All posts by Tony Kadavil

October 25- 30 Weekday homilies

Kindly click on https://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed Sunday and weekday homilies, RCIA & Faith formation classes: Oct 25-30: Oct 25 Monday: Lk 13:10-17: 10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And there was a woman who had had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years; she was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12 And when Jesus saw her, he called her and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your infirmity.” 13 And he laid his hands upon her, and immediately she was made straight, and she praised God. 14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger, and lead it away to water it? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” 17 As he said this, all his adversaries were put to shame; and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him. Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: Today’s Gospel tells us how Jesus healed a woman in the synagogue who had been suffering for 18 years from what seems to have been curvature of the spine. People in those days believed that she was possessed by a spirit which drained her strength. Jesus felt sympathy for her, called her to his side, laid his hands on her and said: “Woman, you are freed from your infirmity.” Immediately she was made straight, and she praised God.

The reaction: Instead of joining the healed woman in praising God, the ruler of the synagogue, in his zeal for fulfilling the Law (cf. Ex 20:8; 31:14; Lv 19:3-30), publicly scolded the people for seeking healing on a Sabbath day, indirectly blaming Jesus as a Sabbath-breaker. Jesus reacted promptly, accusing the ruler of hypocrisy and explaining that Sabbath rest was meant for doing acts of charity. Jesus asked the ruler why taking out cattle and asses for drinking water was no violation of Sabbath and releasing a poor woman from Satan’s bond was a violation of the Sabbath ban on work.

Life messages: 1) Many of us are bowed down with the burdens and worries of our lives. Many of us are weighed down and held captive by terrible burdens that we carry in solitary sadness like some terrible secrets or a paralyzing fear or some unconfessed great sins. 2) We are often affected by spiritual deafness which makes us incapable of hearing God speaking to us, or by spiritual dumbness which causes inability to proclaim our Faith in public. 3) We can also suffer from the spiritual leprosy of sins and possession by the evil spirit of addiction to sinful habits. 4) Jesus is ready to place a healing hand on us and liberate us if we approach with expectant Faith and fervent prayer during the Eucharistic celebration. (Fr. Tony) https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 26 Tuesday: Lk 13: 18-21: 18 He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his garden; and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” 20 And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? 21 It is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: Today’s Gospel contains two of Jesus’ one-line parables about the Kingdom of God. The parable of the mustard seed probably shows that Gentiles in the Church will one day outnumber Jews. The parable of the yeast indicates that all are invited to salvation, and the Gentiles, who were considered evil, like yeast, will enable the Church to grow.

The small beginnings and great endings: Using a pair of mini parables, the mustard seed and yeast, Jesus explains how the Kingdom, or Reign, of God grows within us by the power of the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit living within us. When we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ and allow Jesus’ word to take root in our hearts, we are transformed and made holy by the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. In the parable of the mustard seed, the primary point of comparison is the contrast between the smallness of the seed and the greatness of the result (“the largest of plants”). The life-principle in a small mustard seed enables it to grow into a large bush by a slow but steady process. The microscopic yeasts within a small piece of leaven transform a thick lump of dough overnight into soft and spongy bread. Christianity had a small beginning, like a mustard seed or yeast, with Jesus and a band of twelve Apostles in a remote corner of the world. But through the power of the Holy Spirit living in individual Christians, Christianity has become the largest religion in the world, spreading in all countries and embracing all races of people.

Life messages: 1) We need to allow the Holy Spirit to transform us from our evil ways and tendencies to living a life of holiness; from unjust and uncharitable conversation to speaking with God and listening to Him (prayer); from gossiping about people and a judgmental attitude to showing compassion for others and supporting them with consoling, encouraging, and inspiring words and deeds.

2) We need to act like yeast influencing the lives of others around us: Just as Christianity in the past transformed the status of women, children, slaves, the sick, and the poor by the power of Jesus’ Gospel, so we, as Christians in our time, have the duty to transform the lives of people around us by leading exemplary lives through the grace of God, according to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 27 Wednesday: Lk 13:22-30: 22 He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 And some one said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, 24 “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, `Lord, open to us.’ He will answer you, `I do not know where you come from.’ 26 Then you will begin to say, `We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 But he will say, `I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!’ 28 There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out. 29 .. Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: Continuing the fateful journey to Jerusalem, Jesus answered the question about how many would be saved by answering four presumed questions: Who will be saved? How? Why? When? Jesus clearly explained that anyone who entered through the narrow gate of sacrificial serving and sharing love would be saved. Jesus also admonished His followers to concentrate on their own salvation rather than on other people’s salvation. Explanation: When the Jewish 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. Jesus declared that entry to the Kingdom was never an automatic event based purely on formal religion or nationality. What Jesus is saying is that Salvation is not guaranteed for anyone. In order to be “saved” one has to live and to die in a close loving relationship with God and with others. Then Jesus added two conditions: a) Eternal salvation is the result of a struggle: Hence, we are to “keep on striving to enter.” b) We must enter through the “narrow gate” of sacrificial and selfless service. 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.”

Life messages: 1) We need to make wise decisions and choose the narrow gate when God gives us the freedom to choose. That is, we need to choose consistent denial of self and the steady relinquishing of sinful pleasures, pursuits, and interests. 2) We need to check our track on a daily basis. 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.” Let us ask this question every day: How much did I strive today to enter through the narrow gate of sacrificial and serving love in action? (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 28 Thursday (Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saints-simon-and-jude/ :Lk 6:12-16 12 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. Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

Simon the Zealot was the brother of Jude and James the Lesser and, with them, was chosen by Jesus to become an apostle. His name appears in all four Gospels in the list of apostles. (According to tradition, Simeon, Jude, and James the Lesser were sons of Clophas (Alphaeus), a cousin of Mary the mother of Jesus and hence cousins of Jesus). In order to distinguish him from Simon Peter, this Simon is called Simon the Zealot, probably because of his great zeal for the Jewish Law and its practice. The Zealots among the Jews were a Maccabaean rebel group of patriotic Jews who would only acknowledge Yahweh as their King. Therefore, they refused to pay taxes to the Roman Empire and were determined to fight against any foreign rule. Some of the Fathers of the Church think that it was Simon’s marriage celebration in Cana of Galilee at which Jesus transformed water into wine. As an apostle and admirer of Jesus, Simon was transformed into a zealous evangelizer who preached in Egypt, Ethiopia and Persia and, along with his brother Jude, suffered martyrdom.

Jude or Judas Thaddeus: He was the brother of James the Lesser and Simon the Zealot. The three were probably cousins of Jesus on his mother’s side. Jude was the one who asked Jesus at the Last Supper why he did not manifest himself to the world as Jesus had done to his disciples. Jude wrote one Epistle to the Churches in the East and preached in Judea, Samaria, Idumea, Syria, Mesopotamia and Libya. He was martyred by stoning. He is venerated as the patron saint of seemingly impossible cases because a) in his Epistle he stresses the importance of perseverance in harsh and difficult circumstances; b) he was a close relative of Jesus; and c) he was ignored (since he shared the name “Judas” with Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus). According to some first century Mesopotamian legends, he performed miracles that outshone those of the local sorcerers and magicians and cured a local king of leprosy.

Life message: We share the mission of the Apostles – the mission of preaching the Good News — by bearing witness to Christ’s love, mercy, and spirit of forgiveness and loving service to all, through our transparent Christian lives. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 29 Friday: Luke 14: 1-6: 1 One Sabbath when he went to dine at the house of a ruler who belonged to the Pharisees, they were watching him. 2 And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy. 3 And Jesus spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” 4 But they were silent. Then he took him and healed him, and let him go. 5 And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well, will not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?” 6 And they could not reply to this. Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: Since Jesus was invited to a Pharisee’s house, and since it was the Sabbath, the food had been cooked the day before the Sabbath (because cooking was work), and kept hot till the Sabbath. During the meal in a Pharisees’ house Jesus felt sympathy for a man suffering from dropsy (distension of abdomen with water, usually the result of liver and kidney infection from recurrent attacks of malarial fever, common in Palestine)and, after asking the lawyers and Pharisees whether it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath, and getting silence for an answer, healed him, For the Pharisees this was a gross violation of Sabbath law. No wonder they considered Jesus as a reckless Sabbath-breaker for doing seven healings on Sabbath! Jesus challenged them, asking if they would not save their son or ox on a Sabbath if the child or the animal had an accidental fall into a well, a rhetorical question for which the answer was yes. They remained silent.

The purposes of the Sabbath: The Sabbath was intended by God to be: 1) a day of worship and of praising and thanking God for His goodness, providence, mercy, and blessings; 2) a day for teaching God’s law to the children; 3) a day of rest from normal work, 4) a day for socializing with the members of the family and neighbors and 5), a day for doing works of charity in the community.

Life messages: 1) We need to observe Sunday as the Lord’s Day by actively participating in the Eucharistic celebration and various ministries in the parish, by sending the children to Sunday schools, and by instructing them in the Catholic Faith and by socializing with the members of our family and neighbors.

We are also encouraged to engage in active works of charity in our parish and community – visiting the sick and praying for their recovery, comforting them, and encouraging them with words and deeds and, if possible and needed, with financial help. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 30 Saturday: Lk 14: 1, 7-11: One Sabbath when he went to dine at the house of a ruler who belonged to the Pharisees, they were watching him. 7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he marked how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by any one to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him; 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, `Give place to this man,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, `Friend, go up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

Introduction: Today’s Gospel teaches us the need for true humility and the blessedness of generous sharing with the needy. It warns us against all forms of pride and self-glorification. It presents 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 people in our society – the personal responsibility of every authentic Christian.

Though a guest of honor at a dinner party, Jesus explained the practical benefits of humility, connecting it with the common wisdom about dining etiquette. The Master advised the guests to go to the lowest place instead of seeking places of honor, so that the host might give them the place they really deserved. Jesus’ words concerning the seating of guests at a 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 Messages: 1) We need to practice humility in our personal and social life: Humility is based on the psychological and spiritual awareness that everything I have is a gift from God and, therefore, I have no reason, on that account or any other, to elevate myself above others. On the contrary, I must use these God-given gifts to help others. 2) True humility requires us neither to overestimate nor to underestimate our worth. 3) 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. 4) We are of value, not because of those gifts, but because we are loved by God as His children and have been redeemed by the precious Blood of His Son Jesus. 5) 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 the society — even the outcasts. Jesus invites us to change our social patterns in such a way that we connect and serve with agape love the homeless, the handicapped, the elderly, and the impoverished — the “street people” of the world. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

All Souls Day (Nov 2, 2021)

November 2, 2021: Summary of All Souls’ Day Homily (L/21)

All Souls’ Dayisa day specially set apart that we may remember and pray for our dear ones who have gone for their eternal reward and who are currently in a state of ongoing purification.

Ancient belief: 1) People of all religions have believed in the immortality of the soul, and have prayed for the dead.

2) The Jews, for example, believed that there was a place of temporary bondage from which the souls of the dead would receive their final release. The Jewish catechism Talmud states that prayers for the dead will help to bring greater rewards and blessings to them. Prayer for the souls of the departed is retained by Orthodox Jews today, who recite a prayer known as the Mourner’s Kaddish for eleven months after the death of a loved one so that he/she may be purified.

3) Jesus and the apostles shared this belief and passed it on to the early Church. “Remember us who have gone before you, in your prayers,” is a petition often found inscribed on the walls of the Roman catacombs (Lumen Gentium-50).

4) The liturgies of the Mass in various rites dating from the early centuries of the Church include “Prayers for the Dead.”

5) The early Fathers of the Church encouraged this practice. Tertullian (A.D. 160-240) wrote about the anniversary Masses for the dead, advising widows to pray for their husbands. St. Augustine remarked that he used to pray for his deceased mother, remembering her request: “When I die, bury me anywhere you like, but remember to pray for me at the altar”

(St Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, Book 11, Chapter 13 Sections 35-37).

6) The synods of Nicaea, Florence and Trent encouraged the offering of prayers for the dead, citing Scriptural evidence to prove that there is a place or state of purification for those who die with venial sins on their souls.

8) Theological reason: According to Rv 21:27, “nothing unclean shall enter heaven.” Holy Scripture (Prv 24:16) also teaches that even “the just sin seven times a day.” Since it would be contrary to the mercy of God to punish such souls with venial sins in Hell, they are seen as entering a place or state of purification, called Purgatory, which combines God’s justice with His mercy. This teaching is also contained in the doctrine of the Communion of Saints.

Biblical evidence: 1) II Mc 12:46 is the main Biblical text incorporating the Jewish belief in the necessity of prayer and sacrifice for the dead. The passage (II Mc 12:39-46) describes how Judas, the military commander, “took up a collection from all his men, totaling about four pounds of silver and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering” (II Mc 12: 43). The narrator continues, “If he had not believed that the dead would be raised, it would have been foolish and useless to pray for them.”
2) St. Paul seems to have shared this traditional Jewish belief. At the death of his supporter Onesiphorus, he prayed: “May the Lord grant him mercy on that Day” (II Tm 1:18). Other pertinent Bible texts: Mt 12:32, I Cor, 3:15, Zec 13:19, Sir 7:33.

The Church’s teaching: The Church’s official teaching on Purgatory is plain and simple. There is a place or state of purification called Purgatory, where souls undergoing purification can be helped by the prayers of the faithful (Council of Trent). Some modern theologians suggest that the fire of Purgatory is an intense, transforming encounter with Jesus Christ and His fire of love. They also speak of Purgatory as an “instant” purification immediately after death, varying in intensity from soul to soul, depending on the state of each individual.

How do we help the “holy souls”? The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC #1032) recommends prayer for the dead in conjunction with the offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. It also encourages “almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead.” Let us not forget to pray for our dear departed, have Masses offered for them, visit their graves, and make daily sacrifices for them.

ALL SOULS’ DAY: (Nov 2, 2021): Wis 3:1-9; Rom 5: 5-11; Jn 6: 37-40

Introduction:This is a day specially set apart that we may remember and pray for our dear ones who have gone to their eternal reward, and who are currently in a state of ongoing purification. From time immemorial, people of all religions have believed in the immortality of the soul, and have prayed for the dead. The Jews, for example, believed that there was a place of temporary bondage from which the souls of the dead would receive their final release. The Jewish Talmud states that prayers for the dead will help to bring greater rewards and blessings to them. Since Jesus in no way contradicted this ancient belief, the efficacy of prayers for those who have died was incorporated by the infant Church into its teachings and practice. Evidence suggests that the belief dates back to the first century of the Church. “Remember us who have gone before you, in your prayers,” is a petition often found inscribed on the walls of the Roman catacombs (Lumen Gentium 50). In addition, Mass liturgies dating from these early centuries of the Church include “Prayers for the Dead.” Some of the earliest Christian writings outside the New Testament, like the Acts of Paul and Thecla and the Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity (both written during the second century), refer to the Christian practice of praying for the dead. Praying for the deceased members of the family as part of their family night prayers was also an ancient practice of oriental Christians. The early Fathers of the Church encouraged this practice which they believed had been inherited from the Apostles. Tertullian (A.D. 160-240) wrote about the anniversary Masses for the dead, advising widows to pray for their husbands. St. Augustine remarked that he used to pray for his deceased mother, remembering her request: “When I die, bury me anywhere you like, but remember to pray for me at the altar” (St. Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, Book 11, Chapter 13 Sections 35-37).

Though the word Purgatory does not appear in Scripture, neither do the words Trinity and Incarnation, yet those doctrines are clearly taught in it. Likewise, Scripture teaches that Purgatory exists, even if it doesn’t use that word.

Logical belief, supported by synods. The Catholic Church teaches that not everyone who dies in God’s grace is immediately ready for the Beatific Vision, that is, the direct experience of God and His perfect nature in heaven. So they must be purified of “lesser faults,” and the temporal punishment due to sin in a place or state of purification. The Catholic teaching on Purgatory essentially requires belief in two realities: 1) that there will be a purification of believers prior to entering Heaven and 2) that the prayers and Masses of the faithful in some way benefit those in the state of purification. The synods of Florence and Trent encouraged the offering of prayers for the dead, citing Scriptural evidence to prove that there is a place or state of purification for those who die with venial sins on their souls. According to Rv 21:27, “Nothing unclean shall enter Heaven” (cfr. also Is 35:8 and Wis 7: 25). Holy Scripture teaches that even “the just sin seven times a day” (Prv 24:16). Since it would be contrary to the mercy of God to punish such souls in Hell, they are seen as entering a place or state of purification, Purgatory, which combines God’s justice with His mercy. This teaching is also contained in the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. The Catholic Church understands the Communion of Saints as a relationship of love joining the faithful, living and departed. The Saints, both in Heaven and in Purgatory, pray for us, and we pray both to the Saints in heaven for their intercession, and for those in Purgatory, that they may swiftly enter the Beatific Vision. Thus, death is no barrier to prayerful communion with the dead. We lovingly remember them and thank God for their eternal reward. These souls can experience the love of Christ who frees them from their imperfections. As the Second Vatican Council repeats, “fully conscious of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the pilgrim Church from the very first ages of the Christian religion has cultivated with great piety the memory of the dead” (Lumen Gentium, n. 50). Said Pope St. John Paul II: “Before we enter into God’s kingdom, every trace of sin within us must be eliminated, every imperfection in our soul must be corrected.” (CCC #1030-1032).

