

 34 Additional anecdotes

1) “It’s perfectly all right, Madam!” A truly humble man is hard to find, yet God delights to honor such selfless people. Booker T. Washington, the renowned black educator, was an outstanding example of this truth. Shortly after he took over the presidency of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, he was walking in an exclusive section of town when he was stopped by a wealthy white woman. Not knowing the famous Mr. Washington by sight, she asked if he would like to earn a few dollars by chopping wood for her. Because he had no pressing business at the moment, Professor Washington smiled, rolled up his sleeves, and proceeded to do the humble chore she had requested. When he was finished, he carried the logs into the house and stacked them by the fireplace. A little girl recognized him and later revealed his identity to the lady.  The next morning the embarrassed woman went to see Mr. Washington in his office at the Institute and apologized profusely. “It’s perfectly all right, Madam,” he replied. “Occasionally I enjoy a little manual labor. Besides, it’s always a delight to do something for a friend.” She shook his hand warmly and assured him that his meek and gracious attitude had endeared him and his work to her heart. — Not long afterward, she showed her admiration by persuading some wealthy acquaintances to join her in donating thousands of dollars to the Tuskegee Institute. (Our Daily Bread). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

2) “Sir, I am a Corporal!” During the American Revolution, a man in civilian clothes rode past a group of soldiers who were busy pulling out a horse-drawn carriage stuck in deep mud. Their officer was shouting instructions to them while making no attempt to help. The stranger who witnessed the scene asked the officer why he wasn’t helping. With great dignity, the officer replied, “Sir, I am a Corporal!” The stranger dismounted from his horse and proceeded to help the exhausted soldiers himself. When the job was completed, he turned to the corporal and said, “Mr. Corporal, next time you have a job like this, and don’t have enough men to do it, inform your commander-in-chief and I will come and help you again.” — Too late, the proud Corporal recognized General Washington. Today’s readings challenge us to be truly humble. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

3)  The most beautiful people in the world: They are those who care for the least and the lowliest, as Jesus instructs his host in today’s Gospel. Was there ever anyone more beautiful than Mother Teresa? Mother Teresa’s death came at the same time as the death of one of the world’s most famous beautiful people, Princess Diana. Both are remembered for what they did for others. Although Princess Diana was a young woman of many frailties who made foolish choices in marital life, she was fondly remembered, for her many acts of compassion. She cared for children. She cared for people with AIDS. Several years ago, there were two images that leaped off of the front page of a Texas newspaper. One was the image of “Miss America.” There on the front page of his newspaper was a list of the “vital statistics” of the Miss America winner, presenting her as the standard for American women. In that same newspaper another woman was pictured in a small photo.  Her face was very thin. Her skin was wrinkled with age, almost leathery. She had no makeup, no blush, no lipstick. But there was a faint smile and a glint in her eyes. She looked pale. The caption read: “Mother Teresa in serious condition.” We know Mother Teresa’s story. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985, and she gave the two hundred-thousand-dollar prize to the poor of Calcutta. When a businessman bought her a new car, she sold it and gave the money to the underprivileged. She owned nothing. She owed nothing. But she remains the most loved person for millions who knew her. — Do you want to become such a person? Jesus’ answer in today’s Gospel is plain and simple. Look around for someone in need and make a sincere attempt to help. A person in need is not necessarily one who is poor, but one who may be may be a shut-in who is lonely, a teenager who is misunderstood, or an AIDS patient feeling rejected by family, neighbors, and by God, to name a few. (Mother Teresa at 100- Life and Works of a Modern Saint. The Time Magazine commemorative edition was available in August 2010 in all stores). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

3) Funeral of Charlemagne. Charlemagne was the greatest Christian ruler of the early Middle Ages. After his death a mighty funeral procession left his castle for the cathedral at Aix. When the royal casket arrived, with a lot of pomp and circumstance, it was met by the local bishop, who barred the cathedral door.
“Who comes?” the Bishop asked from inside the cathedral, as was the custom.
“Charlemagne, Lord and King of the Holy Roman Empire,” proclaimed the Emperor’s proud herald.
“Him I know not,” the Bishop replied. “Who comes?”
The herald, a bit shaken, replied, “Charles the Great, a good and honest man of the earth.”
“Him I know not,” the Bishop said again. “Who comes?”
The herald, now completely crushed, responded, “Charles, a lowly sinner, who begs the gift of Christ.”
To this, the Bishop, Christ’s representative, responded, “Enter! Receive Christ’s gift of life!” — Even Charlemagne in all his glory and good works could not assume a position of honor. In today’s Gospel, Jesus invites his host to receive applause and honor from God by inviting the poor and the needy to the banquet. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

5) Thou shall not park here: Maybe you’ve heard the humorous story about the pastor who was having difficulty with his assigned parking space on the Church parking lot. People parked in his spot whenever they pleased, even though there was a sign that clearly said, “This space reserved.” He thought the sign needed to be clearer, so he had a different sign made, which read, “Reserved for Pastor Only.” Still people ignored it and parked in his space whenever they felt like it. “Maybe the sign should be more forceful,” he thought. So, he devised a more intimidating one in the Ten Commandment style, which announced, “Thou shalt not park here.” That sign didn’t make any difference either. Finally, he hit upon the words that worked; in fact, nobody ever took his parking place again. The sign read, “The one who parks here preaches the sermon on humility this Sunday morning!”–  You would probably feel uncomfortable about doing that because of a lack of experience and training. The Gospel reading here, as well as the other two readings selected for this Sunday, set before us a vision of a common ministry that all of us can be a part of. I would call it something like “a ministry of humble hospitality. [Richard W. Patt, All Stirred Up (CSS Publishing, Lima, Ohio, 1977, 0-7880-1040-9).] (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

6) What kind of player are you looking for?” Coach Shug Jordan at Auburn University asked his former Linebacker Mike Kollin, who was then playing for the Miami Dolphins, if he would help his alma mater do some recruiting. Mike said, “Sure, coach. What kind of player are you looking for?” The coach said, “There’s a fellow, you knock him down, he gets up. Knock him down, he gets up. Knock him down, he gets up. Knock him down, he gets up.” Mike said, “That’s the guy we want isn’t it, coach?” The coach answered, “No, Mike, we don’t want him. I want you to find the guy who’s knocking everybody down. That’s the guy we want.” — That’s the guy we want to be seen with, want to invite to our dinners and social gatherings, because, deeply, it is the kind of people we want to be. We don’t want to be seen with the guys who are always being knocked down–the poor, crippled, the lame, the blind. But these are the very people, as we shall soon see, that we are encouraged to associate with. Look with me as we examine Jesus’ story about a party as given in today’s Gospel. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

7) Humble Hardy & Dorothy Day: It is said of Thomas Hardy, the great 19th century poet and novelist, that even after his great talent was discovered and any newspaper would have paid enormously to publish him, he would still send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the newspaper publisher in the event that his poem or short story might be rejected. Leonard Bernstein, the famous musician, was once asked which instrument was the most difficult to play. He thought for a moment and then replied, “The second fiddle. I can get plenty of first violinists, but to find someone who can play the second fiddle with enthusiasm – that’s a problem. And if we have no second fiddle, we have no harmony.” A similar story that personifies humility is told of Dorothy Day, the foundress of the Catholic Worker who once was sitting having a conversation with a disheveled, homeless person who had come into the house for a meal. When she recognized a reporter who had entered into the house pacing back and forth waiting for the conversation to end, she looked directly at him and asked, “Are you waiting to speak to one of us?” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

8) Success and Mother Teresa:  Mother Teresa was once asked, “How do you measure the success of your work?” She thought about the question and gave her interviewer a puzzled look, and said, “I don’t remember that the Lord ever spoke of success. He spoke only of faithfulness in love. This is the only success that really counts.” — I think Mother Teresa would point to this story in Luke’s Gospel today to justify that response. Jesus instructs us in today’s Gospel not to do things that bring us the honor of men. Instead, we are to do things for which God will honor us. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

9) The television program 20/20 shared the stories of people who have restructured their lives in order to be able to share what they have with others. One person had given away her $3 million inheritance saying she already had what she needed and other people don’t. She couldn’t live with having a second home when others don’t have their first. The interviewer was incredulous as she asked, “But you see pretty things. Don’t you wish you had some of them?” “Sure, I like them,” she replied, “but I don’t need them.” Another man donated 60% of his income to charity with the goal of contributing $1 million in his lifetime. He did this by living in a small apartment and driving a used car. (Rev. Barbara Royle, http://www.soth.net/sermons%202005/sermon%2012-4-2005.htm.) — Could you do that? Could I? Today’s Gospel challenges every Christian to do that. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

10) “Were you there?” Ethel Barrymore, the great stage and screen actress, was a stickler for good manners. She once invited a younger actress to a dinner party at her home. But the young lady never appeared. She didn’t even bother to offer an excuse or make an apology. She just didn’t show up. Several days later Ethel Barrymore and the young lady met by chance at a museum. Embarrassed, the younger actress began, “Miss Barrymore, I believe I was invited to your house last Thursday evening for dinner.” To which Ethel Barrymore responded coolly, “Yes, I believe I did invite you. Were you there?” [Clifton Fadiman, editor, The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes (New York: Little, Brown and Company), p. 40).] –In today’s Gospel, Jesus briefs his host on good manners He expects. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

11) Captains’ pride leads to fatal collision:  In the summer of 1986, two ships collided in the Black Sea off the coast of Russia. Hundreds of passengers, hurled into the icy waters below, died. News of the disaster was further darkened when an investigation revealed the cause of the accident. It wasn’t a technology problem like radar malfunction or even thick fog. The cause was human stubbornness. Each captain was aware of the other ship’s presence nearby. Either could have steered clear, but according to news reports, neither captain wanted to give way to the other. Each was too proud to yield first. By the time they came to their senses, it was too late. — Many of the ills that afflict our Catholic Church and our nation at large might be resolved with a big dose of humility for everyone involved. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

12)  “I cannot remember the menu of a single meal.”: A colleague of mine recently received a letter from one of his parishioners. It read as follows: “My dear pastor, I notice that you seem to set a great deal of importance on your sermons and spend no small amount of time preparing them. I have been attending services for the past 30 years and, during that time, I have listened to no less than 3000 sermons. But I hate to inform you that I cannot remember a single one. I wonder if your time might be better spent on something else.” After waiting a couple of days to heal his pride and swallow his defensiveness, my friend wrote back, saying: “My dear parishioner, I have been married for 30 years. During that time, I have eaten 32,580 meals … mostly of my wife’s cooking. Alas, I have discovered that I cannot remember the menu of a single meal. Yet, judging by outward appearances, I have been nourished by every one of them. In fact, I have the distinct impression that without them, I would have starved to death years ago.” — Today’s Gospel describes a banquet which Jesus attended. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 13) Jesus handles a “put down” at a party hosted by a Pharisee: The English are the masters of the put-down. Many of the entries into that anthology of insults came from England, like the story of George Bernard Shaw, who was invited to a woman’s house for tea. She was one of those people who liked to “collect” celebrities so that she, herself, might be considered a celebrity. She sent Shaw her card, which read, “Lady So-and-So will be at home Thursday from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.” Shaw wrote a note on the card and sent it back, and said, “Mr. George Bernard Shaw likewise.” Sir Winston Churchill was equally adept at the put-down. There is a famous exchange between Winston Churchill and Lady Astor. Lady Astor did not like Winston Churchill, so one day she said to him, “If I were your wife, I’d put poison in your tea.” Churchill said, “If I were your husband, I’d drink it.” And here’s the meeting of the Masters! Bernard Shaw sent two tickets to his latest play opening in London to Churchill with this note, “Here are two tickets for the opening night of my new play, one for you and one for a friend, if you have one.” Churchill sent them back with this note, “I cannot attend opening night. Send me two tickets for the next night, if there is one.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

