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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

 

September 13-18 weekday homilies

Kindly click on https://frtonyshomilies.com/  for missed Sunday and weekday homilies.

Sept 13-18: Sept 13 Monday (St. John Chrysostom, Bishop, Doctor of the Church) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-john-chrysostom : Lk 7:1-10: 1 After he had ended all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2 Now a centurion had a slave who was dear to him, who was sick and at the point of death. 3 When he heard of Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his slave. 4 And when they came to Jesus, they besought him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, 5 for he loves our nation, and he built us our synagogue.”6 And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; 7 therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. 8 For I am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, `Go,’ and he goes; and to another, `Come,’ and he comes; and to  my slave, `Do this,’ and he does it.” 9 When Jesus heard this he marveled at him, and turned and said to the multitude that followed him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I  found such faith.” 10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave well. USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/

Context: Jesus’ healing of the centurion’s slave, described in today’s Gospel, shows us how God listens to our Faith-filled prayers and meets our needs. Centurions were reliable, commanding officers, brave captains in charge of 80 soldiers in the first century AD.. They were the backbone of the Roman army. According to Luke’s account (Lk 7:1-10), this centurion loved the Jews, respected their religious customs, built a synagogue for them, loved his sick servant, trusted in Jesus’ power of healing, and was ready to face the ridicule of his fellow-centurions by pleading before a Jewish rabbi.

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

 Life message: 1) We need to grow to the level of the Faith of the centurion by knowing and personally experiencing Jesus in our lives. We do so by daily meditative reading of the Bible, by our daily personal and family prayers and by frequenting the Sacraments, especially the Eucharistic celebration. The next step to which the Holy Spirit brings us is the complete surrender of our whole being and life to Jesus whom we have experienced, by rendering loving service to others seeing Jesus in them. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Sept 14 Tuesday (The Exaltation of the Holy Cross) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/-Exaltation-of-the-Holy-Cross : John 3:13-17: USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/

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

History: The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is one of twelve “Master feasts” celebrated in the Church to honor Jesus Christ, our Lord and Master. This feast is celebrated to memorialize the first installation of the remnants of the true cross of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher at Mount Calvary, September 14, AD 335, and its reinstallation on September 14, AD 630. The original cross on which Jesus was crucified was excavated in AD 326 by a team led by St. Helena, the mother of the first Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine. The Emperor built the Church of the Holy Sepulcher on Calvary, it was consecrated on September 14, AD 335, and the remains of the cross were installed in it by Archbishop Maccharios of Jerusalem. After three centuries, the Persians invaded Jerusalem, plundered all valuables and took with them the relic of the Holy Cross. In AD 630, Heraclius II defeated the Persians, recaptured the casket containing the holy relic and reinstalled it in the rebuilt Church which was destroyed by Muslims in 1009. The crusaders rebuilt it as the present Church of the Holy Sepulcher in 1149. The largest fragment of the holy cross is now kept in Santa Croce Church in Rome

The first reading today describes how God healed the complaining Israelites through the brazen serpent. In today’s Gospel, answering the question raised by Nicodemus, Jesus cites the example of how, when the Israelites were in the desert, the impaled brazen serpent (representing the healing power of God), which God commanded Moses to raise, saved from death the serpent-bitten Israelites who looked at it (Numbers 21:4-9). Then Jesus explains how He is going to save the world by dying on the cross.

Life messages: 1) We should honor and venerate the cross and carry it on our person to remind ourselves of the love of God for us and the price Jesus paid for our salvation. 2) The cross will give us strength in our sufferings and remind us of our hope of eternal glory with the risen Lord. With St. Paul, we express our belief that the “message of the cross is foolishness only to those who are perishing” (1Cor 1:18-24), and that we should “glory in the cross of Our Lord” (Gal 6:14). 3) We should bless ourselves with the sign of the cross to remind ourselves that we belong to Christ Jesus and to honor the Most Holy Trinity, asking the Triune God to bless us, save us and protect us. 4) The crucifix should remind us that we are forgiven sinners and, hence, we are expected to forgive those who offend us and to ask for forgiveness whenever we offend others or hurt their feelings. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Sept 15 Wednesday (Our Lady of Sorrows or Mother of Sorrows) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/our-lady-of-sorrows/: Jn 19:25-27 or Lk 2:33-35: USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/

Today we remember the spiritual martyrdom of the Mother of Jesus and her participation in the sufferings of her Divine Son. Mary is the Queen of martyrs because she went through in spirit all Jesus suffered during His Passion and death, her spiritual torments were greater than the bodily agonies of the martyrs, and Mary offered her sorrows to God for our sake. The principal Biblical references to Mary’s sorrows are in Luke 2:35 and John 19:26-27. Many early Church writers interpret the sword prophesied by Simeon as Mary’s sorrows, especially as she saw Jesus die on the cross.  In the past, the Church celebrated two feasts to commemorate separately 1) the spiritual martyrdom of the Blessed Virgin Mary throughout her life as the mother of Jesus and 2) her compassion for her Divine Son during his suffering and death. The devotion to the Seven Dolors (sorrows) of Mary honors her for the motherly sufferings she endured during the whole life of Jesus on earth. In 1239 the seven founders of the Servite Order took up the sorrows of Mary who stood under the Cross as the main devotion of their religious Order. Originally, this day was kept on the Friday before Good Friday. It was Pope Pius XII who changed the date of the feast to the 15th of September immediately after the feast of the Triumph of the Cross.  The nineteenth-century German mystic Anne Catherine Emmerich claimed to have received a vision in which Mary actually kisses the blood of Jesus in the many sacred places on the way of the cross. In his film, The Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson was inspired by this vision and pictures Claudia, Pontius Pilate’s wife, secretly handing Mary cloths to collect the blood of Jesus from the streets of    Jerusalem.

The seven sorrows: There are seven times of great suffering in Mary’s life. These events remind many parents of their personal family experiences of sorrow and mourning for their dear children. 1) The prophecy of Simeon, 2) The flight into Egypt, 3) The loss of the Child Jesus at Jerusalem, 4) Meeting Jesus on the road to Calvary, 5) The standing at the foot of the Cross, 6) The descent of Jesus from the Cross, and 7) The burial of Jesus.

Life message: 1) On this feast day let us pray for those who continue to endure similar sufferings that they may receive from God the strength that they desperately need to continue to carry their spiritual crosses. Let us try to enter into the sorrowing hearts of the mothers in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Nigeria and other terrorist-haunted nations and the mothers in the United States and other countries grieving for their children, soldiers and civilians alike. 2) Let us also remember with repentant hearts that it is our sins which caused the suffering of Jesus and Mary. [“At the cross her station keeping,/ Stood the mournful mother weeping, / Close to Jesus to the last.// Through her heart, his sorrow sharing, / All his bitter anguish bearing, / Now at length the sword has passed.” (Stabat Mater)] (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Sept 16 Thursday (St. Cornelius, Pope) (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-cornelius ) & St. Cyprian, Bishop (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-cyprian) , Martyrs): Luke 7: 36-50: 36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house, and took his place at table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of  woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “What is it, Teacher?” 41 …43 … USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/

The context: The central theme of today’s Gospel is an invitation to repent, do penance, and renew our lives, instead of continuing to carry the heavy baggage of our sins. This Gospel celebrates the gift of God’s forgiveness. Our God is a God Who always tries, not to punish, but to rehabilitate, so that we may be made whole and experience inner peace and harmony.  The sinner at the feet of Jesus: The Gospel story tells of a woman of the streets who washes Jesus’ feet with her tears, wipes them with her hair, and perfumes them with costly oil. In sharp contrast, the host, Simon the Pharisee, has purposely omitted these Jewish customs of welcoming a guest.  When one invited a Rabbi to one’s house, it was normal to place one’s hand on his shoulder and give him the kiss of peace, to bathe his feet (Palestine is a very dusty country), and to burn a grain of incense or put a drop of attar of roses on his head. Jesus contrasts Simon’s rudeness with the prostitute’s public expression of repentance, and says that the repentant woman’s sins are forgiven because of her love. By telling the short parable of the two debtors, Christ teaches us two things–His own Divinity and His power to forgive sins. The parable also shows the merit the woman’s love deserves and underlines the discourtesy implied in Simeon’s neglecting to receive Jesus in the conventional way.

Life messages: 1) We can accept or reject the mercy of God: We are challenged to accept or reject the mercy of God. We often share Simon’s mentality by displaying an attitude of lovelessness and harshness.   We need to love Jesus because Jesus is the one and only Savior who has died for our sins. 2) We need to be grateful to our forgiving God: Our serious attempts to avoid the near occasions of sin will be both the proof of our sincere repentance and the expression of our gratitude to the merciful God who has forgiven our sins. 3) We need to cultivate a forgiving attitude towards our neighbor: Although it is not easy, we must learn to forgive those who hurt us if we want to be able to receive the daily forgiveness we need from a merciful God (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Sept 17 Friday (St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop, Doctor of the Church (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-robert-bellarmine)): Luke 8: 1-3: 1 Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, 2 and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone  out, 3 and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means. USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/

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

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

Life message: 1) The evangelizing work of the Church needs the preaching of the missionaries and preachers, feeding and leading the believers in parishes. This work also needs the active support of all Christians by their transparent Christian lives, fervent prayers and financial assistance. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Sept 18 Saturday: Luke 8: 4-15: 4 And when a great crowd came together and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell along the path, and was trodden under foot, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns grew with it and choked it. 8 And some fell into good soil and grew, and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said this, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” 9 And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand. 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy; but these have no root, they believe for a while  and in time of temptation fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/

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

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

Life message: Let us become the good soil and produce hundred-fold harvests by earnestly hearing, faithfully assimilating and daily cultivating the word of God we have received, so that the Holy Spirit may produce His fruits in our lives.  (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

 

O. T. XXIV (B) September 12 Sunday homily

O.T. XXIV [B] (Sept 12) Sunday Homily on Mark 8:27-35 (LP/21)

Introduction: Today’s Gospel explains the basis of our Faith as our acceptance of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God and our Lord and Savior. It also tells us that Christ Jesus suffered, died and rose again to become our Savior. Finally, it outlines the three conditions of Christian discipleship, namely, denying oneself, taking up one’s cross, and following Jesus.

Scripture lessons summarized: Jesus saw aspects of His own life and mission foreshadowed in Isaiah’s Servant Songs. Hence, a large portion of the Third Song of the Suffering Servant is presented as the first reading today, while in the Gospel, Jesus foretells his passion, death and Resurrection for the first time, in response to Peter’s profession of Faith in him as God’s Messiah and Savior. Like the servant described in today’s first reading, Jesus’ lived a life of radical obedience and conformity to God’s will. Thus, the Servant passage provides background for the revelation of Jesus as the suffering Messiah. In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 116), the Psalmist invites us to turn to the Lord for help amidst the trials of this world.  It is in God that we will find deliverance from trouble and relief from our afflictions.  (Ps 116). Today’s second reading, taken from the Letter of James to the Church, reminds us that suffering is not only something to be accepted but also something to be alleviated. James explains how our Faith in Jesus, the Messiah, should help us to alleviate the sufferings of others by our works of mercy, both corporal and spiritual. In the Gospel, in response to Peter’s profession of Faith in Jesus as God’s Messiah and Savior, Jesus foretells for the first of three times his passion, death and Resurrection which lie ahead.  Today’s Gospel consists of two sections: 1) the Messianic confession of Peter, who acknowledged Jesus as “the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God.” and 2) Jesus’ prediction of his passion, death and Resurrection, followed by Jesus clear teaching on the three conditions of Christian discipleship: “Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.”

Life Messages: 1) Jesus wants to become a living, present Reality for us, loving us, forgiving us, helping us, transforming our lives and outlook, and building a personal relationship with each of us. The knowledge of Jesus as Lord and personal Savior needs to become a living, personal experience for each Christian drawing each of us to loving response. The relationship deepens and grows as we listen to Jesus through the daily, meditative reading of the Bible, speak to Jesus in our daily, personal and family prayers, offer Jesus our lives on the altar in the Holy Mass and seek reconciliation with Jesus, asking forgiveness for our sins every night and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In the Eucharistic celebration today, we are celebrating and experiencing in our lives the death and Resurrection of Christ, the Messiah, our Lord and personal Savior. 2) We need to surrender our life to Jesus Whom we experience as our Lord and Savior: The next step is the surrender of our lives to Jesus Whose love we have experienced by rendering humble and loving service to others with the strong conviction that Jesus is present in every person. The final step is to praise and thank God in all the events of our lives, good and bad, realizing that God’s love shapes every event of our lives.

OT XXIV [B] (Sept 12) Is 50:5-9a; Jas 2:14-18; Mk 8:27-35

Homily starter anecdotes: # 1: “Who do you say that I am?” When Christian Herter was governor of Massachusetts, he was running hard for a second term in office. One day, after a busy morning chasing votes (and no lunch), he arrived at a Church barbecue. It was late afternoon, and Herter was famished. As Herter moved down the serving line, he held out his plate to the woman who was serving chicken. She put a piece on his plate and turned to the next person in line. “Excuse me,” Governor Herter said, “do you mind if I have another piece of chicken? “Sorry,” the woman told him. “I’m supposed to give one piece of chicken to each person.” “But I am starved,” the governor said. “Sorry,” the woman said again. “Only one to a customer.” Governor Herter was a modest and unassuming man, but he decided that this time he would throw a little weight around. “Do you know who I am?” he said. “I am the Governor of this state.” “And do you know who I am?” the woman answered. “I am the lady-in-charge of the chicken. Move along, Mister.” — In the above story, the governor and the lady-in-charge of the chicken, each tries to exert authority over the other by revealing his/her identity  — who each is — and emphatically demanding,  “Do you know who I am?” In the Gospel Reading of today from St. Mark, Jesus asks the apostles the same very question as regards His identity: “Who do you say that I am?” but completely in a different  context. For, Jesus was not exerting personal authority over them, but asking of these men who had shared Jesus life for an extended time a simple and straightforward question. (Fr. Lakra). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 2: Baby powder and Christian powder: Yakov Smirnoff is a comedian from Russia. When he first came to the United States from Russia he was not prepared for the incredible variety of instant products available in American grocery stores. He says, “On my first shopping trip with my friend, I saw milk powder; you just add hot water, and you get milk. Then I saw orange powder; you just add cold water, and you get orange juice. And then I saw baby powder, and I thought to myself, ‘What a country, you add water to a tin of powder and get a baby!’” — Smirnoff was joking on a comedy show. But some televangelists, preach such instant Christian transformation, leading to eternal salvation. According to this belief, when someone surrenders one’s life to Christ, accepts Christ as one’s personal God and Savior and confesses one’s sins to Jesus, there is an immediate, substantive, in-depth, miraculous change in habits, attitudes, and character and one becomes “born again” Christians  fully eligible for eternal salvation. Unfortunately, there is no such Christian powder, and disciples of Jesus Christ are not instantly born. They are slowly raised through many trials, suffering, and temptations. They are saved by their faithful and lifelong cooperation with the grace of God, given for doing good and avoiding evil and for obeying His commandments. In today’s Gospel, Jesus explains what his disciples should do: “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” [Adapted from James Emery White, Rethinking the Church, (Baker, 1997), p. 55-57.] Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 3: Shakespeare and Jesus. It was the 19th century British essayist, Charles Lamb, who snatched the 17th century playwright William Shakespeare from his undeserved obscurity, returning him to the limelight of fame. Charles Lamb was once involved in a discussion on the question of who the greatest literary genius of all time had been. Two names finally emerged: William Shakespeare and Jesus of Nazareth. Lamb put an end to the debate when he said: “I’ll tell you the difference between these two men. If Shakespeare walked into this room right now, we would all rise to greet him, but if Christ came in, we would all fall down and worship.” — There is the essential difference between the Man from Nazareth and all the other great people you can think of. Jesus Christ is God, and all others, no matter what their deeds, are but fools strutting on the stage for a brief time and then exiting. Today’s Gospel describes who Jesus really is and gives us the unique conditions for Christian discipleship. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Introduction: Today’s Gospel explains the basis of our Faith as acceptance of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God and our Lord and Savior. It also tells us that Christ Jesus suffered, died and rose again to become our Savior. Finally, it outlines the three conditions of Christian discipleship, namely, denying oneself, taking up one’s cross and following Jesus. Jesus saw aspects of His own life and mission foreshadowed in Isaiah’s Servant Songs. Hence, a large portion of the Third Song of the Suffering Servant is presented as the first reading today, while in the Gospel, Jesus foretells His passion, death and Resurrection for the first time, in response to Peter’s profession of Faith in Jesus as God’s Messiah and Savior. Like the servant described in today’s first reading, Jesus lived a life of radical obedience and conformity to God’s will. Thus, the Servant passage provides background for the revelation of Jesus as the suffering Messiah. In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 116), the Psalmist invites us to turn to the Lord for help amidst the trials of this world.  It is in God that we will find deliverance from trouble and relief from our afflictions.   Today’s second reading, taken from the Letter of James to the Church, reminds us that suffering is not only something to be accepted but also something to be alleviated. James explains how our Faith in Jesus, the Messiah, should help us to alleviate suffering in others by our works of mercy, both corporal and spiritual. Today’s Gospel consists of two sections: 1) the Messianic confession of Peter, who acknowledged Jesus as “the Christ (Messiah,) the Son of the living God.” and 2) Jesus’ prediction of his Passion, death and Resurrection, followed by a clear teaching on the three conditions of Christian discipleship: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.”

