Advent II (C) Dec 5th Sunday, 2021

Advent II [C] (Dec 5, 2021) Sunday (Eight-minute homily in 1 page) 

Central theme: The Second Sunday of Advent challenges us to prepare a royal highway in our hearts so that we may receive Jesus as our saving God on Christmas. We should also be prepared for Christ’s daily coming into our lives in the Holy Eucharist, in the Holy Bible, in everyone we encounter, and in the praying community. Finally, we are asked to be ready to meet Jesus as our Judge on His Second Coming, at the end of our lives and at the end of the world.

Scripture lessons summarized: In the first reading, the prophet Baruch introduces Yahweh, the God of Israel, preparing the way for, and leading the Babylonian exiles to, Jerusalem. Hence, the prophet invites the weeping Jerusalem to rejoice and go to high places to watch the return of the exiles. Baruch’s prophecy announces the return of the whole human race to God. During this Advent season, we, too, are asked to return to the Lord from our slavery to sin. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 126) offers us a close-up of the exiles who had wept bitterly on leaving Jerusalem but are now returning home, rejoicing. In the second reading, Paul advises the Philippians to prepare themselves for Christ’s Second Coming by practicing Christian love and by leading pure and blameless lives. John the Baptist, in today’s Gospel, challenges the Jews to prepare their lives for receiving their long-awaited Messiah. They are to prepare a highway in their hearts for their Messiah by levelling the mountains of pride and the valleys of impurity, injustice and neglect and straightening their crooked ways. They are to get ready by repenting of their sins, renewing their lives, and expressing their repentance by receiving the baptism of repentance in River Jordan and changing their lives.

Life messages: #1: We need to prepare our hearts and lives for Jesus our Savior to be reborn in us during this Christmas time. We have to fill in the “valleys” of our souls, formed from our shallow prayer life and a minimalist living out of our Faith. We have to straighten whatever crooked paths we’ve been walking, like involvement in some secret or habitual sins or in a sinful relationship. If we have been involved in some dishonest practices at work or at home, we are called to straighten them out and make restitution. If we have been harboring grudges or hatred, or failing to be reconciled with others, now is the time to clear away all the debris. As individuals, we might have to overcome deep-seated resentment, persistent fault-finding, unwillingness to forgive, dishonesty in our dealings with others, or a bullying attitude. And we all have to level the “mountains” of our pride and egocentrism by practicing the true humility of rendering humble service to others.

#2: We need to repent and seek forgiveness from God and those we have injured: John’s message calls us to confront and confess our sins. We need to turn away from them in sincere repentance and receive God’s forgiveness. Next, we need to forgive others who have offended us and ask forgiveness for our offenses. Jesus explicitly declares (Mt 6:14-15): “For if you forgive men their transgressions, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

ADVENT II [C] (Dec 5, 2021): Bar 5:1-9; Phil 1:4-6, 8-11; Lk 3:1-6

Homily starter anecdotes: #1: Preparation for VIPs: When the President or Prime Minister of a country is scheduled to make a public appearance, his staff prepares weeks and even months in advance to make certain that the proper protocol will be observed and the leader’s security will be assured. Similarly, detailed preparations precede the appearance of religious leaders like the Pope. Programs are scheduled, choral presentations are practiced, gifts are bought, and special persons are chosen to present them in the most gracious manner possible, so that the honored one is duly recognized and appreciated. Careful planning also accompanies the appearances of other political figures, celebrity entertainers and rock singers. When rock stars like Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen made a tour, elaborate preparations were made for their coming. If they came to the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan, for example, their entourage would arrive ahead of time to get things ready for their concert. Stages would be set; lighting would be adjusted, sound checks made; every care would be taken so that the needs and whims of each guest would be fully accommodated. In fact, one wonders if today’s Gospel about John the Baptist proclaiming the coming of Jesus applies more to modern rock stars than it does to the true Messiah. Only when we put the same care and commitment into our spiritual Christmas preparations that rock stars put into their musical performances will “all mankind begin to see the salvation of God.” (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

# 2: “Make ready the way of the Lord.” A blizzard hit the Kansas prairie. Two feet of snow drifted to five and six feet in places. The telephone rang in the doctor’s home. The time had come for John Lang’s wife to have her baby. But it was impossible for the doctor to get through those drifts. John Lang called his neighbors: Can you help the doc to get through? In no time, from all directions, came men and boys with plows and shovels. They labored with all their might almost for two hours until finally the old doc was able to make it, just in time to deliver the Lang boy. Today, to all of us comes a call from another Father, God the Father through His prophet Isaiah and repeated by Jesus’ own cousin John the Baptist: “Make ready the way of the Lord.” But we are called, not to remove piles of snow, but piles of sin, neglect, thoughtlessness, the things that make it difficult and often impossible for the Divine Child to be reborn to our hearts and lives. (Msgr. Arthur Tonne).(Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

# 3: “Dam up the Detroit River and baptize the entire city!” William P. Barker tells about a machinist with the Ford motor company in Detroit who had, over a period of years, “borrowed” various parts and tools from the company which he had not bothered to return. While this practice was not condoned, it was more or less accepted by management, and nothing was done about it. The machinist, however, experienced a Christian conversion. He was baptized and became a devout believer. More important, he took his Baptism seriously. The very next morning, he arrived at work loaded down with tools and all the parts he had “borrowed” from the company during the years. He explained the situation to his foreman, added that he’d never really meant to steal them and hoped he’d be forgiven. The foreman was so astonished and impressed by his action, that he cabled Mr. Ford himself, who was visiting a European plant, and explained the entire event in detail. Immediately Ford cabled back: “Dam up the Detroit River,” he said, “and baptize the entire city!” [Tarbell’s Teacher’s Guide, Vol. 82, (Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell, 1986).] We can only hope and pray that every Christian takes his or her Baptism that seriously. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Introduction: The Advent season challenges us to prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ first coming. We are also to prepare for Christ’s present “coming” to us in God’s Word, in the Eucharist, in our neighbors, in the Christian community, and in the abiding presence of the Holy Trinity in our souls. Finally, we are asked to be ready to meet Christ as our Judge both at the end of our lives and at the end of the world when Jesus will come with power and great glory on the clouds of Heaven as Judge, bringing our waiting to its everlasting completion. The readings today invite us to recall God’s saving deeds in the history of Israel, culminating in the coming of the promised Messiah.

Scripture readings summarized: Baruch, in the first reading, asks the grieving Jerusalem to stand on the heights in order to see her scattered children coming home, with God in the lead. This reminds us that all of us, like Israel in her exile, have been led into the captivity of sin. Hence, we are in need of restoration and conversion by the Word of the Holy One. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 126), is the joyous song of ascent, sung by pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem. We see those who had gone into exile weeping now returning “rejoicing, carrying their sheaves.” In writing to his beloved community at Philippi, Paul, in today’s second reading, prays that they may be filled with joy as they await the day of Christ. Paul reminds us that our remembrance of God’s saving deeds during the Advent season is meant to stir our Faith and to fill us with confidence that, “the One who began a good work in us will continue to complete it,” until Jesus comes again in glory. In the Gospel, John the Baptist challenges us to prepare the way for the salvation of “all flesh,” including our own, by a true repentance leading to the renewal of our lives. Fulfilling the Lord God’s words to Israel through Isaiah, John, by his preaching of repentance and a change of life is “the voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths…’” For us, this command means that we are to prepare a royal road in our hearts for our Savior, a way that will take us from the wilderness of sin and alienation to God.

First reading, Baruch 5:1-9, explained:Enemies practically destroyed Jerusalem in 587 BC and deported many Jews to Babylon. Almost fifty years later (in 538 BC), Cyrus, the Persian emperor, defeated Babylon and decreed that the exiles could return to their homelands. Many Jews returned to Judah and Jerusalem, though some stayed behind among the pagans. They became known as the Diaspora (dispersion) Jews. Although all the exiles were cut off from the Temple and the sacrifices of the community, most of them remained faithful to their ancestral religion. They nourished their Faith with the teaching of God’s word by prophets, scribes, and priests, primarily in their synagogue gatherings. They continued to feel their kinship with Judah’s Jews and to express longing for Jerusalem and its Temple in their writings. The book from which we read today is ascribed to Baruch, the secretary of the prophet Jeremiah who accompanied the Jews to Babylon in their exile. The book voices a hope for release from exile and oppression by portraying “Lady Jerusalem,” who, like a priest, takes off the robes of mourning and puts on the cloak of God’s justice and the miter that displays the glory of God’s name. Baruch’s words remind us that Advent is the suitable time for shedding the robes of selfishness and materialism in order to be clothed with the garments of mercy, kindness, and justice. Baruch declares that the restored exiles will have a new name: “Peace of Righteousness and Glory of Godliness.” Then he shares with Isaiah 40:3ff this comforting image: Between the land of the Captivity and Jerusalem, the desert will be leveled, its mountains smoothed down and its valleys filled up, so that the returning exiles can travel with ease. In the original Isaiahian setting, the people exiled in Babylon were told that their God would lead them home, just as He had led their ancestors through the wilderness to the Promised Land. They were assured that all obstacles would be removed so that this could be accomplished. Isaiah’s version is familiar to us in the form quoted by John the Baptist in today’s Gospel. [The book could also have been of great comfort to the Jews during the Persian period (500-300 BC), or the Hellenistic period (300-50 BC), or to Jews living in Alexandria around 200 BC, offering them a vision of hope and optimism as they struggled to keep their Faith.] As the Babylonian exiles longed to return to Jerusalem and the presence of God, so the people of God, during Advent especially, await Christ’s parousia so that we may return Home to the Promised Land, the Kingdom of God.

Second Reading, Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11, explained: This is another Pauline passage that warns the early Christians of the second coming of Jesus, referring to it as “the day of Christ” and “the day of Christ Jesus.” The passage stresses everyone’s need for that perpetual readiness to be found in leading a righteous life. Paul was very fond of the Philippian Christians and was very pleased with their spiritual progress and maturity. So, he assured them that their Heavenly Father, who had given them the gift of conversion, would continue to bring that “good work” to fruition. He would complete His work “at the day of Jesus Christ,” when Jesus would come in glory to judge the whole world. For their part, Paul prays that the Philippians’ “love may increase ever more and more, in knowledge and every kind of perception to discern what is of value so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.” By virtue of our Baptism in the Lord, we are all fully-equipped with every grace we need to cooperate with God’s plan to get us to Heaven. Moreover, our Lord provides us with the graces of the other Sacraments and other actual graces throughout our lives to better ensure that we have even more assistance in getting to our Heavenly homeland, if only we will recognize and receive them and then make full use of them in changing our lives. Paul’s advice echoes the words of John the Baptist found in today’s Gospel, inviting the Jews to repent and renew their lives to welcome the Messiah.

Gospel exegesis: The historical context: Each year, the second and the third Sundays in Advent center on John the Baptist, reminding us that if we want to prepare properly for the coming of Jesus we need to listen to the Baptizer’s message. The Evangelists realized the importance of John’s message. Hence, all four of them wrote about John’s preaching, while only two of them described the nativity of Christ. Following the style of ancient historians, Luke dates the appearance of John according to the ruling powers. He begins by setting the emergence of John against the secular context of the Roman Empire. After referring to the world situation and the Palestinian political condition, Luke turns to the Jewish religious context and reports John’s emergence as a Herald of the Messiah during the religious leadership of Annas and Caiaphas. Although Caiaphas was the reigning High-priest, it was Annas, his father-in-law and the retired High Priest, who was the religious power behind the throne of Galilee’s Tetrarch at that time, Herod Antipas, a son of Herod the Great. “Because of all of the names mentioned here, we know that these events happen somewhere between September of 27 A.D. and October of AD 28.” [1] But aside from using these names to set the date for us, Luke includes them to show how far Israel had fallen. Politically, the Jews were ruled by foreigners, and religiously, Annas and Caiaphas had been illegally put into their positions by the Roman authorities, and constantly used their power to line their own pockets and increase their own authority. Annas was even sometimes called a viper who hissed or whispered in the ears of judges and politicians in order to influence their decisions.” (Alfred Edersheim: “The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah”: New Updated Edition,1993). “The ‘coming of the word of God’ to someone is a standard formula for a prophetic call. In this case, the prophet was John the Baptizer, as he prepared the way for Jesus. The Baptizer proclaimed the coming of God’s Kingdom and preached a ceremony (a “baptism”), of immersion, as a response that was to symbolize the interior repentance that leads to forgiveness. The general consensus of Biblical scholars today is that John the Baptist began to preach in AD 28 or 29, and that Christ’s public ministry began that same year.” The passage reminds us that we need not be somebody well known and of great influence to be used by God. God uses you and me, sometimes instead of the most prominent or popular. Let us just get on our knees, in prayer, with the Word of God before us, and por out our responsive, loving self-surrender to Him asking Him to make any use of us and His gifts to us that He wills, that He may be glorified in us, too.

Theme of John’s preaching: the baptism of repentance: John’s baptism was not a proselyte baptism, converting Gentiles into Jews. In proselyte baptism, the Gentile would be immersed in a body of water (called a mikveh), to symbolize death and burial to his Gentile past, and then would be raised up from the water to symbolize being “born again,” raised to a new life as a Jew. This baptism symbolized turning from the past and turning toward a new life with God in the future. And what was repentance? It was a turning from the new Jew’s pattern of sin in the past and turning toward God. John’s baptism offered to Jews, was, thus extraordinary. It was a “baptism of repentance,” a baptism for the forgiveness of sins committed by those who were Jews already, and it required repentance (metanoeo, a change of being), which implied a turning around to proceed in a new direction True repentance is not just a 180 degree turn from the sin, but an all-out, full-bore, frantic sprint back toward God. [“Our basic problem is a heart problem. We need to get the heart changed, the heart transformed” (Rev. Billy Graham).] John, then, was inviting the Chosen people to be purified of the unholy elements in their lives. Fulfilling the prophetic words of Isaiah, John the Baptist’ preaching assisted in ensuring that in the lives of everyone who was baptized, “Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth” (Lk 3:5). Isiah was referring to mountains of pride and arrogance and valleys of discouragement and despair. As with Baruch, John presents an image of the mountains and valleys being made flat and smooth as a sign of Israel’s repentance and moral transformation.

Preparing “the way” means to create a favorable environment or to make it easy for Someone to come to one and operate in one’s life. The quotation which John’s work fulfills is taken from Isaiah 40:3-5, where the prophet was calling the people to prepare for the Lord’s visitation. If a king were planning to travel, work-crews would be dispatched to repair the roads. Ideally, the roads for the king’s journey would be straight, level, and smooth. John considered himself as the courier of the king. But the preparation on which John insisted was a preparation of heart and of life. “The king is coming,” he said in effect. “Mend, not your roads, but your lives.” The quotation, “making straight the paths of the Lord,” means clearing the path of sin, which is the major obstacle preventing the Lord from coming into our lives. The valley here stands for the estrangement of man from God.

John called people to repent as a way of preparing their hearts and lives for the Lord’s visit. He is calling us, too, to get ready for something so great that it fills our emptiness with expectation. A smooth road means nothing to God, but a repentant heart means a great deal. Hence, the truly important goal for us is to prepare our hearts to receive the Lord. By emphasizing the last line of the quotation “All flesh will see the salvation of God,” Luke stresses the universal aspect of God’s salvation. Having begun the section with a list of rulers who did not bring wholeness or salvation, Luke ends with the expectation of a true Lord Who can bring these about. We don’t live in a perfect world, and we don’t look to this world to see God’s salvation. For salvation, we have to look to Jesus — Jesus present in Scripture, Jesus present in the Sacraments, Jesus present as we come together in Jesus’ Name, Jesus present in the lives of his followers. Perhaps if we began to see Jesus in each other and in ourselves, and started to treat one another (and ourselves), as we would treat Jesus, more of the world might come to see God’s salvation.

The symbolic significance of John’s preaching at the Jordan: The Jordan River was the place that represented the eastern border of the Promised Land, separating it from the desert — where the Jews had wandered aimlessly for 40 years after centuries of slavery in Egypt. By preaching his message there, John was inviting the Jews of his day to come out of the bondage of slavery, to leave their faults, their wandering and their sinful lives behind, and to enter into the Promised Land full of God’s blessings. The Fathers of the Church have called the Sacrament of Reconciliation our “second baptism,” in which we’re brought back to the Jordan and cleansed interiorly as we were on the day of our Christening. Advent, like Lent, is a season given to us so that we may repent of our sins and be reconciled with God and His Church by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It was for this purpose that the Sacrament was instituted by Jesus after His Resurrection: “Receive the Holy Spirit: Those whose sins you forgive are forgiven; those whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn 20:18-22). It is for this on-going reconciliation, then, not just to “preach repentance and forgiveness of sins … to all nations beginning from Jerusalem” (Lk 24:47), that Jesus sent the apostles and their successors out to the ends of the world.

Life messages: #1: We need to prepare the way for the Messiah in our hearts: We have to fill in the “valleys” of our souls which have resulted from our shallow prayer life and a minimalist way of living out our Faith. We have to straighten whatever crooked paths we’ve been walking, like involvement in some secret or habitual sins or in a sinful relationship. If we have been involved in some dishonest practices at work or at home, we are called to straighten them out and make restitution. If we have been harboring grudges or hatred, or failing to be reconciled with others, now is the time to clear away all the debris. If we have been pushing God off to the side of our road, if we have been saying to Him that we don’t really have the time for Him, now is the time for us to get our priorities straight. As individuals, we might have to overcome deep-seated resentment, persistent fault-finding, unwillingness to forgive, dishonesty in our dealings with others, or a bullying attitude. And we all have to level the “mountains” of our pride and egocentrism. As a society we might have to dismantle unfair housing policies, employment disparity, economic injustice, or racial and ethnic biases.

#2: We need to repent and seek forgiveness from God and our fellow-human beings: John’s message calls us to confront and confess our sins. We have to turn away from them in sincere repentance in order to receive God’s forgiveness. There are basically two reasons why people who have recognized their sins fail to receive forgiveness for them. The first is that they fail to repent — but the second is that they fail to forgive. Jesus is very explicit about this (Matthew 6:14-15). He says, “For if you forgive men their transgressions, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Is there someone I need to forgive today? Someone’s whose pardon I need to ask? We must not let what others have done destroy our lives. We can’t be forgiven unless we forgive. We must release our bitterness if we are to be able to allow God to do His healing work in our lives.

# 3: We need to accommodate John the Baptizer in our lives: William Bausch offers some suggestions as to how we might accommodate the Baptizer. “Make friends with someone you’re at odds with. Pick up the phone and talk to somebody you haven’t talked to in months or years. Be the first to hold out the hand of reconciliation even though it gets slapped or rejected. Don’t turn your head at shady dealings. Be willing to put some of your possessions on the line. Tithe, not out of your excess, but out of your substance. Add up the amounts you have set aside for your Christmas spending, and then slice off 10 percent and give it to the poor. Give evidence that you mean to repent.” Sally Koch reminds us that great opportunities to help others seldom come but small ones surround us every day. It takes only a minute to be kind, but the prophet reminds us the end result can remain forever and a day.

