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O.T. XXXI (Oct 31) (MK 12.28-34) L-21

OT XXXI Sunday Homily (Oct 31) 8-minute homily in 1 page(L/21)

The central theme: The central message of today’s readings is the most fundamental principle of all religions, especially Christianity. It is to love God in Himself and living in others. Scripture readings for todayremind us that we are createdto love God by loving others and to love others as an expression of our love for God. Our religious practices like prayers, Bible reading, Sacraments, acts of penance, and self-control are meant to help us to acknowledge and appreciate the presence of God in our neighbors and to express our love for God by serving our neighbors with love, sharing our blessings with them.

Scripture lessons: The first reading presents Moses explaining the Law to the Israelites after his return from Mount Sinai. He tries to make the people reverence and obey the Law given by God as something that will bring them dignity, purpose, stature, distinction, and a unique place in history. He reminds them that keeping God’s commandments will give them God’s blessings of long life, prosperity, and fruitful, peaceful lives. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 18) invites us to love God because He alone is our strength and our stronghold. In today’s Gospel, a Scribe asks Jesus to summarize the most important of the Mosaic Laws in one sentence. Jesus cites the first sentence of the Jewish Shema prayer: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is Lord alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Dt 6:4). Then He adds its complementary law: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lv 19:18). Thus, Jesus says that true religion is loving God and loving our fellow human beings at the same time. It is by showing genuine, active love for our neighbors that we can demonstrate that we really love God.

Life Messages: #1: How do we love God? We must keep God’s commandments, and offer daily prayers of thanksgiving, praise, contrition for our failings, and petition. We also need to read and meditate on His word in the Holy Bible and to participate actively in the Holy Mass and other liturgical functions. If I am going to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, then I am going to have to place His will ahead of mine, and to ask Him for help when I have to say no to some things that I might want to do. I am also going to have to seek the Lord’s will and make it paramount in my life.
#2: How do we love our neighbor: We love our neighbor by helping, supporting, encouraging, forgiving, and praying for everyone, without discrimination based on color, race, gender, age, wealth, or social status. If I am going to love my neighbor as I love myself, or as Jesus has loved me, it will cost me suffering as it did Jesus! I may have to seek forgiveness when I think I have done something wrong. I may have to sacrifice something I think I need, to meet a brother’s need. I may have to spend time in prayer for other people and reach out to them, helping, encouraging, and supporting them in the name of the Lord.

OT 31 [B] (Oct 31):Dt 6:2-6; Heb 7:23-28; Mk 12: 28b-34

Homily starter anecdotes: #1: The Shema’s challenge to become “Iron Man” & “Iron Woman:” Mark Allen, a six-time “Ironman” winner and holder of the title “The World’s Fittest Man,” is married to a retired “Iron woman” triathlete, Julie Moss. Ironman/Ironwoman competitions include a grueling triathlon of swimming, bicycling, and running, designed to push the capabilities of the human body to their limits. To compete as an Ironman/Ironwoman, one must be in superb, all-round, peak physical condition. Mark Allen has devised a 16-week program designed to get a person into a state of “ultimate fitness.” Allen also claims that if one follows this complete training regimen for as little as five hours a week, he/she can be transformed from chump into champ. Perhaps more startling is Allen’s description of his training regimen as a kind of “meditation” for the entire body. The training regimen includes four components: “heart training” for endurance; “mind training” for attitude; “nutritional training,” eating and drinking as often as they are needed those things that will support the members of the body to survive and thrive, while avoiding those that will have detrimental effects, and “strength training” for muscle mass. Thus, Allen has physicalized the Shema mandate given in today’s Gospel, (Mk 12:29-30), into a program for shaping and transforming a human being in his/her entirety. When, in the Shema, the Lord God commands, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength,” and “you shall love your neighbor as yourself,” He reminds Israel and us that a big part of human existence is sheerly physical. It takes a certain amount of brute strength just to get through each and every day. To deny God’s presence and love in the physical world would be to remove godliness from our existence. As Christian men and women, we have our own Iron Person to look to as a perfect example of “fitness.” Jesus Christ completely embodied the mandates of the Shema – loving His Father, God, with all His heart, mind, soul and strength, then reflecting God’s love for Him in loving all He met, His neighbors, the same way. May Jesus coach us as we train in godliness, loving God and neighbor with all our heart, mind, soul and strength!

#2: SoSA practicing the two great commandments of God: SoSA was given the first Hero of Food Recovery and Gleaning Award by the US Department of Agriculture.The Society of St. Andrew (SoSA) is a grassroot, Faith-based, hunger-relief, nonprofit organization which works with all denominations to bridge the hunger gap between 96 billion pounds of food wasted every year in the United States and the nearly 40 million Americans who live in poverty. SoSA relies on support from donors, volunteers, and farmers as they glean nutritious excess produce from farmers’ fields and orchards after harvest and deliver it to people in need across the United States. Gleaning is the Biblical practice of hand-gathering crops left in the fields after harvest. Each year, tens of thousands of volunteers come together across the country to glean food left in farmers’ fields and orchards so that it does not go to waste but instead goes to the tables of those in need. Since it began in 1979, the Society has collected more than 200-million pounds of fresh produce – perfectly nutritious food that might have some cosmetic deformity, making it unsaleable – and delivered it to soup kitchens, food banks, Salvation Army Centers, homeless shelters, and the like. That 200-million pounds otherwise would have rotted! Ken Horne, a United Methodist minister who is a co-founder of the group, accepted the award and noted, “There is enough surplus food in this country to feed every hungry person…No one should ever have to go hungry.” Amen! Can you imagine that God does not mind if people go hungry, that God does not care that every day some 40,000 children around the globe die of malnutrition-related causes? Hardly! Then we who say we love God will demonstrate it in love for our hungry neighbor. All it takes is the commitment of God’s people, time-wise and money-wise, and the problem will be solved. No holding back. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society_of_St._Andrew)

Introduction: The central message of today’s readings is the most fundamental principle of all religions, especially Christianity. We are to love God in Himself and in loving and serving others who are also His children. Our prayers, Sacraments, sacrifices and all other religious practices are meant to help us grow in this double relationship of loving.

The first reading reminds us to love God by keeping His commandments. It also describes the blessings reserved for those who obey the commandments. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 18) reminds us that God alone in our strength and our stronghold, and that He lives! The second reading tells us how Jesus, the eternal and holy High Priest, offered Himself as a sacrifice on the cross to demonstrate God’s love for us. Today’s Gospel teaches ushow we should return this love, loving Him in Himself and loving Him living in others.

First reading, Dt 6:2-6, explained:
Today’s Gospel, (Mk 12:28b-34), is the climax of a series of questions on controversial issues asked by the Scribes and the Pharisees in order to trap and eliminate Jesus from their midst. The last question they ask is about the Law, historically Israel’s most sacred institution, the foundation of every other institution. Hence, in the first reading, Moses is presented as explaining the Law to the Israelites after his return from Mount Sinai. He tries to make the people reverence and obey the Law as something that will bring them dignity, purpose, stature, distinction, and a unique place in history. He promises them temporal rewards (“that your days may be prolonged, that you may multiply greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey”), if they remain loyal to Yahweh. They have to prove their loyalty to God by observing His commandments.

Second Reading, Heb 7:23-28, explained:Some Jewish converts to Christianity missed the comforting institutions they had enjoyed in Judaism. The author of Hebrews tries to explain to them how much greater are the benefits they receive as Christians. Today’s passage compares the older religion and priesthood to Jesus, their Self-sacrificing Messiah and High Priest. Paul affirms that Jesus, the new High Priest, is superior to the old High Priests for three reasons: a) Jesus can not die and so doesn’t need to be replaced generation after generation. b) Jesus is sinless and so need not offer sacrifices for personal sins. c) The Jewish priests were appointed according to the Law, but Jesus is appointed by the word of God.

Gospel exegesis: The context: In the last week of public life and ministry, Jesus was confronted by several groups of religious leaders—first by the chief priest, scribes and elders who had questioned His authority; then by the Pharisees who tried to turn the people against Him by ensnaring Him in a controversy; and finally by the Sadducees, who tried to make Him look foolish with trick questions. In each case, Jesus responded with a wisdom and authority so powerful all opponents were stunned in amazement. They had come to battle wits with the Son of God; and lost in every encounter. A scribe, who believed in both the written Law and the oral tradition, was pleased to see the defeat Jesus had dealt to the Sadducees who had presented for solution the hypothetical case of a woman who had married seven husbands. Who, they had asked Jesus, would be her husband in the world to come? To the scribes, the Mosaic Law was the greatest, fullest, and most perfect revelation of God’s will that could ever be given. However, in the Judaism of Jesus’ day there was a double tendency: to expand the Mosaic Law into hundreds of rules and regulations and to condense the 613 precepts of the Torah into a single sentence. David condensed the Law into 11 statements (Ps 15), Isaiah reduced them to six (Is 33:15) and later to two (Is 56:1), Micah condensed them into three (Mi 6:8), and Habakkuk reduced them all to one: “the righteous shall live by his Faith” (Hb 2:4). The famous Jewish rabbis and even some of the Fathers of the Church like St. Augustine would also try to condense these precepts. So it was natural for a scribe to ask Jesus to summarize the most important of the Mosaic Laws in one sentence.

Jesus’ novel contribution: Jesus gave a straightforward answer, quoting directly from the Law itself, startling them, and demonstrating Jesus’ profound simplicity and mastery of the law of God and its purpose. Citing the first sentence of the Jewish Shema prayer: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is Lord alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Dt 6:4), Jesus then added its complementary law: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”(Lv 19:18). Jesus’ contribution combined the originally separate commandments and presented them as the essence of true religion. True religion, Jesus says, is loving God in by loving service. That is, the only way a person can demonstrate real love for God is by showing genuine, active love for neighbor. The “great commandment in the Law” is really threefold: We are commanded (1) to love God, (2) to love our neighbor, and (3) to love ourselves. We are to love God, for it is in loving Him that we are brought to the perfection of His image in us. We are to love our neighbor and ourselves as well, because both of us bear God’s image, and to honor God’s image is to honor Him who made it. We are to love our neighbor and our self as a way to love God: God gives us our neighbors to love so that we may learn to love Him.

The scribe was so impressed by Jesus’ grasp of the Law that he remarked: “Well said, teacher! You are right in saying, ‘He is One and there is no other than He.’ And ‘to love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” The comment by the scribe that the love of God and neighbor is “worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices,” carries special weight because he had probably come to the Temple to make his sacrifice, the usual way for the faithful of Israel to express worship and religious commitment.

Love your neighbor as you love yourself: The command to love our neighbor as we love ourselves is a very demanding one. It was very hard for the Jews of Jesus’ time because they considered that only a fellow-Jew, obeying the Mosaic Law, was to be considered their neighbor. That is why, immediately after defining this important commandment, Jesus tells them the parable of the Good Samaritan, as reported in Luke’s Gospel. He wanted to teach His listeners that everyone in need is their neighbor. Love for our neighbor is a matter of deeds, not feelings. It means sharing with others the unmerited love that God lavishes on us. This is the love for neighbor that God commands in His law. Often preachers preach on loving self and cultivating self-esteem and self-respect as prerequisites to loving neighbor. But Jesus does not advocate self-love, simply acknowledging our natural tendency to be on the lookout for “Number One,” then asking us to extend that same kind of love to others. But when we come to put the greatest commandment into practice, we find that there is a flaw – and that flaw is not in the commandment, but in us. We quickly find that we cannot love God or our neighbor as we ought to. The solution lies in the “new commandment” that Jesus will give the Apostles and us at the Last Supper approaching the Passion: “Love one another as I have loved you.” No longer is our self-love to be the measure of our love of neighbor, a subjective standard. Now the standard is objective, the extent of Jesus’ love for us and the way He demonstrates His infinite charity – “even to death, death on a cross” (Phil 2:8 ).

Be reconciled with neighbor as well as with God: We are asked to love God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength, vitality, and human intelligence. Since God is present in all others, any sin against another person becomes a sin against God. Hence, it is not sufficient to be reconciled with God by repentance. We have to obtain forgiveness from, and reconciliation with, the person we have hurt. “If anyone says, I love God, but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen (I John 4: 20).

“There is no other commandment greater than these.” This is because all the other commandments are explanations of these two. The Ten Commandments are based on the principle of reverence for God and respect for others. Hence, the first three Commandments instruct us to reverence God, His Holy Name and His Holy Day, and the remaining Commandments ask us to respect our parents and to respect the life, honor, property, and good name of others.

Life Messages: #1: How do we love God? There are several means by which we can express our love for God and gratitude to Him for His blessings, acknowledging our total dependence on Him. We must keep God’s commandments, and offer daily prayers of thanksgiving, praise, contrition, and petition. We must also read and meditate on His word in the Bible and prayerfully attend Mass and other liturgical functions. If I am going to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, then I am going to have to place His will ahead of mine. This means that I will have to say no to some things that I might want to do. It also means that I will have to make seeking the Lord’s will, and then doing it, paramount in my life. Taken together, loving God means we open our hearts, give Him our will, develop our minds, direct our emotions, use our bodies and deploy our resources in ways that reveal our love for Him in active, loving service of Him in Himself and Him in everyone we encounter.

#2: Loving our neighbor: Since every human being is the child of God and the dwelling place of the Spirit of God, we are actually giving expression to our love of God by loving our neighbor as Jesus loves him and us. This means we have to help, support, encourage, forgive, and pray for everyone without discrimination based on color, race, gender, age wealth or social status. If I am going to love my neighbor as I love myself, it will cost me as well! I may have to seek forgiveness when I think I have done no wrong. I may have to sacrifice something I think I need to meet a brother’s need. I may have to give up time to help someone. I may have to spend time in prayer for people, go to them, and reach out to them in the name of the Lord.

#3: Questions we should ask ourselves on a daily basis: Is my love for God all that it should be? Do I pray to Him as I should? Am I in His Word as I should be? Are there people or things that have crept in and taken over first place in my life? Is Jesus somewhere down the line after some person, some thing, or even myself? What about my love for others? Is it all it could be? How loving am I to the members of my family, to my neighbors, to the members of my parish community? The answer to all these questions will help us to measure the degree of our love of God.

JOKES OF THE WEEK #1: The child’s commandments: A Sunday school teacher was talking to a class of five- and six-year-olds about the Ten Commandments. “Can you give me a Commandment with only four words?” she asked. “I know,” said a little girl: “Keep off the grass.” The discussion turned to family love and the teacher brought in the Commandment, “Honor thy father and thy mother.” Then she asked, “What about a Commandment that tells us how to treat our brothers and sisters?” A little boy who had five brothers and sisters was quick to answer: “I know,” he said, “You shall not kill.” When the class ended, two of the boys began to poke each other. The teacher intervened saying, “Didn’t we just finish talking about the Golden Rule?” to which one of the little combatants replied, “Yes but he did it unto me first.”

#2: No God, no potatoes! A few years ago, on a routine visit to a Soviet collective farm, a Russian commissar demanded of one of the laborers in the fields: “How was the crop this year?” “Oh, we had a fantastic harvest — many, many potatoes. So many potatoes, in fact, that if you piled them up to the sky, they would reach the foot of God!” The commissar scolded, “There is no God, comrade.” The laborer retorted, “There aren’t any potatoes either.” [Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, in
Imprimis 20, (December 1991).]

#3: Faith in the one and only God and trust in several stars: Canadian sociologist Reginald Bibby reports of Canadians, “Eighty-eight percent know their astrological signs, with half of the entire population reading their horoscopes at least once a month, outnumbering Bible readers by two to one.” [Reported in Martin E. Marty,
Context (1 November 1993).] –Wouldn’t it be great if 88% of the people were starting their day with the Word of God, not the alignment of the stars?

#4: Love your neighbor as you love yourself: Three men were sailing together in the Pacific Ocean. Their vessel was wrecked and they found themselves on an island. They had plenty of food, but their existence was in every way different from what their lives had been in the past. The men were walking by the seashore one day after they had been there for some months and found an ancient lantern. One man picked it up. As he began to rub it and clean it, a genie popped out and said, “Well, since you have been good enough to release me, I will give each of you one wish.” The first man said, “Oh, that’s perfectly marvelous. I’m a cattleman from Wyoming and I wish I were back on my ranch.” Poof! He was back on his ranch. The second man said, “Well, I’m a stockbroker from New York, and I wish that I were back in Manhattan.” Poof! He was back in Manhattan with his papers, his telephones, his clients and his computers. The third fellow was somewhat more relaxed about life and actually had rather enjoyed life there on the island. He said, “Well, I am quite happy here. I just wish my two friends were back.” Poof! Poof! (Everybody’s idea of a “great time” isn’t the same).

# 5:

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) http://sermonnotebook.org/ntsermons.htm (Outlines)

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

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

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

4) Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs: (Type or copy https://sundayprep.org on the topmost URL column in Google search or YouTube Search and press the Enter button of the Keyboard.

19-Additional anecdotes:

1) Love your neighbor by shaving your head: An unusual story of neighborly love appeared in an Associated Press article a year or two ago. Feature writer, Barbara Yuill, told how Manuel Garcia was afraid that he would be conspicuous when he shaved his head to get rid of patches of hair left by chemotherapy. He did not want to be the only “baldy” on his block. He need not have worried, Ms. Yuill wrote. She found his neighborhood teeming with bald heads, all because of love and concern for Manuel, in his fight against stomach cancer. His brother, Julio, first had the idea of going bald. Soon, about fifty friends and relatives shaved their heads to cheer up Garcia. His five-year-old son was bald, and his two older boys had gotten shaves or partial shaves. His wife and daughter had gotten their hair cut short. Some of the fifty friends and relatives had gotten partial shaves, leaving a Mohawk-like strip of hair down the center of the head, or a ducktail. “I cut my hair because I’ve known him for about fifteen years,” said one 26-year-old. “I love him like a father. It made him feel better.”– An excellent example of loving your neighbor as yourself, wouldn’t you say? Yes, but not good enough. To love your neighbor as yourself means that if you lived on Manuel Garcia’s block and had reason to despise the man, you would “put yourself in his shoes” and shave your head like the others.Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

2) He wanted Donna to have his heart when he died: Another newspaper story may provide a better one. It told of Donna, who was given only a few months to live after doctors discovered that she had a degenerative heart muscle. Her fifteen-year-old boyfriend had a premonition about his own death. He told his mother that, when he died, he wanted Donna to have his heart. Three weeks later he died from a burst blood vessel in his brain. His heart was implanted in Donna, just as he had wished. — To love your neighbor as yourself also means that if you were to choose to give your heart away when you die, you would do so with no strings attached. The recipient could be a sinner on skid row or death row, for all you care. He/she might survive on your old heart long enough to allow God to redeem him/her. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

3) Wouldn’t you like to live in a neighborhood like that? Less than a year after Richard and Judie Wheeler began building their dream house in Winona, Texas, Richard learned he had cancer. For the first time in months, the saws and hammers were silent around the Wheeler home. Then a member of the Wheelers’ church stopped by the house they were renting and asked Judie for the plans to the new dwelling. What happened next resembled an old-fashioned barn-raising. Members of the church started up where Richard had left off. Word spread through the community, and people began offering their services. Some knew a little about plumbing, while others could install wiring. A local restaurant fed volunteers all the chicken fried steaks and hamburgers they could eat. As the house neared completion, Richard Wheeler’s battle with cancer ended. He never saw the house finished. But Judie, who moved in with their daughters in October 1994, a month after Richard’s death, said it had been easier for him knowing that the compassionate neighbors of Winona were taking care of his family. [Kim McGuire in Tyler, Texas, Morning Telegraph. Cited in “Heroes for Today,” Readers Digest (May 1996), pp. 64-65.] — Wouldn’t you like to live in a neighborhood like that? That is Jesus’ will for the entire world: that people should care about other people. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

4) Living In the Kingdom of God: loving God living in his neighbors. Once, a village blacksmith had a vision. An angel came to him and said “The time has come for you to take your place in His kingdom.” “I thank God for thinking of me” said the blacksmith, “but as you know, the season of sowing the crops will soon be here. The people of the village will need their ploughs repaired, and their horses shod. I don’t wish to seem ungrateful, but do you think I might put off taking my place in the kingdom until I have finished?” The angel looked at him in a wise and loving way of angels. The blacksmith continued his work, and almost finished when he heard of a neighbor who fell ill in the middle of the planting season. The next time the blacksmith saw the angel he pointed out towards the barren fields, and pleaded with the angel. “Do you think eternity could hold of a little longer? If I don’t finish my job, my friend’s family will suffer.” Again the angel smiled and vanished. The blacksmith’s friend recovered, but another’s barn was burned down and a third was in deep sorrow at the death of his wife. And the fourth… and so on… Whenever the angel appeared, the blacksmith just spread out his hands in a gesture of resignation and compassion and drew the angel’s eyes to where the suffering was. One evening the blacksmith began to think of the angel and how he had put him off for such a long time. He felt very old and tired, and he prayed “Lord, if you would like to send your angel again, I would like to see him now.” He’d no sooner spoken than the angel appeared before him. “If you still want me to take me,” said the blacksmith, “I am now ready to take my place in the kingdom of the Lord.” The angel looked at the blacksmith, and smiled, as he said “Where do you think you have been living all these years?” (Jack McArdle in “And That’s the Gospel Truth”).Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

5) “How do I know which religion is the right one?” Moses Mendelson tells the story of a woman who came to a great teacher and asked him: “Teacher, how do I know which religion is the right one?” The teacher replied with a story of a great and wise King with three sons. This King had a precious gift–a magic ring that gave him great compassion, generosity, and a spirit of kindness. As he was dying, each of his sons went to him and asked the father for the ring after his death. And he promised to each of the sons that he would give him the ring. Now how could he possibly do that for all three sons? Here’s what he did. Before he died he called in the finest jewelry maker of the land and asked him to make two identical copies of the ring. After his death each of his sons was presented with a ring. Well, it wasn’t long before each of the sons figured out that his brothers also had a ring and therefore two of them had to be fakes. Only one of them could be the genuine article. And so they went before a judge and asked the judge to help them determine which was the authentic ring. Then they could determine who the proper heir was. The judge, however, could not distinguish among the three rings. And so he said: “We shall watch and see which son behaves in the most gracious, generous, and kind manner. Then we will know which possesses the original ring.” And from that day on, each son lived as if he was the one with the magic ring, and no one could tell which was the most gracious, generous, and kind. Then the teacher, having told this story, said to the woman, “If you wish to know which religion is true, watch and see which reveals God’s love for the world.” (Daniel E. H. Bryant) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

6) “He put his arms around me and just let me sob.” “Dear Ann Landers, I am a 46-year-old woman, divorced, with 3 grown children. After several months of chemotherapy following a mastectomy for breast cancer, I was starting to put my life back together when my doctor called with the results of my last checkup. They had found more cancer, and I was devastated. My relatives had not been supportive. I was the first person in the family to have cancer and they didn’t know how to behave toward me. They tried to be kind, but I had the feeling they were afraid it was contagious. They called on the phone to see how I was doing, but they kept their distance. That really hurt. Last Saturday I headed for the Laundromat. You see the same people there almost every week. We exchange greetings, and make small talk. So I pulled into the parking lot, determined not to look depressed, but my spirits were really low. While taking my laundry out of the car, I looked up and saw a man, one of the regulars, leaving with his bundle. He smiled and said, ‘Good morning. How are you today?’ Suddenly I lost control of myself and blurted out, ‘This is the worst day of my life! I have more cancer!’ Then I began to cry. “He put his arms around me and just let me sob. Then he said, ‘I understand. My wife has been through it, too.’ After a few minutes I felt better, stammered out my thanks, and proceeded on with my laundry. About 15 minutes later, here he came back with his wife. Without saying a word, she walked over and hugged me. Then she said, ‘I’ve been there, too. Feel free to talk to me. I know what you’re going through.’ Ann, I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. Here was this total stranger, taking her time to give me emotional support and courage to face the future at a time when I was ready to give up. Oh, I hope God gives me a chance to do for someone else what that wonderful woman and her husband did for me. Meanwhile, Ann, please let your readers know that even though there are a lot of hardhearted people in this world, there are some incredibly generous and loving ones, too.” (Dr. John Bardsley)Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

7) “Don’t do drugs and see what happens.” Michael Brennan was a homeless man who spent most of his nights sleeping in a cemetery near Harvard University. Brennan had used drugs since he was 13 and eventually became addicted to heroin. In 1990 after a detoxification program, he went to Boston determined to carve out a new life for himself. His motto was, “Don’t do drugs and see what happens.” He worked part-time moving furniture, but when he wasn’t working, like many homeless persons, he spent his time in the Boston public library where it was warm and hospitable. Unlike many of his kind, however, he began to take advantage of the library for more than a place to hang out. Knowing things had become the goal of his life, and knowing that he knew gave him a direction to pursue. From childhood, he had wanted to write. It was a passion with him. He found books about freelance journalism. “I didn’t even know where to put the address on a cover letter. I had to start with that,” he said. Brennan learned all he could from how-to books in the library and then started to write. One day he was in Cambridge wandering the campus of Harvard University. He came across a room full of computers and asked a student if could use one of them. The young man said, “sure,” and lent him some software. It was this act of kindness, this treatment that gave him some dignity, which Brennan says was crucial to his recovery. Treated with compassion instead of scorn, he used the Harvard computers. His first major article for a local newspaper netted him $1,000 which put a roof over his head. Since that time he has had articles published in Newsweek and other major magazines and papers as well as a book. (Dr. David Richardson). — An unknown college student helped change this homeless man’s life. Wouldn’t you like to make a difference in someone’s life like that? The word is love, Christ-like love. Love like the love that sent Christ to die on a cross for worthless folks like you and me.Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

8) Love your neighbor as you love yourself : When William Penn was given land in the New World by King Charles II, he was also granted power to make war on the Indians. But Penn refused to build forts or have soldiers in his province. Instead, he treated the Indians kindly and as equals. All disputes between the two races were settled by a meeting of six white men and six Indians. When Penn died, the Indians mourned him as a friend. After Penn’s death, other colonies were constantly under attack by the Indians. Pennsylvania was free from such attacks, however, as long as they refused to arm themselves. Many years later the Quakers were outvoted in the State, and the colony began building forts and training soldiers against possible aggression. You can guess what happened. They were immediately attacked. [Don M. Aycock,
Walking Straight in a Crooked World (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1987).] — William Penn understood the key to all human relations is: Love your neighbor as you love yourself. How difficult can it be to love your neighbor? Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

9) You’ve got to be special to be in my class : John Q. Baucom, in his book Baby Steps to Happiness, tells about a teacher-training workshop he once conducted. He spoke to the teachers about the power of self-esteem. One of the teachers came up with an ingenious way of implementing it. At the beginning of the school year she would kneel and whisper in her first graders’ ears, “You’ve got to be special to be in my class. I only get the really smart students.” Each child reacted with pleasant surprise upon discovering they were “special.” She ended up having far less difficulty in her classroom than the other teachers. She also started receiving phone calls from parents telling her they were glad someone finally recognized their children were so smart! It turned out to be a win/win situation. Positive self-esteem raised the children’s performance [“What Goes Up Must Come Down,” Health/August 1996, (Kilsyth, Australia: Word Publishing, 1991), 102-103)], and we all need a degree of positive self-esteem. — Please believe me when I say that I recognize the need for positive self-esteem. THE ONLY PROBLEM IS THAT IT WON’T HELP US LOVE AS JESUS LOVED. Roy Baumeister, a psychology professor at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, has come to the conclusion that too much self-esteem leads to bigger problems in society not smaller problems. Positive self-love can be a healthy thing. Christ does not intend for us to be doormats who let others walk all over us because we do not value ourselves. Healthy self-love leads to self-acceptance, improved performance in our work, and a feeling of peacefulness in life. BUT IT DOES NOT CAUSE US TO LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR — NOT WITH THE KIND OF LOVE JESUS INTENDS. HERE IS THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER: YOU CAN’T TRULY LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR UNTIL YOU LOVE GOD. Why should I love my neighbor? Because I love God, and God has commanded me to love my neighbor. And why should I love God? Because He has love me from beore the beginning of Creation — so much that He sent His Only-begotten Son to die for me that I might live!

10) Have any of you ever eaten coconut? Maybe you’ve had coconut sprinkled on a cake, or on some ice cream. The coconut is a very interesting food. Not only can the coconut be used for food, but every single part of the coconut can be used for something. The hard outer shell can be used for making bowls and cups. The oil inside the coconut can be used for cooking. Inside the coconut is also the flaky “meat” part, and a lot of coconut milk. These can be eaten and drunk. The wood of the coconut tree can be used for building things, like houses and tools. And the husk fibers of the coconut tree can be woven into baskets, ropes, rugs, and things like that. Every single part of the coconut tree can be used for something useful. Have you ever thought of yourself as a coconut? Well, that’s how I want you to think right now. You see, this morning we’re going to talk about how we can use every single part of ourselves. The Bible says that we should use every single part of ourselves when we love God. — In our Bible story today, someone asks Jesus what the most important commandment of all is. And Jesus says the most important commandment is to love the Lord with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength. And He also says that we must love our neighbor as ourselves. So it sounds as though Jesus wants us use every single part of ourselves to love God. Our heart, our soul, our mind, our strength: that’s everything. And if we really love God, then we will love Him completely, with everything we’ve got. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

11) Transformation of Joe Paterno: I remember being at West Virginia University in the early 1980’s. Penn State had defeated WVU in football for about 25 years in a row. And Joe Paterno had this reputation of being all grace, humility, and dignity in every one of the victories. But then something unusual happened. WVU won. I was at that game. I was one of the students that rushed the field to tear down the goalpost at the one end of the field that the police allowed it. If I remember correctly, the end of the game went like this: the outcome was decided, but there were 17 seconds left on the clock when the students rushed the field. Paterno threw a fit. He insisted on having the field cleared for one more play, which was insignificant. Penn State could not win. Coach Paterno told the officials that he was OK with letting the time run out. The officials said that that game needed to be completed. If the final 17 seconds were not played, then WVU would have been fined. Coach Paterno could have let that happen but he did not. Paterno took the loss hard and was no longer seen as a gracious gentleman, at least in my eyes. You see, as long as he was winning, he appeared to be a gentleman, but when the outcome wasn’t what he desired, his mean and disagreeable side took control. — In the Scripture today, we have a story where the two parties are agreeable; where the scribe takes comfort that Jesus’ words line up with the scribe’s own words, beliefs, and teachings. Jesus does do something new by elevating the love of neighbor here. He basically combined Dt 6:4 and part of Lv 19:18 into a summary of the law. (Rev. Scot Knowlton). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

12) The whisper test: In her book, The Whisper Test, Mary Ann Bird shares a critical episode in her life. She was born with a cleft palate. When she started school her classmates let her know that she was different: a little girl with a misshapen lip, crooked nose, lopsided teeth, and garbled speech. If they asked what happened to her lip, she told them she fell and cut it on a piece of glass. For her, it felt more acceptable to say that she’d been injured rather than being born different. Along the way Mary Ann became convinced that no one outside her family could love her. However, when she got to 2nd grade she was assigned to a teacher, Mrs. Leonard, who was happy and sparkly, the kind of instructor all the kids loved. Every year in school the students were required to take hearing test. When the day came for Mary Ann to take hers, she was supposed to stand at a distance, cover one ear, and listen closely for something the teacher would whisper to her so she could repeat it back. Usually the teacher would say something like “The sky is blue,” or “What color are your shoes?, but that day Mrs. Leonard spoke seven words that changed a little girl’s life when she whispered, “I wish you were my little girl.” At that moment she knew she was loved just as she was, and her life was changed. — Love can do that. When you know that someone loves you just as you are and demonstrates it in their words and actions, it can change, it can transform your life. (Rev. Ken Larson). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

13) America’s Four Gods: How do you think Americans today see God? In 2006 Baylor University published a survey of attitudes toward religion, and one of the topics was people’s view of God and how it affected their values, actions and attitudes. Two professors from Baylor took the data and wrote a book titled, America’s Four Gods. They found two key areas of belief among the respondents. First, some saw God as distant and uncaring while others saw Him as engaged and active in people’s lives. Second, some thought He was only loving and never judgmental while others believe He does express His anger toward people and nations in this life. Within these two broad categories, the authors identified four basic attitudes toward God: 1) Authoritative31%. The Authoritative God is very involved in the world to help people and judges evil in this life. Still, He is loving, and is seen as a Father-figure. 2) Benevolent24%. The Benevolent God is very involved in this world to help people, but does not feel anger toward wrongdoers and does not judge anyone. 3) Critical16%. The Critical God does not involve Himself in the affairs of this world or its people, but does take careful note of how people live and judges them in the afterlife, holding them to account for evils done. 4) Distant24%. The Distant God is more a cosmic force or Higher Power than a person. This God created everything but is no longer engaged with the world and does not judge its inhabitants. Atheists comprise about 5% of the population. (P. Froese & C. Bader, America’s Four Gods, Oxford, 2010) — If you examine those statistics they tell us that 70% of the people in our society either believe that God is out there somewhere, but detached and uninterested. Or is like the bellhop at a hotel, there to pick up the baggage of life that’s too heavy for us to hoist, but the rest of the time can be politely ignored if we feel we’ve got things well in hand. (Rev. Ken Larson). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

14) Tim Tebow’s secret of success: Tim Tebow, one of our grandson’s heroes, is one of the most recognized names in sport. Do you know who his role model was? Danny Wuerffel, the University of Florida Quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy 11 years before Tebow. Wuerffel’s Faith was always important to him, and now that he has retired from professional football, he works for Desire Street Ministry, a Christian-based organization that revitalizes impoverished neighborhoods. About the time he retired, he was asked to write a book on how he had become so successful. He sent in his five tips on success and the publisher sent them right back saying, “These sound a lot like other people’s tips on success. We want tips that reflect on you, so go deep within yourself and tell us what makes you, Danny Wuerffel, successful.” After pondering it awhile, he realized that there is a voice inside of him. If he approaches a door, the voice says, “You’re going through that door. You’re so strong that even if it is bolted shut, you’ll knock it down.” And whenever he faced a test in school, the voice said, “You are so smart, you can ace this test.” And he was, in fact, a scholar as well as an athlete. And when he was on the field, the voice said, “Danny, you are so fast, you can run like the wind.” So, he thought to himself, “That’s it. Self-motivation. Make that voice speak. That’s the key to my success.” About that time, he and his wife had their first child, a little boy. His mother came over to their house and helped take care of him. One day she was upstairs in the baby’s room walking around cradling her grandson. Danny walked by the door, and he heard his mom’s voice say to his son, “You are so strong! You’re the strongest baby in the world. You are so smart. You’ll be such a wonderful student. And you are going to be so fast, as fast as the wind!” Suddenly Danny realized what made him who he is, was the voice of his mother. And coming through her voice was the whisper of God. — These are the kind of things God whispers in our hearts. “You are strong; you are smart; you can run like the wind.” And God whispers, “You are a beautiful person; you are worthy of love; you are a blessing to the world.” Regrettably, some people hear so many negative things about themselves that it deafens them to the whispers of God. They hear the destructive words of a wounded human, and they have trouble discerning the uplifting words of God. (Victor D. Pentz). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

15) To love our neighbors as ourselves: Don McEvoy, as Senior Vice President of our National Conference of Christians and Jews, was always in search of the reasons and remedies for Christian divisions. Early in 1981, Don visited Northern Ireland – a land where political and religious division is notorious. First, he went to the Protestant section of Belfast, then to the Catholic section. The two sections are as segregated from each other in idealogy and emotion as East and West Berlin. On Shankill Road in the Protestant area, McEvoy talked with six Protestant teenagers – youngsters who, like their Catholic fellow-Belfastians, have known nothing but political and sectorian strife all their young lives. Then he went to Falls Road in the Catholic neighborhood and talked to a half-dozen Catholic youths. To both groups he presented the same questions. “What would happen to you,” he asked the Protestant kids, “if you went to the Catholic part of town.” “We wouldn’t get out alive.” they answered. “They really hate us. It’s unbelievable how much they hate us.” And where did they get their ideas? “That’s the way we were brought up! ” When he asked the Catholic kids of Falls Road what would happen if they went to Shankill Road, they had the same answer. “They hate us. They want to smash us. They’re out to get us, to kill us!” And where did they get these ideas? “Just brought up this way. That’s the way it is!” Don’s final question was “Will this problem ever be resolved?” Both groups gloomily agreed. “No, it will never end!”– How shocking to hear Christian teen-agers accepting hate as an unalterable fact of life. But their forebears are even more responsible for their attitude. As the well-known song in South Pacific put it, regarding traditional discrimination: “You have to be carefully taught!” Christ’s rule, thus overlooked, is the opposite: “To love Him with all our heart … and to love our neighbor as ourselves” is worth more than any burnt offering (Mk 12, 33. Today’s Gospel). And the first step towards loving our neighbors is to talk, not about him but to him. If we talk to our enemy, we will most likely find that he is no monster but an ordinary frightened person like ourselves. –(Father Robert F. McNamara). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

16) “If you will restore my wife to freedom, I will give you my life.” Following a great victory, King Cyrus of Persia took as prisoners a noble prince, his wife, and their children. When they were brought into the leader’s tent to stand before him, Cyrus said to the prince, “What will you give me if I set you free?” He replied, “I will give you half of all that I possess.” “And what will you give me if I release your children?” continued Cyrus. “Your majesty, I will give you all that I possess.” The king questioned him further, “But what will you give me if I set your wife at liberty?” Looking at the one he loved so dearly, the prince replied without hesitation, “If you will restore my wife to freedom, I will give you my life.” Cyrus was so moved by his devotion that he released the entire family without asking recompense. That evening the prince said to his wife, “Did you not think Cyrus a very handsome man?” “I did not notice him,” she answered, “Why, my dear, where were your eyes?” exclaimed her husband. She replied, “I had eyes only for the one who said he would lay down his life for me.”) SNB Files). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

17) The true formula for joy: In English, we speak in what is known as “person.” If I am referring to my self, I will say, “I am.” That is known as the “first person.” If I were speaking to you, I might say, “You are.” That is the “second person.” Then, it I were speaking of another, I might say, “He is.” That is known as the “third person.” In English, we always have self first. However, in Hebrew, it is just the opposite. First Person says, “He is”; Second Person says, “You are”; Third Person says, “I am.” — Therein is contained the formula for joy in this life. If we will learn to place God in the first person, others in the second person and if we will be willing to take the third person, then we will have our lives in order.) The true formula for joy is: J – Jesus, O – Others, Y – Yourself). (SNB Files). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

18) Genuine love is sacrificial – In sixteenth century England, Oliver Cromwell ordered that a soldier be shot for his crimes at the ringing of the evening bell. But that night at the fateful hour, no sound came from the belfry. The girl who was to be married to the condemned man had climbed up into the tower and had clung to the great clapper of the bell to prevent it from striking. Brought before Cromwell to give an account of her actions, she only wept and showed him her bruised and bleeding hands. Cromwell was greatly impressed, and he said, “Your lover is alive because of your sacrifice. He will not be shot!” (SNB Files). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

19) “I ain’t allowed to cross the street.” The 5-year-old boy became angry with his mother and decided to run away from home. He walked out of his house with a small suitcase and trudged around the block again and again. Finally, when it was beginning to grow dark, the policeman stopped him, “What’s the idea?” The little boy answered, “I’m runnin’ away.” The officer smiled as he said, “Look, I’ve had my eye on you, and you’ve been doing nothing but walking around the block. You call that running away?” The little fellow burst into tears, “Well, what do you want me to do? I ain’t allowed to cross the street!” — The youngster obviously respected his parents and knew that they loved him. He couldn’t really run away.Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      LP/21

Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B (No 57) by Fr. Tony:akadavil

Visit my website by clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com or on   https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies under Fr. Tony or under Resources in the CBCI website: https://www.cbci.in for the website versions.  Vatican Radio website 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

All Saints Day (November 1, 2021) L-21

ALL SAINTS DAY (NOVEMBER 1, 2021) One-page synopsis: L/21

The feast and its objectives: All baptized Christians who have died and are now with God in glory are considered saints. All Saints Day is intended to honor the memory of countless unknown and uncanonized saints who have no feast days. Today we thank God for giving ordinary men and women a share in His holiness and Heavenly glory as a reward for their Faith. This feast is observed to teach us to honor the saints, both by imitating their lives and by seeking their intercession for us before Christ, the only mediator between God and man (I Tm 2:5). The Church reminds us today that God’s call for holiness is universal, that all of us are called to live in His love and to make His love real in the lives of those around us. Holiness is related to the word wholesomeness. We grow in holiness when we live wholesome lives of integrity truth, justice, charity, mercy, and compassion, sharing our blessings with others.
Reasons why we honor the saints: 1- The saints put their trust in Christ and lived heroic lives of Faith. St. Paul asks us to serve and honor such noble souls. In his Epistles to the Corinthians, to Philip, and to Timothy, he advises Christians to welcome, serve, and honor those who have put their trust in Jesus. The saints enjoy Heavenly bliss as a reward for their Faith in Jesus. Hence, they deserve our veneration of them.
2- The saints are our role models. They teach us by their lives that Christ’s holy life of love, mercy, and unconditional forgiveness can be lived, with God’s grace, by ordinary people from all walks of life and at all times.
3- The saints are our Heavenly mediators who intercede for us before Jesus, the only mediator between God and us. (Jas 5:16-18, Ex 32:13, Jer 15:1, Rv 8:3-4,).
4- The saints are the instruments that God uses to work miracles at present, just as He used the staff of Moses (Ex), the bones of the prophet Elisha (2Kgs 13:21), the towel of Paul (Acts 19:12), and the shadow of Peter (Acts 5:15) to work miracles.
Life messages: 1) We need to accept the challenge to become saints. Jesus exhorts us: “Be made perfect as your Heavenly Father is Perfect” (Mt 5:48). St. Augustine asked: “If she and he can become saints, why can’t I?” (Si iste et ista, cur non ego?).
2) We cantake the short cuts practiced by three Teresas: i) St. Teresa of Avila: Recharge your spiritual batteries every day by prayer, namely, listening to God and talking to Himii) St. Therese of Lisieux: Convert every action intoprayer by offering it to God for His glory and for the salvation of souls and by doing God’s will to the best of one’s ability. iii) St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa): Do ordinary things with great love.