First reading: Isaiah 50:4c-9a, explained: In the middle section of the book of the prophet Isaiah, in chapters 40-55, there are four short passages which scholars have called the Songs of the Suffering Servant. In the original author’s mind, the servant was probably a figure for the people of Israel, or for a faithful remnant within the people. In their original context, the songs were probably composed to help Israel see itself in the role of the servant. Through degradation and suffering, Israel could become for the rest of the world God’s message of liberation and salvation. But Jesus saw aspects of His own life and Messianic mission foreshadowed in the Servant Songs. Hence, this section of the third song is presented as the first reading today, while in the Gospel, Jesus foretells for the first time His passion, death and Resurrection, after Peter has professed his Faith in Jesus as the Messiah and Savior. Jesus identifies Himself and mission with the sorrowful figure of humiliation and suffering, the Lord’s suffering servant. Like that servant, Jesus’ life is one of radical obedience and conformity to God’s will. Thus, the Servant passage provides background for the revelation of Jesus as the suffering Messiah.

Second Reading: James 2:14-18, explained: Today’s reading, taken from the Letter of James to the Church, reminds us that suffering is not only something to be accepted but also something to be alleviated. James tells us that our Faith in Jesus the Messiah should be expressed in alleviating others’ suffering through works of mercy, both corporal and spiritual. In other words, professing Faith in the Divinity of Christ as our Redeemer is useless, unless we practice that Faith in genuine deeds of the love, mercy, forgiveness. and humble service Jesus lived and demonstrated. As Christians, we are obliged to meet the material needs of poor persons and to alleviate their sufferings. We should respond concretely to the needs and sufferings of our fellow humans. Otherwise, our Faith is all talk and no action. “Faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James is not refuting the Pauline doctrine of salvation by Faith but warning us that a lifeless or an unlived Faith has no power to save (v. 14) us from judgment.

Gospel exegesis: The context: This Sunday we begin a series of seven Sunday Gospel readings from Mark’s account of the journey of Jesus and the apostles from northern Galilee to Jerusalem. Along the way Jesus gave them instructions about His identity and what it meant to follow Him (discipleship). Today’s Gospel, relating the first of Jesus’ three prophecies of the passion, death and Resurrection. This instruction consists of two sections: The Messianic confession of Peter and Jesus’ prediction of His Passion, death and Resurrection, followed by a clear teaching on discipleship.

Two pertinent questions in a pagan pilgrimage center: In Matthew and Mark, Jesus asked two questions about His identity. The incident occurred at Caesarea Philippi, presently called Banias, twenty-five miles northeast of the Sea of Galilee. This city was founded by King Philip, the son of Herod the Great, to perpetuate his own memory and to honor the Roman emperor Caesar. It was situated on a beautiful terrace about 1150 feet above sea level on the southwest slope of Mount Hermon overlooking the Jordan valley. The city was a great pilgrimage center for pagans because it held temples for the Syrian gods Bal and Pan, the Roman God Zeus, and a marble temple for the emperor Caesar. Jesus realized that if the apostles did not know who He really was, then the entire Messianic Mission of ministry, suffering and death would be useless. Hence, Jesus decided to ask a question in two parts.

The first question: “What is the public opinion?” Their answer was, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” John the Baptist was so great a figure that many Jews, and Herod their king, thought that John’s spirit had entered the body of Jesus. Elijah, the greatest of the prophets was believed to be the forerunner of the Messiah.  [“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes”(Mal 4:5).] It was believed that, before the people went into exile, Jeremiah had taken the Ark of the Covenant and the altar of incense out of the Temple, and hidden them away in a lonely cave on Mount Nebo; before the coming of the Messiah, he would return and produce them, and the glory of God would come to the people again (2 Mc 2:1-12). In 2 Esdr 2:18 (an apocryphal work), the promise of God is: “For thy help I will send my servants Isaiah and Jeremiah.”  The phrase, “one of the prophets,”   suggested that Jesus had a ministry like that of the former prophets. When the people identified Jesus with Elijah and with Jeremiah they were, according to their lights, paying Jesus a great compliment, for Jeremiah and Elijah were the expected forerunners of the Anointed One of God. When they arrived, the Kingdom would be very near indeed.

The second question: “What is your personal opinion?” For the first time in their relationship, Peter, speaking for the other disciples, declared publicly: “You are the Christ (Messiah) the Son of the living God.” Peter was the first apostle to recognize Jesus publicly as the Anointed One (also translated Messiah or Christ).  Christ is the Greek word for the Hebrew word Messiah. To say that Jesus was the Christ, the anointed one of God was to say that He was the Immanuel, the Salvation of God — God who became Man to save sinners!  It is evident that Jesus was well pleased with Peter’s answer, for Jesus first pronounced a blessing upon Peter, the only disciple in the Gospels to receive a personal blessing. “Blessed are you, Simon son of John!” Next, Jesus confirmed Peter’s insight as a special revelation from God. “No mere man has revealed this to you, but My Heavenly Father.” However, Jesus was quick to explain to the disciples that, instead of being a political Messiah who would reestablish the Davidic kingdom after ousting the Romans, He was the suffering Messiah who would redeem mankind by death and Resurrection. Like the Suffering Servant in the first reading, Jesus accepted suffering out of fidelity toward the One Whom He called Father, as part of the Messianic mission. Jesus’ example provides a challenge for us all to accept the mystery of the cross when our turn comes to follow the Suffering Servant and Suffering Messiah.

No suffering, no death, please: The Jewish religious tradition did include a certain amount of suffering and rejection on the part of its religious leaders. One finds this in several references to Moses and the prophets (Ex 16:2; 17:2-4; Jer 11:18-19; 20:7-10; Mt 23:37). The concept of suffering or self-sacrifice as having a saving effect was also present in the Jewish tradition (Ex 32:32; Is 53:5, 10, 12). But it received explicit expression in Christian Messianism, not only in the Gospels, but also in the Acts of the Apostles (8:32), and in the Epistles (Rom 5:6-8; Gal 3:13; 1 Pt 2:24-25). Jesus rebuked Peter when Peter tried to dissuade Jesus from such a course. For Jesus, this was yet another temptation in the guise of a close friend’s counsel. It tested Jesus’ commitment to the mission which His Heavenly Father had entrusted to Him. “Jesus rejected the term “Messiah” if it meant a political, nationalistic leader. Jesus consistently rejected that program as a diabolical attempt to divert him from His God-given mission.” (Reginald Fuller).

The three conditions for Christian discipleship: To counter the opposition expressed by Peter and to emphasize the fact that Jesus was not the political, conquering Messiah of Jewish expectations who would bring perfect peace and justice, put an end to all suffering and death, and provide perfect joy and happiness in this world, Jesus turned to the wider audience of the crowd gathered with his disciples at Caesarea Philippi and emphatically declared the stringent conditions to be met by his disciples. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” Christian discipleship demands honesty of a disciple in order for him to practice self-control (“to offer our bodies as a willing sacrifice to God”), willingness to suffer, and readiness to follow Jesus by obeying Jesus’ commandment of love. A) Denying self: This means, with God’s grace, evicting selfish thoughts, evil desires and tendencies from our heart and filling it with God. In addition, also with God’s grace, it means cleansing ourselves of all evil habits, enthroning God in our hearts, and sharing Him with others. B) Carrying of the cross with Jesus: First, it means gracefully accepting that suffering without bitterness, as a part of our lives. Second, it means that we may not, in our suffering, pass on any bitterness to those around us. Third, it means that we must accept some other deaths before our physical death, that we are invited to let some parts of ourselves die. Fourth, it means that we must wait for the resurrection to receive the eternal reward for our suffering. A Christian life of service is carrying one’s cross in the footsteps of Jesus. Our sufferings become the cross of Jesus with its saving power when we suffer with Jesus by dying to our self-centeredness through serving others selflessly, enduring physical or mental pain and illness without complaint, and offering these sufferings to God in reparation for sin. We also offer penitential practices to God for the same intentions for ourselves and for the world. C) Following Jesus: This means that, as followers of Christ, we should live our lives according to the word of God by obeying what is commanded by Jesus. Jesus’ predictions about Christian suffering would have had particular meaning for Mark’s audience who would experience their fulfillment in both the horrors of the Jewish war against Rome and the persecution under Nero, when Christians were used as torches to light Nero’s garden.

Life Messages: #1: We need to ask ourselves Who Jesus is and what Jesus means to us. Founder of a religion? Revolutionary Jewish reformer? One of the great teachers? Son of God and personal Savior? This can perhaps be broken down into other questions:  “How do I really see Jesus? Is Jesus a living experience for me, walking with me, loving me, forgiving me, helping me and transforming my life and outlook? What difference does Jesus make in my life?  Have I really given my life to Jesus?  Are there areas where I have excluded Jesus, where my life is not noticeably different from the lives of those who see Jesus as irrelevant? Who do we say that Jesus is through our daily life? Who do we say that Jesus is when we are in the presence of those who don’t know Jesus, those who aren’t interested in Jesus? What does the way we live and behave say about who Jesus is? Is the joy, the love, the peace that we find in Jesus reflected in the way we live our lives?  We are gathered here today in the Name of Jesus. We have not come together to celebrate a continuing memorial for a merely good man who died long ago. We are here to celebrate the death and Resurrection of Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man, the Messiah, our Lord and personal Savior in this Eucharistic celebration in which we encounter directly the Living God. “The salvation which Christ has already won for all is not yet complete. It must be accepted, embraced and acted out in the free lives of believers today.” (Catechism for Filipino Catholics).

2) We need to experience Jesus as our Lord and Savior and surrender our life to Jesus. The knowledge of Jesus as Lord and personal Savior needs to become a living, personal experience for each Christian. This is made possible, with the grace of God, by our listening to Jesus through the daily, meditative reading of the Bible, by our talking to Jesus through daily, personal and family prayers, by our offering to Jesus our lives on the altar in the Holy Mass and by our being forgiven by and reconciled with Jesus in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The next step is the surrender of our lives to Jesus through rendering humble and loving service to others with the strong conviction that Jesus is present in every person. The final step is to praise and thank God in all the events of our lives, good and bad, realizing that God’s love shapes every event of our lives.

# 3: We should be ready to take up our crosses and follow Jesus. Do we have enough Faith to offer up a genuine sacrifice for Christ’s sake? Can a Church in today’s self-centered culture ask its people to sacrifice something for the sake of the Gospel? Jesus’ challenge to all would-be disciples requires more than a “feel-good” spirituality. A true disciple asks, “Am I willing to sacrifice something for the God Who loves me?”  What made it possible for first-century Christians to choose a martyr’s death? What has kept generations of Christians from losing Faith and falling apart when confronted by the violence and hatred of this world? Can we offer even the day-to-day sacrifices asked by Jesus when they demand things we don’t want to do?  Can we sacrifice some of our time in order to visit Jesus in a homeless shelter or soup kitchen? Can we sacrifice our job security and refuse to “go along” with a policy that is unjust? Can we sacrifice our need to be in control and let Christ do with us what He will? Can we refuse to let our children watch television programs filled with sex and violence?

Jokes of the Week

# 1: “Who do you say that I am?” On Sunday morning a man showed up at Church with both of his ears terribly blistered. So, his pastor asked, “What happened to you Jim?”
“I was lying on the couch watching a ball game on TV while my wife was ironing nearby. I was totally engrossed in the game when she went out, leaving the iron near the phone. The phone rang, and keeping my eyes on the TV, I grabbed the hot iron and put it to my ear.”
“How dreadful,” gasped the pastor. “But how did the other ear get burned?”
“Well, you see, I’d no sooner hung up, the guy called back!” — He just didn’t get it. Lots of folks never get it and never understand how life really works, even at the simplest levels. That’s why Jesus is pressing His followers — and us with a challenging question in today’s Gospel: “Who do you say that I am?” (Msgr. Dennis Clarke).

2) “I see millions of stars:” The story is told of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson on a camping trip. As they lay sleeping one night, Holmes woke Watson and said, “Watson, look up into the sky and tell me what you see.” Watson said, “I see millions of stars.” Holmes asked, “And what does that tell you?” Watson replied, “Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Theologically, it tells me that God is great and that we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it tells me that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. And what does it tell you?” Holmes answered, “Someone stole our tent!” Some people are great at speculative knowledge but when it comes to its implication for practical living they score zero. Such is Peter in today’s Gospel.

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. Where is it in the Bible? https://www.catholicbible101.com/thetencommandments.htm

2)About Catholics: http://www.aboutcatholics.com/ 3) Catholic Spirit: http://thecatholicspirit.com/ 4) Catholic culture: http://www.catholicculture.org/ 5) Vatican on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/vatican

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 on the topmost URL column in Google search or YouTube Search and press the Enter button. Do not type it on You Tube Search column or Google Search)

WhoDoYouSayIAM_web cross05 Who do you say i am?