14) Anton Chekhov on false humility: The great Russian author/playwright Anton Chekhov, in a letter addressed to a younger brother in 1879, gave the classic response to the phenomenon of false humility. He had received a letter in which the brother had signed himself as “your insignificant and obscure little brother.” — “Do you know,” Chekhov asked in reply, “before whom you should confess your insignificance?” He proceeded to answer his own question. “Before God, if you will, before intelligence, beauty, nature, but not before people. Among people, you have to show your worth. After all, you’re not a crook, are you? You are an honest fellow, are you not? Well then, respect the honest fellow in yourself and recognize that the honest fellow is never insignificant. Don’t confuse ‘coming to terms with yourself’ with ‘recognizing your insignificance.'” [Quoted in George F. Kennan, Around the Cragged Hill ([New York: W. W. Norton, 1993), 22.] (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

15) Measure of greatness: Greatness is not measured by how much we gain, but by how much we give. How many millionaires has America produced over the past two centuries? I don’t know the figure. Tens of thousands, I’m sure. Of those millionaires who are dead, how many can you name? Not very many. Most of them are gone. Forgotten. All their toys are back in the box. Somebody else lives in their magnificent homes. Everything they worked for has turned to dust – except for the few who learned the lesson that greatness is measured not by what you gain, but by what you give. Would Carnegie and Vanderbilt and Rockefeller be remembered if their names were not engraved on public buildings, libraries and universities? Would we have any idea who old Joe Kennedy, “with all his millions of dollars,” was, if his boys had not devoted themselves to public service? –And a century from now, whose names will live on after all the lifestyles of today’s rich and famous have faded into obscurity? Albert Schweitzer? Mother Teresa? Mahatma Gandhi? Martin Luther King, Jr.? The number will be few. Some great scientists, a few artists, a political leader here and there.  In every case I can promise one thing. Each of them will be a person who gave more to the world than he or she received. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

16) No, Sir, I was only a cobbler.”: William Carey, the great missionary of India, was a very humble man despite his great linguistic skills and botanical achievements. He had translated the Bible into several Indian languages. The intellectuals and men of high positions in Calcutta recognized him. On one occasion the Governor General of India invited him to a party. As they sat around the table, one of the invitees asked another whether this was the Carey who was once a shoemaker. — Carey overheard this comment and turned to the person and said, in all humility, “No, Sir, I was only a           cobbler.” (John Rose in John’s Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

17) Humility Speaks in Silence! For a lady traveler it was a pleasant journey by train from New York to Philadelphia as there was only one more passenger besides her. Her co-passenger was rather a heavy-set man. But her joy of comfort was disturbed when the man lit a cigar and started smoking. The lady deliberately coughed and showed an unpleasant face. Nothing worked. He continued to smoke. Then she blurted out, “You might be a foreigner. But don’t you know that there is a smoking car ahead. Smoking is prohibited here. The man quietly threw his cigar out of the window and maintained his equanimity. — When the conductor came to examine the tickets the lady passenger realized with horror that her co-passenger was the famous General Ulysses Grant. She had boarded his private car by mistake! As the lady made a hasty exit the General did not even look at her so as not to embarrass her. He turned his head and smiled only after the lady was out of sight. Great humility is displayed by strong people. (G. Francis Xavier in Inspiring Stories; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

18) Inflated Ego: Some time ago in Florida, the St. Petersburg Times carried an interesting story about Don Shula, the coach of the Miami Dolphins, vacationing with his family in a small town in northern Maine. One afternoon it was raining, and so Shula, his wife and his five children decided to attend a matinee movie in the town’s only theatre. When they arrived the house, lights were still on in the theatre, where there were only six other people present. When Shula and his family walked in, all six people stood up and applauded. He waved and smiled. As Shula sat down, he turned to his wife and said, “We’re thousands of miles from Miami and they are giving me a standing ovation. They must get the Dolphins on television all the way up here!”  Then a man came to shake Don Shula’s hand. Shula beamed and said, “How did you recognize me?”  –The man replied, “Mister, I don’t know who you are. All I know is just before you and your family walked in the theatre manager told us that unless four more people turned up, we wouldn’t have a movie today.” This story clarifies the teaching of today’s reading that our Christian commitment calls us to be humble people. (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

19) Who is the greatest? Here is a beautiful legend about a king who decided to set aside a special day to honor his greatest subject. When the big day arrived, there was a large gathering in the palace courtyard. Four finalists were brought forward, and from these four, the king would select the winner. The first person presented was a wealthy philanthropist. The king was told that this man was highly deserving of the honor because of his humanitarian efforts. He had given much of his wealth to the poor. The second person was a celebrated physician. The king was told that this doctor was highly deserving of the honor because he had rendered faithful and dedicated service to the sick for many years. The third person was a distinguished judge. The king was told that the judge was worthy because he was noted for his wisdom, his fairness, and his brilliant decisions. The fourth person presented was an elderly woman. Everyone was quite surprised to see her there, because her manner was quite humble, as was her dress. She hardly looked as the greatest subject in the kingdom. What chance could she possibly have, when compared to the other three, who had accomplished so much? Even so, there was something about her the look of love in her face, the understanding in her eyes, her quiet confidence. The king was intrigued, to say the least, and somewhat puzzled by her presence. He asked who she was. The answer came: “You see the philanthropist, the doctor, and the judge? Well, she was their teacher!” — That woman had no wealth, no fortune, and no title, but she had unselfishly given her life to produce great people. There is nothing more powerful or more Christ-like than sacrificial love. The king could not see the value in the humble lady. He missed the significance of the teacher. Often, we miss the value of those around us. I think it would surprise us to know how often we miss the presence of Christ just as Cleopas and his brother missed the significance of the stranger on the road to Emmaus. It is likewise easy for us to miss the significance of the resurrection. On the road to Emmaus don’t miss…..(Anonymous; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

20) Truly Humble: An arrogant American musician once visited the house of the great composer Beethoven, sat down at the piano and proudly began to play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. When he had finished, he asked the concierge, “I suppose many celebrities come here?” “Yes,” replied the man, “Paderewski was here last week.” The American continued, “And did he play the piano too?” “No,” said the old concierge, “He said he wasn’t worthy.” — Ignace Jan Paderewski was a brilliant Polish pianist, composer, orator, writer, social worker, and philosopher who eventually became Prime Minister of Poland in 1919. He was deeply humble and is a model of what Jesus asks of us all.  (Francis Goncalves, Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

21) Self-Effacing Humility: One type of humility is self-effacement – the habit of doing good deeds, or indeed just daily work, secretly and anonymously, without expecting thanks. A good example of that is a teacher, who in preparation for Thanksgiving Day asked her class of first graders to draw a picture of something they were thankful for. She thought of how little these children from their poor neighborhood had. She imagined that most of them would draw pictures of turkeys or tables of food. But the teacher was taken aback with the picture little Douglas handed in -a childishly drawn hand. The teacher showed it to the class to decide whose hand it was. “I think it must be the hand of God that brings us food,” said one child. “A farmer,” said another, “because he grows the turkeys.” When the others were at work, the teacher bent over Douglas’ desk and asked whose hand it was. “It is your hand, teacher,” he mumbled. — It was only then that she recalled that frequently at recess she had taken Douglas, a scrubby forlorn child by the hand. She often did that with the children; it had obviously meant a lot to Douglas. For herself, she was grateful for the chance, in whatever small way, to give self-effacingly to others. (Harold Buetow in God Still Speaks: Listen! Quoted by Fr. Botelho.) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

22) Learning from the Great: Dr. Richard Evans was a psychologist at the University of Houston who had developed an interesting series of films. They consisted of interviews Evans did with some great leaders in the fields of psychology and psychiatry -– people like Carl Jung, Eric Fromm, Erik Erikson, Carl Rogers, B.F. Skinner, and Jean Piaget. —  Surprisingly, the major thing Evans learned from these great figures was the need for humility. What these great thinkers professed to know and their assessment of it is rather humble. Some people tend to oversell what psychology and psychiatry can do to help people solve their problems. Not so with the really great personages in these fields. The really important people have a modest view of what they have contributed, much less what the field had contributed in general. Humility is the mark of all truly great men. A healthy sense of humor is closer to humility than self-depreciation.  Pope St. John XXIII once remarked: “Anybody can become Pope; the proof of this is that I have become Pope.” (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds; quoted by Fr. Botelho.) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

23) A young man in a Train: A young man entered the coach of a train in a small university town in France. The ink was scarcely dry on his newly acquired diploma. As the train sped off for Paris, he took his seat in the rear of the coach near an elderly gentleman who seemed to be dozing. As the train suddenly lurched, a string of rosary beads fell from his hand. The young man picked up the rosary and handed it to the elderly gentleman with the remark, “I presume you are praying, sir?” “You are right. I was praying.” “I am surprised,” said the young fellow, “that in this day and age there is someone who is still so benighted and superstitious. Our professors at the university do not believe in such things,” and he proceeded to “enlighten” his elderly fellow-passenger. The old man expressed surprise and amazement. “Yes,” continued the young man, “today enlightened people don’t believe in such nonsense.” “You don’t say!” replied the old man.  “Yes, sir, and if you wish, I can send you some illuminating books.”  “Very well,” said the old man, preparing to leave as the train came to a stop. “You may send them to this address.” — He handed the young man a card, which read: Louis Pasteur, Director of the Institute of Scientific Research, Paris. (Fr. Kayala). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

24) Inventor Samuel Morse: Wakefield tells the story of the famous inventor Samuel Morse who was once asked if he ever encountered situations where he didn’t know what to do. Morse responded, “More than once, and whenever I could not see my way clearly, I knelt down and prayed to God for light and understanding.” — Morse received many honors from his invention of the telegraph but felt undeserving: “I have made a valuable application of electricity not because I was superior to other men but solely because God, who meant it for mankind, must reveal it to someone and He was pleased to reveal it to me.” (Tim Hansel, Eating Problems for Breakfast, Word Publishing, 1988, pp. 33-34). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

25) Henry Augustus Rowland: professor of physics at Johns Hopkins University, was once called as an expert witness at a trial. During cross-examination a lawyer demanded, “What are your qualifications as an expert witness in this case?” The normally modest and retiring professor replied quietly, “I am the greatest living expert on the subject under discussion.” — Later a friend well acquainted with Rowland’s disposition expressed surprise at the professor’s uncharacteristic answer. Rowland answered, “Well, what did you expect me to do? I was under oath.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

26) President Lincoln:  Abraham Lincoln once got caught up in a situation where he wanted to please a politician, so he issued a command to transfer certain regiments. When the secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, received the order, he refused to carry it out. He said that the President was a fool. Lincoln was told what Stanton had said, and he replied, “If Stanton said I’m a fool, then I must be, for he is nearly always right. I’ll see for myself.” — As the two men talked, the President quickly realized that his decision was a serious mistake, and without hesitation he withdrew it. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

27) Pope Francis:  Just after his election to the Papacy, Pope Francis demonstrated and defined the practice of humility, not by his words but by his actions.  After his election to the papacy, Francis turned down the Vatican limousine ride, instead taking the minibus back over to the hotel with his brother Cardinals.  At the hotel, he gathered his luggage, thanked each member of the staff, and paid his own bill.  He did not pass off these seemingly meaningless tasks to a papal aide. — It was not as if he had nothing to do.  Francis, this humble servant of the Lord, remained Francis, humble servant of the Lord, even after being elected head of the Roman Catholic Church.  His humility was not so much a series of individual actions or practices as it was a way of life for him, as a Jesuit priest, archbishop, cardinal, and pope. (Fr. Tony        Kayala). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

