O. T. XXI (Aug 21 Sunday) homily

OT XXI (August 21) (Eight-minute homily in one page) (L/22)

Introduction:As he continues his final journey to Jerusalem prepared for his suffering, and death, Jesus responds to the question asking how many will be saved by answering how one is to enter into salvation and how urgent it that one strive now, before the Master closes the door. Instead of asking how many will be saved, Jesus wants us to ask ourselves, “Am I prepared to be saved, choosing the narrow gate of sacrificial agape love and so loving others as Jesus loves them”?

Scripture lessons summarized: In the first reading, Isaiah’s prophecy speaks to the Babylonian exiles returning to Jerusalem after 47 years in captivity, the younger members with their pagan wives, telling them that salvation is not a Jewish monopoly and that is why Yahweh welcomes the pagans also into Judaism. The prophet’s great book ends as it began, with a vision of all the peoples of the world streaming toward Jerusalem, acknowledging and praising the God of Israel. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 117) refrain, “Go out to all the world and tell the Good News,” reflects the mission of God’s chosen people to be instruments of salvation to the whole world. In the second reading, exploring with his readers the consequences of Christian commitment, St. Paul explains that “the narrow gate” of Jesus means our accepting pain and suffering as the loving discipline God is giving His children. In today’s Gospel, Jesus clearly explains that anyone who follows him through the narrow gate of sacrificial service and sharing love will be saved. Jesus also admonishes his followers to concentrate on their own salvation by self-discipline rather than to worry about the salvation of others.

The Non-Catholic doctrine on salvation was taught by Calvin and is currently broadcast by tele-evangelists: “Once saved, you are always saved,” in spite of your future sins and even apostasy. One is saved by the shed blood of Jesus when, as a young person or an adult, one accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior, confesses one’s sins and prays the “Sinner’s Prayer,” asking God’s pardon and forgiveness for one’s sins.

Catholic teaching on salvation: Salvation is a past, present ,and future event.We were saved from the Bondage of sin when we were baptized as children or adults. We are being saved at present, when we cooperate with God’s grace by loving others as Jesus did, by sharing our blessings with the needy, and by getting reconciled with God daily, asking His forgiveness for our sins. We will be eternally saved when we hear the loving invitation from Jesus, the Judge, at the moment of our death and on the day of the Last Judgment, saying: “Good and faithful servant, you were faithful in little things enter into the joy of your Master.”

Life messages: We need to cooperate with God’s grace daily given to us: a) by choosing the narrow way and the narrow gate of self-control and self-disciplining of our evil tendencies, evil habits, and addictions; b) by loving others, seeing the face of Jesus in them, and sharing our blessings with them sacrificially; c) by obtaining the daily Divine strength to practice self-control and sharing love through the guidance of the Holy Spirit in daily prayer, in Bible reading, and in reception of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.

OT XXI (Aug 21, 2022) Is 66:18-21, Heb 12:5-7, 11-13; Lk 13:22-30

Homily starter anecdotes: # 1: Three surprises in Heaven: Venerable Bishop Fulton J. Sheen tells us that we will have three surprises in Heaven. The first surprise: We will be surprised to see that many people we expected to be in Heaven are not there. St. John of the Cross gives the reason why they are not there: “At the evening of our life, we shall be judged on how we have loved.” The second surprise: We will be surprised to see that the people we never expected to be in Heaven are there. That is because God judges man’s intentions and rewards them accordingly. The third surprise: We will be surprised to see that we are in Heaven! Since our getting to Heaven is principally God’s work, we should be surprised that God somehow “went out of His way” to save us, simply because we showed the good will and generosity to cooperate with His grace.

— In today’s Gospel, Jesus answers the question, who will be saved, when, and how. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

# 2: Narrow door to successful living: Thousands upon thousands of young boys grow up bouncing basketballs and dreaming of a life in the National Basketball Association – the professional ranks. But only a handful are chosen each year. Woe to the young man or young woman who is talented at sports but neglects his or her education! Thousands upon thousands of new businesses are started each year, but only a small number of people in our society become super-successful in material terms. The higher one goes up the scale, the smaller the numbers become. Thousands upon thousands of young couples each year stand at the altars of churches like this one and pledge their love to one another, but, on the average, half these marriages will end in divorce. Many couples will stay together only for convenience, for appearances or for the children. Only an estimated 10% will find true fulfillment in their marriages. The door to any kind of successful living is a narrow one. That is why Jesus reminds us in today’s Gospel: “Strive to enter by the narrow door, for many I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” — Successful living requires making hard choices. It requires dedication and sacrifice. How can Christian Faith demand any less? (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

# 3: The narrow gate of great musicians: Someone once said to Paderewski, the great pianist, “Sir, you are a genius.” He replied, “Madam, before I was a genius, I was a drudge.” He continued: “If I missed practice one day, I noticed it; if I missed practice two days, the critics noticed it; if I missed three days, my family noticed it; if I missed four days, my audience noticed it. It is also reported that after one of Fritz Kreisler’s concerts a young woman said to him, “I would give my life to be able to play like that.” He replied, “That’s what I gave.” —  The door is narrow. Why should we think we can “drift” into the Kingdom of God? The Christian life is a constant striving to do the will of God as Jesus revealed it. We need to strive because there are forces of evil within us and around us, trying to pull us down. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

# 4: Self-discipline: Many years ago, an editorial in the magazine, War Cry put it like this: “A loose wire gives out no musical note; but fasten the ends, and the piano, the harp or the violin is born. Free steam drives no machine. But hamper and confine it with piston and turbine and you have the great world of machinery made possible. The unhampered river drives no dynamos but dam it up and we get power sufficient to light a great city. So, our lives must be disciplined if we are to be of any real service in this world.” — If you are going to walk with Jesus, there are some things you will need to leave behind. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

Introduction: As he continues his fateful journey to Jerusalem, Jesus answers the question as to how many will be saved by answering how to enter into salvation and how urgent it is to strive now, before the Master closes the door. Jesus explains who will be saved, how, why, and when, and Jesus tells them that anyone who follows him through the narrow gate of sacrificial serving and sharing love will be saved.   Jesus also admonishes his followers to concentrate on their own salvation instead of worrying about the salvation of others.

Scripture readings summarized:  In the first reading, Isaiah’s prophecy speaks to the future Babylonian exiles returning to Jerusalem after 47 years in captivity, telling them that salvation is not a Jewish monopoly, and that is why Yahweh will also welcome the pagans into Judaism. The prophet’s great book ends as it begins — with a vision of all the peoples of the world streaming toward Jerusalem, acknowledging and praising the God of Israel. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 117) refrain,Go out to all the world and tell the Good News,  reflects the mission of God’s chosen people to be instruments of salvation to the whole world.  In the second reading, exploring with his readers the consequences of Christian commitment, St. Paul explains “the narrow gate” of Jesus as the pain and suffering resulting from the loving discipline God is giving His children

The first reading (Is 66:18-21) explained:  Isaiah answered prophetically a similar question about salvation, which would be put forward some 200 years later by the Jews returning to Jerusalem in 540 BC after forty-seven years in exile.  Some of them brought back to Jerusalem their pagan wives and in-laws who had been converted to the Jewish Faith. The question was whether Yahweh would accept these former pagans along with His chosen people. The third part of Isaiah’s prophecy (chapters 56-66), answers this question.  In the prophet’s message, Yahweh declares that He is the Lord of all peoples rather than of the Jews alone.  In fact, some of these converts were to be missionaries to other pagans.  Even the hereditary posts of priest and Levite could be held by these outsiders.  (The Jewish priests were born into the priesthood.  No Jewish man born outside of a priestly family could ever dream of standing at the altar and offering sacrifice to Yahweh.  But Isaiah foresaw that even the non-Jews would be invited to join that highly restricted ministry!  No wonder the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 117)  Refrain for today has us singing, “Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News!”)

The second reading: Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13 explained:   The author of the Letter to the Hebrews, considering the “narrow gate theology,” gives it a different twist (Heb 12:5-7, 11-13).  For him, the road less often taken and the gate less often chosen are the paths of God’s discipline. The pain and suffering Christians experience are parts of God’s discipline, given in love. The Greek word paideia, translated here as “discipline,” refers to the process of education and training by which the young Greeks were prepared to be admitted to citizenship in a Greek city.  It’s costly, but failure to pay the price costs more. We are being disciplined by our afflictions, strengthened to walk that straight and narrow path – that we may enter the gate and take our place at the banquet of the righteous. The experience is similar to that of a child disciplined by loving parents who desire only to help him grow, mature, and become responsible.  God’s discipline can be appreciated only by those who regard their relationship with God as that of a child to a parent (Pv 3:11-12). Unfortunately, we often take God’s discipline differently. Some of us meet God’s discipline with a resigned acceptance that sees no other possible course.  Others gulp it down like a bitter pill so as to be done with it as soon as possible. Some respond with self-pity, which, in the end, leads to their collapse.  Still others become resentful and turn away from God. However, there are some, who can lift their spirits above present trials and look beyond to the peace and justice (v. 11) which are the fruits of God’s discipline.

Gospel exegesis: Are you saved”? When the questioner asked Jesus “How many will be saved?” he was assuming that the salvation of God’s Chosen People was virtually guaranteed, provided they kept the Law. In other words, the Kingdom of God was reserved for the Jews alone, and Gentiles would be shut out.  The Jewish catechism, Mishnah, taught: “All Israelites have a share in the world to come.” The author of the Apocalypse of Ezra declared, “this age the Most High has made for the many, but the age to come for a few” (4 Ezra 8:1). Hence, Jesus’ answer must have come as a shock. Jesus affirms that God wants all persons to enjoy eternal life. But he stresses our need for constant fidelity and vigilance throughout our lives. Thus, Jesus reminds us that, even though God wants all of us to be saved, we all need to work at it. Entry into God’s kingdom is not automatically granted, based purely on religious affiliation or nationality, so we cannot presume on God’s mercy and do nothing by way of response to God’s invitation. What Jesus is saying is that salvation is not guaranteed for anyone. “Outside the Church there is no salvation” was a rallying cry for centuries.  But Jesus declares that nobody can claim that he is “saved,” possessing a “visa” to Heaven. How many will be saved in the end is a decision that rests with God and depends His Justice which includes His Mercy.  Jesus came to bring God’s love and freedom to the whole world. The message of his Gospel is that there is not a single person, people, nation, race, or class, which will be excluded from experiencing the love and liberation that God offers. Hence, the role of the Christian community, from the beginning until the  end of time, is, first and foremost, to proclaim to the whole world the Good News of God’s love for the world, and then to show this Good News to be real, made visible in the loving, sharing and serving lives of individual Christians. So, to be “saved” means to live and to die in a close, loving relationship with God and with others.

Jesus issued a series of sayings and parables that emphasized the difficulty involved in entering God’s Kingdom, and he stressed the need for our constant fidelity and vigilance throughout our lives. Jesus also insisted that salvation was an urgent matter — the “narrow gate” was open now but would not remain so indefinitely (“the master of the house will lock the door”).  Then he added two conditions:  a) Eternal salvation is the result of a struggle: “keep on striving to enter.”  (The Greek word agonizomai means strenuous effort in athletic competition.  See I Cor 9:25; 1 Tm 6:12; 2 Tm 4:7).  It is like the effort one would make in swimming against the current in a river.  A man must ever be going forward or else he will go backward.   b) We must enter through the “narrow gate” of sacrificial and selfless service. (Confer Mt 7:13-14; Jer 21:8; Dt 30: 15-20; Jos 24:15).

The narrow gate: Most cities of the ancient world were surrounded by walls that had large gates in them.  Jerusalem had about twelve gates that were large enough for two-way traffic.   People moved through these gates to do their business, to shop and to visit their friends.   These gates, however, were closed at night, in case the city came under attack by an invader.   There were also smaller gates through which individual citizens could be allowed into the city by the guards without exposing the city to danger. These smaller, or narrower gates were what Jesus was talking about. These smaller gates were like turnstiles – only one person at a time could enter through them. Jesus repeats Isaiah’s image of a final banquet. He does not want his followers to presume they can just slip through to enter his Father’s house. Jesus is not looking for casual acquaintance from us but for real dedication. The crowd will press for entry, but the door will be too narrow to admit all. The less alert will be forced to stay outside and appeal in vain for entry. They will say that they ought to be allowed to enter because they were acquainted with Jesus during his earthly life. The irony of Jesus’ image is that the narrow gates are the proper way to enter the Kingdom precisely because they are just wide enough to receive a single person – anyone who is willing to do sacrificial service for the glory of God.  In other words, entering through the narrow gate denotes a steady obedience to the Lord Jesus — overcoming all opposition and rejecting every temptation.  It is the narrow way of unconditional and unremitting love. Mere faith in Jesus and membership in His Church by Baptism cannot guarantee salvation.  Some of the Fathers of the Church interpreted the narrow door as that small place in the heart where one says “yes” or “no” to what one knows to be true.  It is the one place into which no external force can enter to shape or coerce one’s choices. This place is what Teresa of Avila calls the “center of the soul” wherein God dwells.  That means that Jesus is the narrow gate, the way by which any person must enter the Heavenly city. There is a sense of urgency present here. Salvation is offered to all, but not forced upon anyone. If we do not seize the moment for what it is – a moment of grace in which to act – then before we know it, the time will have  come to “close the door.” Every moment we live is an opportunity for grace, an occasion to take action as a disciple of Jesus.

“Being saved’ is not a Protestant idea.  The Protestants, in fact, took the idea from Catholics.  But in Catholic theology, “being saved” is the end result – seeing God face to face in Heaven, and not a ready-made “passport and visa” as some of our non-Catholic preachers claim.  Jesus explains that Salvation begins with Faith.  But it is also the result of how that Faith is lived, as is seen in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the prophets.  Catholics, too, believe that we cannot “earn” our way into Heaven by good works (this is the Pelagian heresy, condemned by the Council of Carthage in A.D. 418), but we also believe that we must allow God to work in our lives through His grace, a grace that is reflected in our actions. Hence, our answer to the question: “Have you been saved?” should be: “I have been saved from the penalty of sin by Christ’s death and Resurrection.  I am being saved from the power of sin by the indwelling Spirit of God.  I have the hope that I shall one day be saved from the very presence of sin when I go to be with God.”  It is through the grace of Christ that we are able to live out God’s Life in us — a grace that is fortified every time we participate in the Holy Eucharist, are reconciled with God and meditate on His Word.  Venerable Bishop Fulton J. Sheen says that we will have three surprises in Heaven:  1) There will be many there whom we never expected;   b) there will be many absent whom we expected to see; and c) we will be surprised to find that we ourselves have gotten in!   The real question is:  who will enter God’s Kingdom?  There is only one answer:  those who choose the narrow gate, and they will come from east and west, and will eat together, live together, and enjoy God in the Beatific Vision for all eternity.  Even non-Christians can be saved, but it’s not easy. The fathers of the Second Vatican Council said, “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.”

Life messages: 1) We need to make wise decisions and choose the narrow gate.  God allows us to decide every day what road we will walk down and what gate we will choose.  He encourages us, however, to choose His way:  “Choose life” (Moses – Dt  30:19-20); “Choose this day whom to serve” (Joshua – Jos 24:15); ”If God is Lord, follow Him” (Elijah – 1 Kgs  18:21); “There are two paths: one of life and one of death, and the difference between the two is great.”(Didache);   “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Lk 9:23).   This means a consistent denial of self and the steady relinquishing of sinful pleasures, pursuits, and interests.  St. Paul lists these sins in Galatians 5:19-21: “The works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, and occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.” Paul then enumerates “good works” that are representative of the “narrow road” and “narrow gate.”  These are “the fruits of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22-23).  In other words, the “narrow road” or “narrow gate” concerns our everyday living—our relationships with God and with one another. To enter the narrow gate involves being with the blessed ones (poor, peacemakers, persecuted, etc), being salt and light consistently, following Jesus’ radical way about murder/anger, adultery/lust, divorce, truth-telling, choosing mercy over revenge, loving enemies. And it involves doing good deeds for the right reasons; it involves pursuing the Kingdom and God’s justice instead of fame and fortune; and it involves not condemning others. It involves repentance, obedience, humility, righteousness, truth and discipleship.  Hence, we are to strive to enter through the “narrow gate” by prayer and supplication, diligently seeking deliverance from those things which would bar our entrance, and acquiring those things which would facilitate our entry

2) We need to check our track daily.  The parable of the locked door warns us that the time is short.  Each day sees endings and opportunities missed. “Opportunity will not knock twice at your door.”  Remember the old “Examination of Conscience” we were asked to make at the end of each day, in which we ask God’s pardon for the faults and sins of the day?  “How conscious was I this day of God’s numerous gifts?  How well did I respond to the opportunities to bear witness and serve in Jesus’ name: to forgive, feed, clothe, and love those who entered my life?  How much did I strive today to enter through the narrow gate of sacrificial love in action?'”  We might conclude this self-examination with a short prayer: “I need you Jesus Christ.  Grant me forgiveness for my sins.  Make me a new person.  I need your Holy Spirit to direct me, to strengthen me, so that I can walk in the narrow way and choose the narrow gate.  I need you to change me from a self-centered, self-sufficient person into your wise servant.”

JOKES OF THE WEEK

1) Irish solidarity on the “wide way” to hell. The Irish pastor said, “Everyone who wants to go to Heaven stand up!” and the whole church stood up.  And he said, “And those who want to go to hell, remain standing!” At the back of the church, old Murphy remained standing.   The pastor said, “Murphy, do you want to go to hell?”  Murphy said, “No, Father… I just hate to see you go there all by yourself!”   (No offence intended to my great Irish friends!).

 2) A little boy once asked his mother if people who told lies went to Heaven. She replied, “Of course not.” “Well,” he said, “it must be awfully lonesome and boring there with only God and George Washington.”

3) An open-air evangelist, preaching on today’s Gospel text was warning his congregation about the eternal damnation. “On the Day of Judgment,” he said, “there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.” But an old woman in the crowd asked, “Look preacher, I got no teeth!” “Never mind,” says the evangelist, “teeth will be provided.”

Websites of the week

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

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

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

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)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=COJ0ED1mV7s

6) http://www.ucatholic.com/apologetics/the-simplest-most-direct-argument-for-gods-existence/

7) Catholics online for the New     Millennium: http://www.ecatholic2000.com/index2.html

7) Catholic expert on Islam: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsFwvdPPSoQ 

 27-Additional anecdotes

 1) Narrow gate of football stadiums: Have you ever been among the great crowd moving toward the entrance to a big-time football game? At first the entrance seems wide and open to all, but once you begin seriously pushing and struggling to go in, you discover that the gate is not wide at all. The broad gate narrows down to a turnstile where you enter one by one, and the keeper says, “Hold your own ticket, please.”  — So Jesus describes the door to the Kingdom. It begins wide and open to all – but then comes the struggle to go through the narrow door: one at a time and hold your own ticket. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

2) Narrow gate golf & basketball: Arnold Palmer, for many years, was one of America’s finest golfers. Certainly, he was our most popular golfer. Wouldn’t it be great to be a “natural” athlete like Arnold Palmer? Except that Arnold Palmer practiced golf eight hours a day, day after day after day. Being a great golfer requires commitment. Some of you who play the game are thinking to yourself that even being a poor golfer requires commitment. You don’t excel in athletics or anything else unless you are willing to pay the price. Larry Bird won the Most Valuable Player award in the National Basketball League for three years in a row. How did he achieve such excellence? Larry Bird is legendary for his dedication to the game of basketball. An opposing player tells of arriving at Boston Garden with his teammates to play the Boston Celtics several hours before an important game. There was the great Larry Bird standing at the foul line of dark, deserted Boston Garden practicing free throws over and over again. The coach of the opposing team preached a little sermon about dedication to the game using Larry Bird as the prime example. — Successful living requires commitment. It requires dedication. That’s true in athletics. It is also true in business. Jesus says in today’s Gospel that it is true in our relationship with God. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

3) King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table:  In the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, a vision of the Holy Grail comes to Sir Gawain. He vows to set off in search of it the very next day. All the other Knights of the Round Table vow that they, too, will go in search of the sacred chalice. But they will not journey together. As dawn breaks the following morning, each of the knights enters the forest alone, where he perceives it to be the darkest and the thickest. No knight follows a pathway. To do so would be to go where someone else had already searched. — So, it is with the case of the narrow way of sacrificial service in the Christian life. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

4) The NCAA cross-country championship: Back in 1994, 128 runners lined up to compete in the NCAA cross-country championship in Riverside, California. Unfortunately, one of the turns on the 10,000-meter course was not well-marked.  Only five of the 128 runners stayed on the correct path. Mike Delcavo was the first runner to notice the problem. He began waving at the other runners to follow him, but most refused. Can you blame them? One-hundred-and-twenty-three runners took the wrong path, only five took the right one. What did the 123 think of Delcavo? He commented later, “They thought it was funny that I went the right way.” (Leadership, Summer 1994, p. 49.) — We all like to think that we’re on the right path; what a rude awakening it would be to discover we aren’t, if we are taking the broad way leading to eternal damnation. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

5) Twenty million tons of cement. In 1974, in the wake of oil boom, the government of Nigeria decided to bring their country at a single leap into line with most developed Western nations. The planners calculated that to build the new roads, airfields, and military buildings which the plan required would call for some 20 million tons of cement. This was duly ordered and shipped by freighters from all over the world, to be unloaded onto the docks at Lagos, Nigeria. Twenty million tons of cement. Unfortunately, the Nigerian planners had not considered the fact that the docks at Lagos were only capable of handling two thousand tons a day. Working every day, it would have taken twenty-seven years to unload the ships that were at one point waiting at sea off Lagos. These contained a third of the world’s supply of cement, much of it showing its fine quality by setting solid in the holds of the freighters. —  Hasty transactions bring painful losses. Poor planning yields disastrous results. Building a tower before counting the cost is most unwise. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

6)  “The Road Less Traveled – Robert Frost:

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth……….….shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and

I took the one less traveled by, /

And that has made all the difference.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

7) Carl Jung and Rabbi Zusya: In 1933 Carl Jung observed in his book, Modern Man in Search of a Soul, that it is no easy matter to live a life modeled on Christ, but it is unspeakably more difficult to live one’s own life as truly as Christ lived his. The question for Christians living today is not, “What would Jesus do?” for he has not left us here to live his life as a clone, but to live our own in Him. No one can do my living for me, or dying either, for that matter. God has not given my life to you or your life to someone else. No one but you will be held accountable for it. It is written of Zusya – the old Rabbi of Annitol – that shortly before his death he gathered his disciples around him and said, “When I die and stand before my Heavenly Judge, God will not say to me, ‘Zusya, why weren’t you Moses?’ No! God will say to me, ‘Zusya, you could at least have been Zusya … so why weren’t you?’ (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

 8) Screening at the Pearly Gates: According to an anonymous storyteller, three people who died found themselves together before the Gate of Heaven. When asked by St. Peter what they had done to gain entrance, the first answered, “I was a physician and I helped many people to recover from their illnesses.” Peter admitted the doctor to Heaven and questioned the second person similarly, “Why should I let you in?” In response, she explained, “I was an attorney and I defended the rights of many innocent people.”  “Welcome to your eternal home”, said Peter. Then he put the same question to the third candidate who replied, “I was the administrator of a Health Management Organization and I managed to keep health care costs to a minimum.” After a few moments of thought, Peter decided, “You may come in,” he said, “but you can stay for only three days!” — Pointed humor such as this entertains while it teaches. The story of Peter and the three potential residents of eternity illustrates the truth that earthly words and works have eternal consequences. This does not suggest that Heaven can be merited or earned by any human activity. Eternal happiness will forever remain a gracious gift of God. Nevertheless, the manner in which God’s gifts are appropriated in time and space will have a bearing on the enjoyment of those gifts within that reign that perdures beyond time and space. (Patricia Datchuck Sánchez). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

 9) We aren’t told how he got back into the car later. An assistant to former Ohio State coach Woody Hayes once told how he and another coach were looking out a window one day and saw Coach Hayes slowly easing into the last empty space in the parking lot, barely wide enough for a car. But he couldn’t get out of the car once it was parked. There weren’t more than four inches alongside and he couldn’t open either door. A moment passed, and then he backed the car out. Now, as they stared in disbelief, Hayes got out of the car,  closed the door, walked to the rear, planted his hands on the trunk and slowly, grimly, pushed the car back into the space. — We aren’t told how he got back into the car later. Maybe the cars on either side moved. I suppose if you are determined, no space is too narrow. Except one. Jesus says in our lesson for today, “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able….” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

10) “I tell you, I do not know where you come from!”:  How many times have you had someone approach you and say, “Do you remember me?” You stand there and look deeply into their eyes, but for your life you cannot remember the person. You “fish” around for some hints, but there are none that make any sense. Finally, with a trace of a smile, the person says, “I was in John and Mary’s wedding party eight years ago, and you witnessed their marriage. I thought surely you would remember me.” — Isn’t that presumptuous? How in the world are you supposed to remember the name of a person who was in a wedding party eight years ago? Yes, sometimes people expect that from you and me, and sometimes we expect it from others. Jesus warns those who do not do his will that he won’t recognize them on the day of the Last Judgment. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

11) The Lady, or the Tiger?”: In The Lady, or the Tiger? Frank R. Stockton sets before the reader the dilemma of a gladiator who faces his fate in the arena standing before two doors. He must choose which of them to open. Behind one door waits a hungry tiger. Behind the other is a lovely maiden. — Jesus presents us with a similar dilemma in this parable. Behind one door to the Kingdom waits the tiger of Divine wrath. Behind the other door stands the fair maiden of grace. Jesus, in today’s Gospel, envisions a crowd, clamoring at the entrance to get in. But the door will be closed and locked to them. Grace will not be granted to the multitudes battering the gates of Heaven. What is not available to the masses of seeking pilgrims can be obtained, one person at a time, if each will strive to enter by way of the narrow door. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

 12) Broad gate of addictions: A guy walks into a bar, orders three shots and downs them all. “What’s up with the three shots?” asks the bartender. “My two closest buddies and I have gone our separate ways, and I miss them terribly,” says the guy. “See, this glass here is for Tom, this one’s Bob, and this one’s mine. I feel like we’re all drinking together, just like old times.” So, every day the guy comes in and the bartender sets up three glasses. Until one day, the guy asks for just two shots. “I hate to ask,” says the bartender, “but did something happen to one of your friends?” “Nah, they’re okay,” says the guy. “I myself just decided to quit drinking.” —   I told you it was terrible. But I doubt that this guy really has decided to quit drinking, don’t you? (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

13) 72% of Americans “deserve” Heaven: According to most polls, most Americans not only believe in Heaven, they believe that they someday will be there. For example, a poll conducted by USA Today sometime back showed that 72% of the people polled rated their chances of getting to Heaven as good to excellent. Interestingly enough, these same people said that only 60% of their friends will go to Heaven. I wonder why the discrepancy! 80% said they believe in Heaven, but only 67% said they believe in Hell. [Glenn Van Ekeren, Speaker’s Sourcebook II (Englewood Cliffs, NY: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1994), p. 326.] —  Here’s what interests me: By what authority do they assume that they are likely candidates for Heaven? Particularly if they are only nominally interested in religion as are most Americans? And, for that matter, by what authority do they believe in Heaven but not in Hell? The evangelical Christians are so obsessed by the notion of salvation by Faith that we totally ignore an entire body of Jesus’ teachings that call for commitment and sacrifice. (Rev. King Duncan). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

 ) Coach Carter:  Some of you are undoubtedly familiar with the movie Coach Carter. Coach Carter is the true story of Kenneth Carter, an inner‑city Richmond basketball coach who took a ragtag group of high school players and shaped them into a tightly disciplined and almost unstoppable team of athletes. “To accomplish that, he was brutal. He pushed the boys, always to the edge of their endurance, and then a little further. Any insolence was immediately reprimanded with a crackdown of grueling drills. The slightest lateness was penalized. Backtalk was squelched beneath a mounting regimen of workouts. To show you that Carter meant business, he made headlines in 1999 for benching his entire undefeated high school basketball team due to poor academic results. When was the last time you heard of a coach doing that? Under Coach Carter’s taskmaster harshness, the boys at first withered, then flourished. [Mark Buchanan, Hidden In Plain Sight (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2002), p. 60.]   —-Why did Carter put his players through such agony? Was it because he hated them? No, it was because he loved them and wanted the best for them. His desire was that they should be more than they were. And that is Christ’s desire for us. He wants us to be fit to share eternity with him. (Rev. King Duncan). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

15)  Narrow gate of George Foreman:  Some of you remember George Foreman. Foreman is a two-time former heavyweight boxing champion of the world. He is also an Olympic gold medalist, ordained Baptist minister, author and entrepreneur. Foreman is a colorful character who is probably better known today for his George Foreman Grill. When he won his second heavyweight world championship, at age 45, he became the oldest man in the world to win the heavyweight title. It’s quite a remarkable story. In his book, God in My Corner, he tells about that second title. He says that when he started his comeback, he had to get rid of what he called “some excess George.” He was extremely overweight. In the nearly ten years he had been out of boxing, he had ballooned from 220 to 315 pounds. And it wasn’t muscle that he gained! To get back into an exercise regimen, he started with the basics running every day. He was so out of shape that he couldn’t go far. At first, he couldn’t even make it around the block, which was about a mile. He had to stop a few times to catch his breath, huffing and puffing. “Just imagine a big, fat guy,” he writes, “gasping for air, barely able to jog around the block, who claims that he will be the heavyweight champion of the world again! I looked ridiculous to everyone who saw me. I’m sure they laughed as they peeked through their curtains early in the morning while I slowly shuffled past their houses. Only two people on this entire planet believed I could recapture the title—my wife and me.” But he had to get his weight down. He would walk and run, walk and run. Finally, he was able to run the whole time without walking. Then he began running longer distances, and with the combination of a proper diet and regular exercise, the fat continued to melt away. He kept running for the next eight months, until he finally got down to his fighting weight 229 pounds. The flab was fun to put on, he says, but hard to take off. Some of us know what he’s talking about. However, he contends, he wouldn’t have won the championship title if he first hadn’t gotten rid of that extra weight. [George Foreman, God In My Corner (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007), p. 169; cited www.kentcrockett.com.] — I admire George Foreman. I admire anyone who sets a lofty goal and then gives his or her best to attaining that goal. (Rev. King Duncan). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

16) The last shall be first! Barbara Hutton, the Woolworth heiress, was known as the “poor little rich girl.” Since her mother died when she was five, Barbara Hutton described her childhood as an unhappy one. She said, “Though I had millions of dollars, I had no mother and no home.” Nor was her adult life a happy one. She was married seven times and was a princess three of those times. A virtual recluse, she died in 1979 at age 66. A newspaper article summed up her life with the words: “Barbara Hutton died unmarried and alone, a symbol of the cliché that money does not buy happiness.” By way of contrast, consider the life of Dorothy Day. She was known as “the mother of the faceless poor of the city’s off-scouring.” She always felt she existed for a special purpose. She discovered that purpose when she became a Catholic at age 30 and dedicated her life to help the poor. Dorothy Day founded and edited the Catholic Worker newspaper, went to prison as a suffragist and pacifist, and established farm communes and hospices for the dispossessed. When she died in 1980 at age 83, Time magazine called her a “secular saint.” — Barbara Hutton and Dorothy Day illustrate somewhat the proverb cited by our Lord today: “There are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last.” (Albert Cylwicki in His Word  Resounds; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

 17) The Kingdom of Heaven is not a private club!A man died and went up to heaven. St. Peter met him at the gate, brought him inside and took him on a tour of the place. At a certain point they came to an enclosure surrounded by a high wall. As they were passing it Peter said, “Keep very quiet as you pass this place.” “Why,” the man asked. “In case we might disturb those inside,” Peter answered. “Who is inside?” the man asked. St. Peter said, “Catholics. You see, they think they are the only ones in Heaven. In fact, if they found out that there are others in Heaven, they would be very disappointed. In fact, some of them would probably ask for their money back!” — The Kingdom of Heaven is not a private club.
(John Pichappilly in The Table of the         Word; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

 18) The narrow door? In an interesting cartoon in the Peanuts series, Charlie Brown wakes up one morning and looks out of the window. It has snowed all night but now the sun is shining brightly, so he decides to go out skiing. Donning all the winter gear he can find; he collects his shoes and skis and makes for the door.  Unfortunately, he is unable to get through, because the clothes he has worn make it impossible to pass. He makes one unsuccessful effort after another. Finally, in desperate frustration, he screams at the top of his lungs: “Will someone please tell me what I have to do to get through this door?” —  Charlie Brown typifies those who would like to make it to Heaven but are reluctant to shed the unnecessary attachments that impede their passage. So like Charlie, we end up standing at the front door of Heaven screaming. The door of Heaven is narrow only for those who are too “bundled up.” (James Valladares in Your Words, O Lord, Are Spirit, and They Are Life; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

9) The narrow gate of St. John Mary Vianney.  One of the greatest examples for entering through the narrow gate to holiness was John Mary Vianney. He was the last in his class. In French and Latin, he was the last student. He failed in Theology studies. So, he was asked to leave the seminary. After that he was taught Theology privately and was ordained in 1815. Three years later he was appointed to the parish of Ars, a parish, where practically no one went to church. In a few years people began to come on pilgrimage to Ars. He became the most sought-after spiritual advisor. – This is an example of last being first. John Mary Vianney was last but now he is the patron of parish priests. What has caused the miracle? The gracious touch of the Lord. This miracle will happen to anyone who tries to enter by the narrow gate; who disregards the standards of the world and set his goal on high. (Fr. Bobby Jose). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

20) The narrow way on highway: I think of what happens on the freeway or expressway when there is a bad accident. The police close off three lanes; only one single lane is open, which is like the narrow door. All the traffic slows down and at times comes to a complete stop because of the bottleneck. As I think of the narrow door Jesus refers to, I see people all bunched up like cars on the freeway, moving very slowly, trying to squeeze through the one open lane. Drivers are upset. They are fussing and fuming and making obscene gestures at each other. Cars and tempers are overheating. The bottleneck is a pain in the neck. — Sin is like the accident on the freeway which causes all the trouble. This is not an inviting scene but is an image of what it means to get to Heaven. I realize that only one person has to get to that door. That person is Jesus Christ. And through that door he has passed in the paschal mystery of the death and resurrection. We do not have to force our way through that door. All we have to do is make sure we are united with Jesus, who is the door to heaven.  (Charles Miller C.M. in Sunday Preaching.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

 21) Joe Rosenthal: Monsignor Arthur Tonne tells an interesting tale: Most people have seen the famous photo of Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal. It pictures United States Marines raising the American flag on a hill in bloody Iwo Jima during World War II. Many of us too have stood mesmerized by the equally famous heroic size bronze likeness of the scene sculpted in Washington DC.  What is little known is that the photographer Mr Rosenthal was a convert to the Church from Judaism. For his conversion, he was shunned by fellow Jews for abandoning the Faith of his people. But Rosenthal was not intimidated.  He wrote, “The day before we went ashore on Iwo Jima, I attended Mass and received Holy Communion. If a man is genuinely convinced of the truth and still neglects it, he is a traitor and that goes not only for my Jewish friends who do not attend synagogue each Saturday but also for my friends who miss Mass each Sunday.” The Teacher was pulling himself through the towns and villages of Palestine. Busily He was teaching all the time. His destination was Jerusalem. There He would keep His long-planned rendezvous with death. He was asked by someone, “Lord, are those to be saved few in number?” The exhausted Christ, desperately needing a shower and a cold drink, ignored the query. Oftentimes the question put to Him did not touch on His syllabus. But He took advantage of the well-intentioned question to say in effect, “The door to the kingdom is unlocked. Keep in mind it is not wide, but it freely swings open on well-oiled hinges. Those willing to exert themselves will walk right in. No people at any time need stand outside with their noses pressed against the glass door wistfully looking in.” (Father James Gilhooley). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)  

 22)  Which way shall I go?
“To every person there opens a way;
A high way, a middle way, and a low way.
And the high soul takes the high way;
And the low soul takes the low way;
And in between on the misty flats,
The rest drift to and fro.
But to every person there opens a way
A high way, a middle way and a low way.
And every person decides
Which way his soul shall go.”
(Paraphrase of the poem by John Oxenham) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

 23) Display of universal unity:  Each time the Olympics are convened, the opening and closing ceremonies of the games are marked by an International cavalcade of athletes; men and women from nations all over the world march together in a spectacular and diverse display of universal unity. For the duration of the games, all share one vision and one goal and the whole world unites in looking on in admiration and appreciation. — In today’s first reading, the late sixth or early fifth century B.C.E. prophet, Trito-Isaiah wished to offer his contemporaries a similar experience; he envisioned a great parade of nations on pilgrimage to Jerusalem where they would unite in praising and glorifying God. (Sanchez Files).  (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

24) ‘Man, how good is your cotton?’  Several cotton farmers were whiling away a winter afternoon around the potbellied stove. They soon became entangled in a heated discussion on the merits of their respective religions. The eldest of the farmers had been sitting quietly, just listening, when the group turned to him and demanded, “Who’s right, old Jim? Which one of these religions is the right one?” “Well,” said Jim thoughtfully, “you know there are three ways to get from here to the cotton gin. You can go right over the big hill. That’s shorter but it’s a powerful climb. You can go around the east side of the hill. That’s not too far, but the road is rougher and difficult. Or you can go around the west side of the hill, which is the longest way, but the easiest.” Then he said, looking them squarely in the eye, “But you know, when you get there, the gin man won’t ask you how you came or what religion you believe. He just asks, ‘Man, how good is your cotton?'”(Fr. Lakra). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

25) The narrow gate: St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, meant to symbolize the Church as a whole, is literally built right on top of Peter, who is buried underneath the main altar where the nave and the transept intersect. The central aisle, called the nave, comes from the Latin word for boat. The Church is Peter’s boat. But to enter the Church, you have to go through the front door, and over the front door, in the pendentive, stands the Resurrected Christ. To enter into the Church, you have to go, in a sense, through Christ. And right underneath Christ is the balcony from which the Pope gives his solemn blessings, symbolizing that the Pope literally stands under Christ, stands under his authority and speaks to us for Christ. — To be saved, we have to enter through this narrow gate who is Christ into his Church and remain in his Church. Peter’s barque or boat is like Noah’s ark and we have to enter and stay in that ark in order to be saved. (Fr. Roger J. Landry). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

26) Whom The Lord Loves, He Disciplines: Nobody enjoys being taken to task, whether by a parent or superior, or even by God Himself. But as St. Paul reminds us in today’s second reading, discipline is an essential part of teaching. If, at least by the end of our lives, we have not yet come to appreciate the value of correction, we are still pretty immature persons. Our teachers in grammar school often do more to form us that our parents. Sister M. Berchmans, who taught and was principal from 1880 to 1925 in my own parochial school, was just such an influence. Three generations of our parish children knew her and held her in proper awe. They were immigrant or second-generation children of Irish, German, Italian, or Slavic background, and some of the boys could be pretty rambunctious and some of the girls pretty “bold.” In that era, corporal punishment was still permitted. Indeed, it was an implicit part of the parental contract that the school was delegated to take a stick to Billy or Kate if need be. The school followed a simple, disciplinary routine. If the grade Sister could get nowhere with a pupil, she would send him or her to Sister Berchmans’ office. The principal, who never smiled during school hours, would first give the offender an appropriate reprimand. Then she would take her special stick (the length of a ruler but a little thicker) and (at least in the case of a boy), lay a few thwacks on the open palm of the hand. That usually solved the problem, although there were always a few recidivists. One of them in my day was “Louie” who was sent to the principal many times. I never knew whether he had a long willfullness or a short memory! Despite her proverbial attack, Sister Berchmans was highly regarded by alumni and alumnae. They knew she was doing her job as she believed it should be done and that she played no favorites. When Sister celebrated her Golden Jubilee in 1921, many of her former pupils came back to congratulate her with nostalgic gratitude. (They also learned that day that, out of school, she could smile). And when she died in 1929, one of the largest bouquets beside her simple wooden casket bore a card signed, “In loving remembrance – Louie” (Father Robert F. McNamara).