Biblical basis: 1) II Mc 12:46 is the main Biblical text incorporating the Jewish belief in the necessity of prayer and sacrifice for the dead. The passage (II Mc 12:39-46), describes how Judas, the military commander, discovered that those of his men who had died in a particular battle had been wearing forbidden pagan amulets. His men at once “begged that the sin committed might be fully blotted out” (II Mc 12:42). Judas then “took up a collection from all his men, totaling about four pounds of silver and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering” (II Mc 12:43). The narrator continues, ”If he had not believed that the dead would be raised, it would have been foolish and useless to pray for them; whereas, if he had had in view the splendid recompense reserved for those who make a pious end, the thought was holy and devout. This was why he had this atonement sacrifice offered for the dead, so that they might be released from their sin(II Mc 12:44-46). These verses so clearly illustrate the existence of Purgatory that, at the time of the Reformation, Protestants had to cut the books of the Maccabees out of their Bibles in order to avoid accepting the doctrine. Not only can we show that prayer for the souls of the departed was practiced by the Jews of the time of the Maccabees, but it has even been retained by Orthodox Jews today, who recite a prayer known as the Mourner’s Kaddish for eleven months after the death of a loved one so that the loved one may be purified.

2) St. Paul seems to have shared this traditional Jewish belief. At the death of his supporter Onesiphorus, he prayed: “May the Lord grant him mercy on that Day” (II Tm 1:18).

3) Mt 12:32 hints at the possibility of sins being forgiven after death, “in the age to come,” when Jesus refers to the impossibility of forgiveness of sins against the Holy Spirit. St. Augustine and St. Gregory interpret this phrase, “in the age to come,” as a reference to Purgatory. Jesus’ statement that certain sins “will not be forgiven either in this world or in the world to come,” at least suggests a purging of the soul after death. Pope St. Gregory (d. 604) stated, “As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire.” The Council of Lyons (1274) likewise affirmed this interpretation of our Lord’s teaching.
4) In I Cor, 3:15, St. Paul speaks of a “test by fire” after death to prove the worth of our work in this world: “But if your work is burnt up, then you will lose it; but you yourself will be saved, as if you had escaped through the fire.” Several of the early Church Fathers considered this a reference to a process of purification after death.
5) Zec 13:19 And I will test the third that survives and will purify them as silver is purified by fire.” The Jewish School of Rabbi Shammai interpreted this passage as a purification of the soul through God’s mercy and goodness, preparing it for eternal life. The Fathers of the Church interpret the statement as a reference to Purgatory.

6) Sir 7:33 “Withhold not your kindness from the dead” The Jewish rabbis used to interpret this passage as imploring God to cleanse the souls of the deceased.

The Church’s teaching:The Church’s official teaching on Purgatory is plain and simple. There is a place or state of purification called Purgatory, where souls undergoing purification can be helped by the prayers of the faithful (Council of Trent). In Lumen Gentium (50-52), Purgatory is seen in the broader context of salvation and Heaven. Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church asserts, “This sacred council accepts loyally the venerable Faith of our ancestors in the living Communion which exists between us and our brothers who are in the glory of Heaven or who are yet being purified after their death; and it proposes again the decrees of the Second Council of Nicaea, of the Council of Florence, and of the Council of Trent” (No. 51). The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes Purgatory as the “final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned” (CCC #1031). “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death, they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (CCC-1030). “Hope does not disappoint,” says St. Paul in today’s second reading. Purgatory is a good-news, bad-news situation for those who are there. The good news is: You are on the way to salvation. The bad news is: You have to suffer temporarily as you prepare for the presence of God. But it is very different from the pain of hell. Purgatory is suffering, but not torment. “The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them,” says today’s first reading. Purgatory is an invention of our God of great mercy, who never wants to give up on us. “And this is the will of the One who sent me,” says Jesus in the Gospel, “that I should not lose anything of what He gave Me, but that I should raise it on the Last Day.”

Some modern theologians suggest that the fire of Purgatory is an intense, transforming encounter with Jesus Christ and His fire of love. They also speak of Purgatory as an “instant” purification immediately after death, varying in intensity from soul to soul, depending on the state of each individual. According to this view, the refining fire of Purgatory is only a relic of medieval imagery. It is actually the fire of Divine love. It may, in fact, be a form of blazing enlightenment which penetrates and perfects our very being. God can anticipate and apply the merits of our present and future prayers for the dead, in favor of the souls we pray for, at the time of their purification. Pope Benedict considers Purgatory as an “existential state” and hence it is not necessarily accurate to speak of a location or duration of Purgatory. According to Pope Benedict XVI, “the souls that are aware of the immense love and perfect justice of God consequently suffer for not having responded correctly and perfectly to that love.” It is the suffering of the holy souls. He continues that Purgatory is thus “the fringe of heaven, a state where Heaven’s eternal light has a refining effect on the “holy souls” (not poor souls), who are held in the arms of Divine Mercy.”http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=dWf_BtITG1Y .

How do we help the “holy souls”? The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC # 1032) recommends prayer for the dead in conjunction with the offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical Mirae caritatis (1902), states, “The grace of mutual love among the living, strengthened and increased by the Sacrament of the Eucharist, flows, especially by virtue of the Sacrifice [of the Mass], to all who belong to the Communion of Saints. The Catechism also encourages “almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead.” All these prayerful acts are to be conducted as matters of Faith, and not as something magical. The greatest act is to offer Mass for the dead, because in this One Sacrifice, the merits of our Lord Jesus are applied to the dead. Hence, this reconciling offering of the Lord is the greatest and most perfect prayer, which we can offer for the dead in their state of purification. Let us not forget to pray for our dear departed, have Masses offered for them, visit their graves, and make daily sacrifices for them.

Let us raise this prayer to God: “God of infinite mercy, we entrust to Your immense goodness all those who have left this world for eternity, where You wait for all humanity, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ Your Son, Who died as a ransom for our sins. Look not, O Lord, on our poverty, our suffering, our human weakness, when we appear before You to be judged for joy or for condemnation. Look upon us with mercy, born of the tenderness of Your heart, and help us to walk in the ways of complete purification. Let none of your children be lost in the eternal fire, where there can be no repentance. We entrust to You, O Lord, the souls of our beloved dead, of those who have died without the comfort of the Sacraments, or who have not had an opportunity to repent, even at the end of their lives. May none of them be afraid to meet You, after their earthly pilgrimage, but may they always hope to be welcomed in the embrace of Your infinite mercy. May our Sister, corporal death, find us always vigilant in prayer and filled with the goodness done in the course of our short or long lives. Lord, may no earthly thing ever separate us from You, but may everyone and everything support us with a burning desire to rest peacefully and eternally in You. Amen” (Fr Antonio Rungi, Passionist, Prayer for the Dead). (Taken from Pope Francis’ Angelus message on Nov. 2, 2014).

Testimony by Fr. Paddy: When I was young, the devotion to the Holy Souls was very popular. People offered Masses for the Holy Souls. On All Souls Day each Priest offered three Masses, people came in great numbers for the Masses, and they visited the Church often during the day to gain indulgences by their prayers. Even today relatives have Mass offered for their loved ones on their anniversary, birthday, Christmas, and Easter. Sadly, however, prayer for the Holy Souls is not as popular as in times past. If I were to ask what is the best thing you can do for a loved one who has died what would you say? A funeral to talk about them? A nice grave and headstone? A tree, plant or a beautiful flower? Have a wonderful reception? Yes all those things are nice. But the best gift is prayer because that is the only thing that can help them on their journey to the Lord. I have put at the end of my will, “Please don’t spend time talking about me, spend time praying for me.” For it is a holy and wholesome thing to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sin. (Oct 30, 2009) (sacredheartparish)

Websites of the week on All Souls Day

  1. http://www.americancatholic.org/messenger/nov2000/wiseman.asp
  2. http://www.catholic.com/tracts/purgatory
  3. The best=http://www.prayforsouls.org/library/articles/article.php?NID=3723
  4. http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2010/06/c-s-lewis-belief-in-purgatory-and.html
  5. http://www.catholicmatters.com/tlft00.htm
  6. http://www.ncregister.com/site/article/purgatory_a_process_of_purification/

Scriptural Homilies” (60) Cycle B by Fr. Tony Kadavil

October 18-23 weekday homilies

Kindly click on https://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed Sunday and weekday homilies, RCIA & Faith formation classes: Oct 18 Monday (St. Luke, Evangelist) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-luke: Lk 10:1-9: 1 After this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come. 2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and salute no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, `Peace be to this house!’ 6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you. 7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages; do not go from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you; 9 heal the sick in it and say to them, `The kingdom of God has come near to you.’Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

Resume: St. Luke was a Syrian by race, born in Antioch as a Gentile. He became a Christian and follower of St. Paul.   He had a Greek background and education. He studied in the famous ancient universities of Antioch, Athens, and Alexandria.  He knew Greek, spoke Aramaic in Antioch and became a scholar in Hebrew. He was a physician by profession (Col 4:14), and was considered an artist, probably from his graphic descriptions of the nativity scenes with shepherds and magi, from the parable of the lost sheep, and from a sixth century copy of the portrait of Mary (kept at Santa Maria Maggiore Church in Rome), the original of which was believed to have been drawn by Luke.  He is the first historian of the early Church and the only gentile Evangelist.

A prolific writer, Luke could read and understand the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament and the Hebrew originals. He is the only non-Jewish Evangelist. He wrote the third Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, between 70 and 85 AD. They were originally one book, and, when taken together, are longer than the fourteen epistles of St. Paul. Luke is represented in art by an ox or calf, for he saw Jesus as a sacrifice for all mankind and began his Gospel describing Zechariah and the Temple worship. It is believed that Luke wrote the Gospel when he was 74 and died at Boeotia when he was 84 years old. Luke presents Jesus as giving importance and recognition to women and the Gentiles. Contacts: Luke had close contacts with Mary and all the Apostles, and he would have been able to interview all of them to collect details for his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. He was a constant companion and doctor of St. Paul during Paul’s Jerusalem and Malta mission trips and during Paul’s imprisonment, first in Caesarea, then in Rome. Probably he was with Paul till Paul’s martyrdom.

Life messages: 1) We are to be apostles of prayer: Luke presents Jesus as a man of prayer spending much of his time in listening to God his Father in order to learn His will and in talking to Him in solitude. 2)  We are to be merciful and compassionate, becoming the voice of the voiceless: Luke describes Jesus siding with the poor and marginalized in the society (option for the poor) and trying to give a special status to women and Gentiles. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 19 Tuesday (Saints John De Brebeuf, Isaac Jogues, Priests and companions, Martyrs) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saints-isaac-jogues-jean-de-brebeuf-and-companions : Lk 12: 35-38: 35 “Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those servants! Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: Today’s passage from Luke’s Gospel is one of three eschatological discourses in the Gospel. It gives us one of the two “Master – Servant” parables. It emphasizes the necessity of Faith and vigilant preparedness in the lives of Christ’s followers. Since a Jewish wedding feast could last a week, the servants had ample time to take their rest before the master’s return. Garments tied up about the waist are an image of readiness in the Scriptures because the Jewish soldiers wore full-length garments while Roman soldiers wore kilts, which enabled them to run at full speed when they had to. Jesus wants his disciples to be ready to do God’s will at every moment, by loving others through humble and sacrificial service.

The interpretation: In the parable, the chief characters are a master (representing the risen Jesus), and his servants (Jesus’ followers). 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. Since the precise time of each is unknown to us, the proper attitude for us is constant watchfulness. Since we cannot be sure about the day of our death, we should do our present work perfectly every day, and not leave it undone, half-done or postponed.

Life messages 1) We need to stay vigilant and ready to face the Lord through prayer.  One of the traditional means for remaining alert is prayer.  The most important elements in prayer are listening to God (1 Kgs 19:11-12) and talking to Him.  This means we have to set aside a quiet time every day during which we can tune our ears to God’s message of love, harmony, and peace, and respond to Him. 2) We need to wait for the Lord who appears to us in different disguises everyday.  We must wait for the Lord in our daily lives by learning to see Jesus in the least of our brothers and sisters.  In other words, we must be prepared to serve Jesus whenever and  in whatever form Jesus appears.   What we discover in serving, loving, and helping other people is that God invariably comes to us through them. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 20 Wednesday (St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (U.S.A.) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-paul-of-the-cross: Lk 12: 39-48: 39 But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an unexpected hour.” 41 Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” 42 And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. 44 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 45 But if that servant says to himself, `My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the unfaithful. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating…..48 Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: Today’s passage from Luke’s Gospel is the second of three eschatological discourses in the Gospel. After Jesus’ exhortation to vigilance, Peter asks a question (v. 41). Responding to Peter, Jesus tells the second “Master – Servant” parable and the parable of the treasure and the thief. These stories emphasize the necessity for Faith and vigilant preparedness in the lives of Christ’s followers. Jesus wants all of us disciples to be ready to do God’s will at every moment, rendering humble and sacrificial service to others.

The interpretation: In the parable, the chief characters are a master (representing the risen Jesus), and his servants (Jesus’ followers). Jesus’ words in this passage, understood in the narrower sense, refer to the Second Coming of Jesus. Taken in a 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. In the first part of today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us what our real treasure should be and how we are to keep it safe. That treasure is our relationship with God (the state of sanctifying grace), which the Lord offers us in His promise of eternal life. But this treasure can be stolen by the devil or lost by our lack of vigilance in the midst of temptations. Jesus warns that we should be vigilant, like dutiful servants. What Jesus teaches us through this comparison is that our relationship with God the Father and Jesus His Son and the Holy Spirit must constantly be strengthened and deepened by our prayers, our Sacramental life, and the reading of Holy Scripture. Fortunately, God gives us the grace and strength to remain faithful, and He will reward our faithfulness.

Life message: 1) We need to remain vigilant and ready to face the Lord, mainly through prayer (listening and talking to Him). Daily prayer will help us to wait for the Lord in our daily lives and enable us to see Jesus in the least of our brothers and sisters. It will give us the Heavenly strength to serve Jesus whenever and in whatever form Jesus appears. What we frequently rediscover as we serve, love and help other people is that God comes to us through them (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 21 Thursday:Lk 12: 49-53: 49 “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished! 51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; 52 for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three; 53 they will be divided, father against son and son against father… Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: In today’s Gospel, Jesus warns his disciples about the contention and division which will accompany the Gospel. He spells out the shocking, two-fold effects of his mission, namely 1) casting fire on the earth and 2) causing division in families and communities.

Teaching: Standing in the prophetic tradition, Jesus preaches the word of God which, now as then, divides families, a message which will lead ultimately to Jesus’ death. In the Bible, fire is often used to describe God’s burning love for men. This Divine love finds its highest expression in Jesus (Jn 3:16). The fire Jesus has come to bring is the fire of love, the fire of hope and the fire of justice. Jesus’ words are fire, like the words in the mouth of Jeremiah: “Is not my word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” (Jer 23:29). The disruption, division, and revolution which Jesus and His true followers cause by the fire of their sacrificial love and their eagerness for justice in society are necessary to re-set what’s fractured, to put right what’s dislocated, and to cleanse what’s infected. In other words, the curative pain caused by Jesus’ ideas and ideals is necessary for the establishment of the real shalom of God. “I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed!” (Luke 12:50). The word “baptism” in Greek means a plunging. Jesus was on fire to have His life’s work, which would end with the “baptism” of Jesus’ approaching suffering and death for us, already completed. Even though Jesus brings a sword and causes division, that sword divides the Light from the darkness within us and among us and establishes that true and lasting peace which God alone can bring. In pursuing the Messianic mission, Jesus brings division because some follow, but others are opposed. We must make a decision to follow Jesus, or not, to share Jesus’ baptism or not. This choice can result in division, even within families.

Life messages: 1) We need to have fire in our hearts: Our Lord Jesus continues to cast fire on the earth, the fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of His love, through the Church’s ministry of Word and Sacraments. As Christians, our Spirit-fire should inflame people to care, to serve, and to bless one another with all the gifts of Faith. We need to cooperate with that Fire as the Holy Spirit burns off our impurities and brings out the purity of God’s gold and silver within us. We need Divine fire to inflame our hearts with the love of God, love for His children and zeal for spreading His Good News. Let us remember the old saying, “He who is on fire cannot sit on a chair,” and let us carry the fire of the Holy Spirit wherever we go. Strong Faith will ignite in us the fire of the Holy Spirit and give us the courage of our Christian convictions. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 22 Friday (St. John Paul II, Pope) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-john-paul-ii :Luke 12: 54-59: 54 Jesus said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, west, you say at once, `A shower is coming’; and so it happens. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, `There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky; but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? 57 “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?58 As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. 59 I tell you, you will never get out till you have paid the very last copper.” Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: Some of Jesus’ Jewish listeners, particularly among the leadership, lacked the necessary good will and upright intention to listen and believe. Hence, they just closed their eyes to the light of the Gospel preached by Jesus. They knew the signs of the Messiah’s coming as announced by the prophets. In fact, they had heard Jesus’ preaching and witnessed his miracles. But their pride and prejudice prevented them from arriving at the logical conclusion that Jesus was the Messiah. Hence, in today’s Gospel, using a vivid illustration from first century Palestinian weather forecasting, Jesus points out the urgency of getting right with God before it is too late.

