December 5-10 weekday homilies

Dec 5-10:(Click on http://frtonyshomilies.com for missed homilies).

Dec 5 Monday: Lk 5: 17-26: 17 On one of those days, as he was teaching, there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. 18 And behold, men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they sought to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; 19 but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. 20 ……. 26 .. (Cfr. Mt 9: 1-8)

The context: Beyond showing Divine authority over temptation, over the lives of men, over nature, over demons and over sickness, in today’s Gospel we see Jesus demonstrating a new form of Divine authority – the authority to forgive sins: Jesus offers a miraculously restored paralyzed man to health as proof. The healing episode presents Jesus as God Incarnate, sent to save us, restore us, and make us new. So we have to look beyond the boundaries of our religious experience if we are to appreciate the healing and forgiving operation of our God in newer and newer ways.

Many kinds of sickness were seen by the Jews as punishment for one’s personal sin or the sins of one’s parents. This man’s paralysis was also seen by the people around him as a punishment for some sin in his own life or in the lives of his parents. It was a common belief that no sickness could be cured until sin was forgiven. For that reason, Jesus had first to convince the paralyzed man that his sins had been forgiven. Once Jesus granted the paralytic the forgiveness of God, the man knew that God was no longer his enemy, and he was able to receive the cure which followed. It was the manner of the cure which scandalized the Scribes. By forgiving sin, they thought Jesus had blasphemed, insulting God, because forgiving sin is the exclusive prerogative of God. In addition to showing Jesus’ own direct connection to God, this healing demonstrates the fact that we can never be right physically until we are right spiritually, that health in body and peace with God go hand in hand.

Life messages: 1) We need God’s forgiveness to live wholesome lives. The heart of the Christian Faith is the “forgiveness of sins.” In the Creed we say, “I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” While we have the power to forgive others, we need to be forgiven ourselves by the One who has the authority to forgive. In Jesus we see this authority, the same authority He gave to his Apostles and so to his Church. 2) Today’s Gospel gives us an invitation to open ourselves to God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and to hear, in the priest’s spoken words of absolution, the Voice of Jesus speaking to the paralytic: “Your sins are forgiven.” 3) The Gospel also instructs us to forgive others their sins against us and to ask God’s forgiveness for our daily sins every day of our lives. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

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

Dec 6 Tuesday: (St. Nicholas, Bishop): For a short biography, click here: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-nicholasMt 18: 12-14: 12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14 So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

The context: Since the self-righteous Pharisees who accused Jesus of befriending publicans and sinners could not believe that God would be delighted at the conversion of sinners, Jesus told them the parable of the lost sheep and the shepherd’s joy on its discovery, the parable of the lost coin and the woman’s joy when she found it, and the parable of the lost and returned son and his Father’s joy on his return. These three parables defended Jesus’ alliance with sinners and responded to the criticism that he was welcoming tax collectors and sinners. The central theme of today’s Gospel is that our God is loving, patient, merciful, and forgiving. This parable reminds us that we have a God who welcomes sinners and forgives their sins when they return to Him with genuine contrition and resolution to amend their lives.

Shepherding in Judaea was a hard, dangerous task. Pasture was scarce; thorny scrub jungles with wild animals, and vast desert areas were common, posing constant threats to the wandering sheep. But the shepherds were famous for their dedicated, sacrificial service, perpetual vigilance, and readiness for action. Two or three shepherds might be personally responsible for the sheep owned by several families in a village. If any sheep were missing, one of the shepherds would go in search of it, sending the other shepherds home with the flock of sheep. The whole village would be waiting for the return of the shepherd with the lost sheep and would receive him with shouts of joy and of thanksgiving.

Life messages: 1) We need to confess our sins to regain peace and God’s friendship. We have to be humble enough to recognize that we need God’s forgiveness to be whole. If we have been in sin, our God is ready to receive and welcome us back, just as Jesus welcomed sinners in his time. Let us pray today that we may allow God’s love and forgiveness into our lives.

2) We should also ask God for the courage to extend this forgiveness to others who have offended us. As we continue with the celebration of the Holy Mass, let us pray also for God’s Divine Mercy on those who have fallen away from grace. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

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

Dec 7 Wednesday: (St. Ambrose, Bishop, Doctor of the Church): For a short biography, click here:https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-nicholas : Mt 11: 28-30: 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

The context: In today’s Gospel, Jesus offers rest to those who labor and are burdened, if they are ready to accept his easy yoke and light burden. For the Orthodox Jew, religion was a matter of burdens, namely, 613 Mosaic laws and thousands of oral interpretations, which dictated every aspect of life. Jesus invites the overburdened Israel, and us, to take his yoke upon our shoulders. In Palestine, ox-yokes were made of wood and were carved to fit the ox comfortably. The yoke of Christ can be seen as the sum of our Christian responsibilities and duties. Jesus’ yoke is light because it is given with love. It is the commandment to love others as Jesus did. Besides, the yoke of Christ is not just a yoke from Christ but also a yoke with him. So, we are not yoked alone to pull the plow by our own unaided power. We are yoked together with Christ to work with him using his strength. Jesus is inviting each one of us to be yoked with him, to unite our life with him, our will with his will, our heart with his heart. By saying that his “yoke is easy,” Jesus means that whatever God sends us is made to fit our needs and our abilities exactly.

The second part of Jesus’ claim is: “My burden is light.” Jesus does not mean that his burden is easy to carry, but that it is laid on us in love. This burden is meant to be carried in love, and love makes even the heaviest burden light. By following Jesus, one will find peace, rest, and real refreshment. We are burdened with many things: business, concerns about jobs, marriage, money, health, children, security, old age, and a thousand other things. Jesus is asking us to give him our burdens and take on his yoke. By telling us, “Take my yoke . . . and you will find rest,” Christ is asking us to do things the Christian way. When we are centered in God, when we follow God’s commandments, we have no heavy burdens.

Life messages: 1) We need to be freed from unnecessary burdens: Jesus is interested in lifting off our backs the burdens that drain us and suck the life out of us, so that he can place around our necks his own yoke and his burden, that bring to us, and to others through us, new life, new energy, new joy.

2) We need to unload our burdens before the Lord. One of the functions of worship for many of us is that it gives us a time for rest and refreshment, when we let the overheated radiators of our hectic lives cool down before the Lord. This is especially true when we unload the burdens of our sins and worries and evil addictions on the altar and offer them to God during the Holy Mass. (Fr. Kadavil) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

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

Dec 8 Thursday: (The Immaculate Conception of Blessed Virgin Mary)

(A day of obligation in the U. S.) For a short account, click here:https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/immaculate-conception-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary: Lk 1: 26-38: (U.S.A: A holy day of obligation in 2020)

Mary’s prophecy, given in her Magnificat, “Behold all generations will call me blessed,” was fulfilled when the Catholic Church declared four dogmas of Faith about her: 1-The Immaculate Conception, 2-The Perpetual Virginity, 3-The Divine Maternity, 4-The Assumption. The Immaculate Conception is a dogma based mainly on Christian tradition and theological reasoning. It was defined in 1854 by Pope Pius IX as a dogma of Faith through Ineffabilis Deus. Definition: From the first moment of her conception, Mary was preserved immune from original sin by the singular grace of God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race. (CCC #491). This means that original sanctity, innocence and justice were conferred upon her, and that she was exempted from all the evil effects of original sin, excluding sorrow, pain, disease and death which are temporal penalties given to Adam. (Catholic Encyclopedia).

Basis on Tradition and the Bible: (A) Basis in Church tradition: The Immaculate Conception is a dogma originating from sound Christian tradition. Monks in Palestinian monasteries started celebrating the feast of the Conception of Our Lady by the end of the 7th century. The feast spread as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in Italy (9th century), England (11th century), and France (12th century). Pope Leo VI propagated the celebration, and Pope Sixtus IV approved it as a Feast. Finally, in 1854, Pope Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception to be a dogma of Faith. Mary herself approved this in 1858 by declaring to Bernadette at Lourdes, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” (B) Basis in Holy Scripture: 1) God purified the prophet Jeremiah in the womb of his mother (Jer 1:5 –“Before I formed you in the womb of your mother I knew you and before you were born, I consecrated you”), and anointed John the Baptist with His Holy Spirit before John’s birth as John’s mother attests. (Lk 1:43-44 – “And how does this happen to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.” Hence, it is reasonable that God kept the mother of His Son free from all sins from the first moment of her origin. 2) The angel saluted Mary as “full of grace.” The greeting means that she was never, even for a moment, a slave of sin and the devil. 3) Gn 3:15 — “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and hers; He will strike at your head while you strike at His heel.” The woman stands for Mary, and the promise would not be true if Mary had original sin. (C)-Basis in reasoning: 1-If we were allowed to select our mother, we would select the most beautiful, healthy and saintly lady. So did God. 2-The All-Holy God cannot be born from a woman who was a slave of the devil, even for a moment in her life. “Deus potuit, decuit, fecit.” (Don Scotus).

Life messages: 1) Every mother wants her children to inherit or acquire all her good qualities. Hence, our Immaculate and holy Heavenly Mother wants us to be holy and pure children. 2) Let us honor her by practicing her virtues of Faith and obedience. 3) Let us respond to God’s grace by using it to do good to others. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

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

Dec 9 Friday: (St. Juan Diego Cuhtlatoatzin)au): For a short biography, click here: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-juan-diego Matt 11: 16-19: 16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places and calling to their playmates, 17 `We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’ 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, `He has a demon’; 19 the Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, `Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” (Cfr. Luke 7: 31-35).

The context: The message of John the Baptist and the message of Jesus fell on deaf ears and met with stiff resistance from the self-righteous Scribes and the Pharisees because of their jealousy, prejudice, and spiritual blindness. Hence, they attributed the austerities of John the Baptist to the devil and Jesus’ table fellowship with sinners as the behavior of a glutton and a drunkard, evidence contraindicating any Messianic possibility. In today’s Gospel, Jesus compares these Scribes and Pharisees to irresponsible street-children.

Dog-in-the-manger attitude: Jesus compares the attitude of the Scribes and the Pharisees to that of street-children who want to entertain themselves by playing wedding and funeral songs. They divide themselves into two groups. But when one group proposes to sing wedding songs and asks the other group to dance, the second group will propose funeral songs and ask the first group to carry one of them on their shoulders as they act out a funeral procession. In the end both groups will be frustrated. Jesus states that the Scribes and Pharisees act exactly like these irresponsible and immature children because of their pride and prejudice. Jesus criticizes the unbelieving Jews for not listening either to John the Baptist, who preached a message of austerity and repentance, or to Jesus preaching the Good News of love, mercy, and salvation.

Life messages: 1) Jesus’ parable about disappointed playmates challenges us to examine ourselves to see if we are buffet Catholics with selective hearing, so that we hear only what we want to hear. Jesus’ message of the kingdom of God is Good News and it produces true joy and spiritual freedom for those who will listen, but it is also a warning for those who refuse to listen and close their minds.

2) Hearing the Gospel implies the total acceptance and assimilation of what we hear and the incorporation of it into our daily lives. Like the generation of Jesus’ time, our age is marked by indifference and contempt, especially in regard to the things of Heaven. Indifference dulls our ears to God’s voice and to the Good News of the Gospel. Only the humble of heart can find joy and favor in God’s grace. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

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

Dec 11 Saturday: (Our Lady of Loretto): For a short account, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BA7TPU2DQI; For a short history, click herehttps://www.ourladyofloreto.org/historyMatthew 17: 9-13: 9 And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of man is raised from the dead.” 10 And the disciples asked him, “Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” 11 He replied, “Elijah does come, and he is to restore all things; 12 but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not know him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of man will suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.

The context: Today’s Gospel describes the warning and instruction given by Jesus to Peter, James, and John as they were coming down the mountain after witnessing Jesus’ Transfiguration. Jesus forbade them to give any publicity to what they had seen, because people were expecting a conquering political messiah with Elijah as his forerunner, and a powerful reformer who would destroy evil and restore justice in the land for the Messiah to rule.

The Expected Messiah. Then Jesus indicated that He was the expected Messiah, and that John was the Elijah they had been waiting for. John’s mission had been to prepare the way for the first coming of the Messiah, as Elijah’s mission would be to prepare the world for the Messiah’s second coming at the end of the world. The scribes misunderstood and taught that Elijah would come before the first coming of the Messiah. But Jesus told the disciples that (for those who were willing to believe it), John the Baptist had served as Jesus’ Elijah in announcing and preparing the people to receive a Messiah, who would fulfill the Messianic mission not by political power, but by suffering and death.

Life messages:1) Let us accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, Who became our Messiah by dying for us on the cross. 2) We do so by cooperating with our Savior in our eternal salvation, by obeying Jesus’ commandment of love and by following the instructions given by the Church Jesus founded. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

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

Immaculate Conception of Blessed Virgin Mary homily

Immaculate Conception of BVM- (Holy Day of Obligation in the U.S.)-2022

One page synopsis:  Mary’s prophecy, given in her Magnificat, “Behold all generations will call me blessed,” was fulfilled when the Catholic Church declared four dogmas of Faith about her: 1-The Immaculate Conception, 2-The Perpetual Virginity, 3-The Divine Maternity, and 4-The Assumption. The Immaculate Conception is a dogma based mainly on Christian tradition, Holy Scripture  and theological reasoning. It was defined in 1854 by Pope Pius IX as a dogma of Faith through Ineffabilis Deus. Definition: From the first moment of her conception, Mary was preserved immune from original sin by the singular grace of God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race. (CCC #491). This means that original sanctity, innocence, and justice were conferred upon her at her conception, and that she was exempted from all the evil effects of original sin, excluding sorrow, pain, disease, and death which are temporal penalties given to Adam. (Catholic Encyclopedia).

Basis in Sacred Tradition and the Bible: (A) Basis in Church tradition: The Immaculate Conception is a dogma originating from sound Christian tradition. Monks in Palestinian monasteries started celebrating the feast of the Conception of Our Lady by the end of the 7th century. The feast spread as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in Italy (9th century), England (11th century), and France (12th century). Pope Leo VI propagated the celebration, and Pope Sixtus IV approved it as a Feast. Finally, in 1854, Pope Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception to be a dogma of Faith. Mary herself approved this in 1858 by declaring to Bernadette at Lourdes, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” (B)Basis in  Holy Scripture: 1) God purified the prophet Jeremiah in the womb of his mother (Jer 1:5 –“Before I formed you in the womb of your mother I knew you and before you were born, I consecrated you”), and anointed John the Baptist with His Holy Spirit before John’s birth as John’s mother attests. (Lk 1:43-44 – “And how does this happen to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.” Hence, it is reasonable that God kept the mother of His Son free from all sins from the first moment of her origin. 2) The angel saluted Mary as “full of grace.” The greeting means that she was never, even for a moment, a slave of sin and the devil. 3) Gn 3:15 — “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and hers; He will strike at your head while you strike at His heel.” “The Woman” stands for Mary, and the promise would not be true if Mary had original sin. (C)-Basis in logical  reasoning: 1-If we were allowed to select our mother, we would select the most beautiful, healthy and saintly lady. So did God. 2-The All-Holy God cannot be born from a woman who was a slave of the devil, even for a moment in her life. “Deus potuit, decuit, fecit.” (Duns Scotus).

Life messages: 1) Every mother wants her children to inherit or acquire all her good qualities. Hence, our Immaculate and holy Heavenly Mother wants us to be her holy and pure children. 2) Let us honor her by practicing her virtues of Faith and obedience. 3) Let us respond to God’s grace by using it to do good to others.

DECEMBER 8, 2022: FEAST of the IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

(Gn 3:9-15, 20; Eph 1:3-6, 11-12; Lk 1:26-38)

Homily starter anecdotes # 1: The favorite name of explorers: In 1492, Columbus discovered America. He sailed in a ship called Santa Maria de Conceptio (St. Mary of the Conception). Columbus named the first Island on which he landed San Salvador, in honor of our Savior, and the second Conceptio in honor of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. The fearless French explorer, Jesuit missionary Fr. Jacques Marquette who, with Louis Joliet, fur trader, explored and mapped the 2300-mile length of the Mississippi River flowing through ten states, called it River of Mary Immaculate. In fact, all the early American Catholics were so proud of the great truth we celebrate today that the American bishops in 1849 (University of Dayton, Ohio), chose Mary Conceived Without Sin as the patroness of the United States. That was 5 years before the promulgation of the dogma, and 19 years after the Blessed Mother gave St. Catherine Laboure the design for the Miraculous Medal, the Medal of the Immaculate Conception, 1830! Hence, in the USA, this Holy Day is the feast of the country’s Heavenly patroness.

# 2: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Four years after the Church formally defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Bernadette Soubirous experienced the first of her apparitions of the Blessed Mother at Lourdes. She was only fourteen years old at the time, and in the French society of that day, the reality that her family was very poor meant that she had no social standing. So when she tried to explain that she was having visions of a beautiful Lady in what we know today as the Grotto at Lourdes, no one believed her. At first not even her parish priest gave any credence to what she was saying. It wasn’t until the Lady that she was seeing identified herself, and Bernadette shared this, that people began to wonder if there were not a whole lot more to the story. The Lady in the Grotto did not identify herself simply as Mary. Instead, she identified herself with words that a Pyrenean peasant girl with little theological education at the time would not have known or understood: “I am the Immaculate Conception.”

# 3: Bishop Sheen on the Immaculate Conception: “Just suppose that you could have pre-existed your own mother, in much the same way that an artist pre-exists his painting. Furthermore, suppose that you had the infinite power to make your mother anything that you pleased, just as a great artist, like Raphael, has the power of realizing his artistic ideas. Suppose you had this double power, what kind of mother would you have made for yourself? Would you not have made her, so far as human beauty goes, the most beautiful woman in the world; and so far as beauty of the soul goes, one who would radiate every virtue, every manner of kindness and charity and loveliness; one who by the purity of her life and her mind and her heart would be an inspiration not only to you but even to your fellow men, so that all would look up to her as the very incarnation of what is best in motherhood? Do you think that our Blessed Lord, who not only pre-existed His own mother but Who had the infinite power to make her just what He chose, would, in virtue of all the infinite delicacy of His spirit make her any less pure and loving and beautiful than you would have made your own mother?

# 4: St. Maximilian Kolbe and the Immaculate Conception: St Maximilian Kolbe founded the Militia Immaculata in 1917 with six of his fellow- seminarians. “Its goal was nothing less that to bring the whole world to God through Christ under the generalship of Mary Immaculate, and to do so as quickly as possible. Fulfilling this mission through obedience to God’s will, in union with Mary Immaculate, was Kobe’s entire concern, his pure intention — and he sacrificed everything for its accomplishment” [Michael
Gaitley MIC, 33 Days to Morning Glory (Stockbridge Massachusetts:
Marian Press, 2015), p. 50.] “In Poland, Kolbe … founded the world’s largest Franciscan monastery, which he named Niepokolanow (“City of the Immaculate”), and he continually urged the more than 600 friars there to become soldier saints for God under Mary Immaculate … because among creatures, she alone does the will of God perfectly. Therefore, when our wills are united with hers, they’re necessarily united to God’s will” (Gaitley, p. 57). Then, “in 1941, after decades of incredibly fruitful apostolic labors in Poland and Japan, Kolbe was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Before his arrest, his brother Franciscans had pleaded with him to go into hiding. He said he was grateful for their loving hearts but couldn’t follow their advice. Later, he explained why: ‘I have a mission — the Immaculata has a mission to fulfill.’” In the concentration camp where Kolbe was imprisoned, one of the prisoners managed to escape. In retaliation and as a deterrent to the rest of the prisoners, ten prisoners were chosen at random by the prison authorities and told to step forward for execution. One man chosen wept and pleaded to be spared because he and his wife had small children. Kolbe stepped forward, asked to take this man’s place, and was accepted. The ten were imprisoned in a bunker to starve to death. In that bunker, Kolbe brought comfort to the others, Finally, after two weeks, the captors executed him with a lethal injection — on August 14, 1941, the day before the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, his beloved Immaculata.

Introduction: Mary’s prophecy, given in her Magnificat, “Behold all generations will call me blessed,” was fulfilled when the Catholic Church declared four dogmas of Faith about her: 1-Her Immaculate Conception, 2- Her Perpetual Virginity, 3- Her Divine Maternity, and 4- Her Assumption into Heaven after her death. The Immaculate Conception is a dogma based mainly on Christian tradition and theological reasoning. While other human beings are born without grace because we inherit original sin, Mary was conceived full of grace, completely free from original sin. The tradition was defined as Church dogma in 1854 by Pope Pius IX through Ineffabilis Deus: From the first moment of her conception, Mary was preserved immune from original sin by the singular grace of God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, savior of the human race.” (CCC #491). This declaration means that original sanctity, innocence, and justice were conferred upon her, and that she was exempted from the evil effects of original sin, excluding sorrow, pain, disease and death, the temporal penalties given to Adam (Catholic Encyclopedia). “God freely chose Mary from all eternity to be the Mother of his Son. In order to carry out her mission, she herself was conceived Immaculate. This means that, thanks to the grace of God and in anticipation of the merits of Jesus Christ, Mary was preserved from original sin from the first instant of her conception.” (Compendium of the CCC). The Fathers of the Church from the fourth century believed and taught that the Blessed Virgin Mary had been kept free of all traces of sin by the grace of God because she was to become the Mother of the Lord Jesus. This belief kept company with the other beliefs about Mary: her perpetual virginity, her sinlessness, and her Divine motherhood. Church history makes known to us that, as early as the seventh century, there was a liturgical observance that proclaimed the Blessed Virgin Mary to be free from sin. In the year 1846, (Google) the Bishops of the United States unanimously chose Our Lady as the patroness of the United States under the title of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. This decree was published at the 7th Provincial Council of Baltimore and signed and witnessed by Cardinal Giacomo Filippo Fransoni in 1849. (University of Dayton Ohio). This was done five years before the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary was infallibly defined (1854, by Pope Pius IX).

Basis in Scripture and Sacred Tradition: (A) Basis in the Church tradition: The Immaculate Conception is a dogma originating from sound Christian tradition. Monks in Palestinian monasteries started celebrating the “Feast of the Conception of Our Lady” by the end of 7th century. The feast spread as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in Italy (9th century), England (11th century), and France (12th century). Pope Leo VI propagated the celebration, and Pope Sixtus IV approved it as a Feast. Finally, in 1854, Pope Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception to be a dogma of Faith. Mary herself approved this four years later (1858), by declaring to Bernadette at Lourdes: “I am the Immaculate Conception.

(B) Basis in the Holy Scripture: 1- God purified the prophet Jeremiah in the womb of his mother (Jer 1:5 —“Before I formed you in the womb of your mother, I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you”). God anointed John the Baptist with His Holy Spirit before John’s birth, as his mother Elizabeth attests.  (Lk 1:43-44 – “And how does this happen to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.”).  Hence, it is reasonable that God kept the mother of His Son free from all sin from the first moment of her origin.

2- The angel saluted Mary as “full of grace”. This greeting means that she was never, even for a moment, a slave of sin and the devil. In the words of Lumen Gentium (56), Mary  was “filled with an entirely unique holiness,”

3- Gn 3:15 — “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and hers; He will strike at your head while you strike at His heel.” “The woman” stands for Mary, and the promise would not be true if Mary had original sin.

(C) Basis in the in logical reasoning: 1-If we were allowed to select our mother, we would select the most beautiful, healthy and saintly lady. That’s what God did. 2- The All-Holy God cannot be born from a woman who was a slave of the devil, even for a moment in her life. So Mary had to be born free from Original Sin:  Deus potuit (God could do so), decuit (found it fitting to do so), fecit” (and, hence, did so). [Duns Scotus]. How was Mary immaculately conceived? Theologians explain it by “prevenient grace,” the grace that, praevenit, comes before.   That is, the merits of Christ’s saving life, death and Resurrection were applied to the Blessed Virgin Mary in advance of the actual events in history.  Of course, as you know, with God there is no past, present or future.  He lives in an eternal now.  And so, in virtue of Mary’s future role as “the Mother of the Redeemer,” she was in fact redeemed in advance – in advance only from a human perspective, not from God’s. It is like giving a “preventive medicine.” You and I, and the rest of humanity, inherit original sin and its effects, and we have to submit afterwards to the medicine, which is called Baptism.  God did something better for His Son’s Mother – she never had to suffer the deficiency, to begin with. When Cardinal Newman [St. John Henry Newman; canonized 2019] was trying to help Protestants understand who Mary as “the Immaculate One” is, he came up with a very clever title for Mary.  He referred to her as “the daughter of Eve un-fallen.”  You and I are the sons and daughters of Eve in her fallen state.  Mary is the daughter of grace Eve would have been, had she not sinned.

Life messages: 1) We need to be pure and holy like our Heavenly Mother. Every mother wants her children to inherit or acquire all her good qualities. Hence, our Immaculate and holy mother wants us to be her holy and pure children. The original sin from which Mary was preserved is the original sin from which we have been freed by Baptism. The grace of Christ that was hers from her conception is the same grace of Christ that is ours from our Baptism. Mary is significant for us because the central factors in her life are the central factors in our own lives. Perhaps the lesson is that, no matter in which direction we may be facing, we need Mary Immaculate in our lives in order to remember Who Christ IS, and who we ourselves are.

2) We need to be thankful and humble. Mary’s sinlessness was a gift from God, given to her right from the very moment of her conception. Equally, it is by the grace of God that we have received a new heart, a new spirit, and the indwelling Holy Spirit to raise us to the level of holiness that the Blessed Virgin Mary enjoyed during her earthly life. Through Faith in Jesus and through the Sacrament of Baptism, having been born again of water and Spirit, we have been adopted into the Body of Christ in the living Hope of receiving our salvation. Through our living Faith, including the reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, God restores the righteousness of our souls. Through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, we abide in Jesus and Jesus in us, this leading us towards our salvation. [Jn 6:56]. Hence, those of us who, by God’s grace (which He helps us to accept and use), live our lives with the Life of God, Sanctifying Grace, should regard our holiness for what it is basically — a gift of God and not something we have achieved by ourselves.  Our lives, then, should be characterized by two basic attitudes, thankfulness to God, and humility before everyone, for we as human beings are unable to assess the holiness even of ourselves, let alone other people.

3) Like Mary, we need to say “’Yes” to God: God invites each one of us to continue Mary’s “Yes!” by welcoming and making room for Jesus in our lives. Let us ask her to obtain for us the grace to respond as generously to God’s call as she did, and to be as faithful in discipleship to her Son as she was. On this feast day, let us ask our Mother Mary to be with us, to guide us, to protect us through her prayers of intercession with her Son, and to share her privilege of Divine Mother hood with us by making our bodies  and souls worthy resting places for her Son through the Power of the Holy Spirit.   Let us respond to God’s grace as Mary did, by using it to do good for others and to avoid evil. On this Feast of the Immaculate Conception, it is fitting that we remember the words of the intercessory prayer that is inscribed on the Miraculous Medal of Our Lady: “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”

For additional information on the Immaculate Conception, visit:

5)http://www.catholic.com/library/Immaculate_Conception_and_Assum.asp

6) Catholic TV: http://www.realcatholictv.com/daily/?today=2011-12-08

7) Fr Mitch Pacwa’s video homily (EWTN): https://youtu.be/hGL0vj1Rl6Y

8) Franciscan media articles on Mary: https://info.franciscanmedia.org/blessed-virgin-mary

 MARTIN LUTHER ON THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

http://patrickmadrid.blogspot.com/2010/09/did-martin-luther-believe-in-immaculate.html

It seems that Martin Luther, that once-Augustinian priest-turned-Reformer, upheld belief in the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception (even before it was declared a dogmatic doctrine in 1854 by Pope Pius IX). The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception holds that Mary was preserved from original sin at her conception and from all sin during her life — that she was conceived, lived, and died without any taint of sin. The eminent Lutheran scholar Arthur Carl Piepkorn (1907-73) has also confirmed that Luther believed in the Immaculate Conception even as a Protestant. Here is Martin Luther in his own words:

“It is a sweet and pious belief that the infusion of Mary’s soul was effected without original sin; so that in the very infusion of her soul she was also purified from original sin and adorned with God’s gifts, receiving a pure soul infused by God; thus, from the first moment she began to live she was free from all sin”

(Martin Luther’s Sermon “On the Day of the Conception of the Mother of God,” 1527). “She is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin—something exceedingly great. For God’s grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil. (Martin Luther’s Little Prayer Book, 1522).

Both quotations derive from Luther’s writings after his break from Rome.

Far be it from me to approve of Luther. I only list these quotes to show how far Protestantism has come from its quasi-Catholic origin. If only Lutherans would return to this single doctrine of their founder, how quickly our Lady would turn them into true Catholics!

Later in his life, however, Luther thought that Mary was made Immaculate not at her conception but sometime before the conception of Christ. I have suggested that his later position is more accurately called “immaculate purification.” (http://patrickmadrid.blogspot.com/2010/09/did-martin-luther-believe-in-immaculate.html) L/22

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle A (No 3) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com

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

Advent II (A) Sunday homily

Advent II [A] (Dec 4) (Eight-minute homily in one page) L/22

Introduction: On the one hand, salvation is God’s doing, and we cannot earn His blessings. We are saved by His grace. On the other hand, we must cooperate with God’s grace because God cannot force his bounty upon us. That is why John the Baptist in today’s Gospel summons us to play our essential part by leading lives of repentance, conversion, and renewal, thus preparing the way for the Lord’s second coming. We start this process by spiritually preparing for the annual celebration of Christmas, the Lord’s first coming, as we reform and renew our lives by repentance and works of charity.

Scripture lessons: The first reading describes how God will reform the lives of His Chosen People by sending the Messiah. Because of the bad example of the unfaithful successors of King David, the Chosen People were wavering in their loyalty to Yahweh. Hence, in the first reading, the Lord God, through His prophet, Isaiah, tries to dispel their fears and to stir up hope among His people with His promise of a new Davidic King (a son of Jesse), who will establish peace and a glorious Kingdom of justice on earth. In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 72), the Psalmist pictures the Messiah as one who will show compassion to the poor, the lowly, and the afflicted. In the second reading, Paul is praying for the reformation of the Jewish Christians of Rome and instructing them to draw endurance and encouragement from the Old Testament books. They are to live in harmony with Gentile Christians, accepting them as equals, brothers and sisters, while they wait together for the second coming of Jesus. In today’s Gospel, John the Baptizer urges the Pharisees and Sadducees to give evidence that they mean to reform their lives so as to recognize and be ready to meet and accept the promised Messiah. He challenges them to repentance, conversion, and renewal. He tells the common people, who expect the Messiah to come soon, to act with justice and charity, letting their lives reflect the transformation that will occur when the Messiah enters their lives. In the same way, as we prepare to welcome Christ at Christmas, John advises us to “prepare the way of the Lord.”

Life messages: 1) We need to prepare for Christ’s coming by allowing him to be reborn daily in our lives: Advent is the time for us to make this preparation by repenting of our sins and renewing our lives through prayer, penance, and the sharing of our blessings with others. Let us humbly admit the truth with the German mystic Angelus Silesius “Christ could be born a thousand times in Bethlehem – but all in vain until He is born in me.” (https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Angelus_Silesius). He means that Jesus must be reborn in our heart during this season of Advent and every day of our lives, radiating his love, kindness, mercy, forgiveness, and spirit of humble service to the world through our lives.

2) We need to answer the call for a change of life. John the Baptist challenges our superficial attempts at change, demanding that, while we are obeying the commandments faithfully, we must correct our relationships with others, mend ruptures, soothe frictions, face family responsibilities, work honestly, and treat our employers and employees justly. Let us share our love with others as selfless and humble service. “Do small things but with great love” advise St. Theresa of Lisieux and St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa). Therefore, following John’s advice, let us celebrate the memory of Jesus’ first advent, prepare for Jesus’ daily advent into our lives through the Sacraments and the Bible, and wait confidently for his second advent at our death and/or at the end of the world.

ADVENT II [A] (Dec 4): Is 11:1-10; Rom 15:4-9; Mt 3:1-12

Homily starter anecdotes: #1: Accept Divine forgiveness by true repentance: An attempt was made in 1985 by some fans of O Henry, the short-story writer, to get a pardon for their hero who had been convicted a century before of embezzling $784.08 from the bank where he was employed. But a pardon cannot be given to a dead man. A pardon can only be given to someone who can accept it. Back in 1830, George Wilson was convicted of robbing the U.S. Mail in Pennsylvania and was sentenced to be hanged. At the request of Wilson’s friends, President Andrew Jackson issued a pardon for Wilson, but he refused to accept it. The matter went to Chief Justice Marshall who concluded that Wilson would have to be executed. “A pardon is a slip of paper,” wrote Marshall, “the value of which is determined by the acceptance of the person to be pardoned. If it is refused, it is no pardon. Hence, George Wilson must be hanged.” It remains unclear whether Wilson was ever actually executed.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Wilson). For some, the pardon comes too late. For others, the pardon is not accepted. — Today’s readings remind us that the Advent is the acceptable time for repentance and the acceptance of God’s pardon and renewal of life. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

#2: John’s invitation is to practice the octopus-evangelism of mega-churches as opposed to the sponge evangelism of traditional churches: Most traditional churches are pretty good about sponge evangelism. We soak up visiting folks with warm welcome, ushers offer them seats of their choice, many members greet them with miles of smiles. But octopus-evangelism of mega-churches is something else. It means reaching, stretching, finding, touching, drawing in those who are in need of the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ and may not have even realized it yet. Mega-churches are growing, not primarily because of their programming or preaching, buildings, video screens, or their cute, thirty-something pastors. They are growing primarily because the members are actively inviting others to join them in worship. Eighty percent of all first-time visitors to a Church come because a friend or neighbor invited them. It’s the active verb…inviting, reaching, gathering…which makes all the difference. A mega-church is a non-denominational, Bible-centered Christian congregation that draws thousands of people to its weekly services. The phenomenon started about thirty years ago as a way to bring people back to the basics of Christianity – a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. You may have heard of Rick Warren, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Warren) pastor of a mega-church in southern California whose book, The Purpose-Driven Life, has over 20 million copies in print You may also have heard of Joel Osteen, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joel_Osteen) author of two national bestsellers, who runs a mega-church in Houston, Texas that attracts 38,000 people to its Sunday services and 200 million households to its television broadcasts (https://youtu.be/GA6uE2CPo1I) . You may even have heard of Bill Hybels [HIGH-bills] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Hybels) , the founder of what many consider the first mega-church ever – Willow Creek Community Church, near Chicago, Illinois – that currently has more than 100 ministries operating out of its home base (https://youtu.be/jbtbgkh_bfE) . These are just some of the better-known mega-church leaders, but mega-churches are springing up throughoutNorth America, and they are even sending missionaries abroad. One little known fact about these mega-churches is that more than 25% of their members are former Catholics whom nobody in their former parishes actively invited to the liturgical celebrations and whom nobody involved in various church ministries. — Today’s Gospel presents John the Baptist reaching out and touching the lives of people through his fire-brand-octopus-evangelization. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 3: The artist’s reconciliation: Leonardo da Vinci painted the fresco (wall painting), “The Last Supper,” in Santa Maria delle Grazie church in Milan in three years (1495-1498). A very interesting story is associated with this painting. At the time that Leonardo da Vinci painted “The Last Supper,” he had an enemy who was a fellow painter. Da Vinci had had a bitter argument with this man and despised him. When Da Vinci painted the face of Judas Iscariot at the table with Jesus, he used the face of his enemy so that it would be present for ages as the man who betrayed Jesus. While painting this picture, he took delight in knowing that others would actually notice the face of his enemy on Judas. As he worked on the faces of the other disciples, he often tried to paint the face of Jesus but couldn’t make any progress. Da Vinci felt frustrated and confused. In time, he realized what was wrong. His hatred for the other painter was holding him back from finishing the face of Jesus. Only after making peace with his fellow-painter and repainting the face of Judas was he able to paint the face of Jesus and complete his masterpiece. Be reconciled with your fellow human beings, says today’s Gospel. (http://www.lifeinitaly.com/art/last-supper.asp) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/

# 4: Waiting for the Lord to be reborn in our lives: Waiting, an inevitable and even necessary aspect of human life, is not something that most of us relish. We wait in lines: in order to purchase groceries; to be served at popular restaurants; to be assisted in a bank; at stop signs and traffic signals; at amusement parks; to see a play or film. We must also wait for flowers to grow and bloom; for babies to be born; for wounds to heal; for bread to rise, and for cheese to age; for children to mature; for friends to call; for love to deepen. Statisticians have estimated that in a lifetime of 70 years, the average person spends at least three years waiting! — Today’s readings invite us to wait for the rebirth of the Lord in our lives with repentant hearts and renewed lives. (Sanchez Files). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Introduction: On the one hand, salvation is God’s doing, and we cannot earn His blessings. Today’s first reading, from Isaiah, emphasizes that, through his Son, God does all the saving.  On the other hand, we must cooperate with God because He cannot force his bounty upon us. That is why John the Baptist, in today’s Gospel, summons us to play our essential part – leading lives of repentance, conversion, and renewal and thus preparing the way for the Lord’s second coming.  We start this process by preparing for the celebration of Christmas, the Lord’s first coming. Many of the kings who succeeded David proved to be increasingly unfaithful, bringing eventual defeat and destruction upon the nation.   Because of the bad example of their leaders, the Chosen People were wavering in their loyalty to Yahweh. The Lord God, through His prophet, Isaiah, tries to dispel their fears and stir up hope among His people by His promise of a new Davidic King (a son of Jesse), who will establish peace and a glorious Kingdom of justice on earth. His kingdom will be a return to the time of peace before sin entered the world. In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 72), the Psalmist pictures this King, the Messiah, as one who will show compassion to the poor, the lowly, and the afflicted. In the second reading, Paul is praying for the Jewish Christians of Rome and instructing them to draw endurance and encouragement from the Old Testament books. They are to live in harmony with Gentile Christians, accepting them as equals — brothers and sisters — while they wait for the second coming of Jesus. In today’s Gospel, John the Baptizer urges the Pharisees and Sadducees seeking his baptism to give evidence that they mean to reform their lives so as to recognize and accept the promised Messiah.  He challenges them to repentance, conversion, and renewal. He tells the common people, who are filled with expectation that the Messiah will come soon, to act with justice and charity, letting their lives reflect the transformation that will occur when the Messiah enters their lives. In the same way, as we prepare to welcome Christ at Christmas, John advises us to “prepare the way of the Lord.”