JOKES OF THE WEEK:#1: “Oh, well, soap only works when it is applied.” A soap manufacturer and a pastor were walking together down a street in a large city. The soap manufacturer casually said, “The Gospel you preach hasn’t done much good, has it? Just observe. There is still a lot of wickedness in the world, and a lot of wicked people, too!” The pastor made no reply until they passed a dirty little child making mud pies in the gutter. Seizing the opportunity, the pastor said, “I see that soap hasn’t done much good in the world either; for there is much dirt still here, and many dirty people are still around.” The soap man said, “Oh, well, soap only works when it is applied.” And the pastor said, “Exactly! So, it is with the Gospel.”

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

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

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

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

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

4) Catholic liturgical calendar: http://www.easterbrooks.com/cgi- bin/Cathcal.cgi? 20091118

5) Catholic goldmine: http://www.smcrome.org/

6) Catholicity: http://www.catholicity.com/

7) Catholic World News: http://www.cwnews.com/index.cfm

8) The Church Fathers: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/

9)The Documents of the Second Vatican Council
https://www.ewtn.com/library/COUNCILS/V2ALL.HTM

10) Current News from the Catholic News Agencyhttp://www.catholicnewsagency.com/

25- Additional anecdotes:

1)”‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'” means “Get ready!”: December 7th, 1941 – Pearl Harbor Day – the “date which will live in infamy,” according to President Roosevelt. (A Date with Destiny). December 7, 1941 was, for what is called “the Greatest Generation,” the day that changed their world, just as September 11th is the day that changed the world for the generation of today. Larry Krespan was lying on the living room floor reading the Sunday paper. “We interrupt this program to bring you a special news bulletin: “The Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, by air, President Roosevelt has just announced. The attack was also was made on all naval and military activities on the principal island of Oahu.”(CBS Radio, http://www.execpc.com/~dschaaf/flash.wav ). Eighty years ago, at Pearl Harbor, one pilot dropped a bomb right down the smoke stack of the USS Arizona. It went five decks down into the boiler room and exploded like a volcano. But the most devastating bomb hit the forward magazine area and exploded with the intensity of one million pounds of TNT. Those who witnessed the action said the ship veritably lifted out of the sea and then settled down to the bottom of the harbor. From the first bomb to her demise, a total of nine minutes elapsed. 1,177 sailors are entombed to this day in the Arizona. The attack on Pearl Harbor lasted for a shade under two hours. 2,403 were killed in action, 1,178 wounded, 640 were never accounted for; plus, 188 planes were lost, 158 damaged, six major airfields, and every battleship of the Pacific Fleet – eight – crippled or sunk, in addition to other ships. Why did it happen? Simple answer, really. We were not ready. Despite the fact that there had been diplomatic rumblings for weeks of something brewing, we were caught off guard. Now, it is 80 years later. The calendar says that Dec 7th is the anniversary of that fateful day. But it also says we are in the season of Advent, that time during the Church year when we are uniquely called to GET READY. We hear again the call of John the Baptist – “… as is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: ‘A voice of one calling in the desert, “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.”‘ GET READY! (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

2) Death door of St. Peter’s Basilica: Two or three years ago, I saw the death door at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Some of you may remember that the great Pope St. John XXIII, blessed be his memory, commissioned the eminent artist, Giacomo Manza, to sculpt a new door for that great basilica, and the artist depicted on that door a series of death scenes. There was death by falling, death in war, the martyred death of Peter upside down on the cross, and others. Death by drowning is there, death by water. And I reasoned as I looked at that door, that this was behind the sculptor’s theme – we enter the Church by death. Baptism – our acted entrance into the Church — is by water. Death by water, then, is a challenging and authentic understanding of Baptism. The early Church even built its baptismal fonts in the shape of tombs to make that meaning graphic. We cannot underscore the meaning of Baptism too much if we’re going to save ourselves from approaching casually that event in a person’s life which is so crucial: being buried with Christ in Baptism – having the sign and the seal of our salvation placed upon us with water and the laying on of hands. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

3) “Please know that the management forgives you.” J. Edwin Orr, a professor of Church history has described the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit during the Welsh Revivals of the nineteenth century. As people sought to be filled with the Spirit, they did all they could to confess their wrongdoings and to make restitution. But their fervor unexpectedly created serious problems for the shipyards along the coast of Wales. Over the years, workers had stolen all kinds of things, from wheelbarrows to hammers. However, as people sought reunion with God, they started to return what they had taken, with the result that soon the shipyards of Wales were overwhelmed with returned property. There were such huge piles of returned tools that several of the yards put up signs that read, “If you have been led by God to return what you have stolen, please know that the management forgives you and wishes you to keep what you have taken.” — Today’s readings challenge us to prepare a royal highway in our hearts for receiving Jesus during Christmas by repenting of our sins and renewing our lives. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

4) Sign of the cross on the Christian’s forehead. In the earliest Baptismal liturgies, after the person had been baptized, he or she appeared before the bishop. The bishop embraced the new Christian then did something of great significance – the bishop dipped his finger into oil and made the sign of the cross on the Christian’s forehead. This was known as the signation, the signature. The sign of the cross upon a person’s forehead was like a brand to show ownership. — As sheep are marked to show ownership, so Christians are marked by Baptism to show Who owns them and to Whose flock they belong. By Baptism, Christians are branded to show Who chose them and Who now owns them. Let us always remember our Baptism! (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

5) Restitution the fruit of repentance. A few years ago, newspapers carried the story of Al Johnson, a Kansas man who came to faith in Jesus Christ. What made his story remarkable was not his conversion, but the fact that as a result of his newfound faith in Christ, he confessed to a bank robbery he had participated in when he was nineteen years old. Because the statute of limitations on the case had run out, Johnson could not be prosecuted for the offense. Still, he believed his relationship with Christ demanded a confession. And he even voluntarily repaid his share of the stolen money! (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

6) “This is an old sinner”: The story is told of an old mountain preacher who was baptizing converts at a revival meeting. Up stepped a wiry, sharp-eyed old man who said he wanted to be baptized too. The preacher led the man into the water. He asked the usual question: Was there any reason why the ordinance of Baptism should not be administered. After a pause a tall, powerful-looking man, who was watching quietly, remarked: “Preacher, I don’t want to interfere in your business, but I want to say that this is an old sinner you have got hold of, and that one dip won’t do him any good; you’ll have to anchor him out in deep water overnight.” The objector was right. If the hope for cleansing was based on the efforts of the water, there was going to have to be a whole lot more water used! [Leewin Williams, editor, Encyclopedia of Wit, Humor and Wisdom (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1949), p. 248.] — It is not water that saves us. Water is but a symbol. Water itself has no saving power. And to be frank about it, neither does the strength of our belief. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

7) Warning signs: At an intersection, the green light changes to yellow. At the theater, the house lights flash. In the Battalion Tactical Operations Center, a Warning Order comes down from Brigade. At the airport terminal, the boarding call comes over the intercom. At a railroad crossing, the lights begin to flash. In a small Midwestern town, the tornado siren screams. On the football field, the two-minute warning sounds. In the cargo bay of a C-140, a red light comes on. In the Desert of Judea, a voice of one calling in the wilderness is heard declaring, “Prepare the way of the Lord.” — What do all these have in common? They are signs or warnings that people, including ourselves, need to prepare for what is about to happen. Today’s readings give the same message of warning. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

8) “I’m a new creature since I asked Jesus into my heart.” Sue Monk Kidd, in her book, All Things Are Possible (C. R. Gibson Co., 1988), says that so often when she opens a newspaper, she finds herself reading a depressing headline, “words in big letters shouting about a world threat, a crisis, another crime.” There is surely a lot of bad news to read about these days. One day she opened her town’s paper, however, and read a remarkable headline printed in half-inch letters. The headline read like this: “I Asked Jesus into My Heart.” This story followed: “During the night dogs had begun to bark furiously around the home of a local couple. Usually the dogs’ barking signaled something amiss, that perhaps prowlers lurked nearby. But the next morning, the couple discovered that nothing had been taken. Instead, something had been returned. Outside the front door were two car speakers that had been stolen six weeks earlier. A note attached to them read like this: ‘I’m sorry that I took your speakers, but now I have repented my sins and asked Jesus to forgive me. I hope you will forgive me too. I no longer take other people’s belongings…God has changed me. I’m a new creature since I asked Jesus into my heart.’ It was signed simply, ‘Saved.'”– It could have been signed, “Baptized.” In fact, I like “baptized” better. “Saved” connotes that we have been delivered from the power of sin, but Baptism is more than that. Baptism means that we have put on new life in Christ. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

9) Our religion is a way of life. The Wall Street Journal carried an article (9-12-94) about the dramatic increase of fundamentalist Islam in Turkey “a country that has been relatively secular.” They quoted a young Muslim Turk: “Our view of religion is different from yours,” he said to a western visitor. “According to your rules,” he continued, “religion counts only in the place where you pray. Our religion is a way of life. I have no time at all, not one minute, without Islam.” — Is that how the world views the Christian Faith: its rules apply to its adherents only while they are in Church? Where have we missed it? Why do we not understand that Baptism means the beginning of new life? To paraphrase that young Muslim: “I have no time at all, not one minute, without Christ. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

10) Which is better: agnostic or fanatic? Robert Short, author of The Gospel According to Peanuts and Parables of Peanuts, tells how, as a high school student in Midland, Texas, he became an agnostic, though he had been raised in a Methodist home. He became president of a science club that caused such a controversy that his high school principal complained to his parents. He tells how he sat across from his mother who, with tears running down her face said, “I thought we raised you right. I never thought it would come to this – our son an agnostic.” Later Robert Short found a new relationship to Jesus Christ in college and felt a call to the ministry. At home, he told his mother of his decision. Sitting at that same kitchen table, with tears running down her cheeks, she said, “I never thought it would come to this – my son, a religious fanatic.” 

Incomplete (15  anecdotes are missing; They are uploaded  separately)

ADVENT II (C) Dec 5 (Lk 3. 1-6) L-21.doc

Nov 29- Dec 4

Nov 29-Dec 4:Kindly click onhttps://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed Sunday and weekday homilies, RCIA & Faith formation classes: Click on the link given after the name of the saint ,for a short biography. Nov 29 Monday: Mt 8: 5-11: 5 As he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, beseeching him 6 and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.” 7 And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion answered him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, `Go,’ and he goes, and to another, `Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, `Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard him, he marveled, and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

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

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

Life messages: 1) We need to grow to the level of Faith of the centurion by knowing and personally experiencing Jesus in our lives. We do so by our meditative daily reading of the Bible, by our daily personal and family prayers, by frequenting the Sacraments, especially the Eucharistic celebration, and by surrendering our lives to Jesus in rendering loving service to others in all humility. Fr. Kadavil (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Nov 30 Tuesday  (St. Andrew, the Apostle) (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-andrew):Mt 4: 18-22: 18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. (Mark 1: 14-20) Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

Two accounts of Andrew’s call: There are two accounts of Andrew’s call as an apostle by Jesus in the Gospels. According to Matthew and Mark, Jesus selected four fishermen, Andrew and his brother Peter, with James and his brother John, right from their fishing boats. Peter and Andrew “immediately” left their nets and followed Jesus. Similarly, James and John “immediately” left the boats and their father and followed Jesus. According to John’s Gospel, John and Andrew were the disciples of John the Baptist, and they had been encouraged to follow Jesus by John the Baptist, who pointed out Jesus as “the Lamb of God”(Jn 1:38-30), suggesting that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. One apostle leading other to Christ: First, we find Andrew, after spending a night with Jesus, leading his brother Peter to Jesus. Next, in the Gospel, Andrew appears in the scene of the multiplication of the bread where Jesus miraculously fed a multitude. While Philip gave a bad report of the situation, Andrew went among the multitude and found a boy who offered to give his small food packet of five bread and fish to Jesus to feed the multitude. Andrew who saw Jesus miraculously supplying wine at Cana knew that Jesus could work another miracle with five barley loaves and two dried fish. We find Andrew a third time in the Gospel, bringing a few Greek pilgrims to Jesus. They had first approached Philip for help and Philip had sought the help of Andrew to bring them to Jesus.The preaching and the martyrdom: According to Church tradition, Andrew preached the Gospel in Greece and Turkey and was crucified at Patras on an X-shaped cross to which he was tied. According another tradition, he also preached in Scotland and Russia. St. Andrew is the patron saint of Russia, of Scotland, and of fishermen.

Life messages: 1) In order to be effective instruments in the hands of God and to continue Jesus’ preaching, healing and saving ministry, we, too, need to repent of our sins on a daily basis and to renew our lives by relying on the power of God. 2) As the first four apostles, including Andrew, gave priority to Christ and left behind everything, we, too, are to give priority to Jesus and Jesus’ ideals in our vocation in life. 3) St. Andrew’s zeal is a real inspiration to us. When St. John the Baptist pointed to Jesus, saying, “Behold! The Lamb of God!” Andrew and John, Zebedee’s son, immediately ran after Him with their inquiries. After talking with Jesus, Andrew wasted no time in bringing his brother, Simon Peter, to meet Jesus. We can almost picture Andrew, full of excitement, telling everyone he met about our Lord. Through Andrew’s evangelization, St. Peter, our first pope, was brought to Jesus. (Fr. Kadavil) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Dec 1 Wednesday: Mt 15: 29-37: 29 And Jesus went on from there and passed along the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain and sat down there. 30 And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the dumb, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, 31 so that the throng wondered, when they saw the dumb speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel. 32 Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days, and have nothing to eat; and I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” 33 And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get bread enough in the desert to feed so great a crowd?” 34 And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves have you?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” 35 And commanding the crowd to sit down on the ground, 36 he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 37 And they all ate and were satisfied; and they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: The Decapolis was a loose federation of ten cities with a mixed population of Jews and Gentiles. Jesus took six months to travel to the Decapolis via Tyre and Sidon and to return to Galilee. The healing and feeding described in today’s Gospel took place on a hill near the Sea of Galilee after Jesus’ return from the Decapolis. Jesus healed the lame, the maimed, the blind, and the dumb, then, expressed His pity for the hungry multitude to the apostles. When they asked Jesus where they were supposed to get enough bread to feed this enormous crowd, He asked how many loaves they had. They told Him, “Seven, and a few small fish.” Jesus had the crowd sit, then took the loaves and fish, gave thanks to God for them, broke them and gave them to the apostles to give to the people. After the crowd had eaten their fill, the Apostles, again at Jesus’ command, collected the broken pieces; they filled seven baskets with the fragments.

Life messages : 1) We need to help Jesus to heal the blind, the lame, the deaf and the mute today. Jesus desires to open our blind eyes and to loosen our tongues so that He may see and speak to the spiritually hungry through us. Jesus asks us for our hearts in order to touch the lives of people in our day through us, just as Jesus touched the lives of millions through saintly souls like Francis of Assisi, Fr. Damien, Vincent de Paul and Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa.).

2) We need to be fed by Jesus. Jesus continues to feed us in his Church with His own Body and Blood in Holy Communion and with the word of God through the Holy Bible. Fr. Kadavil (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21.

Dec 2 Thursday:Mt 7:21, 24-27: 21 “Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; 25 and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; 27 and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.” Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

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

Life messages : 1) We need to synchronize our practice of the Faith with our profession of it: The test of our Sunday worship is the effect it has in our homes and workplaces and on our relationships with friends and neighbors. The great test is the care and consideration we show to our neighbors, many of whom commonly experience the absence of affection, of words of encouragement and of forgiveness. 2) We need to build our families on strong foundations : There can be no great marriage and no great family without a solid foundation. Such a foundation exists when the husband and wife are the love of Christ for each other and for their children in deeds as well as in words. Our culture and nation also need strong foundations based on the moral law of God and love of Jesus Christ, and this is possible only if our families are built on these foundations. Fr. Kadavil (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Dec 3 Friday (St. Francis Xavier): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-francis-xavier Mt 9:27-31: 27 And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” 28 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” 29 Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” 30 And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly charged them, “See that no one knows it.” 31 But they went away and spread his fame through all that district. Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

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

Life messages : 1) We, too, need light and eyesight because we are often blind to the needs and expectations of those around us and even living with us. We are also often blind to the presence of Jesus living in us and in others, to the blessings God showers on us and to the protection God gives us every day. Hence, let us pray for the spiritual eyesight to realize and experience the presence of Jesus in ourselves and others, and for the good will to do good to and for others. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Dec 4 Saturday (St. John Damascene, Priest, Doctor of the Church) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-john-damascene : Mt 9: 35-10: 1, 5, 6-8: 35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity. 10:1 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. 5 These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And preach as you go, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay. (Cfr. Mt 9: 35- 10: 1) Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

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

Life messages : 1) As Christians, we share Christ’s mission of preaching and healing. This means that we, too, have to demonstrate by our exemplary and transparent Christian lives the mercy, the forgiveness, and the unconditional love of Jesus. 2) We are also called to act as the agents of healing by praying for the sick, by helping them to get the necessary medical and nursing help, and by encouraging them, supporting them and boosting their morale. Fr. Kadavil (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Advent I (c) Nov 28, 2021 (L-21)

Advent I (Nov 28) Sunday Homily (Eight-minute homily in 1 page)

Central theme: Advent is a time of waiting for Christ, allowing Jesus to be reborn in our lives. It is also a time for purifying our hearts by repentance and for renewing our lives by reflecting on and experiencing the several comings (advents) of Christ into our lives. Besides coming into our world through birth, Jesus comes into our lives as we live them through His Church, its Sacraments (especially the Eucharist), the Word of God, the worshipping community, as we die, and finally, in His Second Coming

Scripture lessons summarized: In the first reading, the prophet Jeremiah waits and hopes for an ideal descendant of King David Who, as Messiah of God, will bring security, peace, and justice to God’s people. Christians believe that Jeremiah’s waiting and hoping have been fulfilled in Jesus. Jeremiah’s prophecy assures us that the Lord, our Justice will fulfill His promises, and, hence, we need not be afraid, despite the frightening events and almost universal moral degradation. The Psalmist expresses the central idea of patient, vigilant, prayerful waiting for the Lord in today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 25), praying, “Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths, guide me in your Truth and teach me for You are God, my Savior.” In the second reading, Paul urges the Thessalonians to continue and intensify the life of holiness and mutual love he has taught them as they wait for “the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His holy ones.”

In today’s Gospel, Jesus prophesies the signs and portents that will accompany his Second Coming and encourages us to be expectant, optimistic, vigilant, and well-prepared: “When these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand” (Luke 21:28). Jesus wants us to face the future with confidence in God’s providence.