All Saints Day (Nov 1, 2021): Rv 7:2-4, 9-14; 1 Jn 3:1-3; Mt 5:1-12a

Homily starter anecdotes:1) A pumpkin story: “What is it like to be a Christian saint?” “It is like being a Halloween pumpkin. God picks you from the field, brings you in, and washes all the dirt off you. Then he cuts off the top and scoops out the yucky stuff. He removes the pulp of impurity and injustice and seeds of doubt, hate, and greed. Then He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light of holiness inside you to shine for the entire world to see.” This is the Christian idea behind the carved pumpkins during the Halloween season. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

2) Diversity of Saints One thing that strikes you first about the Saints is their diversity. It would be very difficult to find a single pattern of holiness, a single way of following Christ common to all. There is Thomas Aquinas, the towering intellectual, and John Vianney (the Curé d’Ars), who barely made it through the seminary. There is Vincent de Paul, a saint in the city, and there is Antony who found sanctity in the harshness and loneliness of the desert. There is Bernard kneeling on the hard stones of Clairvaux in penance for his sins, and there is Hildegard of Bingen singing and throwing flowers, madly in love with God. There is Albertus Magnus, the quirky scientist, half-philosopher and half-wizard, and there is Gerard Manley Hopkins, the gentle poet. There is Peter, the hard-nosed and no-nonsense fisherman, and there is Edith Stein, secretary to Edmund Husserl and colleague to Martin Heidegger, the most famous philosopher of the twentieth century. There is Joan of Arc, leading armies into war, and there is Francis of Assisi, the peacenik who would never hurt an animal. There is the grave and serious Jerome, and there is Philip Neri, whose spirituality was based on laughter. How do we explain this diversity? God is an artist, and artists love to change their styles. The saints are God’s masterpieces, and He never tires of painting them in different colors, different styles, and in different circumstances. What does this mean for us? It means we should not try to imitate any one Saint exactly. We need to look to them all, study their unique holiness, but then find that specific color God has intended for our lives and holiness. St. Catherine of Siena was right: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” (Fr. Robert Barren). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

The feast and its objectives: The feast gives us an occasion to thank God for having invited so many of our ancestors to join the company of the saints. May our reflection on the heroic lives of the saints and the imitation of their lifestyle enable us to hear from our Lord the words of grand welcome to eternal bliss: “Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter into the joys of your master” (Mt 25:21). Today is also a day for us to pray to the saints, both the canonized and the uncanonized, asking them to pray on our behalf that we may live our lives in faithfulness like theirs, and so receive the same reward. All baptized Christians who have died and are now with God in glory are considered saints. All Saints Day is a day on which we thank God for giving ordinary men and women a share in His holiness and Heavenly glory as a reward for their Faith. In fact, we celebrate the feast of each canonized saint on a particular day of the year. But there are countless other saints and martyrs, men, women, and children, united with God in Heavenly glory, whose feasts we do not celebrate. Among these would be our own parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters who were heroic women and men of Faith. All Saints Day is intended to honor their memory. Hence, today’s feast can be called the feast of the Unknown Saint, in line with the tradition of the “Unknown Soldier.” According to Pope Urban IV, All Saints’ Day is also intended to supply any deficiencies in our celebration of feast of saints during the year. In addition, the feast is observed to teach us to honor the saints, both by imitating their lives and by seeking their intercession for us before Christ, the only mediator between God and man (I Tim. 2:5). Today, the Church reminds us that God’s call for holiness is universal and that all of us are called to live in His love and to make His love real in the lives of those around us. Holiness is related to the word wholesomeness. We show holiness when we live lives of integrity and truth, that is, wholesome and integrated lives in which we are close to others — all God’s children — while being close to God.

Halloween and All Saints’ Day. All Saints Day is a universal Christian feast honoring all Christian saints – known and unknown. The feast is celebrated by the Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, and Anglican churches. “Halloween,” celebrated in the United States, England, Ireland, and France on the eve of the Day of All Saints, got its name from “All Hallows Eve” or the vigil of All Saints Day. The Celtic people, who lived in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and northern France before the Christian era, believed that their god of death (Samhain) would allow the souls of the dead to return to their homes for a festal visit on this day. People also believed that ghosts, witches, goblins and elves came to harm the people, particularly those who had inflicted harm on them in this life. The Druid priests built a huge bonfire of sacred oak branches and offered animal and even human sacrifice to protect people from marauding evil spirits on the eve of Samhain feast. This belief led to the ritual practice of wandering about in the dark dressed in costumes indicating ghosts, witches, hobgoblins, fairies, and demons. But some historians believe that the pumpkin-carving and trick-or-treating are recent customs, reminiscent of Irish harvest festivals, brought to the United States by Catholic immigrants from Ireland and England.

Historical note: A common commemoration of the saints, especially the martyrs, appeared in various areas throughout the Church after the legalization of Christianity in A.D. 313. The primary reason for establishing a common feast day was the desire to honor the great number of Christians martyred during the persecution of Emperor Diocletian (284-305). In the East, the city of Edessa celebrated this feast on May 13; the Syrians, on the Friday after Easter; and the city of Antioch, on the first Sunday after Pentecost. Both St. Ephrem (d. 373) and St. John Chrysostom (d. 407) attest to this feast day in their preaching. The earliest observance of the holiday was recorded in the early fourth-century. But it did not get woven into the Church’s Liturgy until the early seventh century under Pope Boniface IV, who consecrated Rome’s Pantheon to the Virgin Mary and all the Martyrs on May 13 in 609 AD (www.diffen.com). Pope Gregory IV made All Saints’ a holy day in the mid-eighth century and moved it to November 1. Some observe All Saints’ Day by leaving offering of flowers to dead relatives. Others light candles in remembrance and visit the graves of deceased relatives.

Reasons why we honor the saints:1- The saints put their trust in Christ and lived heroic lives of Faith. St. Paul asks us to serve and honor such noble souls. In his Epistles to the Corinthians, to Philip, and to Timothy, he advises Christians to welcome, serve and honor those who have put their trust in Jesus. The saints enjoy Heavenly bliss as a reward for their Faith in Jesus. Hence, they deserve our veneration.

2- The saints are our role models. They teach us by their lives that Christ’s holy life of unconditional love, mercy, and forgiveness can be lived with His grace by ordinary people, of all walks of life and at all times.

3- The saints are our heavenly mediators who intercede for us before Jesus, the only mediator between God and us. (Jas 5:16-18, Ex 32:13, Jer 15:1, Rv 8:3-4).

4- The saints are the instruments that God uses to work miracles at present, just as He used the staff of Moses (Exodus), the bones of the prophet Elisha (II Kgs 13:21), the towel of Paul (Acts: 19:12) and the shadow of Peter (Acts 5:15) to work miracles.

For Roman Catholics, the Orthodox, and to some extent, the Anglicans, “All Saints Day” is a day, not only to remember the saints and to thank God for them, but also to pray for their help. It is, as well, a day to glorify Jesus Christ, Who by His holy life and death has made the saints holy. This feast offers a challenge to each one of us: anybody can become a saint, regardless of his or her age, lifestyle or living conditions. St. Augustine accepted this challenge when he asked the question: “If others can become saints, why can’t I?” (Si iste et ista, cur non ego?).

Today’s Scripture: The first reading, taken from the Book of Revelation, speaks of John’s vision of saints in their Heavenly glory: “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands” (Rv 7:9). All Saints Day reminds us that we are called to be a part of that vast multitude of holy ones whose numbers are so great they cannot be counted. Offering us the Beatitudes in today’s Gospel, the Church reminds us that all the saints whose feasts we celebrate today walked the hard and narrow path of the Beatitudes to arrive at their Heavenly bliss. The Beatitudes are God’s commandments expressed in positive terms. They go far beyond what is required by the Ten Commandments, and they are a true and reliable recipe for sainthood: Poverty of spirit is knowing our need for God. Mourning is embracing the inevitable sufferings of life and alleviating the sorrows of others. Meekness is docility to God’s will and patient gentleness with others, even in the face of sufferings, disappointments, and insults. Hunger for justice is the longing to see everyone enjoy the peace, happiness, justice, and healing promised by Christ. We obtain mercy by extending it to others. Purity of heart is that right intention or sincerity that puts God first and judges everything else in relationship to God. Real peace is reached when enemies become trustworthy friends. Suffering for doing what is right is accompanied by deep happiness even now. http://www.frnick.com/homilies/doctrinal_outlines

As the second reading suggests, saints are people who have responded generously to the love God has showered on them. St. John tells us that to be “saints” means to be “children of God”—and then he adds: “so we are”!

Life messages: 1) We need to accept the challenge to become saints. Jesus exhorts us: “Be made perfect as your Heavenly Father is Perfect” (Mt 5:48). St. Augustine asked: “If she and he can become saints, why can’t I?” (Si iste et ista, cur non ego?). On the feast of All Saints, the Church invites and challenges us to walk the walk of the saints and not just talk the talk: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in Heaven” (Mt 7:21). 2)

2) We cantake the short cuts practiced by three Teresas: i) St. Teresa of Avila: Recharge your spiritual batteries every day by prayer, namely, listening to God and talking to Himii) St. Therese of Lisieux: Convert every action intoprayer by offering it to God for His glory and for the salvation of souls and by doing God’s will to the best of one’s ability. iii) St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa): Do ordinary things with great love.

Joke of the week: “Both of us are Halloween!”: Two little neighbor girls about the same age, one Christian and one Jewish, were constant companions. After one Easter holiday, the grandfather of the Christian girl asked her what her friend had received for Easter. The girl looked at her grandfather in surprise, and said, “But Grandpa, you should know that Becky is Jewish and she wouldn’t get anything for Easter.” Then she went on to explain patiently, “You see, I’m Easter and she’s Passover. I’m Christmas and she’s Hanukkah.” Then with a big smile, she added, “but I’m really glad that both of us are Halloween.” [Buddy Westbrook in
Loyal Jones: The Preacher’s Joke Book (Little Rock, Arkansas: August House, 1989), p. 26.]

Websites of the week

1) Oscar Romero film in YouTube: Story of a modern martyr

https://youtu.be/ZPH3R0aqcuk?list=PLG6axl3bJCzyHFvq1KstnRiMaNb6RW1eX

18 Additional anecdotes:

1. Pekapoo puppy: William Hinson recalls the time when his children were younger and one child’s pet died. Dr. Hinson says that he practiced “replacement therapy.” When one pet died it was replaced by another pet. One time his youngest daughter Cathy’s cat died. Together they went to find another pet. Cathy selected a tiny peekapoo puppy. When they got home Dr. Hinson agreed to build a doghouse for the new pet to live in. “The only kind of dog I knew very much about was a really big bird dog,” he recalls, “so when I built the doghouse, I built a very large house.” In fact the house was too large for the small dog. The size of the doghouse scared the little peekapoo puppy. No matter what they did the little dog would not go near the doghouse. In disgust, Dr. Hinson went inside, and sat down in the den while his daughter, Cathy, stood outside crying over her dad’s impatience and the refusal of her puppy to cooperate. After a while, Cathy got down on her hands and knees and crawled into the doghouse herself. When she crawled into it something wonderful happened. That little puppy trotted right in beside her and stretched out on the doghouse floor. Before too long the dog was taking a nap. All the shadows now stood still for him, and all the fear was taken out of the darkness, because the one whom he loved and trusted had preceded him into that dark and frightening place. It no longer caused him fear. [William H. Hinson. Triumphant Living in Turbulent Times (Nashville: Dimensions for Living, 1993), pp. 119-120.]. —  There’s a lesson here for us. We can surrender our wills to God’s will, knowing that God loves us. Wherever He leads us, He will be with us. We don’t have to enter dark doghouses alone. Saints trust in God and God alone. Saints submit their will to God’s will. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

2)Never forget what this cross means:” When Margaret Helminski was seven, she received a gift from her grandmother. It was a tiny cross on a wisp of gold chain, so fine its weight was barely perceptible. “Never forget what this cross means,” her grandmother said as she fastened it carefully around Margaret’s neck. Over the years, Margaret says, that cross became a part of her, like the lone freckle on her left cheek. She could look at herself in the mirror and not even see it. As a graduate psychology student, Margaret took a job tutoring at a school for emotionally disturbed children. Suddenly surrounded by children who expressed their displeasure by kicking, biting, and screaming, she was terrified, though determined not to let it show. On her first night there, the head counselor said that three of the boys had asked to escort her to dinner. Alone! How would she handle it if all three decided to act out at once? She swallowed hard. She desperately needed this job so she fought back the panic and walked with her charges to the dining hall. They passed through the cafeteria line as tantrums and fights erupted around them. Fortunately none of her boys exhibited any kind of behavioral outburst. They made their way to a table in the center of the busy cafeteria and the boys took their seats. Margaret picked up her fork and was about to take the first bite when she noticed that all three boys were staring at her. “What’s the matter?” she asked. Aren’t you going to ask a blessing?” asked eight-year-old Peter. “I didn’t think I was supposed to,” she responded. “This is a state school, isn’t it?” “Yes,” said David, his blue eyes brimming, “but you wear a cross.” Her grandmother’s words surged to the surface of her memory. “Never forget what this cross means,” her grandmother said. “We thought that meant something,” said Roman, clearly disappointed. “It does. Thank you for reminding me,” Margaret said, as she bowed her head, no longer afraid. [Catholic Digest (Feb. 92), p. 64] — Margaret learned something about sainthood that day. Saints trust in God and God alone for their ultimate security. Saints submit their will to the will of God. Saints stand firm and witness to their faith. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

3) Is your definition of a saint a nice person who abides by all the rules?  Francis of Assisi bears the title of Saint but according to Mark Galli, in an article in Christianity Today, Francis wasn’t always a nice guy to be around. For example, he had this thing about money: his friars were not to touch it. And he did not mean the “You can touch money but just don’t let it grip your heart” stuff. One day a worshiper at the Church of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula, Francis’s headquarters, left a coin as an offering at the base of the sanctuary cross. This was a common offering of gratitude to God in that day, but when one of Francis’ friars saw the money, disturbed by its presence at the cross, or perhaps knowing Francis’s revulsion of money he tossed it over to a window sill. When Francis learned the friar had touched money, he did not take the errant brother aside, explain his point of view, and then hug him so as to be sure there were no hard feelings. Instead, Francis rebuked and upbraided the brother. He then commanded him to lift the money from the window sill with his lips, find a pile of donkey dung outside, and with his lips place the coin in the pile. Was that nice? How could a saint be so nasty? Is he an exception to the larger guild of saints? Actually, when compared to the hundreds of stories of saints that can be culled from the Bible and Church history, Francis was merely fulfilling his job description. [“Saint Nasty,” Christianity Today (June 17, 1996), pp. 25-28.] Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

4) Sainthood is not for weaklings! A traveler reported a sign on the wall of a restaurant in Wyoming, “If you find your steak tough, walk out quietly. This is no place for weaklings.” Felix Adler put it like this: “The hero is one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by. The saint is the man who walks through the dark paths of the world, himself a light. [Quoted in Daily Guideposts (1996).] Sainthood is not for weaklings! [John Bardsley. Quote is from Emphasis (Nov/Dec 1993), p. 21.] Sainthood is not for weaklings!  Saints are people we look up to. They are people of integrity who will stand their ground regardless of the standard the world may set. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

5) Saints are people of integrity: Though his name might not be well known today, in 1972 and 1973 Stan Smith was known throughout the world for being the best of the best in the world of tennis. But many of those who knew of his athletic prowess were unaware that Stan Smith was also a Christian, a gracious, friendly man, and a person of integrity. Stan Smith was good friends with another man of great character and integrity, Arthur Ashe. One year, Arthur and Stan were competing against one another in the World Champion of Tennis competition. The winner would gain instant fame and a great deal of money. The two men were well matched in skill, and the score was tied at match point. Arthur hit a very tricky drop shot that just barely cleared the net. To the crowd’s amazement, Stan caught the shot and returned it in time, winning the game. But the umpires were not convinced that Stan had hit a legitimate shot. If the ball were “up,” still in play, then Stan won the match. But if the ball had bounced twice before Stan reached it, then his hit was illegitimate, and Arthur won the match. The angle and nature of the shot made it almost impossible to see it clearly. Review of the videotape didn’t provide a conclusive answer. Neither the umpire, nor Arthur Ashe had a clear view of the ball. According to the rules of tennis, the umpire asked Stan if the ball had been up when he hit it. He replied that it had been. Stan won. A minor controversy arose over this matter, and Arthur Ashe was asked many times why he had not contested the call in some way. Arthur answered, “If Stan says it was up, it was up.” —  He believed in the integrity of his friend so much that he trusted his honesty in a close situation. [Bob Briner, Lambs Among Wolves (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995), p.124-126.] As far as I know Stan Smith is not a candidate for sainthood. But he did bear one of the characteristics. His words and his actions were one. Sainthood is a lifestyle. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

6) Monumental statues of West Point Military Academy: West Point Military Academy just up the Hudson River from New York City, has a beautiful campus. The style of architecture is military Gothic, the grounds are well-groomed and immaculate, and the views of the Hudson River valley can be breathtaking, especially during autumn, when the leaves are changing color. Among the most impressive aspects of the campus decoration are the monumental bronze statues of famous West Point graduates. All the great American generals are there, in one form or another: McArthur, Eisenhower, Grant… The statues are placed in conspicuous locations, and each hero is depicted in uniform, in a posture that expresses his greatness. They serve as a constant reminder to the young cadets that they are called to greatness, to self-sacrifice, to do worthwhile deeds of valor for the sake of their homeland. — For us Catholic Christians, our heroes are not military or political. Rather, they are those who have done great deeds of valor for the sake of our eternal homeland: The Kingdom of Christ, the ChurchThey have not necessarily received exceptional natural talent from God, developing and using that talent energetically, responsibly, and courageously, as military and political heroes have. Rather, they are the ones who have let God tend the garden of their souls, as the First Reading puts it. They welcomed God’s grace through the Sacraments, prayer, and obedience to God’s will, as explained by the Church, and a well-formed conscience. And as a result, truly supernatural virtues took root, grew, and bore fruit in their lives. And this is why images of the saints abound in Catholic churches and homes, just as those bronze statues decorate West Point. Keeping the saints in mind, studying and contemplating their example, can give direction, hope, and energy to our lives, just as the statues of great generals do for the West Point Cadets. (E- Priest) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

7) Julius Caesar and St Ignatius Loyola: Julius Caesar, the founder of the Roman Empire, history’s most expansive and longest-lasting Empire, was a selfish, dissipated, mediocre government bureaucrat until he was 40 years-old. At that time he was stationed in Spain. One day he was walking across the city center to his offices, and he noticed a statue of Alexander the Great, the young Macedonian who had single-handedly conquered and ruled the entire Near East, from Greece to Turkey to Palestine to Egypt to Arabia to Afghanistan, all the way to India, before he was 33-years-old. For some reason, seeing the noble statue of that amazing man on that particular day made Julius Caesar think about what little he had done with his own life. And that was the beginning of his incomparable military and political career, one that helped forge the civilization we still enjoy. He needed an ideal to strive for, and he found it in Alexander that Great. — As human beings, we all need an ideal to strive for; otherwise our lives stay mediocre. As Christians, following Christ is our ideal, and the saints are the ones who show us how to follow Christ. St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, began his remarkably fruitful spiritual journey while he was stuck in bed recovering from a second surgery following a cannonball wound. He had nothing to do but read, and the only books in the house were a biography of Christ and the Lives of the Saints. As he read, the thought came to him: “If St. Francis and St. Dominic did it, why can’t I?” And thus was born one of the most influential saints who ever walked the earth. He discovered God’s plan for him by studying the lives of the saints. We can do the same. (E- Priest). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

8) “How can I blaspheme my king who saved me?” St.  Polycarp lived about 200 years after the Christian church was founded. Polycarp was Bishop of the Church at Smyrna (in present-day Turkey). Persecution broke out in Smyrna, and many Christians were fed to the wild beasts in the arena. The bloodthirsty crowd would not be satisfied until they had killed the leader of the Christian Church and sent a search party to find him. Polycarp was brought before the Roman authorities and told to curse Christ and he would be released. He replied, “Eighty-six years have I served Him, and He has done me no wrong: how then can I blaspheme my King Who saved me?” The Roman officer replied, “Unless you change your mind, I will have you burnt alive.” But Polycarp said, “You threaten a fire that burns for an hour, and after a while is quenched; for you are ignorant of the judgement to come and of everlasting punishment reserved for the ungodly. Do what you wish.” It was as much a day of victory as it was a day of tragedy. Polycarp illustrated the power of knowing Jesus, intimately enough to follow Him into the flames. As Jesus said, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

9) “A saint is somebody that the light shines through.” Here is a children’s story. The pastor was explaining the pictures of his Church’s stained-glass windows to the third graders. The first stained window is really red, the next window is really blue, the next window is really green, and the next window is really yellow. The sun has come up in the south and wonderful light is coming through these four windows. The pastor says, “This first window with all the reds is dedicated to St. Matthew and it has a picture of St. Matthew on it. The second window with all the blues is dedicated to St. Mark and it has a picture of St. Mark, the second of our Gospels. The third window with all the greens is dedicated to St. Luke and has a picture of St. Luke on it. The fourth window with all the yellows is dedicated to St. John and has a picture of St. John in it. All the windows are so beautiful, especially with the sunlight shining through them.” And one of the little girls says, “Do you know what a saint is?” “Yes,” replied the pastor. “A saint is somebody that the light shines through.” Yes, the light of God shines through the lives of the saints. It is not your light that is shining; it is the light of God shining through your lives. The windows sparkle and inspire your lives. . (Rabbi Edward F. Markquart). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

10) Saints inspire us to become better Christians: their lives inspire us and lift us up to be better people. A saint doesn’t say, “I want you to be a Christian. I am going to try to subtly force you to be a Christian. I am going to drag you to Church today.” No. By the nature of their lives, these saints inspire us to be holy. Let me explain by means of a famous example from the lives of Dr. David Livingston and Henry Stanley. Dr. David Livingston was a famous missionary in Africa who had been there in the heart of Africa and had disappeared into the jungles. Henry Stanley went on a search for Dr. Livingston after he had long disappeared, and,  after a lengthy search, finally found Dr. Livingston. Stanley greeted Livingstone with the now- famous line from history, “Dr. Livingston, I presume?” The two men lived together for three months. Some time later, Henry Stanley wrote his memoirs, and he said: “Dr. Livingston made me a Christian, and he didn’t even know he was doing it. He inspired me and didn’t even try to.” Saints inspire you to live a life of holiness. (Rabbi Edward F. Markquart). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

11) “But that’s the man you could be.” A story is told of a traveling portrait painter who stopped in a small village hoping to get some business. The town drunk — ragged, dirty and unshaved — came along. He wanted his portrait done and the artist complied. He worked painstakingly for a long time, painting not what he saw but what he envisioned beneath that disheveled exterior. Finally, he presented the painting to his customer. “That’s not me,” he shouted. The artist gently laid his hand on the man’s shoulder and replied, “But that’s the man you could be.” — Today’s feast reminds us that we all can become saints. St. Augustine asked: “ If he and she can, why can’t I?” (Al Carino). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

12) Little Way of the Little Flower: St. Therese was a young, sickly Carmelite contemplative. She was the apple of her father’s eye but when she obtained permission to enter the convent at the age of 15, he happily brought her there. As a contemplative, she did not do anything extraordinary. Like the rest, she followed the daily and ordinary routine of the monastery. But there was something special in her. She did the ordinary in an extraordinary way. How? By doing them out of a single motive — love for God — and whatever she did, she presented to her Beloved as little flower offerings. She called her way of doing little things out of love for God her “Little Way.” She died of tuberculosis, September 30, 1897, at the age of 24. She was beatified April 29, 1923 and canonized a saint May 17, 1925, just 28 years after her death, by Pope Pius XI. In 1927 he named her co-patron of the missions with St. Francis Xavier. In 1998, Pope St. John Paul II added one more title, Doctor of the Church, and two years later made her patroness of the 2000 Jubilee Year celebrations, because of her writings on her “Little Way,” that is, the doing of the ordinary in an extraordinary way. (Wikipedia). — To be this kind of a saint, we do not have to do anything extraordinary. Rather, we just do ordinary things. But what is asked of us is to do these ordinary things in an extraordinary way — for love of God. (Al Carino). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

12) Halloween is the ultimate holiday of “pretending.” On Halloween we dress up and “pretend” to be someone or something other than ourselves. On Halloween we “pretend” to believe that the people jumping out at us and scaring us in the “haunted houses” we paid $25 to get into are monsters and zombies. On Halloween we happily “pretend” that the scariest stuff in life are those things that “go bump in the night.” — On Halloween we revel in “pretend” bumps instead of bumping into the terrifying realities of evil and cruelty that appear on any street, in any office, at any school, in broad daylight, on any given day – and that’s just a rundown of the terrors of the last two weeks. The day after “All Hallows Eve” is known in the liturgical calendar as “All Saints Day.” “All Saints” is a celebration and commemoration of those who were never about pretense, but who devoted their lives to expressing true faithfulness and genuine piety. The Church lives, not by the majesty of its beliefs but by the manifestation of its manifold witness through the magnificence of its “Communion of Saints.” (Fr. Kayala). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

13) In their footsteps:  St Jerome says in his writings that as a boy he and his friends used to play in the catacombs. Centuries after St Jerome, Roman boys still played in the catacombs. One day a group of boys was wandering through the maze of tunnels. Suddenly their only flashlight gave out. The boys were trapped in total darkness with no idea of the way out. They were on the verge of panic when one boy felt a smooth groove in the rock floor of the tunnel. It turned out to be a path that had been worn smooth by the feet of thousands of Christians in the days of the Roman persecutions. — The boys followed in the footsteps of these saints of old and found their way out of the darkness into sunlight and safety. (Mark Link in  Sunday Homilies; quote by Fr. Kayala). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

14) All that is necessary to be a saint is …:  Thomas Merton was one of the most influential American Catholic authors of the twentieth century. Shortly after he was converted to Catholicism in the late 1930s, Thomas Merton was walking down the streets of New York with a friend, Robert Lax. Lax was Jewish, and he asked Thomas what he wanted to be, now that he was Catholic. “I don’t know.” Merton replied, adding simply that he wanted to be a good Catholic. Lax stopped him in his tracks. “What you should say,” he told him, “is that you want to be a saint!” Merton was dumbfounded. “How do you expect me to be a saint?” Merton asked him. Lax said: “All that is necessary to be a saint is to want to be one. Don’t you believe that God will make you what He created you to be, if you consent to let Him do it? All you have is to desire it.” —  Thomas Merton knew his friend was right. (John Payappilly in The Table of the Word; quoted by Fr. Kayala). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

15) God’s Noblest Creation –The Saints: In the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, under the commanding mosaic of Christ in glory, are six pillars. Atop each is a statue of a Saint. There, side-by-side, are the figures of a queen (St. Elizabeth), a vagrant (St. Benedict Joseph Labre), a cook (St Zita), a doorman (St. Conrad), a Mystic (St Gemma), and a parish priest (St John Vianney). For some of them, the road to holiness was easy, for others very hard. Some saints had gifts of great natural talent; others seemed devoid of it. Some saints were fiery, others gentle. Some were gregarious, others loners. There are old saints (such as St. Anthony of the Desert, who lived to be 105) and young saints (such as Aloysius Gonzaga and Maria Goretti). There were brilliant saints (such as Thomas Aquinas) and dense saints (such as Joseph Cupertino). There were tough saints (such as Teresa of Avila) and emotional saints (such as Therese of Lisieux). There were innocent saints (such as Dominic Savio) and reformed sinners who became saints (such as Augustine). There are also saints who did not always agree with each other, such as Jerome and Augustine, who had a running battle of words for years. Nevertheless, the saints belong together. They all responded to God’s invitation to sainthood commemorated in today’s liturgy. (Harold Buetow in God Still Speaks –Listen!; quoted by Fr. Botelho).Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

16) Street sweeper can become a saint, how? Six months before he was assassinated, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to a group of students at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia on October 26, 1967. Part of his “What Is Your Life’s Blueprint?” speech is the tale of the street sweeper. It is inspiration that regardless of what we do we should always aspire to be the best we can at what we do. It is the secret of living saintly lives as well. “If it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music … Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the host of Heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.” (Martin Luther King). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

17) Saint in heaven saving his child: “Her husband had died a few years before, and she had a young son who was born just before his father’s death. One day when her son was at a neighbor’s house, she suddenly sensed her husband was speaking to her. He seemed to be telling her that their son was drowning in a swimming pool. She ran next door to the neighbor’s and found her son drowning in the pool, exactly as she sensed her husband telling her. She pulled her son out of the pool, just in time to save his life. — Why does this story move us so deeply? A story about a child’s life being saved is certainly moving, but this story contains something more. A dead father is still there for his child, at the moment when he is needed most.” (From Healing the Greatest Hurt page 144 by Matthew & Denis Linn and Sheila Fabricant and published by Paulist Press). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

18) Contacting extraterrestrials: For some time now, scientists have been sending signals into the cosmos, hoping for a response from some intelligent being on some lost planet. The Church has always maintained a dialogue with the inhabitants of another world — the Saints. That is what we proclaim when we say, “I believe in the Communion of Saints.” Even if inhabitants outside of the solar system existed, communication with them would be impossible, because between the question and the answer, millions of years would pass. With the Saints,  though, the answer is immediate because there is a common center of communication and encounter, and that is the risen Christ. (Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap, Vatican) . Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B (No 59) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com

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World Mission Sunday – Oct. 24, 2021 (L-21)

WORLD MISSION SUNDAY [C] (Oct 24) summary (L/21)

Introduction: Over one billion Catholics all over the world observe today as World Mission Sunday. This annual observance was instituted 95 years ago in 1926 by Pope Pius XI’s Papal decree. Every year since then, the universal Church has dedicated the month of October to reflection on and prayer for the missions. On World Mission Sunday, Catholics gather to celebrate the Eucharist, and to contribute to a collection for the work of evangelization around the world. This annual celebration gives us a chance to reflect on the importance of mission work for the life of the Church. It reminds us that we are one with the Church around the world and that we are all committed to carrying on the mission of Christ, however different our situations may be.

The Holy Fathers’ Mission Sunday messages: In his World Mission Sunday messages, Pope Benedict XVI stressed the importance of Christian charity in action as the keynote of evangelization. He encouraged Churches with a shortage of priests to get them from countries with many priests. In the Pauline Year, heencouraged everyone “to take renewed awareness of the urgent need to proclaim the Gospel.” He reminded us that the “the goal of the Church’s mission is to illumine all peoples with the light of the Gospel,” and he exhorted all Christians “to redouble their commitment to participate in the missionary activity that is an essential component of the life of the Church.“ Pope Francis, in his first World Mission Sunday message, 2013, challenged us to proclaim courageously and in every situation the Gospel of Christ, a message of hope, reconciliation, and communion. In his 2014 Mission Sunday message, the Pope challenged the Church to become a welcoming home, a mother for all peoples, and the source of rebirth for our world through the intercession of Mary, the model of humble and joyful evangelization. “The Church is on a mission in the world,” Pope Francis wrote in his 2019 World Mission Day message, Baptized and Sent. “This missionary mandate touches us personally: I am a mission, always; you are a mission, always; every baptized man and woman is a mission.” Hence the Holy Father calls on all Catholics and the Church to revive missionary awareness and commitment. In his 2020 message our Holy Father asked us to discharge our mission duty by volunteering with prophet Isaiah “Here am I, send me” (6:8) to alleviate the suffering of our Covid-19-stricken brothers and sisters. The theme of 2021 World Mission Day – “We cannot but speak about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20), is a summons to each of us to “own” and to bring to others what we bear in our hearts. In these days of pandemic, when there is a temptation to disguise and justify indifference and apathy in the name of healthy social distancing, there is urgent need for the mission of compassion, which can make that necessary distancing an opportunity for encounter, care and promotion.

The missionary Church: The Church, according to Vatican Council II, is “missionary” in her very nature because her founder, Jesus Christ, was the first missionary. God the Father sent God the Son, Incarnate in Jesus, His Christ, into the world with a message of God’s love and salvation. Thus, the evangelizing mission of the Church is essentially the announcement of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness, and salvation, as these are revealed to mankind through the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord.

How should we evangelize? By exemplary and transparent Christian life, by prayer, and by financial support.  The most powerful means of preaching Christ is by living a truly   Christian life — a life filled with love, mercy, kindness, compassion, and a spirit of forgiveness and service. Prayer is the second means of missionary work.  Jesus said: “Without Me you can do nothing.”  Therefore, prayer is necessary for anyone who wishes to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. All missionary efforts also require financial support because the love of God can often be explained to the poor only by providing them with food, medicine, and a means of livelihood.  Hence, on this Mission Sunday, let us learn to appreciate our missionary obligation and support the Church’s missionary activities by leading transparent Christian lives, by fervent prayers, and by generous donations.

OCTOBER 24, 2021: WORLD MISSION SUNDAY–  Is 60:1-6, Rom 10:9-18, Mt 28:16-20

Homily starter anecdotes: # 1: “I have no other plan.” S.D. Gordon has a beautiful story about the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven. When the grand welcome ceremony was over, the Archangel Gabriel approached Jesus to resolve his doubts. He said, “I know that only very few in Palestine are aware of the great work of human salvation You have accomplished through Your suffering, death and Resurrection. But the whole world should know and appreciate it and become Your disciples, acknowledging You  as their Lord and Savior. What is Your plan of action?”  Jesus answered, “I have told all My Apostles to tell other people about Me and preach My Message through their lives. That’s all.” “Suppose they don’t do that?” Gabriel asked. “What’s your Plan B?” Jesus replied, “I have no other plan; I am counting on them.” On this World Mission Sunday, the Church reminds us that Jesus is counting on each one of us to make Him known loved and accepted by others around us. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

# 2: “We Wanted to be Like ThemA striking story tells about one remote area in western Sudan. Expatriate missionaries, especially priests, Brothers and Sisters, had labored there for many years with few visible results. Then expatriate lay missionaries — married and single — came to that area and soon many Sudanese people become Catholics. A Sudanese elder explained: “When we saw the priests and Sisters living separately and alone, we didn’t want to be like them. But when we saw Catholic families — men, women and children — living happily together, we wanted to be like them.” — In our family-oriented African society, married missionary couples with children have a powerful and unique witness and credibility. (Fr. Joseph G. Healey, M.M., a Maryknoll missionary) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

# 3:  “God Is Like a Large Baobab Tree” One day my pickup truck broke down on the road from Maswa to Bariadi in western Tanzania. After I had waited for a half-hour, a big Coca-Cola truck came by, and the driver, named Musa,  kindly towed my vehicle to the next town — a common occurrence of friendship and mutual help on our poor dirt roads. Part of the time I sat in his big cab,  and we talked about, of all things, religion. Musa was a Muslim who belonged to the Nyamwezi Ethnic Group from Tabora. In commenting on the tensions between Christians and Muslims in Tanzania he told me: “There is only one God. God is like one large tree with different branches that represent the different religions of Islam, Christianity, African Religion and so forth. These branches are part of the same family of God so we should work together.” — Simply put, Musa taught me an African metaphor of world religions and interreligious dialogue. (Fr. Healey). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

Introduction: Over one billion Catholics all over the world observe today as the 95th   World Mission Sunday. Pope Pius XI instituted this annual observance in 1926  by Papal decree. Every year since then, the universal Church has dedicated the month of October to reflection on, and prayer for, the missions. On World Mission Sunday, Catholics gather to celebrate the Eucharist and to contribute to a collection for the work of evangelization around the world. Of the 3000 dioceses in the world, about 1000 are missionary dioceses—they need assistance from more established dioceses to build catechetical programs, seminaries, Religious Communities, chapels, churches, orphanages, and schools.  This annual celebration gives us a chance to reflect on the importance of mission work for the life of the Church. It reminds us that we are one with the Church around the world and that we are all committed to carrying on the mission of Christ, however different our situations may be. The greatest missionary challenge that we face at home is a secular and consumerist culture in which God is not important, moral values are relative, and institutional religions are deemed unnecessary.

The Holy Fathers’ Mission Sunday messages: It is because of the modern challenges to evangelization that, in his World Mission Sunday Message, for 2003, Pope St. John Paul II  called on the Church to become “more contemplative, holy, and missionary-oriented, grounding its work on fervent prayer.” Pope Benedict XVI, in his 2006 message, stressed the importance of Christian charity in action as the keynote of evangelization.   “All the Churches for all the World” was the Pope’s theme for World Mission Sunday, 2007. Pope Benedict encouraged the sending of missionaries from Church communities which have a large number of vocations to serve those communities of the West which experience a shortage of vocations.  In 2008, the Pope encouraged everyone “to take renewed awareness of the urgent need to proclaim the Gospel” in this Pauline Year, following the example, and imbibing the missionary zeal, of St. Paul, the greatest missionary of all times.  In 2009, the Pope clarified that the “the goal of the Church’s mission is to illumine all peoples with the light of the Gospel as they journey through history towards God.” He asked all Christians to redouble their commitment to participate in the missionary activity that is an essential component of the life of the Church. Pope Francis, in his first World Mission Sunday message (2013), challenged us to proclaim courageously and in every situation the Gospel of Christ, a message of hope, reconciliation, and communion, a proclamation of God’s closeness, His mercy, and His salvation.   This proclamation would make clear  that the power of God’s love is able to overcome the darkness of evil and guide us on the path of goodness. In the light of the conclusion of the Year of Faith, the Pope offered his thoughts about Faith: the necessity of sharing it, some roadblocks missionary efforts can encounter, and the importance of generously responding to the missionary call of the Holy Spirit. In his 2014 Mission Sunday message, Pope Francis challenged the Church to become a welcoming home, a mother for all peoples, and the source of rebirth for our world through the intercession of Mary, the model of humble and joyful evangelization. In his 2015 message, Pope Francis declared “The Church’s mission is faced by the challenge of meeting the needs of all people to return to their roots and to protect the values of their respective cultures. This means knowing and respecting other traditions and philosophical systems, and realizing that all peoples and cultures have the right to be helped from within their own traditions to enter into the mystery of God’s wisdom and to accept the Gospel of Jesus, who is light and transforming strength for all cultures.”  “The Church is on a mission in the world,” Pope Francis said in his 2019 World Mission Day message, Baptized and Sent. “This missionary mandate touches us personally: I am a mission, always; you are a mission, always; every baptized man and woman is a mission.” Hence, the Holy Father was calling on all Catholics and the Church to revive missionary awareness and commitment. In his 2020 message, our Holy Father asked us to discharge our mission duty by volunteering  with the prophet Isaiah, “Here am I, send me” (6:8), to help  alleviate the suffering of Covid-19-stricken brothers and sisters. The theme of 2021 World Mission Day“We cannot but speak about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20), is a summons to each of us to “own” and to bring to others what we bear in our hearts. In these days of pandemic, when there is a temptation to disguise and justify indifference and apathy in the name of healthy social distancing, there is urgent need for the mission of compassion, which can make that necessary distancing an opportunity for encounter, care and promotion. (https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/missions/documents/papa-francesco_20210106_giornata-missionaria2021.html)

The missionary Church: The Church, according to Vatican Council II, is “missionary” in her very nature because her founder, Jesus Christ, was the first missionary.   God the Father sent God the Son into the world Incarnate in Jesus of  Nazareth, His Christ,  with a message.   This message, called the Gospel or the Good News, is explicitly stated in John 3:16: “For God loved the world so much that He gave His only-begotten Son, so that whoever who believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life”(RSV2Catholic).  John further clarifies Jesus’ message in his epistle: “God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.”(I Jn 4:9).  St. Paul writes to Timothy about the Church’s mission: “God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the Truth.” (I Tm 2:4). Thus, the evangelizing mission of the Church is essentially the announcement of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness, and salvation, as these are revealed to mankind through the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord. The Gospels show us how Jesus demonstrated this all-embracing and unconditional love of God by His life, suffering, death, and Resurrection.

Counter-witnessing affects Mission Sunday message: Revelations of recent and past sex abuse cases and the culpable failure of the hierarchy to prevent them, prompting some Catholics to leave the Church, put non-Catholics and non-Christians in a dilemma, and some of them postponed  or even abandoned their plan to join the Catholic Church. They naturally expected the Church ministers to be holy or at least honorable, and they were disillusioned by the counter-witnessing caused by the sex abuse crisis. They wanted the Church authorities to take drastic and effective steps to restore the Church to its true dignity, loving the Church as Christ does. Observance of Mission Sunday is the appropriate time to reorder the Church to meet the demands and expectations of the true apostolic nature and Divine vocation, given to it by Christ. The holy living of faithful Christians and their anointed ministers, with their fervent prayer,  is the only solution to tide us over the present crisis.

Why should we preach? Jesus, the first missionary, made a permanent arrangement for inviting all men throughout the ages to share God’s love and salvation:  “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.” (Mt 28:19).  This is why the Council Fathers of the Second Vatican Council declared that the Church of Christ “is missionary in its origin and nature.”  Hence, it follows that the mission of the Church is the mission of every member of the Church, and is not reserved for the priests, the religious, and the active missionaries alone.    Thus, every Christian is a missionary with a message to share — the message of God’s love, liberation, and eternal salvation.

How are we to accomplish this goal?   The most powerful means of fulfilling this goal is by living a truly   Christian life — a life filled with love, mercy, kindness, compassion, prayer,  and a forgiving spirit.   Mr. Gandhi used to say:   “My life is my message.”  He often challenged the Christian missionaries to observe the “apostolate of the rose.”   A rose doesn’t preach. It simply radiates its fragrance and attracts everyone to it by its irresistible beauty.   Hence, the most important thing is not the Gospel we preach, but the life we live.  This is how the early Christians evangelized.   Their Gentile neighbors used to say:  “See how these Christians love one another!”   The Christ they recognized and accepted was the Christ who lived in each Christian.

Prayer is the second requirement for  missionary work.  Jesus said: “Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Therefore, prayer is necessary for anyone who wishes to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, and for everyone who preaches the Good News in his life.   In his message for World Mission Sunday, 2004, Pope St. John Paul II stressed the fact that the Holy Spirit would help us to become witnesses of Christ only in an atmosphere of prayer.  Since missionaries are weak human beings, and since witnessing to Christ through life is not easy, we need to support them by our prayers always. In his message for 2007, Pope Benedict reminds us, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few”, the Lord said; “pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Lk 10: 2).

All missionary efforts also require financial support because the love of God can often be explained to the poor only by providing them with food and means of livelihood.  The sick can experience the healing power of Jesus only through the dedicated service of doctors, nurses, and health care workers.   Hospitals and nursing homes require funding.  The use of expensive modern media of communication is often necessary to bring Christ’s message of love and liberation more effectively to non-Christians in the modern world.

Hence, on this Mission Sunday, let us learn to appreciate our missionary obligation and support the Church’s missionary activities by leading transparent Christian lives, by fervent prayers, and by generous donations. Pope Benedict XVI concluded his 2006 Mission Sunday message thus: “May the Virgin Mary, who collaborated actively in the beginning of the Church’s mission with her presence beneath the Cross and her prayers in the Upper Room, sustain their action and help believers in Christ to be ever more capable of true love, so that they become sources of living water in a spiritually thirsting world.”

JOKE OF THE DAY

# 1: 97% of the world has heard of Coca-Cola
72% of the world has seen a can of Coca-Cola
51% of the world has tasted a can of Coca-Cola
Coke has only been around 122 years (2021).
If God had given the task of world evangelization to the Coke company it would probably be done by now!

# 2:  Did Jesus Christ Ever Kill a Lion? A story is told about a missionary who went to a remote area in Northern Tanzania to proclaim the Gospel among the Maasai tribes who were warriors.  One day he was explaining to a group of adults the saving activity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He told how Jesus is the Savior and Redeemer of all humankind. When he finished, a Maasai elder slowly stood up and said to the missionary: “You have spoken well, but I want to learn more about this great person Jesus Christ. Now I have three questions about Jesus. First, did he ever kill a lion? Second, how many cows did he have? Third, how many wives and children did he have?”

# 3: Rescue mission to Egypt: Nine-year-old Joey was asked by his mother what he had learned in Sunday school. “Well, Mom,” he reported, “our teacher told us how God sent Moses behind enemy lines on a rescue mission to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. When he got to the Red Sea, he ordered his engineers to build a pontoon bridge, and all the people walked across safely. He used his walkie-talkie to radio headquarters to call in an air strike. They sent in bombers to blow up the bridge and all the Israelites were saved.

“Now, Joey, is that REALLY what your teacher taught you?” his mother asked.

“Well, no, Mom,” Joey admitted, “but if I told it the way the teacher did, you’d never believe it!”

