O.T. XXXI (Oct 31) (MK 12.28-34) L-21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

# 5:

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

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

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

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

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

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

19-Additional anecdotes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visit my website by clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com or on   https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies under Fr. Tony or under Resources in the CBCI website: https://www.cbci.in for the website versions.  Vatican Radio website completed uploading my Cycle A, B and C homilies in May 2020) Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Websites of the week

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

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

18 Additional anecdotes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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October 25- 30 Weekday homilies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The context: Continuing the fateful journey to Jerusalem, Jesus answered the question about how many would be saved by answering four presumed questions: Who will be saved? How? Why? When? Jesus clearly explained that anyone who entered through the narrow gate of sacrificial serving and sharing love would be saved. Jesus also admonished His followers to concentrate on their own salvation rather than on other people’s salvation. Explanation: When the Jewish questioner asked Jesus, “How many will be saved?” he was assuming that the salvation of God’s Chosen People was virtually guaranteed, provided they kept the Law. In other words, the Kingdom of God was reserved for the Jews alone, and Gentiles would be shut out. Jesus declared that entry to the Kingdom was never an automatic event based purely on formal religion or nationality. What Jesus is saying is that Salvation is not guaranteed for anyone. In order to be “saved” one has to live and to die in a close loving relationship with God and with others. Then Jesus added two conditions: a) Eternal salvation is the result of a struggle: Hence, we are to “keep on striving to enter.” b) We must enter through the “narrow gate” of sacrificial and selfless service. Our answer to the question: “Have you been saved?” should be: “I have been saved from the penalty of sin by Christ’s death and Resurrection. I am being saved from the power of sin by the indwelling Spirit of God. I have the hope that I shall one day be saved from the very presence of sin when I go to be with God.”

Life messages: 1) We need to make wise decisions and choose the narrow gate when God gives us the freedom to choose. That is, we need to choose consistent denial of self and the steady relinquishing of sinful pleasures, pursuits, and interests. 2) We need to check our track on a daily basis. The parable of the locked door warns us that the time is short. Each day sees endings and opportunities missed. “Opportunity will not knock twice at your door.” Let us ask this question every day: How much did I strive today to enter through the narrow gate of sacrificial and serving love in action? (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 28 Thursday (Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saints-simon-and-jude/ :Lk 6:12-16 12 In those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles; 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Introduction: Today’s Gospel teaches us the need for true humility and the blessedness of generous sharing with the needy. It warns us against all forms of pride and self-glorification. It presents humility, not only as a virtue, but also as a means of opening our hearts, our minds, and our hands to the poor, the needy, the disadvantaged and the marginalized people in our society – the personal responsibility of every authentic Christian.

Though a guest of honor at a dinner party, Jesus explained the practical benefits of humility, connecting it with the common wisdom about dining etiquette. The Master advised the guests to go to the lowest place instead of seeking places of honor, so that the host might give them the place they really deserved. Jesus’ words concerning the seating of guests at a banquet should prompt us to honor those whom others ignore, because if we are generous and just in our dealings with those in need, we can be confident of the Lord’s blessings.

Life Messages: 1) We need to practice humility in our personal and social life: Humility is based on the psychological and spiritual awareness that everything I have is a gift from God and, therefore, I have no reason, on that account or any other, to elevate myself above others. On the contrary, I must use these God-given gifts to help others. 2) True humility requires us neither to overestimate nor to underestimate our worth. 3) We must admit the truths that we are sinners, that we do not know everything, and that we do not always act properly. Nevertheless, we must also recognize that we are made in the image and likeness of God, and that we are called to help build the kingdom of God with our God-given gifts. 4) We are of value, not because of those gifts, but because we are loved by God as His children and have been redeemed by the precious Blood of His Son Jesus. 5) The quality of humility that Jesus is talking about has a sociological dimension too. For Jesus is inviting us to associate with the so-called “lower classes” of the society — even the outcasts. Jesus invites us to change our social patterns in such a way that we connect and serve with agape love the homeless, the handicapped, the elderly, and the impoverished — the “street people” of the world. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

All Souls Day (Nov 2, 2021)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Websites of the week on All Souls Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOKE OF THE DAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

L/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOKE OF THE WEEK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27 Additional anecdotes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

October 18-23 weekday homilies

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

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

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

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

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

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

The interpretation: In the parable, the chief characters are a master (representing the risen Jesus), and his servants (Jesus’ followers). According to the Fathers of the Church, Jesus’ words in this passage have two senses. In the narrower sense, the words refer to the Second Coming of Jesus, but in the broader sense they refer to the time of our own death, when God will call us to meet Him and to give Him an account of our life on earth. Since the precise time of each is unknown to us, the proper attitude for us is constant watchfulness. Since we cannot be sure about the day of our death, we should do our present work perfectly every day, and not leave it undone, half-done or postponed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 .

October 11-16 (weekday homilies)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why should we respect life?

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

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

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

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

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

Life messages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catechism of the Catholic Church:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

INTERCESSORY PRAYERS FOR RESPECT LIFE SUNDAY 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Respect life Sunday resources: visit these very useful resources:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESPECT LIFE SUNDAY by USCCB (resources)

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

Additional resources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

· 2017-2017 Respect Life Program Flyer :

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

· Make Room for People (En Español)Bulletin Insert

· Divine Mercy and the Death Penalty (En Español)

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

· Hope for Married Couples Who Want to Have a Child

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

· Sex Trafficking: The New Slavery

· Program Models, Clip Art & Photos

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

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

Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies under CBCI or Fr. Tony for my website version. (Special thanks to Vatican Radio website- http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html -which completed uploading my Cycle A, B and C homilies in May 2020) Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604