Palestinian farmers and fishermen studied the sky, observing the color and shape of the clouds, the direction and strength of the wind, and so on, to forecast the weather. The wind from the west came from the Mediterranean Sea and so brought rain. The south wind blew from the desert and so brought hot weather. The “signs of the times” are the earliest appearances of events. St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that God is in all things, “by Essence, Presence, and Power,” and that God providentially cares for every aspect of His creation. Therefore, we should expect to see signs of His presence and activity in nature, in history, and in human affairs. So, Jesus challenges those listening, including us, to read the signs of the Messianic time in Jesus’ preaching and healing ministry, and then to act accordingly. It is urgent that we get reconciled with God when His grace, love and mercy are available for complete transformation. Next, Jesus asks the listeners, and us, to judge for ourselves what is right, urging us to solve issues here and now by getting reconciled also with our fellow men every day, instead of incurring God’s punishment at the end of our lives.

Life messages: 1) It is time for us to read the clear signs of God’s call for repentance and renewal of life coming through Jesus and to respond by a change of heart and behavior. 2) In the same way, forgiveness and reconciliation should be a high priority for us. There should be no place in our lives for vindictive litigations in this litigation-crazy period, because each of us stands in constant need of God’s help, mercy and forgiveness. (Fr. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 23 Saturday (St. John Capistrano, priest) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-john-of-capistrano: Lk 13: 1-9: 1 There were some present at that very time who told him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? 3 I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” 6 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, `Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?’ 8 And he answered him, `Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure. 9 And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'” Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: Today’s Gospel passage explains how God, our merciful and compassionate Father, disciplines His children, giving them painful experiences in life so that they may repent of their sins, renew their lives, and produce the fruits of love, mercy, forgiveness, and service. Citing two tragic events, Jesus exhorts the Jews of his time to repent and reform their lives. Repentance is turning from sin to God. With the parable of the barren fig tree, Jesus also warns them that the merciful God will not put up with them indefinitely. Although God patiently waits for sinners to repent, giving them grace to do so, He will not wait forever. Time will run out; therefore, timely repentance is necessary.

The teaching: Jesus uses two local tragedies to teach us about our need for repentance and a renewal of life. On one occasion, Pilate killed many Galilean Jews who had protested when he appropriated money from the Temple treasury to build an aqueduct in Jerusalem in order to obtain a better water supply for the pilgrims. Jesus then connects his warning to another episode, namely, what appears to have been an accident, related to renovation work on the control tower of the water supply scheme at Siloam, in which eighteen people died. The Jews interpreted this tragedy as God’s punishment of the workers who were co-operating with Pilate in his sacrilegious aqueduct project. Jesus denies that the Galileans suffered because of their sins but calls his listeners to repent lest they suffer for theirs. In fact, Jesus presents both these incidents as timely reminders of the need for all to repent, saying, “… unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

Life Messages: 1) We need to live lives of repentance, because (a) we never know when we will meet a tragedy of our own; (b) repentance helps us in life and in death. Repentance helps us to live with peace of mind as forgiven people and helps us to face death without fear. 2) Scripture says repentance results in forgiveness, renewal, and redirection whereas failure to repent results in a guilty conscience which destroys our peace of mind and thus punishes us with a miserable life. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

October 11-16 (weekday homilies)

Kindly click on https://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed Sunday and weekday homilies, RCIA & Faith formation classes.

Oct 11-16: Oct 11 Monday (St. John XXIII, Pope) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-john-xxiii : Lk 11:29-32:29 When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah. 30 For as Jonah became a sign to the men of Nineveh, so will the Son of man be to this generation. 31 The queen of the South will arise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: Since there had been many false prophets and false messiahs in the past, and since their pride and prejudice did not permit them to see the Messiah in a carpenter-from-Nazareth-turned-wandering-preacher, the Jewish religious leaders demanded that Jesus should show some “Messianic” signs and miracles taken from their list. They would not accept that Jesus’ numerous miraculous healings were the Messianic signs foretold by the prophets.

Jesus’ negative response: Calling them an apostate generation who refused to believe in their own prophets and denied the hand of God in the miracles He worked, Jesus warned these religious leaders that they would be condemned on the Day of Judgment by the people of Nineveh and by the Queen of Sheba from the South. This is one of the instances in which Jesus held up Gentiles as models of Faith and goodness (other examples: the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15, the centurion in Luke 7, the Good Samaritan story in Luke 10; etc.). The pagan Ninevites heard the voice of the Lord God in the prophet Jonah, repented, and were spared. The Queen of Sheba recognized God’s Wisdom in King Solomon and traveled to Israel to receive more of it. Nevertheless, Jesus gave the challenging religious leaders “the sign of Jonah.” It was the undeniable Messianic sign of Jesus’ own Resurrection from the tomb on the third day after the crucifixion, just as Jonah had spent three days in the belly of the giant fish before finally going to Nineveh to accomplish the mission God had originally given him.

Life messages: We need to recognize God-given signs in our lives: 1) Let us examine our conscience and see if we are able to see God’s presence in ourselves and in others, His hands behind the small and big events of our lives and His provident care in our lives. 2) Let us open our ears to hear God’s message given to us by others and by nature. 3) Let us read God’s message in the Bible and adjust our lives accordingly. 4) Let us try our best to be open to God and receptive to His Spirit through our active participation in the liturgy instead of looking for signs in weeping Madonnas, bleeding crucifixes and visionaries. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 12 Tuesday: Lk 11:37-41: 37 While he was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him; so he went in and sat at table. 38 The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of extortion and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you. USCCB reflections: Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus accuses the Pharisees of hypocrisy. Jesus was invited by a Pharisee for a dinner at which Jesus violated the ceremonial law by purposely omitting the ritual washing of hands before the meals and between the courses. Pious Jews were expected on each occasion to wash their hands by pouring two ounces of water from finger tips to wrist and in the reverse order, and then to cleanse each palm by rubbing the fist of the other hand. Water was stored in big stone jars for this washing ceremony. Omitting the ceremony was considered a sin and that is why Jesus’ host was astonished.

Jesus teaches the essence of religion: Jesus tells his host that the essence of religion is offering to God a clean heart filled with love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness. Mere external observance of rituals without a cleansing of the heart is hypocrisy, which God hates. Jesus uses the occasion to accuse the Pharisees of harboring evil thoughts like greed, pride, bitterness, envy, and arrogance in their hearts. Jesus concludes by suggesting that one method of expressing real love of God and neighbor, originating from a compassionate heart and making one pure and clean, is giving alms to the poor. Almsgiving in the proper sense means realizing the needs of others and letting them share in one’s own goods, especially by way of spiritual help, financial and emotional support, consolation, fraternity, and love. St. John of the Cross explains this passage, remarking that in the evening of our lives we will be judged on our love expressed by works of charity.

Life messages: 1) In order to have interior cleanliness, let us do some charitable acts which externally express our loving relationship with God and our eagerness to do His will. Since we are offering our hearts and lives on the altar, let us expel everything evil from our hearts by true repentance 2) Love is what we have to give others – love with understanding, mercy, respect for their freedom, and deep concern for their spiritual and material welfare. Giving this gift requires that we have love in our thoughts, words and actions always. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 13 Wednesday: Lk 11:42-46:42 “But woe to you Pharisees! for you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 43 Woe to you Pharisees! for you love the best seat in the synagogues and salutations in the market places. 44 Woe to you! for you are like graves which are not seen, and men walk over them without knowing it.” 45 One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying this you reproach us also.” 46 And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! for you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.” Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: In today’s text, taken from Luke’s Gospel, Jesus expresses moral indignation and sorrow at the hypocrisy of the scribes and the Pharisees who have put obstacles between the common people and God by overburdening them with unnecessary, impractical, and seemingly limitless interpretations of Mosaic laws. In today’s text, Jesus leveled three accusations against these religious leaders, naming particular misbehaviors: 1) They had misinterpreted the spirit of the Law, making the Law a heavy burden for the God-fearing common people. Jesus gave the Law of tithing as an example. God intended tithing for His people as an expression of their gratitude to a providing God (Dt 14:22; Lv 27:30). The scribes instructed the people to pay tithes on insignificant things, such as kitchen-garden plants, with great mathematical accuracy, but they themselves neglected justice and love of God in their private lives. 2) The second accusation was that the scribes and the Pharisees were notorious for their status-seeking. They demanded that the common people give them special honors because of their expertise in Mosaic Law and faithful religious observance. As a mark of respect, they were to be given front seats in the synagogue and public greeting in the streets. 3) Jesus compared the scribes and Pharisees to the white-washed tombs on the sides of the road leading to Jerusalem. In preparation for the three major Jewish feasts, Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles, the scribes and Pharisees used to have the tombs whitewashed, so that the pilgrims would not be ritually defiled by unknowingly stepping on one. Jesus accused the Pharisees of moral filth, of hiding injustice and immorality inside themselves, and of covering the corruption with pretensions of piety and religious fervor. Thus, they contaminated others with their rotten and dangerous ideas of God’s demands.

Life messages: 1) The essence of religion is to love God, discovering Him in everyone. The basic principles of the Ten Commandments are respect and reverence based on love of God and neighbor. When we learn to reverence God, His holy Name and His holy Day and to respect our parents, elders and all others, their lives, their goods and their good names, we practice true religion without hypocrisy or selfish interests. True love is sacrificial, encouraging us to help lift the burdens of others. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 14 Thursday (St. Callistus I, Pope, Martyr) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-callistus-i : Luke 11:47-54 Woe to you! for you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. 48 So you are witnesses and consent to the deeds of your fathers; for they killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, `I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ 50 that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it shall be required of this generation. 52 Woe to you lawyers! for you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.” 53 As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard, and to provoke him to speak of many things, 54 lying in wait for him, to catch at something he might say. Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: Today’s passage, taken from chapter 11 of Luke’s Gospel, gives two more accusations which Jesus made against the Pharisees. According to Matthew, Jesus made these accusations on the third day of what we call Holy Week, in the Jerusalem, in the Temple precincts.

1) Jesus criticized the blatant hypocrisy and false zeal of the scribes and the Pharisees in decorating the old monuments and building new monuments for the past prophets who had been persecuted and murdered by the forefathers of these same Scribes and the Pharisees, while they themselves did not obey the injunctions of these past prophets. Abel’s martyrdom is the first recorded in the Bible (Gn 4:8). [Navarre Bible Commentary: “Zechariah was a prophet who died by being stoned in the temple of Jerusalem around the year 800 B.C. because he accused the people of Israel of being unfaithful to God’s law (cf. 2 Chronicles 24:20-22). The murder of Abel (Genesis 4:8) and that of Zechariah were, respectively, the first and last murders reported in these books which the Jews regarded as Sacred Scripture”]. Jesus remarked that the bloodguilt inherited by the ancestors of the scribes and the Pharisees throughout the Old Testament era would spill over when the priests (most of them scribes), and the Pharisees conspired to execute Jesus the Messiah.

2) Since the scribes (religious lawyers), were the official interpreters of the Scriptures, they held the “office of the keys.” Unfortunately, their interpretation of the Scriptures became so distorted and difficult to understand that others were “shut out” of the Scriptures.

Life messages: 1) We need to be men and women of integrity and character without any element of hypocrisy in our Christian life. We should not make a show of holiness and religious fervor when we are not internally holy. 2) Holiness requires humility and giving God credit for any good He does through us. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 15 Friday: (St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin, Doctor of the Church) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-teresa-of-avila: Lk 12:1-7:1 In the meantime, when so many thousands of the multitude had gathered together that they trod upon one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. 4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: Jesus continues to condemn the of the hypocrisy of the Scribes and the Pharisees, comparing it to leaven or yeast. The Jews considered yeast as something evil, corrupting the dough during the process of fermentation. That is why the Law given through Moses prescribes unleavened bread for offering to God. Jesus reminded the common people that the Pharisees were hypocrites who pretended to be holy, and that they would corrupt people as the yeast corrupts the dough. The teaching and example of the scribes and the Pharisees influenced the crowd in a disastrous way, especially when the teachers failed to practice what they preached. Jesus also warned these religious leaders that their sins would be brought to light at the Last Judgment (CCC #678).

Hearing in secret and announcing in public: According to the Navarre Bible Commentary, most Palestinian houses had a roof in the form of a terrace. There people would meet to chat and while away their time in the hottest part of the day. Jesus pointed out to the apostles that in these get-togethers, things said in private became matters of public discussion. In the same way, despite the Pharisees’ and scribes’ efforts to hide their vices and defects under the veil of piety, all they had hidden would become a matter of common knowledge. A reverential fear of God: Since nothing — not even the most insignificant thing — escapes God, no one should fear that any suffering or persecution he experiences in following Christ will remain unrewarded in eternity. But our fear of God should not be servile (based on fear of punishment). It should be a filial fear (the fear of a son or daughter who loves, and so does not want to displease, his or her father), a reverent awe nourished by our trust in Divine Providence.

Life messages: 1) In contrast to the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, the followers of Jesus must display transparency in their Christian lives by practicing what they profess. 2) They should also maintain a reverential fear of God, adjusting their actions in such a way that they may not displease a loving heavenly Father. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 16 Saturday (St. Hedwig, Religious) https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/saints/hedwig-598; St. Margaret Mary Alaquoque, Virgin) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-margaret-mary-alacoque : Lk 12:8-12: 8 “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; 9 but he who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious how or what you are to answer or what you are to say; 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” USCCB reflections: Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: The scribes and Pharisees attributed Jesus’ miracles of driving demons out of possessed people to the work of the devil rather than to God. Pride in their knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures and prejudice against Jesus, the wandering preacher, prompted them to attribute Jesus’ exorcisms to the devil’s power and Jesus’ collaboration with the devil. The first part of today’s Gospel is Jesus’ reply to their false accusation.

Unpardonable sin: The Jews did not have any idea of a Triune God. For them the Spirit of God was God Himself. It was this Divine Spirit Who spoke through Moses and the prophets and Who enabled men and women to understand the Sacred Scriptures. So, Jesus told the unbelieving Jews that they were refusing to believe in the Spirit of God and in the Messianic prophecies given by Him when they attributed Jesus’ miracles to the devil. Hence, theirs was a sin of blasphemy against the Spirit of God. Since they remained unrepentant, thus refusing God’s mercy and forgiveness, their sin against the Holy Spirit of God was unforgivable. In the second part of today’s Gospel, Jesus introduced the Holy Spirit as a Teacher and an Attorney Who would help defend the disciples when they were brought to trial before the Jewish synagogues and Roman authorities because of their Faith in Jesus as God and Savior.

Life messages: 1) Let us have the generosity and good will not to close our eyes to God or to shut our ears to His voice, thus refusing the chances given us by our merciful God to repent of our sins and renew our lives. 2) Let us ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen us in our fight against temptations, and let us pray for the illumination of the Holy Spirit (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Respect Life (Sanctity of life ) Sunday- October 3, 2021

Respect Life Sunday (OCT 3, 2021) Homily -1-page summary(L/21)

Facts on attacks on human life: a) Abortion: The number of unborn children slaughtered in the wombs of their mothers in the last 25 years is 1200 million in the world and 37 million in the USA. (4400 per day in the US). Almost half of the women in the US over the age of 40 have undergone an abortion, with or without the consent of the baby’s father. b) Euthanasia: Hundreds of old or terminally ill people are killed in advanced countries under the names “mercy-killing” or euthanasia. c) Suicides and Physician-Assisted Suicides: Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death for all US men. It took the lives of 30,622 people in USA. in 2001. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-19-year-old youngsters (19 adolescents each day), and only 5% of suicides are attributed to mental illness. d) Homicides e) Embryo-destruction for scientific experiments.

Why should we respect life? 1) TheBible teaches that life is a gift of God and, hence, we have to respect it from womb to tomb. Abortion attempts to destroy a work of God. Based on the word of God, the Church teaches that an unborn child, from the moment of its conception in its mother’s womb, is precious because it carries an immortal soul. 2)It is God’s commandment that we shall not kill. (Ex 20:13: “You shall not kill”). The circumstances of the baby’s conception do not change the evil of abortion: it is still a baby who is killed. Every tiny human embryo can grow into a child, and modern medical technology can enable it to survive outside its mother’s womb after five and a half months. 3) International Law forbids the killing of innocent, defenseless people. Abortion is the killing of a defenseless child in its safest abode, the womb, by its own mother, mostly for selfish motives. 4)Abortion harms women physically, emotionally, psychologically, socially, and spiritually. 93% of the abortions in America are for convenience. The mother’s health is an issue only 3% of the time, and the baby’s health is an issue 3% of the time. Rape and incest are issues only 1% of the time. Ninety-three percent of all abortions in America are performed because of selfishness, just because someone doesn’t want a child! 5) Advocates of pro-choice follow a dangerous principle of far-reaching consequences in the society. If it is justifiable to kill unwanted children by abortion, then the old, the sick, the handicapped, the mentally ill, and the retarded can also be killed – and so can any member of a “socially/politically unacceptable” minority!

Life messages: 1) We need to respect and protect all forms of human life from conception to natural death; we need to work and pray vigorously to end the culture of death.

2) We need to speak and act against abortion in private and in the public forum. Protecting human life is no more a sectarian creed than the Declaration of Independence is a sectarian document. Because all rights depend on life, the right to life is the most fundamental issue of all; if that is eliminated, the rest will follow.