#4: Religion is a good thing, if it’s in small doses. A family lived off the alley behind my first church. There were three floors to their row house, each floor inhabited by a different generation. The grandparents, who were members of the church, lived on the ground floor. Next floor up was their son and daughter-in-law, and the grandchildren’s bedrooms were at the top. One day, the grandfather beckoned me to the back fence. “I’m worried about my grandson,” he said. “What’s the problem?” I asked. He said, “When he gets up in the morning, he reads the Bible before he does anything else. Every time he sits at the kitchen table, he insists on saying grace. Now he’s talking about joining a prayer group with his girlfriend.” Walter,” I said, “what’s the problem?” “Don’t get me wrong, Reverend,” he said. “Religion is a good thing, as long as it’s in small doses. I’m worried my grandson is becoming an extremist.” — I admit it was hard to sympathize with my neighbor. So far, no member of my family has been lost to such radical behavior. Neither has a child of mine wandered off to the Temple for three days. But it’s important to remember that religious commitments can divide a family. [William G. Carter, Praying for a Whole New World, CSS Publishing Company.]

# 5: And hell broke loose:   Mark Twain used to tell a joke that he put a dog and a cat in a cage together as an experiment, to see if they could get along. They did. So, he put in a bird, pig and goat. They, too, got along fine after a few adjustments. Then he put in a Baptist, a Presbyterian, and a Catholic, and hell broke loose.

Additional anecdotes: 1)You’re not a white man; you’re Jesus.”  A touching story is told of a British missionary priest who lived   in a remote part of Tanzania.  He lived alone, a single white man among his African flock, speaking their language.  One day a British government official arrived on a tour of the area. The Tanzanian children ran out to welcome the visitor. They entertained the official by clapping, singing and dancing.  After the official left, the children excitedly told the missionary priest, “We saw a white man! We saw a white man!”   Some of the children said that the visitor was the first foreigner they had ever seen. The priest was amazed and exclaimed, “But I’m a white man. I’m a foreigner. But I’ve been living here with you all these years.”   One of the children said, “You’re not a white man; you’re Jesus, you are our Father.” — Mission Sunday reminds us that transparent Christian life, as lived by this missionary, radiating the real presence of Jesus within, is the mission of every Christian. (Joseph G. Healey, M.M). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

2)  “Athanasius Evangelized Me with a Cup of Tea” : One day Bishop Christopher Mwoleka came to our house in Nyabihanga Village in Rulenge, Tanzania on an unexpected visit. My good friend Athanasius and I hurriedly prepared tea for the villagers who came to greet the bishop. We started with two full thermoses, but then several other visitors came and soon we had finished all the tea. I wondered what I would do if another person came. Just then one of our neighbors arrived to say hello. As I started to apologize for not having any more tea, Athanasius spontaneously picked up his own cup of tea and politely handed it to the visitor. It was a simple gesture of sharing, but for me a profound act of love and beauty. By his example Athanasius had evangelized me. (Joseph G. Healey, M.M).  Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

3) Americans give $700 million per year to mission agencies. However, they pay as much for pet food every 52 days. A person must overeat by at least $1.50 worth of food per month to maintain one excess pound of flesh. Yet $1.50 per month is more than what 90 percent of all Christians in America give to missions. If the average missions’ supporter is only five pounds overweight, it means he spends (to his own hurt) at least five times as much as he gives for missions. If he were to choose simple food (as well as not overeat), he could give ten times as much as he does to missions and not modify his standard of living in any other way!  [Ralph Winter of the William Carey Library, 1705 North Sierra Bonita Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91104, in Leadership, IV,4,p. 64. ] Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

 4) Mary Moffatt Livingstone:  Sometimes marriage to a great leader comes with a special price for his wife. Such was the case for Mary Moffatt Livingstone, wife of Dr. David Livingstone, perhaps the most celebrated missionary in the Western world. Mary was born in Africa; she was the daughter of Robert Moffatt, the missionary who inspired Livingstone to go to Africa. The Livingstones were married in Africa in 1845, but the years that followed were difficult for Mary. Finally, she and their six children returned to England so she could recuperate as Livingstone plunged deeper into the African interior. Unfortunately, even in England Mary lived in near poverty. The hardships and long separations took their toll on Mrs. Livingstone, who died when she was just forty-two.
[Today in the Word, MBI, January 1990, p. 12.] Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

L/21

 Scriptural Homilies” (No. 57) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com

Visit my website by clicking on https://frtonyshomilies.com/for missed or previous Cycle A homilies, 141 Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197Question of the Week.” Contact me only at akadavil@gmail.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 .

Continue reading World Mission Sunday – Oct. 24, 2021 (L-21)

O.T. XXX (B) Sunday homily for Oct 24, 2021

OT XXX [B] (Oct 24) Eight-minute homily in one page (L-21)

The central theme of today’s readings is the overflowing mercy and kindness of a loving, healing and forgiving God for His children. (A homily starter anecdote may be added here)

Scripture lessons: The first reading tells us how a forgiving and compassionate God has been healing the spiritual blindness of His Chosen People by subjecting them to captivity in Babylon; now He will liberate them, bringing them back to their homeland. Connected to this reading is the Jerusalem journey of Jesus in the company of the lame and the blind in today’s Gospel, in which healing of the blind Bartimaeus is seen as the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s joyful prophecy of the exiled Jews return from Babylon to their homeland. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 126) gives us the same encouraging promise: ”Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing!” Today’s second reading, taken from Hebrews 5, presents Jesus as the perfect sacrifice for sins and as the true High Priest of the New Testament. It also gives us the assurance that our High Priest, the sinless Jesus, is sympathetic to us because Jesus has shared our human nature in everything, including temptation. Today’s Gospel explains how Jesus shows the mercy and compassion of His Heavenly Father by healing the blind Bartimaeus. Just as the blind and the lame were God’s concern in the first reading, Jesus is concerned with the blind beggar, Bartimaeus of Jericho. On hearing that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, Bartimaeus loudly expressed his trusting Faith in the healing power of Jesus by shouting his request, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”When Jesus invited him to come near, Bartimaeus threw aside his cloak (suggesting, perhaps, the baptismal divesting). His meeting with Jesus gave Bartimaeus the gift of spiritual as well as physical sight, and the fomer blind beggar became a disciple of Jesus.

Life messages: 1) Instead of remaining in spiritual blindness, let us pray for spiritual sight. Each one of us suffers from spiritual blindness. Hence, we need the light of the Holy Spirit to end our darkness and grant us proper spiritual vision. Let us learn to recognize the causes of our spiritual blindness. Anger, hatred, jealousy, evil habits, addictions etc. make us spiritually blind, and they prevent us from seeing the goodness and presence of God in our family members and neighbors. Hence, let us learn to think about and see the goodness in others without becoming unkind, critical, or judgmental. We are blinded by greed when we are never satisfied with what we have and incur debts to buy luxury items. Hence, let us pray to have a clear vision of Christian values and priorities in our lives and to acknowledge the presence of God dwelling in ourselves and in our neighbors. A clear spiritual vision enables us to see the goodness in others, to express our appreciation for all that they have been doing for us, and to refrain from criticizing their performance.

2) We need to “cry out” to Jesus, as Bartimaeus did. Like Bartimaeus, we must seek the love, mercy, and goodness of Jesus with trusting Faith. Sometimes our fears, anger, and habitual sins prevent us from approaching God in prayer. At times, we even become angry with God when He seems slow in answering our prayers. In these desperate moments, let us approach Jesus in prayer with trusting Faith, as Bartimaeus did, and listen carefully to the voice of Jesus asking us: “What do you want me to do for you?” Let us tell Him all our heart’s intentions and needs.

OT XXX [B] (Oct 24) Jer 31:7-9; Heb 5:1-6; Mk 10:46-52 (L/21)

Homily starter anecdotes: # 1: Blindfolded in the den of lion: In the seven years that he was held hostage in Lebanon, Terry A. Anderson, Chief Middle East Correspondent of the Associated Press, was physically and psychologically abused, beaten, and tortured by his captors. Chained to a bed or to the wall and stripped to his underwear, Anderson was kept blindfolded so as not to be able to recognize his whereabouts or subsequently reveal the identities of his guards. Deprived of physical sight and freedom, Anderson spent those seven years engaged in a spiritual odyssey marked by an ever-deepening insight. Blindfolded in darkness, he discovered the inner light of grace that enabled him to look once again in Faith at God, to see himself in stark truthfulness and humility, and even to look upon his captors with a sense of understanding. His probing spiritual perception led Anderson to seek reconciliation with and healing forgiveness from God. Through the ministry of Father Lawrence Jenco, a fellow hostage, Anderson rediscovered his Faith. The following is Anderson’s response to that occasion: Where is faith found? Not in a book or in a church, not often or for everyone. In childish times, it’s easier; a child believes just what it’s told. But children grow and soon begin to see too much that doesn’t match the simple tales, and not enough of what’s behind their parents’ words. There is no God, the cynics say; we made Him up out of our need and fear of death. And happily, they offer up their test-tube proofs. A mystery, the priests all say, and point to saints that prove their faith in acts of love and sacrifice. But what of us who are not saints, only common human sinners? And what of those who in their need and pain cry out to God and go on suffering? I do not know — I wish I did. Sometimes I feel all the world’s pain. I only say that once in my own need I felt a light and warm and loving touch that eased my soul and banished doubt and let me go on to the end. It is not proof — there can be none. Faith’s what you find when you’re alone and find you’re not (Den of Lions, Memoirs of Seven Years, Crown Publishers, Inc., New York: 1993). In today’s Gospel, another man, deprived of physical sight invites the gathered assembly in this church to share in his spiritual odyssey. We are often held hostage by our pride, fear, or self-seeking or by the “blindfold” of indifference to the needs of others. With Bartimaeus, let us pray for both freedom from spiritual blindness and growth in faith, saying, “Lord, I want to see.” (Sanchez Archives). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 2: An ancient eye test for spiritual blindness: Fr. De Mello tells a story which can help us to check our spiritual blindness. A hermit asked his disciples: “When do you say that the night is ended, and it is morning?” The first disciple said: “I say that it is morning when I can distinguish an oak tree from a maple tree.” The hermit said: “No.” The second disciple answered: “I know it is morning when I can distinguish a cow from a sheep at a distance.” Once again, the hermit disagreed. The third disciple replied, “It is morning when no star is visible in the cloudless sky.” “That is also a wrong answer,” said the hermit. Then he explained:” I know it is morning when I can recognize a person as a son or daughter of God, and, hence, my own brother or sister.” Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 3: Two famous prayers for spiritual vision: Cardinal Newman prays for clear vision in his famous poem, “Lead Kindly Light”:

Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom; lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home; lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

“Amazing Grace,” As the captain of a British slave ship, John Newton regained his faith during a storm at sea and became an ordained minister who was very active in the abolitionist movement. He explains how he gained his spiritual eyesight in his famous hymn, Amazing Grace.

Amazing grace!
How sweet the sound,
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
was blind but now I see.

Today’s Gospel, which tells of the healing of the blind man, Bartimaeus, challenges us to strengthen our faith in Jesus, the healer, and invites us to gain true spiritual vision. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Introduction: The central theme of today’s readings is the overflowing mercy and kindness of a loving and forgiving God for His people.

Scripture readings summarized: The first reading tells us how a forgiving and compassionate God healed the spiritual blindness of His Chosen People by subjecting them to captivity in Babylon and then liberated them, bringing them back to their homeland. This journey foreshadows the Jerusalem journey of Jesus in the company of the lame and the blind and, with the healing of the blind Bartimaeus, fulfills Jeremiah’s joyful prophecy of the exiled Jews’ return from Babylonian captivity to their homeland. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 126) gives us the same encouraging promise: ”Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing!” Today’s second reading, taken from the letter to the Hebrews, presents Jesus as the perfect sacrifice for sins and as the great High Priest. Identifying Jesus as the true High Priest of the New Testament, the reading also gives us the assurance that, as the High Priest, Jesus is sympathetic to us because He has shared our human nature. Today’s Gospel explains how Jesus showed the mercy and compassion of his Heavenly Father by healing Bartimaeus, a blind man. Just as the blind and the lame were God’s concern in the first reading, Jesus was concerned with the blind beggar, Bartimaeus of Jericho. On hearing that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, Bartimaeus loudly expressed his trusting Faith in the healing power of Jesus by shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” As Jesus invited him to come near, Bartimaeus threw aside his cloak (suggesting, perhaps, the baptismal divesting). His meeting with Jesus gave Bartimaeus the gift of spiritual as well as physical sight, and he became a disciple of Jesus.

First reading: Jer 31:7-9, explained: This reading, taken from the book of Jeremiah, tells us of the small number of people, “the remnant of Israel,” who had survived the 721 BC Assyrian captivity (with which the Babylonian captivity would later merge). Jeremiah encourages his exiled fellow Jews with the promise of a homecoming reminiscent of the joy and triumph of the first coming home of their ancestors from Egyptian slavery to the promised land. Jeremiah describes the coming return of the Babylonian captives as they will be led on their joyful journey home to Jerusalem. The passage foretells God’s promise to give His people life in all its fullness. Through their exile and suffering, the people had learned to humble themselves and turn to God with sincere repentance. The returnees would include not only the healthy, but the blind, the lame, and the vulnerable. Originally spiritually blind, the exiled Jews, through suffering, would receive spiritual sight, and they would express their gratitude to God by singing His glories on their way back to their city. The promise of this prophesied journey would be fulfilled in Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem in the company of the lame and the blind, recorded in today’s Gospel. “By extending a word of healing and salvation (“your faith has healed, i.e. saved you”, Mk 10:52), to the poor, sick, and needy, Jesus realized Jeremiah’s vision. Moreover, what the prophet had promised regarding the return of the exiles to Judah, would be eclipsed by the ultimate return of all peoples to God, a homecoming Jesus would accomplish through the saving, healing power of his cross.” (Sanchez archives). The Gospel highlights the actions of Bartimaeus which called healing from the heart of Jesus and prompted the now-seeing beggar to follow Jesus as a witnessing disciple. The first reading, on the other hand, directs our attention to God’s merciful actions: “delivering His people . . . bringing them back . . . gathering them . . . consoling them… guiding them . . . leading them.”

The second reading (Hebrews 5:1), explained: The reading describes Jesus as the High Priest of the new Covenant. It likens him to the class of ancient priests, (sympathetic and patient, not glorifying himself), then distinguishes Jesus from the others (because the Father called Jesus his Son). The people addressed in this letter had been put out of the synagogues when they accepted Jesus. Some were even abandoning Christ to return to Judaism. Hence, the writer of Hebrews tries to comfort them by depicting Jesus as a superior replacement for the priests upon whom they had formerly depended because Jesus was appointed by God to that ministry to serve the people as intermediary between God and man, and as man-God Jesus had empathy for and profound patience with “erring sinners.” The Jewish High Priest was a sinner like others, and his role was to offer sacrifices to God for himself and for the people as their representative. But Jesus, sinless, offered Himself as a sacrifice for all sin, and will continue to act as our mediator at “the throne of grace,” until the end of time. Further, Jesus, the Son of God, was appointed directly by God to an even better priesthood (“the order of Melchizedek,” Ps 110:4). In role, person, and appointment, Jesus surpassed every High Priest in ancient Israel. Hence, through Jesus, the true High Priest, we can approach the throne of grace with confidence and boldness, and we can expect mercy and favor from God. We are also assured that that our High Priest, Jesus, sympathetic to us because He has shared our human nature, is able to be compassionate. Having suffered death to save us, Jesus is a wounded healer. Here, again, we see the gracious nature of our relationship to our God. “I believe that I shall see the Goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Ps 27:13)}

Gospel exegesis: The context: Today’s Gospel describes Jesus’ final journey to Jerusalem through Jericho, an ancient city fifteen miles away from Jerusalem. Jericho was the first city conquered by the Israelites when they entered Palestine. It was a city of great wealth and remarkable beauty, supporting many date palm plantations and fig trees. Great numbers of merchants and Jewish priests made their homes in this pleasant city. The Mosaic Law required every Jewish male over the age of twelve and living within fifteen miles of Jerusalem to attend the Passover. Those who, for one reason or another, were exempt from this obligation would often line the roads to Jerusalem to greet the crowds of pilgrims as they passed toward the city. The Jewish rabbis on pilgrimage often taught religious lessons to the pilgrims on their journey. Beggars also capitalized on the increased traffic through the city to beg for money. One such beggar was the blind man known as Bartimaeus.

James & John versus Bartimaeus: It is not by coincidence that this Gospel of blind Bartimaeus follows immediately upon last Sunday’s text about James and John’s ambitious request for positions of primacy in Jesus’ coming Kingdom. It is probable that Mark intends to the two stories to be seen in contrast: James and John, although possessing physical sight, evidently do not “see” Jesus for who He is, do not understand Him and His message properly yet, and are still too filled with pride and a desire for power. Bartimaeus, on the other hand, although physically blind, evidently “sees” Jesus much better than some of His own disciples; he recognizes Jesus as the promised Davidic Messiah, but, instead of asking for power and glory, seeks only the healing and mercy that many Jews believed the Messiah to be bringing. (Rev. Dr. Watson, Jerusalem). Were there two blind men, or one? Did this healing occur once or twice? St. Augustine is convinced that Mark and Luke are recounting two similar but not identical stories, involving two different men (de Con. Evan., ii, 65). Luke says that the healing happened as Jesus was arriving in Jericho, whereas Mark says that it occurred as Jesus was leaving Jericho. The fact that in Jesus’ time there were actually two Jerichos may be reflected in the differences in the accounts of healing two blind men (Mt 20:29-34; Mk 10:46-52; Lk 18:35-43). Jesus healed the blind men after He left the old Jericho and as He was approaching Herodian Jericho.

Jesus spots a particular blind man in the crowd: The story of Bartimaeus is the last healing miracle recorded in the Gospel of Mark. (The name Bartimaeus in Aramaic meant ‘son of Timaeus,’ just as Peter was known as Simon bar-Yona, ‘son of Jonah’) The story is presented dramatically. While the majority of those who received healing in the New Testament are not mentioned by name, in this case, the beggar’s name is given as Bartimaeus. When the people told Bartimaeus the news of Jesus’ passage through the city, he screamed out for Jesus’ attention as one abandoned by both God and man, who could scarcely dare to dream of something better. He began to shout his remarkable prayer of Faith: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” (Perhaps there was a popular sense that any member of David’s family had inherited at least some of their illustrious ancestor’s powers? We should also recall that, especially under Roman occupation, the title “Son of David,” with both its royal and messianic associations, would have had strongly political overtones, and was potentially subversive. Dr. Watson). Jesus heard one voice crying out through the noise of the crowd. Who would have expected a Messianic greeting from a blind beggar? In spite of the crowd’s objections, Jesus stopped and, recognizing Bartimaeus’ Faith, called the blind man over. In the Law of Moses, the blind are among those who are to be accorded protection in the name of God. Leviticus admonishes the Israelites not to “curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind.” In Deuteronomy, those who lead the blind astray along the road are placed under the same curse as those who withhold justice from the alien, the orphan or the widowed. Psalm 146 proclaims that God gives sight to the blind, lifts up those who are bowed down and loves the righteous.

Bartimaeus’ response of trusting Faith: The people conveyed Jesus’ invitation to Bartimaeus, whoresponded by jumping up, and running to Jesus. By addressing Jesus as Son of David, the beggar publicly identified Jesus as the Messiah. At Jesus’ summons, Bartimaeus threw aside his long cloak, his only possession, which protected him from heat and cold. In throwing away his cloak, he gave up everything he had depended on, putting his complete trust in God.Discarding his cloak represented a radical break with his previous life (symbolized by his cloak), in the same way that Peter, James and John left their fishing boats and nets behind them when “called” by Jesus? The energy and the passion with which Bartimaeus responded to Jesus’ summons should characterize all those who seek to respond to Jesus’ call. Jesus then asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus replied promptly: “Master, I want to see.” Jesus rewarded his Faith by restoring both his physical and his spiritual sight. Having received physical and spiritual sight, Bartimaeus followed Jesus joyfully along the road. The gift of sight led Bartimaeus to Faith, and Faith came to full expression in committed discipleship. He wanted to stay close to his Savior, to thank, praise, and serve Him. Thus, today’s Gospel presents Bartimaeus as the model for us, in his prayer and in his wholehearted commitment to a discipleship that included, and still includes, rejection by those who refuse to believe. Bartimaeus is presented to contemporary believers as a guide in the Christian way because he was a man of Faith and vision, a man unafraid to recognize his need for healing and to cry out, “I want to see!” The man from Jericho invites us also to follow him up the road. Let us remember the old Persian proverb, “A blind man who sees is better than a seeing man who is blind.”

Lessons of Christian discipleship: The section of Mark’s Gospel that deals with discipleship (8:22-10:52), begins with the healing of a blind man (8:22-26), and concludes with the story of another blind man, Bartimaeus. In between these two stories are three episodes in which the disciples are presented as blind to the meaning of Jesus’ mission and of their own discipleship. Their spiritual “blindness” is evident in their persistent misunderstanding. The gradual coming to sight of the first blind man (8:22-26), stands in contrast to the story of Bartimaeus, who regains his vision at once and becomes a follower of Jesus. The healing of the blind Bartimaeus contains four main elements of Christian discipleship: a) the correct recognition of Jesus as Lord and Savior (“Jesus, Son of David”); b) the acknowledgement of the need for Jesus’ help (“Have pity on me”; “I want to see”); c) ready response to Jesus’ call (“He . . . came to Jesus“); and d) becoming Jesus’ disciple (” … followed him on the way“). “The Church has always taught that the life-changing grace of Christ is made available through the sacraments irrespective of the holiness of the minister or the congregation. In the Eucharist, the sacrament of sacraments, it is not just God’s grace but Christ’s bodily presence which is made available. That means that every Sunday we have the same opportunity as Bartimaeus. Then, why do so many of us go to Mass again and again and walk out the door much the same as we went in? Why so little healing, so little growth in holiness? Maybe because we lack the outrageously bold faith of Bartimaeus. The gifts and charisms of the Holy Spirit, forgiveness, healing, purification, guidance, all are there for the taking. Hence, in the spirit of Bartimaeus, let’s determine to stop going home empty-handed.” (Dr. Watson).

The Messianic implications: The healing of Bartimaeus has Messianic implications. Jesus commended Bartimaeus because he had correctly understood that Jesus was the Son of David and the expected Messiah. Referring to the coming of the Messiah, Isaiah wrote: “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped” (Is 35:5; 29:18, 42:7). The Church has taken the persistent prayer of Bartimaeus to heart. The prayer “Kyrie eleison” (“Lord, have mercy“), appears frequently in the liturgy. Bartimaeus’ prayer has also become the source of “the Jesus Prayer:” “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.” In its adapted form, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” it has become a popular Christian prayer. The Church advises us to repeat it frequently, in acknowledgement of our sinfulness and our need for God’s mercy. Like Bartimaeus, we should recognize — even in our blind moments — the presence of Jesus. We can trust in the power of Jesus to give us new visions and to strengthen us in our weakness.

Life messages: 1) Instead of remaining in spiritual blindness, let us pray for spiritual sight. Each one of us suffers from spiritual blindness. Hence, we need the light of the Holy Spirit to enlighten us. Anger, hatred, prejudice, jealousy, evil habits, etc., make us spiritually blind and prevent us from seeing the goodness in our neighbors and God’s presence in them. We are blind to a sense of justice when we refuse to pay our debts, or when we collect our wages though we have not done an honest day’s work for that day’s pay or have cheated our employer by taking time or items that belong to the company. We are blinded by greed when we are never satisfied with what we have and incur debts to buy luxury items. Hence, let us pray to have a clear vision of Christian values and priorities in our lives and to acknowledge the presence of God dwelling in ourselves and in our neighbors. A clear spiritual vision enables us to see the goodness in others, to express our appreciation for all that they have been doing for us, and to refrain from criticizing their performance.

2) We need to “cry out” to Jesus, as Bartimaeus did. Like Bartimaeus, we must seek Jesus with trust in His goodness and mercy. Sometimes our fears, anger and habitual sins prevent us from approaching God in prayer. At times, we even become angry with God when He seems slow in answering our prayers. In these desperate moments, let us approach Jesus in prayer with trusting Faith as Bartimaeus did and listen carefully to the voice of Jesus asking us: “What do you want me to do for you?” Let us tell Him all our heart’s intentions and needs. Let us imitate Bartimaeus, the man of Faith and vision, a man unafraid to recognize his need for healing and to cry out, “I want to see!” Jesus always responds to a prayer offered in Faith (CCC #2616), and this gives us continuing Hope. We need to cry out humbly for mercy for our own spiritual blindness, as well as for help for our troubled and troubling politicians. (CCC #2667).

3) We need to have the courage of our convictions. We need people who, like Bartimaeus, will refuse to be silenced by the secular leaders of our society. We must make our politicians realize that our country is rejecting Christian principles and facing a loss of values. A good example of this is the heated controversy over the First Amendment to the Constitution in the U.S. The First Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This is a simple statement of the right of an individual to follow his own conscience in worship. Unfortunately, it is often interpreted by activist judges to mean that the expression of all religious ideas is forbidden by the government. This is a far cry from the intention of the founding fathers. James Madison (the primary author of the Constitution) said, “Religion [is] the basis and Foundation of Government…. We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves… according to the Ten Commandments of God.” Even Thomas Jefferson, who coined the phrase “separation of Church and State”, wrote: “God gave us life and liberty. Thus, the liberties of a nation cannot be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God, and that they are not to be violated but with His wrath. Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

JOKE OF THE WEEK

#1: Two Polish men were taking their first train trip to Warsaw on the train. A vendor came down the corridor selling bananas which they’d never seen before. Each bought a banana. The first man eagerly peeled the banana and bit into it just as the train went into a dark tunnel. When the train emerged from the tunnel, he looked across to his friend and said, “I wouldn’t eat that if I were you.”
“Why not?” asked his friend. “Because it makes you temporarily blind.”

#2: A motorist with poor eyesight was driving through a dense fog and was trying desperately to stay within range of the taillights of the car ahead of him. As he squinted and worried his way along, trying to stay on course with those taillights, the car in front suddenly stopped, and his car hit the car in the front. The driver of the rear car got out and demanded to know why the other driver came to such an abrupt stop. “I had to,” he replied, “I’m in my own garage!”

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: The Catholic Search Engine & World Wide Catholic Web Directory: http://catholic.org/newsearch/index. # 2: Catholic Educator’s Resource center: http://www.catholiceducation.org/ # 3: Faith First: http://www.faithfirst.com/

# 4: Catholic Blogs: http://www.catholicblogs.com/sitemap.html

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

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

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

7) Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs: https://sundayprep.org

27 Additional anecdotes:

1) Blind police officer! An older woman came home one day to find that her house had been broken into. She immediately called the police and told them. The nearest officer to her house happened to be a K-9 unit, so that officer was the one who responded to the call. The officer drove up to the house and proceeded to let the dog out of the car. The woman came running out of the house when she saw the police car, but stopped when she saw the dog getting out. She threw up her hands and said, “Great. This is just great. Not only have I been robbed, but now they send me a blind police officer!” [Parables, Etc. (Saratoga Press, P.O. Box 8, Platteville, CO, 80651; 970-785-2990), March] — Being blind really isn’t a laughing matter. In today’s Gospel episode, Bartimaeus was a real blind man whom Jesus healed. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

2) “I who am blind can give one hint to those who see”: Helen Keller, so brave and inspiring to us in her deafness and blindness, once wrote a magazine article entitled: “Three Days To See.” In that article she outlined what things she would like to see if she were granted just three days of sight. It was a powerful, thought-provoking article. On the first day, she said, she wanted to see friends. Day two she would spend seeing nature. The third day she would spend in her home city of New York, watching the busy city and the workday of the present. She concluded it with these words: “I who am blind can give one hint to those who see: Use your eyes as if tomorrow you were to be stricken blind.” As bad as blindness is in the 20th century, however, it was very much worse in Jesus’ day. Little wonder, then, that one of the signs of the coming of the Messiah was that the blind should receive their sight! When Jesus announced his Messianic mission, he said: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has sent me to proclaim … recovery of sight to the blind “(Luke 4: 18).

3) “Sit down at that table and write: ‘I will not run red lights’ 500 times!” In the traffic court of a large Midwestern City, a young lady was brought before the judge to answer for a ticket given to her for running a red light. She explained to the judge that she was a school teacher and requested an immediate disposal of her case so she could get to school on time. All of a sudden the judge began grinning from ear-to-ear. The judge said: “So, you’re a schoolteacher, huh? Well, Ma’am, I finally get to realize one of my lifelong dreams. I’ve waited years for the opportunity to have a schoolteacher in my court. Sit down at that table and write: ‘I will not run red lights’ 500 times!” {Phillips, Bob, World’s Greatest Collection of Clean Jokes, (Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 1998) p. 19.} –That joke, coupled with today’s Scripture, got me to thinking. Is there something in your life that you’ve always wanted but still haven’t realized yet? Do you have some unfulfilled dream or wish? Some longing that you’ve never acted upon? Bartimaeus, the character in the Scripture for today, certainly did. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

4) “Free for what?” There is a story, believed to be true, about Abraham Lincoln, just before the close of the Civil War. Landowners in the Deep South were cutting their losses, liquidating their slave-holdings before slavery was banned, and President Lincoln came upon a slave auction in progress. A young girl was placed upon the auction block, in front of all the bidders and gawkers. With defiance and disdain, the woman scanned the crowd, daring someone to start the bidding. Lincoln did – and when he won the bid and took possession of the young woman, she was belligerent. “What are you going to do with me?” she asked. “I’m going to set you free,” the president answered. “Set me free? What do you mean, ‘Set me free?’ Free for what?” Abraham Lincoln said, “Free. Free to do what you want to do. Free to go where you want to go.” The astonished woman replied, “Then I choose to go with you.” — After a lifetime of yearning for freedom, the first thing this former slave chooses to do when she becomes free is to yield herself back under the authority of someone else. This is our call.     You and I are free; that’s what Jesus said. May we use our freedom to be His servants in a dark and hurting world, and reflect His glorious light to remove the spiritual blindness and darkness around us! May this begin today! Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

5) “One minute you’re with God in Heaven and the next minute you’re in Georgia. Fred Craddock tells the story of serving in an area where all the local pastors rotated turns as chaplain at the small, thirty-bed area hospital. During one of his turns, a baby was born. He went to the hospital and encountered a whole family of folks gathered around the window of the nursery looking at the baby. He met the father who looked sort of worried and anxious and dumbstruck all at the same time. — you know, that “new father” look. The baby’s name was Elizabeth. As they looked at the baby, she started to squirm and scream. The father looked worried, so Dr. Craddock said something about the baby not being sick but just clearing out her lungs like all newborns do. The father said, “Oh, I know she’s not sick. But she’s mad as the devil.” That took Dr. Craddock back a little and he asked, “Why’s she mad?” The father said, “Well, wouldn’t you be mad? One minute you’re with God in Heaven, and the next minute you’re in Georgia!” Dr. Craddock asked, “You believe she was with God before she came here?” The father said, “Oh, yeah.” Then Craddock asked, “You think she’ll remember?” And he said, “Well, that’s up to her mother and me. It’s up to the Church. We’ve got to see that she remembers, ’cause if she forgets, she’s a goner.” [Craddock, Fred B. Craddock Stories, (Chalice Press: St. Louis, MO, 2001) pp. 126-1.] — Bartimaeus never forgot Whose he was or where he came from. Everyone else around him might have forgotten and treated him like an outcast, but he knew he still belonged to God. He remembered. Bartimaeus remembered, and because he remembered, he had Faith enough to believe. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

6) She needed an immediate blood transfusion to save her life. In 1949, a young soldier returned home from the war to find his mother desperately ill with kidney problems. She needed an immediate blood transfusion to save her life. Unfortunately, no one in the family shared the mother’s very rare blood type of AB negative, and blood banks didn’t exist in those days. The young soldier decided to gather his family together to say goodbye to his mother. As he was driving home from the hospital, he stopped to pick up another young soldier who was hitchhiking. The hitchhiker noticed the young man’s tears and asked him what was wrong. The young man blurted out the story of his dying mother. In silence, the hitchhiker took off his dog tags and held them out to the young man. On the tags were listed his blood type: AB negative. The mother received her transfusion that night and recovered fully. She lived another 47 years after that fateful night. — Coincidence? We don’t know. This soldier and his family think the hitchhiker was an angel sent by God. All we know is that these coincidences happen quite often for people of Faith. Jesus heals. He healed Bartimaeus and He has healed millions of others–emotionally, spiritually, and, sometimes, physically. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

7) “There is one other thing,” the driver said:  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, told a story on himself. He was waiting for a taxi outside the railway station in Paris. When the taxi pulled up, he put his suitcase in it and then got in the taxi. As he was about to tell the taxi-driver where he wanted to go, the driver asked him: “Where can I take you, Mr. Doyle?” Doyle was astounded. He asked the driver if he knew him by sight. The driver said: “No Sir, I have never seen you before.” Doyle was puzzled and asked him how he knew he was Arthur Conan Doyle. The driver replied: “This morning’s paper had a story that you were on vacation in Marseilles. This is the taxi-stand where people who return from Marseilles always wait. Your skin color tells me you have been on vacation. The ink-spot on your right index finger suggests to me that you are a writer. Your clothing is very English, and not French. Adding up all those pieces of information, I deduce that you are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.” Doyle exclaimed, “This is truly amazing. You are a real-life counter-part to my fictional creation, Sherlock Holmes.” “There is one other thing,” the driver said. “What is that?’ Doyle asked. “Your name is on the front of your suitcase.” [Parables, Etc. (Saratoga Press, P.O. Box 8, Platteville, CO, 80651; 970-785-2990), March.] — It wasn’t the powers of deduction. It was the power of observation. That taxi driver’s lenses were clean enough to observe what was going on around him. He had the Proper Focus. The blind man in today’s Gospel had such a focus on Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah and his only healer. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

8) Receiving begins with the courage to ask. In 1962, a 14‑year‑old boy by the name of Robert White wrote to President John F. Kennedy’s personal secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, requesting the President’s autograph. Within a few weeks Evelyn Lincoln honored the boy’s request by sending him a facsimile of Kennedy’s signature in the mail. That began a relationship of correspondence that lasted 33 years. Impressed with White’s passion for presidential history, Mrs. Lincoln gave him thousands of documents and mementos. She saved whatever could be saved (including even the doodles JFK drew during meetings). Today, Robert White, now 51, boasts the largest private collection of Kennedy memorabilia in the world, over 50,000 items. Receiving begins with the courage to ask. (Spirit, November 1999. Cited by Greg Asimakoupoulos in Leadership magazine).  — “You have not because you ask not”(Jas  4:2) It was Faith that caused Bartimaeus to seek Jesus, and it was Faith that caused him to speak up and ask for help. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

9) Maybe he wept a few tears for joy. Mary Hollingsworth in her book, Fireside Stories, tells a wonderful story about a devoted follower of Christ in Romania named Richard Rumbren. Rumbren was arrested by the Communists many years ago for believing in Jesus. For fourteen years, he and some other Christians were kept in one little room some thirty feet below the ground. And in all those years all they had was one little light bulb. It was a horrible life. When he was finally released, Richard wrote a book titled Tortured for Christ to relate what he had gone through. And he began traveling about telling his story. But there was a problem. Richard Rumbren could no longer stand up. His feet were so damaged by torture that he had to sit down to speak. After the Wall came down in 1992, Rumbren got to go back to Romania. And they took him to show him the very first Christian bookstore in that nation. They were giving him the tour and showing him the books. Then the owner said, “Come down stairs and see all the wonderful things we have in the warehouse.” So Richard and his elderly wife went down the stairs, and when they got to the room, Richard was shocked. Then everyone was startled when Rumbren, this old man with battered feet, started dancing across the room. “Richard, what’s gotten into you?” asked the owner. But Rumbren just started laughing and said, “This is the room they kept me in for fourteen years!” — No wonder Richard Rumbren was dancing! This was a place and an occasion of great significance for him. I wonder if Bartimaeus, the beggar who once stationed himself to receive alms just outside Jericho, ever returned to the place where he first regained his sight. If he did, I wonder if he danced a little jig. Maybe he wept a few tears for joy. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

10) “This I did for you; what are you doing for me?” In the 1700’s there was a rather remarkable change in the life of an Austrian Count named Nikolaus Zinzendorf. Born into the nobility, Zinzendorf had recently completed his training in law, and was sent off to complete his education by touring the European cities. In an art gallery in Düsseldorf he came upon a masterly painting of Jesus. The eyes of Jesus seemed to penetrate the Count’s heart. Beneath the painting were these words: “This I did for you; what are you doing for me?” Count Zinzendorf was never able to forget those haunting words. Within a just a couple of years he retreated from public life to devote himself to a Christian community he had started for religious fugitives from Moravia. It was Zinzendorf’s writings and the Moravians themselves that influenced the reformer John Wesley to become a Christian leader. All because this Spiritual Insight had been awakened in him.  That kind of Spiritual Insight is called Faith. [The Autoillustrator, P.O. Box 336517, Greeley, CO 80633 1-877-970-AUTO (2886).] —  Bartimaeus in today’s Gospel had it. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

11) “And then that stupid letter arrived.” Two psychiatrists were talking and one asked the other, “What was your most difficult case?” His colleague answered, “Once I had a patient who lived in a pure fantasy world. He believed that a wildly rich uncle in South America was going to leave him a fortune. All day long he waited for a make-believe letter to arrive from a fictitious attorney. He never went out or did anything. He just sat around and waited.” “What was the result?” asked the first psychiatrist. “Well, it was an eight-year struggle but I finally cured him. And then that stupid letter arrived…” (2) — Some people are afraid to Open Their Eyes. And some just keep their eyes closed no matter what. Sometimes we don’t Open Our Eyes because we’re afraid we’ll be disappointed in what we see. Bartimaeus in today’s Gospel was able to see his Healer by the power of his Faith. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

12) “Do you see what I see?” In our parish office there hangs a modernistic picture composed of a maze of colors and shapes. I know these sophisticated, modern, and abstract pictures are supposed to contain some profound artistic or philosophical message, but I have never been able to figure it out. It just looks like a jumbled mass of confusion. If there is a message there, I am blind to it. One day while I was standing in the office, waiting for the copier to warm up, one of the parents came to the office with her kindergarten-age boy, Adam. After greeting me he looked at the picture for a minute and said to me, “Do you see what I see?” I said, “Do you see something in that picture? I sure don’t.” Adam looked at me with glee in his eye, “Father, can’t you see him? It’s Jesus hanging on the cross.” I stared as hard as I could, until my eyes actually hurt from staring. I wanted to believe Adam, that there actually was the image of Jesus hanging on the cross hidden somewhere in that mass of color and shapes, but I couldn’t see Jesus anywhere. “Adam, I’m sorry but I must be blind. You will have to help me see.” Directing his finger to a mass of color in the center of the picture, Adam said, “There, Father. Do you see what I see? There is Jesus, his face, his arms outstretched on the cross.” And then, like an epiphany, the image began to appear. Yes, there hidden somehow “behind” the colors and the shapes was the barely visible image of Jesus, hanging with arms outstretched on the cross. “It’s amazing, Adam. You have helped one blind pastor to see Jesus. Yes, I can see what you see, Adam.” — A similar epiphany happens in today’s Gospel. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

13) “I beat the Nazis, I beat them. I got my house.” Carlton Fletcher tells about his Uncle Walter who lived in Waldorf, Germany, during the Second World War. Uncle Walter was the descendant of Huguenots who had run away from France during the persecution of the Protestants in the 1600’s. During the war, he wanted to build himself a house, but all the necessary materials were reserved for the army. You couldn’t build a house for yourself. To a member of Germany’s middleclass, a house is most important. Building a house and getting out of an apartment is a priority. And nothing. not even a world war, would deter Uncle Walter, even if it meant building a house and hiding it under a junk pile. Here is how he did it. He bought a lot and loaned it out for people to throw junk on it. And then he would go there at night and build, layer by layer of brick, and cover it up with junk. When the end of the war came, there was a big pile of junk, but there was a house under it practically completed. All it needed was a roof. In 1946, when the war was over, he raised the roof like a madman. And he was jubilant. He said, “I beat the Nazis, I beat them. I got my house.” [A Celebration of American Folklore, (New York: Pantheon Books, 1982).] — Don’t you admire the spirit of a man like that, to be able to build a house amid the rubble of life? I suspect Bartimaeus was such a man. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

14) “We have a clerk’s job waiting for you . Norman Vincent Peale in one of his books tells about a young man named Walter Harter. Walter was a rather average young man with a slight limp who grew up in a farming community. Denied the opportunity for a college education due to his family’s financial circumstances, he set his heart on working in New York City. He went to the local telephone company and borrowed the New York City telephone directory. He looked up the listings of various stores in that great metropolis. Then he decided to concentrate on a well-known chain that had 393 stores in the New York City metropolitan area. He decided to write each of them by hand asking for a position. That was quite a project for a teenager with limited time and resources. He wrote fifteen a day. And he stuck to it day after day without a single reply. Finally, after writing them every one with absolutely no response, he scraped up a few dollars and headed for the big city. The first store he visited was a large one on Times Square. After listening to his story, the manager said to him that even if they had received his letter they would have sent it on to the personnel department of the chain. Walter didn’t even know what a personnel department was, but he followed the manager’s directions to a large building on Park Avenue. There he was taken to a stern-faced man sitting behind a large desk. This man seemed to be in charge of everything. After telling his story once more, Walter waited as the man behind the desk stared at him for what seemed like the longest time. Then the man smiled and rose to his feet. He pointed to a table holding stacks of letters. “Your applications are here,” he said, “all three hundred and ninety-three of them! We knew that someday you would walk in here. We have a clerk’s job waiting for you. You can start this afternoon.” [Norman Vincent Peale, Power of the Plus Factor (New York: Fawcett Crest, 1987).]
— Bartimaeus had that same determined spirit. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

15) “I bet you can see God out here!A man and his son went on a camping trip to the mountains. They hired an experienced guide, who brought them into the very heart of the great forest, and the beauty spots in the mountains that they themselves would never have found. The old guide was constantly pointing out the beauty and the wonders that the passer-by would never notice. The young lad was fascinated by the ability of the guide to see so much in all his surroundings. One day the lad was so impressed that he exclaimed “I bet you even see God out here.” The old guide smiled and replied “Son, as life goes on it’s getting more and more difficult for me to see anything but God out here.” ‘Lord that I might see…’(Jack McArdle from And That’s the Gospel Truth! Quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

16) Transforming Vision: The musical Les Miserables is based on the epic novel by Victor Hugo and dramatizes the adventures of Jean Valjean. After serving nineteen years in prison for stealing some bread to help his sister’s starving child, Jean is paroled. Unable to find work, Valjean steals from a priest, who in turn lies to save him from being sent back to prison. Given a second chance, Jean Valjean undergoes a moral and social transformation: he takes a new name, becomes wealthy, befriends a dying prostitute, raises her orphan and twice risks everything he’s gained to save others. — What the Lord did through the priest for Valjean is similar to what he did for Bartimaeus. Both Valjean and Bartimaeus were nobodies, social outcasts, but when Jesus entered their lives, they became somebodies,  Jesus’ disciples. Many are the times Jesus has stopped to take notice of us and to transform us. When we were nobodies, Jesus made us somebodies. When we were spiritually sick, Jesus made us whole. When we were down Jesus lifted us up. Can we in turn stop more often to ask people: “What can I do for you? How can I be of help?”  (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

17) The gift of sight: Helen Keller, who went blind and deaf at nineteen months, said: “One day I asked a friend of mine who had just returned from a long walk in the woods what she had seen. She replied, ‘Nothing in particular.’ ‘How was this possible?’ I asked myself, ‘when I, who cannot hear or see, find hundreds of things to interest me through mere touch. I feel the delicate shape and design of a leaf. I pass my hands lovingly over the rough bark of a pine tree. Occasionally, I place my hand quietly on a small tree, and if I’m lucky, feel the happy quiver of a bird in full song.’ The greatest calamity that can befall people, is not that they should be born blind, but that they should have eyes, yet fail to see.” (Flor McCarthy in New Sundays and Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