32- Additional anecdotes:

1) Who do you say I am? Jeremy Bowen could not be more wrong, and Bono could not be more right! Bowen, the presenter of a British Broadcasting Corporation documentary on Jesus Christ, said, “The important thing is not what Jesus was or what he wasn’t – the important thing is what people believe him to have been. A massive world-wide religion, numbering more than two billion people follows his memory – that’s pretty remarkable, 2,000 years on.” (Alex Webb, “Looking for the Historical Jesus,” BBC News Online, March 26, 2001.) On the opposite end of the spectrum, Bono, lead singer of the rock group U2, asked if he believes the claim of Jesus’ Divinity is farfetched, replied with this statement: No, it’s not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually, Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says: “No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher. Don’t call Me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: ‘I’m the Messiah.’ I’m saying: ‘I am God Incarnate.’ So what you’re left with is: either Christ was who He said He was – the Messiah – or a complete nutcase. [Michka Assayas, Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas (New York: Riverhead, 2005), p. 108.] Bowen could not be more wrong, and Bono could not be more right! Who Jesus is and what He did is the foundation of Christian Faith. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

2) Larry King to interview Jesus Christ: Barbara Ann Walters, the first female evening news anchor on The ABC Evening News and ABC commentator on news specials, once asked the CNN talk show host Larry King, “If you could interview anyone in history, who would it be?” King replied with unguarded honesty: “Jesus of Nazareth.” Her next question was, “If you could ask him one question, what would it be?” After a brief pause, he responded, “I think I would like to ask him, ‘Were you truly virgin born?’ because if he was, that would change everything.” Larry King was correct. If the accounts of the Virgin Birth and the bodily Resurrection of Jesus are true, then they change everything. It means that He was more than a man; consequently, His words are absolutely authoritative. It means that what He said about life and death, God and the devil, sin and salvation, and heaven and hell is true. — Today’s Gospel describes the great profession of Faith made by Peter recognizing Jesus as the Christ, the promised Messiah, and the Son of the Living God. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

3) “Who do Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Islam say that I am?” The first two groups claim to be Christian, and Islam speaks about Christ. But all of them have a confused Christology. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more commonly called the Mormons, incorporates the Lord’s name in its title, but its beliefs about Jesus are fatally flawed. A basic compendium of the Mormon gospel, entitled Mormon Doctrine, was written by apostle Bruce Redd McConkie, an influential Mormon theologian. According to McConkie, Mormons believe that “Lucifer, the son of the morning, is our elder brother, and the brother of Jesus.” The Journal of Discourses, a 26-volume Mormon publication presenting public sermons by many early Mormon leaders, includes such statements as this: “Jesus, our elder brother was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the Garden of Eden, and who is our father in Heaven.” The same volumes assert, “Jesus was married at Cana of Galilee and had many wives … he also had many children.” From these writings, it is clear that the Mormons fail the test when it comes to answering Jesus Christ’s question, “Who do you say I am?” (v. 29). Ask the Jehovah’s Witnesses, “Who do you say Jesus is?” The Jehovah’s Witness publication, New Heavens and New Earth, declares by way of response, “Michael the Archangel is no other than the only begotten Son of God, now Jesus Christ.” Consider the religion of Islam. Ask the Muslim who Jesus is and the answer we get from official publications is “Jesus was no more than a mortal whom Allah favored and made an example to the Israelites. They are unbelievers who say God is Messiah, Mary’s son” (Sura 43:59, Quran). Until people see Jesus as Peter did, as “the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” they miss the mark. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

4) “She thinks I’m real!” A waitress at a restaurant was taking orders from a couple and their young son. The father and mother gave their luncheon selection and gratuitous instructions as to what was to be substituted for what, and which dressing changed to what sauce. When she finally turned to the boy, he began his order with a kind of fearful desperation. “I want a hot dog-” he started. And both parents barked at once, “No hot dog!” The mother went on. “Bring him the Lyonnais potatoes and the beef, both vegetables, a hard roll and . . .” The waitress wasn’t even listening. She said evenly to the youngster, “What do you want on your hotdog?” He flashed an amazed smile, “Ketchup, lots of ketchup, and-and bring a glass of milk.” “Coming up,” she said as she turned from the table, leaving behind her the stunned silence of utter parental dismay. The boy watched her go. Then he turned to his father and mother and with astonished elation said, “YOU KNOW WHAT? She thinks I’m real! She thinks I’m real!” [The Pastor’s Story File (Saratoga Press, P.O. Box 8, Platteville, CO, 80651; 970-785-2990).] — When we answer this question like Peter, when we accept Jesus as the Messiah and Savior of our lives, then all that Jesus taught, all that Jesus promised, all that Jesus preached becomes real in us. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

5) “Vox populi, vox Dei”?: “Jesus asked them, ‘Who do people say I am?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets’ ” (vv. 27b-28). Vox populi, vox Dei means “The voice of the people is the voice of God.” It is the foundational philosophy that stands behind every system of democracy that has ever been established. But, is it true? Are the people, always right? Indeed, we can ask, “Are the people, ever right?” Consider, for example, these confused determinations by people some consider “experts”: a) IBM: Thomas Watson, president of IBM, said when IBM unveiled its first computer, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” Or, this: “We went to Atari and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, built with some of your parts, what do you think about funding us? Or, pay our salary and we’ll come work for you.’ And they said, ‘No.’ So, we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, ‘Hey, we don’t need you. You haven’t even finished college yet.'” That was Steve Jobs speaking about attempts to get Atari and Hewlett-Packard interested in a computer model later called Apple! Imagine, computer giants like Atari and Hewlett-Packard missed it! b) Telephone: In 1876, an internal memo circulated among Western Union executives. It originated with the head of that company and read in part, “The so-called ‘telephone’ device is a fad. It has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value.” c) FedEx: Fred Smith submitted a term paper proposing the reliable overnight delivery of packages using a fleet of airplanes. His Yale business professor returned that term paper with a grade of ‘C’ on the top and this comment below: “This concept is interesting and well-written, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible.” Fred Smith left Yale and founded FedEx! d) Mrs. Fields’ Cookies: Debbi Fields pitched an investment banker to help her find funding for a start-up, mall-based cookie store called Mrs. Fields’ Cookies. The banker replied, “A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you are planning to make.” e) The Beatles: A Liverpool music group called The Beatles auditioned for a Decca Records’ agent in 1962. He told them, “We don’t like your sound. Frankly, guitar music is on the way out.” There are many more examples to demonstrate that the voice of the people – even the voice of the leaders among the people – is not guaranteed to be right or reliable. The majority is often wrong. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

6) A menu of sorts: In today’s Scripture lesson of a question and answer, we’re given a menu of sorts. We’re given a menu and then we’re to make a choice which reminds us of two restaurant orders. a) A woman went into a restaurant and ordered the breakfast special, “I want my pancakes well done,” she said. “You need to cook them all the way through and golden brown on both sides. Use the light syrup because the regular syrup is too sweet. Make the bacon crisp and thin, not oily or soggy and put it on a separate plate. The eggs must be over-easy, not broken or runny.” “And would you like butter or margarine?” asked the waitress. The woman answered, “Oh, it doesn’t matter; I’m not that picky.” (Parables, Etc.). b) A guest in an expensive seaside-hotel breakfast room called room service one morning and placed a breakfast order: “I want two boiled eggs, one of them so undercooked it’s runny, and the other so overcooked, it’s about as easy to eat as rubber; also grilled bacon that has been left on the plate to get cold; burnt toast that crumbles away as soon as you touch it with a knife; butter straight from the deep-freeze so that it’s impossible to spread; and a pot of very weak coffee, lukewarm.” The person taking the order said, “I’m sorry, sir, but that’s a rather strange and complicated order, and it might be a just little bit difficult to fill.” To which the guest replied, “Oh, but that’s exactly what you gave me yesterday!” [The Pastor’s Story File (Saratoga Press, P.O. Box 8, Platteville, CO, 80651; 970-785-2990), February1998).] Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

7) “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” We must carry a cross to remind us that we are responsible in part for the cross that Jesus carried. When Rembrandt painted his famous work of the crucifixion called “The Three Crosses” which now hangs in the Louvre in Paris he did something most unusual. Among the faces in the crowd beneath the cross, he painted himself. That was his way of saying that he could not envision the crucifixion without admitting that he had a participation in it. Unfortunately, there are some who never see that. They identify with the Christ on the cross, rather than the Rembrandt in the crowd. That haunting old Negro spiritual gives the refrain “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” The emphasis is on the you. If we were to be perfectly honest, we would have to answer, “Yes, I was there. Yes, I had a role in this.” It is only as we come to that understanding that we can then sing the last part of the hymn: “Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.” I must so identify with the event of the crucifixion as to see myself in the story. It is not simply His story; it is our story as well. That is why Jesus challenges us in today’s Gospel to take up our crosses and follow him. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

8) “Deny yourself and take up your cross”: The University of Chicago did a five-year study of leading artists, athletes, and scholars. Directed by Dr. Benjamin Bloom, the research was based on anonymous interviews with the top twenty performers in various fields. These people included concert pianists, Olympic swimmers, tennis players, sculptors, mathematicians, and neurologists. Bloom and his team of researchers from the University of Chicago probed for clues as to how these achievers developed. For a more complete picture, they interviewed their families and teachers. The report stated conclusively that drive and determination, not great natural talent, led to the extraordinary success of these individuals. Bloom noted, “We expected to find tales of great natural gifts. We didn’t find that at all. Their mothers often said it was another child who had the greater talents.” What they found were extraordinary accounts of hard work and dedication: The pianist who practiced several hours a day for seventeen years; the swimmer who rolled out of bed every morning at half past five to do laps for two hours before school, etc. [Dr. Denis E. Waitley, Winning the Innovation Game (New York: Berkley Books, 1986).] In another study, when the nation’s top achievers were asked to rate the factors they consider most important in contributing to their own success, hard work emerges as the highest-rated factor. Not talent or luck but hard work. Psychologists followed the careers of violinists studying at the Music Academy of West Berlin. By the time they were 18, the academy’s best students had already spent about 2,000 more hours in practice, on average, than had their fellow students. That is denying yourself and taking up a cross. Business Guru Tom Peters recalls a wonderful story of a musician, it may have been cellist Pablo Casals, who died at almost one hundred years of age. The morning he died he was downstairs practicing at 6:00 a.m. “That’s just lovely,” says Peters. — It is lovely, if being the best at what you do is important to you. So we have a choice. We can heed part of Jesus’ words, “Deny yourself and take up your cross,” and have all the success this world has to offer. And there’s nothing really wrong with that. Jesus wants us to be the very best of whatever we choose to be, as long as it does not cost us our souls. There is a better way, however. Use Jesus as your guide. Follow Jesus. Deny yourself by giving yourself for others in Jesus’ name. That’s where real happiness lies. That’s what ultimate success is all about. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

9) Through the cross and a fellow-believer, he found the strength: Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his non-fiction, autobiographical trilogy, Gulag Archipelago, described his life in a Siberian prison. At one point he was so physically weak and discouraged that all he could hope for was death. The hard labor, terrible conditions, and inhumane treatment had taken their toll. He knew the guards would beat him severely and probably kill him if he stopped working. So, he planned to help them by simply stopping his work and leaning on his shovel. But when he stopped, a fellow Christian reached over with his shovel and quickly drew a sign of the cross at the feet of Solzhenitsyn, then erased it before a guard could see it. Solzhenitsyn later wrote that his entire being was energized by that little reminder of the hope and courage we find in Christ through the cross. It was a turning point. Through the cross and a fellow believer, he found the strength and the hope to continue. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

10) The cross symbolizes Faith, Hope and Love: The people of Lithuania take their cross-bearing a little more seriously than we do. For them, the cross symbolizes Faith, Hope and Love. There are crosses are everywhere in the countryside, on roads, in city parks and village squares. Communities and individuals erect crosses to bring them health and to commemorate events like weddings, births and christenings. Crosses are also erected to commemorate historical events. One of these is the Baltic Way, in which millions of people linked hands stretching across the Baltics from Estonia to Lithuania on August 25, 1989. About 9 monuments commemorate this extraordinary event. The nation’s pride is the Hill of Crosses, located north of Siauliai. Lithuanians erected crosses there as early as the mid-19th century. The Soviet government couldn’t tolerate that kind of spiritual expression, so they totally destroyed the hill in 1961, then again in 1973 and 1975. But people kept erecting more crosses, until in 1980 their destruction stopped. Today the crosses number in the thousands. They are different sizes and shapes, some simple, some ornate, but they immortalize Lithuania’s troubles, misfortunes, joys, hope and Faith. (Http://lithuanian-american.org/folklife/crosses.htm) For the Lithuanian people, the cross is more than a symbol in the Church. It is symbol for the world to see, a symbol that will not go away. It is a symbol of sacrifice, a sacrifice that gives each and every one of us Hope and Faith and courage. (Billy D. Strayhorn, At Cross Purposes). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

11) “Those who lose their life for My sake, and for the sake of the Gospel, will save it.” When Communist forces invaded Vietnam in the 1950s, Hien Pham, like many Vietnamese Christians, was arrested and jailed for his beliefs. After his release from prison, Pham made plans to escape Vietnam. He secretly began building a boat. Fifty-three fellow-Vietnamese made plans to escape with him. One day, four Vietcong soldiers came to Pham’s house and confronted him. They heard he was planning an escape. Was it true? Of course, Hien Pham lied to them. If he had told the truth, the Vietcong might have killed him and arrested the other fifty-three people. But after the soldiers left, Pham felt very uneasy. Had God really wanted him to lie? Didn’t he trust that God would provide for him under any circumstances? Even though it made no logical sense, Pham believed that God wanted him to tell the truth, even at the risk of his own life. So Hien Pham resolved that if the Vietcong soldiers returned, he would confess his escape plans. Hien Pham chose to bear a particular cross, the cross of honesty. He chose to sacrifice safety for faithfulness. He finished building his boat, and his friends made the final plans for their daring escape. To their horror, the Vietcong soldiers returned and demanded to know if the escape rumors were true. Hoping against hope, Hien Pham confessed his plans. Can you imagine his surprise when those four soldiers replied, “Take us with you!” That evening, Hien Pham, his fifty-three friends, and four Vietcong soldiers made a daring escape under cover of night in a homemade boat. But that’s not the end of the story! They sailed straight into a violent storm. Pham reports that they would have all been lost, if it hadn’t been for the expert sailing skills of, you guessed it, the four Vietcong soldiers. The escapees landed safely in Thailand. Eventually, Hien Pham emigrated to the United States, where he made a new life for himself. [Ravi Zacharias. Deliver Us from Evil (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), pp. 191-194.] — He proved the truth of verse 35: “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and that of the Gospel will save it.” Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

12) “Get behind me Satan:” It’s encouraging to know that someone of Peter’s stature and importance in the early Church, could walk the walk so well with his foot in his mouth. What we have to remember is that Peter was human, and even the greatest of humans make mistakes. — Henry Ford changed the world. He changed how things are assembled, marketed and how we travel. But did you know he forgot to put a reverse gear in the first car he invented? Not only that, but he didn’t build a door wide enough to get the car out of the building he built it in. If you go to Greenfield Village, you can still see where he cut a hole in the wall to get the car out. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

13) 12% of Americans are “highly spiritually committed.” According to research conducted by George Gallup, 12% of Americans are “highly spiritually committed.” They are those who truly understand what Jesus meant when he said, “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” Gallup says the members of this group are “a breed apart from the rest of the populace in at least four ways: 1. They’re happier. 2. Their families are stronger. 3. They’re more tolerant of people of different races and religions. 4. They’re community-minded.” — They’re involved in service to others. That is cross-bearing that really makes a difference. (Rev. King Duncan). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