Life messages: 1) We need to prepare ourselves for Christ’s second coming by allowing Jesus to be reborn daily in our lives. Advent gives us time to make this preparation — repenting of and confessing our sins, renewing our lives through prayer and penance, and sharing our blessings with others. In Advent, we also need to check for what needs to be put right in our lives, to see how we have failed, and to assess the ways in which we can do better. Let us accept the challenge of the German mystic Angelus SilesiusChrist could be born a thousand times in Bethlehem – but all in vain until He is born in me.”(Quoted in Messenger Of The Heart: The Book Of Angelus Silesius, With Observations By Frederick Franck (2005)

2) A message of warning and hope: The Church reminds us that we will each be asked to give an account of our lives before Christ the Judge, both at the moment of our death and at Jesus’ second coming. Today’s readings invite us to assess our lives every night during Advent and to make the necessary alterations in the light of the approaching Christmas celebration. Amid the tragedies that sometimes occur in our daily lives and the setbacks in spiritual life, we must raise our heads in hope and anticipation, knowing that the Lord is coming again.

Advent I [C] (Nov 28): Jer 33:14-16; 1Thes 3:12 – 4:2; Lk 21:25-28, 34-36

Homily starter anecdotes: #1: Missing the signal! In its day, the Titanic was the world’s largest ocean-liner, weighing 46,328 tons, and it was considered unsinkable. Yet, late during the night of April 14-15, 1912, the unthinkable happened to the unsinkable. Near midnight, the great Titanic struck an iceberg, ripping a three-hundred-foot hole through five of its sixteen watertight compartments. It sank in two and a half hours killing 1,513 people. Before the Titanic sank, warning after warning had been sent to tell the crew that they were speeding into an ice field, but the messages were ignored. In fact, when a nearby ship sent an urgent warning, the Titanic was talking to Cape Race about the time the chauffeurs were to meet arriving passengers at the dock in New York, and what dinner menus were to be ready. Preoccupied with the trivia, the Titanic responded to the warning, “Shut up. I am talking to Cape Race. You are jamming my signals!” Why did so many die that night? Perhaps the crew disregarded the danger of the weather; there were not enough lifeboats on board; and the radio operator of nearby California was off duty; perhaps those responsible did not heed the warnings; they were preoccupied with other things! — Sometimes we believe that our ‘ship’ is unsinkable, our life is completely planned, and the unthinkable can never happen to us. We need to read the signs of the times; we need to pay attention to the warning signals. But if we are preoccupied with the trivial things of life we will miss the most important things till it is too late. The First Sunday of Advent gives us the warning to be watchful, waiting, and prepared. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

# 2: “Watch the road.” There is a beautiful anecdote given by Msgr. Arthur Tonne clarifying the message of today’s Gospel. Several years ago a bus driver in Oklahoma reached an unusual record. In 23 years he had driven a bus over 900,000 miles without a single accident. When asked how he had done it, he gave this simple answer: “Watch the road.” In today’s Gospel Jesus gives the same advice in several ways: “Be vigilant at all times,” “Stand erect,” “Raise your heads,” “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy.” This is not only a good spiritual advice for the Advent season but also a safe rule for daily life. A good football player or basketball player should always concentrate his attention on the ball and the players. A good student must be alert, awake and attentive, watching the teacher and listening to his or her words. A good Catholic in the Church must be physically and mentally alert, watching the altar and actively participating in the prayers and songs. Like the Roman god Janus, who had two faces, one looking at the past year and the other looking into future, Christians during the Advent season are to look at the past event of the first coming of Jesus into the world and expectantly look forward to Jesus’ second coming in glory. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

# 3: Be patient, be faithful: Be faithful. Remember Albert Einstein’s words after the Second World War: “As a lover of freedom, when the revolution came in Germany, I looked to the universities to defend it, knowing that they had always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth; but no, the universities were immediately silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers, whose flaming editorials in days gone by had proclaimed their love of freedom; but they, like the universities were silenced in a few short weeks. Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration for it, because the Church alone has had the courage to stand for intellectual truth, and moral freedom. I am forced to confess that what I once despised, now I praise unreservedly.” — We are Christ’s Body in the world today. Be patient. Be faithful. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Introduction: Advent is a time of waiting and hoping, of renewing our trust in God’s merciful love and care, and of reflecting on the several comings (advents), of Christ into our lives. Besides Jesus’ first coming at birth, we are asked to reflect on Christ’s coming as the risen Lord at Easter, in the Sacraments (especially the Eucharist), in our everyday lives, at the moment of death, and at the end of human history (the second coming). The word Advent comes from the Latin ‘advenio‘, which literally means “come to.” During this Advent season we ourselves should consider “coming to” Christ, by “abounding in love… for all,” because Christ has already “come to” us in Baptism. Just as we ended the previous liturgical season with an apocalyptic description of the end of the world we begin the new season of Advent with similar apocalyptic warnings. The Church invites us to join a pilgrimage of Faith by showing us a prophetic vision of Christ’s first coming (advent), through the prophecy of Jeremiah, and a prophetic vision of Christ’s glorious, final Second Coming (Parousia) through the Gospel selection from Luke, while reminding us, through the second reading, of Christ’s daily coming into our lives here and now in our brothers and sisters — everyone for whom He died. She also reminds us that these are days of “joyful and prayerful anticipation of Jesus’ coming” because the Advent season is intended to fill us with great expectations of the coming of the Messiah just as parents expectantly wait for the birth of their child and make preparations for receiving the child into their family. We know that all valuable things in life – a healthy child, a loving marriage relationship, a work of art, a scientific discovery – need a period of quiet incubation.

Scripture readings summarized: In the first reading, the prophet Jeremiah was waiting and hoping for an ideal descendant of King David, the Messiah of God, who would bring security and justice to God’s people. We Christians believe that Jeremiah’s waiting and hoping were fulfilled in Jesus. Jeremiah assures us that the Lord, our Justice, will fulfill His promises and, hence, that we need not be afraid, in spite of the frightening events and almost universal moral degradation. “For you I wait all day long,” sings the Psalmist, expressing the central idea of patient and prayerful waiting for the Lord in today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 25), as he asks the Lord God to make known His ways to us, to guide us, and teach us. In the second reading, Paul gives instructions about how Christians should conduct themselves as they wait for “the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His holy ones.” He urges us to put God’s promise of peace into action by cultivating a spirit of love for others. We are told to strengthen our hearts in holiness (3:13) and abound in love for one another (3:12). In today’s Gospel (Lk 21:25-28, 34-36), Jesus prophesies the signs and portents that will accompany the end of the present world of matter, space, and time with the Second Coming of Jesus in glory as our Judge to give us the rewards our lives on earth have earned. Jesus encourages us to be expectant, optimistic, vigilant, and well-prepared: “When these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand” (Luke 21:28). Jesus wants us to face the future with confidence in God’s providence.

First reading: Jer 33:14-16, explained: This year, Jeremiah, the prophet of hope, introduces us to our Advent season. He was from a priestly family and was born in a little village called Anathoth, close to Jerusalem. Josiah, who was king (640-609 BC), in Judah in those days, was a God-fearing man. But he was killed in a battle at Megiddo by the invading Egyptians who were attacking the Assyrians (2 Kgs 23:29-30; 2Chr 35:20-24). A later king of Judah, Zedekiah (598-587 BC), swore allegiance in the Name of the Lord God, to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in return for his life and continued to rule in Jerusalem, then rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar (2Chr 36:13). He faced an attack by the Babylonian (Chaldean) army which surrounded Jerusalem. The king ignored God’s advice, given through Jeremiah, to surrender and save the town and its people, and he concealed the Lord God’s message from his generals (Jer 38:17-27). As a result, the Babylonians took Zedekiah prisoner (blinding him after he had watched the execution of his sons), captured and looted the city, burned the Temple down, and sent the healthy Jews into exile leaving only some poor people (2 Kgs 25:1-21; 36:17-21; Jer 38:28–-39:10). Despite all this, Jeremiah conveyed words of hope from God to the people in exile: “I WILL BE WITH YOU.” God says through the prophet that He will fulfill this promise by raising up a “just shoot,” a righteous offspring of David, who will rule Israel in justice (see 2 Sm 7:16; Jer 33:17; Ps 89:4-5; 27-38). Jeremiah told the people that they would return to see their city and their Temple again, and that their priests would return to their Temple duties (Jer 33:17ff). Thus, through Jeremiah, the Lord God, speaking His inspiring words at such a tragic moment, kindled hope and optimism in the people. What does it mean to raise up for David a just shoot? David was this people’s first great king, and he became the standard by which subsequent kings were measured. “Shoot” is an image from farming or gardening, meaning a young growth from a mature plant. These people believed their fortunes were linked to the justice of their king. So, for them, a “just shoot for David” would have meant a new king, descended from David, whose justice would have positive effects among the people, and who would then get a new name: “The Lord, our justice.”

Second Reading, 1 Thes 3:12-4:2, explained: Readings in early Advent always carry forward from the last Sundays of the previous liturgical year the theme of Jesus’ coming again. At the time Saint Paul wrote to the Thessalonians (rather early in his apostolic career), he and they believed Jesus was to return soon. Jesus’ coming would mean the end of history and the judgment of all peoples. But some Thessalonian Christians began to doubt the promise of Christ’s second Coming because it was indefinitely delayed. Hence, Paul gave them some clarification, emphasizing proper behavior in this part of his letter. “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His holy ones.” Paul tells them that what they do while they’re waiting is just as important as the event for which they’re waiting. Hence, he prays for their transformation. He prays that they, and we, will abound in love and that our hearts will be strengthened.

Gospel exegesis: Two versions of the end time events: Today we move from the year of Mark (B) to the year of Luke (C). In fact, today’s Gospel is Luke’s version of the Gospel we read two weeks ago from Mark. Luke seems to be the first evangelist who believed that everyone in his community would die a natural death before Jesus triumphantly returned in the Parousia or Second Coming. Many years after Mark’s Gospel, Luke also wrote about the Parousia. Comparing Mk 13:24-32 which we read two Sundays ago with Lk 21:25ff, which we read today, we note that Luke has reduced the scope of the spectacular celestial events of the Last Days and has omitted Mark’s description of the Son of Man. The reason for these changes may lie in the events filling the years between Mark’s Gospel (AD 69), and Luke’s work (AD 80). Mark wrote his Gospel sometime before the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 when the Jewish Christians believed that the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple would coincide with the end of the world and the second coming of Jesus. But when Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed, the world did not end. Perhaps taking this into account, Luke, completing his Gospel in A.D. 80, dissociated the destruction of the Temple from Jesus’ prediction of the end of the world. In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus warns us to keep watch for His return in glory, drawing on Old Testament images of chaos and instability – turmoil in the heavens (see Is 13:11,13; Ez 32:7-8; Jl 2:10); roaring seas (see Is 5:30; 17:12); distress among the nations (see Is 8:22; 14:25) and terrified people (see Is 13:6-11).

The context: The fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple created a major crisis of Faith for the early Christians. Since the expected end of the world did not come, many Christians gave up their belief in the Second Coming of Christ, abandoned their Faith and began living lives of moral laxity. It may have been in order to address these needs that Luke continued with the second half of today’s Gospel, Jesus’ exhortation to all of His disciples, then and now, to be on their guard against“dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life(21:34).

Jesus’ warning:Neither Paul nor the evangelists prepared their readers for Christmas. Instead, they were helping these Christians to boost their spirits while they waited for Jesus to accomplish things in their lives that would give them a share in His risen life. Luke advised his readers on how they were to wait and prepare for the Lord in their present situation of indefinitely waiting for Christ’s second coming. They had to shift their attention and energies from future fulfillment to present service and commitment. They must prepare themselves by watchfulness and prayerfulness. That’s why, after reminding his community about the signs which would precede Jesus’ Second Coming, Luke gives them Jesus’ warning: “Be on guard lest your spirits become bloated with indulgence and drunkenness and worldly cares. Pray constantly for the strength to escape whatever is in prospect and to stand secure before the Son of Man.” Since our own transformation is an ongoing process, we move yearly through the liturgical celebration of the mystery of our salvation. While Advent is set aside to commemorate Jesus’ coming in the flesh as well as Jesus’ final coming in glory, it is also a time for us to open ourselves to the Lord’s coming into our lives and our world today. In order to do this, we must read the signs of the times and adjust our lives accordingly. Jesus also gives us the assurance that no matter what terrors the future holds, Jesus will be present, caring for His followers. Jesus calls us all to watchfulness, as we Hope in Jesus Second Coming in glory (CCC #2612). Not only does an active Hope give us joy, it also keeps our prayer life alive and ready to resist temptation (CCC #2725). The virtue and gift of Hope keeps our focus on our eternal goal, and humble before the Giver of this gift. For each of us is called to be watchful, to be ready, and to be actively prepared — not just to keep waiting with passive indifference for the Lord — and this is the Good News of today.

Life messages: 1) We need to prepare ourselves for Christ’s Second Coming by allowing Jesus to be reborn daily in our lives. Advent gives us time to make this preparation by repenting of our sins, by renewing our lives through prayer and penance, and by sharing our blessings with others. Advent also provides an opportunity for us to check for what needs to be put right in our lives, to see how we have failed, and to assess the ways in which we can do better. Let us accept the challenge of the German mystic Angelus Silesius “Christ could be born a thousand times in Bethlehem – but all in vain until He is born in me.” Jesus must be reborn in our hearts and lives, during this season of Advent and every day of our lives, in our love, kindness, mercy, and forgiveness. Then only will we be able to give people Jesus’ hope by caring for those in need, give them God’s peace by turning the other cheek when we are provoked, give them Jesus’ love by encouraging those who are feeling sad or tired, and giving them God’s joy by encouraging and helping those who feel at the end of their strength, showing them that we care and that God cares as well. When, with His grace, we do these kinds of things we will receive hope, peace, love, and joy in return. Then we will know that when the King, returns on the clouds of glory, we will be ready to receive our Lord Jesus fully in eternal bliss.

2) A message of warning and hope: The Church begins the Advent season of Liturgical Cycle C by presenting the second coming of Christ in glory, in order to give us a vision of our future glory in Heaven and to show us the preparation needed for it. She reminds us that we are accountable for our lives before Christ the Judge. Today’s readings invite us to assess our lives during Advent and to make the necessary alterations in the light of the approaching Christmas celebration. Advent gives us time for improving o our lives and for deepening the sincerity of our religious commitment. It is a call to “look up” to see that Christ is still here. We must raise our heads in hope and anticipation, knowing that the Lord is coming again. Luke reminds us to trust in Jesus amid the tragedies that sometimes occur in our daily lives. Our marriage may break up; we may lose our job, discover that we have cancer or some terminal illness or become estranged from our children. In all such situations, when we feel overwhelmed by disaster and feel that our lives have no meaning, Jesus says: “Stand up, raise your heads, because your salvation is near” (Lk 21:28). Two significant Advent values are Hope and Humility – and it can’t be coincidental that they are listed consecutively in the Glossary to the Catechism (p.882). Hope enables us to desire and expect eternal life with God (CCC #1817), as we humbly and trustingly await the return of the Lord Jesus in glory (CCC #840).

JOKE OF THE WEEK: #1: Who came up with this? A woman was in the mall doing her Christmas shopping. She was tired of walking through every aisle of every store to find just the right present. She was stressed out by the mounting debt on her credit card. She was tired of fighting the crowds and standing in lines for the registers. Her hands were full and when the elevator door opened, it was full. “Great!” she muttered and the occupants of the elevator, feeling her pain, graciously tightened ranks to allow a small space for her and her load. As the doors closed she blurted out, “I think whoever came up with this Christmas junk ought to be found, strung up, and shot!” A few others shook their heads or grunted in agreement. Then, from somewhere in the back of the elevator came a single voice that said, “Don’t worry. They already crucified Him.”

#2: Sign on a Church bulletin board: “Merry Christmas to our Christian friends. Happy Hanukkah to our Jewish friends. And to our atheist friends, good luck.”

#3: “We don’t have time for that!” Typical of last-minute Christmas shoppers, a mother was running furiously from store to store. Suddenly she became aware that the pudgy little hand of her three-year-old son was no longer clutched in hers. In panic she retraced her steps and found him standing with his little nose pressed flat against a frosty window. He was gazing at a manger scene. Hearing his mother’s near hysterical call, he turned and shouted with innocent glee: “Look Mommy! It’s Jesus – Baby Jesus in the hay!” With obvious indifference to his joy and wonder, she impatiently jerked him away saying, “We don’t have time for that!”

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

1) Your Catholic Voice www.yourcatholicvoice.org 2) Catholic Goldmine: http://www.catholicgoldmine.com/, 3) KIM AND JASON (Fun for all age groups): http://kimandjason.com/blog/ 4) Text Week homilies on Advent I ©: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk21b.htm 5) Resources for Catholic Educators: http://www.4catholiceducators.com/index.htm 6)Dr. Bryant Pitro’s commentary on Cycle B Sunday Scripture: https://catholicproductions.com/blogs/mass-readings-explained-year-b

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

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

9) Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs:

10) Lectio reflections(Bishop David Walker & Co) https://youtu.be/tjeQWiN586A

A BIT OF SERIOUS ADVENT THOUGHT: An Advent Examination (Edward Hays, A Pilgrim’s Almanac, p. 196): “Advent is the perfect time to clear and prepare the Way. By reflection and prayer, by reading and meditation, we can make our hearts a place where a blessing of peace would desire to abide and where the birth of the Prince of Peace might take place. Daily we can make an Advent examination. Do we have any feelings of discrimination toward [people because of] race, sex, or religion? Is there a lingering resentment, an unforgiven injury living in our hearts? Do we look down upon others of lesser social standing or educational achievement? Are we generous with the gifts that have been given to us, seeing ourselves as their stewards and not their owners? Are we reverent of others, of their ideas and needs, and of creation? These and other questions become Advent lights by which we may search the deep, dark corners of our hearts. May this Advent season be a time for bringing hope, transformation, and fulfillment into the Advent of our lives.”