First reading: Is 10: 1-11 explained: The First Reading, taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, is a Messianic prophesy.  It is the third oracle of Isiah given as a prediction of the first coming of Jesus, the Messiah. Isaiah prophecies how God will raise up a Messianic King centuries after King David’s throne has been overthrown and vacant for centuries because David’s successors have not been loyal to their God. Behold a virgin will conceive and bear a son and shall call him, Emmanuel, for God is with us.” Through this oracle of Isiah, God promises that He will raise up a new king from the stump of Jesse, the father of King David (Is 11:1). This prophecy was only partly verified in some later kings, but fully verified only in Jesus the true Messiah. According to Isaiah’s prophecy this future Messianic King  will rule forever because the Spirit of God will rest upon him and remain with him (Is 11:2),  and that he  will  be equipped with the sevenfold gifts of the Spirit of God– wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord (Is 11:2). Isaiah foresees that this king will establish the kingdom of God, not by force of human will and military power, but by offering his life as the atoning sacrifice for the sin of the world. Through his death on the cross, Jesus, the true Messianic King, will defeat Satan, overcome death, win pardon and reconciliation for sinners, and make us citizens of heaven and adopted children of God. The reading also portrays this Messianic Kingdom as a return to the perfect harmony of Paradise. The Spirit will enable men to create a world in which “the wolf shall be the guest of the lamb, and a leopard shall lie down with the young goat.” These prophecies are fulfilled, in an anticipatory way, with the first advent of the Messiah and the spread of the Christian Faith, and they will be definitively fulfilled with the Second Advent and the appearance of the eternal order following the ffinal Judgment made by Jesus our King.  Our Messianic King Jesus wants us to live in joyful hope and confident expectation that he will come again to establish fully his Kingdom of righteousness and peace. The message for us is that, if we allow the Spirit of God to  work in our lives, we will be able to live in peace and harmony, even with those who threaten and disturb our lives. There can be no true love of neighbor or true respect for his rights where there is no love for God. Hence, we must strive to give God His rightful, central place in our daily lives, and to follow His  path that leads to justice and peace on earth.

 Second reading: Rom 15:4-9 explained: In the Second Reading, St. Paul, in  his Letter to the Romans, calls for reconciliation among the different factions in that community. Paul reminds his Roman readers that those who wait together for the many comings of our God should ignore their differences and sustain one another in mutual support and acceptance. Perhaps this reading is in the Lectionary today because it recommends patience, and this is the season of patient waiting for the Lord to come. It also contains a very seasonal statement about why the Lord came — to fulfill God’s promise to the Jews and to extend mercy to the Gentiles.  Paul reminds the newly converted Roman Christians, many of whom are Jews, that the Sacred Scriptures of the Old Testament are still a source of instruction, encouragement, and hope. The sacred Scriptures are useless unless they are employed to control the Christian’s relations with God and with others (Rom 15:4-9).  Hence, Paul advises the Judeo-Christians and Gentile Christians of Rome to “live in harmony with one another according to the Spirit of Christ Jesus,” by being less judgmental and more understanding and benevolent. Paul also reminds the Romans that Jesus came to fulfill God’s promise to the Jews and to extend mercy to the Gentiles. Hence, he encourages the Roman Christians to “accept one another” as Jesus Christ has accepted them. This reading reminds us to wait patiently for the coming of the Lord during this Advent season and shows us how to live as we do so.

Gospel exegesis: A prophet on fire with a fiery message: While only two Gospels mention the nativity, all four Gospels introduce Jesus with an account of John the Baptist’s ministry (Mt 3:1-12; Mk 1:1-11; Lk 3:1-22; Jn 1:6-9). Matthew puts slightly greater emphasis on John’s words than on his action of baptizing.  He records a direct quote from John’s preaching: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” There had been no prophet in Israel for four hundred years. But the people had no hesitation in accepting John as a prophet because he was like a burning torch summoning men to righteousness, a signpost to point men to God, and he had the authority of a man of God. Further, John wore garments of coarse camel hair and a leather belt like the prophets that we read about in Zechariah 13:4 and 2 Kings 1:8.   He ate what was available in the rocky desert — wild honey and roasted grasshoppers – which was permissible according to Lv 11. The Jews expected Elijah to return prior to the coming of the Messiah (Mal 4:5). John’s clothing of camel’s hair and leather belt (2 Kgs 1:8) identified him as the fulfillment of that prophecy, and Jesus himself affirmed John’s role when he said, “Elijah does come, and he is to restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not know him, but did to him whatever they leased. So also the Son of Man will suffer at their hands” (Mt 17:11-12).” 

Call to repentance: John’s message was not soothing. It cut into the very hearts of men.  John denounced evil wherever he found it. He accused Herod of living a loose moral life (14:4), addressed the Scribes and the Pharisees as a “brood of vipers” and summoned people to righteousness.  His message was “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near” (v. 2), words which Jesus later would use to begin his own preaching (4:17), and similar to those the disciples would proclaim (10:7). John justified his call to repentance by announcing that the Kingdom of Heaven was near and that the way to prepare for that day was to repent.  Literally, the Greek word for repentance (teshuvá in Hebrew and metánoia) in Greek), means, “to change one’s mind and heart,” a change of direction or a U-turn. Repentance involves turning around – facing in a new direction — with a change of heart and a new commitment. Repentance is a daily experience that renews our Baptism. “The repentant person comes before God saying, ‘I can’t do it myself, God. Kill me and give me new life. You buried me in Baptism. Bury me again today. Raise me to a new life.'” Repentance for us is not a one-time action but must take place daily, because preparing for the Lord is a daily task for us who are living our lives in flesh and time  on this earth

John’s baptism as the expression of repentance: John’s baptism by water was an external expression of repentance.  What he insisted on was the internal expression, a repentance that bore real fruit:  a turning from worldly values combined with generosity and love.  As a sign of true repentance, John urged the tax collectors to “stop collecting more than what is prescribed,” and told the soldiers to “stop extortion and false accusation and remain satisfied with your wages.”  In short, John’s message was, and still is, a call for radical conversion, a demand for self-denial, sacrifice and loving service to others. We may have to put an ax to the roots of the resentments and biases in our hearts. We may have to winnow out our greed and overindulgence, and we may have to burn the chaff of our impatience. Even though John’s preaching was characterized by scathing criticism, his call for reform was described in Luke’s Gospel as “the Good News” because the arrival of the Messiah would initiate a new reign of forgiveness, healing and salvation.

John’s conditions for belonging to the Kingdom of Heaven: The coming Kingdom was John’s main theme. While the Gentile convert, Mark, uses the words “Kingdom of God,” Matthew follows the Jewish tradition of avoiding the use of God’s name by using the expression, “Kingdom of Heaven.” The Kingdom of God is a God-centered, God-controlled life.  John wanted people to experience such a life. Everyone who wants to experience this “reign of God” needs to make a radical change in his or her life. That is the call for repentance. We cannot come under the sovereign rule of God without a change of attitude, a change of heart and a change of lifestyle. John not only denounced men for what they had done, he summoned them to what they ought to do. That is why Matthew emphasized the new life of proper fruit-bearing more than the forgiveness of sins. Bearing good fruit is not just doing good things but also doing them for the right reason.

Life messages: 1) We need to prepare for Christ’s coming by allowing him to be reborn daily in our lives: Advent is the time for us to make this preparation by repenting of our sins, and renewing our lives through prayer, penance, and sharing our blessings with others. Let us accept the challenge of the German mystic Angelus Silesius “Christ could be born a thousand times in Bethlehem – but all in vain until He is born in me.”  He means that Jesus must be reborn in our heart, during this season of Advent and every day of our lives, bringing us love, kindness, mercy, forgiveness and the spirit of humble service.

2) We need to accept John’s call for a change of life.  John the Baptist, the stern and uncompromising preacher, challenges our superficial attempts at change, demanding that we take a deeper look.   Obeying the commandments is a good start, but we must also examine our relationships with others.   We must mend ruptures and soothe frictions, face family responsibilities, work honestly, and treat our employers and employees justly.   Start where you are, John says.  Our domestic and social lives must be put in order.   John’s voice is sober and runs counter to the intoxicating voices around us today.   He calls for rectitude and social consciousness.   We must abandon our selfish thirst for consumption and, instead, be filled with the expectation of Jesus’ coming.   Therefore, following John’s advice, let us celebrate the memory of this first advent, prepare for Jesus’ new advent in our lives, and wait for his second advent at the end of the world.

3) We need to wait prayerfully for the second advent of Jesus.   John’s answer as to how the Jews should wait for the Messiah was that they should wait for the Lord with repentant hearts and reformed lives.  We can start by praying from the heart. Let us remember that the Holy Mass is the most powerful of prayers because it transforms us into Eucharistic people, providing the living presence of Jesus in our hearts and his divine life in our souls.  Conversion is through Jesus whom we encounter, mainly, through the Holy Scripture and the Sacraments.  The Word and the Sacraments are the principal means God uses to give life to men’s souls.  Daily reconciliation with God, as we ask and receive His pardon for our daily sins and make our monthly (or more frequent) sacramental confession, makes us strong and enables us to receive more grace in the Eucharist.  Let us read the Bible, pray the Rosary daily, and fast once a week all year-round, rather than just during Advent and Lent. After all, we sin all year-round, so let us fast also all year-round by controlling our senses.  We could take some time before Mass to adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and we should practice forgiving those who offend us.  Finally, let us share our love with others as selfless and humble service. “Do small things but with great love,” advise St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa).

4) Are we, too, are called to be precursors — to preach, to cry out like John the Baptist, “Repent! Reform your lives! The kingdom of God is at hand!”?  Yes! We are all called to preach that Gospel, but not necessarily all of us with words. Before we are ready to preach conversion and penance to others, we ourselves have to be converted and do penance. Before he preached to others at the Jordan river, John  himself “lived” in silence in the desert for several years. He prepared the ways of the Lord in himself first;  he made straight the path of the Lord to his heart first; only then did he exhort others to do the same. St. Luke says of Jesus, “The child grew and became strong, filled with Wisdom; and the favor of God was with upon him” (Lk 2:40). And what John did was what  Jesus himself did after his baptsm by John. Being driven by the Spirit into the desert, he spent 40 days there being prepared,  empowered and instructed by the Spirit before he began his public ministry. We, too, before we begin to preach to others, need to live what we are about to preach. Above all, we ourselves must be converted before we speak to others about the necessity for conversion.

JOKES OF THE WEEK

1) Lent versus Yom Kippur: A priest and a rabbi were discussing the pros and cons of their religions, and inevitably the discussion turned to repentance. The rabbi explained Yom Kippur as the solemn Jewish Day of Atonement and as a day of fasting and penitence, while the priest told him all about Lent, and its 40 days of self-denial as reparation for sins. After the discussion ended, the rabbi went home to tell his wife about the conversation, and how they discussed the comparative merits of Yom Kippur versus Lent. She turned her head and laughed. The rabbi asked, “What’s so funny, dear?”  “What a comparison!” she said. “Forty days of Lent for the poor Christians, and one day of Yom Kippur for the Chosen People of God!”

USEFUL WEBSITES OF THE WEEK:

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

7) The Catholic Internet Directoryhttp://www.catholic-church.org/cid/

8) Movie and family video reviews: http://www.usccb.org/movies/index.htm

9) USCCG Advent Calendar: http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/advent/index.cfm?utm_source=advent&utm_medium=shorturl&utm_campaign=advent/

10) Lectio Divina daily gospel reflections: http://ocarm.org/en/lectio-divina

11) Do our souls go to sleep when we die? Watch the video

23- Additional anecdotes

1) John’s challenge to the spirit of sharing love:  One of my favorite Christmas stories is O Henry’s short story, “The Gift of The Magi.” You are all familiar with it. It is a story about a desperately poor young couple living in New York around the turn of the last century. Neither had money sufficient to buy a gift for the other so they each secretly went out and sold something of worth. He sold his prized pocket watch to get her decorative combs for her long hair. When he presented them to her she removed her scarf to reveal that she had had her hair clipped and sold to purchase a gold chain for his pocket watch! — The thrust of the story is obvious. It is not what you give that is important, but the sharing spirit of love with which it is given. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

2) “Do you carry a dead soul in a living body?” The Romans sometimes tied a captive face-to-face with a dead body and kept him in a dungeon until the horrible secretions of the dead one’s putrefying body destroyed the life of the living victim. Virgil describes this cruel punishment: “The living prisoners and the dead were coupled and tied together, face to face, body to body, until  the wretched prisoners  pined away and died.” — Without the pardon and forgiveness of sins by Christ, our bodies, too, are shackled to a soul dead by mortal sins.  Only genuine repentance and confession of sins can free us from certain death, as John the Baptist says in today’s Gospel, because life and death cannot co-exist indefinitely. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

3) Community renewal during Advent: I am sure you are familiar with the amazing story of the migration of the monarch butterfly, a lovely little creature who blesses our gardens and forests in the summer. Every autumn, millions of monarchs from all over the eastern United States and Canada migrate thousands of miles to a small handful of sites in Mexico where they rest for the winter. Then in the spring, they begin their return trip to the north. The amazing thing is that no individual monarch ever makes the trip to Mexico and back. A butterfly that leaves the Adirondack Mountains in New York will fly all the way to Mexico and spend the winter. In March, it begins the trip northward, but after laying eggs in the milkweed of Texas and Florida, it will die. Those butterflies will continue northward, laying eggs along the way until some of them, maybe three or four generations removed from the original, make it back to mountains of New York. But when August comes, they will head south, aiming for the exact place their great-grandparents visited, a place they have never been. Sue Haplern says: “The monarchs always migrate in community and depend on each other. Although a single monarch may make it from New York to Mexico, it is the next generation who completes the journey.” — Now here is the word for the Church. She says: “No one completes the Advent journey solo. It is only as a community that we discover the fullness of God’s plan for us.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

4) God takes our sinning seriously: In John Steinbeck’s story, “The Wayward Bus,” a dilapidated old bus takes a cross-country shortcut on its journey to Los Angeles, and gets stuck in the mud. While the drivers go for assistance, the passengers take refuge in a cave. It is a curious company of people, and it is obvious that the author is attempting to get across the point that these people are lost spiritually as well as literally. As they enter into this cave, the author calls the reader’s attention to the fact that, as they enter, they must pass a word that has been scrawled with paint over the entrance. The word is REPENT. — Although Steinbeck calls that to the reader’s attention, it is interesting that none of the passengers pays any attention to it whatsoever. All too often, this is our story. Yet, John the Baptist calls upon us to take our sinning seriously. Why? Because God does. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

5) Return to God and renew your lives: There is a legend about a beautiful swan that alighted one day on the banks of a pool in which a crane was wading about seeking snails. For a few moments the crane viewed the swan in stupid wonder and then inquired: “Where do you come from?” “I come from Heaven!” replied the swan. “And where is heaven?” asked the crane. “Heaven!” said the swan, “Heaven! Have you never heard of Heaven?” And the beautiful bird went on to describe the grandeur of the Eternal City. She told of streets of gold, and the gates and walls made of precious stones; of the river of life, pure as crystal, upon whose banks is the tree whose leaves shall be for the healing of the nations. In eloquent terms, the swan sought to describe the hosts who live in the other world, but without arousing the slightest interest on the part of the crane. Finally the crane asked: “Are there any snails there?” “Snails!” repeated the swan, “No! Of course there are not.” “Then,” said the crane, as it continued its search along the slimy banks of the pool, “you can have your Heaven. I want snails!” — This fable, has a deep truth underlying it. How many a young person to whom God has granted the advantages of a Christian home has turned his back upon it and searched for snails! How many a man will sacrifice his wife, his family, his all, for the snails of sin! How many a girl has deliberately turned from the love of parents and home to learn too late that heaven has been forfeited for snails!” (Moody’s Anecdotes, Page 125-126.) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

6) Metánoia after (9/11)

On Monday people were fighting over public prayer.
On Tuesday, we prayed.

On Monday, we were separated by race, sex, color, and creed.
On Tuesday, we held hands.

On Monday, we argued with kids about picking up after themselves.
On Tuesday, we could hardly wait to get home from work to pick up our kids and hug them.

On Monday, we were obsessed with the sex lives of politicians.
On Tuesday, we joined hands with politicians to sing God Bless America.

On Monday, we were football fanatics. On the following Sunday, we went to Church because the football games were cancelled.  (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

7) John’s preaching of messianic hope: There’s a story about a man who had experienced a seven-year series of setbacks in business and in his love life. Every decision that he made, every relationship that he had, seemed to end in failure. One evening as he was walking home, he saw a bright spotlight on the porch of a previously abandoned home. As he approached the house, he noticed that the light was illuminating a sign advertising the presence of a fortune-teller. “Fantastic futures forecast inside,” he read. So, thinking that nothing else seemed to offer any hope, he walked through the door. The fortune-teller placed her hands on the crystal ball on the table between them. As she did so, a frown spread across her face as she predicted, “The next seven years will be just like the past seven … filled with despair, unhappiness, and disappointment.” “Oh, no,” said the young man. Still clinging to a tiny spark of hope, he asked timidly, “Then what?” “You’ll get used to it,” responded the fortune-teller.–  John the Baptist on the other hand gave the desperate people hope of the immediate arrival of the long expected Messiah. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

8) God’s view of our sins: Plato tells the story of a shepherd named Gyges, who was in the service of the king. One day there was a great storm and an earthquake where he was pasturing his flock. A great chasm opened in the earth and Gyges descended into the chasm. There he saw many astonishing things, including what looked like a human corpse. Although there were many amazing treasures in the chasm, he took nothing except a gold ring the corpse had on his finger. He then made his way out. He attended the usual meeting of shepherds which reported monthly to the king, and as he was sitting in the meeting, he happened to twist the bezel of the ring towards the inside of his hand. He immediately became invisible to his companions. He was astonished, and began twisting the ring again, and turned the bezel outwards, whereupon he became visible again. He experimented with the ring to see if it really had this power and found that every time he turned it outwards he became visible, and every time he turned it inwards, he became invisible. Having made this discovery, he managed to get himself invited to the palace where he stole great treasures from the king himself. Being invisible, he would never be caught. There would be no consequences for his actions whatsoever. — Plato asks the question, if we remove all consequences, all fear of punishment, is there any reason to seek honesty, virtue, and character? It’s a good question. John’s answer is that God takes sins seriously, and, hence, we must repent and renew our lives. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

9) “This side is done now; I think you can turn me over.” St. Lawrence was a deacon in Rome in the 200s, when it was still illegal to be a Christian. During one of the waves of persecution, the Emperor arrested the Pope and had him put to death. Then he arrested St. Lawrence and ordered him to give all the Church’s wealth to the Imperial Treasury. The next day, St Lawrence showed up with the poor, the widows and the orphans whom the Church was supporting and said, “Here are our treasures.” The Emperor, who had been expecting golden vessels and jewel-studded chalices, was furious. He sentenced St Lawrence to death by being roasted alive. But even while he was burning on the grill, Lawrence’s heart was at peace. Eyewitnesses actually recorded him as saying to the guards soon after his torture had begun, “This side is done now; I think you can turn me over.” — When we let Christ rule in our hearts, his strength, peace and wisdom become our strength, peace and wisdom. (By the way, this is why St. Lawrence is the official patron saint of football players: he died on the gridiron.) E-Priest (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 10) “The Hound of Heaven”: One of the greatest Christian poems of all time was written by Francis Thompson, a British poet from the late 19th-early 20th century. He led a difficult life: his career in medicine was a failure; his rift with his father forced him into homelessness for years; his addiction to opium was a life-long plague. Both his circumstances and his sins made his life miserable. Yet, his greatest work, an autobiographical poem called, “The Hound of Heaven,” tells about a God who refuses to abandon even the most determined sinner. In it, the protagonist is madly searching for happiness in all the wrong places. During the search, he is being relentlessly pursued by a hunting dog, a hound. The hound is a symbol of God, Who loves us too much ever to give up on us. God is like a well-trained hunting dog, a hound that is on our trail, and nothing we can do will ever shake Him off! The poem begins with a description of the poet’s flight from God and his vain search for happiness in other things: “I fled Him, down the nights and down the days; / I fled Him, down the arches of the years; / I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways / Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears / I hid from Him, and under running laughter.” But at the end, when he has nowhere else to run to, the hound catches up to him and says, “Rise, clasp My hand, and come! …Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest, I am He Whom thou seekest! Thou drivest love from thee, who drivest Me.” —  Nothing we do can lessen God’s love for us: He is faithful, and His hand is always outstretched to save us from ourselves. Advent is the time of preparation to return to the “Hound of Heaven” by repenting of our sins and renewing our lives. (E-Priest). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

11) The dream for mankind: When the three astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, landed on the moon, they were the very first human beings in history who could view our planet, Earth, from the outside. As they gazed from outer space and even tried to locate the various continents on Earth, they were wonderstruck and fascinated by their unanimous observation- that six billion humans, in spite of differing nationalities, languages, customs, religions and traditions, were just one gigantic family. To quote one astronaut: “The first day in space, we all pointed to our countries. The second day, we pointed to our continents. By the third day, we were aware of only one Earth.” — This was the magnificent vision God gave to Isaiah and the ancient prophets for the Children of Israel first, and then for all of us. They prophesied and earnestly hoped for a brotherhood of man that would be as real as the Fatherhood of God. The prophets themselves were familiar with the injustices of an exploitative society and the horrors of senseless wars. But they faithfully propesied the coming of the  Messianic age, when the lamb would lie down with the wolf and have nothing to fear. Their Faith and Hope in God Who was inspiring them, enabled them to speak His  prophesy of a time of universal peace, when the strong would no longer prey on the weak or the cunning exploit the innocent. — The season of Advent each year rekindles our hope in this prophecy, expressed by prophet Isaiah in the first reading, to believe in its  becoming a reality in God’s good time in His Heavenly Kindgom. We have to work and change ourselves to make that dream come true for us all. (James Valladares in Your Words, O Lord, Are Spirit, And They Are Life; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

12) Let go and change! Perhaps you have heard the story of how hunters catch monkeys. They cut a small hole in the coconut, just large enough for the monkey to put its hand in and fill it with a sweet treat, and leave it fixed under a tree. The poor monkey smells the treat, squeeze its hand into the coconut, grabs the treat in its little paw and finds that its fist will not come out through the hole. Since the monkey will not let go of the treat, it is the monkey who holds itself prisoner. While it just sits there desperately grasping its treat, the smart hunter comes and catches it. Silly monkey! All it had to do was to let go of the treat and remove its arm from the coconut and run for freedom. — But often we are like that monkey. We hold on to things that imprison us. In order to get our hand out of the jar, regardless of what the jar is, we need to change. We need to grow. We would like to think that we are smart enough to let go of something to gain our freedom; however, the truth is that many of us hold on to things so tightly that we imprison ourselves. We refuse to change because we are comfortable with what we have. To move forward in life, sometimes we have to just let go of the past and move ahead with confidence and Faith. During Advent, the Church challenges her children to free themselves from the snares of the devil and prepare their hearts and lives for the rebirth of Jesus. (John Pichappilly in The Table of the Lord; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

13) We can and must change: Many years ago, a man was shocked to read his own obituary in the daily newspaper. As can be surmised, his death had been mistakenly reported. But what shocked him most was how the obituary had described him: as someone who had devoted his life to making weapons of war and destruction. That very morning, he resolved to concentrate his energies and God-given talents in a new direction: to work for world peace and the improvement of conditions around the world in the best interest of one and all in our global family. Later, the wise and resolute individual became the founder of the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize. -Alfred Nobel! –Advent is the time for us to change from our selfishness. (James Valladares in Your Words, O Lord, Are Spirit, And They Are Life; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

14) Dave Brubeck was an American jazz pianist and composer, considered to be one of the foremost exponents of cool jazz. He died of heart failure on December 5, 2012, in Norwalk, Connecticut one day before his 92nd birthday. He was also a man of faith. In 1980, Dave Brubeck was baptized into the Catholic Church. It began when Brubeck was commissioned to write a Mass made up entirely of jazz music. He worked on it for a few months. When it finally premiered, it was widely praised. A priest told the composer how much he liked the music, but he was puzzled by something: why hadn’t he included in the music the Our Father? Brubeck didn’t even realize the oversight. He thought about revising the score, but decided against it. It was finished, and he thought anything he wrote would disrupt the musical structure. He decided to just let it go.  But a few days later, something happened that made him change his mind.  While on vacation with his family, Brubeck awoke in the middle of the night, astonished: the entire Our Father had come to him in a dream, complete with orchestra and chorus.  He got out of bed, wrote it all out, and later added it to the score. “Because of this event,” he said, “I decided that I might as well join the Catholic Church. Someone somewhere was pulling me toward that end.” —  Today’s readings are about listening and responding. (Fr. Chirakkal) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

15) Advent Optimism: Attempts to make sense of life are universal. A famous poet (T. S. Eliot) expressed the wish to have carved on his gravestone about life: “I’ve had the experience, but I’ve missed the meaning.” Viktor Frankl, an Austrian Jewish psychiatrist who was thrown into the concentration camp of Auschwitz during World War II, addressed his fellow-prisoners as they were lying motionless in despair-filled silence with only an occasional sigh in the darkness of their cell. He told them that whoever is still alive has reason for hope; that whatever they were going through could still be an asset to them in the future: that the meaning of human life includes privation, suffering, and dying: that someone was looking down on each of them with love -friend, wife, somebody else alive or dead, or God – and wouldn’t want to be disappointed. They should courageously integrate their life into a worldview that has a meaning beyond immediate self-grasping, and know how to die. — Does your acquaintance with life find this optimism and hope remote? Does your experience make you dwell upon the shadow side of life, the many ways in which we suffer, fail, lose heart, or feel that nothing’s worthwhile?  Advent’s optimism should be realistic. We’re not like the little boy who was overheard talking to himself as he strode through his back yard, baseball cap on sideways and toting ball and bat. “I’m the greatest baseball player in the world,” he said proudly. Then he tossed the ball into the air, swung and missed. Undaunted, he picked up the ball, threw it into the air and repeated to himself, “I’m the greatest player ever!” He swung at the ball again, and again he missed. He paused a moment to examine bat and ball carefully. Then once again he threw the ball into the air and said, “I’m the greatest baseball player who ever lived.” He swung the bat hard and again missed the ball. “Wow” he exclaimed. “What a pitcher!” — Rather, we ought to be like David of the Old Covenant. When Goliath came against the Israelites, the soldiers all thought, “He’s so big we can never kill him.” David looked at the same giant and thought, “He’s so big I can’t miss.” (Harold Buetow in God Still Speaks! Listen; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

16) Waiting for Godot: Waiting, an inevitable and even necessary aspect of human life is not something that most of us relish. We wait in lines: to purchase groceries; to be served at popular restaurants; to be attended to in a bank; at stop signs and traffic signals; at amusement parts; to see a play or film. We must also wait for flowers to grow and bloom; for babies to be born; for wounds to heal; for bread to rise and cheese to age; for children to mature; for friends to call; for love to deepen. Statisticians have estimated that in a lifetime of 70 years, the average person spends at least three years waiting! For believers, however, it is not inconceivable to think of the entire span of a human life as a period of waiting –waiting for the God who comes. Samuel Beckett, Irish author, critic and playwright, and winner of the Nobel Prize for literature in 1969, cast a rather pessimistic eye on this aspect of the human condition. Along with Albert Camus, Eugène Ionesco and Arthur Adamov, Beckett regarded the very notion of waiting for fulfillment or Divine intervention as absurd. In his play, Waiting for Godot (1953), two people, Vladimir and Estragon (who are often portrayed as tramps) spend their lives patiently, but aimlessly, waiting for someone who never comes. To exacerbate the situation, the two characters have no evidence that Godot (probably God) intends to come or that he even exists. Set on a stage, empty except for a solitary tree, the two figures enunciate Beckett’s perception of human existence as mindless and purposeless. At this point, Beckett introduces a second pair of characters who unlike Vladimir and Estragon, pursue and attain their well-defined objectives, e.g. power, wealth, a desirable spouse, yet their lives also are empty and without meaning. — Happily, the Theater of the Absurd with its hopelessness and pessimism has no place in the life of the believer, except perhaps to renew in him/her a gratitude for the gift of a God Who comes, Who has come, Who will come, and Who never departs. Because of this, Advent is a season characterized, not by mindlessness and purposelessness but by a delicious joy and eager anticipation. (Patricia Datchuck Sánchez) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

17) Change   yourself — wear shoes!: Once upon a time there was a king, who ruled a prosperous country. One day he went for a trip to some distant areas of his country. When he came back to his palace, he complained that his feet were very sore, because it was the first time that he had gone for such a long trip, and the road he had used was very rough and stony. He then ordered his people to cover every road of the country with leather. This would need skins of thousands of animals, and would cost a huge amount of money. Then one of his wise advisors dared to question the king, “Why do you have to spend that unnecessary amount of money? Why don’t you just cut a little piece of leather to cover your feet?” The king was surprised, but later agreed to his suggestion to make a ‘shoe’ for himself. –- We often say, “I wish things would change or people would change.” Instead wise people say: “Change your thinking and change your world!” Advent is the time for such a change. (John Pichappilly in “The Table of the Word”) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

18) Word Power: The Greatest is a film about Muhammad Ali’s career as heavyweight boxing champion. It shows not only how he was gifted naturally with agility and strength, but also how he trained extensively with rigorous workouts and diets. But Muhammad Ali said one time that although all these things helped, the real secret of his power source was a set of inspirational tapes to which he listened. The tapes were recorded speeches of a Black Muslim leader, the honorable Elijah Muhammad. They deal with self-knowledge, freedom, and potential. Muhammad Ali would listen to these tapes when he got up in the morning, when he ate his meals during the day and when he retired at night. He claimed that these inspirational messages gave him the power to fight for his black people, not only for their glory in the ring, but also for their civil rights in the arena of life. — In the Gospel, we have the secret of the power of another man, Jesus Christ, revealed. At the very beginning of his Gospel, Mark wants there to be no mistake about who Jesus is and what the source of his power is.
(Albert Cylwicki in His Word      Resounds). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

19) “Give Jesus a free hand! Give him permission!” Cardinal John O’Connor of New York was consecrated a bishop in 1983 in Rome. On his way down the aisle after the consecration, he blessed the people gathered in the church. Suddenly he saw a famous face, and went over to greet Mother Teresa of Calcutta. He gave her a blessing, but was not prepared for what came next. She grasped one of his hands in both of hers, and said to him: “Give Jesus a free hand! Give him permission!” — Cardinal O’Connor never forgot those words, and he said that he tried to make them a watchword for the rest of his life.  Giving God a free hand in our lives is what is expected of us, especially during the advent season. (E-Priest). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

20) The Satin Slipper: In his play The Satin Slipper, Paul Claudel offers a gripping example of giving God permission even in the midst of what seems like a hopeless situation. Strapped to a mast, a Jesuit priest is dying on the high seas. His ship has been overrun by pirates, and he’s left to die. As he dies, he prays for his brother Rodrigo, an immoral man living far from God. The priest prays: “His business, as he thinks, is not being to stand and wait but to conquer and possess all he can – as if there were anything that did not belong to You and as if he could be otherwhere than where You are.” •But Lord, it is not so easy to escape You, and, if he goes not to You by what he has of light, let him go to You by what he has of darkness; and if not by what he has of straight, may he go to You by what he has of indirection; and if not by what he has of simple, let him go by what in him is manifold and laborious and entangled. And if he desire evil, let it be such evil as be compatible only with good; and if he desire disorder, such disorder as shall involve the rending and the overthrow of those walls about him which bar him from salvation…” — Giving God permission also means giving Him permission in the lives of others, to work in ways that only He knows. It is the sign of repentance and renewal of life, the message of today’s Gospel. (E-Priest). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

21) Sixty years, young man, sixty years!” Once, when a conference of ministers was held in a certain town, a certain old preacher had sat quietly through it for a number of days until, toward the end of the conference, he was suddenly and unexpectedly called upon to speak. He arose thoughtfully and almost stumblingly fumbled for his words. Finally, his thoughts took form, his words fell in the rhythm of a marching column, and his impassioned oratory beat down upon the upturned faces of his audience until, as he arose to his peroration and reached his climax, the whole sedate conference broke into a spontaneous applause that shook the room, according to an item in Printer’s Ink. He had delivered the master oration of the conference. When finally, the applause subsided, a cocky young Doctor of Divinity strolled up to him. “That was a masterly address you delivered extemporaneously. Yet you must have had some preparation to have done it so well. How long did it take you to prepare it?” The older man looked gently for some time at the younger one before he answered. And then he said: “Sixty years, young man, sixty years!”Every year, on this Advent II Sunday, as preparation for Christmas, the Church leads us on pilgrimage to the Jordan River, so that we might enroll in the school of John the Baptist, hear his message, and put it into action in our lives. (Fr. Lakra) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

22) The Baby Shall Play by the Cobra’s Den: Tourists driving through Yellowstone Park used to be “flagged down” by bears begging for food. The travelers thought this was “cute” and usually pulled up on the shoulder of the road to hand them snacks. This practice became a real problem. It was bad for the bears, which got used to being “on the dole” in summer and were, therefore, liable to starve in the winter. It was bad for tourists. Park managers, on the basis of sad experience, had to warn travelers that these bears, far from being “cute”, were wild animals, capable of mauling or even killing passers-by. — Today’s first reading speaks of men and animals living together in mutual trust: wolf with lamb, leopard with goat, calf with lion. There, cobras pose no threat to babies, and poisonous adders enjoy playing with children. — But it should be quite clear that this “peaceable kingdom” which the prophet Isaiah describes is not of this world but of the world to come.