18) Give sight to all who are blind! There is a beautiful anecdote in the book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People, written by Harold S. Kushner. There were two storekeepers who were bitter rivals. Their stores were across the street from each other. They would spend each day sitting at the doorway keeping track of each other’s business. If one got a customer, he would smile in triumph at his rival. One night an angel appeared to one of the shopkeepers in a dream and said, “God has sent me to teach you a lesson. He will give you anything you ask for but I want you to know that whatever you get, your competitor across the street will get twice as much. If you’d like to be wealthy, the man across the street will be twice as rich.” The man frowned for a moment and said, “All right, my request is, strike me blind in one eye, so that the man across will be blind in both eyes.” — While the man in this story was praying to become blind, Bartimaeus in today’s Gospel was crying out to Jesus to be healed of his blindness. (John Pichappilly in The Table of the Word; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

19) “At last! At last!”  Some years ago, there took place in England a most unusual wedding – a blind young man was to marry an extremely beautiful young lady. Very unfortunately, he had been blinded in an accident when he was just ten years old. But that did not deter him from going ahead and becoming an accomplished and successful university honour student. His name–William Dyke. It was at University that Bill met his bride-to-be, a young lady who was as beautiful as she was intelligent. So intense was their mutual love and so devoted their commitment that they decided to marry, even though Bill had a seemingly permanent and irreversible handicap. Shortly before the wedding, however, Bill met a very compassionate and highly skilled eye surgeon, one of Britain’s foremost, who voluntarily offered to operate on his eyes with a view to restoring his lost vision. And so, on the actual day of the wedding, the surgeon led the handsome groom to the altar with his eyes bandaged. As the bride approached her blindfolded groom the surgeon removed the bandages from Bill’s eyes. There were a few unsteady blinks as his eyes adjusted to the light around him. And then, for the first time, Bill looked into the beautiful face of his bride and was thrilled beyond words. Joyfully he exclaimed, “At last! At last!” — Indeed his joy knew no bounds for he could actually see what, at one time, were no more than wishful thinking, even more an impossible dream. No wonder, Bartimaeus decided to follow Jesus as an act of thanksgiving as soon as he got his eye-sight. (James Valladares in Your Words, O Lord, Are Spirit, and They Are Life; quoted by  Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

20) Some People Are Never Satisfied: It is like the beggar in the movie Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Brian and his mother are walking through town and get hit up by a beggar. “Alms for an ex-leper. Alms for an ex-leper, please.” And Brian says: “What do you mean an ex-leper?” And the leper says: “Well I was cured” “Who cured you?” Brian says. And the leper says: “That Jesus fellow.” He says: “Now I have a hard time making a living! All I’ve ever known how to do is beg.” And Brian says: “Well why don’t you go back and ask Him to make you a leper again?” And the leper says: “Well, I might not like that. Maybe He could just make me a leper during working hours or something.” So Brian just sighs, drops a coin into his cup and walks away. And the ex-leper looks into his cup and says: “A half a dinari! Look at this – he only gives me a half a dinari!” And Brian says: “Some people are never satisfied.” To which the leper replies: “That’s just what Jesus said!” — Now Monty Python might be on to something. Jesus may not have said exactly these words but he certainly ran into people who were unappreciative. Blind Bartimaeus was not one of them. Upon receiving his sight he immediately began to follow. (Rev. Brett Blair) Fr. Kayala. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

 

21) Napoleon meeting Tsar Alexander I:  History records a time when two people met each other on July 25, 1807, at a spot in the Tilsit River in Prussia. It was a dramatic meeting to discuss matters which carried serious consequences. In the middle of that stream Napoleon and Alexander I held a much-publicized private conference. It was widely described in advance as a meeting which would “arrange the destinies of humankind.” Cannons boomed, and the shouts of thousands of soldiers gathered on each side of the river added to the noise as the conference began. There the Treaty of Tilsit was drawn up which allied Russia and Prussia with Napoleon. World history and millions of lives were forever changed. — Bartimaeus had an opportunity to meet Christ, one-on- one, and took advantage of it. As a result, he was greatly blessed. You and I have the same privilege of meeting with Christ, one-on- one. Christ is calling you. Will you come? Such an encounter, for each one of us, is by far the most important in our lives, for it will arrange the destiny of our lives. (Rev. Brett Blair) Fr. Kayala (http://www.historytoday.com/richard-cavendish/treaty-tilsit). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

22) “I wish to be able to see my children eat off gold plates.”  According to a Jewish legend there was once a blind man who was married but had no children.  Although his life was hard, he never complained.  One day as the blind man was sitting by a river, the prophet Elijah came to him from Heaven and said, “Even though your life has been hard, you never complained, and so God will grant you one wish.”  The poor man frowned.  “Only one   wish!” he said.  “I’m blind, I’m poor, and I’m childless.  How will just one wish can satisfy all my problems?  But give me twenty-four hours and I’ll think up a wish.”  He went home and told his wife what had happened.  She smiled at him and said, “Eat well and sleep soundly, for I know what you should wish.”  He came back the next morning and said to Elijah as he appeared again, “I wish to be able to see my children eat from gold plates.”  The wish was granted, and the man and his wife lived happily for the rest of their days. —  Today’s Gospel presents another blind man whose wish was to regain his sight. Jesus restored sight to his eyes and to his spirit, and Bartimaeus immediately began to follow Jesus as a sighted, witnessing disciple. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

23) I  Wanted to See Jesus Today by Maria Carey: I wanted to see Jesus today. I saw the old man instead, standing by the pump at the gas station. We said hello to each other as we shared our smiles and left on our way. I wanted to see Jesus today. I saw the most delightful little child with his mother, and she was so sweet to him at the Wal-Mart. I smiled at each, and the little fella reached out to touch my arm and my heart as I said, “Hello, little one.” He laughingly, fled away. I stood there smiling and beaming from the purest and sweetest touch of innocence. I wanted to see Jesus today. I saw the old lady, a bent figure with curved spine holding two very heavy shopping bags. She looked so tired. I watched as she tried to cross the street. I was afraid she wouldn’t make it as I said, “Let me carry those things for you” and she did. We made it across the street and I carried those bags up 3 full blocks right to her doorstep. She thanked me and I felt so good. I wanted to see Jesus today. I saw the man at the train station, he asked for spare change and I looked at him. Without thought of what he would do with the change, I gave it to him. I did so with a prayer and blessing. Then I left and caught the train home. You see I really wanted to see Jesus today and He really wanted to see me too. It was then that I realized that we had seen each other all throughout the day. He was inside a different shell each time that I saw Him but it was He. His face and expressions would be different each time but He was always the same. He wanted to see me and know what I would do each time that I met Him. You see I really did want to see Jesus today and I did see Him clearly all the daylong. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

24) A priest forever: Monsignor Patrick J. McGee was for years pastor of St. Mary’s Church, North Attleboro, Massachusetts. Although he was widely referred to (at least behind his back) as “Paddy McGee”, this priest of the Diocese of Fall River was truly venerated for his gentle pastoral way. He looked venerable too. Eighty summers had shrunken his body but not his spirit, and the pure white hair that fringed his bald head only accentuated his tranquil blue eyes. In 1949, however, after almost sixty years in the priesthood, Paddy began to fail. He was obliged to give up his active parish work and was finally confined to a bed from which he would never again rise. His two devoted curates were saddened to see him slip in and out of unconsciousness. He did not appear to be suffering much, but they knew the end was not far off. Then, as the two assistants were watching at the bedside, Father McGee suddenly sat bolt upright in bed. He blessed himself slowly and devoutly and started the old Latin prayers that priests used to recite at the beginning of Mass. Automatically, the priests answered with the Latin responses. He went on from that point, his lips moving in silent prayer according to the order of the Mass. After a while he raised his joined hands as if he were lifting the consecrated Host. At that point, however, his strength failed and his head fell forward. One of the curates gently helped him to lie back upon the pillow. “Give me Holy Communion,” he murmured. But it was too late. He fell senseless again and died shortly afterward. — Today’s second reading from the Epistle to the Hebrews, speaks of the priesthood of Christ. Jesus was not a priest according to the traditional Old Testament priesthood of Aaron. His Father had conferred on Him the special priesthood as the Psalmist foretold: “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech.” In the Book of Genesis, Melchisedech the priest-king had offered a sacrifice not of animals but of bread and wine. It was this irrevocable new priesthood that Jesus bestowed on his apostles, and they passed it on to all later Christian priests. Father Patrick McGee had been called by God to be a forever priest of this order. He passed into eternity offering Christ to God. (Father Robert F. McNamara). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

25) Sight regained: Here’s a true story: One day a man woke up to find that, according to the local newspaper, he had died. Actually, the man’s older brother died, but the editors ran the wrong obituary. The man read on, fascinated to have the unique opportunity to find out what others thought of him. But what he read made him shudder. The writer of the obituary reported the passing of a “great industrialist” who had amassed a considerable fortune from manufacturing weapons of destruction – dynamite, to be precise. His reputation as a heartless employer and ruthless businessman was also chronicled. The newspaper ended its story calling him a “merchant of death.” The man was stunned. This was not how he wanted to be remembered. And so from that moment on, he devoted his time and fortune to works of philanthropy, justice and peace. Today, the man who had “died” in an erroneous newspaper story is not remembered as the inventor of dynamite, but as the founder of the prestigious Nobel Prizes. Alfred Nobel later would say, “Everyone ought to have the chance to correct his/her epitaph in midstream and write a new one.” And when Alfred Nobel actually died, in 1896, his obituary hailed him as “a humanitarian and a visionary.” (Fr. Lakra.) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

 

26) I do not want the eyes of my child who is about to be born to see the crucified Christ.” This happened before the beginning of the Second World War. A man took his wife who was closed to giving birth to a Catholic Hospital. In front of the woman was a crucifix hanging on the wall of her room. The man who was an unbeliever said to the nurse: “Take that Christ away. I do not want the eyes of my child who is about to be born to see Christ.” The baby was born that same night and in the morning the atheist father asked the nurse: “How is my son?” “He is fine,” replied the nurse, “but he will never see Christ.” “Such is my wish,” said the father. The nurse remarked: “That is very wicked wish but it has been answered, the child was born blind.” (Fr. Benitez). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

27) Greek’s criterion of winning the race: Among the ancient Greek people the runner that won the race was not the man who crossed the line in the shortest time, but the man who crossed it in the least time with his torch still burning. — We are so busy with life’s activities that we are in danger of allowing the torch of our spiritual life to become extinguished. It was when Moses paused in his going that he heard the voice of God.  Today’s Gospel presents a blind man who not only received the light but also kept the light burning brightly for the rest of his life by following Jesus. The minute Jesus restored sight to his eyes and to his spirit, Bartimaeus immediately began to follow Jesus as a sighted, witnessing disciple. Opening the eyes of the blind was prophesied as one of the works of the Messiah: “The eyes of the blind will see” (Is 29:18; see also 32:3). In fact, in the very next scene Jesus is being proclaimed by the crowds as Messiah.(Fr. Jolly) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      L/21

 “Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B (No 56) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com

Visit my website by clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle A homilies, 141 Year of FaithAdult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at akadavil@gmail.com. Visit 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 .

O.T. XXIX (B) Sunday homily – October 10, 2021

O.T. XXIX (Oct 17) Mk 10:35-45: 8-minute homily in one pageT. O. T. XXIX Sunday  (Oct 17) Is 53:10-11; Hebrews 4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45

Central theme: Today’s Scripture readings describe Christian leadership as the sacrificial service done for others.  They also explain the servant leadership of Jesus and teach us that  self-sacrificing service is the criterion of greatness in Christ’s Kingdom.

Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading is a Messianic prophecy taken from the Fourth Servant Song in the second part of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. It tells how the promised Messiah will save mankind by dying in atonement for our sins. Jesus has done this out of love for us, becoming  the Suffering Servant crucified as an offering for sin, interceding for us and taking our punishment on Himself.

 The second reading, taken from the letter to the Hebrews, tells us that, as Godman and Mediator-High Priest, Jesus has offered a fitting sacrifice to God to ransom us, liberating us from enslavement to sin. In the time of Jesus, ransom was the price paid to free someone from slavery.  Sometimes the ransomer offered himself as a substitute for the slave, as Jesus did. The reading also speaks of a High Priest who is able to sympathize with us in our weakness because Jesus has been tested in every way, though sinless, and so we can “confidently” hope for God’s mercy.

Today’s Gospel explains how Jesus foretells for the third time, his suffering and death to atone for our sins and to save us. But his disciples were still dreaming of a triumphant political messiah who would reestablish the glorious Davidic kingdom. They dreamed of sharing their master’s glory.  Hearing the  the selfish request made by James and John for key positions in the Messianic political kingdom,  Jesus challenges them and his followers to become great by serving others with sacrificial agape love: “Whoever wishes to be great must be a servant.” 

Life Messages: 1) We are challenged to give our lives in loving service to others. As Christians, we are all invited to serve others – and to serve with a smile!  We are challenged to drink the cup of Jesus by spending our lives in humble, sacrificial service for others, just as Jesus did. The best place to begin the process of service by “self-giving” is in our own homes and workplaces.   When parents sacrifice their time, talents, health, and blessings for the welfare of others in the family, they are serving God. Service always involves suffering because we can’t help another without some sacrifice on our part.  We are rendering great service to others, also when we present them and their needs before God daily in our prayers.

2) We are invited to give servant leadership in our homes, parishes and communities: We become servant leaders at home by serving each member of the family sacrificially with commitment. To become an effective Christian community, we need lay leaders with the courage of their Christian convictions to work for implementing social justice among our parishioners.  We also need spiritual leaders like pastors who can break open the Word for us, lead us in our prayer, offer us on the altar, and draw us together as sacrament.

O.T. 29 SUNDAY (Oct 17): Is 53:10-11; Heb 4:14-16; Mk 10:35-45

Homily starter anecdotes: #1: “Sir, I am a Corporal!” During the American Revolution, a man in civilian clothes rode past a group of soldiers who were busy pulling out a horse carriage stuck in deep mud. Their officer was shouting instructions to them while making no attempt to help. The stranger who witnessed the scene asked the officer why he wasn’t helping. With great anger and dignity, the officer replied, “Sir, I am a Corporal!” The stranger dismounted from his horse and proceeded to help the exhausted soldiers himself. When the job was completed, he turned to the corporal and said, “Mr. Corporal, next time you have a job like this and don’t have enough men to do it, inform your commander-in-chief, and I will come and help you again.” Too late, the proud Corporal recognized General Washington. — Washington understood that those who aspire to greatness or rank first among others must serve the needs of all. America’s first president found himself in a situation that invited him to demonstrate servant leadership. Where did Washington learn such leadership skills? I have no doubt he learned them here, in these words of Jesus: “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” The young corporal had these words modeled for him by the man at the top. Jesus’ disciples, likewise, receive from their leader a picture of servanthood. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

# 2: True Greatness: Nobel prizes are awarded every year in literature, economics, and science, among others. People who have made outstanding contributions in these fields are given due recognition for their achieved greatness. Excellence is recognized in the sports world, too. For example, when Pete Rose surpassed Ty Cobb’s record number of hits in 1985, he assured himself a place in baseball’s Hall of Fame. — We all aspire to greatness in some form or another. It is a desire which our Lord addresses in today’s Gospel. But if we look deeper into enduring examples of greatness, we see that the Lord is right. Alexander the Great was a remarkable leader because he stood by his men in battle. Albert the Great was an intellectual giant because he disciplined himself for study. Beethoven was a master composer because he struggled long hours to get the right note. (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds; quoted by Fr. Botelho.) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

#3: “I discovered that Service is Joy”: It may sound unbelievable, but it is true that Asia’s first Nobel Prize winner in Literature (1913), Rabindranath Tagore, was behind the three great national anthems of three nations, viz. Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka. He was also the first non-Westerner to win the Nobel Prize in literature. He did so in 1913. He wrote this short poem:

I slept and dreamt that life was Joy;
Then I awoke and realized
that life was Service.
And then I went to work – and, lo
and behold, I discovered that
Service is Joy. — Today’s Gospel teaches us that true happiness comes from surrendering ourselves completely in humble service to God through Christ. And all we need is a servant’s heart, mind, eyes, and touch. So, “How’s Your Serve?” Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

Introduction: Today’s Scripture readings describe leadership as the service of others and offer Jesus as the best example. They explain the servant leadership of Jesus, pinpointing service and sacrifice as the criteria of greatness in Christ’s Kingdom.

Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading is a Messianic prophecy taken from the Fourth Servant Song in the second part of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.  The Servant of the first reading intercedes with God for the people, taking upon himself their wrongdoings and accepting the punishment their sins have incurred. This passage speaks of the servant as giving “his life as an offering for sin.”  The prophecy was realized in Jesus who lived and died for others. Out of love, Jesus, the servant, lived and died so that the unjust might know God’s justification. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 33) instructs us, “See, the  eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear Him, upon those who hope for his Kindness, / to deliver them from death and preserve them in  spite of famine,”  The second reading, taken from the letter to the Hebrews, notes that Jesus, as God willed, became the mediator or priest for the people. The reading speaks of a High Priest, able to sympathize with us in our weakness. Because  Jesus was tested in every way, though sinless, we can “confidently” hope for God’s mercy. Today’s Gospel lesson explains how  Jesus accomplished the Messianic mission of saving mankind by becoming the “Suffering Servant” and challenged the disciples to become great by serving others: “Whoever wishes to be great must be a servant.” In the time of Jesus, ransom was the price paid to free someone from slavery.  Sometimes the ransomer offered himself as a substitute for the slave. Jesus’ death on the cross was just such a liberating offering made for mankind. The “slavery” mandated by Jesus is a loving service of liberation for others.

First reading, Isaiah 53:10-11, explained: The first reading about the “Suffering Servant” prepares us to hear today’s Gospel teaching (Mark 10:35-45), on ambition versus humility. Jesus predicts, for the third time, that the Messianic mission would be accomplished by the Messiah’s  suffering, dying and rising, taking on the sins of all mankind to set us free. The concluding words of Jesus in today’s Gospel, “For the Son of Man  did not come to be served but to serve and to give giving His life as a ransom for many,” refer to the Messianic prophecy of the prophet Isaiah. This reading forms part of one of the famous four passages from the second part of Isaiah known as the Songs of the Suffering Servant, foreshadowing aspects of Jesus’  life and mission..  In Isaiah, the Suffering Servant probably refers to a single individual, or to the remnant of the faithful within Israel, or to some other religious reformer who will bring about peace and restoration.  Isaiah speaks of God crushing the Suffering Servant (Jesus) with suffering.  “By His sufferings shall My servant justify many.” We are invited to see the death of Jesus as the fulfillment of this passage because Jesus dies as a willing sacrifice for our sins, making us righteous by taking our sins away. Out of love, Jesus the servant lives and dies so that the unjust may know God’s justification.   The passage also gives us the assurance that if we work for righteousness, we will be able to receive the loving care of our Father, God, who will never abandon us.

Second Reading, Hebrews 4:14-16, explained: The Letter to the Hebrews was written to bolster the Faith of Jewish converts to Christianity.  They suffered the contempt of former Jewish friends who had not been converted, and they felt nostalgia for the institutions of Judaism, such as rituals, sacrifices, and the priesthood .  This letter tries to show them how they still have all these “missing” things, and in a better form in Christianity than they had them in Judaism. While the first reading from Isaiah prophesies the necessary, sacrificial role of God’s servant, Jesus, in the plan of salvation, the author of Hebrews affirms Jesus’ priestly activity.  Since the Jewish converts to Christ did not have the priests they were used to, the author of Hebrews argues that Jesus is the true High Priest, superior to and far better than the Jewish priests because He, the Son of God, shares our fragile, suffering humanity.  Thus, we can “approach his throne of grace confidently to receive mercy,” because Jesus understands us.  Later, in Heb 9:10-14, St. Paul presents Jesus as both sacrificial victim and priest.  In both death and Resurrection, Jesus functions both as the Priest sacrificing the victim and as the Victim sacrificed.

Gospel exegesis:  The context:  Our Gospel reading for today is another classic text on the question of ambition.  For the third time, (Mk 8:31, 9:31, 10:32), Jesus predicts swiftly approaching sufferings ending in death, but followed by resurrection on the third day.  In spite of Jesus’ two previous predictions, James and John are still thinking of Jesus as a revolutionary freedom-fighter. They share their contemporaries’ Jewish belief that the Messiah will be a political king, sitting on David’s throne and ruling over a re-united Israel.  They are sure that the purpose of Jesus’ final trip to Jerusalem is to overthrow the Roman rulers.  Hence, they want an assurance from Jesus that they will be the first- and second-in-command in the coming Messianic Kingdom of God.  According to Middle Eastern custom, the seats on the right and left sides of the host were the places of honor, granted to the host’s closest friends and associates, or those the host wished particularly to recognize.

The high price of servant leadership: The request of James and John reveals their lack of understanding of true leadership.  They are looking for positions of power and prestige.  They think that leadership comes from where one sits rather than from how one serves.  Jesus gives them a sharp rebuke, saying, “You do not know what you are asking.  Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They answer Jesus’ question with a very quick, “You bet we can!” That’s the kind of answer  you give when you envision the ‘cup’ in question to be a bejeweled golden goblet filled with good wine at the feast of Jesus’ inauguration as the replacement for the Caesar.” (Center for Excellence in Preaching; online). “The request of James and John for a share in the glory (Mark 10:35-37) must of necessity involve a share in Jesus’ sufferings, the endurance of tribulation and suffering for the Gospel” (Notes to the New American Bible). The cup was a symbol of the life experience allotted to each person by God. To “drink the cup” Jesus drinks is to accept the reality of suffering and to do God’s will in the midst of it, as Jesus did in Gethsemane and on Calvary. Those who follow the way of Jesus and seek to imitate the Master’s example of servant leadership must be willing even to suffer for others. During royal banquets, it was customary for an ancient king to hand the cup to his guests.  Thus, the cup became a metaphor for the life and experiences that God gives to men.  Jesus insisted that the disciples must drink from Jesus’ cup if they expected to reign with Jesus in his kingdom.  The cup Jesus had in mind was a bitter one, involving crucifixion.  For Jesus, to take this cup was to suffer the  judgment all mankind’s sin had earned. Baptism was also linked to the Divine judgment that will come as a result of human sinfulness.  Jesus had in mind the cup of the sacrificial death and the baptism of fire which would be met in Jerusalem.

Troubleshooting: Without fully understanding what Jesus meant, James and John quickly affirmed that they could share in their Master’s cup and baptism.  They had no understanding of the personal cost that lay behind these two images. [History tells us that James was beheaded by Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:2), and John suffered deeply when he heard regularly for years, of the persecution of his fellow Christians, while he himself was forced into exile.]  Naturally, the request of James and John angered the other disciples.  They were upset that James and John had tried to gain some advantage over them.  So, Jesus called them all together to give them yet another lecture on real leadership in the kingdom of God. Jesus further explains that to sit on his right hand and on his left “is not Mine to give” to give, for these places are reserved for those for whom they are prepared by his Father. The passage thus declares that “Christ would give rewards to his followers; but only to such as should be entitled to them according to the purpose of his Father.” (Notes on the New Testament)

A challenge to achieve greatness through humble, sacrificial service: Jesus tells the apostles plainly what the nature of the Messianic mission is, how it will be accomplished and what should be the criteria of greatness among the disciples.  Jesus summarizes the Messianic  mission in one sentence: “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”  It is in service and humility, Jesus says, that one will find true greatness in the eyes of God. Jesus also explains that the accomplishment of the Messianic mission demands  the Messiah’s freely accepting and undergoing crucifixion, as a sacrifice to save people from their sins.  Here, Jesus challenges the apostles to share not only the power, but the service, sacrificing themselves for others as Jesus will do.  According to Jesus, greatness consists not in what we have, nor in what we can get from others but in what we give to others.  The CEO in Jesus’ kingdom is the one who serves the needs of all the others. The test of greatness in the reign of God is not how many people are in one’s service but how one may serve the many.  Jesus thus overturns all our values, teaching us that true greatness consists in loving, humble, and sacrificial service. Jesus has identified authority with selfless service and loving sacrifice.  For Jesus, true service means putting one’s gifts at the disposal of others.  Service is sacrifice:  extending a helping hand to those in need translates love into meaningful deeds. Jesus clearly teaches that when power and authority are used in selfish ways, for personal gain, pleasure or advantage, instead of on behalf of others, they cease to be Christian, and those who make this error become “like the leaders of the Gentiles.”  St. Paul, in Rom 1:1, says: “From Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus.”  No wonder the official title of the popes down through the centuries has been, “Servant of the servants of God”!  For our contemporary, St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa), greatness lay in the giving of her whole self to the very lowest, treating them as brothers and sisters and living close to them.

Authority exercised by sacrificial service: Very often, people in authority act as if others exist only to serve them.  Even in our democratic form of government, our elected officials, although called “public servants,” frequently strut around like monarchs, interested in serving their own appetites for power, prestige, and wealth.  They forget the fact that authority is different from power.  Power is something a person has and forces on people.  Authority is something one first receives from a higher power (ultimately God Who is the Source of Authority). That authority is recognized in one by the people who choose, receive and obey one as their Leader. One can exercise authority over those one leads, only through service and sacrifice, for this is God’s own pattern, shown in Christ Jesus.  When people see that a person has their best interests at heart and is willing to sacrifice and serve them, they will be willing to follow.  That’s real leadership and authority.  Jesus presents authority as one’s opportunity to serve others rather than to promote one’s own honor and glory.  Jesus connects authority with selfless service.  He considers authority exercised without sacrificial love as merely self-service.   A noted Italian sociologist Francis Alberoni in his Art of Commanding, listed the qualities of a true gifted leader: “inspiration, humility, a spirit of service, serenity, good example, determination, availability, and the capacity to expend oneself.” Such a leader is seen in Jesus who stoops down and wash the feet of the apostles (John 13).

Life messages: 1) We are challenged to give our lives in loving service to others. To become an authentic disciple of Jesus means to put ourselves in the humble, demanding role of servant to others, to seek intentionally the happiness and fulfillment of those we love regardless of the cost to ourselves.  The best place to begin the process of “self-giving” service is in our own homes and in the workplace.  We have to look upon our education, training, and experience as preparation for service to others.  Whatever may be our place in society — whether important or unimportant — we can serve.  We should learn to serve with a smile.  This is possible whether we are in military service, social service, law, medical service, government, or business. We get chances to serve others every day.  Nurses serve their patients, teachers serve their students, parents serve the needs of their children, and spouses serve each another and their children as well as their own parents in old age.   In our parishes, we are also called to serve not to be served. We can here apply the famous “ask not” of John Kennedy: “Ask not what your parish, what your Church, your God can do for you; rather ask what you can do for your parish, for your Church, your God!” If we want to be leaders, we must learn to be available, accountable, and vulnerable.  This triad — availability, accountability, and vulnerability — qualifies us for what Robert Greenleaf has called Servant Leadership. “Life becomes harder for us when we live for others, but it also becomes richer and happier.” —Albert Schweitzer

2) We serve by suffering:  In today’s Gospel, Jesus connects service with suffering. Suffering and service go hand in hand.  First, service always involves suffering because one can’t help another without some personal sacrifice.  Second, God always invites those who suffer to put their suffering at the service of others by uniting it with the salvific suffering of Jesus.  Third, we must learn to be sensitive to the suffering of those around us.  One way to cultivate this sensitivity is to focus on the needs of others rather than on our own needs.  Another way is through prayer, as explained in St. Francis of Assisi’s famous Prayer for Peace.

3) We are invited to drink from the cup of Christ’s suffering: People often tailor their religious beliefs to fit their own needs.  In Christianity, this represents a false approach.  The Church needs true disciples who are cross-bearers and servants.  They seek and follow wherever Christ leads.  A happy family is the result of true sacrifice and humble service.  The husband and wife sacrifice convenience, comfort, and time.  There can be no success without sacrifice.  We are challenged to drink the cup of Jesus by laying down our lives in humble and sacrificial service for others, just as Jesus did.

4) We are invited to servant leadership: We are a community of equals and we share in the responsibilities of being community.  In order to be effective, we need leaders – both ordained, as ministerial priests, and lay.  These servants have been raised up from among us to call us to order, to be the ground on which the rest of us can move around, refining our lives as followers of Jesus.  We need leaders who will help us to form personal relationships with God and with each other that will assist us to become what we must be in order to wash one another’s feet.  We require leaders to call us to the ways of social justice.  We need leaders who tie us to other communities and groups who share similar values.  Finally, we need leaders who can break open the Word for us, who can lead us in our prayer, offering us on the altar, and who can draw us together as sacrament.  No one of us possesses all that we as a community need.  Our job as servant leaders is to evoke, to recognize, to nurture, to celebrate, and to help unify the gifts of the Holy Spirit at work here in our community. Jesus, our model of selflessness, surrendered entirely to the Father’s will out of love for us (CCC #536). We have this possibility of becoming “partners” with Jesus, to be a servant just like Him – “there is no other ladder by which we may get to Heaven” (CCC #618).

Jokes of the Week #1: Support your senator doing free service:  A priest went into a Washington, D. C. barber shop for a haircut.  When the barber finished, the priest asked him what the charge was and the barber responded, “No charge, Father, you are serving the Lord and I consider my service rendered to you as a service to the Lord.”  The next morning when the barber arrived at his shop he found at his front door a stack of usable Christmas cards and a note of thanks from the priest.  A few days later, a police officer went to the same barber for a haircut.  When he went to pay, the barber said, “No charge, officer.  I consider it a service to our community because you serve our community.”  The next morning when the barber arrived at his shop there were a dozen donuts at the front door and a note of thanks from the policeman.  A few days after this an influential senator came in for a haircut.  “No charge, Senator, I consider it a service to my country.”  The next morning when the barber arrived at his shop there were two congressmen waiting for their chance for the barber’s free service, carrying a note of thanks from the Senator!

# 2: Good old days: George Bernard Shaw was once asked in what generation he would have preferred to live. The witty Irishman replied: “The age of Napoleon, because then there was only one man who thought he was Napoleon.

USEFUL 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) Catholic Radio: http://www.catholicradiointernational.com/index.php

2) EWTN radio: http://www.ewtn.com/audiovideo/index.asp

3) Catholic pages: http://www.catholic-pages.com/default.htm

4) Theological Resources: http://www.diocs.org/Faith/index.cfm

5) Tutorial on Latin Mass: http://www.sanctamissa.org/en/index.html

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

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

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

9) Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs: (Type https://sundayprep.org on the Address bar (topmost column) in Google search or YouTube Search and press the Enter button. Do not type it on You Tube Search column or Google Search)

32- Additional anecdotes:

1) NBA superstar on service: Nearly a decade after leaving professional basketball, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar decided to return to the sport he loved, by accepting a coaching position with the Alchesay Falcons – a high-school team of mostly White Mountain Apaches.  As an African American among Native Americans, Abdul-Jabbar had a great deal to learn about these people.  He discovered surprising cultural traditions that made it difficult for him to coach them, such as the Indian discomfort at being singled out for criticism as well as their extreme sensitivity.  By working with these people, however, and sacrificing his time and talents, Abdul-Jabbar learned to appreciate them and form them into a super team.  He did not try to lord it over them as an NBA superstar.  Instead, he served them.  In the end, he may have learned more than he actually taught.  He became a good example of servant leadership. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

2) Servant leader in a serving community: In his book, Dr. George Burns’ Prescription For Happiness: Buy Two Books and Call Me in the Morning, George Burns writes: “If you were to go around asking people what would make them happier, you’d get answers like a new car, a bigger house, a raise in pay, winning a lottery, a face-lift, more kids, less kids, a new restaurant to go to. Probably not one in a hundred would say a chance to help people. And yet that may bring the most happiness of all. I don’t know Dr. Jonas Salk, but after what he’s done for us with his polio vaccine, if he isn’t happy, he should have that brilliant head of his examined. Of course, not all of us can do what he did. I know I can’t do what he did; he beat me to it. But the point is, it doesn’t have to be anything that extraordinary. It can be working for a worthy cause, performing a needed service, or just doing something that helps another person.” [George Burns, Dr. George Burns’ Prescription for Happiness, (New York, NY, USA: Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, 1984), p. 141] — We need lots of people like those George Burns was describing, Dr. Salk and others like him who saw a need and tried to fill it. They were living a servant life. In our passage of Scripture for today, we find James and John wanting to race ahead of the others and jump into prime positions in the kingdom of God. But Jesus saw through their little ploy. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

3) Methodist & Baptist “servant-leader politics”: A Methodist pastor once wrote about power and politics in his denomination. Methodist preachers, he notes, are under the care of a bishop. Bishops, in turn, are Methodist preachers who are elected by fellow Methodist preachers after an extensive campaign for the office in which the candidate tries not to be caught campaigning. As he observes, “It is a long-standing Methodist tradition that bishops must not appear to have sought their office and, once elected, the new bishop must make a public declaration, saying, ‘I didn’t seek this office, and I didn’t want it but, once the Lord calls….'” Methodist preachers take all of this with a grain of salt, the same way Baptist congregations have learned to be somewhat skeptical when one of their preachers moves on to a better Church claiming, “I hate to leave this Church and I would rather stay here, but the Lord calls.” Baptists note that the Lord rarely calls someone out of one Church into another Church unless that Church has a higher salary. Methodists have likewise noted that there have been few preachers who, once they are elected bishop, turn the job down. [William H. Willimon, And the Laugh Shall Be First (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1986), p. 94]  Also found in William G. Carter, No Box Seats in the Kingdom, CSS Publishing, with this ending: “Teacher, we want you to put us on your right and on your left. But keep it quiet. Don’t make it too obvious. Others may become offended that we asked first.” — By telling us this story, Mark knows what you and I know: we are prone to the same desire for privilege and protected status. We want a Jesus who will give us what we want, a Lord who can shower a little power on us, a Savior who can make us better than we are. (Fr. Kayala). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

4) “Here comes the man God sent us.” When Doug Meland and his wife moved into a village of Brazil’s Fulnio Indians, he was referred to as “the white man,” an uncomplimentary term. Other white men had exploited the villagers, burned their homes, and robbed their lands. But after the missionaries learned the language and began to help people with medicine and in other ways, they began to call Doug, “the good white man.” And when the Melands began adopting the customs of the people, the Fulnio spoke of Doug as the “white Indian.” Then one day, as Doug was washing the dirty, blood-caked foot of an injured boy, he heard a bystander say, “Who ever heard of a white man washing an Indian’s foot? Certainly, this man is from God.” From that day, whenever Doug entered an Indian home, it would be announced, “Here comes the man God sent us.” [Stephen Olford, Committed to Christ and His Church (1991, Paperback).] — That’s the secret of greatness: Service. That’s also the chief characteristic of those who follow Jesus. “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10: 45; Matthew 20: 28). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

5) “Landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” In their influential book, Built to Last, James Collins and Jerry Porras coined the term BHAG (pronounced “bee-hag”). BHAG describes a bold, well-nigh impossible vision. BHAG stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal, B-H-A-G. Common sense would tell you that a BHAG would intimidate many people and discourage them from trying. But BHAGs are paradoxical, according to Collins and Porras. The idea of attempting the impossible is so exciting and energizing that organizations usually experience an upsurge of motivation when a leader presents a BHAG to his people. A great example of a BHAG is the vision announced by President John F. Kennedy in a speech on May 25, 1961: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.” [Linda Watkins, God Just Showed Up (Chicago: Moody Bible Institute, 2001), pp. 127-136.] — JFK was challenging our country to put a man on the moon, and we did! Jesus was trying to get the apostles to forget their petty power games for a moment and focus on the Biggest, Hairiest, Most Audacious Goal of all–to join with Jesus in redeeming this world. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

6) “Then there was only one man who thought he was Napoleon.” George Bernard Shaw, the famous author, was once asked in what generation he would have preferred to live. The witty Irishman replied: “The age of Napoleon, because then there was only one man who thought he was Napoleon.” — What James and John are asking for is nothing less than the power to command the army of Israel. Rabbis and scholars at the time taught that the Messiah when he came would be the new David, King of Israel. He would rule with a mighty sword and vanquish all of Israel’s enemies. The disciples were under the same impression. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

7) “I want to compete with IBM.” When Michael Dell was in college, his parents drove up for a surprise visit. They were concerned that Michael’s “hobby”–building computers in his dorm room–was distracting him from his studies. His father demanded that he get more serious about his college work, asking Michael, “What do you want to do with your life?” And the young college student infuriated his dad by replying, “I want to compete with IBM.” At the time, IBM was the dominant computer company in the world. Not long after that, Michael Dell dropped out of college and raised the capital to start his own computer business. By 1999, ten years after Michael Dell began his company, Dell Computers overtook IBM as the nation’s largest seller of personal computers. [John Eliot, Ph.D., Overachievement (New York: Portfolio, 2004), pp. 38-40.] — If you’re going to dream, why not dream big? It’s true. Our dreams are too small. That was the problem with James and John in today’s Gospel. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

8) “Neither of us got our wish.” : Dwight David Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States says that when he was a small boy in Kansas, he went fishing with a friend of his. Young Eisenhower confided to his friend that his dream was to be a major league baseball player one day. Interestingly, Eisenhower’s friend said that his dream was to be President of the United States. Eisenhower said wistfully, “Neither of us got our wish.” (Play Ball, Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour Publishing.) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

9) Determined Dreamer: In 1976, motivational speaker Steve Chandler interviewed an aspiring young actor named Arnold Swarzenegger. Swarzenegger was promoting his first film. “Now that you have retired from body-building,” Chandler asked him, “what are you going to do next?” With a calm voice, Arnold Swarzenegger said, “I’m going to be the No. 1 box office star in all of Hollywood.” Chandler said he tried not to show his amusement. Swarzenegger’s first attempt at movies hadn’t shown much promise, and his Austrian accent and monstrous build didn’t suggest instant acceptance by audiences. “It’s the same process I used in body-building.” Schwarzenegger went on to explain. “What you do is create a vision of who you want to be, and then live into the picture, as if it were already true.” “It sounded ridiculously simple,” says Steve Chandler, “Too simple to mean anything. But I wrote it down and never forgot it.” [Steve Chandler, 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself (Franklin Lakes, NJ: The Career Press, 2004), p. 22.] — I wonder what Chandler would have thought if Arnold had said his dream was to become governor of California. Most of us at one time or another have had our dreams. Some of those dreams were childish. Many were unrealistic. James and John, the sons of Zebedee had dreams, ambitions. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

10)  Carrot flight to heaven: Rev. Anthony DeMello S. J. shares this tale: An old woman was dying.  While examining her records, the Heavenly court could not find a single act of charity performed by her except for a carrot she had once given to a starving beggar.  Such, however, was the power of a single deed of love that the merciful Lord decreed that she be taken up to Heaven on the strength of that carrot.  The angel brought back the carrot from heaven and gave it to her soul which was leaving her body.  The moment she caught hold of the carrot, it began to rise as if pulled by some invisible string, lifting her up toward the sky.  The soul of a beggar appeared.  He clutched the hem of her garment and was lifted with her; a third person caught hold of the beggar’s foot and was lifted too.  Soon there was a long line of souls being lifted up to Heaven by that carrot.  And, strange as it may seem, the woman did not feel the weight of all those people who held onto her. In fact, since she was looking Heavenward, she did not even see them. Higher and higher they rose until they almost reached the Heavenly gates.  That was when the woman looked back to catch a last glimpse of the earth and saw this whole train of people behind her.  She was indignant!  She gave an imperious wave of her hand and shouted, “Off! Off, all of you!  This carrot is mine!”  In making her proud gesture, she let go of the carrot for a moment – and down she fell with the entire train. —  De Mello concludes: There is only one cause for every evil on earth: the “’This is mine!’ attitude!”  Today’s Gospel describes how Jesus handled greed in two disciples. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

11) “I wish every child could say the same.” In his book, Hide or Seek, James Dobson tells of a time when John McKay, the great football coach at the University of Southern California, was interviewed on television, and the subject of his son’s athletic talent was raised. Son John was a successful player on his dad’s team. Coach McKay was asked to comment on the pride that he felt over his son’s accomplishments on the field. His answer was most impressive: “Yes, I’m pleased that John had a good season last year. He does a fine job, and I’m proud of him. But I would be just as proud if he had never played the game at all.’ Dr. Dobson goes to on to say this: “Coach McKay was saying, in effect, that John’s football talent was recognized and appreciated, but his human worth did not depend upon his ability to play football. John’s place in his dad’s heart was secure, being independent of his performance. I wish every child could say the same.” (quoted by William J. Vamos, First Presbyterian Church, Elkhart, Indiana, “What Happens When You’re Not Number One?”, Pulpit Digest, p. 2117). — In today’s Gospel Jesus warns James and John that what is important is not higher positions but willingness to do humble service. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

12) First Baptist , First Presbyterian, First United Methodist Church:   Drive through any town or suburb in America and you will see signs announcing the names of local churches. There will be a “First Presbyterian, a “First United Methodist,” a “First Baptist,” a “First United Church of Christ.” Only after the “First” designation has been snapped up do later churches start to shop around for a different name. “Second” isn’t very popular. Better to be “Third” or “Fourth.” There is even one “Twelfth Presbyterian Church” that I know of. Every Church wants to be “First.” And if they can’t be first, most abandon being numbered altogether. There is a Church in Dayton, Ohio, founded and pastored by the Rev. Dr. Daryl Ward, that has taken a step out of that traditional lineup. They call themselves “Omega Baptist Church.” What is “Omega?” “Omega” is the last letter of the Greek alphabet. The Divine declaration of being “the Alpha and the Omega” is another way of saying “the first and the last.” In other words, “Omega Baptist Church” isn’t claiming “first” place for itself. It is putting itself at the end of the line. It’s another way of calling itself the “Last Baptist Church.” It appears to get the teaching in today’s Gospel. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

13) “Dad, did you realize that you treated the president of the hospital and the janitor just alike?” James Moore tells about a man named George. George was a peacemaker with a big heart and wonderful sense of humor. George claimed he was, “so tenderhearted that he cried at supermarket openings!” Everyone at Church loved George. He was respected at the hospital where he worked. The reason so many people loved George was because he was always kind and always respectful to everyone he met. His children vividly remember the days George spent in the hospital before he died. The president of the hospital paid him a visit. He and George talked like they were old friends. A couple of minutes later one of the janitors came to visit. And they spoke like they were old friends. When the janitor left, one of George’s children said to him, “Dad, did you realize that you treated the president of the hospital and the janitor just alike?” George smiled, chuckled and said, “Let me ask you something — if the president left for two weeks and the janitor left for two weeks, which one do you think would be missed the most?” Then George called his children around his bed. “Let me show you something I carry in my pocket all the time, even when I mow the lawn.” George pulled out a pocket-sized cross and a marble. George said, “On the cross are written these words, ‘God Loves You,’ and on the marble are these words, ‘Do unto Others as You Would Have Them Do unto You.’ The cross reminds me of how deeply God loves me, and the marble reminds me of how deeply God wants me to love others.” [James W. Moore, When All Else Fails (Nashville: Dimensions for Living, 1993), p. 78.] — That’s A SERVANT’S HEART. That’s the Heart Jesus wants us all to have as we seek to serve Him and become more and more like Him each day by giving Him our heart. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