28) Peter, tell me what hurts me!” The Hasidic Rabbi, Levi Yitzhak of the Ukraine, said that he had discovered the true meaning of love and humility from a pair of drunken friends in a country tavern. While chatting with the owner of the tavern, the rabbi saw the men embracing and declaring their love for one another. Suddenly Ivan said to his companion, “Peter, tell me what hurts me!” Sobered by such a startling remark, Peter replied, “How do I know what hurts you?” Ivan’s answer was immediate, “If you don’t know what hurts me, how can you say you love me?” — Through their interchange, the two companions underscored the fact that the true humility which issues forth in love is not fostered by navel-gazing but by bending down to look up into the eyes of another. From that humble position, the hopes and needs, the hurts and fears of the other are readily perceived; from that position of humility, love can be offered, and service can be rendered, not with an air of condescension but with the warmth of compassion. (Sanchez         Files). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

29) The one who humbles himself will be exalted Mike McGarvin, the founder of Poverello House in Fresno, was an alcoholic, a drug addict, and a substance abuser. Mike was converted in his early twenties when he met the tenderhearted and welcoming Franciscan priest, Fr. Simon Scanlon, in the Tenderloin district of urban San Francisco. The Tenderloin district was notorious for its poverty, prostitution, and violence. Fr. Simon, the pastor of St. Boniface Church, responded to the hopless situation by gathering some volunteers and opening the Poverello Coffeehouse, a safe haven and place of refuge where people on the streets could find acceptance, hot coffee, and a warm welcome. Fr. Simon asked Mike to volunteer at Poverello. — The burly ex-football player said “yes” and, in accepting to serve the poor and the homeless, was set on the road to recovery. In 2003 he wrote a very interesting book, Papa Mike, about his conversion and his service to the poor, the marginalized and the homeless. After reading the book, I concluded that Mike McGarvin is a living example of one who had humbly recognized his human frailty and weakness and turned to God for salvation. He is a realization of the words of Jesus: “The one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk 14:11b). (Lectio Divina). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

30) Stop! The cup is full!”  An old story is told about someone who is searching for the meaning of life who wanders into the hut of a holy hermit in a forest. The hermit offers his guest tea and keeps pouring tea into the cup until it is overflowing. The guest watched the overflow until he could no longer restrain himself. “Stop! The cup is full. No more will go in.” And then the hermit replied, “Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions, preconceptions, and ideas. How can I teach you unless you first empty your cup?” —  That is a wonderful story about humility, which is esteemed by many religious traditions. Dante in The Divine Comedy thought of humility as the most important virtue. Humility is radical dependence upon and trust in God. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

31) Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” is a 1967 film, starring Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, Katherine Hepburn, and Katharine Houghton. In this film, the daughter of a well-to-do white family, Joanna Drayton (played by Houghton), comes home from a vacation to announce her intentions of marrying a well-to-do black physician, John Prentice (played by Poitier). The plot thickens as Joanna Drayton brings John Prentice home to dinner to meet her parents who do not know John is black; John’s parents also come into town for the Draytons’ dinner in order to meet Joanna, who, they learn at the airport, is white. — This might not be such a big deal today, but in 1967 to present a positive representation of a controversial subject like interracial marriage  in the United
States of America was bold. Bold because, historically, interracial marriage was illegal in most states and was still illegal in 17 states until June 12, 1967. This movie presents a cultural taboo of that time, and it does so around the dinner table  — because who’s at the table says something about who’s in and who’s out. The table is not only where one may say grace; it is the space where one extends grace as Jesus instructs in today’s Gospel. (Rev. Luke A. Powery). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

32) “Put these out on the tables if you don’t mind.”  A while back Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, was a guest in our church.  Hundreds of men had turned out one evening to hear this humble man of God; but before the doors were opened, when the men were still lined up outside waiting to be seated, I went into the auditorium to greet Mr. Cathy.  I introduced myself and identified myself as the Senior Minister of the church.  “If there is anything I can do to help,” I said rhetorically, “just call on me.”  —  And he did!  He handed me a big stack of those cards that entitle the bearer to a free Chick-fil-A sandwich and said, “Put these out on the tables if you don’t mind.”  Good grief! I was the Senior Minister!  But this man gave me a chance to view the banquet from a lesser seat, and I think he got it right.  And yes, the Senior Minister put a few hundred cards on the tables. ( Rev. Dr. Sam          Matthews). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

33) You like me, you really like me!”: You may not remember this 1984 film, Places in the Heart.  But you may remember a well-known incident associated with it. In 1985, Places in the Heart star Sally Field won her second Academy Award for her role in this film.  In her now-famous acceptance speech for her Oscar, Field said, “I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!”  This line, of course, has been slightly misquoted as it has become well known as “You like me, you really like me!” Places in the Heart is a wonderful film.  Set in Texas during the 1930s, it is a film about survival in the face of very difficult circumstances.  Sally Field plays a poor widow with small children.  She takes in boarders to help her make ends meet on her dirt-poor farm.  Her two borders are a blind man, played by John Malkovich, and an African American man, played by Danny Glover.  Glover is also her farm hand and farm manager and faces overt racism from Field’s white racist neighbors. Places in the Heart is a story of triumph in the face of overwhelming odds.  Sally Field well deserved the Oscar she won for her role in this film. — Places in the Heart is also one of the most theological Hollywood films ever made.  It has the most amazing final scene, set in Church, during Holy Communion.  As Communion is being distributed, the camera pans the congregation.  There pictured all around Sally Field’s character are all the people who are and have been important in her life, those both living and dead.  It is a portrait of the Heavenly Banquet, the Communion Saints, if ever there was one. I thought again of Places in the Heart when I read today’s gospel lesson from St. Luke, in which Jesus is describing God’s heavenly banquet, one which will include everyone, not just the wealthy and friends and relatives, but also the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. (Rev. Eric Shafer). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

34) Humble yourselves the more, the greater you are: In today’s Gospel, Jesus warns us not to seize the place of honor at a banquet. That place may have been reserved for a VIP. If so, we will have to pay for our vanity by being sent to a lower table. —  Is ambition always out of place? So long as the ambitious person is also highly qualified, little harm is done. Still, he who is promoted simply because of his merits will always win the greater admiration. General Omar Bradley was one of the outstanding American officers in World War II. For several years before his death, he had the rare distinction of being a permanent five-star general. But as he stated in a 1971 interview that appeared in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, all his promotions had come unsought. Bradley was a West Point graduate, a military man by profession, but as he always insisted, not a militarist. (He was noted for his compassion.) Reflecting on his advances in rank, he said, “I never thought about promotions. I tried to do my job a little better than was expected of me, to study a little harder than was expected of me.” Thus, he rose not because of ambition, but because of demonstrated talent. George Washington, in his day, was also chosen as general and president because he was obviously the best man for both jobs. In 1976, President Gerald Ford signed (without comment) a congressional law designating Washington posthumously as a six-star general. The legislator who presented the bill had the good intention of wanting to keep the Father of His Country permanently first among American generals. But the law was a bit silly. Washington’s position was already secure. As one dissident congressman said, “This is like the pope making Christ a cardinal!” (Father Robert F. McNamara). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).   L/22

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle C (No. 49) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com

Visit my website by clicking on https://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle C homilies, 141 Year of FaithAdult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at akadavil@gmail.com. Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies  of Fr. Nick’s collection of homilies or Resources in the CBCI website:  https://www.cbci.in.  (Special thanks to Vatican Radio website http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html -which completed uploading my Cycle A, B and C homilies in May 2020)  Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604

August 22-27 weekday homilies

Aug 22-27: Kindly click on https://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed homilies:  Aug 22 Monday: (The Queenship of Blessed Virgin Mary): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/queenship-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary : Lk 1:26-38: This special Liturgical Feast was proclaimed by Pope Pius XII on October 11, 1954 through his Encyclical Letter Ad Caeli Reginam. But Mary’s title as “Queen of Heaven and Earth” is a great scandal to many non-Catholic Christians. Here is the Biblical argument supporting her Queenship given in the encyclical.

Theology of Mary’s queenship: Since Holy Scripture presents Jesus Christ as a king, his mother Mary is the Queen-Mother. Jesus is King by Nature, as God; but Mary  is Queen by “Divine relationship,” that is, by being the Mother of God. Mary is also Queen by grace. She is full of grace, the highest in the category of grace, next to her Son. She is Queen by singular choice of God the Father. If a mere human can become King or Queen by choice of the people how much greater a title is the choice of the Father Himself! Biblical basis: Holy Father gives three biblical citations supporting Mary’s queenship.1) The messianic prophecies.  In most of the Messianic prophecies given in the Old Testament books of Samuel, Micah (5:1), Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel (7: 13-14), Christ, the Messiah, is represented as a King, an identity given to Jesus in the New Testament: Lk 1:32-33, Mt 2:2, Lk 19:38, Jn 18:37. 2) The annunciation scene: The beginning of the concept that Mary is a Queen is found in the Annunciation narrative, given in today’s Gospel (Lk 1:26-38). For the angel tells Mary that her Son will be King over the house of Jacob forever. So, she, His Mother, would be a Queen.3) Vision of Mary in the Book of Revelation:  Mary’s Queenship can be seen in the great vision described in Revelation:And a great portent appeared in Heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery” (Rv 12:1–2). Thus Revelation 12 portrays Mary as the new Queen-Mother in the Kingdom of God, sharing in her Son’s rule over the universe.

Role of Queen-mother in the Bible: In the monarchy of King David, as well as in other ancient kingdoms of the Near East, the mother of the ruling king held an important office in the royal court and played a key part in the process of dynastic succession. In fact, the king’s mother ruled as queen, not his wife or one of his wives. The prophet Jeremiah tells how the queen-mother possessed a throne and a crown, symbolic of her position of authority in the kingdom (Jer 13:18, 20). Probably the clearest example of the queen-mother’s role is that of Bathsheba, wife of David and mother of Solomon (1 Kgs 1:16–17, 31; 1 Kgs 2:19–20; 1 Kgs 2:19–20). Some Old Testament prophecies incorporate the queen-mother tradition when telling of the future Messiah. One example is Isaiah 7:13-14.

Life message: 1) Understanding Mary as Queen-Mother explains her important intercessory role in the Christian life.  (Once, King  Solomon responded to   a request made by the queen-mother of the Davidic kingdom , Bathsheba, with  “Ask it, my Mother, for I will not refuse you” 1 Kings 2:20), In this case, though,  hearing the petition and  discovering that the real petitioner, was a rival who desired to kill him and usurp the Kingdom entrusted to him by God through David, Solomon refused, not his Mother (whose will was always one with her son’s,) but the real petitioner whom he had killed at once (1 Kgs 2:21-25).  So Jesus the king of the universe, responds to Mary, his Mother, whose will is completely one with that of God, and who serves Him in acting as our advocate before her Divine Son. Hence, we should approach our Queen-Mother with confidence,  provided our requests are consonant with the Will of God, of course,  knowing that she carries our petitions to her Royal Son. For additional reflections,  click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections. https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

The prayer Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen) is perfect for today: Hail holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us. And after this our exile, show unto us the blessed Fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. V: Pray for us, O holy Mother of God R: that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.