23) The Peaceable Kingdom Comes in Paridise not here! Not long ago, the United Press Intentional told a story of a middle-aged Missourian who, like many of us, forgot that the “peaceable kingdom” has not yet arrived. Let’s call him Bob Doe…Bob certainly loved animals. Several years ago he acquired a rather unusual pet – a baby python. Pythons are not poisonous snakes; they kill by crushing. Doe knew the danger, of course, and thought he was on guard against it. He kept the snake in a secured cage in the cellar, so that it might harm nobody. But every now and then he himself would let it out of the cage and play with it for a while. By 1983 the serpent had grown to a length of 18 feet and weighed 110 pounds. On April 27th that year, Bob opened the cage so that it might have a stretch. It was their last gambol together. The great snake wrapped around his master’s throat and strangled him to death. — Few of us, I think need to be warned not to trust wild animals. But we do need to be reminded that the drives we have within us are as wild as any bear or python. Addictions, for instance, can kill both our bodies and our souls. Before the arrival of the “peaceable kingdom”, the human heart will continue to be a sort of zoo. It is most important, therefore, that we follow the basic rule of zookeepers: “Never let them out of their cages.” (Fr. Robert F. McNamara). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).  L/22

 “Scriptural Homilies” Cycle A (No. 3) by Fr. Tony

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

Some initial sources on the Gospel according to Matthew (Rev. Dr. Murray Watson)

R.T. France, The Gospel of Matthew (New International Commentary on the New Testament series). Eerdmans Publishing, 2007. Daniel J. Harrington, SJ, The Gospel of Matthew (Sacra Pagina commentary series). Liturgical Press/Michael Glazier, 2007. Donald Senior, The Gospel of Matthew (Interpreting Biblical Texts series). Abingdon Press, 1997. Barbara E. Reid, The Gospel According to Matthew (New Collegeville Bible Commentary series). Liturgical Press, 2005. William Barclay, Matthew (New Daily Study Bible series). Westminster John Knox Press, 2001 (+ Philip Law, Matthew: A Guide to the New Daily Study Bible. Westminster John Knox, 2010). Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Eerdmans Publishing, 2009. Curtis Mitch and Edward P. Sri, The Gospel of Matthew (Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture series). Baker Academic, 2010. David L. Turner, Matthew (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series). Baker Academic, 2008. Amy-Jill Levine and Marianne Blickenstaff, A Feminist Companion to Matthew (Feminist Companions to the New Testament and Early Christian Writings, Vol. 1). Sheffield Academic Press, 2001. Manlio Simonetti, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (2 vols on Matthew 1-13 and 14-28). InterVarsity Press, 2001-2002. Warren Carter, Matthew and the Margins: A Sociopolitical and Religious Reading. Orbis Books, 2000.

For general cultural, religious and social background: Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. InterVarsity Press, 1993. A E. Harvey, A Companion to the New Testament: The New Revised Standard Version. Cambridge University Press, 2004.

… plus articles in major commentaries, such as the New Jerome Biblical Commentary, Oxford Bible Commentary, HarperCollins Bible Commentary, Collegeville Bible Commentary, etc.

Nov 28- Dec 3 weekday homilies

Weekday Homilies Nov 28—Dec 3, 2022):

Nov 28- Dec 3:Click on http://frtonyshomilies.comfor missed homilies: Nov 28 Monday: Mt 8: 5-11: 5 As he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, beseeching him 6 and saying, "Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress." 7 And he said to him, "I will come and heal him." 8 But the centurion answered him, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, `Go,’ and he goes, and to another, `Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, `Do this,’ and he does it." 10 When Jesus heard him, he marveled, and said to those who followed him, "Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.

Context: Jesus’ healing of the centurion’s slave, described in today’s Gospel, shows us how God listens to our Faith-filled prayers and meets our needs. Centurions were reliable, commanding, brave captains in charge of 100 soldiers. They were used to giving and receiving commands. They were the backbone of Roman army. According to Luke’s account (Lk 7:1-10), this centurion loved the Jews and respected their religious customs. He knew that Jews would incur ritual uncleanness on entering the house of a pagan, and, wanting to save Jesus this inconvenience, said he was unworthy to have Jesus come into his pagan house. The Centurion loved his sick servant, trusted in Jesus’ power of healing, and was ready to face the ridicule of his fellow-centurions by pleading before a Jewish rabbi.

The remote healing: The centurion asked Jesus just to shout a command as he did with his soldiers, so that the illness might leave his servant by the power of that order. Jesus was moved by his Faith and rewarded the trusting Faith of this Gentile officer by telling him: "Go; be it done for you as you have believed."

Life messages: 1) We need to grow to the level of Faith of the centurion by knowing and personally experiencing Jesus in our lives. We do so by our meditative daily reading of the Bible, by our daily personal and family prayers, by frequenting the Sacraments, especially the Eucharistic celebration, and by surrendering our lives to Jesus in rendering loving service to others in all humility. 2) Like the centurion we are not worthy to receive Jesus into our hearts in Holy Communion, and at the same time, we invite Jesus to come and heal our souls. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

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

Nov 29 Tuesday : Lk 10: 21-24: 21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. 22 All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." 23 Then turning to the disciples he said privately, "Blessed are the eyes which see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it."

The context: When the seventy-two disciples returned after successfully completing their mission, Jesus rejoiced with them and thanked his Father, shouting aloud a spontaneous prayer expressing three great thoughts.

1) The first thought is that God hates intellectual pride and loves childlike simplicity and humility. Jesus says that only humble people with open minds can experience him as Lord and Savior.

2) The second thought is about the unique relationship between Jesus and his Father. The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are equal in being, possessing the same Divine Nature, Life, and Knowledge. Since the Son is no less perfect than the Father, He is uniquely qualified to reveal the inner life of the Trinity to the world. Jesus was sent to show the world what God looks like and how God behaves.

3) The third thought is Jesus’ claim that He is the expected

Messiah Whom the prophets have foretold. Hence, Jesus asserts that his disciples are blessed with the great privilege of seeing, hearing, and experiencing God in human form.

Life messages : 1) We need to make use of our blessings. We are more blessed than many who lived in Jesus’ time because we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and have him with us in the Eucharist, in the Bible, in the worshipping community, and in each one of us as Emmanuel.

2) Hence, let us participate in Jesus’ Divine life by Holy Communion, hear His words by meditative reading of the Bible, and worship Him as a community of believers. Fr. Kadavil (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

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

Nov 30 Wednesday: (St. Andrew, the Apostle) For a short biography, click here: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-andrew/ (L 10: 21-24): Mt 4: 18-22: 18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. (Mark 1: 14-20)

Two accounts of Andrew’s call: There are two accounts of Andrew’s call as an apostle by Jesus in the Gospels. According to Matthew and Mark, Jesus selected four fishermen, Andrew and his brother Peter, with James and his brother John, right from their fishing boats. Peter and Andrew "immediately" left their nets and followed Jesus. Similarly, James and John "immediately" left the boats and their father and followed Jesus. According to John’s Gospel, John and Andrew were the disciples of John the Baptist, and they had been encouraged to follow Jesus by John the Baptist, who pointed out Jesus as “the Lamb of God” (Jn 1:38-30), suggesting that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. One apostle leading other to Christ: First, we find Andrew, after spending a night with Jesus, leading his brother Peter to Jesus. Andrew and Zebedee’s son, John, immediately ran after Him with their inquiries. After talking with Jesus, Andrew wasted no time in bringing his brother, Simon Peter, to meet Jesus. We can almost picture Andrew, full of excitement, telling everyone he met about our Lord. Through Andrew’s evangelization, St. Peter, our first pope, was brought to Jesus. Next, in the Gospel, Andrew appears in the scene of the multiplication of the bread where Jesus miraculously fed a multitude. While Philip gave a bad report of the situation, Andrew went among the multitude and found a boy who offered to give his small food packet of five bread and fish to Jesus to feed the multitude. Andrew who saw Jesus miraculously supplying wine at Cana knew that Jesus could work another miracle with five barley loaves and two dried fish. We find Andrew a third time in the Gospel, bringing a few Greek pilgrims to Jesus. They had first approached Philip for help and Philip had sought the help of Andrew to bring them to Jesus. The preaching and the martyrdom: According to Church tradition, Andrew preached the Gospel in Greece and Turkey and was crucified at Patras on an X-shaped cross to which he was tied. According another tradition, he also preached in Scotland and Russia. St. Andrew is the patron saint of Russia, of Scotland, and of fishermen.

Life messages: 1) In order to be effective instruments in the hands of God and to continue Jesus’ preaching, healing, and saving ministry, we, too, need to repent of our sins on a daily basis and to renew our lives by relying on the power of God. 2) As the first four apostles, including Andrew, gave priority to Christ and left behind everything, we, too, are to give priority to Jesus and Jesus’ ideals in our vocation in life. 3) St. Andrew’s zeal is a real inspiration to us. When St. John the Baptist pointed to Jesus, saying, “Behold! The Lamb of God!”. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22 For additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

Dec 1 Thursday: Mt 7:21, 24-27: 21 "Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 24 "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; 25 and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; 27 and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.”

The context:In today’s Gospel, the concluding part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives us two warnings: that we must match our profession of Faith with actual obedience to the will of God, and that we must build our life on the firm foundation of Jesus’ teachings. Worship of God without commitment to the word of God is hypocrisy. Sincerity in a Christian can be demonstrated not by what one says alone, but by what one does. Fine words can never be a substitute for fine deeds. Thus, today’s Gospel gives Jesus’ call to authentic discipleship, based on the strong foundation of Gospel teaching. Acting on the words of Christ shows the authenticity of one’s Christian commitment. Jesus contrasts a wise man who practices what he believes with a fool who does not practice his religious beliefs, using the images of one man who built his house on firm rock and another who built his house on loose sand in summer. Only a house with solid and firm foundation can resist the storm and flood, and only a person whose life has strong spiritual foundations can stand the test. Building on loose sand is the way to destruction. Thus, the two builders sum up two ways – the way of perfect righteousness and the way of self-righteousness. On the Day of Judgment, the first will stand; the second will fall.

Life messages : 1) We need to synchronize our practice of the Faith with our profession of it: The test of our Sunday worship is the effect it has in our homes and workplaces and on our relationships with friends and neighbors. The great test is the care and consideration we show to our neighbors, many of whom commonly experience the absence of affection, of words of encouragement and of forgiveness. 2) We need to build our families on strong foundations : There can be no great marriage and no great family without a solid foundation. Such a foundation exists when the husband and wife are the love of Christ for each other and for their children in deeds as well as in words. Our culture and nation also need strong foundations based on the moral law of God and love of Jesus Christ, and this is possible only if our families are built on these foundations. Fr. Kadavil (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

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

Dec 2 Friday: Mt 9:27-31: 27 And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, "Have mercy on us, Son of David." 28 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to him, "Yes, Lord." 29 Then he touched their eyes, saying, "According to your faith be it done to you." 30 And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly charged them, "See that no one knows it." 31 But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.

The context: Today’s Gospel describes Jesus’ miraculous healing of two blind men who approached him with trusting Faith. Blindness was common in Palestine because of the intense glare of the eastern sun, clouds of unclean flies, and people’s ignorance of the effects of cleanliness and hygiene. The two blind men followed Jesus from the street all the way to the house Jesus entered, loudly expressing their confidence in the “Son of David” and requesting mercy. Jesus found in these men what was required for receiving a miracle, namely a strong and expectant Faith, an earnest desire for vision, and a sincere prayer for mercy. Although they were instructed not to tell anyone of their healing, as soon as they were healed, they immediately expressed their gratitude by bearing witness to Jesus’ healing power throughout the town.

Life messages : 1) We, too, need light and eyesight because we are often blind to the needs and expectations of those around us and even living with us. We are also often blind to the presence of Jesus living in us and in others, to the blessings God showers on us, and to the protection God gives us every day. Hence, let us pray for the spiritual eyesight to realize and experience the presence of Jesus in ourselves and others, and for the good will to do good to and for others. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

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

Dec 3 Saturday (St. Francis Xavier, Priest):For a short biography, click here:https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-francis-xavierMt 9: 35-10: 1, 5, 6-8: 35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity. 10:1 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. 5 These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, "Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And preach as you go, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay. (Cfr. Mt 9: 35- 10: 1)

The context: Today’s Gospel describes the three chief activities of Jesus’ mission, namely heralding, teaching, and healing, and tells how Jesus selected the twelve apostles as disciples and helpers in his Messianic mission. Jesus was primarily the Herald of God his Father, bringing mankind the Good News that God is a loving, forgiving, merciful, and compassionate Father Who wants everyone to be saved. Secondly, Jesus was a Teacher and preacher who taught the Gospel, or the Good News of the Kingdom of God, by living an exemplary life, demonstrating God’s love, mercy, forgiveness, and compassion. Thirdly, Jesus was a Healer, spending much time healing people of their bodily, mental, and spiritual illnesses. The Gospel for today also mentions that Jesus selected ordinary men of no social status as apostles to continue his preaching and healing mission, and gave them both healing power and preaching authority to do so.

Life messages : 1) As Christians, we share Christ’s mission of preaching and healing. This means that we, too, have to demonstrate by our exemplary and transparent Christian lives the mercy, the forgiveness, and the unconditional love of Jesus. 2) We are also called to act as the agents of healing by praying for the sick, by helping them to get the necessary medical and nursing help, and by encouraging them, supporting them and boosting their morale. Fr. Kadavil (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

For additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections (L-22 rsvd)

Advent I (A) Nov 27 Sunday Homily

Advent I [A] (Nov 27) (Eight-minute homily in one page) L/22

Introduction: Today we begin our yearly pilgrimage through the events of history of salvation starting with our preparation for the birthday celebration of Jesus and ending with our reflection on his glorious “second coming” as judge at the end of the world. We are entering the Advent season. Advent means coming. We are invited to meditate on Jesus’ first coming in history as a baby in Bethlehem, his daily coming into our lives in mystery through the Sacraments, through the Bible, and through the worshipping community, and finally his Second Coming (Parousia) at the end of the world to reward the just and to punish the wicked. We see the traditional signs of Advent in our Church: violet vestments and hangings, dried flowers or plain green plants and the Advent wreath. These signs remind us that we must prepare for the rebirth of Jesus in our hearts and lives, enabling him to radiate his love, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness through and all around us.

Scripture lessons summarized: In the first reading (Is 2:1-5), Isaiah describes his prophetic vision of all nations making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, affirming their Faith in the one true God. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 122), is one of the Songs of Assent, the joyous hymns originally sung as pilgrims journeyed to the Temple in Jerusalem. They prepare us for our yearly pilgrimage. In the second reading (Rom 13:11-14), Paul exhorts the Roman Christian community to get ready to meet Jesus in his Second Coming by discharging their duties properly and by freeing themselves from their former pagan life style of jealousy, and rivalry. We, too, are challenged to make spiritual preparations for Christ’s birth in our lives.

In today’s Gospel (Mt 24:37-44), Jesus warns us of the urgency of vigilant preparation for his coming on our part that we may meet him as our Judge both at the end of our lives on earth and on the day of the Last Judgment when he comes in his glory. Jesus reminds us that the unrepentant, ill-prepared evil people were destroyed by the flood in the time of Noah and that a thief will be able to break in and plunder the precious belongings of an ill-prepared householder. Using additional examples later, Jesus repeats his warning for us to be vigilant and well-prepared all the time, doing the will of God by loving others.

Life message: We need to be alert and watchful while spiritually preparing for Christmas by offering our daily work to God for His glory, by practicing more self-control in resisting our evil habits and inclinations, by seeking reconciliation daily with God, our families, and our neighbors, and by asking God’s pardon and forgiveness as we extend our unconditional forgiveness to those who have hurt us. Let us begin each day by praying for the strength and power of the Holy Spirit to prepare ourselves for Jesus’ rebirth in our hearts and lives. Let us remember the waring of Angelus Silesius: “If Christ were born in Bethlehem a thousand times and not in thee thyself; then art thou lost eternally.” ((Angelus Silesius, (1624-1677) born Johann Scheffler and also known as Johann Angelus Silesius, was a German Catholic priest and physician, known as a mystic and religious poet.))

I ADVENT [A] (Nov 27) Is 2:1-5; Rom 13:11-14; Mt 24:37-44

Homily starter anecdotes # 1: Unheeded warning: Early on Sunday morning, June 30, 1974, a hundred young people were dancing to the soul-rock music at Gulliver’s in Port Chester, on the border between New York and Connecticut. Suddenly the place was filled with flames and smoke. In a few minutes 24 were dead, burnt by fire, suffocated by smoke, or crushed in the exit passage by the escaping youngsters. According to the Mayor of Port Chester, the dancing crowd ignored the repeated and frantic warnings given by the band manager when he noticed the smoke. — Today’s second reading passes on to us the warnings given by St. Paul, and today’s Gospel gives Jesus’ warning to be vigilant and prepared for his coming as our Judge. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

#2: Doomsday paranoia: The Jehovah’s Witnesses frightened gullible followers at least 3 times during the last century with their “end of the world” predictions – in 1914, 1918 and 1974. It was in 1978 that the media flashed the shocking news of the mass suicide of 914 men and women from the U.S.A. They belonged to a doomsday cult called the People’s Temple, in Jonestown, Guyana, and they committed suicide at the command of their paranoid leader, Rev. Warren (Jim) Jones. In 1988, Edgar Whisenant, a NASA engineer, used his mathematical skills to set a date for the return of Jesus. He wrote a book called, 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Take Place in 1988. In the same year Rev. Colin Deal published a book titled Christ Returns By 1988 – 101 Reasons Why. A very popular book in 1989 was 89 Reasons Why the World will End in 1989.It was in 1995 that the landmark apocalyptic thriller novel, Left Behind, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left_Behind),first ofthe series of 16 books byTim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, appeared. In chronological order, these are: The Rising, The Regime, The Rapture, Left Behind, Tribulation Force, Nicolae, Soul Harvest, Apollyon, Assassins, The Indwelling, The Mark, Desecration, The Remnant, Armageddon, Glorious Appearing, andKingdom Come. They were published from 1995 to 2007.Over 62 million copies of the Left Behind series and its related books have been sold, generating $650 million. In October 2005 a big-budget film, Left Behind (https://youtu.be/MUOODCHc-XU)n, based on this novel series, was released and shown in all Evangelical Christian parishes. The film Omega Code, released in October 1999, in time for the Millennium, perhaps, was an independent movie funded by the Trinity Broadcasting Network, the largest Evangelical Christian TV network in the U.S. It was promoted by a team of 2,400 U.S. Evangelical pastors. The plot involves a portrayal of the rapture, when “born again” and “saved” Christians, both alive and dead, are supposed to fly up in the air to meet Jesus on his Second Coming. Omega Code was rated in the top 10 grossing movies for October 1999. This is how modern man reacts to the end of the world. — Today’s readings remind us that we should be well prepared and always ready to meet Jesus at all times, either at the end of our lives or at the end of the world, whichever comes first, without getting panicky. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

#3: Advent wreath and Advent candles: History: One of the most recognizable Catholic symbols of the Advent season is the Advent wreath. It symbolizes the passage of the four weeks of Advent in the liturgical calendar of the Western Church. The concept of the Advent wreath originated in pre-Christian times when people would gather evergreens and light candles to ward off the darkness of winter and serve as a sign of hope that spring would come. By the 16th century, Catholics in Germany began using the wreath as a sign of Christ’s coming. From there the tradition slowly spread throughout the world as Germans immigrated to various countries. Symbolism of the Wreath: The circular wreath represents the fact that God has no beginning and no end. The evergreen branches stand for everlasting life. Four candles—representing Christ as the light of the world—adorn the wreath. Traditionally, three of the candles are purple, a sign of penance. (Sometimes the three candles are blue.) These candles are lit on the first, second, and fourth weeks of Advent. On the third week a rose candle is lit. This week is known as “Gaudete” Sunday, Latin for “rejoice.” The rose candle symbolizes joy. (Make sure to check out the priest’s vestments at Mass on this Sunday. They might be rose to match the rose candle that you will be lighting.) In addition to these four candles, many people place a white candle in the center of their Advent wreath. This candle is called the Christ candle and is lit on Christmas Day to represent the birth of Christ. The candles should be lit each day of the appropriate week and for the subsequent weeks. For example, during the third week you will light two purple candles and the rose one. ( https://www.franciscanmedia.org/advent-wreath-a-popular-symbol/) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Introduction: The readings in the early Sundays of Advent always carry forward the “end of the world” theme from the next-to-last last Sundays of the previous Liturgical year, the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, and the Feast of Christ the King, the 34th and final Sunday of the Liturgical year. These two Sundays link the ending of each Liturgical year with the start of the next. Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the “Sunday of Hope” in God and His Son, Jesus Christ, through whom God has promised to save and redeem His people. Today we begin our yearly re-enactment of the drama of our salvation, starting with the mystery of the Incarnation (Christmas) and culminating in the celebration of Christ’s ultimate victory (Christ the King). It is our yearly pilgrimage through the scenes and events of the history of our salvation. Advent is a time for looking both backward and forward. We look backward as we prepare to celebrate the historical birth of Jesus. At the same time, we look forward to his Second Coming, as we prepare ourselves to welcome him into all areas of our lives during the Advent season. In the Eucharistic Acclamation we profess our faith in Jesus’ Second Coming: “We proclaim Your Death, O Lord, and profess Your Resurrection until You come again”; and in the Creed we proclaim , “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.” One Bible scholar has estimated that there are 1,845 references to Christ’s second coming in the Old Testament and 318 references in the New Testament. We see the traditional signs of Advent in our Church: violet vestments and hangings, no flowers, only green plants in the Sanctuary, and the Advent wreath. We light a candle on this wreath each Sunday until all four are lit. These signs remind us that we are waiting for the rebirth of Jesus in our hearts and lives in love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness. Let us remember that Advent is at once a celebration of the Christ who was, who is and always will be. In other words, Christ has come once, he will come again; indeed, he has never left, but is continually present in his Church.

The first reading, Isaiah (2:1-5) explained: Isaiah reports his prophetic vision of all nations gathering on Mount Zion, as described also by Micah (4:1-3), using the image of pilgrimage. The prophet looks forward to the time when the Covenant between God and His people will be extended to all people, and the Temple in Jerusalem will be the worshipping place for all mankind, so that all may live in peace and harmony with God and their fellow-humans. In the late eighth century BC, God’s people were already divided into a northern kingdom called Israel, and a southern kingdom known as Judah. Israel had fallen under Assyrian rule, while Judah and its capital Jerusalem were in danger of being conquered by Babylon. In the vision of Isaiah, however, Judah is shown as the place to which all nations will come for “instructions in righteous living.” (Zion in Jerusalem was the holy mountain where Solomon’s Temple had stood). The result will be universal peace. The Lord will mediate all disputes among nations, and “they shall beat their swords into plowshares.” The prophet reveals to his audience the radical notion that God might love other nations in addition to Judah! The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 122) is one of the joyous hymns originally meant to be sung as pilgrims journeyed to Jerusalem, the site of the Temple, the dwelling place of God on earth. As we sing the Psalm today, it invites us to look longingly toward Christmas, the feast that celebrates the Incarnation of God among us.

The second reading (Romans 13:11-14) explained: In this reading, Paul’s exhortation to the Roman Christians shows them, and us, how to bring about Isaiah’s vision of peace. Because of its concentration on the Parousia,or the Second Coming of Jesus, the Christian community was neglecting its actual day-to-day duties. The Jewish Christians among them lived according to the Law of Moses, a moral code which even pagans admired. But the Gentile Christians were not yet fully free from the “orgies, drunkenness, promiscuity and lust” of their pagan days. Hence, Paul advises them: “Conduct yourselves properly.” He warns them against “orgies and drunkenness…promiscuity and lust.” He condemns their “rivalry and jealousy” and advises them to get ready to meet Jesus at his Second Coming. Paul believes that Jesus’ Second Coming will be a day of salvation only for those who are already acting in a proper manner. We, too, must act as pilgrims, entering wholeheartedly into our yearly pilgrimage through salvation history, leaving behind whatever might hinder our progress, and accepting whatever hardships our journey might entail.

Gospel exegesis: The context: Matthew’s audience was mostly made up of Jewish converts to Christianity. These Christians were ridiculed and ostracized by their Jewish friends who had not accepted Christ as the Messiah, and they wondered why some Jews were selected to become Christians and others not. To clear their doubts, Matthew quotes Jesus in today’s Gospel, suggesting the apparently arbitrary nature of the election on the last day. Just as at the time of the Deluge, Noah and his small family were spared while others perished, so shall it be at “the end.” The emphasis on the unpredictability of election may have helped Matthew’s Jewish Christian audience to deal with the fact that many of their fellow-Christians were recently despised Gentiles. This apocalyptic section of Matthew’s Gospel begins with Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of the Temple, and goes on to Christ’s   Second Coming, and the signs preceding both.  Jesus answers the disciples by giving them signs of the end of the age (24:3-8), foretelling persecutions (24:9-14), and recalling the sacrilege prophesied by Daniel (24:15-28).  Jesus also tells the Parable of the Barren Fig Tree (24:32-35), in which he warns his disciples to be alert and prepared.

The need for preparedness: The consistent warning in today’s Gospel text is that we should be prepared for the coming of the Master.  Our text indicates that the end will seem to be a peaceful and normal time, with people eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, and working in their homes or businesses.  In this routine normal life, it might be easy to forget the “coming of the Son of Man.”   In a reference to the story of Noah, Jesus says that the sin of the people was placing too much emphasis on the normal cares and necessities of life.  They were too concerned with eating and drinking – just as we are during the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s holidays.  Jesus reminds us that there is something more important than feasts or weddings: the Son of Man will come to us unexpectedly, either at our death or at the end of the world, and that could be at any moment.   Since God will show up without an appointment, we must be prepared at all times.

The “Rapture.” The reading from Romans contains a disputed reference to the so-called “rapture,” an event in which, it is supposed, some people will be taken up from life on earth directly into the air to meet the returning Christ.  This concept of “dispensationalism,” proposed by Rev. Nelson Darby an Irish Anglican lawyer-pastor in A.D. 1800, is a misinterpretation, however.   The belief in the Rapture is rooted in the fourth and fifth chapters of 1 Thessalonians, which are placed into an elaborate chronology of “end-time” events based on other passages from Revelation, Daniel, and Matthew 24. In this scheme, the Rapture was called the “day of the Lord” which would come like “a thief in the night” (1 Thess 5:2). After this secret removal of believers would come the rise of the Antichrist and the placement of the “Mark of the Beast” on his followers during seven years of Tribulation. At the end of those seven years, the second coming of Christ and Armageddon, the final battle between good and evil, would take place. The passage in Matthew (24:40-41), does, indeed, talk about some people being “taken” and some being “left behind,” but the word for “taken” (paralambanomai) means, not “to go up” but rather “to go along with.”  It isn’t a magical word about the “born again and saved” people floating up in the air as many of our Protestant brothers believe.  It is much more like Jesus’ words to the apostles by the Sea of Galilee: “follow me” or “come along with me.”

We need to be alert even while we work: The man working in the field and the woman working at the mill will be “left”, because they won’t leave their work.  True enough – work is important.  We need to provide food and shelter for ourselves and our families.  But there is something more important than our work: the coming of the Son of Man. God will arrive unexpectedly. We don’t know when a thief might break into our house, so we are prepared for him at all times.  We lock our doors and windows.  We leave a light on when we’re gone. We put in an alarm system. We insure our possessions.  We do these things now because a thief could come at some unknown time.  Hence, especially during this busy Christmas season, we must keep our daily life centered on Christ.

How do we prepare for the unexpected coming of the Son of Man?  In Jesus’ parable, we have an example of the proper and improper methods of waiting.  The faithful slave who, with sincerity and good management, has faithfully carried out his master’s instructions to ensure the welfare of his fellow-slaves (20:26-27), is always ready for his master’s coming. In contrast, the wicked servant is primarily concerned with power, food, and drink.  The master is the image for Jesus.   To be prepared for his coming (Mt  24:3, 36-43), we must be obedient to the Divine will, which means that our actions must serve the community.  The question we might ask is: “Am I being faithful and wise in caring for others while waiting for Christ’s return?”  The text reminds us that our preparation for the Incarnation of our Lord is only one aspect of our Advent preparation, and not necessarily the most important.  Let us remind ourselves of our need to be prepared for our Lord’s return in judgment without “doomsday paranoia” on the one hand or complacency on the other.

Life messages: 1) We need to be alert and watchful while spiritually preparing for Christmas i) by beginning each day by praying for the strength and power of the Holy Spirit to prepare ourselves for Jesus’ rebirth in our lives; ii) by offering our daily work to God for His glory; iii) by practicing more self-control in resisting our evil habits and inclinations; iv) by seeking reconciliation daily with God, our families and our neighbors; v) and by asking God’s pardon and forgiveness as we extend our unconditional forgiveness to those who have hurt us and vi) by trying to see the face of Jesus in everyone we meet today and sharing with them Jesus’ sacrificial love, mercy, forgiveness, and selfless service.

2) We need to have an Advent project to become alert and watchful in the spirit of today’s Gospel.  Every morning when we get up, let us pray, “Lord, show me someone today with whom I may share your love, mercy and forgiveness.”  St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa), once said, “Whatever you do in your family, for your children, for your husband, for your wife, you do for Jesus.”  Every night when we go to bed, let us ask ourselves, “Where have I found Christ today?”  The answer will be God’s Advent gift to us that day. By being alert and watchful, we’ll be getting an extra gift:  Christ himself.  There is a saying about being saved which goes back to St. Thomas Aquinas: “Without God, I can’t.  Without me, He won’t.”

2) We need to be wakeful and watchful: We are so future-oriented that we frequently forget the present entirely.  We spend too much time trying to protect ourselves against future misfortunes.  We save for a rainy day, to get married, to buy a home, to send the children to college, to retire in comfort, and to protect ourselves against future misfortunes with varieties of insurance.  But we need to be more spiritually wakeful to prepare for our eternal life.  Let us make this Advent season the time of such preparation.

JOKES OF THE WEEK: #1: Shirt over the wings: Grandma Martha was scolding her little grandson on his failure to go to church on a Sunday. “You will never get into Heaven the way you are going today,” she told him. “Well, Granny, the reason that I don’t go is I got a problem. I can’t for the life of me figure how I’m gonna get my shirt on over those wings I’ll have on my way to Heaven.” “Never mind about shirts,” said the grandma. “The question in your case is how are you gonna get your hat on over those horns which the bad boys get when they are taken to hell?”

#2: End of the World News Reactions: God had finally had enough and decided to end the world. However, He wanted to warn the people. He decided to call the three most influential people of the world.  He therefore summoned Donald Trump, Xi Jinping (President of China), and Bill Gates into one room and told them of His plan and asked them to go out and inform the world. Trump immediately appeared on CNN news and told the U.S., “I have good news and bad news.  The good news is that God congratulated me for standing for religious and moral principles.  The bad news is that He is going to end the world and I won’t be able to win my second term and bring back full prosperity to our country.” Jiang Zemin went to the Communist network and told his people: “I have bad news and worse news.  The bad news is that, despite what we have taught all these years, there IS a God. The worse news is that He is upset.  He is about to end the world.” Bill Gates turned to the Internet and informed the world: “I have good news and better news…  The good news is that God thinks I am one of the three most influential people on earth… The better news is that Microsoft need not upgrade its WINDOWS anymore.

3) Search Google: One Sunday after Church, a mother was talking to her young daughter. She told her daughter that, according to the Bible, Jesus will return to earth someday. “When is he coming back?” the daughter asked. “I don’t know,” replied the mother. “Can’t you look it up on the Internet?” the little girl asked. [Jeff Totten, “The Lord’s Laughter,” Joyful Noiseletter (Jan. 2004), p. 2.]

USEFUL WEBSITES OF THE WEEK:

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

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

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

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

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

6)    Children’s sermons: http://www.rockies.net/~spirit/sermons/s-children.php

7)  Catholics in Action: http://catholic.org/

8)  Catholic Search Engine: http://www.everythingcatholic.com/1024/default.asp

8) Resources: www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-resources/advent/index.cfm

9)  USCCB video reflections: https://youtu.be/jeD46G-Be5I?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DAAsw34PxZGDqnI_bBKNWa9

10) Pope Benedict on Advent: http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/homilies/2009/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20091128_vespri-avvento.html

Where are the pictures? The pictures are not given in the website-edition (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) because of the new Copyright Regulations.  However, if you want  pictures, please copy and paste Mt 27:37-44 in the search column of Google images and press the Enter button of your Keyboard.

30 Additional anecdotes

1) Cry the Beloved Country: Alan Paton was a South African writer. Among the books he wrote was the haunting story, Cry the Beloved Country, which poignantly described the situation in South Africa under apartheid. Paton had a dream. He dreamt of a new day for his beloved South Africa, a day in which there would be justice and equality for all. For this reason, he entered politics, and fought to end the iniquitous system of apartheid. For decades, he followed his dream and worked generously and courageously to make it a reality. It was a dream that many said would not be realized. Yet it was, though unfortunately Paton did not live to see it. He died before the dawn. – The Lord God gave His  prophet Isaiah an even bolder dream, a prophetic vision of universal brotherhood and peace. Isaiah’s vision was a splendid one. It would only be realized by the coming of the Lord Jesus. (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

2) Left Behind: (https://youtu.be/2jhMj5vCtrA) The scene is the interior of a Boeing 747 in the wee hours of morning. The plane is somewhere over the Atlantic en route to London. The captain leaves his cockpit and strolls down the aisle intending to flirt with the senior flight attendant. She is in shock. People are missing. They have vanished, leaving shoes, socks, clothes, jewelry —  everything — behind. An elderly lady, sitting in first class, cries as she holds her husband’s sweater and pants. She has been left behind. (“Two men will be in the field, one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill, one will be taken and the other left” Mt 24:40).  So begins Left Behind, the first novel of the immensely popular fiction series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Sixteen volumes are now on the market with 62 million copies sold for $650 million, along with a movie, web site, calendar, and survivor kits for children and youth. Tyndale publishers tripled their company’s profits in two years.  But the truth is that Left Behind is fiction, not fact. It has more to do with finances than Faith. Its miracle lies in its marketing, not its theology. The Rapture, on which the whole series is built, is the remote idea that believers will somehow be caught up in the clouds with Jesus to avoid the great persecution spreading over the earth. Matthew knows nothing about “rapture.” He passes on Jesus’ message about end-times. Just read the text. In Mt 24:36 we read, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”  Jesus didn’t even know! Who of us is smarter than Jesus? Why should we try to second guess the Savior? (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-schaeffer/end-times-election-result_b_777865.html) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 3) The Judgment Day: President John F. Kennedy was very fond of a particular story which he often used to close his speeches during his 1960 presidential campaign. It is the story of Colonel Davenport, Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives back in the year 1789.  One day, while the House was in session, the sky of Hartford suddenly grew dark and gloomy. Some of the Evangelical House representatives looked out the windows and thought this was a sign that the end of the world had come.  Uproar ensued, with the representatives calling for immediate adjournment.  But Davenport rose and said, “Gentlemen, the Day of Judgment is either approaching or it is not.  If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment.  If it is, I choose to be found doing my duty.  Therefore, I wish that candles be brought.”  Candles were brought and the session continued. —Today’s readings contain the same message: we always need to be prepared to receive Jesus at his second coming by accepting him now as our personal savior and doing now what he has commanded us to do. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

4) Additional end-time predictions: People have been predicting the end of the world since the first century. St. Paul thought Christ would return in his lifetime. Hippolytus, one of the early philosophers, predicted Christ would return in 500 A.D. In 960, German theologian, Bernard of Thuringia, calculated the end of the world would come in 992. Some were so sure the world was going to end in 1000 A.D. that they did not bother to plant crops. Astrologer, Johann Stoffler, said the world would be flooded on February 20, 1524. Solomon Eccles, in 1665, ran through the streets of London carrying blazing sulfur on his head announcing that the world was going to go up in flames within the year. In 1874, Charles Russell, founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, concluded that Christ had already returned, but people would have another forty years of grace. In 1914, the denomination was forced to revise its timetable. Herbert Armstrong, in his publication, Plain Truth, set the date for the end of the world as January 7, 1972. The Year 2000, and more specifically, the projected Y2K computer problem, caused many to think that the “end was at hand.” Some people made statements such as “a United Nations world-takeover is imminent” and that “Y2K will be the event that they use.” Some even claimed that Jesus spoke of Y2K in His Olivet Discourse, using Lk 21:25 as justification: “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves.”