14)  The lamp-lighter was a good example of the genuine Christian: The following story is told about John Ruskin, the 18th century English writer, when he was quite old. He was visiting with a friend, and he was standing looking out the front window of the house. It was night-time, and the lamp-lighter was lighting the streetlamps. From the window one could see only the lamps that were being lit, and the light the lamp-lighter was carrying from one lamp to another. The lamp-lighter himself could not be seen. Ruskin remarked that the lamp-lighter was a good example of the genuine Christian. His way was clearly lit by the lights he lit, and the light he kept burning, even though he himself might not be known or seen. — At the beginning of the Gospel, Jesus said that He was the light that had come into the world. Today, Jesus tells us that we are to become that Light for others…. (Jack Mc Ardle in And that’s the Gospel Truth; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

15) Incarnating God’s love: When the great Japanese Christian Kagawa first heard about the life of Jesus, he cried out, “O God, make me like your Christ!” To be more like Christ, Kagawa left a comfortable home and went to live in the slums of Tokyo. There he shared himself and his possessions with whoever needed help. In his book Famous Life Decisions, Cecil Northcott says that Kagawa once gave away all his clothing. He was left standing in only a tattered kimono. On another occasion, even though deathly sick, he continued to preach to people in a rain, repeating over and over: ‘God is love! God is love! God is love! Where love is, there is God.” William Barclay gives us an insight into the heart and mind of Kagawa when he quotes the great man as saying: “God dwells among the lowliest of men.. He is there with beggars. He is among the sick, He stands with the unemployed. Therefore let him who would meet God visit the prison cell before going to the temple. Before he goes to Church let him visit the hospital. Before the reads his Bible let him help the beggar.” (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

16) Muhammad Ali “the greatest.”  Muhammad Ali, the boxer, used to call himself “the greatest!”  There was something comical about his arrogance.  Once he declared: “I float like a butterfly, I sting like a bee.”  The story is told of him that once when he was on an airplane about to take off, the flight steward said, “Sir, would you please fasten your seat belt?”  Muhammad Ali replied, “Superman doesn’t need a seat belt.”  The steward replied, “In that case, Superman doesn’t need an airplane to fly.” —   Today’s Gospel tells us of two of Jesus’ disciples who wanted to be supermen—to sit at the right hand and the left hand of Jesus in the Messianic kingdom– to be the greatest, to be the first. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

17) Inflated Ego: Some American tourists one day visited the home of Beethoven. A young woman among them sat down at the great composer’s piano and began to play his Moonlight Sonata. After she had finished, she turned to the old caretaker and said: “I presume a great many musicians visit this place every year.” “Yes,” he replied. “Paderewski was here last year.” “And did he play on Beethoven’s piano?” “No,” he said, “he said he wasn’t worthy.” (Anonymous; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

 18)  Greatness at What Price: If we look at the enduring examples of greatness, we see that the Lord is right. Alexander was a remarkable leader because he stood by his men in battle. Albert the Great was an intellectual giant because he disciplined himself to study. Beethoven was a master composer because he struggled long hours to get the right note. Martin Luther was a great reformer because he persisted in spite of opposition. Archbishop Romero was great because he was ready to stand against the corrupt leaders and die for his people. St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) was great because she was able to give up the security of her convent life and open herself to the poorest of the poor. Mahatma Gandhi was great because he worked for freedom for his people and died practicing non-violence as a form of protest. (Quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

19) Converting or sharing the best? In the recent past I read that St. Teresa of Kolkata (Mother Teresa), was once summoned to court on a trumped charge that she was converting children in her care to the Catholic Faith. Standing before the judge, she was asked if that was true. Turning to one of her Sisters, who were cradling a little baby in her arms, Mother Teresa asked for the infant. Then turning to the judge, she replied: “Your honor, I picked this little baby from the garbage bin. I don’t know the religion of the family into which this innocent infant was born, nor do I know the language that its parents speak. All that I do is that I give this child my love, my time, my care, my food and the best thing that I have in my life -my faith in Christ Jesus. Can’t I give this child the best that I have in life?” The case was dismissed in favor of Mother Teresa. (James Valladares in Your Words, O Lord, Are Spirit, and They Are Life; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

20) Power from Above: In 1764 James Watt invented the steam engine, and steam power was used for the first time to drive machinery. In 1830 George Stephenson built the famous locomotive called the ‘Rocket’ which could carry heavy loads and move faster. It was the first real railway engine. The first motor car was built by Daimler in 1891 using petrol power to run on roads. The year 1903 opened the era of air flights, again with engines powered by petrol. Now space flights have become possible with power produced by other sources including liquid oxygen. — But there is a greater power which is mightier than these powers, the power of God. This power lives in men empowering them to live victorious lives even in this present world. The clay vessels are made into vessels of glory driven by His power for the Master’s use. (Daniel Sunderaraj in Manna for the Soul; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

21) To serve with love: A boy was consistently coming home late from school. There was no good reason for his tardiness, and no amount of discussion seemed to help. Finally, in desperation, the boy’s father sat him down and said: “The next time you come late from school you are going to be given bread and water for your supper -and nothing else. Is that perfectly clear son?” The boy looked straight into his father’s eyes and nodded. He understood perfectly. A few days later the boy came home even later than usual. That night however, when they sat down together at the table there was only a single slice of bread in his plate and a glass of water. His father’s and mother’s plates were full of food. The father waited for the full impact to sink in, then, quietly took the boy’s plate and placed it in front of himself. He took his own plate and put it in front of the boy. The boy understood what his father was doing. His father was taking upon himself the punishment that he, the boy, had brought upon himself by his own delinquent behavior. Years later the boy recalled the incident and said: “All my life I’ve known what God is like by what my father did that night.” — “The Son of Man came to give his life to redeem many people.” (J. Allan Peterson in Leadership Magazine; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

22) Caring Service and Its Impact: A room-service waiter at a Marriott hotel learned that the sister of a guest had just died. The waiter, named Charles, bought a sympathy card, had hotel staff members sign it, and gave it to the distraught guest with a piece of hot apple pie. “Mr. Marriott,” the guest later wrote to the president of Marriott Hotels, “I’ll never meet you. And I don’t need to meet you. Because I met Charles. I know what you stand for. … I want to assure you that as long as I live, I will stay at your hotels. And I will tell my friends to stay at your hotels.” Roger Dow and Susan Cook, “Turned On” (New York: Harper Business, 1996). (Fr. Kayala). Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

23) Operation Omega: Today’s Gospel message

We should be the last to leave the side of a sick bed.
We should be the last to let a grieving spouse sit alone.
We should be the last to write off the children whose parents have failed them or thrown them away.
We should be the last to ignore the homeless camped out along our streets.
We should be the last to allow hunger to gnaw at the bellies of our neighbors.
We should be the last to shrug our shoulders at ongoing environmental degradation.
We should be the last to let despair grind down the powerless.
We should be the last to condone cruelty of any kind, to any living thing.
We should be the last to let human hatred triumph over Divine love.

Here are some suggestions of how you’d conduct Operation Omega:

1) Purposely let others get in line before you.

2) Try to be the last in line. And pray for those who seem most hurried and stressed because they’re not first in line.

3) If someone in back of you at the check-out line has fewer items than you do, or even if they don’t but seem in a hurry, let them go in front of you.

4) Let other cars “in” when they need an assist.

5) Measure your success at sporting events not by how many points you can score, but how many assists you can generate. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

24) Who wears the authentic royal ring? Once upon a time in a far-off country, a king had twin sons. One was strong and handsome. The other was intelligent and wise. As the ruler grew old, everyone speculated about which son the king would choose as his successor – the strong son or the wise son. In this land the sign of kingship was a royal ring. Just before the king died, he had a copy of the royal ring made and presented both rings to his twin sons. The chief advisors to the king asked him, “How shall we know which son wears the authentic royal ring?” “You shall know,” answered the king, “because the chosen one will reveal his right to rule by his self-giving service to our people.” [Richard Carl Hoefler, Insights, October 1988]. And Jesus said, Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. [Mark 10: 43,44]. — Many congregations declare at the conclusion of their liturgy .. the worship has ended – now the service begins. Let that be our hope as we hear those words, Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. For if that is our intention, then we can truly say and mean .. Thanks be to God. Amen. (Fr. Almquist). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

25) He gave us all he had and gave gladly.” There is an old story of a rice farmer who saved an entire village from destruction. From his hilltop farm he felt the earth quake and saw the distant ocean swiftly withdraw from the shore line. He knew that a tidal wave was coming.   In the valley below, he saw his neighbors working low fields that would soon be flooded. They must run quickly to his hilltop or they would all die. His rice barns were dry as tinder.  So, with a torch he set fire to his barns and soon the fire gong started ringing. His neighbors saw the smoke and rushed to help him. Then from their safe perch they saw the tidal wave wash over the fields they had just left. In a flash they knew not only who had saved them but what their salvation had cost their benefactor. They later erected a monument to his memory bearing the motto, “He gave us all he had, and gave gladly.”– This poor farmer finished first in the eyes of his community, but it cost him everything he had.   There are not many people in our world like that farmer. He willingly sacrificed himself that others might succeed. Most people do everything they can to better themselves and think nothing of the people they step on, leaving them behind as they climb to the top of the heap.  This text is designed to teach us the truth that not everyone who finishes first is victorious. Sometimes those who take the last seat, those who willingly finish last, are the real winners in the game of life. (Sermon Notebook). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

26) The man was seen having a bagel and coffee: I have a story of servanthood to leave you with this morning. A woman found a stack of checks all made out to someone named Stacy, with a bank deposit slip for an amount over $3,000. Rather than call the woman, she decided to take the checks to the bank and deposit them in the woman’s account. She told the teller that the owner would likely come in soon all upset about losing the checks. Tell her the money was found and deposited. Then tell her to read this note, which said, “Hi, Stacy, I found your deposit and brought it to the bank. I don’t know if you take the train to work in the morning, but there is a homeless man who sits by the station nearby here every morning, and if you would like to pass on the good deed, he could use a cup of coffee and a bagel.” —  That was a Tuesday. The man was seen having a bagel and coffee on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. It seems Stacy was very happy about having the lost money deposited in her account. That’s an example of the kind of service God wants us to perform and is so needed, especially with people losing jobs today. (Rev. James F. Wright). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

27) The Narcissism Epidemic…Living in an age of entitlement. Perhaps you have heard of the ancient Greek legend of Narcissus.  He was supposedly the son of a river god.  A seer had told his mother that her son must never see his reflection if he were to mature into manhood.  For that reason, everything that threw off an image, such as metal, was removed from her son’s grasp.  But one day Narcissus found a spring that formed a pool filled with crystal-clear water.  As he stooped down to take a drink from the pool, he saw his reflection on the surface of the pool.  He fell desperately in love with himself, and seeking to embrace himself, he fell into the water and he drowned. We don’t speak much anymore of the legend of Narcissus.  We do, however, use his name to describe those who are hopelessly self-centered and self-absorbed.  In fact, narcissism is now identified and catalogued as an official personality disorder by the medical profession. In a broader sense, we use the name to describe one of the great maladies of our 21st century American culture.  Ours, in many ways, is a narcissistic culture.  We live in an age of entitlement.  In fact, about 10 years ago there was book written on the subject.  It was titled, The Narcissism Epidemic…Living in an Age of Entitlement. The authors give us a few examples of how our culture has turned in on itself. They write, five times as many Americans undergo plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures as did ten years ago, and ordinary people hire fake paparazzi to follow them around to make them look famous.  High school students physically attack classmates and post YouTube videos of the beatings to get attention.  And for the past several years, Americans have been buying McMansions and expensive cars on credit they can’t afford.” — None of this, of course, should surprise us.  Consider the contrast set before us this morning in the Gospel reading from Mark 10.  James and John versus Jesus–selfish ambition versus self-sacrifice; wanting to be a lord over others versus being Lord of all, and yet, desiring only to serve.  These are two completely different ways of life, two opposing mindsets, two contradictory purposes, even, for life itself. (Rev. Alan Taylor). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

 

28) Servant leadership: This passage also tells us about the standard of Greatness in the Kingdom of God,   when Jesus places before us the concept of the servant leader. In the Kingdom of God, the standard is that of service. Greatness consistsnot in reducing other men to one’s service, but in reducing oneself to their service. Hannibal Barca was a military commander of the Carthage army in 247 BC. He led a famous campaign in the second Punic War against the Roman army, remaining undefeated until the very gates of Rome. His most famous military accomplishment was the battle of Cannae, where he defeated a Roman army size double of his. What was the secret of his success?  He was a man who led by example. He would sleep among his soldiers and would not wear anything that made him distinct above his soldiers. He would lead the armies into battle and be the last to leave the battlefield. Even today he stands as a model for leadership. Ernest Shackleton is another great example of a servant leader. He was an early 20th century explorer whose ship was crushed in Antarctic ice. After countless brushes with death, including an 800-mile journey in open boats across the winter Antarctic seas, Shackleton brought every one of his 27 crew members home alive. It took two years, but his sense of responsibility toward his men never wavered. One of the many tactics he used to serve his men was to share sleeping quarters with those who were most disgruntled instead of his favorite people to be around. — These leaders put the needs of the people they lead ahead of their own. So, they became great. (Fr. Bobby Jose). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

29) Rudyard Kipling has a poem called “Mary’s Son” which is advice on the spirit in which a man must work.

If you stop to find out what your wages will be

And how they will clothe and feed you,

Willie, my son, don’t you go on the Sea.

For the Sea will never need you.

If you ask for the reason of every command,

And argue with people about you,

Willie, my son, don’t you go on the Land,

For the Land will do better without you.

If you stop to consider the work, you have done

And to boast what your labor is worth, dear,

Angels may come for you, Willie, my son,

But you’ll never be wanted on Earth, dear! [Quoted by William Barclay, The Gospel of Mark, p. 267]. (Fr. Bobby Jose). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

30) He Gives His Life: One of the most remarkable medical developments in the 1930’s and 1940’s was the blood-bank. Blood was taken from donors to be stored for later transfer into the bodies of those who had themselves suffered a major loss of blood. Rarely, since then, have we heard of the givers of blood charging for that service. Blood giving has rather struck people as an act of charity and compassion towards those whose life is endangered. Particularly during World War II those who were donating to the American Red Cross blood banks would vie with each other to become “gallonaires” – donors (at medically prescribed intervals) of a gallon of their lifeblood. Blood-banks were not restricted to the United States. The practice of donating one’s blood spread everywhere. To the Christians of the world the gift of blood was not only something humane, but something Christ-like. Pope Pius XII pointed this out in the fall of 1948. During and after World War II, many Italians had given generously of their blood to save the lives of the thousands who had been wounded or otherwise stricken in the Italian Campaign. In Autumn 1948 a group of these Italian blood donors had a special audience with the Holy Father. Praising their true Christian generosity, he told them “Christ, the Supreme and Divine Donor of His Blood, is your example in a particular way.” — In today’s first reading, the prophet Isaiah foresees that the death of Christ will be the cause of life for mankind. “If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long line…” (53:10). A moment before, Isaiah had said “By his stripes we were healed” (53:5). Know then, whenever you give blood to your fellowman that you, like Jesus, are giving of your very self so that others may live. (Father Robert F. McNamara). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

31) Eagle among the Prairie chicken: Do you remember the story of the eagle’s egg that was placed into the nest of a prairie chicken? The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them. All his life, the eagle, thinking he was a prairie chicken, did what the prairie chickens did. He scratched in the dirt for seeds and insects to eat. He clucked and cackled, and he flew in a brief thrashing of wings and flurry of feathers no more than a few feet off the ground. After all, that’s how prairie chickens were supposed to fly. Years passed, and the eagle grew very old. One day, he saw a magnificent bird far above him in the cloudless sky. Hanging with graceful majesty on the powerful wind currents, it soared with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings. “What a beautiful bird,” said the eagle to his neighbor, “what is it? ”That’s an eagle–the chief of the birds,” the neighbor clucked. “But don’t give it a second thought. You could never be like him.” So the changeling eagle never gave it another thought, and it died, thinking it was a prairie chicken. — I believe far too many Christians are just like that eagle, living far below their great, sweet, soaring, massive potential. For far too many believers, God says, “Run,” but we walk. God says, “Obey,” and we consider our options. God says, “Serve,” and we’re content to be served. So which path are you on? Are you on the path of true spiritual greatness–the eagle? Or are you on the path of worldly greatness–the prairie chicken? (Rev. Chris Mueller). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/). 

32) He was proud of his humility: I knew a guy once who worked really hard at appearing humble. In public, he was always putting himself down, always declining praise when he’d done something good. But in private, it was a different story. One time he told me of a particularly generous thing he’d done for someone we both knew. And then he said, “But of course, I don’t want anyone to know it was me. Jesus says to give alms in secret.” And I thought, “but you just told me.” This same friend complained to me – privately, of course – when he didn’t receive an award for service that he was hoping to get. He thought the person who did receive the award “didn’t go above and beyond the call of duty” as much as he did, and wasn’t humble enough. — In reality, my friend was pretty proud of his humility. He didn’t understand that true humility comes from thinking less of yourself, and more of someone else. Real humility is the foundation of real greatness, particularly because it doesn’t care at all about recognition or glory; it only cares about the good of others. (Jo Anne Taylor). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     L/21

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B (No 55) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com

Visit my website by clicking on https://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle B homilies, 141 Year of FaithAdult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at akadavil@gmail.com. Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies  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 .

O.T. XXVII Sunday Homily (October 3, 2021)

OT XXVII [B] Sunday (Oct 3, 2021) Homily

(Eight-minute homily in one  page)

Introduction: Today’s Scripture readings are about the bond of love that marriage creates between a man and a woman, a bond that God intends to be permanent. These readings challenge the spouses to practice the fidelity of their ever-faithful God, honoring their holy covenant commitment before Him.

Scripture lessons: The first reading, taken from Genesis explains God’s original plan concerning sex and marriage. It teaches us that God made man and woman for each other. Hence, in marriage they are no longer two but one, united by an unbreakable bond. The reading also describes the institution of marriage and shows that monogamy was God’s intention from the very beginning. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 128) expands the marital theme of the first reading and the Gospel to include the children born of the union. Since the children enrich the lives of their parents, the Psalmist prays: “May you see your children’s children.”

The second reading, taken from the Letter to the Hebrews, reminds us that Jesus became one of us, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. As one of us, Jesus “tasted death for everyone.” He was not only the Sacrifice, but also the High Priest. We are now Jesus’ brothers and sisters, bonded with Him, and through Him bonded with God. Thus, Christ became the Savior of all people – the good, the bad, the divorced, gays, lesbians – everyone, and received all of us as brothers and sisters. Jesus’ prohibition of divorce can be a source of suffering for those who face difficult married lives. Paul suggests that we have to accept pain as Jesus did, as the suffering we should endure on the way to glory.

Today’s Gospel gives Christ’s explicit teaching on marriage and divorce, the Divine origin of marriage, the sacredness of family life, and the indissolubility of marriage. These are difficult messages to preach in a society that embraces co-habitation and ignores both the escalating divorce statistics and the dangerous consequences of divorce. The Gospel teaches that family life is sacred, that husband and wife are partners with equal rights and that the destruction of the family by divorce is producing the destruction of society.

Life messages: 1) Both spouses need to work hard to create a good marriage: Marriage demands that they should become the right persons for each another as God-given gifts. Marriage is a union based on committed sharing, and forgiving, sacrificial agape love. It requires many mutual adjustments; much mutual generosity and great good will to forgive and ask for forgiveness; sincere cooperation in training children and raising them as practising Catholic Christians; and daily strength from God obtained through personal and family prayers and punctual participation in the parish liturgy.

2) We need to reach out with Christian sympathy to the divorced and to troubled families. The parish community needs to accept them with respect, compassion, sensitivity, love, and support, sharing the depth of their pain from a failed, or failing, marriage. The Church cannot sanction a second marriage for either spouse unless the previous marriage has been declared annulled by the Diocesan Marriage Tribunal. In the meantime, “…they should be encouraged to listen to the Word of God, to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to bring up their children in the Christian Faith” (CCC #1651).

OT XXVII  (Oct 3, 2021) Gn 2:18-24; Heb 2:9-11; Mk 10:2-16 [2-12]

Homily starter anecdotes: # 1: The grim picture presented by divorce statistics.We are told that during the last three years the divorce rate in the U.S has gone above 43%, although it is still less than that in Russia (65%), Sweden (63%), U.K (49%) and Australia (49%). In 1998 there were 19.4 million divorced adults in the U.S.A. Each year 2.5 million more couples get divorced. A greater number of divorces occur within the Christian Churches than in marriages made outside the Church. An ABC broadcast reports that the divorce rate in the “Bible Belt” is 50% higher than in other areas of the country. This affects the lives of one million new children every year, 84% of whom live in single parent homes. Statistics for the U.S. predict the possibility of 40% to 50% of marriages ending in divorce if current trends continue. People between the ages of 25 and 39 account for 60% of all divorces. More people are in their 2nd marriage than 1st (www. dicorcenter.com). With divorce being so common today, nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. Hence the importance of today’s readings about the indissolubility of marriage which is a freely agreed holy covenant commitment before God. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

#2: Guinness world record for the longest marriage: A British couple holds the Guinness world record for the longest marriage. Percy and Florence Arrowsmith married on June 1, 1925 and celebrated their 80th anniversary on June 1, 2005. “I think we’re very blessed,” Florence, 100, told the BBC. “We still love one another, that’s the most important part.” Asked for the secret of their long marriage, Florence said you must never be afraid to say “sorry.” “You must never go to sleep bad friends,” she said. Of course, she’s right. There are times in every marriage for forgiving and forgetting and saying, “I’m sorry,” and going to sleep good friends. That’s positive sentiment override. By the way, Florence’s husband Percy, 105, said his secret to marital bliss was, “Are you able to overlook one another’s faults and forgive one another’s mistakes?” Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 3: Divorce a curse on children: Today divorce is at an all-time high, and there are more lives shattered by it than can ever be documented or calculated. There is hardly a child or a family in the advanced countries that hasn’t been touched by the pain of divorce in one way or another. Judith S. Wallerstein, Sandra Blakeslee, and Julia M. Lewis state in their book: The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: a 25 Year Landmark Study: “… children of divorce have a very hard time growing up. They never recover from their parents’ breakups and have difficulty forming their own adult relationships.” In How Now Shall We Live? Chuck Colson (A Special Counsel to President Richard Nixon from 1969 to 1973 and later, after his release from prison, a noted Evangelical Christian leader and cultural commentator), notes some disturbing realities that plague children who grow up without a father: a) Children of single-parent families are five times more likely to be poor because half the single mothers in the United States live below the poverty line. b) Children of divorced parents suffer intense grief and other metal problems requiring psychological help. c) Children from disrupted families have more academic and behavioral problems at school and are nearly twice as likely to drop out of high school. d) Girls in single-parent homes are at a much greater risk for being sexually precocious and are more likely to have a child out of wedlock. e) Crime and substance abuse are strongly linked to fatherless households. f) Statistics show that 60 percent of rapists grew up in fatherless homes, as did 72 percent of adolescent murderers, and 70 percent of all long-term prison inmates. In fact, most of the social problems disrupting American life today can be traced to divorce. Today’s Gospel contains Jesus’ clear teaching on marriage and divorce. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Introduction: Today’s Scripture readings are about the bond of love that marriage creates between a man and a woman, a bond that God intends to be permanent. They challenge the spouses to practice the fidelity of their ever-faithful God.

Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading, taken from Genesis, explains God’s original plan concerning sex and marriage. It teaches us that God made man and woman for each other. Hence, in marriage they are no longer two but one, united by an unbreakable bond. The reading also describes the institution of marriage and shows that monogamy was God’s intention from the very beginning. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 128), expands the marital theme of the first reading and the Gospel to include the children born of the union. Since the children enrich the lives of their parents, the Psalmist prays: “May you see your children’s children.” The second reading, taken from Hebrews, reminds us that Jesus became one of us, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. As one of us, Jesus “tasted death for everyone.” Jesus was not only the Sacrifice, but also the High Priest. We are now bonded with Jesus as brothers and sisters and to God as His adopted children. Thus, Christ became Savior to all people – the good and the bad, the divorced, gays, lesbians – everyone, and we all became Jesus’ brothers and sisters . Jesus’ prohibition of divorce can be a source of suffering for those who face difficult married lives. Paul suggests that we have to accept that pain as Jesus did, as the suffering we should endure on the way to glory. Today’s Gospel gives Christ’s explicit teaching on marriage and divorce, the Divine origin of marriage, the sacredness of family life, and the indissolubility of marriage. These are difficult messages to preach in a society that embraces co-habitation and ignores both the escalating divorce statistics and divorce’s dangerous consequences. The Gospel teaches that family life is sacred, that husband and wife are partners with equal rights, and that the destruction of the family by divorce is producing the destruction of society.

The first reading: Genesis 2:18-24, explained: The creation story in chapter two of Genesis shows that the ancient Israelites knew the importance of man and woman being joined one to another. The woman is made of the rib of man, and, hence, she is literally “bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh.” Figuratively, “bone” stands for strength and “flesh” stands for weakness. Woman’s origin makes her one with man. God deliberately created man and woman to bond permanently with one another. The clearest expression of this bonding is found in the marriage of a man and woman and their co-creation, with God, of a child, making of the three a new family unit. Woman is found to be a “suitable partner” for man. That is why, God says, “a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife” with the result that, “the two of them become one flesh.” The Genesis text attributes two essential qualities to marriage: unity (the two shall become one) and complementarity or mutual interdependence. The theme of marital bonding, which is essential for human fulfillment and happiness in marriage and families, appears in both the first reading and today’s Gospel and explains Jesus’ teaching on marriage and divorce. Divorce reveals an absence of marital bonding.

The second reading (Hebrews 2:9-11), explained: TheLetter to the Hebrews explains the meaning of the early Christian confession that Christ died for us and our sins. It presents Christ as the great High Priest Who has willingly offered Himself as God and man in One Person, on our behalf. He is both the perfect Sacrifice and the Priest who offers it. Today’s passage from Hebrews says that, by the grace of God, Jesus tasted death for us all, becoming both our leader on the way to salvation, and receiving us as brothers and sisters. Christ was thus “perfect” for fulfilling the task of bringing us into a new relationship with God in which we may now approach God with confidence and even boldness. Christ became the Savior of all people – the good and the bad, the divorced, gays, lesbians – everyone, and we all became Jesus’ brothers and sisters. Jesus’ prohibition of divorce can be a source of suffering for those who experience difficult married lives. But Paul suggests that we have to accept pain the way Jesus did, as the suffering we should endure on the way to glory.

The Gospel exegesis: The context: King Herod had married his brother’s wife, Herodias, violating the Mosaic Law. John the Baptist showed courage in condemning the king in public and lost his head for it. In today’s Gospel, the Pharisees were setting a trap, asking whether Jesus agreed with John on the non-legitimacy of divorce or would criticize the Mosaic tradition and alienate the people. But Jesus used the occasion to declare unequivocally that the bond of marriage comes from God, not man, and that it is permanent and indissoluble: “What God has joined, man must not separate”.

High ideal and low practice: “The ancient Jewish term for marriage was kiddushin, a term that meant sanctification or consecration. Ordinarily, kiddushin signified the husband’s absolute consecration to his wife and of the wife to her husband. Each became an offering totally given to the other.” (William Barclay). Thus, the Jews had a high ideal of marriage and their rabbis taught: “the very altar sheds tears when a man divorces the wife of his youth.” But their practice was far from that ideal, and divorce was common and easy. The wife was considered to be a husband’s property with no legal rights whatsoever. So, Moses commanded the men at least to give the woman they were abandoning a certificate of divorce which stated: “She is not my wife, and I am not her husband.” He would give this paper to his wife and tell her to leave. They were then legally divorced. That way she would at least be free to remarry. Without that certificate, technically she was still the property of her former husband. So, Moses was trying in a small way to give women some protection. There were two interpretations prevalent in Jewish theological schools concerning the Mosaic Law on divorce by which Moses allowed divorce when the husband found “some indecency” in his wife. “When a man, after marrying a woman and having relations with her, is later displeased with her because he finds in her something indecent, he writes out a bill of divorce and hands it to her, thus dismissing her from his house” (Dt 24:1). A “bill of divorcement” told society that the woman was not a harlot, but that she was free to remarry. A common “bill of divorcement” read as follows: “Let this be from me thy writ of divorce and letter of dismissal and deed of liberation, that thou mayest marry whatsoever man thou wilt.” In later days, they became far more complex, but the intent was the same. The Shammai School interpreted “indecency” as adultery, or some grounds of sexual impropriety, while the Hillel School interpreted it as anything which the husband did not like in his wife’s word, behavior, actions, or even her appearance. There are grounds for divorce if the wife burned his breakfast, put too much salt on his food, showed disrespect to him, spoke disrespectfully of her husband’s parents in his presence, spoke to a man on the street, or even let her hair down in public — or simply if he found a woman who was more attractive to him! Perhaps the most significant difference between their customs and ours lay in the status of the different genders. A man could divorce a woman on a whim, but a woman could not divorce a man for any cause.

Jesus’ stand: Jesus’ prohibition of divorce here stands out dramatically for its sternness, which admits of no exceptions. It is interesting to note that Matthew’s parallel version (in Mt 19) adds the exception “except for unchastity/adultery” (v.9); Luke (in 16:18) does not include this exception. Jesus did not claim to introduce a new teaching, but reminded the Jews of the original intention of God. Citing the book of Genesis, Jesus proved that God made us male and female and commanded that “the two shall become one flesh,” then drew the conclusion, “they are no longer two, but one body” – partners with equal rights. The marriage relationship is God’s gift to us. It is God’s way of providing a lover, a helpmate, someone who will always be there for us.Hence, He declared that no man was allowed to separate what God had joined together (Mt 19:6). In contrast with the prevailing culture, Jesus presents man and woman as having equal rights and their marriage as essentially a permanent relationship. (“In creating men ‘male and female,’ God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity” CCC #2334). These words might have reminded the Pharisees of Yahweh’s warning given through his last prophet: “I hate divorce” (Malachi 2:16). Jesus also explains that Moses’ permission for divorce was only a temporary concession to control the growing rate of divorce even in his time, by introducing a law governing divorce. Jesus adds that it was because of the hard-heartedness of the Jewish men that Moses allowed such a concession. (The Greek expression used, σκληροκαρδία, sklērokardia, frequently means “stubbornness; obstinacy; refusal to be taught; insensitivity; persistent refusal to change one’s behavior.” Dr. Watson). By negating an interpretation of Dt 24:1-6 that allowed easy divorce, Jesus says, in effect, that where such a possibility of injustice and inequality exists in marriage, there can be no true marriage according to the intent of Genesis. According to the Mosaic sanction, men were allowed to divorce their wives, but wives were not able to divorce their husbands. By denying the man’s right to divorce, Jesus places the husband and wife on an equal footing in marriage and teaches that no Mosaic regulation dealing with a temporary situation can alter the permanency and unity of marriage, which God intended.

The Catholic teaching: Today’s reading from Mark’s Gospel, taken with Mt 5:31-32; Mt 19:3-9; Lk 16:18; and 1 Cor 7:10-11, is the main source from which the Catholic Church derives Jesus’ teaching on the Sacramental nature of marriage and its indissolubility. Christian marriage involves both a sacred and legal contract between a man and woman and at the same time is rooted in a special Covenant with the Lord. That is why Jesus states that a valid marriage is permanent. Hence, the Church has always firmly taught that a Sacramental marriage between Christians in which there has been true matrimonial consent and consummation, is absolutely indissoluble, except by the death of one of the spouses. The Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes the Church’s teaching: “Divorceis a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death…… Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society” (CCC #2384, 2385).

Stability in marriage: Of course, it is not always easy for the two partners in a marriage to get along with each other because marriage, though one of the most fulfilling of all relationships, is also one of the most demanding. The husband and wife bring to the marriage their strengths and weaknesses, loves and hates, hurts and wounds, hopes and fears. Hence, the first requisite for a lasting marriage is that the spouses learn to accept each other as they are: two imperfect and vulnerable human beings. They are God’s gift to each other: “I will make a suitable partner for him.” They must learn that healing the wounds of family life is as necessary as healing the wounds in the body. In FamiliarisConsortio (n. 17), Pope St. John Paul II encourages families with the following plea: “Family, become what you are!” This echoes the Second Vatican Council, which calls the family, “the intimate community of life and love in which the partners are nourished spiritually and physically, accept one another as they are, and adjust to each other, deriving strength through prayer, the Word of God, the Sacrament, plus guidance and counseling…” When the marriage relationship breaks down and reconciliation is not possible, the Church recognizes the right of the couple to separate and live apart permanently. If divorced Catholics then enter into a civil marriage, they are allowed to receive Eucharistic Communion only if they refrain from sexual relations.

Life messages:

1)Both spouses need to work hard to create a good marriage: Marriage demands that each should become the right person for the other. It means building a union based on committed, sharing and forgiving, sacrificial agape love. This requires a lot of mutual adjustments; mutual generosity and mutual good will to forgive and ask for forgiveness; sincere cooperation in training children and raising them as practising Catholic Christians; and daily strength from God, obtained through personal and family prayers and punctual participation in the parish liturgy.

2) We need to reach out with Christian sympathy to the divorced and troubled families. There must be compassion, and a challenge to sin no more. Those who are divorced must be taught that God has not abandoned them. The parish community needs to accept them with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. It is the duty of the Christian community to love and support them. We must reach out to those who have been hurt by bad marriages. We may not realize the depth of their pain, but we must be aware of our own frailty. Those who are divorced and remarried must not be excluded from our community. While the Church cannot sanction remarriage unless the previous marriage has been declared annulled by the Diocesan Marriage Tribunal, we must make it clear that the Church is not issuing a condemnation. “They should be encouraged to listen to the Word of God, to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to contribute to works of charity and to community efforts for justice, to bring up their children in the Christian Faith, to cultivate the spirit and practice of penance and thus implore, day by day, God’s grace” (CCC #1651). The National Catechetical Directory for Catholics of the United States says: “Divorced persons and their children should be welcomed by the parish community and made to feel truly a part of parish life. Catechesis of the Church’s teaching on the consequences of remarriage after divorce is not only necessary but will be supportive for the divorced” (No. 131).

3) We need to be aware of the dangers of cohabitation. According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, the rates of depression are three times higher for cohabiting couples than they are for married couples. Cohabiting men and women reported significantly more alcohol problems than married or single men and women. Cohabiting unions have more disagreements, fight more often and report lower levels of happiness than their married counterparts. Male aggression is twice as common among cohabiting couples as it is among married partners. Hence, parents must make sure that children understand that cohabitation is morally evil and not an innocent option for fun.

JOKES OF THE WEEK

#1: “My husband and I divorced over religious differences. He thought he was God and I didn’t.”

# 2: A 98-year-old man and a 95-year-old woman went to a lawyer to get a divorce. “How long have you been married?” he asked. “75 rough and rocky years,” they said. “Then, why have you waited so long to file for divorce?” They replied, “We had to wait for the kids to die!”

# 3: “The secret of my success in my married life and in my business is the same”, said, Henry Ford on the 50th anniversary of his wedding, “I don’t change models every now and then; instead I stick on to one and try to improve it.”

# 4: A couple was being interviewed on their Golden Wedding Anniversary. “In all that time — did you ever consider divorce?” they were asked. “Oh, no, not divorce,” the wife said. “Murder sometimes, but never divorce.” (Jack Benny, comedian)

# 5: Marriage markers: I never married because there was no need. I have 3 pets at home which answer the same purpose as a husband: I have a dog that growls every morning, a parrot which swears all afternoon and a cat that comes home late at night.

#5: Marriage miscellany: “A marriage may be made in Heaven but the maintenance must be done on earth.” Marriage is a three-ring circus: Engagement ring, wedding ring, and suffering. At the cocktail party, one woman said to another, “Aren’t you wearing your wedding ring on the wrong finger?” The other replied, “Yes I am; I married the wrong man.” Adam and Eve had an ideal marriage. He didn’t have to hear about all the men she could have married, and she didn’t have to hear about the way his mother cooked. A man tells his wife of 15 years that it feels like they’ve only been married for 5 minutes, the wife says, “That’s so sweet!” and he says, “Yeah, 5 minutes under water!”

# 6: Right and wrong: A Sunday school teacher was trying to demonstrate the difference between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. “All right children, let’s take an example,” she said. “If I were to go into a man’s pocket and take his wallet with all his money, what would I be?” A child in the back answered, “You’d be his wife.”

# 7: Plato, the great Greek thinker of the fourth century BC, reports the legend that human beings were originally twice as big and twice as strong as they are now. However, because their size and strength made them arrogant, the gods cut them down to half their size; only when two-matching halves found one another and completed one another in marriage did they find true happiness.

8)”We’re getting a divorce!”: Morris calls his son in NY and says, “Benny, I have something to tell you. However, I don’t want to discuss it. I’m merely telling you because you’re my oldest child, and I thought you ought to know. I’ve made up my mind, I’m divorcing Mama.” The son is shocked and asks his father to tell him what happened. “I don’t want to get into it. My mind is made up.” “But Dad, you just can’t decide to divorce Mama just like that after 54 years together. What happened?” “It’s too painful to talk about it. I only called because you’re my son, and I thought you should know. I really don’t want to get into it any more than this. You can call your sister and tell her. It will spare me the pain.” “But where’s Mama? Can I talk to her?” “No, I don’t want you to say anything to her about it. I haven’t told her yet. Believe me it hasn’t been easy. I’ve agonized over it for several days, and I’ve finally come to a decision. I have an appointment with the lawyer the day after tomorrow.” “Dad, don’t do anything rash. I’m going to take the first flight down. Promise me that you won’t do anything until I get there.”

“Well, all right, I promise. Next week is Christmas. I’ll hold off seeing the lawyer until after then. Call your sister in MA and break the news to her. I just can’t bear to talk about it anymore.” A half hour later, Morris receives a call from his daughter who tells him that she and her brother were able to get tickets and that they and the children will be arriving in Florida the in two days. “Benny told me that you don’t want to talk about it on the telephone but promise me that you won’t do anything until we both get there.” Morris smiles and tells his wife, “Isn’t that the best way to get your kids together for Christmas!”

Funny  & useful You Tube items on marriage

(The easiest method to visit these websites is to click on the URLS (web addresses) given below.

1)      The be-attitudes of marriage (fun filled talk by Rev Mark Gungor)

https://youtu.be/HpyMhlT94Nc (The be-attitudes of marriage)

 

https://youtu.be/v9dEktzDSDA (Rules in relationships)

 

https://youtu.be/814eR5K7KD8 (Tale of man’s & woman’s brains)

 

https://youtu.be/sXKDJcGkYbE (How to stay married and not kill anybody)

 

2)      Focus on the family: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/

USEFUL WEBSITES OF THE WEEK

(The easiest method to visit these websites is to click on the URLS (web addresses) given below. The second method is 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: Roman Catholic Divorce Issues: http://www.divorceinfo.com/catholic.htm

# 2: Annulment Guide: http://www.idotaketwo.com/christian_remarriage.html

# 3: Divorce and Remarriage: http://www.religioustolerance.org/div_rc.htm

# 4: The Catholic Church on Marriage, Divorce, and Annulments: http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/62/Catholic_Church_on_Marriage__Divorce__and_Annulment.html

# 5: Annulment FAQS (USCCB):http://www.foryourmarriage.org/catholic-marriage/church-teachings/annulments/

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

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

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

8)Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs: (Type https://sundayprep.org in the topmost Address bar in the YouTube or Google or MSN website and press the Enter button).

28- Additional anecdotes:

1) 12 Rules for a happy marriage: Recently I came across the following 12 rules for a happy marriage that had been given by the well-known Ann Landers in her weekly article. Although to my knowledge, Mrs. Landers has never obeyed the Gospel of Christ, I believe she set forth twelve practical suggestions that will promote a happier home environment. These twelve rules are actually Biblical; I have included Scripture references for each rule:

  1. Never both be angry at once (Proverbs 19:11)
  2. Never yell at each other unless the house is on fire (Proverbs 21:23)
  3. Yield to the wishes of the other as an exercise in self-discipline, if you can’t think of a better reason (Col. 3:18-19; Ephesians 5:21)
  4. If you have a choice between making yourself or your spouse look good–choose your spouse (Philippians 2:3-4; Matthew 19:19)
  5. If you feel you must criticize, do so lovingly (Ephesians 4:15)
  6. Never bring up a mistake of the past (Philippians 3:13-14)
  7. Neglect the whole world rather than each other (Ephesians 5:25-31)
  8. Never let the day end without saying at least one complimentary thing to your life partner (Proverbs 31:26)
  9. Never meet without an affectionate greeting (Proverbs 5:18-19)
  10. When you make a mistake, talk it out and ask for forgiveness (James 5:16)
  11. Remember, it takes two to make an argument. The one who is wrong is the one who will be doing most of the talking (James 3:5-8)

12.Never go to bed mad (Ecclesiastes 7:9; Colossians 3:8).