 “Scriptural Homilies” Cycle C(No. 48) 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 atakadavil@gmail.com. Visithttp://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html for the 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

August 15-20 weekday homilies

Aug 15 Monday: (The Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary): Lk 1:39-56: Three Questions answered: Q 1: Do Catholics worship Mary? Fact 1: Catholics don’t worship or adore Mary because we worship only God, and Mary is not God. Fact 2: We venerate her, honor her, and love her as Jesus’ mother and our Heavenly Mother.

Q 2: Why do Catholics venerate Mary? Mary herself gives the reason in her “Magnificat” recorded in Luke (1:48-49): 48: “For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. 49: The Mighty One has done great things for me, and Holy is his Name.

1) God has honored Mary in four ways, and we honor her because God honored her:

a) He chose her as the mother of His Son, Jesus Christ the Messiah.

b) In preparation for this role, God made her “Full of grace” by her Immaculate Conception.

c) He anointed her twice with His Holy Spirit: at the Annunciation and at Pentecost, making her the most Spirit -filled of all women.

d) God allowed her to participate actively in Christ’s suffering and death, suffering in soul all Jesus suffered in body.

2) Mary is our Heavenly Mother, given to us by Jesus from the cross.

3) Mary is our role model for all virtues, particularly, love, fidelity, humility, obedience, surrender to the will of God, and patience.

Q 3: Why do we believe that Mary was taken to Heaven after her death and burial? (“Assumption” means, after her death, Mary was taken into Heaven, both body and soul. The word Assumption comes from the Latin verb “assumere”, meaning “to take to oneself.” Our Lord, Jesus Christ took Mary home to himself where he is. It was on November 1, 1950, that, through the Apostolic Constitution Munificentimus Deus, Pope Pius XII officially declared the Assumption as a Dogma of Catholic Faith, giving the following reasons:

1) Uninterrupted tradition in the Catholic Church starting from the first century AD. (The first trace of belief in the Virgin’s Assumption can be found in the apocryphal second-to-third century AD accounts entitled Transitus Mariae [Latin: “The
Crossing Over of Mary”].

2) The feast is found in all the ancient liturgies

3) The belief in the assumption of Mary is taught by all early Fathers of the Church, e.g., Origen (died AD 253), St. Jerome (died AD 419) and St. Augustine (died AD 430).

4) Negative evidence: Mary’s tomb was never reported or venerated.

5) Old Testament evidence of corporal assumption of Enoch (Gn 5: 24) and Elijah (2 Kgs 2:1).

6) Theological reasons: her Immaculate Conception and sinless life.

Life messages: 1) We are challenged to keep ourselves pure and holy children of a Holy Mother. 2) We are challenged to accept total liberation from all our bondages. 3) We are assured of our resurrection and given the inspiration to face pain, suffering, despair, disappointment and temptations as Mary did.

For additional points, visit: https://info.franciscanmedia.org/mary (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

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

Aug 16 Tuesday: (St. Stephen of Hungary): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-stephen-of-hungaryMt 19:23-30: 23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said in reply, “Lo, we have left everything and followed you. What then shall we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And ever one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. 30 But many that are first will be last, and the last first.

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

The context: Jesus told a rich, young man who had expressed his desire to follow Jesus as a disciple that he had to share his possessions with the less fortunate as a condition for becoming a perfect disciple. But when the young man heard this, he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions. It was then that Jesus made the comment given in today’s Gospel. Jesus uses a vivid hyperbole or “word cartoon” to show how riches bar people from Heaven. The camel was the largest animal the Jews knew, and the eye of a needle the smallest hole. The needle’s eye is variously interpreted. a)Most probably Jesus used it literally. b) The little, low and narrow gate on the outer wall of the city of Jerusalem through which even a man could hardly pass erect was called, “The Needle’s Eye” in Jesus’ time. c) The Greek word used in the passage for camel is kamelos, which can also mean a ship’s thick cable or hawser rope. In any case, Jesus is saying that it is not impossible, by the grace of God, for a wealthy person to keep his spiritual integrity, but it is extremely difficult and uncommon. Why do riches prevent one from reaching God? First, the rich think that they can buy their way out of sorrow and into happiness, so they don’t need God. Second, riches shackle one to this earth, and one ignores an afterlife.; taught by Scriptures a(Mt 6:21). Third, riches tend to make one selfish. The Bible doesn’t say that money is the root of all evil; it says that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tm 6:10). Jesus also challenges the Jewish belief that material wealth and prosperity are signs of God’s blessings, and poverty is the sign of His punishment. Jesus condemns a value system that makes “things” more valuable than people.

Life messages: 1) We need to accept God’s invitation to generosity. Jesus’ Infinitely generous Self-gift to us has the crucifix as “Exhibit A,” and in the Eucharist Jesus actually becomes our spiritual Food and Drink. 2) To follow Jesus, we must have a generous, self-giving heart, and we should be willing to use it by sharing our blessings with others. 3) God does not ask us to give up our riches, but He does ask us to use them wisely in His service. 4) How do we use our talents? 5) What about time – do we use it for God? We each get 168 hours every week. How do we use our time? Are we too busy to pray each day? (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Aug 17 Wednesday: Mt 20:1-16: 1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; 4 and to them he said, `You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So, they went. 5 Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing; and he said to them, `Why do you stand here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, `Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, `You go into the vineyard too.’ 8 And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, `Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ 9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the householder, 12 saying, `These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, `Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.” Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: The parable described in today’s Gospel is known as the “Parable of Workers in the Vineyard” or the “Parable of the Generous Landlord.” This remarkable and rather startling parable is found only in Matthew. There is Gospel, or “Good News,” in this parable because it is the story of the landlord’s love and generosity, representing God’s love and generosity. The question in God’s mind is not, “How much do these people deserve?” but rather, “How can I help them? How can I save them before they perish?” It’s all about grace and blessings. God is presented in the parable as a loving mother who cares about each of her children equally. The parable in a nutshell: The Kingdom of Heaven, says Jesus, is like a landowner who goes out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. He rounds up a group at 6 AM, agrees to pay them the usual daily wage and then puts them into action. At 9 AM, he rounds up another group. At noon, he recruits a third team, and then at 3 PM, a fourth. Finally, at 5 PM, he finds still more laborers who are willing and able to work. He sends them into the vineyard to do what they can before sundown. As the day ends, the landowner instructs his manager to pay each of the workers one denarius, the daily living wage, and to begin with those who started at 5 PM.

Life messages: (1) We need to follow God’s example and show grace to our neighbor. When someone else is more successful than we are, let us rejoice with him and assume he needs the success. When someone who does wrong fails to get caught, let us remember the many times we have done wrong and gotten off free. We mustn’t wish pain on people for the sake of “fairness.” We become envious of others because of our lack of generosity of heart. 2) We need to express our gratitude to God in our daily lives. God personally calls each of us to a particular ministry. He shows his care by giving us His grace and eternal salvation. All our talents and blessings are freely given us by God, so we should thank Him by avoiding sins, by rendering loving service to others, and by listening and talking to Him. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Aug 18 Thursday: Mt 22: 1-14: Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. A second time he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.” ‘Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests, he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. The king said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment? ‘But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.” Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The parable and its meaning: This is one of the three parables of judgment or “rejection parables” that Jesus told in the Temple of Jerusalem during the week ending his public life. It was addressed to the “chief priests and elders of the people”, i.e., the Jewish religious and civic leaders. By telling this allegoric parable of judgment in the Temple of Jerusalem two days before his arrest, Jesus is accusing the Jewish religious and civil leaders of rejecting God’s invitation to the Heavenly banquet which the Incarnate Son of God is giving them. They have made the refusal by not listening to the Good News preached by Jesus and by not reforming their lives. This invitation had been repeatedly extended to Israel through the prophets, including John the Baptist. But the leadership contemporary with Jesus, by rejecting the reality that Jesus is the fulfillment of all prophecy, has refused to accept God’s invitation to righteous living (given first through John the Baptist, now through Jesus), and is currently planning to kill God’s own Son, Jesus. Hence, God is inviting the sinners and Gentiles to His banquet, and that is why Jesus is keeping the company of sinners.

Life messages: 1) We need to keep wearing the wedding garment of holiness and righteousness, the state of grace, all the time and appreciate and make use of the provision for God’s graces in the Church: a) We received the “wedding garment” of sanctifying grace in Baptism, and we receive additional graces to retain it through the other Sacraments. b) Our participation in the Eucharistic celebration and in personal and family prayers helps us to recharge our spiritual batteries and enables us to lead Spirit-filled lives. c) Jesus nourishes us in the Church through the proclamation of the word of God and through the Eucharist, His own Body and Blood in the Holy Communion.

2) We need to participate in the Eucharistic banquet with proper preparation by repenting of our sins and by actively participating in the prayers and singing during the Holy Mass. Participating in Holy Mass is the best preparation and source of power for our future participation in the Heavenly banquet. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Aug 19 Friday: (St. John Eudes, Priest): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-stephen-of-hungaryMatthew 22:34-40: 34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment.39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” .”Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections;

The context: The Pharisees, who believed in both the written Law and the oral tradition, were pleased to see how Jesus defeated the Sadducee who had tried to humiliate him with the hypothetical case of a woman who married seven husbands in succession. So, a lawyer challenged Jesus to summarize the most important of the Mosaic Laws into one sentence. Jesus’ answer teaches us that the most important Commandment isto love God in loving others and to love others in loving God. In other words, we are to love God completely, and express our love by loving our neighbor who is a son or daughter of God in whom God lives.

Jesus’ novel contribution: Jesus gives a straightforward answer, quoting directly from the Law itself and startling his listeners with his profound simplicity and mastery of the law of God and its purpose. He cites the first sentence of the Jewish Shema prayer (Dt 6:5) “Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Then He adds its complementary law (Lv 19:18):You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus combines the originally separate commandments and presents them as the essence of true religion. We are to love our neighbor as our self because this is a way to love God: God gives us our neighbors to love so that we may learn to love Him.

Life messages: 1) How do we love God? There are several means by which we can express our love for God: a) by thanking God daily for His blessings and expressing our gratitude by obeying His Commandments; b) by being reconciled with God daily, confessing our sins, and asking His forgiveness; c) by acknowledging our total dependence on God, presenting our needs before Him with trusting Faith; d) by keeping friendship with God, daily talking to Him in prayer and listening to Him in reading the Bible; and e) by recharging our spiritual batteries through participating in Sunday Mass, receiving Jesus in Holy Communion, and leading a Sacramental life. 2) How do we love our neighbor? Since every human being is the child of God and the dwelling place of the Spirit of God, created in the “image and likeness of God” and saved by the precious Blood of Christ, we are actually giving expression to our love of God by loving our neighbor as Jesus loves him, and by loving Jesus in our neighbor. This means we need to help, support, encourage, forgive, and pray for every one of God’s children without discrimination based on color, race, creed, gender, age wealth or social status. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Aug 20 Saturday: (St. Bernard, Abbot, Doctor of the Church): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-bernard-of-clairvauxMt 23:1-12: 1Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, 2saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. 3Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. 4They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. 5All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. 6They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, 7greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’ 8As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. 9Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. 10Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Christ. 11The greatest among you must be your servant. 12Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: For Jesus, it was the third day of the very first “Holy Week” in Jerusalem, a day of controversy and personal attacks. Jesus was under fire by the religious leaders of Israel and challenged them, pronouncing eight woes against them, calling them hypocrites and publicly chastening them because they were more concerned about self-promotion than serving others and shepherding God’s Chosen People.

Three sins of the Scribes and Pharisees: Jesus raises three objections to the Pharisees: (1) “They do not practice what they teach” (v 3). They lack integrity of life and fail to practice what they preach, namely, justice, mercy, and charity. (2) They overburden the ordinary people (v 4). The scribes and the Pharisees, in their excessive zeal for God’s laws, split the 613 laws of the Torah into thousands of rules and regulations affecting every movement of the people, thus making God’s laws a heavy burden. (3) “They do all their deeds to be seen by others” (v. 5). Jesus accuses the scribes and Pharisees of seeking the glory that rightly belongs to God. They express their love of honor in several ways, thereby converting Judaism into a religion of ostentation: (a) “They make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long” (v 5). (b) They “love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues” (v 6). (c) They “love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to have people call them rabbi” (v 7).

Life messages: 1) We need servant-leaders in a serving community: The Church is a servant-community in which those who hunger, and thirst are to be satisfied; the ignorant are to be taught; the homeless are to receive shelter; the sick are to be cared for; the distressed are to be consoled; and the oppressed are to be set free. Hence, leaders should have a spirit of humble service in thought, word and deed. 2) We need to live the Faith we profess. Our Faith tells us that we are all brothers and sisters, children of the same Heavenly Father. Hence, we should always pray for each other. Instead of judging the poor, we should be serving them both directly and through our efforts on behalf of economic justice. Instead of criticizing those of other races, we should be serving them both directly and through our efforts on behalf of racial justice. Instead of ignoring the homeless, we should be serving them through efforts to supply them with adequate housing. 3) We need to accept the responsibilities which go with our titles. Titles and polite forms exist to remind each of us of our specific responsibilities in society. Hence, let us use everything we are and have in a way that brings glory to God, by serving His children. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary- feast (August 15, 2022)

Assumption of BVM (Aug 15): Eight-minute homily in one page

(To enlarge, Press on Control button and keep rolling the circular Mouse button)

We honor Mary, venerate her, express our love for her and never worship her.

 Why do we honor Mary: 1) Mary herself gives the most important reason in  her “Magnificat:” “All generations (ages) will call me blessed because the The Mighty One has done great things for me a)by choosing  Mary as the mother of Jesus  b) by filling her with His Holy Spirit twice, namely at the Annunciation and at Pentecost, c) by making her  “full of grace,” the paragon or embodiment of all virtues, d) by allowing her to become the most active participant with Christ, her Son, in our Redemption,  suffering in spirit what Jesus suffered in body.

2) Mary is our Heavenly Mother.  Jesus gave us His Mother as our Mother from the cross: “Woman, behold your son.” … “Behold your mother” (John 19: 26-27).

 3) Mary is the supreme model of all virtues and hence our role model, especially in holiness of life (“full of grace”), obedience to the will of God (“fiat”) and true humility (“Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me as you have said”).

Reasons why we believe in the dogma of Assumption:  Pope Pius XII in the papal document Munificentimus Deus gives four reasons for our belief in the Dogma of Assumption of Mary.

 1) The uninterrupted tradition about Mary’s death and Assumption starting from the first century. 2) The belief expressed in all the ancient liturgies of the Church. 3) The negative evidence  — the absence and veneration of a tomb of Mary while most of the apostles have their tombs. 4) The possibility of bodily assumption warranted in the Old Testament in the cases of Enoch (Gn 5:24), perhaps Moses (Dt 34:5), and especially Elijah (II Kgs 2:1).5) The theological reasons: a) The degeneration of the body after death is the consequence of “original sin,” and Mary, as “Immaculately Conceived,” is exempted from the post-mortem decay of the body.  b) As receiver of the fullness of grace and holiness because she is mother of Jesus and co-redeemer with Him, Mary’s place is with her son, God’s Son Jesus, the Redeemer, in the abode of holiness, Heaven.

Life messages: 1) As Mary’s Assumption was a reward for a holy life, this feast invites us to keep our bodies pure and holy.  Paul gives three additional reasons: a) our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, b) our body parts are the members of Christ’s Body, and c) our bodies are to be glorified on the day of the Last Judgment.

2)   We are given an assurance of hope in our resurrection and a source of inspiration during moments of despair and temptations.

3)   We receive a message of total liberation from all our bondages: impure, unjust, uncharitable thoughts, desires, words, actions, and neglects, addiction to evil habits, drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography and sexual aberrations.  

Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (L)

 (Vigil Mass: 1 Chr 15:3-4, 15-16; 16:1-2; 1 Cor 15:54b-57; Lk 11:27-28 (621) 

Daytime Mass: Rv 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab; 1 Cor 15:20-27; Lk 1:39-56)

Homily starter anecdote: # 1: Taj Mahal: The Taj Mahal has been described as a “love song in marble.” Completed in 1645, the magnificent marble mausoleum was built by Shah Jahan, India’s Mogul emperor, in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal (= “the chosen one of the palace”). Her maiden name was   Princess Arjumand. Shah Jahan loved her deeply, calling her his “Taj Mahal,” meaning “The Pearl of the Palace.” But Princess Mumtaz Mahal died giving birth to their fourteenth child, and the emperor was inconsolable. So, he summoned a great architect from Persia to build the Taj Mahal, telling him that it must be “the one perfect memorial in the world.” Seventeen years were needed to build this enchanting edifice of gleaming white marble embroidered with flashing jewels. It is an enduring monument to love that still inspires tourists, artists, and writers from all over the world. This beautiful love story gives us some idea of how much God must have loved Mary, the mother of Jesus. Today’s feast of her Assumption into Heaven is proof of this. By raising her from the dead and taking her into Heaven – body and soul – God demonstrated His undying love for Mary. Like Shah Jahan, God could not bear the death of His beloved. However, God could do what no Indian emperor could do – raise His beloved from the dead and restore her to life even more beautiful than before. Moreover, God didn’t have to build a Taj Mahal to memorialize Mary. Her glorified body is itself a magnificent temple of the Holy Spirit. (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).   

# 2: Carl Jung on the Assumption: It was in 1950, that the famed Lutheran Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, an influential thinker and the founder of Analytical Psychology, remarked that the Papal announcement of the dogma of the Assumption of Mary, in 1950, was “the most important religious event since the Reformation.” (Storr, p. 324). The Assumption means that, along with the glorified masculine body of Jesus in Heaven, there is also a glorified feminine body of Jesus’ mother, Mary.  According to Jung, “bodily reception of the Virgin into Heaven” (Ibid.) meant that “the Heavenly bride was united with the Bridegroom,” (Ibid., p. 322) which union “signifies the hieros gamos” [the sacred marriage], (Ibid.) Acknowledging that the Assumption “is vouched for neither in Scripture nor in the tradition of the first five centuries of the Christian Church,” Jung observes that:  “the Papal declaration made a reality of what had long been condoned.  This irrevocable step beyond the confines of historical Christianity is the strongest proof of the autonomy of archetypal images.” (Storr, p. 297). Jung remarks that “the Protestant standpoint . . . is obviously out of touch with the tremendous archetypal happenings in the psyche of the individual and the masses, and with the symbols which are intended to compensate the truly apocalyptic world situation today.” (Ibid., pp. 322-323) Jung added: “Protestantism has obviously not given sufficient attention to the signs of the times which point to the equality of women.  But this equality requires to be metaphysically anchored in the figure of a ‘divine’ woman. . ..  The feminine, like the masculine, demands an equally personal representation.” (Ibid., p. 325) [Quotes from : Jung, C. G.  Modern Man in Search of a Soul; translated by W. S. Dell and C. F. Baynes. (Princeton, New Jersey: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Publishers, San Diego. 1933); and Storr, Anthony (Ed.).  The Essential Jung. (Princeton University Press, 1983).] Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).   

# 3: There is a legend about the Assumption of the Virgin Mary – The tradition holds that Blessed Virgin Mary died in Jerusalem (or Ephesus?) and during the last moments of her earthly life all surviving Apostles were present there except St. Thomas, who was then preaching in India. He then was miraculously brought there, and he insisted on seeing the dead body of the Blessed Virgin Mary. But to everyone’s surprise, her tomb was found empty, excepting her clothes. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).   

# 4: The Syrian tradition on the Assumption: The virgin longed to ascend to heaven to join her son Jesus. Her dormition was in peace. The date of her death and how old she was, have always been a controversial issue among historians. Most probably that was in AD 56 when she was seventy. Her Assumption in the flesh and soul was not instituted by the Syrian Church as a doctrine. The Virgin’s Assumption is a confessional patristic tradition based on the Syriac narrative of Apostle Thomas. In this narrative we read about the gathering of the Apostles in spirit in Jerusalem for the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, and about the late arrival of Tom, his encounter with the Virgin up in the sky on the way up to heaven, and his acquisition of her girdle, which he brought to the Apostles and his request to them to reopen her grave. When the Apostles did that they did not find her holy body. Thomas declared to them the truth of her ascension to heaven in her glorified flesh and that he witnessed her procession and received the girdle from her in testimony whereof. The Apostles believed him. Syriac tradition reports that Thomas took the girdle with him to India where he was martyred at the hands of pagan priests. When Thomas’ relics were taken to Edessa in the fourth century the girdle was brought with them. Finally the girdle reached the Church of the Virgin in Homs, which has been called the Church of the Virgin’s Girdle ever since. The girdle was discovered in 1852 during the time of Archbishop Mar Julius Peter (Later Patriarch Mar Ignatius Peter 4th.). The girdle was placed in the altar. Late Patriarch Ephrem I Barsoum, of blessed memory, rediscovered the girdle in 1953. The shrine of the girdle in the church in Homs has become a source of blessing for the faithful. (http://www.malankaraworld.com/Library/shunoyo/shunoyo-Virgin-Mary-in-Syrian-Orthodox-Church-11.htm)n

Introduction: The Feast of the Assumption is one of the most important feasts of our Lady.  Catholics believe in the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into Heaven. We believe that when her earthly life was finished, Mary was taken up, body and soul, into Heavenly glory, where the Lord exalted her as Queen of Heaven. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 966).  The Assumption is the feast of Mary’s total liberation from death and decay, the consequences of original sin.  It is also the remembrance of the day when the Church gave official recognition to the centuries-old belief of Christians about the Assumption of their Heavenly Mother.  In the Orthodox Church, the koimesis, or dormitio (“falling asleep”), of the Virgin began to be commemorated on August 15 in the 6th century.  The observance gradually spread to the West, where it became known as the feast of the Assumption.  By the 13th century, the belief had been accepted by most Catholic theologians, and it was a popular subject with Renaissance and Baroque painters.  It was on November 1, 1950, that, through the Apostolic Constitution Munificentimus Deus, Pope Pius XII officially declared the Assumption as a Dogma of Catholic Faith.  On this important feast day, we try to answer two questions:  1) What is meant by “Assumption?”  2) Why do we believe in Mary’s Assumption into Heaven, despite the fact that there is no reference to it in the Bible?  “Assumption” means that after her death, Mary was taken into Heaven, both body and soul, as a reward for her sacrificial cooperation in the Divine plan of Salvation.  “On this feast day, let us thank the Lord for the gift of the Mother, and let us pray to Mary to help us find the right path every day” (Pope Benedict XVI).

Gospel exegesis: (A) Scripture on Mary’s death and Assumption.   Although there is no direct reference to Mary’s death and Assumption in the New Testament, two cases of assumption are mentioned in the Old Testament, namely, those of Enoch (Gn 5: 24) and Elijah (2 Kgs 2:1).  These references support the possibility of Mary’s Assumption.  The possibility of bodily assumption is also indirectly suggested by Mt 27:52-53 and I Cor 15:23-24.  In his official declaration of the dogma, the Pope Pius XII also cites the scriptural verses Ps 131:8, Sg 3:6, Rv 12, Is 61:13 and Sg 8:5. “Although the New Testament does not explicitly affirm Mary’s Assumption, it offers a basis for it because it strongly emphasized the Blessed Virgin’s perfect union with Jesus’ destiny. This union, which is manifested, from the time of the Savior’s miraculous conception, in the Mother’s participation in her Son’s mission and especially in her association with his Redemptive sacrifice, cannot fail to require a continuation after death. Perfectly united with the life and saving work of Jesus, Mary shares His Heavenly destiny in body and soul. There are, thus, passages in Scripture that resonate with the Assumption, even though they do not spell it out.” ( (Pope St. John Paul II; quoted by Jimmy Akin, “The Assumption of Mary: 12 things to Know and Share” Blog, August 15, 2017).

(B)Tradition on Mary’s Assumption: The first trace of belief in the Virgin’s Assumption can be found in the apocryphal accounts entitled Transitus Mariae [Latin; translated,  “The Crossing Over of Mary”], whose origin dates to the second and third centuries. These are popular and sometimes romanticized depictions, which in this case, however, pick up an intuition of Faith on the part of God’s People. (Pope St. John Paul II). The fact of Mary’s death is generally accepted by the Church Fathers and theologians and is expressly affirmed in the liturgy of the Church.  Origen (died AD 253), St. Jerome (died AD 419) and St. Augustine (died AD 430), among others, argue that Mary’s death was not a punishment for sin, but only the result of her being a descendant of Adam and Eve. 

(C) Papal teaching: In May 1946, with the Encyclical Deiparae Virginis Mariae, Pius XII called for a broad consultation, inquiring among the Bishops and, through them, among the clergy and the People of God as to the possibility and opportuneness of defining the bodily assumption of Mary as a dogma of Faith. The result was extremely positive: only six answers out of 1,181 showed any reservations about the revealed character of this truth. (Pope St. John Paul II). When Pope Pius XII made the proclamation on November 1, 1950, he put into words a belief held by the faithful for over 1500 years. In AD 325, the Council of Nicaea spoke of the Assumption of Mary. Writing in AD 457, the Bishop of Jerusalem said that when Mary’s tomb was opened, it was “found empty. The apostles judged her body had been taken into Heaven.” Pope Pius XII based his declaration of the Assumption on both tradition and theology.  The uninterrupted tradition in the Eastern Churches starting from the first century, the apocryphal first-century book, Transitus Mariae, and the writings of the early Fathers of the Church, such as St. Gregory  and St. John Damascene, supported and promoted the popular belief in the Assumption of Mary.  There is a tomb at the foot of the Mt. of Olives where ancient tradition says that Mary was laid.  But there is nothing inside.  There are no relics, as with the other saints. This is acceptable negative evidence of Mary’s Assumption.  Besides, credible apparitions of Mary, though not recorded in the New Testament, have been recorded from the 3rd century till today.

In his decree on the Dogma of the Assumption, Pope Pius XII gives four theological reasons to support this traditional belief.

 #1: The degeneration or decay of the body after death is the result of Original Sin.  However, since, through a special intervention of God, Mary was born without Original Sin, it is not proper that God would permit her body to degenerate in the tomb.

 #2: Since Mary was given the fullness of grace, Heaven is the proper place for this sinless mother of Jesus.

 #3: Mary was our co-redeemer, or fellow redeemer, with Christ in a unique sense.  Hence, her rightful place is with Christ our Redeemer in Heavenly glory. (The term co-Redeemer or co-r

Redemptrix means “cooperator with the Redeemer.” This is what St. Paul meant when he said “We are God’s co-workers” I Cor. 3:9.). Hence, it is “fitting” that she should be given the full effects of the Redemption, the glorification of the soul and the body.

#4: In the Old Testament, we read that the prophet Elijah was taken into heaven in a fiery chariot.  Thus, it appears natural and possible that the mother of Jesus would also be taken into Heaven.

(Note: The Catechism teaches that Mary was taken to heaven when the course of her earthly life was finished. The Church does not declare whether Mary died and then was assumed into heaven or whether she was assumed before she died. It leaves open both possibilities. However, most theologians and saints throughout the centuries have affirmed that Mary did experience death—not as a penalty for sin but in conformity to her son, who willingly experienced death on our behalf. In support of this latter view, John Paul II said, “The Mother is not superior to the Son who underwent death, giving it a new meaning and changing it into a means of salvation.”)

Scripture readings of the Daytime Mass explained: The first and third readings are about women and God’s creative, redemptive, and salvific action through them.  The Book of Revelation, written in symbolic language familiar to the early Christians, was meant to encourage them and bolster their Faith during times of persecution.  In the first reading, the author of Revelationprobably did not have Mary of Nazareth in mind when he described the “woman” in this narrative.  He sees the “woman” as a symbol for the nation and people, Israel.  She is pictured as giving birth, as Israel brought forth the Messiah through its pains. The woman is also symbolic of the Church, and the woman’s offspring represents the way the Church brings Christ into the world.  The dragon represents the world’s resistance to Christ and the truths that the Church proclaims.  As Mary is the mother of Christ and of the Church, the passage has indirect reference to Mary.

A) Dr. Bryant Pitre: According to the first century BC Jewish belief, just before the Babylonians destroyed the Temple of Jerusalem, Prophet Jeremiah appeared and took the Ark of the Covenant to Mount Nebo and hid in a cave which miraculously disappeared. John, in the reading from the Book of Revelation finds the Ark of the Covenant in Heaven. As soon as John sees the Ark in the Temple in Heaven, suddenly, the image switches and now he sees a woman in Heaven, almost as if the two images are superimposed on one another. “And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery.” Why is this the first reading for the feast of the Solemnity of the Assumption? And the answer is simple. If Mary is the true Ark of the Covenant on Earth — at the Annunciation, the Holy Spirit overshadows her like it overshadowed the Ark and God begins to dwell in her in Christ — then when John sees this mysterious apocalyptic vision of the Ark in Heaven and of a woman in Heaven who is the mother of the Messiah and who’s wearing a crown of twelves stars as she is a heavenly queen. Since ancient times, this vision has been interpreted as a vision of Mary in Heaven as mother of the Messiah … and not just as the mother but as the heavenly Ark of the Covenant. If Mary’s body is the dwelling place of God on Earth —the true Ark of the Covenant, then it’s fitting that at the end of her life, that body, that sacred Ark, would not remain on Earth in a human grave or a human tomb, but that it would be taken up to its rightful place in the heavenly Holy of Holies in the Heavenly Temple of God. That’s the logic of choosing this vision of the heavenly Ark of the Covenant on the feast of the Assumption of Mary. Because her body was the Ark of the Covenant on Earth, it’s fitting that her body and her soul would be caught up into Heaven to dwell in the heavenly Holy of Holies in the heavenly Temple with Christ for all eternity.

B) According to Fr. Reginald Fuller (Center for Liturgy) there are three possibilities: 1. She is the old Israel, the nation from whom the Messiah came. Much in this passage suggests the old Israel waiting for the birth of the Messiah. The Old Testament background suggests this (see Isaiah 66:7). According to this view, the seer is taking up and partly Christianizing earlier pictures of Israel waiting for the coming of the Messiah. 2. The woman is the Church, the new Israel, the mother of the faithful. This is supported by Rv 12:17, which speaks of other children belonging to the woman who “keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus.” 3. The woman with the Blessed Virgin Mary: An interpretation popular among medieval expositors and revived in a somewhat more sophisticated form in recent Catholic exegesis (and clearly accepted by the choice of this passage for this feast), equates the woman with the Blessed Virgin Mary. Probably there is no need to choose among these three interpretations. For Mary is the daughter of Zion, the quintessential expression of the old Israel as the community of Faith and obedience awaiting the coming of the Messiah, the community in which the Messiah is born. But she is also the quintessential expression of the new Israel (the Church), of those who “believe” and are justified on the grounds of their faith, of those who obey his word and who suffer for the testimony of Jesus,

C)Navarre Bible CommentaryThe description of the woman indicates her heavenly glory, and the twelve stars of her victorious crown symbolize the people of God—the twelve patriarchs (cf. Gn 37:9) and the twelve apostles. And so, independently of the chronological aspects of the text, the Church sees in this Heavenly woman the Blessed Virgin, “taken up body and soul into Heavenly glory, when her earthly life was over, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords (cf. Rv 19:16) and conqueror of sin and death” (Lumen Gentium 59)

The second reading, taken from I Corinthians, is Paul’s defense of the resurrection of the dead, an apt selection on the feast of our Heavenly Mother’s Assumption into Heaven. According to Dr. Bryant Pitre, what Paul is saying here is just as everyone who is in Adam (part of the mystical body of Adam) dies because of Adam’s sin, so too in Christ everyone who is part of the Mystical Body of Christ will be made alive through the power of His Resurrection. And Christ is the first fruits of that resurrection. Just like the Jews in the temple in the spring would chop down the first sheaf of grain and they’d bring it and offer it up to God as the first fruits of the harvest, but then later on they go and gather the rest of the grain in the fullness of the harvest, so too Christ is the first fruits of the Resurrection of the dead. In Genesis 3:15, there’s this famous prophecy called the Protoevangelium, or the First Gospel. It’s in the words of God to the serpent, which He curses after the first transgression of Adam, when He says these words. He says in verse 15: “I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your seed and her seed.
” Just as Christ is the one man, the new Adam through whom salvation comes into the world, so too Mary is the new Eve, the one woman who is in herself the beginning of the new creation. If Christ is the new Adam and Mary is the new Eve, then just as Christ tastes the gift of the Resurrection and the glory of the life to come before everyone else in advance, as a sign of the beginning of the new creation, so too in Mary’s bodily Assumption, in the fact that her body and soul are incorruptible and assumed into Heaven, it means that Mary as the new Eve gets to experience now what we will all experience in the Resurrection at the end of time. She’s an eschatological sign of the fact that resurrection of the body isn’t just for Jesus; it’s also for other human beings. It isn’t just for the God Man; it’s for ordinary human beings.

Today’s gospel:  In the Magnificat, the song of Mary given in today’s Gospel, Mary acknowledges that “the Almighty has done great things” for her. Besides honoring her as Jesus’ mother, God has blessed her with the gift of bodily Assumption.  God, who has “lifted up” His “lowly servant” Mary, lifts up all the lowly, not only because they are faithful, but also because God is faithful to the promise of Divine mercy.  Thus, the feast of the Assumption celebrates the mercy of God, or the victory of God’s mercy as expressed in Mary’s Magnificat. As the new Eve, Mary shares intimately in the fruit of the redemption and so is assumed body and soul into Heaven.

Life messages: #1: Mary’s Assumption gives us the assurance and hope of our own resurrection and assumption into Heaven on the day of our Last Judgment. It is a sign to us that someday, through God’s grace and our good life, we, too, will join the Blessed Mother in giving glory to God. It points the way for all followers of Christ who imitate Mary’s fidelity and obedience to God’s will.   

#2: Since Mary’s Assumption was a reward for her saintly life, this feast reminds us that we, too, must be pure and holy in body and soul, since our bodies will be glorified on the day of our resurrection.  St. Paul tells us that our bodies are the temples of God because the Holy Spirit dwells within us.  He also reminds us that our bodies are members (parts) of the Body of Christ.

#3: This feast also gives us the message of total liberation.  Jesus tells us in John 8:34 that everyone who sins is a slave of sin, and St. Paul reminds us (Gal 5:1), that, since Christ has set us free, we should be slaves of sin no more.  Thus, the Assumption encourages us to work with God to be liberated from the bondage of evil: from impure, unjust and uncharitable thoughts and habits, and from the bonds of jealousy, envy, and hatred.

#4: Finally, it is always an inspiring thought in our moments of temptation and despair to remember that we have a powerful heavenly Mother, constantly interceding for us before her Son, Jesus, in Heaven. The feast of Mary’s Assumption challenges us to imitate her self-sacrificing love, her indestructible Faith and her perfect obedience. Therefore, on this feast day of our heavenly Mother, let us offer ourselves on the altar and pray for her special care and loving protection in helping us lead a purer and holier life.

JOKES OF THE WEEK 1) Miss Holycheek, the Catholic Sunday school teacher, had just finished explaining the feast of the Assumption to her class.  “Now,” she said, “let all those children who want to go to Heaven to see their Heavenly Mother raise their hands.”  All the children raised their hands except little Marie in the front row.  “Don’t you want to go to Heaven, Marie?” asked Miss Holycheek.  “I can’t,” said Marie tearfully. “My mother told me to come straight home after Sunday school.

2) God is walking around Heaven one day and notices a number of people on the heavenly streets who shouldn’t be there.  He finds St. Peter at the gate and says to him, “Peter, you’ve been remiss in your duties.  You’re letting in the wrong sort of people.” “Don’t blame me, Lord,” replies Peter.  “I turn them away just like You said to.  Then they go around to the back door and Jesus’ mother lets them in.” 

Spiritual practices dedicated to Mary: Mary Ford-Grabowsky in Spiritual Writings on Mary: Annotated and Explained offers these spiritual practices dedicated to Mary:

• “Begin any kind of activity with a prayer to Jesus through Mary: a meal, a task of work, an exam, an athletic event, a doctor’s appointment, a difficult meeting, and each time you leave the house or return.

• “Set time aside to listen to songs, chants, or classical compositions written about Mary. Try chanting yourself.

• “Create your own Mary mantra, a Mary prayer composed of only a few words, such as ‘Mary, Mother of us all, give me strength’ (or wisdom, patience, generosity — whatever spiritual gift you need in the moment.) Also, ‘Mary, be with my friend (add name). Or simply, ‘I love you,’ or ‘Thank you.’ The possibilities are endless.

• “Honor Mary as the Mother of God by meditating on her words, virtues, and actions; and by contemplating what is great about her.

• “Perform acts of love for her without expectations of praise or a reward.”

Websites of the week

1)      http://ncronline.org/(National Catholic Reporter)

2)      http://www.liguorian.org/ (Ligurian magazine online)

3)      http://www.catholicdigest.com/current_issue.html (Catholic Digest)

4)Pope Francis on Assumption: http://www.stbridgeteastfalls.org/pope-francis-homily-for-the-assumption/

5) IS THE ASSUMPTION OF MARY HISTORICAL? ( By Tim Staples-apologist, EWTN) https://timstaples.com/2019/is-the-assumption-of-mary-historical/)

6) Pop Up catechesis on Assumption: https://youtu.be/ooAcNNWSVVo

7)  Life Teen Blog: https://lifeteen.com/blog/missing-jesus-mom-the-assumption-explained/ 8) Beautiful Assumption homilies & articles: a) Fr. Rufus Pereira: http://www.holyspiritinteractive.net/columns/rufuspereira/ledbythespirit/27.aspb) Fr. Sebastian R. Fama: http://www.staycatholic.com/the_assumption.htm c) Apologist William Sanders: http://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/maryc3c.htm d) Assumptions about Mary by T.L. Frazier, convert from Evangelism: https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/assumptions-about-mary

8) Assumption of Mary church in Jerusalem, video: https://youtu.be/pF-8v4fx-9s

9)  Scott Hahn on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

10) Assumption- Apologetics for beginners: https://youtu.be/l-xxdoHw1SI

12 Additional anecdotes

1) Like is attracted to like. Such attraction continues to take place every day, even though we may not always be aware of it. People who have similar likes, interests, and goals are drawn to one another. This is the reason why there are fraternities and sororities, why there are country club people, Rotarians, Masons, Knights of Columbus, Knights of Peter Claver, and Daughters of the American Revolution,  the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Legion of Mary, and the like. The members all have things in common which draw them together. That is why we also have the Ku Klux Klan, street gangs and the Mafia. Like is attracted to like. Ever notice how children follow along after their mothers? From one room to another, they tag along. And the more they are near their mothers, the more they become like them. They begin thinking, acting, and being like their mothers. We all have in common a very special mother we are honoring today. We have been drawn here together to honor Mary, the mother of Jesus, and our mother too, as we recall Mary’s Assumption into Heaven. If like is attracted to like, does that mean we try to emulate her virtues and imitate her by learning more about her, by honoring her and by celebrating her feasts? (Fr. Jack Dorsel). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).    