On September 12th of 2001, a false quotation of the 16th century French astrologer, Nostradamus, spread across the Internet, saying, “Metal birds, striking twin brothers, will mark the end of the world.” The Bible says our times are in God’s hands. We think in minutes. God thinks in millennia. Psalm 90:4 states, “For a thousand years in your sight are like a day.” Martin Luther said in the 1500’s, “We have reached the time of the white horse of the apocalypse; this world can’t last any longer.” On April 3, 1843, one-half million Seventh Day Adventists waited for the end of the world. Some even climbed mountains hoping for a head start to Heaven.  Remember the Y2K scare at the turn of the last millennium? (http://www.tnnonline.net/tribnews/paranoia/milmadness/index.html) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

5) Apocalypticism can be defined as the learning and lore of sages and scholars concerning the consummation of time, the coming Day of the Lord, the return of the Son of Man. Apocalypticism wasn’t new to first-century religious communities. But expecting the eschaton had also become a pitfall and a pratfall for some of the most fervently faithful. Enthusiastic exegetes would carefully calculate the precise day when the Lord would return, only to have the world go on with alarming normalcy when that great day dawned. Faith was crushed. Whole faith communities disbanded in disarray when predicted end days became simply another day. End-time fixations were not exclusive manifestations of ancient communities. On October 23, 1844 thousands of Christians sold their earthly possessions, dressed in white robes, climbed to the tops of the highest mountains they could find, climbed to the tippy-tops of trees to get even higher, and waited for Jesus to return. They had been told this was the date by William Miller, a farmer from western New York who dabbled in apocalypticism which led him to declare this as the date of Jesus’ return based on his exegesis of the Scriptures. When no one went anywhere but down the mountain, he announced a calculation error. The real date was six months later, which also came and went as his followers now went . . . away . . . for good. Jim Jones was another apocalyptic leader. In the 1970s he moved his People’s Temple Full Gospel Church from San Francisco to Guyana, where he could wait for the end-times by creating a community that would live as if the end-times had already occurred. On November 18, 1978, Jim Jones and 911 of his followers ended their end-times waiting by drinking cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. Other apocalyptic communities, from Mother Ann Lee’s Shakers to John Humphrey Noyes’ Oneida Community, sublimated their end-times energies into crafting Shaker furniture and Oneida silverware. Jesus’ words to his disciples this morning warns us against such idle speculations. (Rev. Leonard Sweet). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 6)   Preparation for Christ’s Second Coming: Some wait for the Second Coming of Christ by trying to guess the precise date of his advent. Anticipating the end of the world in 1975, twenty-four men, women, and children from Grannis, Arkansas, moved into one tiny house and waited there for ten months. The end did not come as they had expected, and they were evicted for not paying their rent. In 1986 a man named Richard Kieninger of Garland, Texas, organized a group of people to survive the calamities of the end of time. On May 5, 2000, Kieninger’s followers plan to witness the last day from a dirt pile. Similarly in 1525, a German preacher named Stoeffler predicted the end of the world by flood. All of his parishioners built boats and rafts to survive the end. When the flood did not come, they threw Herr Stoeffler into a deep pond. Such was the case on October 22, 1844. The followers of William Miller, a farmer turned preacher, donned white ascension robes and waited on a hilltop for the Second Coming of Christ. When Christ did not come, they adjusted their beliefs and formed what is now known as the Seventh Day Adventist Church. — Jesus said that we should not wait by trying to guess the date. Said Jesus, “No one knows, not even the angels of heaven” (Mt 24:36). He wanted his followers to be ready for the day of the coming of the Lord. He said that we must be ready because the Son of man is coming at an hour we least expect. Jesus’ call is clear. He calls his followers to expect the end to come at any moment. Our Lord challenges us to watch as we would if we knew the end was just around the corner.(Rev. Joe E. Pennell) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

7) Christ is coming; be prepared: When the bi-partisan 9/11 commission made their final report to Congress, they begin their report with these words. “September 11, was a day of unprecedented shock and suffering in the history of the United States. The nation was unprepared. …. The 9/11 attacks were a shock, but they should not have come as a surprise.” What follows is a long list of warning signs that were generally ignored by the Clinton and Bush administrations in their pursuit of other matters. Things have changed since then. Now the unofficial creed of the American Homeland war on terror is, “Be Vigilant, Be Watchful, and Be Prepared.” We must not be caught off-guard again. — There are Christians who approach the coming of Christ the way the government deals with the war on terror. They ring out a danger and they announce a warning. With concern, they say, “You’d better get ready, you’d better watch out, because before you know it Christ will come.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

8) Jesus is the living Lord who will come again:  To live by Faith also means we will do what we can to offset the threat of the annihilation of life on earth, first of all, by registering our outrage at the atrocities that war, by itself, inflicts upon people. Not many of us can afford to do what Joan Kroc, the widow of the founder of McDonald’s fast-food chain, did just after Memorial Day had been celebrated in 1985. She bought full page advertisements in newspapers and had the following quote from the late former-President Dwight D. Eisenhower printed beside his picture in his military uniform: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children … This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.” — Beyond our voiced or written objections to the arms race or the bomb race, it is for us Christians, as the expression of our Faith in God, to do the good works of love and mercy – feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, telling people the Good News in Jesus Christ – incumbent upon those who believe Jesus is the living Lord who will come again. [George M. Bass, The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown, (CSS Publishing Company, 1986), 0-89536-817-X] (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

9) “Does anybody really care?” The musical group, Chicago, recorded a song several years ago asking, “Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?”–  When it comes to predicting the end of the world, Jesus says, nobody knows what time it is but God, so why should the rest of us try to learn it?  (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

10) “He’ll find me hoeing cotton when he comes.” There is a beautiful Afro-American Spiritual song about waiting for the Lord’s second coming doing one’s duty faithfully:

There’s a King and a Captain high, and He’s coming by and by
And He’ll find me hoeing cotton when He comes.
You can hear His legions charging, the regions of the sky
And He’ll find me hoeing cotton when He comes.

11) Saints and end-times: St. Francis of Assisi, Saint of Nature, was hoeing his garden one day. A philosopher friend approached him and asked, “What would you do if you learned you would die before the sun sets?” St. Francis reflected for a moment and replied, “I would finish hoeing my garden. I would be faithful to what I am doing now.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer was asked by critics, “Why do you expose yourself to all this danger? Jesus will return any day and all your work and suffering will be for nothing.” Bonhoeffer said, “If Jesus returns tomorrow, then tomorrow I will rest from my labors, but today I have work to do. I must continue the struggle until I am finished.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

12) Wake up and stay awake: Ever since the attack on the World Trade center in New York on Sept 11, 2001 there have been nonstop warnings to be alert to possible terrorist attacks. In U. S. airports repeated public announcements from Homeland Security advise whether the level of alert is yellow, orange or red. People are asked to be vigilant about their luggage, lest someone add to our bags something that contains a bomb. —   Who of us is smarter than Jesus? Today’s second and third readings want us to move to red alert. Paul wants the Romans to wake up, and Jesus warns us to stay awake. (Sr. Dr. Barbara E. Reid, NT professor at CTU, Chicago). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

13) We ought to look ahead: John Osborne’s novel Look Back in Anger dealt with the disillusionment a man faced in his youth, due to inequality and unfairness in society. Looking back is less popular today; the modern tendency is rather to Look Ahead, and many pundits are happy to forecast our future. — Conservationists, Ecologists, Demographers, City Planners, Sociologists, Actuaries, and Life-Insurance agents. All this peering into half-foreseeable social facts is useful, up to a point. As rational people, we ought to look ahead, and make plans for future contingencies. — Jeremiah … prophesies that God will fulfill his promise of a Savior. He looks to a time when Judah will enjoy God’s peace and protection because of the birth of “the Lord [Who] is our righteousness.” (Biblical IE) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

14) Waiting for Godot: Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot focuses on two main characters, Vladimir and Estragon. They sit around waiting for the coming of a mysterious person known only as Godot. As they wait for him, they try to recall what their meeting is all about. They know that it is important and that their future depends on Godot’s arrival, but that is all that they can remember. Then two other characters appear on the stage. Vladimir and Estragon are not sure if either one is Godot since they do not know how to recognize him. As the play ends Vladimir and Estragon are left alone on a dark and empty stage, still waiting for Godot to come. — Today’s liturgy ushers the season of “Advent.” Advent celebrates our Lord’s coming in three ways: first, in past history, when He was born a man; second, in the present time, when He comes at Christmas; third, in the future, when He will return at the end of time. In a sense, this final and future coming of Christ is a process, one that will begin for us personally when we die and time will end for us. For the moment, we are still living in a “meantime,” that is, the time between Christ’s coming in past history to share our humanity and his coming in the future to lead us into glory. — Lest our waiting in “meantime” be empty and meaningless, as it seemed to be for Vladimir and Estragon in Beckett’s play, we celebrate an Advent culminating in a Christmas each year to recall why we are waiting and for Whom we are waiting. Another purpose of Advent is to instruct us how to recognize the Lord’s coming – in the duties we carry out, or the things that happen to us, or in the people we meet. During Advent we have to discipline ourselves to see Christ in everyone and in every situation. Our waiting then will not be one of frustration, but rather one of readiness and anticipation. (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds; quoted by Fr. Botelho).(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

15) Be Awake: A man came to Buddha and asked him, “Tell me Buddha, are you a God?” “No, I am not a god.” “Are you an angel?” “No, I am not.” “Are you a prophet?” “No, not a prophet either.”  “What are you then?” Whereupon Buddha answered. “I am awake.” — Most of us are not awake. We are always in slumber. We are not aware of our own thoughts, feelings, and actions. We function most of the time, like automata. The enlightened are those who are aware and awake. (G. Francis Xavier in Inspiring Stories; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

16) They have plenty of time.” Student devils were being dispatched to the earth to finish their training. Satan interviewed them. To the first: “How will you operate?” Said he: “I will instruct people God does not exist.” The Devil shook his head: “Most know our Enemy exists.” The next said: “I will argue Hell does not exist.” Satan was annoyed: “After millions of abortions, people know Hell exists.” The last said: “I will tell all they have plenty of time.” Satan beamed: “Good for you! Do that and you’ll bring people down here by the billions. Why can’t the rest of you be that clever?” (Adapted from Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

17) Wake-up           call:  God’s wake-up call can come to people in different ways and will mean different things to different people. In Mexico in the diocese of Bishop Samuel Ruiz almost 80% of the population was indigenous. The Bishop has become known as “the defender of the Indians.” But it wasn’t always like that. In a talk given in Westminster Cathedral in Lent 1996, Bishop Ruiz said: “For twenty years I was like a sleeping fish. I had my eyes open but saw nothing. I was just proud to be in the diocese where the churches were crowded. Then one day I saw an Indian tied to a tree being whipped by his boss, because he had refused to work an extra eight hours.” That incident opened the bishop’s eyes and he began to look. What he saw being done to his people spurred him into action. He got involved in negotiations with the Zapato rebels and the Mexican government. — One of the phrases we often use is “It dawned on me.” In this way we recognize that it is not enough to be physically awake. We need to be awake socially, morally, and spiritually. (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies)

18) When did you last sharpen your life? There was this very strong woodcutter who asked for a job with a timber merchant and got it. The wages the timber merchant paid were really good and so were the work conditions. For that reason, the woodcutter was determined to do his best. His boss gave him an axe and showed him the area where he was supposed to work. The first day the woodcutter brought 18 trees. “Congratulations’ the boss said “go on that way.” Very motivated by the words of the boss, the woodcutter tried harder the next day, but he could only bring 15 trees. The third day he tried even harder but brought only 10 trees. Day after day he was bringing fewer and fewer trees. “I must be losing my strength,” the woodcutter thought. He went to the boss and apologized, saying he could not understand what was going on. “When was the last time you sharpened your axe? The boss asked. “Sharpen? I had no time to sharpen my axe. I have been very busy trying to cut trees..” —  We may have been busy with so many things, we may have neglected our spiritual life. Like the axe that needs sharpening, we also need to sharpen our spirit. Let us sharpen our spirit this Advent by becoming more loving, more prayerful, more compassionate, more generous and more faithful. Life is not about finding yourself — Life is about recreating yourself! Advent is God’s marvelous gift to all of us. Let this season unfold slowly and nicely. (John Pichappilly in The Table of the Lord; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

19) Rearranging Deck Chairs? On the night of April 15, 1912, the Titanic hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank. Over 1,500 people lost their lives in one of the worst sea disasters in history. A few years ago, a magazine recalled the great disaster and asked its readers this shocking – almost blasphemous – question: “If we’d been on the Titanic when it sank, would we have rearranged the deck chairs?” At first we say to ourselves, “What a ridiculous question! No one in his right mind would ignore wailing sirens on a sinking ship and rearrange its deck chairs! No one with an ounce of sanity would ignore the shouts of drowning people and keep rearranging deck chairs!” But as we continue to read the magazine, we see the reason for the strange question. And suddenly we ask ourselves, “Are we, perhaps, rearranging deck chairs on a sinking ship?” —  For example, are we so caught up with material things in life that we are giving a backseat to spiritual things? Are we so busy making a living that we are forgetting the purpose of life? Are we so taken up with life that we are forgetting why God gave us life?
(Mark Link in Sunday Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

20) Warning of tornados and typhoons. Residents of the southern United States, eastern Mexico and the Caribbean are visited annually by fierce storms called hurricanes. Similar storms generated in the Pacific Ocean are called typhoons. These storms usually occur during the months of June to November and provide an opportunity for residents of these areas to be on a “first-name-basis” (pun intended) with the incredible forces of nature. Because of the development of highly sensitive meteorological instruments, hurricanes (and typhoons) can be detected at their point of origin and tracked with an astonishing degree of accuracy. Consequently, residents in the path of the storm can be forewarned; this enables them to make the necessary preparations which include boarding up windows, mooring boats, stocking up on water, batteries, and non-perishable foods and, –in the event that a strong storm is expected to make land-fall nearby–, to evacuate the area. In spite of the fact that they have been duly warned of the impending danger, however, there are always a few who literally throw caution to the wind and ignore the advice given them. Others flaunt a cavalier attitude and claim that they can “ride out” the storm. Needless to say, some of these daring individuals have proven to be no match for the storm and have perished during its onslaught. — Evidently there were some in Jesus’ day, as well as in the primordial days of Noah who were similarly unimpressed and unresponsive to warnings concerning Divine intervention. Because of this, they were ill-prepared and therefore susceptible to harsh judgment. In today’s Gospel, believers are given fair warning. Unlike a storm which can be predicted and tracked, and unlike the shopping days left before Christmas which can be subjected to a countdown, the Son of Man will appear unannounced and unexpected. The only antidote to this realization is to live in a constant state of preparedness, alert to his overtures, mindful of his challenges, aware and responsive to his daily calls to discipleship. (Sanchez Files). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

21) Mars, Earth, and the Sun are perfectly aligned : A science-fiction story, Transit of Earth, written by Arthur C. Clarke many years ago, was reprinted in OMNI magazine in 1984, simply because the basic premise of the story occurred; the story could have happened. The astronomical part of the story is fact; once every century, Mars, Earth, and the Sun are perfectly aligned in a transit that is predictable. The transit took place in 1984, right on time; that part of the story is true, but the rest of it is fiction, which could have happened, but did not. For the fictional story to become reality, there would have to have been an actual landing on Mars by a spaceship inhabited by people whose task, in part, would have been to observe and report on the transit. Such an expedition was prevented by the turmoil of the times and the financial cutbacks on NASA’s space program, made necessary by a tired and sick economy. — Jesus was not as accurate as contemporary astronomers when it came to predicting the time of his return to the earth: “This generation will not pass away before these things come to pass.” (Mt:24:34)  he said, adding, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father (Mt 24:36)” Jesus hasn’t returned, as he predicted he would, as yet. But one thing  he predicted came to pass: that he would die at the hands of the Gentiles by way of the hostile manipulations of the Jewish leaders,   and that he would rise on the third day! We stake our Faith on the validity of the reports of his resurrection passed down to us by the disciples and the evangelists. Could Jesus have been entirely wrong about “the coming of the Son of Man,” or could it be simply that the time  God has determined for Christ’s return and the beginning of his everlasting reign has not yet arrived? ( Rev. George M. Bass) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

22) Surprise! Surprise! Life is full of surprises! Some surprises are awesome. Someone will get an engagement ring for Christmas. Some surprises are awful. As long as we live, will we ever forget those exploding Twin Towers? Some surprises are a combination of awesome and awful. A parishioner called her pastor and said, “I need a little help. My father just won a 30 million dollar lottery. He is 96 years old, has heart trouble and I am concerned if I tell him, he will have a heart attack. Would you mind paying him a visit?” Of course, the pastor agreed. Sitting in the old gentleman’s home, they talked about sports, the weather, and life in general. Finally, the pastor asked the old man, “Suppose you won 30 million dollars. How would that change your life?” “It wouldn’t,” said the man. “I would still have arthritis and still be 96 years old. In fact, if I had 30 million dollars, I would give it to the Church.” That is when the pastor had a heart attack! — The season of Advent has arrived. Biblically speaking, Advent is both awesome and awful. It is “get ready” time. It is get ready, not just for Christmas, but for Christ. The One who was, who is and who is to come, has arrived, is here, and is yet to return. If that blows your sense of time and space, the Babe of Bethlehem is the present Christ who is returning as the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is time to get ready for Christ. On our way to Holy Communion today, let us consider the Christian Doctrine of the Second Coming of Christ, or the Parousia, as our Christian theology calls it.( Dr. J. Howard Olds) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

23)   Cancer lessons: When I survived a bout with cancer, especially the chemotherapy and radiation, I came out on the other side to discover that I was seeing the world through a new set of eyes. The grass was greener than I had ever seen it. I said to Sandy the following spring, “Is this a different spring than all the ones before? The flowers are more vibrant in color.” She said, “No, it’s just you. You are seeing it differently.” Relationships became more important to me than ever before. Competition took a backseat in one of the most competitive individuals who ever walked the face of the earth. Work became an opportunity, not an obligation. Nothing had changed, but on the other hand, everything had changed. I had changed. I had touched bottom and discovered the bottom was sound. I had found life, not as a right to be earned, but a gift to be received. I did not want the disease, but I would not trade what it taught me for anything in life. — It is this kind of watchfulness that the Christian has in life. It is a sense of embracing life, knowing it is no longer a right, but a beautiful, wonderful gift that God has entrusted to you. “Watch” is the word of Matthew. Christ is coming. Like a child anxious for Christmas, I can hardly wait! How about you? (Dr. J. Howard Olds). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

24)_ Be prepared. It’s the Boy Scout motto. It’s also what we tell ourselves as the hurricane season approaches in the South and wild winter weather approaches in the North.. Local television stations compete with one another to be known as the storm center for their region: the greatest, most up-to-the-minute source of information, weather watches, emergency reports, and eye-in-the-sky overviews. The only problem with all this preparedness, with all this reliance upon emergency broadcast systems, is that once an ice storm, flood, hurricane or windstorm hits with its inevitable power outage, we’re out of the broadcast loop.  It’s completely predictable. Those in the middle of the worst weather, those with the most critical need to know, are those the information can’t reach. Yet whenever the power really does go out we continue to be surprised at the fact that we’re really cut off!  We’re unprepared for the isolation, the helplessness, the not-just-electrical-powerlessness of our situation.

Some emergencies, some crisis situations, truly spring upon us with little or no warning. When Mt. St. Helen’s exploded back in 1980, not one vulcanologist expected the monstrous, nuclear-type blast that flattened the mountainside, the landscape, and the entire ecosystem inside the blast-zone. The scientists were waiting for, even eagerly anticipating, an eruption. They anticipated something powerful and dangerous, but expected a plottable trajectory, a comprehensible movement and growth. When instead the mountain exploded with unimagined force of fire and rush of wind, no one was prepared for the devastation. — In today’s gospel text we hear Jesus’ own words about predictable surprises.(Rev. Leonard Sweet). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

25) Getting ready to save lives from tornados: At the time of this writing, the tornado season has commenced. Several communities have been devastated by the devil twisters. Nothing can stop them, but if you know they are heading your way you can, at least, save your life, together with those you love. Several people have lost their lives because they weren’t prepared. Tornados can be tracked on Doppler radar. If warning is issued, heard and heeded, it can save life. — If our ears are tuned to God’s warnings, we won’t be blotted out by the moral disasters that swoop down on the unsuspecting. Of course, we need to be ready not only to avert the whirlwinds of judgment but to inspire the life-giving gusts from the Spirit of God. (Rev. Russell F. Anderson)

26) Priest leader left behind: In August 1993, hundreds of thousands of young people gathered at the Roman Catholic youth fest. The bid draw was Pope St. John Paul II. One priest from Omaha, in charge of a bus load of kids, was left behind. He directed a bunch of the youth to go to the bus, while he searched for the rest of his group. The missing teens found their way to the bus, but when the youths’ shepherd arrived at the place of departure the bus had already pulled out. — Not only evil things but even good pursuits can prevent us from keeping our appointed meeting with the Lord. If you’re not ready, for whatever reason, you get left behind. That’s the point of the Gospel lesson. Christ is coming to take home all who belong to him; be prepared and ready to go.  (Rev. Russell F. Anderson). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

27) Watch out! Christ may be closer than you can imagine.Martin, the Cobbler”, is Leo Tolstoy’s story about a lonely shoemaker who is promised in a dream that Christ will come to visit his shop. The next day Martin rises early, gets his shop ready, prepares a meal and waits. The only one who showed up in the morning was an old beggar who came by and asked for rest. Martin gave him a room he had prepared for his divine guest. The only one to show up in the afternoon was an old lady with a heavy load of wood. She was hungry and asks for food. He gave her the food he had prepared for his divine guest. As evening came, a lost boy wandered by. Martin took him home, afraid all the while he would miss the Christ. That night in his prayers he asks the Lord, “Where were You? I waited all day for You.“ The Lord said to Martin:

“Three times I came to your friendly door,
Three times my shadow was on your floor.

I was a beggar with bruised feet.
I was the woman you gave to eat.

I was the child on the homeless street.”

(Rev. Dr. J. Howard Olds). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

28) “Ready or not, here I come.” Watch for Him. When I was a boy on a Kentucky farm, relatives and neighbors would gather on summer evenings for fish fries and watermelon. While our parents raised crops and gossiped in the back yard, the children would play hide and seek. Since I was the youngest of the bunch, I was “it” a lot. I still remember the cadence of the count, five, ten, fifteen, twenty and finally to one hundred and the bold announcement, “READY OR NOT, HERE I COME!” — One much greater than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to tie, has come, is here and is yet to return says, “Ready or not, here I come.” Watch for Him. (Rev. Dr. J. Howard Olds).

29) “My God, it would have been even easier than I thought!” Britain’s greatest blunder in World War I happened in the Dardanelles, that narrow strait of water in Turkey that connects the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara and Constantinople. Sir Winston Churchill recommended that the British, the greatest fleet in the world at the time, sail up the Dardanelles, take Constantinople, and end the war. On March 18, 1915, the invasion began. The first day went perfectly but at the end of the day, largely out of fear of the risk and danger ahead, the admirals decided against Churchill’s recommendation. They decided to pull back and take a more cautious approach.

Historians agree this missed opportunity allowed the war to go on for three more years. Ten years after the aborted invasion, Admiral Roger Keys sailed up the narrows into Constantinople. When he arrived he said, “My God, it would have been even easier than I thought! We simply couldn’t have failed…and because we didn’t try, another million lives were thrown away and the war went on for another three years.” The British missed their opportunity, and the consequences were horrendous. They missed it because they were paralyzed with fear and afraid of risks. They missed it and never had another one like — Jesus never meant for his disciples to shrink back from the world in fear or repulsion, but to walk confidently as ambassadors of his love. We prepare for his coming by living our faith boldly and without reservation. . (Rev. Dr. J. Howard Olds). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

30) Let Us Cast Off Deeds of Darkness: Nobody acquainted with the life of St. Augustine of Hippo can hear today’s second reading without thinking of him. This was the passage that changed his life: “Let us cast off deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us live honorably…not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual excess and lust, not in quarreling and jealousies. Rather, put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 13:12b-14). Augustine, you will recall, was a Roman native of Northern Africa, the son of a pagan father and the devout Christian mother whom we venerate as St. Monica. To the grief of his mother, her brilliant son grew up more heathen than Christian. He became an expert in public speaking, teaching that subject both in Africa and in Italy. But he also fell into heretical ways of thinking and pagan ways of living. Monica found that her warnings were ineffectual, so she fell back on prayer. Her prayers were long unanswered, but she kept right on. As a matter of fact, Augustine was more of a Christian than he himself realized. As he grew older, he found that his heretical friends did not have all the answers; and that his lust enslaved rather than liberated him. More and more he became convinced that the Gospel was true. But the cravings of the flesh held him back from an act of faith. He prayed to God “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet!” Then one day in the year 386, as he sat weeping over the problem in his garden in Milan, he heard over the wall the singsong of a child. “Pick up and read, pick up and read”. It was such a strange song that he took it as a hint. A copy lay there of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. He picked it up and his eyes fell on the passage quoted above. As he read it, God’s grace flooded his soul. Suddenly he felt no more shackled by his sexual drives. To Monica’s great joy he accepted baptism. As we know, he went on to become a priest, a bishop and one of the greatest Christian theologians of all time. — The words of the Scriptures are so familiar to us that too often we ignore their message. During this Advent, why not read them or listen to them with fuller attention? The Holy Spirit may have picked out a passage there that could change our lives. (Fr. Robert F. McNamara).

 “Scriptural Homilies” Cycle A (No. 1) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com

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

Thanksgiving Day Homily, Nov 24, 2022

Thank you for your prayerful support of this homily ministry

ONE PAGE SYNOPSIS OF THANKSGIVING DAY HOMILY (Nov 24)L/22

Introduction: Today is a day of national thanksgiving 1) for the blessings and protection God has given us; 2) for our democratic government and the prosperity we enjoy; 3) for our freedom of speech and religion; 4) for the generosity and good will of our people.

History: The winter of 1610 at Jamestown, Virginia, had reduced a group of 409 settlers to 60. The survivors prayed for help, without knowing when or how it might come. When help arrived in the form of a ship filled with food and supplies from England, a thanksgiving prayer meeting was held to give thanks to God. President George Washington issued the first national Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789. In the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving Day as a formal holiday to express our thanks to God. In 1941 with World War II underway, Congress passed the official proclamation declaring that Thanksgiving should be observed as a legal holiday the fourth Thursday of each November.

Biblical examples of thanksgiving: (1) Today’s Gospel describes how one of the ten lepers Jesus healed, a Samaritan, returned to Jesus to express his gratitude while the nine Jewish lepers did not care to thank the healer. Jesus asks the pained question: “Where are the other nine?” (Lk 17:17-18) The episode tells us that even God expects gratitude from us. (2) In 2 Kgs 5: 1-9 Naaman the leper, the chief of the army of the Syrian king, returned to the prophet Elisha to express his thanks for the healing with a gift of 10 talents of silver, 6000 pieces of gold and six Egyptian raiments as gifts. When Elisha refused the gifts, Naaman asked for permission take home two sacks of the soil of Israel to remember the Lord Who healed him, and he promised to offer sacrifices only to the God of Israel. (3) Jesus’ example of thanksgiving at the tomb of Lazarus: “Thank you Father for hearing my prayer.” (Jn 11:41-42). (4) St. Paul’s advice (Eph 5:20): “Give thanks to God the Father for everything.”

The Eucharistic celebration is the most important form of thanksgiving prayer for Catholics. In fact, Eucharist is the Greek word for thanksgiving. In the Holy Mass we offer the sacrifice of Jesus to our Heavenly Father as an act of thanksgiving, and surrender our lives on the altar with repentant hearts, presenting our needs and asking for God’s blessings.

Life message: Let us be thankful and let us learn to express our thanks daily. a) To God for His innumerable blessings, providential care and protection and for the unconditional pardon given to us for our daily sins and failures. b) To our parents – living and dead – for the gift of life and Christian training and the good examples they gave us. c) To our relatives and friends for their loving support and timely help and encouragement. d) To our pastors, teachers, doctors, soldiers, police, and government officers for the sincere service they render us. (Fr. Tony)

THANKSGIVING DAY IN THE U.S.(Nov 24, 2022) L-22

..(Sirach 50:22-24; I Corinthians 1:3-9; Luke 17:11-19)……

Homily starter anecdotes # 1: “Thank you.” Mother Teresa told this story in an address to the National Prayer Breakfast in 1994. “One evening several of our Sisters went out, and we picked up four people from the street. One of them was in a most terrible condition. So I told the other Sisters, “You take care of the other three: I will take care of this one who looks the worst.” So I did for the woman everything that my love could do. I cleaned her and put her in bed, and there was such a beautiful smile on her face. She took hold of my hands and said two words in her language, Bengali: “Thank you.” Then she died. — I could not help but examine my conscience. I asked myself, “What would I say if I were in her place?” My answer was simple. I would have tried to draw a little attention to myself. I would have said, “I am hungry, I am dying, I am in pain.” But the woman gave me much more; she gave me grateful love, dying with a grateful smile on her face. It means that even those with nothing can give us the gift of thanks.”

# 2: But whose hand? A school teacher asked her first graders to draw a picture of something they were thankful for. She thought of how little these children from poor neighborhoods actually had to be thankful for. She reasoned that most of them would no doubt draw pictures of turkeys on tables with lots of other food. She was surprised with the picture that Douglas handed in. It was the picture of a human hand, poorly drawn. But whose hand? The other children tried to guess. One said it was the hand of God because He brings the food to us. Another said it was the hand of a farmer because he raises and grows the food. Finally, when the others were back at their work, the teacher bent over Douglas’ desk and asked whose hand it was. “Why, it’s your hand, teacher,” he mumbled. Then she recalled that frequently at recess she had taken Douglas, a scrubby, forlorn child, by the hand. She did it with many of the children and never thought much about it. But Douglas did. You see, she refreshed his spirit and he never forgot it.

# 3: Two lists: Perhaps Daniel Defoe gave us some good advice through his fictional character Robinson Crusoe. The first thing that Crusoe did when he found himself on a deserted island was to make out a list. On one side of the list he wrote down all his problems. On the other side of the list he wrote down all of his blessings. On one side he wrote: I do not have any clothes. On the other side he wrote: But it’s warm and I don’t really need any. On one side he wrote: All of the provisions were lost. On the other side he wrote: But there’s plenty of fresh fruit and water on the island. And on down the list he went. In this fashion he discovered that for every negative aspect about his situation, there was a positive aspect, something to be thankful for.

— It is easy to find ourselves on an island of despair. Perhaps it is time that we sit down and take an inventory of our blessings.

Introduction:  Thanksgiving is the most uniquely American of all our holidays.  President Abraham Lincoln, in the midst of the Civil War, established Thanksgiving Day as a formal holiday in which we express our thanks to God for the many blessings He has provided.  The first American Thanksgiving didn’t occur in 1621 when a group of Pilgrims shared a feast with a group of friendly Indians. The first recorded public Thanksgiving had taken place in Virginia more than 11 years earlier, and it wasn’t a feast. The winter of 1610 at Jamestown had reduced a group of 409 settlers to 60. The survivors had prayed for help, without knowing when or how it might come. When help arrived in the form of a ship filled with food and supplies from England, a prayer meeting was held to give communal thanks to God. Thanksgiving is the favorite holiday of many Americans.  It has the simplicity of a family gathering together for a meal.  Why should we be thankful this day?  We must learn to be thankful or we will either become bitter and discouraged or grow arrogant and self-satisfied.

However, Thanksgiving Day also has a profound religious meaning, because giving thanks is the very heart of our natural and spiritual life.  For us as Catholics, the central act of worship is called the Eucharist, a Greek word for Thanksgiving. In the Mass, we give thanks to God through Jesus, and share a sacred meal in which we acknowledge the fact that everything we have comes from God.  On Thanksgiving Day in many of our rural parishes, people used to bring items such as fruits and grains which were then blessed by the pastor before being taken home.

Exegesis: There are basically two types of people in our world: the grateful and the ungrateful.  Today’s Gospel tells the story of the ten lepers whom Jesus healed.  Only one of them, a Samaritan – a Jew despised and held unclean for being in schism – returned to give Him thanks.  The other nine (who were “real” Jews), apparently considered their healing as something they had a right to, whereas the Samaritan took it as an undeserved gift from God.  This Gospel reminds us that even God desires our gratitude.  “Where are the other nine?” Jesus asked with pain.  (Confer also Is 1:3-5.)  That is why St. Paul admonishes us, “Always be thankful” (Col 3:17).  It is a Christian’s duty as well as a privilege to be grateful for the blessings of God (Dt 8:10; Ps 107:19, 21; Col 1:12-14; Phil 1:3).  “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.  His love endures forever” (1 Chr 16:34).  (Refer to Ps 107:1, Jn 11:41, Eph 5:20, and Col 3:17 for Biblical prayers and expressions of thanksgiving.)

Gathered around the altar celebrating the Eucharist, we find that our expression of thanks becomes part of the great Thanksgiving Prayer of Christ which joins the mighty chorus of all God’s people.  We should give thanks for this parish community in which we gather together.  It is in this community that we meet Christ in the Breaking of the Bread and receive the Sacraments that nourish and strengthen us along the way.  Hence, “let us give thanks to the Lord our God. For it is right to give God thanks and praise!

Life messages: 1) Let us be thankful to God. Let us thank God for giving us the gifts of life and health, for providing for our spiritual and physical needs, for giving us our families and friends, and for offering us the grace of salvation through Jesus, our Lord and Savior. 2) Let us be thankful to our parents and benefactors.  Honoring one’s parents is the most basic level of gratitude, and that is why we have the fourth commandment: “Honor your father and mother.”   Let us also be thankful for the countless good people in our lives, each of whom has brought his or her own special gifts to us and has touched our lives.  Today, let us remember each one prayerfully, with reverence and gratitude. 3) Do we practice unconditional gratitude? Are we thankful only when we compare our lives with those of others?   Are we thankful only when we compare our standard of living with that of people in very poor countries; or only when we compare our relatively good health to the health of a terminally-ill cancer patient?  Let us remember the Irish proverb: “Once I complained I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet.”

Jokes of the week 

1)” Where are the rotten ones for the pigs?” There was once a lady who complained about everything and everybody. Finally, her pastor found something that she couldn’t complain about. The lady’s crop of potatoes was the finest for miles around. He said to her, “For once you must be pleased. Everyone is saying how splendid your potatoes are this year.” The lady glared at him and said, “They are not so bad, but where are the rotten ones for the pigs?”

2) The turkey with a high fever!   When I think of “Turkey Day,” I am reminded of the story of the little boy who saw his mother putting a thermometer in the turkey.  He said, “If it is that sick, I don’t want any!”

3) “Christopher hit me!”:  It was Thanksgiving Day.  Breakfast was over and the kids were playing in a room full of toys.  Their parents lingered over a second cup of coffee.  In a short while, the parents heard the sound of a brief scuffle.  Then Mary, their three-year-old, burst into the kitchen in tears.  “Mommy! Daddy! Christopher hit me!” she sobbed.  Before either of them could think of a reply, the calm voice of their nine-year-old daughter came from the play room, “It’s Thanksgiving Day –- we must be thankful.  Thank God, he didn’t bite you!!”

4) “I can chew my food:  It was Thanksgiving season in the nursing home. The small resident population had been gathered around their humble Thanksgiving table, and the director asked each in turn to express one thing for which he or she was thankful. Thanks were expressed for a home in which to stay, families, etc. One little old lady, when her turn came, said, “I thank the Lord for two perfectly good teeth left in my mouth, one in my upper jaw and one in my lower jaw.  They match so well that I can chew my food.”