14) “Where were you during the critical days of the struggle?” During the dark days of World War II, England had a great deal of difficulty keeping men in the coal mines. It was a thankless kind of job, totally lacking in any glory. Most chose to join the various military services. They desired something that could give them more social acceptance and recognition. Something was needed to motivate these men in the work that they were doing so that they would remain in the mines. With this in mind, Winston Churchill delivered a speech one day to thousands of coal miners, stressing to them the importance of their role in the war effort. He did this by painting for them a mental picture. He told them to picture the grand parade that would take place when VE Day came. First, he said, would come the sailors of the British Navy, the ones who had upheld the grand tradition of Trafalgar and the defeat of the Armada. Next in the parade, he said, would come the pilots of the Royal Air Force. They were the ones who, more than any other, had saved England from the dreaded German Luftwaffe. Next in the parade would come the Army, the ones that had stood tall at the crises of Dunkirk. Last of all, he said, would come a long line of sweat-stained, soot-streaked men in miner’s caps. And someone, he said, would cry from the crowd, “And where were you during the critical days of the struggle?” And then from ten thousand throats would come, “We were deep in the earth with our faces to the coal.” — We are told that there were tears in the eyes of many of those soot-laden coal miners with their weathered faces. They had been given a sense of their own value by the man at the top. Service does not always come with big fancy ribbons. And I think that it is forever true, that it is often the humble acts of service that provide us with the deepest sense of joy and the most fulfilling satisfaction. Jesus said “Whoever loses his life for My Sake and that of the Gospel will save it.” I am persuaded that true discipleship is found in the coal mines with our cross upon our backs. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

15) “Take up your cross and follow Me”: “In the rolling hills of northern New Jersey stands a small Church with a large, stone cross cut into an inside wall. Now, it happened that one of the Church’s wealthier members didn’t like the cross there and said it was an eyesore. He offered to give a huge donation to the Church in order to take the cross out of the wall and replace it with a stained-glass window. But when he presented his idea to the Church’s parish council members, they said to him, ‘We cannot do what you ask. The architect designed the Church to have this cross; it gives strength to the wall. If you take away the cross, you will destroy the Church.'” [Rev. Erskine White, The Victory of the Cross (CSS Publishing Company, 1991).] — The Architect of our salvation designed the Church to have the cross. The cross gives strength to the Church. Take away the cross and you do not have a Church. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

16) Applause for the brave woman: Eleven people, so goes the story, were dangling from a rope beneath a helicopter in a rescue scenario. Being rescued were ten men and one woman. Word came down from the pilot that one of the eleven would have to let go; if not, everyone would perish. The woman spoke right up and said her whole life had been one of sacrifice — for her children, husband, and parents — and now she would be willing to sacrifice one last time by letting go. With that, the ten men applauded! — The story’s point? Never underestimate the power of a woman! Never underestimate the power of the Gospel because it too is full of surprises, reversals, paradoxes, and strategies that on the surface don’t seem to make sense. “Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and that of the Gospel, will save it.” (Mark 8:35). There we have the paradox. If you try really hard to save your life, you are going to lose it in the process. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

17) “What good is it,” asked Jesus, “for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Adam Burtle, a University of Washington student, sold his soul for $400 on the Internet before the listing was removed and he was suspended from the site. “Please realize, I make no warranties as to the condition of the soul,” he had written. “As of now, it is near mint condition, with only minor scratches. Due to difficulties involved with removing my soul, the winning bidder will either have to settle for a night of yummy Thai food and cool indy flicks or wait until my natural death.’’ EBay has blocked similar auctions in the past, but somehow Burtle’s offer slipped through. The bidding started at 5 cents. Burtle’s former girlfriend bid $6.66 but she was overtaken in the final hour of the auction when a Des Moines, Iowa, woman bid the price of Burtle’s soul to $400. “I don’t think she’s going to be able to collect on my soul, to be honest,’’ Burtle said, adding he didn’t intend for the ad to be taken seriously. “I was just bored, and I’m a geek,’’ he added. “So anytime I’m bored, I go back to my Internet.’’ (The Associated Press, 2001 & http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2001-02-09-ebay-soul.htm ) — My guess is that over the centuries many people have sold their soul simply and solely because they were bored. Talk about a bad bargain! “What good is it,” asked Jesus, “for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

18) Charlemagne’s death wish: King Charlemagne lived from 742 to 814 A.D. He conquered much of Western Europe, including France, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, parts of Italy, Germany, Austria, and Spain. Everywhere Charlemagne’s troops went, they spread education and the Christian religion. His rule unified and stabilized much of Europe, making him one of the most powerful rulers in history. Yet, in spite of all of Charlemagne’s power, he arranged at his death to have his body displayed with his hand resting on our verse for today: “What good is it, for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” [William Beausay II, The Leadership Genius of Jesus (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997), p. 45.] — Charlemagne knew such an exchange was a bad bargain indeed. This is more than a material world. As the eminent Jesuit philosopher-scientist, Teilhard de Chardin, put it so memorably, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

19) Research for some scientific proof of a soul of a human body: Some of you may know the story of James Kidd. James Kidd was a lonely man. He lived on the edge of deprivation. He spent most of his life in a rugged copper mining town in Arizona. But Kidd was deeply troubled. On January 2, 1946, he sat down and wrote out his will. Four years later he disappeared and was never heard from again. Authorities responsible for the settlement of his will, sixteen years after his disappearance, discovered that he had left almost $200,000 for “research for some scientific proof of a soul of a human body which leaves at death.” [Bruce Shelley, All The Saints Adore Thee (Baker Books, 1988), p. 46.) — You will find the soul in the same place you find love, hope, peace, joy and a host of other positive emotions. You can capture none of these emotions in a test tube, but we know they exist. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

20) “I will show you that the music is not in the instrument but in the soul.” Paginini, the great violinist, came out before his audience one day and made the discovery just as the applause ended that there was something wrong with his violin. He looked at it a second and then saw that it was not his famous and valuable violin, but a cheap substitute. He felt paralyzed for a moment, then turned to his audience and told them there had been some mistake and he did not have his own violin. He stepped back behind the curtain thinking that it was still where he had left it, but discovered that someone had stolen his violin and left this old secondhand one in its place. Paginini remained back of the curtain for a moment, then came out before his audience and said: “Ladies and gentlemen, I will show you that the music is not in the instrument but in the soul.” And he played as he had never played before; and out of that secondhand instrument, the music poured forth until his audience was enraptured with enthusiasm, and the applause almost lifted the roof off the building, because the man had revealed to them that the music was not in the machine but in his own soul. [Anthony P. Castle, ed., “Go Tell Everyone,” in Quotes and Anecdotes for Preachers and Teachers, p. 207. Cited by Fuller, Gerard, O.M.I. Stories for All Seasons (Mystic, CT: Twenty-Third Publications, 1996), pp. 128-129.] — The soul is who you are. It is the God-created spirit within us that will never die. Your soul is what makes you distinctive. You are more than a nose and a mouth and a pair of ears, etc. You have a distinct personality. Even if we could eliminate all your physical characteristics, you — the real you — would still exist. That’s your soul. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

21) “Jesus is more than a man.” Napoleon Bonaparte was entertaining a number of his generals at dinner. The superb meal of pheasant and wines was done. Napoleon and his guests were drinking cognac and smoking cigars. A discussion began about Christ. Napoleon listened intently but said nothing. Most of the guests dismissed the Nazarene as merely a man. Then their emperor said, “Gentlemen, you are wrong. I know men. Jesus is more than a man.” — Our religion is not a matter of knowing about Jesus. It is one of knowing Him. Napoleon was one of those who intuitively knew that the Christ was more than human. (Fr. James Gilhooley) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

22)  Readiness to face death: When the Berkenhead sank, Alexander Russell, a young officer aged seventeen, was ordered to command one of the boats which carried women and children. As they were pushing off, a sailor who was drowning clasped the side of the boat, but there was no room for even one more. A woman on the boat cried: “Save him! He is my husband.” Russell rose, jumped clear of the boat, and amidst a chorus of “God bless you!” he sank in the water, which was full of sharks and was seen no more, the sailor being pulled in to take his place. — In today’s second reading, James insists on the necessity for action for the Christian. Our faith must find its expression in service to others, especially the needy. Jesus said: “Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself.” (Anthony Castle in More Quotes and Anecdotes (quoted by Fr. Botelho. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

23) What do we believe we are? What will we be? There were three young trees growing together in the forest. They were young, healthy, and ambitious. They compared their dreams. One wanted to be part of the structure of a castle or a palace, so it would be a spectator in the lives of the high and mighty of society. The second wanted to end up as the mast in one of the tall ships, sailing around the world with a great sense of adventure. The third hoped to end up as part of some public monument, where the public would stop, admire, and take photographs. Years passed by, and all three were cut down. The first was chopped up, and parts of it were put together to form a manager for a stable in Bethlehem. The second was cut down, and the trunk was scooped out to form a boat, which was launched on the Sea of Galilee. The third was cut into sections, two of which were put together, to form a cross on Calvary. Each had a unique and special part to play in the one great story of redemption. (Jack McArdle in And That’s the Gospel Truth! Quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

24) “Send me Lord”…. Mrs. O’ Reilly received the news that one of her neighbors was seriously ill. She said to the person who gave her the news, ‘Tell her that I’ll remember her in my prayers, and that I hope she’ll soon be feeling better.’ And she was as good as she promised. She prayed very sincerely and fervently for her neighbor. She said to God, ‘Lord, I want to commend my neighbor to you. She’s very seriously ill. She needs a lot of help, a lot of support.’ When she finished her prayers, she felt better. And yet, something was bothering her. She sat down to think about it. Then she fell into a dream-like state in which she heard God saying to her, ‘I can see that you’re very concerned about your neighbor.’ ‘Yes, Lord, I really am,’ she replied with no little pride. ‘And I understand that your neighbor is in great need of help,’ said God. ‘So I’ve been told,’ said Mrs. O’Reilly. ‘You know, what she most needs is someone to spend a little time with her,’ said the Lord. ‘You’re absolutely right Lord. I was thinking the same myself,’ Mrs. O’Reilly answered. ‘Now when you asked Me to help her, you weren’t expecting Me to come down from Heaven to visit her, were you?’ ‘No, Lord, I wouldn’t expect you to do that. Nor would my neighbor expect it either. In fact, I think the shock of it might kill her.’ ‘But she does need someone to call on her?’ ‘She does, Lord.’ ‘Whom can I send?’ After a long pause, Mrs. O’Reilly said, ‘Send me, Lord.’ When she woke up from her dream, she knew exactly what she had to do. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.” (Flor McCarthy in New Sundays and Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

25) Never deserting Lord and Savior: Two travelers were on the road, when a bear suddenly appeared. Both ran as fast as they could. One dashed to a tree by the side of the road, climbed up and hid in its branches. The other was not able to climb and hide. So he threw himself on the ground and pretended to be dead. The bear came and sniffed the man lying on the ground. The man kept perfectly still and held his breath knowing that a bear will not touch a dead body. The bear took him for a corpse and went away. When the coast was clear, the traveler who hid on the tree went down and asked his companion, “What did the bear whisper to you when he put his mouth close to your ear?” The companion replied, “He told me never to travel again with a friend who deserts you at the first sight of danger!”(Fr. JS Benitez). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

26) Double Lives: G. K. Chesterton has a story about a popular philanthropist. The main reason for his popularity was his unfailing good humour. No one bothered to ask how he managed to be always happy. They assumed he was born an optimist. But then one day he was found dead in mysterious circumstances. Foul play was immediately suspected. However, the case completely baffled the police. Eventually it was Chesterton’s unlikely detective, Fr Brown, who solved the case. His verdict – the man committed suicide. At first the people refused to accept Fr Brown’s verdict. They couldn’t imagine how such a happy man could commit suicide. But then it emerged that there was a serious side to the funny man. The man who made others laugh was in fact a deeply depressed man. But he could never tell anyone how he really felt. The man had two lives. One was open, seen and known by all, the other secret, and known only to himself. In public he was the man who smiled at everyone. But in private he was wounded and desperate. He felt he had to live up to people’s expectations in return for their attention and esteem. He was never able to be himself. Finally, he realized that his whole life was based on a lie. The strain of trying to maintain the public image became so great that he could no longer cope with it. So he committed suicide. (Flor McCarthy in Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

27) Cross-loving saint: St John of the Cross, in the final years of his short life, asked God for three favors: not to die as a superior of any Carmelite monastery; to die in a place where he was unknown; and to die after having suffered much. All these requests were granted in their entirety. In the last years of his life – he died at the age of 49 – he was stripped of all office by his superiors, and some even attempted to have him expelled from the Order which he himself had helped reform. He was sent to a house where nobody knew him, where the superior disliked him, installed him in the worst cell in the monastery and complained bitterly of the expense to the community caused by his ill health. Finally, the suffering of the saint worsened as his legs and back became ulcerated. Realizing that death was near, John, instead of seeking medical care, called for the prior, and begged his pardon for all the trouble and expense he had caused him. The prior in turn was moved to ask forgiveness and left the cell in tears, a changed man, so much so that he was later to die in the odor of sanctity. That same night, without agony or struggle, John yielded up his spirit to his Creator. — All of this does not immediately answer the question, “Why does God permit suffering?” Perhaps we could begin to see its meaning if we framed the question differently. “Would John of the Cross, whose example has changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the 400 years since his death, would John have had the same influence on Christianity if the cross had never come into his life?” The answer has to be no, because suffering is something sacred; it confers upon all whom it touches the most intimate resemblance to the suffering Christ, whose cross saves the world. (Biblical IE). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

28) “Hey, Faith without works is dead.” A senior priest I know, I’ll call him Father A, tells this story of his first experience at a healing service: A skeptic himself regarding the charismatic movement, he was attending the service to humor his buddy, Father B, who had suggested that Father A might find some relief for his chronic indigestion. The presider was a well-known exponent of the charismatic healing ministry. After a period of hymn singing and community prayer, she invited people who were experiencing something that needed healing to come forward for a laying-on of hands. A number of the congregation began to form a line, but Father A was not among them. Fr. B nudged him and said, “A, go on up. You’ve got nothing to lose, and it might help your stomach.” Fr. A finally relented, approached the healer, submitted himself to the laying-on of hands, returned to the pew—and promptly popped a Gelusil into his mouth. When Fr. B responded to that gesture with a look of disapproval, Fr. A explained, “Hey, Faith without works is dead.” — This Sunday’s Gospel reminds us that the life of Christian discipleship involves works of a certain kind: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.”( Dennis Hamm, SJ). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