2) “Why do they minimize your beauty?” A charming story is told of the nineteenth century Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes fame. Contemporary artists were anxious for her to describe the woman she had seen in the grotto. So, one after the other, they showed her the most famous pictures of Mary. The young Bernadette was shown the beautiful Madonnas done by Murillo, Da Vinci, Raphael, Botticelli, El Greco, etc. To each she shook her head in disappointment. To their surprise, she said, “The lady looks like none of these paintings.” To herself she said, “My mother, why do they minimize your beauty?” (FrJames). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).   

3) The “bowing Procession:” In a small town in the hills surrounding Rome, the Feast of the Assumption is celebrated with what’s called the “bowing procession.” From one end of the town, the townspeople process, carrying a statue of the Virgin Mary. From the other end of the town, another group of townspeople march into town, carrying a statue of Jesus. Mary’s Son comes to rendezvous with His Mother. In front of the parish Church, the two groups meet. A ton of flowers decorates the church. Jesus and His Mother solemnly bow to each other. The villagers carry the statues of Mary and her Son side by side into the Church. It’s God the Son leading His Mother to her throne in heaven. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).   

4) Body, soul, or both? Today’s feast also shows us that God values our bodies. They are not only important to Him – they are sacred! There are two extremes of thought in regard to our bodies. One considers the body as our number one treasure. Ads and commercials usually feature people with exceptional looks. To be successful, accepted, and loved, they tell us, depends upon how we look. We are to watch our weight, keep in shape, and smell just right. If we don’t pamper our bodies and treat them royally, we’ll be social, business, and sexual flops. Nobody will want us around. As for the importance of our soul and our spiritual life? Forget it! They consider such things nonexistent and absurd. The other extreme of thought about the body is to look upon it as merely a machine for us to operate in this world. Its value is only its usefulness. To enhance it with cosmetics and perfume, to dress it up and make it look attractive, to diet, exercise, and look at it in the mirror – all that is not only a waste of time, but sinful. The soul and its spiritual condition are all that is important for us. We are to think of our body only when necessity requires. — But God is telling us on this feast of the Assumption that to Him, both are important – our body and our soul. They are both to be valued, and they are to be given the attention and honor due them. (Fr. Jack Dorsel) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).   

5) “God helps those who help themselves.” If you are watching television and want a dish of ice cream, you aren’t going to have any unless you get up, go to the kitchen and scoop it up yourself. If you are in a movie theater and decide you want some popcorn, you aren’t going to get any unless you go to the lobby and buy it. Or are you one of those people who have someone waiting on them hand and foot? Are you one of those capable people, by that I mean one who is not an invalid, who expect to be waited on when they want something? Well, if you are, I’ve got some shocking news for you. That sort of thing is not going to work with God. I’m sure you’ve heard, “God helps those who help themselves.” However,  these words do not praise the selfish and self-centered; rather, they refer to  those who try to do their duty, who try to help others, who try to live the teachings of Christ, For those people,  God will take it from there and perfect the results of their efforts, if not here, at least in the next life. — The Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, spent her earthly life trying to carry out the will of God. Her Son crowned her efforts by drawing her into Heaven with Himself and perfecting her body into the likeness of His. Thus, we say, Mary was assumed into Heaven. (Fr. Jack Dorsel) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).   

6) “Why did you go to Church today?” someone might have asked  us in a year when the Assumption fell on a weekday. “This isn’t Sunday, its only Thursday.” “It’s a holy day of obligation. The feast of the Assumption,” we answer. “Oh,” the person says, and might add, “What’s that?” — Most Catholics won’t be questioned about today’s feast. Many Catholics might not even remember it. But you and I do. We have come to Mass to celebrate it. And we know why we are here. We are remembering the day on which Mary, the Mother of God, was assumed body and soul into Heaven by her Son Jesus Christ where she was crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth.  (Fr. Jack Dorsel) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).   

7) “WHY ME?” Ever ask yourself that question? Or voice it to someone else. Why me? Why did this happen to me? If and when we ever do say “Why me?” is it not usually in regard to something very unpleasant that has happened to us? “Why is it that my car had to be the one to find the nail in the road? I’ve had my motel reservations for four months and when I get there, they can’t find my name in the computer. And why, after three weeks of dry, sunny, wonderful weather, did it have to pick my vacation week to rain? Why does the worst always happen to me?” Have you ever thought of saying “Why me?” when something really good happens to you? When the love of your life loves you back, when you get a raise in salary, when the bathing suit you bought five years ago still fits you perfectly, or when the cat goes outside to throw up instead of using your living room rug, do you say, “Why me? Why should such wonderful things happen to me? Why am I being treated so well?” — That is just what Mary is probably asking God today. “Why is it I am the one you have taken up into Heaven body and soul with such great glory?” (Fr. Jack Dorsel). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).   

8) “I’m talking to your mother.” There is an old story about a workman on scaffolding high above the nave of a cathedral who looked down and saw a woman praying before a statue of Mary. As a joke, the workman whispered, “Woman, this is Jesus.” The woman ignored him. The workman whispered again, more loudly: “Woman, this is Jesus.” Again, the woman ignored him. Finally, he said aloud, “Woman, don’t you hear me? This is Jesus.” At this point the woman looked up at the crucifix and said, “Be still now, Jesus, I’m talking to your mother.” (Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu). — Why do Catholics treasure Marian devotions and doctrines that their non-Catholic brothers and sisters do not? It is because, I think, the Catholic Church is trying to tell the full story, to proclaim the full Gospel. 

 9) Chairlift to Eggstocke Mountain. In Braunwald, Switzerland, there is, or at least was, a chairlift that can make even the bravest person a bit weak-kneed. This lift is called the Sesselbahn. It is a system of overhead cables attached to high supports built into the rocky slopes of the Eggstocke Mountain. On these cables, chairs are hung which are electrically caused to slide up the cables carrying provisions and people to the Ortstock Haus on the top. Two chairs hang side by side. They are similar to ordinary metal ones with a kind of sunshade over them. There is no protection of any kind, just two chairs dangling in the air with only a narrow footrest, no sides or backs other than a couple of bars. The person with nerve enough to get into one of these chairs is, in the words of the article, “swung up over fearsome abysses and up the face of a mighty rock precipice by invisible power.” Sounds like a risky ride. Yet, many people have gotten into those chairs and made it safely to the top and down again. No accidents were ever reported. — But it seems to me that to ride the Sesselbahn chair-lift is to have great faith in a manmade device. Probably we trust manmade things more than we trust in God. What do you think? Today we celebrate the Assumption of Mary into Heaven. Mary allowed herself and her life to rest completely in the hands of God. She did what she thought He wanted her to do, and she trusted that He would take her through to the end and bring her out safe and sound. We could say she got into one of God’s chairs, let God accompany her in the one next to hers, and up they went – all the way over and through the dangers of life and into Heaven. That takes great Faith. (Fr. Jack Dorsel). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).   

10)    Stretch out your frying pan: Two men went fishing.     One man was an experienced fisherman; the other wasn’t.     Every time the experienced fisherman caught a big fish, he put it in his ice chest to keep it fresh.     Whenever the inexperienced fisherman caught a big fish, he threw it back.    The experienced fisherman watched this go on all day and finally got tired of seeing this man waste good fish.     “Why do you keep throwing back all the big fish you catch?” he asked.     The inexperienced fisherman replied, “I only have a small frying pan.” Sometimes, like that fisherman, we throw back the big plans, big dreams, big ideas, and big opportunities that God sends us, because our Faith is too small. — We laugh at that fisherman who didn’t figure out that all he needed was a bigger frying pan; yet how ready are we to increase the size of our Faith? God has big hopes for us – Assumption-sized hopes.     Seeing how His hopes for the Blessed Virgin Mary were so wonderfully fulfilled should help increase our Faith.    It should stretch out our frying pan.     As the angel Gabriel said to Mary long before her glorious Assumption, “nothing is impossible to God” (Lk 1:37). [Frying pan story adapted from Hot Illustrations, copyright 2001, Youth Specialties, Inc.] (E- Priest). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).   

11) Mary Is Our Star of Hope: In pre-Christian times, the pagan religions of ancient Greece and Rome had a very interesting insight into the human soul.     Some of their myths described how great heroes from past ages used to do battle with the gods, either physically or through a contest of wits.     And when a human being won such a battle, one’s reward would be to avoid death and hell (there was no belief in heaven) by being turned into a constellation of stars in the night sky.    By becoming a constellation, one achieved a kind of immortality, because the divine stars, so they thought, never change.     In that way, one would also  inspire and guide future generations, because the stars were used to guide ocean navigation before the invention of the compass.     This charming ancient sentiment was purely mythological and legendary, but it appealed to artists and poets for many centuries.   It seemed to be in harmony with a basic human instinct: the instinct for Heaven, and they felt the need for help to get there. — When Christianity came around, this image from pagan poetry found its true fulfillment.     The Blessed Virgin Mary, a human being just like you and me, conquered evil, with the help of God’s grace, through her humility and obedience undoing the ancient sin of Eve.  And God rewarded her by assuming her, lifting her, into Heaven.    And from Heaven, she is an inspiration and guide for us who are still traveling through the troubled waters of life on earth. And so, from very early times, the Church began to call Mary, the “Star of the Sea”, “Stella Maris” [in Latin]. (Adapted from Pope Benedict XVI). (E- Priest). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).   

12) Call no man worthless: A story is told of a wandering university student in the Middle Ages. As with many university students in those times when universities were being founded, he traveled to wherever he heard that good teachers were. Also as with many of his fellow students, he was dirty, ill-fed, and ill-clothed. He fell seriously ill and was taken to hospital almost dead. The doctors consulted around his bed. They said his life appeared worthless, and the best use they could put his body to would be medical experimentation. They spoke in Latin not realizing that he was a university student whose classes were in that language. — Hearing them, he opened his eyes and said to them in Latin, “Call no man worthless for whom Jesus has died.”  (Harold Buetow in God Still Speaks: Listen!) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).  

13) “That is when the Church assumes that Mary is in heaven.” Once when visiting a grade school, I asked: “What is the Solemnity of the Assumption?” One student responded, “That is when the Church assumes that Mary is in heaven.” Well, I gave partial credit for the answer but had to explain that the Church is not merely “assuming,” The doctrine of Mary’s Assumption is firmly rooted in Sacred Scripture and Tradition and this constant teaching was infallibly defined as a dogma of the Catholic Faith by Pope Pius XII as follows: “The Immaculate Mother Of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory. (Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Arlington) (L/21)

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/cPjLhmaNoWHOrg8fLv7_cI4sgdKmTqfueo0Dq3SbP-eaUv10CxBVf1iqsfpepXvoaMuP9KB-GOTvyl6urCjTb2FOZwLnMtEm7oU_o_Fc3mnaJQZlu1YNq_fuDeQ7_d27JLB-ZLLPdPkTbJd6Scriptural Homilies” 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 Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at akadavil@gmail.com. Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies  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

The Assumption of Mary: 12 Things to Know and Share

(Jimmy Akin Blogs,August 15, 2020) https://www.ncregister.com/blog/the-assumption-of-mary-12-things-to-know-and-share-27jd571n

Aug. 15 is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Here are 12 things to know and share…

In the United States, it is a holy day of obligation (in years when it does not fall on a Saturday or Monday).What is the Assumption of Mary, how did it come to be defined, and what relevance does it have for our lives? Here are 12 things to know and share… 1) What is the Assumption of Mary? The Assumption of Mary is the teaching that: The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory [Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus 44]. 

2) What level of authority does this teaching have? This teaching was infallibly defined by Pope Pius XII on Nov. 1, 1950 in the bull Munificentissimus Deus (Latin, “Most Bountiful God”). As Pius XII explained, this is “a divinely revealed dogma” (ibid.). This means that it is a dogma in the proper sense. It is thus a matter of Faith that has been divinely revealed by God and that has been infallibly proposed by the Magisterium of the Church as such. 

3) Does that mean it is an “ex cathedra” statement and that we have to believe it? Yes. Since it is a dogma defined by the pope (rather than by an ecumenical council, for example), it is also an “ex cathedra” statement (one delivered “from the chair” of Peter).Because it is infallibly defined, it calls for the definitive assent of the faithful. Pope John Paul II explained: The definition of the dogma, in conformity with the universal Faith of the People of God, definitively excludes every doubt and calls for the express assent of all Christians [General Audience, July 2, 1997]. Note that all infallibly defined teachings are things we are obliged to believe, even if they aren’t defined “ex cathedra” (by the pope acting on his own). The bishops of the world teaching in union with the pope (either in an ecumenical council or otherwise), can also infallibly define matters, but these aren’t called “ex cathedra” since that term refers specifically to the exercise of the Pope’s authority as the successor of St. Peter. (It’s Peter’s cathedra or “chair” that symbolizes the Pope’s authority.) 

4) Does the dogma require us to believe that Mary died? It is the common teaching that Mary did die. In his work,  Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Ludwig Ott lists this teaching as sententia communior (Latin, “the more common opinion”). Although it is the common understanding of that Mary did die, and although her death is referred to in some of the sources Pius XII cited in Munificentissimus Deus, he deliberately refrained from defining this as a truth of the Faith. John Paul II noted: On 1 November 1950, in defining the dogma of the Assumption, Pius XII avoided using the term “resurrection” and did not take a position on the question of the Blessed Virgin’s death as a truth of faith. The Bull Munificentissimus Deus limits itself to affirming the elevation of Mary’s body to heavenly glory, declaring this truth a “divinely revealed dogma.” 

5) Why should Mary die if she was free from Original Sin and its stain? Being free of Original Sin and its stain is not the same thing as being in a glorified, deathless condition. Jesus was also free of Original Sin and its stain, but he could—and did—die. Expressing a common view among theologians, Ludwig Ott writes: For Mary, death, in consequence of her freedom from original sin and from personal sin, was not a consequence of punishment of sin. However, it seems fitting that Mary’s body, which was by nature mortal, should be, in conformity with that of her Divine Son, subject to the general law of death. 

6) What are the earliest surviving references to Mary’s Assumption? John Paul II noted: The first trace of belief in the Virgin’s Assumption can be found in the apocryphal accounts entitled Transitus Mariae [Latin, “The Crossing Over of Mary”], whose origin dates to the second and third centuries. These are popular and sometimes romanticized depictions, which in this case, however, pick up an intuition of faith on the part of God’s People.  

7) How did the recognition of Mary’s Assumption develop in the East? John Paul II noted: There was a long period of growing reflection on Mary’s destiny in the next world. This gradually led the faithful to believe in the glorious raising of the Mother of Jesus, in body and soul, and to the institution in the East of the liturgical feasts of the Dormition [“falling asleep”—i.e., death] and Assumption of Mary. 

8) How did Pius XII prepare for the definition of the Assumption? John Paul II noted: In May 1946, with the Encyclical Deiparae Virginis Mariae, Pius XII called for a broad consultation, inquiring among the Bishops and, through them, among the clergy and the People of God as to the possibility and opportuneness of defining the bodily assumption of Mary as a dogma of faith. The result was extremely positive: only six answers out of 1,181 showed any reservations about the revealed character of this truth. 

9) What Scriptural basis is there for the teaching? John Paul II noted: Although the New Testament does not explicitly affirm Mary’s Assumption, it offers a basis for it because it strongly emphasized the Blessed Virgin’s perfect union with Jesus’ destiny. This union, which is manifested, from the time of the Savior’s miraculous conception, in the Mother’s participation in her Son’s mission and especially in her association with His redemptive sacrifice, cannot fail to require a continuation after death. Perfectly united with the life and saving work of Jesus, Mary shares His heavenly destiny in body and soul. There are, thus, passages in Scripture that resonate with the Assumption, even though they do not spell it out. 

10) What are some specific Old Testament passages? Pope Pius XII pointed to several passages that have been legitimately used in a “rather free” manner to explain belief in the Assumption (meaning: these passages resonate with it in various ways, but they don’t provide explicit proof): Often, there are theologians and preachers who, following in the footsteps of the holy Fathers, have been rather free in their use of events and expressions taken from Sacred Scripture to explain their belief in the Assumption. Thus, to mention only a few of the texts rather frequently cited in this fashion, some have employed the words of the psalmist: “Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: you and the Ark, which you have sanctified” (Ps. 131:8); and have looked upon the Ark of the Covenant, built of incorruptible wood and placed in the Lord’s Temple, as a type of the most pure body of the Virgin Mary, preserved and exempt from all the corruption of the tomb and raised up to such glory in Heaven. Treating of this subject, they also describe her as the Queen entering triumphantly into the royal halls of heaven and sitting at the right hand of the Divine Redeemer (Ps. 44:10-14ff). Likewise they mention the Spouse of the Canticles “that goes up by the desert, as a pillar of smoke of aromatical spices, of myrrh and frankincense” to be crowned (Song 3:6; cf. also 4:8, 6:9). These are proposed as depicting that Heavenly Queen and Heavenly Spouse who has been lifted up to the Courts of Heaven with the divine Bridegroom [Munificentissimus Deus 26].  

11) What are some specific New Testament passages? Pius XII continued: Moreover, the scholastic Doctors have recognized the Assumption of the Virgin Mother of God as something signified, not only in various figures of the Old Testament, but also in that woman clothed with the sun whom John the Apostle contemplated on the Island of Patmos (Rev. 12:1ff). Similarly they have given special attention to these words of the New Testament: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women” (Luke 1:28), since they saw, in the mystery of the Assumption, the fulfillment of that most perfect grace granted to the Blessed Virgin and the special blessing that countered the curse of Eve [Munificentissimus Deus 27].  

12) How can we apply this teaching to our everyday lives? According to Pope Benedict XVI: By contemplating Mary in Heavenly glory, we understand that the earth is not the definitive homeland for us either, and that if we live with our gaze fixed on eternal goods we will one day share in this same glory and the earth will become more beautiful. Consequently, we must not lose our serenity and peace even amid the thousands of daily difficulties. The luminous sign of Our Lady taken up into Heaven shines out even more brightly when sad shadows of suffering and violence seem to loom on the horizon. We may be sure of it: from on high, Mary follows our footsteps with gentle concern, dispels the gloom in moments of darkness and distress, reassures us with her motherly hand. Supported by awareness of this, let us continue confidently on our path of Christian commitment wherever Providence may lead us. Let us forge ahead in our lives under Mary’s guidance [General Audience, August 16, 2006].

O. T. XX (C) August 14, 2022 Sunday homily

OT XX [C] Sunday (Aug 14) Eight-minute homily in one-page 

Introduction: The central theme of today’s readings is that we should courageously live out our religious convictions and principles in our lives, as Jeremiah, Paul, and Jesus did, even if doing so should result in our martyrdom and turn society upside down. If no one is ever offended by the quality of our commitment to Christ, then perhaps we are practicing “inoffensive Christianity.” \(An anecdote may be added here)

Scripture lessons summarized: Jeremiah, in our first reading, is presented as experiencing the consequences of the burning word of God within him. Jeremiah’s preaching divided the city and incited such opposition that people sought his death. He showed the courage of his prophetic conviction by telling the king that he had to surrender to the mighty army of Babylonian empire to save Israel. The result was that Jeremiah was thrown into a deep, muddy unused cistern to die for his “treason.” The refrain for today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 40), has us sing what could have been Jeremiah’s plea to God, Lord! Come to my aid!” Standing in this prophetic tradition, Paul, in the second reading, challenges the Judeo-Christians to stand firm in their Faith in Jesus, ignoring the ostracism imposed on them by their own former Jewish community.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus, too, preaches the word of God which continues to divide families, a word which, he knew, would lead ultimately to his death. The fire Jesus brings is the fire of love and the fire of hope. The disruption, division, and revolution, which Jesus and his true followers cause in society by the fire of sacrificial love and the fire of justice, are necessary to re-set what’s fractured, put right what’s dislocated and cleanse what’s infected. In other words, the curative pain caused by Jesus’ ideas and ideals is necessary for the establishment of real shalom of God. Even though Jesus brings a sword and causes division, he is the bringer of true and lasting peace. In pursuing his mission, Jesus brings division because some follow him and others oppose him. We must make a decision to follow him or not, to share his “baptism” or not. This choice can result in division, even within families.

Life messages:#1: Let us learn to appreciate the contemporary prophets in the Church: The Jesuit Cardinal Avery Dulles, writing about the role of prophecy in the modern Church communities in his book Models of the Church, remarks: “Christianity is not healthy unless there is room in it for prophetic protest against abuses of authority.” God continues to send such prophets to every parish community, and it is the duty of the bishop, pastor, and parish council to listen to the well-intended, constructive criticisms of such Jeremiahs.

# 2: We should have fire in our hearts: On the day of our Baptism, we received the light of Christ and were instructed to keep that torch burning brightly until the return of Christ Jesus. In addition, the Holy Spirit was sent into our hearts at Confirmation to help set us on fire. “One who is on fire cannot sit on a chair.” So, as Christians on fire, we have to inflame people to care, to serve, and to bless one another with all the gifts of Faith. We should allow that fire to burn off the impurities in us and to bring out the purity of the gold and silver within us.

OT XX [C] (Aug 14) Jer 38:4-6, 8-10; Heb 12:1-4; Lk 12: 49-53 

Homily starter anecdotes: # 1: Courage to confront: In the 1920s, an English adventurer named Mallory led an expedition to conquer Mount Everest. His first, second, and even his third attempt with an experienced team met with failure. Upon his return to England, the few who had survived held a banquet to salute Mallory and those who had perished. As he stood up to speak, he looked around he saw picture frames of himself and those who had died. Then he turned his back on the crowd and faced a large picture of Mount Everest looming large like an unbeatable giant. With tears streaming down his face, he spoke to the mountain on behalf of his dead friends: “I speak to you Mt. Everest, in the name of all brave men living, and those yet unborn. Mt. Everest, you defeated us once, you defeated us twice; you defeated us three times. But Mt. Everest, we shall someday defeat you, because you can’t get any bigger, but we can.” –Today’s Scripture challenges us to confront the world with prophetic courage of our Christian convictions (John Rose in John’s Sunday Homilies). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 2: Apathetic Attitude: In 1993, the total attendance at worship services in the United States came to 5.6 billion. The total attendance for all pro-basketball, baseball and football games combined was only 103 million, less than 2 percent of the number who attended worship [“To
Verify: Statistics for Christian Communicators,” Leadership 15 (Fall 1994), 50).] We complain about a shrinking Church membership when the numbers actually point to a shrinking sense of excitement and exuberance for Christ’s sake. In the name of sports, those 103 million got stadiums built, got team franchises moved, gave local economies a boost and get whole regions of the country stand-up-and-shout excited! [Here is
a Forbes Magazine note on Crimson Tide football team of Alabama, U.
S. A
.. “Not only did Nick Saban (the head football coach) deliver the
University of Alabama its 4th national college football title in 7 years, but
he also helped subsidize the entire Crimson Tide athletics department by
generating an astonishing $95,132,301 (almost 100 million) in revenue, the most
ever by any single team in the history of college sports. Nick Saban’s
total compensation rose to $7,969,113 (almost 8 million) including bonuses),
the highest ever paid to a college football coach. In total, he and his staff
of nine assistant coaches and countless support staff and administrators were
compensated over $18 million- up by some $3 million from the year before.”
(http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonbelzer/2016/02/24/the-university-of-alabama-made-almost-100-million-from-football-in-2015/#205054463b6c)]. — In the name of Christ, how much more could 5.6 billion accomplish in this country in the world if they were as “on fire” as the sports fans? (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 3: “Be God’s prophets and God’s microphones (St. Oscar Romero, Archbishop and Martyr; canonized October 14, 2018 by Pope Francis). God sends His prophets to give the world His message in every century. Saint Oscar Romero, Saint Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa; canonized October 4, 2016 by Pope Francis), Pope St. John Paul II, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Martin Luther King, Fannie Lou Hamer, Dom Helder Camara, Maura Clark, Dorothy Kazel, Ita Ford, Jeanne Donovan, and Ella Baker were all twentieth century prophets who had the courage of their Christian convictions to follow Jesus and proclaim his undiluted message which cast fire on earth and caused healthy division in the society as today’s Gospel points out.  In 1980, in the midst of a U.S.-funded genocidal war against the so-called leftist rebels in El Salvador, Archbishop Saint Oscar Romero who sided with the poor, exploited farm workers, declared: “If they kill all your priests and the bishop too, each one of you must become God’s microphone, each one of you must become a prophet. I do not believe in death without resurrection. If they kill me, I will be resurrected in the Salvadoran people.”  Amid over-arching violence, Romero wrote to President Jimmy Carter pleading with him to cease sending military aid to the brutal military regime because, he wrote, “it is being used to repress my people.”  The U.S. sent $1.5 million in aid every day for 12 years.  Archbishop Romero’s letter went unheeded.  Two months later, he was assassinated.  Ending a long homily addressed to the pro-government land owners and peasants and the military and broadcast throughout the country, his voice rose to breaking, “Brothers, you are from the same people; you kill your fellow peasants . . . .  No soldier is obliged to obey an order that is contrary to the will of God.”  There was thunderous applause; he was inviting the army to mutiny.  Then his voice burst out, “In the name of God then, in the name of this suffering people I ask you, I beg you, I command you in the name of God: stop the repression.”  Oscar Romero gave his last homily on March 24, 1980, moments before a sharpshooter felled him at the altar of a hospital chapel.  Reflecting on the day’s Scripture, he had said, “One must not love oneself so much, as to avoid getting involved in the risks of life that history demands of us, and those that fend off danger will lose their lives.”  In an interview as he was flying to Brazil in May 2007 Pope Benedict XVI told the reporters, “Romero as a person merits beatification.”  In July 2007, the new Salvadoran conservative government said it would formally request the Vatican to beatify Romero although it would not accept responsibility for his slaying. Pope Francis beatified the martyred Archbishop Romero on May 23, 2015.  (http://salt.claretianpubs.org/romero/romero.html). https://frtonyshomilies.com/).— Today’s readings remind us that the Church needs prophets like Romero, and they caution contemporary prophets that their course will not be easy

Introduction: The central theme of today’s readings is that we should courageously live out our religious convictions and principles in our lives, as Jeremiah, Paul, and Jesus did, even if doing so should result in our martyrdom and turn society upside down.   If no one is ever offended by the quality of our commitment to Christ, that commitment may not be authentic, and if our individual and communal living of the Good News casts no fire and causes no division, then perhaps we are practicing “inoffensive Christianity.”

Scripture lessons summarized:  Jeremiah, in our first reading, is presented as experiencing the consequences of the burning word of God within him. Jeremiah’s preaching divided the city and incited such opposition that people sought his death.  He showed the courage of his prophetic conviction by telling King Zedekiah that the Lord God said he had to surrender to the mighty army of Babylonian empire to save Israel.  The result was that Jeremiah was thrown by his enemies into the muddy bottom of a deep, unused cistern to die for his “treason.” The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 40) seems to speak in the voice of Jeremiah sunk into the mud of that cistern: I have waited for the Lord, and He stooped toward me. The Lord heard my cry. He drew me out of the pit of destruction, out of the mud of the swamp; He set my feet upon a crag … and He put a new song in my mouth … You are my Help and My Deliverer; O my God hold not back! (vv 2, 3, 18).  Standing in this prophetic tradition, Paul, in the second reading, challenges the Judeo-Christians to stand firm in their Faith in Jesus, ignoring the ostracism imposed on them by their own former Jewish community.  In today’s Gospel, Jesus, too, preaches the word of God which continues to divide families, a word which, he knew, would ultimately lead to his death.  The fire Jesus came to bring is the fire of love and the fire of hope.  The disruption, division, and revolution, which Jesus and his true followers cause in society by the fire of sacrificial love and the fire of justice, are necessary to re-set what’s fractured, put right what’s dislocated, and cleanse what’s infected.  In other words, the curative pain caused by Jesus’ ideas and ideals is necessary for the establishment of real shalom of God.  Even though Jesus brings a sword and causes division, he is the bringer of true and lasting peace.  In pursuing his mission, Jesus brings division because some follow him and others oppose him. We must make a decision to follow him or not, to share his “baptism” or not.  This choice can result in division, even within families.

First reading, Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10 explained: The first reading warms us up to hear today’s Gospel, where Jesus speaks with prophetic bluntness about how his mission will divide those who accept him from those who don’t.  The prophet Jeremiah lived from about 650 B.C. to perhaps 580 B.C.  It was during this period that Babylon, becoming the supreme power in Mesopotamia, demanded tribute from all the smaller kingdoms, including Judah.  While the princes urged King Zedekiah, to seek military help from Egypt against Babylon, the Lord God, through His prophet Jeremiah, told them to pay the tribute to avoid a greater evil. Jeremiah had been predicting the impending destruction of Jerusalem as a judgment from YHWH because most of the kings of Judah had fallen further and further away from God and from their religion and because they had entered into unholy political alliances with neighboring countries, instead of trusting in their God. The prophet’s death sentence described in the first reading occurred during the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians about 587 B.C.  Since the city was surrounded by the Babylonian army, the Lord God, through Jeremiah, had told the king and the military leaders to surrender and pay tribute to the Babylonians.  That way the king might save his life and the lives of his people.  But Jeremiah sounded unpatriotic and even seditious, defeatist, and treasonable to the military leaders  and the princes  who complained to King Zedekiah.  The king, afraid of them, turned Jeremiah over to them, and they dropped him into an unused cistern with fairly deep mud at the bottom to die.  Jeremiah was saved by the sympathy of an Ethiopian Cushite  courtier named Ebed-melech who evidently held a position of considerable authority at the royal court. Since the king did not listen to God’s counsel given by His prophet, Babylon captured and destroyed Jerusalem in 587 and took all the able-bodied citizens to Babylon as prisoners.  The cost of following God’s word, experienced by Jeremiah as a life so marked by suffering and opposition that he cursed the day he was born (20:14), points to the division Jesus brings (today’s Gospel). We are all called to be “Jeremiah” (First Reading) and speak out against the falsehoods that surround us. Yes, we will probably be persecuted for speaking the truth with love (Eph 4:15); but following the will of God leads to the greatest reward of all: eternity with Him.

Second Reading, Hebrews 12:1-4 explained: Paul wrote this letter to the Judeo-Christians who had been rejected by their fellow Jews, expelled from their synagogues, and cut off from family and old friends. Separated from the comforting rituals and institutions they had known; these folks needed their Faith bolstered.  Hence, Paul praises a long list of faithful Jews from the past, particularly Abraham, detailing some of the difficulties they faced because of their fidelity. These heroic figures are the great “cloud of witnesses” mentioned in today’s passage.  The author wanted his Judeo-Christians (the Hebrews), to think of themselves as athletes in a race in a stadium, where their ancestors in the Faith would be spectators, surrounding them and cheering them on as they were now running the same race their faithful ancestors had run in their day.  These ancestors were “witnesses” to the power of Faith to endure against every temptation to apostasy.  Paul asked the Hebrew Christians to run the race, keeping their eyes fixed on Jesus the “leader and perfecter of our Faith.”  In his earthly life, Jesus was both the pioneer of the Way of Faith,  because he opened the Way through suffering to glory (v. 2), on Calvary, and its perfecter, because he completed his ”course,” rising on the third day after his death (the Father’s seal on the acceptability of His Son’s obedient, willing sacrifice for us),   thus enabling believers to run the same race, through suffering to glory.  We, too, are called to do our best until our great run for the Faith is crowned with victory.

Gospel exegesis: Today’s Gospel passage consists of two sections: in the first section (vv 49-50), Jesus speaks of his Divine destiny to endure suffering, and in the second section (vv 51-53), he prophesies the breakup of families resulting from his message.  Jesus explains his Divine destiny by highlighting his role of “setting the earth on fire” and being “baptized” in the waters of suffering.  The images of fire and baptism refer to his mission, both in terms of the cost that it will exact from him and the decision it will require of people.

“I have come to ‘set the earth on fire.'” In the Bible, fire is sometimes symbolic of purification (for example, Nm 31:23; Ez 22:19-22), and, more often, is associated with God’s judgment (for example, Jdt 16:17; Is 66:16; Am 7:4; 2 Pt 3:7).  The image of fire is also used to symbolize God’s glory (Ez 1:4, 13), His protective presence (2 Kgs 6:17), His holiness (Dt 4:24), His righteous judgment (Zec 13:9), and His wrath against sin (Is 66:15-16).  The image of fire is also used of the Holy Spirit (Mt 3:11 and Acts 2:3).  Fire has many characteristics: it warms, purifies, refines, transforms, and burns.  As a purifying force, fire burns up what is useless and refines what is impure besides giving warmth and energy.  Elijah brought the fire of judgment on the prophets of Baal (1 Kgs 18:36-40) and the soldiers of King Ahaziah (2 Kgs 1:10-14).  John the Baptist promises that Jesus “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire”(Mt 3:11), and that promise was fulfilled at Pentecost.  James and John wanted to call down fire from Heaven upon the Samaritans who rejected Jesus, but Jesus would not permit it (Lk 9:54).  We are also reminded of the prophet’s words, “For he is like a refiner’s fire…” (Mal 3:2).  The fire burns hot, removing impurities and leaving only that which is desirable.  These meanings suggest that the fire which Jesus brings will consume or purify the world.  However, it is also possible that he means that his baptism will be a baptism of fire.  In the Aramaic language the word translated as “earth” can also mean “earth-oven,” the common stove in Mediterranean villages, heated by burning dried and salted camel-dung patties.  The salt in the dried camel dung acted as a catalyst keeping fire burning for a long time.  In that sense, Jesus acts as a catalyst in his believers’ life. “Fire was to be an expected aspect of discipleship in the sense that: (1) baptism into Jesus dying and rising necessarily included a process of purification by his word and the Holy Spirit; (2) those who align themselves with him who is both LIGHT and TRUTH will inevitably know the heat of persecution; (3) the service of the good news will require a zeal so contagious that it will set fire in the hearts of others.” (Sanchez Files).

 I must be baptized with a baptism:” The cup and baptism are metaphors for Jesus’ suffering and death when Jesus asks James and John, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?’ What Jesus means by his question and challenge is “I have a terrible experience through which I must pass, and my life is full of tension until I pass through it and emerge triumphantly from it; are you willing and able you do the same?” Our Baptism is an immersion in Christ’s death in which we die to sin and are reborn to the new life of grace: “We were indeed buried with him through Baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life”(Rom 6:4). In the same way, our Eucharistic celebration is a recollection of Jesus’ sacrificial baptism (immersion) in suffering, and death, and the anguish these caused him, not simply a celebration of the community with the risen Christ and with other believers.

“I have come to establish division on earth, not peace.” As Jesus walked the road to Jerusalem, the disciples had to decide whether to go with him or not.  To be with or against Jesus is a decision which has the effect of judgment and division. Even though Christ did come to establish peace between God and man, that peace causes a division between those who accept it and those who reject it. In this way he becomes a sign of contradiction (CCC 575-576). Since Luke emphasizes peace as the gift that Jesus brings (1:79; 2:14; 19:38), we are shocked when Jesus declares that he has come not to bring peace on earth but division, splitting even families apart.  Jesus’ teaching caused division in families, in communities, and in the Church.  For the Palestinian Jews of the first century, a person’s place in the family conferred personal identity, protection, a support system, and a place in the community.  To separate oneself from one’s family or clan was, literally, a matter of life and death.  But Christianity tore families in two, because a follower of Christ had to decide which he loved better — his kith and kin or Christ.  In Christianity, the loyalty to Christ has to take precedence over the dearest loyalties of this earth. Belief in Jesus and commitment to him cause fires of arguments to erupt between believers and non-believers in the same family or community, resulting in the division of families and conflict in society.  Standing up for what is right and working for justice and truth are higher aims than unity, and working for those aims will sometimes cause division.  Hence, Christians today may cause division and rouse opposition because they share, through their Baptism, the prophetic charism of speaking God’s word, no matter how unpopular, and of giving a voice to those who have no one to speak for them.  Let us remember that Jesus’ sense of justice brought him into conflict with those who exploited the weak and the poor.  His integrity invited confrontation with the dishonest and hypocritical leaders, and his love for the poor, for sinners and for the outcast alienated him from the narrow-minded and self-righteous. C.S. Lewis once said that the Gospel was concerned to create “new people” not just “nice people.”

 Life messages: # 1:  Let us learn to appreciate the contemporary prophets in the Church: The Jesuit Cardinal Avery Dulles, writing about the role of prophecy in the modern Church communities in his book, Models of the Church, remarks: “Christianity is not healthy unless there is room in it for prophetic protest against abuses of authority.” God continues to send such prophets to every parish community, and it is the duty of the bishop, pastor, and parish council to listen to the well-intended and constructive criticisms of such Jeremiahs. The words of the late Archbishop Helder Camara, the champion of Brazil’s poor, serves as a prophetic warning, to all members of the Church: “When I give bread to the poor, they call me a Saint. But when I ask why the poor have no bread, they call me Communist.”

# 2: We should have fire in our hearts: On the day of our Baptism, we received the light of Christ and were instructed to keep that torch burning brightly until the return of Christ Jesus. Further, the Holy Spirit was sent into our hearts at Confirmation to help set us on fire. The old proverb should be applicable to all baptized and confirmed Christians: “One who is on fire cannot sit on a chair.” Our Lord Jesus continues to cast fire on the earth, the fire of the Spirit, through the ministry of Word and Sacraments. As Christians, we should have fire to inflame people to care, to serve, and to bless each other with all the gifts of Faith. We should work with the Holy Spirit to allow that fire to burn off the impurities in us and to bring out the purity of the gold and silver within us. We need Divine fire to inflame our hearts with the love of God and love for His children. We Christians should blaze with the same fire with which Jesus wished his disciples to burn: “I came to cast fire upon earth and would that it were already kindled” (Luke 12:49). Hence, let us remember the old saying, “One who is on fire cannot sit on a chair,” and let us carry the fire of the Holy Spirit wherever we go. The scientist-cum-theologian Teilhard de Chardin, SJ, said: “Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides, and gravity, we shall harness the energies of love. Then for the second time in the history of the world man will have discovered fire.” “An ‘adult’ faith is not a Faith that follows the trends of fashion and the latest novelty (‘dictatorship of relativism’); a mature adult faith is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ. It is this friendship that opens us up to all that is good and gives us a criterion by which to distinguish the true from the false, and deceit from truth” (Benedict XVI, April 18, 2005). Such a Faith will enable the fire of the Holy Spirit to burn in us and give us the courage of our Christian convictions.

Jokes of the Week  What is “Jesus Fire”? In Orthodox Christian belief, the Holy Fire (Greek: Ἃγιον Φῶς, “Holy Light”) is a proposed miracle that occurs every year at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on Great Saturday, the day before Orthodox Easter.

WEBSITES OF THE WEEK

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

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

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

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) http://catholic-resources.org/index.html (The best source for Bible, Liturgy, Art, and Theology prepared by Rev. Dr. Felix Just S.J. of Loyola Institute of Spirituality)

http://www.catholic-forum.com/links.html: Extensive directory of Catholic sites.