3) We need to work to have the government enact anti-abortion, anti-euthanasia, and anti-Physician-assisted suicide laws; these killings violate justice, and, therefore, the command of God to love one another. 4) We need to give real care, support, and assistance to mothers with unwanted pregnancies who are contemplating abortion. Helping a woman choose life affirms and empowers her. 5) We need to teach the Church’s doctrines on abortion. The Church cares about the women who have had abortions, forgives them, heals them, and brings them peace with God, with their lost children, and with themselves. The Church reminds us that abortion is a mortal sin but promises any woman who has had an abortion that if she truly repents of her sin, she will find welcome and forgiveness.

RESPECT FOR LIFE SUNDAY (Oct 3) (Sanctity of human life Sunday)

Homily Starter Anecdotes # 1:Thou shall not kill.” A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five- and six-year-olds. After explaining the commandment “Honor thy father and thy mother,” she asked, “Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?” Without missing a beat, one little boy answered, “Thou shall not kill.” This is the main message for “Respect for Life Sunday.”

#2: Two dark days in American history: March 6, 1857, was a very dark day in American history. By a 7-2 vote, the United States Supreme Court declared that Afro-Americans were not legal persons. Rather, they were property. They could be used, sold, beaten, and even killed. Slavery was upheld. In 1868, fortunately, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution secured the rights of blacks to full personhood. Slavery was overturned, and the equality of all people before the law was upheld. Notice, the law did not GIVE blacks this equality. They always had it! God made them equal. What happened in the 14th Amendment was that the law recognized the rights the slaves had from God; human law was brought into line with God’s law. But another dark day came on January 22, 1973. By another 7-2 vote, the United States Supreme Court said that this 14th Amendment DOES NOT APPLY to children in the first nine months of life, that is, the nine months they live in their mother’s wombs. Therefore, during this time – that is, during ALL the nine months of pregnancy – the court said that a mother might end the life of her child by abortion. By this Roe vs. Wade decision, abortion was made legal in all 50 states.

Facts and figures: a) Abortion: The number of unborn children slaughtered in the wombs of their mothers in the last 25 years is 1200 million in the world and 37 million in the U.S.A. (4400 per day in the U.S.). Almost half of women in the US over the age of 40 have undergone an abortion, with or without the consent/insistence of the baby’s father. (The number of people killed on 9/11/2001 is not quite 3000. During the dictatorship of Hitler some 6 million Jews lost their lives in 12 years).

b) Euthanasia: Hundreds of old or terminally ill people are killed in advanced countries, under the names “mercy-killing” or euthanasia.

c) Suicides and Physician-Assisted Suicides: According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., the 3rd leading cause of death for people aged 10–14 and the 2nd leading cause of death for people aged 15–24. In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that nearly 45,000 lives were lost to suicide, and only 5% of suicides are attributed to mental illness.

d) Homicides: While the murder rate for 100,000 people is 6.2% in the world, it is 16.3% in the U.S.A., 3% in Europe and 2.9% in Asia.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate)

e) Embryo-destruction for scientific experiments. (http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/stem-cell-research/human-embryo-research-is-illegal-immoral-and-unnecessary.cfm)

Why should we respect life?

1) The Bible teaches that life is a gift of God, and, hence, we have to respect it from womb to tomb. Abortion attempts to destroy a work of God. Based on the word of God, the Church teaches that an unborn child, from the moment of its conception in its mother’s womb, is precious because it carries an immortal soul. In reference to pregnant women, the term “with child” occurs twenty-six times in the Bible. The term “with fetus” never occurs. The Bible never uses anything less than human terms to describe the unborn (Ex 21:22-23). In Lk 1:36, 41, we are told that Elizabeth conceived a “son” and that the “babe” leaped in her womb. God does not say that a “fetus” leaped in her womb! Elizabeth greets Mary (in her early pregnancy) as ‘my Lord’s mother.” If God allows a child to be conceived, then God obviously has a plan for unborn children (Jer 1:5; Lk 1:13-17; Gn 4:25; Jgs 13:3-5), and so to abort an unborn child is to stop a plan of God: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you..” (Jer 1:5).You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise You, so wonderfully You made me; wonderful are Your works!” Ps 139:13-14.

2)It is God’s commandment that we shall not kill. (Ex 20:13: “You shall not kill”). The circumstances in which the baby was conceived do not change the evil of abortion: it is still a baby who is killed. Every tiny human embryo can only grow into a child, and modern medical technology can enable it to survive outside its mother’s womb after five-and-a-half months. At two weeks pregnancy, the baby can move alone. The baby’s heart starts beating from the 25th day and its brain starts functioning on the 40th day. Unfortunately, the Jews still consider that life begins after birth. No wonder, many Jews are for choice. Dt 27:25 says, “Cursed be he that takes reward to slay an innocent person. And all the people shall say, Amen,” andabortion involves the shedding of innocent blood. In abortion by suction, the unborn child is literally vacuumed from the mother’s womb during the early stages of pregnancy. In the currette-type abortion the child is cut from the mother’s womb with a spoon-like object. In the caesarean type abortion, the baby is surgically removed from the mother and allowed to suffocate, because the child’s lungs aren’t developed. In the Salt Brine technique, the unborn child is literally “pickled” to death by the injection of a strong salt solution. In partial-birth abortion the child is partially delivered, then stabbed in the skull to have his or her brains sucked out. RU-486 abortion pills inhibit pregnancy hormones and 1-7 weeks old child is evicted from the womb. Hence, all types of abortions are violations of the fifth commandment.

3) International Law forbids the killing of innocent, defenseless people. Abortion is the killing of a defenseless child in its safest abode by its own mother, mostly for selfish motives.

4) Abortion harms women physically, emotionally, psychologically, socially, and spiritually. 93% of the abortions in America are for convenience. The mother’s health is an issue only 3% of the time, and the baby’s health is an issue 3% of the time. Rape and incest are issues only 1% of the time. Ninety-three percent of all abortions in America are performed because of selfishness, just because someone doesn’t want a child!

5) Advocates of pro-choice follow a dangerous principle of far-reaching consequences in society. If it is justifiable to kill unwanted children by abortion, then the old, the sick, the handicapped, the mentally ill, the retarded and the “socially/politically unacceptable” can also be killed.

Life messages

1) We need to respect and protect all forms of human life from conception to natural death; we need to work and pray vigorously to end the culture of death.

2) We need to speak and act against abortion in private and public forums. Protecting human life is no more a sectarian creed than the Declaration of Independence is a sectarian document. Because all rights depend on life, the right to life is the most fundamental issue of all; if that is eliminated, the rest will follow.

3) We need to work to have the government enact anti-abortion, anti-euthanasia, and anti-Physician-assisted suicide laws; these killings violate justice, and therefore the command of God to love one another.

4) We need to give real care, support, and assistance to mothers with unwanted pregnancies, contemplating abortion. Helping a woman choose life affirms and empowers her.

5) We need to teach the Church’s doctrines on abortion. The Church cares about the women who have had abortions, forgives them when they repent, heals them, and brings them peace with God, with their lost children, and with themselves. The Church promises any woman who has had an abortion that if she truly repents of her sin, and confesses it in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, she will find welcome and forgiveness. Sacramental confession is necessary, because abortion (the murder of the child conceived), is a mortal sin, and it brings an automatic excommunication upon those who procure it, perform it, or cooperate in it.

Additional anecdotes: 1) Pro-abortion media: British lawmakers are reviewing the country’s pro-abortion laws. The review came about after publication of pictures of babies as young as twelve weeks stretching and kicking in the womb. Carl Sandburg wrote, “A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.” Yet, almost one-third of respondents to The New York Times poll favor legal abortion. Is the pro-life position so weak that many cannot accept it? The answer is negative, but most of the national media favor abortion, and many readers accept journalists’ opinions as infallible. The Los Angeles Times published a study on national newspapers by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. Here are some conclusions. Most major newspapers support abortion on their editorial pages – the Los Angeles Times among them. 80 to 90% of US journalists favor abortion rights. If one is for unborn human life, one is called an extremist. It is not “politically correct,” according to most newspapers, to be pro-life. There is more defense for owls, whales, and seals. Mark Twain says correctly, “We revere all forms of life except human.” Incidentally, do not be intimidated by the fact 80 to 90% of US journalists are for abortion; 80 to 90% of German journalists were for Hitler! The overwhelming majority of Germans took their cue from journalists and supported Hitler. One consequence was the murder of eleven million civilians, primarily Jews, in infamous concentration camps. Only one-third of the colonists supported the American Revolution in the 18th century. Abolitionists in the 19th century never numbered more than 100,000. The vast majority of our citizens could not imagine a country without the British king or slavery. A few could and changed the USA forever. (Fr. Gilhooley).

Papal statements: 1) The Church opposes abortion but embraces with mercy those who have made this mistake. Let’s all take encouragement from these words of Pope St. John Paul II: “I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly, what happened was, and remains, terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement, and do not lose hope. Try, rather, to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you His forgiveness and His peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and to His mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child.” (Evangelium Vitae, #99).

2)”It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop.” (Evangelium Vitae).

3) Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law: “You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.74 God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.”75 (CCC # 2271,Note: 74Didache; 75 Vatican II ,Gaudium et Spes, 51, 3)

4) “Through the mystery of the Incarnation, the Son of God confirmed the dignity of the body and soul that constitute the human being” (Pope Benedict XVI, Dignitas Personae, 7).

“Human history shows, however, how man has abused and can continue to abuse the power and capabilities that God has entrusted to him, giving rise to various forms of unjust discrimination and oppression of the weakest and most defenseless; the daily attacks on human life; the existence of large regions of poverty where people are dying from hunger and disease and the many [wars and] conflicts that still divide peoples and cultures. These, sadly, are only some of the most obvious signs of how man can make bad use of his abilities and [lose] the awareness of his lofty and specific vocation to collaborate in the creative work of God” (Pope Benedict XVI, Dignitas Personae, 36).

“We must, then, dear friends, be continuously vigilant to protect the dignity of human life at every turn – in our homes, our schools, our places of work and recreation, and our halls of justice and legislation. Our times call for nothing less than our determined commitment to ‘the energetic promotion of a new culture of life’” (Dignitas personae, 36). (Cardinal Justin Regali, “Respect Life Mass: Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, October 4, 2009).

In every voice raised in defense of life, “there shines a great ‘yes’ to the recognition of the dignity and inalienable value of every single and unique human being called into existence” (Pope Benedict XVI, Dignitas Personae, 37).

5) Pope St. John Paul II: “Together, may we offer this world of ours new signs of hope and work to ensure that justice and solidarity will increase and that a new culture of human life will be affirmed for the building of an authentic civilization of truth and love” (Evangelium Vitae, 6). Pope St. John Paul II is an example of the Church’s conversion in its pro-life stance: “To choose life involves rejecting every form of violence, the violence of poverty and hunger, the violence of armed conflict, the violence of criminal trafficking in drugs and arms, the violence of mindless damage to the natural environment.”

6) Pope Francis on abortion: Pope Francis on Sunday couldn’t have been firmer in calling it a “very grave sin” and a “horrendous crime.” “I was thinking on the attitude of sending the kids back before they’re born, this horrendous crime, they send them back because it’s better like that, because it’s more comfortable, it’s a great responsibility- a very grave sin,” The comments came in an interview with the Italian Catholic media outlets TV2000 and Blu Radio, released on Sunday after the closing of the Jubilee Year of Mercy (8 December 2015-20 November 2016).

Catechism of the Catholic Church:

#2270. Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life. ‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you.’ – Jer 1:5. ‘My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.’- Ps 139:15.”

#2271. “Since the first century, the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law: You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish. [Didache<!–[if gte vml 1]> 2, 2: SCh 248, 148; cf. Ep. Barnabae 19, 5: PG 2, 777; Ad Diognetum 5, 6: PG 2, 1173; Tertullian, Apol. 9: PL 1, 319-320.] God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes. [GS 51 # 3.]”

#2272. “Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. ‘ A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae‘ [CIC, can. 1398] — ‘by the very commission of the offense,’ [CIC, can. 1314.] and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law. [Cf. CIC, cann. 1323-1324.] The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.”

#2274. “Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being. Prenatal diagnosis is morally licit, ‘if it respects the life and integrity of the embryo and the human fetus and is directed toward its safeguarding or healing as an individual…. It is gravely opposed to the moral law when this is done with the thought of possibly inducing an abortion, depending upon the results: a diagnosis must not be the equivalent of a death sentence.’ [CDF, Donum vitae I, 2.]”

#2322. “From its conception, the child has the right to life. Direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, is a ‘criminal’ practice (GS 27 # 3), gravely contrary to the moral law. The Church imposes the canonical penalty of excommunication for this crime against human life.”

Biblical teaching that the unborn child is a human child (Fr. Jose Panthaplamthottyil CMI)

Since October is Respect Life Month, I am giving below some of the Bible verses which remind us that an unborn child is a human being. In Psalm 139 the psalmist writes, “For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful; I know that full well(13). Job has the same perspective. He says, “Your hands shaped me and made me… Remember that You molded me like clay…You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in Your providence watched over my spirit” (Job 10:8-12). In the Book of 2 Maccabees this is how a mother talks about life in the womb: “I do not know how you appeared in my womb; it was not I who endowed you with breath and life, I had not the shaping of your every part. It was the Creator of the world Who made everyone and ordained the origin of all things” (2 Maccabees 7:22). Jeremiah was called by God to become his prophet while he was still in the womb of his mother. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). The Prophet Isaiah writes, “Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb He has spoken my name” (Isaiah 49:1). Paul the apostle had the conviction his call came while he was still in the womb of his mother. He writes, “God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by His grace…” (Galatians 1:15). Remember what happened when Mary went to visit Elizabeth and greeted her. In the Gospel of St. Luke we read, “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the Fruit of your womb. But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (1:41-43). The word of God does not say a ‘fetus’ leaped in her womb; instead it says “a baby!” In the case of Mary, she was only in the early weeks of her pregnancy! However, Elizabeth acknowledged Mary “as the mother of my Lord!”

Prayer to End Abortion: Lord God, I thank you today for the gift of my life, and for the lives of all my brothers and sisters. I know there is nothing that destroys more life than abortion, Yet, I rejoice that You have conquered death by the Resurrection of Your Son. I am ready to do my part in ending abortion. Today I commit myself never to be silent, never to be passive, never to be forgetful of the unborn. I commit myself to be active in the pro-life movement, and never to stop defending life until all my brothers and sisters are protected, and our nation once again becomes a nation with liberty and justice, not just for some, but for all. Through Christ our Lord. Amen! L/21

INTERCESSORY PRAYERS FOR RESPECT LIFE SUNDAY 2021

1 – For all newborn babies: that they may teach us the consummate beauty and value of every human life; we pray to the Lord:

2 – For newly married couples: that their love for each other may nourish their Faith and strengthen their commitment to do God’s will; we pray to the Lord:

3 – That all government leaders may recognize and promote the inalienable right to life of every person from conception to natural death; we pray to the Lord:

4 – For those who await death in prisons, in hospitals, and at home: that we may remember them in prayer, beg God’s mercy for their sins, and love them as Christ loves us; we pray to the Lord:

5 – For those who, like Simeon and Anna, have grown old: that we may treasure their lives and rejoice in their presence; we pray to the Lord:

6 – That like the Good Samaritan, we may seek to serve the weakest and most forgotten, and preserve the lives of those threatened by violence or selfishness; we pray to the Lord:

7 – For every woman who has had an abortion: that she may be given the grace to embrace the mercy of God and know healing, strength, and holiness; we pray to the Lord:

8 – For those who work for the healing of mothers and their children: that God may strengthen their resolve and make their hands gentle, yet strong; we pray to the Lord:

9 – For all who work for the Gospel of Life and especially for those who teach: for patient endurance and joy; we pray to the Lord:

Respect life Sunday resources: visit these very useful resources:

1.http://www.mobilearchdiocese.org/templates/readtjrarticles.cfm?Article=RodiArticle14.htm,

2. http://www.mobilearchdiocese.org/templates/readtjrarticles.cfm?Article=RodiArticle16.htm

3.http://www.mobilearchdiocese.org/templates/readtjrarticles.cfm?Article=RodiArticle19.htm,

4) http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2009/0902fea4.asp- Pro abortion fallacies

5) http://www.americancatholic.org/Newsletters/CU/ac0902.asp (In support of life)

6) http://www.americancatholic.org/Newsletters/CU/ac0995.asp (Gospel of life)

7)http://www.americancatholic.org/Newsletters/CU/ac0798.asp(Ethics of life)

8) http://www.americancatholic.org/Newsletters/CU/ac0898.asp (Church teaching on abortion)

9) http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2000/0009fea4.asp (This is my body argument)

10 ) Extensive resources : http://emmerich1.com/ABORTION.htm

11) Abortion library: http://www.catholicsforchoice.org/topics/abortion/keypubs.asp

RESPECT LIFE SUNDAY by USCCB (resources)

http://www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/respect-life-program/

Additional resources

1) http://www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/

2) http://www.fargodiocese.org/bishop/Homilies/Presentation11-15-07.pdf

3)http://homiliesfromaustralia.blogspot.com/2010/09/respect-life-sunday-in-ordinary-time.html

4) www.priestsforlife.org/preaching/elements.html

5)http://www.priestsforlife.org/preaching/newpreachingonabortion.htm

6) www.priestsforlife.org/preaching/homilylovethemboth.htm

Visit http://www.usccb.org/prolife/programs/rlp/2017/ for the following:

· 2017-2017 Respect Life Program Flyer :

· The Promise of Pro-Life Youth (En Español) – Bulletin Insert

· Make Room for People (En Español)Bulletin Insert

· Divine Mercy and the Death Penalty (En Español)

· Caring for Each Other, Even Unto Death (En Español)

· Hope for Married Couples Who Want to Have a Child

· Losing a Child to Suicide: Trusting in God’s Mercy

· Sex Trafficking: The New Slavery

· Program Models, Clip Art & Photos

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B (No. 52) by Fr. Tony:akadavil

Visit my website by clicking on  https://frtonyshomilies.com/ 

Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies under CBCI or Fr. Tony for my website version. (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

O. T. XXVIII (B) Sunday homily (Oct 10, 2021)

OT 28[B] Sunday (Oct 10) Eight-minute homily in one page (L/21)

Central theme: We must give priority to God in our lives, not to our possessions. Today’s readings remind us thatwe do not possess anything in our life that we refuse to surrender to the Lord.These things often possess us, and we become the prisoners of our possessions when we give our “things” top priority in our lives. Thus, we violate the First Great Commandment, You shall not have other gods beside mewhich demands that we give absolute and unconditional priority to God.

Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading advises us to use the God-given virtue of prudence and to seek true wisdom in preference to vanishing realities like riches or political and social influence. Solomon chose Wisdom before everything else. But when he accepted Wisdom, he received everything else along with it. Since Jesus is Wisdom Incarnate, when we put following Jesus ahead of everything else, we receive everything else along with Jesus. In the Responsorial Psalm(Ps 90), we beg God to teach us how to make proper judgments and choices in our lives that we may live with Him forever.

The second reading warns us that we are accountable before God as to how we use our blessings, and that the “living and effective word of God” must be our guide in evaluating the use of our blessings.

In today’s Gospel selection (Mk 10:17-30), we find three sections: a narrative about Jesus’ encounter with a rich man, Jesus’ sayings about wealth as a possible obstacle to discipleship and Jesus’ promise of reward for those who share their material possessions with the needy. Reminding the rich man of the commandments that deal with relationships with other people, Jesus challenged him to sell what he had, and to give the money to the poor. The disciples were shocked by this challenge. But Jesus declared that true religion consisted in one’s sharing one’s blessings with others rather than hoarding and/or getting inordinately attached to them.

Life messages: 1) We need to accept the invitation to generous sharing. Initially, Jesus, in generous, sacrificial love, gave us His very self; in response, we find rising in our hearts the desire to give Jesus our own total selves, and so to enter the Faith relationship Jesus offers. God does not ask us to give up our riches, but He does ask us to use them wisely in His service not allowing them to gain control over our hearts. God gives us time, talents, health and wealth and riches that we may use them as good stewards in the service of others.

2) Let us make a check list of our prioritized attachments, and give God priority: Are anger, lust, gluttony, evil habits and addictions, jealousy, holding grudges, infidelity, cheating our priorities? Let us invite God into our lives daily by praying for the strengthening grace and anointing of His Holy Spirit so that we may give God priority, keeping Bible as our guide.

3) We need to gain eternal life by our faith in Jesus as our God and Savior, lived out with God’s strengthening grace, detaching ourselves from unnecessary attachments. 

OT XXVIII [B] (Oct 10) Wis 7:7-11; Heb 4:12-13; Mk 10:17-30

Homily starter anecdotes:   #1:“It is Tough to be Billionaire.” Paul Getty, the founder and CEO of Getty Oil company and owner of several other companies died at 83 of cardiac arrest in 1976, leaving his wealth, $3-4 billion, to his three sons. He was the wealthiest man of his days. Born and brought up in the USA, he established his oil empire headquarters in London and led the corporation for 25 years. He spoke most European languages and understood Russian and Arabic, Latin and Greek. He married five times and divorced his wives. He told an interviewer, “I would give all my wealth for a successful marriage. I hate being a failure. I hate not being able to make a success of marriage.” He admitted that money could not buy him happiness, and often it gave him more unhappiness. He refused to give his money to charities arguing that it made people lazy. Besides, he saw giving money to needy people as unrewarding and wrong. He even wrote an article called, “It is Tough to be Billionaire.” His books are “My Life and Fortune” and “How to be Rich.”– In today’s Gospel, Jesus advises a rich young man to share his riches with the needy to gain eternal life and never-ending happiness. (https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/1215.html). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 2: Aladdin’s magic lamp and Solomon’s dream: Ala’ Ad-Din is the Arabic title of one of the best-known stories in The Thousand and One Nights. The chief protagonist of the tale, Ala’ Ad-Din, or Aladdin, chances upon an African magician who claims to be his uncle. At the magician’s request, Aladdin retrieves a lamp from a cave and discovers that he can summon up powerful jinn or genies to do his bidding. “Your wish is my command,” Aladdin is told, and he satisfies his desires for wealth, power and long life. Aladdin’s adventures and good fortune have left many young readers dreaming of sharing similar experiences. Imagine that you are Aladdin and that magic lamps and genies do exist. . . what would you ask for? — Solomon found himself in just such a situation in today’s first reading. Although magic did not factor into the equation, God Himself appeared to the young king Solomon in a dream, asking for his wishes. In 1 Kgs 3:5-14, Israel’s great king was told by Yahweh in a dream: “Ask something of Me and I will give it to you.” When Solomon asked for wisdom, i.e. for “an understanding heart to judge the people and to distinguish right from wrong,” he was praised by God. He had not asked for long life or riches or for the life of his enemies; because of this he was given the gift of wisdom. (Sanchez Archives). – He received the rest besides! Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

#3: How can you trap a monkey? With a coconut, some roasted peanuts or rice and a string, tribal people living in the border of forests in Africa, Sri Lanka, and India have been trapping monkeys for centuries. At one end of the coconut, they open a hole that is big enough to allow a monkey’s hand to push inside. However, the hole is too small for a monkey to remove his hand when he makes a fist. On the other end of the coconut, a string is firmly attached and tied to a tree trunk. The coconut trap, with roasted peanuts or roasted rice inside, is placed along a monkey’s trail, and the trapper hides behind bushes with a net. The monkey smells the peanuts and is attracted to them. He puts his hand through the hole and grabs a handful of peanuts, after which it is impossible for him to remove his hand since he is unwilling to let go of the peanuts. Suddenly the trapper casts the net over the monkey and traps it. — We too are attracted by different “peanuts” that can be detrimental to our spiritual and physical pursuits. Today’s Gospel presents a rich young man who wants eternal life but will not relinquish “the peanuts” of riches. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

#4: “Sir, we’ll take the one with the happy ending.” There was a father who one day took his little son to buy a puppy. When they arrived at the home where the puppies were sold … they walked around to the back yard where the puppies were. There they saw inside a fenced in area, seven little puppies. As the Father and son looked at them .. they noticed one little puppy whose little tail was wagging faster than the tails of the other little puppies. The father then said to the owner of the puppies, “Sir, we’ll take the one with the happy ending.” –I suppose everybody likes a story with a happy ending. When we look at the personal encounters Jesus had, while on earth, we see that most of them ended gloriously, for most often, the people who met Jesus were healed, saved and eternally changed. However, not every meeting ended so gloriously! In the Gospel Reading of today from St. Mark, we are presented with a man – young & rich – who had a personal encounter with the Jesus that ended in disappointment – “… his countenance fell, and he went away sad, …” Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Introduction:Today’s readings remind us thatwe do not possess anything in our life that we refuse to surrender to the Lord. But, in reality our “possessions” often possess us, and we become their prisoners. What we really do is give our “things” top priority in our lives. Thus, we violate the First Great Commandment, which demands that we give absolute and unconditional priority to God. The first reading advises us to use the God-given virtue of prudence and to seek true wisdom rather than to seek vanishing realities like riches or political and social influence. Solomon chose Wisdom before everything else. But when he accepted Wisdom, he received everything else along with her. Since Jesus is Wisdom Incarnate, when we put following Jesus ahead of everything else, we receive everything else along with Jesus. In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 90), we beg God to teach us how to make proper judgments and choices in our lives that we may live with Him forever. The second reading warns us that we are accountable before God as to how we use our blessings and that the “living and effective word of God” must be our guide in evaluating our use of God’s blessings. Today’s Gospel selection (Mk 10: 17-30), gives us Jesus’ teaching on the dangers of attachment to riches and the rewards awaiting those who put Jesus and the Good News before their earthly ambitions. Here we find three sections: a narrative about Jesus’ encounter with a rich man, Jesus’ sayings about wealth as a possible obstacle to discipleship, and Jesus’ promised reward for those who share material possessions with the needy. In today’s Gospel, a rich man encounters Jesus, the Incarnate Word of God, and Jesus reminds the rich man of the commandments that deal with our relationships with other people, challenging him to sell what he has and to give the money to the poor. Jesus’ challenge exposes two missing pieces in the rich man’s life: a sense of compassion for the poor and a willingness to share his blessings with the needy. Jesus shocks the disciples with this challenge to the Jewish belief that material wealth and prosperity are signs of God’s blessings, while poverty and difficulties signal His displeasure. Instead, Jesus declares that true religion consists in sharing one’s blessings with others rather than hoarding them and/or getting inordinately attached to them. Jesus’ teaching exposes the shallowness of our own easy assumptions about wealth and raises questions about the real basis of our security and hopes.

First reading, Wisdom 7:7-11, explained: About a hundred years before the birth of Jesus, the Jewish community was a minority in the great cosmopolitan city of Alexandria, Egypt, cut off from the comforting religious institutions of Jerusalem, and subject to great cultural pressure from the majority who shaped and ruled this pagan Greek society. The Jews were in danger of losing their identity because of the constant temptation to follow Greek philosophy and Greek morality rather than their Faith traditions. A learned and faithful Jew assessed the situation of his fellow Jews in Alexandria and tried to bolster their faith with a book, now called Wisdom, which offered them a virtuous way of life. By “wisdom” the author meant not just worldly wisdom but a spiritual wisdom that included adherence to older Jewish traditions. Today’s first reading, taken from the book of Wisdom, teaches, somewhat analogously, that one should prefer wisdom to every other good thing. It quotes from King Solomon’s personal valuation of wisdom: “I preferred her [true wisdom] to scepter and throne and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her.” In his prayer for wisdom, the first-century BC Alexandrian Jewish wisdom teacher identifies wisdom as the greatest possession of all and contrasts it with material possessions. True wisdom comes from God; it is the ability to see things as God sees them and to understand things as God understands them. Only Divine wisdom can teach us how to live wisely and successfully in life, making wise choices. We are also invited to see Jesus as Wisdom Incarnate and, so, to give Jesus priority over everything else in our life. In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 90), we beg God to teach us how to use prudence to make proper judgments and choices in our lives that we may live with Him forever. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, prudence enables a person to do two things: to see one’s “true good” in any given circumstances and so recognize which good to aim for, and then helps one to discern and choose choose the means to reach this “true good”. After humility, prudence is the second-most foundational virtue.

Second Reading, Hebrews 4:12-13 explained: The Letter to the Hebrews was written to bolster the Faith of Jewish converts to Christianity. These converts faced the contempt of their former Jewish friends, and they felt nostalgia for the institutions of Judaism (rituals, sacrifices, priesthood, etc.), that were either absent or greatly transformed in their new religion, namely Christianity. This letter tries to show them in what ways the new religion of Christianity is better than their old Jewish faith. St. Paul tells them, “The word of God is something alive and active: it cuts like any double-edged sword.” The living and effective word of God has the power to penetrate our body and soul like a double-edge sword. We should allow the word of God in all its vital power and effectiveness to challenge us and our priorities and goals in life. The sharp word of God confronts, chastises, encourages, challenges, nourishes, and inspires all who will hear and receive it. Like a double-edge sword, the word has the dual capacity of revealing God to the believer and revealing the believer to him/herself. No wonder the “two-edged sword” in today’s Gospelstory of the young rich man, cuts through all our conventional ways of thinking and drives us to reflect on the things that really matter!

Gospel exegesis: The rich, “good” young man’s sins of omission. Obviously, this young man who came to Jesus in search of eternal life really wanted to be accepted by Jesus as a disciple. The words “inherit eternal life” not only means life with God after death, but also entering a deeper kind of life here on earth through prayer and the following of Jesus, and through deep relationships with other people, or involvement with some noble cause. However, Jesus did not want this young man as a disciple on his own terms, but rather on Jesus’ terms. The young man claimed that, from his youth, he had observed all the commandments Jesus mentioned, including the fourth commandment. His tragedy was that he loved “things” more than people. He was trapped by the erroneous idea that he could keep his possessions for himself and still obtain God’s mercy. He failed to realize the fact that his riches had built a wall between himself and God. In other words, his possessions “possessed” him. Even though the rich young man had never killed, stolen, or committed adultery, he was breaking both the commandment forbidding idolatry and the one commanding love of neighbor. He worshiped his wealth more than God. That is why Jesus challenged him to rid himself of the attachment to wealth, wherein lay what the young man saw as his security and social status, and trust himself completely to God by following Jesus.

Why should Jesus seemingly reject the title of “good teacher” telling the young man that God alone is good? According to Venerable Bede, the One and Undivided Trinity itself—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—is the Only and One Good God. The Lord, therefore, does not deny Himself to be good, but implies that He is God; He does not deny that He is ‘good Teacher [Master],’ but He declares that no master is good except God.” Fr. John Foley S. J. (Center for Liturgy) suggests a much simpler explanation. Jesus, seeing the seeds of Faith in this man, was trying to grow that Faith. The logic of Jesus’ response would be: (1) Only God is (fully) good. (2) You have called me good. (3) Are you, perhaps, sensing the Godliness in me? Jesus’ injunction to this man was the inspiration for many saints, who have taken Jesus at His word. Perhaps the two most famous were St. Anthony of Egypt (the “Father of Monks” and writer of the first monastic rule; ca. 250-356), and St. Francis of Assisi (ca. 1182-1226), who committed himself to live a life of radical Gospel poverty.

The unaccepted challenge: Jesus realizes that this rich young man is shackled by his possessions. So, he challenges the young man by listing those precepts of the Decalogue that deal with social and familial relations. Then Jesus tells the young man that, if he wants to be perfect, keeping the commandments is not enough. He challenges the young man to share his riches with the poor: Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘There is one thing lacking. Sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. After that, come, follow Me.’” Jesus thus makes it clear that a true follower who wants to possess eternal life must not only be a respectable gentleman who hurts nobody, but also someone who shares his riches, talents and other blessings with the less fortunate. In other words, Jesus tells the young man that life is a matter of priorities. God must have the first priority in our lives. Unfortunately, the rich man is unwilling to accept Jesus’ idea that wealth is not something to be owned but rather something to be shared with others, so “his face fell and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” Jesus challenges us to do what He asked of the rich young man — to break our selfish attachment to our “wealth” (time, talents, treasure), by sharing everything with our brothers and sisters., and so to follow Him. Our following of Jesus has to be totally and absolutely unconditional. Our attachment may be to money or material goods, to another person, a job, our health, or our reputation. We must be ready to cut off any such attachment in order to become true Christian disciples, sharing our blessings with others. We are called to be so much more than rule-followers; we are called to be Christ’s followers.

Camel through the eye of a needle: 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. Most probably Jesus used it literally. The little, low, narrow pedestrian gate on the outer wall of the city of Jerusalem through which even a man on foot could hardly pass erect, was also called “The Needle’s Eye” in Jesus’ time. Others have suggested that kamelos (camel) could have been a scribal or copyist’s error and should have read kamilos or cable (a ship’s thick cable or hawser rope). In either case, the difficulty of dealing carefully and conscientiously with riches is clearly affirmed. Some modern Bible scholars think that both of these interpretations are attempts to “water” down the impossibility of getting a camel through the eye of a needle, but Jesus is saying that it is not impossible, by the grace of God, for a wealthy person to keep his spiritual integrity, though it is extremely difficult and uncommon.

Why do riches prevent man from reaching God? First, riches encourage a false sense of independence. The rich think that they can buy their way to happiness and buy their way out of sorrow and, hence, that they don’t need God. Second, riches shackle a man to this earth (Mt. 6:21). If a man’s interests are all earth-bound, he never thinks of the hereafter. Instead of having security and tranquility, he is an eternal hostage of his money. Third, riches tend to make a man selfish. Fourth, Avarice, the greed for money, in addition to being idolatry, is also the source of unhappiness. The avaricious person is an unhappy one. Distrusting everyone else, miser isolates himself. But we need to understand that Jesus is not against riches as such, nor against the rich. Zacchaeus, Joseph of Arimathaea, and Nicodemus were Jesus’ close friends, and they were rich. Jesus never condemned wealth or earthly goods in themselves. What Jesus condemns is that disordered attachment to money and property which views acquiring, possessing, and hoarding them for oneself alone, as absolutely essential to maintain one’s life (Lk 12:13-21). In other words, Jesus is talking about our attitude towards wealth. There are very rich men who have acquired their wealth honestly and justly and who spend much of their wealth on charitable causes. Their wealth will not hinder them from reaching Heaven. On the other hand, there are many in the middle and lower income-bracket who may be offending against justice through the means they use to acquireand then to keep what they have, and in the little helps which they refuse to a needy neighbor. 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. Jesus also challenges the Jewish belief that material wealth and prosperity are signs of God’s blessings, while poverty is the sign of His displeasure. Jesus here condemns a value system that makes “things” more valuable than people. Finally, Jesus asserts that those who have made the kingdom of God their priority, will be well compensated both in this life with earthly blessings (accompanied by pains and suffering – this is the fallen world!), and in the next life with everlasting life.