24- Additional Anecdotes

1) Waiting is no fun: A man was in a restaurant. A waiter was passing by. “Excuse me,” said the man, “but how long have you been working here?” “About a year,” replied the waiter. The man said wearily, “In that case it couldn’t have been you that took my order.” — Advent season reminds us that we celebrate the first coming of Jesus and we keep waiting for his second coming in glory. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

2) Would we keep arranging deckchairs on a sinking ship?  On the night of April 15, 1912, the Titanic hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank.  Over 1,500 people lost their lives in one of the worst sea disasters in history.  A few years ago a magazine recalled the great disaster and asked its readers this shocking, almost blasphemous, question: “If we’d been on the Titanic when it sank, would we have arranged the deckchairs?”  At first we say to ourselves, “What a ridiculous question!  No one in his right mind would ignore wailing sirens on a sinking ship and rearrange its deck chairs!  No one with an ounce of sanity would ignore the shouts of drowning people and keep arranging deck chairs!” But as we continue to read the magazine, we see the reason for the strange question.  And suddenly we ask ourselves, “Are we perhaps, rearranging the deckchairs on a sinking ship? —  For example, are we so caught up with material things in life that we are giving a back seat to spiritual things?  Are we so busy making a living that we are forgetting the purpose of life?  Are we so taken up with life that we are forgetting why God gave us life?” (Mark Link in Sunday Liturgies). (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

3) Waiting for the call of the Prime Minister:Lord Reith, the founder of the BBC, says that he spent virtually the entire period of World War II by the telephone, waiting for Winston Churchill to call him. He never [called]. And think of all the [ordinary] people waiting today at the airport, at the bus depot, at the doctor’s, at the amusement park, at the bowling alley, at the post office, the ticket office, the unemployment office, the Social Security office. Society has become a vast waiting room.” — As Christians, we give a spiritual dimension to our waiting by waiting for Christ’s, the Messiah’s, second coming because much of the New Testament is devoted to the second coming of Christ. [Sherwood Wirt, in Freshness in the Spirit (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1978).] (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

4) “No, I am not going to kick him off.” I like John Cooper, football coach for The Ohio State University team, for many reasons, but especially for this one. As he was being interviewed once about a player who was in trouble with the law, a reporter asked if Cooper was going to kick the player off the team. He said, “No, I am not going to kick him off, because if I kick him off I can’t help him. We are in the business of helping young people grow up, and you can’t do that by turning them away when they make a mistake.”  –That is good news for those growing up, and that attitude is especially good news at Advent. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

5) The city had reached 284th Street, far exceeding their expectations! Be prepared for Christ’s coming. Be prepared if Jesus  should come today; be prepared if Jesus should tarry another thousand years or more. Be prepared at any cost, for we simply do not know what tomorrow may bring. Nothing is more unpredictable than the future. If there is one lesson from history, it is that. I read recently that when the city fathers of the grand metropolis New York City planned for the future growth of their city, they laid out the streets and numbered them from the center outward. When they began, there were only six or seven streets. In their planning maps, they projected how large they thought the city might grow. Reaching beyond their wildest imagination, they drew streets on the map all the way out to 19th Street. They called it “Boundary Street” because they were sure that’s as large as New York City would become. At last count, the city had reached 284th Street far exceeding their expectations! (Rev. Adrian Dieleman, http://www.trinitycrc.org/sermons/eph3v20-21.html) — Be careful when you try to predict the future! Today’s experts turn out, sometimes,to be tomorrow’s fools. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

6) False messiahs: “The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity” is a religious movement founded in South Korea in 1954 by the late Sun Myung Moon. It is more commonly known as the Unification Church. Since its inception, the Church has expanded to most nations of the world, with an uncertain number of members. But we don’t see many signs nowadays of the Moonies. Their founder Rev. Moon and his Unification Church have faded into the background. At one time he boasted considerable political support. He invested heavily in the elections of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Rev. Moon built an empire by putting young people out on the streets selling flowers. Moon preached that a new messiah was soon to come. This new messiah was already on earth. He was a man born in Korea in the 20th century. Wonder who he could be? Surely not Moon himself! —  In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives us the warning that false messiahs will be forever with us. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

7) Jesus’ admonition is to be faithful. Some of you remember the ancient epic poem by Homer called the Odyssey. It is the story of Odysseus who traveled the world pursuing many adventures. Meanwhile back home, his beautiful wife Penelope was being pursued by various suitors trying to take advantage of Odysseus’ twenty-year absence. In order to keep these suitors at bay, Penelope announced that when she finished weaving a shroud for her father-in-law, she would choose among these persistent suitors. There was something these suitors did not know, however. Each night Penelope undid the stitches that she put in during the daytime, and so she remained faithful to Odysseus until he returned. — That is our call to be faithful. While we wait for Christ’s return, we are his Body in the world, called to do his work. The Church has been serving the world in Christ’s Name for some two thousand years. Now is not the time to let up! (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

8) The Poseidon Adventure:  One of my favorite movies was The Poseidon Adventure from 1972. You might remember that a cruise ship was turned upside down by a big wave. Everything was turned upside down. Reality was turned “upside down.” The way out was up to the bottom and back to the front. The survivors had to go to the bottom of the boat, which was now the top, to get out. A whole group of people were not willing to follow the lead of the pastor to crawl up a Christmas tree to get out of the ballroom, to safety. He said: “Everybody is dead who was above us when the ship turned over. Now they’re underneath us. It’s up to us to get out of here.” The people who waited for help drowned, but those who were willing to risk, to have Faith eventually were saved — not all, but most. The pastor was indeed the Christ-figure for those people. They eventually trusted in him and were saved. — For us it is no different, “But not a hair of your head will perish.” Jesus says, “By your endurance you will gain your souls.” (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

9)”It said, ‘Go drink a beer.’” Humorist Lewis Grizzard writes about a man in his hometown named Luther Gilroy. Luther claimed he was out plowing his field and saw a sign in the sky that said THE END IS NEAR. So Luther let his mule and his cow out of their pens, gave all his chickens away, and climbed on top of his house to await the end. When it didn’t come, he pouted and refused to come down off the roof. Finally, his wife called the deputy sheriff, who came over and said, “Luther, you idiot, I saw that same sign. It didn’t say, ‘The end is near.’ It said, ‘Go drink a beer.’ Now come down off that roof before you fall off and break your neck.” [Lewis Grizzard, Chili Dawgs Always Bark at Night (New York: Villard Books, 1989), p. 52.] — From Jesus’ day to the present, people have speculated about when the world would end. Over the centuries, people have made calculations and predictions, sold or given away all their belongings, and gathered at appointed places to wait for the end of the world and for Jesus to return. Obviously, the world has not yet come to an end, and Jesus has not returned. Still, we wait. We look around at the world in which we live, a world filled with violence and crime and racial tension. We read about child abuse, spouse abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, and we say, “Things just can’t keep on going the way they’re going.” Times of uncertainty and crisis trigger thoughts about the end of time. And people always want to know when. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

10) “Joy to the World!” Consider the story of one young man. He was often sick as a baby. He was always small, puny some would say. As a youth he was always frail and delicate. He was not able to play sports with the other boys his age. Eventually he entered the ministry. But his health was so fragile, he was unable to serve his growing congregation. Amazingly, he did not dwell on his troubles. In fact, his spirit soared. His only real complaint was the poor quality of the hymns of his day. He felt they did not convey hope and joy. Someone challenged him to write better ones. He did. He wrote over 600 hymns, most of them hymns of praise. When his health collapsed completely in 1748, he left one of the most remarkable collections of hymns the world has ever known. His name was Isaac Watts.– In a few weeks we will be singing one of his most famous hymns, “Joy to the World!” Isaac Watts discovered joy in his life because he knew that God would never desert him. He was able to live his life with all sorts of health problems, feeling close to God and Jesus. He had joy deep in his heart. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

11) The Light meant Redemption: King Alexander the Great of Macedonia, who in his day conquered land after land, used to observe a certain procedure. Whenever his army was encamped outside a heavily walled city or fortress, he would have a lighted lamp hung up where it was visible by day and night. He would then have the besieged inhabitants know that as long as the lantern kept burning, they had a chance to change their minds. But if the lantern was smashed and its light extinguished, then the city and all it contained would be mercilessly destroyed. And he kept his promise. If the lantern was smashed to pieces, all hope was gone. The Macedonians would storm the city, kill any person who could bear arms, and then ransack and destroy the city. The time of grace was over. – The lamp is still burning for us; this is a time for grace- but it will end! [Willi Hoffsuemmer; quoted by Fr. Botelho.] (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

12) Are we coming or going? A man was running down the pier, heading for the ferryboat, afraid he was not going to make it. Here was a man of some status, a man who was concerned about his dignity. He wore pin-striped trousers, a black Morning Coat, carried a black umbrella in one hand and a black bowler hat in the other, with which he was waving at the ferry boat, and yelling at the boat to stop so that he could get on it. He ran all the way to the end of the pier, furiously jumped and landed safely on the deck of the boat. Very proud of himself, he straightened his tie, and recovered his dignity. It was then that he discovered that the boat was not going out; it was coming in! — Today is the first Sunday of Advent, and there is that kind of confusion about Advent and Christmas. Are we coming or going? Christmas is the celebration that Christ has come; Advent is the celebration that Christ is coming. Advent is preparation for Christmas. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

13) Smile please: A story is told of the photographer taking a picture. He says to the woman, “Smile pretty for the camera.” A moment later, “OK, madam, you can resume your usual face.” — Whether you and I will have a successful Advent these next four weeks will depend on the attitude or “face” we bring to it today. We must stay awake, as Jesus advises us in this Gospel and practice self-control.  The Greek philosopher, Plato, who lived out his life several centuries before Christ, wrote, “The greatest victory in the world is the victory of self-conquest.” (Fr. James Gilhooley). (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

14) Time expired: A dramatic picture appeared in a newspaper. It was a young man dead from a drug overdose in his cherry-red Corvette. The car was parked beside a parking meter that read “TIME EXPIRED.” — But so, too, is my clock expiring. So is yours. No wonder Jesus says today, “Stay awake.” An auto decal reads: “Jesus is coming back. Look busy.” Today’s Gospel affirms He will return for each of us. Were a scientist to warn us that an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale was fast approaching, we would take every precaution imaginable. Yet, unhappily, the Master’s prediction that He shall return does not move us to make even incidental changes in our lives. But, given the on-target correctness of the prophecies of His first arrival told in Micah 5:2-6 and Isaiah 9: 6-7, one would think we would be smart enough to act accordingly. Should we decide not to do so, we can hardly fault the Early Warning System God has today put in place in Luke’s Gospel. “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy…” (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

15) Watch and Prepare: In the Royal Air Force Museum in Hendon, England, there is an exhibition of the memorabilia of Lord Dowding.  He was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the RAF in 1936 to take on the challenge of expanding the RAF’s fighting force to meet the Nazi threat. Dowding had less than four years to prepare the RAF for the epic Battle of Britain, while at the same time helping France as much as possible.  Lord Dowding’s accomplishment in getting the RAF ready is summed up on a plaque: “It has been given to few men so to employ so short a time that by their efforts they saved a civilization.”  Lord Dowding’s vigilance and preparation while waiting for the Nazi attempt to invade Great Britain played a key role in England’s victory in the early 1940’s (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds). — Vigilance and preparation while waiting are part of the theme of today’s Advent Gospel.  (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

16)  Promise of Things to Come! It was about mid-November of 1979 in Dublin. One morning we woke to find that overnight a layer of fine dust had fallen.  It was very noticeable.  It covered cars, windows, clotheslines…..  In some areas it was heavier than others.  One man went out to look for his blue car, but so thick was the dust that he had difficulty finding it.  The dust caused quite a sensation. People reacted immediately.  What was it and where did it come from?  Many were worried, fearing that it was caused by a fall-out of dangerous chemicals or radio-active materials.  There was a deluge of phone calls to the police, to weather centers, and motoring organizations.  Finally the explanation came: it was sand from the Sahara Desert!  This came as a great relief.  It was still a nuisance but was readily accepted because the Southerly winds that had brought it, also heralded the warmest November in fifteen years. — In today’s Gospel, after foretelling the endtime events we get such an assurance of his “second coming” from Jesus (Flor McCarthy, in Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies). (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

17) The Watchman: There is an old Hasidic tale about Rabbi Naftali. It was the custom of the rich men of his city, whose homes were on the outskirts and sort of isolated, to hire men to watch over their property at night. Late one evening, as was his custom, Rabbi Naftali went out for a walk and met one such watchman walking back and forth. The Rabbi asked, “For whom do you work?” The guard told the rabbi who had hired him, and then the guard inquired, “And for whom do you work Rabbi?” The watchman’s words struck at the heart of the rabbi, who replied, “I am not sure whether I work for anyone or not.” The rabbi walked along with the watchman for some time in silence. Then he asked, “Will you come and work for me?” “Oh Rabbi, I should be honoured to be your servant,” said the watchman, “but what would be my duties?” Rabbi Naftali answered quietly, “To keep reminding me with that question.” —  Like that rabbi, we need help if we are to remember for Whom we work and for what we live our lives. Advent helps us to ask that question of ourselves. “Watch and pray” are the watchwords, they remind us that God is in charge. (Anonymous; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

 

18) Advent waiting: A blind man and I were standing in the middle of a throng of travelers at Port Mores by airport. “You just stand here.” I told him. I wanted to spare him the disturbance of being jostled about, so I left him in a protected corner. I then went my way to buy a ticket, post a letter, and check on the plane arrivals and departures. At one stage I turned around and looked back at him. He just stood there. People milled around him. A child stared at him. A porter drove his baggage cart around him. A newspaper boy could not understand why he did not even look at the paper. The blind man just stood there. The shuffling feet around him, the unknown voices and all the various noises of humans going and coming had no meaning for him. He just stood and waited for me to come back. He patiently waited, completely content that I would come back. There was no shadow of doubt on his face. Instead, there was an air of expectation about him: I would return and take him by the hand and we would go on. — That look of the blind man with closed eyelids standing there put in mind the Advent face of a Christian.
(Willi Hoffsuemmer; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

 

19)

O Henry’s story the “Last Leaf” brings out the significance of Hope. The story begins as Johnsy, near death from pneumonia, lies in bed waiting for the last leaf of an ivy vine on the brick wall she spies through her window to fall. She counted the falling of all leaves. Now only the last one is left. She is sure that she will die as the last leaf falls. The night witnessed torrential rain and powerful storm. In the morning Johnsy looked out of the window before breathing her last. But to her surprise she saw that the last leaf had survived the rain and wind. It stuck to the vine. She began to show signs of improvement, and recovered in a few days. An artist who lived below her apartment understood the thought of Johnsy. That night he had gone out with his set of brush and paint. The last leaf was the creation of Behrman. Outside Johnsy’s window were a ladder, a lantern still lighted “some scattered brushes, and a palette with green and yellow colors mixed on it . . . it was Behrman’s masterpiece–he painted it [a leaf] there the night that the last leaf fell.” — The sight of the last leaf rekindled the hope of Johnsy. And she survived. At the end of every sorrow there is some joy awaiting us.

St. Paul assures us: “… suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us” (Romans 3:3-5). (Fr. Bobby). (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

20)But with a good ship, you can always ride it out.” Dr. Norman Vincent Peale once told of encountering a hurricane while on a cruise in the Atlantic. After the captain managed to sail around the danger, he and Dr. Peale were visiting with one another. The captain said he had always lived by a simple philosophy namely that if the sea is smooth, it will get rough; and if it is rough, it will get smooth. He added something worth remembering: “But with a good ship,” the Captain said, “you can always ride it out.” — Our ship is our Faith in Christ. With a good ship, you can always ride it out. Life is unpredictable. God is with us. “But not a hair of your head will perish,” Jesus says, “By your endurance you will gain your souls” (Luke 21:18). (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

21) “What time is it Mr. Wolf?” We played a game when I was a child.  Perhaps you played it too.  It worked best just at twilight.  We would let the “wolf” hide somewhere, and then we would walk together as a group toward the “wolf”, unable to see him or where he was hidden, but knowing that he was there and that he was near.  “What time is it, Mr. Wolf?”  we would cry, and he would tell us the time, later the closer we got, until he cried out “Twelve o’clock midnight, hope to see a ghost tonight!” And then he would chase us and we would flee toward the goal and safety, trying not to be caught by the “wolf.” — That is also the point of the Gospel Lesson this morning.  There is a day coming which will be unlike any other, for it will not be followed by any other.  We don’t know when, exactly, but we know it grows ever closer.  The end of the world, the final day of reckoning, the day of our salvation or the day of our doom, is coming.  Jesus tells us how we should stand in readiness for that great and terrible day, always being alert to the signs of the times. (Rev. Robin Fish). (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

22) Making Still Greater Progress: All the saints have been heroic. That is the definition of “Saint”. But God has had a harder time in making heroes out of some than others. They have had more “un-heroism.” Saints like Aloysius Gonzaga, for instance, became heroes so fast – such was that goodwill – that their flight for heaven seems to have been a snap. When Aloysius died aged only 23, his three confessors testified of this radiant young man that they honestly believed he had never committed a serious sin. On the other hand, St. Camillus DeLellis, born in 1500 (just a decade or so before Aloysius) had a far more twisted and rocky road to heaven. A soldier at seventeen, six foot two in his stocking feet, he developed a quarrelsome temper and a yen for gambling that was a real addiction. Once, for instance, he literally gambled away all he owned, losing even the shirt off his back. Add to this, he had a running sore that never cleared up and gave him a short fuse. Nevertheless, Camillus for all his violence really wanted to behave better. After trying in vain to enter a religious order or even get employment as a servant in a religious house, he was inspired to found an order of his own. It was an order of nursing brothers – very much needed in those days before there was a real nursing profession. Urged by St. Philip Neri, Camillus studied for the priesthood and was ordained (a belated vocation, he had to attend Latin class with giggling teen-age seminarians). Now this man dedicated his strengths and his weaknesses to serving the ailing and wounded. He taught his “Ministers of the Sick” to see in each patient, no matter how crotchety, Christ Himself.– Today, St. Camillus DeLellis is the Church’s official patron saint of nurses. That is because, as St. Paul puts it today, he had forged ahead despite his flaws, so as “to make still greater progress” (IThes 4:1. Today’s second reading). -Father Robert F. McNamara. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

23) The difference between waiting and watching: Some Navy men were returning from a long voyage on the seas and, as the boat approached shore, the men were all looking for their wives and girlfriends on the shore … eager to see them again! As the men looked over the crowd of women lined up, the air of excitement and expectancy grew. One man however was all alone as all the other men found their wives and girlfriends and they all embraced … his wife wasn’t there! Worried, he hurried home and found a light on in his house. As he entered he was relieved to see his wife, she quickly turned and said, “HONEY, I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU!” His response showed his disappointment however: ‘The other men’s wives and girlfriends were watching for them!‘ — The difference between waiting and watching was only too clear! (Fr. Lakra).

 24) Serve Christ in his many comings : Mother Teresa recognized and welcomed Christ in the needy, the hungry, the homeless, and the forgotten. Jesus’ words about serving His needs in God’s poor ones were seared into her soul. She was one of those rare figures that can shine a new light on Gospel teachings and actually live according to Jesus’ word and example. We can emulate her example. Mother Teresa was certain that prayer could be the powerhouse of our lives. Through prayer, she said, one could recognise Jesus in and among us.  — Of course, we cannot force these moments; all we can do is to be prepared. One saint said that life should be lived in ‘attentive expectancy’, the way one waits for the phone, for one’s child, or spouse or the doctor to call. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21  L/21

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

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

Nov 22-27 Weekday homilies

Kindly click on https://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed Sunday and weekday homilies, RCIA & Faith formation classes:Click on the link given after the name of the saint for biograpgy. Nov 22-27:Nov 22 Monday (St. Cecilia, Virgin, Martyr) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-cecilia: Lk 21: 1-4: He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury; 2 and he saw a poor widow put in two copper coins. 3 And he said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; 4 for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living that she had.” Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: There were 13 trumpet-shaped receptacles that stood up against the wall of the Court of Women. They were intended to hold the gifts of the faithful for the Temple treasury. As Jesus and his disciples sat and watched the comings and goings of those offering their gifts of support, they observed many wealthy worshipers placing significant sums into the Temple treasury. But it was not until Jesus observed the tiny gift of two lepta (equivalent to a couple of pennies), given by a poor widow, that he was moved to comment on the proceedings.