29) This recall and investigation cost the company $189 million. In 2001, the CEO of Baxter International, a medical supply company, made a decision that cost his company $189 million. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that, like many crooked CEOs who have been in the news lately, Baxter’s CEO Harry Kraemer must have done something unethical. He must have cooked the books, or drained the company accounts in order to finance his own luxurious lifestyle. No, that’s not it at all. It was Kraemer’s honesty and high sense of ethics that caused him to make such a momentous decision. Executives at Baxter International learned in 2001 that one of the products they manufactured, a filter for a kidney dialysis machine, might have been defective. Some dialysis patients using the Baxter International filter had died of unexplained causes. Rather than covering up the situation, Kraemer recalled all of the filters and instituted a rigorous investigation into the problem. This recall and investigation cost the company $189 million. Kraemer also recommended that his performance bonus for that year be cut, because this situation occurred under his leadership. And to top it all off, he informed all his competitors in the medical manufacturing business of the possible flaws in Baxter’s filters, so that they could benefit from the research his investigation turned up. [John C. Maxwell with Stephen R. Graves and Thomas G. Addington, The Power of One, Workbook (Nashville: Nelson Reference & Electronic, 2004), pp. 15-16.] — Now I know nothing of Harry Kraemer’s religious affiliation. But I do know that is the sort of action that bearing a cross requires. When it is a matter of ethics, the follower of Christ is held to a higher standard than the world. That is why I say that, without the Gospel, it makes no sense to take up a cross. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

30) Never travel again with a friend who deserts you at the first sight of danger!” There is an ancient story in “Panchathanhtra” collection of stories. Two travelers were on the road, when a bear suddenly appeared. Both ran as fast as they could. One dashed to a tree by the side of the road, climbed up and hid in its branches. The other was not able to climb and hide. So he threw himself on the ground and pretended to be dead.The bear came and sniffed the man lying on the ground. The man kept perfectly still and held his breath knowing that a bear will not touch a dead body. The bear took him for a corpse and went away. When the coast was clear, the traveler who hid on the tree went down and asked his companion, “What did the bear whisper to you when he put his mouth close to your ear?” The companion replied, “He told me never to travel again with a friend who deserts you at the first sight of danger!” — Our Lord then sked His disciples Who they thought Him to be. Peter answered “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (v. 29).This answer of Saint Peter revealed the true and sincere type of friendship he had with Jesus. Peter knew Jesus better than the people did. For the people, Jesus was a great Teacher, Son of David, miracle worker, one of the prophets and the Holy One of God, but Peter knew Him as God. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

31) See, the Lord is my help: In 1977 the missionary magazine Echo From Africa published a fascinating true story about ten heroic Ukrainian nuns sentenced by Russia to Siberian exile in 1951. Soviet authorities arrested three sisters in the Ukraine and tried to get them to renounce the pope and their religious vows. When they refused, they were condemned to ten years of hard labor in Siberia. At their Siberian prison camp, the atheistic commandant renewed the effort to break these ten women. He called them “dogs of the Vatican,” and ordered them to give up their “idolatry.” Though they angered him by their firmness, they won the admiration of their fellow prisoners by the way they helped the women and girls. They were even able to secretly baptize hundreds of adults. In January 1952, when the Siberian winter was at its coldest (the temperature is usually 50-60 degrees below zero), the camp commander summoned the sisters and announced that since they had proved themselves fanatical agents of the Vatican, Moscow had instructed him to take more severe measures. He told them that they were now to be put into solitary confinement on bread and water until they came around. If this method failed, he would force them to stand in the cold for three hours clad only in their underclothing. The first measure did not work. Therefore, after a week of solitary, the commandant sent them out to stand in the middle of the snowy camp square in the scantiest of clothing. Asked again to sign a statement of “confession,” they still declined. Then they began to sing the Creed. This was too much for the officer, and so he ordered that the savage watch-dogs be unleashed to attack the singing nuns. The blood-thirsty dogs bounded towards the sisters. But when they were six feet away from them, they suddenly stopped and lay down in the snow. A crowd of sympathetic but helpless fellow prisoners had been watching all this. Now they cried “A miracle!” The commandant turned pale, and sent the sisters back to the barracks. There was no further harassment, and eventually they were released. — Once again God had intervened to protect those who had trusted in Him: “See, the Lord God is my help; who will prove me wrong?” (Isaiah 50:9. Today’s first reading.) –(Father Robert F. McNamara). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

32) I am the Light, and you do not see Me.

I am the Way, and you do not believe Me.

I am the Life, and you do not search for Me.

I am the Master, and you do not listen to Me.

I am the Leader, and you do not obey Me.

I am your God, and you do not pray to Me. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B (No 50) 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 .

 

September 6-11 weekday homilies

Kindly click on https://frtonyshomilies.com/  for missed Sunday and weekday homilies.

Sept 6-11: Sept 6 Monday: (Labor Day in the U. S.homily on next page): Lk 4:31-37: 31 And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath; 32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word was with authority. 33 And in the synagogue, there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon; and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “Ah! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in the midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. 36 And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” 37 And reports of him went out into every place in the surrounding region. USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/

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

 Life messages: 1) Our Faith is based on the Divinity of Christ, demonstrated by His miracles, which in turn give authority and validity to His teaching and promises. Hence, let us accept Jesus’ teachings, even if some of them are mysteries beyond our understanding 2) Let us read the authoritative word of God every day and assimilate it into our lives. 3) In our illnesses, let us confidently approach Jesus the Healer with trusting Faith first, then go to the doctors who are the ordinary instruments of Jesus’ healing ministry in our midst. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Sept first Monday: Labor Day in the U.S.: .:(http://shelbyvillesermons.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/ItsLaborDay.pdf)  The first Labor Day was observed on September 5, 1882, to celebrate the social and economic achievements of American workers and to give them a day off on the last day of the summer. Today, Labor Day unofficially signals the beginning of a new “school” year of work and study and the end of the lazy days of summer. It was President Grover Cleveland who signed a bill into law on June 28, 1894, declaring Labor Day a national holiday.

1) It is a day to acknowledge the dignity and necessity of labor and workers. We participate in the creative act of God by the various forms of work we do, using our God-given talents,  a) The Bible presents God as working six days in the creation of the world and commanding Adam to work six days and rest on the seventh as He had done. b) Jesus, God’s Son, was a professional carpenter. c) Most of Jesus’ apostles were fishermen, and Paul was a tentmaker. d) In an “Inaugural Address” in the synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus expressed a preferential option for the poor – the working class and those who cannot work. e) Work is necessary for our own wellbeing, for health of body, mind, and spirit. It enables us to support and care for all God has entrusted to us, with His help, and to help those who are less fortunate and unable to work.

f) Works of charity are the main criteria of our Last Judgement: “Whatever you did to one of these least brethren you did to Me.”

2) A day to remember the Church’s teaching on the nobility of work and the necessity of just wages. In the encyclical, Laborem exercens (September 14, 1981), Pope St. John Paul II instructs us that all of us are called to work together for a just society and a just economy which allow us all to share God’s blessings. He reminds us that governments should see that the greed of a minority does not make the life of the majority miserable. He advises labor unions to fight for social and economic justice, better wages and better working conditions.  3) It is the day to remember and pray for the job-less people: There are thousands without work and millions more who are underemployed, working at part-time jobs or jobs that do not pay a decent wage. Society has a moral obligation to reduce joblessness because it is through work that families are sustained, children are nurtured, and the future is secured. Joblessness is also a clear threat to family life. 4) It is an appropriate time to acknowledge and bless the temporal and spiritual work that our parishioners do for their families, for their neighbors and for the parish community. It is also a day to remind ourselves that our workplace gives us an opportunity to practice what we believe, and to display a level of integrity that matches our Faith, thus witnessing to Christ. 5) It is a day to pay attention to a warning: The warning is that we should be aware of the danger in work. If not properly oriented it can make us workaholics, we may turn work into our god or may consider it as an escape mechanism to run away from spouse, children, and neighbors.

Thus, on this Labor Day, let us try to realize the dignity of work, the necessity for work and the dangers involved in work. Let us thank the Lord for the talents and work He has given us to do. Let us pray that we may find joy and satisfaction in our work, realizing that we are co-creators with God and stewards of His creation. By offering our work for God’s glory, let us transform our work to prayer. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Sept 7 Tuesday: Lk 6:12-19: 12 In those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles; 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. 17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; 18 and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19…. 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 gives a short account of the call of the Apostles and of the preaching and healing mission of Jesus. Jesus was the first missionary, sent by His Father with the “Good News” that God his Father is a loving, merciful, and forgiving Father Who wants to save everyone through His Son, Jesus. Today’s Gospel describes how this First Missionary selected and empowered twelve future missionaries as Apostles to continue the mission.

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

Life Messages: 1) God wants to show us that a calling for ministry, or a vocation to priestly or religious life or family life, is an initiative of God. 2) As Christians we have the same mission that Jesus entrusted to his Apostles. 3) We fulfill this mission of preaching the word of God, primarily, by our living out of Jesus’ teachings and by promoting and helping world-wide missionary activities of the Church. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Sept 8 Wednesday: (Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/nativity-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary  Mt 1: 1-16, 18-23: Anecdote: Life magazine estimated that the prayer “Hail Mary” is said two billion times every day, and each year five to ten million people make a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.  Many others visit Marian sites elsewhere in the world. Mary is prayed to as advocate and helper, and even in the sports area there is a reference to her power: the last desperate pass by a losing football team was once called a “Hail Mary pass.” Mary is also venerated by Muslims. It is reported that when the Prophet Muhammad cleared the idols out of the Kaaba in Mecca, he allowed only a fresco of the Virgin Mary holding the Child Jesus to remain. In the Qur’an, she is described as having been sent as “a mercy for the worlds.” (http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/days/features.php?id=15974) & https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2015/12/18/what-islam-really-teaches-about-virgin-mary

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

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

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

Sept 9 Thursday (St. Peter Claver, Priest, U. S. A.):https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-peter-claver Lk 6:27-38: 27 “But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again. 31 And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most  High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. 37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” 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 second part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain as given by Luke.  It describes the power of Christian love when exercised by practicing the golden rule: Do to others as you would have them do to you.” This golden rule is amplified by a string of particular commands: 1) “Love your enemiesDo good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you and pray for those who maltreat you.”    Jesus orders us to love our enemies. 2) Show your Christian love to everyone, especially to your enemies by treating them with mercy and compassion because our Heavenly Father is merciful and compassionate to all His children. “Be compassionate, as your Father is compassionate.”3) Stop judging and start forgiving.

Life messages: 1) We need to answer the invitation to grace-filled behavior: What makes Christianity distinct from any other religion is the quality known as grace, i.e., our ability to treat others, not as we think they deserve, but with love, kindness, the spirit of forgiveness and mercy. 2) We need to accept the challenges of day-to-day life. Jesus challenges our willingness to endure unjust suffering for His sake and the sake of His Gospel. 3) We need to pray for the strength to forgive. At every Mass we pray the “Our Father,” asking God to forgive us as we forgive others. We must forgive, because only forgiveness truly heals our relationships and heals us. If we remember how God has forgiven us, it will help us forgive others.   4) We need to live our lives in accordance with “the Golden Rule.”   (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Sept 10 Friday: Lk 6: 39-42: He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully taught will be like his teacher. 41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 Or how can you say to your brother, `Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye. 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: In today’s passage, taken from the Sermon on the Plain given in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus condemns our careless, malicious and rash judgments about the behavior, feelings, motives, or actions of others by using the funny examples of one blind man leading another blind man and one man with a log covering his eyes trying to remove a tiny speck from another’s eye.

Reasons why we should not judge others:  1) No one except God is good enough to judge others because only God sees the whole truth, and only He can read the human heart. Hence, only He has the ability, right, and authority to judge us. 2) We do not see all the facts or circumstances or the power of the temptation which has led a person to do something evil. 3) We are often prejudiced in our judgment of others, and total fairness cannot be expected from us.  4) We have no right to judge because we have the same faults as the one we are judging and often to a greater degree (remember the critical man with a wooden beam in his eye?) St. Philip Neri commented, watching the misbehavior of a drunkard: “There goes Philip but for the grace of God.” Abraham Lincoln said that only he has the right to criticize who has the heart to help (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Sept 11 Saturday: Lk 6: 43-49: 43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. 46 “Why do you call me `Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep, and laid the foundation upon rock; and when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house, and could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49 But he who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation; against which the stream broke, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” 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: In today’s passage, taken from the Sermon on the Plain given in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus teaches the necessity for cultivating a strong Christian moral character as the foundation of our Christian life.   The teaching: In the first part of the Gospel, Jesus teaches us that the good fruits of Christian virtues, like love, mercy, forgiveness, and service, result only from an upright character trained in and cultivated by the repeated practice of Christian principles. Jesus compares good works with figs and grapes and reminds us that thorny shrubs and bramble bushes cannot produce them.  In the second part, Jesus gives us two warnings: that we must match our profession of Faith with actual obedience to the will of God, and that we must build a life on the firm foundation of Jesus’ teachings. Jesus emphasizes the truth that we should not be mere hearers of the word of God but also consistent doers of that word. In other words, our profession of Faith should match our practice. Jesus compares mere hearers of the word to a foolish man who built his house on a sandy foundation, and the doers of the word to a wise man who built his house on strong and solid rock.

Life messages: 1) We need to be men and women of character with the courage of our religious convictions, doing what is right at all times. Such persons are honest and reliable before God, themselves, and their neighbors. 2) We need to build our family on a strong Christian foundation. There can be no great marriage and no great family without a solid foundation, and that foundation begins with the husband and wife doing and being the love of Christ for each other and for their children. 3)  We need to get ready to face the storms of life: Jesus wants us to follow his words and to build our lives and our families on these words. He wants us to be ready for the storms of life, including, among others, the current Covid-19 pandemic, economic downturns, pension defaults, war, depression both mental and economic, relationships that fade, the deaths of those who love us and whom we love, devastating illness, and protracted disease. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

 

O. T. XXIII (Sunday, August 29th) homily

O.T. XXIII [B] (Sept 5) Eight-minute homily in one page (L/21)

Introduction: Today’s Scripture readings from Isiah, James and Mark give us two challenges: 1) Ask God’s help to open our spiritually blind eyes, deaf ears and mute tongue. 2) Share in Jesus’ healing ministry by lending to him our eyes, ears, tongues, and hearts.

Homily starter anecdote: The “little monk” Telemachus opened the blind eyes of the  mighty Roman Empire by risking his own life. This V century Turkish monk travelled to Rome to stop the barbarian, entertainment  game of “Gladiatorial fight to death” of slaves, perpetuated by a Christian Roman Emperor and  his Christian citizens.

Scripture lessons: First reading from  Is 35:4-7: Foretelling the future messianic ministry of Jesus, Isiah introduces a God whose eyes are focused on the helpless and who heals the blind, the deaf the lame and the mute.

The responsorial psalm (146) praises a God who gives sight to the blind, raises the downtrodden and welcomes strangers.

The II reading from St. James’ Epistle (2:1-5) reminds us that as shearers in Christ’s healing ministry, we must practice Christian social justice by  showing no partiality by shaming the poor by denying their rights  and by  favoring the rich. Instead, we must practice Christ’s option for the poor.

Today’s gospel story explains how Jesus fulfills prophet Isiah’s prophecy by healing a deaf-mute in six stages in an audiovisual way. Jesus i)separates him from the crowd ii)looks to heaven and groans iii) puts his fingers in his ears iv) applies saliva on his tongue v) pray once again  and vi) gives the command “Ephatha” or “be opened.”

Life messages:1) We need to pray daily for healing from our spiritual blindness to see God’s presence in others, spiritual deafness to attentively listen to the word of God and the cry and needs of others, and our spiritual muteness to praise and worship God loudly and vibrantly during our family prayers at home and our liturgical prayers and hymns during the Holy Mass.