Life messages: 1) We need to “Do something beautiful for God” by reaching out to others. That’s the message we need to reflect on. Our most precious possession is our soul. Let us give ourselves away and give lavishly. Mother Teresa puts it in a different way: “Do SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL for God. Do it with your life. Do it every day. Do it in your own way. But do it!”

2) We need to accept the invitation to generous sharing. Jesus’ generosity led to His free gift of His very self to save our lives eternally. The crucifix is “Exhibit A.” To follow Jesus, we must have the same kind of generosity, and be willing to give our money, time, and talents away to serve the needs of others. In the heart of every Christian there should be a desire to give. Martin Luther says that the man who has given his heart to God will also give God his wallet. God does not have to extort money from those who love him. God does not ask us to give up our riches, but He does ask us to use them wisely in His service. We must manage our possessions wisely, so that they do not gain control over our hearts. Almsgiving and donations to charities are no longer the only way to use wealth for the common good, or perhaps the most advisable. There is also honesty in paying one’s taxes, creating new jobs, giving a more generous salary to workers when the situation allows it, initiating local enterprises in developing countries, and the like. Let us also ask the question: “How do I use my talents?” God gives us talents. Hence, they are not really ours. He lends them to us to be used in this world. How do we use our talents? 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? Do we pray for others’ needs as well as our own?

3) “You are lacking one thing.” We all have something in our lives that serves as a major obstacle to happiness and peace. We must recognize this obstacle and address it head-on. It may not be riches — it may be anger, holding grudges, alcohol, drugs, lust, apathy, lies, unfaithfulness, theft, or fraud. Let us invite God into our lives and into our efforts to face and remove that one obstacle to holiness. We have a decision to make: whether to go away sad like the rich young man, or to follow Jesus and be happy. Let us choose happiness.

4) We need to follow Jesus on His terms, and not on our terms. This involves giving up whatever in our lives leads us to evil. That’s step one. Sometimes it may involve giving up things which are good. As parents, we might consider all the time and personal recreation and relaxation (all good things), which we have given up over the years for the sake of the children. As a mother or father who is also a disciple of Jesus Christ, this is required of us, and we make the sacrifice gladly. When we follow Jesus on His terms, there may be certain crosses to bear, but deep down in the core of our being there is peace, and there is joy, because we know that we are doing our best to carry out God’s perfect will in our lives.

JOKES OF THE WEEK: #1: “Oh Lord, hit him again!” The parish church was badly in need of repair. So the pastor called a special meeting to raise funds. At the assembly, the pastor explained the need of an emergency fund for plastering the roof and supporting pillars and for carrying out other items of repair. He invited the congregation to pledge contributions. After a brief pause, Mr. Murphy, the richest man in the parish, volunteered to give 50 dollars. Just as he sat down, a hunk of plaster fell from the ceiling on his head. He jumped up, looked terribly startled and said: “I meant to say 500 dollars.” The congregation stood silent and stunned. Then a lone voice cried out from the back: “Oh Lord, hit him again!”

#2: Andrew Carnegie made millions in the steel industry. He worked hard helping the poor and underprivileged. Once a socialist came to see him in his office and soon was railing against the injustice of Carnegie having so much money. In his view, wealth was meant to be divided equally. Carnegie asked his secretary for an assessment of everything he owned and at the same time looked up the figures on world population. He did a little arithmetic on a pad and then said to his secretary. “Give this gentleman l6 cents. That’s his share of my money.

# 3: A wealthy older gentleman had just recently married a lovely young lady and was beginning to wonder whether she might have married him for his money. So, he asked her, “Tell me the truth: if I lost all my money, would you still love me?” She said reassuringly, “Oh honey, don’t be silly. Of course, I would still love you. And I’d miss you terribly.”

#4: John MacArthur tells about sharing the Gospel with a young Muslim actor from India. At the close of their conversation, the young man bowed his head and asked Jesus into his heart. When he had finished he looked at Dr. MacArthur and said, “Isn’t it wonderful? Now I have Mohammed and Jesus too.

WEBSITES OF THE WEEK (The easiest method to visit these websites is to copy and paste the web address or URL on the Address bar of any Internet website like Google or MSN and press the Enter button of your Keyboard).

# 1: Resources for parish catechesis: http://www.blestarewe.com/index.cfm #2: Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter – International Website: http://www.fssp.org/

# 3: Catholic Information Center on Internet: http://www.catholic.net/

# 4: What the church teaches: http://www.osv.com/

# 5: http://www.faithfirst.com/pdfs/TH%20C%20Parenting%20Rituals.R1.pdf

# 6: Text Week homilies: http://www.textweek.com/mkjnacts/mark10b.htm

# 7: Sermons & liturgies: http://bki.net/sermonB.html

#8: Dr. Bryant Pitro’s commentary on Cycle B Sunday Scripture: https://catholicproductions.com/blogs/mass-readings-explained-year-b

#9: Video Sunday-Scripture study by Fr. Geoffrey Plant:

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

#10: Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs: https://sundayprep.org/ (Type in the Address bar (topmost column) and press the Enter button of your keyboard

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B no. 54 by Fr. Tony 

33 Additional anecdotes:

1) The sin of over-consumption: Instead of glaring accusingly at those countries struggling to control their population growth, we must squarely attack the monster we ourselves have let ravage the world. On average, a U.S. citizen causes over 100 times more damage to the global environment than a person in a poor country. The average North American consumes five times more than a Mexican, 10 times more than a Chinese person and 30 times more than a person in India. The richest 25 percent of the world’s population uses 86 percent of all forest products, 75 percent of energy, 72 percent of steel production. The poorest 75 percent uses only two percent of the world’s resources. Workers in the developed world (North America, Western Europe and Japan), represent about 20 percent of the world’s population. This group uses over 67 percent of the natural resources consumed each year and generates over 80 percent of its pollutants. For added perspective, the poorest 20 percent consumes about two percent of resources. (Editorial by Director of Green Cross Fred Krueger in Green Cross, 1, Fall 1995.) Hence, economists like to call consumerism “The Jones Effect” (as in “keeping up with the Joneses”). Others, like Pope St. John Paul II, call consumerism one of those “structures of sin” named “super-development,” which the pope defined as “an excessive availability of material goods for the benefit of certain social groups” [“Pope John Paul II Addresses Over-consumption,” Green Cross, 2 (Summer 1996), 4.] In his 1990 World Day of Peace statement, “The Ecological Crisis: A Common Responsibility,” Pope St. John Paul II tied “super-development” to our polluting and pillaging of the environment, and stated most emphatically, “The ecological crisis is a moral issue.” Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

2) “Only Christians.” Willi Hoffsuemmer tells of the founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley, who had a dream. Wesley came to the gates of hell and asked, “What kind of people are here, Catholics?” The answer was, “Yes, many.” “Also, Anglicans?” “Yes, many” was the answer. “Also, Lutherans, Baptists and Orthodox?” The answer was always the same, “Yes, many.” And what about the Methodists?” “Also plenty,” was the answer. Wesley was upset and also he went to the gates of heaven. He knocked at the door and asked the same question. “Are there any Catholics here?” “No, not a single one,” was the answer. “And Anglicans?” “No not one!” “What about Lutherans, Baptists and Orthodox?” “No, none,” was again the answer. Finally, he dared to ask, “What about Methodists?” “No, not a single one here.” Wesley was shocked and in exasperation asked, “Well, what kind of people are there in Heaven anyway?” The answer came, “Only Christians.”– Actually, what Jesus wants from each one of us is the total, faithfully lived-out Baptismal dedication of our being to Him in love for Him and one another: that’s what makes us Christians. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

3) A challenge to make a real commitment: James Lallam tells this amusing story in one of his writings. Years ago, a young door-to-door salesman was assigned a rural area. One day he came upon a farmer seated in a rocking chair on his front porch. The young man went up to the farmer enthusiastically and said, “Sir, I have a book here that will tell you how to farm ten times better than you are doing now.” The farmer didn’t bother to look up. He simply kept on rocking. Finally, after a few minutes, he glanced up at the young salesman and said, “Young man, I don’t need your book. I already know how to farm ten times better than I am doing now.” — The story is a good illustration of what Jesus was talking about in today’s Gospel. The farmer was capable of farming better, but he lacked the commitment to do so. The rich young man was also capable of doing more than just keeping the commandments, but he too lacked the commitment to do so. (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho).Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

4) “There was no other way for me to keep my loincloth.” There is a story about an old monk who has been mentoring a young disciple. Believing that he has the ability to be on his own, the monk allows the boy to live in a lean-to near the river bank. Each night, happy as a lark, the young disciple puts out his loincloth, his only possession, to dry. One morning he is dismayed to find that it has been torn to shreds by rats. So he begs for a second loincloth from the villagers. When the rats come to destroy that one, he gets a cat to keep the rats away. But now he has to beg not only for food but also for milk for the cat. To get around that, he buys a cow. But then he has to seek food for the cow. He concludes, finally, that it would be easier to work the land around his hut, so he leaves off his prayers and meditations, and commits himself to growing crops to feed the cow. The operation expands. He hires workers. He marries a wife who keeps the household running smoothly. Pretty soon he is one of the wealthiest people in the village. Several years later the monk comes back to find a mansion where the lean-to had been. “What is the meaning of this?” the monk asks. The disciple replies, “Holy Father, there was no other way for me to keep my loincloth!” (http://www.salemquincy.org/steve/00sermon/00b.prp23.htm ) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

5) The monk and the jewels: A monk was lost in meditation at a river bank. A rich man offered him two exquisite jewels. As soon as the devotee left, the monk picked up the jewels and threw one of them into the river. One of his disciples immediately jumped into the river. But he could not find the jewel. The disciple asked the monk to point out the spot where the jewel had fallen. The monk picked up the second jewel and tossed it into the river, and said, “Right there.” The monk then added, “Do not allow yourself to be owned by objects. Only then will you be free.” — Like the disciple of the monk, the wealthy gentleman in today’s Gospel story had an inordinate love for his possessions. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

6) Dear Abby: A few years ago, an interchange of letters appeared in a nationally syndicated newspaper column. Dear Abby: We are not overly religious people, but we do like to go to Church once in a while. It seems to me that every time we turn around, we are hit for money. I thought religion was free. I realize that churches have to have some money, but I think it is getting to be a racket. Just what do Churches do with all their money? Curious in North Jersey. Abby wrote back, Dear Curious: Even priests, ministers and rabbis must eat. Since they work full-time at their tasks, their Churches must support them. Staff and musicians must also be paid. Buildings must be maintained, heated, lighted and beautified. Custodial staff members must eat and feed their families. Most Churches engage in philanthropic work (aid to the needy, missions, and education); hence, they have their financial obligations. Even orchids, contrary to folklore, do not live on air. Churches can’t live on air either. Religions, like water, may be free, but when they pipe it to you, you’ve got to help pay for the piping. And the piper. [Abigail Van Buren, “Religions need money too, for Heaven’s sake,” The Scranton Tribune (30 March 1994) C-2.]. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

7) Suicide is directly proportional to wealth. Writer and Speaker Matthew Kelly notes that the suicide rate among teens and young adults has increased by 5,000 percent in the last fifty years. More troubling, it is becoming increasingly apparent that suicide is directly proportional to wealth. What does that mean? Studies reveal that the more money you have, the more likely you are to take your own life. Peter Kreeft captured the alarming reality in a recent article of his own: “The richer you are, the richer your family is, and the richer your country is, the more likely it is that you will find life so good that you will choose to blow your brains out.” Economics, says Matthew Kelly, is clearly not a good measure of happiness. [Matthew Kelly, The Rhythm of Life (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999).] We know that. But how can we disentangle ourselves from the social pressures, as well as the inner greed, that cause us to fill our lives with material things? Jesus has the answer in today’s Gospel. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

8) Destined to drown with his treasure: There is an old story about an 18th century man who was moving overseas. His life’s savings of gold and silver coins were carried in a big money belt he wore around his waist. The ship hit an iceberg and started to go down. It was sinking so fast that many people had to jump in the water and swim to the lifeboats already launched. The man jumped in, but because he could not bear the thought of leaving that heavy money belt behind, he went to the bottom of the sea. — The story ends with this haunting question: “Would you say that this man had his money, or that his money had him?” Jesus tells the story of such a man in today’s Gospel. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

9) Are you a Faust? The legend of Faust has become part of our heritage. Faust was a man who longed for romance, academic success, and wealth. Unable to find these on his own, he made a pact with the devil. If he could be granted his wishes, have his true worth made public and enjoy its fruits, then he would give his soul to the devil. Sure enough, he enjoyed marvelous romances, fabulous successes, and much wealth. Oddly enough, when the time came, he was unwilling to sustain his part of the bargain. — I wonder if there is a parallel here. We put Jesus off, promising, “Just one more of this and one more of that — then I will be willing to go with you, Jesus.” Are we not like little Fausts, wanting to have it our way? After all, we say, we deserve it! And what do we say to Jesus when He comes to claim us? Today’s Gospel story about the rich, young man gives us a strong warning. (Thomas Peterson in The Needle’s Eye). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

10) The Success Syndrome: Harvard Medical School psychologist Steven Berglas has written a book called The Success Syndrome. He has found that individuals who in his word “suffer” from success have arrogance and a sense of aloneness. Insider-trader Dennis Levine was asked by his wife why he needed the money from insider-trading, and he really had no answer. Levine says that when his income was $100,000, he hungered for $200,000, and when he was making $1 million, he hungered for $3 million. Berglas says that oddly enough people who found that $200,000 did not make them happy, never asked themselves why they thought $300,000 would make them happy.– Asked to prescribe a cure for the success syndrome, Berglas said, “What’s missing in these people (Ivan Boesky, Michael Milken, Leona Helmsley), is deep commitment or religious activity that goes far beyond just writing a check to a charity.” [James W. Fowler, Becoming Adult, Becoming Christian (San Francisco: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1984), p. 88.] Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

11) The Midas touch: The ancient Greeks understood this. According to one of their myths, the god Dionysus offered King Midas whatever his heart desired. Without hesitation, King Midas exclaimed, “I wish that everything I touch be turned into gold!” And so it was. Midas was overjoyed. He drew up a handful of sand and it turned into gold dust. He picked up a stone and it turned into gold. He touched a leaf and it was gold. “Ah, I will become the richest man in the world, the happiest man in the world.” He danced all the way back to his home and announced to his servants, “Prepare a banquet. We will celebrate my good fortune.” But as the bread touched his tongue it turned into gold and as the wine touched his lips it turned into gold. The king became more dismayed the hungrier he got. And as he reached out to his beautiful daughter for solace, she, alas, was also turned into gold. And Midas cursed his gift and himself for his foolishness. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

12) Money does not give happiness: Andrew Carnegie was one of the richest men of his time. He was also very generous. Perhaps he explained his generosity when he said, “Millionaires seldom smile.” We are told, by the way, that Carnegie practically became allergic to money as he grew richer and older. He was offended, he said, just by the sight and touch of money, and never carried any. Because he had no money with him with which to pay the fare, Carnegie was once put off a London tram. Did money solve the problems of Howard Hughes or Aristotle Onassis? They died two of the world’s most miserable men. — Why invest your life in something that will only rot or rust? Why invest in something that will someday be left behind? Why invest in something that cannot of its own self bring you peace of mind? Study after study has shown that money is not the key to happiness. In a recent survey of 52,000 men and women, most of whom were in the upper economic brackets, money ranked thirteenth out of sixteen possible sources of happiness for married women. With married men, money ranked tenth. It was ninth with single women; seventh with single men. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

13) “I knew I should have put it in the basement instead of the attic.” An old mountaineer was on his deathbed. He called his wife to him. “Elviry,” he said, “go to the fireplace and take out that loose stone under the mantle.” She did as instructed, and behind that loose stone she found a shoe box crammed full of cash. “That’s all the money I’ve saved through the years,” said the mountaineer. “When I go, I’m goin’ to take it with me. I want you to take that there box up to the attic and set it by the window. I’ll get it as I go by on my way to heaven.” His wife followed his instructions. That night, the old mountaineer died. Several days after the funeral, his wife remembered the shoe box. She climbed up to the attic. There it was, still full of money, sitting by the window. “Oh,” she thought, “I knew it. I knew I should have put it in the basement instead of the attic.” — As someone has said, “We can’t take it with us, but we can send it on ahead.” Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

14) Earth-bound or Heaven-sent? Here are two persons whose deaths made the papers. The first was a woman who died in London. Her obituary was long, with a picture and bold headline. She was known as the best-dressed woman in Europe. She had over a thousand dresses. But, said Luccock, “in each dress she had the same unseeing eyes, the same deaf ears, the same enameled, painted face.” The second death was also in London. This man’s obituary was short; there was no picture. He owned but one suit, blue with a red collar on the coat. He was William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army. The wealthy woman invested in clothes; not worth much from an eternal perspective. Mr. Booth invested in Kingdom commodities. Now he is enjoying the glories of Heaven while his earthly heritage–the Salvation Army–goes marching on in the name of Jesus. — Where are your key investments? Earth-bound or Heaven-sent? Wherever your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The heavier the purse, the tighter the strings. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