Beginning with chapter 11 of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is seen confronting the Temple authorities and challenging abuses in the “organized religion” of his time. Complimenting the poor widow in today’s Gospel, Jesus contrasted the external signs of honor sought by the scribes with the humble, sacrificial offering of a poor widow and declared that she had found true honor in God’s eyes. The Gospel presents a poor widow who sacrificially gave her whole life and means of livelihood to God, symbolizing the supreme sacrifice Jesus would offer by giving His life for others. The episode invites us to a total commitment to God’s service with a humble and generous heart free from pride and prejudice.

Life messages: # 1: We need to appreciate the widows of our parish: Their loneliness draws them closer to God and to stewardship in the parish. They are often the active participants in all the liturgical celebrations, offering prayers for their families and for their parish family. Frequently, they are active in parish organizations, as well as in visiting and serving the sick and the shut-ins. Hence, let us appreciate them, support them, encourage them, and pray for them.

#2: We need to accept Christ’s criteria for judging people: We often judge people by what they possess. But Jesus measures us on the basis of our inner motives and the intentions hidden behind our actions. He evaluates us on the basis of the sacrifices we make for others and on the degree of our surrender to His holy will. What is hardest to give is ourselves in love and concern, because that gift costs us more than reaching for our purses. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Nov 23 Tuesday (St. Clement I, Pope (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-clement) , Martyr; St. Columban Abbot (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-columban); Blessed Miguel Austin Pro, Priest, Martyr (U.S.A.) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/blessed-miguel-agustin-pro : Lk 21: 5-11:5 And as some spoke of the Temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, 6 “As for these things which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” 7 And they asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign when this is about to take place?” 8 And he said, “Take heed that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name, saying, `I am he!’ and, `The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. 9 And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified; for this must first take place, but the end will not be at once.” 10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11 there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

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

Life message: We need to learn from the signs of the times, like crises in morality, a culture of death, an increase in violence and terrorism, the “normalization” of sexual deviations, the breaking down of families, and the moral degradation of society, and to prepare ourselves for the end times by living ideal Christian lives, helping others, sharing our blessings with others, getting and staying reconciled with God and our neighbors, and trusting in the living presence of Jesus in the Church . (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Nov 24 Wednesday (St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest, and companions, Martyrs) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-andrew-dung-lac-and-companions : Luke 21: 12-19:12 But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. 13 This will be a time for you to bear testimony. 14 Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer; 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death; 17 you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish.19 By your endurance you will gain your lives. Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

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

Life messages: 1) Although we may not get a chance to die for the Faith, we are invited to face “dry martyrdom,” a “living death” as outcasts in our contemporary materialistic, secular, liberal, agnostic, and atheistic society.

2) We are called to bear witness to Christ by loving those who hate us, by showing mercy and compassion to those who hurt and ill-treat us, by forgiving those who continue to offend us, by accepting our sufferings without complaint, and by continuing to keep Jesus’ word in our lives. . (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

 Nov 26 Thursday (Thanksgiving Day in the U. S. ): Lk 21: 20-28 & ( St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin, Martyr) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-catherine-of-alexandria:

Nov 26 Thanksgiving Day: Introduction: Today is a day of national thanksgiving 1) for the blessings and protection God has given us; 2) for our democratic government and the prosperity, we enjoy; 3) for our freedom of speech and religion; and 4) for the generosity and good will of our people.

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

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

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

Life messages: 1) Let us be thankful and let us learn to express our thanks daily: a) To God for His innumerable blessings, providential care and protection, and for the unconditional pardon given to us for our daily sins and failures. b) To our parents – living and dead – for the gift of life and Christian training and the good examples they gave us. c) To our relatives and friends for their loving support and timely help and encouragement. d) To our pastors, teachers, doctors, soldiers, police and government officers for the sincere service they render us. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21 Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

  Friday: Lk 21: 29-33:29 And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees; 30 as soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all has taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

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

Life messages: 1) We must be able to read the signs of the times and stay in the kingdom of God by faithfully doing God’s will every day of our lives. 2) We need to continue serving others in humility and love and bearing witness to Jesus through the integrity and transparency of our Christian lives. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Nov 27 Saturday: Lk 21: 34-36:34 “But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; 35 for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth. 36 But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man.” Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

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

Life messages: 1) We need to avoid spiritual laziness and indifference. 2) We need to be freed from excessive and crippling anxiety, needless worries and evil habits. 3) We need to get our strength from God by prayer, which means listening to God and talking to Him. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Nov 22-27 (L-21).docx

Thanksgiving Day homily (Nov 25th in the U. S. )

One-PAGE SYNOPSIS OF THANKSGIVING DAY HOMILY- (Nov 25)

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

History: The winter of 1610 at Jamestown, Virginia, had reduced a group of 409 settlers from England to 60. The survivors had prayed for help without knowing when or how it might come. When help arrived in the form of a ship filled with food and supplies from England, a thanksgiving prayer meeting was held to give thanks to God. President George Washington issued the first national Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789. In the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving Day as a formal holiday to express our thanks to God. On November 26, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the bill declaring that Thanksgiving should be observed as a legal holiday on the fourth Thursday of each November.

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

The Eucharistic celebration is the most important form of thanksgiving prayer for Catholics. In fact, Eucharist is the Greek word for thanksgiving. In the Holy Mass we offer to our Heavenly Father as an act of thanksgiving to Him, the sacrificial death and Resurrection of Jesus, made present on our altar. At the same time, we surrender our lives to Him on the altar with repentant hearts, and we present to Him all our needs, asking for His blessings.

Life messages: Let us be thankful and let us learn to express our thanks daily: 1) To God for His innumerable blessings, providential care and protection and for the unconditional pardon given to us for our daily sins and failures. 2) To our parents – living and dead – for the gift of life and Christian training and the good example they have given to us. 3) To our relatives and friends for their loving support, timely help and encouragement. 4) To our pastors, teachers, doctors, soldiers, police and government officers for the sincere service they render us. (Fr. Tony)

THANKSGIVING DAY IN THE U.S.(Nov 25, 2021) Full text

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

Homily starter anecdotes # 1: “Thank you!” St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) told this story in an address given at the National Prayer Breakfast in 1994. “One evening, several of our Sisters went out, and we picked up four people from the street. One of them was in a most terrible condition. So, I told the other Sisters, “You take care of the other three: I will take care of this one who looks the worst.” So, I did for the woman everything that my love could do. I cleaned her and put her in bed, and there was such a beautiful smile on her face. She took hold of my hands and said two words in her language, Bengali: “Thank you.” Then she died. I could not help but examine my conscience. I asked myself, “What would I say if I were in her place?” My answer was simple. I would have tried to draw a little attention to myself. I would have said, “I am hungry, I am dying, I am in pain.” But the woman gave me much more; she gave me grateful love, dying with a grateful smile on her face. It means that even those with nothing can give us the gift of thanks.” (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21 

# 2: But whose hand? A schoolteacher asked her first graders to draw a picture of something they were thankful for. She thought of how little these children from poor neighborhoods actually had to be thankful for. She reasoned that most of them would no doubt draw pictures of turkeys on tables with lots of other food. She was surprised with the picture that Douglas handed in. It was the picture of a human hand, poorly drawn. But whose hand? The other children tried to guess. One said it was the hand of God because He brings the food to us. Another said it was the hand of a farmer because he raises and grows the food. Finally, when the others were back at their work, the teacher bent over Douglas’ desk and asked whose hand it was. “Why, it’s your hand, teacher,” he mumbled. Then she recalled that frequently at recess she had taken Douglas, a scrubby, forlorn child, by the hand. She did it with many of the children and never thought much about it. But Douglas did. You see, she refreshed his spirit and he never forgot it. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

# 3: Two lists: Perhaps Daniel Defoe gave us some good advice through his fictional character Robinson Crusoe. The first thing that Crusoe did when he found himself on a deserted island was to make out a list. On one side of the list he wrote down all his problems. On the other side of the list he wrote down all of his blessings. On one side he wrote: I do not have any clothes. On the other side he wrote: But it’s warm and I don’t really need any. On one side he wrote: All of the provisions were lost. On the other side he wrote: But there’s plenty of fresh fruit and water on the island. And on down the list he went. In this fashion he discovered that for every negative aspect about his situation, there was a positive aspect, something to be thankful for. It is easy to find ourselves on an island of despair. Perhaps it is time for us to sit down and take an inventory of our blessings. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21 

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

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

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

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

Life messages:1) Let us be thankful to God. Let us thank God for giving us the gifts of life and health, for providing for our spiritual and physical needs, for giving us our families and friends, and for offering us the grace of salvation through Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

2) Let us be thankful to our parents, friends and benefactors. Honoring one’s parents is the most basic level of gratitude, and that is why we have the fourth commandment: “Honor your father and mother.” Let us also be thankful for the countless good people in our lives, each of whom has brought his or her own special gifts to us and has touched our lives. Today, let us remember each one prayerfully, with reverence and gratitude.

1) Do we practice unconditional gratitude? Are we thankful only when we compare our lives with those of others? Are we thankful only when we compare our standard of living with that of people in very poor countries; or only when we compare our relatively good health to the health of a terminally-ill cancer patient? Let us remember the Irish proverb: “Once I complained I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet.”

Jokes of the week

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

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

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

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

SIMPLE THINGS TO BE THANKFUL FOR.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude

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

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

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

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

Thanksgiving Day Prayers

  1. Oh, Heavenly Father,

We thank Thee for food and remember the hungry.

We thank Thee for health and remember the sick.

We thank Thee for friends and remember the friendless.

We thank Thee for freedom and remember the enslaved.

May these remembrances stir us to service,

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

2) We thank and praise You, our Heavenly Father, for establishing and preserving our nation in freedom, for giving us a rich land in which to dwell, and for providing us with an abundance of the fruits of the earth. In order that we might live in peace and be good stewards of all that You provide, grant us Your grace to recognize Your gifts and to live as good citizens. Give us grace to offer You ourselves as living sacrifices to the glory of Your holy Name and the betterment of mankind. Of all Your many blessings, chief among them is the peace we have with You on account of the precious Blood of Jesus Christ shed for us for the full remission of all our sins. We thank You for Your great love in sending Your Son to be our Savior, in calling us out of our rebellion and into fellowship with Him. We give You thanks that You have done this apart from any worthiness in us.

Forgive us for those times when we grow complacent in Your love, not living out our baptismal identity but instead taking Your gifts for granted. As the great day of Christ’s return draws ever closer, teach us each day to cling to You, that we may on the Last Day stand eternally before Your throne, giving You our unending thanks and praise; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

3) Intercessory Prayers for Thanksgiving Day Holy Mass

Response: Lord, hear our prayer.

C: Let us give thanks for the Doctors, Nurses,

Paramedics and EMS who have so unselfishly cared for the sick.

May God bless their abilities. We pray to the Lord.

C: We give thanks for the researchers who have tirelessly

searched for vaccines to protect us.

May God bless their tenacity. We pray to the Lord.

C: We thank our family members, who have kept in touch with us

by phone, email, texting, and even in person.

May God bless their loving concern for us. We pray to the Lord.

C: We offer thanks for the First Responders, who have fought fires,

rescued people in the midst of hurricanes,

and in the aftermath of tornadoes and severe flooding.

May God bless their selflessness, and their skills. We pray to the Lord.

C We continue to thank our Priests, and other ministers,

who have reached out to their congregations, kept in touch with them,

and offer their daily Masses for our spiritual well-being.

May God bless their Faith. We pray to the Lord

C: For the tender love You show Your whole creation. We give You thanks and pray to the Lord.

C: For the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the homes in which we live. We give You thanks and pray to the Lord.

C:For our families, for husbands and wives, and especially children with their joy and their trust, for grandparents and grandchildren, for aunts and uncles. We give You thanks and pray to the Lord.

C: For the fields and their harvest, for farmers and their labors, for the good earth and all its bounty. We give You thanks and pray to the Lord.

C: For our nation and all its people, and for the freedoms we enjoy, especially for the freedom to worship You in peace. We give You thanks and pray to the Lord.

C: For the sufferings that come upon us and for the reminder they bring of the one thing needful. We give You thanks and pray to the Lord.

C: Above all for the Incarnation of our Lord, for His suffering and death, for His glorious Resurrection and Ascension and for the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. We give You thanks and pray to the Lord.

C: For the holy Church, for the divine waters of Baptism, for the comfort of Holy Absolution, and for the life-giving Sacrament of the Altar. We give You thanks and pray to the Lord.

C: For the Sacred Scriptures, for the holy Law that shows us our sin, and for the Holy Gospel that reveals the righteousness of Christ as Your gift to us. We give You thanks and pray to the Lord.

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

Priest: You are indeed blessed and holy and worthy of all honor and praise, O Father Almighty, O only begotten Son, O Spirit of Holiness. To You alone do we give all glory now and ever and unto the ages of ages! Amen L/21

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B (No 61) by Fr. Tony

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

O.T. XXXIV (B) (Nov 221) Christ the King | John 18:33-37 (L-21)

Christ the King Sunday (Nov 21, 2021) 8-minutes homily in one page

Introduction This Sunday, at the end of Church’s liturgical year, the readings describe the enthronement of the victorious Christ as King in Heaven in all His glory. Instituting this Feast of Christ, the King in 1925, Pope Pius XI proclaimed: “Pax Christi in regno Christi” (the peace of Christ in the reign of Christ). This means that we live in the peace of Christ when we surrender our lives to Him every day, accept Him as our God, Savior and King and allow Him to rule our lives. Why Christ is our King: 1) Christ is God, the Creator of the universe and, hence, wields a supreme power over all things; “All things were created through Him“; 2) Christ is our Redeemer, He purchased us by His precious Blood, and made us His property and possession; 3) Christ is Head of the Church, “holding in all things the primacy”; 4) God bestowed upon Christ the nations of the world as His special possession and dominion.

Biblical basis of the feast: A) Old Testament texts: The title “Christ the King” has its roots both in Scripture and in the whole theology of the Kingdom of God. In most of the Messianic prophecies given in the Old Testament books of Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel, Christ the Messiah is represented as a King. B) New Testament texts: a) In the Annunciation, recorded in Lk 1:32-33, we read: “…and the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the House of Jacob for ever; and of His Kingdom there will be no end.” In fact, the Kingdom of God is the center of Jesus’ teaching, and the phrase “Kingdom of God” occurs in the Gospels 122 times, of which 90 instances are used by Jesus. b) The Magi from the Far East came to Jerusalem and asked the question: (Mt 2:2) “Where is the Baby born to be the King of the Jews? We saw His star… and we have come to worship Him.” c) During the royal reception given to Jesus on Palm Sunday, the Jews shouted: (Lk 19:38) “God bless the King, Who comes in the name of the Lord.” d) During the trial of Jesus described in today’s Gospel, Pilate asked the question:( “Are you the king of the Jews?” (Jn 18:33) Jesus replied: “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the Truth” (Jn:18:37) e) The signboard hung over Jesus’ head on the cross read: “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews.” f) Before his Ascension into Heaven, Jesus declared: “All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me; go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations … (Mt 28:18ff).” g) Finally, in Matthew 25:31, we read that Christ the King will come in glory to judge us on the day of the Last Judgment.

Life Messages: 1) We need to accept and surrender our lives to Christ the King as our Lord, King, and Savior. We surrender our lives to Jesus every day when we give priority to all Jesus taught in our daily choices, especially in making moral decisions. We should not exclude Christ our King from any area of our personal or family lives. In other words, Christ must be in full charge of our lives, and we must give Christ sovereign power over our bodies, our thoughts, our heart, and our will. 2) We need to be serving disciples of a serving King. Jesus declared, “…whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mt 20:27-28), and later showed us the spirit of service by washing of the feet of the apostles. We become Jesus’ followers when we recognize Jesus, present in everyone, especially the poor, the sick, the outcast, and the marginalized in society and render humble and loving service to Jesus in each of them. 3) We need to accept Jesus Christ as the King of love. Jesus came to proclaim to all of us the Good News of God’s love and salvation, gave us a “new commandment” of love: “Love one another as I have loved you,” and demonstrated that love by dying for us sinners. We accept Jesus as our King of love when we love others as Jesus loves each of us, unconditionally, sacrificially, and with agape love.