SIMPLE THINGS TO BE THANKFUL FOR.

“I am thankful for the mess to clean up after a party because it means I am blessed with friends.

I am thankful for the taxes I pay because it means that I am employed.

I am thankful for the clothes that fit a little too snugly because it means I have had enough to eat.

I am thankful for my shadow that watches me work because it means I am out in the sunshine.

I am thankful for a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.

I am thankful for all the complaining I do about the government because it means we have freedom of speech.

I am thankful for the spot I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I am capable of walking.

I am thankful for my big heating bill because it means I am warm.

I am thankful for the lady behind me in church who sings off-key because it means I can hear.

I am thankful for the piles of laundry and ironing because it means my loved ones are nearby.

I am thankful for weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day because it means I have been productive.

I am thankful for the alarm that goes off early in the morning because it means I am alive.”

Let me share my little secret. When I feel that the world is caving in and my tears of hopelessness are just about to fall, I look down at my hands. I stretch my fingers and I start to count … my blessings. I say to myself, “I have 10 fingers … 1-2-3-4-5 … I can move all of them. My skin is clear. I can see. I can hear. I can talk. I can walk. I have a family. I have a home. I have friends. I have a job. Not everyone has these. I am a very lucky person. I am whole and I can cope with this minor setback.”– Try it. In your darkest hour, at the height of a most unfortunate situation, count your blessings by starting with your fingers.—Ruby Bayan-Gagelonia

 Why should we be thankful?

  1. We must learn to be thankful or we become bitter.
  2. We must learn to be thankful or we will become discouraged.
  3. We must learn to be thankful or we will grow arrogant and self-satisfied.

Gratitude

Today, upon a bus, I saw a very handsome man,
And wished I were as beautiful.
When suddenly he rose to leave,
I saw him hobble down the aisle.
He had one leg and wore a crutch.
But as he passed, he passed a smile.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.
I have two legs; the world is mine.

I stopped to buy some candy,
The lad who sold it had such charm,
I talked with him, he seemed so glad,
If I were late, it’d do no harm.
And as I left, he said to me,
“I thank you, you’ve been so kind.
It’s nice to talk with folks like you.
You see,” he said, “I’m blind.”
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.
I have two eyes; the world is mine.

Later while walking down the street,
I saw a child I knew.
He stood and watched the others play,
but he did not know what to do.
I stopped a moment and then I said,
“Why don’t you join them dear?”
He looked ahead without a word,
I forgot, he couldn’t hear.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine,
I have two ears; the world is mine.

With feet to take me where I’d go,
With eyes to see the sunset’s glow,
With ears to hear what I’d know.
With loving family friends to enjoy life
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine,
I’ve been blessed indeed, the world is mine.

Thanksgiving Day Prayer

Oh, Heavenly Father,

We thank Thee for food and remember the hungry.

We thank Thee for health and remember the sick.

We thank Thee for friends and remember the friendless.

We thank Thee for freedom and remember the enslaved.

May these remembrances stir us to service,

That Thy gifts to us may be used for others.
Amen

Prayers for Thanksgiving Day 2022

We thank and praise You, our Heavenly Father, for establishing and preserving our nation in freedom, for giving us a rich land in which to dwell, and for providing us with an abundance of the fruits of the earth. In order that we might live in peace and be good stewards of all that You provide, grant us Your grace to recognize Your gifts and to live as good citizens. Give us grace to offer You ourselves as living sacrifices to the glory of Your holy name and the betterment of mankind. Of all Your many blessings, chief among them is the peace we have with You on account of the precious Blood of Jesus Christ, shed for us for the full remission of all our sins. We thank You for Your great love in sending Your Son to be our Savior, in calling us out of our rebellion and into fellowship with Him. We give You thanks that You have done this apart from any worthiness in us. Forgive us for those times when we grow complacent in Your love, not living out our baptismal identity but instead taking Your gifts for granted. As the great day of Christ’s return draws ever closer, teach us each day to cling to You, that we may on the Last Day stand eternally before Your throne, giving You our unending thanks and praise. We ask this through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God, now and forever. Amen.

Thanksgiving Intercessory Prayers for Thanksgiving Day Holy Mass

 Response to priests prayer: We give You thanks, and bless Your holy Name.

Priest: Let us cry aloud our thanks to the all-blessed Trinity:

P:   For the tender love You show Your whole creation. We give You thanks, and bless Your holy Name.

P:   For the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the homes in which we live.

P:   For our families, for husbands and wives, and especially children with their  joy and their trust, for grandparents and grandchildren, for aunts and uncles.

P:   For the fields and their harvest, for farmers and their labors, for the good earth and all its bounty.

P:   For our nation and all its people, and for the freedoms we enjoy, especially for the freedom to worship You in peace.

P:   For the sufferings that come upon us and for the reminder they bring of the one thing needful.

P:   Above all for the Incarnation of our Lord, for His suffering and death, for His glorious Resurrection and Ascension and for the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.

P:   For the holy Church, for the divine waters of Baptism, for the comfort of Holy Absolution, and for the life-giving Sacrament of the Altar.

P:   For the Sacred Scriptures, for the holy Law that shows us our sin, and for the  Holy Gospel that reveals the righteousness of Christ as Your gift to us.

P:   For these and all Your mercies, mercies beyond number and measure, for all of which it is our joy to stand before You and give You thanks.

P:  You are indeed blessed and holy and worthy of all honor and praise, O Father Almighty, O only-begotten Son, O Spirit of Holiness. To You alone do we give all glory now and ever and unto the ages of ages!

C:  Amen!

Concluding prayer by the celebrant

 8 Additional anecdotes

1) Be thankful to Jesus, our Lord and Savior: Dr. Jaroslav Pelikan of Yale University wrote a remarkable study of the significance of the person and work of Jesus Christ, Jesus Through the Centuries. Dr. Pelikan demonstrates how Jesus has been the dominant figure in the history of Western culture. Each age has made Jesus relevant to its own needs. Jesus has furnished each new age with answers to fundamental questions as every generation has had to address new social problems that tested the more fundamental questions of human existence. The world had to take note of Jesus as a rabbi, as the Cosmic Christ, the Ruler of the World, the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace, the Son of Man, the True Image of Man, the Great Liberator. In many other ways Jesus furnished the answers and the images that affected society in positive ways. — Dr. Pelikan’s thesis is that Jesus did not and does not belong to the churches and the theologians alone, but that he belongs to the world. None of this is to say that we can make Jesus what we want Jesus to be. Quite the opposite. It is to say that the Christ is adequate for all our needs and that Jesus transcends culture in such a way that he is able to belong to each age and to address the issues of all time. To understand that, we can do no better than to look to the Holy Gospel for today, which celebrates the transfiguration of our Lord. In that momentous event we learn how and why Jesus belongs to the centuries.

2) “Bow your heads.” Greg Anderson, in Living Life on Purpose,   tells a story about a man whose wife had left him. He was completely depressed. He had lost faith in himself, in other people, in God; he found no joy in living. One rainy morning this man went to a small neighborhood restaurant for breakfast. Although several people were at the diner, no one was speaking to anyone else. Our miserable friend hunched over the counter, stirring his coffee with a spoon. In one of the small booths along the window was a young mother with a little girl. They had just been served their food when the little girl broke the sad silence by almost shouting, “Momma, why don’t we say our prayers here?” The waitress who had just served their breakfast turned around and said, “Sure, honey, we pray here. Will you say the prayer for us?” And she turned and looked at the rest of the people in the restaurant and said, “Bow your heads.” Surprisingly, one by one, the heads went down. The little girl then bowed her head, folded her hands, and said, “God is great, God is good, and we thank him for our food. Amen.”
That prayer changed the entire atmosphere. People began to talk with one another. The waitress said, “We should do that every morning.” — “All of a sudden,” said our friend, “my whole frame of mind started to improve. From that little girl’s example, I started to thank God for all that I did have and stop majoring in all that I didn’t have. I started to be grateful.” (Rev. Brett Blair)

3) Now Thank We All Our God.” You can even be thankful during the most difficult of circumstances in life. It’s true! We see an especially inspiring example of a brave and thankful heart in the story behind one of the church’s most popular hymns, “Now Thank We All Our God.” This particularly hymn was written during the Thirty Years War in Germany, in the early 1600s. Its author was Martin Rinkart, a Lutheran pastor in the town of Eilenburg in Saxony. Now, Eilenburg was a walled city, so it became a haven for refugees seeking safety from the fighting. But soon, the city became too crowded and food was in short supply. Then, a famine hit and a terrible plague and Eilenburg became a giant morgue.  In one year alone, Pastor Rinkart conducted funerals for 4,500 people, including his own wife. The war dragged on; the suffering continued. Yet through it all, he never lost courage or faith and even during the darkest days of Eilenburg’s agony, he was able to write this hymn:

Now thank we all our God,

with hearts and hands and voices,

Who wondrous things hath done,

in Whom the world rejoices

…[So] keep us in His grace,

and guide us when perplexed,

and free us from all ills,

in this world and the next.

Even when he was waist deep in destruction, Pastor Rinkart was able to lift his sights to a higher plane. He kept his mind on God’s love when the world was filled with hate. He kept his mind on God’s promises of heaven when the earth was a living hell. — Can we not do the same – we whose lives are almost trouble-free, compared with the man who wrote that hymn? Whom can you say “thank you” to? (Rev. Erskine White)

4) “Not one of them ever thanked me.” Bishop Gerland Kennedy of California tells the true story of a shipwreck off the coast of Evanston, Ill. Many years ago. The students of Northwestern University came to the rescue. One student, Edward Spenser, personally saved the lives of 17 persons that day. Years later a reporter was writing a follow up story on the event, and went to interview the now elderly Spenser. When asked what was the one thing that stood out about the incident in his mind; Spenser replied: “I remember that of the seventeen people I saved that day, not one of them ever thanked me.

5)” I taught school for forty years, and yours is the first letter of appreciation.” In the book A Window on the Mountain, Winston Pierce tells of his high school class reunion. A group of the old classmates were reminiscing about things and persons they were grateful for. One man mentioned that he was particularly thankful for Mrs. Wendt, for she more than anyone had introduced him to Tennyson and the beauty of poetry. Acting on a suggestion, the man wrote a letter of appreciation to Mrs. Wendt and addressed it to the high school. The note was forwarded and eventually found the old teacher. About a month later the man received a response. It was written in a feeble longhand and read as follows: “My dear Willie, I can’t tell you how much your letter meant to me. I am now in my nineties, living alone in a small room, cooking my own meals, lonely, and like the last leaf of fall lingering behind. You will be interested to know that I taught school for forty years, and yours is the first letter of appreciation I ever received. It came on a blue, cold morning and it cheered me as nothing has for years. Willie, you have made my day.”

6) On that day John D. Rockefeller established his foundation. The very first person to reach the status of billionaire was a man who knew how to set goals and follow through. At the age of 23, he had become a millionaire, by the age of 50 a billionaire. Every decision, attitude, and relationship was tailored to create his personal power and wealth. But three years later at the age of 53 he became ill.
His entire body became racked with pain and he lost all the hair on his head. In complete agony, the world’s only billionaire could buy anything he wanted, but he could only digest milk and crackers. An associate wrote, “He could not sleep, would not smile and nothing in life meant anything to him.” His personal, highly skilled physicians predicted he would die within a year. That year passed in agonizing slowness. As he approached death he awoke one morning with the vague remembrances of a dream. He could barely recall the dream but knew it had something to do with not being able to take any of his successes with him into the next world. The man who could control the business world suddenly realized he was not in in control of his own life. He was left with a choice.He called his attorneys, accountants, and managers and announced that he wanted to channel his assets to hospitals, research, and mission work. On that day John D. Rockefeller established his foundation. This new direction eventually led to the discovery of penicillin, cures for current strains of malaria, tuberculosis and diphtheria. The list of discoveries resulting from his choice is enormous. But perhaps the most amazing part of Rockefeller’s story is that the moment he began to give back a portion of all that he had earned, his body’s chemistry was altered so significantly that he got better. It looked as if he would die at 53 but he lived to be 98. Rockefeller learned gratitude and gave back from his wealth. Doing so made him whole. — It is one thing to be healed it is another to be made whole. It appears that the one leper who returned and threw himself at Jesus’ feet in gratitude was not only healed he was saved by his thanksgiving. “Rise and go,” Jesus said, “your faith has made you well” (Lk 17:19). (Rev. Bret Blair).

7) “How do you know?” asked Lincoln. “You haven’t written her”. A story is told of Abraham Lincoln. One day the President summoned to the White House a surgeon in the Army of the Cumberland from the state of Ohio. The major assumed that he was to be commended for some exceptional work. During the conversation Mr. Lincoln asked the major about his widowed mother. “She is doing fine,” he responded. “How do you know?” asked Lincoln. “You haven’t written her. But she has written me. She thinks that you are dead and she is asking that a special effort be made to return your body.” At that the Commander and Chief placed a pen in the young doctor’s hand and ordered him to write a letter letting his mother know that he was alive and well.
— Oh, the blessings that we take for granted! Oh, the wretchedness of ingratitude! It was Shakespeare who worded it more appropriately than ever we could. He wrote: “Blo blow thou winter wind, / Thou art not so unkind / As man’s ingratitude;  ….”(Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act II, Scene Vii, ll 174-176).

8) First National Thanksgiving Proclamation by George Washington,   
 [New York, 3 October 1789]

By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be—That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks—for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation—for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war—for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed—for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted—for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions—to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually—to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed—to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord—To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us—and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

(Thanksgiving Proclamation, 3 October 1789,” Founders Online, National Archives, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/05-04-02-0091. [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 4, 8 September 1789 – 15 January 1790, ed. Dorothy Twohig. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1993, pp. 131–132.]

 Scriptural Homilies Cycle C (No 63) by Fr. Tony:

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

November 21-26 (Weekday Homilies)

Nov 21-26:Click on http://frtonyshomilies.com for missed homilies

Nov 21 Monday: (The Presentation of Blessed Virgin Mary)

For a short account, click here:https://www.franciscanmedia.org/presentation-of-mary/ Feast: Mt 12: 46-50; (Regular reading:Lk 21: 1-4, & 50) This feast commemorates the presentation of the Blessed Virgin as a young girl in the Temple. (Mary’s house was in Nazareth, 95 miles away from Jerusalem which meant 4-5 days walking distance). Tradition holds that all young Jewish girls were left in the care of the Temple for a period, during which they were educated in reading Scriptures, singing liturgical songs and helping in the Temple. As with Mary’s birth, we read of Mary’s presentation in the Temple only in apocryphal literature. The Protoevangelium of James (recognized as an unhistorical account), tells us that Anna and Joachim offered Mary to God in the Temple when she was very young. Later versions of the story (such as the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew and the Gospel of the Nativity of Mary), tell us that Mary was taken to the Temple at around the age of three in fulfillment of a vow made by her parents. Tradition held that she was to remain there to be educated in preparation for her role as Theotokos- Mother of God. This was to carry out her mother’s promise made to God when Anna was still childless. The feast originated as a result of the dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary the New, built in AD 543 by the Byzantines under Emperor Justinian I near the site of the ruined Temple in Jerusalem. The feast originated in the Orient probably about the 7th century. The Eastern Orthodox church celebrates it on November 21 as one of its twelve “Great Feasts.” The feast which continued to be celebrated throughout the East, was being celebrated in the monasteries of Southern Italy by the ninth century. It was introduced into the Western Church in the 14th century.In the 1974 encyclical Marialis Cultus, Pope St. Paul VI (canonized by Pope Francis, October 14, 2018) wrote, “despite its apocryphal content, it presents lofty and exemplary values and carries on the venerable traditions having their origins in the Eastern Churches.” Though it cannot be proven historically, Mary’s presentation has an important theological purpose. It continues the impact of the feasts of the Immaculate Conception and of the birth of Mary. It emphasizes that the holiness conferred on Mary from the beginning of her life on earth continued through her early childhood and beyond.

Life message: 1) Every Holy Mass in which we participate is our presentation. Although we were officially presented to God on the day of our Baptism, we present ourselves and our dear ones on the altar before God our Father through our Savior Jesus Christ at every Holy Mass. Hence, we need to live our daily lives with the awareness both that we are dedicated people consecrated to God and, therefore, that we are obliged to lead holy lives. We offer ourselves to God, asking to be made holy under the patronage of Mary and assisted by her powerful intercession and the union of her merits. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

Nov 22 Tuesday: (St. Cecilia, Virgin, Martyr): For a short biography, click here:https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-ceciliaLk 21: 5-11:5 And as some spoke of the Temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, 6 “As for these things which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” 7 And they asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign when this is about to take place?” 8 And he said, “Take heed that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name, saying, `I am he!’ and, `The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. 9 And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified; for this must first take place, but the end will not be at once.” 10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11 there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.

The context: Today’s Gospel begins with Jesus’ reaction to the comments the disciples had been making about the splendor of the Temple in Jerusalem. The forty-foot tall pillars supporting the beams of the front porch were made of solid marble. Most of the decorations and the large vine on the front porch with six-foot long grape clusters were made of solid gold plates, while the dome was gold-plated. But Jesus prophesied this Temple’s total destruction. In AD 70, the Roman army invaded the city, plundered everything valuable, set fire to the Temple, pulled down the City’s walls, killed one million Jews, and took 97,000 healthy Jews as captives. Jesus also gave the disciples warnings about false military messiahs and their deceptive doctrines about overthrowing the Romans. Then Jesus listed some signs of the end of the world, like wars between nations, earthquakes, famines, plagues, and unnatural movements of the heavenly bodies.

Life message: We need to learn from the signs of the times, like crises in morality, a culture of death, an increase in violence and terrorism, the “normalization” of sexual deviations, the breaking down of families, and the moral degradation of society, and to prepare ourselves for the end times by living ideal Christian lives, helping others, sharing our blessings with others, getting and staying reconciled with God and our neighbors, and trusting in the living presence of Jesus in the Church . (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

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

Nov 23 Wednesday: (St. Clement I, Pope), Martyr; For a short biography, click here:https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-clement ; St. Columban, Abbot; For a short biography, click here:https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-columban; Blessed Miguel Augustin Pro. Priest, Martyr (U.S.A.): For a short biography, click here:https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/blessed-miguel-agustin-proLuke 21: 12-19:12 But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. 13 This will be a time for you to bear testimony. 14 Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer; 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death; 17 you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish.19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.

The context: Today’s Gospel gives Jesus’ prophetic warning to the apostles and disciples about the sufferings they will have to bear for their Faith in Him until Jesus’ Second Coming. Jesus advises them to bear witness to Him in spite of persecutions, for those persecutions would also encourage the disciples to flee to remote places and to preach the Gospel among the Jews and the Gentiles. Believers, Jesus warns, will be locked up in prisons and brought for trial before kings and governors. Jesus assures them that the Holy Spirit will give them words of defense and witness-bearing. (In the Acts of the Apostles, we read how Stephen was given the wisdom to bear witness to Jesus in Jerusalem). Since there will be divisions in families between believers and non-believers, Jesus declares, close relatives will betray their Christian family members to the pagan authorities and cause their martyrdom. But Jesus assures the disciples in today’s Gospel passage that their suffering for Him will be amply rewarded.

Life messages: 1) Although we may not get a chance to die for the Faith, we are invited to face “dry martyrdom,” a “living death” as outcasts in our contemporary materialistic, secular, liberal, agnostic, and atheistic society. 2) We are called to bear witness to Christ by loving those who hate us, by showing mercy and compassion to those who hurt and ill-treat us, by forgiving those who continue to offend us, by accepting our sufferings without complaint, and by continuing to keep Jesus’ word in our lives. . (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22Additional reflections:https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

Nov 24 Thursday: (St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Companions, Martyrs) For a short biography, click here:https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-andrew-dung-lac-and-companionsLk 21: 20-28: “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, know that its desolation is at hand.o21Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. Let those within the city escape from it, and let those in the countryside not enter the city,p22for these days are the time of punishment when all the scriptures are fulfilled.23Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days, for a terrible calamity will come upon the earth and a wrathful judgment upon this people.q24They will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken as captives to all the Gentiles; and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles* are fulfilled.rThe Coming of the Son of Man.s25“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.t26People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens* will be shaken.u27And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.v28But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”w

Using biblical and apocalyptic images, Jesus foretells the brutal attack of the Roman army on the city of Jerusalem which will occur forty years later, killing most of its revolting residents and demolishing the Temple. Jesus combines the destruction of Jerusalem with events preceding the end of the world because most of the Jews believed that if the Temple were destroyed their world would end. In his prophecy, Jesus attributes the faithlessness of the chosen people and their moral corruption as the main causes of the destruction. That is why Jesus calls it as the “time of punishment” and “days of retribution.” Jewish prophets Isaiah (63:4), Jeremiah (5:29), Hosea (9:7) and Daniel (9:27) gave their prophetic warnings about the future destruction of Jerusalem and its residents. The temple was desecrated by the Greek Antiochus IV Epiphanes from 167 to 165 BC. The “horrible abomination” perhaps refers to an inscription placed on the portal of the temple, dedicating it to the Roman god Olympian Zeus. Jesus warns that these desecrations will be repeated by the Romans. Many will be murdered and other healthy residents will be led away into captivity to Rome and other pagan territories. The holy city itself, its Temple in ruins, will be trampled on by the Gentiles. Then Jesus speaks of various cataclysmic and apocalyptic signs to signal the end of the world using the Hebrew Biblical images. They conclude with Daniel’s vision of the “Son of Man” riding on a cloud coming with great power and glory. But Jesus gives assurance to his loyal followers that this is the time for them to “stand up straight and raise your heads, for your redeeming is near at hand”.

Life messages: 1) Sufferings and tribulations are part and parcel of Christian life. They should help us to reflect on the end of our lives and the final end of our world and to live by the vision and values of the Gospel, sharing agape love with others rendering them humble and sacrificial service. L/22

Life messages: 1) Sufferings and tribulations are part and parcel of Christian life. They should help us reflect on the end of our lives and the final end of our world and to live by the vision and values of the Gospel, sharing agape love with others rendering them humble and sacrificial service. L/22

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

Nov 24 Thursday: (Thanksgiving Day in the U. S):

Lk 17:11-19: Introduction: Today is a day of national thanksgiving 1) for the blessings and protection God has given us; 2) for our democratic government and the prosperity, we enjoy; 3) for our freedom of speech and religion; and 4) for the generosity and good will of our people.

History: The winter of 1610 at Jamestown, Virginia, had reduced a group of 409 settlers to 60. The survivors prayed for help, without knowing when or how it might come. When help arrived in the form of a ship filled with food and supplies from England, a thanksgiving prayer meeting was held to give thanks to God. President George Washington issued the first national Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789. President Abraham Lincoln, in the midst of the Civil War, established Thanksgiving Day as a formal holiday to express our thanks to God. In 1941 Congress passed the official proclamation declaring that Thanksgiving should be observed as a legal holiday the fourth Thursday of each November.

Biblical examples of thanksgiving: (1) Today’s Gospel describes how one of the ten lepers Jesus healed, a Samaritan, returned to Jesus to express his gratitude, while the nine Jewish lepers did not think to thank God and the One He had used to heal. Jesus asks the pained question: ”Where are the other nine?” The episode tells us that God, too, expects gratitude from us.

(2) In 2 Kgs 5:1-9 Naaman the leper, the chief of the army of the Syrian King, returned to the prophet Elisha to thank him for the complete disappearance of his leprosy, and he offered Elisha a gift of 10 talents of silver, 6000 pieces of gold and six Egyptian raiments. When Elisha refused the gift, Naaman asked for permission take home two sacks of the soil of Israel to remember the Lord Who healed him, and he promised to offer personal sacrifices only to the God of Israel.

3) Jesus’ example of thanksgiving at the tomb of Lazarus: “Thank you Father for hearing my prayer(Jn 11:42-42). (4) St. Paul’s advice, “Give thanks to God the Father for everything” (Eph 5:20).

The Eucharistic celebration is the most important form of thanksgiving prayer for Catholics. In fact, Eucharist is the Greek word for thanksgiving. In the Holy Mass we offer the sacrifice of Jesus to our Heavenly Father as an act of thanksgiving, and we surrender our lives on the altar with repentant hearts, presenting our needs and asking for God’s blessings.

Life messages: 1) Let us be thankful and let us learn to express our thanks daily: a) To God for His innumerable blessings, providential care and protection, and for the unconditional pardon given to us for our daily sins and failures. b) To our parents – living and dead – for the gift of life and Christian training and the good examples they gave us. c) To our relatives and friends for their loving support and timely help and encouragement. d) To our pastors, teachers, doctors, soldiers, police and government officers for the sincere service they render us. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

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

Nov 25 Friday: (St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin, Martyr): For a short biography, click here:https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-catherine-of-alexandria Lk 21: 29-33:29 And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees; 30 as soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all has taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

The context: Foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, and the end of the world at an unspecified future time, Jesus warns the disciples in today’s Gospel that tribulations are inevitable before the Last Judgment and the coming of Jesus’ Kingdom. Jesus uses the small parable of the fig tree to explain the point that we must be prepared for the time of tribulation, Jesus’ Second Coming, and the Last Judgment. Fig trees in Israel produce fruits twice a year, at Passover time and in autumn. The sign of the ripening of their fruits is the appearance of fresh leaves on the tree. The Jews believed that the Messiah would appear during the Passover period, which coincides with the appearance of fresh leaves on fig trees. The destruction of Jerusalem would be the end of their world for the Jews. So, the generation in AD 70 saw the end of the world symbolically. Jesus wants us to understand that the Kingdom of God will be near when wars, natural calamities, pestilences, and unnatural movements of heavenly bodies occur. Except for the last-named, these seem to occur in every age. Hence, we must be ever vigilant and prepared.

Life messages: 1) We must be able to read the signs of the times and stay in the kingdom of God by faithfully doing God’s will every day of our lives. 2) We need to continue serving others in humility and love and bearing witness to Jesus through the integrity and transparency of our Christian lives. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

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

Nov 26 Saturday: Lk 21: 34-36:34 “But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; 35 for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth. 36 But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man.”

The context: In St. Luke’s version of Jesus’ advice to the disciples before His passion and death, as given in today’s Gospel, Jesus emphasizes that every Christian needs to be vigilant and prepared because we cannot be sure of the time of our own death when we will be asked to give an account of our lives. Vigilance consists in obtaining strength from God through prayer, so that we may be freed from evil addictions and unnecessary attachment to worldly pleasures. Jesus also instructs us to be vigilant because we do not know the time either of our own death or of the end of the world and Jesus’ Second Coming. St. Paul repeats this advice: “You are not in darkness, brethren, for that day to surprise you like a thief” (I Thes 5: 4).

Life messages: 1) We need to avoid spiritual laziness and indifference. 2) We need to be freed from excessive and crippling anxiety, needless worries and evil habits. 3) We need to get our strength from God by prayer, which means listening to God and talking to Him. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

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

O. T. 34 (Christ the King Sunday) Nov 20, 2022

OT 34 [C] Christ the King Sunday (Nov 20) Eight-minute homily in one page. 

Central theme: This Sunday, at the end of Church’s liturgical year, the readings describe the enthronement of the victorious Christ as King in Heaven in all his glory. Instituting this Feast of Christ the King in 1925, Pope Pius XI proclaimed: “Pax Christi in regno Christi” (the peace of Christ in the reign of Christ). This means that we live in the peace of Christ when we surrender our lives to him every day, accept him as our God, Savior and King and allow him to rule our lives.

The Biblical basis of the feast: A) Old Testament texts: The title “Christ the King” has its roots both in Scripture and in the whole theology of the Kingdom of God. In most of the Messianic prophecies given in the Old Testament books of Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel, Christ the Messiah is represented as a King. B) New Testament texts: a) In the Annunciation, recorded in Lk 13:2-33, we read: “The Lord God will make him a King, as his ancestor David was, and He will be the King of the descendants of Jacob forever and His Kingdom will never end.” In fact, the Kingdom of God is the center of Jesus’ teaching and the phrase “Kingdom of God” occurs in the Gospels 122 times, of which 90 instances are uses by Jesus. b) The Magi from the Far East came to Jerusalem and asked the question: (Mt. 2:2) “Where is the baby born to be the King of the Jews? We saw his star… and we have come to worship him.” c) During the royal reception given to Jesus on Palm Sunday, the Jews shouted: (Lk 19:38) “God bless the King, who comes in the name of the Lord.” d) During the trial of Jesus described in today’s Gospel, Pilate asked the question: (Jn 18:33): “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied: “You say that I am a king. I was born and came into this world for this one purpose, to bear witness to the Truth” (Jn 18:37) e) ) Today’s Gospel tells us that the board hung over Jesus’ head on the cross read: “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews,” (Lk 23:36; see also, Mt 27:37; Mk 15:26; Jn 19:19-20), and that, to the request of the repentant thief on the cross, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom,” Jesus promised “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Lk 23:39-43). f) Before his Ascension into Heaven, Jesus declared: (Mt 28:18): “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.” g) Finally (Mt 25:31) , we read that Christ the King will come in glory to judge us on the day of the Last Judgment.

Life Messages: 1) We need to accept Christ the King as our Lord, King, and Savior and surrender our lives to him. We surrender our lives to Jesus every day when we give priority to his teaching in our daily choices, especially in moral decisions. We should not exclude Christ our King from any area of our personal or family lives. In other words, Christ must be in full charge of our lives, and we must give him sovereign power over our bodies, our thoughts, our heart and our will.2) We need to be serving disciples of a serving King. Jesus declared that he came not to be served but to serve and showed us the spirit of service by washing of the feet of his disciples. We become Jesus’ followers when we recognize his presence in everyone, especially the poor, the sick, the outcast, and the marginalized in the society and render humble and loving service to Jesus in each of them. 3) We need to accept Jesus Christ as the King of love. Jesus came to proclaim to all of us the Good News of God’s love and salvation, gave us his new commandment of love: “Love one another as I have loved you,” (Jn 13:34), and demonstrated that love by dying for us sinners. We accept Jesus as our King of love when we love others as Jesus loved, unconditionally, sacrificially, and with agape love.

CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY (2 Sm 5:1-3; Col 1:12-20; Lk 23:35-43)

Homily starter anecdotes: #1: Christ has conquered; Christ now rules: In the middle of St Peter’s square in Rome, there stands a great obelisk. It about four and half thousand years old, and it originally stood in the temple of the sun in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis. But it was bought to Rome by the dreadful Emperor Caligula and it was set right in the middle of Circus of Nero, equally dreadful, that was on the Vatican hill. It was in that Circus that St Peter was martyred, and the obelisk may well have been the last thing on this Earth that Peter saw. On top of the obelisk there now stands a cross. In ancient times there was a gold ball representing, of course, the sun. Now there is a cross — the cross of Christ, and on the pedestal of the obelisk there are two inscriptions. The first of them in Latin, “Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat”, which translated means, Christ has conquered, Christ now rules, Christ now reigns supreme. The other inscription says “The Lion of Judah has conquered.” — So here we have the language of victory. Christianity has triumphed by the power of the cross and triumphed even over even the greatest power that the ancient world had known, the Roman Empire, and here in the middle of St Peter’s square stands the obelisk bearing those triumphant inscriptions. (Mark Coleridge Archbishop of Brisbane) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

#2: “Long live Christ the King!” In the 1920s, a totalitarian regime gained control of Mexico and tried to suppress the Church. To resist the regime, many Christians took up the cry, “Viva Cristo Rey!” (“Long live Christ the King!”) They called themselves “Cristeros.” The most famous Cristero was a young Jesuit priest named Padre Miguel Pro. Using various disguises, Padre Pro ministered to the people of Mexico City. Finally, the government arrested him and sentenced him to public execution on November 23, 1927. The president of Mexico (Plutarco Calles) thought that Padre Pro would beg for mercy, so he invited the press to the execution. Padre Pro did not plead for his life, but instead knelt holding a crucifix. When he finished his prayer, he kissed the crucifix and stood up. Holding the crucifix in his right hand, he extended his arms and shouted, “Viva Cristo Rey!” (“Long live Christ the King!”) At that moment the soldiers fired. The journalists took pictures; if you look up “Padre Pro” or “Blessed Miguel Pro” [beatified by Pope St. John Paul II, September 25, 1988) on the Internet, you can see that picture. (Fr. Phil Bloom). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

#3: “I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.” St. Thomas More is the patron saint of lawyers and politicians, among others. He was a brilliant lawyer and diplomat in 16th century England. His patriotism and loyalty to the throne attracted the attention of King Henry VIII who made him Lord Chancellor of England. What Henry VIII did not know was that Thomas More’s first loyalty was to Christ, the King of kings. When Henry VIII decided to divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon, marry Anne Boleyn, and make himself head of the Church of England, Thomas More thought this was not right. Rather than approve what he believed to be against the Divine will, he resigned from his prestigious and wealthy position as Lord Chancellor and he and his family lived a life of poverty thereafter. Since he would not give his support to the king, Thomas More was arrested, convicted of treason, imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1534 and beheaded in July of the following year. On his way to public execution, More encouraged the people to remain steadfast in the Faith. His last recorded words were: “I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”– For More, it was not simply enough to confess Christ privately in the safety of his heart and home; he believed one must also confess Christ in one’s business and professional life as well as in the laws and policies that govern society. (Fr. Munacci). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 4: On His Majesty’s Service: Polycarp, the second century bishop of Smyrna, 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, Jesus Christ, who saved me?” The Roman officer replied, “Unless you change your mind, I will have you burnt.” But Polycarp said, “You threaten a fire that burns for an hour, and after a while is quenched; for you are ignorant of the judgment to come and of everlasting punishment reserved for the ungodly. Do what you wish.” He was condemned to be burnt at the stake, and the sentence was carried out, but the flames did not touch him, so his executioners had to stab him to death. – Only through the grace of Holy Perseverance for which he asked God, was Polycarp enabled to remain faithful through all his trials. We all need to ask God for that same grace daily, if we would be with God in Heaven! (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 5: A king with a big difference: Charles Colson, former legal counsel to Richard Nixon and later founder of the Christian Prison Fellowship, says it like this: “All the kings and queens I have known in history sent their people out to die for them. I only know one King who decided to die for his people.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Introduction: In the Church’s calendar, Christ the King is the parallel of the Super Bowl trophy or the Final Four in college basketball or the last game of the World Series. The Church’s liturgical year concludes with this feast of Christ the King, instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 to celebrate the Jubilee Year and the 16th centenary of the Council of Nicaea. Instituting this feast, Pope Pius XI proclaimed: “Pax Christi in regno Christi” (“The peace of Christ in the reign of Christ”). This feast was established and proclaimed by the Pope to reassert the sovereignty of Christ and the Church over all forms of government and to remind Christians of the fidelity and loyalty they owed to Christ, who by his Incarnation and sacrificial death on the cross had made them both adopted children of God and future citizens and heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven. The Feast was also a reminder to the totalitarian governments of Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin that Jesus Christ is the only Sovereign King. Christ is our spiritual King and Ruler who rules by truth and love. We declare our loyalty to him by the quality of our Christian commitment, expressed in our serving of others with sacrificial and forgiving love, and by our solidarity with the poor. Although emperors and kings with real ruling power exist today only in history books, we nevertheless honor Christ as the King of the Universe and the King of our hearts by allowing him to take control of our lives. In thousands of human hearts all over the world, Jesus still reigns as King. The Cross is his throne and the Sermon on the Mount, his rule of law. His citizens need obey only one major law: “Love God with all your being, and love others as I have loved you.” His love is selfless, compassionate, forgiving, and unconditional. He is a King with a saving and liberating mission: freeing us from all types of bondage, enabling us to live peacefully and happily on earth, and promising us an inheritance in the eternal life of heaven.