Aug 23 Tuesday: (St. Rose of Lima, Virgin): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-rose-of-lima : 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. Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

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 fail to 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 judgmental. We 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. 4 Let us learn to love God living in others by rendering them sacrificial service with agápe love. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Aug 24 Wednesday: (St. Bartholomew, Apostle): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-bartholomew/John 1:45-51: ( 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 Beth-sa’ida, the city of Andrew and Peter). 45 Philip found Nathan’a-el, 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 Nathan’a-el said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathan’a-el coming to him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” 48 Nathan’a-el 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 Nathan’a-el 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.” Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

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. 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. (Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”.

Life message: Let us pray for the grace to love the word of God as Bartholomew did and to accept the teaching of the Bible and the Church with open heart and open mind without pride or prejudice. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Aug 25 Thursday: (St. Louis) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-louis-of-france St. Joseph Calasanz): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-joseph-calasanzMatthew 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. Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

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 the 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 all of us 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 the disciples 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 the disciples 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, abused the other servants, 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) (Fr. Tony) https://frtonyshomilies.com/ (L/22)

Aug 26 Friday; 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 Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

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 Jesus’ Commandment to love others as Jesus Himself 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. (Fr. Tony) https://frtonyshomilies.com/ (L/22)

Aug 27 Saturday: (St. Monica): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-monica Matthew 25:14-30 : 14 “For it will be as when a man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property; 15 to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them; and he made five talents more. 17 So also, he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, `Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, `Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, `Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, `Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, `Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, `You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’ Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: The three parables in the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew (The Wise and Foolish Virgins, The Talents, The Last Judgment) are about the end times, the end of the world, and the end of our lives. The parable of the talents is an invitation for each one of us to live in such a way that we make the best use of the talents God has given us. Then, at the hour of our death, God will say: “Well done, My good and faithful servant! Come and share the joy of your Master.” The parable challenges us to ask the questions: Are we using our talents and gifts primarily to serve God? Are we doing everything we can to carry out God’s will? The story: A very rich person, about to set off on a journey, entrusted very large sums of wealth (talents), to three of his slaves, each according to his personal ability: five, two, and one. Through skillful trading and investing, the first and second slaves managed to double their master’s money. Afraid of taking risk and lazy by nature, the third slave buried his talent in the ground. On the day of accounting, the master rewarded the two clever slaves (“Come, share your master’s joy.”), but punished the third slave whom he calls “wicked and slothful” (v. 26).

Life messages: 1) We need to trust God enough to make use of the gifts and abilities we have been given.Everyone is given different talents and blessings by God. So, we should ask ourselves how we are using our particular gifts in the service of our Christian community and the wider society. 2) We need to make use of our talents in our parish. We should be always willing to share our abilities in the liturgy, in Sunday school classes and in social outreach activities like feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, visiting the sick and the shut-ins. 3) We need to trade with our talent of Christian Faith: All of us in the Church today have received at least one talent. We have received the gift of Faith. Our responsibility as men and women of Faith is not just to preserve and “keep” the Faith but to live it out daily and pass it on faithfully to the next generation in our family and in our parish community. (Fr. Tony) https://frtonyshomilies.com/ (L/22)

O. T. XXI (Aug 21 Sunday) homily

OT XXI (August 21) (Eight-minute homily in one page) (L/22)

Introduction: As he continues his final journey to Jerusalem prepared for his suffering, and death, Jesus responds to the question asking how many will be saved by answering how one is to enter into salvation and how urgent it is that one strives now, before the Master closes the door. Instead of asking how many will be saved, Jesus wants us to ask ourselves, “Am I prepared to be saved, choosing the narrow gate of sacrificial agape love and so loving others as Jesus loves them”?

Scripture lessons summarized: In the first reading, Isaiah’s prophecy speaks to the Babylonian exiles returning to Jerusalem after 47 years in captivity, especially to the younger members with their pagan wives, telling them that salvation is not a Jewish monopoly and that is why Yahweh welcomes the pagans also into Judaism. The prophet’s great book ends as it began, with a vision of all the peoples of the world streaming toward Jerusalem, acknowledging and praising the God of Israel. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 117) refrain, “Go out to all the world and tell the Good News,”  reflects the mission of God’s chosen people to be instruments of salvation to the whole world. In the second reading, exploring with his readers the consequences of Christian commitment, St. Paul explains that “the narrow gate” of Jesus means our accepting pain and suffering as the loving discipline God is giving His children. In today’s Gospel, Jesus clearly explains that anyone who follows him through the narrow gate of sacrificial service and sharing love will be saved. Jesus also admonishes his followers to concentrate on their own salvation by self-discipline rather than to worry about the salvation of others.

The Non-Catholic doctrine on salvation was taught by Calvin and is currently broadcast by tele-evangelists: “Once saved, you are always saved,” in spite of your future sins and even apostasy. One is saved by the shed blood of Jesus when, as a young person or an adult, one accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior, confesses one’s sins and prays the “Sinner’s Prayer,” asking God’s pardon and forgiveness for one’s sins.

Catholic teaching on salvation: Salvation is a past, present , and future event. We were saved from the Bondage of sin when we were baptized as children or adults. We are being saved at present, when we cooperate with God’s grace by loving others as Jesus did, by sharing our blessings with the needy, and by getting reconciled with God daily, asking His forgiveness for our sins. We will be eternally saved when we hear the loving invitation from Jesus, the Judge, at the moment of our death and on the day of the Last Judgment, saying: “Good and faithful servant, you were faithful in little things enter into the joy of your Master.”

Life messages: We need to cooperate with God’s grace daily given to us: a) by choosing the narrow way and the narrow gate of self-control and self-disciplining of our evil tendencies, evil habits, and addictions; b) by loving others, seeing the face of Jesus in them, and sharing our blessings with them sacrificially; c) by obtaining the daily Divine strength to practice self-control and sharing love through the guidance of the Holy Spirit in daily prayer, in Bible reading, and in reception of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.

OT XXI (Aug 21, 2022) Is 66:18-21, Heb 12:5-7, 11-13; Lk 13:22-30

Homily starter anecdotes: # 1: Three surprises in Heaven: Venerable Bishop Fulton J. Sheen tells us that we will have three surprises in Heaven. The first surprise: We will be surprised to see that many people we expected to be in Heaven are not there. St. John of the Cross gives the reason why they are not there: “At the evening of our life, we shall be judged on how we have loved.” The second surprise: We will be surprised to see that the people we never expected to be in Heaven are there. That is because God judges man’s intentions and rewards them accordingly. The third surprise: We will be surprised to see that we are in Heaven! Since our getting to Heaven is principally God’s work, we should be surprised that God somehow “went out of His way” to save us, simply because we showed the good will and generosity to cooperate with His grace.  In today’s Gospel, Jesus answers the question, who will be saved, when, and how. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

# 2: Narrow door to successful living: Thousands upon thousands of young boys grow up bouncing basketballs and dreaming of a life in the National Basketball Association – the professional ranks. But only a handful are chosen each year. Woe to the young man or young woman who is talented at sports but neglects his or her education! Thousands upon thousands of new businesses are started each year, but only a small number of people in our society become super-successful in material terms. The higher one goes up the scale, the smaller the numbers become. Thousands upon thousands of young couples each year stand at the altars of churches like this one and pledge their love to one another, but, on the average, half these marriages will end in divorce. Many couples will stay together only for convenience, for appearances or for the children. Only an estimated 10% will find true fulfillment in their marriages. The door to any kind of successful living is a narrow one. That is why Jesus reminds us in today’s Gospel: “Strive to enter by the narrow door, for many I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” — Successful living requires making hard choices. It requires dedication and sacrifice. How can Christian Faith demand any less? (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

# 3: The narrow gate of great musicians: Someone once said to Paderewski, the great pianist, “Sir, you are a genius.” He replied, “Madam, before I was a genius, I was a drudge.” He continued: “If I missed practice one day, I noticed it; if I missed practice two days, the critics noticed it; if I missed three days, my family noticed it; if I missed four days, my audience noticed it. It is also reported that after one of Fritz Kreisler’s concerts a young woman said to him, “I would give my life to be able to play like that.” He replied, “That’s what I gave.” —  The door is narrow. Why should we think we can “drift” into the Kingdom of God? The Christian life is a constant striving to do the will of God as Jesus revealed it. We need to strive because there are forces of evil within us and around us, trying to pull us down. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

# 4: Self-discipline: Many years ago, an editorial in the magazine, War Cry put it like this: “A loose wire gives out no musical note; but fasten the ends, and the piano, the harp or the violin is born. Free steam drives no machine. But hamper and confine it with piston and turbine and you have the great world of machinery made possible. The unhampered river drives no dynamos but dam it up and we get power sufficient to light a great city. So, our lives must be disciplined if we are to be of any real service in this world.” — If you are going to walk with Jesus, there are some things you will need to leave behind. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

Introduction: As he continues his fateful journey to Jerusalem, Jesus answers the question as to how many will be saved by answering how to enter into salvation and how urgent it is to strive now, before the Master closes the door. Jesus explains who will be saved, how, why, and when, and Jesus tells them that anyone who follows him through the narrow gate of sacrificial serving and sharing love will be saved.   Jesus also admonishes his followers to concentrate on their own salvation instead of worrying about the salvation of others.

Scripture readings summarized:  In the first reading, Isaiah’s prophecy speaks to the future Babylonian exiles returning to Jerusalem after 47 years in captivity, telling them that salvation is not a Jewish monopoly, and that is why Yahweh will also welcome the pagans into Judaism. The prophet’s great book ends as it begins — with a vision of all the peoples of the world streaming toward Jerusalem, acknowledging and praising the God of Israel. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 117) refrain,Go out to all the world and tell the Good News, ”  reflects the mission of God’s chosen people to be instruments of salvation to the whole world.  In the second reading, exploring with his readers the consequences of Christian commitment, St. Paul explains “the narrow gate” of Jesus as the pain and suffering resulting from the loving discipline God is giving His children

The first reading (Is 66:18-21) explained:  Isaiah answered prophetically a similar question about salvation, which would be put forward some 200 years later by the Jews returning to Jerusalem in 540 BC after forty-seven years in exile.  Some of them brought back to Jerusalem their pagan wives and in-laws who had been converted to the Jewish Faith. The question was whether Yahweh would accept these former pagans along with His chosen people. The third part of Isaiah’s prophecy (chapters 56-66), answers this question.  In the prophet’s message, Yahweh declares that He is the Lord of all peoples rather than of the Jews alone.  In fact, some of these converts were to be missionaries to other pagans.  Even the hereditary posts of priest and Levite could be held by these outsiders.  (The Jewish priests were born into the priesthood.  No Jewish man born outside of a priestly family could ever dream of standing at the altar and offering sacrifice to Yahweh.  But Isaiah foresaw that even the non-Jews would be invited to join that highly restricted ministry!  No wonder the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 117)  refrain for today has us singing, “Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News!”)

The second reading: Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13 explained:   The author of the Letter to the Hebrews, considering the “narrow gate theology,” gives it a different twist (Heb 12:5-7, 11-13).  For him, the road less often taken and the gate less often chosen are the paths of God’s discipline. The pain and suffering Christians experience are parts of God’s discipline, given in love. The Greek word paideia, translated here as “discipline,” refers to the process of education and training by which the young Greeks were prepared to be admitted to citizenship in a Greek city.  It’s costly, but failure to pay the price costs more. We are being disciplined by our afflictions, strengthened to walk that straight and narrow path – that we may enter the gate and take our place at the banquet of the righteous. The experience is similar to that of a child disciplined by loving parents who desire only to help him grow, mature, and become responsible.  God’s discipline can be appreciated only by those who regard their relationship with God as that of a child to a parent (Pv 3:11-12). Unfortunately, we often take God’s discipline differently. Some of us meet God’s discipline with a resigned acceptance that sees no other possible course.  Others gulp it down like a bitter pill so as to be done with it as soon as possible. Some respond with self-pity, which, in the end, leads to their collapse.  Still others become resentful and turn away from God. However, there are some, who can lift their spirits above present trials and look beyond to the peace and justice (v. 11) which are the fruits of God’s discipline.