CHRIST THE KING (Nov 21) (Dn 7:13-14; Rv 1:5-8; Jn 18:33b-37)

Homily starter anecdotes: #1: “Christ has conquered, Christ now rules, Christ reigns supreme”: In the middle of St Peter’s square in Rome, there stands a great obelisk. About four and half thousand years old, it originally stood in the temple of the sun in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis. It was bought to Rome by the dreaded Emperor Caligula and it was set right in the middle of the equally dreaded Circus of Nero, on Vatican hill. It was in that Circus that St Peter was martyred, and the obelisk may well have been the last thing on this Earth that Peter saw. On top of the obelisk there now stands a cross. In ancient times, there was a gold ball representing, of course, the sun. Now there is a cross however, the cross of Christ, and on the pedestal of the obelisk there are two inscriptions. The first of them is in Latin, “Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat”, which translated means, Christ has conquered, Christ now rules, Christ now reigns supreme. The other inscription is, “The Lion of Judah has conquered.” So here we have the language of victory. Christianity has triumphed by the power of the cross and triumphed over even the greatest power that the ancient world had known, the Roman Empire, and here in the middle of St Peter’s square stands the obelisk bearing those triumphant inscriptions. (Mark Coleridge Archbishop of Brisbane) (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

#2: “Long live Christ the King!” In the 1920s, a totalitarian regime gained control of Mexico and tried to suppress the Church. To resist the regime, many Christians took up the cry, “Viva Cristo Rey!” (“Long live Christ the King!”) They called themselves “Cristeros.” The most famous Cristero was a young Jesuit priest named Padre Miguel Pro. Using various disguises, Padre Pro ministered to the people of Mexico City. Finally, the government arrested him and sentenced him to public execution on November 23, 1927. The president of Mexico (Plutarco Calles) thought that Padre Pro would beg for mercy, so he invited the press to the execution. Padre Pro did not plead for his life, but instead knelt holding a crucifix. When he finished his prayer, he kissed the crucifix and stood up. Holding the crucifix in his right hand, he extended his arms and shouted, “Viva Cristo Rey!” (“Long live Christ the King!”) At that moment the soldiers fired. The journalists took pictures; if you look up “Padre Pro” or “Saint Miguel Pro” on the Internet, you can see that picture. (Fr. Phil Bloom). (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

#3: “I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.” St. Thomas More is the patron saint of lawyers and politicians, among others. He was a brilliant lawyer and diplomat in 16th century England. His patriotism and loyalty to the throne attracted the attention of King Henry VIII who made him Lord Chancellor of England. What Henry VIII did not know was that Thomas More’s first loyalty was to Christ, the King of kings. When Henry VIII decided to divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon, marry Anne Boleyn and make himself head of the Church of England, More thought this was not right. Rather than approve what he believed to be against the Divine will, he resigned from his prestigious, wealthy position as Lord Chancellor and lived a life of poverty. Since he would not give his support to the king, Thomas More was arrested, convicted of treason, imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1534 and beheaded in July of the following year. On his way to public execution, More encouraged the people to remain steadfast in the Faith. His last recorded words were: “I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.” For More, it was not simply enough to confess Christ privately in the safety of his heart and home; he believed one must also confess Christ in one’s business and professional life as well as in the laws and policies that govern society. (Fr. Munacci). (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

# 4: On His Majesty’s Service: St. Polycarp, the second century bishop of Smyrna, was brought before the Roman authorities and told to curse Christ and he would be released. He replied, “Eighty-six years have I served Him, and He has done me no wrong: how then can I blaspheme my King, Jesus Christ, who saved me?” The Roman officer replied, “Unless you change your mind, I will have you burnt.” But Polycarp said, “You threaten a fire that burns for an hour, and after a while is quenched; for you are ignorant of the judgment to come and of everlasting punishment reserved for the ungodly. Do what you wish.” (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

# 5: A king with a big difference: Charles Colson, former legal counsel to Richard Nixon and later founder of the Christian Prison Fellowship, says it like this: “All the kings and queens I have known in history sent their people out to die for them. I only know one King Who decided to die for his people.” (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

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

This Thirty-Fourth and final Sunday in Ordinary Time ends the Church’s liturgical year and the Cycle B Sundays. For this culminating Feast of Christ the King, the readings describe the enthronement of the victorious Christ as King in Heaven in all His glory. The first reading, taken from the book of Daniel, tells of the mysterious Son of Man (with whom Jesus would later identify Himself), coming on the clouds, glorified by God, and given dominion that will last forever. The Refrain for today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 93), has us proclaim, “The Lord is King; He is robed in majesty,” celebrating the God of Israel as the King over all creation. In the second reading, taken from the Book of Revelation, the risen Christ comes amid the clouds as the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last of all things. In today’s Gospel, Jesus asserts before Pilate that He is a king and clarifies that that his kingdom “does not belong to this world.” He rules as King by serving others rather than by dominating them; His authority is rooted in Truth, not in physical force, and His Kingdom, the reign of God, is based on the Beatitudes.

First reading: Daniel 7:13-14, explained: The apocalyptic Book of Daniel came to prominence during a bitter persecution of the Jews in the second century BC, when it bolstered the Faith of the beleaguered chosen people of God. The book rises from the sixth century BC, during the Captivity of the Jews in Babylon (the Exile). Today’s selection from Daniel expresses well the Jewish understanding of the Kingship of God and that of the Promised Messiah. It describes the mysterious “Son of Man” (with whom Jesus would later identify Himself), as coming on the clouds, glorified by God and given the dominion that will last forever. In his vision, Daniel saw God seated on a Throne, with millions of people serving Him. Into His presence there came a human figure, “one like a Son of Man,” to whom were given (v.14) “dominion and glory and kingship, that all should serve Him… His kingship is one which shall never be destroyed.” He would be the King of kings and the Lord of Glory and His Kingdom would last forever. The New Testament proves that Jesus is this long-awaited King of the Jews.

Second reading: Revelation 1:5-8, explained: The New Testament Book of Revelation has the same apocalyptic character as the Book of Daniel, although that element is not very evident in today’s short selection.  Its readers were being persecuted, and the Lord God Who gave John this vision wanted to bolster their Faith.  To the description of Jesus given here, we can apply what was said above about the Son of Man and His commission from the Ancient One.  Today’s reading from the Book of Revelation also explains how the risen Christ will come amid the clouds as the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last of all things.  In its apocalyptic style, the Book of Revelation describes how Jesus has become our King by freeing us from our sins by His Blood (and so from the ruler of darkness), and by blessing all of us to be priests for His God and Father — all because our King loves us.  Today’s reading concludes by stating that Christ the King is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, that is, the A and the Z, the beginning and the end [ end = both termination of and purpose for] of our lives and of all life.  Alpha and Omega are the first and the last letters of the alphabet in Greek, the original language of this book.  Giving Jesus the Alpha title reminds us of the first theme John’s Gospel that Jesus is the Word of God, pre-existing with the Father before all creation.  To call Jesus the Omega is to say that our King will be in charge at the end of the world.  The four passages refer to the supreme Kingship of Christ who founded a Kingdom for us, where He has made us priests dedicated to the service of God His Father.  He will come a second time to judge all men.

Gospel exegesis: The Biblical basis of the feast: A) Old Testament texts: The title “Christ the King” has its roots both in Scripture and in the whole theology of the Kingdom of God.   In most of the Messianic prophecies given in the Old Testament books of Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel, Christ the Messiah is represented as a King.  B) New Testament texts: a) In the Annunciation, recorded in Lk 1:32-33, we read: “…and the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the House of Jacob for ever; and of His Kingdom there will be no end.”    In fact, the Kingdom of God is the center of Jesus’ teaching and the phrase “Kingdom of God” occurs in the Gospels 122 times, of which 90 instances are used by Jesus.  b) The Magi from the Far East came to Jerusalem and asked the question: (Mt. 2:2) “Where is the Baby born to be the King of the Jews?  We saw His star… and we have come to worship Him.”  c) During the royal reception given to Jesus on Palm Sunday, the Jews shouted: (Lk 19:38) “God bless the King, Who comes in the Name of the Lord.”  d) During the trial of Jesus described in today’s Gospel, Pilate asked the question:  (Jn 18:33):  “Are you the king of the Jews?”  Jesus replied: “You say that I am a king.  For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the Truth” (Jn:18:37) e) The signboard hung over Jesus’ head on the cross read: “Jesus of Nazareth, king of the Jews.”(Jn 19:19) f) Schooling the apostles, Jesus declared: “…whoever  would  be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many(Mt 20:27-28), g) Finally, in Matthew 25:31, we read that Christ the King will come in glory to be our Judge at the Final Judgment.

Jesus’ clarification of His Kingship before Pilate during His trial: The Jews accused Jesus of blasphemy for claiming to be God, and they wanted Him to die by the most shameful and painful death, Roman execution.  Hence, they brought Jesus before Pilate the Roman governor and accused Jesus of causing sedition against the Roman Empire and Caesar.  “We found this man inciting our people to revolt, opposing payment of the tribute to Caesar, and claiming to be Christ, a King” (Lk 23:2).  Today’s Gospel presents the first part of the trial conducted by Pilate who questions Jesus about His Kingship.  In the dialogue with Pilate, Jesus implies that Pilate does not understand the spiritual or transcendent nature of Jesus’ kingship (“My Kingdom does not belong to this world”).  Jesus admits that He is a King but declares that His Kingdom is not of this world.  Neither Jesus’ present nor future reign operates according to the world’s criteria of power and dominance.  Jesus’ Kingdom, the reign of God, is based on the beatitudes, and Jesus rules through loving service rather than through domination.  His authority is rooted in Truth, not in physical force.  Jesus gives His purpose for coming into the world as: to bear witness to the Truth about a larger and eternal Kingdom,  about God and His love, about us, and about whom we are called to be.

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

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

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

3) We need to follow Christ the King’s lesson of humble service to the truth. Christ has come to serve and to be of service to others.  Hence, we are called to Christ’s Own service – service to the Truth.  In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus saying, “For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the Truth” (Jn 18:33).  The Truth to which Jesus bears witness by His Life and teaches us is that God, His Father, is also our loving and forgiving Father, so we are all His children, forming one Body.  Hence, whatever we do for His children, our sisters and brothers, we do for our King.  For we are called to be a people who reach out to embrace the enemy and the stranger, a people called to glory in diversity, a people called to offer endless forgiveness, a people called to  reach out in compassion to the poor and to the marginalized sectors of our society, a people called to support one another in prayer, a people called to realize that we are called not to be served, but to serve.  In other words, servant-leadership is the model that Christ the King has given us. “For the Christian, ‘to reign is to serve Him,’ particularly when serving ‘the poor and the suffering, in whom the Church recognizes the image of her poor and suffering founder’” (CCC  #786).

4) We need to obey the law of love of Christ the King.  Citizens of Christ’s kingdom are expected to observe only one major law–the law of love.  “Love God with your whole heart and love your neighbor as yourself.”  “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”  Jesus expects a higher degree of love from His followers: “Love one another as I have loved you.”  On this great Feast of Christ the King, let us resolve to give Jesus, our King, the central place in our lives , living the obedient loving, generous service Jesus commands, sharing what we have with all our needy brothers and sisters. .

JOKES OF THE WEEK

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

#2: Co-pilot Christ the king: Many people love bumper sticker theology.  Bumper stickers may not always have the soundest theological statements, but they generally at least have the ability to make you think.  One such, “God is my Co-pilot,” has also been found on Church signs, where the theology is just as much fun and sometimes sounder.  In this case, the Church sign says, “If Christ the King is your Co-Pilot, change seats.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7) Preach the word: http://www.preachtheword.com/topical.html

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

34- Additional anecdotes

1) A Man for All Seasons: There is a great scene in the play, A Man for All Seasons, that fits very well with today’s Feast of Christ the King.  You might remember that the play was about the determination of St. Thomas More to stand for the Faith against the persuasion and eventually the persecution of Henry VIII of England.  In the scene I’m referring to, in Henry VIII , in 1527, is trying to coax his second-in-power Thomas More, to agree with him that it is proper for him, the King, to divorce his wife Catherine on the grounds that she was also his sister-in-law (a marriage impediment for which the King, before the marriage, had requested and received , in January 1505), a Papal Dispensation, from  then-reigning  Pope Julius II!) The King’s real reason was that his wife, Catherine of Aragon, had not given birth to a male heir to the Kingdom.  After the King made all his arguments, Thomas More said that he himself was unfit to meddle in this argument and the King should take it to Rome.  Henry VIII retorted that he didn’t need a Pope to tell him what he could or couldn’t do.  Then we come to the center point.  Thomas More asked the King, “Why do you need my support?”  Henry VIII replied with words we would all love to hear said about each of us, “Because, Thomas, you are honest.  And what is more to the point, you are known to be honest.  There are plenty in the Kingdom who support me, but some do so only out of fear and others only out of what they can get for their support.  But you are different.  And people know it.  That is why I need your support.” —         In the presence of integrity, Henry VIII knew who was King and who was subject. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

2) “I am the greatest.” Jesus is not a king like the ancient Egyptian king, Ramses, whose arrogant motto was inscribed on temples still standing, “I am the greatest.” Jesus is not a king like the king of China, a savage tyrant who used millions of slaves to build the Great Wall of China, a wall so huge that it can be seen from the moon. He is not a king like Louis XIV, who lived in excessive luxury in his Versailles palace of 1000 rooms. Jesus is different in that he was not born of a reigning King, though He is of the royal House of David. Rather, as Scripture tells us, Jesus is the One Whom God “will choose as king….” There is no other king like King Jesus, for Jesus is a Divine King, none other than the very Son of God, the Messiah. Jeremiah calls Him, “the Lord of our Salvation.” (v. 6) St. Paul sees Jesus as “the image of the invisible God” and in Whom dwells “all the fullness of God.” Jesus Himself knows Who, and Whose, He is, for He says, “The Father and I are one … he who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

3) Desperate deaths of autocratic kings and dictators: The death of the Communist Dictator, Josef Stalin (1879-1953), was described by his daughter as difficult and terrible. Silenced by a stroke shortly before he died, Stalin’s “last words” were more visible than audible. Newsweek magazine quoted Svetlana Stalin who said, “At what seemed the very last moment, he cast a glance over everyone in the room. It was a terrible glance, insane, angry, and full of fear of death. With one final menacing gesture, he lifted his left hand as if he were bringing down a curse on us all.” Philip III of Spain (1578-1621), who proved himself to be an unfit king, indifferent to the plight of his people, breathed his last wishing, “Would to God that I had never reigned. What does all my glory profit but that I have so much the more torment in my death?” Charles IX of France (1550-1574, reigned 1560-1574), who in 1572 had ordered the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of the Huguenots throughout France, met death with despair, “What blood! What murders! I am lost forever. I know it.” When she lay dying, Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603) was reported to have said she would give, “All my possessions for a moment of time.” —  Today’s Gospel challenges us to compare with these royal deaths Christ the King’s death on the cross, offering his life to God his Father in all serenity and elegance. (Patricia Datchuck Sánchez) (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

4) King in disguise: The story is told of Mother Teresa of Calcutta observing a novice using tweezers to pluck maggots from the leg of a dying leper. The young woman stood at arm’s length to perform the odious task. Gently but firmly, Mother Teresa corrected her charge. Taking the tweezers and putting her face quite near the wound, she said, “You don’t understand, my dear. This is the leg of Christ our Lord. For what you do to this man, you do to Him.” (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

5) Francis of Assisi was wealthy, high-born and high-spirited, but he was not happy. He felt that life was incomplete. Then one day he was riding, and he met a leper, loathsome and repulsive in the ugliness of his disease. Something moved Francis to dismount and fling his arms around this wretched sufferer; and, lo, in his arms the face of the leper changed to the face of the Christ. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

6) Leo Tolstoy’s story “Martin the Cobbler” tells of a lonely shoemaker who is promised a visit by our Lord that very day. Eagerly all day he awaits his arrival. But all that come are a man in need of shoes, a young mother in need of food and shelter, and a child in need of a friend, all of which he cheerfully assists. Martin the cobbler ends the day thinking “Perhaps tomorrow He will come,” only to hear a voice reply, “I did come to you today, Martin; not once, but three times.” (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

7)”Long Live Christ the King!  Long Live the Pope.”  Those of us, who pray for the persecuted Church, mourned the loss of Ignatius, Cardinal Kung who died at the age of 98.  He stood by his convictions, and withstood persecution for his Faith.  He was consecrated the bishop of Shanghai in 1949, shortly after the Communists took over China. The Chinese government pressured him to align his loyalties to the “Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.”  But he refused, choosing to remain loyal to his Church’s chain of command.  In 1955, the authorities brought him and 200 other priests to a stadium in Shanghai.  The government ordered them to “confess their crimes.”  Instead, Kung shouted “Long Live Christ the King!  Long Live the Pope.”  Shortly thereafter, he received a life sentence, where he spent the next 30 years in prison, most of the time in solitary confinement.  When he was freed in 1987, he came to the United States with his nephew and settled in Stamford, Connecticut.  He went to his eternal reward on March 12, 2000. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

8)   “Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!”  Of thirty Roman emperors, governors of provinces and others in high office, who distinguished themselves by their fanatical zeal and bitterness in persecuting the early Christians, one became mentally deranged; another was slain by his own son.  One of them became blind; another was drowned.  One was strangled; another died in miserable captivity.  One of them died of so loathsome a disease that several of his physicians were put to death because they could not abide the stench that filled his room.  Two committed suicide; another attempted it but had to call for help to finish the work.  Five were assassinated by their own people or servants, five others died the most miserable and excruciating deaths and eight were killed in battle, or after being taken prisoners.  Among those who died in battle was Julian the Apostate.  In the days of his prosperity he is said to have pointed his dagger to heaven, defying the Son of God whom he commonly called the Galilean.  But when he was wounded in battle and saw that all was over with him, he gathered up his clotted blood and threw it into the air, exclaiming, “Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!” (Boise) (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

9) “He is something more than a king.” In Lloyd Douglas’ novel, The Robe, the slave, Demetrius, pushed his way through the crowd on Palm Sunday, trying to see who the center of attraction was.  He got close enough to look upon the face of Jesus.  Later another slave asked, “See him – close up?”  Demetrius nodded.  “Crazy?”  Demetrius shook his head emphatically.  “King?”  “No,” muttered Demetrius, “not a king.”  “What is he then?” demanded the other slave.  “I don’t know,” mumbled Demetrius, “but he is something more than a king.” (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

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

11) “Little omission of kindness”:  William McKinley, the 25th U.S. President, once had to choose between two equally qualified men for a key job. He puzzled over the choice until he remembered a long-ago incident. On a rainy night, McKinley had boarded a crowded streetcar. One of his prospective candidates was in the car. When an old woman carrying a basket of laundry struggled into the car looking for a seat, the job candidate pretended not to see her while McKinley obliged. Remembering the episode as a “little omission of kindness,” McKinley decided against the man on the streetcar. — Our decisions – even the small fleeting ones – tell a lot about us, whether we serve ourselves or Christ our King living in others. [Presidential Anecdotes by Paul F. Boller Jr. (Penguin Books).] (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

12)  The Generals of Insignificance in our lives: In the Berlin Art Gallery there is a painting by the famous artist Adolph von Menzel that is only partially finished.  It is called, “Frederick the Great Addresses His Generals before the Battle of Leuthen in 1757.” Menzel painstakingly painted the generals first, placing them around the outside of the painting as a background and leaving a bare patch in the middle of the painting for the King.  But Menzel died before he could finish the painting.  So there is a painting full of generals but no king. — We often spend much time enthroning the generals of insignificance in our lives and postpone inviting Jesus the King of Kings into our hearts till the last moment which is quite uncertain.  As a result, many Christians die without putting Christ into the very center of their lives.  The painting of our lives will never be complete until we place at its center Christ the King whose feast we celebrate today. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

13) “I shall be that soldier.” Sportsman and best-selling author Pat Williams, in his book The Paradox of Power, tells about one man who deserved to bear the name Christian. In fact, that was his name — Christian X – who was King of Denmark during World War II. The people of Denmark remember him the way any of us would want to be remembered, as a person of character, courage, and principle. Every morning, King Christian rode without bodyguards in an open carriage through the streets of Copenhagen. He trusted his people and wanted them to feel free to come up to him, greet him, and shake his hand. In 1940, Nazi Germany invaded Denmark. Like so many other European nations, this small Scandinavian country was quickly conquered. But the spirit of the Danish people and their king proved unquenchable. Even after the Nazis had taken control of the nation, King Christian X continued his morning carriage rides. He boldly led his people in a quiet but courageous resistance movement. On one occasion, the king noticed a Nazi flag flying over a public building in Copenhagen. He went to the German Kommandant and asked that the flag be removed. “The flag flies,” the Kommandant replied, “because I ordered it flown. Request denied.” “I demand that it come down,” said the king. “If you do not have it removed, a Danish soldier will go and remove it.” “Then he will be shot,” said the Kommandant. “I don’t think so,” said King Christian, “for I shall be that soldier.” The flag was removed. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