6) http://www.carr.org/~meripper/sites.asp Catholic sites (St. Lawrence Roman Catholic Resource Site)

7) http://www.ntgateway.com/  The Directory of NT Resources

8) Casting fire on earth video: https://youtu.be/_K6w_iJaNQg

For pictures, type (Luke 12: 49-53 in the “Search” of Google images 

22- Additional anecdotes:

1) “How can anyone argue with a life so well-lived?” Agnes Bojaxhiu (St. Teresa of Calcutta — Mother Teresa), who died in 1997, was one of the most influential persons of our time. She was on fire with love of Christ, and she was so passionate about her beliefs that her life became an articulate expression of her Faith. She loved life, and so she hated abortion; thus, even when called to speak at the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington in the U.S.  to a pre-dominantly American elite audience, she strongly criticized the policy of government-funded abortion. At the end of her speech the crowd gave Mother Teresa a standing ovation and clapped profusely. Apparently, thirst overwhelmed Bill and Hillary Clinton at that very moment because while everyone else went in an uproar, the Clintons just sucked on their water bottles. —  Later when questioned, about Clinton’s meeting with Mother Teresa, Bill’s only response was, ‘”I cannot argue with a life that had been so well lived.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

2)  General Sherman set fire to the city of Atlanta: “War is hell,” said William Tecumseh Sherman, a Northern General in the American Civil War.  It is.  The material losses are staggering.  It was Sherman himself who set fire to the city of Atlanta, Georgia and burnt it to the ground.  Worse than the material losses caused by fire, however, are the physical pain, dismemberment, and disability — too horrible to dwell on.  Beyond the physical distresses are the psychiatric horrors.  We hear less about the psychiatric horrors of war, if only because they are less visible to the public.  In World War II, psychiatric breakdown was the single largest reason for honourable discharge from the armed forces.  Any combatant’s chances of psychiatric collapse (from the American Civil War right up to the current military intervention in Afghanistan), are three times greater than his likelihood of being killed.  When the U.S. Army landed in Sicily in the 1940s, there were platoons where the psychiatric breakdown was 100%.  Military psychiatrists know very well the psychological harm war inflicts on the veterans. — Then why does Jesus say in today’s Gospel that he came to set the world on fire and cause division in the family? (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

3) Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness: Keller Weaverling, a kayak guide had come thirteen years earlier to Valdez, Alaska, to get away from the world. All that changed literally overnight when the bulk carrier Exxon Valdez, dumped 11 million gallons of oil into the Prince William Sound. It was a ghastly catastrophe toward which he just could not stand neutral. To quote him, “It was like coming home to find your house totally vandalized, your pet dog killed, and your wife raped, gagged and bound. I needed to get involved.” So, when the Valdez Bird Rescue Centre was looking for someone to lead a wildlife rescue operation after the Exxon Valdez spill in March 1989, Kelly stepped forward in the conviction that “it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” He organized 220 workers and 43 boats to rescue wildlife endangered by the spill. – In 1989, one seventeen-year-old lived in Portland Oregon, across the street from the boarded-up windows of a former crack house. When he saw his friend join street gangs, he felt it was his call to “light a candle rather than curse the darkness” Since he just could not stand neutral, he organized his peers into a high-school fraternity, as a positive alternative to street gangs. Members of the fraternity sponsored dances, cleaned up graffiti, and helped one another with homework and family problems. — These are just two of the eight million such stories reported throughout the U.S.A. The people involved are seemingly ordinary, but they have an extraordinary desire to do something positive. These are people who walk in the footsteps of Jesus who said, “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already burning.” (James Valladares in Your Words, O Lord, Are Spirit, and They Are Life; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).   

4) The Truth Teller: Many years ago, a certain Greenland Eskimo was brought to New York City for a short visit. He was filled with wonder at all the miracles of sight and sound in New York City. When he returned to his native village he told his people the stories of a building that rose into the very face of the sky; of the street cars, which he described as houses which moved along the trail, of the mammoth bridges, artificial lights and all the dazzling things of the metropolitan city. Many of the people could not believe him. Those who did not believe him looked at him coldly and walked away. The villagers called him a liar. He carried that name, “the liar,” to his grave. — The road of the truth-teller has always been rocky. As a result of telling God’s truth according to His command, many of the prophets were killed. Jeremiah died at the hands of his own people. Socrates who led people to truth through reason, was sentenced to die by drinking poison. Jesus was crucified. St. Stephen was stoned. Bruno was burned. Mahatma Gandhi, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Archbishop Saint Oscar Romero were shot to death. The decision to follow Christ can meet harsh rejection. In 2004, Sister Helen Prejean, a prison chaplain at Stewardship Conference in New Orleans, wrote a book, Dead Man Walking, which became an Oscar-winning movie. Sister. Helen sought reconciliation between prisoners on death row and their victims’ families. She met with harsh words and actions. — Taking a stand and telling the truth often invites division and opposition. You are either for or against Jesus. There is no comfortable way of following Jesus! (John Pichappilly in The Table of the Word; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/). 

5) Do we stand for God?: Some time ago a newspaper columnist, Arthur Jones, shared an important moment in his earlier life with his readers. It happened when he was drafted into the Royal Air Force and found himself in military barracks with 30 other men. On the first night he had to make a decision. He had always knelt to say his prayers. Should he continue to kneel now that he was in military service? He squirmed a little and then said to himself: “Why should I change just because people are watching?  Am I going to begin my life away from home by letting other people dictate what I should do or not do?” He decided to kneel. By the time he had finished, he became aware that everyone else was aware of him. And when he made the Sign of the Cross, he was aware that everyone else knew he was a Catholic. As it turned out, he was the only Catholic in the barracks. Yet, night after night he knelt. He said that those ten minutes on his knees often led to discussions that lasted for hours. On the last day in boot camp, someone said to him, “You are the finest Christian I’ve ever met.” He replied, “Well, I might be the most public Christian you’ve ever met, but I don’t think I’m the finest. Still, I thank you for what you said.” — That story illustrates one of the points of today’s Gospel. Commitment to Jesus means taking a stand on certain things. And sometimes that stand sets us in opposition to other people.  (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/). 

6) Peace by setting the earth on fire with wisdom: A wise old gentleman retired and purchased a modest home near a junior high school. He spent the first few weeks of his retirement in peace and contentment. Then a new school year began. The very next afternoon three young boys, full of youthful, after-school enthusiasm, came down his street, beating merrily on every trashcan they encountered. The crashing percussion continued day after day, until finally the wise old man decided it was time to take some action. The next afternoon, he walked out to meet the young percussionists as they banged their way down the street. Stopping them, he said, “You kids are a lot of fun. I like to see you express your exuberance like that. In fact, I used to do the same thing when I was your age. Will you do me a favor? I’ll give you each a dollar if you’ll promise to come around every day and do your thing.” The kids were elated and continued to do a bang-up job on the trashcans. After a few days, the old-timer greeted the kids again, but this time he had a sad smile on his face. “This recession’s really putting a big dent in my income,” he told them. “From now on, I’ll only be able to pay you 50 cents to beat on the cans.” The noisemakers were obviously displeased, but they did accept his offer and continued their afternoon ruckus. A few days later, the wily retiree approached them again as they drummed their way down the street. “Look,” he said, “I haven’t received my Social Security check yet, so I’m not going to be able to give you more than 25 cents. Will that be okay?” “A lousy quarter?” the drum leader exclaimed. “If you think we’re going to waste our time, beating these cans around for a quarter, you’re nuts! No way, mister. We quit!” — And the old man enjoyed peace by casting fire on the rogue kids. (Fr. T: Scr. Homilies) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

7) Moral Malaise: According to Time magazine’s report of a Daily Express survey, 84 percent of those polled did not think that Prince Charles’ TV confession that he had committed adultery sullied his reputation [Ginia Bellafonte, “People,” Time (18 July 1994), 61] — The Church as an organized institution has become too comfortable, too at home with the standards and values of the world. Our silence in the face of such signs of the times suggests that moral failure is really no more serious than rolling through a stop sign at a deserted intersection. The truth is, moral muck-ups are a symptom of a very serious condition — heart failure. It is a sign that the central pump of our being is sick and faltering a sign of despair. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 8) “Good-bye”: “Dear Mom and the Preacher: I’m leaving town. Don’t expect to see me again. I’m sick and tired of all this talk about the Lord and Church. I’m not going to listen to your sanctimonious talk about my drinking problem, AA, and going to worship. I’ve had enough of it. When you count the members of the family, count me out. Good-bye. Your former son, Harry, Jr.” — The Gospel of Jesus Christ is Good News, but when people are locked into their sins, they may see it as bad news. The fire of the Gospel is intended to cleanse family relationships. On some occasions, the fire of the Gospel is too hot for certain family members to handle. They flee from the family that embraces the Gospel. They say, “Good-bye.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 9) “You can’t see what’s right under your feet:” The Greek version of Jesus’ diatribe against the crowd in this week’s Gospel text is perhaps the experience of the Greek philosopher, Thales. He ventured outside one night with a knowledgeable, elderly woman who had promised to teach him about the stars. In the darkness, he fell into a ditch and started screaming for help.–  The old woman responded dryly, “You want to know all about the Heavens, but you can’t see what’s right under your feet!” [From Diogenes, Laertius 1:34, cited in Frederick W. Denker, Jesus and the New Age (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988), 258.] (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 10)For he shall give his angels charge over thee:” Jimmy Stewart was one of Hollywood’s most loved and most respected actors. According to all accounts, Stewart’s character and integrity were byproducts of being raised by loving and honorable parents. He himself once wrote of his father’s wise and loving advice to him before Jimmy went off to fight in World War II. In a letter, Alex Stewart wrote, “My dear Jim boy, soon after you read this letter, you will be on your way to the worst sort of danger . . . I am banking on the enclosed copy of the 91st Psalm. The thing that takes the place of fear and worry is the promise of these words . . . I can say no more . . . I love you more than I can tell you. Dad.” Part of the 91st Psalm reads, “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” [J. Allen Nudge with Marge Van Kirk, “The Boy Next Door,” McCall’s (January, 1998) p. 38.] — This is the proper antidote to the anxiety that many of us feel in this turbulent world in which we live. God is with us regardless of what the future may bring. What we need to do is to regain our connection to God. We need to focus less on our financial resources for security and more on the Rock of ages. Read the signs of the times. They will tell you we need God more than ever before. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 11) Be on fire: Ancient people had a more intimate knowledge of fire than we do. Their only nighttime illumination came from the flames of oil lamps. The smoke from the cooking fire on the hearth constantly irritated and reddened their eyes. Everyone’s fingers were callused from working household fires. Their arms and hands bore the scars from burns. Early in childhood, they learned that food tasted better cooked, that flames tempered metal tools, and that the kiln’s heat hardened pottery. People also knew firsthand the danger of uncontrolled fire. Homes regularly burned to the ground because of an overturned lamp or a carelessly maintained kitchen fire. Well into the nineteenth century, devastating fires shaped communities. In fact, fire may spur on the next urban renewal. —  So, how was Jesus using the image of fire in this Gospel?  This Gospel recalls an ancient belief that fire is the manifestation of God.  Jesus is reminding us of the radical nature of His ministry and is demanding we step up to the plate. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 12) St. Bartholomew of the Island: The Romans had perfected torture and death, and Bartholomew’s martyrdom is an example of that combination. Tradition has it that he was skinned while still alive; thus, one symbol for Bartholomew is a skinning knife. Another legend has it that he was flayed alive with a whip that would strip the skin from one’s flesh, but knife or whip, his death must have been excruciatingly painful and horrible – almost too much of a price to pay for committing one’s life to Christ, don’t you think? But people still die painful and horrible deaths as martyrs, laying down their lives for the Lord and the world. A thousand years ago, a Church was built on a little island in the Tiber River where it flows past the city of Rome. Fittingly, the Church had replaced – and built on the ruins of – an ancient temple dedicated to the art and science of medicine, the Temple of Aesculapius, which had stood there at least three centuries before Christ was born. People visited that temple, a sort of spa, to seek cures for various illnesses as well as relief from pain; the temple was elaborate. The Church that replaced the temple was named San Bartholomew all’ Isola – St. Bartholomew of the Island. After it was built, a hospital was added; Church and hospital still exist in close proximity to that small island. Today there is also a home for elderly Jews close to the Church; it is close to a monastery, too. — And there seems to be a message in that complex of buildings that declares that St. Bartholomew’s death – like the death of Christ – has some meaning in terms of the commitment and love that prompts us both to follow Christ, telling his story and preaching the Gospel to all people, and to show compassion, kindness and care for the sick, the suffering, and the elderly. There can be no better way to follow and serve Christ, or to celebrate the commitment and death of St. Bartholomew and of all those others who have paid the ultimate cost of commitment to Christ by laying down their lives to bear witness to Him. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 13) Forest fire and “Jesus  fire”: Stretching south for hundreds of miles from Glacier National Park lies a majestic mixture of valleys, rushing streams, and gargantuan mountains called the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Backpackers have hiked there for decades looking for elk, grizzlies, and golden eagles. Fortunately, the grizzlies stay up in the high country, but a golden eagle may be spotted, and the elusive wolverine may be tracked. The Bob Marshall Wilderness hosts some 90,000 packers and hikers each year, most of them in the months of July and August. They must come in either on foot or on horseback. No motorized vehicles are allowed. The forests on those rugged mountain slopes are thick with Lodgepole Pine, a tough, hardy tree with cones so thick that only extreme heat can burst forth the seeds. That’s where fire comes in. For thousands — oh, millions — of years, lightning has cracked the big sky out there down to the forests below. (Often the lightning will hit the Douglas Firs, less rugged than the Lodgepole Pines, and a forest fire will begin.) For years, of course, the United States Forest Service fought furiously to put out these fires. More recently, they have adopted a policy of managed fires. They have learned these fires have a purpose. Without them, the seeds of the Lodgepole Pines are never released. Without them much of the underbrush and plant life there does not regenerate. The earth needs a fire cast on it, or it will die. — Jesus, speaking to Peter, that blustery, Lodgepole Pine kind of a man, said, “I have a fire to cast over the earth, and how I am constrained until it be kindled!” What did Jesus mean? He knew that Peter, like all of his disciples, was a wilderness that needed fire, or he would die. Peter needed the fire of God’s Word to keep his heart from freezing over and to keep the passion of his soul from cooling down. Like the Lodgepole Pine, we all need the fire of God’s Word in our lives, or we will grow cold. We will be ice-capped. Our job will cease. Our friendships will cease. Our marriages will cease. Our very lives will cease, because human nature is so prone to the freeze, so susceptible to an ice cap on the heart. God knows this. That’s why He sends His lightning to strike into our lives lest we stop and regenerate no more. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

14) “This is champagne! You cannot drink it.” Jesus is the one to whom the highest forms of commitment are to be made – regardless of the cost. And he expects us to make that commitment – and pay that personal cost at all times – if we dare to call ourselves his disciples. An incident in the life of Pablo Casals illuminates the nature of the total commitment that Christ demands of his followers. U Thant once held a reception for the famous musician when he was ninety-four years of age. Robert Muller, in his Most of All, They Taught Me Happiness (New York: Dutton, 1981, p. 164), describes how he was talking with Casals in a room on the thirty-eighth floor of the United Nations Secretariat building when a waitress came by with filled glasses. In the bright light, Casals asked, “What is it?” She answered with a smile, “Lemonade.” Before he could taste it, his wife intercepted the glass and tasted it: “This is champagne! You cannot drink it.” Thereupon Casals told Muller the following story: “When I was young, I once went to see my doctor and told him I was feeling a kind of laziness in my fingers. After a thorough examination, he asked me: ‘Do you drink?’ I answered negatively but added that like all Spaniards I had a glass of wine at luncheon and dinner. He then said: ‘Well, if you want to become a great, renowned artist and avoid that laziness in your fingers, you must never touch a drop of wine or alcohol.’ I obeyed him faithfully all my life.” — Jesus, you see, never calls us to ministry and mission under false pretenses. When the disciples wanted places of honor next to him, he asked, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink?” and “Are you able to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” Mark reports that He answered their enthusiastic, “We can!” with, “You will be baptized …” (die for the faith),  and with the exception of John, they were all martyred for the Gospel’s sake. To follow Christ is a costly venture. It may mean expulsion from the family circle, ostracism by friends, or death, even in this age. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

15) Challenge to feel-good Christians: Seminary professor Stanley Hauerwas opens one of his classes by reading a letter from a parent to a government official. The parent complains that the family was paying for the very best education for their son. Then the young man got involved with a weird religious sect. The parent pleads with the government to do something about this group that was ruining his son’s life.  Dr. Hauerwas ends by explaining that the parent is not complaining about the Moonies, the Hare Krishnas, or some other group. The professor had assembled snippets from different letters written to the Roman government in the third century about a weird religious group called the Church of Jesus Christ. [Pulpit Resources, Volume 23, No. 3, (July-September 1995), p. 34.] — How that differs from the claims the Church makes on people’s lives today! Instead of high demands and radical changes, we think Christianity is to make us feel good about ourselves. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

16) Fiddler on the Roof: An example of the opposition that that Faith brings about in a family occurs in the musical Fiddler on the Roof. The story takes place in Russia in 1905 and the plot centers around a man named Tevye, the father of a poor Jewish family. He has five daughters but no son. His eldest daughter marries a tailor who was not chosen for her by the traditional matchmaker. After a struggle with his conscience Teyve accepts the marriage. His next daughter marries a college student who has broken with many Jewish traditions. After another struggle with his conscience, Teyve accepts this marriage too. Finally, his third daughter, Chava, marries a non-Jew, a young Russian soldier. When Golde, Teyve’s wife breaks the news to him, Teyve, says, “Chava is dead to us! We must forget her.” Alone, Teyve, sings a beautiful song called “Chavalah”. In it he pours out his heart to God. He can’t understand why Chava did what she did. At that moment Chava appears and pleads with Teyve to accept her and her husband. Teyve looks up to heaven and says: “How can I accept them? Can I deny everything I believe in? On the other hand, can I deny my own child? (But if I deny everything I believe in, if I try to bend that far, I will break). No Chava!”  — When Jesus invited people to follow him, he realized what he was asking. For them it meant doing what Chava had to do. It meant leaving father and mother and family. (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 17)  Fire and division: The very mention of this word,” fire,” stirs fear in the human heart. Indeed, so horrific is the potential of fire to destroy life and reduce to ashes even the most solid and sturdy of structures that it is a crime to shout this word irresponsibly in a public place! Every year, forest fires, fed by powerful desert winds, burn a wide swath of destruction across miles and miles of land. Every year, through carelessness and sometimes malice, lives are lost, homes are leveled, and many lose their means of livelihood to fire. So dreaded is the mere specter of fire that it has, since ancient times, been associated with the retribution to be suffered by the evil and unrepentant after death. — Given the ordinary human regard for and experience of fire, it seems strange (if not shocking!) that Jesus would claim that he had come to light a fire on earth and, that he wished for the blaze to be ignited (Gospel). Strange, as well, is Jesus’declaration that he had come among us not for peace but for division. Divisiveness, like a canker, erodes the social, political, emotional, and psychological bonds that bind us, one to another. Divisiveness is spawned by antagonism, distrust, and hostility, and it often erupts into war. Divisiveness eats away at the viable network of human society, leaving lonely, disconnected isolates in its wake. Why then would Jesus choose to characterize his purpose and mission in terms of fire and division? (    Sanchez Files). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 18) A pope on fire: Photo of Pope Francis boarding the plane with a black bag that had gone round the world.  One Journalist asked him  (1) why he carried his bag? and (2) what was in it.  Here is the translation of his response: Pope Francis: “There was no key to the bomb inside! Well, I carried the bag because I have always done so: when I travel, I always carry the bag myself. And inside, what is there? There is a razor, there is the breviary, there is the agenda, there is a book to read – I brought one of St. Therese of Lisieux to whom I am devoted. I always travel with my bag: it’s normal. But we must be normal … I don’t know … it’s a bit ‘strange’ what you are telling me, that that picture has been going around the world. But we have to get used to be normal. The normality of life. I do not know, Andrea, if I answered your question…” Pope misses step & falls: https://youtu.be/tGLmSm_3tpo  (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

19) Comforting the afflicted in a Brazilian Favela: Shortly after his election to the papacy, Pope Francis called for a “Church that is poor and for the poor.” During his momentous visit to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day 2013 in Brazil, Pope Francis visited the community of Varginha in the favela of Manguinhos. The slum-like neighborhood was once blighted with violence, drug crime, and gang fighting. This community offers a vivid example of the crushing poverty, uneven development, and profound class divisions that plague Brazil, even as it attempts to turn itself around. Pope Francis spoke to a huge crowd of favela residents who gathered in a football field of the violent slum. Portions of Pope Francis’ address to them give flesh and blood to today’s Gospel: “The Brazilian people, particularly the humblest among you, can offer the world a valuable lesson in solidarity, a word that is too often forgotten or silenced, because it is uncomfortable. I would like to make an appeal to those in possession of greater resources, to public authorities, and to all people of good will who are working for social justice: never tire of working for a more just world, marked by greater solidarity! No one can remain insensitive to the inequalities that persist in the world! Everybody, according to his or her particular opportunities and responsibilities, should be able to make a personal contribution to putting an end to so many social injustices. The culture of selfishness and individualism that often prevails in our society is not what builds up and leads to a more habitable world: it is the culture of solidarity that does so, seeing others not as rivals or statistics, but brothers and sisters…..” — Pope Francis, like Jesus, demands a decision either for or against his message. The Bishop of Rome does not seek harmony and a middle way in every situation of extreme poverty, injustice, and violence. He is not afraid to enter into the midst of great conflicts of our time and he is willing to make tough decisions for the sake of authentic reconciliation, true justice, and a lasting peace among peoples. Let us learn from the example of Jesus of Nazareth and Francis in Buenos Aires. (Salt & Light Media). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/). 

20) Trouble-Makers:  Thank God for those free thinkers throughout Christendom who have brought fire upon the earth, the early Church and the Catholic Church which has prevailed for almost 2000 years holding the banner of Christ: Martin Luther called the Church back to a Gospel which emphasized grace rather than works. John Wyclif and William Tyndale, against the wishes of church leadership produced the Bible in the language of the people. William Wilberforce, against the will of many within the Church, fought the evil ravages of the institution of slavery. Hudson Taylor dared to adopt the customs and culture of the people to whom he was a missionary. He converted people to Jesus, not to Western culture. He changed the focus of foreign missions. Men like John and Charles Wesley, Charles Finney, and Charles Spurgeon, called upon their churches to reform. They woke the world with their fiery preaching. — These men were Trouble-makers. Thinkers. Applecart-shakers.  men who muddied the water,  just like Jesus. Heroes of the Faith, we now call them, because they were not afraid of division. They knew Jesus did not come to bring peace but a sword, in other words, Truth. God’s Truth is like that. It is a double-edged sword. What sounds like peace, the peace that Christ gives, really isn’t peace as the world would have it. It is peace as God would have it. And what kind of peace is it that God wants? He wants the peace that exist between you and Him when the weight of your sins no longer is a snare and you can run with endurance the race set before you.  Brett Blair. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

21) “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on earth? No, I tell you , but rather division. “A Hindu came to England for his education. He was already married. At Oxford he became interested in the Christian religion, was converted and baptized. He was a young prince, and his first duty on his return to his native land was to tell his father of his new Faith. His parents’ rage and grief were great. He was turned out of the house into a cowshed, and there left, hungry and sad. His mother brought him a dish of the favorite curry he had often longed for amid the strange meals of foreign lands, but before he might eat, she had a condition – “Say, I am not a Christian.” He refused and the plate was taken away. Hungrier and thirstier he grew, and at length, hearing a scratching outside, he found a low-caste man, a sweeper (whom in the olden days, to touch was defilement) offering him water. Now, in spite of his ingrained repugnance, he was thankful to receive it. The next morning, he heard sounds of mourning – it had been given out that he was dead, drowned in the courtyard well – therefore his girl wife was widowed. From the cow-shed he could see her being led across the courtyard in her bright clothes and jewels, then she was thrown down, and they were torn from her, and the rest of the cruel treatment that a Hindu widow receives was dealt out to her; while the boy husband watched, powerless to help. That night, with the help of the friendly sweeper, he escaped to a mission station nearby; later the poor little ‘widow’ was also discovered, and was brought to Christianity, and the husband and wife were reunited in Christian marriage. — This is what Jesus says in today’s Gospel Reading from St. Luke – “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on earth? No, I tell you , but rather division. … a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, … a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” Christ comes to us as a challenge. Everyone who follows Christ and keeps his eyes focused on Jesus and the truth of his message in all its integrity, everyone who lives it to the full, will find the world opposes him. Christ himself suffered, as did all the prophets, and we must follow in his footsteps. (Fr. Lakra). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

22) Jeremiah ought to be put to death: On January 11, 1983, a couple of teen-age lads left a morning tutorial class at School No. 5 in Rochester, New York, drank three quarts of beer, and then stumbled back to gym class. Peter A. Castle, one of the seven tutors of this “hard-core” inner-city public school program, saw the pair come in and seized one of them by the arm. They were breaking the rules of the program, he said, so they must go home. The lad that Castle was confronting refused, drew out a knife and stabbed Peter in the heart. Castle slumped to the ground. “I told him not to mess with me,” the youth cried out. The victim was taken to the hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival. Teachers of inner-city problem youths assume a task full of risks. Peter Castle, 31, was ideally fitted for the job. He was 6 feet 4 inches and a born athlete. In fact, after high school he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates for their baseball team. But he had chosen to go on to college where he specialized in sociology and social welfare, He was married, but as yet had no children of his own. Pete’s chief virtue was his compassion for others. Typically, he had been one of the organizers of this tutorial program in which there was one tutor for every five or six kids. The rules of attendance and discipline were necessarily strict. But Castle knew that it was the personal relationship that counted. A hug and “I love you” did more than any tongue-lashing. Most of the youngsters appreciate this, and wept when Peter died. Barbara Vancheri, a reporter for The Democrat and Chronicle quoted the program supervisor on this point: “The problem with these kids is nobody every really cared. Peter cared.” — The prophet, Jeremiah, also really cared for the fellow Israelites to whom God sent him as a prophet to remind them constantly of the Divine law. But as today’s first reading tells us, those who did not want to be reminded of God’s law rose up against the prophet and imprisoned him. Luckily, Jeremiah was not killed. But it will never be thus. Too often the good were hated and treated violently, possibly because of their goodness. Loving one’s neighbor is the riskiest of the commandments.( Father Robert F. McNamara) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).  L/22

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle C (No. 43) 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

August 8-13 weekday homilies

Aug 8-13: (Kindly visit my website https://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed homilies.

Aug 8 Monday: (St. Dominic, Priest): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-dominic Matthew 17:22-27: 22 As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of man is to be delivered into the hands of men, 23 and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed. 24 When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the half-shekel tax went up to Peter and said, “Does not your teacher pay the tax?” 25 He said, “Yes.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their sons or from others?” 26 And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 27 However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook, and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel; take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.” (nil in other gospels) Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections.

The context: The first part of today’s Gospel gives Jesus’ second prediction of His sufferings, death, and Resurrection. The second part is Jesus’ explanation of why He pays the Temple tax. Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus’ disciples were “distressed” by their master’s repeated reminders of a coming shameful death as a heretic and lawbreaker. They were distressed because the reminders shattered their dream of ruling Israel after Jesus had conquered the Romans and reestablished the Davidic kingdom. They did not understand that their master would be dying to liberate the whole of mankind from the bondage of sin. In the second part of today’s Gospel, Peter assures the Temple tax officials that the Master, Jesus, is a devout Jew and, hence, pays the Temple tax. All Jewish males 20 years old or older had to pay a half-shekel (roughly equivalent to two days’ wages), as Temple tax for the upkeep of the Temple and its sacrifices. When they reached Peter’s home, Jesus instructed Peter to go fishing, open the mouth of the first fish he caught and, with the coin he would find there, pay both Peter’s and his own tax. Jesus’ reason was that they were to give good example to others, even though, as the Son of God, Jesus was legally exempted from paying any type of tax to anyone. The Gospel passage foreshadows a dilemma that would be experienced by the first century Jewish Christians as to whether they should continue to pay the Temple tax meant for the Jews.

Life messages: 1) Let us express our gratitude to Jesus our Savior for the price of suffering and death He paid for our sins. We can do this by avoiding all occasions of sin, by offering our pains and sufferings as atonement for our sins, and by helping others sacrificially.

2) We should obey the laws of the Church and of our country as loyal Christians and loyal citizens and contribute to the needs of the Church and its mission by our tithing, while we help the government by paying our taxes. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Aug 9 Tuesday: (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Virgin, Martyr): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-teresa-benedicta-of-the-cross

Matthew 18:1-5:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections.

The context: Chapter 18 of Matthew’s Gospel is a “discourse on the Church,” giving leaders of the Church instructions for administration. Jesus’ apostles shared the Jewish hope that the Messiah would be a political ruler; they hoped that they would hold important portfolios in the Messianic kingdom. Hence, in today’s passage (vv. 1-5), Jesus warned his apostles and the future hierarchy of his Church against the natural human tendencies to pride and ambition. He exhorted the spiritual leaders, as well as all believers in responsible positions, to be humble, trusting and innocent – that is, to be like children. The additional parable of the shepherd rejoicing at the recovery of his lost sheep tells us that our Heavenly Father is very particular that His little ones should not perish due to our negligence.

Child-like qualities: Children are basically innocent and honest. They are naturally humble because they depend on their parents for everything. They trust and obey their parents because they know their parents love them. Hence, Jesus advises his disciples to forget their selfish ambitions and, with trusting Faith in a loving and providing God, to spend their lives serving others in all humility. Then they will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Life Messages: 1) We need to practice humility in thoughts, words and actions. “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart.” “What is the essential thing in the religion and discipline of Jesus Christ?” St. Augustine asks, and then responds, “I shall reply: first humility, second humility and third humility.”

2) We should not seek recognition and recompense for the service we do for Christ and the Church as parents, teachers, pastors, etc.

3) Trusting Faith resulting from true humility is essential for all corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Since children reflect the innocence, purity, simplicity and tenderness of our Lord, and since they are given the protection of a guardian angel, we are to love them, train them and take care not to give scandal to them. We need to try to treat everyone with love and respect because, “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life,” (St. Basil) CCC # 336. (Fr. Tony) L/22

Aug 10 Wednesday: (St. Lawrence, Deacon, Martyr): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-lawrenceJn 12: 24-26: 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him. Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections.

The context: Jesus tells us a short parable followed by two amazing paradoxes. The parable is that of a grain of wheat sown into the muddy field, growing up and yielding a good crop. The parable followed by the paradoxes teaches us three lessons for Christian life. The first lesson is that life comes only through death. Only when the grain of wheat dies in the muddy soil of the field does it become a seedling. In the same way, the Church would grow up and flourish in the death of its martyrs: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” When we die to our personal ambitions and desires, we are born as useful instruments in the hands of God. The second lesson is that only by spending life we can retain it. The world owes a lot to saintly people like St. Don Bosco, St. Vincent De Paul, St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa), St. Jeanne Jugan, and St. Damien, among others, who spent their energy for service of the poor and the down-trodden and gave themselves to God. The third lesson is that greatness comes through selfless and committed service. This explains why the world still honors and cherishes the memory of great souls mentioned above.

Life message: Let us surrender our lives to God in the service of others with agápe love in all humility, seeing the face of Jesus in each of them. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Aug 11 Thursday: (St. Clare, Virgin): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-clare-of-assisiMatthew 18: 21-19: 1: 21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; 25 and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, `Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 …35 Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections.

The lessons taught by the parable: (1) We must forgive so that we may be forgiven. Jesus explains this truth after teaching the prayer, “Our Father.” He warns us, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mt 6:14-15). As James states it later, “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy” (Jas 2:13). Clearly, Divine and human forgiveness work together.

(2) We represent the greater debtor in the parable; that is, we owe God the ten thousand talents of the parable. We commit sins every day and, hence, we need God’s forgiveness every day. The sum total of all the offenses which our brothers and sisters commit against us is equivalent to the small debt of the second debtor in the parable, namely 100 denarii. Yet, shockingly and sadly, we are merciless towards our fellow human beings. The moral of Jesus’ story is that, as members of a community, we must treat one another as God has treated each of us. Here is a Divine call to throw away the calculator when it comes to forgiveness. We must choose the more honorable path and forgive one another “from the heart.” We have been forgiven a debt beyond all human paying – the sin of man which God forgave through the willing, sacrificial death of His own Son, Incarnate in human flesh. Since that is so, we must forgive others as God has forgiven us. Otherwise, we cannot hope to receive any mercy ourselves.

Life messages: 1) We need to forgive: Having experienced forgiveness at the hands of God and God’s people, we are then called to make it possible for others to experience the same forgiveness. Let us forgive the person who has wronged us before hatred eats away at our ability to forgive.

2) Forgiveness will not be easy, but God is there to help us. We can call on God’s help by offering that individual to God, not by sitting in judgment, but simply by saying, “Help so-and-so and mend our relationship.” We may never forget the hurt we have experienced, but we can choose to forgive. 3) We need to remind ourselves that with God’s grace we have already forgiven the one that hurt us. As life goes on, we may remember the incident or occasion that was hurtful. Then let us offer the offender to God’s mercy and pray for God’s blessings on him or her. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Aug 12 Friday: (St, Frances de Chantal, Virgin, Religious): http://catholicfire.blogspot.com/2008/08/st-jane-frances-de-chantal-brief-bio.html Mt 19:3-12: 3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” 8 He said to them, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9.” 10.. 12 Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

Jesus’ explanation of a Mosaic sanction: Jesus explains that Moses’ permission for divorce was only a temporary concession which was meant to control the growing rate of divorce in Moses’ own time by introducing a law governing divorce. Jesus adds that it was because of the hard-heartedness of the Jewish men that Moses allowed such a concession. By denying the man’s right to divorce, Jesus places the husband and wife on an equal footing in marriage and teaches that no Mosaic regulation dealing with a temporary situation can alter the permanence and unity of marriage.

Jesus’ clear teaching on divorce: Jesus reminds us that His doctrine goes back to the original intention of God. Citing the book of Genesis, Jesus says that God made us male and female and commanded that “the two shall become one flesh.” He then draws the conclusion that “they are no longer two, but one body” – partners with equal rightsand he declares that no man is allowed to separate what God has joined together (Mt 19:6).

Catholic teaching: Based on the NT teachings given in Mk 10:1-12, Mt 5:31-32; Mt 19:3-9; Lk 16:18; and 1 Cor 7:10-11, the Catholic Church teaches that marriage is a Sacrament involving both a sacred and legal contract between a man and a woman and, at the same time, a special Covenant with the Lord. “Divorce is also a grave offense against the natural law. Besides, it claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death…… Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society” (CCC #2384, #2385).

Life messages:1) Let us keep all the families of our parish in our daily prayers, that the spouses may have a mutual understanding and appreciation of each other, the willingness to ask pardon and give pardon, the generosity to forgive and forget, and the good will to serve each other, because all these virtues help to make a marriage permanent. 2) Let us also pray for all the divorced in the parish and welcome them as active members of the parish, both those who have remained single and those who have remarried without annulment. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Aug 13 Saturday: (Saints Pontian, Pope, Hippolytus, Priest, Martyrs): http://franciscanmedia.beracha.org/saint-of-the-day/saints-pontian-and-hippolytus Mt 19:13-15: 13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people; 14 but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away.Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: Today’s Gospel passage describes one of the loveliest incidents in the Gospel story. Jewish mothers used to bring their children to great rabbis to have them pray over the little ones, especially on their first birthday. Naturally, mothers wanted the healing touch and blessing of the most popular rabbi, Jesus. In an attempt to protect their master from the crowd of mothers and noisy children, the apostles started rebuking them. The passage describes Jesus’ reaction and teaching.

Childlike qualities for entrance into Heaven: By showing his displeasure at the rough reaction of his apostles, Jesus made it clear that everyone is equally important to him as a child of God. The mothers came to Jesus because he was welcoming, warm, and approachable. Jesus decided to use the occasion as a teachable moment. He taught his disciples that entry into Heaven demands the childlike qualities of humility, innocence, obedience,simplicity, openness, teachability, freedom from prejudice, readiness for change and adaptation,total trust in a loving and providing God, confidence in the essential goodness of people and the readiness to forgive and forget. Only such people are ready to hear the message of the Gospel in its fullness and accept it.

Life messages: 1) Let us live in the awareness that we are the children of a loving and providing Heavenly Father and that, by Baptism, we are members of God’s family. Hence, we are expected to behave well every day, as worthy children of a Holy Father. 2) Let us pray for all the children in our families and for all our young parishioners and let us find time to cooperate in the parish ministries meant for children and young people. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

O. T. XIX ( Sunday August 7th homily)

OT XIX (C)  (Aug 7, 2022) Eight-minute Sunday homily in one page

Introduction: The central theme of today’s readings is the necessity for trusting Faith in God’s promises and vigilant preparedness among Christ’s followers to meet their God as their Judge and Rewarder, at the time of their death. Fidelity in doing God’s will is the best preparation for our death.

Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading cites the Faith-filled preparedness of the ancient Hebrew slaves in Egypt before their mass exodus to the Promised Land. Their trusting Faith in their God’s promises gave them hope. We are told how their Faith and Hope resulted in their liberation. With expectant Hope, the Hebrews sacrificed the first Passover lamb and ate the first ritual meal, as prescribed by their God through Moses. They awaited their imminent release and were prepared for it. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 33) invites us to express our own confidence in God and to declare our trust in His Providence. In the Second Reading, taken from the last chapter of the letter to the Hebrews, the author defines Faith as “the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). He tries to bolster the Faith of the Jewish Christians (the Hebrews), by appealing to the example of their ancestors, starting with Abraham, and reviewing the things they accomplished by Faith. In the Gospel, Jesus challenges his disciples to trust the Father’s promise to give them eternal happiness in His kingdom. But they are to be prepared at all times, because the Son of Man will come at an unexpected hour, either at the moment of their death or at the end of the world, whichever is comes first. Using the master-thief parable, Jesus warns us to be on our guard so that the thief (the devil), may not steal our treasure of Divine grace or our relationship with God by his temptations. Using the master-servant parable, Jesus reminds us always to do the will of God by obeying Jesus’ commandment of love and offering humble and sacrificial service to others.

Life message: We always need to be prepared to meet Our Lord as our judge: 1) Let us always remember the words of the Book of Revelation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him and he with me” (3:20). Since nobody is sure about the time and circumstances of his or her death, we must be ever prepared to face Jesus our Lord and Savior as our Judge at the moment of our death to give an account of our lives. He wants to see that we have kept our personal relationship with him by growing in holiness. 2) Such a growth is assisted by daily talking to him and listening to him in Bible reading; by asking for the guidance of the Holy Spirit every day; by recharging our spiritual batteries through offering our lives on the altar and getting spiritual nourishment in Holy Communion during the Holy Mass; by getting reconciled with God every day, asking for His pardon and forgiveness with a repentant heart, and seeking His forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation for serious sins; and by obeying Jesus’ commandment of love by serving all the people around us, sacrificially sharing our blessings with them, seeing the face of Jesus in everyone.

OT XIX [C] (Aug 7) Wis 18:6-9; Heb 11:1-2, 8-19; Lk 12: 32-48

Homily starter anecdotes: # 1:Be watchful servants: Steven Anthony “Steve” Ballmer (born March 24, 1956) has been the chief executive officer of the Microsoft Corporation since January 2000. He is one of the richest people in the world with a personal wealth estimated at USD 27.7 billion in 2016, and the 35thrichest person in the world. He is Bill Gates’ hand-picked successor. In 2004, he was seen crawling on the floor of the General Motors’ executive conference room, trying to fix a connection that would enable him to make a pitch to GM engineers. The image of the Microsoft CEO on his hands and knees to please some customers made such an impression on the author Steve Hamm that he wrote a whole article based on this one incident. [Steve Hamm, “Why High Tech Has to Stay Humble,” Business
Week 
(19 January 2004), pp 76-77.]