2) Immoral alternatives to divorce: The U.S. Census for the year 2000 reveals that 9.7 million Americans live with unmarried partners of the opposite sex while 1.2 million Americans live with same-sex partners. The report also indicates that 41% of American women, ages 15-44, have cohabited with an unmarried man at some point in their lives. Biblical Counseling for Todayasks the following questions. a) Do you know that 90 percent of cohabitating couples plan to get married someday, but 40 percent break up before they do? b) Do you know that those who live together before they get married are nearly twice as likely to get a divorce afterward, compared to couples who remain chaste? In fact, the longer a couple lives together before marriage, the more likely they are to get divorced afterward!”… c) Do you know that 84 percent of all documented child abuse occurs in single–parent homes, with half of those instances occurring at the hands of the male partner? d) Do you know that an unmarried pregnant woman is 4 times more likely to be beaten by her partner than a married woman?’ Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

3) Divorce and cohabitation:The U.S. Census Bureau report for the decade of the 90’s was released May 15 2001. Here are its disturbing findings concerning the family. The average life span of a marriage has dropped alarmingly. Any marriage without an expiration date of 10 years is, well, a miracle. Households headed by unmarried partners grew by almost 72 percent from 1990 to 2000. Most of these arrangements were men and women living together out of wedlock. Other studies have shown that cohabitation increased by close to 1,000 percent from 1960 to 1998. Households headed by single mothers increased by more than 25 percent, and those led by single fathers grew, get this, by almost 62 percent. And this next finding is astounding: For the first time ever, nuclear families dropped below 25 percent of households. That means the nuclear family, a mom and a dad and children, represents less than a quarter of all homes. Another finding partially explains why this is happening: A third of all babies are born to unmarried women (33 percent) compared to only 4 percent in 1940. You will remember some years back the actress Jodie Foster was in the news because she chose to bear and raise a child alone. There are a growing number of women in their late 20’s and 30’s who are doing the same. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

4) In search of a perfect woman to marry: One afternoon, according to an old Sufi tale, a man named Nasiruddin was sitting in a cafe, drinking tea with a friend and talking about life and love. “How come you never got married, Nasruddin?” asked his friend at one point. “Well,” said Nasruddin, “to tell you the truth, I spent my youth looking for the perfect woman. In Cairo, I met a beautiful and intelligent woman, with eyes like dark olives, but she was unkind. Then in Baghdad, I met a woman who was a wonderful and generous soul, but we had no interests in common. One woman after another would seem just right, but there would always be something missing. Then one day, I met her. She was beautiful, intelligent, generous and kind. We had everything in common. In fact, she was perfect.” “Well,” said Nasruddin’s friend, “what happened? Why didn’t you marry her?” Nasruddin sipped his tea reflectively. “Well,” he replied. ”It’s a sad thing; seems she was looking for the perfect man.” — In today’s Gospel Jesus reminds us that an imperfect man has no right to divorce his equally imperfect wife whom God has given him as His perfect gift. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

5) “Chemistry and Math of marriage”: Neil Warren, who has studied what he calls the “love secrets” of 100 couples with model marriages, says that his most significant finding is also the most surprising. Here’s the most shocking thing you may read in this entire book. Chemistry between two people is responsive to mental and emotional processes over which we have tremendous control. That’s right, you can make chemistry happen. If you don’t feel the flutter in your heart for your spouse that you once did, if the magic is gone from your relationship, don’t panic. You can change that! [Neil Clark Warren, The Triumphant Marriage (Dallas: Word Books, 1995), 72.] The phrase “The chemistry just isn’t there anymore,” should be banished from our vocabulary. Each of us can maximize chemistry to make new chemical reactions happen. The chemistry wrong? Mix up some new chemicals. Stir up some different romance ingredients. Here are some simple rituals of renewal which can keep your marriage romantically potent: Plant a tree together. Give a gift in honor of your marriage. Renew marriage vows. Buy the biggest wedding cake and invite friends over. Exchange gifts of jewelry. But as important as it is to become a good chemist, it is equally important to become a bad mathematician. In marriage, each partner must be willing to put in more than he or she takes out. Each person has to do a little more than what he thinks his share is'” [Prescription for a Quality Relationship (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988).] A lasting marriage is one in which each partner “looks out for number two,” not where each one is “looking out for number one.” Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

6) Flex the muscles of trust and bend the knees of prayer. Trust may not seem glamorous or sexy, but many married people have found out too late that without trust, there is nothing. Mistrust is a cancer that rots away relationships. Faithfulness in a relationship is measured in more ways than monogamy; trust is the key component of faithfulness, while mistrust always plays a part in unfaithfulness. Bend the knees of prayer. The connection between complete, genuine trust in one another and faithfulness is perhaps what underlies one final finding about lasting marriages that shouldn’t be a surprise, but is. Andrew Greeley says, “It’s one of those statistics that catches your eye and makes you say, ‘No, that can’t be!’ But according to a groundbreaking Gallup survey, happiness in a marriage is better predicted by how often a couple prays together than by how often they make love.” [For more on this see Faithful Attraction (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991), 190.] There’s more. Couples who pray together (compared to couples who don’t), report having greater respect for their mate (83 percent vs. 62 percent), agree on how to raise children (73 percent vs. 59 percent), are more playful (56 percent vs. 45 percent), and believe their mate is a skilled lover (62 percent vs. 49 percent). Individual prayer correlates with marital happiness, too, but joint prayer correlates at a level twice as high. According to a 1990 university study, virtually ignored by social scientists, decades of research have demonstrated that people highly involved in their Faith have the happiest marriages. [See D. Thomas and M. Cornwall, “Religion and Family in the 1980s: Discovery and Development,”
Journal of Marriage and the Family, 52, (1990), 983-992.]. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

7) “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” A newly-ordained priest was about to perform his first wedding, and he was very nervous. So he asked his pastor for help. The old monsignor told him everything he needed to know and then ended with some advice. “Father,” he said, “if you get lost and can’t think of what to say, quote Scripture. It’s always safe, and you’ll never go wrong.”
With that the young priest went off to the Church and did a fine job of conducting the wedding … until the very end, that is, when he was to pray the solemn blessing over the bride and groom. At that crucial moment, with hand outstretched and every eye upon him, he froze. He couldn’t find his place in the prayer book. His mind was a blank. He had no idea of what to say. Then he remembered the monsignor’s advice: if you get lost, quote scripture. So he ended the wedding by quoting most solemnly the only verse he could remember, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Fr. Dennis Clarke). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

8) “I want to be married, but I didn’t know how to draw it.” A fifth-grade teacher asked the children in her art class to draw pictures of what they want to be when they grow up. Sally drew an astronaut, Sue a doctor, Bruce a missionary. But Karen turned in a blank sheet of paper. “Isn’t there something you want to be?” the teacher inquired. The child replied, “I want to be married, but I didn’t know how to draw it.” — Sad, but isn’t that true of our society today? Over 95 percent of us will marry at some point in our life. Yet nearly forty percent of us will divorce. In 1890 there were nearly 10,000 divorces nationwide. Last year there were over 1,200,000! In Charlotte, North Carolina, last year there were more divorces than there were marriages. Ditto for Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C. It is as if we’ve lost the blueprint for building a lasting and satisfying home. Where can we go to find the blueprint? Can your U.S. Senator supply it? Is it in the pages of Better Homes and Gardens? — That is why we have the Gospel on marriage and divorce today. Jesus’ words repeat the oldest Biblical teaching on matrimony: `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ (Genesis 2:24). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

9) “We’ve had a fight. Papa, I want to come home.” A young couple had a quarrel and the bride of three months called her parents long distance saying, “Mama, I hate him. We’ve had a fight. Papa, I want to come home.” The father very discreetly said, “I’m sorry, daughter, you have no home here. For better or worse you’ve left for a new home. Work it out the best you can!” and he hung up the phone. — Now I know that was a difficult thing for a parent to do, but it was the right thing. The best advice to a parent is to hold your children very close, love them, and train them up in God’s Word. Then let them go! Let them leave! Don’t interfere. Don’t give them advice unless you are asked. And don’t live near them if you can help it. Across town is best! Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

[Original form of Joke of the week #8] “I’ve made up my mind, I’m divorcing Mama.” There is a story about a Jewish couple from New York that moved to Florida. Because of that move their children never visited them. Morris calls his son in NY and says, “Benny, I have something to tell you. However, I don’t want to discuss it. I’m merely telling you because you’re my oldest child, and I thought you ought to know. I’ve made up my mind, I’m divorcing Mama.” The son is shocked, and asks his father to tell him what happened. “I don’t want to get into it. My mind is made up.” “But Dad, you just can’t decide to divorce Mama just like that after 54 years together. What happened?” “It’s too painful to talk about it. I only called because you’re my son, and I thought you should know. I really don’t want to get into it any more than this. You can call your sister and tell her. It will spare me the pain.” “But where’s Mama? Can I talk to her?” “No, I don’t want you to say anything to her about it. I haven’t told her yet. Believe me it hasn’t been easy. I’ve agonized over it for several days, and I’ve finally come to a decision. I have an appointment with the lawyer the day after tomorrow.” “Dad, don’t do anything rash. I’m going to take the first flight down. Promise me that you won’t do anything until I get there.” “Well, all right, I promise. Next week is Rosh Hashanah. I’ll hold off seeing the lawyer until after then. Call your sister in MA and break the news to her. I just can’t bear to talk about it anymore.” A half hour later, Morris receives a call from his daughter who tells him that she and her brother were able to get tickets and that they and the children will be arriving in Florida in two days. “Benny told me that you don’t want to talk about it on the telephone, but promise me that you won’t do anything until we both get there.” Morris promises. After hanging up from his daughter, Morris turns to his wife and says, “Well, it worked this time, but we are going to have to come up with a new idea to get them here for Passover!” Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

11) “I love you so much!” Michael Hargrove tells about a scene at an airport that literally changed his life. He was picking up a friend. He noticed a man coming toward him carrying two light bags. The man stopped right next to Hargrove to greet his family. The man motioned to his youngest son (maybe six years old) as he laid down his bags. They hugged and Hargrove heard the father say, “It’s so good to see you, son. I missed you so much!” “Me, too, Dad!” said the son. The oldest son (maybe nine or ten) was next. “You’re already quite the young man. I love you very much, Zach!” Then he turned to their little girl (perhaps one or one-and-a-half). He kissed her and held her close. He handed his daughter to his oldest son and declared, “I’ve saved the best for last!” and proceeded to give his wife a long, passionate kiss. “I love you so much!” He said to his wife softly. Hargrove interrupted this idyllic scene to ask, “Wow! How long have you two been married?” “Been together fourteen years total, married twelve of those,” the man replied, as he gazed into his wife’s face. “Well then, how long have you been away?” The man turned around and said, “Two whole days!” Hargrove was stunned. “I hope my marriage is still that passionate after twelve years!” The man stopped smiling and said, “Don’t hope, friend . . . decide!” (Michael D. Hargrove, Chapnotes, ChapnotesMail.) — And that’s it, isn’t it? For most of us it comes down to a decision. “Till death do us part.” It doesn’t happen in every relationship, but that is still the ideal that Jesus gives us. “Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Amen. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

12) “The wedding was nice. How about inviting me to the marriage? God.” A satisfying marriage requires the presence of God. In the fall of 1998, an anonymous donor in Florida had an idea. He decided to hire an ad agency, the Smith Agency, to design a campaign to get the people of his community talking about God. The Smith Agency designed eighteen billboards with what were supposedly sayings from God. Signs like, “Come on over and bring the kids . . . – God,” and “Let’s meet at my house Sunday before the game . . . – God,” and “We need to talk . . . – God,” and “What part of ‘Thou Shalt Not’ didn’t you understand? – God” and “Keep using my name in vain, I’ll make rush hour longer . . . – God.” The signs were an instant hit with much of the public. In fact, in the spring of 1999, the Outdoor Advertising Agency of America decided to use the spiritual billboards for its public service campaign that year. Soon, the sayings from God were appearing on ten thousand billboards around the country free of charge. One memorable billboard said this, “The wedding was nice. How about inviting me to the marriage? . . . – God.” [Tommy Nelson,
The 12 Essentials of Godly Success (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), p.170.] Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

13) “I love you.” Dr. James Dobson and his wife, Shirley, tell about a husband named Jim who was tragically killed in an accident while driving home from work. It was his wife Carol’s fiftieth birthday. Rescue teams found two plane tickets to Hawaii in Jim’s pocket; he had planned to surprise Carol with them. Months later, Carol was asked how she was coping. She answered that on their wedding day, she and Jim had promised to say, “I love you” before noon each day of their marriage. Over the years it had become a fun–and often difficult–challenge. She recalled running down the driveway saying, “I love you,” even though she was angry at Jim. On other occasions she drove to his office to drop a note in his car before the noon deadline. The effort it took to keep that promise led to many positive memories of their years together. The morning Jim died, he left a birthday card in the kitchen, then slipped out to the car. Carol heard the engine starting and raced outside. She banged on the car window until he rolled it down, then yelled over the roar of the engine, “Here on my fiftieth birthday, Mr. James E. Garret, I, Carol Garret, want to go on record as saying I love you!” “That’s how I’ve survived,” Carol said later. “Knowing that the last words I said to Jim were ‘I love you!’” — Wouldn’t it be tragic if you had to remember that the last word you spoke to your husband or wife was a word of criticism, a word that belittled him or her? Is your marriage marked by positive comments and words of encouragement? Are you able to overlook one another’s faults and forgive one another’s mistakes? This is getting more and more difficult, isn’t it? Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

14) They made plans to renew their wedding vows in the National Forest: There was an interesting article in a women’s magazine recently. After sixteen years of marriage, Suzanne and Jim Shemwell of Boise, Idaho, were ready to call it quits. They argued constantly. Divorce seemed like their only option. But then, on March 5, 2003, while on a snowmobile trip in the Boise National Forest, Suzanne and Jim became stranded in a blizzard. For the next five days, they had to rely on one another for their very survival. Trapped in the forest, fighting frostbite, hunger, and various injuries, Jim and Suzanne stopped arguing and began cooperating. Back home, their conversations were filled with insults and discouraging comments. But out in the woods, they focused on encouraging and comforting one another. By the time they were rescued on March 10, 2003, the Shemwells were wondering why they had ever wanted to separate in the first place. They made plans to renew their wedding vows on March 10, 2004, in the Boise National Forest. — It would probably help many couples to get lost in a forest for a while so that they could really get to know each other. How well do you know your spouse? Are you sensitive to one another’s needs? That’s question one on our test. Here’s question two: Is your marriage marked by positive comments and words of encouragement? Now here things get a little stickier. How easy it is for marriage partners to aim barbs toward one another! Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

15) “I don’t know, fills gaps I guess.” Perhaps you saw the original Rocky film before Sylvester Stallone. Do you remember the love relationship Rocky had with Adrian in Rocky? She was the little wallflower who worked in the pet shop, the sister of Pauly, an insensitive goon who worked at the meat house and wanted to become a collector of debts for a loan shark. Pauly couldn’t understand why Rocky was attracted to Adrian. “I don’t see it,” he said. “What’s the attraction?” Do you remember Rocky’s answer? Rocky said, “I don’t know — fills gaps I guess.” “What’s gaps?” asks Pauly. “She’s got gaps,” says Rocky, “I got gaps. Together we fill gaps.” — In his simple but profound way, Rocky hit upon a great truth. He was saying that he and Adrian each had empty places in their lives. But when the two of them got together, they filled those blank spots in one another. [Dennis and Barbara Rainey,
Moments Together for Couples (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1995).] And that is exactly what God intended. God takes marriage seriously. There are no perfect marriages but there can be great marriages. Those great marriages occur when two people commit themselves to God and to one another. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

16) Anna Ruby Falls: In the mountains of Georgia there is a waterfall called Anna Ruby Falls. It is a perfect example of what becoming one in marriage is like. Two separate mountain streams lap and gurgle down a mountain and plummet separately, one 150 feet, the other 300 feet, in a dazzling display of watery lace and rainbow colors. At the base of the mountain both falls enter a common pool. Here the two creeks are joined and flow on as a river together. — Marriage is like this, too. We become one and flow on. His is hers and hers is his. Neither mate loses his identity. They blend. Talents, strength, faults, Faiths, needs — they are joined in marriage and the two become one. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

17) United Methodist Social Principles Centuries ago, Tertullian wrote: “How beautiful, then, is the marriage of two Christians, two who are one in hope, one in desire, one in the way of life they follow, and one in the religion they practice.” — The United Methodist Social Principles are an example of how Christ’s words are heard and how we, in our brokenness, live. “When a married couple is estranged beyond reconciliation, even after thoughtful consideration and counsel, divorce is a regrettable alternative in the midst of brokenness.” Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

18) Polygamy, bigamy, monogamy? There was once a story about teacher of English who asked her sophomore class what’s the word denoting a marriage with many wives. A student answered, “Ma’am, polygamy.” “Correct,” she said. “How about a marriage with two spouses,” another student replied, “Ma’am, it is bigamy.” “Correct,” the teacher said, “And how about a marriage with only one wife?” A student raised his hand and blurted out, “Ma’am, monotony!” — Actually what the student meant was “monogamy,” of course. However, unwittingly his answer touched on a problem in marriage, that is, monotony, which can lead to divorce which Jesus condemns in today’s Gospel. (Fr. Benitez). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

19) “I remember who she is and I remember who I am.” A few years ago, there was a man whose wife became seriously ill with Alzheimer’s disease. She completely lost all of her memory and her ability to remember who she was or who anyone else was. She was in a nursing home and her husband came by to sit beside her bed and be beside her every day. One of his sons told him that he didn’t need to keep doing that because she didn’t remember who she was and she didn’t remember who he was. The man said: “I know she doesn’t remember anything, but I do. I remember who she is and I remember who I am. I am the husband who said to her 55 years ago, ‘I will love and cherish you for better or worse and in sickness and health.’ And I intend to do just that.” (http://www.parkavemethodist.org/sermon.php?s=16.) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

20) Carrying the most valuable treasure: Among the folkloric literature of Eastern Europe, there is a tale which reflects the quality of love which marriage demands: After a long siege, the duke of Bavaria sat trapped in his castle of Weisberg. Outside the city walls, his enemy, emperor Konrad, was demanding his surrender. While the conditions of surrender were being determined, the women of Weisberg sent a message to Konrad, asking for safe passage out of the city. They also requested that they be allowed to take with them as many of their valuables as they could carry. Their request granted, soon the castle gates were opened and out came the women. To Konrad’s amazement, they carried no gold or jewels. Each woman was bending under the weight of her husband whom she hoped to save from the vengeance of their conqueror. — Their loving stratagem proved successful and their story continues to bear witness to selfless love which constitutes a true marriage. (Sanchez Archives). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

21) Authentic married love: In their book, Spiritual Partners, Cornelia Jessey and Irving Sussmann have chronicled the marriage of some of the world’s most noted couples. Among the relationships cited are those of Catherine and William Blake, Olivia and Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), Paula and Martin Buber, Maisie Ward and Frank Sheed (Sheed and Ward Publ. Co.), and Raissa and Jacques Maritain. Each marriage was a union of two very different people with very different backgrounds and experiences. — Many of the spouses were from vastly different cultures, countries and religious affiliations. Yet each of these remarkable marriages was enduring, monogamous and offered to the world an example of authentic married love as well as a deep spiritual outpouring of creativity and service which influenced religious thought and western culture. (Sanchez Archives). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

22) Androgyne legend on marriage: Marriage has been a mystery throughout human history. From the time immemorial philosophers have reflected on this mystery, poets have sung about it, and religious men have glorified it. They realized that marriage is a union of man and woman in physical, mental, religious, and social realms. In their attempt to give a convincing explanation for this mystery the wise men of the ancient past offered many legends. According to a Greek legend, “The original human nature was not like the present, but different. The sexes were not two, as they are now, but originally the man and woman were together. The primeval man was called Androgyne. He was round, his back and sides forming a circle; one head with two faces looking in opposite ways, set on a round neck and precisely alike; also four ears, two privy members, and the remainder to correspond. He could walk upright as men do now, backwards or forwards as he pleased, and he could also roll over and over at a great pace. Terrible was their might and strength, and the thoughts of their hearts were great, and they dared to scale the heavens, and they made an attack on the gods. The gods took council and Zeus discovered a way to humble their pride. So they decided to cut them in to two. After the division, each of the two parts of man (the Androgyne), desired union with its other half. And that desire for the reunion takes place in marriage. — So, the desire of one another is implanted within us, reuniting our original nature, making one of two. (Fr. Bobby Jose). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

23) The Marriage Commitment: Harold Kushner, an American rabbi tells how a young couple came to see him one evening. Their wedding was coming up and he was to officiate at it. At one point the young man said to him, “Rabbi, would you object if we made one small change in the wedding ceremony? Instead of pronouncing us husband and wife ‘till death do us part,’ could you pronounce us husband and wife ’for as long as love lasts?’ We’ve talked about this and we both feel that, should the day come when we no longer love each other, it wouldn’t be morally right for us to be stuck with each other.” But the rabbi replied, “I do object, and I won’t make the change. You and I know that there is such a thing as divorce, and we know that a lot of marriages these days don’t last until one of the partners dies. But let me tell you something. If you go into marriage with an attitude of, ‘If it doesn’t work out, we can always split,’ then I can almost guarantee you that things won’t work out for you. I appreciate your honesty. But you must understand that a marriage commitment is not just a mutual willingness to live together, but a commitment to accept the frustrations and disappointments that are an inevitable part of two imperfect human beings relating to each other. It’s hard enough to make a go of marriage even when you give it everything you’ve got. But if only a part of you is involved in the relationship, then you have virtually no chance.” (Flor McCarthy in New Sundays and Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

24) Strange Arithmetic: Dr. Paul Popenoe, the famous marriage counselor, was talking to a young husband who had been openly critical of his wife. Dr. Popenoe was explaining how two become one in marriage. In a smart reply the husband said, “Yes, but which one?” The counselor said, “A little of each.” Then he went on to explain that in marriage you have to develop “we-psychology”…and to think of yourself in terms of a pair rather than as an individual. What happens when two become one in a real marriage? Some think that it reduces your individuality. Too often one party or the other seems to be saying: “All right – we two shall become one…and I AM the one!” — Obviously, such a marriage is headed for trouble. Ideally, when “two become one” it means that each one is doubled, but not duplicated. You still retain your individual identity, but you add to yourself the identity of the other, and the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. “For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (Mark 10:7). A wise person once said: “A marriage consists of one master, one mistress, and two slaves; making, in total, one.” That may be strange arithmetic, but it is good theology. (Donald B. Strobe, Collected Words, www.Sermons.com). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

25) “From now on, I’m the One!” A feature in weddings in more recent times is the lighting of candles. The couple light two before the ceremony, signifying their individual lives, then when they become husband and wife they blow them out and light a single candle to symbolize the two becoming one and the unity of the partnership henceforth. On one occasion when not only the candles but also the readings proclaimed their unity, the couple were walking down the aisle after signing the register, and as they beamed at the admiring guests the bride gave her newly-acquired husband a nudge and whispered, “Did you take that all in?” “All what?” he said. “All that about the two being one.” “Yes, I guess so,” he said, and then came the coup de grace. “Well in case you’re in any doubt, from now on, I’m the one!” (James A. Feeban in Story Power; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

26) Old Love:The question is asked, “Is there anything more beautiful in life than a boy and a girl clasping clean hands and pure hearts in the path of marriage? Can there be any thing more beautiful than young love?” And the answer is given. “Yes, there is a more beautiful thing. It is the spectacle of an old man and an old woman finishing their journey together on that path. Their hands are gnarled, but still clasped; their faces are seamed but still radiant; their hearts are physically bowed and tired, but still strong with love and devotion for one another. Yes, there is a more beautiful thing than young love. Old love.” (Anonymous; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

27) “I love You!” There is a cute love story told of a boy and a girl: The boy says to the girl – “Hey, I’ve got two words to say.” “What?” the girl asks. The boy says: “I love You!” “Huh… Isn’t that three words?” the girl objects. “No,” replies the boy, “because, ‘YOU’ and ‘I’ are ONE.” ( Fr. Lakra). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/). LP/21

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B (No 53) by Fr. Tony:akadavil

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

or 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. Tony, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604 .

Sept 27 – Oct 2 (L-21) Weekday Homilies

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

Sept 27- Oct 2: Sept 27 Monday (St. Vincent de Paul, Priest) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-vincent-de-paul : Lk 9:46-50: 46 And an argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. 47 But when Jesus perceived the thought of their hearts, he took a child and put him by his side, 48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me; for he who is least among you all is the one who is great.” 49 John answered, “Master, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he does not follow with us.” 50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him; for he that is not against you is for you.” USCCB video reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ ; https://www.epriest.com/homily_packs Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

The context: Today’s Gospel describes Jesus’ criterion for greatness with advice to be accepting of others who do good in ways different from ours. Jesus  exhorts the spiritual leaders as well as all believers in responsible positions in the Church to be like children, humble, trusting and innocent. Child-like qualities: Children are basically innocent and honest. They are naturally humble, because they depend on their parents for everything. They trust and obey their parents because they know their parents love them.  Hence, Jesus advises his disciples to forget their selfish ambitions and to spend their lives serving others in all humility, with trusting Faith in a loving and providing God.  Then they will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Next, Jesus tells his disciples that there should not be any rivalry, jealousy or suspicion among them, as long as all hold the same belief.  In today’s passage, the Apostles, upset  by seeing someone who did not belong to their group using Jesus’ name to cast out demons, complain to Jesus.  Since the present-day divisions in Christianity are substantive, rising from differences over the basic tenets of Faith, today’s Gospel passage does not apply to them.  But there is no reason for any Christian denomination to be jealous of another denomination because of the greater good they do for people for the glory of God.  True love seeks the highest good of our neighbor, while envy results from selfishness and pride, and it is contrary to true Christian love.

Life Messages: 1) We need to practice humility in thoughts, words and actions. “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart.”  2) We should not seek recognition and recompense for the service we do for Christ and the Church as parents, teachers, pastors etc. 3) Trusting Faith resulting from true humility is essential for all corporal and spiritual works of mercy.  4) Let us not try to prevent anyone from doing good to others because of envy or jealousy.  Envy and jealousy are sinful because they lead us to sadness over what should make us rejoice.  True love always seeks the highest good of the neighbor. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 27, 2021: St. Vincent de Paul: Vincent de Paul was born to a poor peasant family in France in 1580.  Although he later achieved fame for his dedication to the poor, his early life was spent attempting to escape his humble roots. His family shared his ambition, hoping that a career in the priesthood would better the family fortune.  Vincent became a priest at the young age of 19. But he had to be 24 to become an associate pastor in a parish. So he was sent for higher studies in theology and canon law for six years. As a young priest of 25,  he spent most of his early priesthood mingling with members of the elite. He was very well liked because of his charm, intelligence, and sense of humor.

God had a different plan for Vincent: In 1605, (at 25)  Vincent was returning home by boat from a trip. He had been on his way to sell some property he had received in an inheritance from a wealthy patron. While travelling, he was captured by pirates, who brought him to Tunis in Northern Africa. He was sold into slavery, and he remained a slave for two years.  During this time, he prayed to God, telling Him that if his life would be spared and he was freed, he would devote the rest of his life to the service of the poor.

A pastor and community organizer: After his eventual escape from Africa, Vincent volunteered  to serve a church in rural France. The poverty he found there shocked him—it was not uncommon for people who were unable to find work in his poor community to die from starvation.  He began to take stock of his resources, and his former connections with the wealthy and influential led him to seek their financial assistance. He met with affluent friends and inspired them to organize into groups going from house to house requesting furniture, food and clothing for the poor parishioners. They were extremely successful in their efforts, and other parishes began to seek him out to learn how they could organize in the same way.

Founding the Vincentian congregation and Sisters of Charity: As time went by, Fr. Vincent realized that the mistakes of his young life, especially his focus on wealth and fame, had been caused by a poor faith foundation. As a result, he founded in 1625 an order of priests, the Vincentians, who received thorough seminary training and who pledged to devote their lives to the spiritual and material needs of the poor. Later, along with Louise de Marillac, he founded the Sisters of Charity. He then expanded his work, founding hospitals, orphanages and homes for people who were mentally ill.  He also devoted his last years to serving prisoners and slaves, sharing with them his story of hope as a former slave himself.  He was very well known throughout Europe in his own time. He died on September 27, 1660, and he was canonized in 1737. Pope Leo XIII made him the patron of all charitable societies.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul: The Society of St. Vincent de Paul was not founded until more than 150 years after St. Vincent’s death.  When Frederic Ozanam founded the Society, he named it after St. Vincent de Paul. Ozanam was devoted to St. Vincent, who is the patron saint of charitable societies, and he modeled the Society on his call to “see Christ in the poor and to be Christ to the poor”.  The members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul continue to honor his life and legacy by helping people in need and do not discriminate against cultural, religious or political beliefs.

Sept 28 Tuesday (St. Wenceslaus, Martyr) (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-wenceslaus) , St. Lawrence Ruiz & companions, Martyrs) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-lorenzo-ruiz-and-companions : Lk 9: 51-56: 51 When the days drew near for him to be received up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him; 53 but the people would not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?” 55 But he turned and rebuked them. 56 And they went on to another village. USCCB video reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21; https://www.epriest.com/homily_packs

The context: Today’s Gospel passage deals with the beginning of Jesus’ journey from the northern towns of Galilee to the southern city of Jerusalem in Judea through the land of Samaria. The Samaritans were hostile towards the Jews because the Jews considered them impure. The Samaritans were descendants of Jewish men and women who married Assyrian  Gentile immigrants during the Assyrian captivity(721 BC). In addition, the Samaritans had mixed the religion of Moses with various superstitious practices of the Assyrians. When the “pure” Israelites of Judah rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem (520-525 BC) after their Babylonian captivity (598 BC—538 BC), the Samaritans offered to help, but they were rejected because of their racial impurities. Hence, the angry Samaritans built their own temple on Mount Gerizim, in opposition to the Temple in Jerusalem (cf. John 4:20), and started offering sacrifices there.  Because of this mutual hatred, the Jews from Galilee never took the shortcut through Samaria to go to Jerusalem. They took the long route east of the Jordan River.   Jesus, however, chose the shortcut through Samaria. Hence, the Samaritans not only refused to honor Jesus as a prophet, but also violated the sacred duties of hospitality due to a rabbi.  This made the Apostles angry, and two of them, James and John, asked if Jesus wanted them to command fire to come down from Heaven and consume these Samaritans as Elijah had done to destroy the messengers from the king of Samaria.  (II Kings 1:9-12).  Jesus rebuked them because Jesus was not a destroyer but a Savior. Lesson in tolerance: In today’s Gospel, Jesus corrects the disciples’ desire for revenge because it is out of keeping with the mission of the Messiah, to save men and not to destroy them.  Jesus knew that prejudices are cured through love, not force, through mercy, not punishment.

Life message: Today’s Gospel gives us the greatest passage in the Bible concerning tolerance, which is brotherly, patient love, our “bearing with” one another. Quick anger over little incidents flares up – in the home between parents and children, in the workplace between the co-workers, and in the neighborhood between neighbors. Very often the anger explodes over nothing. The Spirit of Jesus is opposed to such feelings. Hence, let us have this beautiful prayer in our hearts and on our lips: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and a right spirit within me.  Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation.” (Psalms 51: 10). Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Sept 29 Wednesday (St. Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Archangels): Saints Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Archangels): (The Archangels: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saints-michael-gabriel-and-raphael/ : Jn 1: 47-51: Jesus saw Nathaniel coming to him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” 48 Nathaniel said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathaniel answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”50… 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”

The Archangels: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael: The angels are spirits created by God before He created man. They are meant to be extensions of God’s love and provident care for us. Their role is to praise and worship God, act as God’s messengers, do God’s will, and protect human beings. “He will give His angels charge over you to guard you in all your ways (Psalm 91:1). God sent His angels to destroy the evil cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, and to save Lot’s family. God gave Moses an angel to support and guide him: “My angel shall go before you” (Ex 32:34).  It was an angel who helped Jesus in the desert and encouraged Jesus during His agony in Gethsemane. The Acts of the Apostles (1:14) describes how God sent an angel to liberate Peter from the prison. The Archangels form one of the nine orders of angels. The most prominent among them in Scripture are Michael the protector, Gabriel the messenger of God, and Raphael, the healer and guide for humans. All their names end in the suffix –el. This is a reference to God called Elohim in the Old Testament. Michael then means “Who is like God?” Gabriel means “God is my strength.” Raphael means “God heals.”

Michael: Michael means “Who is like God?” from the challenge he flung at the rebel angels  led by Lucifer. In Daniel, he is the great prince who defended Israel. In the Book of Revelation, he is the mighty prince who fought with Lucifer and who dragged the serpent into Hell. Since he is the protector of the Church we recite the prayer to him, composed by Pope Leo XIII.   Gabriel: He is God’s messenger. (Gabriel means “God is my strength”). It was Gabriel who announced to Elizabeth’s husband, the priest Zechariah, the happy news that his barren wife would conceive a son, John the Baptist. He announced the “good news” to Mary, that she was to bear the Son of God. He may have been the angel sent to Joseph in a dream to tell him that he was to take Mary into his home as his wife, “for it is through the Holy Spirit that this Child has been conceived in her. She will bear a Son, and you are to name Him Jesus because He will save His people from their sins.” Gabriel also announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds; he may have been the messenger instructing the Magi to return to their lands by another route rather than returning to King Herod, and also the messenger who appeared to Joseph in a dream to instruct him to return to Israel, as, “They who sought the life of the Child are dead.” RaphaelHe is man’s God-appointed guide and healer. He guided Tobiah’s journey, did Tobiah’s task of collecting his father’s money from Gabael of Rhages, arranged Tobiah’s marriage with Sarah, gave Tobiah the means to heal Tobit’s blindness, and protected Sarah from the devil.

Life messages:  1) Dependable angelic assistance is a salutary, encouraging assurance for us to remember in our fears. 2) The truth that an angel is always watching us is an incentive for us to do good and to avoid evil. 3) Angelic protection and assistance form a great provision for which we must be always thankful to God. https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21; https://www.epriest.com/homily_packs

Sept 30 Thursday (St. Jerome, Priest, Doctor of the Church) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-jerome : Lk 10:1-12:1 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..9 USCCB video reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ ; https://www.epriest.com/homily_packs Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

The context: Today’s Gospel describes the sending forth of another group of paired disciples by Jesus to prepare towns and villages for Jesus’ own arrival there. Sent out with power and authority from Jesus, they exercised their preaching and healing mission according to the action plan given by Jesus. Jesus sent out seventy disciples, just as God had Moses commission 70 elders to be prophets in Israel. (Nm 11:24-25). Their ministry anticipates the Church’s mission to the nations. Jesus’ instructions and travel tips. Elisha gave similar instructions when he sent his servant on a pressing mission (2 Kgs 4:29). By these instructions, it is clear that Jesus meant the disciples to take no supplies for the road. They were simply to trust that God, the Provider, would open the hearts of believers to take care of their needs. Jesus’ instructions also suggest that the disciples should not be like the acquisitive priests of the day, who were interested only in gaining riches.  They were to be walking examples of God’s love and providence. The Jews supported their rabbis and judged doing so a privilege as well as an obligation, for hospitality was an important religious tradition in Palestine. The Apostles and disciples were to choose temporary accommodation in a reputable household, they were to bless the residents with God’s peace, and they were to be satisfied with the food and accommodation they received, not search for better.

Life messages: 1) We have a witnessing mission:   Each Christian is called, not only to be a disciple, but also to be an apostle. As apostles, we are sent out to evangelize the world by sharing with others, not just words, or ideas, or doctrines, but our experiences of God and His Son. We are to make Jesus “visible” through our transparent Christian lives, showing the people around us the love, mercy, and concern of Jesus for them. 2)  We also have a liberating mission: There are many demons which can control our lives and the lives of people around us making us and them helpless slaves —the demon of nicotine, the demon of alcohol, the demon of gambling, the demons of pornography and promiscuous sex, the demons of secularism,  materialism and consumerism. We need the help of Jesus to be liberated from these demons ourselves and to help Him liberate others from these bondages. 3)  We have a supporting mission: According to Catholic tradition and Canon Law (Canon 222 #1), Christians are obliged to contribute to the Church from their earnings to help to support the clergy, to provide for the necessities of liturgical worship and to equip the Church to minister to the needy (CCC #2043, 2122). (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 1 Friday (St. Teresa of Child Jesus, Virgin, Doctor of the Church) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-teresa-of-avila :  1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me. USCCB video reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video  https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ ; https://www.epriest.com/homily_packs Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Marie Therese Martin was born on Jan 2, 1873 as the youngest of nine children of a watch-maker, Louis Martin, and his wife, a lace-maker, Zelie Guerin. Therese lost her mother at 4 and four of her siblings in their early childhood. She was the “little flower” of her father. One of her older sisters joined the Visitation convent and three others became Carmelite nuns. Therese joined the Carmelite convent at Lisieux at 15 with special permission from Pope Leo XIII. She died of tuberculosis when she was 24 years and 9 months old on September 30, 1897. Pope Pius XI declared her a saint on May 17, 1925, just 28 years after her death. Pope St. John Paul II declared her a “Doctor of the Church” in 1997.

Sources of her life history: 1) Autobiography of a Little Flower (The Story of a Soul); 2) 300 letters; 3) 8- One act Plays; 4) 50 poems.

Secret of her Little Way and short-cut to Heaven: Do ordinary things in an extraordinary way out of love for God, with 100% dedication and child-like trust, being ever ready to undertake any type of sacrifice. Convert suffering into redemptive suffering and use it for the apostolate.

Conditions: 1)   Be child-like and innocent with trusting Faith in a loving Heavenly Father. 2)    Do everything with 100% dedication as being done for our caring and forgiving God, our Father.  3)    Be ready to undertake sacrifice for others. St. Therese offered all her sacrifices a) in reparation for the sins of others and for her own sins b) for missionaries c) for the conversion of sinners.

Message: Let us follow the shortcut of Little Flower by becoming child-like in our relationship with God by doing His will with 100% sincerity, commitment and love. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 2 Saturday (The Holy Guardian Angels):  https://www.franciscanmedia.org/feasaint-of-the-guardian-angels/ : Mt 18:1-5, 10: 1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; 10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven 1 angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven. USCCB video reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ https://www.epriest.com/homily_packs ; Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

The Guardian Angel: Although the doctrine and traditional belief in the Guardian Angel is not a dogma of Faith, it is based on the Bible. Each person’s Guardian Angel is an expression of God’s enduring love and providential care extended to him or her every day.  Today’s prayers in the Breviary and in the Roman Missal mention the three-fold function of the angels: a) they praise and worship God, b) they serve as His messengers, c) they watch over human beings.

Historical note: Devotion to the Guardian Angels began to develop in the monasteries. St. Benedict gave it an additional impetus and St. Bernard of Clairvaux (12th century reformer), spread the devotion in its present form. The feast of the Guardian Angels originated in the 1500s. It was placed on the official liturgical calendar of the Church by Pope Paul V in 1607. “By God’s Providence angels have been entrusted with the office of guarding the human race and of accompanying every human being so as to preserve him from any serious dangers […]. Our Heavenly Father has placed over each of us an angel under whose protection and vigilance we are” (“St. Pius V Catechism”, IV, 9, 4).

Biblical teaching: Today’s Gospel (Mt 16:10), clearly states that even children have their Guardian Angels: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in Heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father Who is in Heaven.” Psalm 91:1 teaches: “For He has given His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.”  

Life messages: 1) The conviction that we are protected by an angel is an encouragement against our baseless fears and unnecessary anxieties. 2) The thought that a messenger from God is constantly watching our thoughts, words and deeds is an inspiration for us to lead holy lives and to do good for others and avoid evil. 3) We need to be grateful to God every day, thanking Him for His loving care given us through His angel. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

O. T. 26 Sunday Homily (Sept 26, 2021)

OT XXVI [B] (Sept 26) Eight-minute homily in one page (LP/21)

Introduction: Today’s Scripture readings give us a strong warning against jealousy, intolerance and giving scandal. Scripture lessons summarized:  In the first reading, we find jealousy, in its destructive form of envy, raising its ugly head in Moses’ assistant and successor, Joshua.  Moses and seventy future helpers were called by the Lord God to the Tent of Meeting for the Spirit-giving Ordination ceremony. But two of the invitees were absent, and Joshua could not tolerate these absent men prophesying in the camp without receiving God’s Spirit in the Tent of Meeting. Moses had to instruct Joshua to be tolerant. This selection is intended to provide a Biblical background for Jesus’ response to the same kind of jealousy apparent in the apostles. The Refrain for today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 19), “The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart,” reminds us that obedience to the spirit of the Law will draw us closer to God and so give us lasting joy. In the second reading, James warns the rich against giving scandal by their denial of social justice to their workers in refusing to give them a living wage, by ignoring the needs of others, and by condemning and murdering the innocent and the righteous. Withholding a day-laborer’s wage was a terrible act of injustice, tantamount to murder in the agricultural economy of the ancient Middle East.  Baptism commits every Christian to work for social justice through peaceable, rather than violent, means. In the Gospel, we find intolerance among the apostles of Christ. John complains to Jesus that a man outside their group of selected disciples has been exorcising demons in Jesus’ Name, despite their attempt to prevent him from doing so.  Jesus responds by giving the Apostles lessons in Jesus’ own kind of tolerance and in the reward to be given to outsiders for good deeds they have done for the apostles because they are the disciples of Jesus. We also hear the strong warning of Jesus against giving scandal, especially to innocent children, to vulnerable members of the community, and to beginners in the Faith. Jesus instructs the Apostles, and us, that, just as a doctor might remove by surgery a limb or some part of the body to preserve the life of the whole body, so we must be ready to part with anything that causes us or others to sin and which leads to spiritual death.

Life messages: 1) Let us avoid conduct that can lead to giving scandal.  We give scandal and become stumbling blocks to others: a) when we are unkind or unjust in our treatment of them, b) when we humiliate them by hurting their pride and damaging their self-image, c) when we discourage, ignore, or refuse to accept them, and d) when we become judgmental of those who are still struggling to reach a level of commitment that we feel is too low to be useful.

2: Let us learn the Christian virtue of tolerance: Christian tolerance asks that we bear with the weaknesses of others (without condoning the evil they do), by: a) remaining true to our conscience and beliefs, b) respecting the differences we encounter, c) working together on projects of common interest, d) affirming what is good in the other person’s position, even when we disagree on certain things, and e) allowing the light of Christ to shine through our loving words and deeds.

OT XXVI [B]: Nm 11:25-29; Jas 5:1-6; Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

Homily Starter Anecdotes: #1: “Could you not have tolerated him for just one meal According to a traditional Hebrew story, Abraham was sitting outside his tent one evening when he saw an old man, weary from age and journey, coming toward him. Abraham rushed out, greeted him, and then invited him into his tent. There he washed the old man’s feet and gave him food and drink. The old man immediately began eating without saying any prayer or blessing. So, Abraham asked him, “Don’t you worship God?” The old traveler replied, “I worship fire only and reverence no other god.” When Abraham heard this, he became incensed, grabbed the old man by the shoulders, and threw him out of his tent into the cold night air. When the old man had departed, God called to his friend Abraham and asked where the stranger was. Abraham replied, “I forced him out because he did not worship You.” God answered, “I have suffered him these eighty years although he dishonors me. Could you not endure him one night?” We are all children of God, and, hence, we have to love and tolerate everyone, as explained in today’s first reading and the Gospel. (Fr. Lakra). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 2: Clerical scandal compared to rotten egg: Fr. Jacob Manjaly repeats in all his preaching on scandal givers, the pertinent advice he received as a Deacon from his teacher-mother. During a lunch at home, she asked him what the most balanced food was. He replied, fried chicken or fried fish. But his mother brought a fresh hen’s egg and convinced him that it was the most balanced food filled with all nutrients for the growth of a chick inside the egg, and hence the most nutritive food for humans as well. But she used the occasion as teachable moment for her future priest-son, warning him that if the egg is rotten, it is the most reprehensible, nasty smelling and poisonous stuff, fit only to be buried deep down in the soil. In the same way, a priest with his God-given power to consecrate bread and wine so that they become the Body and Blood of Jesus at Holy Mass, to pardon the sinner in Jesus’ name, to bring God’s Life to babies making them children of God by Baptism, to anoint the sick and prepare them for eternal life, if he becomes morally corrupt, giving scandal to people, he is worse than the rotten egg and deserves social and religious punishment. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

A picture containing person, outdoor Description automatically generated # 3: “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.” It was one of the most gripping news stories of 2003. In the beautiful but desolate mountains of southeastern Utah, a twenty-seven-year-old mountain climber named Aron Ralston, made a desperate decision. An avid outdoors man, Aron was rock-climbing one day when his right arm became trapped under a boulder, a boulder estimated to weigh at least eight hundred pounds. He saw immediately that he was in deep trouble. Unable to budge the rock at all, Aron took out his pocketknife and chipped away at the rock for 10 hours, managing to produce only a small handful of dust. Obviously, this was not going to work. Days were passing. No one knew where he was. Even worse, his family and friends were used to his going off for days without contacting anyone, so they were not even looking for him. With his arm still wedged beneath this enormous boulder Aron Ralston recorded a video message to his parents telling them good-bye. At the end of several days with no food or water, however, Aron made a remarkable choice. Aron Ralston decided to amputate his arm in order to save himself. And that’s exactly what he did, using only a pocketknife. What an amazing display of courage and determination! After he was finished, he applied a tourniquet to his arm and rappelled nearly 70 feet to the floor of the canyon. Then he hiked five miles downstream where he encountered some other hikers and was rescued. Aron Ralston made the obviously excruciating decision to amputate his right arm to save his life. It is an amazing story! Who can read this story without thinking of Jesus’ words from our lesson for today, “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell”? What a stark declaration: “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off”! Aron Ralston certainly made that choice – to sacrifice his arm in order to save his life. There are choices that must be made in life, and those choices determine our destiny. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

#4: Gandhi, Mandela, Dorothy Day, and Martin Luther King Jr. With our fallen human nature, we fall victim to the evil tendency of trying to control the Spirit of God by our intolerance. Our own arrogance insists that another is not qualified to speak on justice or morality because of his/her lower educational qualifications, low-grade lifestyle, humble social background or race. As a society, we also tend to question people’s legitimacy – especially when they challenge us. Mohandas Gandhi, a Hindu leader in India, challenged the colonial rule of the British Empire over India with his principles of peace and non-violence. But the intolerant British Empire, initially dismissing him as a “silly, half-naked fakir,” tried to silence him by imprisonment. But later they found, to their horror that the entire nation was behind him in its fight for freedom from colonial rule. Nelson Mandela was ignored by the minority ruling class and was jailed for many for years as a radical because of his option for the poor and the oppressed in South Africa. Dorothy Day was imprisoned in the U. S. for her beliefs and was accused of being a Communist. Martin Luther King Jr. challenged a nation and its policy of discrimination.  He was continually under surveillance by the FBI and was accused of inciting sedition and of being unpatriotic. There are Christians who still look on believers belonging to non-Christian religions and on members of Christian denominations different from their own as heretics and semi-pagans. In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives his disciples a lesson in Christian tolerance along with a warning against jealousy and scandal. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Introduction: Today’s readings give us a strong warning against jealousy, intolerance and giving scandal.  In the first reading, we find jealousy, in its destructive form of envy, raising its ugly head in Moses’ assistant and successor, Joshua.  Moses and seventy future helpers were called by the Lord God to the Tent of Meeting for the Spirit-giving ordination ceremony. But two of the invitees were absent, and Joshua could not tolerate these absent men prophesying in the camp without receiving God’s Spirit in the Tent of Meeting. Moses had to instruct Joshua to be tolerant. This selection is intended to provide a Biblical background for Jesus’ response to the same kind of jealousy in the apostles. The Refrain for today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 19), “The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart,” reminds us that obedience to the spirit of the Law will draw us closer to God and so give us lasting joy. In the second reading, James warns the rich against giving scandal by their denial of social justice to their workers in refusing to give them a living wage, by ignoring the needs of others, and by condemning and murdering the innocent and the righteous. Baptism commits every Christian to work for social justice through peaceable, rather than violent, means. In the Gospel, we find intolerance among the apostles of Christ. John complains to Jesus that a man outside their group of selected disciples has been exorcising demons in Jesus’ Name, in spite of their attempt to prevent him from doing so.  Jesus responds by giving the Apostles lessons in Jesus’ own kind of tolerance and in the reward to be given to outsiders for good deeds they do for the disciples of Jesus because they are serving Jesus. We also hear the strong warning of Jesus against giving scandal, especially to innocent children, vulnerable members of the community, and beginners in the Faith. Jesus instructs the Apostles, and us, that, just as a doctor might remove a limb or some part of the body in order to preserve the life of the whole body, so we must be ready to part with anything that causes us or others to sin and which leads to spiritual death. Jesus is inviting us to integrate our bodies into our following of Christ, so that our hands become instruments of compassion, healing and comfort, our feet help us to bring the Gospel to the world and our eyes learn to see the truth, goodness and beauty all around us.