14) Jesse Owens crushing Hitler’s Aryan Supremacy theory: The black man standing in the arena was an affront to Der Fuehrer’s authority. The scene was the 1936 Olympic Games held in Berlin, Germany. The black man was Jesse Owens of The Ohio State University representing the U.S.A. He was aptly called “the fastest human alive.” Der Fuehrer was Chancellor Adolf Hitler who had recently risen to power championing an arrogant theory that his “Aryan race” of “supermen” would conquer the world. In implementing his theory, he began systematically to stamp out the Jews in a bitter expression of prejudice and discrimination. Hitler also publicly denounced Blacks (Negroes as they were called then), as an inferior race. Jesse Owens, in his estimation, should not even be present at the Games. Jesse Owens was not only present, but he went on to win four gold medals in the 100-meter-dash, the 200-meter-dash, the broad jump and the 400-meter relay race. He demolished Hitler’s claim that the Aryan race was superior to all others. Furthermore, this soft-spoken black athlete embarrassed Hitler and undermined his pompous authority in the heart of the Fatherland. — Today is Christ the King Sunday in the liturgical calendar, an appropriate time for us to grapple with the whole question of authority. We may not be in danger of being seduced by an evil power such as Hitler, but we may not be clear on the authority to whom we give allegiance. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

15) Faith in and fidelity to the King: While battling the Philistines, King David was camped at a place called the Cave of Adullam. He was tired of fighting and was longing for a taste of home. David said, wishing out loud, “O that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem which is by the gate!” Three of his most able and faithful soldiers overheard the king, and took it upon themselves to go and get water from that well for him. It meant risking their necks, for they had to break through the camp of the Philistines to do it. When they brought the water to David, however, he refused to drink it. He recognized how dangerous it had been to get the water, and he realized that this act showed how highly they regarded him. Instead of drinking it, he poured it out on the ground as an offering to the Lord. David had already shown his faith in his men, and these three were responding with faith and love for their king. (1 Chronicles 11:15-19). — What about Christ? Does he inspire Faith in you? (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

16) In the Line of Fire. Dr. Gary Nicolosi compares God’s love to the 1993 hit film, In the Line of Fire. Clint Eastwood plays Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan. Horrigan had protected the life of the President for more than three decades, but he was haunted by the memory of what had happened thirty years before. Horrigan was a young agent assigned to President Kennedy on that fateful November day in Dallas in 1963. When the assassin fired, Horrigan froze in shock. For thirty years afterward, he wrestled with the ultimate question for a Secret Service agent: Can I take a bullet for the President? In the climax of the movie, Horrigan does what he had been unable to do earlier: he throws himself into the path of an assassin’s bullet to save the President. Secret Service agents are willing to do such a thing because they believe the President is so valuable to our country that he is worth dying for. — At Calvary the situation was reversed, says Dr. Nicolosi. The President of the Universe actually took a bullet for each of us. At the cross we see how valuable we are to God. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

17) The shivering and hungry King: This is a story about an Irish King.  He had no children to succeed him on the throne, so he decided to choose his successor from among the people.  The only condition set by the King, as announced throughout his kingdom, was that the candidate must have a deep love for God and neighbor.  In a remote village of the kingdom lived a poor but gentle youth who was noted for his kindness and helpfulness to all his neighbors.  The villagers encouraged him to enter the contest for kingship.  They took up a collection for him so that he could make the long journey to the royal palace.  After giving him the necessary food and a good overcoat, they sent him on his way.  As the young man neared the castle, he noticed a beggar sitting on a bench in the royal park, wearing torn clothes.  He was shivering in the cold while begging for food.  Moved with compassion, the young man gave the beggar his new overcoat and the food he had saved for his return journey.  After waiting for a long time in the parlor of the royal palace, the youth was admitted for an interview with the king.  As he raised his eyes after prostrating before the king, he was amazed to find the King wearing the overcoat he had given to the beggar at the park and greeting him as the new King of the country. —  When He comes in glory, Christ the King is going to judge us on the basis of our corporal and spiritual works of mercy. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

18) “If only I knew it was you! Nelson Mandela was still a young man when he became leader of the banned African National Congress. At a certain stage of the struggle he was forced to go underground. He used many disguises and in general remained as unkempt as possible, so that he would not be easily recognized. Once he was to attend a meeting in a distant part of Johannesburg. A priest had arranged with friends of his to put him up for the night. However, when Mandela arrived at the house, the elderly woman who answered the doorbell took one look at him and exclaimed, “We don’t want your kind here!” And she shut the door in his face. Later when she found out who it was she had turned away —  Jesus appears to us in different guises. If only we knew it was He … [Flor McCarthy in New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho.] (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

19) Gluttonous kings versus humble king: Hu Hai was the second emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221 BC-206 BC). Hu Hai indulged in the super luxurious life. He forced a large number of peasants from around the country to build Epang Palace and the mausoleum in Lishan Mountain. He ordered 50,000 soldiers to defend the capital and all parts of the country were forced ceaselessly to send provisions to the capital. Several of the Roman emperors, unmatched in wealth and power, fully demonstrated a capacity for luxury and gluttony. Among these emperors, Claudius (ruled AD 41–54) is famous. The luxury banquet laid out in the famous tomb of King Tutankhamen of Egypt (died 1352 BC.), which was intended for the monarch to enjoy in the afterlife, included a gourmet selection of wines inscribed with names of wine districts— one may call them— the Nile Valley, the Nile Delta, and the Oases. Hundreds of attendants waited on them. — Against this background, there came a King, giving a shocking surprise to his followers. Jesus washed the feet of His followers and waited on them. He performed a gesture that had never been heard of, and commanded His followers to do the same, and to follow it as a new commandment in his Kingdom. (Fr. Bobby Jose). (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

20) Large grave in the monastery: St. Theodosius was a monk who lived in Palestine in the 500s. After growing in holiness himself, he decided to start a new monastery, which soon attracted so many vocations that it became more of a monastic city than just a monastery. One of the first things Theodosius  did when he founded his monastery was rather shocking. He dug a large grave, right in the middle of the cloister. When he had finished digging, the little group of curious monks gathered around the rectangular pit to get an explanation. Theodosius said simply: “Here you see a grave. Here we will all one day be buried and our bodies will return to the dust from which they were made. Remember this, my sons, so that you never stray from the Lord’s sure but narrow road of prayer and self-denial. It is better to die to ourselves each day and rise again on the Day of Judgment than indulge ourselves foolishly now and remain in the grave forever.” St Theodosius had learned well the lesson of today’s parable – Christ wants us to know what’s going to happen after death, so that we can make the right choices throughout our life. (E-Priest). (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

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

22) Hilaire Belloc won the election:  In 1908, the famous Anglo-French historian and writer, Hilaire Belloc [BELL-ock] ran for the British Parliament. His opponents tried to scare off his supporters by claiming that Belloc’s faithfulness to the Catholic Church would inhibit him from being objective. Belloc responded in a speech: “Gentlemen, I am a Catholic. As far as possible, I go to Mass every day. This [taking his beads out of his pocket] is a rosary. As far as possible, I kneel down and tell its beads every day. If you reject me on account of my religion, I shall thank God for having spared me the indignity of being your representative.” The crowd was shocked for a minute, and then burst out in applause. Belloc went on to win that election, and many more. If Catholics cannot bring Christ’s wisdom, goodness, and grace into our society, what do we have to offer?  Our paltry human wisdom? Our own tendencies to selfishness? Our shortsightedness? Pope Pius XI’s encyclical stresses that Christ truly is the King of the Universe, that He will reign forever, and that the Church on earth is the beginning of His Kingdom. It is not enough, therefore, for Christians to hold onto their Faith just in their private lives. We must bring Christ and Christian values into culture, politics, and every sphere of society. If we truly believe in Christ, why would we be afraid of defending and spreading Christian values? Why would we let ourselves be bullied by secular fundamentalists who try to exclude Christ from culture? (E- Priest). (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

23) The Obelisk in St Peter’s Square: In St Peter’s Square in Rome, there stands an ancient Egyptian obelisk – a single block of granite in the shape of the Washington monument, almost 100 feet high and weighing 330 tons. It is the oldest obelisk in Rome, dating from about 1850 BC. At that time it had been erected as a monument to the Pharaoh, and it watched over two thousand years of Egyptian history – the longest reigning empire in history. It stood there when Abraham was called, when Joseph was viceroy of Egypt, when Moses led his people out of Egypt. At the time of Christ, soon after the Magi came to worship him, the Roman Emperor Caligula brought it to Rome as a sign of Rome’s superiority as conqueror of Egypt. There it stood for four more centuries, a symbol of the Roman Empire, the largest empire in human history. A golden urn with Julius Caesar’s ashes was placed on it. It stood in the arena where St Peter himself was martyred, along with hundreds of other early Christians. Then the barbarians invaded Rome, and in the Middle Ages it fell. Ivy grew around it. It was half-buried near the old Basilica. But the Church converted the barbarians, and when a new Christian culture emerged and flourished, and St. Peter’s Basilica was rebuilt and expanded, Pope Sixtus V had the obelisk re-erected in the center of the plaza. No longer is it a reminder of the long-perished empires of Egypt, Rome and the barbarian hoards. Now it is topped with a bronze cross, and inside that bronze cross is a small fragment of the true cross, the cross on which Christ, conquering his Kingdom, was crucified. Now it serves the universal Kingdom that will have no end, the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. (E- Priest). (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

24) Empires Come and Go – The Church Endures: St Maximilian Kolbe: This is one of the reasons why tyrants hate the Catholic Church so much. Tyrants want total control – we call their governments “totalitarian regimes.” And so they can’t stand the Catholic Church, because it is a constant reminder that they don’t have total control –  that they can’t; only God can. And so, just as Herod tried to do with Jesus, the eternal King, they try to stamp out the Church, the eternal Kingdom. The Roman emperors tried. The barbarian tribes of northern Europe tried. The Medieval Islamic Caliphs tried. The French Revolutionaries tried. Napoleon tried – he even kidnapped the Pope, twice! The Nazis tried, and the Communists tried too, giving the twentieth century the bittersweet honor of having more Christian martyrs than any previous century. The tyrants of every generation try to take over the throne that only Christ can occupy, but the Church continues to survive, grow, and spread. A favorite example of this unconquerability of our Faith is found in St. Maximilian Kolbe. He was the Franciscan priest who died famously in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. A fellow prisoner had been condemned to death. But the condemned man had a family, and St. Maximilian had none, so the saint offered himself as a substitute. It was the crowning action of a string of selfless deeds that he performed throughout his imprisonment. Even the horrors of that concentration camp couldn’t conquer his Christian spirit. He celebrated secret masses on crowded, plank bunk beds; he secretly heard confessions walking through the mud to work; he even gave hope to his fellow death-row inmates: for fifteen days they prayed and sang hymns in the bunker where they were being starved to death. This is Christ the King’s everlasting, unconquerable, universal Kingdom. This is our Kingdom. This is our Church. (E- Priest). (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

25) The King of Kings is here! The old Cardinal, Hugh Latimer, often used to preach before King Henry VIII. It was customary for the Court preacher to present the King with something on his birthday, and Cardinal Latimer presented to Henry VIII  a pocket handkerchief with this text in the corner –“Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge,” a very suitable text for King Henry. Then he preached very forcefully on the sins of lust, and did not forget the personal application to the King. And the King said that the next time (the next Sunday), when the Cardinal preached he must apologize. The next Sunday, when the Cardinal stood in the pulpit, he thought to himself, “Latimer, be careful about what you say, the King of England is here.” At the same time a voice in his heart said, “Latimer, Latimer, be careful about what you say, the King of Kings is here.” Strengthened by this, he preached what God wanted him to preach. -Today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. We must enthrone Jesus as our King in our hearts and in our homes. (John Rose in John’s Sunday       Homilies). (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

26) The real king? This happened a number of years ago when the late King Baudouin was reigning in Belgium. As the Constitutional Monarch, one of his duties was to “rubber stamp” all the bills passed by Parliament with his signature, thereby officially promulgating them as law. In 1990, the Belgian parliament passed a reprehensible bill that basically removed all legal sanctions against abortions. As a practicing and conscientious Catholic, King Baudouin objected to abortion vehemently, and so he could not and would not endorse the measure. But according to the constitution, he did not have a choice – as figurehead monarch, he had to ratify the bill, so by refusing to sign the bill into law, he was, in effect, attempting to veto the Parliament, and putting his throne on the line! The parliament simply dethroned him for one day, promulgated the law on that day when there was no reigning monarch in Belgium, and then re-instated him on the next day. Granted, earthly monarchs need constitutional limitations to prevent the abuse of power.  But, that’s not true for the Heavenly Monarch, the all-good, all-loving God, for any time we attempt to impede Christ’s reign in our lives, we’re just erecting an obstacle to the good that He could be in our lives.  Clearly then, there’s false comfort and perilous perdition in that illusion of ultimate self-determination: if someone on the street swears at you and says, “Go to Hell!” sure, it’s easy to invoke your autonomy then and shrug it off with the slur, “I’m free – I don’t have to go anywhere I don’t want to go!” Yet the same people who declare self-determination their highest law and have thus pretended to enthrone themselves as the sovereign moral authority by dethroning in their hearts Christ the King, will discover, when HE solemnly speaks those same words as the judgment of eternal damnation, the absolute limits of personal freedom, limits constituted by the True and Almighty King of all creation. [John Ruscheinsky in Daily Online    Reflections; quoted by Fr. Botelho.] (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

27) A king of love, mercy and justice: The contemporaries of Jesus grew up hearing the stories of the cruelty of the ancient kings and rulers. Biblical Accounts give vivid descriptions of the cruelty of the Assyrians. “In 722 BC Assyrian armies swept through the Near East. They became notorious for their cruelty.  There are caves in Palestine to this day where we can find etched into cave-walls depictions of Assyrian cruelty: men beheaded, children disemboweled, pregnant women ripped open. The Assyrians did it. Up until the Assyrian assault there had been twelve tribes in Israel. The Assyrians slew ten. After 722 BC there were only two tribes left, Judah and Benjamin. The other ten will never be seen again. The kings of Assyria tormented the miserable world. They flung away the bodies of soldiers like so much clay; they made pyramids of human heads;  they burned cities;  they filled populous lands with death and devastation;  they reddened broad deserts with carnage of warriors;  they scattered whole countries with the corpses of their defenders as with chaff;  they impaled ‘heaps of men’ on stakes, and strewed the mountains and choked rivers with dead bones;  they cut off the hands of kings and nailed them on the walls, and left their bodies to rot with bears and dogs on the entrance gates of cities;  they employed nations of captives in making brick in fetters;  they cut down warriors like weeds, or smote them like wild beasts in the forests, and covered pillars with the flayed skins of rival monarchs.” — The contemporaries of Jesus also were familiar with the cruelties of the Roman emperors and King Herod. They knew how the kings in the ancient world treated their enemies. Against this background there arose a king with a different code of conduct. Hammurabi, the ancient Babylonian king, created the first written set of laws. Since the laws were clearly written down, everyone was expected to obey them. But Jesus, the king of Kings,   summarized all the laws into two and wrote them down in the hearts of men. He taught, “Love God with your whole being and love your neighbors as yourself.” In the ancient world where enemies were treated with great cruelty, and criminals were murdered mercilessly, this was a shocking message. But from this  powerful surrender emerged the uniqueness of the Kingdom  of Jesus. On this code of is grounded the power of His kingdom which will last forever. This has made the kingdom of Jesus different from all the kingdoms on the earth. History has seen the rise and fall of many empires. But history has not seen any empire other than the empire of Jesus that grows century after century. When the angel announced to Mary that she had been chosen to be the mother of Jesus, he said, “His kingdom will have no end.”(Lk 1:33) The angel thus conformed the prophecy of Daniel: “His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty which shall never pass away, nor will his empire ever be destroyed.” (Dan 7:14). Fr. Bobby Jose. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

28) Jesus is the king of hearts: Bishop Villegas in his book entitled Jesus In My Heart said that Jesus is king of hearts in every Christian. To explain this contention, Villegas used the image of a deck of cards which carries four images of kings. The first image is the king of clubs. A club is an extension of a violent hand. A club is an extension of a hostile man. Christ cannot be king of clubs because Jesus is not here to sow violence. Jesus is not here to sow hostility. Jesus is here as a king of peace. Jesus is here, gentle and humble of heart, not to sow enmity among us. Jesus is here so that all may be brothers and sisters to one another. Bishop Villegas continued that Jesus could not be king of spades. A spade is used to throw dirt. Jesus is not here to make our lives dirty. Jesus is here to cleanse us from everything that defiles us. Jesus is not the king of spades because Jesus is not in the grave. Jesus is risen from the dead. Jesus is not king of spades because the business of Jesus is not to make other people dirty, to make people look at the grave dug by spades. The business of Jesus is to give hope and purity to us. Jesus cannot be king of diamonds for he came to bless our poverty. Jesus came to bless our pains and our aches. Jesus is not here to make our lives easier and more comfortable. Jesus is here to give meaning and purpose to our crosses and pains and trials. But Jesus can only be king of hearts. This is the kind of king that Jesus is. He is the king of the universe because he is the king of hearts. (Fr. T.S. Benitez). (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

29) Come unto me: A wonderful statue of Jesus the Christ exists in the cathedral of Denmark’s fairy-tale city of Copenhagen. The sculptor was the master Albert Bertel Thorvaldsen who died in 1844. He chose to sculpt a monumental Christ, the Christus, that would reveal Him in all His majesty. His hands would be raised as befitted His awesome power. His face would look out regally on everyone and everything. He would indeed be the King of kings, the Man in total control. It was done. “Jesus is the greatest figure in human history,” the sculptor said when the clay model was finished, “and this statue will so represent Him.” However, a funny thing happened on the way to the unveiling. The statue was left in a shed near the water. The dampness had its way with the clay Christ statue. The upraised hands had drooped. They no longer commanded. Rather, they beseeched. The fiercely upturned face had lowered itself onto the Master’s chest. The person who wore this face had known many problems and was compassion itself. This was no longer a King before whom one would grovel and stutter, “Your Royal Majesty.” Rather, it was a Shepherd solicitous for every one of His sheep. At first, Thorvaldsen was bitterly disappointed by the accident. Then he realized after reflection that this was a more accurate Jesus than the one he had originally conceived. Indeed, it might have been providentially planned. So, he left it undisturbed. His original intention had been to inscribe the dictum “FOLLOW MY COMMANDS” on the base of the statue. But now he realized that was no longer appropriate. Instead he chiseled the softer message “COME UNTO ME.” To this day, this benign Nazarene touches the hearts and spirits of those who enter the Copenhagen cathedral. It is reported that often Thorvaldsen’s masterpiece reduces spectators to tears. In most probability, it has more of a genuine effect on them than his majestic Christ ever would have. The statue reminds them of His famous words to a puzzled Pontius Pilate in today’s Gospel, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (Father James Gilhooley). (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