2) We need to share in Jesus’ healing ministry by lending him our eyes, ears, tongues, hands, feet, our hearts  and all our talents and blessings so that he may use them for granting all sorts of healing to people around us in our homes, parishes, institutions, and society

OT XXIII [B] (Sept 5) Is 35:4-7a; Jas 2:1-5;   Mk 7:31-37

Homily Starter Anecdotes: # 1  The “little monk” Telemachus who opened blind eyes of an empire:  At the Annual National Prayer Breakfast on February 2, 1984, Ronald Reagan, the former president of the United States, told the old story of “the little monk,” Telemachus, a martyr whose self-sacrificial commitment to Christian ideals opened the blind eyes and deaf ears of the Romans and their fifth century Christian Emperor Honorius. According to the story, this Turkish monk was led by an inner voice to go to Rome in order to stop the cruel and inhuman gladiatorial fights between slaves. He followed the crowds to the Coliseum where two gladiators were fighting.  He jumped into the arena and tried to stop them, shouting, “In the name of Christ, hold back!”   The gladiators stopped, but the spectators became indignant.   A group of them rushed into the arena and beat Telemachus to death.  When the crowd saw the brave little monk lying dead in a pool of blood, they fell silent, leaving the stadium, one by one. Three days later, because of Telemachus’ heroic sacrifice of his own life, the Emperor decreed an end to the games. — In today’s Gospel, which describes the miraculous healing of a deaf mute, we are invited to open our ears and eyes, loosen our tongues and pray for the courage of our Christian convictions to become the voice of the voiceless. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 2: “The Touch of the Master’s Hand”: In the poem, “The Touch of the Master’s Hand,” (for lyrics & music watch Myra Brooks Welch), tells the story of the auctioning of an old, dusty violin. The violin was about to be sold for a mere $3 when a grey-haired man stepped forward, picked it up, dusted it off, tuned it and began to play. The man played such sweet music that, when he finished, the bidding jumped into the thousands of dollars. What transformed the dusty old violin into a precious instrument? The touch of the Master’s hand. — The same “touch of the Master’s hand” continues to transform our lives today. By God’s touch we become His instruments to accomplish the marvelous works described in today’s Psalm 146: to secure justice for the oppressed, give food to the hungry and set the captives free. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).
(Touch Of The Master’s Hand, The Booth Brothers)

Well it was battered and scarred and the auctioneer felt
It was hardly worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin
But he held it up with a smile
He said, “It sure ain’t much but it’s all we’ve got left
I guess we oughta sell it too.
Oh, now who’ll start the bid on this old violin
Just one more and we’ll be through.”

And then he cried:
“One, give me one dollar, who’ll make it two?
Only two dollars, who’ll make it three?
Three dollars twice, now that’s a good price
Who’s gonna bid for me?
Raise up your hand now, don’t wait any longer
The auction’s about to end
Who’s got for just one dollar more to bid on this old violin?”

Well, the air was hot and the people stood around
As the sun was setting low
And from the back of the crowd, a gray-haired man
Came forward…(Source: Musixmatch). Music: https://youtu.be/JYgAsSyIibY & https://youtu.be/s8Ud34hc_l0

# 3: The “Ephphatha prayer:” There is a little ritual in the rite of Baptism — alas it is often omitted — whose name and form are taken from today’s Gospel: “The Ephphatha.” The celebrant touches the ears and then the lips of the one to be baptized saying: “The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the dumb speak. May He soon touch your ear to receive His word and your mouth to proclaim His Faith.” This simple ceremony captures not only the kernel of today’s Gospel, but a most profound aspect of our Faith: its ‘giftedness’. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

#4: “Five past two.” Two older men were talking. One of them was bragging just a little bit. “I just purchased the most expensive hearing aid ever made,” he said. “It is imported and is guaranteed for life.” The second man asked: “What kind is it?” The first man answered, “Five past two.” — We can laugh about the hearing loss that comes with aging. It is a minor problem that will affect most of us sooner or later. In fact, experts predict that years of rock music, leaf blowers, and noise pollution in general will result in millions of baby boomers with hearing loss. According to a recent study by the National Institutes of Health, there has been a stunning 26 percent increase in those suffering permanent hearing loss between the ages of 35 and 60, compared to 15 years earlier. [With Adam Hanft, Dictionary of the Future (New York, NY: Hyperion, 2001), p. 3.] Today’s Gospel passage tells us how Jesus healed a deaf man who was mute. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Introduction: Today’s Scripture readings offer us an invitation to become humble instruments of healing in Jesus’ hands by giving voice to the voiceless, the needy, and the marginalized in our society.   Today’s Scripture also invites us to open our ears to hear the word of God and to allow the Holy Spirit to loosen our tongues to convey the Good News of God’s love and salvation to others.    The first reading (Is 35:4-7), reminds us that God’s eyes are constantly focused on the helpless.   God especially cares for “the frightened, the blind, the deaf, the lame, the mute,” and He encourages the powerless to “be strong and fearless.” Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 146), sings of a God who gives sight to the blind, raises up those who are bowed down and welcomes strangers. The Psalmist thanks God and asks us to rejoice because “the God of Jacob keeps Faith forever,” keeping His promise of peace and fullness of life for His people. That is why, in today’s second reading (Jas 2:1-5), the apostle gives us some basic, challenging principles of social justice. He exhorts Christians to show no partiality based on external appearance and to practice God’s “preferential option for the poor.” He warns the faithful against scorning or shaming the poor while showing special consideration to the rich.   Today’s Gospel describes how Jesus, by healing a deaf man with a speech impediment, fulfills Isaiah’s Messianic prophecy, “The eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.”  The ailments listed by Isaiah are symbolic of our interior illnesses: blindness to the needs of our neighbor, unwillingness to hear God’s voice and the inability to speak words of praise, apology, forgiveness, and gratitude. Through this miracle story, Mark also reminds us that no one can be a follower of the Lord without reaching out to the helpless (“preferential option for the poor”).

First reading, Isaiah 35:4-7, explained: “When the words, ‘Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing,’ were first spoken by Isaiah of Jerusalem, the immediate reference was the hoped-for return and restoration of Israel after the Babylonian Exile. By the time of Jesus, those words were understood as pointing to the further restoration of Israel in the messianic age.” (Dennis Hamm S. J.) The Jews are returning to their homeland after decades of exile in Babylon. Their arrival causes great friction with the other tribes already there, especially the Edomites. Hence, Isaiah reminds Israelites that when God leads his people home, He will work miracles on behalf of those who need it most: blind, deaf, lame, and mute persons.  The Lord God’s message expresses the promised redemption in terms of health, healing, and well-being for the disabled. Through Isaiah, He assures them that He blesses their return, and that they should be confident and not fearful. The prophetic admonition opens with one of the most frequent Biblical commands, “Fear not.” The life-giving “streams of water bursting forth in the desert” symbolize whatever is needed to achieve peace and fullness of life. The prophecy gives the Israelites the assurance that God will continue to save them from their enemies, will open their eyes to the reality of what He is providing for them, and will open their ears to what He has to tell them through His priests and prophets. This reading from Isaiah echoes the words of compliment given to Jesus by the people in today’s healing story, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.” Mark presents Jesus as the kind of Savior prophesied by Isaiah, one who “makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Second Reading: James 2:1-5, explained: In this very practical pastoral letter, James points out to the members of the Church that they should treat others, whether they are rich or poor, with equal honor and courtesy. James is not writing speculative theology, but reacting to real hurts inflicted on real people, and calling real Christians to a higher level of charity and responsibility. He exposes the sad irony of a Christian’s giving special consideration to someone who is fashionably dressed and wearing gold rings, while shaming the poor man in his shabby dress.  The poor man, James says, is poor in the eyes of the world but rich in Faith because he recognizes his dependence on God for everything and acknowledges that dependence in the way he lives and acts. James insists that Christians “should show no partiality.” In a society like ours, which values people who have much money, great power, and/or celebrity status, James’s admonition turns our cultural assumptions upside-down and inside-out. That’s what makes our showing respect to everyone we encounter, despite social and/or economic status, and our treating all people as children of God, our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, a most valuable, living witness to Jesus who died to save us all. Wealthier Christians, then, should show concern for the poorer members because (in Baptism) God has chosen the poor to inherit the kingdom. At times, the Church was the only place in the ancient world where social distinctions did not exist. Master sat next to slave, poor beside rich.

Gospel Exegesis:  The human touch and the symbolism of Baptism: Today’s section from Mark’s Gospel begins with the healing of a deaf man with a speech impediment and ends with the healing of a blind man in the non-Jewish area of the Decapolis. (Mark 7:31-10:52). “Mark uses the highly unusual word mogilalon (literally: with difficulty of speech) to describe the deaf-mute whose healing is recounted in today’s Gospel reading, for mogilalon is precisely the same Greek word used in the Septuagint for the word dumb in Isaiah 35:6.”(Reginald H. Fuller). In a culture where physical disabilities and sickness were commonly interpreted as signs of a person’s sinfulness (as a “curse” from God), many Jews would have considered this man to be stricken by God — a sinner. Hence, Jesus shows tender consideration for the weak by leading the man away from the crowd so as not to embarrass him. The miracle is described in seven ritual-like steps: (1) Jesus leads the man away from the crowd,   (2) puts His fingers into the man’s ears,  (3)  spits on His own fingers,  (4)  touches the man’s tongue  with the spittle, (5) looks up to Heaven,  (6)  sighs,  (7)  and speaks  the healing command: “Ephphatha”  (“Be opened.”) “Jesus humbles himself to share the limitations of this one deaf man. By undignified dumb show, the love of the Lord heals the deaf man’s soul as well as his ears.” (Eleonore Stump). Jesus’ listeners, who were familiar with Hebrew Scriptures, would have recognized another signal in Jesus’ command, “Ephphatha! Be opened!” The ancients believed that words contain power. If translated, the word would lose its power. ‘By reporting the original Aramaic word, Mark underscores Jesus’ power as a traditional healer.’ (Jon J. Pilch). Six centuries earlier, Ezekiel had prophesied, “that day your mouth shall be opened, and you shall be dumb no longer” (Ez 3:27). Why does Jesus carry out this elaborate ritual, while in other miracles simply speaking a word or touching the individual?   It is probably because the man cannot hear Jesus’ voice or express his needs.   People of that day also believed that the spittle of holy men had curative properties.  The early Church Fathers saw an indirect reference to Baptism in the way Jesus healed the man. In Baptism, the priest or deacon who baptized us touched our ears and mouths that we might hear the word of God and speak about Christ to others, sharing the “Good News” with the poor, the imprisoned, the fearful, and the broken-hearted.

God’s love in action: What we see is not simply the healing of a physical defect, but a concrete sign of the transforming power of God’s Love. The power of God’s Love is working in our lives to transform sorrow into joy, sickness into health, death into new life. The dumb man who is unable to communicate also symbolizes our own communication problem vis-à-vis God. In order to perceive and proclaim God’s message, we need to be transformed. The miracle is not only about the physical healing of a person who was deaf and dumb. It also points to the opening of a person’s ears so that he may hear the word of God and loosening of his tongue so that he may speak his profession of Faith in Jesus. The miracle has great relevance to us, because a person can have perfect hearing, and yet not hear the word of God, have perfect speech, and yet be unable to make an act of Faith.

A challenge for the Church: All three readings speak of a God Who is partial to the voiceless and the afflicted.  Today, however, many of us have lost the ability to recognize the Voice of God calling us for action in our modern society.  We are asked to give hearing and voice to the deaf and the mute.   The person healed becomes a living witness to the power of God. A Church that is to bear witness to the example of Jesus’ love must not neglect “those who are bowed down.”   Through its healing presence the Church must give voice to the voiceless.

Instruction to Keep Silence:   Why did Jesus ask the man to keep silence? Jesus knew that there was still more to be accomplished before the final showdown with the religious leaders in Jerusalem.   If the crowds were to attempt to make Jesus the leader of a revolt, a probable result of spreading the story of this healing around, it would spoil the Heavenly Father’s holy plan. Also, it seems likely that Jesus realized that people could easily misunderstand the healings and could see Jesus simply as a human Messiah figure, a great miracle-worker and healer. In doing so, they would fail to grasp the larger message Jesus had come to preach and live, which included humility and the necessity of suffering and the Cross before Resurrection (Dr. Watson).

Life messages:  1) We need to help Jesus to heal the deaf and the mute today.  Jesus desires to touch and heal us by loosening our tongues in order to speak to the spiritually hungry through us, and to touch the lives of people in our day through our surrendered hearts, just as Jesus touched the lives of millions through saintly souls like Francis of Assisi, Damien of Molokai, Vincent de Paul and Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa).  Like them, we are also invited to become the voice of the “poorest of the poor,” the helpless, the downtrodden and the unwanted who are set aside by the “new economy,” or who cannot even “speak plainly and fearlessly” about their concerns. Jesus’ touch will reveal to us how we neglect, scorn or shame some people while showing favor to others.  Jesus’ compassionate touch will help us to hear the cries of the poor and the sick, and will teach us to show kindness, mercy and consideration to others. Jesus’ healing touch will also help us convey peace and hope to those around us.

2) We need to allow Jesus to heal our spiritual deafness and muteness. Today Christ continues to touch us and heal us in the Sacraments – visible signs of invisible grace (CCC #1504). We need to learn how to have Faith, trusting in our Savior’s words and actions. In times of grief, despair, and failure, we can be “deaf” to the presence of God in the love and compassion of others; or we can become so preoccupied with the noise and clamor of the marketplace that we are unable to hear the voices of those we love and who love us. We may find it hard to speak to God in prayer and harder still to hear Him speaking to us through the Bible and through the Church. This may be because many of us are satisfied with what we have learned in catechism class about the Seven Sacraments, the Ten Commandments of God, the Six Commandments of the Church and the seven deadly sins. We don’t want to hear more about our Faith through further study of the Bible or the teachings of the Church. It is not infrequent to meet Catholics who are highly qualified in their secular professions but are basically illiterate in their Faith. Hence, let us imitate the dumb man in the Gospel by seeking out Jesus, following Jesus away from the crowd, spending more of our time in coming to know Jesus intimately as we study Holy Scripture and experiencing Jesus directly in our lives in personal prayer. Our growing awareness of the healing presence of Jesus in our lives will open our ears and loosen our tongues

 

3) Let us bring Jesus’ holy word “Ephphatha” to a generation blighted by the materialistic cultural aggression of our times:   We are reminded that Jesus has the power to heal the spiritual deafness caused by habitual sin. Hearts that have become hardened by a refusal to hear, to be changed by, and then live out Jesus’ words are once again challenged: “Ephphatha! Be opened!” In their day, the Romans imposed their language and culture on Palestine.  Modern secular culture, in fact, is no better. Religion and God are being evicted from schools, colleges, courtrooms, politics and public life. One cannot speak of virginity or marital fidelity without a contemptuous laugh from others.   The unborn child with a precious soul is often considered a “mere nuisance,” a “product of conception,” a “fetus,” “a blob of tissue,” or a “tumor that can be gotten rid of,” with no human rights. In today’s motion pictures, all religious gestures are either forbidden or relegated to the ignorant or superstitious.   We are told that sixty-five percent of our Catholic youth have no formal religious education beyond the eighth grade. They are exposed to the culture of free sex, loose relationships, liquor, drugs, and violence.   No wonder, then, if they become deaf and blind to Christian ideals of morality, holiness in life and social justice! May our Lord touch us through this Gospel so that we also can say “Ephphatha” (“Be thou opened!”) to everything and everyone shut in from or closed to God and His loving Providence.