Gospel exegesis: Are you saved”? When the questioner asked Jesus “How many will be saved?” he was assuming that the salvation of God’s Chosen People was virtually guaranteed, provided they kept the Law. In other words, the Kingdom of God was reserved for the Jews alone, and Gentiles would be shut out.  The Jewish catechism, Mishnah, taught: “All Israelites have a share in the world to come.” The author of the Apocalypse of Ezra declared, “this age the Most High has made for the many, but the age to come for a few” (4 Ezra 8:1). Hence, Jesus’ answer must have come as a shock. Jesus affirms that God wants all persons to enjoy eternal life. But he stresses our need for constant fidelity and vigilance throughout our lives. Thus, Jesus reminds us that, even though God wants all of us to be saved, we all need to work at it. Entry into God’s kingdom is not automatically granted, based purely on religious affiliation or nationality, so we cannot presume on God’s mercy and do nothing by way of response to God’s invitation. What Jesus is saying is that salvation is not guaranteed for anyone. “Outside the Church there is no salvation” was a rallying cry for centuries.  But Jesus declares that nobody can claim that he is “saved,” possessing a “visa” to Heaven. How many will be saved in the end is a decision that rests with God and depends His Justice which includes His Mercy.  Jesus came to bring God’s love and freedom to the whole world. The message of his Gospel is that there is not a single person, people, nation, race, or class, which will be excluded from experiencing the love and liberation that God offers. Hence, the role of the Christian community, from the beginning until the  end of time, is, first and foremost, to proclaim to the whole world the Good News of God’s love for the world, and then to show this Good News to be real, made visible in the loving, sharing and serving lives of individual Christians. So, to be “saved” means to live and to die in a close, loving relationship with God and with others.

Jesus issued a series of sayings and parables that emphasized the difficulty involved in entering God’s Kingdom, and he stressed the need for our constant fidelity and vigilance throughout our lives. Jesus also insisted that salvation was an urgent matter — the “narrow gate” was open now but would not remain so indefinitely (“the master of the house will lock the door”).  Then he added two conditions:  a) Eternal salvation is the result of a struggle: “keep on striving to enter.”  (The Greek word agonizomai means strenuous effort in athletic competition.  See I Cor 9:25; 1 Tm 6:12; 2 Tm 4:7).  It is like the effort one would make in swimming against the current in a river.  A man must ever be going forward or else he will go backward.   b) We must enter through the “narrow gate” of sacrificial and selfless service. (Confer Mt 7:13-14; Jer 21:8; Dt 30: 15-20; Jos 24:15).

The narrow gate: Most cities of the ancient world were surrounded by walls that had large gates in them.  Jerusalem had about twelve gates that were large enough for two-way traffic.   People moved through these gates to do their business, to shop and to visit their friends.   These gates, however, were closed at night, in case the city came under attack by an invader.   There were also smaller gates through which individual citizens could be allowed into the city by the guards without exposing the city to danger. These smaller, or narrower gates were what Jesus was talking about. These smaller gates were like turnstiles – only one person at a time could enter through them. Jesus repeats Isaiah’s image of a final banquet. He does not want his followers to presume they can just slip through to enter his Father’s house. Jesus is not looking for casual acquaintance from us but for real dedication. The crowd will press for entry, but the door will be too narrow to admit all. The less alert will be forced to stay outside and appeal in vain for entry. They will say that they ought to be allowed to enter because they were acquainted with Jesus during his earthly life. The irony of Jesus’ image is that the narrow gates are the proper way to enter the Kingdom precisely because they are just wide enough to receive a single person – anyone who is willing to do sacrificial service for the glory of God.  In other words, entering through the narrow gate denotes a steady obedience to the Lord Jesus — overcoming all opposition and rejecting every temptation.  It is the narrow way of unconditional and unremitting love. Mere faith in Jesus and membership in His Church by Baptism cannot guarantee salvation.  Some of the Fathers of the Church interpreted the narrow door as that small place in the heart where one says “yes” or “no” to what one knows to be true.  It is the one place into which no external force can enter to shape or coerce one’s choices. This place is what Teresa of Avila calls the “center of the soul” wherein God dwells.  That means that Jesus is the narrow gate, the way by which any person must enter the Heavenly city. There is a sense of urgency present here. Salvation is offered to all, but not forced upon anyone. If we do not seize the moment for what it is – a moment of grace in which to act – then before we know it, the time will have  come to “close the door.” Every moment we live is an opportunity for grace, an occasion to take action as a disciple of Jesus.

“Being saved’ is not a Protestant idea.  The Protestants, in fact, took the idea from Catholics.  But in Catholic theology, “being saved” is the end result – seeing God face to face in Heaven, and not a ready-made “passport and visa” as some of our non-Catholic preachers claim.  Jesus explains that Salvation begins with Faith.  But it is also the result of how that Faith is lived, as is seen in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the prophets.  Catholics, too, believe that we cannot “earn” our way into Heaven by good works (this is the Pelagian heresy, condemned by the Council of Carthage in A.D. 418), but we also believe that we must allow God to work in our lives through His grace, a grace that is reflected in our actions. Hence, our answer to the question: “Have you been saved?” should be: “I have been saved from the penalty of sin by Christ’s death and Resurrection.  I am being saved from the power of sin by the indwelling Spirit of God.  I have the hope that I shall one day be saved from the very presence of sin when I go to be with God.”  It is through the grace of Christ that we are able to live out God’s Life in us — a grace that is fortified every time we participate in the Holy Eucharist, are reconciled with God and meditate on His Word.  Venerable Bishop Fulton J. Sheen says that we will have three surprises in Heaven:  1) There will be many there whom we never expected;   b) there will be many absent whom we expected to see; and c) we will be surprised to find that we ourselves have gotten in!   The real question is:  who will enter God’s Kingdom?  There is only one answer:  those who choose the narrow gate, and they will come from east and west, and will eat together, live together, and enjoy God in the Beatific Vision for all eternity.  Even non-Christians can be saved, but it’s not easy. The fathers of the Second Vatican Council said, “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.”

Life messages: 1) We need to make wise decisions and choose the narrow gate.  God allows us to decide every day what road we will walk down and what gate we will choose.  He encourages us, however, to choose His way:  “Choose life” (Moses – Dt  30:19-20); “Choose this day whom to serve” (Joshua – Jos 24:15); ”If God is Lord, follow Him” (Elijah – 1 Kgs  18:21); “There are two paths: one of life and one of death, and the difference between the two is great.”(Didache);   “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Lk 9:23).   This means a consistent denial of self and the steady relinquishing of sinful pleasures, pursuits, and interests.  St. Paul lists these sins in Galatians 5:19-21: “The works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, and occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.” Paul then enumerates “good works” that are representative of the “narrow road” and “narrow gate.”  These are “the fruits of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22-23).  In other words, the “narrow road” or “narrow gate” concerns our everyday living—our relationships with God and with one another. To enter the narrow gate involves being with the blessed ones (poor, peacemakers, persecuted, etc), being salt and light consistently, following Jesus’ radical way about murder/anger, adultery/lust, divorce, truth-telling, choosing mercy over revenge, loving enemies. And it involves doing good deeds for the right reasons; it involves pursuing the Kingdom and God’s justice instead of fame and fortune; and it involves not condemning others. It involves repentance, obedience, humility, righteousness, truth and discipleship.  Hence, we are to strive to enter through the “narrow gate” by prayer and supplication, diligently seeking deliverance from those things which would bar our entrance, and acquiring those things which would facilitate our entry

2) We need to check our track daily.  The parable of the locked door warns us that the time is short.  Each day sees endings and opportunities missed. “Opportunity will not knock twice at your door.”  Remember the old “Examination of Conscience” we were asked to make at the end of each day, in which we ask God’s pardon for the faults and sins of the day?  “How conscious was I this day of God’s numerous gifts?  How well did I respond to the opportunities to bear witness and serve in Jesus’ name: to forgive, feed, clothe, and love those who entered my life?  How much did I strive today to enter through the narrow gate of sacrificial love in action?'”  We might conclude this self-examination with a short prayer: “I need you Jesus Christ.  Grant me forgiveness for my sins.  Make me a new person.  I need your Holy Spirit to direct me, to strengthen me, so that I can walk in the narrow way and choose the narrow gate.  I need you to change me from a self-centered, self-sufficient person into your wise servant.”

JOKES OF THE WEEK

1) Irish solidarity on the “wide way” to hell. The Irish pastor said, “Everyone who wants to go to Heaven stand up!” and the whole church stood up.  And he said, “And those who want to go to hell, remain standing!” At the back of the church, old Murphy remained standing.   The pastor said, “Murphy, do you want to go to hell?”  Murphy said, “No, Father… I just hate to see you go there all by yourself!”   (No offence intended to my great Irish friends!).

 2) A little boy once asked his mother if people who told lies went to Heaven. She replied, “Of course not.” “Well,” he said, “it must be awfully lonesome and boring there with only God and George Washington.”

3) An open-air evangelist, preaching on today’s Gospel text was warning his congregation about the eternal damnation. “On the Day of Judgment,” he said, “there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.” But an old woman in the crowd asked, “Look preacher, I got no teeth!” “Never mind,” says the evangelist, “teeth will be provided.”

Websites of the week

1) Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs: https://sundayprep.org (Copy it on the Address bar and press the Enter button)

 2) Video Sunday-Scripture study by Fr. Geoffrey Plant:

https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant2066

3) Fr. Nick’s collection of Sunday homilies from 65 priests & weekday homilies: https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies

4) Dr. Brant Pitre’s commentary on Cycle C Sunday Scripture for Bible Class: https://catholicproductions.com/blogs/mass-readings-explained-year-Biblical basis of Catholic doctrines: http://scripturecatholic.com/

5)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=COJ0ED1mV7s

6) http://www.ucatholic.com/apologetics/the-simplest-most-direct-argument-for-gods-existence/

7) Catholics online for the New     Millennium: http://www.ecatholic2000.com/index2.html

7) Catholic expert on Islam: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsFwvdPPSoQ 

 27-Additional anecdotes

 1) Narrow gate of football stadiums: Have you ever been among the great crowd moving toward the entrance to a big-time football game? At first the entrance seems wide and open to all, but once you begin seriously pushing and struggling to go in, you discover that the gate is not wide at all. The broad gate narrows down to a turnstile where you enter one by one, and the keeper says, “Hold your own ticket, please.”  — So Jesus describes the door to the Kingdom. It begins wide and open to all – but then comes the struggle to go through the narrow door: one at a time and hold your own ticket. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

2) Narrow gate golf & basketball: Arnold Palmer, for many years, was one of America’s finest golfers. Certainly, he was our most popular golfer. Wouldn’t it be great to be a “natural” athlete like Arnold Palmer? Except that Arnold Palmer practiced golf eight hours a day, day after day after day. Being a great golfer requires commitment. Some of you who play the game are thinking to yourself that even being a poor golfer requires commitment. You don’t excel in athletics or anything else unless you are willing to pay the price. Larry Bird won the Most Valuable Player award in the National Basketball League for three years in a row. How did he achieve such excellence? Larry Bird is legendary for his dedication to the game of basketball. An opposing player tells of arriving at Boston Garden with his teammates to play the Boston Celtics several hours before an important game. There was the great Larry Bird standing at the foul line of dark, deserted Boston Garden practicing free throws over and over again. The coach of the opposing team preached a little sermon about dedication to the game using Larry Bird as the prime example. — Successful living requires commitment. It requires dedication. That’s true in athletics. It is also true in business. Jesus says in today’s Gospel that it is true in our relationship with God. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