First reading, Numbers 11:25-29, explained: The Book of Numbers was written down after the Exile, in the 6th century BC, by Jewish priests who were hoping to put the broken nation back together and to keep it faithful to God. Chapter 11 has two stories of God’s responses to the continuing complaints of the wandering Israelites.  First, they had lamented the absence of meat from their diet, comparing the manna unfavorably to the variety of foods they had eaten while enslaved in Egypt. Moses appealed to God, saying that he was unable to manage the people alone. God heard his plea and told him to select seventy elders — experienced men from among the tribes — whom God would appoint as leaders of the people under Moses and assemble them in the Tent of Meeting. Moses did so, and their God bestowed on them part of the Spirit He had given Moses. At once, they began to prophesy—a sign to the people that God had appointed them as His representatives. They prefigured the ministry of the apostles. But Joshua, a close follower and aide of Moses who was jealous for Moses’ reputation, complained about two men named Eldad and Medad. Though both had been on Moses’ list of 70, neither had attended the Spirit-giving ordination ceremony in the Tent of Meeting, yet both were prophesying. Moses asked Joshua, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets!” and reminded Joshua gently that God is free to choose anyone He pleases as His prophet. Moses promptly corrected Joshua for showing the tendency toward institutionalizing the power and presence of God. Through Baptism, all of us are made God’s ministers and God’s prophets.  We are filled with God’s Spirit and empowered to interpret God’s vision and message to the people around us, and we are not to grow jealous of those serving the community in positions of greater authority or working for the community in different venues.

Second Reading, (James 5:1-6), explained: The passage from James illustrates how the rich give scandal by their unjust treatment of laborers and their gross violation of the principles of social justice. Today’s passage is a straightforward moral condemnation and a strong denunciation of the unscrupulous rich who enrich themselves by treating others unfairly and spend their riches in self-indulgence. Withholding a day-laborer’s wage was a terrible act of injustice, tantamount to murder in the agricultural economy of the ancient Middle East.  James is merciless in his condemnation of ill-gotten wealth. There’s hardly a more emphatic passage in the New Testament. Baptism commits every Christian to work for social justice through peaceable, rather than violent, means. Pope Paul VI’s encyclical on social justice echoes the tradition of James. Jean Paul Sartre, the French existentialist made the false statement: “Hell is other people!” But the truth is that hell is the “person of only one book.” Hell is me, when I am alienated from others, and, from God.

Gospel exegesis: Today’s Gospel gives us lessons in Christian tolerance and exemplary Christian living.

 1) Warnings against jealousy and intolerance: The apostles wanted to reserve God’s love and healing power to themselves as the “sole owners” and “authorized distributors”! We hear John complaining to Jesus that a stranger was driving out demons in Jesus’ Name, though he was not of their company. They want Jesus to condemn the man.  As occasionally unsuccessful exorcists, they may have been jealous of this stranger.  Jesus, however, reprimands his disciples for their jealousy and suspicion and invites them to broaden their vision and to recognize God’s power wherever it is found. Like Moses in the first reading, Jesus challenges a rigid understanding of ministerial legitimacy. He wants the apostles to rejoice in the good that others are doing, for God is the Doer of all good.  Jesus enunciates a principle for the apostles: “Anyone who is not against us is for us.” God can and does use anyone to do His work. The invitation to proclaim the Good News of salvation, in both word and work, is not restricted to the twelve apostles or seventy disciples but extends to anyone who will hear and respond to it “in Jesus’ Name.” The Church has no monopoly on God’s work, truth, love, or power to heal and reconcile. The work of the Kingdom is not confined to the baptized, although it is certainly our special work. This lesson is especially valuable today. Intolerance rising from fear and envy has a long history in the Christian Church and Christians are still known for a spirit of intolerance.  Ask the average person on the street what he/she thinks is a Christian attitude, and he/she will use words like “judgmental,” “narrow-minded,” “dogmatic,” “condemning,” and “intolerant.”  The road to the brotherly love Jesus commands must begin with each of us.  The cause of Christ is not served by one’s rejecting ways to God different from one’s own, or by one’s claiming that no real good can take place outside the boundaries of one’s own denomination.  It is through mutual respect that we find common ground with others and discover strengths in different beliefs. Wherever we see God’s work being done, we should give it our support and be ready to work together with those doing the work, whether they are Christians or not, believers or not.

2) Tolerance in practicing ecumenism: The ecumenical movement aims at uniting all Christian denominations as a sign of Christian tolerance taught by Jesus, that is, as brotherly love. “The desire to recover the unity of all Christians is a gift of Christ and a call of the Holy Spirit” (CCC #820). That is why Jesus prayed: “that they may all be one. As You, Father, are in Me and I am in You, may they also be one in Us, . . . so that the world may know that You have sent Me’” (CCC #820). On September 5, 2000, the Vatican released a theological document called, Dominus Iesus. Its purpose was to correct Church theologians who were distorting the true meaning of the spirit of ecumenism. In this document, the Catholic Church rejected pluralism that implies that all religions are equal. To teach that one religion is as good as another one endangers the Church’s missionary message that the fullness of salvation can only be found in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. As some of you may have heard, this document created a worldwide reaction from a number of Christian denominations. At the same time, some of them admitted that this document proposed nothing new, that this has always been the position of the Holy Catholic Church. The difficulty that they had was that they had not heard the Vatican expressing it so openly since before Vatican II. As a sign of brotherly love, the Catholic Church sees all the baptized as separated brethren and instructs Catholics to practice ecumenism. i) by practicing personal holiness, becoming the best Catholics we can be. ii) by public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, including appropriate prayer in common with separated brethren. iii) by “fraternal knowledge” which means first, learning Catholic doctrines thoroughly and next, by becoming friends with non-Catholics, and learning what those friends believe. iv) by promoting collaboration among Christians in various areas of service to mankind, in our parishes and communities.

3) A millstone for the scandal-giver: Jesus’ second warning is against scandal-givers: those who cause the “little ones” to sin. The Greek word for “little ones” is micron, meaning the smallest or the least.  It can mean children, those who are new to the Faith, or those who are weak in Faith.  Jesus is pointing out that the scandalous behavior of older believers can be an obstacle to those whose Faith is just beginning to develop.  Etymologically, the word scandal comes from the Greek skandalon, which was a trap-stick or bent sapling used for a snare. With a skandalon a hunter could catch a rabbit or other small prey. We may remember how the Enron scandal, the Monica Lewinsky affair, and of course, the horrible sexual abuse of children by the clergy were pictured by the media.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines scandal as “an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil” (CCC #2284). We used to consider a scandal as some disgraceful happening, but here ‘to give scandal ‘means to behave in such a way that you encourage others to sin.

4) Modern scandal-givers: The truly dangerous people to whom Jesus is referring are those evil ones who wear the mantle of religious leadership, and at the same time, by their counter-witness, turn the weak and the innocent away from God, and cause them to sin. Today, we know the irreparable harm done to the Church and the faithful by the scandals of clerical sex abuse and its coverup by the Church authorities.  Likewise, scandal is often given by unorthodox theologians and false preachers, who propagate their anti-Christian ideas under the guise of Biblical and psychological research.   Professors, even at some Christian universities, sometime advocate moral relativism and nihilism, converting students to their false beliefs.  Even teachers at Catholic universities sometimes criticize papal pronouncements as “an infringement on academic freedom.”  Do they not give scandal? Our major social institutions — the news media, the Internet, law, public education, and the entertainment industry — under the guise of “freedom of speech and expression,” often seem hostile towards religion, erecting stumbling blocks to believers.  We have an obligation to make known, with Christian courage, our views on these matters so as to protect the innocent.

5) Interpreting Jesus’ words about self-mutilation? William Barclay says that the Jewish rabbis had sayings based on the way in which some part of the body can lend themselves to sin. They said that the eye and the heart are two brokers of sin, the two handmaids of sin. And also there are instincts in man and certain parts of man’s physical constitution which minister to sin

Our hands become instruments of sin according to what we touch and how we touch, in lust or greed or violence. Our feet are used for sin according to the places we have them take us. Our eyes become doorways for sins according to what we choose to look at or refuse to look at. However, it is important to understand that, in these passages about “plucking out an eye or cutting off a hand,” Jesus is not speaking literally. Jesus is using a figure of speech here, one very common in the Semitic world of first century Palestine — hyperbole, that is exaggeration – to make a special point.  We have more sins than we have bodily parts. Besides, even if all offending parts were removed, our hearts and minds — the source of all sins, as Jesus points out elsewhere — would still be intact. Hence, these sayings are actually about our attitudes, dispositions, and inclinations.  Jesus is inviting us to integrate our bodies into our following of Christ, so that our hands become instruments of compassion, healing and comfort, our feet help us to bring the Gospel to the world, and our eyes learn to see, and our mouth to speak the Truth, Goodness and Beauty all around us.

By these startling words about self-mutilation, Jesus also means that we must cut out of our lives all practices that keep us away from God, and retain only those habits that draw us closer to God. Many years ago, Paul Achtemeier suggested some modern parallels to the radical actions proposed by Jesus back in his time. “If your TV causes you to sin: turn it off! If your computer causes you to sin: disconnect it! If your magazine subscription causes you to sin, cancel it! If your job position or power causes you to sin, resign! If your bank account causes you to sin, give it away.” In other words, absolutely nothing is worth jeopardizing your eternal life with Jesus Christ! Jesus is setting before all disciples the one supreme goal in life that is worth any sacrifice. That goal is everlasting union with God Himself beginning here, with our fidelity to following His will for our lives. God alone leads us to everlasting peace and happiness.  Just as a doctor might remove a limb or some part of the body in order to preserve the life of the whole body, so we must be ready to part with anything which causes us to sin and which leads us or others to spiritual death. Billy Graham has a fantastic way of summing up this Gospel message by concluding his Crusades with a final challenge: “Decide! Cut away anything that prevents you from a radical decision for Jesus Christ! Decide for Christ!”

Life messages: 1) We need to avoid conduct that can give scandal.  We  give scandal and become stumbling blocks to others: a) when we are unkind or unjust in our treatment of  them, b) when we reject them because of their weakness, faults or sins, c) when we humiliate them by  hurting their pride and damaging their self-image, d) when we discourage, ignore, or refuse to accept them, e) when we ridicule them or deflate their dreams, f) when we follow a double standard: “Do as I say; don’t do as I do,”  g) when we set standards which are so high that we are unable to meet them  ourselves, and h) when we become judgmental of those who are still struggling to reach a  level of commitment that we feel is too low to be useful. On the other hand, we become good role models: a) when we support and guide others in moments of doubt, weakness, and suffering, b) when we increase other people’s self-confidence by accepting them as they are and enabling them to discover their hidden talents, c) when we help them to grow by inspiring and correcting them, d) when we forgive them and listen to them with patience, and e) when we make ourselves examples of Christian witnessing.

#2: Let us learn the Christian virtue of tolerance: Christian tolerance is brotherly love; it asks that we bear with the weaknesses of others, without condoning the evil they do.  Intolerance is a sign of a weak Faith.  Intolerance is also ineffective.  It does nothing but damage to the cause it seeks to defend. When we attack a heretic, we don’t change his mind, for the most part. We just give him an audience.  To ban a book, is, almost surely, to make it a best seller. Condemning a sinner immediately draws people to defend him.  An intolerant attitude will alienate, rather than attract, sinners.  Only genuine agape love can overcome hatred.  The Church should display this patient love to a hate-filled world.  The Church is expected to present Christ to the world.  How can the Church present Christ when it is arrogant or intolerant rather than loving others as Christ loves us?  We cannot exalt love by encouraging hate.  Hence, let us try both to learn and to practice the virtue of Christian brotherly love in our interfaith and ecumenical endeavors by: a) remaining true to our conscience and beliefs, b) respecting the differences we encounter, c) working together on projects of common interest, d) affirming what is good in the other person’s position, even when we disagree on certain things, and e) allowing the light of Christ to shine through our loving words and deeds.

# 3: “He who is not against us is for us:” (Emailed by Fr. Fredie A.C. freddieac@gmail.com): There is a tendency in us to downgrade, condemn, slander, ridicule, put down and make defamatory remarks against anybody who is different from us. Since the Church of Christ is scandalously divided on denominational lines, it is in our nature to think other denominations as inferior and ridicule or condemn them. When some lay people do better than the clergy in preaching and healing ministry, it is natural for the latter to feel envious of them and question their authority. The Gospel invites us to respect the gifts and charisms of all those who work in Jesus’ Name. Though we need not and cannot accept all the viewpoints of those who are opposed to us, Jesus teaches us to respect them and their viewpoints. All have a right to their own views and thoughts. How wrong we are in thinking that we alone are right, all others are wrong; we alone possess the truth, others do not; we alone possess a monopoly over salvation. This does not mean we accept anything and everything from anybody and agree with it. We too should have our own personal convictions. Tolerance involves a respect for various aspects and facets of the truth. Intolerance gives the impression that nothing is true beyond what our eyes can see. Again, is this also not a sign of arrogance? How difficult it is for us not to hate the person himself when we hate his/her views/ beliefs/ opinions! Jesus calls us to build up a truly tolerant and inclusive society.

JOKES OF THE WEEK #1: Intolerance in the blood: In Belfast, Ireland, a Catholic priest, a Protestant minister and a Jewish rabbi were engaged in a heated theological discussion. Suddenly an angel appeared in their midst and said to them, “God sends you His blessings. Make one wish for peace and your wish will be fulfilled by the Almighty.” The Protestant minister said, “Let every Catholic disappear from our lovely island. Then peace will reign supreme.” The priest said, “Let there not be a single Protestant left on our sacred Irish soil. That will bring peace to this island.” “And what about you, Rabbi?” said the angel. “Do you have no wish of your own?” “No,” said the rabbi. “Just attend to the wishes of these two gentlemen and I shall be well pleased.” (Anthony de Mello, in Taking Flight).

#2: “Die, heretic scum!” I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. I immediately ran over and said “Stop! Don’t do it!” “Why shouldn’t I?” he said. I said, “Well, there’s so much to live for!” “Like what?” “Well … are you religious or atheist?” “Religious.” “Me too! Are you Christian or Jewish?” “Christian.” “Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?” “Protestant.” “Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?” “Baptist.” “Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?” “Baptist Church of God.” “Me too! Are you Original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?” “Reformed Baptist Church of God.” “Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?” “Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!” To which I said, “Die, heretic scum!” and pushed him off. {An Emo Phillips skit}.

# 3: Jealousy even in death: Feeling very ill, a tough businessman went to see his doctor. After examining him, the doctor backed away and said, “I regret having to tell you this, but you have an advanced case of highly infectious rabies. It appears you’ve had it for some time. It will almost certainly be fatal.” In shock, the man asked the doctor for pen and paper. “Do you want to write your will?” the doctor asked. “No! I want to make a list of all the people I want to bite!” the man replied.)

USEFUL 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) Guide to Catholic Internet Resources: http://www.catholicusa.com/

2) Your guide to Catholic beliefs: http://www.aboutcatholics.com/

3) Families with students: http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/home.jsp

4) Catholic mothers: http://www.catholicmom.com/

5) DOUAY-RHEIMS Online Catholic Bible:

http://www.catholicdoors.com/bible/index.htm

6) Text Week homilies: http://www.textweek.com/mkjnacts/mark9c.htm

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

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

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

9)Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs: (Type https://sundayprep.org  in the topmost Address bar in the YouTube or Google or MSN website and press the Enter button).

Religious_Intolerance ANd9GcSOHLs1TaETAn4Wwp9GRS-bmW7yFyAZKVeDWOb0Be5nOD39FpRrHw embrace-diversity millstone

24- Additional anecdotes

1) A picture containing text, handwear Description automatically generated : Cut it off: According to an Irish legend, in olden days a group of adventurers set out from the European mainland in a few boats to conquer a new territory, what is believed to be the present-day Ireland. Their leader was a daring man of fortune who announced that whoever touched land first would possess the entire territory and become its king. One of his team members was named O’Neil who was determined to have the new land. He rowed mightily, but a rival boat pressed him hard, caught up with him and then outstripped him. What could he do as his rival was fast approaching the land? This strong-nerved, iron-minded O’Neil dropped his oars, seized battle-axe, cut his left arm, and threw it upon the shore over his rival’s head so that he could be the first to touch the land to make it his own. And he won the land by his heroic sacrifice.– In today’s Gospel Jesus uses a similar metaphor asking us to cut off our hand if it causes us to sin and prevent us from inheriting Heaven. (Msgr. Arthur Tonne). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

2) “If you call her a pig, Robert, you’re calling me a pig, too!” Robert A. Schuller, young Robert, tells of getting into an argument with his older sister when he was eight. “’You’re a pig!’ he screamed when she refused to give him one of his own toys. Their dad, television preacher Robert H. Schuller, heard what was going on. He came into the room and said to young Bob, ‘Robert, don’t you ever call your sister a pig again.’ ‘But, Dad, she is!’ he objected. ‘If you call her a pig, Robert, you’re calling me a pig, too!’ said the older Schuller. Young Bob had to think about that for a while. He certainly didn’t think his dad was a pig. His father could tell that he didn’t fully understand what he was saying. ‘Robert, if your sister is a pig, then I’m a pig. She is my child! I can’t have a pig for a child unless I’m a pig. When you insult your sister, you’re insulting me, too. When you mock or belittle yourself, you’re doing the same thing to me. You’re my son. The same thing is true for you and God or for your brothers and sisters in the human race and God. When you belittle yourself, you’re belittling God. When you insult your neighbor, you’re insulting God.’“ Young Robert said he never forgot that lesson. [Robert A. Schuler, Getting Through What You’re Going Through (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1986), p. 116.] It’s a lesson all of us need to learn. Can’t we all get along? We can, if each of us will open our hearts to the love of Jesus Christ. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

3) “The building is on fire! The building is on fire!” Once there was an ecumenical crusade that was being held in a large city. Every imaginable denomination was in attendance for this unprecedented spiritual event. During one very well-attended event a secretary suddenly rushed in shouting, “The building is on fire! The building is on fire!” At which point: The METHODISTS gathered in the corner and prayed. The BAPTISTS cried, “Where is the water?” The QUAKERS quietly praised God for the blessings that fire brings. The LUTHERANS posted a notice on the door declaring that the fire was evil. The ROMAN CATHOLICS passed a plate to cover the damages. The JEWS posted symbols on the doors, hoping that the fire would pass. The CONGREGATIONALISTS shouted, “Every man for himself!” The FUNDAMENTALISTS proclaimed, “It’s the vengeance of God.” The EPISCOPALIANS formed a procession and marched out. The CHRISTIAN SCIENTISTS concluded that there was no fire. The PRESBYTERIANS appointed a chairperson to appoint a committee to look into the matter and make a written report. And the secretary grabbed a fire extinguisher and put the fire out [The Catholic Digest (September 1992), p. 37.] It is amazing the multitude of different groups there are, all calling themselves Christian. And each one, of course, feels that it has a corner on the truth. God must get a good laugh out of it all! Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

4) “Lord have mercy,” the old man whispered, “He’s gonna be a politician!” Some of our older members may remember a ridiculous, time-honored story about an old country preacher who had a teenage son. One day, while the boy was at school, his father decided to try an experiment. He went into the boy’s room and placed on his desk three objects: a Bible, a silver dollar, and a bottle of whiskey. “Now then,” the old preacher said to himself, “I’ll just hide behind the door here, and when my son comes home from school this afternoon, I’ll see which of these three objects he picks up. If he picks up the Bible, he’s going to be a preacher like me. If he picks up the dollar, he’s going to be a businessman, and that would be okay, too. But if he picks up the bottle of whiskey, he’s going to be a no-good drunkard.” Soon the old man heard his son’s footsteps as he came in the house. He watched as the boy walked over to inspect the three items on the desk. First, the boy picked up the Bible and placed it under his arm. Then he picked up the silver dollar and dropped it into his pocket. Finally, he uncorked the bottle and took a big drink. “Lord have mercy,” the old man whispered, “He’s gonna be a politician!” — I guess we could say that, unless you’re going to be a politician, you are going to have to make some choices in life. Life is a matter of choices — choices about how you spend your time, choices about how you spend your money –- which show you and others what you think is important. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

5) The “greatest moment in sports history” anyone has ever seen. The members of the opposing Central Washington University softball team did something that stunned spectators. Central Washington first baseman Mallory Holtman asked the umpire if she and her teammates could help Sara. The umpire said there was no rule against it. So Holtman and shortstop Liz Wallace put their arms under Sara’s legs, and she put her arms over their shoulders. The three players headed around the bases, stopping to let Sara touch each base with her good leg. The three-run homer would count. — Here’s what’s amazing. Listen up all you sports addicts. This act of sportsmanship by the Central Washington team contributed to their own elimination from the playoffs. There was a price for their compassion, but still they did what was right. Sports writers around the country have hailed this event as the ultimate act of sportsmanship. Others have said it is the “greatest moment in sports history” anyone has ever seen. (Billy Strayhorn, http://www.epulpit.net/080810.htm.) I say it reflects a change that must take place in human hearts before God’s kingdom comes on earth, even as it is in Heaven. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

6) “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.” It was one of the most gripping news stories of 2003. In the beautiful but desolate mountains of southeastern Utah, a twenty-seven-year-old mountain climber named Aron Ralston, made a desperate decision. An avid outdoors man, Aron was rock-climbing one day when his right arm became trapped under a boulder, a boulder estimated to weigh at least eight hundred pounds. He saw immediately that he was in deep trouble. Unable to budge the rock at all, Aron took out his pocketknife and chipped away at the rock for 10 hours, managing to produce only a small handful of dust. Obviously, this was not going to work. Days were passing. No one knew where he was. Even worse, his family and friends were used to his going off for days without contacting anyone, so they were not even looking for him. With his arm still wedged beneath this enormous boulder Aron Ralston recorded a video message to his parents telling them good-bye. At the end of several days with no food or water, however, Aron made a remarkable choice. Aron Ralston decided to amputate his arm in order to save himself. And that’s exactly what he did, using only a pocket knife. What an amazing display of courage and determination! After he was finished, he applied a tourniquet to his arm and rappelled nearly 70 feet to the floor of the canyon. Then he hiked five miles downstream where he encountered some other hikers and was rescued. Aron Ralston made the obviously excruciating decision to amputate his right arm to save his life. It is an amazing story! — Who can read this story without thinking of Jesus’ words from our lesson for today, “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell”? What a stark declaration: “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.” Aron Ralston certainly made a choice – to sacrifice his arm in order to save his life. There are choices that must be made in life, and those choices determine our destiny. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

7) Sodium chloride: If there are any chemists here this morning, you know that sodium is an extremely active element found naturally only in combined form; it always links itself to another element. Chlorine, on the other hand, is a poisonous gas that can stand by itself. Chlorine is what gives bleach its offensive odor. When sodium and chlorine are combined, the result is Sodium Chloride. What is Sodium Chloride? Salt. Common table salt: the substance we use to preserve meat and bring out its flavor; the substance we use to add spice to meals. — Love and truth can be like sodium and chlorine. Love without truth is flighty, sometimes blind, willing to combine with various doctrines. On the other hand, truth by itself can be offensive, sometimes even poisonous. Spoken without love, it can turn people away from the Gospel. When truth and love are combined in an individual or a Church, then we have what Jesus called “the salt of the earth,” and we’re able to preserve and bring out the beauty of our faith. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

8) Dante’s View: In Death Valley, there is a place known as Dante’s View. From this location you can look down into the lowest spot in the United States, a depression in the earth two hundred feet below sea level called Black Water. But from Dante’s View you can also look up to the highest peak in the United States, Mt. Whitney, rising to a height of 14,500 feet. In one direction you move to the lowest spot in the United States, in the other, to the highest. From Dante’s View, only the traveler can decide which direction he or she will take. [Maxie Dunnam, The Devil at Noon Day (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996).] — There are choices we must make. If you’re going to have a healthy spiritual life, there are choices you must make about the input you give your mind. If you’re going to have a healthy marriage and a healthy family, there are choices you’re going to have to make every day. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

9) Can you be the new Telemachus? One person armed with the Gospel of peace can change the world. Telemachus did. Who was Telemachus? He was a monk who lived in the 5th century. And his story is a story of courage. He felt God saying to him, “Go to Rome.” He was in a cloistered monastery, but he put his possessions in a sack and set out for Rome. When he arrived in the city, people were thronging in the streets. He asked why all the excitement and was told that this was the day that the gladiators would be fighting in the coliseum, the day of the games, the circus. He thought to himself, “Four centuries after Christ and they are still killing each other, for enjoyment?” He ran to the coliseum and heard the gladiators saying, “Hail to Caesar, we die for Caesar!” and he thought, “This isn’t right.” He jumped over the railing and went out into the middle of the field, got between two gladiators, and tried to stop them. The crowd became enraged and stoned the peacemaker to death. When the Emperor of Rome, Honorius, heard about the monk, he declared him a Christian martyr and put an end to the games. Legend has it that the very last Gladiatorial game was the one in which Telemachus died. — Jesus said, “Have salt in yourselves – be at peace with each other.” Sometimes it seems we have gladiatorial games going on inside the Church, inside our homes, at work. And the games have been going on for as long as we can remember! Who will be a Telemachus? Who will be the monk who jumps into the arena, sacrifices himself, and brings peace? Peace can be made but it sometimes comes at a heavy price. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

10) 268 years of peace and 8000 broken peace treaties: Here is an interesting statistic: The Society of International Law, in London, observed that during the last 3,550 years of recorded history there have been only 268 years of peace. That means that since the beginning of recorded history, the entire world has been at peace less than eight percent of the time! What is even more interesting is that during this time in excess of 8000 peace treaties were made — and broken. — My friend, that represents a lot of turf wars. Why do we not have peace in our life? Because, at any cost, we fight to protect our turf, and we fight to get the turf of the other fellow. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

11) USA flag on a Russian ship! Some time ago there was an interesting story about whales that were trapped in the ice off the coast of Alaska. These whales swam in the cool waters of Alaska so long that they missed the last plane to Hawaii! They were completely enclosed by the deepening ice. Some people saw their plight and tried to rescue them by sawing through the ice, but they were unsuccessful and called for additional help. The United States Navy sent in a ship to rescue the whales. That, too, failed. Finally, a Soviet ice­breaker was asked to plow through the ice allowing the whales to swim out into the open sea. This was in American waters, and thus, before the Russian ship started its work, a United States of America flag was raised on its mast. People, especially the Press Corps, could hardly believe it! Here was a USA flag on a Russian ship! A whale was used to bring two countries, often at odds with each other, together for the sake of rescue. [Eddie Fox & George E. Morris, Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So! (Franklin, TN: Providence House, 1999).] — It’s interesting. God also used a whale to get the attention of the prophet Jonah. As you’ll remember, Jonah was prejudiced against the people of Nineveh. He wanted God to destroy the people of that city. And then God sent a whale . . . and then a gourd . . . and then a worm. Finally Jonah got the message. It’s a message we still need to hear. All the world’s people belong to God. God loves us all the same. God’s will is liberty and justice for all the world’s people. But here is what we also need to realize: there will not be peace in the world until each of us resolves to live out the message of Christ’s love in our own family and neighborhood. If you and I cannot love one another, there is no hope for the world. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

12) “If I don’t remember who I am in Him, I’m done.” Some of you are familiar with superstar singer Mary J. Blige. Blige is a three-time Grammy Award-winning rhythm & blues and hip-hop soul singer, songwriter and producer. She has had several #1 songs. Many people regard her as today’s queen of soul. Mary J. Blige has changed her image significantly over the course of her career, and she credits much of that change to her newfound faith in Jesus Christ. Blige claims that her early years in show business were marred by heavy alcohol and drug abuse. She projected an image of toughness, but inside she was hurting. One day, Blige read an interview with superstar Beyonce in which Beyonce spoke of her love for her mother and father. Blige found herself crying over the desire to experience that kind of love. In recent years, after giving her life to Jesus, Mary J. Blige is able to say, “It was later, when I gave my life to Jesus Christ, that I found out who I am. I’m a child of God. God is my mommy, my daddy. That’s the only thing that’ll keep my head up. If I don’t remember who I am in him, I’m done.” [“Oprah Talks to Mary J. Blige,” O, The Oprah Magazine (May 2006), p. 243.] — It was important for Mary J. Blige to find Jesus. What difference does it make whether I become one who really is affected by Christ’s presence in my life? Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

13) “Sacred Doves of Peace.” Mark from Wisconsin wrote in to his newspaper with this most ironic story: He stopped by a pet store one day to look for a bird. As he entered the store, he noticed a strange rustling noise coming from the back. In the back of the store was a large cage with a sign underneath it advertising “Sacred Doves of Peace.” And in the cage were two white doves . . . beating each other to a pulp. [Life As We Know It, edited by Daniel Kelly (Kansas City: Andrews and McMee, 1996), p. 32.] — I would like to say that is the way of the world, but it has often been the way of the Church as well. It reminds me of a proposal made by the Mennonite Church a few years ago. The Mennonites historically have been a Church that advocates peace. Here was their proposal: Can’t we agree that, as Christians, we at least won’t kill other Christians? The reference was to Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. Liberals objected that this proposal makes it sound okay to kill Muslims or atheists or Hindus, which of course isn’t the point. Conservatives protested that this proposal might make war impossible. v

14) Sin is hell. And hell is serious business. Psychiatrist Karl Menninger [What Ever Became of Sin? (New York: Hawthorn Books, 1973)] notes that American Presidents used to mention sin once in awhile, but that none has done so since 1953. The Republicans refer to the problems of “pride” and “self-righteousness.” The Democrats refer to “short-comings.” But no one uses the grand old sweeping concept of sin anymore. Thus, it seems, we as a nation stopped sinning sixty-seven years ago! And, speaking of politics: a poll on Heaven and Hell in the Des Moines Register awhile back found that only one Republican in 35 expects to end up in Hell, whereas one Democrat in nine assumes he will. I am not sure what that means. It may mean that it does little good to preach hellfire and brimstone to a congregation that is filled with people who don’t believe there is a chance in hell that they will end up there. And that reminds me of Mark Twain’s famous statement. He said that when he died, he would like to go to Heaven for the climate but would probably prefer Hell for the companionship. Mark Twain was clever and witty, but he missed the point. — Sin isn’t fun. Sin is hell. And hell is serious business. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

15) Thomas Aquinas once remarked, “Beware the man of one book!” Narrowness, intolerance or living life according to only one book or point of view is as much an injustice to the person so trapped as it is against others. The following anonymous piece offers a profile of such a person:

“When the other person acts that way, he’s obnoxious;
when you do it, it’s nerves.
When she is set in her ways, she is obstinate;
when you are, it’s just being firm.
When he doesn’t like your friends, he’s prejudiced;
when you don’t like his, you are simply showing good judgment of human nature.
When she tries to be accommodating, she’s polishing the apple;
when you do it, you’re using tact.
When he takes time to do things, he’s plodding and slow;
when you take forever, you’re being deliberate and careful.
When she finds fault, she’s cranky;
when you do, you’re discriminating.”

Each of the readings for today’s liturgy invites the gathered assembly to shatter this profile and shake itself free of its “one book mentality” by becoming more aware and appreciative of the Spirit of God at work in others, even in those we least expect. (Sanchez Archives). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

16) Ecce Homo – Behold the Man!  A war story provided William Sangster with the picture he wanted in order to show us that we see ourselves only when we see ourselves in Christ. “During the war a soldier picked up on the battle fields of France a battered frame which had once contained a picture of Christ. The picture had gone but the frame still bore the words: ‘Ecce Homo’. The soldier sent it home as a souvenir, and someone at home put a mirror on it and hung it on the wall. One day a man went into the house and understood the startling words ‘Behold the man!’ as he saw himself in the mirror. — We only see ourselves when we see ourselves in Jesus. Blots we barely knew there come to view in His white light” [James Feeban in Story Power! Quoted by Fr. Botelho.] Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

17) Small is beautiful:  For months the chapel was decorated with artificial flowers. While they looked pretty they lacked one vital thing – they emitted no scent. Then one day someone brought in a small bunch of fresh bluebells and placed them on the altar. As soon as you walked into the chapel you noticed the difference. The fragrance given off by the little bluebells filled the entire chapel. — How the genuine article shines out, how it quietly makes its presence felt. It doesn’t have to be big. Even the dew lessens the heat. Jesus said that anyone who gave one of the disciples even a cup of cold water would be rewarded. The “cup of cold water” is a symbol of the small kind deed.   (Flor McCarthy in New Sundays and Holy Day Liturgies: quoted by Fr. Botelho.) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

18) Envy destroys: In Greek history we read of a young man who so distinguished himself in public games that his fellow citizens raised a statue in his honor, to keep fresh the memory of his victories. This statue so excited the envy of another rival who had been defeated in the races that one night he stole out under cover of darkness with the intention to destroy the statue. But he only nicked it slightly. He gave it a final heave and it fell – on top of him and killed him. -– Envy always harms the one who is guilty of it. That is why in today’s Gospel Jesus warns us against jealousy and envy.   (Frank Michalic in 1000 Stories; quoted by Fr. Botelho.) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

19) A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle: A few years ago, at the Seattle Special Olympics, nine contestants, all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard dash. At the gun, they all started out, except one little boy who, tumbled, and began to cry. The other eight heard the boy cry. They slowed down, then all turned around and went back……every one of them. One girl with Down’s syndrome bent down and kissed him and said, “This will make it better.” Then all nine linked arms and walked together to the finish line. Everyone in the stadium stood, and the cheering went on for several minutes. People who were there are telling the story. — Why? Because deep down we know this one thing: What matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. What matters in this life is helping others win, instead of becoming jealous, even if it means slowing down and changing our course. (Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

20) Send him to Hell! O Henry, the master storyteller, once wrote a story about a woman whose mother had died when she was a little girl. When the father came home from work the little girl would ask him to play with her. Her father would tell her that he had no time and that she should go out into the street and play; then he would light up his pipe, take off his shoes, put his feet up and read the newspaper. By the time the little girl grew up, she was used to the streets, and made her living there. When she died, St. Peter looked up to Jesus and asked, “I suppose we send her to Hell?” The Lord said, “No she deserves Heaven. But go down to earth, look for that man who refused to play with her when she needed him, and send him to Hell because instead of training his daughter by good examples he ruined her life by bad example!” (Harold Buetow in God Still Speaks: Listen! Quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

21) Feeding Sin: In 1939, a coast guard vessel was cruising the Canadian Arctic when the men spotted a polar bear stranded on an ice floe. It was quite a novelty for the seamen, who threw the bear salami, peanut butter, and chocolate bars. Then they ran out of the food. Unfortunately, the polar bear hadn’t run out of appetite, so he proceeded to board their vessel. The men on ship were terrified and opened the fire hoses on the bear. The polar bear loved it and raised his paws in the air to get the water under his armpits. We don’t know how they did it, but eventually they forced the polar bear to return to his ice pad–but not before teaching these seamen a horrifying lesson about feeding polar bears. — Some people make the same mistake with sin that these sailors nearly made with the polar bear. That is why Jesus gives the strong warning about the surgical removal of sources of temptation in today’s Gospel. (Sermons.com). Fr. Kayala. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

22) Difference between charity and social justice: Someone once told the following story as an illustration of the difference between charity and social justice: A huge boulder rolled down a mountain and landed in the middle of a narrow, curving roadway. An approaching car rounded the turn and crashed into the boulder. Families living nearby rushed to rescue the injured passengers, brought them into their own homes and tended to them until they were well. That’s charity. Not too many weeks later, another unwitting vehicle collided with the boulder and the families took them in and cared for them also. That’s charity. Within a month, still another carload of travellers hit the boulder. After seeing to the needs of the accident victims, the people in the area got together to decide how to get rid of the boulder. That’s social justice. — When James, in today’s second reading, called upon the rich to attend to the needs of the poor, he was not recommending charity; he was demanding social justice. He was not pleading with the wealthy to dip into their surplus in order to throw a few crumbs to the needy. James charged the rich to give the poor what was their due on two counts. First, as members of the same community, all were, therefore, responsible for the well-being of one another. If one was in need, those who had the means to help were bound, by the Christian law of love, to do so. Second, that which was being withheld from the poor were their just wages. To refuse to pay the farmhands who had harvested the fields was not only an act of injustice, but it was an affront to God who is ever alert to the cries of the poor. (Sanchez Archives). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

23) The Spirit came on them also: During her rounds, a Catholic social worker in Corning, New York got acquainted with Orrin, who was on the relief rolls. Orrin, 82, lived alone in a shanty on the edge of this small upstate city. He was just about as poor as he could be, but attracted her by his quiet, cheerful dignity. One day he told her a little about himself, and she began to understand why he was so serene. “I belong to the Gospel Tabernacle,” he said. “I go to Church on Wednesday night, and there isn’t a fuller Church in town.” “When I get up mornings, I pray for an hour. I pray for everybody I’m going to meet each day. Then I read my Bible for an hour. At night I read the Bible again.” Orrin’s remarks set the Catholic woman thinking. “I believe,” she said to herself, “that I belong to the true Church. But this sweet little man seems to be much closer to God than I am!” — God has indeed given us one true Church as the authorized channel of salvation. But that does not prevent Him from working out “special arrangements” with those who are not registered members of the Church. That is why Jesus told the apostles not to forbid a man outside their own number to invoke the name of Christ against demons. “Anyone who is not against us,” He explained, “is with us.” Moses had taken the same stand when Joshua tried to stop the preaching of the two men who had not been officially called to membership in the committee of seventy elders. “Are you jealous for my sake?” Moses asked Joshua. “Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets!” How the Spirit dealt with the two unofficial preachers was His business; and it was clear He “had come to rest on them also.” (Numbers 11:25. Today’s first reading.) — We have no right to pass judgment on God’s generosity towards any of His children. (Father Robert F. McNamara). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

24) Cost of discipleship for St. Thomas More: The Movie A Man for All seasons (Watch movie clips: https://youtu.be/1Acvwko6Wd0) is based on the life of St. Thomas More. Thomas More was a teenager in England when Columbus discovered America. Thomas attended Oxford University and after graduation, entered public life. he rose rapidly as a government official. In 1529, king Henry VIII honored him by appointing him Chancellor of England. Then tragedy struck Thomas More’s life. Here’s how it happened. Henry VIII divorced his queen and remarried unlawfully. To combat opposition to his marriage, Henry ordered certain dignitaries of the state to sign a document swearing under oath that his remarriage was lawful. Henry passed word to the dignitaries that if they refused to sign the document they would be arrested for treason. A dramatic scene occurred when Lord Norfolk brought the document to Thomas More. Thomas refused to sign it; no amount of persuasion would change his mind. Finally, Lord Norfolk lost his patience. He said to his friend: “Oh confound all this ..I don’t know whether the marriage was lawful or not. But damn it, Thomas, look at these names….You know these men! Can’t you do what I did and come along with us , for fellowship?” — Thomas More still refused. He wouldn’t swear to something that he knew in his heart was wrong. Thomas More was eventually arrested. On July 6, 1535, he was executed for treason. The story of St. Thomas More illustrates what Jesus means when he says in today’s Gospel” “ If your hand makes you lose your faith, cut off. ….eyes… take it out. (Mark Link S. J. in Illustrated Sunday Homilies). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/). L/21

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

Visit my website by clicking on https://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle A homilies, 141 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at akadavil@gmail.com. Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies  under 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

 

Sept 20-25 weekday homilies

Kindly click on https://frtonyshomilies.com/  for missed Sunday and weekday homilies. Sept 20-25: Sept 20 Monday (St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon, Priest and Paul Chong Ha-sang, and companion Martyrs): Lk 8:16-18: 16 “No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a vessel, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, that those who enter may see the light. 17 For nothing is hid that shall not be made manifest, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light. 18 Take heed then how you hear; for to him who has will more be given, and from him who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.” USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

The context: Today’s Gospel passage is taken from Luke’s version of Jesus’ teachings after telling the parable of the sower.  It reminds us that we are the light of the world and that our duty is to receive and radiate around us Christ’s light of love, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness.  The image of light and lamp: Lamps help people to see, move and work in the dark, and their light prevents our stumbling and falling down. For the Jews, light represented the inner beauty, truth, and goodness of God. God’s light illumines our lives with light, celestial joy, and everlasting peace. The glory of the Lord shone around the shepherds at Bethlehem (Lk 2:9). Paul experienced the presence of God in a blinding light (Acts 9:3; 22:6); God “dwells in inaccessible light” (1 Tim 6:16). That is why Jesus claims to be the light of the world. When the light of Christ shines in our hearts, we will be able to recognize who we are, who our neighbors are and who God is and to see clearly how we are related to God and our neighbors. When we live in Christ’s light, we will not foolishly try to hide truths about ourselves from ourselves, from our neighbors, or from God. Christ’s light will also remind us of the consequences of our loving the darkness of sinful ways and bad habits.