Corporate executives will get on their hands and knees to show customers how much they care. In today’s Gospel, Jesus warns his followers to be ever prepared by doing the will of God always in their lives, as the time of their death is uncertain. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 2: Faithful and prudent stewards” in the parish: Every so often there are people who want to make a spectacular gift to the Church — something big, something that can be seen and identified; usually it’s a gift in memory of a deceased loved one.  No one ever says, “just apply this to the budget.”  That’s understandable.  There’s nothing flashy about paying the light bill or getting the carpet clean. But there are folks in every parish who are willing to do just that: the unspectacular, the unflashy, the unnoticed things that make a big difference in the lives of the parish and the people it serves. For example, there’s the woman who is very well off who writes a sizable check to the parish every week to be used to buy gift cards at the local supermarket for poor and struggling families. And then there’s the college professor who volunteers her time every year to teach the fourth-grade religious education class.  She’d be a great addition to the adult education and RCIA programs, but she finds that teaching the kids are a great leveler in her life.  She says her rambunctious group makes her a better teacher — and a better Christian. Then, there’s the usher who welcomes parishioners to the first Mass on Sunday mornings and handles the details of hospitality.  After Mass he goes through the Church picking up bulletins from the benches, straightening out the hymnals, and making sure the rest rooms are clean for the next Mass.  He’s one of the city’s most successful and respected attorneys.  He’s always generous in giving legal help to the parish — but he shies away from taking a prominent leadership position.  No, he says, this is where the need is, and he’s happy to be able to help fill it. — We are all called to be “faithful and prudent servants” of the abilities and resources that the “Master” has entrusted to us and will hold us accountable for — not for the breadth and depth of those gifts. (Connections). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 3: “Come what may,” St. Francis answered, “I would finish hoeing my garden. “A woman once approached John Wesley [1703-1791, Anglican theologian and the founder of the Methodist denomination], with an interesting question: “Suppose you knew for certain that you were going to die and meet your Maker at the stroke of midnight tomorrow,” she said. “How would you spend your time between now and then?” Wesley replied, “Well, madam, just as I intend to spend it now. I will preach this evening at Gloucester and again at five tomorrow morning. After that I will ride to Tewkesbury to preach in the afternoon and meet with the societies in the evening. Then I’ll go home to dinner, talk and pray with the family as usual, retire to my room at 10 p.m., commend myself to God, lie down to rest and wake up to GLORY!” When similarly questioned, Martin Luther 1483-1546), replied, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my little apple tree and pay my debts.” Centuries before Luther and Wesley, Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) was hoeing his garden when one of his brothers in Christ put the same question to him. “Come what  he answered, “I would finish hoeing my garden.” —  In a sense, the Scripture readings for today invite each member of the gathered assembly to become engaged in a similar reflection. What would you do if you knew that this day would be your last? What would you not do? How would you prepare to meet God? Where would you go? With whom would you spend your remaining hours? (Patricia D Sanchez). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

#4: I am awake: It is said that soon after his enlightenment after days of fasting and meditation under a Bodhi tree, the Sidhartha Guathama Buddha passed a man on the road who was struck by the extraordinary radiance and peacefulness of Buddha’s presence. The man stopped and asked, “My friend, what are you? Are you a celestial being or a God?”
“No,” said the Buddha.
“Well, then, are you some sort of magician or wizard?”
Again the Buddha answered, “No.”
“Are you a man?”
“No.”
“Well my friend, what are you then?”
I am awake.”(Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield, Seeking the Heart of Wisdom).”Be awake, vigilant and well prepared” is the message of today’s gospel. https://youtu.be/8Kn-EkcrGws

 Introduction: The central theme of today’s readings is the necessity for trusting Faith in God’s promises and vigilant preparedness in the followers of Christ to meet their God as their Judge and Rewarder at the time of their death. Fidelity in doing God’s will is the best preparation for our death.

Scripture readings summarized: The first reading cites the Faith-filled preparedness of the ancient Hebrew slaves in Egypt before their mass exodus to the Promised Land.  Their trusting Faith in their God’s promises gave them hope.  We are told how their Faith and Hope resulted in their liberation. With expectant Hope, the Hebrews obediently sacrificed the first Passover lamb and ate the first ritual meal, as prescribed by their God through Moses.  They awaited their imminent release and were prepared for it. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 33), invites us to express our own confidence in God and declare our trust in His providence: “See, the eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear Him, upon those who hope for His kindness, to deliver them from death and preserve them in spite of famine. Our soul waits for the Lord, Who is our help and our shield’ (vv 18-20).  In the Second Reading, taken from the last chapter of the letter to the Hebrews, Paul defines Faith as “the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1).   He tries to bolster the Faith of the Jewish Christians (the Hebrews), by appealing to the example of their ancestors, starting with Abraham, and reviewing the things they accomplished by Faith.  In the Gospel, Jesus challenges his disciples to trust the Father’s promise to give them eternal happiness in His kingdom. But they are to be prepared at all times, because the Son of Man will come at an unexpected hour, either at the moment of their death or at the end of the world. Using the master-thief parable, Jesus warns us to be on our guard so that the thief (the devil), may not steal our treasure of Divine grace by his temptations. Using the master-servant parable, Jesus reminds us that we always need to do the will of God by obeying Jesus’ commandment of love, offering humble and sacrificial service to others.

  First reading, Wisdom 18, 6-9 explained: The book of Wisdom was written about a century before the coming of Jesus, by a faithful, learned Jew living in cosmopolitan Alexandria in Egypt. One of his purposes was to bolster the Faith of fellow Jews living in a world indifferent, and sometimes hostile, to their beliefs. A favorite theme of the writer is how the providence of God has protected the Chosen People throughout their history, especially during the time of their enslavement in Egypt and during their Exodus to freedom and the Promised Land under Moses. The author goes over these events in great detail. Our verses today interpret Exodus chapters 11 and 12 where, while the angel of the Lord was striking down the first-born of Pharaoh and other Egyptians, the vigilant Hebrew slaves were both obediently offering grateful sacrifice to the Lord and eating the meat of the lamb to fortify themselves for their coming escape. That night was the first Passover.  Like those Jewish slaves in Egypt, we, too, have been called to cling to the Hope of a future that may seem too good to be true, and we, too, are expected to be steadfast in our Faith, even when we see no signs of the fulfillment of God’s promises.

 Second Reading, Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19 explained: This passage is taken from the end of the Letter to the Hebrews. It contains the only explicit definition of religious Faith in the Bible: “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). Like our first reading, the Letter to the Hebrews was intended to bolster the Faith of the Jewish Christians (Hebrews), by appealing to the example of their ancestors who had believed in promises yet to be fulfilled. The chief example of strong Faith is found in their patriarch Abraham, a wealthy but childless pagan in Ur of the Chaldees (modern Iraq).  Abraham heard the voice of God summoning him to a different land, where God promised to grant him many descendants. By Faith Abraham left his homeland, accepted God’s promise that his descendants would form a great nation, and was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac at God’s command. Despite obstacles and setbacks, Abraham stayed obedient, “for he thought that the One Who had made the promise was trustworthy” (Heb 11:11). The first century Jewish Christians were ostracized from Temple worship (sacrifices, priesthood, rituals), of mainline Judaism. To bolster their Faith, the author provided a complex treatise showing that, in their new life in Christ, they were more than compensated for what they had lost. They were given the assurance that Christ’s promises for his believers exceeded the promises given to their Jewish ancestors.

Gospel exegesis: Be ready for your death and Jesus’ Second Coming: Today’s reading from Luke 12 is one of three eschatological discourses in the Gospel. All three of the Synoptic Gospels record Jesus’ concern for his disciples as he warned them to keep alert, to keep watch over themselves with careful attention. The passage is a collection of short parables, in which the chief characters are a master (representing the risen Jesus), and his servants (Jesus’ followers). According to the Fathers of the Church, Jesus’ words in this passage have two senses. In the narrower sense, the words refer to the Second Coming of Jesus, but in the broader  sense they  refer to the time of  our own  death,  when God will call us  to meet Him and to give Him an account of our  life on earth. Since the precise time of either coming is unknown to us, the proper attitude for Jesus’ followers is constant watchfulness. “The secret to living out the theological virtue of Faith is to see that the here and now is the place and time in which God wants us to meet Him and to serve Him. It is not in the past, which is over. It is not the future, which we can only imagine and so is not real. The person in the state of grace who washes the dishes well, because it is his job, and who offers this work to God for the sake of his neighbor, is living out the virtue of Faith and is prepared to meet Christ.” (St. Jose Maria Escriva).

Relationship by grace: In the first part of today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us what our real treasure should be and how we may keep it safe. The treasure God offers is of far greater value and is more secure than any earthly treasure.  Nevertheless, it is possible for us to lose this treasure if we do not guard it carefully.   The treasure is the Faith-relationship with God, which the Lord offers us in Baptism, a share in His own Life (Sanctifying Grace)  through which we begin, here on earth,  to lead our  eternal life in Heaven with Him.  But this treasure can be stolen by the devil or lost by our lack of vigilance in the midst of our temptations.  Jesus uses two comparisons to explain the nature of the vigilance required of us. We must be ready for action like an oriental servant and trimmed for service like an oil lamp. The long flowing robes worn by people of the day were a hindrance to work.  When a man prepared himself to work, he gathered up his robes under his girdle (belt) in order to leave himself free for activity. The reference to fastened belts and lamps burning ready (v. 35) also recalls the preparedness for action, which was legislated for Israel in the Passover ritual (Ex12:1). Just as the Israelites were to be ready to pass from slavery to freedom, so are the disciples to live in a state of alertness in order to recognize and accept the Passover which Jesus offers – from sin and death to forgiveness and life. The eastern lamp was often a cotton wick floating in a vessel of oil. The wick had to be kept trimmed at all times and the lamp replenished with oil.  Otherwise the light would go out. What Jesus teaches us through these comparisons is that our relationship with God the Father must be constantly replenished by our prayers, our Sacramental life, our reading of Holy Scripture, and our acts of charity. Since the Lord is committed to us in an unbreakable Covenant of love and fidelity, we must, assisted by His grace,  respond with equal commitment, no matter how difficult that may be. In His love for us, God always gives us the grace and strength to remain faithful, and He will reward our faithfulness.

Steadfast Faith and eternal vigilance: In the second part of today’s Gospel, Jesus exhorts his followers to be steadfast in their Faith and ever vigilant. He explains his point using three mini-parables.  The servants of a master were entrusted with the management of the household. In Jesus’ day, although stewards were slaves, they had almost unlimited power.   A trusted steward ran his master’s house and administered his estate. When his master was not at home, the steward was ever-vigilant. He prepared himself for his master’s return at any time of the day or night by always doing his duties faithfully. Jesus illustrates the same point using another mini-parable of the wise servants waiting for the return of their master after a wedding feast.

Jesus teaches us the need for constant vigilance, using yet another mini-parable, that of the thief and the treasure. We should not lose our treasure of Divine grace like the man who awoke one day to discover that a thief had stolen his wealth during the night. These parables are addressed to all believers to encourage “wakefulness” and preparedness. We must be vigilant like the servant in the parable waiting for his master’s unexpected return or like the wise homeowner who was well prepared for the unexpected break-in of a thief.   Since the time of our death is quite uncertain, we, too, must be ever ready to meet our Lord at any moment. He should find us carrying out our tasks of love, mercy, and service, rather than leaving things undone or half-done. He should also find us at peace with God, with ourselves and with our fellowmen (Eph 4:26).

Irreparable mistakes: Jesus then presents the parable of the unwise steward as a warning to us. The unwise steward made two mistakes.   (i) He said, “I will do what I like while my master is away. “Like him, we often forget that our Lord is always with us, and that we will be accountable to him on the day of reckoning. Misuse of an office for one’s own advantage or the abuse of others will bring about severe punishment, for the returning Lord will place that servant “with the unfaithful.”  (ii) He said, “I have plenty of time to put things right before the master comes.”  Nothing is as fatal to the accomplishment of a task as procrastination.  Jesus also warns us that knowledge and privilege bring responsibility with them. Today, looking back on two thousand years of Christian history, we find it difficult to expect Christ’s second coming during our lifetime. But we are sure to meet him at our death. Since the date and time of our death are also unknown to us, we should always be ready to give him an account of our lives.

Catechism of the Catholic Church on today’s Gospel theme: Christ calls us to anticipate his return. While we might not have the expectant  fervor of the early Christians, we are to still look forward to his arrival. At the end of the world, Jesus will return to judge each one according to one’s actions and one’s faith. Then, good will definitely triumph over evil. Until that time, we represent Christ to others by our actions and our Faith. Our example, then becomes part of our anticipation. (680, 681, 682)

Why do we look for Christ to return? In addition to the obvious, “Because Jesus said he would come back in glory as our Judge,’ there are many other reasons. One would be our devotion to him. Another would be our return to earth after death in the “resurrection of the dead.” As Christians, we believe not only in life after death; we also believe that God will reunite our souls with our bodies at the end of time. At the resurrection of the body, we will have a body like Christ’s, a “spiritual body.” (1016, 1017).

What kind of steward does God expects us to be? God expects Christians to be accountable, faithful, productive stewards of God’s grace and His gifts to us of creation, life, body, talents, skills, wealth and possessions. Negatively, in order that the Lord will find us responsible, faithful and productive stewards when he comes in glory, let us avoid some of these pitfalls and mistakes while awaiting the second coming of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior: First, complacency in that Jesus’ return is not yet imminent. Second, idleness or sloth–doing nothing.  Third, gross negligence in the performance of duties. Fourth, procrastination –always postponing to another day what can be done today. Fifth, abuse of power and position and squandering of resources. Sixth, the mañana habit– starting our work, but fading away and quitting; a lack of perseverance. (The name is taken from the quip, “Mañana may translate to “tomorrow,” but it really means “not today!”). Positively, let us religiously perform the tasks require of us and fulfill our role as stewards of God’s gifts and graces: First,n we need to protect, preserve and conserve all Gods’ gifts entrusted to us. Second, we need to develop to the maximum all the spiritual, material and physical resources entrusted to our care. Third, we need to communicate and share all the fruits and benefits rising from the gifts and talents we have preserved, developed and cultivated. Good stewards will be generously rewarded, while bad stewards will be severely punished and will suffer a great loss. The reward or punishment will be proportioned to the powers, gifts, opportunities, and knowledge of the offenders. As Scripture says: “everyone to whom much is given, of him will much be required”; cf. Mt 5:19-20; 7:21-22; 25:41-46; Jas 2:14. Whenever Jesus comes, will he find us responsible, faithful, productive stewards or lazy, abusive, unfaithful stewards? Can we give him a good account of our stewardship?

Life messages: 1We need to be vigilant and ready to face the Lord. One of the traditional means for remaining alert is prayer. The most important element in prayer is listening to God – an attitude of attention to the “tiny whispering sound” of the Lord (1 Kgs 19:11-12).   Such attentiveness demands that we set aside a quiet time every day during which we can tune our ears to the Divine sounds of love, harmony, and peace. Let us recall the words of the Book of Revelation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him and he with me” (3:20).

2) We need to wait for the Lord. “Waiting for Christ to return” means working for the coming of the Kingdom of God.  This means doing God’s will by rendering humble service to others by combating poverty, by ending the hatred that divides us, by establishing peace among individuals and nations, by curbing the pride that causes us to become confrontational, and by building social structures that respect the dignity of individual humans. We must wait for the Lord in our daily lives by learning to see Jesus in the least of our brothers and sisters.  In other words, we must be prepared to serve Jesus in whatever form he takes. What we frequently discover in “serving” other people is that God comes to us through them.

JOKES OF THE WEEK: 

1) Get ready for the Heavenly trip.  During his sermon, an evangelist asked all who wanted to go to Heaven to raise their hands. Everyone in the audience did so–except for one elderly man sitting near the front of the auditorium. The preacher pointed his finger at him and said, “Sir, do you mean to tell us that you don’t want to go to Heaven?”   “Sure, I do,” the old man answered, “but the way you put the question, I figured you were getting up a busload for tonight!’

2)“Who is in the Penthouse?” A holy pastor of a very large parish died and went to Heaven. He was convinced that he would get the penthouse in Heaven. ”If not I, then who? “he thought, not so humbly, to himself. Instead, he was given a   tiny one-bedroom apartment. Disappointed and not a little angry, the preacher asked St. Peter why he couldn’t have the penthouse. St. Peter replied, “We have lots of pastors and preachers like you here in Heaven, and the conveniences in your apartment surpass everything available to the rich and famous people on earth.” “Then who is in the penthouse?” the pastor demanded. “It’s a lawyer,” replied St. Peter. “What?! Why?!” Peter replied, “Until now, we haven’t had one here!”

For Pictures: Type O. T. XIX (C) homily under Google images and press the Enter Button of your Key board.

USEFUL WEBSITES OF THE WEEK 

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

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

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

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)    Catholic Information Network –www.cin.orgProvides excellent topical listings for Catholic sites on the web.

6)    Catholic-USA.com– www.seeq.comProvides links to thousands of official and authentic Catholic websites in the USA.

7)    New Advent Catholic Web:http://www.newadvent.org/(Resources on Catholic doctrine and teachings, as well as many other Catholic issues).

   Know your Bible

8) Jewish and Christian Bibles: A Comparative Chart
by Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.(http://catholic-resources.org/Bible/Heb-Xn-Bibles.htm)

9)  http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/14-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-new-book-zealot(A Muslim from Iran, professor in the U.S., labeling Christ a Zealot).

10)  Video presentation:   https://youtu.be/ZUB0lSzDBUo;

11)  Video presentation:   https://youtu.be/ZUB0lSzDBUo;

24 Additional anecdotes: 

   1)  Historical Surprises with trusting Faith in God and readiness for action: Who would have thought that relatively powerless persons could bring shifts in history? Gandhi, an unsuccessful lawyer, adapted the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount and the writings of Tolstoy and became the key to bringing independence to India, because he was ready. Rosa Parks, in refusing to move to the back of the bus in Montgomery, sparked the beginning of the Civil Rights movement of the ’50s and ’60s. She was a rather inauspicious person to take such a critical action, but she was ready. Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison. He was released to bring a shift in the politics of South Africa at a critical juncture when many thought, either that change would never come or if it did, it would be accompanied by a vast bloodbath. The transition to a more just society came relatively peacefully under his leadership after he was unexpectedly released from prison. Prison had prepared him, made him ready.  Mother Teresa,a rather unpretentious nun, has been canonized a Saint for her simple act of trying to rescue people from the streets who might otherwise die. She was ready! [William E. Keeney, Preaching the Parables(CSS Publishing); quoted from Kayala). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

2) The end of the world predictions: Hal Lindsey, in his book The Late Great Planet Earth, which has sold over 30 million copies, predicted in his book that 40 years after the establishment of the country of Israel Jesus would return to earth, and 7 years after that return, the Church would be raptured to Heaven. The problem is this: Israel was established in 1948. Christ should have returned in 1988 and the church should have been raptured in 1995. In 1997 Hal Lindsey was forced to change his predictions. In the late 80’s, the Russian president, Mikhail Gorbachev, was considered by some Bible prophecy pundits as the Antichrist. But Gorbachev, far from becoming a world dictator, turned out to be the single person most responsible for the demise of Soviet Russia. Televangelists Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson predicted that Russia was the great Gog and Magog mentioned in Ezekiel 18. When Russia collapsed in the early 90’s, losing its status as a world power, they were forced to change their positions. Harold Camping, president of Family Radio, predicted the world would end in September of 1994. Grant R. Jeffrey wrote a popular book called Armageddon stating that the year 2000 was the most likely date of the world’s end. – Now we know that all these predictions were false, but these false predictions remind us that we must all stay ready for Christ’s second coming by trying to do the will of God every day through loving service and daily reconciliation with God and God’s children, as suggested by today’s Gospel. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

3)   Harry Andersen was ready: The day will come when we get the message saying that the time has come for us to die. We are called to be ready for this time by having Faith and Hope in Christ. Harry Andersen was ready. He had terminal cancer, but he kept his sense of Faith and Hope alive. His pastor could tell he was ready because they talked about Christ’s death and Resurrection and what this event means for us when we die. In addition, a sign of Harry’s Faith and Hope was expressed in the humor he shared with his pastor. After Scripture reading and prayer, Harry told the pastor the story of a man who was dying of cancer. He was bedridden on the second floor of his house. He could smell the aroma of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven downstairs. He loved chocolate chip cookies. As a matter of fact, they were his favorite. He forced himself to get out of bed and crawled to the flight of steps leading downstairs. Each step brought new pain to his body, but he had to have some of those chocolate chip cookies. When he got to the bottom of the stairs, he crawled to the kitchen table and reached up for a cookie.       Suddenly, his wife appeared out of nowhere and slapped his hand with a spatula. “Why did you do that?” he cried out. “Those cookies are for your funeral reception,” she said. — Harry Andersen laughed out loud as he told the story. The pastor rolled on the floor with laughter at the unexpected ending. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

4) Stand ready: The movie West Side Story is a modern version of Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. The setting is New York City, and the hero and heroine are Tony and Maria, two young people who belong to different ethnic groups at war with each other. Nevertheless, Tony and Maria fall in love with each other. As the story reaches its climax, they are about to escape together from the hatred of the West Side when their dreams are destroyed by Tony’s tragic death in a senseless fight. — Tony never expected that night to be his last. He was anticipating his marriage to Maria and the new life they would enjoy together. He had even borrowed money to get them started. Tony was making plans to live not to die. But, as today’s Gospel points out, death often comes in sudden and unexpected ways. Jesus said to his disciples “You too must stand ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour, you do not expect” (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

5) “I have sent you many messengers.  According to an old fable, a man made an unusual agreement with Death. He told the Grim Reaper that he would willingly accompany him when it came time to die, but only on one condition – that Death would send a messenger well in advance to warn him. Weeks turned into months, and months into years. Then one bitter winter evening, as the man sat thinking about all his possessions, Death suddenly entered the room and tapped him on the shoulder. Startled, the man cried out, “You’re here so soon and without warning! I thought we had an agreement.” Death replied, “I’ve more than kept my part. I’ve sent you many messengers. Look in the mirror and you’ll see some of them.” — As the man complied, Death whispered, “Notice your hair! Once it was full and golden, now it is thin and white. Look at the way you tilt your head to listen to me because you can’t hear very well. Observe how close to the mirror you must stand to see yourself clearly. Yes, I’ve sent many messengers through the years. I’m sorry you’re not ready, but the time has come for you to leave.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 6) “To have Faith is to be sure of the things hoped for….”:When Alexander the Great came to the throne he was a worried man, as he was surrounded by enemies who wanted him dead, so he did his best to put down the rebellion in his own kingdom. However, while leading his army in battle he fell seriously ill. His physicians were scared to treat him because if he didn’t recover, they would be suspected of malpractice and put to death. Only one man, Philip, was ready to take the risk and prepared the medicine for the king. Alexander received a letter from an enemy of Philip stating that Philip had taken a bribe from a Persian king to poison his master. Alexander read the letter and slipped it under his pillow. When Philip entered his tent with the medicine Alexander took the cup of medicine and drank it, at the same time handing the letter to Philip. When Philip read the letter, he threw himself at his master’s feet, but Alexander assured him that he had complete confidence in Philip’s integrity. After three days Alexander was completely cured. — Given the fact that he had numerous enemies, Alexander was trusting against the odds. But his decision to take the medicine was not a shot in the dark. Although he couldn’t see what would happen, he believed in what he could see – Philip’s loyalty – and acted on that belief. (Denis McBride in Seasons of the Word). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

7) Look Busy, Be Busy: Today’s Gospel reading reminds me of the old story of the apparition on the corner of Main and Market in a busy city. It was Saturday morning when Fr. Pascucci heard a knock on the rectory door and an extremely excited lady said, “The Lord has appeared on the corner of Main and Market.” Father was in the process of trying to decide if she was suffering from stress or whatever, when a second person came running, “Father, Father, the Lord has appeared on the corner of Main and Market.” “When?” Fr. Pascucci asked. “He’s there right now,” they both answered. So Fr. Pascucci went down the block where a large crowed had formed, and sure enough, he saw Jesus. After a while the Lord left. Fr. Pascucci didn’t know what to do, so he called a Monsignor friend of his. His friend told him to call the Bishop. So Father Pascucci called the Bishop and told him the news, “The Lord has appeared on the corner of Main and Market. What should I do if He comes back?” The Bishop thought for a while and then told Fr. Pascucci he’d get back to him. The Bishop then called Rome, and, being an important Bishop, he got the Pope. “Holy Father,” he said, “One of my priests, Fr. Pascucci, reports that the Lord has appeared on the corner of Main and Market in his parish. He wants to know what he should do in case the Lord comes back.” After a few moments the Pope replied, “Tell Fr. Pascucci to look busy.” —  Good advice for us all! The Lord is coming back. How should we prepare? Not just by looking busy, but by being busy, doing good for others by humble service. (Fr. Pellegrino). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

)A trusted steward: That’s the kind of promise that our Lord has given us upon his return. He will sit us down at his banquet table and satisfy the needs of us –  His servants. Donald Trump, the famous businessman, has a net worth of 2 billion dollars. Wouldn’t it be nice to have him as a personal friend? There is a story about Trump’s generosity with a stranger. It is said that Trump’s limousine broke down on the Garden State Parkway on the way home from Atlantic City during a weekend excursion. An unemployed auto mechanic stopped to help, succeeded in getting the limo running and then refused to accept any payment for his services. Trump was so impressed that the next day he sent flowers to the mechanic’s wife and a certified letter stating that the man’s mortgage had been paid in full. — Trump was asked about the incident and refused to confirm or deny the story or say exactly what he did for the Good Samaritan mechanic. “I don’t do those kinds of things for publicity,” he said. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

9) Privilege carries responsibility: Three years ago, in a game against the Washington Nationals in San Francisco, Barry Bonds whacked his 756th homer, breaking the 33-year-old mark held by legendary player Hank Aaron. This was the 756th home run of Bonds’ career, breaking a record that had stood for 33 years. None of the legendary players of the game like Yogi Berra, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, or the previous record holder Hank Aaron could match it. But in spite of  the tarnishing of Bond’s miraculous achievement by allegations of steroid use, another baseball player still lives in people’s hearts.  It is Cal Ripken, the former baseball player for the Baltimore Orioles. He was a sports’ hero of two decades simply because he always showed up and gave his best and was ready for action at any time.  He received ten national awards in ten years including 1996 Male Athlete of the Year and 2001 All-Star Game Most Valuable Player. He learned the principle that faithfulness demands consistency, commitment, and hard work. He never missed a single game in sixteen years of playing baseball!  He earned the nickname “Iron Man” by playing in a record 2632 consecutive major league games. The string of successive games ran from May 30, 1982 to September 19, 1998.  — Perhaps, Ripken’s determination, and Barry Bonds’ failure to live an allegation-free career by avoiding steroids, remind us of today’s Gospel which tells us that the joy and privilege of being a son or daughter of God carries with it the more awesome responsibility of being faithful to God in our stewardship. The Gospel passage also reminds us that we should avoid the temptation to put off for tomorrow what Jesus expects of us today. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

10) “I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow.” A couple from Minneapolis decided to go to Florida to thaw out during one particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the very same hotel where they had spent their honeymoon twenty years earlier. Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult for them to coordinate their flights, so the husband left Minneapolis and flew to Florida on Thursday with his wife scheduled to fly down the next day. The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife. Accidentally, he left out one letter in her email address and without realizing it, sent the email message to the wrong person. Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned home from her husband’s funeral. He was a minister of many years who was called home to glory following a sudden heart attack. The widow decided to check her email since she was expecting messages of condolence from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she fainted. The widow’s son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor and was amazed by what he saw on the computer screen. To: My loving wife. Subject: I’ve arrived. I know you’re surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I’ve just arrived and have been checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was. P.S. It sure is hot down here! — The widow wasn’t ready for that message; it was a mistake. But the time will come when we get the message saying that the time has come for us to die, and it won’t be a mistake. We are called to be ready for this time by living out our Faith and Hope in Christ. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

11)  Readiness – Watchfulness: A U.S. Army officer told of the contrast in his pupils during two different eras of teaching at the artillery training school at Fort Sill, Oklahoma (Home of the Field Artillery). In 1958-60 the attitude was so lax that the instructors had a problem getting the men to stay awake to hear the lectures. During the 1965-67 classes, however, the men, hearing the same basic lectures, were alert and took copious notes. — What made the difference in the class of ‘65? They knew that in less than six weeks they would be facing the enemy in Vietnam. (Quoted from Kayala). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

12) Offering Ourselves to Serve: In 1972, NASA launched the exploratory space probe Pioneer 10. According to Leon Jaroff in Time, the satellite’s primary mission was to reach Jupiter, photograph the planet and its moons, and beam data to earth about Jupiter’s magnetic field, radiation belts, and atmosphere. Scientists regarded this as a bold plan, for at that time no earth satellite had ever gone beyond Mars, and they feared the asteroid belt would destroy the satellite before it could reach its target. But Pioneer 10 accomplished its mission and much, much more. Swinging past the giant planet in November 1973, Pioneer 10 was hurled by Jupiter’s immense gravity at a higher rate of speed toward the edge of the solar system. At one billion miles from the sun, Pioneer 10 passed Saturn. At some two billion miles, it hurtled past Uranus; Neptune at nearly three billion miles; Pluto at almost four billion miles. By 1997, twenty-five years after its launch, Pioneer 10 was more than six billion miles from the sun. And despite that immense distance, Pioneer 10 continued to beam back radio signals to scientists on Earth.  “Perhaps most remarkable,” writes Jaroff, “those signals emanate from an 8-watt transmitter, which radiates about as much power as a bedroom night light and takes more than nine hours to reach Earth.'” — The Little Satellite That Could was not qualified to do what it did. Engineers designed Pioneer 10 with a useful life of just three years. But it kept going and going. By simple longevity, its tiny 8-watt transmitter radio accomplished more than anyone thought possible. So, it is when we offer ourselves to serve the Lord. God can work even through someone with 8-watt abilities. God cannot work, however, through someone who quits.   (Quoted from Kayala). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

13) Plan for eternity too: We as Americans are very good at thinking about the future. We prepare for a myriad of WHAT IFS by the various insurance policies we hold: Life, Car, House, Boat, etc. We plan for retirement with various investments and funds. Some people even make all of their funeral arrangements, years in advance with a hometown funeral home even though they are in perfect health. We begin to plan for the education of our children even though it may be nearly 2 decades away. We save and save and save for summer vacations, or maybe even for the purchase of a vacation cottage or cabin. High school students are beginning to think about colleges earlier and earlier in their High School careers. Special SAT Prep classes are offered now for freshman and sophomores in order for them to get a head- start. College students start accumulating résumé data as soon as they enter college anticipating the days when they will be walking into interviews wearing their power colors, firmly shaking hands, and handing over an impressive résumé. — We are already good at thinking about the future. Jesus encourages us in today’s Gospel to take that skill and to extend it to the reality that He will indeed come again at the end of time. (Fr. Mazzone). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

14) Stand ready: Mary Adele lived all her life in small native communities. But after some years Mary discovered that her homeland was being used for low-level flying for testing weapons of war. For more than five years, Mary took an active part in the struggle to stop this low-level flying. She soon discovered that another battle was going on inside her — a battle with cancer. Mary Adele knew the seriousness of her illness, yet she did not fear death. When the Son of Man came for Mary Adele, she was ready and willing. This ordinary woman with great courage knew that her priorities had always been to do God’s will. She had lived up to them to the best of her ability. After a short life of forty-eight years Mary Adele had accumulated few material possessions. She did have, however, a wealth of treasured experiences of love and service which she cherishes today in Heaven. — Today’s Gospel spoke clearly to Mary and she responded with her life. As Christians we need to ask the same questions. What are our priorities? What’s most important in life? (Jim McCaffery in Living in Christ; quoted by Fr. Kayala). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

15) God searches for us: According to legend, Queen Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman in the world, was captured and carried away and became a victim of amnesia. She became a prostitute in the streets; she didn’t know her name or the fact that she came from royal blood. But back in her home her friends didn’t give up hope for her return. An old friend believed she was alive and went to look for her. He never lost faith. One day wandering through the streets he came to a waterfront and saw a wretched woman in tattered clothes with deep lines across her face. There was something about her that seemed familiar, so he walked up to her and said, “What is your name?” She gave a name that was meaningless to him. “May I see your hands?” he pursued. She held out her hands in front of her and the young man gasped, “You are Helen! You are Helen! Do you remember?” She looked up at him in astonishment. “Helen!” he yelled out. Then the fog seemed to clear. There was recognition in her face. The light came on! She discovered her lost self, put her arms around her old friend and wept. She discarded her tattered clothes and once more became the queen she was born to be. -– God searches for us in a similar way. He uses every method possible to look for us and to convince us that we are worthwhile to Him. In today’s Gospel from Luke we have a collection of sayings of Jesus all related to the theme of waiting for the Lord and being ready to serve him. (Anonymous; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 16) The ill-fated Air India Express Flight 812: 22nd May 2010, The Air India Express took off from Dubai and headed towards Mangalore (India), with 160 passengers and 6 crew members. The original reservation chart had the names of 169 people. Nine people on that list  had cancelled. One of the 160 passengers had just returned from India on 20th but was called back by her ailing husband. So she boarded this as the next available flight. Out of 166 people, 158 died when the plane overshot the runway and crashed, while landing. Only 8 passengers survived the crash. The rest were not so blessed. None of them knew that 21st night was his/her last night on the earth, that they would never see the sunrise again. They took the flight to their hometown with great dreams and fantastic plans for the future. There were men who were returning after three or four years of hard toil in the blazing deserts to join their dear ones. There were young men who boarded the flight with dreams of their bride, the wedding celebrations and the joys of building up a new family. All these dreams crashed along with the plane. — Today’s readings remind us too, to be ready to accept the call any day. (Fr. Bobby Jose). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

17) “I never have had clarity, but only trust: Long ago, when I spent a month working at the House of the Dying in Calcutta, I sought a sure answer to my future. On the first morning, I met Mother Teresa after Mass at dawn. She asked, “And what can I do for you?” I asked her to pray for me. “What do you want me to pray for?” I voiced the request I had borne thousands of miles: “Pray that I have clarity.” She said “No.” That was that. When I asked why, she answered that clarity was the last thing I was clinging to and had to let go of. When I commented that she herself had always seemed to have the clarity I longed for, she laughed: “I never have had clarity; what I’ve always had is trust. So, I will pray that you have trust.”
(Fr. John Kavanaugh; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

18)The Man Who Lost HimselfIn one scene of Osbert Sitwell’s novel The Man Who Lost Himself, the hero of the novel trails a man to Paris. He thinks he knows at what hotel the man is staying but is not sure. So, he devises a plan to find out without arousing anyone’s suspicion. He decides to give the hotel clerk his own name and ask if a man by that name is in the hotel. Then as the clerk checks through the register, he’ll watch over the shoulder for the other man’s name and room number. When he goes to the hotel and gives the room clerk his own name, to his utter surprise, the clerk doesn’t check the register. He simply says, “Yes, he is staying in room 40; he’s expecting you. I’ll have the bellhop take you to his room.” Well, the hero is flabbergasted, and he has no choice but to go, so he follows the bellhop to room 40. When he knocks at the door and it opens, he can hardly believe his eyes. There standing before him, is a man who is his exact double, except that he is greyer, and about twenty years older. — The man turns out to be the hero himself, twenty years into the future. The story is pure science fiction, but it contains an important truth: there is a person out there in the future waiting for us, that person is we ourselves as we will be 10 or 20 years from now. The question is what kind of a person will we be then? What will our life be then? The future is in our hands; right now, only Faith will tell. (Anonymous; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

19) Do not let Him find you sleeping:  Augustine, a man in the 5th century who became Bishop of the church and a saint in history, originally led a life of sin, giving himself over to whatever pleasures presented themselves. His mother had earnestly prayed for him his entire life that he would give his life to the service of Christ, but Augustine persisted in his sins until one day he sat with a friend on a bench weeping over the state of his life. It was at this moment that he heard a boy or girl–he says he does not know which it was–singing a song. The sound was coming from a neighboring house. The child was chanting over and over: “Pick it up, read it; pick it up; read it.” Here is what happened next in Augustine’s own words:

Immediately I ceased weeping and began most earnestly to think whether it was usual for children in some kind of game to sing such a song, but I could not remember ever having heard the like. So, damming the torrent of my tears, I got to my feet, for I could not but think that this was a divine command to open the Bible and read the first passage I should light upon. So I quickly returned to the bench where Alypius was sitting, for there I had put down the apostle’s book. I snatched it up, opened it, and in silence read the paragraph on which my eyes first fell: “Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lust thereof.” I wanted to read no further, nor did I need to. For instantly, as the sentence ended, there was infused in my heart something like the light of full certainty and all the gloom of doubt vanished away.” (Confessions,VIII, 12). — Had Christ returned before that fateful day, Augustine would have been caught unprepared. He would have been found asleep. From that moment on, however, Augustine was prepared. He was on the alert! He had awakened from his sins. (Brett Blair, www.Sermons.com; quoted by Fr. Kayala). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

20)  One day at a time. This phrase is a popular A.A. slogan. In researching this I came across this article. I imagine that this is the very first slogan that found its way into the original Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Can’t you just picture a frantic newcomer talking about how difficult he was finding sobriety? I can almost imagine the conversation: Newcomer: “What am I going to do? Next week I have to go to the office Christmas party – how will I ever stay sober there!” Old-timer: “Slow down! It’s not next week yet. Take it One Day at a Time! “And a slogan is born – because it’s got some real wisdom in it. For in truth, each one of us has only one day at a time – or one hour or one moment. In the first few rocky days of recovery, just abstaining for that moment, hour, etc. is truly all we can do. If we can’t do that, there’s no point in worrying about tomorrow, or next week, or whenever. — The One Day at a Time philosophy has benefits far beyond the early days in recovery. It can keep us grounded in the present – that Holy Instant that is so easy to miss in a busy and productive life. Unfortunately, though, some in 12 Step Groups have taken the philosophy to mean we shouldn’t plan. This is patently false. A major promise of the Program is to restore us to sanity, and that includes planning. We need to set goals, make appointments, and design our lives. But planning doesn’t mean we have to leave One Day at a Time behind –the trick is to watch for expectations. (Derrick Tuper). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

22) Whispering God: There is a story told about a young man and an old preacher. The young man had lost his job and didn’t know which way to turn. So, he went to see the old preacher. Pacing about the preacher’s study, the young man ranted about his problem. Finally, he clenched his fist and shouted, “I’ve begged God to say something to help me. Tell me, Preacher, why doesn’t God answer?” The old preacher, who sat across the room, spoke something in reply – something so hushed, it was indistinguishable. The young man stepped across the room. “What did you say?” he asked. The preacher repeated himself, but again in a tone as soft as a whisper. So, the young man moved closer until he was leaning on the preacher’s chair. “Sorry,” he said. “I still didn’t hear you.” With their heads bent together, the old preacher spoke once more. “God sometimes whispers,” he said, “so that we will move closer to hear Him.” This time the young man heard, and he understood. — We all want God’s voice to thunder through the air with the answer to our problem. But God’s is the still, small voice… the gentle whisper. Perhaps there’s a reason. Nothing draws human focus quite like a whisper. God’s whisper means I must stop my ranting and move close to Him, until my head is bent together with His. Then, as I listen, I will find my answer. Better still, I find myself closer to God. Today is the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Scripture Readings of today speak of God’s kindness and His saving presence amidst trials and afflictions. (Fr. Albrt Lakara). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

23) “In Secret … Offering Sacrifice”: Despite long years of bondage in Egypt, the Israelites continued to worship as God had commanded them. As today’s first reading says, “In secret the holy children of the good were offering sacrifice and putting into effect with one accord the divine institution.“ How many times over the Christian centuries have persecuted Catholics offered in secret the holy sacrifice of the Mass, that indispensable source of their spiritual nourishment? They took that risk in France during the Anti-Christian French Revolution. They took that risk during the Mexican persecution of the 1920’s and 1930’s. They took that risk in the Nazi Concentration camps of World War II. Whenever there was a priest present among them, the faithful somehow managed to obtain a little bread and a little wine and “put into effect with one accord the divine institution.”