3) King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table:  In the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, a vision of the Holy Grail comes to Sir Gawain. He vows to set off in search of it the very next day. All the other Knights of the Round Table vow that they, too, will go in search of the sacred chalice. But they will not journey together. As dawn breaks the following morning, each of the knights enters the forest alone, where he perceives it to be the darkest and the thickest. No knight follows a pathway. To do so would be to go where someone else had already searched. — So, it is with the case of the narrow way of sacrificial service in the Christian life. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

4) The NCAA cross-country championship: Back in 1994, 128 runners lined up to compete in the NCAA cross-country championship in Riverside, California. Unfortunately, one of the turns on the 10,000-meter course was not well-marked.  Only five of the 128 runners stayed on the correct path. Mike Delcavo was the first runner to notice the problem. He began waving at the other runners to follow him, but most refused. Can you blame them? One-hundred-and-twenty-three runners took the wrong path, only five took the right one. What did the 123 think of Delcavo? He commented later, “They thought it was funny that I went the right way.” (Leadership, Summer 1994, p. 49.) — We all like to think that we’re on the right path; what a rude awakening it would be to discover we aren’t, if we are taking the broad way leading to eternal damnation. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

5) Twenty million tons of cement. In 1974, in the wake of oil boom, the government of Nigeria decided to bring their country at a single leap into line with most developed Western nations. The planners calculated that to build the new roads, airfields, and military buildings which the plan required would call for some 20 million tons of cement. This was duly ordered and shipped by freighters from all over the world, to be unloaded onto the docks at Lagos, Nigeria. Twenty million tons of cement. Unfortunately, the Nigerian planners had not considered the fact that the docks at Lagos were only capable of handling two thousand tons a day. Working every day, it would have taken twenty-seven years to unload the ships that were at one point waiting at sea off Lagos. These contained a third of the world’s supply of cement, much of it showing its fine quality by setting solid in the holds of the freighters. —  Hasty transactions bring painful losses. Poor planning yields disastrous results. Building a tower before counting the cost is most unwise. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

6)  “The Road Less Traveled – Robert Frost:

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth……….….shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and

I took the one less traveled by, /

And that has made all the difference.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

7) Carl Jung and Rabbi Zusya: In 1933 Carl Jung observed in his book, Modern Man in Search of a Soul, that it is no easy matter to live a life modeled on Christ, but it is unspeakably more difficult to live one’s own life as truly as Christ lived his. The question for Christians living today is not, “What would Jesus do?” for he has not left us here to live his life as a clone, but to live our own in Him. No one can do my living for me, or dying either, for that matter. God has not given my life to you or your life to someone else. No one but you will be held accountable for it. It is written of Zusya – the old Rabbi of Annitol – that shortly before his death he gathered his disciples around him and said, “When I die and stand before my Heavenly Judge, God will not say to me, ‘Zusya, why weren’t you Moses?’ No! God will say to me, ‘Zusya, you could at least have been Zusya … so why weren’t you?’ (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

 8) Screening at the Pearly Gates: According to an anonymous storyteller, three people who died found themselves together before the Gate of Heaven. When asked by St. Peter what they had done to gain entrance, the first answered, “I was a physician and I helped many people to recover from their illnesses.” Peter admitted the doctor to Heaven and questioned the second person similarly, “Why should I let you in?” In response, she explained, “I was an attorney and I defended the rights of many innocent people.”  “Welcome to your eternal home”, said Peter. Then he put the same question to the third candidate who replied, “I was the administrator of a Health Management Organization and I managed to keep health care costs to a minimum.” After a few moments of thought, Peter decided, “You may come in,” he said, “but you can stay for only three days!” — Pointed humor such as this entertains while it teaches. The story of Peter and the three potential residents of eternity illustrates the truth that earthly words and works have eternal consequences. This does not suggest that Heaven can be merited or earned by any human activity. Eternal happiness will forever remain a gracious gift of God. Nevertheless, the manner in which God’s gifts are appropriated in time and space will have a bearing on the enjoyment of those gifts within that reign that perdures beyond time and space. (Patricia Datchuck Sánchez). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

 9) We aren’t told how he got back into the car later. An assistant to former Ohio State coach Woody Hayes once told how he and another coach were looking out a window one day and saw Coach Hayes slowly easing into the last empty space in the parking lot, barely wide enough for a car. But he couldn’t get out of the car once it was parked. There weren’t more than four inches alongside and he couldn’t open either door. A moment passed, and then he backed the car out. Now, as they stared in disbelief, Hayes got out of the car,  closed the door, walked to the rear, planted his hands on the trunk and slowly, grimly, pushed the car back into the space. — We aren’t told how he got back into the car later. Maybe the cars on either side moved. I suppose if you are determined, no space is too narrow. Except one. Jesus says in our lesson for today, “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able….” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

10) “I tell you, I do not know where you come from!”:  How many times have you had someone approach you and say, “Do you remember me?” You stand there and look deeply into their eyes, but for your life you cannot remember the person. You “fish” around for some hints, but there are none that make any sense. Finally, with a trace of a smile, the person says, “I was in John and Mary’s wedding party eight years ago, and you witnessed their marriage. I thought surely you would remember me.” — Isn’t that presumptuous? How in the world are you supposed to remember the name of a person who was in a wedding party eight years ago? Yes, sometimes people expect that from you and me, and sometimes we expect it from others. Jesus warns those who do not do his will that he won’t recognize them on the day of the Last Judgment. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

11) The Lady, or the Tiger?”: In The Lady, or the Tiger? Frank R. Stockton sets before the reader the dilemma of a gladiator who faces his fate in the arena standing before two doors. He must choose which of them to open. Behind one door waits a hungry tiger. Behind the other is a lovely maiden. — Jesus presents us with a similar dilemma in this parable. Behind one door to the Kingdom waits the tiger of Divine wrath. Behind the other door stands the fair maiden of grace. Jesus, in today’s Gospel, envisions a crowd, clamoring at the entrance to get in. But the door will be closed and locked to them. Grace will not be granted to the multitudes battering the gates of Heaven. What is not available to the masses of seeking pilgrims can be obtained, one person at a time, if each will strive to enter by way of the narrow door. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

 12) Broad gate of addictions: A guy walks into a bar, orders three shots and downs them all. “What’s up with the three shots?” asks the bartender. “My two closest buddies and I have gone our separate ways, and I miss them terribly,” says the guy. “See, this glass here is for Tom, this one’s Bob, and this one’s mine. I feel like we’re all drinking together, just like old times.” So, every day the guy comes in and the bartender sets up three glasses. Until one day, the guy asks for just two shots. “I hate to ask,” says the bartender, “but did something happen to one of your friends?” “Nah, they’re okay,” says the guy. “I myself just decided to quit drinking.” —   I told you it was terrible. But I doubt that this guy really has decided to quit drinking, don’t you? (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

13) 72% of Americans “deserve” Heaven: According to most polls, most Americans not only believe in Heaven, they believe that they someday will be there. For example, a poll conducted by USA Today sometime back showed that 72% of the people polled rated their chances of getting to Heaven as good to excellent. Interestingly enough, these same people said that only 60% of their friends will go to Heaven. I wonder why the discrepancy! 80% said they believe in Heaven, but only 67% said they believe in Hell. [Glenn Van Ekeren, Speaker’s Sourcebook II (Englewood Cliffs, NY: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1994), p. 326.] —  Here’s what interests me: By what authority do they assume that they are likely candidates for Heaven? Particularly if they are only nominally interested in religion as are most Americans? And, for that matter, by what authority do they believe in Heaven but not in Hell? The evangelical Christians are so obsessed by the notion of salvation by Faith that we totally ignore an entire body of Jesus’ teachings that call for commitment and sacrifice. (Rev. King Duncan). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

 ) Coach Carter:  Some of you are undoubtedly familiar with the movie Coach Carter. Coach Carter is the true story of Kenneth Carter, an inner‑city Richmond basketball coach who took a ragtag group of high school players and shaped them into a tightly disciplined and almost unstoppable team of athletes. “To accomplish that, he was brutal. He pushed the boys, always to the edge of their endurance, and then a little further. Any insolence was immediately reprimanded with a crackdown of grueling drills. The slightest lateness was penalized. Backtalk was squelched beneath a mounting regimen of workouts. To show you that Carter meant business, he made headlines in 1999 for benching his entire undefeated high school basketball team due to poor academic results. When was the last time you heard of a coach doing that? Under Coach Carter’s taskmaster harshness, the boys at first withered, then flourished. [Mark Buchanan, Hidden In Plain Sight (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2002), p. 60.]   —-Why did Carter put his players through such agony? Was it because he hated them? No, it was because he loved them and wanted the best for them. His desire was that they should be more than they were. And that is Christ’s desire for us. He wants us to be fit to share eternity with him. (Rev. King Duncan). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

15)  Narrow gate of George Foreman:  Some of you remember George Foreman. Foreman is a two-time former heavyweight boxing champion of the world. He is also an Olympic gold medalist, ordained Baptist minister, author and entrepreneur. Foreman is a colorful character who is probably better known today for his George Foreman Grill. When he won his second heavyweight world championship, at age 45, he became the oldest man in the world to win the heavyweight title. It’s quite a remarkable story. In his book, God in My Corner, he tells about that second title. He says that when he started his comeback, he had to get rid of what he called “some excess George.” He was extremely overweight. In the nearly ten years he had been out of boxing, he had ballooned from 220 to 315 pounds. And it wasn’t muscle that he gained! To get back into an exercise regimen, he started with the basics running every day. He was so out of shape that he couldn’t go far. At first, he couldn’t even make it around the block, which was about a mile. He had to stop a few times to catch his breath, huffing and puffing. “Just imagine a big, fat guy,” he writes, “gasping for air, barely able to jog around the block, who claims that he will be the heavyweight champion of the world again! I looked ridiculous to everyone who saw me. I’m sure they laughed as they peeked through their curtains early in the morning while I slowly shuffled past their houses. Only two people on this entire planet believed I could recapture the title—my wife and me.” But he had to get his weight down. He would walk and run, walk and run. Finally, he was able to run the whole time without walking. Then he began running longer distances, and with the combination of a proper diet and regular exercise, the fat continued to melt away. He kept running for the next eight months, until he finally got down to his fighting weight 229 pounds. The flab was fun to put on, he says, but hard to take off. Some of us know what he’s talking about. However, he contends, he wouldn’t have won the championship title if he first hadn’t gotten rid of that extra weight. [George Foreman, God In My Corner (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007), p. 169; cited www.kentcrockett.com.] — I admire George Foreman. I admire anyone who sets a lofty goal and then gives his or her best to attaining that goal. (Rev. King Duncan). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