Today’s scripture summarized: The first reading (II Samuel 5:1-3) describes all the tribes of Israel choosing Israel’s second king, the great David, as their “shepherd” and “commander.” David’s successful 40-year reign became the model for the hoped-for Messiah– the Christ or the Anointed One in later Judaism. In the second reading (Col 1:12-20), Paul quoting an early Christian hymn, assures the Colossian Christians of: (1) the primacy of Christ over and above all angels and cosmic powers; (2) the value and necessity of the cross; and (3) the cosmic effects of salvation. Today’s Gospel (Lk 23:35-43), referring to the sign board hung by the order of Pilate on the cross of Jesus, “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews,” presents it as an imperial admission of the kingship of Christ, although it was intended to serve as a three-fold mockery. It prompted the Jewish leaders to call out, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God,” and the soldiers to shout at Jesus, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself,” and the thief on Jesus’ left side to challenge him, “Aren’t you the Messiah? Then save yourself and us.” Pilate may have had his own reasons for writing this inscription on the board: to protect himself from being charged with bowing to the pressure of the mob; to mock Jesus and thereby to appease the Jewish leaders; and to forewarn other would-be revolutionaries that their rebellion against the empire would be similarly extinguished. But Pilate was unknowingly accepting the person and mission of Jesus as King and Savior. The repentant thief accepts Jesus as his Savior, calling Jesus Jeshuah, or Jesus, meaning “the Lord saves!” Jesus assured the thief that he had the power to promise him a share in Jesus’ everlasting reign: “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise!” (Lk 23:43)

First reading: II Sm 5:1-3, explained: This reading recalls the story of David’s anointing as King of Israel. David was seen in the Old Testament as a type, a representation, of the future Messianic King (2 Sm 7:16, Is 9:6-7, Jer 23:5). Jesus is often identified as the Son of David, as the Messiah, and as the Shepherd of God’s people. King David’s successful 40-year reign became the model for the hoped-for Messiah (that is, the Anointed One, or the Christ), in later Judaism. Saul, the first King of Israel, learned from the Lord God through the prophet Samuel that the kingship would not remain in his family because he had disobeyed the laws of God. David was chosen by God to replace Saul and was anointed secretly by Samuel in Bethlehem. Forced to flee from Saul, David settled in Hebron. Accepted by the tribe of Judah, he reigned there as King of Judah for seven years. The first reading tells us how, on the death of Saul, the northern tribes came to David in Hebron and anointed him King over all of Israel. David’s reign lasted a mere forty years, but Christ’s reign is eternal. David was a mere man, sinful but repentant. Christ is True God and True Man, sinless and All-perfect. Christ died on the cross to free all men from their sins.

Second reading: Col 1:12-20, explained: Among the early Christians at Colossae, there were people promoting a detailed belief in angels and their mediating role in our relationship with God. Neither affirming nor denying the existence of these “Thrones, Dominations, Principalities or Powers,” Paul simply states that Christ is superior to the whole lot. St. Paul tells the Colossians how grateful they should be to God for having made them Christians and citizens of Christ’s kingdom. The Apostle then describes Who and What their new Sovereign is: true God and true Man, the true Image of the invisible God and, at the same time, the perfect exemplar of true humanity. As God’s beloved Son, our King has direct and immediate access to God. As the Image of the invisible God, Jesus, our King, is the embodiment of Divine Sovereignty. As the firstborn of creation, He is the promise of all the good things that will follow. As risen Lord, He is the Head of the Church and the promise of our own resurrection. This portion of St. Paul’s Epistle is aptly chosen for this great Feast of the Kingship of Christ, for it reminds us of how blessed, how fortunate we are to be Christians, citizens of His Kingdom on earth, with a promise of perpetual citizenship in His Heavenly Kingdom if we remain faithful to Him, because “in Him all things hold together.”

Gospel explained: Today’s Gospel presents Christ the King as reigning, not from a throne, but from the gibbet of the cross. Like the “suffering servant” of Isaiah (53:3), Jesus is despised and rejected, as the bystanders ridicule the crucified King, challenging him to prove his Kingship by coming down from the cross. The Gospel also tells of the criminal crucified beside Jesus who recognized Jesus as a Savior King and asked Jesus to remember him when he entered his kingdom. Jesus promised the good thief, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise!” Tradition remembers the criminal on Jesus’ right side as “the good thief” who repented of his sins at the last moment, though Mark and Matthew call him a “revolutionary.” Although the Romans intended the inscription on the cross, “This is the King of the Jews,” to be ironic, it reflected the popular Jewish speculations about Jesus’ possible identity as the Messiah of Israel. For Luke and other early Christians that title was correct, since the Kingship of Jesus was made manifest most perfectly in his suffering and death on the cross, followed by his Resurrection on the third day, as he had foretold.

The Biblical basis of the feast: A) Old Testament texts: The title Christ the King has its roots both in Scripture and in the whole theology of the Kingdom of God. In most of the Messianic prophecies given in the Old Testament books of Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel, Christ the Messiah is represented as a King. B) New Testament texts: a) In the Annunciation, recorded in Lk 13:2-33, we read: “The Lord God will make him a King, as his ancestor David was, and He will be the King of the descendants of Jacob forever and His Kingdom will never end.” In fact, the Kingdom of God is the center of Jesus’ teaching and the phrase “Kingdom of God” occurs in the Gospels 122 times, of which 90 instances are uses by Jesus. b) The Magi from the Far East came to Jerusalem and asked the question: (Mt. 2:2) “Where is the baby born to be the King of the Jews? We saw his star… and we have come to worship him.” c) During the royal reception given to Jesus on Palm Sunday, the Jews shouted: (Lk 19:38) “God bless the King, who comes in the Name of the Lord.” d) During the trial of Jesus described in today’s Gospel, Pilate asked the question: (Jn 18:33): “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied: “You say that I am a king. I was born and came into this world for this one purpose, to bear witness to the Truth.” e) Today’s Gospel tells us that the board hung over Jesus’ head on the cross read: “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews,” (Lk 23:36; see also, Mt 27:37; Mk 15:26; John 19:19-20), and that, to the repentant thief on the cross who made the request: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom,” Jesus promised , “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise!” (Lk 19:39- 43). f) Before his Ascension into Heaven, Jesus declared: (Mt. 28:18): “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.” g) Finally (Mt 25:31), we read that Christ the King will come in glory to judge us on the day of the Last Judgment.

What is the Kingdom of God? What is the Kingdom of Christ the King? Here is a beautiful explanation given by Gerald Darring (St. Louis University: Center for Liturgy): The Kingdom of God is a space. It exists in every home where parents and children love each other. It exists in every region and country that cares for its weak and vulnerable. It exists in every parish that reaches out to the needy. The Kingdom of God is a time. It happens whenever someone feeds a hungry person, or shelters a homeless person, or shows care to a neglected person. It happens whenever we overturn an unjust law, or correct an injustice, or avert a war. It happens whenever people join in the struggle to overcome poverty, to erase ignorance, to pass on the Faith. The Kingdom of God is in the past (in the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth); it is in the present (in the work of the Church and in the efforts of many others to create a world of goodness and justice); it is in the future (reaching its completion in the age to come). The Kingdom of God is a condition. Its symptoms are love, justice, and peace. Jesus Christ is king! We pray today that God may free all the world to rejoice in his peace, to glory in his justice, to live in his love.

Life Messages: 1) We need to assess our commitment to Christ the King today. As we celebrate the Kingship of Christ today, let us remember the truth that he is not our King if we do not listen to him, love him, serve him, and follow him. We belong to his Kingdom only when we try to walk with him, when we try to live our lives fully in the spirit of the Gospel and when that Gospel spirit penetrates every facet of our living. If Christ is really King of my life, he must be King of every part of my life, and I must let him reign in all parts of my life. We become Christ the King’s subjects when we sincerely respond to his loving invitation: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart (Mt 11:29). By cultivating in our lives the gentle and humble mind of Christ, we show others that Jesus Christ is in indeed our King and that he is in charge of our lives.

2) We need to give Jesus control over our lives. Today’s Feast of Christ the King reminds us of the great truth that Christ must be in charge of our lives, that we must give him sovereign power over our bodies, our thoughts, our heart, and our will. In every moral decision we face, there’s a choice between Christ the King and Barabbas, and the one who seeks to live in Christ’s Kingdom is the one who says, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” Let us ask ourselves the question, “What does Jesus, my King, want me to do or say in this situation?” Are we praying each day that our King will give us the right words to say to the people we meet that day, words that will make us true ambassadors of Jesus? Does our home life as well as the way we conduct ourselves with our friends come under the Kingship of Jesus? Or do we try to please ourselves rather than him?

3) We need to follow Christ the King’s lesson of humble service to the Truth. Christ has come to serve and to be of service to others. Hence, we are called to his service – service to the Truth. In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus saying that the reason for his coming – the reason that he was born – was to “bear witness” to the Truth. The Truth to which Jesus bears witness by His Life and which he teaches us is that God, his Father, is also our loving and forgiving Father, so we are all His children, forming one body. Hence, whatever we do for His children, and our sisters and brothers, we do for Him. So we are called to be a people who reach out to embrace the enemy and the stranger, a people who are called to glory in diversity, a people who will endlessly forgive, a people who will reach out in compassion to the poor and to the marginalized people of our society, a people who will support one another in prayer, a people who will realize that we are called not to be served, but to serve. In other words, servant-leadership is the model that Christ the King has given us. “For the Christian, ‘to reign is to serve him,’ particularly when serving ‘the poor and the suffering, in whom the Church recognizes the image of her poor and suffering founder’” (CCC #786).

4) We need to obey the law of love of Christ the King. Citizens of Christ’s kingdom are expected to observe only one major law–the law of love. “Love God with your whole heart and love your neighbor as yourself.”(Mt 10:10; 22:37-40; Mk 12:30-31); Lk 10:27.) “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments”(Jn 15:10). Jesus expects a higher degree of love from His followers: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34). On this great Feast of Christ, the King, let us resolve to give him the central place in our lives and promise to obey his commandment of love by sharing what we have with all his needy children.

JOKES OF THE WEEK

#1: Christ is in charge: Susan C. Kimber, in a book called Christian Woman, shares a funny piece of advice she received from her little son: “Tired of struggling with my strong-willed little son, Thomas, I looked him in the eye and asked a question I felt sure would bring him in line: ‘Thomas, who is in charge here?’ Not missing a beat, he replied, ‘Jesus is, and not you mom.’ ”

#2: Co-pilot Christ the King: Many people love bumper sticker theology. Bumper stickers may not always have the soundest theological statements, but they generally at least have the ability to make you think.

# 3: Right near the end!” Once a priest was giving a homily and as he went on, he became more animated. He made a sweeping gesture – and accidentally knocked his papers from the pulpit. He scrambled to pick them up, then asked, “Now, where was I?” A voice from the congregation responded, “Right near the end!” — Well, we are at the end – not of the homily, but of the liturgical year

# 4: The most famous man who ever lived: One day a kindergarten teacher nun said to the class of 5-year-olds, “I’ll give $2 to the child who can tell me who was the most famous man who ever lived.” An Irish boy put his hand up and said, “It was St. Patrick. “The teacher said, “Sorry Sean, that’s not correct.” Then a Scottish boy put his hand up and said, “It was St. Andrew.” The teacher replied, “I’m sorry, Hamish, that’s not right either. “Finally, a Jewish boy raised his hand and said, “It was Jesus Christ.” The teacher said, “That’s absolutely right, Marvin, come up here and I’ll give you the $2.” –As the teacher was giving Marvin his money, she said, “You know Marvin, you being Jewish, I was very surprised you said Jesus Christ.” Marvin replied, “Yeah. In my heart I knew it was Moses, but business is business…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

6) The Catholic Liturgical Library: http://www.catholicliturgy.com/

7) Liturgical Calendar: http://www.themass.org/c-1109.htm

8) Intercession for priests: http://www.intercessionforpriests.org/

9) Preach the word:

http://www.preachtheword.com/topical.html

10) Text week homilies: http://textweek.com/yearb/christb.htm

33- Additional anecdotes

1) A Man for All Seasons: There is a great scene in the play, A Man for All Seasons, that fits very well with today’s Feast of Christ the King.  You might remember that the play was about the determination of St. Thomas More to stand for the Faith against the persuasion and eventually the persecution of Henry VIII of England.  In the scene I’m referring to, Henry VIII is trying to coax his second-in-charge, Thomas More, to agree with him that it is proper for him, the King, to divorce his wife Catherine on the grounds that she was also his sister-in-law but really because she had not given birth to a male heir to the Kingdom.  After the King made all his arguments, Thomas More said that he himself was unfit to meddle in this argument and the King should take it to Rome.  Henry VIII retorted that he didn’t need a Pope to tell him what he could or couldn’t do.  Then we come to the center point.  Thomas More asked the King, “Why do you need my support?”  –Henry VIII replied with words we would all love to hear said about each of us, “Because, Thomas, you are honest.  And what is more to the point, you are known to be honest.  There are plenty in the Kingdom who support me, but some do so only out of fear and others only out of what they can get for their support.  But you are different.  And people know it.  That is why I need your support.” —         In the presence of integrity, Henry VIII knew who was King and who was subject. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

2) “I am the greatest.” Jesus is not a king like the ancient Egyptian king, Ramses, whose arrogant motto was inscribed on temples still standing, “I am the greatest.” Jesus is not a king like the king of China, a savage tyrant who used millions of slaves to build the Great Wall of China, a wall so huge that it can be seen from the moon. He is not a king like Louis XIV, who lived in excessive luxury in his Versailles palace of 1000 rooms. Jesus is different in that he was not born of a reigning King, though He is of the royal House of David, but as the Scripture tells, Jesus is the One Whom God “will choose as king….” — There is no other king like King Jesus, for Jesus is a Divine King, none other than the very Son of God, the Messiah. Jeremiah calls Him, “the Lord of our Salvation.” (v. 6) St. Paul sees this in Jesus who is “the image of the invisible God” and in whom dwells “all the fullness of God.” Jesus himself knows who he is, for he says, “The Father and I are One … he who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:10). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

3) Desperate deaths of autocratic kings and dictators: The death of Josef Stalin (1879-1953) the Communist dictator was described by his daughter as difficult and terrible. Silenced by a stroke shortly before he died, Stalin’s “last words” were more visible than audible. Newsweek magazine quoted Svetlana Stalin who said, “At what seemed the very last moment, he cast a glance over everyone in the room. It was a terrible glance, insane, angry, and full of fear of death. With one final menacing gesture, he lifted his left hand as if he were bringing down a curse on us all.” Philip III of Spain (1578-1621), who proved himself to be an unfit king, indifferent to the plight of his people, breathed his last wishing, “Would to God that I had never reigned. What does all my glory profit but that I have so much the more torment in my death?” Charles IX of France (1550-1574, reigned 1560-1574), who in 1572 had ordered the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of the Huguenots throughout France met death with despair, “What blood! What murders! I am lost forever. I know it.” When she lay dying, Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603) was reported to have said she would give, “All my possessions for a moment of time.”– Today’s Gospel challenges us to compare with these royal deaths Christ the King’s death on the cross, offering his life to God his Father in all serenity and elegance. (Patricia Datchuck Sánchez) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

4) King in disguise: The story is told of Mother Teresa of Calcutta observing a novice using tweezers to pluck maggots from the leg of a dying leper. The young woman stood at arm’s length to perform the odious task. Gently but firmly, Mother Teresa corrected her charge. — Taking the tweezers and putting her face quite near the wound, she said, “You don’t understand, my dear. This is the leg of Christ our Lord. For what you do to this man, you do to him.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

5) Francis of Assisi was wealthy, high-born, and high-spirited, but he was not happy. He felt that life was incomplete. Then one day he was riding, and he met a leper, loathsome and repulsive in the ugliness of his disease. Something moved Francis to dismount and fling his arms around this wretched sufferer; and, lo, in his arms the face of the leper changed to the face of the Christ. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

6) Leo Tolstoy’s story “Martin the Cobbler” tells of a lonely shoemaker who is promised a visit by our Lord that very day. Eagerly all day he awaits his arrival. But all that come are a man in need of shoes, a young mother in need of food and shelter, and a child in need of a friend. Each of these Martin serves willingly. The  cobbler ends the day thinking “Perhaps tomorrow he will come,” only to hear a voice reply, “I did come to you today, Martin; not once, but three times.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

7) “Long Live Christ the King!  Long Live the Pope!”  Those of us, who pray for the persecuted Church, mourned the loss of Ignatius, Cardinal Kung who died at the age of 98.  He stood by his convictions, and withstood persecution for his Faith.  He was consecrated the bishop of Shanghai in 1949, shortly after the Communists took over China. The Chinese government pressured him to align his loyalties to the “Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.”  But he refused, choosing to remain loyal to his Church’s chain of command.  In 1955, the authorities brought him and 200 other priests to a stadium in Shanghai.  The government ordered them to “confess their crimes.”  Instead, Kung shouted “Long Live Christ the King!  Long Live the Pope.”  Shortly thereafter, he received a life sentence, where he spent the next 30 years in prison, most of the time in solitary confinement.  When he was freed in 1987, he came to the United States with his nephew and settled in Stamford, Connecticut.  He went to his eternal reward on March 12, 2000. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

8)   “Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!”  Of thirty Roman emperors, governors of provinces and others in high office, who distinguished themselves by their fanatical zeal and bitterness in persecuting the early Christians, one became mentally deranged; another was slain by his own son.  One of them became blind; another was drowned.  One was strangled; another died in miserable captivity.  One of them died of so loathsome a disease that several of his physicians were put to death because they could not abide the stench that filled his room.  Two committed suicide; another attempted it but had to call for help to finish the work.  Five were assassinated by their own people or servants, five others died the most miserable and excruciating deaths and eight were killed in battle, or after being taken prisoners.  Among those who died in battle was Julian the Apostate.  In the days of his prosperity he is said to have pointed his dagger to heaven, defying the Son of God whom he commonly called “the Galilean.”  But when he was wounded in battle and saw that all was over with him, he gathered up his clotted blood and threw it into the air, exclaiming, “Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!” (Boise) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

9) “He is something more than a king.” In Lloyd Douglas’ novel, The Robe, the slave, Demetrius, pushed his way through the crowd on Palm Sunday, trying to see who the center of attraction was.  He got close enough to look upon the face of Jesus.  Later another slave asked, “See him – close up?”  Demetrius nodded.  “Crazy?”  Demetrius shook his head emphatically.  “King?”  “No,” muttered Demetrius, “not a king.”  “What is he then?” demanded the other slave.  “I don’t know,” mumbled Demetrius, “but he is something more than a king.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

10) “Honey, take a long, long look”: As the body of Abraham Lincoln lay in state for a few hours in Cleveland, Ohio for mourners to pay their tribute, a black woman in the long queue lifted up her little son and said in a hushed voice: “Honey, take a long, long look. He died for us, to give us freedom from slavery.” — Today’s Gospel gives us the same advice, presenting the trial scene of Christ our King who redeemed us from Satan’s slavery by His death on the cross. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

11) “Little omission of kindness“:  William McKinley, the 25th U.S. President, once had to choose between two equally qualified men for a key job. He puzzled over the choice until he remembered a long-ago incident. On a rainy night, McKinley had boarded a crowded streetcar. One of his prospective candidates was in the car. When an old woman carrying a basket of laundry struggled into the car looking for a seat, the job candidate pretended not to see her while McKinley obliged. Remembering the episode as a “little omission of kindness,” McKinley decided against the man on the streetcar. —  Our decisions, even the small fleeting ones, tell a lot about us, whether we serve ourselves or Christ our King living in others. [Presidential Anecdotes by Paul F. Boller Jr. (Penguin Books).] (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

12)  The Generals of Insignificance in our lives: In the Berlin Art Gallery there is a painting by the famous artist Adolph von Menzel that is only partially finished.  It is called, “Frederick the Great Addresses His Generals before the Battle of Leuthen in 1757.” Menzel painstakingly painted the generals first, placing them around the outside of the painting as a background and leaving a bare patch in the middle of the painting for the King.  But Menzel died before he could finish the painting.  So there is a painting full of generals but no king. — We often spend much time enthroning the generals of insignificance in our lives and postpone inviting Jesus the King of Kings into our hearts till the last moment which is quite uncertain.  As a result, many Christians die without putting Christ into the very center of their lives.  The painting of our lives will never be complete until we place at its center Christ the King whose feast we celebrate today. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

13) “I shall be that soldier.” Sportsman and best-selling author Pat Williams, in his book The Paradox of Power, tells about one man who deserved to bear the name Christian. In fact, that was his name, Christian X, King of Denmark during World War II. The people of Denmark remember him the way any of us would want to be remembered, as a person of character, courage, and principle. Every morning, King Christian rode without bodyguards in an open carriage through the streets of Copenhagen. He trusted his people and wanted them to feel free to come up to him, greet him, and shake his hand. In 1940, Nazi Germany invaded Denmark. Like so many other European nations, this small Scandinavian country was quickly conquered. But the spirit of the Danish people and their king proved unquenchable. Even after the Nazis had taken control of the nation, King Christian X continued his morning carriage rides. He boldly led his people in a quiet but courageous resistance movement. On one occasion, the king noticed a Nazi flag flying over a public building in Copenhagen. He went to the German Kommandant and asked that the flag be removed. “The flag flies,” the Kommandant replied, “because I ordered it flown. Request denied.” “I demand that it come down,” said the king. “If you do not have it removed, a Danish soldier will go and remove it.” “Then he will be shot,” said the Kommandant. “I don’t think so,” said King Christian, “for I shall be that soldier.”  — The flag was removed. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

14) Jesse Owens crushing Hitler’s Aryan Supremacy theory: The black man standing in the arena was an affront to Der Fuehrer’s authority. The scene was the 1936 Olympic Games held in Berlin, Germany. The black man was Jesse Owens of The Ohio State University representing the U.S.A. He was aptly called “the fastest human alive.” Der Fuehrer was Chancellor Adolf Hitler who had recently risen to power championing an arrogant theory that his “Aryan race” of “supermen” would conquer the world. In implementing his theory, he began systematically to stamp out the Jews in a bitter expression of prejudice and discrimination. Hitler also publicly denounced Blacks (Negroes as they were called then), as an inferior race. Jesse Owens, in his estimation, should not even be present at the Games. Jesse Owens was not only present, but he went on to win four gold medals in the 100-meter-dash, the 200-meter-dash, the broad jump and the 400-meter relay race. He demolished Hitler’s claim that the Aryan race was superior to all others. Furthermore, this soft-spoken black athlete embarrassed Hitler and undermined his pompous authority in the heart of the Fatherland. — Today is Christ the King Sunday in the liturgical calendar, an appropriate time for us to grapple with the whole question of authority. We may not be in danger of being seduced by an evil power such as Hitler, but we may not be clear on the authority to whom we do give allegiance. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

15) Faith in and fidelity to the King: While battling the Philistines, King David was camped at a place called the Cave of Adullam. He was tired of fighting and was longing for a taste of home. David said, wishing out loud, “O that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem which is by the gate!” Three of his most able and faithful soldiers overheard the king, and took it upon themselves to go and get water from that well for him. It meant risking their necks, for they had to break through the camp of the Philistines to do it. When they brought the water to David, however, he refused to drink it. He recognized how dangerous it had been to get the water, and he realized that this act showed how highly they regarded him. Instead of drinking it, he poured it out on the ground as an offering to the Lord. — David had already shown his faith in his men, and these three were responding with faith and love for their king. (1 Chr 11:15-19). What about Christ? Does he inspire Faith in you? (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

16) In the Line of Fire. Dr. Gary Nicolosi compares God’s love to the 1993 hit film, In the Line of Fire. Clint Eastwood plays Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan. Horrigan had protected the life of the President for more than three decades, but he was haunted by the memory of what had happened thirty years before. Horrigan was a young agent assigned to President Kennedy on that fateful November day in Dallas in 1963. When the assassin fired, Horrigan froze in shock. For thirty years afterward, he wrestled with the ultimate question for a Secret Service agent: Can I take a bullet for the President? In the climax of the movie, Horrigan does what he had been unable to do earlier: he throws himself into the path of an assassin’s bullet to save the President. — Secret Service agents are willing to do such a thing because they believe the President is so valuable to our country that he is worth dying for. At Calvary the situation was reversed, says Dr. Nicolosi. The President of the Universe actually took a bullet for each of us. At the cross we see how valuable we are to God. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

17) The shivering and hungry King: This is a story about an Irish King.  He had no children to succeed him on the throne, so he decided to choose his successor from among the people.  The only condition set by the King, as announced throughout his kingdom, was that the candidate must have a deep love for God and neighbor.  In a remote village of the kingdom lived a poor but gentle youth who was noted for his kindness and helpfulness to all his neighbors.  The villagers encouraged him to enter the contest for kingship.  They took up a collection for him so that he could make the long journey to the royal palace.  After giving him the necessary food and a good overcoat, they sent him on his way.  As the young man neared the castle, he noticed a beggar sitting on a bench in the royal park, wearing torn clothes.  He was shivering in the cold while begging for food.  Moved with compassion, the young man gave the beggar his new overcoat and the food he had saved for his return journey.  After waiting for a long time in the parlor of the royal palace, the youth was admitted for an interview with the king.  As he raised his eyes after prostrating himself before the King, he was amazed to find that the King, who was wearing the overcoat he had given to the beggar at the park, was now  greeting him as the new King of the country. —  When He comes in glory, Christ the King is going to judge us on the basis of our corporal and spiritual works of mercy. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

18) “If only I knew it was you! Nelson Mandela was still a young man when he became leader of the banned African National Congress. At a certain stage of the struggle he was forced to go underground. He used many disguises and in general remained as unkempt as possible, so that he would not be easily recognized. Once he was to attend a meeting in a distant part of Johannesburg. A priest had arranged with friends of his to put him up for the night. However, when Mandela arrived at the house, the elderly woman who answered the doorbell took one look at him and exclaimed, “We don’t want your kind here!” And she shut the door in his face. Later when she found out who it was she had turned away she was horrified and said to him, “If only I knew it was you, I’d have given you the best room in the house.” Mandela did not let incidents like this deter him. —  Jesus appears to us in different guises. If only we knew it was he … [Flor McCarthy in New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho.] (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

19) Gluttonous kings versus humble king: 1) Hu Hai was the second emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221 BC-206 BC). Hu Hai indulged in the super-luxurious life. He forced a large number of peasants from around the country to build Epang Palace and the mausoleum in Lishan Mountain. He ordered 50,000 soldiers to defend the capital and all parts of the country were forced ceaselessly to send provisions to the capital. 2) Several of the Roman emperors, unmatched in wealth and power, fully demonstrated a capacity for luxury and gluttony. Among these emperors, Claudius (ruled AD 41–54) is famous. 3) The luxury banquet laid out in the famous tomb of King Tutankhamen of Egypt (died 1352 BC.), which was intended for the monarch to enjoy in the afterlife, included a gourmet selection of wines inscribed with names of wine districts— one may call them— the Nile Valley, the Nile Delta, and the Oases. Hundreds of attendants waited on them. — Against this background, there came a King, giving a shocking surprise to his followers. Jesus washed the feet of his followers and waited on them. He performed a gesture that had never been heard of, and commanded his followers to do the same, and to follow it as a new commandment in his Kingdom. (Fr. Bobby Jose). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

20) Large grave in the monastery: St. Theodosius was a monk who lived in Palestine in the 500s. After growing in holiness himself, he decided to start a new monastery, which soon attracted so many vocations that it became more of a monastic city than just a monastery. One of the first things he did when he founded his monastery was rather shocking. He dug a large grave, right in the middle of the cloister. When he had finished digging, the little group of curious monks gathered around the rectangular pit to get an explanation. Theodosius said simply: “Here you see a grave. Here we will all one day be buried and our bodies will return to the dust from which they were made. Remember this, my sons, so that you never stray from the Lord’s sure but narrow road of prayer and self-denial. It is better to die to ourselves each day and rise again on the Day of Judgment than indulge ourselves foolishly now and remain in the grave forever.” — St Theodosius had learned well the lesson of today’s parable: Christ wants us to know what’s going to happen after death, so that we can make the right choices throughout our life. (E-Priest). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 21) The British Navy Welcomes the Devil: The main point of Pope Pius XI’s 1925 encyclical on the Fest of Christ the King was to remind Catholics that Christ matters not only for our private lives, but for our public lives too. That reminder is as valid today as it was in 1925. We are constantly bombarded by media messages that tell us to keep our religion safe at home and keep it out of the public square. But if we don’t defend and spread Christian values in society, what values will thrive there? If we don’t continue to bring Christ into culture, what will culture become? You may remember a story that was in the news a couple of years ago. It told how the British Royal Navy officially recognized and approved of the practice of Satanism. A naval technician named Chris Cramer, who explicitly claimed to be a devil worshipper, was granted permission to perform satanic rituals on his ship. A Royal Navy spokesman explained that the Navy was “an equal opportunity employer and we don’t stop anybody from having their own religious values.” —  If we truly believe that Christ is the Savior, that there really is one God who created us and redeemed us, we should not be afraid to bring that Faith to play in the society around us. If we don’t bring it to play, others will bring into play other values and beliefs, and those may not be as innocent as we would like. All religions are not the same. All values systems are the not the same. Today, the Church is reminding us of this, and encouraging us to be faithful followers of the one, true God, who so loved the world that He sent His Son to be our Savior by winning for us the forgiveness of sins through his death on the cross. [Rev. Francis M. de Rosa, STL; E- Priest.] (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

22) Hilaire Belloc won the election:  In 1908, the famous Anglo-French historian and writer, Hilaire Belloc [BELL-ock] ran for the British Parliament. His opponents tried to scare off his supporters by claiming that Belloc’s faithfulness to the Catholic Church would inhibit him from being objective. Belloc responded in a speech: “Gentlemen, I am a Catholic. As far as possible, I go to Mass every day. This [taking his beads out of his pocket] is a rosary. As far as possible, I kneel down and tell its beads every day. If you reject me on account of my religion, I shall thank God for having spared me the indignity of being your representative.” The crowd was shocked for a minute, and then burst out in applause. Belloc went on to win that election, and many more. — If Catholics cannot bring Christ’s wisdom, goodness, and grace into our society, what do we have to offer?  Our paltry human wisdom? Our own tendencies to selfishness? Our shortsightedness? Pope Pius XI’s encyclical stresses that Christ truly is the King of the Universe, that he will reign forever, and that the Church on earth is the beginning of his Kingdom. It is not enough, therefore, for Christians to hold onto their Faith just in their private lives. We must bring Christ and Christian values into culture, politics, and every sphere of society. If we truly believe in Christ, why would we be afraid of defending and spreading Christian values? Why would we let ourselves be bullied by secular fundamentalists who try to exclude Christ from culture? (E- Priest). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

23) The Obelisk in St Peter’s Square: In St Peter’s Square in Rome, there stands an ancient Egyptian obelisk – a single block of granite in the shape of the Washington monument, almost 100 feet high and weighing 330 tons. It is the oldest obelisk in Rome, dating from about 1850 BC. At that time it had been erected as a monument to the Pharaoh, and it watched over two thousand years of Egyptian history – the longest reigning empire in history. It stood there when Abraham was called, when Joseph was viceroy of Egypt, when Moses led his people out of Egypt. At the time of Christ, soon after the Magi came to worship him, the Roman Emperor Caligula brought it to Rome as a sign of Rome’s superiority as conqueror of Egypt. There it stood for four more centuries, a symbol of the Roman Empire, the largest empire in human history. A golden urn with Julius Caesar’s ashes was placed on it. It stood in the arena where St Peter himself was martyred, along with hundreds of other early Christians. Then the barbarians invaded Rome, and in the Middle Ages it fell. Ivy grew around it. It was half-buried near the old Basilica. But the Church converted the barbarians, and when a new Christian culture emerged and flourished, and St. Peter’s Basilica was rebuilt and expanded, Pope Sixtus V had the obelisk re-erected in the center of the plaza. No longer is it a reminder of the long-perished empires of Egypt, Rome and the barbarian hoards. Now it is topped with a bronze cross, and inside that bronze cross is a small fragment of the true cross, the cross on which Christ, conquering his Kingdom, was crucified. Now it serves the universal Kingdom that will have no end, the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. (E- Priest). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 24) Empires Come and Go – The Church Endures: St Maximilian Kolbe: This is one of the reasons why tyrants hate the Catholic Church so much. Tyrants want total control – we call their governments “totalitarian regimes”. And so they can’t stand the Catholic Church, because it is a constant reminder that they don’t have total control – that they can’t; only God can. And so, just as Herod tried to do with Jesus, the eternal King, they try to stamp out the Church, the eternal Kingdom. The Roman emperors tried. The barbarian tribes of northern Europe tried. The Medieval Islamic Caliphs tried. The French Revolutionaries tried. Napoleon tried – he even kidnapped the Pope, twice! The Nazis tried, and the Communists tried too, giving the twentieth century the bittersweet honor of having more Christian martyrs than any previous century. The tyrants of every generation try to take over the throne that only Christ can occupy, but the Church continues to survive, grow, and spread. A favorite example of this unconquerability of our Faith is found in St. Maximilian Kolbe. He was the Franciscan priest who died famously in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. A fellow prisoner had been condemned to death. But the condemned man had a family, and St. Maximilian had none, so the saint offered himself as a substitute. It was the crowning action of a string of selfless deeds that he performed throughout his imprisonment. Even the horrors of that concentration camp couldn’t conquer his Christian spirit. He celebrated secret masses on crowded, plank bunk beds; he secretly heard confessions walking through the mud to work; he even gave hope to his fellow death-row inmates: for fifteen days they prayed and sang hymns in the bunker where they were being starved to death. — This is Christ the King’s everlasting, unconquerable, universal Kingdom. This is our Kingdom. This is our Church. (E- Priest). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

25) The King of Kings is here! The old Cardinal, Hugh Latimer, often used to preach before King Henry VIII. It was customary for the Court preacher to present the King with something on his birthday, and Cardinal Latimer presented to Henry VIII a pocket handkerchief with this text in the corner –“Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge,” a very suitable text for King Henry. Then he preached very forcefully on the sins of lust and did not forget the personal application to the King. And the King said that the next time (the next Sunday), when the Cardinal preached, he must apologize. The next Sunday, when the Cardinal stood in the pulpit, he thought to himself, “Latimer, be careful about what you say, the King of England is here.” At the same time a voice in his heart said, “Latimer, Latimer, be careful about what you say, the King of Kings is here.” Strengthened by this, he preached what God wanted him to preach. -Today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. We must enthrone Jesus as our King in our hearts and in our homes. (John Rose in John’s Sunday          Homilies). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

26) The real king? This happened a number of years ago when the late King Baudouin was reigning in Belgium. As the Constitutional Monarch, one of his duties was to “rubber stamp” all the bills passed by Parliament with his signature, thereby officially promulgating them as law. In 1990, the Belgian parliament passed a reprehensible bill that basically removed all legal sanctions against abortions. As a practicing and conscientious Catholic, King Baudouin objected to abortion vehemently, and so he could not and would not endorse the measure. But according to the constitution, he did not have a choice – as figurehead monarch, he had to ratify the bill, so by refusing to sign the bill into law, he was, in effect, attempting to veto the Parliament, and putting his throne on the line! The parliament simply dethroned him for one day, promulgated the law on that day when there was no reigning monarch in Belgium, and then re-instated him on the next day. — Granted, earthly monarchs need constitutional limitations to prevent the abuse of power.  But, that’s not true for the Heavenly Monarch, the all-good, all-loving God, for any time we attempt to impede Christ’s reign in our lives, we’re just erecting an obstacle to the good that He could be in our lives.  Clearly then, there’s false comfort and perilous perdition in that illusion of ultimate self-determination: if someone on the street swears at you and says, “Go to Hell!” sure, it’s easy to invoke your autonomy then and shrug it off with the slur, “I’m free – I don’t have to go anywhere I don’t want to go!” Yet the same people who declare self-determination their highest law and have thus pretended to enthrone themselves as the sovereign moral authority by dethroning in their hearts Christ the King, will discover, when HE solemnly speaks those same words as the judgment of eternal damnation, the absolute limits of personal freedom, limits constituted by the True and Almighty King of all creation. [John Ruscheinsky in Daily Online            Reflections; quoted by Fr. Botelho.] (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