In 1945, shortly after the Allies liberated the prisoners of the infamous Nazi Camp at Dachau, an American chaplain, Fr. Daniel A. Lanning, visited the place and interviewed some of its Catholic former inmates. He later published an article in which he related what they had told him of their secret wartime Masses. The prisoners had less trouble securing bread and wine than in getting a chalice and altar stone. One of the men handy with a knife whittled out a wooden chalice and fitted into its cup a small wine glass. Another picked up a flat stone on the grounds for the altar. In those days, however, church law said that an altar should have sealed into it the relics of the martyrs. One of the men carved a hollow into the surface of the stone, and another asked a guard to bring him some dust of some priests who had been cremated at the camp after Nazi experimental scientists had used them as “guinea pigs.” The priest victims might not have been canonized but they were surely martyrs; so the Catholics sealed their ashes into the makeshift altar. —  How blest we are in America! Mass is available to us not in secret but in public; not on rare occasions but every Sunday and often every weekday. Perhaps we are even too fortunate. The persecuted appreciate like nobody else what an irreplaceable treasure is the Mass. (Father Robert F. McNamara). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

24) Sandwich generation: If you do a computer search for the phrase “Sandwich Generation,” you will find over 1.5 million sites from which to choose. The term refers to a growing reality – many couples are discovering for the first time the concerns and the joys of “becoming sandwiched.” Suddenly my elderly parents (or grandparents) need home care, and a younger set of children or grandchildren also need my care. It is only natural to be concerned initially about a sudden change of events that produces this situation. When you are the family member with the happy chore of this double-duty, you know more than anyone the joy of self-giving and the concern that comes with added responsibilities – at both financial and energy levels. — Today’s Gospel (Lk 12:32-48) speaks very simply to this reality, and to every kind of activity in life, whether family or career. We are called to do our assigned tasks as best we can, and also continue to be compassionate (becoming a neighbor to anyone in need, especially elderly parents). This is what the “Gospel servant” is doing – all that is expected of him in his particular assigned function. When the Lord returns, he wants to find his servants “busy” – meaning, carrying out their assigned duties without grumbling, and without abusing anyone or anything, and having a special care for those in need. Being “watchful” for the Master’s return is simply a matter of a loving daily routine. This includes regular daily prayer; growth in knowledge of spiritual and moral truths; a fundamental care for those in need (especially family members); and a hopeful expectation about the Master’s arrival. If we are not watchful – meaning, if we are lax in fulfilling our daily tasks and do not take precautions to know what is morally right and live accordingly, then the thief will find an easy entrance into our hearts and not only steal our real treasure (i.e., our authentic relationship with the indwelling Trinity), but leave behind a life in shambles. (Father Robert F. McNamara). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/). L/22

“Scriptural Homilies”Cycle C (No. 46) 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

August 1-6 weekday homilies

August 1-6: Aug 1 Monday (St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop, Doctor of the Church):https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-alphonsus-liguoriMatthew 14:13-21: 13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 As he went ashore, he saw a great throng; and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a lonely place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; and taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. (Cfr also MK 6:30-44, LK 9: 10-17, JN 6: 1-14)Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections.

The context: Today’s Gospel describes Jesus’ miraculous feeding of a great multitude. The story is told in all four Gospels and serves as Jesus’ way of introducing to those listening a merciful and providing God. This miraculous feeding was meant to remind people of God’s provision of manna in the wilderness and to foreshadow the true Heavenly Bread which Jesus would offer those who listened, believed, and chose to receive. Moses, Elijah, and Elisha had all fed people without the benefit of resources. The present miracle resembles particularly the one performed by Elisha in 2 Kgs 4:42-44.

Jesus took pity on the growing physical hunger of his listeners as they listened and challenged the apostles to feed them. They brought him what they had — five loaves of bread and two dried fish. Jesus took these, said a prayer of blessing, broke them and asked the apostles to distribute them. Since it was mid-April, springtime in Israel, the people could sit comfortably on green grass in groups of hundreds and fifties as Jesus asked. After serving a sumptuous meal which satisfied everyone’s hunger, the apostles collected twelve wicker baskets filled with leftover bread and fish pieces, a vivid demonstration of God’s generosity in giving.

Life messages: 1) We may not be able to feed the hungry millions in the world, but today’s Gospel challenges us to do our humble share in alleviating hunger and poverty in our neighborhood. God will amplify our little contributions and reward our good will and generosity. 2) Let us be thankful to Jesus for feeding us spiritually with the word of God and with the Holy Eucharist. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Aug 2 Tuesday: (St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop);https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-eusebius-of-vercelli; St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-peter-julian-eymardMatthew 14:22-36: 22 Then he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is aghost!” And they cried out for fear. 27 But immediately he spoke to them, saying, “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.” 28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; 30 but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32..36 Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections.

The context: The event presented by today’s Gospel is the scene immediately following Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish. Sensing the danger of having the people make him leader of a revolt, Jesus promptly instructed his apostles to leave the place by boat and, after dispersing the crowd, went alone to the mountain to pray.

A double miracle on the sea: When the apostles in the boat were several furlongs away from the shore, they faced an unexpected storm on the sea caused by the hot wind of the desert rushing into the Sea of Galilee through the gaps in the Golan Heights. Recognizing the danger, Jesus walked on the stormy waters toward the boat. Jesus calmed the frightened disciples as He approached the boat, allowed Peter to do a trial walk on water, then saved the apostle from drowning when he panicked. As soon as Jesus brought Peter into the boat the storm ceased miraculously. The apostles recognized the presence of God in their midst and they all worshipped Jesus.

Life messages: 1) Let us approach Jesus with strong Faith in his ability and willing availability to calm the storms in our lives and in the life of the Church. Church History shows us how Jesus saved his Church from storms of persecution in the first three centuries, storms of heresies in the fifth and sixth centuries, storms of moral degradation and the Protestant reformation movement in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and storms of sex abuse with scandals among the clergy in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. 2) Let us ask Jesus to protect us when we face storms of strong temptations, storms of doubts about our religious beliefs, and storms of fear, anxiety (as in the present Covid-19 pandemic), and worries about the future, in our personal lives. 3) Experiencing Jesus’ presence in our lives, let us confess our Faith in him and call out for his help and protection. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Aug 3 Wednesday: Mt 15. 21-28:[21] And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. [22] And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.” [23] But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and begged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying after us.” [24] He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” [25] But she came and knelt before Him, saying, “Lord, help me.” [26] And He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” [27] She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” [28] Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Jesus withdrew to Tyre and Sidon to escape persecution from Herod and from the Jewish authorities and to concentrate on training the apostles. Tyre and Sidon were Mediterranean coastal cities in Lebanon, outside the territory of Herod Antipas. Today’s Gospel episode speaks of the expansive and universal nature of the “Kingdom of God,” in contrast with the theory that salvation was offered first to the Jews and through them alone to the rest of the world. In fact, God included all nations in His plan for salvation, and He blessed all the families of the earth in Abraham (Gn 17:1-5). In today’s Gospel episode, Jesus demonstrates that salvation was meant for the Gentiles as well as for the Jews by healing the daughter of a Gentile woman as a reward for the mother’s strong, trusting Faith, unwavering trust, perseverance, and humility. Thus, Jesus shows that God’s mercy and love are available to all who call out to Him in Faith.

Life messages: 1) We need to persist in prayer with trustful confidence. Although the essential parts of prayer are adoration, thanksgiving, and contrition, the prayer of petition plays a big part in our daily lives. Christ Himself has told us to ask him for these needs: “Ask and you shall receive.” Asking with fervor and perseverance proves that we have the “great Faith” we need to receive what Christ wants to grant us in response to our requests. We must realize and remember, however, that we do not always get exactly what we ask for. Rather, God gives us what He knows we really need, what He wants for us, and what is really best for us. If our prayer is sincere and persevering, we will always get an answer — one which is better than what we asked for.

2) We need to pull down our walls of separation and share in the universality of God’s love: Very often we set up walls which separate us from God and from one another. Today’s Gospel reminds us that God’s love and mercy are extended to all who call on Him in Faith and trust, no matter who they are. It is therefore fitting that we should pray and work sincerely so that the walls which our pride, intolerance, fear, and prejudice have raised may crumble. . (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Aug 4 Thursday: (St. John Vianney, Priest): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-john-vianney : Mt 16: 13-23:13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. 21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/2

The context: Today’s Gospel passage is the first of the three times when Jesus foretold His passion, death and Resurrection. The passage consists of two sections, the Messianic confession of Peter and Jesus’ prophecy of a swiftly approaching passion and death.

Jesus as the Christ, our Lord and Savior: Today’s Gospel explains the basis of our Faith as the acceptance of Jesus as the Christ, our Lord and Savior. It also tells us that Christ Jesus became our Savior by His suffering, death, and Resurrection. This famous profession of Faith by Peter took place at Caesarea Philippi, at present called Banias, twenty-five miles northeast of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus realized that if the apostles did not know Jesus’ real identity, then the whole of the entire Messianic ministry, suffering, death, and Resurrection would be useless. Hence, the Teacher decided to ask a question in two parts. 1) “What is the public opinion about Me?” 2) “What is your personal opinion?” Their answer to the first question was: “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Peter volunteered to answer the second question saying: “You are the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God.“ Jesus confirmed Peter’s insight as a special revelation from God. “No mere man has revealed this to you, but my Heavenly Father.”

Life message:s1) Let us experience Jesus as our Lord and Savior and surrender our life to God We experience Jesus as personal Savior by listening to God’s Word through the daily, meditative reading of the Bible, by talking to Him through daily, personal, and family prayers, frequenting Holy Mass and offering Jesus our lives on the altar, being reconciled with God every night, asking His pardon and forgiveness for our sins and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation whenever we are in mortal sin) and by receiving the strengthening power of God’s grace through the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist. 2) The next step is the surrender of our lives to Jesus by rendering humble and loving service to others with the strong conviction that Jesus is present in every person. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Aug 5 Friday: (Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/dedication-of-saint-mary-major-basilicaMatthew 16: 24-28: 24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? 27 For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

The context: After Peter made his famous declaration of Faith in Jesus as God and Messiah, Jesus plainly warned his disciples about his approaching suffering, death and Resurrection. But the apostles were unwilling to accept such a fate for their Master. Peter even took Jesus aside and prayed, “God forbid, Lord! This must never happen to you!” It was after Peter’s protest that Jesus declared three conditions of the discipleship which he expects from his followers. We hear them in today’s Gospel.

Conditions of Christian discipleship: 1) Deny yourself 2) Take up your cross. 3) Follow me.

Denying oneself means cleansing the heart of all bad habits and evil tendencies and evicting the self, with its selfish thoughts and desires from one’s heart. It also means enthroning God in one’s cleansed heart and surrendering one’s life to God’s service by serving others.

Carrying the cross means willingly accepting the pain involved in serving others sacrificially. It also means spending our time, talents, wealth, and health for others until it hurts us. Cross-bearing is also our sacrificial sharing of God’s blessings with others. Further, it includes our doing penance to make reparation for our sins and to grow in self-control. Carrying one’s cross becomes easier and more meritorious when we accept life’s crosses as loving gifts given by a loving Father. The comparison of our light crosses with the heavy crosses given to others should make us grateful. Finally, we should carry our crosses, praying for Heavenly strength.

“Follow me” means the disciple should be ever ready to obey as Jesus, the Incarnate son of God directs him or her through the Bible as interpreted by the Church and through the teaching authority (Magisterium) the Church guided by the Holy Spirit.

Life message: We need to love the cross, wear the cross, and transform the God-given crosses of our life into the instruments of our salvation by working with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Aug 6 Saturday: (The Transfiguration of the Lord): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/transfiguration-of-the-lordThe Transfiguration of the Lord: Lk 9: 28-36:

28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, and when they wakened, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah” — not knowing what he said. 34 As he said this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silence and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen. Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

The context: In the Transfiguration story in today’s Gospel, Jesus is revealed as a glorious figure, superior to Moses and Elijah. The primary purpose of Jesus’ Transfiguration was to allow him to consult his Heavenly Father and ascertain His plan for His Son’s suffering, death and Resurrection. The secondary aim was to make his chosen disciples aware of his Divine glory, so that they might discard their worldly ambitions and dreams of a conquering, political Messiah and might be strengthened in their time of trial. On the mountain, Jesus is identified by the Heavenly Voice as the Son of God. Thus, the Transfiguration narrative is a Christophany, that is, a manifestation or revelation of who Jesus really is. Describing Jesus’ Transfiguration, the Gospel gives us a glimpse of the Heavenly glory awaiting those who do God’s will by putting their trusting Faith in Him.

Life messages:(1)The “transfiguration” in the Holy Mass is the source of our strength: In each Holy Mass, the bread and wine we offer on the altar become “transfigured” – more properly, transubstantiated — into the living body and blood of the crucified, risen and glorified Jesus. Just as Jesus’ Transfiguration strengthened the Apostles in their time of trial, each Holy Mass should be our source of Heavenly strength against temptations, and our renewal of Christian living.

(2) Each time we receive one of the Sacraments, we are transformed: For example, Baptism transforms us into sons and daughters of God and heirs of Heaven. Confirmation makes us temples of the Holy Spirit and warriors of God. By the Sacrament of Reconciliation, God brings back the sinner to the path of holiness.

(3)A message of encouragement and hope: In moments of doubt and during our dark moments of despair and hopelessness, the thought of our future transfiguration in Heaven will help us to reach out to God and to listen to His consoling words: “This is My beloved Son; listen to Him.” Let us share the glory of His Transfiguration with all we encounter. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

O. T. XVIII (C) Sunday homily (July 31st Sunday)

OT 18- C- [July 31] Eight-minute homily in one page (L/22)

Introduction: The common theme of today’s readings is the futility of the greedy acquisition of wealth and power because everything and everyone is “here today and gone tomorrow.” So, the meaning of life cannot be found in selfishly hoarding wealth and possessions, but only in sharing these with the needy.

Scripture lessons: The first reading, taken from Ecclesiastes, reminds us that the greedy acquisition and hording of material wealth is useless because when the hoarder dies, he goes to eternity empty-handed, and his heir gains, and perhaps squanders, his riches. In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 90), the Psalmist challenges us to listen to God and allow Him to soften our hearts that we may share our blessings with others. The Psalm Response urges, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Ps 95:8). In the second reading, Paul directs our attention to lasting, Heavenly treasures and warns that greed (pleonexia) for wealth and influence is idolatry. He advises, “Put to death, your parts that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry” (Col 3:5). In today’s Gospel, Jesus, telling the parable of the foolish rich man, warns us against all types of greed, because greed takes our life’s focus away from God and away from serving and loving Him in Himself and in other people. Jesus says that God calls the greedy rich man a fool because the man thought he would not die soon and that he was not accountable for the way he used his riches. Besides, the rich man forgot the fact that his wealth had been lent to him by God for sharing with the needy. Jesus also warns us that our eternal life does not consist of earthly possessions (Lk 12:15), which we should share to gain eternal life.

Life messages: 1) We are invited to share our blessings with others. The parable of the rich fool gives us a warning as well as an invitation. It reminds us that our possessions are merely lent to us by God, and that we are accountable for their use. We must be generous in sharing our time, our treasure, and our talents in Christian stewardship. Even if we are poor financially, we may be blessed with intelligence, good will, a sense of humor, or the ability to console, encourage, inspire, support, and help others. God expects us to give our thanks to Him for all these blessings by sharing them with others for His glory. The Old Testament Scriptures are clear about tithing – giving 10% of our income for God’s cause and for helping the needy. God never allows tithers to regret their generosity.

2) Let us control our greed. Our greed takes different shapes and forms. For some, it may be the desire for the approval and praise of others. For others, it is the uncontrolled desire for power, control, or fame. For still others, greed takes the form of excessive and sinful indulgence in eating, drinking, gambling, drugs, or sexual activities. Greed also turns our life away from God and away from loving and serving Him in Himself and in other people. As greed directs all our energy and attention to fulfilling the self, its objects become our false gods, and they will consume us, unless we become rich in the sight of God.

OT XVIII [C] (July 31) Eccl 1:2; 2:21-23; Col 3:1-5, 9-11; Lk 12:13-21

Homily Starter Anecdotes# 1: Candle in the Wind and Lighthouse in the Storm:The wedding ofPrincess Diana (Lady Diana Spencer), in 1981, was watched by 750 million people. She died in an accident at 36 on August 31, 1997. Her funeral in 1997 was viewed by 2.5 billion people. At her funeral, singer Elton John brought tears to the eyes of hundreds of mourners in Westminster Abbey when he sang: “Candle in the Wind.” (Watch: https://youtu.be/cxyf1caYbbU & Lyrics: http://www.letssingit.com/elton-john-lyrics-candle-in-the-wind-princess-diana-tribute-tf412h4) Interestingly, this song – with the line “Goodbye, Norma Rose” – was originally written for an equally glamorous woman, Norma Jeanne, who assumed the stage name ‘Marilyn Monroe’ and died at 36 on August 5, 1962, due to an overdose of sleeping pills. (https://youtu.be/7eIl_b5nHcE & https://youtu.be/w-M8Hi3vNKM). Diana and Marilyn share many things in common – both were beautiful and wealthy, photographed by paparazzi worldwide, yet, unhappy in marriage or relationships, and both died tragically in August at a young age – young icons snuffed out like candles in the wind. Ecclesiastes gives bad news to those who base their hopes on the perishable wealth and goods of this world, offering us a stark message: vanity of vanities, all is vanity! All of human life is ultimately meaningless if viewed in itself, apart from God. Five days after Princess Diana died there was another “going home,” this one for Mother Teresa (canonized as St. Teresa of Calcutta) who died on October 4, 1997 at 86). She was a “wise woman,” spending her whole life sharing Christ’s selfless, caring, agape love with the down-trodden in the streets of Calcutta. God blessed her sharing love by increasing her 12-member Missionaries of Charity congregation to 3000 serving the poor and the discarded in 100 countries. (Watch Mother Teresa’s simple funeral: https://youtu.be/cVreDCb3w0s) (Francis Gonsalves in Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

# 2: Sad fate of nine richest and most powerful men: Legend has it that in 1923, a meeting of America’s most powerful men took place at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago.  Attending the meeting were the following nine financiers and power brokers: the president of America’s largest steel company, the president of America’s largest utility company, the president of America’s largest gas company, the president of the New York Stock Exchange, the president of the Bank of International Settlements, the nation’s greatest wheat speculator, the nation’s greatest bear and speculator on Wall Street, the head of the world’s greatest monopoly, a member of President Harding’s cabinet. It was said to have been both a celebration of their success as well as an opportunity to plan their future exploits and dominance.  These were the captains of their respective industries and some of the most successful businessmen of the era.

But how did things turn out for these distinguished gentlemen?  Within 25 years, all of these great men had met a horrific end to their careers or their lives: The president of the largest steel company, Charles Schwab, died a bankrupt man; the president of the largest utility company, Samuel Insull, died penniless; the president of the largest gas company, Howard Hobson, suffered a mental breakdown, ending up in an insane asylum; the president of the New York Stock Exchange, Richard Whitney, had just been released from prison; the bank president, Leon Fraser, had taken his own life; the wheat speculator, Arthur Cutten, died penniless; the head of the world’s greatest monopoly, Ivar Krueger the “match king”, also had taken his life; and the member of President Harding’s cabinet, Albert Fall, had just been given a pardon from prison so that he could die at home. The seventh Jessie Livermore, the eighth Ivor Krueger and the ninth Leon Fraser, all committed suicide. As for the Wall Street Bear, Jesse Lauriston Livermore, famous speculator in the stock and commodities markets, his end is perhaps the most tragic of all.  A week after Thanksgiving in 1940, Jesse walked into the Sherry-Netherland Hotel in New York, had two drinks at the bar while scribbling something in his notebook, then proceeded to the cloak room where he sat on a stool and shot himself in the head.  He was 62 and left behind $5 million, down from the $100 million fortune he had amassed just ten years earlier. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/joshuabrown/2012/07/25/the-nine-financiers-a-parable-about-power/?sh=3e59e9e13126) . Here is a striking proof of what Jesus tells us in today’s gospel: a man who was rich wanted to be richer, but the Lord called him “fool” and called him from this life before he could enjoy his riches. (Msgr. Arthur Tonne). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

 # 3: “Generous people are rarely mentally ill.” Dr. Carl Menninger, the world-renowned psychiatrist, was talking on one occasion to an unhappy but wealthy patient. He asked the patient what he was going to do with so much money. The patient replied, “Just worry about it, I suppose.” Menninger asked, “Well, do you get that much pleasure from worrying about it?” “No,” responded the patient, “but I get terrified when I think of giving some of it to somebody else.” Then Dr. Menninger went on to say something quite profound. He said, “Generous people are rarely mentally ill.” (David A. Renwick, http://www.2preslex.org/S020217.htm.) — I didn’t say that. Dr. Carl Menninger said it. “Generous people are rarely mentally ill.” He is right. People who cannot share with others have deep-seated problems. If your level of giving to the work of God and the service of others requires no sacrifice, then you have Jesus locked in a cupboard, and he is not really living in every part of your life. In today’s Gospel Jesus’ parable, God calls such people “fools.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

# 4: Needs and wants: In an effort to lead her young charges on an exploration of their values, a second-grade teacher gave the following assignment to her class. Take a large piece of poster paper or cardboard and draw a line down the center. On the left side of the paper, write “Needs”; on the right side, put “Wants”. Then, either draw or cut pictures out of old magazines, which illustrate your needs and wants. A few days later, when the assignment was due, the classroom was filled with colorful and candid reminders of the materialistic matrix within which Christianity is challenged to make an impact. Little fingers and small hands had cut out images of video game systems, giant-screen color televisions, ten-speed bicycles, as well as ice-cream sundaes, cookies and a large assortment of candies. Unfortunately, many of these pictures were posted on the side of the poster labeled, “Needs”! Obviously, the teacher had her work cut out for her!– To distinguish needs from wants, and then to discern true needs from false and frivolous ones, is no easy task; it is, in fact, a lifelong process which requires continued evaluation. Had the same assignment been given to a classroom of adolescents or to a group of adults, would the results have been different? Or would the pictures simply have reflected the tastes and appetites of older people for sports cars, designer and name brand clothing, speed boats, luxurious homes, and the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Would the more mature person also have skewed the line between needs and wants? — Questions such as these are put before the gathered assembly today as the selected readings prompt a careful consideration of the integrity and authenticity of personal and communal values. (Sanchez Files) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

Introduction: The common theme of today’s readings is the futility of the greedy acquisition of wealth and power because everything and everyone is “here today and gone tomorrow.” Therefore, the meaning of life cannot be found in possessions and “pleonexia” (which literally means “the desire to have more and more”) but in the sharing of time, treasure, and talents with the needy.  

Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading, taken from Ecclesiastes, reminds us that the greedy acquisition and  selfish hoarding of goods are useless because when the hoarder dies, he goes to eternity empty-handed, and his heir gains, and perhaps squanders, his riches. In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 90), the Psalmist challenges us to listen to God and allow Him to soften our hearts that we may share our blessings with others. The Psalm Response urges, “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts” (Ps 95:8), while the verses remind us that human life passes swiftly on earth,  and must end in death and the return of the body dust. In the second reading, Paul directs our attention to lasting Heavenly treasures and warns that greed for wealth and influence is idolatry.  He advises the Colossians, “Put to death, your parts that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry” (Col 3:5). In today’s Gospel, Jesus, telling the parable of the foolish rich man, warns the disputing brothers, and us, against all types of greed, because greed takes our life’s focus away from God and away from serving and loving Him in Himself and in other people. Jesus says God called the greedy rich man a fool because the man thought he would not die soon and that he was not accountable for his riches. He forgot that his wealth had been lent to him by God for sharing with the needy. Jesus also warns us that our eternal life does not consist of earthly possessions (Lk 12:15), so we should share our possessions to gain eternal life.

First reading: Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2: 21-23, explained:  The book of Ecclesiastes (also called Qoheleth), is the most pessimistic and cynical book in the whole Bible. The author claims that he has “seen all things that are done under the sun” and found them to be “a chase after wind” (Eccl 1:14).  He expresses a ruthlessly honest pessimism about the prospects for finding true happiness in the greedy acquisition of earthly goods, because the greedy hoarder  must leave everything behind at his death, and his heir may squander his hard-earned wealth. Even while he is alive, wealth and power give man worry and sleeplessness. “All his days sorrow and grief are his occupation; even at night his mind is not at rest” (Eccl 2:23).  Hence, greed and selfishness are not worth the effort.  Thus, the statement, “Vanity of vanities, all things are vanity!(Eccl 1:2), is a blunt summation of Qoheleth’s disturbingly candid skepticism, underscoring the transitory and fleeting character of life. According to an old legend, Alexander the Great (356-323 BC), commanded that when he died and was carried forth to his grave, his hands should not be wrapped in the burial clothes, as was the custom, but should be left outside so that all might see them, and might see also, that they were empty. In the brief span of his thirty-three years, Alexander had conquered and possessed the riches of an empire that extended from Greece to India. Yet, in death, his hands were empty; none of his wealth could survive the passage through death.

Second reading: Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11 explained:  We are living in a culture that caters to our desire for immediate gratification. It encourages us to amass possessions, and in many ways, it thrives on deceit. Hence, Paul directs our attention to those treasures that endure, warning that greed for wealth and influence is idolatry and that the Faith-life of a believer requires Christ as its first priority. Baptism is our participation in the death and Resurrection of Jesus.  Paul reminds us that, since we have been raised with Christ through Baptism and are going in a Heavenly direction, we must “put to death immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry” (Col 3:5). The desires of the human heart cannot be satisfied by what is here today and gone tomorrow because we have been made for “what is above”(Col 3:1). For Paul, the whole process of joining Christ in glory revolves around “taking off our old self with its practices and putting on the new self, which is being renewed…, in the image of its Creator(Col 3:9-10).  Although power, influence, and possessions come and go, our new self will endure because it is grounded in the power of the risen Lord.

Gospel exegesis:  The greed behind a property dispute: The Jewish rabbis were often asked to settle disputes among their countrymen. They judged cases using the Mosaic Law as given in the Torah – the Jewish book of civil, religious, and liturgical laws.   In matters concerning the distribution of property in a family with two children, the Torah (Dt 21:15-17, Nm 27:1-11, 36:7-9), granted two-thirds of the wealth to the elder son and one-third to the younger. If there were several sons, the first-born would receive double the inheritance of his younger brothers and would serve as the patriarch of the family and executor of his father’s estate.  In the case related in today’s Gospel, either the older brother had delayed the partition of property, or the younger brother was greedy. Jesus refused to be an arbitrator in this property dispute between two brothers because he had come to bring people to God by preaching the Good News of God’s forgiving and sharing love.  But he used the occasion as a “teachable moment,” instructing the audience on the folly of greed and selfishness, while contradicting the Epicurean motto: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

Why did Jesus say God called the rich man a fool? Traditional Jewish good works included prayer, fasting, and alms-giving. Blessed with an excellent harvest, the rich landowner in Jesus’ parable did the opposite of giving alms. Instead of thanking God and sharing with the hungry, he planned to give himself over to a pagan orgy – “eat, drink and be merry.” Jesus said God called him a fool because:

1) He forgot God and failed to become “rich in what matters to God. He forgot the truth that God was the real owner of all his possessions and blessings, and he was only God’s steward or manager. Instead, he was focused on himself and was selfish to the core. He liberally used the “aggressively possessive” pronouns “I” (six times) and “my” (five times). He was possessed by his possessions, instead of possessing them. In the process, he evicted God from his heart and never thought to thank God for having blessed him with a rich harvest. He was not thankful to God for His blessings; instead, he considered them as solely the fruit of his own labor. He also failed in his stewardship duties – the returning to God of His portion in paying his tithe. He did not recognize his possessions as on loan from God, given to him to share with others.  He was taken up with worries or anxieties about his wealth.  He was starving to death spiritually in the midst of God’s abundance.   Yet, though he may have prayed the beautiful prayer in the book of Proverbs: “Give me neither poverty nor riches but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” (Prv 30:8-9), he did not change.

2) He forgot others in need: As God had been ousted from his heart, that heart became narrow and constricted with no space left for others in it.  He also forgot that God had given him everything he had – the land, the good growing season and the excellent harvest – not for himself alone but for all those around him who were in need. Hence, the rich man gave no thought to the poor workers who had labored in his field, nor to his poor relatives, nor to the poor people in his community. In doing this, he turned his back on his Jewish heritage, for the Torah demands that gleanings from a harvest be left for the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the immigrant (Lv 19:9-10; 23:22; Dt 24:21). The rich man in the parable did not care about others who were suffering. He did not show any regard for the hurting and needy. He did not voice any concern for keeping the community of which he was a part safe from unexpected droughts, famines, or plagues. The richer the man grew, the greedier he became, as suggested by the Roman proverb: “Money is like sea water; the more a man drinks the thirstier he becomes.” The rich man was called a fool because he did not consider sharing his wealth. In other words, he left other people out of his possessions. St. Gregory the Great taught that when we care for the needs of the poor, we are giving them what is theirs, not ours. We are not just performing works of mercy; we are paying a debt of justice. Life does not consist in possessions but in sharing what we possess with others. The goods of the earth have been given to everyone.

3) He forgot that he was going to die and never saw beyond this world.  He forgot that he was going to die, sooner or later. It was as he was planning to build new barns and warehouses to store his wealth, that he heard the words all creatures will hear one day from their Creator: “This night your life will be demanded of you!”  He left his soul out of his thoughts and, hence, left eternity out of his plans. This, as Jesus warns us in the parable, is folly.

Life messages: 1) We are invited to share our blessings with others. The parable of the rich fool gives us a warning as well as an invitation. It reminds us that our possessions are merely lent to us by God, and that we are accountable for their use.  We must be generous in sharing our time, our treasure, and our talents, the three elements of Christian stewardship.  Every one of us is rich in one thing or another.  The parable instructs us to share these gifts. Even if we are poor financially, we may be blessed with intelligence, good will, a sense of humor or the ability to encourage, inspire, and support others. God expects us to give our thanks to Him for all these blessings by sharing them with others for His glory. Giving God the first fruits of our labors, not the meager leftovers, is a traditional way of becoming “rich in what matters to God.” The Old Testament Scriptures are clear about tithing – 10% — and that’s the top 10%, not the last 10%. God never allows tithers to regret their generosity.  Not only are tithers better off economically, but also they feel a sense of personal satisfaction.

2) Let us control our greed.  Our greed takes different shapes and forms. For some, it may be the desire for the approval and praise of others.  For others, it is the uncontrolled desire for power, control, or fame.  For still others, it takes the form of desire for excessive and sinful indulgence in eating, drinking, gambling, drugs, or sexual activities.  Greed also turns our life away from God, away from serving and loving other people. As greed directs all our energy and attention to fulfilling the self, its objects become our false gods, and they will consume us unless we become rich in the sight of God. The continued greed of the wealthy nations will certainly call down on them the wrath of the poor, with consequences no one can foretell.” … Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio

JOKEs OF THE WEEK

1)  Lawyer’s greed and doctor’s greed: A doctor and a lawyer were attending a cocktail party when the doctor was approached by a man who asked advice on how to handle his ulcer. The doctor mumbled some medical advice, then turned to the lawyer and remarked, “I never know how to handle the situation when I’m asked for medical advice during a social function. Is it acceptable to send a bill for such advice?” The lawyer replied that it was certainly acceptable to do so. The next day, the doctor sent the ulcer-stricken man a bill. The lawyer also sent  a bill to the doctor.

2) The greedy man and the genie. A man is walking down the beach and comes across an old bottle. He picks it up, pulls out the cork and out pops a genie!
The genie says, “Thank you for freeing me from the bottle. In return I will grant you three wishes.”
The man says “Great! I always dreamed of this and I know exactly what I want. First, I want one billion dollars in a Swiss bank account.”
Poof! There is a flash of light and a piece of paper with account numbers appears in his hand!
He continues, “Next, I want a brand-new red Ferrari right here.”
Poof! There is a flash of light and a bright red, brand-new Ferrari appears right next to him!
He continues, “Finally, I want to be irresistible to women.”
Poof! There is a flash of light and he turns into a box of chocolates.

3) A rich fool in a Boeing 707: An old lady was on a flight.  She was sitting beside a rich, young businessman. After the in-flight meal she took out her Holy Bible and started her devotions. The businessman glanced at her and said,   “Do you really believe all that stuff in the Bible is true?
“Well, yes, as a matter of fact I do,” said the old lady.
“Yeah, right…” the man scoffed, “like… what’s that guy’s name… the one who got swallowed by a whale…”
“You mean Jonah?”
“Yeah, Jonah.  Do you actually believe he could have survived for three days in the belly of a fish?”
“Yes. I don’t know how,” she replied, “but I can ask him when I see him in Heaven someday.”
Feeling smart, the young man said: “OK, but what if he’s not in Heaven because he went to Hell?”
“Then you can ask him yourself when you get there, “replied the old lady calmly.

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

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

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

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

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-C ; Biblical basis of Catholic doctrines: http://scripturecatholic.com/

5) http://www.catholic.com/browse (Catholic Answers)

6) http://thecatholicsnextdoor.newevangelizers.com/

7) http://sqpn.com/ (Tons of Catholic podcasts)

For pictures, type parable of the foolish rich man in Google search under images and click the Enter Button of your Key Board

35- additional anecdotes

1) “What does each get?”” 6th grade teacher posed the following problem to her arithmetic classes: “A wealthy man dies and leaves ten million dollars. One-fifth is to go to his wife, one-fifth is to go to his son, one-sixth to his butler, and the rest to charity. Now, what does each get?” After a very long silence in the classroom, little Joey raised his hand. The teacher called on Joey for his answer. With complete sincerity in his voice, Joey answered, “A lawyer!” — He’s probably right. Where there is a will, there is often a lawsuit. Someone in the crowd listening to Jesus said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

2) Vanity of vanities: Years ago, a Chicago restaurant had specially printed place mats at all its tables. The mats were designed exclusively for the restaurant with the following decorative writing: “In 1923 an important meeting took place at Chicago’s Edgewater Beach Hotel. Attending the meeting were the following men: The president of the largest steel company, the president of the largest utility company, the president of the largest gas company, the president of the New York Stock Exchange, the president of the bank of International Settlements, the greatest wheat speculator, the greatest bear on Wall Street, the head of the world’s greatest monopoly, and a member of President Harding’s cabinet.”  That’s a pretty impressive lineup of people. Yet 25 years later, where were those nine industrial giants? The president of the largest steel company, Charles Schwab, died bankrupt. The president of the largest utility company, Samuel Insull, died penniless. The president of the largest gas company, Howard Hobson, had gone insane.  The president of the New York Stock Exchange, Richard Whitney had just been released from prison. The wheat speculator, Arthur Cutten, died penniless. The member of President Harding’s cabinet, Albert Fall, had just been given pardon from prison so that he could die at home. The bank president, Leon Fraser, the Wall Street Bear, Jesse Livermore and the head of the world’s greatest monopoly, Ivar Kruegar, committed suicide. — In terms of today’s Gospel parable these would be nine very foolish people. (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies), (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

3) Silver glasses: : Henry Ford once asked an associate about his life goals. The man replied that his goal was to make a million dollars. A few days later Ford gave the man a pair of glasses made out of two silver dollar coins. He told the man to put them on and asked what he could see. “Nothing,” the man said. “The dollars are in the way.” — Ford told him that he wanted to teach him a lesson: If his only goal was dollars, he would miss a host of greater opportunities. He should invest himself in serving others not simply in making money. That’s a great secret of life that far too few people discover. Money is important. No question about that. But money is only a means by which we reach higher goals – loving service to others, loving obedience to God. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/)

4) “Rich American with big checkbook has told a joke.” A wealthy American textile buyer attending a luncheon in Seoul, Korea, told a lengthy but amusing joke. When his translator repeated it in just a few phrases, the audience laughed loudly and applauded. The rich American asked the translator how he was able to translate the story with so few words. “It was not a problem,” the translator said. “I told them, ‘Rich American with big checkbook has told a joke. Do what you think is appropriate.’” —  We are fascinated by people of great wealth — whether they are Donald Trump, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, or Warren Buffet. Aren’t you glad, by the way, that the latter three have decided to use at least part of their great wealth to do good? As for “The Donald,” who knows what the future holds for him? We can only hope, and perhaps, pray, that one day he will stand for more than conspicuous consumption. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

5) A reign of more than fifty years, but only fourteen genuinely happy days. The English historian, Edward Gibbon, tells about a man named Abdul Rahman. Abdul Rahman was one of the Muslim Caliphs of Spain. He built for his pleasure the city, palace, and gardens of Zehra, beautifying them with the costliest marbles, sculptures, gold and pearls. He had sixty-three hundred persons — wives, concubines, and eunuchs — at his service. His guard had belts and scimitars studded with gold. And yet, at his death, the following authentic memorial was found commemorating his life: “I have now reigned above fifty years in victory and peace . . . Riches, honors, power, pleasure . . .” Then the caliph adds these words to his epitaph: “the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot: they amount to fourteen.” — A reign of more than fifty years, but only fourteen genuinely happy days. Full barns–empty souls. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

6) 1.3 billion feet of rentable space:  George Carlin said, “The essence of life is trying to find a place to put all your stuff.” In a real way he is probably right, though he was telling a joke. A close friend of mine owns mini-warehouses. Every time I see him I ask, “How’s business?” And with a big smile he says, “Business could never be better because America is full of stuff.” We have 32,000 self-storage businesses nationwide containing 1.3 billion feet of rentable space. One hundred million storage containers are sold by Rubbermaid each year so that we have some place to store our stuff. In fact, in the Tennessean today you can read that professional organizers will come to your house for as much as $75.00 per hour and organize your stuff for you so you can have a place to store it in a convenient manner. — Today’s Gospel tells us that life is more than your stuff. Life is more than your accomplishments. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

7) Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” We are all familiar with the hit television show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” Well, USA Today recently said the answer is: “Everybody.” In an article entitled, “Everyone wants a shot at being a millionaire,” I found out that we are a country drowning in millionaires. The estimate is there are now around five million Americans with assets of $1 million or more; while just ten years ago there were fewer than half that number. Billionaires are multiplying even faster. In 1983 Forbes counted 13 American billionaires; today there are 267. Never before in the history of this country has so much money been made so quickly by so many people. [“Everyone wants a shot at being a millionaire,” USA Today, Maria Puente, N.D.] — Well, on the one hand it may not be wrong to want to be a millionaire, but it can be very dangerous as explained by today’s Gospel. Did you know that eighty-five out of one hundred Americans have less than $250 in savings when they reach age sixty-five? Did you know that in the event of a loss of income or unexpected major expense, the average American family is three to six weeks away from bankruptcy? [Randy C. Alcorn, Money, Possessions and Eternity (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1989).] (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

8)  Actress searching for her most valuable possessions to save from fire:  At the turn of the century, actress Alla Nazimova was one of this country’s earliest stars. Unlike many of her colleagues, Nazimova did not become trapped by a glamorous lifestyle. How did she escape? Her perspective on material things changed the day a fire swept through her Hollywood neighborhood. As the fire moved ever closer to her home, Nazimova ran from room to room, searching for her most valuable possessions to save. To her surprise, none of her pretty furnishings and knick-knacks mattered to her at that moment. The only things she took with her were a few photographs. The fire never reached Nazimova’s house, but when she returned to it, nothing felt the same. She began getting rid of her possessions, and reported greater happiness with fewer things. —  Most of us can relate to that if we will think about it. Why do we get trapped in this cycle of wanting more and more nice things? Jesus in today’s Gospel says God does not call us evil people; simply foolish. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