The paradox of the rich getting richer: In today’s Gospel, Jesus makes the comment, “for to him who has will more be given,” following the warning “Take heed how you hear….” Jesus is telling us that if we listen to Him with open minds and open hearts and walk in Jesus’ light, the tiny bit of wisdom and understanding that we’ve already gained will grow and grow with God’s help. If, on the other hand, our hearts are closed to Jesus, even the little bit of wisdom that we think we’ve got will be lost. Jesus is not talking about money or wealth in any form. Jesus is talking about the extent and depth of our connectedness to God. If we are already deeply rooted in God, our spirits will grow larger, richer, and fuller by the day. But if our connection to the Lord is only superficial, it certainly won’t grow, and it may well not last at all.

Life messages: As “light of the world” it is our duty 1) to remove the darkness from around us and 2) to show others the true light of Jesus, His ideas and ideals through our model Christian life. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Sept 21 Tuesday (St. Mathew, Apostle, Evangelist): Mt 9:9-13:  https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-matthew/ 9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.  10 And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples.  11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  13 Go and learn what this means, `I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

The context: Today’s Gospel episode of Matthew’s call as Jesus’ apostle reminds us of God’s love and mercy for sinners and challenges us to practice this same love and mercy in our relations with others. The call and the response: Jesus went to the tax-collector’s station to invite Matthew to become a disciple. Since tax-collectors worked for a foreign power and extorted more tax money from the people than they owed, the Jewish people, especially the Pharisees, hated and despised the tax collectors as traitors, considered them public sinners, and ostracized them. But Jesus could see in Matthew a person who needed Divine love and grace. That is why, while everyone hated Matthew, Jesus was ready to offer him undeserved love, mercy and forgiveness. Hence, Matthew abandoned his lucrative job, because, for him, Christ’s invitation to become Jesus’ follower, was a promise of salvation, fellowship, guidance, and protection. Scandalous partying with sinners. It was altogether natural for Matthew to rejoice in his new calling by celebrating with his friends who were also outcasts. Jesus’ dining with all these outcasts in the house of a “traitor” scandalized the Pharisees, for whom ritual purity and table fellowship were important religious practices. But they asked, not Jesus but the young disciples, “Why does your master eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  Jesus, coming to the rescue of the disciples, cut in, and answered the question, in terns of healing: “Those who are well do not need a physician; the sick do.” Then Jesus challenged the Pharisees, quoting Hosea, “Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’” (Hosea 6:6).  Finally, Jesus clarified, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” [After the Ascension, Saint Matthew remained for over ten years in Judea, writing his Gospel there in about the year 44. Then he went to preach the Faith in Egypt and especially in Ethiopia, where he remained for twenty-three years. The relics of Saint Matthew were for many years in the city of Naddaver in Ethiopia, where he suffered his martyrdom, but were transferred to Salerno in the year 954].

Life messages: 1) Jesus calls you and me for a purpose: Jesus has called us through our Baptism, forgiven us our sins, and welcomed us as members of the Kingdom. In fact, Jesus calls us daily through the Word and through the Church, to be disciples and, so, to turn away from all the things that distract us and draw us away from God. 2) Just as Matthew did, we, too, are expected to proclaim Christ through our lives by reaching out to the unwanted and the marginalized in society with Christ’s love, mercy, and compassion. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Sept 22 Wednesday: Lk 9:1-6): 1 And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal. 3 And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, or bag, or bread, or money; and do not have two tunics. 4 And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. 5 And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” 6 And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

The context: Today’s Gospel describes the commissioning of the twelve Apostles. Sent out with “power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases,” they exercised their preaching and healing mission according to the detailed action-plan given by Jesus.

Jesus’ instructions and travel tips. By these instructions, it is clear that Jesus meant the apostles to take no supplies for the road. They were simply to trust that God, the Provider, would open the hearts of believers to take care of their needs. The Jews supported their rabbis, and judged doing so a privilege as well as an obligation, because hospitality was an important religious tradition in Palestine. Jesus’ instructions also suggest that the apostles should not be like the acquisitive Jewish priests of the day, who were interested only in gaining riches.  They should be walking examples of God’s love and providence in action. They should choose temporary accommodation in a reputable household, they should bless the residents with God’s peace, and they should be satisfied with whatever food and accommodation they receive, and not search for better.

Life messages: 1) We, too, have a witness-bearing mission:  Each Christian is called not only to be a disciple but also to be an apostle. As apostles, we are sent out to evangelize the world by sharing with others, not just words, or ideas, or doctrines, but our experiences of God and His Son, Jesus. It is through our transparent Christian lives that we are to show the love, mercy and concern of Jesus to the people around us.

2) We also have a liberating mission: There are many demons which can control the lives of people around us, making them helpless slaves —the demon of nicotine, the demon of alcohol, the demon of gambling, the demon of pornography and promiscuous sex, the demon of materialism and consumerism. We need the help of Jesus to be liberated ourselves and to help Jesus liberate others from these bondages. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Sept 23 Thursday (St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest): Lk 9:7-9: 7) Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, 8 by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the old prophets had risen. 9 Herod said, “John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he sought to see him. USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

The context: Although King Herod respected and feared John the Baptist as a great prophet, he was not converted, and he was maneuvered into beheading John by his vengeful, intolerant, immoral, jealous wife Herodias. When his personal staff started reporting stories to Herod about the new prophet, Jesus, as the reappearance of Elijah the prophet, Herod expressed his fear that Jesus was the reincarnation of John the Baptist whom he had unjustly killed. He wanted to see Jesus — not to hear Jesus preaching of the Good News, but in order to get rid of his fear and feelings of guilt.

The haunting conscience: Herod Antipas was one of the several sons of Herod the Great, the King of Israel who had divided his kingdom among four of his sons.  Herod Antipas ruled over Galilee and Perea from 4 BC to 39 AD. The conscience of this immoral oriental tyrant Herod started destroying his peace of mind when he realized the heinousness of his crimes of an illicit and immoral relationship with his niece and sister-in-law, Herodias, in gross violation of Mosaic laws, and his cooperation in the murder of John the Baptist. His discomfort led him, not to repentance, but to the fear that John had come back from the dead to punish him, a fear that might have prompted Herod’s wish to see Jesus in person. His wish was finally realized when Jesus was dragged to him during Jesus’ trial before Pilate. But Jesus did not yield to Herod’s demand for a miracle and kept silence.

Life messages: 1) We need to keep our conscience clean by repenting of our sins and being reconciled with God and His Church. Otherwise, our sins will haunt us, making our lives miserable.

2) It is necessary that we should have a clear understanding of Who Jesus really is. We need to see, experience and accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. Such an acceptance should lead us to a total adoption of Jesus’ ideas and ideals and way of life.  Otherwise, we will be like Herod, who resembled the people who flock to healing services today, looking for miracles but not for Jesus. If our following of Jesus causes in us no change that transforms our souls and radiates Jesus outward from us, our attempts to have mountain-top experiences will be meaningless and vain. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Sept 24 Friday: Lk 9:18-22: 18 Now it happened that as he was praying alone the disciples were with him; and he asked them, “Who do the people say that I am?” 19 And they answered, “John the Baptist; but others say, Elijah; and others, that one of the old prophets has risen.” 20 And he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” 21 But he charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, “The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third  day be raised.” USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

The context: Today’s Gospel passage is the first of the three times when Jesus foretells His Passion, death and Resurrection.  It consists of two sections, the Messianic confession of Peter and the prediction of the Passion by Jesus.

Jesus as the Christ, our Lord and Savior: Today’s Gospel explains the basis of our Faith as the acceptance of Jesus as the Christ, our Lord and Savior.  It also tells us that Christ Jesus became our Savior by suffering, death and Resurrection.  According to Matthew (16:13-19), and Mark (8:27-30), this famous profession of Faith by Peter took place at Caesarea Philippi, at present called Banias, twenty-five miles northeast of the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus realized that if the apostles did not know Who He really was, then His entire ministry, suffering and death would be useless.  Hence, Jesus decided to ask a question in two parts. 1) “What is the public opinion about Me? “and 2) “What is your personal opinion? “Their answer to the first question was: “Some say John the Baptist; but others say, Elijah; and others, that one of the old prophets has risen.”  Peter volunteered to answer the second question, saying: “You are the Christ of God.”  But Jesus charged and commanded them to tell this to no one and predicted His Passion and death.

Life messages: Let us experience Jesus as our Lord: 1) We experience Jesus as our personal Savior by listening to Jesus through the daily, meditative reading of the Bible, by talking to Jesus through daily, personal and family prayers, by offering Jesus our lives on the altar in frequent attendance at Holy Mass, by being reconciled with Jesus every night, asking pardon and forgiveness for our sins, and by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation whenever we are in mortal sin.

2) The next step is the surrender of our lives to Jesus by rendering humble and loving service to others with the strong conviction that Jesus is present in every person. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Sept 25 Saturday: Lk 9: 43-45: 43 And all were astonished at the majesty of God. But while they were all marveling at everything he did, he said to  his disciples, 44 “Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of man is to be delivered into the hands of men.” 45 But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, that they should not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask him about this saying. USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

The context: Coming down from the mountain after His Transfiguration, Jesus healed an epileptic boy.  Today’s Gospel begins with the reaction of the crowds to this cure: “and all were astonished at the majesty of God.” But Jesus uses this occasion of high popularity to explain that, in order to reveal Jesus’ real majesty, “the Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men.”

Jesus’ least understood prediction: His coming suffering and death: In fact, Jesus foretold three times great suffering through betrayal, rejection, and the punishment of a cruel death. The Apostles could not take it in because they were dreaming of a political messiah in Jesus. Besides, Jesus showed His glory to three of them on the mountain and baffled everyone by instantly healing an epileptic boy whom the Apostles could not heal, so plainly, no one could do this to Jesus by their own power. In addition, Jesus’ disciples were really frightened by such a prediction, perhaps fearing the same fate for themselves. They may also have been ignorant of the “Suffering Servant” prophecy of Isaiah, where the Messiah was pictured as making atonement for sins through suffering and death. When Jesus called Himself the “Son of Man,” the Apostles got the impression of the Messiah coming in glory as described by Daniel.

Life messages: 1) Jesus paid the ransom for our sins by His blood and freed us from the tyranny of sin and death through the Resurrection. Hence, it is our duty to live and die as free children of God, freed from all types of slavery to sin, evil habits and addictions.

2) We should ask Jesus for help to carry our daily crosses in the same spirit of atonement for our sins and those of others that marked Jesus’ willing, sacrificial sufferings and death for all of us. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

 

O. T. XXV (September 19th Sunday) homily

O.T. XXV [B] Sunday (Sept 19th) 8-minue homily in one page

Introduction: Today’s scripture readings invite us to become great in the sight of God by doing God’s will as Jesus did, surrendering our lives to Him in the service of others.

Scripture lessons summarized: The passage from the Book of Wisdom sounds like a messianic prophecy like the “Suffering Servant” prophecy in Isaiah referring to Christ’s passion. It urges us to choose the path of righteousness despite painful consequences. In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 54), the psalmist prays for help against the insolent people who rise against the upright.

The second reading is in tune with the dispute among the apostles about who is the greatest. In it, James warns us that selfish ambitions destroy peace and cause conflicts and war. So, James advises us to choose the path of righteousness and humble service which leads to lasting peace.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives us a glimpse of what walking that path of righteousness mentioned in the first and second readings is, namely, welcoming and serving the vulnerable in our midst: the defenseless children, the despairing poor, the mentally ill and the marginalized. Jesus also teaches his apostles that child-like humility and selfless service make one great in the eyes of God.

Life messages: # 1:  We must become great through humble, self-giving service.    Greatness, in Jesus’ view, is found in our willingness to accept, welcome, and serve those who are considered unacceptable by reason of class, color, religion, wealth or culture.   We must welcome people the way a child welcomes them before he is taught discrimination.   If we are to be truly great, we must be ready to accept four challenges: (1) to put ourselves last, (2) to be the servant of all, (3) to receive the most insignificant human beings with love, and (4) to expect nothing in return.  During the holy Mass let us pray for the true spirit of service and for an attitude of love for those around us. May the Holy Spirit help us to become truly great through humble, selfless service.

2) We need to practice humility in thoughts, words, and actions. “Learn from Me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” “What is the essential thing in the religion and discipline of Jesus Christ?” St. Augustine asks, and then responds, “I shall reply: first humility, second humility, and third humility.” We should not seek recognition and recompense for the service we do for Christ and the Church as parents, teachers, pastors, etc. Trusting Faith resulting from true humility is essential for all corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Since children reflect the innocence, purity, simplicity, and tenderness of our Lord, and since they are given the protection of a guardian angel, we are to love them, train them, and take care not to give scandal to them. We need to try to treat everyone with love and respect because, “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life” (St. Basil), CCC # 336.

OT XXV Sunday: Wis 2:12, 17-20; Jas 3:16—4:3; Mk 9:30-37

Homily starter anecdotes: #1 “The most powerful woman in the world!” At the screening of the film Mother Teresa during the fortieth anniversary of the United Nations in 1983, the Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar rose from his seat to introduce St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) to an elite gathering of the representatives of all member countries of the U.N. He needed only one sentence for his introduction:  “I present to you the most powerful woman in the world!” (Hers was the power of humble and sacrificial Christian service!) On March 3, 1976, conferring on Mother Teresa the highest honor of India’s Vishwa Bharati University, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, who was at that time Prime Minister of India, said: “I feel myself dwarfed when I stand before this holy and mighty woman who heroically showed the world how to practice Christian love in sacrificial and humble service.” For many years, the world watched, admired, and loved this small, elderly nun, always dressed in a blue-bordered white sari, as the incarnation of humble and sacrificing Christian service.  She was the living proof of Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel that real greatness lies in serving others. She did this with love and compassion. Beginning in 1962, she was given several awards, national and international, in recognition of her greatness, attained through the humble service given to the “poorest of the poor.”    On Sept. 5, 1997, the day of the death of this saint who lived with us, practicing what Jesus commanded His disciples to do, Pope St. John Paul II said: “Mother Teresa marked the history of our century with courage.  She served all human beings by promoting their dignity and respect, making them feel the tenderness of God.” Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 2: Dr. Charles Mayo polishing the shoes of his guests: There’s a story told about Dr. Charles Mayo who, with his father and brother, founded the world-famous Mayo Clinic. Some European medical experts were visiting the clinic and were staying as guests at Dr. Mayo’s home. In their own countries it was the custom of these gentlemen to place their shoes outside the bedroom doors for a servant to polish. As Dr. Mayo was headed to bed, he noticed shoes lined up outside the rooms of his guests, but it was too late to wake up any of the servants. With a sigh he picked up all of the shoes, hauled them to the kitchen, and spent half of the night polishing them. Here is an example of what Jesus tells you and me in today’s Gospel “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” (Msgr. Arthur Tonne). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 3: The first shall be the last: The Greeks had a story of a Spartan called Paedaretos. Three hundred men were to be chosen to govern Sparta and Paedaretos was one of the candidates. When the list of the successful was announced his name was not on it. “I am sorry,” said one of his friends, “that you were not elected. The people ought to have known what a wise officer of state you would have made.” “I am glad,” said Paedaretos, “that in Sparta there are three hundred men better than I am.” Here was a man who became a legend because he was prepared to give to others the first place and to bear no ill will, as Jesus demands in today’s Gospel. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Introduction: Today’s readings invite us to become great in the sight of God by doing God’s will, as Jesus did, surrendering our lives to Him in the service of others.

The Scripture readings summarized: The passage from the Book of Wisdom sounds like a messianic prophecy similar to the “Suffering Servant” prophecy in Isaiah referring to Christ’s passion. It urges us to choose the path of righteousness in spite of painful consequences. In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 54), the psalmist prays for help against the insolent people who rise against the upright. In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives us a glimpse of what walking that path is, namely, welcoming and serving the vulnerable in our midst: the defenseless children, the despairing poor, the mentally ill, and the marginalized. Jesus also teaches the apostles that only child-like humility and selfless service make one great in the eyes of God. In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 54), the psalmist prays for help against the insolent people who rise against the upright. The second reading deals with the problem that caused the dispute among the apostles (over who would be the greatest among them in the coming Kingdom), that we hear about in today’s Gospel. James (the Less) warns us that selfish ambitions destroy peace and cause conflicts and war, and he advises us to choose the path of righteousness and humble service which leads to lasting peace

The first reading (Wisdom. 2:12, 17-20) explained. The Book of Wisdom was written around 100 BC for “the Diaspora,” — the Jews living in pagan cities such as   the cosmopolitan city of Alexandria. Today’s passage is a messianic prophecy of Jesus’ fate at the hands of Jesus’ own people, presenting Jesus as a “Suffering servant.” Referring to a righteous sufferer, the passage points to Jesus’ crucifixion and tells us how the world often ill-treats those who strive to live justly and do God’s will.   Bible scholars consider this as a reference to a conflict that was developing among the Jews living in Alexandria.  The conflict was between those who were trying to keep their Faith pure, and those who were adopting pagan Greek customs.

The second reading (James: 3:16 – 4:3) explained: James is emphatic about the contrast between spiritual wisdom and earthly wisdom. The apostle states that conflicts and disputes come from our inordinate desires, worldly cravings and selfish ambition.  It is precisely this kind of conflict that appears in the Gospel when the apostles argue about who will be highest in the Kingdom of God. James contrasts this kind of jealousy and selfishness with the wisdom from above that produces a harvest of righteousness.

Gospel exegesis:  The context: Jesus was returning to Capernaum after journeying incognito through the Northern Province of Galilee, avoiding crowds and teaching the apostles. Mark presents Jesus as giving three predictions about His coming suffering and death in chapters, 8, 9 and 10.   The response by Jesus’ disciples is a disappointment, because they were dreaming of a political messiah who would usher in an earthly kingdom.  In chapter 8, Peter rebukes Jesus for speaking so.   In chapter 9, (the first part of today’s text), an argument arises among the disciples as to who among them is the greatest.   In the third passage (chapter 10), James and John foolishly ask Jesus to give them seats on his right and left, when Jesus comes to power.  “The grumbling of the other ten disciples at the request of James and John surely implies that they have shared the same hopes of authority and privilege as have the sons of Zebedee.” (Carl W. Conrad; http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/Mark/mk8tr.html). The second part of today’s Gospel describes what happens when Jesus returns to Peter’s house in Capernaum and explains to the apostles what true greatness is.

The Christian criterion of greatness: Jesus says that people who serve humbly are the greatest. He uses a play on an Aramaic word that can mean either servant or child.  Presenting a child before them, Jesus explains that one who wishes to be the first among them must be a servant to all.  True greatness consists in serving one’s fellow men and is never self-centered.  It lies in the ability to see and respond to the needs of others, and it presupposes compassion and sympathy. The two conditions of true greatness are humility and service. This vocation to service belongs to the Church as a whole and to every member of the Church individually.    In other words, the Christian vocation is an apostolate of bearing witness to Christ through loving, humble service.  Christian history teaches us that whenever the members of Christ’s Church have forgotten or ignored this call to service, the Church has suffered. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, gives us this motto on service: “Do all the good you can; By all the means you can; In all the ways you can; In all the places you can; At all the times you can; To all the people you can; As long as ever you can.”

The paradox of the first becoming the last: Here, Jesus stands conventional wisdom on its head:  the truly great person is a diakonos − a deacon − a servant − a person who spends his/her day taking care of other people! What does it mean when Jesus states that those who want to be the first must be the last? Probably, Jesus is speaking of His own life and death in this spirit of His being a servant and considered the last, the loser. Jesus wants the apostles to substitute their ambition to rule thus becoming the first, with the ambition to serve, thus becoming the last. We are all supposed to be serving, whatever our position or role in the society or family or in the Church may be, because true greatness lies in being like Jesus, the servant or slave of all.

Welcoming children. “It may appear that Jesus’ teaching about innocence and welcoming the insignificant (vv. 33-37) is out of place in the context of His passion prediction (vv. 30-32). However, the prediction of his coming death was actually elucidated by Jesus’ lesson regarding the child and vice versa. Talya or child in Aramaic can also mean servant. To behave as a talya (servant) and to welcome even someone as insignificant (according to the standards of that time) as a talya (child) is to learn the reason for the cross (vv. 31-32) and its lesson of discipleship” (Sánchez files). In Greek also, the usual term for “children” [παις, pais] is the same term generally used for “slaves,” and vice-versa. By this play on words, it seems clear that, as much as Jesus is counseling His followers to welcome children in His name, Mark is also asking the Christian community to welcome “servants [of the Gospel],” in the same way that they would welcome Jesus. (Dr. Watson). By setting a child before them, Jesus asks them to be like the child, suggesting the importance of   innocence and humility. The trusting innocence of a child’s heart is the place where believers can meet both Christ and God. Besides, a child represents the most powerless member of any society, a person who has no power, no influence; a person who can be controlled, abused, or neglected by others.  By introducing the example of a child, Jesus also shows us that, when serving others, we must be careful to serve the least important.   This means that the Christian must show hospitality to those who have no social status: the outcast, the sinner, the sick and the feeble.  In other words, the Christian must serve all of God’s children, regardless of whether they are friends or foes. Why? Because such people represent Jesus in our midst and hence they must be welcomed, respected and helped. The passage also tells us that Christians must care for the unwanted, neglected, abused and ignored.

Life messages: # 1:  We must become great through humble, self-giving service.    Greatness, in Jesus’ view, is found in our willingness to accept, welcome and serve those who are considered unacceptable by reason of class, color, religion, wealth, or culture.   We must welcome people the way a child welcomes them before he is taught discrimination.   If we are to be truly great, we must be ready to accept four challenges: (1) to put ourselves last, (2) to be the servant of all, (3) to receive the most insignificant human beings with love, and (4) to expect nothing in return.  During the holy Mass let us pray for the true spirit of service, for an attitude of love for those around us.  May the Holy Spirit help us to become truly great through humble, selfless service. St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) puts it like this: “Be the living expression of God’s kindness through humble service; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile and kindness in your warm greeting.” Here is the motto of the Missionaries of Charity, the order of nuns founded by Mother Teresa:

The fruit of Silence is Prayer.
The fruit of Prayer is Faith.
The fruit of Faith is Love.
The fruit of Love is Service.
And the fruit of Service is Peace.

2) We need to practice humility in thoughts, words and actions. “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart.” “What is the essential thing in the religion and discipline of Jesus Christ?” St. Augustine asks, and then responds, “I shall reply: first humility, second humility and third humility.” We should not seek recognition and recompense for the service we do for Christ and the Church as parents, teachers, pastors, etc. Trusting Faith resulting from true humility is essential for all corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Since children reflect the innocence, purity, simplicity, and tenderness of our Lord, and since they are given the protection of a guardian angel, we are to love them, train them and take care not to give scandal to them. We need to try to treat everyone with love and respect because, “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life,” (St. Basil) CCC # 336.

JOKES OF THE WEEK # 1: Remember potato salad and jokes: Tony Campolo, used to say, “If you ever start to feel proud, thinking that you are somebody great, just remember that soon after your body has been lowered into the grave, your family and friends will be eating potato salad and telling jokes, and you’ll be history.”

# 2: More My Size! George Washington Carver, the scientist who developed hundreds of useful products from the peanut: “When I was young, I said to God, ‘God, tell me the mystery of the universe.’ But God answered, ‘That knowledge is reserved for Me alone.’ So, I said, ‘God, tell me the mystery of the peanut.’ Then God said, ‘Well, George, that’s more nearly your size.’ And He told me.”

# 3: A horrible mistake: Father, I have a besetting sin, and I want your help. I come to Church on Sunday and can’t help thinking I’m the prettiest girl in the congregation. I know I ought not think that, but I can’t help it. I want you to help me with it.” The pastor replied, “Mary, don’t worry about it. In your case it’s not a sin. It’s just a horrible mistake.”

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

#5: I am proud of my humility: Do you have humility like the man who wrote the best-selling books, Humility and Humility and How I Attained It and The Ten Most Humble Men in the World and How I Chose the Other Nine?

# 6: Remember this old Sunday school song containing the basic servant-living theology: J.O.Y., J.O. Y. Tell you what it means: Jesus first, yourself last, and others in between.

# 7: The humble pastor: Did you hear about the pastor who prepared a great message on humility. But he was waiting for a bigger congregation to preach the sermon to! Another pastor was given an award for humility. A week later, the congregation took the award back because the pastor displayed it in his office!

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. Study on O. T. XXV [B] readings: http://www.textweek.com/mkjnacts/mark9b.htm
  2. Sermons from Seattle: http://www.sermonsfromseattle.com/series_b_jesus_loves_all_the_little_children_of_the_world.htm
  3. Kurt’s Favorite Catholic Links: http://www.psalm40.org/catholic/
  4. Are Catholic doctrines biblical? http://usccb.org/bible/understanding-the-bible/study-materials/articles/bible-at-core-of-catholic-beliefs.cfm
  5. Scripture Catholic: https://www.scripturecatholic.com/

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

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

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

8) Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs: (Type or copy https://sundayprep.org on the topmost URL column in Google search or YouTube Search and press the Enter button of the Keyboard.

jesus_loves_03jesus_loves_01

16 Additional anecdotes: 1) “There are no professionals in dying.” In George Seaton’s film The Proud and the Profane, the steps of a young nurse are traced to a place called Iwo Jima where her husband had been killed in World War II.  She goes to the cemetery where her husband lies buried and turns to the caretaker, a shell-shocked soldier, who had seen her husband die.  “How did he die?” she asks.  “Like an amateur,” he replies.  “They teach you how to hurl a grenade and how to fire a mortar, but nobody teaches you how to die.  There are no professionals in dying.” Most of us avoid the subject of death.  It’s a taboo subject.  We pretend that we are going to live forever.  But the only way we can keep up that pretense is through massive denial.  Woody Allen said, “When I die, all I want is just a few of my good friends to gather around the casket and do everything in their power to bring me back to life.” Everyone dies – that we can accept.  But somehow, we think we will be the exception. Jesus knew of the innate fear in the heart of the disciples concerning death, — His death and theirs.  Jesus also knew that they would all pay a terrible price for their future ministry.  So, in today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches the apostles that He is going to become the Messiah by His death and Resurrection. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

2) Beethoven’s Piano: On a visit to the Beethoven Museum in Bonn, a young American student became fascinated by the piano on which Beethoven had composed some of his greatest works. She asked the museum guard if she could play a few bars on it; she accompanied the request with a lavish tip, and the guard agreed. The girl went to the piano and tinkled out the opening of the “Moonlight Sonata.” As she was leaving she said to the guard, “I suppose all the great pianists who come here want to play on that piano.” The guard shook his head. “Paderewski [the famed Polish pianist] was here a few years ago, and he said he wasn’t worthy to touch it.” Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

3) Baby, tell me what God feels like.” Soon after the birth of her brother, four-year-old Sachi began to ask her parents to leave her alone with the new baby. Worried that she might feel jealous and want to hit and shake the newborn, her parents said no. But the little girl’s pleas to be left alone with her brother became more urgent, and since she treated the baby lovingly and gently, her parents decided to allow it. Delighted, Sachi went into the baby’s room and closed the door, but it opened slightly, allowing her curious parents to peek in and listen. They watched as their daughter put her face close to her baby brother’s and whisper, “Baby, tell me what God feels like. I’m starting to forget.” (Dan Millman, Chicken Soup For the Soul, Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, FL: 1993). The innocence of this little four-year-old-girl is disarming, particularly to adults grown crusty and cynical with age. When Jesus recommended that the apostles emulate the little child set in their midst, Jesus reminded them of the innocence that they had long since outgrown. Indeed, their innocence had been replaced by ambition as to who was most important among them. By offering the example of the child and by calling them to be the servants of all, Jesus challenged them to rethink their attitude toward Him, toward God and toward one another. Those who would rank first among them as leader must become the least among them. (Sanchez files). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

4) “Franz Josef, a poor sinner in need of the mercy of God”—This is a story that I have often heard told in various forms over the years, and that I recently had the opportunity to verify in person during a visit to the Franciscan Church in Vienna: For 900 years, members of the mighty Hapsburg dynasty ruled over large parts of Central and Eastern Europe—an area that would sometimes be known as the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The majority of the Hapsburg rulers (including the last reigning Hapsburg, the Empress Zita, who died in 1989) are buried in the subterranean crypt of a Church (the Kapuzinergruft) run by the Capuchin order of Franciscan monks (the crowned skull at left is part of one of the Hapsburg coffins). Hapsburg funerals were distinguished by a particularly solemn and evocative ritual. As the funeral procession approached the (closed) Church doors, an imperial dignitary would knock and seek admittance. “Who is it who seeks entrance?” a monk would call out from within the Church. “It is His Royal Highness, Franz Josef, by the grace of God Emperor of Austria and Hungary,” the dignitary would answer; the monk would reply, “I do not know him”. A second time, the dignitary would knock, and a second time the monk inside would ask who sought entry to the Church. “His Serene Majesty, the King of Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia and Galicia, the Protector of Jerusalem and the Grand Duke of Tuscany and Krakow…” (the list included more than 30 titles)—to which the monk again replied, “I do not know him”. A third and final time, the official knocked on the doors, and the monk once more asked the identity of the person seeking admission to the church. This time, however, the official answered humbly, “Franz Josef, a poor sinner in need of the mercy of God”—at which point the doors of the Church were swung open, the funeral procession was allowed to enter, and the Requiem Mass could begin. Father Gerry Pierse, CSsR; http://www.bible.claret.org/liturgy/daily/sundays_pierse/cycleB/B_25thSunOT.htm) –The model of greatness in the kingdom of God, presented by Jesus in today’s Gospel, is the powerless child. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

5) Persecution of the just: Elie Wiesel, Jewish writer and Nobel Peace Prize winner tells a disturbing story in one of his books about Auschwitz. As soon as children arrived by train at Auschwitz, together with the elderly and the sick, they were immediately selected for the gas chamber. On one occasion a group of children were left to wait by themselves for the next day. A man asked the guards if he could stay with the children during their last night on earth. Surprisingly, his request was granted. How did they spend that last night? He started off by telling them stories in an effort to cheer them up. However, instead of cheering them up, he only succeeded in making them cry. So, what did they do? They cried together till daybreak. Then he accompanied the little ones to the gas chamber. Afterwards he returned to the prison yard to report to work. When the guards saw him, they burst out laughing. –The story has most of the ingredients of our reading. In it we see the brazenness of the evil-doers, the persecution of the innocent, and the apparent triumph of evil, which is the subject of the first reading. The man’s heroic act of service towards the little ones shines out in the darkness of Auschwitz. He risked his life to befriend the little ones. He had no answers to give them, no salvation to offer them. All he could do was suffer with them and accompany them on their last journey. Though he was an ordinary person with no rank or status of any kind, he was undoubtedly the greatest person in that sad place on that sad occasion. What made him great was his goodness. (Flor McCarthy in Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

6) “If you had not gone to feed the people, I would have left!”(Story for children): 1: A story is told about a Monk who longed to see Jesus in person, and who prayed every day that Jesus would appear to him. Each day he prepared a meal for the many hungry people who came to the gate of his monastery.  Then one day, as he was about to serve a meal to the hungry people, Jesus appeared to him in the kitchen.   At that moment, the bell at the gate rang, telling the monk that the hungry people had arrived. The monk was in a real dilemma:  should he stay and speak with Jesus or go and serve the hungry people.   The bell rang again, and the monk quickly made up his mind.  He hurried to the gate and served the meal he had prepared.   When he had finished, he was saddened by the thought that he had turned his back on Jesus.  When he returned to the kitchen, however, he found Jesus there waiting for him.  “Lord,” he said, “I thought that you would have left when I went to feed the people.”  “No,” Jesus replied, “If you had not gone to feed the people, I would have left!” Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

7) “I cannot lift my arms or bend my knees.”   Once upon a time there was a squire who longed to be a knight. He wanted to serve his king and be the most honorable and noble knight who ever lived. At his knighting he was so overcome by dedication that he made a special oath. He vowed to bow his knees and lift his arms in homage to his king and him alone. This knight was given the task of guarding a city on the frontier of the kingdom. Every day he stood at attention by the gate of the city in full armor. Years passed. One day as he was standing at attention guarding his post, a peasant woman passed by with goods for the market. Her cart turned over spilling potatoes and carrots and onions everywhere. The woman hurried to get them all back in her cart. But the knight wouldn’t help the poor woman. He just stood at attention lest he break his vow by bending his knees to help pick up the woman’s goods. Time passed and one day a man with one leg was passing by and his crutch broke. “Please help me noble knight,” he requested. “Reach down and help me up.” But the knight would not stoop or lift a hand to help lest he break his vow. Years and decades passed, the knight was getting old. One day his grandson came by and said, “Grandpa pick me up and take me to the fair.” But he would not stoop lest he break his vow to the king. Finally, after years the king came to visit and inspect the knight. As the king approached the knight stood there at attention. The king inspected him but noticed that the knight was crying. “You are one of the noblest knights I have ever seen why you are crying?”   “Your majesty, I took a vow that I would bow and lift my arms in homage to you, but I am unable to keep my vow. These years have done their work and the joints of my armor are rusted. I cannot lift my arms or bend my knees.”   With the loving voice of a parent the King replied, “Perhaps if you had knelt to help all those who passed by and lifted your arms to embrace all those who came to you, you would have been able to keep your vow to pay me homage today.”  — Do you want to be God’s number one? Then practice stooping. Practice the art of humility. Reach down to give a hand to someone in need. Sacrifice your wants for the needs of another. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

8) Episcopal careerism vs child-like innocence: Father John R. Donahue, (www.americamagazine.org): The Gospel reminds the Church today of the dangers of ambition and posturing for positions of power. In recent years the genie of ecclesiastical ambition has been again let out of the bottle, so much so that Cardinal Gantin, dean of the College of Cardinals and former prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, deplored episcopal careerism and said he was shocked by bishops seeking promotion from smaller to larger dioceses (America 6/19/99), a view echoed two months later by Cardinal Ratzinger … Yet the pilgrim Church of God’s people continues the work of justice, and the unprotected and vulnerable are welcomed and protected. Jesus has many unnamed companions today as He follows the path of self-giving for others that leads through death to resurrection. Only humility exalts. (Geneva Notes). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

9) True Greatness: King Oscar II, monarch of Sweden and Norway at the turn of the century, enjoyed visiting schools and talking informally to the pupils. Calling on a village school one day, the king asked the pupils to name the greatest kings of Sweden. The answers were unanimous: Gustavus Vasa, Gustavus Adolphus, Charles XII. The teacher was embarrassed with the response, so she leaned over to one little boy and whispered something in his ear. “And King Oscar,” proclaimed the child. “Really? And what has King Oscar done that is so remarkable?” asked the King. ” I-I-I don’t know.” stammered the confused child. “That’s all right, my boy,” said the king. “Neither do I.” (Denis McBride; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

10) All God’s Children: There is a legend told about Abraham in the Mideast. According to the legend, he always held off eating his breakfast each morning until a hungry man came along to share it with him. One day an old man came along, and of course Abraham invited him to share his breakfast with him. However, when Abraham heard the old man say a pagan blessing over the food, he jumped up and ordered the old man from his table and from his house. Almost immediately, God spoke to Abraham. “Abraham! Abraham! I have been supplying that unbeliever with food every day for the past eighty years. Could you not have tolerated him for just one meal?” — We are all children of God. God has no grandchildren! (Jack McArdle in And that’s the Gospel Truth; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

11) “Do you know who I am?”: When Nelson Mandela was a student lawyer in Johannesburg, he had a friend whose name was Paul Mahabane. Mahabane was a member of the African National Congress (ANC), and had the reputation of being a radical. One day the two of them were standing outside a post office when the local magistrate, a white man in his sixties, approached Mahabane and asked him to go buy him some stamps. It was quite common in those days for a white person to call on a black person to perform a chore. Paul refused. The magistrate was offended. “Do you know who I am?” he said, his face turning red with anger. “It is not necessary to know who you are,” Mahabane replied. “I know what you are.” The magistrate boiled over and exclaimed, “You’ll pay dearly for this,” and then walked away. — That white man was convinced that he was superior to Mahabane simply because he was a magistrate. And it had become second nature to him to expect others, especially if they were black, to serve him, ignoring the fact that both were God’s children. (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

12) “It can be hard work at times, but I enjoy it.” In Ireland, foster care is the preferred option for children and young people in care. Foster families open their homes to a child or young person who comes to live with them. This can be for a short time until the birth families are in a position to provide safe care for their child, or in some circumstances children/young people will need to be in care for a longer period of time. There was a woman in Dublin who in 1988 started short-term fostering –she works for a Catholic Adoption Agency. She receives the baby when he/she is two or three days old, and usually has the baby for three months. Then the baby is taken back by the natural mother, or adopted, or goes to long-term fostering. This dear woman, by no means well-off, has fostered in a short time, over forty babies. She says, “It can be hard work at times, but I enjoy it.” She enjoys it because she does it with love. —“Anyone who welcomes one of these little children, welcomes Me”, would be a fitting epitaph of her life. (Flor McCarthy, New Sundays and Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

13) Pope St. Gregory the Great, the servant of all: Pope St. Gregory I is one of three popes to whom the faithful have assigned the adjective, “the Great.” If the term “great” is appropriate for a man of colossal ability and effort who accomplished many wonderful things, it is well applied to St. Gregory. Born to a noble Roman family in the sixth century, he was first engaged as a public official in a Rome and an Italy that were almost falling apart because of the invasions of Germanic peoples from the north. Then he turned away from governmental work and became a monk. But the then-reigning pope did not allow him to remain long in the quiet of his beloved monastery. He sent him as papal ambassador to the emperor at Constantinople. When Gregory returned to Rome, he showed such skill as a churchman that in 590 AD he himself was elected pope, though he tried to avoid the office, fearing its heavy responsibility. Because he was so conscientious, his thirteen years as pope proved a godsend for the Church and for Europe. His influence was wide in a hectic era. He was in regular contact with the Frankish rulers of France. He sent St. Augustine of Canterbury to preach Christianity to the Angles and Saxons in Britain. He organized the defense of Italian cities against the Germanic Lombards. He did not hesitate to upbraid the Roman emperor at Constantinople for his acts and oppression. Meanwhile, in an Italy that was impoverished and fatherless, he became its leader, seeing to it that the farmers were treated justly, the Jews were defended, the poor were fed and clothed – even at the cost of selling the silverware of the churches. Nor did he forget his spiritual duties. He was a great preacher, a writer of popular spiritual books, a reformer of Church personnel and a reviser of the liturgy (the Gregorian chant of the Church gets its name from him). At the end of his life Gregory was ill and reduced to skin and bones, but he still kept on. Why? Because he considered himself not the lord of God’s people, but (as he always signed himself) the “Servant of the Servants of God.” That is why he merited the title “the Great.” — As today’s Gospel reminds us, “If anyone wishes to rank first, he must remain … the servant of all” (Mark 9:35).(Father Robert F. McNamara). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

14) Why would Jesus choose a young child as a role model (in effect) for what it means to be “servant”? Jesus is really challenging his followers to reconsider the cultural “wisdom” of first century Palestine! This was an “honor and shame” society, and “humility” was not the “in” word! But this is what Jesus urges the apostles to embrace: a willingness to serve others, rather than to compete for more “honor.” My brother deacons and I have a special fondness for the word “servant” used in this Gospel (Mk 9:35), because this is where our word diakonos or “deacon” comes from. A “servant” is one who obeys and humbly accepts a servant relationship with all humankind. But this is not limited just to Deacons! ALL Christians are called to be “servant,” just like Christ. This is what real and true Discipleship is all about. To “obey” means to “listen” (Lat., obedire), to be open to anything that God might ask you to do to build up the Body of Christ. It means submitting and consecrating your will to Jesus Christ. To be “humble” means to live with a spirit of deference, putting your gifts and talents at the disposal of others, rather than vying for privileges and recognition. So when Jesus chose to identify Himself with a young child as an example of what He meant by “servant,” it was a radical break with cultural expectations. Children had no legal status, no honor, and no rights whatsoever. The message was clear: if you want to be a Disciple of Jesus, and agree to Jesus’ life of obedience and humility, then you will be risking – even anticipating – being ignored, reviled, and maybe even attacked (1st Rdg: Wis 2:12,17-20). But with Jesus as a role model, what else could you expect? No one is greater than his Master. (Deacon). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

15) “ God upholds our life in moments of suffering and death and carries us to eternal life!” This is an amazing true story, about the mother of a 10-day old baby who one day heard an explosion. The mother ran into the bedroom, but the baby wasn’t there. She was puzzled to see the window open—it was a very cold night—but before she could make the connection between the empty crib and the open window, a fire engulfed the bedroom and the mother rushed out of the house with the other children. The baby was never found; and the investigators eventually concluded that the fire consumed the baby. But the mother never believed it. Six years later, the mother happened to be attending a birthday party. There she met a bright-eyed, energetic six-year-old girl who looked very much like her own children; and she began to feel that this child might be her daughter. So, pretending the little girl had gum in her hair, she pulled a few strands of hair and then contacted the police. The police lab tested the hair samples and found that the girl’s DNA matched the mother’s. The little girl was indeed her daughter had been kidnapped six years before, and that the kidnapper had set fire to the bedroom to distract from the abduction. — Now the point of this bizarre yet true story is simple Evil and suffering mysteriously befall the innocent family –- all of a sudden, the baby disappears, but the mother never gives up on finding her child. And despite all kinds of disappointments and discouragements, she continues to hope. And almost miraculously she finds her daughter six years later. In a similar way, God loves us and never gives up on us –- in the midst of evil and suffering, problems and difficulties, failures and disappointments, threats and fear to the point of death. When we are lost to God or wander away, God relentlessly pursues us, and God pursues us until God catches up with us and leads all of us to our ultimate destiny. So, with great Faith and Hope in God we proclaim, “God upholds our life in moments of suffering and death and carries us to eternal life!” (Fr. Lakra). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

16) To such as these: It was a hard but heroic task for Catholics in Elizabethan England to keep up the practice of their Faith. By law, everybody was supposed to belong to the Anglican State Church. Therefore, the only solution for Catholics was to have priests go around in disguise from place to place, offering Mass in private homes at no small risk. The English Catholics did receive spiritual rewards for their spiritual daring. Jesuit Father William Weston, one of the courageous English missionaries, tells the story of a fascinating thing that occurred at a Mass celebrated in a secret “Mass-house” by his fellow Jesuit Father Leonard Hyde. Father Weston got the account from Father Hyde himself. This Mass was offered around the end of 1685. Among the householders and Catholic friends who attended, with great devotion, there was a small child. The child, evidently a boy, watched wide-eyed all that was going on at the altar and among the participants. At the end of Mass, he went up and tugged his mother’s skirt. “Mother, Mother” he said. “What’s the matter, child?” the mother asked him. “Didn’t you see? Didn’t you see?” “See what?” she replied. “That wonderful little baby! It was so beautiful … like nothing you have ever seen before. Uncle priest put it in Father’s mouth. Father took it, and it disappeared. Oh, what a pity!” He kept repeating “Oh, what a pity! ” It was clear that he was deeply moved, and most sad to have the beautiful infant that he saw in the consecrated host disappear. — When Jesus’ disciples tried to keep the little children from clustering about him, they were doubtless trying to spare Him annoyance. But what He saw in the little ones was mankind at its most innocent. Only if grownups retained or recovered this innocence of eye, could they hope to look on God face-to-face! “It is to such as these,” Jesus says in today’s Gospel, “that the kingdom of God belongs.” One day in 1685 He lifted the veil of eternity for a moment to prove His point. (Father Robert F. McNamara). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/). L/21

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

Visit my website by clicking on https://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle A homilies, 141 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at akadavil@gmail.com. Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies  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