27) A king of love, mercy and justice: The contemporaries of Jesus grew up hearing the stories of the cruelty of the ancient kings and rulers. Biblical Accounts give vivid descriptions of the cruelty of the Assyrians. In 722 BC Assyrian armies swept through the Near East. They became notorious for their cruelty.  There are caves in Palestine to this day where we can find etched into cave-walls depictions of Assyrian cruelty: men beheaded, children disemboweled, pregnant women ripped open. The Assyrians did it. Up until the Assyrian assault there had been twelve tribes in Israel. The Assyrians slew ten. After 722 BC there were only two tribes left, Judah and Benjamin. The other ten will never be seen again. The kings of Assyria tormented the miserable world. They flung away the bodies of soldiers like so much clay; they made pyramids of human heads;  they burned cities;  they filled populous lands with death and devastation;  they reddened broad deserts with carnage of warriors;  they scattered whole countries with the corpses of their defenders as with chaff;  they impaled ‘heaps of men’ on stakes, and strewed the mountains and choked rivers with dead bones;  they cut off the hands of kings and nailed them on the walls, and left their bodies to rot with bears and dogs on the entrance gates of cities;  they employed nations of captives in making brick in fetters;  they cut down warriors like weeds, or smote them like wild beasts in the forests, and covered pillars with the flayed skins of rival monarchs. The contemporaries of Jesus also were familiar with the cruelties of the Roman emperors and King Herod. They knew how the kings in the ancient world treated their enemies. Against this background there arose a king with a different code of conduct. Hammurabi, the ancient Babylonian king, created the first written set of laws. Since the laws were clearly written down, everyone was expected to obey them. — But Jesus, the king of Kings, summarized all the laws into two and wrote them down in the hearts of men. He taught, “Love God with your whole being and love your neighbors as yourself”  (Mt 22:37-39; Mk 12:30-31; Lk10:34),   and “Love one another as I have loved you!” (Jn 1:34) In the ancient world where enemies were treated with great cruelty, and criminals were murdered mercilessly, this was a shocking message. But from this emerged the uniqueness of the Kingdom Jesus. On this code is grounded the power of his kingdom which will last forever. This has made the kingdom of Jesus different from all the kingdoms on the earth. History has seen the rise and fall of many empires. But history has not seen any empire other than the empire of Jesus that grows century after century. When the angel announced to Mary that she had been chosen to be the mother of Jesus, he said, “His kingdom will have no end.”(Lk 1:33) The angel thus conformed the prophecy of Daniel: “His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty which shall never pass away, nor will his empire ever be destroyed.” (Dan 7:14). Fr. Bobby Jose. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

28) Jesus is the king of hearts: Bishop Villegas in his book entitled Jesus in My Heart said that Jesus is king of hearts in every Christian. To explain this contention, Villegas used the image of a deck of cards which carries four images of kings. The first image is the king of clubs. A club is an extension of a violent hand. A club is an extension of a hostile man. Christ cannot be king of clubs because Jesus is not here to sow violence. Jesus is not here to sow hostility. Jesus is here as a king of peace. Jesus is here, gentle and humble of heart, not to sow enmity among us. Jesus is here so that all may be brothers and sisters to one another. Bishop Villegas continued that Jesus could not be king of spades. A spade is used to throw dirt. Jesus is not here to make our lives dirty. Jesus is here to cleanse us from everything that defiles us. Jesus is not the king of spades because Jesus is not in the grave. Jesus is risen from the dead. Jesus is not king of spades because the business of Jesus is not to make other people dirty, to make people look at the grave dug by spades. The business of Jesus is to give hope and purity to us. Jesus cannot be king of diamonds for he came to bless our poverty. Jesus came to bless our pains and our aches. Jesus is not here to make our lives easier and more comfortable. Jesus is here to give meaning and purpose to our crosses and pains and trials. Jesus can only be king of hearts. This is the kind of king that Jesus is. He is the king of the universe because he is the king of hearts. (Fr. T.S. Benitez). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

29) Come unto me: A wonderful statue of Jesus the Christ exists in the cathedral of Denmark’s fairy-tale city of Copenhagen. The sculptor was the master Albert Bertel Thorvaldsen who died in 1844. He chose to sculpt a monumental Christ, the Christus, that would reveal Him in all His majesty. His hands would be raised as befitted His awesome power. His face would look out regally on everyone and everything. He would indeed be the King of kings, the Man in total control. It was done. “Jesus is the greatest figure in human history,” the sculptor said when the clay model was finished, “and this statue will so represent Him.” However, a funny thing happened on the way to the unveiling. The statue was left in a shed near the water. The dampness had its way with the clay Christ statue. The upraised hands had drooped. They no longer commanded. Rather, they beseeched. The fiercely upturned face had lowered itself onto the master’s chest. The person who wore this face had known many problems and was compassion itself. This was no longer a King before whom one would grovel and stutter, “Your Royal Majesty.” Rather, it was a Shepherd solicitous for every one of His sheep. — At first, Thorvaldsen was bitterly disappointed by the accident. Then he realized after reflection that this was a more accurate Jesus than the one he had originally conceived. Indeed, it might have been providentially planned. So, he left it undisturbed. His original intention had been to inscribe the dictum “FOLLOW MY COMMANDS” on the base of the statue. But now he realized that was no longer appropriate. Instead he chiseled the softer message “COME UNTO ME.” To this day, this benign Nazarene touches the hearts and spirits of those who enter the Copenhagen cathedral. It is reported that often Thorvaldsen’s masterpiece reduces spectators to tears. In most probability, it has more of a genuine effect on them than his majestic Christ ever would have. The statue reminds them of His famous words to a puzzled Pontius Pilate in today’s Gospel, “My kingdom is not of this world”(Jn 18:36). (Father James Gilhooley). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/). 

30) “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.” I am sure that most of you have read the immortal play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. After the assassination of Julius Caesar by Brutus and Cassius, the body of Caesar lies before the people.  It is then that Mark Anthony gives his famous speech reminding the people how much Caesar loved and cared for them.  He said, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him; the evil that men do lives after them; the good is often interred with their bones. So be it with Caesar. The noble Brutus has told you that Caesar was ambitious. If it were so, it was a grievous fault and grievously has Caesar answered it. Caesar was my friend, faithful and just to me. He has brought many captives here to Rome, whose ransom did the general coffers fill.” Then he mentioned Caesar’s will in which he made the Roman citizens his heir. — Often, we forget the good and great things people do to us. It took Mark Anthony to remind the Roman citizens of Caesar’s love and care. Then their hearts were set on fire. This morning may we remember the great love, care, and power which Christ has bestowed upon us. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

31) Napoleon, writing in exile on St Helena, wrote these famous words before his death: “Alexander (The Great), Caesar, Charlemagne and I have founded empires.  But on what?  On force!  Jesus alone founded his empire on love; and at this hour, millions of men would die for him.  He is everywhere proclaimed, loved and adored and his sway is extended over all the earth.” —  The Church still stands – and it always will…as long as there are people ready to profess their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. (Fr. Tony Kayala) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

32) Bring Us to the Joy of His Kingdom: “You would have no power over me whatever,” Jesus said to Pilate, “were it not given you from above” (Jn 19:11). — Even the most powerful kings get their authority from Christ who was designated by His Father to be the “universal king.” Italy’s last king, Humbert II, who died in exile on March 18, 1983, learned through bitter experience the transiency of earthly kingship. Umberto was the son of King Victor Emmanuel III. Victor, who reigned from 1900 to 1946, was largely a figurehead. When Mussolini became Italy’s most powerful personage in 1922, Victor weakly named him prime minister. Thus, whether he wanted to or not, he became a partner in the building of Fascism. True, the king took a firmer stand when the Allies invaded Italy in 1943. He dismissed the Duce from office and installed an anti-Fascist as premier. But Victor Emmanuel had already compromised himself, so he abdicated on May 9, 1946, in favor of his son. Prince Umberto accepted the crown but wore it all too briefly. On June 2, 1946, the Italians voted to replace the monarch with a republic, and sentenced the new monarch to perpetual exile. Though Humbert did not abdicate, he resigned himself to exile. Italians nicknamed him “il Re del Maggio” – “the May King”: his reign had lasted only one month. Humbert passed the rest of his life in Portugal. He led a decent, humble, non-political life; but he missed his beloved land. In 1982 the ex-king, now in his seventies, fell ill with a terminal disease. He gently petitioned the Italian government to allow him to visit his homeland for one last time. The government was willing but it would take some time to change the law about his exile. The delay proved too long. When Umberto died in Switzerland, the last word he uttered was “Italia!” Even in death, he could not be buried in Rome. Instead he was interned with his forefathers in mountains of Savoy in southeast France.– Despite his frustration, Umberto made one last kingly gesture. Since 1453 his family had been owners of the Holy Shroud of Turin, the famous linen sheet that seems to have been the burial cloth of Jesus. This he bequeathed to the popes in his will. It was a high tribute of a suffering earthly monarch to the King of Kings. It was also a meek prayer that He Who reigned from the cross might welcome the lesser prince into the only permanent commonwealth – the kingdom of heaven. (Fr. Robert F. McNamara). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

33) What can I possibly learn from a dying felon who was justly convicted? 2,000 years ago, the mighty pagan Roman Empire ruled a giant portion of the known world, and persecuted the newly emerging Catholics for three hundred years simply because they refused to deny the Truth about Jesus. But today, that pagan empire that was based on power is completely gone. In fact, not a single government that existed 2,000 years remains in operation today. However, the Roman Catholic Church survives in the fullness of His truth! It is based not on power, but on powerlessness. In our RCIA classes and classes on the Early Church Fathers, the Creed has crucial and central importance. In that Creed, we profess our Faith – the foundation of our Catholicism – that “we believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ…on the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the scriptures.” We are professing that this man called Jesus, who suffered and died on the cross, rose again – is indeed the King of Kings, the Messiah. Somehow he is with us at all times, even in our own suffering; he is still Christ our King. This is why today’s gospel (Lk 23:35-43) is so ironic. All those who ridiculed and reviled and jeered and sneered at him did not accept him as Messiah; they thought the Messiah would manifest himself in power. Yet here was their King and God right before their eyes, and they did not recognize him because of his powerlessness! But our Gospel does indicate that at least one person recognized and accepted Jesus: a criminal! Jesus’ words of forgiveness bring hope to our hearts: “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk 23:43) — If a criminal can make a last moment’s conversion, then there is hope for me if I humbly return to him. That is Good News! (Fr. Robert F. McNamara). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/). L/22

34) “I am not the king. Jesus Christ is the King. I am just an entertainer.” Elvis Presley. This ”(https://youtu.be/wZQQt1ZTf4Y) is a sound video of when a group attending a concert on September 30, 1974 in South Bend, Indiana unfolded a large sign that said “Elvis is King” on it. This was during Elvis’s white jumpsuit days. He responded with what is on this video. JD Sumner who sang with Elvis told of another similar story, this time at a Las Vegas show when a woman approached the stage with a crown sitting atop a pillow. She told Elvis “It’s for you. You’re the King.” Elvis took her hand, smiled, and told her, “No honey, I’m not the King. Christ is the King. I’m just a singer.”

 “Scriptural Homilies” Cycle C (No 62) by Fr. Tony: 

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

Nov 14-19 weekday homilies

Nov 14-19: (Click on http://frtonyshomilies.com for missed homilies).

Nov 14 Monday: Lk 18: 35-43: 35 As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging; 36 and hearing a multitude going by, he inquired what this meant. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” 38 And he cried, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 And Jesus stopped, and commanded him to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me receive my sight.” 42 And Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43 And immediately he received his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

The context: Jesus was going to Jerusalem to participate in the feast of Passover. At Jericho, there was a big crowd of pilgrims walking along, listening to Jesus’ teaching. Beggars used to sit on both sides of the road, as the pilgrims were very generous, and the people used to line up on the roadside to greet the pilgrims. A blind beggar on the roadside was told by his friends that Jesus of Nazareth, the miracle-worker, was passing by. So, the blind man repeatedly shouted at the top of his voice, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” The pilgrims listening to Jesus’ teaching tried to stop the beggar’s loud cry, but in vain. Jesus stopped, called the beggar to him and asked him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The beggar answered, “Lord, let me receive my sight,” and Jesus replied, “Receive your sight; your Faith has made you well,” and at that moment the beggar was able to see. This miracle was Jesus’ reward to the blind man for his trusting Faith in the healing power and compassionate heart of the Messiah. St. Augustine described the urgency with which we should respond to God’s gift, to His passing us on the road: “I fear Jesus may pass by and not come back.”

Life messages: 1) We, too, need healing from our spiritual blindness which makes us incapable of seeing and appreciating the living presence of God within ourselves and others. For that healing, we also require the same trusting Faith the blind man displayed in the healing power and mercy of Jesus, and the same persevering persistence in our prayers. We need to pray with conviction, urgency, and constancy. 2) We need to repeat the prayer of the blind man, “Lord, let me receive my sight,” when our Faith is feeble, when we cannot understand the reason behind God’s plans, and when our commitments become shaky. God gave us eyes so that we can see. God gave us a heart so that we can see better. Let us use them all the time. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

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

Nov 15 Tuesday: (St. Albert the great, Bishop) For a short biography, click here: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-albert-the-great:

Lk 19:1-10: 1 He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector, and rich. 3 And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it they all murmured, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 …9

The context: The theme of today’s Gospel is the benevolent and forgiving mercy of God for sinners and the response of repentance and conversion expected from us. The story is that of the instantaneous conversion of the tax-collector, Zacchaeus. As the chief tax-collector in Jericho, Zacchaeus was probably a man of much wealth and few friends. Since he worked for the Romans and extracted more tax money than required by the law, he was probably hated by the Jews who considered all tax-collectors as public sinners. The account describes how Jesus recognized Zacchaeus for exactly who he was – a lost sinner in need of a Savior. Jesus’ response lets us see how God’s grace worked in Zacchaeus to lead him from idle curiosity to repentance, conversion, and the making of restitution. The episode emphasizes the fact that such a conversion can only result from a person’s fully receiving the love, acceptance, and grace of a merciful Lord. The story of Zacchaeus reinforces the lessons of the fifteenth chapter of Luke in which a lost sheep and a lost coin are found, and a lost son is embraced. It also demonstrates the fact that nobody is beyond the possibility of conversion.

Life messages: 1) We need to accept the Divine invitation to repentance. We are all sinners to a greater or lesser degree. Jesus is inviting each one of us to total conversion today by means of this Gospel lesson. Let us remember that Jesus loves us, in spite of our ugly thoughts, broken promises, and sullied ideals, our lack of prayer, our lack of Faith, our resentments, and our lusts. Hence, let us confess to Him all our weaknesses and sins, repenting, and ask Him trustfully for His Mercy. 2) We need to love others in spite of their sins, as Jesus loves us. Jesus loved Zacchaeus—a great sinner — and by that love, Zacchaeus was transformed. As parents or teachers, can we lovingly accept our children without first setting up for them standards of behavior as conditions for being loved? Just as Jesus loved Zacchaeus, even though he was a public sinner, so we must love others in spite of their sins. Jesus expects this of us. 3) We need to be set free from selfishness and choose generosity: Zacchaeus was changed from being greedy to being generous, from selfishness to selflessness. When we feel the warmth of God’s presence within us, that warmth will, in itself, melt our coldness and selfishness, leading us to repentance and generosity. (Fr. Tony) https://frtonyshomilies.com/ L/22

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

Nov 16 Wednesday :(St. Margaret of Scotland) For a short biography, click here: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-margaret-of-scotland : Lk 19:11-28: 11 As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. 12 He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive a kingdom and then return. 13 Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten pounds, and said to them, `Trade with these till I come.’ 14 But his citizens hated him and sent an embassy after him, saying, `We do not want this man to reign over us.’ 15 When he returned, having received the kingdom, he commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by trading. 16 The first came before him, saying, `Lord, your pound has made ten pounds more.’ 17..28

The context: The central theme of today’s Gospel is an invitation to live in such a way that we make the best use of the talents God has given us, so that at the hour of our death Our Lord will say: “Well done, good servant! Come and share the joy of your Master.” The parable of the talents challenges us to do something positive, constructive, and life-affirming with our talents here and now.

The parable: A very rich Master, about to set off on a journey, entrusted very large sums of money (talents), to three of his servant-slaves (10 according to Luke 19), each according to his personal ability: five, two, and one. He wanted them to do business with the money in his absence. Through skillful trading and investing, the servant-slaves with the five talents and the two talents managed to double their master’s money. But the servant-slave with one talent buried it in the ground for fear of loss in business. On the day of accounting, the Master rewarded the two clever servant-slaves and punished the third servant-slave whom he called “wicked and slothful.” He took the third servant-slave’s talent and gave it to the first servant-slave.

Life messages: 1) We need to trust God enough to make use of the gifts and abilities He has given us. We may be especially talented in teaching children, or cooking meals, or repairing homes, or programming computers. Let us use our particular gifts in the service of our families, our Christian community, and the wider society. 2) We need to make use of our talents in our parish. We should be always willing to share our abilities in creative worship in the Church and in the various ministries in our parish, such as Sunday-school teacher, singer in the choir, volunteer, and/or member of one or more of the various parish organizations and community outreach programs. 3) We need to trade with our talent of Christian Faith: All of us in the Church today have received at least one talent namely, the gift of Faith. Our responsibility is not just to preserve and “keep” the Faith, but to work with it and grow with it We need to promote and add value to Faith by living it out. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

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

Nov 17 Thursday: (St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious) For a short biography, click here: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-elizabeth-of-hungary: Lk 19:41-44 41 As he drew near and saw the city he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes. 43 For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will cast up a bank about you and surround you, and hem you in on every side, 44 and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

Context: It was when two-and-a-half million people were present in Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish feast of Passover that Jesus’ followers paraded with him for a distance of two miles from the Mount of Olives to the city of Jerusalem. But when the procession reached the spot from which there was a magnificent view of the city of Jerusalem, Jesus started to weep. Later, Jesus explained why he loved the city, which was the center of Judaism, Yahweh’s promised place of terrestrial residence and the culminating point of Jesus’ public ministry. He could not foresee without tears its destruction in A.D. 70 by Titus, who would totally demolish the Temple and the city after massacring most of its residents. Jesus explained the destruction of the city as a punishment from God because its inhabitants had failed to recognize the time of their visitation. In other words, Jerusalem had closed her doors, and her inhabitants had closed their hearts, to the salvific coming and message of the Redeemer. In spite of Jesus’ preaching and healing ministry among the Chosen people, they had largely rejected him, and their leaders were planning to crucify him.

Life messages: 1) Jesus visits each one of us as our Lord and Savior and teaches us through the instruction and preaching of the Church. We hear Jesus’ voice when we read Holy Scripture, and Jesus offers us forgiveness of sins and grace through the Sacraments. So we should not reject Jesus or his message as the Jews did, nor remain indifferent to him, but listen to God’s warning about our need to repent, renew our lives, and walk in God’s ways of peace and holiness.

2) We are the temples of the Holy Spirit, and we have no right to desecrate God’s temple by harboring jealousy, discrimination, injustice, or impurity in our hearts (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

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

Nov 18 Friday: (The Dedication of the Basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles) ; For a short account, click here: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/dedication-of-churches-of-saints-peter-and-paul: St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, Virgin (U. S. A.) For a short biography, click here: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-rose-philippine-duchesne

 Lk 19: 45-48: 45 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, 46 saying to them, “It is written, `My house shall be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of robbers.” 47 And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people sought to destroy him; 48 but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people hung upon his words.

Context: Today’s Gospel gives us the dramatic account of Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem. He drove out its merchants and moneychangers with moral indignation at the unjust commercialization of God’s House of Prayer and the exploitation of the poor pilgrims in the name of religion. The merchants charged exorbitant prices for the animals to be sacrificed, and the moneychangers charged unjust commissions for the required exchange of pagan coins for Temple coins. The Temple Jesus cleansed was the Temple in Jerusalem, originally built by Solomon in 966 BC, rebuilt by Zerubbabel in 515 BC after the Babylonians had destroyed it, and in Jesus’ day was still being renovated, a work begun by King Herod the Great in 20 BC. The abuses which infuriated Jesus were: 1) the conversion of a place of prayer into a noisy marketplace, and 2), the unjust business practices of animal merchants and moneychangers, encouraged by the Temple authorities. Hence, Jesus made a whip of cords and drove away the animals, the dealers and the moneychangers, quoting the prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah, “Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace”(Lk 19:46; see also, Is 56:7; Jer 7:11).

Life messages: 1) We need to avoid the business mentality of loss and profit in Divine worship. Our relationship with God must be that of child-to-parent, with no thought of loss or gain, but only of mutual love, respect, and the common good. 2) Secondly, we need to remember that we are the temples of the Holy Spirit. Hence, we have no right to desecrate God’s temple by acts of impurity, injustice, pride, hatred, or jealousy. 3) We need to love our parish Church and use it. Our Church is the place where we come together as a community to praise and worship God, to thank Him for His blessings, to ask pardon and forgiveness for our sins, and to receive His offered healing and nourishment. Let us make our Church an even more holy place by adding our prayers and songs to community worship and by offering our time and talents in the various ministries of our parish. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

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

Nov 19 Saturday: Lk 20: 27-40: 27 There came to him some Sadducees, those who say that there is no resurrection, 28 and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the wife and raise up children for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and died without children; 30 and the second 31 and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. 32 Afterward the woman also died. 33 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.” 34 And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage; 35-40

The context: Jesus reached Jerusalem for His final Passover feast. As part of a well-planned plot to trap Jesus, the chief priests, the scribes and the Pharisees met Jesus with controversial questions. The Sadducees did not believe in resurrection of the dead because they claimed that Moses wrote nothing about it. If Jesus defended the concept of the resurrection, the Sadducees would be angered; if Jesus failed to do so, the Pharisees would be enraged. In either case, one group would be alienated. Hence, in their hypothetical question, they asked Jesus who, in Heaven, would be the husband of the woman who had been married (levirate marriage) in succession to seven of her brothers–in-law (levires), and had died childless.

Jesus goes on the offensive as defense: Jesus begins the counterargument by pointing out the ignorance of the Sadducees about the existence and nature of life after death with God. Then Jesus provides positive Biblical proof for the reality of resurrected existence. Jesus is presuming that Yahweh’s burning bush statement demonstrates that these three patriarchs were still alive at the time of Moses, 600 years after their deaths. Since God declared Himself to be God of the patriarchs, He must somehow still be sustaining the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, thus granting them resurrection and eternal life. Thus, Jesus uses the Sadducees’ sacred text of the Torah to refute their anti-resurrection belief. Second, Jesus explains that the afterlife will not be just an eternal replay of this life. Things will be different after death. Normal human relationships, including marriage, will be transformed. Then Jesus tells the Sadducees that those to whom God has granted resurrection and Heavenly life with Him will be immortal, like the angels, and hence “children of God.”

Life messages: 1) We need to live the lives of Resurrection people: That is, we are not to lie buried in the tomb of our sins and evil habits. Instead, we are to live joyful and peaceful lives, constantly experiencing the Real Presence of the Risen Lord Who gives us the assurance that our bodies also will be raised. 2) The salutary thought of our own resurrection and eternal glory should also inspire us to honor our bodies, keeping them holy, pure, and free from evil habits, and to respect those with whom we come in contact, rendering them loving and humble service. (Fr. Kadavil) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

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

O. T. 33 (C) Sunday, Nov 13, 2022

OT XXXIII [C] (Nov 13) Eight-minute homily in one page (L/22)

Introduction: The central theme of today’s readings is “The Day of the Lord” or the “Second Coming” of Jesus in glory, as Judge, at the end of the world. The readings warn us about the final days of the world, our own death, and the final judgment.

Scripture readings summarized: Malachi, in the first reading, foretells this Day, which will bring healing and reward for the just and punishment in fire for the “proud and all evil doers.” Although St. Paul expected that Jesus would return during his lifetime, he cautions the Thessalonians, in the second reading, against idleness in anticipating the end of the world. Paul advises the Thessalonians that the best preparation for welcoming Jesus in his “Second Coming” is to keep working and doing one’s duties faithfully, as he did. Today’s Gospel passage underlines the truth that the date of the end of the world is uncertain. Signs and portents will precede the end, and the Christians will be called upon to testify before kings and governors. The Good News is that those who persevere in faithfulness to the Lord will save their souls and enter God’s eternal kingdom. Christ’s Second Coming is something to celebrate because he is going to present all creation to his Heavenly Father. That is why we say at Mass, “We proclaim Your death, O Lord, and profess Your Resurrection, until You come again.” Since Luke’s community had experienced much persecution, today’s Gospel would have given them a cheering reminder: “Don’t give up because God is always with us!” Jesus’ promise of the protective power of a providing God was meant to encourage His disciples to persevere in their Faith and its practice. Jesus later adds the signs for the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world to prepare His disciples and to remind them to rely upon him for Salvation, not their own power.

Life messages: 1) We must be prepared daily for our death and private judgment. We make this preparation by trying to do God’s will every day, leading holy lives of selfless love, trust in God, mercy, compassion, and unconditional forgiveness. In order to do this, we must recharge our spiritual batteries every day by personal prayer, that is, by talking to God, and by listening to Him through reading the Bible. Daily examination of our conscience at bedtime and asking God’s pardon and forgiveness for the sins of the day will also prepare us to face God any time to give Him an account of our lives. 2) We need to attain permanence in a passing world by leading exemplary lives. We must remember that our homes, our Churches, and even our own lives are temporary. Our greatness is judged by God, not on our worldly achievements, but on our fidelity to our Faith, and our practice of that Faith in loving service of others. How our faithfulness is expressed each day is the most important thing. We are to persevere in our Faith in spite of worldly temptations, attacks on our religion and moral values by the atheistic or agnostic media, threats of social isolation, and direct or indirect persecution because of our religious beliefs. Let us conclude this Church year by praying for the grace to endure patiently all our trials, for they are essential to our affirmation of Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

OT 33 [C] (Nov 13) Mal 3:19-20a; II Thes 3:7-12; Lk 21:5-19 

Homily starter anecdotes:

# 1:The theater is on fire!”: The Danish philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard, tells the parable of a theater where a variety show is proceeding. Each act is more fantastic than the last, and each is applauded by the audience. Suddenly the manager appears on the stage, apologizing for the interruption. He announces at the top of his voice that the theater is on fire, and begs his patrons to leave the theatre immediately, without causing a commotion. The spectators think that it is the most amusing turn of the evening, and cheer thunderously. The manager again feverishly implores them to leave the burning building, and he is again applauded vigorously. At last he can do no more. The fire races through the whole building engulfing the fun-loving audience with it. “And so,” concludes Kierkegaard, “will our age, I sometimes think, go down in fiery destruction to the applause of a crowded house of cheering spectators” (Resource, July/August). — Today’s readings warn us about a similar fate if we are not well prepared when the “Day of the Lord” dawns quite unexpectedly, marking the end of the world. (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com).

# 2: Be patient and be faithful in waiting for Christ’s Second Coming. Remember Albert Einstein’s words after the Second World War: “As a lover of freedom, when the revolution came in Germany, I looked to the universities to defend it, knowing that they had always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth; but no, the universities were immediately silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers, whose flaming editorials in days gone by had proclaimed their love of freedom; but they, like the universities were silenced in a few short weeks. Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration for it, because the Church alone has had the courage to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced to confess that what I once despised, now I praise unreservedly.” — The Church had the moral courage to resist a dictator, and it saved the lives of so many Jews because it believed in the assurance given by Jesus in today’s Gospel. (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com).

# 3: Beware of false messiahs: In 1978, the whole world was shocked and dismayed by reports from Jonestown, Guyana where the Rev. Jim Jones had led hundreds of people into one of history’s darkest mass-suicides and mass-murders. These were not ignorant, primitive savages in a far-off land. They were American citizens who had fallen under the leadership of a madman. We don’t see many signs, nowadays, of the Moonies. Their founder Rev. Moon and his Unification Church have faded into the background. At one time he boasted considerable political support. He invested heavily in the elections of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Rev. Moon built an empire by putting young people out on the streets selling flowers. Moon preached that a new messiah was soon to come. He claimed that new messiah was a man born in Korea in the 20th century. False messiahs are forever with us. We need not even deal with such self-deluded creatures as mass-murderer Charles Manson who gathered a group of seemingly intelligent young adults as his followers. Manson once said, “My philosophy is: ‘Don’t think.’” — That is the philosophy subtly expressed by all false messiahs. Don’t think. Reason is the enemy of all fanatics. But false messiahs do come along occasionally, anyway. That is why Jesus warns his followers about false messiahs in today’s Gospel. (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com).

Introduction: As the Church year comes to an end, the Sunday readings reflect on the final days of the world, our own death and the Final Judgment. Today’s theme is “The Day of the Lord” or the “Second Coming” of Jesus in glory as Judge at the end of the world.

Scripture readings summarized: Malachi, in the first reading, foretells this Day, giving the warning that the future, known to God alone, will bring healing and reward for the Faith-filled just who forearm themselves with words and works (peace, justice, mercy, and truth), and retribution for the “proud and all evildoers.” Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 98) refers to Jesus in his Second Coming: “The Lord…comes to rule the earth; He will rule the world with Justice and the peoples with equity” (Ps 98:9). The Psalmist offers us a song of joy and praise for the glory of God Who will come at last to rule His world. Although Paul expected to be alive at the return of Jesus, he cautioned the Thessalonians, in today’s second reading, against the idleness with which some of them were anticipating the end, and he encouraged them not to be weary of doing good. He suggested that their best preparation for the future was to devote their attention to present duties, to maintain a holy and wholesome balance among prayer and service, work and play, and to develop enduring family ties and values. Today’s Gospel passage warns us that the date of the end of the world is uncertain. Signs and portents will precede the end, and the faithful will be called upon to testify before kings and governors. The Good News, however, is that those who persevere in faithfulness to the Lord will save their souls and enter God’s eternal kingdom. Christ’s Second Coming is something to celebrate, because he is going to present all creation to his Heavenly Father. That is why we proclaim His Second Coming at Mass: “We proclaim Your death, O Lord, and profess Your Resurrection, until You come again.” For Luke’s community which had experienced much persecution, Jesus’ words about people being “handed over by parents, brothers, relations, and friends,” were beginning to come true. They would find, as did Jesus’ original disciples, that Jesus’ promise of the protective power of a providing God through all of this would serve them as a real encouragement to persevere in Faith and its practice: “By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” Jesus also prophesied the signs of the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world in order to prepare his original disciples for this more immediate coming disaster and to remind them to rely upon him for Salvation, not their own power.

First reading: Malachi 3:19-20 explained: When Judah returned from exile in Babylon, the people and their leaders showed a tendency, which they had absorbed from their long contact with the pagans, to lead loose moral lives. The priests were irresponsible, ignorant and indulgent leaders, failing to correct abuses (Collegeville Bible Commentary). Hence, in today’s first reading, the prophet Malachi, in the mid-fifth century (515-458) BC, chided them for their religious impiety, dishonesty, and marriages with pagans, for which they hoped, foolishly, to avoid punishment. The Lord God, through His faithful prophet, Malachi warned Israel that the day of the Lord was coming shortly, and that He had taken note of the goodness of those who feared Him and would have compassion on them in the Day of His coming. But He would punish the wicked and the proud: “… the Day[of the Lord] that is coming will set them on fire, leaving them neither root nor branch.” The image here is that of a blazing oven. For the sinful, the Day will be a day of fiery punishment; for the righteous, it will be the Day of healing. The book of the prophet Malachi is the very last book of the Old Testament. The Lord God’s final word, that He would send Elijah the prophet to them to give them one last chance at conversion before the Day of the Lord brings Final Judgment, is first fulfilled in John the Baptist, the precursor of Jesus, the Messiah, bringing Salvation to the world.

Second reading: II Thes 3:7-12 explained: The earliest Christians expected Jesus to come again soon in His Glory (Parousia), bringing history to its climax with God’s Final Judgment of the living and the dead. Some among the Thessalonians responded to this prospect by abandoning their customary work and leading lives of idleness. They asked themselves, “Why should we spend the small amount of time before the Parousia in hard labor?” Some of them were more interested in minding other people’s business. Hence, St. Paul corrects them by asking them to imitate his own example of preaching and manual work (as a tentmaker or leatherworker of some sort), warning them, “If anyone is unwilling to work, neither should that one eat.” By his manual labor Paul supported his ministry, preaching his beliefs in word and deed to his fellow workers.We, too, must keep ourselves busy by faithfully discharging our duties and actively bearing witness to Christ through our lives, as we wait in Hope for the second coming of Jesus.

Gospel exegesis:

The apocalyptic discourse. Luke 21:5-36 is Luke’s version of what is frequently called “the apocalyptic discourse.” Early Christian apocalyptic writings were symbolic in nature, giving more an interpretation of future events than an actual prediction. One purpose of apocalyptic literature is to encourage dispirited people by proclaiming that God is in control of history and that punishment of the wicked will come about by God’s doing, thus urging all to repentance before the end. A second purpose is to encourage believers to remain faithful through the coming ordeals. A third purpose is to inspire believers to derive all the spiritual good God offers them through life’s inevitable suffering. So the apocalyptic writers encouraged their readers to interpret their sufferings as a sharing in the birth-pangs of the “end.” The believers were assured that if they remained constant in Faith, they could welcome the end of all things and the beginning of eternity with confidence and joy rather than with fear and dread. Jesus addressed His words to His disciples and followers gathered in the Temple for the Passover feast. Jesus demands of his hearers tenacity of Faith and Hope in spite of their sufferings. In the liturgical context, the Church aptly places the first part (ending with verse 19), of Luke’s account of Jesus’ end time predictions at the end of the Church year. [The rest of
Luke’s account (vv 20-36), as we have it, includes Jesus’ prophecy of the
destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 with His predictions of
the end of the world.]

Fulfilment of Jesus’ prediction: To the proud people of Jerusalem, Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of the Temple was a great shock, almost blasphemy in fact, because those words sounded like massive distrust of God and an insult to God. Yahweh would not allow it! It is not surprising that these words of Jesus were used against him at his trial before the High Priest. Yet within forty years, the prediction of Jesus was largely fulfilled. The Temple, originally built by Solomon (960 BC), demolished by the Babylonians (586 BC), rebuilt by Zerubbabel and the returning exiles (536-516 BC), and enlarged and rebuilt by Herod the Great (20 BC– AD 64), was destroyed in AD 70 by the Romans. At the siege of Jerusalem by the Roman army, 1.1 million people perished, 97,000 were carried away into captivity, the Temple and the City of Jerusalem were demolished by fire, and the priests were murdered.

Call for evangelization by heroic witnessing: The real question of the believers at the end of the first century was: “Now that many of these things have happened, and we are being persecuted, what should we do?” Luke reminds them of Jesus’ assurance that they were not to prepare their defense ahead of time for, “I myself shall give you a Wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute,” but to make use of this opportunity to bear witness to Jesus before the court officials and the public at large. Thus, the persecution would become a massive evangelization campaign [21:12-13]. Jesus cautions them against despair in the face of wide-ranging opposition and persecution. Arrests would be followed by trial and condemnation in religious (Jewish) and civil (Gentile) courts. Their Faith would serve as a clear witness on the Day of Judgment. Not only would the individual martyrs see the Lord in Heaven, but the Church would flourish in persecution [21:18-19].

Doomsday prophets miss the message: Jesus refused to predict details or provide clues for the time of the coming calamity. “War, earthquake, pestilence and famine” were traditionally personified as the “Four Apocalyptic Horsemen” who would come to announce the end time judgment. The late Raymond Brown, SS (May 22, 1928-August 8, 1988), a renowned Scripture scholar, suggests that these “end-of-the-world” people perform a valuable service for us. by keeping the reality of the Second Coming before our eyes. Prophets of doom in every century point to historical calamities (wars and revolts) and cosmic disasters (great earthquakes, famines, pestilence), and “signs in heaven” (like solar eclipses and comets), as signs of the end. But Jesus tells us not to try to predict the end, but to live loyally and lovingly in situations which, in many cases, will be hostile to the Gospel. Instead of destroying us, persecution and martyrdom will gain us eternal life. At the end of the discourse, Jesus gives the assurance, “Not a hair from your head will perish” (21:18). God’s saving purpose will certainly triumph, because, contrary to appearances, He remains firmly in control. Finally, the way to glory is traveled more often through day-by-day endurance, rather than through isolated acts of heroic virtue. Here is a practical spirituality each of us can live, whatever our current situation may be.