9) “We’re too poor to give money to charity:” Sam Foss, a writer and traveler, discovered a rustic little house in England situated at the top of a hill. A signpost read: “Help yourself to a cool drink.” Nearby he found a spring of ice-cold water. An old-fashioned gourd dipper hung above the spring, and on a bench was a basket of summer apples, along with another sign inviting passersby to help themselves. Foss was curious about the people who showed such hospitality to strangers. An elderly couple answered when he knocked at the door. Foss asked them about the well and the apples. They explained that their little plot of ground yielded a scant living, but because they were fortunate enough to have a well with abundant cold water, they wanted to share it with anyone who happened by. “We’re too poor to give money to charity,” said the husband, “but we thought that this would be a good way to do something for the folks who pass our way.” [Donald E. and Vesta W. Mansell, Sure As the Dawn (Review & Herald Publishing Association, 1993).] — It’s amazing how some people whom the world categorizes as smart, God sees as foolish, and how others whom the world sees as foolish, God knows to be wise. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 10) The dynamite king dies: In 1888, Alfred Nobel picked up a French newspaper and read his own obituary. His brother had died, and, by mistake, the newspaper printed Alfred’s obituary instead. In it, Alfred Nobel was remembered as the dynamite king, the merchant of death, a person who had amassed a great fortune out of explosives used extensively in wars. — Alfred Nobel didn’t like what he read. He set out to make a better name for himself. He established, among other things, the Nobel Peace Prize, which today continues to honor persons around the world who have championed the cause of peace. Alfred Nobel moved from success to significance. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 11) “But we thank you anyway.” In the movie Shenandoah, James Stewart plays a Virginia farmer during the Civil War years. He begins every meal with the same prayer: “Lord, I planted the seeds, I plowed the ground, I gathered in the harvest. If I hadn’t of put the food on the table it wouldn’t be here. But we thank you anyway.” — He forgot the truth that nature, by God’s providence, provides 95% of the energies necessary to produce a crop, while the farmer provides only 5%. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

12) Money as an idol or a tool or “my first, last, and only love.” Bible teacher Howard Hendricks tells about dining with a rich man from a blueblood Boston family. Hendricks asked him, “How in the world did you grow up in the midst of such wealth and not be consumed by materialism?” The rich man answered like this: “My parents taught us that everything in our home was either an idol or a tool.” That’s the difference: money as an idol or a tool, money as a servant or a master, money as a means or an end. Industrialist Armand Hammer once said, “Money is my first, last and only love.” —  If so, that is sad. Money is only an instrument, not the symphony itself. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

13) Black Monday tragedy: On Black Monday, October 19, 1987, the Dow Jones average plunged 508 points. As it plunged the Pacific Stock Exchange requested that a suicide watch be placed on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. During the same week in Miami, a longtime speculator who lost large sums in the market’s crash walked into the local Merrill Lynch brokerage office and requested to see his broker and the office manager. He opened his briefcase, took out a handgun, and shot and killed the two men and himself. A friend commented, “His entire life was devoted to the market, and it collapsed around him.” [John A. Stroman, Thunder from the Mountain (Nashville: Upper Room).] — So it is with those who make money their god. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

14) “Yes, God is there, but those fellows don’t know it.” A teacher was talking to a class of little boys about the presence of God in daily life. He asked them if God is everywhere, and they correctly answered, “Yes.” In an effort to get the matter closer to their own personal living, he named actual situations. Is God in the Church? Yes. Is God in the home? Yes. On the street? Yes. Is God in the city prison? Silence. That one had them stopped. Finally, one boy came up with as good an answer as I’ve heard. “Yes, God is there, but those fellows don’t know it.” —  That was this man’s trouble, wasn’t it? God was in his life, but he didn’t know it. God was in his fruits, God was in his fields, God was in his goods. God was everywhere except in his gratitude. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

15) The rich fool: When medicine was primitive, years ago, doctors, not knowing exactly what to prescribe to their patients, often prescribed sugar pills or bottles of colored water of no medicinal value with the assurance that some of their patients would still experience some relief as soon as the so-called medicine was taken. This form of treatment is called “the placebo effect,” and it has been noted that 30 to 60 per cent of those persons who receive a placebo — not real medicine but a harmless substitute — will experience some relief. Let’s consider for a few moments some of these placebos.  Twenty years ago, there was a Greek tycoon whose name was a household word in this country. You have already guessed Aristotle Onassis. Onassis once said, “All that really counts these days is money. It’s the people with money that are the royalty now.” By that maxim, Onassis lived like a king. He had every plaything that you and I can imagine. He personified on a grand scale the excesses of the so called “jet set.” He had residences in half a dozen cities, a tropical island of his own, and an elegant art collection. He boasted the world’s most lavish yacht, the CHRISTINA, a 325-foot rebuilt Canadian frigate complete with sumptuous bathrooms lined in Siena marble and fitted with gold-plated faucets. He enjoyed the company of beautiful women and startled the entire world on October 20, 1968 by marrying one of the most famous and glamorous women on earth, the widow of a beloved former president of the United States Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/). — Aristotle Onassis had it all everything in this world that money can buy. But money is a placebo, an illusion. Nothing that we own is permanently ours. Nothing we own can meet our deepest needs. Life changed dramatically for Aristotle Onassis in 1973, when his son, Alexander, then twenty-four, was killed in a plane crash. “He aged overnight,” observed a close associate. “He suddenly became an old man.” Aristotle Onassis, the shrewd businessman, became absentminded and to a certain extent irrational. In the next two years, the value of his holdings declined by one-half. When he died, he was a sad, tired old man. He had no inner resources to deal with life’s greatest tragedies. He only had a placebo, his wealth, and it was not enough. (Time, March 24, 1975). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

16) “No, I have the same house, same car, same friends, same wife.” Robert Fulghum is a best-selling author. His best-known book is titled All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. More than 15 million copies of his books are in print, and they are sold around the world. Needless to say, he has done very well financially. In an interview several years ago with a Christian magazine called The Door, Fulghum reported that since his success, people are always saying, “Well, you must have a big house and a big car.” And he responds, “No, I have the same house, same car, same friends, same wife.” Fulghum admits to being on guard against all kinds of greed, and is committed to serving God, not money. Of course, fame is a challenge, Fulghum admits, “and the challenge is to be a good steward with this kind of authority and power‑-especially with the economics.” So one year he did a book tour, and used it to raise $670,000 for a number of good causes. “I don’t think I should be given extra credit for doing that,” he says. “I think you should think ill of me if I didn’t do that.” Death doesn’t scare Fulghum. In fact, in one of his books is a picture of the grave he has already picked out, and he likes to visit it. It reminds him to live for the goal of laying up for himself treasures in Heaven. And when Fulghum sees the grave, he says to himself, “Don’t get lost here. Know where you’re going.” [Dr. Daniel Lioy, Tarbell’s Lesson Commentary, September 2004‑August 2005 (Colorado Springs: Cook Communications).] — Good advice. I don’t know if he learned this in kindergarten or not. My guess is he learned it from today’s Gospel. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

17) “You look just like my fourth husband.” The Greek word for covetousness is very interesting. It literally means “a thirst for having more.” It refers to the attitude of wanting whatever you see and wanting more of it once you get it. I read about an old lady who moved to a retirement home, and she began to stare at this one particular man who had been in that retirement home for years. She would go to breakfast and sit right across the table from him and just stare at him. She would go to lunch, sit right across the table and stare at him. She would go to dinner and do the same thing. If he went out to the front porch to rock, she would go out and sit in the rocker next to him and just stare at him. After she did that for about four days, he said, “Lady, why do you keep staring at me?” She said, “You look just like my fourth husband.” He said, “How many husbands have you had?” She said, “Three.” I heard about a mother who saw her two-year-old boy swallow a nickel. She immediately ran over to him, picked him up, turned him upside down, began to beat him on the back. Well the little boy coughed up two quarters. This time she did go into a panic. She yelled for her husband who came running up and said, “What happened?” She said, “Billy just swallowed a nickel and I hit him, and he coughed up two quarters. What should I do?” He said, “Keep feeding him nickels!” — Greedy foolish people are everywhere. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

18) A bigger Fool: The story is told of a king of tremendous wealth who gave his jester a wand, saying “Keep this wand until you find a greater fool than yourself.” The jester laughingly accepted the wand and used it on festive occasions. One day the king lay dying. Calling the jester to his bedside he said, “I am going on a long journey.” “Where to?” asked the jester. “I don’t know.” came the reply. “What provisions have you made for the trip?” the jester asked. The king shrugged his shoulders. “None at all.” “Then” said the jester, “take this.” And placing the wand in the king’s hands, he added, “it belongs to you. You are a greater fool than I.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

19) The source of happiness or the cause of our..: We read that Elvis Presley was phenomenally rich. He owned eight cars, six motorbikes, two aeroplanes, sixteen television sets, a vast mansion, and several bulging bank accounts. On top of all this he was a superstar, literally idolized by fans from all over the world. With all of this one would have expected him to be supremely happy. Ironically that was far from the truth. In spite of fame, wealth and success, Elvis Presley experienced within himself a spiritual malaise and would often complain of both loneliness and boredom. In one particular interview, he very frankly confessed, “I never, never imagined that money would bring so many headaches!” Sadly, as we all know, the end came sooner rather than later, at the premature age of 42, leaving the entire world speechless with shock and benumbed with grief. The world had lost an idol, and the music world had lost a superstar. The accountant of John D. Rockefeller, the wealthiest man that ever lived in the USA, was once asked how much money the world-famous billionaire left behind. Without batting an eyelid, the accountant honestly answered with just one word, “Everything!” (James Valladares in Your Words, O Lord, Are Spirit, and They Are Life). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

20) Charles Dickens in his story, “A Christmas Carol, gives the picture of a selfish man, Ebenezer Scrooge, whose sole aim in life was acquiring as much wealth as possible at any cost. He considered Christmas celebrations as humbug, and hated charity. He weighed human relationship against material wealth.  He never bothered to care for his nephew or his employees. One day night, he saw an unusual figure in his bedroom. It was a ghost in chains. The ghost introduced himself as Scrooge’s deceased partner,  Jacob Marley, and warned Scrooge about the futility of the life that he was leading. Marley told Scrooge that some spirits would come to him and he should listen to their message, to avoid the fate that Marley was suffering. First came the ghost of the past. He took Scrooge to his past where he saw himself as a young man who did not heed the voice of his parents; who abandoned the love of a beautiful maiden to amass wealth. The second ghost, the ghost of the present, took him to the Church where Christmas celebrations were being held; and to the house of   one of his employees. The third ghost took him to the future. He was taken to a house where a dead body lay unattended and unlamented by anyone. He was curious to see the dead man. The ghost allowed him to see the corpse. Scrooge was shocked to see it was himself. There he learned what others thought of him. Everyone hated him due to his over attachment to wealth and was glad he had died. Ebenezer Scrooge learned that his frantic chase for and hoarding of wealth had been meaningless. It was leading lead him to eternal misery. The whole experience brought Scrooge to complete conversion, and his wealth became his servant to bring life to all around him. —  This is the message of today’s readings. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

21) “But God said to him: ‘You fool!” The discovery of the tomb of King Tutankhamun gives ample evidence of this.  When his tomb was opened, the excavators found great treasure buried along with his body. The list of contents describes breath-taking treasure and different types of objects, many of them made of gold and silver and encrusted with precious jewels. There were gold ornaments, silver ornaments, jewelry, furniture, weapons, thrones, jars, bottles, chariots, clothes, and statues representing servant. All these were meant to accompany him to the other world for a comfortable life there, but they stayed where he was buried. —The man in the story Jesus too is also like this. He exhorts himself, “eat heartily, drink well, and enjoy yourself.” He gives no consideration to his end. But God says to him: “You fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul; and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then?”   St. Paul advises us, “Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth.”  (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 21) Vanity: Vanity is well illustrated by Aesop’s fable of the fox and the crow. The coal-black crow flew into a tree with a stolen piece of meat in her beak. A fox, who saw her, wanted the meat, so he said, “How beautiful you are my friend! Is your voice as beautiful?” The crow was so happy that she opened her mouth to sing. Down fell the piece of meat and the fox seized upon it and ran away. — In our time, vanity could be illustrated by the woman who, aiming to prove her contention that men are more vain than women, said in a speech: “It is a pity that most intelligent and learned men attach least importance to the way they dress. Why, sitting right here in this room is the most cultivated man in the world, wearing the most clumsily knotted tie!” As if on signal, every man in the room immediately put his hand to his tie to straighten it. (Harold Buetow in God Still Speaks: Listen! Quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 22) “Really Livin!” In one of his stories Bill Glass, an evangelist tells the story of a multi-millionaire Texas oil man. He planned that when he died, he would be buried in a solid gold, custom-made Cadillac surrounded by all his wealth. At his funeral a vast crowd assembled to pay their last respects. The dead man was dressed in his finest apparel — the kind Liberace wore when he performed — and was propped up in the front seat of his golden Cadillac. As the car was lowered into the grave, a young boy in the crowd said: “Man, that’s really livin!”– Bill Glass goes on to emphasize the point of his parable. What we often think of as “‘really livin'” is “really dyin’.” What we often pursue under the illusion of a “full life’” leads only to an empty, waiting grave’. Today’s reading says much the same thing. (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 23) The Question: A rich man heard that a certain priest had a “hot line” to God, and he came to him in search of a favour. He wanted the priest to pray and find out if he, the rich man, was going to Heaven when he died. It was a strange request, but the priest decided to give it a go. A week later the rich man returned. “Did you find out?” he asked. “Yes, I did,” replied the priest. “Well then, what’s the answer”, the rich man asked very anxiously. “The answer is in two parts” replied the priest. “There is good news, and there’s bad news. Which would you like to hear first?” The man was quite nervous, but he ventured to hear the good news first. “The good news is that you are going to Heaven when you die.” The rich man was thrilled, and excited, and it was a few seconds before he spoke. “That’s great. That’s the good news. Surely what could be bad news after that? What’s the bad news?” “The bad news is that you’re going to die tonight!” (Jack McArdle in And That’s the Gospel Truth! Quoted by Fr. Botelho). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 24) The paradox of today:  Today we have higher buildings and wider highways, but shorter tempers and narrower points of view.

We have bigger houses, but smaller families.

We spend more but enjoy less; we have more medicines but less health; we have much more food, but less nutrition.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We have finer houses, but more broken homes.

We reached the Moon and came back, but we find it troublesome to cross our own street and meet our neighbors.

We have increased our possessions, but we have reduced our values;

Many have higher incomes, but lower morals.

We have more quantity, but we are short on quality,

We have learned to make a living, but not how to live.

We have added years to life, but not life to years.

Many have more leisure, but less good fun.

We can travel long distances, but have trouble crossing the streets!

We spend their younger days losing health to get wealth, and we spend their older days losing wealth to gain health!

We live as if we will never die, and die as if we had never lived.

It’s  not who has the most, that’s important, but who needs the least.

— But if you have GOD in your life, food on your table, a roof over your head, clothes on your back, reasonable income and, love and faith in your heart… Be happy and glad.  For anything else that life can offer is nothing more than La-La.

 (Quoted by Fr. Tony Kayala). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 25) Be honeycomb-givers: There are three kinds of givers: the flint, the sponge, and the honeycomb. Which kind are you? To get anything from the flint, you must hammer it. Yet, all you get are chips and sparks. The flint gives nothing away if it can help it, and even then, only with a great display. To get anything from the sponge, you must squeeze it. It readily yields to pressure and the more it is pressed, the more it gives. Still, one has to squeeze it. To get anything from the honeycomb, however, all one must do is take what freely flows from it. The comb gives its sweetness generously, dripping on all without pressure, without begging or badgering. — The honeycomb is a renewable resource. Unlike the flint or the sponge, the honeycomb is connected to life; it is the product of the ongoing work and creative energy of bees. If you share like a honeycomb-giver your life will be continually replenished and grow as you give. When we share, we freely give, and we acknowledge that all we have is on loan and others have as much right to the things of God’s creation as we do. (Keith Wagner, But, I Need It!). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 26)  The Rich Man’s Reward:  There is an old story about a very wealthy man who died and went to heaven.  An angel guided him on a tour of the celestial city. He came to a magnificent home. “Who lives there?”  asked the wealthy man. “Oh,” the angel answered, “on earth he was your gardener.” The rich man got excited.  If this was the way gardeners lived, just think of the kind of mansion in which he would spend eternity! They came to an even more magnificent abode. “Who’s is this?” asked the rich man almost overwhelmed. The angel answered, “She spent her life as a missionary.” The rich man was really getting excited now. Finally, they came to a tiny eight-by-eight shack with no window and only a piece of cloth for a door.  It was the most modest home the rich man had ever seen. “This is your home, ‟ said the angel. The wealthy man was flabbergasted. “I don’t understand. The other homes were so beautiful.  Why is my home so tiny?” The angel smiled sadly, “I’m sorry, ‟ he said. “We did all we could with what you sent us to work with…”  — Out of the abundance we receive, we are to give cheerfully to the poor.  We are to support the ministries of the church cheerfully.  We are to respond joyfully to the extravagant generosity of God. (Fr. Tony Kayala). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

27) $100 million divorce money and $20 for church and charities: Did you read about the couple in Florida who had been married twenty-one years and were getting a divorce? The terms of the settlement called for the woman to be able to maintain “a reasonable lifestyle.” Since the couple listed their assets at $100 million, here’s what the judge decided: She could fly to New York once a month to get her hair fixed; she would receive $2,600 a month to eat out; and she would receive a liberal expense account for gasoline, oil, and maintenance of her $100,000 Mercedes. In addition, she was to receive, each month: $10,446 for vacations; $6,452 for clothing; $1,592 for groceries; $1,440 for local beauty parlors; $1,407 miscellaneous; $171 for pet care; and $20 for Church and charities. (“The Messenger,” Bacon Heights Baptist Church, Lubbock, Texas, 1991.) — Is there something wrong with this picture? One hundred million dollars and she was  giving $20 a month to Church and charities? Wealth is ours for the sharing. Sure, there is passing satisfaction in the little luxuries of life, but not as much as being involved in something great and lasting. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

28) There Is No Slave or Free man: Officially the American Civil War was fought to preserve the Union the Americans achieved through the Revolution. But the initial and strongest issue at stake was the preservation or the abolition of black slavery. The North had no economic reason for keeping slavery, but slavery meant much to the economy of the South, particularly in the raising of cotton. Behind the ambivalent struggle loomed the debated question: Should any human person be held in bondage, especially in the “Land of Liberty”? During the War in 1863, President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation declared free all black slaves in the seceded Confederate states. The war came to an end on April 9, 1865 – four years after the firing of the first gun. Robert E. Lee, beloved head of the Confederate Armies, surrendered to General U.S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. Many of his loyal followers wanted to fight on; but Lee saw it would only waste life uselessly. Having handed over his sword, the Southern leader returned home, now a private citizen. How would the General accommodate the Emancipation? Basically, he was no lover of slavery, having fought the war in defense of state’s rights. A few weeks after Appomattox, he showed his attitude towards emancipation at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond. At communion time, a newly freed Black rose and went to the railing. Now, in pre-war southern churches (Catholic as well as Protestant), there had been a social segregation. Here is how Lee’s biographer Charles Bracelen Flood describes what happened.  ”The congregation froze: those who had been ready to go forward and kneel at the altar rail remained in their pews … General Robert E. Lee was present and, ignoring the action of the Negro, arose in his usual dignified and self-possessed manner, and reverently knelt down to partake of the communion, not far from the Negro. The other communicants went forward to the altar and the service continued.”– General Lee knew what St. Paul had written: “There is no Greek or Jew here, slave or free man.” We who believe that also should be leaders in social justice. (Fr. Robert F. McNamara). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 29) St. John Maia Vianney and money: St John Vianney, the poor parish priest of Ars, France, who lived in the 1800s, learned this lesson well. When he started to become famous because of his holiness, his ministry in the confessional, and his miracles, his tiny parish was flooded with pilgrims. Many of these pilgrims were so grateful to him that they made donations to his parish. At first, he used these donations to repair and beautify the parish church. When that was complete, he still accepted donations. In fact, he continued to beg the pilgrims to give him large donations. And as soon as these would add up to a certain amount of money, he would immediately use that money to sponsor an annual parish mission in other parishes through a missionary order of priests. He never saved his money longer than necessary to sponsor another parish mission. Pilgrims used to be surprised at his excitement when their donation put him over the top with enough for a sponsorship. He ended up endowing dozens of these missions, assuring that even long after his death, he would still be contributing to the good of the Church and of his neighbor. —  This was a man who had learned the true value of money and used it well. (E-Priest). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

30) The Skeletons of Pompeii: We are all familiar with the famous eruption of Mt Vesuvius in ancient times, which buried the city of Pompeii in lava in a matter of minutes. The lava and ash came quickly and inhuge quantities, preserving a snapshot of life in that ancient city, as if freezing a moment from the past. When archeologists uncovered the lava-caked city, they found entire families gathered around a meal – buried in lava before they even knew the volcano had erupted; they found beasts of burdenstanding in their stables; they also found some people who had seen or heard the eruption and were trying, in vain, to run awaywhen the eruption caught up with them. But according to some records, the very first human remains that the archeologists found were the skeletons of a man and a woman, preserved in their lava shell. When they broke through that shell, they found the skeletons’ bony fingers clutching handfuls of gold coins. — The temptation to trust too much in money is an old one – as old as money itself. Today Jesus is encouraging us once again notto fall into such temptation. (E-Priest). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

31) Let us learn our mission: Christ has given each oneof us a mission – even if we seem to lead the most ordinary of lives. Let me prove it to you by giving you a quiz. This quiz has two parts. Each part has three questions, which I want you to answer silently, to yourself. Here are the questions in the first part: Name the MVPs of the last World Series, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup finals, and NBA finals. Name five Nobel or Pulitzer prize winners. Name the winner of the last two Miss America contests. OK. Remember how many of those questions you got right. Now, here are the questions in the second part of the quiz. Name a teacher who has helped you learn and grow as a person. Name someone who has helped you through a difficult time. Name 2 friends who have been there for you during good times and bad. Now, remember how any of those questions you got right. Most of us were probably able to answer all three questions of the second part and maybe one question from the first part. — This shows that what’s most important in life is not always what’s most spectacular. The biggestimpact doesn’t always make the biggest headline. St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) used to say that no one of us is called to be successful, but all of us are called to be faithful. What God is asking each one of us to be and to do in our lives may not make the highlights on the eleven o’clock evening news, but they will certainly help someone become wiser and happier, and bring someone closer to heaven, and that’s much more important. (E-Priest). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

32) The Transition to the Euro: When the European Union was ready to transition to one unit of currency—the Euro—it was a three-year process. At midnight on January 1st, 1999 the exchange rates of the participating countries were locked, and non-physical transactions (such as traveler’s checks and bank transfers) began to be done in Euros. It was expected that the German mark would last for a while in parallel, but it disappeared from the markets almost immediately as traders switched to the Euro. The old coins and physical currency (Italian lira, French francs, etc.) remained legal tender for three years, until new coins and physical currency were put into use on January 1st, 2002. Those who used the old currency only received the Euro in exchange. A few months after the new coins and notes were minted, the old currency ceased to have any legal value. If you are visiting Italy and discover a trunk of lira in your attic, you’re out of luck.  — The “currency” of Heaven is holiness and virtue. The only other legal tender accepted is the Lord’s mercy. (E-Priest). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

33)  Planning Your Retirement: If there’s one practical lesson that the wealthy retiree in today’s Gospel didn’t learn, it is that when you plan for retirement, you must be ready for anything. You may not be able to stay in your home due to poor health or financial problems. Inflation may force you to pinch pennies. Declining health may require you to move to an Assisted Living facility. Your plan must have the financial security to face whatever may arise. This is important, but also a potential source of anxiety. — The key is not to treasure your expected outcome in this world: no one can see the future. If you focus on the outcome in eternity, nothing that happens here below should worry you. (E-Priest). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

34) Someone who has a WHY to live, can endure almost any HOW: On October 19th, 1944, a prominent Jewish psychiatrist named Viktor Frankl was transported to Auschwitz. Over the course of the next year his wife, his brother, and his mother all died in concentration camps. Frankl survived, and wrote a book about his experiences, entitled (in English), Man’s Search for Meaning. In it he describes the Nazis attempt to demoralize the prisoners. They tried to get them to focus on the hopelessness of their situation, and thereby to lead them to despair. They would use tactics like withholding food, and then, when everyone was starving, throw bread in the middle of the prison yard and allow everyone out to get it. The Nazi expectation was that the adults would rip the bread away from starving children, and thus dehumanize themselves. However, Frankl said that not everyone behaved as expected. Some chose to act nobly, even though they knew they might die for it. From such observations, and from his own experiences, he coined his famous dictum that someone who has a WHY to live, can endure almost any HOW. — When we keep our eyes fixed on the eternal joy of heaven, we start to see the events of this world in their proper perspective. (E-Priest). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

35) There Is No Slave Or Freeman: Officially the American Civil War was fought to preserve the Union the Americans achieved through the Revolution. But the initial and strongest issue at stake was the preservation or the abolition of black slavery. The North had no economic reason for keeping slavery. Slavery meant much to the economy of the South, particularly in the raising of cotton. Behind the ambivalent struggle loomed the debated question: Should any human person be held in bondage, especially in the “Land of Liberty”? During the War in 1863, President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation declared free all black slaves in the seceded Confederate states. The war came to an end on April 9, 1865 – four years after the firing of the first gun. Robert E. Lee, beloved head of the Confederate Armies, surrendered to General U.S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. Many of his loyal followers wanted to fight on; but Lee saw it would only waste life uselessly. Having handed over his sword, the Southern leader returned home, now a private citizen.How would the General accommodate the Emancipation? Basically, he was no lover of slavery, having fought the war in defense of state’s rights. A few weeks after Appomattox, he showed his attitude towards emancipation at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond. At communion time, a newly freed Black rose and went to the railing. Now, in pre-war southern churches (Catholic as well as Protestant), there had been a social segregation. Here is how Lee’s biographer Charles Bracelen Flood describes what happened.“The congregation froze: those who had been ready to go forward and kneel at the altar rail remained in their pews … General Robert E. Lee was present and, ignoring the action of the Negro, arose in his usual dignified and self-possessed manner, and reverently knelt down to partake of the communion, not far from the Negro. The other communicants went forward to the altar and the service continued.”General Lee knew what St. Paul had written: “There is no Greek or Jew here, slave or freeman.” We who believe that also should be leaders in social justice.  (Father Robert F. McNamara) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

For Pope Francis’ message to Seminarians & novices in three parts: click on

http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-francis-address-to-seminarians-and-novices-part-1

http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-francis-address-to-seminarians-and-novices-part-2

http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-francis-address-to-seminarians-and-novices-part-3 

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle C (No. 45) 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

Fr. Tony: Homilies for July 25-30

July 25 Monday: (St. James, Apostle):https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-james Mt 20:20-28: 20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him, with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. 21 And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Command that these two sons of mine may sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” 22 But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” 23 He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” 24 And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 26 ..28 Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: Today we celebrate the feast of James, the Apostle. James was the son of Zebedee the fisherman and Salome, the sister/cousin of Jesus’ mother, and the brother of John, the Evangelist and Apostle. James was one of Jesus’ inner circle of three disciples who had the privilege of witnessing the Transfiguration, the raising to life of the daughter of Jairus, and Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane. He is in the first three of every list of the apostles in the four Gospels. Jesus called James and John “boanerges,” or “sons of thunder,” probably because of their volatile character and high ambitions. They once offered to use Jesus power to send fire down on the Samaritan village which had refused Jesus permission to cross through their village because he was going to Jerusalem. Jesus rejected the offer. Later, James was known as James the Greater to distinguish him from James the Less, the son of Clopas, who was leader of the Church in Jerusalem and wrote the Epistle that bears his name. James the Greater was probably the first apostle martyred — by Herod in 44 AD, in his attempt to please the Jews (Acts 12:1-3).

The Gospel episode: The incident described in today’s Gospel shows us how ambitious, far-sighted and power-hungry James and his brother John were in their youth with their impulsive and hot-tempered Galilean blood. They asked their mother to ask Jesus to make them the second and third in command when Jesus established his Messianic Kingdom after ousting the Romans. They must have been shocked when their request prompted Jesus to make a third prediction of his passion and death, promising them a share in his sufferings. Jesus told the apostles that it was only the spirit of service which would make his disciples “great,” because he himself had come “not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” St. James is the patron saint of Spain.

Life messages: 1) The leaders in Jesus’ Church must be the servants of all as Mary was (“Behold the handmaid of the Lord”). That is why Pope is called “the servant of the servants of God” and the priesthood of our pastors is called “ministerial priesthood.” 2) Our vocation as Christians is to serve others sacrificially, with agápe love in all humility, without expecting anything in return, and our spiritual leaders must be humble, loving, selfless and serviceable, just as Jesus was, for our Lord loved and served us all Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

July 26 Tuesday: (St. Joachim & St. Anne, Parents of Blessed Virgin Mary): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saints-joachim-and-anne Mt 13: 16-17: 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The Bible does not say anything about the parents of Mary. The traditional belief that they were Joachim, a shepherd from the tribe of Judah and Ann from the tribe of Levi is taken from the legendary apocryphal source (Protoevangelium Jacobi) written more than a century after Jesus died. According to Protoevangelium Jacobi, Mary was born to her parents in their old age as a gift from God for their fervent and persistent prayer for a child.Mary’s parents offered her to the Temple, and as it was the custom, she was entrusted to the custody of pious widows who assisted the priests in the Temple worship. They taught Mary the prayers, hymns, psalms, and services in the Temple until she became a teenager.Her parents then gave her in marriage to St. Joseph, the carpenter.St. Joachim and St. Anne continued their lives of prayer until God called them home to Heaven. They transmitted to Mary and helped her develop all her good qualities, like trust in God’s providence, humility, love of the Word of God, and a spirit of committed and loving service. They faithfully performed their duties, practiced their Faith and established an atmosphere for the coming of the Messiah, but remained obscure. Veneration of Ann originated in the East in the 6th century as the patroness of childless women and miners. Devotion to Joachim began in the eighth century. France and Canada possess the principal sanctuaries of Saint Anne: in France, at Apt in Provence, and at Auray in Britany; in Canada at Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré in the Province of Québec.

Life message: Let us remember and pray for our grandparents on this feast of the grandparents of Jesus, gratefully acknowledging the lessons of Faith they taught us and the good religious training they imparted to us, directly or through our parents whom they trained. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

Acquiring a treasure or a pearl of great value means accepting the will of God in our lives and sacrificing everything to do God’s holy will — in other words, living as God wants us to live. That is God’s Kingship over us and within us in action.  The Kingdom of God is also a group of people on earth who, with God’s grace, work to do the will of God as perfectly as it is done in Heaven. Hence, being in God’s Kingdom also means offering willing obedience to God.

Life message: 1) A right relationship with God, or a state of Sanctifying Grace, is the most valuable treasure in the Christian life because it gives us a close relationship with God during this life and a life of everlasting bliss with God after our death. The Holy Spirit, the Holy Bible and the Sacraments are the treasures in the Church which enable us to do the will of God and possess the Kingdom of God. Hence, we must be ready to make any sacrifice to use these treasures, to practice self-control and to offer to those we encounter generous loving service, mercy, and forgiveness, thus keeping a right relationship with God Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22 

July 27 Wednesday: Mt 13:44-46: 44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: Today’s Gospel passage gives us twin parables with a common message. Both the pearl and the treasure represent the Kingdom of God, or God’s rule in human hearts, or our close relationship with God kept intact  by  our doing God’s will.

Treasure & pearl:  Since Palestine was the most fought-over country in the world in the first century, people hid their valuables underground when they fled from invading armies. The owners did not always get a chance to return to their land.  Some other farm workers occasionally found such treasures, and the rabbinic law gave the ownership of the treasure to the finder. In order to avoid any later legal problems, the intelligent treasure-finder bought the land containing the treasure, selling all his other possessions to do so, if he had to. Pearls were the most valuable of the treasures. A merchant who located a superior pearl would be wise to sell the rest of his stock and property to acquire it.

Acquiring a treasure or a pearl of great value means accepting the will of God in our lives and sacrificing everything to do God’s holy will — in other words, living as God wants us to live. That is God’s Kingship over us and within us in action.  The Kingdom of God is also a group of people on earth who, with God’s grace, work to do the will of God as perfectly as it is done in Heaven. Hence, being in God’s Kingdom also means offering willing obedience to God.

Life message: 1) A right relationship with God, or a state of Sanctifying Grace, is the most valuable treasure in the Christian life because it gives us a close relationship with God during this life and a life of everlasting bliss with God after our death. The Holy Spirit, the Holy Bible and the Sacraments are the treasures in the Church which enable us to do the will of God and possess the Kingdom of God. Hence, we must be ready to make any sacrifice to use these treasures, to practice self-control and to offer to those we encounter generous loving service, mercy, and forgiveness, thus keeping a right relationship with God Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

July 28 Thursday: Mt 13:47-53: 47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind; 48 when it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, 50 and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. 51 “Have you understood all this?” They said to him, “Yes.” 52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his  treasure what is new and what is old.” 53 And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there. .” Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

 The context: Today’s Gospel presents the third in a set of three parables Jesus preached on the Kingdom of God/Heaven and the conditions for entering it.  The parable of the fishing net: In Palestine, there were two main ways of fishing. The first was with the casting-net, which required a keen eye and great skill in throwing the net at the correct moment. The second was with a dragnet or seine. Galilean seine nets were tied to two boats and drawn through the water. The catch was sorted only afterwards, with edible or kosher fish going to market and unacceptable fish being thrown away. Just as a dragnet collects good and bad fish indiscriminately, so the Church is bound to be a mixture of all kinds of people, good and bad, useless and useful. This parable encourages the Church to adopt an open approach to Evangelization. The parable also teaches that the time of separation will come in the Final Judgment, when the good and the bad will be sent to their respective destinies. This parable is, thus, a counterpart to the parable of the weeds and the wheat. The concluding simile or mini parable: Jesus concludes his parables by advising the listeners to imitate wise scribes (Jewish religious teachers who specialized in Sacred Scripture and its application to life). A scribe/scholar need not give up his scholarship when he became a Christian; rather he should use his learning for Christ. Christians are also expected to be like scholars who study both the old wisdom of their ancestors and the new vistas of knowledge. They have a duty to pass on to others the Christian teaching they have received in language their hearers can understand.

Life message: We need to learn tolerance and compassionate understanding.) The lesson of this parable is that the Church is a mixed body of saints and sinners (good and bad fish).  There will be always a temptation on the part of some who feel they are more “faithful” to separate themselves from the “unfaithful.”  But Jesus reminds us that the final judgment resulting in reward or punishment   is the work of God. Thus, we must   learn to be tolerant, patient, compassionate, and understanding of those who seem to us to fall far below the requirements of the Gospel and the Kingdom.  Let us humbly admit the fact that only Jesus and Mary were not a mixture of good and evil.  Let us acknowledge   as St. Paul did, “I am what I am with the grace of God Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

July 29 Friday: (Saints Martha, Mary, Lazarus): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saints-martha-mary-and-lazarus   https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saints-martha-mary-and-lazarus : Jn 11:19-27 (or Lk 10: 38-42): 19 many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary sat in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world.” Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

 July 29th was traditionally celebrated as the feast day of St. Martha, sister of Mary and Lazarus.  But on February 2, 2021, Pope Francis expanded this memorial to include Martha’s sister and brother, Mary and Lazarus. They were close friends of Jesus. Since they lived in Bethany, less than two miles from Jerusalem, Jesus visited their home each time he with his disciples participated in a major feast in the Temple of Jerusalem and Martha prepared meals for them. It was during one of those meals that Jesus praised Mary for finding time to listen to him and lovingly scolded Martha for being too much anxious and busy in the kitchen.

Pope Francis decided in February, 2021 to include all these three siblings, Martha, Mary and Lazarus  for today’s feast. Martha is presented as a woman of great dynamism and action who despite her deep sorrow at her brother’s death, believed in Jesus as the Lord of life and death and proclaimed him by her strong profession of faith as the Messiah and God. Mary is included in the feast as a model of the keen listener of the word of God who was keen on applying the word she heard into her life. Correcting the unbiblical belief that Mary of Magdala and the sinner woman who anointed the feet of Jesus at the house of a pharisee was Mary the sister of Lazarus, the Pope approves the unanimous opinion of modern Bible scholars that all these three are distinct and different Marys. Lazarus is included in the feast because of his courageous and strong testimony of his resuscitation given by Jesus, despite the Pharisees’ threat to arrest him. When this memorial was established, the Congregation for Divine Worship said, “In the household of Bethany the Lord Jesus experienced the family spirit and friendship of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, and for this reason the Gospel of John states that he loved them.”

Life messages: 1) Let us invite Jesus into our families by consecrating our families to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and by allowing him to rule our lives. 2) We need both Marthas and Marys in the Church – women of action and women of contemplation.  How would the Church survive if not for the Marthas and Bills who sing in the choir, teach in the Sunday school, work with the youth, run the altar guild, work with the homeless, and build the Church? The same is true with the family.  We need responsible people to do the work in the house: to cook, to clean, to keep the house operating, to pay the bills, to keep the cars running, not to speak of rearing the children and loving the spouse.  Households can’t survive without Marthas and Bills.  Nor can offices, schools or businesses. 3) But we must find time to listen to God speaking to us through His word and time to talk to God.  Where would we all be without the cloistered monks and nuns who spend their lives praising God and praying for all of us? Jesus clearly said: be hearers and doers of the word.  Jesus never reversed that order. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

July 30 Saturday: (St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop, Doctor of the Church): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-peter-chrysologus Mt 14:1-12: 1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus; 2 and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist, he has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him.” 3 For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison, for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife; 4 because John said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet. 6 But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and pleased Herod, 7 so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” 9 And the king was sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given; 10 he sent and had John beheaded in the prison, 11 and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. 12 And his disciples came and took the body and buried it; and they went and told Jesus. Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: Today’s Gospel presents the last scene of a tragic drama with three main characters, Herod, Herodias, and John the Baptist. Herod Antipas, (4 BC – AD 39), was a jealous and weak puppet-king with a guilty conscience. He feared the prophet John because John had publicly scolded him for divorcing his legal wife without adequate cause and for marrying his sister-in-law, Herodias, thus committing a double violation of Mosaic Law. Herodias was an immoral, greedy woman, stained by a triple guilt and publicly criticized by John. 1) She was an unfaithful woman of loose morals. 2) She was a greedy and vengeful woman. 3) She was an evil mother who used her teenage daughter for the wicked purposes of murder and revenge by encouraging her to dance in public in the royal palace against the royal etiquette of the day. John the Baptist was a fiery preacher and the herald of the Promised Messiah. He was also a Spirit-filled prophet with the courage of his convictions who criticized and scolded an Oriental monarch and his proud wife in public.

God’s punishment: After the martyrdom of John, Herod was defeated by Aretas, the father of Herod’s first wife. Later, both Herod and Herodias were sent into exile by Caligula, the Roman emperor.

Life messages: 1) As Christians we need to have the moral integrity and the courage of our convictions as John had. 2) Let us remember that sins of revenge and cruelty will never go unpunished. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/22

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.Additional reflections: Click on https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: Today’s Gospel passage gives us twin parables with a common message. Both the pearl and the treasure represent the Kingdom of God, or God’s rule in human hearts, or our close relationship with God kept intact by our doing God’s will.