JOKES OF THE WEEK: “Being cheerful keeps you healthy. It is slow death to be gloomy all the time” {Proverbs 17: 22}.1) Who is deaf?  An old man is talking to the family doctor. “Doctor, I think my wife’s going deaf.” The doctor answers, “Well, here’s something you can try on her to test her hearing. Stand some distance away from her without facing her and ask her a question. If she doesn’t answer, move a little closer and ask again. Keep repeating this until she answers. Then you’ll be able to tell just how hard of hearing she really is.” The man goes home and tries it out. He walks in the door and asks, “Honey, what’s for dinner?” He doesn’t hear an answer, so he moves closer to her. “Honey, what’s for dinner?” Still he gets no answer. He repeats this several times, until he’s standing just one foot away from her. Finally, she answers, “For the eleventh time, I said we’re having meat loaf!”

2) The new hearing aid: An elderly gentleman had had serious hearing problems for a number of years. He went to the doctor, and the doctor was able to have him fitted for a set of hearing aids that allowed the gentleman to hear 100%. The elderly gentleman went back in a month to the doctor and the doctor said, “Your hearing is perfect. Your family must be really pleased that you can hear again.” The gentleman replied, “Oh, I haven’t told my family yet. I just sit around and listen to the conversations. I’ve changed my will three times!”

3) Using Webster’s English in the first century!  Helena, a member of the Providence, Rhode Island Women’s Club went to a fund-raising “carnival” staged for the benefit of the Women’s Club. One of the events took place in a tent which had been set up for a medium to conduct séances. Helena bought a ticket, went inside, and sat down at a large round table, presided over by the medium. The medium asked if anyone would like to make contact with a departed person. “Very well,” said Helena, “there is a Bible story about Jesus curing a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment. I would like to contact that man.” After much bellringing, moaning and groaning, and humming which seemed to be coming from all directions, a voice from the chandelier announced distinctly, “I am the man whom Jesus cured of deafness and a speech impediment.” To which Helena replied, “I know you can hear me because Jesus cured you of your deafness, and I can tell you that your speech is coming through most clearly, but I have one question.” “Ask me anything,” the voice came back. “All right, then,” said Helena, “tell me, where did you, the Aramaic-speaking, first century Palestinian learn to speak American English?”

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 Information Service : http://www.catholic.net/
  2. Catholic Teenagers: http://www.faithfirst.com/
  3. Catholic online: http://www.catholic.org/
  4. Morality in Media: http://www.moralityinmedia.org/
  5. All about angels: http://www.catholic.org/saints/angel.phpCatechism of the Catholic church summarized: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/ccc_toc.htm
  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

8) 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)

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23- Additional anecdotes:

1) Ludwig van Beethoven: Did you know, by the way, that the three most popular languages in the United States are English, Spanish, and American Sign Language? There are more non-hearing people in our land than you might imagine. One of the saddest instances of deafness that I know is that of the immortal composer of classical music, Ludwig van Beethoven. For a musician, deafness would be the tragedy of tragedies. As he himself wrote on one occasion, “How sad is my lot! I must avoid all things that are dear to me.” There was a terrible time when Beethoven was struggling to conduct an orchestra playing one of his own compositions. He could not hear even the full orchestra. Soon he was beating one time and the orchestra was playing another, and the performance disintegrated in disaster. There is a pathetic picture of him after he had given a piano recital, bent over the keyboard, oblivious to the applause that thundered about him. He wrote on another occasion, “For two years I have avoided almost all social gatherings because it is impossible for me to say to people ‘I am deaf.’ If I belonged to any other profession it would be easier, but in my profession it is a frightful state.” — Beethoven died a broken, bitter man. You and I who have our hearing, have our vision, who are able to get around with a minimum of impediments, ought to thank God every day, and we ought to salute those who overcome obstacles that we cannot even imagine. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

2) “You have turned to medicine and drinking, and you are killing yourself.” W. Moore, in his book, When All Else Fails, Read the Instructions, tells about a “made-for-TV” movie years ago titled The Betty Ford Story. The movie was produced with the help, the support and the encouragement of former First Lady Betty Ford, to reveal, out of her own personal experience, the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Mrs. Ford was overwhelmed by the demands and stresses of being this nation’s first lady and by the debilitating pain of arthritis. Consequently, over time, she became addicted to pain medication and alcohol. In the most powerful scene in that movie, her family confronts Mrs. Ford, and one by one, her children express their love and their concern for her. And then straightforwardly, they tell her what they are seeing–that she has become a prescription-medicine addict and an alcoholic. At first, she denies that she has a problem, but eventually she realizes what is happening and gets help. In that poignant intervention scene, one of the children says this to her, “Mother, always before, when you had a problem, you turned to God and to your family, but lately you have shut us out. You have turned to medicine and drinking, and you are killing yourself.” — Sometimes the most loving thing you can do for someone is to tell him or her –in love–the brutal truth. Betty Ford’s family loved her enough to help her see herself as she really was. As long as there is someone who cares for us, there is hope. That is the first thing we need to see. And here is the second thing: No one is hopeless who is open to Jesus. That is why someone brought this non-hearing man to Jesus. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

1995ma3) Deaf Heather Whitestone did that. When Heather was a child, Daphne, her mother, was advised to send Heather to a school for the deaf and not to expect her to receive more than a third-grade education. But her mother had greater ambitions for Heather. With her mother’s encouragement Heather has been able to turn a hearing disability into an asset. Many of you will recognize Heather Whitestone’s name as Miss America 1995. In Heather’s hometown there is a poster featuring a photo of Heather, taped on a storefront. The poster reads: “They said she would only be able to get a third-grade education. Fortunately, she wasn’t listening!” (Denise George, “Capturing a Nation’s Heart,” Pursuit, Vol. III No. 4, p. 26). — Today’s Gospel tells us how a deaf and mute man receives Jesus’ healing touch. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

4) The healing touch: The Elephant Man, is a play about a real person. The “Elephant Man” was terribly deformed. People who saw him were repelled. If you saw the play, you will remember his meeting with Mrs. Kendall, an actress who befriended him. He offered her his less-deformed hand, but Mrs. Kendall shakes her head, making it clear that she wants to hold his horribly deformed hand. It takes several minutes for him to summon up the courage to hold out the other hand. Finally, Mrs. Kendall takes it into her hand and holds it affectionately for a minute. Then she leaves. Just before the curtain falls on Act I, the Elephant Man says, “This is the first time I have ever held a woman’s hand.” And much of the spiritual healing that occurs in his life follows this very simple incident. — The medical community has been telling us about the therapeutic value of touching. For example, monitoring equipment can measure the effects of the healing touch of a nurse on a patient. The heartbeats of intensive care patients often can be stabilized when a caring nurse holds a patient’s hand. The effects are measurable. A few years ago, in some orphanages in South America, many of the young children were dying mysteriously although they were well fed. Dr. Rene Spitz, who studied this phenomenon, concluded that the babies were dying for lack of touch, for lack of the love that is communicated through touching. Henri Nouwen, author of many spiritual books, has written about his experiences in South America, working among the poor. He talks about the children who come and stand beside him, not looking for a handout, but hoping to be hugged, to be touched, to be loved. They want that more than anything else, he says. Today’s Gospel tells us a story of Jesus’ healing touch, conveying the transforming power of God’s love, which healed a dumb man. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

5) “It simply depends on what you are listening to.” A number of years ago, I heard a story about a Native American, a Cherokee, who was in downtown New York walking with a friend who lived in New York City. As they were walking along all of a sudden the Native American stopped and said, “I hear a cricket.” His friend replied, “Oh, you’re crazy.” “No, I hear a cricket. I do! I’m sure of it,” he said. The New Yorker said “It’s noon. There are people everywhere headed to lunch, cars are honking, taxis squealing, there’s all the noise from the city. Surely you can’t hear a cricket above all that.” The Native America said, “Well, I’m sure I hear a cricket.” So he listened attentively and then walked about 10 feet to the corner where there was a shrub in a large cement planter. He dug beneath the leaves and found a cricket. His friend was astounded. But the Cherokee said, “My ears are no different from yours. It simply depends on what you are listening to. Here, let me show you.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of change, a few quarters, some dimes, nickels, and pennies. And he dropped it on the concrete. Every head within half a block turned. “You see what I mean?” as he began picking up all the coins. “It all depends on what you are listening for.” — I wonder what the deaf man in the passage today started listening for! Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

6) Some of you know the name Max Cleland. Cleland is a former United States Senator from the state of Georgia. Max Cleland is a genuine war hero. He lost three limbs in Vietnam. How did he keep going? He says that one of the books that inspired him after his devastating injuries was an incredible story titled Reach for the Sky. This book is about Doug Bader, a fighter pilot of World War II. Doug Bader was a gifted young pilot in the British Royal Air Force before World War II. Just before the war, he was involved in a plane crash that changed his life forever. Both of his legs were amputated, and he was discharged from the R.A.F. as “totally disabled.” However, as Hitler hammered Great Britain in the blitz, England needed every available, trained pilot who could be found. Bader was proficient with his artificial limbs by this time, and desperately wanted to return to active duty. In an amazing and unbelievable turn of events, Bader was returned to active duty in the R.A.F. He had an incredibly successful record as a pilot. He shot down 26 enemy planes and achieved the rank of wing commander. But then he himself was shot down behind enemy lines. As his plane went down in flames, he managed to parachute to safety, but he left one of his artificial legs behind. On the ground, he was easily captured by the Germans. He became a P.O.W. But the story doesn’t end there. He escaped from the P.O.W. camp. When he was recaptured the Germans placed him in a maximum-security prison. He remained there until the war was over. The Germans were so impressed by his courage that they allowed the R.A.F. to send Bader an artificial leg to replace the one he left in his crashing plane. When he strapped on the limb, the German officers raised their glasses in a toast of respect. The British celebrated the fifth anniversary of what Churchill called “The Battle of Britain” at the end of the war. Wing Commander Doug Bader was chosen to lead the fly past over London in honor of the occasion. For his incredible courage in World War II, Bader received the Victoria Cross, England’s highest military decoration. [Max Cleland, Going For The Max! 12 Principles for Living Life to the Fullest (Nashville, TN, 1999).] — These stories of people who overcame the loss of one of their physical abilities are amazing. Have you ever noticed that Jesus seemed to have had a special love for people with handicapping conditions? Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

7) “There’s no bill now.” : One of the sad truths of life is that people with physical disabilities are often the recipients of abuse and humiliation from others. From a very young age, Henry Viscardi learned this cruel lesson. Henry was born with stumps instead of fully developed legs. He learned to walk well on his stumps, and he was capable of living a normal life, but the prejudices of others hurt him very much. When Henry was reduced to crying out, “Why me?” his mother told him a story that may trouble us theologically, but it helped young Henry. She said, “When it was time for another crippled boy to be born, the Lord and His councils held a meeting to decide where he should be sent, and the Lord said, “I think the Viscardis would be a good family to take care of him.'” It was just a simple story, but it made Henry feel he had a place and a purpose in life. He stopped asking “Why me?” and began making the most of his abilities. Henry did very well in school, and eventually graduated from Fordham University. After years of trying to walk like a normal person, Henry had damaged the skin and tissue of his stumps. He knew that without prosthetic legs, he would have to use a wheelchair. But no prosthesis could be found to fit him properly. Doctor after doctor said it was hopeless. But then one day, a German doctor committed himself to inventing a prosthesis that would work for Henry. It took a few months, but the German doctor finally created a workable pair of legs. For the first time in his life, Henry Viscardi looked and walked like a normal man. But when he tried to pay for the legs, the doctor refused to accept it. Here’s what he said to Henry, “There’s no bill now. But someday, if you’ll make the difference for one other individual–the difference between a life dependent on charity and one rich with dignity and self-sufficiency–our account will be squared.” Henry joined the Red Cross during World War II, and he dedicated himself to helping new amputees deal with their situation. When the war ended, Henry witnessed the problems that many disabled veterans had in getting jobs. So he gathered together a group of sympathetic business leaders and created Just One Break–or JOB–an organization that finds jobs for people with disabilities. Next, Henry started Abilities, Inc., with the same goal in mind. That was over forty years ago. Today, Abilities, Inc. has grown into the National Center for Disabilities Services. They run a school for children with disabilities. All their efforts are aimed at educating, empowering, and rehabilitating those with physical disabilities. As Henry Viscardi says today, “I can’t help but believe that the Lord had a plan for my life that made me the way I was and let me become who I am.” [Eric Feldman, The Power Behind Positive Thinking (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996), pp. 153-155.] — Do you hear what he is saying? Henry Viscardi looked for God’s hand in his life, and he yielded himself to that leading hand and he accomplished far more than the majority of people with two good legs accomplish in their lifetimes. As long as somebody loves you, there’s hope. As long as you are willing to yield yourself to Jesus’ touch there is hope.   This deaf man with the speech impediment had people who cared about him. They brought him to Jesus. And then this deaf man yielded himself to the Master’s touch. Looking up to Heaven, Jesus sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And immediately this man’s ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

8) “Something in me wants to live.” Rachel Naomi Remen who has written a popular book titled Kitchen Table Wisdom is a medical doctor. She has learned through the years that the best healing of the human body takes place when the mind, body and spirit work together. She is “one of the earliest pioneers in the mind/body health field.” Dr. Remen understands the importance of Faith within the field of medicine because her first and most important mentor was her grandfather, a rabbi. Dr. Remen speaks of the “life force” in people. It is very similar to Schweitzer’s doctor within. She tells about Max, a sixty-three-year-old man who was sent to her because he had metastatic colon cancer. In the words of Dr. Remen, “The experts had given him daunting statistics and offered only a guarded prognosis.” Their work together had to do with helping Max to see where his life force was. You see Max had been born prematurely. As a tiny, weak baby, he had absorbed his mother’s time and energy in the first few years of his life, which, for some reason, had enraged his father. As a little boy Max overheard an argument between his parents in which his father said, “If that little runt was one of the animals, I’d have put it out to starve.” That comment was devastating for Max. For the next 60 years he lived a self-destructive life that would have destroyed a weaker man. Dr. Remen reminded Max that despite his many brushes with death, the broken bones, the accidents, the risks he took almost daily, he was still here. She asked him what he thought had brought him through. “Luck,” he said quickly. She shot him a skeptical look. No one was that lucky. He sat for a while with his thoughts. Then in a choked and almost inaudible voice, he confessed that he had always wanted to live. She could hardly hear him. “Can you say that any louder?” He looked at the rug between his boots. Unable to speak, he just nodded. Almost in a whisper he said, “I feel ashamed.” Dr. Remen said that her heart went out to him. In a shaking voice he said, “Something in me wants to live.” His eyes were still fixed on the rug. “Say it, Max,” Dr. Remen thought. “Say it until it becomes real.” She wondered if she dared to push him a little further. “Do you think you could look at me and tell me that?” Dr. Remen asked Max. She could sense the struggle in him. Had she gone too far? He had never confronted his father. Most likely, saying such a simple thing out loud, “I want to live,” went against a lifelong pattern. Perhaps he would not be able to free himself even this little bit. With an effort Max raised his eyes, his voice still choked but no longer inaudible. “I want to live,” he said evenly. They stared at each other for a few moments but he did not drop his eyes. Dr. Remen smiled at him. “I want you to live too,” she said. And he did. Max went on to live eight more years. [(Penguin, 1996), pp. 12-13. Cited by Jean A. F. Holmes, http://www.npcpearl.org/Sermons/Sermon10292000.htm.] — Imagine! If a conversation with Dr. Remen could have such an effect on a person, what could a contact with Jesus of Nazareth have done for him? Jesus’ works of healing should be the least controversial part of his ministry. Of course Jesus could heal, and still heals today — sometimes bodies, sometimes marriages, sometimes broken hearts — but Jesus does heal. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