16) The last shall be first! Barbara Hutton, the Woolworth heiress, was known as the “poor little rich girl.” Since her mother died when she was five, Barbara Hutton described her childhood as an unhappy one. She said, “Though I had millions of dollars, I had no mother and no home.” Nor was her adult life a happy one. She was married seven times and was a princess three of those times. A virtual recluse, she died in 1979 at age 66. A newspaper article summed up her life with the words: “Barbara Hutton died unmarried and alone, a symbol of the cliché that money does not buy happiness.” By way of contrast, consider the life of Dorothy Day. She was known as “the mother of the faceless poor of the city’s off-scouring.” She always felt she existed for a special purpose. She discovered that purpose when she became a Catholic at age 30 and dedicated her life to help the poor. Dorothy Day founded and edited the Catholic Worker newspaper, went to prison as a suffragist and pacifist, and established farm communes and hospices for the dispossessed. When she died in 1980 at age 83, Time magazine called her a “secular saint.” — Barbara Hutton and Dorothy Day illustrate somewhat the proverb cited by our Lord today: “There are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last.” (Albert Cylwicki in His Word  Resounds; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

 17) The Kingdom of Heaven is not a private club!A man died and went up to heaven. St. Peter met him at the gate, brought him inside and took him on a tour of the place. At a certain point they came to an enclosure surrounded by a high wall. As they were passing it Peter said, “Keep very quiet as you pass this place.” “Why,” the man asked. “In case we might disturb those inside,” Peter answered. “Who is inside?” the man asked. St. Peter said, “Catholics. You see, they think they are the only ones in Heaven. In fact, if they found out that there are others in Heaven, they would be very disappointed. In fact, some of them would probably ask for their money back!” — The Kingdom of Heaven is not a private club.
(John Pichappilly in The Table of the         Word; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

 18) The narrow door? In an interesting cartoon in the Peanuts series, Charlie Brown wakes up one morning and looks out of the window. It has snowed all night but now the sun is shining brightly, so he decides to go out skiing. Donning all the winter gear he can find; he collects his shoes and skis and makes for the door.  Unfortunately, he is unable to get through, because the clothes he has worn make it impossible to pass. He makes one unsuccessful effort after another. Finally, in desperate frustration, he screams at the top of his lungs: “Will someone please tell me what I have to do to get through this door?” —  Charlie Brown typifies those who would like to make it to Heaven but are reluctant to shed the unnecessary attachments that impede their passage. So like Charlie, we end up standing at the front door of Heaven screaming. The door of Heaven is narrow only for those who are too “bundled up.” (James Valladares in Your Words, O Lord, Are Spirit, and They Are Life; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

9) The narrow gate of St. John Mary Vianney.  One of the greatest examples for entering through the narrow gate to holiness was John Mary Vianney. He was the last in his class. In French and Latin, he was the last student. He failed in Theology studies. So, he was asked to leave the seminary. After that he was taught Theology privately and was ordained in 1815. Three years later he was appointed to the parish of Ars, a parish, where practically no one went to church. In a few years people began to come on pilgrimage to Ars. He became the most sought-after spiritual advisor. – This is an example of last being first. John Mary Vianney was last but now he is the patron of parish priests. What has caused the miracle? The gracious touch of the Lord. This miracle will happen to anyone who tries to enter by the narrow gate; who disregards the standards of the world and set his goal on high. (Fr. Bobby Jose). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

20) The narrow way on highway: I think of what happens on the freeway or expressway when there is a bad accident. The police close off three lanes; only one single lane is open, which is like the narrow door. All the traffic slows down and at times comes to a complete stop because of the bottleneck. As I think of the narrow door Jesus refers to, I see people all bunched up like cars on the freeway, moving very slowly, trying to squeeze through the one open lane. Drivers are upset. They are fussing and fuming and making obscene gestures at each other. Cars and tempers are overheating. The bottleneck is a pain in the neck. — Sin is like the accident on the freeway which causes all the trouble. This is not an inviting scene but is an image of what it means to get to Heaven. I realize that only one person has to get to that door. That person is Jesus Christ. And through that door he has passed in the paschal mystery of the death and resurrection. We do not have to force our way through that door. All we have to do is make sure we are united with Jesus, who is the door to heaven.  (Charles Miller C.M. in Sunday Preaching.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

 21) Joe Rosenthal: Monsignor Arthur Tonne tells an interesting tale: Most people have seen the famous photo of Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal. It pictures United States Marines raising the American flag on a hill in bloody Iwo Jima during World War II. Many of us too have stood mesmerized by the equally famous heroic size bronze likeness of the scene sculpted in Washington DC.  What is little known is that the photographer Mr Rosenthal was a convert to the Church from Judaism. For his conversion, he was shunned by fellow Jews for abandoning the Faith of his people. But Rosenthal was not intimidated.  He wrote, “The day before we went ashore on Iwo Jima, I attended Mass and received Holy Communion. If a man is genuinely convinced of the truth and still neglects it, he is a traitor and that goes not only for my Jewish friends who do not attend synagogue each Saturday but also for my friends who miss Mass each Sunday.” The Teacher was pulling himself through the towns and villages of Palestine. Busily He was teaching all the time. His destination was Jerusalem. There He would keep His long-planned rendezvous with death. He was asked by someone, “Lord, are those to be saved few in number?” The exhausted Christ, desperately needing a shower and a cold drink, ignored the query. Oftentimes the question put to Him did not touch on His syllabus. But He took advantage of the well-intentioned question to say in effect, “The door to the kingdom is unlocked. Keep in mind it is not wide, but it freely swings open on well-oiled hinges. Those willing to exert themselves will walk right in. No people at any time need stand outside with their noses pressed against the glass door wistfully looking in.” (Father James Gilhooley). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)  

 22)  Which way shall I go?
“To every person there opens a way;
A high way, a middle way, and a low way.
And the high soul takes the high way;
And the low soul takes the low way;
And in between on the misty flats,
The rest drift to and fro.
But to every person there opens a way
A high way, a middle way and a low way.
And every person decides
Which way his soul shall go.”
(Paraphrase of the poem by John Oxenham) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

 23) Display of universal unity:  Each time the Olympics are convened, the opening and closing ceremonies of the games are marked by an International cavalcade of athletes; men and women from nations all over the world march together in a spectacular and diverse display of universal unity. For the duration of the games, all share one vision and one goal and the whole world unites in looking on in admiration and appreciation. — In today’s first reading, the late sixth or early fifth century B.C.E. prophet, Trito-Isaiah wished to offer his contemporaries a similar experience; he envisioned a great parade of nations on pilgrimage to Jerusalem where they would unite in praising and glorifying God. (Sanchez Files).  (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

24) ‘Man, how good is your cotton?’  Several cotton farmers were whiling away a winter afternoon around the potbellied stove. They soon became entangled in a heated discussion on the merits of their respective religions. The eldest of the farmers had been sitting quietly, just listening, when the group turned to him and demanded, “Who’s right, old Jim? Which one of these religions is the right one?” “Well,” said Jim thoughtfully, “you know there are three ways to get from here to the cotton gin. You can go right over the big hill. That’s shorter but it’s a powerful climb. You can go around the east side of the hill. That’s not too far, but the road is rougher and difficult. Or you can go around the west side of the hill, which is the longest way, but the easiest.” Then he said, looking them squarely in the eye, “But you know, when you get there, the gin man won’t ask you how you came or what religion you believe. He just asks, ‘Man, how good is your cotton?'”(Fr. Lakra). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

25) The narrow gate: St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, meant to symbolize the Church as a whole, is literally built right on top of Peter, who is buried underneath the main altar where the nave and the transept intersect. The central aisle, called the nave, comes from the Latin word for boat. The Church is Peter’s boat. But to enter the Church, you have to go through the front door, and over the front door, in the pendentive, stands the Resurrected Christ. To enter into the Church, you have to go, in a sense, through Christ. And right underneath Christ is the balcony from which the Pope gives his solemn blessings, symbolizing that the Pope literally stands under Christ, stands under his authority and speaks to us for Christ. — To be saved, we have to enter through this narrow gate who is Christ into his Church and remain in his Church. Peter’s barque or boat is like Noah’s ark and we have to enter and stay in that ark in order to be saved. (Fr. Roger J. Landry). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

26) Whom The Lord Loves, He Disciplines: Nobody enjoys being taken to task, whether by a parent or superior, or even by God Himself. But as St. Paul reminds us in today’s second reading, discipline is an essential part of teaching. If, at least by the end of our lives, we have not yet come to appreciate the value of correction, we are still pretty immature persons. Our teachers in grammar school often do more to form us that our parents. Sister M. Berchmans, who taught and was principal from 1880 to 1925 in my own parochial school, was just such an influence. Three generations of our parish children knew her and held her in proper awe. They were immigrant or second-generation children of Irish, German, Italian, or Slavic background, and some of the boys could be pretty rambunctious and some of the girls pretty “bold.” In that era, corporal punishment was still permitted. Indeed, it was an implicit part of the parental contract that the school was delegated to take a stick to Billy or Kate if need be. The school followed a simple, disciplinary routine. If the grade Sister could get nowhere with a pupil, she would send him or her to Sister Berchmans’ office. The principal, who never smiled during school hours, would first give the offender an appropriate reprimand. Then she would take her special stick (the length of a ruler but a little thicker) and (at least in the case of a boy), lay a few thwacks on the open palm of the hand. That usually solved the problem, although there were always a few recidivists. One of them in my day was “Louie” who was sent to the principal many times. I never knew whether he had a long willfullness or a short memory! Despite her proverbial attack, Sister Berchmans was highly regarded by alumni and alumnae. They knew she was doing her job as she believed it should be done and that she played no favorites. When Sister celebrated her Golden Jubilee in 1921, many of her former pupils came back to congratulate her with nostalgic gratitude. (They also learned that day that, out of school, she could smile). And when she died in 1929, one of the largest bouquets beside her simple wooden casket bore a card signed, “In loving remembrance – Louie” (Father Robert F. McNamara).

 “Scriptural Homilies” Cycle C(No. 48) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com

Visit my website: By clicking on https://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle C homilies, 141 Year of FaithAdult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only atakadavil@gmail.com. Visithttp://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html for the Visit my website by clicking on https://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle C homilies, 141 Year of FaithAdult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at akadavil@gmail.com. Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies  of Fr. Nick’s collection of homilies or Resources in the CBCI website:  https://www.cbci.in.  (Special thanks to Vatican Radio website http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html -which completed uploading my Cycle A, B and C homilies in May 2020)  Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604

August 15-20 weekday homilies

Aug 15 Monday: (The Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary): Lk 1:39-56: Three Questions answered: Q 1: Do Catholics worship Mary? Fact 1: Catholics don’t worship or adore Mary because we worship only God, and Mary is not God. Fact 2: We venerate her, honor her, and love her as Jesus’ mother and our Heavenly Mother.

Q 2: Why do Catholics venerate Mary? Mary herself gives the reason in her “Magnificat” recorded in Luke (1:48-49): 48: “For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. 49: The Mighty One has done great things for me, and Holy is his Name.

1) God has honored Mary in four ways, and we honor her because God honored her:

a) He chose her as the mother of His Son, Jesus Christ the Messiah.

b) In preparation for this role, God made her “Full of grace” by her Immaculate Conception.

c) He anointed her twice with His Holy Spirit: at the Annunciation and at Pentecost, making her the most Spirit -filled of all women.

d) God allowed her to participate actively in Christ’s suffering and death, suffering in soul all Jesus suffered in body.

2) Mary is our Heavenly Mother, given to us by Jesus from the cross.

3) Mary is our role model for all virtues, particularly, love, fidelity, humility, obedience, surrender to the will of God, and patience.