Treasure & pearl: Since Palestine was the most fought-over country in the world in the first century, people hid their valuables underground when they fled from invading armies. The owners did not always get a chance to return to their land. Some other farm workers occasionally found such treasures, and the rabbinic law gave the ownership of the treasure to the finder. In order to avoid any later legal problems, the intelligent treasure-finder bought the land containing the treasure, selling all his other possessions to do so, if he had to. Pearls were the most valuable of the treasures. A merchant who located a superior pearl would be wise to sell the rest of his stock and property to acquire it.

Acquiring a treasure or a pearl of great value means accepting the will of God in our lives and sacrificing everything to do God’s holy will

O. T. XVII (C) Sunday (July 24, 2022)

O.T. XVII Sunday (July 24) Eight-minute homily in one page (L/22)

Introduction: The main themes of today’s Scripture readings are the power of intercessory prayer, the Our Father as the ideal prayer, and the necessity for persistence and perseverance in prayer with trusting faith and boldness. In short, the readings teach us what to pray and how to pray. (An anecdote may be added)

Scripture lessons, summarized: The first reading, taken from the book of Genesis, gives us the model for intercessory prayer provided by Abraham in his dialogue with God. Although Abraham seems to be trying to manipulate God through his skillful bargaining and humble, persistent intercession, God is actually being moved to mercy by the goodness of a few innocent souls. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 138), with the Psalm Response, “Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me,” is a hymn of hope and trust in the Lord, reminding us that God is close to the humble of heart and to all those who call upon Him in their need. The second reading, taken from Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, though it does not address prayer,reminds us of the need of perseverance in our living faith in Christ, which provides the basis for all Christian prayers, especially for liturgical prayer: the mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul assures us that even when we were dead in sin, God gave us new life through Jesus and pardoned all our sins. In the Gospel passage, after teaching a model prayer, Jesus instructs his disciples to pray to God their Heavenly Father with the same boldness, daring, intimacy, conviction, persistence and perseverance Abraham displayed and the friend in need in the parable employed. He gives us the assurance that God will not be irritated by our requests or unwilling to meet them with generosity.

Life Messages: 1) Prayer is essential for Christian family life. To remain faithful in marriage, the spouses must pray, not only individually, but together. They must thank God and offer intercessory prayers for each other, for their children and for their dear ones. Daily prayer will help married couples tocelebrate and reverence God’s vision of human sexuality and honor life from conception to natural death. Here is St. John Marie Vianney’s advice to a couple: “Spend three minutes praising and thanking God for all you have. Spend three minutes asking God’s pardon for your sins and presenting your needs before Him. Spend three minutes reading the Bible and listening to God in silence. And do this every day.” 2) We need to accept others as children of God and thereby our brothers and sisters: Through the Our Father, Jesus is giving us a new vision of human relationships: that we all, irrespective of our color, creed or social background, are the children of God and thereby are brothers and sisters. When we learn this lesson – if we can learn this lesson, if we are able to treat God as our Father and love Him accordingly, and if we are able to treat every other human being as our own dear brothers and sisters and love them accordingly — then, and then only, shall we experience the Kingdom of God here on earth and enjoy this in the next life. When we love each other and forgive each other’s failings God also will love us and forgive us. This is the foundation of true faith. (Joe Vemp).

OT XVII [C] (July 24) Gn 18:20-32, Col 2:12-14, Lk 11:1-13

Homily starter anecdotes # 1:“Never give up!” Years ago, in Illinois, a young man with six months schooling and self-education competed in the state and national elections eleven times and was defeated eight times. List of Lincoln’s failures & successes:1832 – Defeated in run for Illinois State Legislature. 1834 – Elected to Illinois State Legislature (success). 1838 – Defeated in run for Illinois House Speaker. 1843 – Defeated in run for nomination for U.S. Congress. 1846 – Elected to Congress (success). 1848 – Lost re-nomination. 1849 – Rejected for Land Officer position. 1854 – Defeated in run for U.S. Senate. 1856 – Defeated in run for nomination for Vice President. 1858 – Again defeated in run for U.S. Senate. 1860 – Elected President (success) in 1860 when he was 51. That man was Abraham Lincoln who put his trust in the power of persistent prayer coupled with never-fading Faith in God’s goodness. (Despite his several defeats in elections, Lincoln was considered a fairly successful politician in Illinois and a leader of the Whig party in his state, as well as a successful lawyer in the U. S. Circuit Court (1839), U. S. District Court (1842) and U. S. Supreme Court (1849). Since there was no law school in his state, Lincoln studied law by himself and practiced under eminent lawyers). It took Winston Churchill three years to get through the eighth grade, because he couldn’t pass English! Ironically, he was asked many years later to give the commencement address at Oxford University. His famous speech consisted of only three words: “Never give up!” In today’s Gospel, after teaching the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus instructs us that we should never give up in our prayer life. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 2: “Dear God, if you ever want to see your mother again.” In his book, Moments For Mothers (New Leaf Press: 1996), Robert Strand relates the story of a young boy named Benjamin who wrote a prayer-letter to God to ask for a baby sister. “Dear God, I’ve been a very good boy. . .” and then stopped, thinking that God might not be convinced by his claim. Taking a new sheet of paper, he began again, “Dear God, most of the time, I’ve been good. . .” Again he stopped, dissatisfied that his plea was not sufficiently moving. After a few thoughtful moments, the young boy got a towel from the linen closet and laid it carefully on a chair in the living room. Then he went to the mantle over the fireplace and very slowly lifted down the statue of Mary. He had often seen his mother carefully dust the statue and knew it to be a special family heirloom. Very gently, Benjamin placed the Madonna in the middle of the towel, carefully folding over the edges. Then, after he secured the towel with rubber bands, he carried his parcel back to his desk, took another piece of paper and made his third attempt at a letter. . . “Dear God, if you ever want to see your mother again. . .” Strand entitled his amusing story “Irreverent Manipulation”; however, given today’s readings from Genesis and Luke, it is feasible that Benjamin was being neither irreverent or manipulative. Perhaps his child’s heart already knew that he could be bold and daring in his prayer because he knew himself to be loved by a bold and daring God. (Patricia Datchuck Sánchez). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

#3: “Why don’t you just try putting on the emergency brake?” Father Barry Foster, a priest in Dublin, Ireland, parked his car on a rather steep slope close to his church. His little dog was lying on the rear seat and could not be seen by anyone outside the vehicle. Father Foster got out of the car and turned to lock the door with his usual parting command to the dog. “Stay!” he ordered loudly, to an apparently empty car. “Stay!” An elderly man was watching the performance with amused interest. Grinning, he suggested, “Why don’t you just try putting on the emergency brake?” (Colin Jeffery, Catholic Digest, May 1992, p. 72). The theme of today’s Gospel is prayer, and it offers a model prayer. To the unbeliever, prayer is an exercise in futility like ordering “Stay,” to an automobile fully expecting it to obey. But to the believer, prayer is the most powerful and the most reliable force in the world today by which we communicate with God. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Introduction: The main themes of today’s Scripture readings are the power of intercessory prayer, the Our Father as the ideal prayer, and the necessity for persistence and perseverance in prayer, with trusting faith and boldness. In short, the readings teach us what to pray and how to pray. The first reading, taken from the book of Genesis, gives us the model for intercessory prayer provided by Abraham in his dialogue with God. Although Abraham seems to be trying to manipulate God through his skillful bargaining and humble, persistent intercession, God is actually being moved to mercy by the goodness of a few innocent souls. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 138), with the Psalm Response, “Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me,” is a hymn of hope and trust in the Lord, reminding us that God is close to the humble of heart and to all those who call upon Him in their need. The second reading, taken from the Letter to the Colossians, does not deal with prayer directly, but it provides a basis for all Christian prayers, especially for liturgical prayer: the mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul assures us that even when we were dead in sin, God gave us new life through Jesus and pardoned all our sins. In the Gospel passage, after teaching a model prayer, Jesus instructs his disciples to pray to God their Heavenly Father with the same boldness, daring, intimacy, conviction, persistence and perseverance Abraham displayed and the friend in need in the parable employed. He gives us the assurance that God will not be irritated by our requests or unwilling to meet them with generosity.

First reading: Genesis 20: 18-32 explained: The first reading is the story of Abraham’s negotiating for mercy with God on behalf of some innocent potential victims of Sodom and Gomorrah (including his nephew Lot and his family), when God had decided to destroy those cities which were almost entirely inhabited by people who led wicked and sexually-perverted lives. Abraham acknowledged that (1) he was “dust and ashes” breathed into existence by the very breath of God (Genesis 2:7), (2) he had been called to become a covenantal partner of God (15:1-18), and (3) he had been blessed with the Divine promise of land, progeny protection and prosperity (12:1-3). But, as a close friend of God, the great patriarch of the Jews felt free to bargain with God when God told him He had decided to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah: “If you find fifty righteous people in those wicked and immoral cities,” Abraham said,” you won’t destroy it, will you, God?” God said, “No, if I find fifty righteous people in the city, I will not destroy it.” “How about forty, thirty, twenty? Ten?” Although there were not even ten just people in those cities, God went beyond the terms of negotiation and spared the only just inhabitants of the cities, Abraham’s nephew and his family, because God is much more merciful than we are. Sodom’s destruction, in spite of Abraham’s intercession, teaches contemporary believers the valuable lesson that those who tolerate the evils perpetrated in human society and who refuse to protest against them by word, prayer and example leave themselves open to being swallowed up by them.

Second Reading: Colossians 2:12-14 explained: The Christians at Colossae were being exposed to a variety of philosophical and theological teachings, many of which were incompatible with the Gospel. Hence, in his letter to the Colossians, Paul tried to establish that Christ was superior to any other possible mediator between humanity and God. In today’s passage, Paul answered the question, “How, then, do we get Christ in us?” Assuming that the ritual of Baptism obviously simulates burial and resurrection, Paul’s declared that when we were buried in the waters of Baptism, we were united with Jesus in his saving death, and when we emerged from the baptismal font we were joined to Christ in his Resurrection. Long before “confession” came into existence, Paul taught that our sins were forgiven because the person who had committed those sins was no longer alive. That person died when he or she became one with the risen Jesus through Baptism. The new person who had come into existence at that point was not responsible for the dead person’s transgressions. His or her sins had been literally wiped out or erased from the mind and memory of God, having been snatched up and nailed to the cross (v. 14), i.e. put to death, through the saving sacrifice of Jesus.

Gospel Exegesis: Luke’s version and Matthew’s version: Matthew’s version of the Lord’s Prayer is given in the context of the Sermon on the Mount as part of Jesus’ teaching on how to pray, while Luke’s version is set in one of those occasions just after our Lord had been at prayer. Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer is shorter than the more familiar version found in Matthew’s Gospel. However, it teaches us all we need to know about how to pray and what to pray for. It has only five petitions while Mathew adds two more (“Your will be done…” and “deliver us from the evil one.”) The first two petitions have to do with praise and worship of God, while the next three petitions present to Him our needs – daily bread, forgiveness and protection against the evil one. The Church uses the longer form of the Lord’s Prayer.

The structure of the Our Father: The prayer consists of two parts. In the first part, we praise and worship God and express our ardent desire for His rule in human hearts, enabling us to do His will in the most perfect way. In the second part we present our needs before God our Father with filial love and trusting Faith. We offer before God our present (daily bread), our past (forgiveness of sins) and our future (protection against temptations). By this prayer we also invite the Trinitarian God into our lives: God the Father, the Creator and Provider, by asking for daily bread; God the Son, Jesus, our Savior, by requesting forgiveness of our sins; and God the Holy Spirit by asking for deliverance from temptations (“the final test.”).

The petitions: The petitions cover our present needs, the forgiveness of our past sins, and protection from future temptations. We need not only bodily nourishment, but also daily spiritual nourishment, so that we may be strong enough to forgive those who offend us. In the next petition, Jesus links the giving and receiving of forgiveness. If we expect God to forgive us, we must forgive one another (“Forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us”). The last petition- “and do not subject us to the final test“- covers future trials and temptations. We need God’s protection both from the evil one (the devil) and from the evils in society that seek to destroy us. It is quite appropriate for us to pray for deliverance from evil for ourselves, our loved ones, our community, our nation, and our world. Jesus gives us to pieces of great advice in today’s Gospel (Luke 11:1-13). First, he teaches us to keep it Simple and Meaningful. Never worry about “what” to say; just say what is in your heart. Second, Jesus teaches us to Trust that our Father hears and answers each and every prayer. There are no exceptions!

Prayer: persistent and persevering: In the second part of today’s Gospel, by presenting the parable of a friend in need, Jesus emphasizes our need for persistent and persevering prayer, acknowledging our total dependence on God. In the ancient Hebrew world, hospitality was the essence of one’s goodness. To welcome a visitor without food and drink was unthinkable. A traveler who was traveling in the evening to avoid the heat of the afternoon, might well arrive late at night. But the villagers used to go to bed early, as they had no electricity. So, in this parable, when a man received unexpected guests late at night and found his cupboard bare, he went to his neighbor and woke him in order to borrow a loaf of bread. In those days, people generally slept in one room, the children bedded down with the adults. Rising to answer the door would disrupt the whole family and hence the neighbor was reluctant to get up. Finally, however, because of the persistence of his guest, he got up and gave bread to his neighbor. This parable does not mean that God is a reluctant giver. Rather it stresses the necessity of our persisting in prayer as the expression of our total dependence on God. Persevering in prayer helps us to purify our prayer, to make clear to ourselves our values and hopes, and to lead us to ask for what is really in our very best interests. St. Paul tells us to “pray without ceasing” (Romans), “pray at all times” (Ephesians), “be steadfast in prayer” (Colossians), and “pray constantly” (Thessalonians). Jesus assures us, “Knock and the door shall be opened.”

The misconception: The parable teaches us that prayer is not putting coins in a vending machine called “God” to get whatever we wish. We must not look upon God as a sort of genie who grants all our requests. God is our loving Father Who knows what to give, when to give and how to give. This includes not only our daily bread to satisfy our physical hunger but also “bread” to satisfy our spiritual hunger. Prayer is a relationship — an intimate, loving, caring, parent-child relationship. The Greek text means: “Ask and you will receive something good,”–not just whatever we ask for. The New Testament Greek also instructs us, “ask and keep on asking…seek and keep on seeking…knock and keep on knocking.” Hence, we are to be persistent declaring our trusting Faith and dependence on God. One thing that is sometimes overlooked in this story is that this, like the story of Abraham bargaining with God for the lives of Lot and his family, is primarily a story about intercessory prayer. One friend goes to another friend on behalf of someone else.

“Prayer doesn’t change God; it changes me.” A colleague asked C.S. Lewis if he really thought he could change God with his prayer for the cure of his wife’s cancer. Lewis replied: “Prayer doesn’t change God; it changes me.” William McGill summed it up this way. “The value of persistent prayer is not that God will hear us but that we will finally hear God.” Keep in mind that Jesus has taught us to address God as Father. A loving Father listens to his child, but does not blindly endorse every request. Instead, the loving Father provides what is needed, including discipline. Bishop Sheen has this comment on prayer: “The man who thinks only of himself says prayers of petition. He who thinks of his neighbor says prayers of intercession. He who thinks only of loving and serving God says prayers of abandonment to God’s will, and that is the prayer of the saints.” To pray is not to impose our will on God but to ask God to make us open to His will; in other words, we pray not to change God’s mind but for God to change ours. The Our Father is the “summary of the whole Gospel” (Tertullian) and it is the “perfect prayer” (St. Thomas Aquinas). “The Lord’s Prayer is the most perfect of prayers… In it we ask, not only for all the things we can rightly desire, but also in the sequence that they should be desired. This prayer not only teaches us to ask for things, but also in what order we should desire them.” (St. Thomas Aquinas, as quoted in Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2763)

Life messages: 1) Prayer is essential for Christian family life. Fidelity is one of the original blessings of married life. To be truly faithful in marriage, spouses must pray, not only individually, but together. Married couples should come together before God every day as prayer partners, thanking God and offering intercessory prayers for each other, for their children and for their dear ones. Daily prayer will help married couples tocelebrate and reverence God’s vision of human sexuality and to honor life from conception to natural death. Here is St. John Marie Vianney’s advice to a couple who asked him how to pray: “Spend three minutes praising and thanking God for all you have. Spend three minutes asking God’s pardon for your sins and presenting your needs before Him. Spend three minutes reading the Bible and listening to God in silence. And do this every day.” “When” can we pray? It is possible to offer fervent prayer even while walking in public…or seated in your shop…while buying and selling…or even while cooking. [St. John Chrysostom, quoted in CCC #2743.] The important thing is: DO IT! BELIEVE the words in today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps. 138:1-3,6-8).

2) We need to accept others as children of God and thereby brothers and sisters: Through the Our Father, Jesus is giving us a new vision of human relationships: that we all, irrespective of our color, creed or social background, are the children of God and thereby brothers and sisters. When we learn this lesson – if we can learn this lesson, if we are able to treat God as our father and love Him accordingly, and if we are able to treat every other human being as our own dear brothers and sisters and love them accordingly — then, and then only, shall we experience the Kingdom of God here on earth and enjoy this in the next life. When we love each other and forgive each other’s failings, God also will love us and forgive us. This is the foundation of true faith. (Joe Vempeny).

3) We need to avoid giving lame reasons why we don’t pray. Modern Christians give four lame excuses for not praying. a) The first excuse: We are too busy. The richer a culture is, the less time it has for prayer, because money and wealth provide distractions. Researchers say that the average Christian living in a wealthy country prays four minutes a day. Often the first thing given up by a busy Christian is his prayer life. b) A second excuse: We don’t believe prayer does that much good, other than giving us psychological motivation to be better persons. But besides giving us psychological motivation, prayer establishes and augments our relationship with God, the source of our power. c) A third excuse: We think a loving God should provide for us and protect us from the disasters of life, such as disease or accidents, without our asking Him. Prayer expresses our awareness of our need for God and our dependence on Him. d) A fourth excuse: We think prayer is boring. People who use this excuse forget the fact that prayer is a conversation with God: listening to God speaking to us through the Bible, and talking to God. You can’t have a close relationship with anyone, including God, without persistent and intimate conversation. Four minutes a day is not much intimate conversation. Since our society concludes that prayer doesn’t work, it turns to sex, violence and unhealthy addictions resulting in broken marriages, broken families, psychological problems, moral decadence, spiritual poverty, law-and-order problems, and prison populations.

JOKE OF THE WEEK:

1)”God is not deaf but grandma is:” Two young boys were spending the night at their rich grandma’s house during Christmas. She was getting them ready for bed, and reminded them to say their prayers. Grandma left the boys alone and went into the next room before coming back to tuck them in. The older of the two said his prayers, thanking God and asking Him to bless grandma, his friends and family. Then, it was his younger brother’s turn. He offered the same prayer as his big brother, but at the end of the prayer, he shouted in a very loud voice, “And God, please send me a new scooter and a CD player.” His older brother turned and said, “You don’t have to shout. God isn’t deaf.” “I know,” the younger one replied. “But Grandma is.”

2) Memory pills to remember the prayers. Two elderly men were walking along the beach and their wives were walking behind them. One man says, “Eddie, did you know I’ve been taking these new memory pills to help me remember my prayers? They’re tremendous.” “I would like to improve my memory too,” said the other man.  “What are those pills called?”   The first man scratches his head, embarrassed because he can’t remember the name of the memory pills. “Wait!” he exclaims. “Let me ask my wife.”  He thinks a moment and then says, “My God! I forgot her name.  It’s the same name as a flower with red petals, long green stems and thorns.”  “The rose?” Eddie guesses. “Yes, that’s her name!”  The first man replies, smiling brightly, as he turns around to ask his wife. “Rose! What is the name of those memory pills I take?”

3) Liquor shop and the power of prayer:  A tale is told about a small town that had always been “dry.”  One day, however, a local businessman erected a tavern. A group of Christians from a local Church were concerned and they convened an all-night prayer meeting to ask God to intervene. It just so happened that shortly thereafter lightning struck the tavern burning it down to the ground. The owner of the bar sued the Church, claiming that the prayers of the congregation were responsible, but the Church hired a lawyer to argue in court that they were not responsible. The presiding judge, after his initial review of the case, stated, “No matter how this case comes out, one thing is clear: the tavern owner believes in prayer and the Christians do not.”

4) God’s laughter: How do you make God laugh? Tell him your plans. Robert Frost: “Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee, and I’ll forgive Thy great big joke on me.”

Websites of the week

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

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

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

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/

23 Additional anecdotes

1)” Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?” At a small dinner party in the home of a member, a pastor was invited to ask the blessing for the meal. Turning to the talkative six-year-old in the house, the pastor suggested she might like to do the blessing instead. The outgoing youngster now suddenly shy replied, “I wouldn’t know what to say!” “Just say what you hear your Mommy say,” said the pastor assuredly. With that the little girl folded her hands, bowed her head and said, “Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 2) “But I thank you anyway!”: In the movie, Shenandoah, Jimmy Stewart plays a prosperous Quaker farmer during the Civil War. One night at the supper table, this widower and hard worker lets his feelings show as he asks the blessing. “Bless this food, Lord. I plowed the land, I planted the seed, I irrigated the fields. I harvested the crops, I canned it, I cooked it and I served it. It took a lot of work and I did it all. But I thank You anyway because I promised my wife on her deathbed I would for the children’s sake. Amen.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 3“Don’t bother me.” We do not pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “give me this day what I want.” We pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” We are created for community. Hunger kills somebody in the world every 3.6 seconds. 10.5% of all U. S. households are food-insecure. 800 million people in the world are malnourished. It would take 13 billion dollars a year to end hunger. The U.S. and Europe spend 18 billion dollars a year on pet food. There is a knock on our door in the midnight hour. Like the neighbor in the Scriptures we are prone to say, “Don’t bother me.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 4) “Lead us not into temptation”: Americans have a love affair with food. Statistics tell us Americans eat 75 acres of pizza, 53 million hotdogs, 167 million eggs, 3 million gallons of ice cream, and 3,000 tons of candy a day. An overweight businessman went on a diet. Among the first things he decided to eliminate were the doughnuts he regularly brought to the office. On the third day the executive carried in a sack of doughnuts. “What happened?” inquired his assistant. “Well,” said the businessman, “I said to the Lord on the way to work, ‘If You don’t want me to eat doughnuts don’t let there be a parking place in front of the bakery.’ On the third trip around the block I found a parking place right in front. That’s when I decided it was the Lord’s will for me to have doughnuts today.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 5) Cardiologist, Dean Ornish, puts it this way: “Our ‘eat more, weigh less’ nation is suffering from an epidemic of spiritual heart disease. People turn to food, alcohol, and other destructive habits out of loneliness and despair.” Bread for the body and food for the soul: ask for it, seek for it, knock for it until the door opens to it. Give us bread — DAY BY DAY. Give us this day our daily bread. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 6)The captain is my daddy.” A little boy was standing on the banks of the Mississippi River waving and shouting at a steamboat that was going by. He was beckoning the steamboat to come to shore. A stranger came by and said, “That’s foolish young man. The boat will never come ashore because of your request. The captain is too busy to notice your waving and shouting.” Just then the boat turned and headed for shore. The little boy grinned and said to the stranger, “The captain is my daddy.” The captain of the universe is our Abba. He pays attention to our petitions because he loves us. The first words in the Lord’s Prayer encourage us to believe in the affectionate intimacy of the Lord of the universe, but that doesn’t mean we should take God for granted. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 7) A loving Heavenly Father: When Karl Barth, retired and in his later years, visited an American theological school, one of the students asked him, “How would you characterize your theology, Dr. Barth?” Barth thought for a moment and said that his answer was a song he learned at his mother’s knee: “Jesus loves me, this I know …” Isn’t that great! A renowned theologian, no stranger to using all his mind as he dealt with the meaning of the Gospel, wrapped it all up in a little Sunday school tune. Alongside his wide-ranging academic theology, he had an everyday theology. Jesus was a master of this theological style. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 8) “Could You please just touch me?” A little girl is kneeling beside her bed. She says, “Dear God, if You are there and You hear my prayer, could You please just touch me?” Just then she feels a touch. She gets so excited! She says, “Thank You, God, for touching me!” Then she looks up, sees her older sister, and gets a little suspicious. “Did you touch me?” The sister answers, “Yes, I did.” “What did you do that for?” she asked. ”God told me to,” was the reply. God touches our lives during our prayers. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 9) Forgive us our trespasses:  Edith Bunker, on the television show All in the Family, described the confessional boxes in the Catholic Church as “telephone booths to God.” Well, they are not quite that. But every prayer must contain an element of confession. We are not all God means for us to be. We are finite creatures in every respect. We need His mercy, His compassion, His amazing grace. So, we pray for forgiveness and sometimes we pray for the ability to forgive. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 10) “Go back to your room”: A burst of thunder sent a three-year old flying into her parent’s bedroom. “Mommy, I’m scared,” she said. The mother, half-awake and half-unconscious, replied, “Go back to your room. God will be there with you.” The small figure stood in the unlit doorway for a moment and then said softly, “Mommy, I’ll sleep here with Daddy and you go in there and sleep with God.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 11) Christy’s prayers of 29 years! The story of Christie Borthwick’s dad vividly illustrates the need to persevere in prayer. With the exception of the “Billy Graham Crusade moment,” he seldom expressed spiritual interest. In fact, for years he aggressively resisted, citing the hypocrisies of the Church and the hard-to-believe content of the Bible. On one occasion, we talked through the “bad news” aspect of the Good News—that people without Christ go to hell. He resisted this message so strongly that he retorted, “If there is a God who allows people to go to Hell, then I don’t want to go to Heaven to live with him. I choose Hell.” A few years later, after the sudden death of Christie’s 47-year-old brother, her dad was again belligerent. When we asked if he would like to receive God’s gift of eternal life, he snapped, “Eternal life is a myth; there’s no Heaven or Hell. Just put me in the grave. The grave is all there is.” Christie kept praying tenaciously. We called friends and asked them to join us in prayer, and we marshaled the prayers of more than 500 friends and associates using e-mail. Two weeks later, her dad’s heart softened. He indicated an interest in a relationship with God. We invited him to pray a simple prayer—”Jesus, have mercy”—and he responded. For the first time in our lives we heard him pray, “Jesus, have mercy on my soul.” His countenance changed. His striving was over. God had finally answered Christie’s prayers of 29 years! Her dad died two weeks later. (Christie and Paul Borthwick, “Don’t Give Up on Your Family,” Discipleship Journal (Issue 126). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 12) “Mom, can I have some chocolate chip cookies?” Paul Harvey told about a 3-year-old boy who went to the grocery store with his mother. Before they entered she had certain instructions for the little tyke: “Now you’re not going to get any chocolate chip cookies, so don’t even ask.” She put him in the child’s seat and off they went up and down the aisles. He was doing just fine until they came to the cookie section. Seeing the chocolate chip cookies he said, “Mom, can I have some chocolate chip cookies?” She said, “I told you not even to ask. You’re not going to get any at all.” They continued down the aisles, but in their search for certain items she had to backtrack and they ended up in the cookie aisle again. “Mom, can I please have some chocolate chip cookies?” She said, “I told you that you can’t have any. Now sit down and be quiet.” Finally, they arrived at the checkout. The little boy sensed that the end was in sight, that this might be his last chance. He stood up on the seat and shouted in his loudest voice, “In the name of Jesus, may I have some chocolate chip cookies?” Everyone in the checkout lanes laughed and applauded. Do you think the little boy got his cookies? You bet! The other shoppers moved by his daring pooled their resources. The little boy and his mother left with 23 boxes of chocolate chip cookies. According to a Gallop Poll, 87% of all Americans pray, 50% use prayer for petitions, and 70% claim their prayers are answered. Although we are not allowed to pray in the classroom in public schools, it is clear that Americans do manage to pray. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 13) “My husband’s new hearing aid.” One post office employee tells about an irate customer who stormed to her desk one day. “What’s the trouble?” the postal employee responded in her calmest voice. “I went out this morning,” the customer began angrily, “and when I came home I found a card saying the mailman tried to deliver a package but no one was home. I’ll have you know, my husband was in all morning! He never heard a thing!” After apologizing, the postal employee got the woman’s parcel. “Oh good!” the woman gushed. “We’ve been waiting for this for ages!” “What is it?” the postal worker asked. The woman said with pride, “My husband’s new hearing aid.” Well, no wonder! When we speak to one another, there are some people who can’t hear us, others who don’t listen to us. But when we speak to God, we speak to One Who hears all and listens to all. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 14) Preaching on Our Father: What will I do with a sermon on such a familiar text? I could take the easy way out and do as a young man who had come to a monastery and asked for admission to the order. He told the abbot that he would accept any task, no matter how menial, if only he could be part of the religious life. He set only one condition, that he not be required to preach. The abbot replied, “Obviously this is the one area of your spiritual development that needs attention, so tomorrow morning you will be our preacher!” The young monk-trainee was gripped by fear when he approached the time to preach, but was seized by inspiration and said to the gathered brethren, “Do you know what I’m going to preach about this morning?” “No,” murmured the other monks. “Well, neither do I, so let’s go right to the benediction!” The abbot was upset and determined that the young novice preach, so he assigned him a second time. At the time of preaching, the man again said, “Do you know today what I’m going to preach about?” Wishing to help him along, the monks all nodded, “Yes.” He said, “Then if you know what I’m going to preach about, there’s no need to hear it again. Let’s go right to the benediction!” Now the abbot was furious, and he instructed the novice to try again the third time. At the third encounter the young monk said again, “Today do you know what I’m going to preach about?” The other monks were confused. Some said “yes,” and some said “no;” at which point the novice declared “Well, then those who know what I’m going to preach about turn to the ones who don’t know what I’m going to preach about, and you tell them what it is. Let’s go to the benediction!” (Reverend William G. Stell, “Perfect Love” Preached at St. Luke’s U.M.C. in Houston, Texas.) So, let us continue the Mass, because you know the text, and you’ve reflected on the prayer. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 15)  Keep your prayers in the proper perspective: The following lines should help us keep our prayers in the proper perspective:

I asked God for strength that I might achieve; I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.

I asked for health that I might do great things; I was given infirmity that I might do better things.

I asked for riches that I might be happy; I was given poverty that I might be wise.

I asked for all things that I might enjoy life; I was given life that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing that I asked for but everything I had hoped for; despite myself, my prayers were answered.

I am, among all people, most richly blessed. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

16) Prayer—Sharing in God’s Power: Jim Johnson was given the job of saving a failing hotel. Other managers had tried, but unsuccessfully. The hotel was in a now-or-never situation. Jim decided to try something different. Each night he drove to the top of a hill overlooking the hotel and the city. He parked his car and sat there for the next 20 minutes praying. Jim prayed for the hotel guests, relaxing behind the lighted windows. He prayed for the hotel employees and for their families. He prayed for the people, who did business with the hotel. Finally, he prayed for the city and its people. Night after night, Jim drove to the top of the hill, parked his car and prayed the same prayer. Soon the situation at the hotel started to improve. A new confidence radiated from its employees. A new warmth welcomed and greeted each new guest. A new spirit permeated its operation. The hotel experienced a remarkable rebirth thanks to the nightly prayer of Jim Johnson. (Norman Vincent Peale. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 17) Leo Tolstoy’s “God Sees the Truth, But Waits” is a parable of forgiveness. Ivan Demetrievich Aksenov was a merchant living in the town of Vladimir. One day he planned to go to a fair as a business venture, but his wife pleaded for him not to go because of a nightmare she had the previous night. She said that all his hair had gone gray when he returned from the fair. Aksenov ignored his wife’s dream and left for the fair. Aksenov met another merchant on his way, and the two decided to travel together. They checked into an inn and retired separately. Aksenov woke early the next morning to get to the fair and left without the other merchant. Not far down the road, Aksenov was stopped by the police. They explained that a merchant was just murdered and robbed in the town, and they searched Aksenov’s bag. They found a bloody knife, and despite Aksenov’s claims of innocence, he was sentenced to be flogged and sent to Siberia. Aksenov spent twenty-six years in Siberia. Slowly he gave up his desire for revenge, resigned to his fate, and dedicated his life to God. He became a mediator of sorts in the prison, and he was well respected by the other prisoners and guards alike. One day a new prisoner, Makar Semonovich, was transferred to the prison. After overhearing several conversations, Aksenov discovered that Makar Semonovich was the man who committed the murder for which Aksenov was blamed. One day the prison guards noticed that someone had been strewing mud around the grounds, and the search led to the discovery of a tunnel. Aksenov had found out earlier that it was Makar Semonovich who was digging the tunnel, but even after being questioned by the police, Aksenov declared that it was not his place to speak about the matter. Makar Semonovich approached Aksenov later that day in a terrible state, and he confessed eventually his crime. Aksenov forgave Makar Semonovich, and he felt as if a terrible weight had been lifted. In the prayer that Jesus taught, He added a clause, “Forgive us as we forgive our trespassers”.  Forgiveness is the central problem of life.  (Fr. Bobby Jose). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

18) “Give us this day our daily bread:” We are not to worry about the unknown future, but to live a day at a time.  Cardinal Newman prayed for the strength to keep the next step.

“Lead, kindly Light, amid the’ encircling gloom;

Lead thou me on!

The night is dark, and I am far from home;

Lead thou me on!

Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see

The distant scene–one step enough for me.”

We are not to worry about the unknown future, but to live a day at a time.  Cardinal Newman prayed for the strength to keep the next step.  (Fr. Bobby Jose)  (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

19) If you ask, it will be given to you.” Jesus concluded His teaching by saying that “If you ask, it will be given to you.” Our prayers are answered by not granting what we ask, but by giving what we need.

I asked for strength…….

And God gave me difficulties to make me strong.

I asked for wisdom…

And God gave me problems to solve

I asked for prosperity…

And God gave me Brain and Brawn to work

I asked for courage…

And God gave me Danger to overcome

I asked for love….

And God gave me Troubled people to help

I asked for Favours….

And God gave me opportunities.

I received nothing I wanted…

I received everything I needed; my prayer have been answered.                                           (Fr. Bobby Jose) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

20) Let it be Tokyo:  A mother sent her fifth-grade boy up to bed. In a few minutes she went to make sure that he was getting in bed. When she stuck her head into his room, she saw that he was kneeling beside his bed in prayer. Pausing to listen to his prayers, she heard her son praying over and over again. “Let it be Tokyo! Please dear God, let it be Tokyo!”  When he finished his prayers, she asked him, “What did you mean, ‘Let it be Tokyo’?”  “Oh,” the boy said with embarrassment, “we had our geography exam today and I was praying that God would make Tokyo the capital of France.”  Prayer is not a magical means by which we get God to do what we want. Prayer is an inner openness to God which allows His Divine power to be released in us. Ultimately, the power of prayer is not that we succeed in changing God, but that God succeeds in changing us. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

21) Forgive us our trespasses:  10 commandments of forgiveness!

  1. Forgiveness is not easy.
  2. Forgiveness is not forgetting. Nobody ever forgets where he buried the hatchet. It is not “forgive and forget” as if nothing wrong had ever happened, but rather, “forgive and move forward.”
  3. Forgiveness does not overlook evil or injustice for that would be to deny the truth.
  4. Forgiveness does not mean approval. A strong person rebukes and forgives; a weaker person is too timid to rebuke and too slow to forgive.
  5. Forgiveness begins with knowing you have been forgiven. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
  6. Forgiveness recognizes that people are always bigger than their faults. If we look for the good it is easier to forgive the bad.
  7. Forgiveness allows the other person to start over again.
  8. Forgiveness surrenders the right to get even. Vengeance is mine, says the Lord.
  9. Forgiveness wishes the other well, and even prays for the blessing of the other person. “Love your enemies; pray for those who persecute you.”
  10. Forgiveness is twice blest. Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 22) Perseverance: There is a story told of the two frogs that fell into a bucket of cream. They tried very hard to get out by climbing up the side of the bucket. But each time they slipped back again. Finally, one frog said, “We’ll never get out of here. I give up.” So down he went and drowned. The other frog decided to keep trying. Again, and again he tried to climb with front legs and kicked with his back legs. He had almost lost his strength and his tired feet could hardly move. He said to himself, “Now…now my end has come…I am going to drown.” Then suddenly, he hit something hard. He turned to see what it was behind and discovered that all his kicking had churned up a lump of butter! He hopped on top of it and leaped out to safety. It was perseverance in his effort that saved the second frog. Perseverance is an important virtue. It means to be persistent, to continue without stopping; it means to start something and to finish it to the end. Today is the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time and the general theme of today’s Scripture Readings is perseverance. The thread tying together the First Reading and the Gospel reading is perseverance in prayer, and the Second Reading reminds us of our perseverance in living Faith.'(Fr. A. Larka). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

23) ‘Let go — let God!:  A story is told of a mother whose only child, a son, was confined in a hospital, seriously sick. She cared for him as best she could. When some relatives or friends dropped by, she asked them to attend to her son while she went to the Chapel. On her knees and in tears before the Blessed Sacrament, she began by acknowledging God as the Source of life and thanked Him for the gift of her son who had brought joy to her life. Then she begged God to spare him. The worse his condition became, the harder she prayed. But her prayers notwithstanding, her son died. Her relatives and friends were worried how she would take this turn of events. Were they surprised to see her take her son’s death in peace! When asked how come, she answered, What I prayed for was what I wanted. But during my prayer, there was something in me that said, ‘Let go — let God!’ Thus, at one point, I finally said, ‘Your will be done, Lord.’ With my child’s death, it was obvious that God did not go along with what I wanted. Though painful, I accepted His will wholeheartedly. He knew best.” (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 24) A snake or a fish? On August 6, 1945, Tadashi Hasegama, aged 14, was seated with some schoolmates on a riverbank about one mile from the center of the city of Hiroshima, Japan. Suddenly, the kids heard U.S. bombers overhead. Instinctively, they threw themselves face-down upon the ground. A moment later the first atomic bomb exploded. It sent forth a lurid yellow light, and flying balls of fire struck Tadashi and set his clothing afire. He plunged into the river, but pain stabbed every part of his body. When he crawled out of the water he found his skin hanging from him like ribbons. Fortunately, his father found the lad and took him to a Jesuit residence hard by. The superior, a Spanish priest named Pedro Arrupe, took Tadashi in and gave him whatever first aid he could. For weeks the boy was in a critical condition, his body full of sores and infection. The Hasegamas, who visited him often, were Buddhists, but they were touched by the Jesuit’s remarks about God, Jesus Christ at the crucifixion. When the priest suggested baptism of Tadashi, they were not opposed. After baptism Tadashi slept for a whole week. When he finally woke up, his wounds were almost healed. In today’s parable, our Lord teaches God’s fatherly concern for each of us. He says that our heavenly Father, no more than an earthly father, would give his son a snake when he asked for a fish. We can carry the parable a little farther, however, then say that sometimes God does give us what looks like a snake, but then turns it into a fish. Tadashi’s trials eventually bore the fruit of faith, baptism and finally a vocation to the priesthood. When an editor at St. Anthony’s Messenger recently interviewed Father Tadashi, now a pastor at Hiroshima, he found him a man who blamed the sinfulness of mankind rather than the American bombers for the destruction of Hiroshima. Naturally, he is a strong opponent of nuclear warfare, but not so much out of fear as out of hope that men may henceforth cultivate peace. Thus, God gave Tadashi tribulation, but by means of tribulation, true Christian wisdom.(Father Robert F. McNamara). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/). L/22

For pictures, visit Google images, typing Our Father Prayer or O. T. !7 (C) homily

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle C (No. 44) 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