9) “And now, God, what can I do for you?” The story is told of a four-year-old saying her night prayers. She asked God to take care of mommy, daddy, and her cat. Then she asked, “And now, God, what can I do for you?” — A question still hotly debated is how do we take care of the poor. Three billion people exist on $3 a day. Over one half billion on $1 daily. A quarter billion children work sometimes in dreadful conditions. Five people will die from malaria in the time it takes you to read this homily. Do we help the poor and ill just by paying our taxes? Or do we give at the office? Or do we get our own hands dirty? The answer to these questions is found in today’s Gospel? (Fr. James Gilhooley) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

10) “The Country of the Blind” is a short story written by H.G Wells. While attempting to summit the unconquered crest of Parascotopetl, a fictitious mountain in Ecuador, a mountaineer named Nunez slips and falls down the far side of the mountain. At the end of his descent, down a snow-slope in the mountain’s shadow, he finds a valley, cut off from the rest of the world on all sides by steep precipices. It was an unusual village with windowless houses and a network of paths, all bordered by kerbs. Upon discovering that everyone is blind, Nunez begins reciting to himself the refrain, “In the Country of the Blind the One-Eyed Man is King”. He realizes that he can teach and rule them, but the villagers have no concept of sight and do not understand his attempts to explain this fifth sense to them. Frustrated, Nunez becomes angry but they calm him and he reluctantly submits to their way of life because returning to the outside world is impossible. Nunez is assigned to work for a villager named Yacob, and becomes attracted to Yacob’s youngest daughter, Medina-saroté. Nunez and Medina-saroté soon fall in love with one another, and having won her confidence, Nunez slowly starts trying to explain sight to her. Medina-saroté, however, simply dismisses it as his imagination. When Nunez asks for her hand in marriage he is turned down by the village elders on account of his “unstable” obsession with “sight”. The village doctor suggests that Nunez’s eyes be removed, claiming that they are diseased and are affecting his brain. Nunez reluctantly consents to the operation because of his love for Medina-saroté. But at sunrise on the day of the operation, while all the villagers are asleep, Nunez, the failed King of the Blind, sets off for the mountains hoping to find a passage to the outside world and escape the valley. — Sight is one of the greatest blessings that we enjoy. Since we are able to see from our birth we may not appreciate its value. Today’s Gospel tells us how Jesus, by healing a deaf and mute man, fulfills Isaiah’s Messianic prophecy, “The eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.” (Fr. Bobby Jose). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

11) Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan: We all know Helen Keller, whose story we read or watched in the play or movie The Miracle Worker. Helen wrote in her autobiography the key experience in her life: “The most important day I remember in all my life is the one in which my teacher, Annie Mansfield Sullivan, came to me. I stretched out my hand as I supposed it to be my mother. But someone took it, and I was caught up and held close in the arms of someone who had come to reveal all things to me, and more than all else to love me.” Annie Sullivan did give the child enormous love, but she also gave her firm and, at times, violent discipline. Annie’s combination of very tender and warm love and very stern and uncompromising discipline touched this child deeply and made her into a human being and a very great one at that. Even a cynical soul like Mark Twain, who got to know Helen Keller, reckoned her as one of the most interesting figures in the nineteenth century, because she had conquered her own physical limitations to become a beautiful and noble lady. — In today’s Gospel, we see Jesus dealing with the man who was deaf and dumb, and we can receive many insights for our own life from contemplating the scene. (William Bausch in Telling Stories, Compelling Stories; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

12) Miraculous transformation: A working man was strongly drawn towards a beautiful vase he saw in a stall down in the town market. He bought the vase and brought it home. The vase was so beautiful that it made his front room look drab, dull, and indeed plain ugly. So. he got bright paints and transformed the whole house. He got colorful curtains to match the paint, a brightly patterned carpet, and he even stripped down and varnished the furniture. Because of the beauty of the vase the whole room was transformed. — When Jesus enters my heart, the areas in need of attention become, oh, so obvious. Holiness consists in discovering that I am a much bigger sinner than I ever thought I was! The closer I come to God the more obvious the contrast!  When Jesus comes to our lives, His touch, and His presence make all the difference! (Jack McArdle in More stories for Preachers and Teachers; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

13) The Buzzard, the Bat, and the Bumblebee: If you put a buzzard in a pen that is 6 feet by 8 feet and is entirely open at the top, the bird, in spite of its ability to fly, will be an absolute prisoner. The reason is that a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of 10 to 12 feet. Without space to run, as is its habit, it will not even attempt to fly, but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top. The ordinary bat that flies around at night, a remarkable nimble creature in the air, cannot take off from a level place. If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly and, no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air. Then, at once, it takes off like a flash. A bumblebee, if dropped into an open tumbler, will be there until it dies, unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself. — In many ways, we are like the buzzard, the bat, and the bumblebee. We struggle about with all our problems and frustrations, never realizing that all we have to do is look up! That’s the answer, the escape route and the solution to any problem! Just look up. (Sermons.com). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

14) Joshua Bell’s violin performance in a subway station: On January 12, 2007, at 7:12 AM, The Washington Post conducted an experiment you might have heard about. The experiment involved Joshua Bell, one of the world’s greatest violinists who performed for almost all the world’s orchestras. He was commissioned to play his $ 4,000,000 Stradivarius violin in a subway station in Washington, DC. So he dressed like a street musician looking for tips and sat in the subway station playing for 43 minutes. The Washington Post had a hidden camera to video the entire event. Out of the 1097 people who passed by him, seven stopped to listen! He received $32.17 in tips, not counting $20 he received from one person who recognized him. — The story is an excellent illustration of what James tells us in the second reading and what Jesus teaches us by healing a deaf man. (Fr. Joe Robinson; from Guiding Light). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

15) “I visualize where I want to be.” During a recent interview, American basketball star, Michael Jordan was asked to explain the reasons for his undaunting optimism and perseverance. He replied candidly, “Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it or work around it. I visualize where I want to be, what kind of player I want to become. I know exactly where I want to go and I focus on getting there.” — In today’s first reading, Isaiah’s prophetic message offers his original audience a similar Jordan-like optimism and willingness to persevere. The people had run into a wall, as it were, and Isaiah was offering advice on how to scale it. (Sanchez files). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

16) “I’ve always thought our Lord Jesus was a bit of a liberal.” With regard to the proper Christian understanding of law and regulations: “Ernst Käsemann (Jesus Means Freedom) tells the delightful story of a Church in Holland in a year which had seen rising tides and collapsing dikes. One particularly bad weekend, it was necessary for the town mayor to ask the pastor of the local Reformed Church to bring all of his people out to help repair the dikes on Sunday morning or else they might lose the entire town. The pastor called the Church elders together who discussed the matter and concluded that they had been commanded to keep the Sabbath holy, so if they perished it was God’s will, but they would not cancel services. The pastor then mentioned Jesus’ violation of the Sabbath law, hoping it might stimulate some further thought. To which one old elder says ‘Pastor, I have never before ventured to say this publicly, but I’ve always thought our Lord Jesus was a bit of a liberal.” (http://www.preachingpeace.org). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

17) Found at a Church door: “May the door of this Church be wide enough to receive all who hunger for love, all who are lonely for fellowship. May it welcome all who have cares to unburden, thanks to express, hopes to nurture. May the doors of this Church be narrow enough to shut out pettiness and pride, envy, and enmity. May this sanctuary welcome all who seek serenity, renewal, and truth; may it be, for all of us, the gateway to a richer and more meaningful life.” (Dr. Murray Watson). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

18) What brought about the sudden change? During World War II, there was in Poland a brilliant and Popular pianist, named Marta Korwin-Rhodes. As a matter of fact, she was in Warsaw when the city was bombarded. The devastation to both life and property was so horrible, that the brave and noble musician decided to stay and help the wounded in crowded hospitals instead of fleeing to safely. One night as Marta was walking through the wards, she heard a soldier sobbing loudly and pathetically. Going over to his side, she watched helplessly as his heart-rending cries literally broke her heart. What was she to do? And how was she to console such a disconsolate person? Suddenly she looked at her hands, and a most interesting thought crossed her mind. “If these hands can produce harmony from the keys of a piano, then surely God can use them to comfort and reassure a person in extreme pain.” Instantly she bent down and gently placed her hand on his forehead and earnestly prayed: “O God, help this man, for he is in pain and misery. Give him your comfort and peace in this moment of trial.” To her stunned disbelief, the man’s sobbing stopped, and he soon fell into a peaceful sleep.
(James V. in “Your Words, O Lord, Are Spirit, and They Are Life; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

19) Crippled hearts handicaps of the Normal: One day while listening to a talk given by Jean Vanier (Founder of L’Arche) I learnt a great lesson. It was a disturbing one, but I am glad I learnt it. Until that day I thought I had no handicaps.  I had two good hands, two good feet, two good ears, and so on. In other words, I was what is considered ‘normal’. But in listening to Vanier I discovered I too had handicaps – of a different kind. The Gospel concerns the cure of a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment. In other words, a handicapped man. If, because the man was handicapped, we might think that the miracle has little relevance for us, we would be mistaken. The man’s handicaps were physical. But there are other handicaps besides the physical ones. In truth all of us are handicapped in one way or another. The fact that our handicaps are not visible as those of the man in the Gospel doesn’t make them less real. The greatest handicap of all, however is that of a crippled heart. A paraplegic observed: “Living as a cripple in a wheelchair allows you to see more clearly the crippled hearts of some people whose bodies are whole and whose minds are sound.” (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

20) The eyes of the blind…. Opened: Back in the 1940’s the newspapers carried the story of a boy who was born blind. He was a lively and imaginative child, full of interest in everything around him. Unfortunately, since he could not see the world in which he lived, he could only guess what things were like from their shape and texture as he felt it or their sound as he heard it. When they were too far away to be felt or smelt or listened to, he would have to guess at what they looked like. Then his parents asked a certain eye surgeon whether an operation could remedy the blindness of their cheerful but sightless son. The doctor said he thought it was now possible to perform surgery that would make him able finally to see. On the day scheduled for the operation, his folks drove the lad to the hospital in the family car. The father and mother hoped the doctor was right. Still, they were torn by the inner, unexpressed question, “What if the operation fails?” Maybe their little son had the same inner fear, but his strongest emotion that day was a joyful hope. In the operating room the surgeon set deftly about his work. Then he bandaged the child’s eyes until they healed. Finally, the crucial day of the “unveiling” came. The doctor sat the boy by a window that looked out on the hospital parking lot and the green landscaped lawn beyond. He unrolled the bandage down to the gauze pads and set it on the table. Then he took the pads carefully off the closed eyes. Finally, he said, “Now, open your eyes.” The little boy opened his eyes and looked straight ahead of him. He blinked a couple of times but said nothing. Those seconds were like years to those present, and the father and mother were almost frantic. Then a smile spread across the lad’s face. “There’s the car I came in,” he exclaimed. “I know it! And there’s a tree. Oh, it’s beautiful! It’s beautiful!”– “The eyes of the blind had been opened.”(Isaiah 35:5. Today’s first reading). Do we who have always seen God’s trees and His other wonderful creatures really appreciate the beautiful things He has given us for our delight? (Father Robert F. McNamara) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

21) Welcome change of society’s attitude: Society’s attitudes regarding its physically and/or mentally impaired members have evolved considerably through the centuries. Each generation, motivated by an ever-growing sensitivity and respect for another’s differences, has coined new words for referencing these special people among us. Mental retardation, for example, has been replaced by the term, mentally challenged. Those with physical limitations, such as deafness or blindness are now described as hearing or visually challenged. Children with learning disabilities are no longer called dumb, slow or stupid; they are appreciated as having special needs. At times, and in the interest of what has come to be known as “political correctness”, some of this newly devised vocabulary appears to be extreme, as for instance, when diminutive people are referred to as vertically challenged and those with receding hairlines are described as follicly challenged! For the most part however, although discrimination still exists and must be dealt with whenever it arises, contemporary society is learning to value people for who they are and what they can do rather than devalue them for what they are not and what they cannot do. In large measure, this lesson has been taught to us by those who have struggled against the worst obstacles. (Sanchez Files). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

22) Challenge to change our attitudes to the disabled: Helen Keller (1880-1968), who overcame blindness, deafness, and muteness once wrote: “They took away what should have been my eyes, but I remembered Milton’s Paradise. They took away what should have been my ears; Beethoven came and wiped away my tears. They took away what should have been my tongue; but I had talked with God when I was young. He would not let them take away my soul; possessing that I still possess the whole!” A mother of a brain-injured child offers a similar lesson: “We would have called our daughter’s handicap the greatest tragedy of our lives, if it were not for the fact that through it we came to know God much better. Words cannot express our initial disappointment when our daughter failed to develop normally. However, she enriched our lives and we found strength in God. As we struggled, our Faith deepened, and we knew a peace that we had never before experienced.” — The insightful testimony of those two women invites us to consider our own attitudes toward the handicapped, impaired, or otherwise challenged members of the human family. The readings for today’s liturgy do likewise. (Sanchez Files). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

22) Are you Christ? Cardinal Sin, as told in the homily of Bishop Bacani, tells the story of a blind vendor selling some candies and other items on a sidewalk during the Christmas season. As people were rushing, her “bilao” (bamboo tray) was bumped. She tried to grope for her wares. Nobody seemed to mind her as they hurried past her. Then a man stopped and then stooped to pick up her things and returned them to her in her bilao. She asked the kind gentleman, “Are you Christ?” — Yes, this good gentleman, for this blind woman, was Christ. There are many opportunities given to us by which we are faced with people who need help, but how often do we respond? Let us be more vigilant for those opportunities and allow Christ to reach out, through us, to others in need by the love we show. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

23) Jesus “sighed”. One day a little boy came home from school and he looked rather sad. His mother said, “Honey, is everything all right?”   He said, “Well, I guess so. But, Billy came to school today and told the class that his daddy had died. They just buried his daddy yesterday, mama.”  Then he said, “Mama, Billy was so upset about his daddy dying that he just cried and cried.”   His mother said, “Well, what did you do?”   He said, “I just laid my head on my desk and cried with him!”   That is the kind of heart that Jesus had, and that is the kind of heart that we need! In the healing of the deaf man the Scripture tells us that after looking toward Heaven, Jesus “sighed”. This word means “to groan”. The deaf man could not hear the sigh, but he could see Jesus when He did it and it spoke volume to him. The sigh said “I care about you and what you are going through!” (SNB Files) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B (No 49) 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 .

Deborah Ugoretz, 2009, exodusconversations.org