Life messages: 1)We need to beprepared daily for death and judgment. The ideal way to accept Jesus’ apocalyptic message is always to be ready to face our death. We must live holy lives of selfless love, mercy, compassion, and unconditional forgiveness, remembering the demands of justice in our day-to-day lives. We must also take time to rest and to pray in order to keep our hearts alive to God’s presence with us and within us. Daily examination of our conscience at bedtime, asking God’s pardon and forgiveness, also prepares us to face God at any time to give an account of our lives.

2) We need to attain permanence in a passing world by leading exemplary lives. Our homes, our Churches and even our own lives are temporary. All our structures are provisional. Our influence has no more claims to permanence than our buildings. Hence, our task is not to build monuments of any kind, but to be faithful to Christ. How our faithfulness is expressed each day is the most important thing. We are to persevere in our Faith, despite worldly temptations, attacks on religion, and moral values by the atheistic or agnostic media, threats of social isolation, and direct or indirect persecution because of our religious beliefs. Let us conclude this Church year by praying for the grace to endure trials patiently for they are essential to our affirmation of Jesus our Savior.

JOKES OF THE WEEK

1) Judgment Day, Second Coming, WHAT A PHONE BILL! After finishing his homily on the Judgment Day, the preacher started the prayer of mercy. “Oh Lord,” he began. “One of these days we are going to wake up, and it’s going to be DARK everywhere! Deliver us, O Lord.” “Lord, have mercy on us!” responded the congregation. The preacher continued: “Then we are going to pick up the telephone and call Washington, and they are going to say, ‘It’s DARK over here too!'” “Lord, have mercy on us!” responded the congregation.” Then we’re going to pick up the phone and call London, and they are going to say, ‘It’s DARK over here!’ “Lord, have mercy on us!” responded the congregation. “Again, we’re going to pick up the phone and call Moscow, and they are going to say, ‘It’s DARK over here too!” “Lord, have mercy on us!” responded the congregation.” “Then we’re going to pick up the phone…. At this juncture, the church treasurer, who had also been caught up in the fervor of the preacher’s prayer, cried out uncontrollably: “Lord, Lord! What a PHONE BILL!”

2) Teeth will be provided in hell: Grandma told her little grandson: “Be a good boy. At the end of the world all the disobedient and bad people will be cast into fiery hell where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” The little boy raised an intelligent doubt. “Grandma, you don’t have any teeth and you always quarrel with others. How would you gnash your teeth when you are cast into hell?” Grandma replied: “You naughty boy, don’t you know that teeth will be provided in hell.”

3) End time humor: Humorist Lewis Grizzard writes about a man in his hometown named Luther Gilroy. Luther claimed he was out plowing his field and saw a sign in the sky that said THE END IS NEAR. So, Luther let his mule and his cow out of their pens, gave all his chickens away, and climbed on top of his house to await the end. When it didn’t come, he pouted and refused to come down from the roof. Finally, his wife called the deputy sheriff, who came over and said, “Luther, you idiot, I saw that same sign. It didn’t say, ‘The end is near.’ It said, ‘Go drink a beer.’ Now come down off that roof before you fall off and break your neck.”

4) The story is told of a woman who left instructions for her children that when she died they should place on her grave a parking meter that read: “Time expired.

5) Tomorrow is the National Home-school Tornado Drill. Lock your kids in the basement until you get the all clear. You’re welcome!

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

The history of the Catholic Church in the U. S. describing the history of each diocese:

https://thechair.vhx.tv/browse

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

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

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

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

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

6) Fr. William Nicholas video homilies: www.frbillnicholas.com

7) New American Bible for your computer desk top for easy reference: http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/
8) Catholic Internet Sources: http://www.catholicsource.net/

9) My house: Practical information on protecting families and healing marriages from pornography: http://www.loveisfaithful.com/

10) Video homily: Catholic: https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant2066 Non-Catholic: https://youtu.be/t9Q-0pn8VUo

11) Movie clip: https://youtu.be/qAzftg21hK0

28- Additional anecdotes

# 1: The end time predictions of scientists:  Christians are not the only ones to talk about coming disasters. Years ago, it was the New Age people who were sounding the alarms. Astrologers were talking about a harmonic convergence producing chaos all over the world when the planets aligned August 16, 1987. Nothing happened. In 1979, the fear was of the space satellite, Skylab. It was falling from the sky, NASA warned, but they were unsure where. The Federal Aviation Administration closed airspace; state and local governments went on alert; companies sold helmets. Skylab burned up July 11, 1979, over the Indian Ocean and Australia. No one was hurt. In today’s Gospel Jesus speaks about the destruction of Jerusalem and the signs preceding the end of the world. (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com)

# 2: Look Master, what large stones and what large buildings!” The Temple of Jerusalem of Jesus’ time   was the third Temple.  Solomon had built the first Temple (966 BC) in seven years. It stood for 370 years. It was first looted of all its treasures and gold by Shishak, King of Egypt (I Kg 14:25-26) in 926 BC [Jerusalem Bible]. . In 586 BC, it was sacked and burned by the Babylonians. After the exile, the Temple was rebuilt under the order and patronage of Cyrus, the king of Persia, by Zerubbabel in 516 BC. Herod the Great rebuilt the Temple of Zerubbabel, (20 BC to AD 64). Building upon and extending beyond the foundations of Solomon and Zerubbabel, Herod nearly doubled the area of the Temple Mount, enclosing within the retaining walls an area of 35 acres! According to Josephus, Herod’s 18,000 workmen continued work until AD 63. To enlarge the Temple Mount and to enclose 35 acres, strong retaining walls had to be extended down into the Tyropoean Valley to the west and down Ophel hill to the south. Ashlars, huge building blocks, were quarried, cut, faced and fitted without cement. All were proportionally large, but the largest measures 46 feet long by 10 feet high by 10 feet deep. Weighing 415 tons, it makes the stones of the Egyptian Pyramids – a mere 15 tons – to be as pebbles! [Murray Stein, “How Herod Moved Gigantic Blocks to Construct the Temple Mount,” Biblical Archaeology Review, Vol. VIII, No. 3, Washington, D.C. (May-June, 1981), p. 42.] It was this beautiful Temple which the Roman army, as Jesus had predicted, burnt down on August 28, AD 70 – having first murdered all the Temple priests. For nearly a month, the people of the upper city held out against the siege and the power of Rome. But on September 20 the Romans overran the city, slaughtering the inhabitants and putting the entire city to the torch. —  Everything happened as Jesus had prophesied. The 40-foot colonnades that surrounded the Temple Mount, the Temple itself, and Herod’s huge portico were all gone. They had been pushed down and pulled over, rolling into the Tyropoean Valley to the west and the Kedron Valley to the east, significantly lifting the levels of both valleys. For the most part, the stones remain to this day right where the Romans left them. Except for the few stones of the Western retaining wall,  often called the Wailing Wall, there was “not one stone left upon another” that was not thrown down. Titus and his legions swept through all of Palestine, razing hundreds of synagogues to ground. (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com)

# 3: I never unpacked it in the first place.”  You may know the story about the little boy who had returned from his first two weeks at summer camp. He showed his mother two badges that he had won: one for making improvements in swimming, the other for naming the most birds on a nature hike. There was a blue ribbon in his pocket signifying a third prize, and his mother asked him about that. “Aw,” he said, “I got that thing for having the neatest packed bag when we were ready to come home.” “I’m proud of you,” his mother said. “No big deal,” he said. “I never unpacked it in the first place!” — If we are constantly looking for God to right the world’s wrongs some day in a great cataclysmic conclusion to life on this earth, we may never “unpack our bag” and realize that it is here and now where God has placed us to do our living. (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com)

# 4: Be careful when you try to predict the future. Today’s experts turn out sometimes to be tomorrow’s amateurs. —  I read recently that when the city fathers of the grand metropolis New York City planned for the future growth of their city, they laid out the streets and numbered them from the center outward. When they began, there were only six or seven streets. In their planning maps, they projected how large they thought the city might grow. Reaching beyond their wildest imagination, they drew streets on the map all the way out to 19th Street. They called it “Boundary Street” because they were sure that’s as large as New York City would become. At last count, the city had reached 284th Street, far exceeding their expectations! (Rev. Adrian Dieleman, http://www.trinitycrc.org/sermons/eph3v20-21.html ). In 1881, the New York City YWCA announced typing lessons for women. Amazingly, angry protests greeted this announcement. Why? Many believed that the female constitution would break down under the strain. Some of you women can remember when girls were only allowed to play half court in basketball for the same reason. Nobody envisioned what today’s women athletes would be capable of. (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com)

# 5: An old Hungarian anecdote.  A pious Hungarian king, finding himself on a certain day depressed and unhappy, sent for his brother, a good-natured, but rather indifferent prince.  To him, the king said: “I am a great sinner and fear to meet God.”  But the prince only laughed at him, treated the matter as a joke and left the royal palace without making any comment. It was a custom in Hungary at that time, that if the executioner sounded a trumpet before a man’s door, it was a signal that the man was to be led forth to execution.  The king sent the executioner in the dead of night to sound the fatal blast before his brother’s door. The prince, awaking from sleep, realized its awful import.  Quickly dressing, he stepped to the door and was seized by the executioner, who dragged him, pale and trembling, into the king’s presence.  In an agony of terror, the prince fell upon his knees before his brother and begged to know in what way he had offended him. —  “My brother,” answered the king, “if the sight of a human executioner is so terrible to you, shall not I, having grievously offended God, fear to be brought before the judgment seat of Christ?  Do we not read in the Bible, ‘It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God’?” (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com)

# 6: The great day in our lives: There is always a great deal of emotion in anticipation of  “the day,” whether that be a First Communion day, Graduation day, one’s wedding day, the first day of a new job, opening day at the ballpark or our retirement day—to name but a few important days in the lives of many of us. In such cases, not only is the day enjoyed for itself, it also promises many more wonderful days in the future. On the other hand, there are some days that strike fear and dread in our hearts, such as the day we lose our job, the day of the death of a loved one, the day we are sent out to fight a war. These days thrust us into sadness and struggle with little or no light at the end of the tunnel. The Day of the Lord was always a day of anticipation for the people of ancient Israel. Originally it was perceived as a day of fulfillment. It was the moment in history when all of the promises made by God would come to completion, and the people of God would enjoy them forever, promises of peace and prosperity, of contentment and harmony. But some of the prophets warned that the Day of the Lord would first be a day of suffering or purging, referring to it as the “birth pangs of the Messiah.”–  Today’s readings focus on the painful aspects of “that day.” (Dianne Bergant). (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com)

# 7: Be faithful: Some of you know the story of writer Anne Lamott. When she was twenty-five, her father died after a long struggle with brain cancer. Over the next few years Anne herself began to suffer from an overwhelming sense of desperation and fear, which she tried to suppress with alcohol and pills. Although she was managing to write and publish successful novels at the time, it was clear that her life was spinning out of control. In her memoir, Traveling Mercies, she writes about this dark period of her life. And most importantly she tells how a community of Christian Faith, a neighborhood church called St. Andrew, came to her rescue. In her book she tells the time-honored story of a little girl who was lost. This girl ran up and down the streets of the big town where her family lived, but she couldn’t find a single landmark. She was frightened. Finally, a policeman stopped to help her. He put her in the passenger seat of his car, and they drove around until she finally saw her church. She pointed it out to the policeman, and then she told him firmly, “You can let me out now. This is my Church, and I can always find my way home from here.”– Anne Lamott writes, “And that is why I have stayed so close to mine, because no matter how bad I am feeling, how lost or lonely or frightened, when I see the faces of the people at my Church, when I hear their tawny voices, I can always find my way home.” (Anchor, 2000). (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com).

# 8:  Question to Buddha:  Rev. Richard J. Fairchild tells the story of a monk who once approached the Buddha and asked: “Do the souls of the righteous survive death?” Characteristically, Buddha gave him no reply.  But the monk persisted. Each day he would repeat the question, and each day he would get silence for an answer, until he could stand it no longer. He threatened to abandon the path to enlightenment unless this crucial question was answered.  Why should he sacrifice everything to live a monastic life, if the souls of the righteous perished with their bodies?  Then Buddha in his compassion spoke. “You are like a man,” he said, “who was dying from a poisoned arrow.  His relatives rushed a doctor to his side.  But the man refused to have the arrow pulled out unless three of his questions were answered. First, about the man who shot him – was he a white man or black?  Second, was he a tall man or a short man?  And third, was he a Brahmin or an outcast?” Many of us are in the same position as that monk. How many of us question God and   refuse to continue in our Faith until all our questions about life after death are answered to our satisfaction?  — Jesus’ teaching about the end of the world, God’s judgment of the wicked and the reward of the faithful in today’s readings will avail us nothing, unless we are willing to allow Christ to enter our hearts and minister to us his life-giving word.  We must be willing to allow God to pluck out the arrows that poison our lives before we have all the answers to our questions.  The question we need to ask is not, “Why do the wicked seem to prosper?” but rather, “Will I be saved?” (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com).

# 9: It Happened Tomorrow, and Early Edition: Years ago, a film entitled It Happened Tomorrow featured an ambitious business executive who wished that he could buy tomorrow’s newspaper today so as to take financial advantage of his privileged glimpse into the future. Suddenly, an elderly gentleman appeared before him, holding the coveted newspaper. “I’ve decided to grant your wish,” he said. The remainder of the movie details what happened to the businessman as a result of his “future” knowledge. Later a television series, called Early Edition, reprised the premise of the film and featured a young man who received “tomorrow’s paper” daily. As he read of accidents that were yet to happen and disasters that were yet to occur, he sensed a certain responsibility for preventing them by altering the circumstances and/or protecting the people involved. Though such stories are somewhat interesting and attention-grabbing, they are simply imaginative escapes into the world of fiction. We cannot know the future this way, but the future is known—by God to Whom it belongs. He alone is responsible for its unfolding day by day, year by year. We, for our part, are to be responsive to God by being responsible for God’s gifts of the present as detailed in today’s readings. (Patricia Sánchez). (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com).

# 10: A Church without persecution dies a natural death: The late William Barclay wrote: “The crisis of the present day is not theological: it is ethical. Christian theology is not really under attack, for there are few outside of the Church sufficiently interested in it to assail it.” [William Barclay, The Ten Commandments for Today, (New York, Harper and Row, Publishers).] Gardner C. Taylor comments further: “It is astonishing how much an American family will spend on physical fitness, and how little time or interest or money it will invest in spiritual fitness. It is amazing how much attention parents will give to a balanced diet for a child’s physical growth, and how little attention they will pay to the child’s moral and spiritual growth. Bread for the body, but no food for the soul. Cultivation of the mind, none of the heart.” (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com).

# 11: The fall of Berlin Wall: It was on 9 November 1989 that the infamous Berlin Wall came tumbling down. It was a concrete symbol of what Winston Churchill had described as the “Iron Curtain,” which for almost fifty years had divided Europe into two ideologically hostile camps. It was the era of the “Cold War.” Most people then, or at least the more optimistic, believed that someday Europe would be reunited and this wall of shame would come down. But when it happened, it was so sudden that everybody both in the East and the West was taken completely by surprise. Some of the Communist dictators, like Honnecker in East Germany, had not even time to clear their desks and hightail it, before the day of retribution was upon them. Now, so few years later, even souvenir-hawkers cannot find “a single stone left on another” to sell to eager tourists at the annual commemoration. — Everything in this world, sooner or later, comes to an end. And the world itself will come to an end. In this penultimate week of the liturgy, the liturgy recalls for us the “last things.”(Biblical IE). (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com).

# 12: “Give me one more day of life – just one day more!”  Charles V was one of the last truly great European Emperors. In the 1500s, he protected Europe from the vicious and tireless attacks of the Turkish Muslim Empire. At the same time, he brought together the leaders of Europe to reestablish political and religious unity among Christians after the revolt of Martin Luther. In the prime of his life, one of his closest and most well-loved advisers, who had served the Emperor since his youth, fell ill. Charles was at his bedside as the man was dying. The Emperor was deeply moved at the man’s suffering and wanted to comfort him. He said, “My friend, you have been a faithful servant all these years. Please, let me now do something for you. Ask anything of me, and I will do it.” The dying man turned his weak eyes to his King, and whispered, “Sire, there is one great favor I desire.” The Emperor was glad at this, and leaned forward, “Tell me,” he said, “What is it?” “Give me one more day of life – just one day more!” Charles’ face fell. He answered simply, “You know that I have not the power.”–The man smiled weakly, and said: “Yes, I know. Even the greatest earthly king cannot give life. And now you see how foolish I have been. I served you well all these years, but I gave no thought to my Heavenly King, and now I must go to him with empty hands. Pray for me.” (E- Priest). (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com).

# 13: The Difference between Christianity and a Football Game: The tendency of popular culture today is to avoid thinking about the last things, the great truths like death and judgment. Popular culture tells us to enjoy ourselves while we can here on earth and not to worry about the bigger story. That is completely backwards. It’s like telling a football player to enjoy his game by sitting on the sidelines and working on a suntan. A football player enjoys the game by playing hard and doing his best to win. He knows that the fourth quarter is right around the corner, and the clock is winding down, and the last minute will soon run out. And when it does, when he makes his way into the locker room – sweaty, bruised, exhausted – he wants only two things: to know that he has won, and to know that he has pushed himself as hard as he could to do his part well. — Jesus is reminding us that our lives are like that. They will come to an end. The fourth quarter is on its way. But there is a difference. A football player can give his all individually, and his team can still lose. On his way to the locker room he can be satisfied with his own performance, but disappointed at the outcome. But that’s not the case with us. If we play well, we win – automatically. If a Christian gives his all, if a Christian spends his life fighting to be more like Christ each day, in spite of hardship and persecution, in spite of opposition and enemies, then victory is assured. (E- Priest). (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com).

# 14: Charlemagne’s Wisdom: Knowing that judgment is coming sets us free to live a full life, because it puts everything in proper perspective. The Emperor Charlemagne is one of the great figures in the history of western civilization. His empire, though not perfect, was a bright chapter in the dark ages of the barbarian invasions of Europe. He preserved western culture and advanced the cause of Christian civilization, planting seeds of holiness and prosperity that would flourish centuries later. His tomb can still be visited in the German city of Aachen [AH-ken], where his Empire was headquartered back in the 800s. He is buried in the central space beneath the dome of the imperial church there, called Aix-la-Chapelle [eye-lah-shop-ELL]. The burial chamber is a subterranean room. In the middle of the room is a marble chair – a chair on which kings used to be crowned – placed over his grave. On the chair sits a sculpted image of the Emperor, wrapped in his royal robes, with a book of the Gospels open on his lap. There he sits: cold, silent, motionless. The dead man’s finger points to the words of Jesus: “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” — That was the perspective that made Charlemagne both a great man, great emperor, and also, even more importantly, a great Christian. (E-Priest). (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com).

# 15: Facing Death for Christ: Before the breakup of the Soviet Union, Christians of all denominations were routinely persecuted for their Faith by the Communist regime. One small group of believers used to meet in a family home every Sunday. They would arrive at different times, to avoid suspicion. On one particular Sunday they were all safely inside the building, with curtains drawn and doors locked. They had been singing and praying for a while when the door burst open and two armed soldiers crashed in. One shouted, “Everybody up against the wall. If you wish to renounce your faith in Jesus Christ, you can leave now and no harm will come to you.” Two people left right away, then a third and fourth straggled out. “This is your last chance!” the soldier warned. “Either turn your back on this Jesus of yours or stay and suffer the consequences!” Two more slipped outside, crying and ashamed. No one else moved. Parents with small children trembling beside them looked down reassuringly. They fully expected to be gunned down on the spot, or imprisoned. After a few moments of silence, the soldiers closed the door. One of them said, “Keep your hands up – but this time in praise to our Lord Jesus Christ, brothers and sisters. We, too, are Christians. We were sent to another house Church like this several weeks ago, and we became believers.” — The other soldier added, “We are sorry to have frightened those who left, but we have learned that unless people are willing to die for their faith, they cannot be fully trusted.” In times of trouble our Faith is tested, and we have a chance to do for Christ what he did for us: love him to the end. (E- Priest) (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com).

 # 16: The Emperor Moth: A man found a cocoon of an emperor moth and took it home to watch the moth come out. One day a small opening appeared. The man sat and watched the moth for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. The man thought it was stuck and decided to help. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon so that the moth could get out. Soon the moth emerged, but it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch, expecting that in time the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would simultaneously contract to its proper size. Neither happened. In fact, that little moth spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It was never able to fly. The man in his haste didn’t understand that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the moth to get through the tiny opening had a purpose. They force fluid from the body into the wings so that the moth can be ready for flight once it emerges from the cocoon. — Just as the moth could only achieve freedom and flight as a result of struggling, we often need to struggle to fulfill our life’s mission. This life on earth, for us and for the Church as a whole, is like the moth’s life in the cocoon. The struggles God permits us have a purpose – by facing them bravely, with Faith and with the help of His grace, we and the Church will become what He created us to be. (E- Priest). (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com).

17) “The hypocrites are gone now. You may begin the service.” The 2000-member church was filled to overflowing capacity one Sunday morning. The preacher was ready to start the sermon when two men, dressed in long black coats and black hats, entered via the rear of the Church. One of the two men walked to the middle of the Church while the other stayed at the back of the church. They both then reached under their coats and withdrew automatic weapons. The one in the middle announced, “Everyone willing to take a bullet for Jesus stay in your seat!” Naturally, the pews emptied, followed by the choir loft. The deacons ran out of the door too. After a few moments, there were about 20 people left sitting in the Church. The preacher was holding steady in the pulpit. The men put their weapons away and said, gently to the preacher, “All right, pastor, the hypocrites are gone now. You may begin the service.” — We should not be so anxious about when the world will end but rather should concern ourselves with the preparation needed for the end of our own individual life. Can we be faithful no matter what?? (Tomi Thomas in Spice Up Your Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com).

18) The Decay of the best is the worst: Joseph Stalin was the most ruthless dictator of the former Soviet Union. He was the General Secretary of the Communist Party from 1922 to 1953. In 1928, he launched a series of five-year plans for the rapid industrialization and enforced collectivization of agriculture. As a result, more than ten million farmers were killed. He ruthlessly murdered hundreds and hundreds of the intellectuals who opposed him. He, in fact, had murdered more men than that manic Hitler. But the surprising thing is that Stalin as a teenager had joined the seminary to become a priest. He was expelled from it because of his revolutionary ideas. A noble desire went awfully wrong.  A man who desired to save souls became a monster who ruthlessly murdered people in millions. The decay of the best is always the worst. — In today’s Gospel, Jesus foretells the utter ruin and destruction of Jerusalem. Upon the Lord’s visitation, the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the Temple authorities rejected Him, and, consequently, destruction visited them. Today, let us look at the great beauty of the Temple, and also consider its ruin and the cause of it.
(John Rose in John’s Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
(https://www.frtonyshomilies.com).

19) Film –The Day After: When the movie The Day After was shown on television in 1983, it caused quite a controversy. This was because it was focused on the ultimate what if: the event of a global nuclear war. What if the population of Kansas City is instantly reduced to vaporized silhouettes; what if the blistered wounded are doomed to die; what if some survivors are surrounded by radioactive fallout that settles like a fine white dust all over the earth? The Day After was intended primarily to provoke serious reflection and discussion about nuclear disarmament. But it also provokes questions about our Faith. Would a good God allow such a terrifying evil to happen? Why do we have to die at all? Is there really a resurrection? –- Today’s readings suggest some answers to these questions, not in the sense of complete explanations, but in the sense of strengthening our Faith in Jesus Christ, the Risen Son of the Living God. We don’t get a satisfying answer from the Scriptures to the question, “How can a good God allow such terrible evils like the slaughter of the seven sons of the Maccabees family? Or the death of innocent people in terrorist attacks?” But we do get an affirmation of our Faith in an afterlife. No matter how terrifying death may be, whether at the hands of terrorists or nuclear weapons, life will be restored. No matter how much destruction a nuclear holocaust may cause, the day after will never be the last day. A new heaven and a new earth will appear because our God is a God of the living and not of the dead. With Christian Faith and Hope we are strong enough to survive any today, and, if need be, any day thereafter. Jesus portrays for us graphically the destruction of Jerusalem and the world.  (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com).

20) Have you ever tried to make a prediction? Here are some predictions from the past, all from people who were trusted individuals: Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, in 1943 said, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers. Popular Mechanics in 1949  made this prediction: “Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and weigh only 1.5 tons.” There was an inventor by the name of Lee de Forest. He claimed that “While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is impossibility.” The Decca Recording company made a big mistake when they made this prediction: “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” That was their prediction in 1962 concerning a few lads from Liverpool. Their band was called the Beatles. — But today’s Gospel presents predictions made by Jesus, many of which have already been fulfilled while the remainder will be fulfilled. As the disciples walked out of the Temple in Jerusalem Jesus paused with his disciples, looked back at the Temple and predicted, “Do you see all these great buildings? Not one stone will be left on another.” (Fr. T. Kayala). (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com).

21) The Best Conclusion: C. S. Lewis said that when the author appears on the stage, you know the play is over. This is how he understands the doctrine of the Second Coming of our Lord. It means that He who has begun a good work will bring it to the best conclusion of which He is capable. After all, no one has ever claimed that this planet earth was intended to exist forever. In what is called by scientists “the second law of thermodynamics,” it is, as we know it here, is inevitable. — The concept of the Second Coming merely affirms that such a conclusion will be purposeful. The drama of history is not going to just fizzle out or end in a whimper! It is going to come to the end and to the kind of climax that He Who conceived the drama wants for it. [Tom M. Garrision, Sermons for Sundays in Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany: Building a Victorious Life, (CSS Publishing Company); Gary L. Carver, quoted by Fr. T. Kayala.] (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com).

22) Witnessing in a time of confusion and uncertainty: Anne Frank was a teenage Jewish girl who lived in Amsterdam during the early years of World War II. When the Germans began rounding up all the Jews, she and her family “went into hiding in some concealed rooms behind a bookcase in the building where Anne’s father worked” [Wikipedia], and lived there, haunted by the constant fear of detection. So it was anything but a normal existence of the young teenage girl and her terrified family. During that time, Anne Frank kept her famous diary, which her father found only after the war had ended. In it the young girl frankly expressed her thoughts and feelings with a maturity way beyond her years. So inspiring was that diary that it has been translated into many languages and continues to inspire people of all ages even today, over seventy years after it was written. In one remarkable passage, Anne Frank says: “It’s twice as hard for us young people to hold our ground, in a time when all ideals are being shattered and destroyed, when people are showing their worst side, and do not know whether to believe in truth and right and God. It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are good at heart. I see the world being turned into a wilderness; I hear the ever-approaching thunder, which will destroy us too; I can feel the suffering of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think it will all come right, that this cruelty will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.” In spite of her hope and optimism, poor Anne did not live to see her dream fulfilled. In 1944, she and her family were found, arrested, and she and her sister Margot were imprisoned in the horrific Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp, where the Jews were exterminated, and died there, probably in February, 1945, according to recent scholars writing in 2015 [Wikipedia].  What sustained Anne Frank during her ordeal was her Faith in God and in humanity. — Living an authentically Christian life today certainly poses a tough challenge; but of one thing we are absolutely assured, and that is our victory through our Faith in and our commitment to Christ Jesus. In the words of the famous freedom-fighter Alexander Solzhenitsyn, “A person without fear is no hero; the person who overcomes fear is” (James Valladares in Your Words, O Lord, Are Spirit, and They Are            Life). (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com).

23) Childhood’s End is a science fiction novel written by Sir Arthur C. Clarke. In this novel, he describes that humanity is visited by aliens who resemble Satan. The aliens, named in the novel as the Overlords, are seen in the role of “heralds” for a god-like force named the Overmind. A transformation occurs in the last human generation, which ultimately merges with this Overmind, resulting in the destruction of the earth and the solar system. — All the religions have their own beliefs about the end of the world, the triumph of good over evil and Judgment Day. In Christianity, the End Times are often depicted as a time of tribulations that precedes the Second Coming of Jesus, when Jesus will usher in the Kingdom of God and bring an end to suffering and evil. In Islam, the “Day of Resurrection” or “the Day of Judgment”, Allah’s final assessment of humanity, is preceded by the end of the world. In Judaism the term “End of Days” is taken as a reference to the Messianic era and the Jewish belief in the coming of Messiah. In the First Reading from the Book of Malachi, we heard the Lord say, “‘See, the day is coming.” (Fr. Bobby Jose). (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com).

24)  A Shining Witness: Shahbaz Bhatti was born to Catholic parents in Lahore, the provincial capital of Punjab. His father was an army officer and then became a teacher like his mother. The couple had six children, five boys and one girl. His father, who died after a protracted illness, was the main source of strength for Shahbaz. In 2002 Shahbaz formed the All-Pakistan Minorities Alliance and became its first leader. He also joined Benazir Bhutto’s Party, and such was the respect in which he was held that he was appointed Minorities Minister that same year. In his acceptance speech he said he was accepting the office, “to help the oppressed, down-trodden and marginalized, and to send a message of hope to the people living a life of disappointment, disillusionment and despair.” He went on, “Jesus is the nucleus of my life, and I want to be his true follower through my actions by sharing the love of God with poor, needy and suffering people.” And he was as good as his word. Christians make up only 1.5 percent of Pakistan’s 185 million people. He decided to campaign against the country’s draconian blasphemy law, knowing that in all probability it would cost him his life. It was his defense of one woman in particular, Mrs. Bibi, that sealed his death warrant. Mrs. Bibi was falsely accused of insulting Mohammed, and was sentenced to death by hanging. Bhatti’s support for Mrs. Bibi was the last straw for his enemies. After his visit to his elderly mother, his body was riddled with bullets in Islamabad on March 2, 2011. He was only 42. Later a video he had made in view of such an eventuality was released. In it he said, “I am living for my community and for suffering people and I will die to protect their rights. I want to share that I believe in Jesus Christ, who has given his own life for us.” — Everybody loves life. Bhatti loved life too, but he did not cling to it at all costs. For him the real life was eternal life. Faith in eternal life enabled him to sacrifice his life for Christ.
(Flor McCarthy in New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com).

 25)  Never give up: When the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, they immediately attempted to suppress the Catholic Church. Over the course of the next several years, they killed a third of the Polish clergy and outlawed Faith education. One Polish layman, Jan Tyranowski, decided to do something. He began a secret group, called the Living Rosary, to instruct people in their Faith. He faced numerous obstacles, including the certainty of execution if he were discovered. However, he persevered, and, over the course of time, 10 of the young men who attended these groups became priests. One of those priests is known to history as Saint John Paul II. — Imagine if Jan Tyranowski had given up. Imagine how different the world might be today without Saint John Paul II!  In the same way, our holiness isn’t a matter of indifference. A saint is a sinner who keeps on trying. And that trying can change the world. (E-Priest). (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com).

26) Perseverance pays off: Michael Jordan is considered one of the best basketball players in history. However, at one point in his career, he decided that his free-throw shooting wasn’t as good as it needed to be. He had already cemented his status as the greatest player of his generation, and it would have been easy to let that flaw slide. However, Jordan decided not to ignore it. He committed to making 500 free-throws before he left the gym after each Bulls practice. Not shooting 500 free-throws. Making 500 free throws! The dedication paid off. Michael Jordan finished his career as an 84% free-throw shooter. He persevered. —  Knowing that judgment is coming sets us free to live a full life, because it puts everything in proper perspective. (E-Priest). (https://www.frtonyshomilies.com).

 27) Captain John P. Flynn  a 20th century martyr: There is one trial for which we must have a wholesome fear. That is the trial to which all human beings will be subjected when Christ comes to judge the living and the dead. Even before that judicial trial, however, we must all suffer many trials, Our Lord himself has warned us. Not only the anguish of natural griefs and disasters, but even the efforts of evil men to win us away from Christ because they hate His name and all that it represents. So even you and I might be called to martyrdom. “Some of you will be put to death,” Jesus says in today’s gospel. But even in the midst of such persecution, we must not fear. He will stand unseen by our side. — Jesus stood by the side of Captain John P. Flynn, U.S.M.C. in 1954. When we think of martyrs, we usually think of people long ago and far away. Captain Flynn was a very modern and very American “martyr” during the Korean conflict. A news dispatch of the National Catholic News Service reported the stirring tale of this Catholic Officer whose airplane was downed behind the North Korea Communist Lines. Flynn survived the crash of his plane but was captured and marched off to a Communist prison camp. En route, his captors made him face a drum-head trial in a small Korean village. They discovered from his rosary that he was a Catholic. The court ordered him to throw this rosary on the ground, trample on it and spit upon it. This would have meant, as his captors knew, his rejection of the Catholic faith; for the rosary is both symbol and summary of Christian belief. John Flynn refused. They next brought out a block of wood and an axe, and made him kneel and put his neck upon the block. They raised the axe. In that brief moment, he said later on, “I thought of my family and how they needed me. But I knew if I gave in to the Reds, I would be no good to my family or to myself and that I might lose my soul. This was it!” The threat of beheading proved to be only a trick. What the court really wanted was to have Flynn “confess” that he had carried on germ warfare. Far from “confessing”, he talked back, ridiculed their propaganda, and when put into prison plotted escapes, and led prayer services for his fellow captives, using with gratitude the rosary he had refused to desecrate. After 16 months, he was finally freed. On his return to headquarters, he was awarded the Navy and Marine Cross for valor. But John Flynn already had a greater reward than any decoration. It was the remembrance that when he had been brought to trial for Christ’s name, he had offered his life totally to God. If Jesus had withheld the axe, he had not withheld the martyr’s crown. -Fr. Robert F. McNamara.

28) Wangari Maathai was proclaimed the winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize. The article, “A Tree Grows in Kenya” in GUIDEPOSTS magazine (January 2004) is about Wangari Maathai’s effort to fight off ecological destruction in her native land, Kenya. The author, Christopher Davis, narrates the gargantuan feat of this enterprising woman whose perseverance epitomizes this Sunday’s Gospel exhortation: “By your perseverance you will secure your lives” (Lk 21:19). In 1960 Wangari won a Kennedy scholarship to study in America. She earned a master’s in biology from the University of Pittsburgh, then became the first woman from Kenya ever to earn a Ph.D. Wangari returned to her county in 1966 and was shocked by what she found. The forests had been cut down for lumber. Heavy rains washed most of the good soil away, since there was no longer vegetation to protect it. Rivers were silt-choked, the soil leached of nutrients. Nothing grew and nothing bloomed anymore … Worst was what had happened to Kenya’s most precious resource – people. Men abandoned farms for jobs in overcrowded cities, leaving wives and children behind. Trees in the countryside were so scarce that women walked miles to gather a few sticks for a fire – the center of village life. “There were so many problems,” Wangari says. “I did not know where to start, except to pray.” Then she remembered what the missionaries said: Every forest begins with a single seed. She planted a tree. Then another. Then hundreds. In 1977 she founded a group called the Green Belt Movement, which promotes tree planting in rural areas and trains farmers in eco-friendly farming methods. Since the group started, it has planted some 20 million trees in Kenya and has changed the way Kenyans look at their environment. On October 8, 2004, Wangari Maathai was proclaimed the winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize. — The patient perseverance of the tree planter, Wangari, who did not allow herself to be overwhelmed by a disastrous situation, but exhibited creative and life-giving attitudes under duress, anticipates the victorious quality of God’s coming at the end time. Indeed, by living out the spirit of stewardship and care of God’s creation, she presents to the world of today the patient endurance that leads to life. (Lectio Divina)   L/22
 “Scriptural Homilies” Cycle C (No. 61) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com

Visit my website by clicking on https://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle C homilies, 141 Year of FaithAdult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at akadavil@gmail.com. Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies  of Fr. Nick’s collection of homilies or in the CBCI website:  http://cbci.in/SundayReflectionsNew.aspx?type=text    (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