15) “In God We Trust.” The year was 1861. Our nation was engaged in a bloody civil war. Then Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase sent a letter which, in part, said, “No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense. The trust of our people should be declared on our national coins.” So originated, the words “In God We Trust” on American currency. — Why? Because what’s impossible for you and me is totally within the realms of possibility for God, for with God nothing is impossible. Even rich people can get in the Kingdom of God if they have the good will to share their wealth with the needy. Thank God for His grace. That’s the Good News in today’s Gospel. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

16) “We’ll be quiet and just watch.” Maya Angelou tells about her Aunt Tee who worked as a housekeeper for a couple in Bel Air, California. She lived with the couple in their spacious fourteen-room ranch house. They were a very quiet couple. As they had gotten older they had stopped entertaining their friends and even spoke less to each other. “Finally,” Maya says, “they sat in a dry silence.” Aunt Tee, on the other hand, enjoyed entertaining her friends on Saturday evenings. She would cook a pot of pig’s feet, a pot of greens, fry chicken, make potato salad, and make banana pudding for her friends to feast upon. And they would have a marvelous time together. There was always plenty of laughter coming from Aunt Tee’s room. One Saturday as they were playing cards, the old couple called her. “Theresa, we don’t mean to disturb you…” the man whispered, “but you all seem to be having such a good time…” The woman added, “We hear you and your friends laughing every Saturday night, and we’d just like to watch you. We don’t want to bother you. We’ll be quiet and just watch.” At that moment they both won Aunt Tee’s sympathy forever. She agreed to allow them to watch her and her friends. — It was a sad situation, since the couple owned the spacious house, complete with swimming pool and three cars, but they had no joy in their lives. “Money and power can liberate only if they are used to do so,” Maya reflects. “They can imprison and inhibit more, finally, than barred windows and iron chains.” [Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now, (New York: Random House, 1993), pp. 62-64.]. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

17) Who is he? He’s rich. Italian shoes. Tailored suit. His money is invested. His plastic is platinum. He lives the way he flies, first class. He’s young. He pumps away fatigue at the gym and slam-dunks old age on the court. His belly is flat, his eyes sharp. Energy is his trademark, and death is an eternity away. He’s powerful. If you don’t think so, just ask him. You got questions? He’s got answers. You got problems? He’s got solutions. You got dilemmas? He’s got opinions. He knows where he’s going, and he’ll be there tomorrow. He’s the new generation. So the old had better pick up the pace or pack their bags. He has mastered the three “Ps” of life today. Prosperity. Posterity. Power. http://bethelfortsmith.org/pages/sermons/2000/sept1000] — Who is he? He is the top salesman in his district, making it up the career ladder. She is the rising lawyer who was just made a partner at her prestigious law firm. He’s the successful real estate broker who has more listings than he can handle-except he can handle them just fine. In today’s Gospel, he is the rich young man who came to Jesus with a question. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

18) Affluenza: Back in the year 2000 the New York Times ran an article describing the disease of “affluenza.” They made it up, but I think it is a great word. Affluenza—the sudden wealth syndrome, the disease everyone would like to have. Affluenza is a dysfunctional or unhealthy relationship with money or wealth or the pursuit of it. If you shrink the world’s population to a village of 100 people then here is what you have: Fifty-seven would be Asians, twenty-one Europeans, fourteen Westerners, eight Africans, fifty-one female, forty-nine male, seventy nonwhite, thirty white, seventy non-Christian and thirty would-be Christian, but 50% of the entire world’s wealth would be in the hands of six people and all six would be citizens of the U.S. Of that hundred people, eighty would be living in substandard housing. Seventy would be unable to read. Fifty would be suffering from malnutrition. One would have a college education. Lest we think the Bible is silent on the subject of money, I remind you that the Bible says more about economics than any other social issue. 1. Proverbs 11:28 says, “He who trusts in his riches shall wither.” 2. Matthew 6:9 says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth.” 3. In Luke 16:3, Jesus says, “You cannot serve God and mammon.” 4. In I Timothy 3:3 Paul says, “A bishop should not be a lover of money.” — Today’s Gospel is Jesus’ teaching on riches. It’s not money, but the misuse of money that is the root of all evil. Abraham, Job, David, and Solomon were very rich men. They managed large holdings for the glory of God and the greater public good. Deborah and Lydia were very wealthy women; and God used the first as a Judge in Israel to govern His Kingdom, and the second to help to build His Church. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

19) Exaggerated self-importance:A small passenger plane was cruising through the sky, carrying as its passengers a minister, a Boy Scout, and the president of a computer manufacturing firm. Suddenly, the engine went dead. Frantically, parachutes were passed among the passengers. There was fast breathing, a rush of wind as the door was thrown open. And as the plane tilted and fell through space, there came the horrible realization that there were not enough parachutes. There was one too few. “I have to have a parachute,” cried the pilot. “I have a wife and three kids.” So, he grabbed a parachute, put in on and leaped into the void. The wind whistled, and the three passengers looked at one another. “Well I certainly should have one of the parachutes,” exclaimed the computer manufacturer. “I’m the smartest man in the world.” And slipping his arms into the shoulder straps, he jumped out. “Son,” said the minister wistfully, “you take the last parachute. I’m old and ready to meet my Maker; you’re a fine youth with all your life ahead of you.” “Relax, Reverend,” said the Boy Scout with a smile. “There’s still a parachute for each of us. The smartest man in the world’ just jumped out wearing my backpack.” — Today’s Gospel explains the foolishness of the rich who are unwilling to share their blessings with the needy. (‘Quote’ – Magazine). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

20) Do all the good you can: Henry Thoreau said, “Be not merely good; be good for something.” That was Jesus’ challenge to the man who wanted to know what he could do to inherit eternal life. He had been good at making money, in being morally upright and keeping the commandments; but that is not the ultimate good: he must also give of himself and what he has in behalf of others. He needed to also realize that, “The gift without the giver is bare.” John Wesley proposed an excellent guide to goodness. He said, and he practiced what he preached: “Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

At all the times you can,

As long as ever you can.”

Someone else has expressed the ideal of goodness in a wonderful way, saying, “I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore, that I can do, or any goodness that I can show to my fellow creatures, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” (Clement E. Lewis, When It’s Twilight Time) Fr. Kayala. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

21) And his face fell: A college’s star baseball player went up to Jesus and asked: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “Go to the local playground and help set up an after-school program for kids at risk.” The baseball star’s face fell, and he went away sad, because his focus was on the making it to the majors. The owner of a small business asked Jesus: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said, “Go and create job opportunities for those who have lost their jobs and whose families are struggling.“ The business owner’s face fell, and he went away sad, because he was barely keeping his own company going. A woman who had just buried her sister who had died of cancer asked Jesus: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” With great compassion for her, Jesus said, “Go, put aside your grief for your dear sister, and give your time to help raise money for cancer research.” The woman’s face fell, and she went away sad, because the loss of her sister was still too painful. — We know how the rich young man feels in today’s Gospel. Yes, Jesus asks everything of us as the cost of being His disciple — but Jesus asks only what we have, not what we don’t have. Each one of us possesses talents and resources, skills and assets that we have been given by God for the work of making the kingdom of God a reality in the here and now. (Fr. Kayala). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

22) Prayer of Thomas Merton: Prayer of Thomas Merton: “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this You will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, will I trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death; I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.” (Fr. Kayala). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

23) Give me your spirit of detachment:A story is told of a poor beggar who lived on alms he received from begging. One day on his begging rounds, he came upon a holy man, who was lost in prayer, sitting in seclusion in the forest. Approaching the holy man, the beggar asked for alms. Without a second thought the holy man put his hand into his pocket took out a large precious stone and gave it to the beggar. The beggar could not believe his eyes. Before the holy man could change his mind, the beggar disappeared from the scene holding on to the jewel for dear life. He clutched it so tightly his hands hurt. All along the way, he was suspicious of everyone and reached his hut tense and worried. Once inside his hut he locked himself and was sure that some would come to attack him. He could not sleep at night for a moment for fear of losing the stone. He got up in the morning a mental wreck, exhausted, tense and worried. What was he going to do with this precious stone? He could not mix with others even of his own family lest they ask for it. Finally, he hurried to the holy man in the forest and quickly gave back the stone. The Holy man asked him why he was returning the precious stone. The beggar replied. “I don’t want the stone! It is ruining my life! But I want something else from you. When I asked you for alms, without a second thought you parted with that precious stone. Can you give me that spirit of detachment? Then I will be happy whether I have or don’t have anything!”
(Anonymous; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

24) “…Go, sell what you have and give to the poor ….”

The International L’Arche Federation and its linked communities illustrate what happens when a lot of people respond to Jesus’ challenge to the rich young ruler, look around, discover, and begin to meet the physical, social, spiritual, and political needs of the intellectually challenged, not so much by ministering to as by sharing life with these children of God, our brother and sisters. The website declares, “We believe that people with learning disabilities have much to teach us and contribute to the world.” To this end, “At L’Arche we celebrate people with intellectual disabilities and build circles of support around them. We go beyond supporting people’s basic needs. It is this focus on building relationships and cultivating a sense of belonging that makes us different.”

“L’Arche communities hold in balance four elements: service, community, spirituality and outreach. Experience has shown us that each element has an important role to play. L’Arche communities around the world share this common philosophy and approach while reflecting and celebrating the ethnic, cultural and religious composition of the areas in which they exist.” Inviting the intellectually or learning challenged, the website says, “ L’Arche is a chance to live with other people, sharing a house together and/or learn new skills in our own workshop and/or enjoy leisure activities with support from a network of friends. L’Arche believes each person has unique abilities and potential. If you join L’Arche, you can expect the community to help you discover your own talents, skills and dreams, so that you can open new doors in your life. L’Arche will invite you to build a community life which includes celebrations, shared meals, and time with other people. There will be many chances to help each other in a spirit of friendly relationships.”

In addition , in each house, there are about twice as many assistants/volunteers as there are challenged members. Of these, the website says, an Assistant can be anyone who chooses L’Arche as a way of enjoying a shared community life together with our members with and without disabilities. Whether live-in or live-out, assistants are paid according to the employment law of the country, taking into account their role and responsibility. Communities include both volunteers and salaried employees. Whatever their role or status, the commitment to the mission of L’Arche is based on mutual relationships.”

Finally, L’Arche has communities world-wide. “Today there are more than 154 communities and 19 projects in 38 countries around the world from Belgium to Argentina, Uganda to Japan and to the United States. While communities around the world share in the philosophy of L’Arche, each community celebrates and lives its own cultural and spiritual expression of community. At L’Arche, we value and celebrate the diversity within our communities…. The experiences we have together can contribute to a better world! We want to share our experiences, because when we bring our weaknesses and strengths together, when we recognize we need each other, these can contribute to building a more human society.” – Is this where the Spirit is calling you to follow Him and serve Him? Come and see! (Adapted by Dr. Lucy Parker). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

25) The Happy Saint:As compared to the rich, sad young man in the Gospels, there is a rich, glad youth revered by people of all faiths, worldwide. Born in Assisi and baptized ‘Giovanni’, he was given another name by his wealthy father, a cloth merchant, who added the name ‘Francesco’ and wanted him to inherit the family business. But young Francesco took Jesus’ words seriously. Not only did he hand over his inheritance and fine attire to the poor, but he also embraced ‘Lady Poverty’ lifelong to give himself fully to God. The novel by Felix Timmerman, The Perfect Joy of St. Francis is one of the finest books ever written. Was Francis of Assisi poor? Rich? One thing is sure: he was never sad.
(Francis Gonsalves in Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds; quoted by Fr. Botelho).Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

26) Challenge to overcome an obstacle: In June 1997, basketball enthusiasts were thrilled to witness as an obviously flu-stricken Michael Jordan pulled himself from his sickbed to rally his fading energies and lead his Chicago Bulls team to a stunning victory over the Utah Jazz. Stricken with a virus and unable to stand on his own at the end of the game, Jordan had once more borne witness to his conviction, “…obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” For Jordan, on that night in June of 1997, the obstacle, the wall that stood in his way, and that he worked around, was illness. — Today’s Gospel also features a young and gifted man who was challenged to overcome an obstacle. No doubt, his was an obstacle with which many of us would like to be burdened, viz., riches. Unfortunately, the young man was not up to the invitation Jesus extended to him. His riches stood between him and a share in everlasting life. Whether or not he eventually overcame his attachment to his wealth and opted to follow Jesus is not ours to know. Suffice it to say, the rich man’s experience, and others like it, should cause us to consider what stands between me and God. . . what obstacle hinders me from becoming all that I have been called to be? (Patricia Datchuck Sánchez). (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2os-hfXSUlA) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

27) The miraculously widened eye of the needle: There is an interesting expansion of this story in the apocryphal Acts of Peter and Andrew, probably written in the late second or early third century. The text says that, when Peter preached on this teaching, a certain local merchant by the name of Onesiphorus became enraged with him and physically attacked him, saying, “Truly you are a sorcerer … for a camel cannot go through the eye of a needle”. Peter ordered a needle to be brought (refusing a large, wide-eyed needle that someone had offered, hoping to help him). “And after the needle had been brought, and all of the multitude of the city was standing around watching, Peter looked up and saw a camel coming, and ordered her to be brought. Then he fixed the needle in the ground and cried out with a loud voice, saying: ‘In the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, I order you, O camel, to go through the eye of the needle’. Then the eye of the needle was opened like a gate, and the camel went through it, and all the multitude saw it.” (Dr. Murray Watson) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

28) Wise rich people: In history we see many people who used their wealth as means to glorifying God. Joseph Leek left nearly $1.8 million to an organization that provides guide dogs for the blind, and nobody, not even his own family, had any idea that he had that kind of money. The 90-year-old Britisher lived like a pauper. He watched television at a neighbor’s house to save on electricity, put off home repairs, and bought second-hand clothes. Rev. Vertrue Sharp raised hay and cattle preached and taught, while saving every penny he made. When he died in 1999, he left an estate of $2 million to the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, the University of Tennessee Medical Center, and other charities. English spinster, Mary Guthrie Essame was a retired nurse who lived in an old Victorian house and who clad herself in such worn clothes and old shoes that no one knew how well off she was. Neighbours were shocked to learn that her estate amounted to a whopping $10 million when she died in January 2002. (The money was left to a host of charities.). Benjamin Guggenheim, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was an heir in the wealthy Guggenheim family. He took up the family mining business, gaining the nickname “the Silver Prince”. Returning from a trip to Europe, he decided to sail back to New York on the maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic. Late on the night of April 14, 1912, the Titanic struck an iceberg and began to sink. Guggenheim and his secretary dressed in their finest evening clothes and assisted women and children with getting on the lifeboats. He told a crew member, “We’ve dressed up in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen.” Guggenheim asked a crew member to deliver a message to his wife Florette. “If anything should happen to me, tell my wife in New York that I’ve done my best in doing my duty.”– Jesus’ challenge to the young man exposed two missing pieces in the rich man’s life: a sense of compassion for the poor and the willingness to share his blessings with the needy. (Fr. Bobby Jose).Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

29) “Take back your coins and give back my songs.” The French have a story about a millionaire, who spent his days counting his gold coins. Beside his palace was a poor cobbler who spent his days singing as he repaired people’s shoes. The joyful singing irritated the rich man. One day he decided to give some gold coins to the cobbler. At first the cobbler was overjoyed, and he took the coins and hid them. But then he worried about the coin and was constantly going back to make sure the coins were still there. Then he worried in case someone had seen him and might steal the coins. Consequently, he ceased to sing. Then one day he realized that he had ceased to sing because of the gold coins. He took them back to the rich man and said, “Take back your coins and give me back my songs.” — Inordinate attachment to riches can take away our freedom and joy. (Gerry Pierse, Detachment and Freedom).Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

30) Heroic poverty that St. Francis and St. Clare: As we know very well, St. Francis of Assisi found complete freedom and joy only when he gave up all his possessions. Clare of Assisi agreed. When this noble young fellow-townsman of St. Francis first heard Francis preach on the Gospel invitation “sell what we have and give to the poor,” she was fired with the same desire to put her life and her needs wholly in the hands of God. Why spend our lives trying to push a camel through the eye of a needle? Francis assisted her in her decision and she became the foundress of the first convent of Franciscans of the Second Order, commonly called the “Poor Clares.” Her nuns could not go forth from the convent on apostolic missions as the Franciscan friars did. But they could practice within the convent walls the most drastic poverty. Clare’s reward, like that of Francis, was a radiant sense of liberation. She emptied herself, and then asked God, as we do in today’s response, “Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!” When she finally came to the end of her life of poverty, penance, and prayer, Clare bore her last illness with sublime patience. One day she was heard to say to herself, “Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear, for He that created you has sanctified you, has always protected you, and loves you like a mother.” “Blessed be you, O God,” she exclaimed, “for having created me!”– God does not call all of us to the heroic poverty that St. Francis and St. Clare practiced. But even if we do become poor, whether through vow or through financial loss, there is one possession we can never be deprived of: the gift of being – and of being ourselves and nobody else. For that gift we can always sing for joy and gladness! –(Fr. Robert F. McNamara). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