Q 3: Why do we believe that Mary was taken to Heaven after her death and burial? (“Assumption” means, after her death, Mary was taken into Heaven, both body and soul. The word Assumption comes from the Latin verb “assumere”, meaning “to take to oneself.” Our Lord, Jesus Christ took Mary home to himself where he is. It was on November 1, 1950, that, through the Apostolic Constitution Munificentimus Deus, Pope Pius XII officially declared the Assumption as a Dogma of Catholic Faith, giving the following reasons:

1) Uninterrupted tradition in the Catholic Church starting from the first century AD. (The first trace of belief in the Virgin’s Assumption can be found in the apocryphal second-to-third century AD accounts entitled Transitus Mariae [Latin: “The
Crossing Over of Mary”].

2) The feast is found in all the ancient liturgies

3) The belief in the assumption of Mary is taught by all early Fathers of the Church, e.g., Origen (died AD 253), St. Jerome (died AD 419) and St. Augustine (died AD 430).

4) Negative evidence: Mary’s tomb was never reported or venerated.

5) Old Testament evidence of corporal assumption of Enoch (Gn 5: 24) and Elijah (2 Kgs 2:1).

6) Theological reasons: her Immaculate Conception and sinless life.

Life messages: 1) We are challenged to keep ourselves pure and holy children of a Holy Mother. 2) We are challenged to accept total liberation from all our bondages. 3) We are assured of our resurrection and given the inspiration to face pain, suffering, despair, disappointment and temptations as Mary did.

For additional points, visit: https://info.franciscanmedia.org/mary (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

Aug 16 Tuesday: (St. Stephen of Hungary): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-stephen-of-hungaryMt 19:23-30: 23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said in reply, “Lo, we have left everything and followed you. What then shall we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And ever one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. 30 But many that are first will be last, and the last first.

Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: Jesus told a rich, young man who had expressed his desire to follow Jesus as a disciple that he had to share his possessions with the less fortunate as a condition for becoming a perfect disciple. But when the young man heard this, he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions. It was then that Jesus made the comment given in today’s Gospel. Jesus uses a vivid hyperbole or “word cartoon” to show how riches bar people from Heaven. The camel was the largest animal the Jews knew, and the eye of a needle the smallest hole. The needle’s eye is variously interpreted. a)Most probably Jesus used it literally. b) The little, low and narrow gate on the outer wall of the city of Jerusalem through which even a man could hardly pass erect was called, “The Needle’s Eye” in Jesus’ time. c) The Greek word used in the passage for camel is kamelos, which can also mean a ship’s thick cable or hawser rope. In any case, Jesus is saying that it is not impossible, by the grace of God, for a wealthy person to keep his spiritual integrity, but it is extremely difficult and uncommon. Why do riches prevent one from reaching God? First, the rich think that they can buy their way out of sorrow and into happiness, so they don’t need God. Second, riches shackle one to this earth, and one ignores an afterlife.; taught by Scriptures a(Mt 6:21). Third, riches tend to make one selfish. The Bible doesn’t say that money is the root of all evil; it says that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tm 6:10). Jesus also challenges the Jewish belief that material wealth and prosperity are signs of God’s blessings, and poverty is the sign of His punishment. Jesus condemns a value system that makes “things” more valuable than people.

Life messages: 1) We need to accept God’s invitation to generosity. Jesus’ Infinitely generous Self-gift to us has the crucifix as “Exhibit A,” and in the Eucharist Jesus actually becomes our spiritual Food and Drink. 2) To follow Jesus, we must have a generous, self-giving heart, and we should be willing to use it by sharing our blessings with others. 3) God does not ask us to give up our riches, but He does ask us to use them wisely in His service. 4) How do we use our talents? 5) What about time – do we use it for God? We each get 168 hours every week. How do we use our time? Are we too busy to pray each day? (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Aug 17 Wednesday: Mt 20:1-16: 1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; 4 and to them he said, `You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So, they went. 5 Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing; and he said to them, `Why do you stand here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, `Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, `You go into the vineyard too.’ 8 And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, `Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ 9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the householder, 12 saying, `These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, `Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.” Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: The parable described in today’s Gospel is known as the “Parable of Workers in the Vineyard” or the “Parable of the Generous Landlord.” This remarkable and rather startling parable is found only in Matthew. There is Gospel, or “Good News,” in this parable because it is the story of the landlord’s love and generosity, representing God’s love and generosity. The question in God’s mind is not, “How much do these people deserve?” but rather, “How can I help them? How can I save them before they perish?” It’s all about grace and blessings. God is presented in the parable as a loving mother who cares about each of her children equally. The parable in a nutshell: The Kingdom of Heaven, says Jesus, is like a landowner who goes out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. He rounds up a group at 6 AM, agrees to pay them the usual daily wage and then puts them into action. At 9 AM, he rounds up another group. At noon, he recruits a third team, and then at 3 PM, a fourth. Finally, at 5 PM, he finds still more laborers who are willing and able to work. He sends them into the vineyard to do what they can before sundown. As the day ends, the landowner instructs his manager to pay each of the workers one denarius, the daily living wage, and to begin with those who started at 5 PM.

Life messages: (1) We need to follow God’s example and show grace to our neighbor. When someone else is more successful than we are, let us rejoice with him and assume he needs the success. When someone who does wrong fails to get caught, let us remember the many times we have done wrong and gotten off free. We mustn’t wish pain on people for the sake of “fairness.” We become envious of others because of our lack of generosity of heart. 2) We need to express our gratitude to God in our daily lives. God personally calls each of us to a particular ministry. He shows his care by giving us His grace and eternal salvation. All our talents and blessings are freely given us by God, so we should thank Him by avoiding sins, by rendering loving service to others, and by listening and talking to Him. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Aug 18 Thursday: Mt 22: 1-14: Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. A second time he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.” ‘Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests, he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. The king said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment? ‘But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.” Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The parable and its meaning: This is one of the three parables of judgment or “rejection parables” that Jesus told in the Temple of Jerusalem during the week ending his public life. It was addressed to the “chief priests and elders of the people”, i.e., the Jewish religious and civic leaders. By telling this allegoric parable of judgment in the Temple of Jerusalem two days before his arrest, Jesus is accusing the Jewish religious and civil leaders of rejecting God’s invitation to the Heavenly banquet which the Incarnate Son of God is giving them. They have made the refusal by not listening to the Good News preached by Jesus and by not reforming their lives. This invitation had been repeatedly extended to Israel through the prophets, including John the Baptist. But the leadership contemporary with Jesus, by rejecting the reality that Jesus is the fulfillment of all prophecy, has refused to accept God’s invitation to righteous living (given first through John the Baptist, now through Jesus), and is currently planning to kill God’s own Son, Jesus. Hence, God is inviting the sinners and Gentiles to His banquet, and that is why Jesus is keeping the company of sinners.

Life messages: 1) We need to keep wearing the wedding garment of holiness and righteousness, the state of grace, all the time and appreciate and make use of the provision for God’s graces in the Church: a) We received the “wedding garment” of sanctifying grace in Baptism, and we receive additional graces to retain it through the other Sacraments. b) Our participation in the Eucharistic celebration and in personal and family prayers helps us to recharge our spiritual batteries and enables us to lead Spirit-filled lives. c) Jesus nourishes us in the Church through the proclamation of the word of God and through the Eucharist, His own Body and Blood in the Holy Communion.

2) We need to participate in the Eucharistic banquet with proper preparation by repenting of our sins and by actively participating in the prayers and singing during the Holy Mass. Participating in Holy Mass is the best preparation and source of power for our future participation in the Heavenly banquet. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Aug 19 Friday: (St. John Eudes, Priest): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-stephen-of-hungaryMatthew 22:34-40: 34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment.39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” .”Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections;

The context: The Pharisees, who believed in both the written Law and the oral tradition, were pleased to see how Jesus defeated the Sadducee who had tried to humiliate him with the hypothetical case of a woman who married seven husbands in succession. So, a lawyer challenged Jesus to summarize the most important of the Mosaic Laws into one sentence. Jesus’ answer teaches us that the most important Commandment isto love God in loving others and to love others in loving God. In other words, we are to love God completely, and express our love by loving our neighbor who is a son or daughter of God in whom God lives.

Jesus’ novel contribution: Jesus gives a straightforward answer, quoting directly from the Law itself and startling his listeners with his profound simplicity and mastery of the law of God and its purpose. He cites the first sentence of the Jewish Shema prayer (Dt 6:5) “Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Then He adds its complementary law (Lv 19:18):You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus combines the originally separate commandments and presents them as the essence of true religion. We are to love our neighbor as our self because this is a way to love God: God gives us our neighbors to love so that we may learn to love Him.

Life messages: 1) How do we love God? There are several means by which we can express our love for God: a) by thanking God daily for His blessings and expressing our gratitude by obeying His Commandments; b) by being reconciled with God daily, confessing our sins, and asking His forgiveness; c) by acknowledging our total dependence on God, presenting our needs before Him with trusting Faith; d) by keeping friendship with God, daily talking to Him in prayer and listening to Him in reading the Bible; and e) by recharging our spiritual batteries through participating in Sunday Mass, receiving Jesus in Holy Communion, and leading a Sacramental life. 2) How do we love our neighbor? Since every human being is the child of God and the dwelling place of the Spirit of God, created in the “image and likeness of God” and saved by the precious Blood of Christ, we are actually giving expression to our love of God by loving our neighbor as Jesus loves him, and by loving Jesus in our neighbor. This means we need to help, support, encourage, forgive, and pray for every one of God’s children without discrimination based on color, race, creed, gender, age wealth or social status. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Aug 20 Saturday: (St. Bernard, Abbot, Doctor of the Church): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-bernard-of-clairvauxMt 23:1-12: 1Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, 2saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. 3Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. 4They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. 5All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. 6They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, 7greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’ 8As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. 9Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. 10Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Christ. 11The greatest among you must be your servant. 12Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: For Jesus, it was the third day of the very first “Holy Week” in Jerusalem, a day of controversy and personal attacks. Jesus was under fire by the religious leaders of Israel and challenged them, pronouncing eight woes against them, calling them hypocrites and publicly chastening them because they were more concerned about self-promotion than serving others and shepherding God’s Chosen People.

Three sins of the Scribes and Pharisees: Jesus raises three objections to the Pharisees: (1) “They do not practice what they teach” (v 3). They lack integrity of life and fail to practice what they preach, namely, justice, mercy, and charity. (2) They overburden the ordinary people (v 4). The scribes and the Pharisees, in their excessive zeal for God’s laws, split the 613 laws of the Torah into thousands of rules and regulations affecting every movement of the people, thus making God’s laws a heavy burden. (3) “They do all their deeds to be seen by others” (v. 5). Jesus accuses the scribes and Pharisees of seeking the glory that rightly belongs to God. They express their love of honor in several ways, thereby converting Judaism into a religion of ostentation: (a) “They make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long” (v 5). (b) They “love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues” (v 6). (c) They “love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to have people call them rabbi” (v 7).

Life messages: 1) We need servant-leaders in a serving community: The Church is a servant-community in which those who hunger, and thirst are to be satisfied; the ignorant are to be taught; the homeless are to receive shelter; the sick are to be cared for; the distressed are to be consoled; and the oppressed are to be set free. Hence, leaders should have a spirit of humble service in thought, word and deed. 2) We need to live the Faith we profess. Our Faith tells us that we are all brothers and sisters, children of the same Heavenly Father. Hence, we should always pray for each other. Instead of judging the poor, we should be serving them both directly and through our efforts on behalf of economic justice. Instead of criticizing those of other races, we should be serving them both directly and through our efforts on behalf of racial justice. Instead of ignoring the homeless, we should be serving them through efforts to supply them with adequate housing. 3) We need to accept the responsibilities which go with our titles. Titles and polite forms exist to remind each of us of our specific responsibilities in society. Hence, let us use everything we are and have in a way that brings glory to God, by serving His children. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22