31) The eye of the needle: There is a legend that says that there was a gate called ‘the eye of the needle’ that led into the holy city of Jerusalem. This gate was actually shaped like the eye of a needle and a camel walking upright could not pass through it. However, if the camel stooped and had all its baggage removed, it could pass through the entrance. After dark, when the main gates were shut, travelers would have to use this smaller gate, through which the camel could only enter unencumbered and crawling on its knees! — The idea here is to show that we must humble ourselves, become free of our worldly goods, and be unburdened by sins to pass into the Kingdom of Heaven. It also implies that even rich people can get into heaven provided they approach God on their knees without all their baggage. “Travel light on your life-long journey to the Kingdom of Heaven!” (Fr. Lakra). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

32) The Man Who Went to Hell With Heaven on His Mind. Does that really happen? We certainly can not judge, we know, for only God can read the human heart and we are not God! The Church tells us that we can not know the final fate of anyone. For Saints and Heaven, she has a rigorous process of testing for heroic virtue and will proclaim people as eing in Heaven, but does not claim that any human being has gone to Hell whatever sins may have been committed, not even Judas Iscariot – who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, tried to undo that betrayal by returning the money and, horrified by what he had done hanged himself in what looks like despair Matt. 26:49, Acts 1:25. As for Felix, the governor, he listened to Paul frequently but made no decision; his future life may have led him to conversion (Acts 24:25) King Herod Agrippa and his wife Bernice also listened to Paul and concluded, with Festus, (the new Governor who had at first responded to Paul’s defense as madness brought on by too great learning), that he could have been released, exept that he had appealed to Rome, that he had done nothing to deserve death or imprisonment, an attitude that may well have led him, his wife Berenice and Festus to come to belief later– Acts 26:24, 30. — In this text, the young man who comes to Jesus seeking to do more than just keep the Commandments and desiring to be His disciple it seems. But when Jesus tells him, “If you want to be perfect, sgo sell what you have, give to the poor, and come, follow Me, he turns away “sad” because he does not want to let go of his riches. Jesus was concerned about him and identified his riches as a real obstacle, but that could well have changed later. We can hope, and pray, that this young man, touched by Jesus, rethought his priorities and came later to the Church and so to Jesus again. For ourselves, the same challenge rises. Will we come to Him? Will we say yes? Will we take the second and third and thousancth chance Jesus gives us and receive His Love fully by giving Him our selves? When? The sooner we do, the happier we will be! Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

33) Why Americans are rich, when compared to the majority of world’s population? Americans are rich, compared with the rest of the world. Fifty-six percent of the world’s population, or 3.4 billion people, live in extreme poverty. They survive on an income of less than $730.00 per year or $2.00 per day. Half of that number lives, or 1.7 billion people, live on less than $1.00 per day. At minimum wage, the average American worker earns over fifty times more than that. The average American spends $0.20 per day on cosmetics, perfume, and skin and hair products; over $0.50 on jewelry; nearly $3.00 on furniture and household goods; over $3.00 per day on clothing; over $6.00 per day gambling; $7.00 per day on automobiles; and over $9.00 per day on food. Over three billion people got up this morning not knowing where their next meal was coming from. Many do not have adequate clothing and shelter. Yet, most of us got up today with a good home, plenty of clothing, some money and enough food to keep us alive for many days. If you compare yourself to some people you know, you might not think you are rich, but the fact is, you are. — Our financial problems like our debts and our payments would be welcomed luxuries by most of the world’s population. Jesus in today’s Gospel challenges the rich countries to share their resources generously with the poor countries. (SNB). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/). L/21

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B (No 54) by Fr. Tony(akadavil@gmail.com)

Visit this website by clicking on https://frtonyshomilies.com/

Visit also https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies under Fr. Tony’s homilies for my website version. (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 . (akadavil@gmail.com)

Weekday Homilies for Oct 4-9

Kindly click on https://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed Sunday and weekday homilies, RCIA & Faith formation classes.

Oct 4-9:Oct 4 Monday (St. Francis of Assisi) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-francis-of-assisi(Mt 11:25-30): St. Francis of Assisi is the best known and the most loved thirteenth century Italian saint. He was born in Assisi, Italy, the son of a rich merchant. As a carefree young man, he loved singing, dancing and partying. He joined the military and returned ill, as a changed man. He marked his conversion by hugging and kissing a leper. While at prayer in the Church of St. Damiano, he heard the message: “Francis go and repair my Church because it is falling down.” Francis took the command literally and got money by selling goods from his father’s warehouse. His father was furious and publicly disowned and disinherited Francis. Francis promptly gave back to his father everything except his underclothes and started living as a free man, wearing sackcloth and begging for food. Possessing nothing, he started preaching the pure Gospel of Jesus. Strangely enough, a few youngsters were attracted to Francis’ way of life and joined him.

Pope Innocent III had a vision of Francis supporting the leaning Church of St. Johns Lateran in Rome. Subsequently, he approved the Religious Order begun by Francis, namely the Friars Minor [Lesser Brothers] which practiced Charity as a fourth vow along with Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. Soon, the Franciscan Order became very popular, attracting large numbers of committed youngsters. The friars traveled throughout central Italy and beyond, preaching and invitation to their listeners to turn from the world to Christ. In his life and preaching, Francis emphasized simplicity and poverty, relying on God’s providence rather than worldly goods. The brothers worked, or begged, for what they needed to live, and any surplus was given to the poor. Francis wrote a more detailed Rule, which was further revised by the new leaders of the Franciscans. He gave up leadership of the Order and went to the mountains to live in secluded prayer. There he received the Stigmata, the wounds of Christ. Francis became partially blind and ill during his last years. He died at Portiuncula on October 4th, 1226 at the age of 44.

Francis called for simplicity of life, poverty, and humility before God. In all his actions, Francis sought to follow, fully and literally, the way of life demonstrated by Christ in the Gospels. Francis loved God’s gifts to us of nature, animals, and all natural forces, praising God for these “brothers and sisters.” One of Francis's most famous sermons is one he gave to a flock of birds during one of his journeys. "From that day on, he solicitously admonished the birds, all animals and reptiles, and even creatures that have no feeling, to praise and love their Creator." Francis is well known for the "Canticle of Brother Sun." Written late in the saint's life, when blindness had limited his sight of the outside world, the canticle shows that his imagination was alive with love for God in His creation. 
Life messages: 1) Let us learn to practice the spirit of detachment of St. Francis that we may be liberated from our sinful attachments, addictions and evil habits. In poverty one makes oneself available for the Kingdom. Once the goods are no longer one's own, they become available for all. Goods are made to be shared. 2) Let us preach the Good News of Jesus’ love, mercy and forgiveness as St. Francis did, by imbuing the true spirit of the Gospel, loving all God’s creation and leading transparent Christian lives radiating Jesus all around us. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 5: Matthew 11: 25-30: 25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; 26 yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. 27 All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” USCCB video reflections:  https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

The context: Jesus knew that ordinary people with large, sensitive hearts, rather than proud intellectuals, were able accept the “Good News.” Such people would inherit Heaven rather than the learned and the wise who prided themselves on their intellectual achievements. Hence, in the first part of today’s Gospel Jesus prays in thanksgiving to His Father, praising God for revealing Himself to the simple-hearted, and thus condemning intellectual pride. Jesus’ unique claim: that He Is God’s perfect reflection: No one really knows the Father except the Son, and him to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him” (Matthew 11:27). The claim that Jesus alone can reveal God to men forms the center of the Christian Faith. John presents Jesus’ claim in different words: “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (Jn.14:9). What Jesus says is this: “If you want to see what God is like, if you want to see the mind of God, the heart of God, the nature of God, if you want to see God’s whole attitude toward men–look at Me!”

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

Life message: We need to unload our burdens on the Lord. This is one of the functions of Divine Worship in the Church and the main purpose of our personal and family prayers. These are given to us by God as a time for rest and refreshment, when we let the overheated radiators of our hectic lives cool down before the Lord, unload the burdens of our sins and worries on the altar, and offer them and ourselves to God during the Holy Mass. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 5 Tuesday (Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, Priest, U. S. A.): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/blessed-francis-xavier-seelos Lk 10:38-42: 38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a village; and a woman named Martha received him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; 42 one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.” USCCB video reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

The context: Today’s readings are about hospitality and the necessity of listening to God before acting. Jesus welcomed and tended to the needs of all, reflecting in His actions the very hospitality of God. All four Gospels recount Jesus’ welcoming and feeding of the multitudes of people who came to hear the Good News. The Gospel passage describes how Martha, a true child of Abraham, wanted to extend the traditional generous hospitality of her people to Jesus, the true Messiah, by preparing an elaborate meal, while her sister Mary spent her time in talking and listening to Jesus.

Jesus’ advice: The episode is also intended to teach us where we should place our priorities. Presenting Martha as a dynamo of action and Mary as a true listener to the word of God, today’s Gospel invites us to serve others with Martha’s diligence, after recharging our spiritual batteries every day by prayer, listening to God and talking to God as Mary did. We are able to minister truly to the needs of others only after welcoming God’s words into our hearts, minds, and living.

Life messages: 1) We need to recharge our spiritual batteries: Without the “fuel” of prayer, silence, and communion with God, service can become a crushing responsibility, a burden rather than a vocation, an annoyed grumbling rather than a response to the invitation of God.

2) We need listening Marthas and serving Marys: Martha has become a symbol of action-oriented, responsible people who get the job done. Our world needs such men, women, boys and girls who get the job done. This is certainly true in the Church where we need the active cooperation of many parishioners in its various ministries. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 6 Wednesday (St. Bruno, Priest); https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-bruno ; Blessed Marie Rose Durocher, Virgin, U.S.A https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/blessed-marie-rose-durocher .) : Lk 11:1-4: 1 He was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread; 4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive every one who is indebted to us; and lead us not into temptation.” USCCB video reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video;   Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

The context: The disciples were fascinated by watching their master Jesus at prayer. They knew that John the Baptist had taught his disciples how to pray. In response to the request made by one of the apostles, Jesus taught the beautiful prayer, Our Father. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the Our Father “is truly the summary of the whole Gospel” (CCC #2761).

A prayer in two parts: In the first part of the prayer, we address God, lovingly acknowledging Him as our Heavenly Father, praising and worshipping Him. Then we promise Him that we will try to do His Holy Will in our lives on earth as perfectly as it is done in Heaven. In the second part, we ask our Father’s blessings on our present time (daily bread), our past (forgiveness of sins) and our future (protection against the tempter and his temptations). In this part we also invite the Triune God into our lives. We bring in 1) God the Father, the Provider, by asking for daily bread, 2) God the Son, our Savior, by asking forgiveness for our sins and 3) God the Holy Spirit, our Guide, Advocate, Comforter, and Illuminator, by asking for protection and deliverance from evil.

Special stress on spirit of forgiveness: In this prayer, Jesus instructs us to ask for forgiveness from others for our offenses and to give unconditional forgiveness to others for their offenses against us as a condition for receiving God’s forgiveness ourselves. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 7 Thursday (Our Lady of the Rosary): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/our-lady-of-the-rosaryhttps://www.franciscanmedia.org/our-lady-of-the-rosary/ : Lk 1:26-38: This feast was established by Pope St. Pius V in thanksgiving for the victory at Lepanto, 7 Oct 1571, which stopped the Turkish invasion of Europe. Importance: The word Rosary means “Crown of Roses,” and each prayer in the Rosary is considered a flower presented to Mary. It is called the “Breviary of the Common People” and the “Psalms of the Illiterate.” The prayers we repeat are Biblical and hence “inspired,” and the mysteries we meditate upon are taken from the lives of Jesus and Mary. The “Our Father” is a prayer taught by Jesus Himself. The “Hail Mary” is also rooted in the Scriptures. Its first half echoes the words of the Archangel Gabriel and those of Elizabeth, both addressed to Mary. The rest of our petition , “pray for us, sinners, now and at the hour of our death” is added by the Church, seeking Mary’s intercession.  The third prayer — the “Glory be to the Father” — ancient in its wording, surely reflects the unceasing prayer of adoration and praise found in the Book of Revelation. The various events in the lives of Jesus and Mary on which we meditate during the Rosary are expressions of the Paschal Mystery, that is, the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus, in which Mary shared.

History: Prayer using rosary beads is as old as mankind. The Hindus in India used to recite the thousand names of their gods and goddesses and their “mantra” prayers using multi-beaded rosaries, and their sages wear such rosaries around the neck, constantly rolling the beads in prayer. The Jews used beads to repeat the psalms, the Laws of Moses and the memorized sayings of the prophets. The Muslims use rosaries with a hundred beads for their prayer. In the ninth century, the Christian monks who recited the 150 psalms instructed the illiterate common people to recite the Our Father 150 times. It was in the eleventh century that the Europeans added the Hail Mary to the Our Father. In 1214, according to the legend, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Dominic Guzman and instructed him to pray the Rosary in a new form as an effective antidote against the Albigensian heresy. The Rosary devotion attained its present form around 1500 A.D. An additional boost to the Rosary devotion was given in 1917, when our Blessed Mother, in her sixth apparition to the three shepherd children, on the thirteenth of May, asked them to, “Say the Rosary every day… Pray, pray a lot and offer sacrifices for sinners… I am Our Lady of the Rosary.” The “Fatima prayer(O my Jesus forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell and bring all souls to Heaven, expecially those who are most in need of Your mercy), requested by Mary herself at Fatima (July 13, 1917), was added following the “Glory be…”n after the 1930 acceptance of the Bishop of the apparitions as genuine century. Pope St. John Paul II enriched the Rosary by adding the “Luminous Mysteries” (Rosarium Virginis Mariae).

How to pray the Rosary: The ideal is to recite at least five decades of the Rosary (and if possible, the entire twenty), with one’s whole family daily. We need to say the Rosary slowly enough to make its recitation devout and reverent. We are to reflect for a minute or two on the mystery, and then concentrate on the meaning of the prayers as we say them, to avoid distractions. Besides saying the Rosary with others in the family before bedtime, let us make it a habit of reciting the Rosary during our journey to the workplace and during our exercises. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20 (USCCB video reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; ). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 8 Friday: Lk 11:15-26: 15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons”; 16 while others, to test him, sought from him a sign from heaven. 17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. 18 And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. 19 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore, they shall be your judges. 20 But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace; 22 but when one stronger than he assails him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoil. 23 He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. 24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest; and finding none he says, `I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when he comes he finds it swept and put in order. 26 Then he goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. USCCB video reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video;  https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

The context: When Jesus healed a mute man by exorcism, the jealous scribes and the Pharisees spread the malicious slander that Jesus was collaborating with Beelzebul, the head of the devils, to cast out smaller devils.

Jesus’ response: Jesus makes his counterattack, first by asking the rhetorical question “By whom do your sons (the Jewish exorcists), cast them out?” The implication is that, if what they say about Him, Who casts them out with a single command, is true, the Jewish exorcists, who require so much more prayer and so many more exercises to do exorcisms, must certainly have to seek the help of the big devil to exorcise minor devils. Then Jesus asserts that no kingdom, divided against itself, can survive for long. Obviously, then, the chief devil will not help any exorcists to cast out devils. Jesus then claims that His exorcisms are proof that He has brought the Kingdom of God. When people are liberated from the control of evil spirits, it is a sure sign that the loving power of God (the finger of God), is at work. Then Jesus uses the image of a strong man guarding his house and keeping his possessions safe until someone stronger attacks and overthrows him. Jesus claims that He is the stronger one and the evil spirits are being driven away by Him. They are helpless before him. This liberation of people and society from evil powers is one of the most dramatic proofs that the all-powerful reign of God is present in the Person of Jesus.

Life messages: 1) Jesus teaches us that the devil is relentless in his struggle against man. The devil continues to lay his traps, in spite of man’s rejecting him with the help of grace. That is why St. Peter warns us to be sober and vigilant because, “your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your Faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9). 2) We have to fortify ourselves against the devil by prayer, penance, the Sacraments and the effective use of the word of God. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 9 Saturday(St. Denis, Bishop and Companions, Martyrs); https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-denis-and-companions St. John Leonardi, Priest): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-john-leonardiLk 11:27-28: 27 As he said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!” 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” USCCB video reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video;  (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

The context: A woman in the audience was so impressed by Jesus’ powerful refutation of the slander (that Jesus collaborated with the devil in exorcisms), that she shouted a blessing, praising the mother of Jesus: “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!” She meant that any woman would be proud to have such a great son. Jesus tells her that His mother is more blessed for obeying the word of God throughout her life.

The reason for real blessedness: Completing the truth of the blessing the woman had pronounced, Jesus states that the real source of blessedness is the willingness to hear and the readiness to obey the word of God. Mary heard God’s message at the Annunciation, and her prompt response was, “I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). That is why she could boldly proclaim to her cousin Elizabeth in her canticle, “All generations will call me blessed(Lk 1:48). No one listened more attentively to the word of God than Mary did. She “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart(Lk 2:10). Jesus clarified the same truth on another occasion, stating that His true mother and brothers and sisters are those who hear the word of God and do it (Lk 8:21). In today’s Gospel, Jesus declares that that those who hear God’s word and keep it are more blessed than those who are related to Him only by blood.

Life messages: 1) We become the members of the Heavenly family of the Triune God, that is, we are made children of God and brothers and sisters of Jesus, by our Baptism. 2)But it is our fidelity in hearing the word of God and in putting that word into practice in our daily lives that makes us really blessed. 3) What makes a person happy in this life and in the life to come is precisely the fulfillment of God’s will, as we learn through the attentive reading of, and listening to, His words. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21