30) “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I am sure that most of you have read the immortal play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. After the assassination of Julius Caesar by Brutus and Cassius, the body of Caesar lies before the people.  It is then that Mark Anthony gives his famous speech reminding the people how much Caesar loved and cared for them.  He said, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him; the evil that men do lives after them; the good is often interred with their bones. So be it with Caesar. The noble Brutus has told you that Caesar was ambitious. If it were so, it was a grievous fault and grievously has Caesar answered it. Caesar was my friend, faithful and just to me. He has brought many captives here to Rome, whose ransom did the general coffers fill.” Then he mentioned Caesar’s will in which he made the Roman citizens his heir. — Often, we forget the good and great things people do to us. It took Mark Anthony to remind the Roman citizens of Caesar’s love and care. Then their hearts were set on fire. This morning may we remember the great love, care and power which Christ has bestowed upon us. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

31) King of kings and Lord of lords. Listed in any history book among the greatest leaders that the world has ever known would be the name, Augustus Caesar. It was Augustus Caesar who fixed the limits of the Roman Empire. It was during his reign that the Pax Romana, the peace of Rome that lasted for over 200 years, was initiated. It was Augustus who ordered the building of roads linking the colonies of the great Empire and allowing rapid access to subordinate governments. It was he who gave Rome its constitution, creating the office of Emperor and investing in that office unlimited power, though he never used the title Emperor himself. The age of Augustus was a bright spot in literature and the arts. It was the era that gave the world Virgil, and the great historians. Augustus was truly a great ruler. Is it not ironic, then, that 2000 years after the reign of Augustus Caesar, he is mainly remembered because every year at Christmas time, we read these timeless words: “In those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed” (Luke 2:1) Among those to be taxed, of course, were Mary and Joseph from Nazareth. Augustus Caesar would truly be shocked to realize that during his reign was born One who was far greater than he. He was the One Who had been anointed King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It was a minor official in the Roman Empire, Pontius Pilate, who first asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”  (John 18:33). Jesus obviously convinced him that he was. We often see engraved on crosses the letters INRI. They stand for Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum, Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews. St. Teresa of Avila, the 16th century Carmelite reformer, always referred to Jesus as “His Majesty,” and so He is. After 2000 years, His stature has not diminished.” (http://stjohngrandbay.org/wt/client/v2/story/WT_Story.cfm?SecKey=151) (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

32)  Jesus wins, Pilate loses: George III of England, America’s enemy in the Revolutionary War, felt terrible about the loss of the colonies. It was said, in fact, that for the rest of his life, he could not say the word “independence” without tripping over it. He was an odd duck in many ways, but he had good insights. When the fighting in America stopped, King George and all his royal cronies in Europe were sure that George Washington would have himself crowned “Emperor of the New World.” That’s what they would have done. When he was told, on the contrary, that Washington planned to surrender his military commission and return to farming at Mt. Vernon, George III said, “Well, if he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.” There is power in giving up power, in emptying oneself. Jesus knew it, Pilate didn’t. (William R. Boyer, A Confusion of the Heart.  Freedom Riders). Quoted by Fr. Kayala. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

33) Freedom Riders in the American South: Recently I heard someone tell a story about the experiences of the Freedom Riders in the American South during the ’50s and ’60s and their struggle for civil rights. The story was a vivid illustration of how life changes when Jesus has the last word, when Jesus is King. When the Freedom Riders traveled through the South staging their sit-ins and marches and protests, they were often arrested and jailed. The guardians of racial segregation and the status quo were not going to let them have the last word. While in jail the Freedom Riders were often treated poorly and brutally in order to break their spirits. They were deprived of food or given lousy food. Noise was blasted, and lights were flashed all day and night to keep them from resting. Sometimes even some of their mattresses were removed in order that all would not have a place to sleep. For a while it seemed to work. Their spirits were drained and discouraged, but never broken. It happened more than once and in more than one jail. Eventually the jail would begin to rock and swing to sounds of gospel singing. What began as a few weak voices would grow into a thundering and defiant chorus. The Freedom Riders would sing of their faith and their freedom. Sometimes they would even press their remaining mattresses out of their cells between the bars as they shouted, “You can take our mattresses, but you can’t take our souls!” The Freedom Riders were behind bars in jail, but they were really free. They were supposed to be guilty, but they were really innocent. They were supposedly suffering, but they were actually having a great time. They were supposedly defeated but they were actually victorious. Why? They may not have said it, but they could have: because Jesus has the last word, because Christ is King! (Steven E. Albertin, Against the Grain — Words for a Politically Incorrect Church, CSS Publishing). Quoted by Fr. Kayala). (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

34) Gandhi’s Strength: In the published diaries of Joseph Goebbels, the infamous Nazi Propagandist, there are two or three references to Mahatma Gandhi. Goebbels believed that Gandhi was a fool and a fanatic. If Gandhi had the sense to organize militarily, Goebbels thought, he might hope to win the freedom of India. He was certain that Gandhi couldn’t succeed following a path of non-resistance and peaceful revolution. Yet as history played itself out, India peacefully won her independence while the Nazi military machine was destroyed. What Goebbels regarded as weakness actually turned out to be strength. What he thought of as strength turned out to be weakness. This what happened to Christ the King. (Kevin M. Pleas, Sufficient Grace) Quoted by Fr. Kayala. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21 L/21)

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B (No 60) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com

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

November 15-20 weekday homilies

Kindly click onhttps://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed Sunday and weekday homilies, RCIA & Faith formation classes: Nov 15-20: Nov 15 Monday (St. Albert the Great, Bishop, Doctor of the Church): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-albert-the-great Lk 18: 35-43: 35 As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging; 36 and hearing a multitude going by, he inquired what this meant. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” 38 And he cried, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 And Jesus stopped, and commanded him to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me receive my sight.” 42 And Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43 And immediately he received his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God. Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

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

Life messages: 1) We, too, need healing from our spiritual blindness which makes us incapable of seeing and appreciating the living presence of God within ourselves and others. For that healing, we also require the same trusting Faith the blind man displayed in the healing power and mercy of Jesus, and the same persevering persistence in our prayers. We need to pray with conviction, urgency and constancy. 2) We need to repeat the prayer of the blind man, “Lord, let me receive my sight,” when our Faith is feeble, when we cannot understand the reason behind God’s plans, and when our commitments become shaky. God gave us eyes so that we can see. God gave us a heart so that we can see better. Let us use them all the time. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Nov 16 Tuesday (St. Margaret of Scotland) (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-margaret-of-scotland) , St Gertrude, Virgin) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-gertrude-the-great : Lk 19:1-10: 1 He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector, and rich. 3 And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it they all murmured, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 …9 Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

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

Life messages: 1) We need to accept the Divine invitation to repentance. We are all sinners to a greater or lesser degree. Jesus is inviting each one of us to total conversion today by means of this Gospel lesson. Let us remember that Jesus loves us, in spite of our ugly thoughts, broken promises, and sullied ideals, our lack of prayer, our lack of Faith, our resentments, and our lusts. Hence, let us confess to Him all our weaknesses and sins, repenting, and ask Him trustfully for His Mercy. 2) We need to love others in spite of their sins, as Jesus loves us. Jesus loved Zacchaeus—a great sinner — and by that love, Zacchaeus was transformed. As parents or teachers, can we lovingly accept our children without first setting up for them standards of behavior as conditions for being loved? Just as Jesus loved Zacchaeus, even though he was a public sinner, so we must love others in spite of their sins. Jesus expects this of us. 3) We need to be set free from selfishness and choose generosity: Zacchaeus was changed from being greedy to being generous, from selfishness to selflessness. When we feel the warmth of God’s presence within us, that warmth will, in itself, melt our coldness and selfishness, leading us to repentance and generosity. (Fr. Tony) https://frtonyshomilies.com/ L/21

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

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

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

Life messages: 1) We need to trust God enough to make use of the gifts and abilities He has given us. We may be especially talented in teaching children, or cooking meals, or repairing homes, or programming computers. Let us use our particular gifts in the service of our families, our Christian community, and the wider society. 2) We need to make use of our talents in our parish. We should be always willing to share our abilities in creative worship in the Church and in the various ministries in our parish, such as Sunday-school teacher, singer in the choir, volunteer, and/or member of one or more of the various parish organizations and community outreach programs. 3) We need to trade with our talent of Christian Faith: All of us in the Church today have received at least one talent namely, the gift of Faith. Our responsibility is not just to preserve and “keep” the Faith, but to work with it and grow with it We need to promote and add value to Faith by living it out. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Nov 19 Thursday (The Dedication of the Basilicas of Saint Peter and Paul, , Apostles), (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/dedication-of-churches-of-saints-peter-and-paul) St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, Virgin (U.S.A.) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-rose-philippine-duchesne: Lk 19: 41-44 41 As he drew near and saw the city he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes. 43 For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will cast up a bank about you and surround you, and hem you in on every side, 44 and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

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

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

2) We are the temples of the Holy Spirit, and we have no right to desecrate God’s temple by harboring jealousy, discrimination, injustice and impurity in our hearts (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Nov 20 Friday Lk 19: 45-48: 45 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, 46 saying to them, “It is written, `My house shall be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of robbers.” 47 And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people sought to destroy him; 48 but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people hung upon his words. Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

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

Life messages: 1) We need to avoid the business mentality of loss and profit in Divine worship. Our relationship with God must be that of child-to-parent, with no thought of loss or gain, but only of mutual love, respect and the common good. 2) Secondly, we need to remember that we are the temples of the Holy Spirit. Hence, we have no right to desecrate God’s temple by acts of impurity, injustice, pride, hatred or jealousy. 3) We need to love our parish Church and use it. Our Church is the place where we come together as a community to praise and worship God, to thank Him for His blessings, to ask pardon and forgiveness for our sins, and to receive His offered healing and nourishment. Let us make our Church an even more holy place by adding our prayers and songs to community worship and by offering our time and talents in the various ministries of our parish. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

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

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

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

Life messages: 1) We need to live the lives of Resurrection people: That is, we are not to lie buried in the tomb of our sins and evil habits. Instead, we are to live joyful and peaceful lives, constantly experiencing the Real Presence of the Risen Lord Who gives us the assurance that our bodies also will be raised. 2) The salutary thought of our own resurrection and eternal glory should also inspire us to honor our bodies, keeping them holy, pure and free from evil habits and to respect those with whom we come in contact, rendering them loving and humble service. (Fr. Kadavil) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

OT XXXIII B (Nov 14) Sunday

OT XXXIII [B] (Nov 14) Sunday (Eight-minute homily in one page)

Central theme: Today’s readings give us the assurance that our God will be with us all the days of our lives and that we will have the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst, guiding, protecting, and strengthening us in spite of our necessary uncertainty concerning the end time when “Christ will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.” Each year at this time, the Church asks us to consider the “four last things” – Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell – as happening to ourselves.

Scripture lessons summarized: The readings invite us to focus our attention on the threefold coming of Jesus: 1) His first coming according to the flesh, as Redeemer. 2) His second coming, either at our death, or at the end of time and the world, which will bring our salvation to completion. 3) His coming into our lives each time we step forward in genuine Christian living.

The first reading, taken from the prophet Daniel (167 BC), was originally given to comfort and give hope to the Jewish people persecuted by a cruel pagan king. It advises us to live wisely and justly in the present time, instead of worrying about the unknown future. Through the Psalm Response for today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 16), the Holy Spirit has us sing our Faith affirmation, “You are my inheritance, O Lord!” In today’s second reading, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews challenges us to look to the future with hope and serenity because Jesus, having secured the forgiveness of our sins and our sanctification through the sacrifice on the cross, sits forever at God’s right hand as the one Mediator between man and God.

Today’s Gospel, taken from Mark (AD 69), offered hope to early Christians persecuted by the Roman Emperor Nero, by reminding them of Jesus’ words about His glorious return to earth with great power and glory as Judge to gather and reward the elect. Daniel and Markcontinue toremind us that God will ensure that the righteous will survive the ordeal and will find a place with Him. Through the parable of the fig tree, Jesus warns us all to read the “signs of the time,” reminding us that we must be ever prepared to give an account of our lives to Jesus when He comes in glory as our Judge, because we cannot know “either the day or the hour” of His Second Coming.

Life messages: 1) Let us recognize the “second coming” of Jesus in our daily lives through everyday occurrences, always remembering that Jesus comes without warning. But let us not get frightened at the thought of Christ’s Second Coming, because Jesus is with us every day, abiding with the Father and the Holy Spirit in our hearts, dwelling in our Church in the Holy Eucharist, teaching us in the Holy Bible, and unifying us with Him and each other in our worshipping communities. We will be able to welcome Jesus in His Second Coming as long as we faithfully do the will of God by daily serving our brothers and sisters, recognizing Christ’s presence in them, and by being reconciled with God and with our brothers and sisters every day.

2) We need to “learn the lesson from the fig tree.” This means that we are to watch and wait in a state of readiness. Instead of worrying about the endtime events, we are asked to live every day of our lives loving God living in others, by our committed service to them with sacrificial agape love.

OT XXXIII (Nov 14) SUNDAY: Dn 12:1-3; Heb 10:11-14, 18; Mk 13:24-32

Homily starter anecdotes: #1: Scientific theories on the end of the world:Scientists have fueled public anxiety by citing a series of possible ways in which the world could come to an end, e.g. (a) Sucked into a black hole. A large dead star which has collapsed and has become so incredibly dense that even light cannot escape it, a “black hole” is thought to be a fatal attraction for any nearby matter; (b) Death of the Sun: “The Sun will run out of fuel and enter its red-giant phase. Its final burst of glory will expand and engulf the closest planets, leaving Earth a charred, lifeless rock. But our planet has around five billion years left.” (Astrophysicist Katie Mack begins her book on the end of the Universe) https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02338-w. (c) The Big Crunch: Astrophysicists long considered the most likely reversal of the Big Bang — the Big Crunch. Outside our cosmic neighborhood, every galaxy is zooming away from us; a clear sign of expansion. If the Universe holds enough matter, including dark matter, the combined gravitational attraction of everything will gradually halt this expansion and precipitate the ultimate collapse. Over time, galaxies, then individual stars, will smash into each other more frequently, killing off any life on nearby planets. In the final moments, as densities and temperatures soar in a contracting inferno, all that remains will extinguish in a single point. (https://futurism.com/four-ways-the-universe-could-end) (d)Climate change. Another ice age or glacial period is expected in 2,000–10,000 years; if and when it occurs, over eight billion people will try to survive on 30% less land mass; (e) The Greenhouse Effect. A predicted temperature increase of 6o F is expected by the year 2030; if this occurs, polar regions will thaw, ocean levels will rise and vast areas of earth will be flooded; (f) Collision. Earth may be hit by a meteorite, asteroid or comet; (f) Cosmic Rays. Earth’s magnetic field is waning at present, making it susceptible to the rays of an exploding supernova and/or solar flares; (g) Nuclear War and its Aftermath. A familiar and frightening scenario: a possible nuclear war could wipe out up to 90% of the U.S. population and 50% of that of Russia. [Patricia Datchuck Sánchez, Celebration.] — But today’s readings give us the assurance that our God will be with us all the days of our lives and that we will have the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst guiding, protecting and strengthening us in spite of our necessary human uncertainty concerning the end time when “Christ will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.” So, the Church advises us to entrust the unknown and unknowable future to God’s caring and capable hands.  Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

# 2: $ 57, 000 for Jesus’ shopping in his second coming: In 1981, a man left $57,000 in his will to Jesus. It was for His own use when He returned at the Second Coming. The money was to be invested at the highest interest in the meantime.     Does anyone really think that Jesus will be shopping at a posh department store for a new seamless robe and sandals upon His return? Does anyone feel money is what He shall require from us at the Parousia? Is this what the Nazarene is all about? Christ is more interested in the way we conduct our lives this moment rather than tomorrow. He is more eager to see us improve life for others today than He is to remove us from it. Andrew Greeley has some wise thoughts on this point.  ”The Second Coming, the New Age, the New Epoch,” he says, “can and should be happening throughout this day and week.” I saw the Second Coming at a Soup Kitchen where I worked. A white woman volunteer gave a black man soup, pasta, and coffee. As he was leaving, he thanked her. Then she noticed the bad condition of his shoes. She told him to wait. From the clothing closet, she brought several pair. The woman got down on her knees and fitted each pair. Finally, she found his fit. In this forty-minute encounter, Jesus in His Second Coming was present. I was watching Him washing His apostles’ feet all over again. I witnessed the New Age today at a fast-food restaurant. A busload of children treated their waitress with kindness. “Please” and “thank you” were more plentiful than hamburgers and cokes. They cleaned their table. They left a generous tip and a happy waitress. There was no doubt but that the Lord was present. I see the New Epoch every time one of you gives me $100 and asks me to give it to a family having a difficult time. If one looks sharp enough, you can see a smile on Christ’s face. I observed the New Order yesterday. I was lost and could not find the correct road. I asked directions of a young man. Though he was in as much a hurry as I, he U-turned and told me to follow him for several miles. Then he put my car on the correct road. Can you not hear Jesus applaud as I tell you this story? I heard of the Second Coming yesterday. A mother told me of her return from a long journey. On her kitchen table, she found a dozen carnations waiting to greet her. The benefactor was her teen son. That day she saw Christ in her boy. I saw the New Epoch last week. A priest had heard that hostiles in a parish were gleefully giving another priest, whom he hardly knew, a hard time. He phoned. “May I buy you a good lunch?” The trip cost him not only the restaurant bill but also a round trip of 140 miles, and over half a tank of gas. Was not the Nazarene riding with him that day? You, I am sure, can fill in the blanks and tell me of the times when you saw the Second Coming this past week. And hopefully you were the cause of it.           (Fr. James Gilhooley). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

Introduction: Today’s readings give us the assurance that our God will be with us all the days of our lives and that we will have the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst guiding, protecting, and strengthening us in spite of our necessary human uncertainty concerning the endtime when “Christ will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.”  Next Sunday is the Thirty-fourth and last Sunday in our liturgical year when we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, and the following Sunday marks the beginning of the Advent season with a new Liturgical Cycle – C – for our Sunday Readings for the 2021-2022 Liturgical Year.   Each year at this time, the Church asks us to mediate on the “four last things” – Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell — as they apply to us. The readings invite us to focus our attention on the threefold coming of Jesus: 1) His first coming according to the flesh, as Redeemer.  2) His second coming, either at our death, or at the end of time and the world, which will bring our salvation to completion.  3) His coming into our lives each time we step forward in genuine Christian living which will prepare us for His final coming at the End  of the  world of time and space and the Final Judgment.   

 Scripture readings summarized: The first reading with its vision of the archangel Michael, taken from the prophet Daniel (167 BC), was originally given to comfort and give hope to the Jewish people, persecuted by a cruel pagan king. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 16) reminds each of us that God Himself is “my allotted portion and my cup,” and that “with Him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.” In the second reading, the author of the letter to the Hebrews consoles believers suffering from “endtime phobia” with the knowledge that Jesus, who sits forever at God’s right hand, is our Mediator. By the willing  sacrifice of His human life, Jesus  has forgiven our sins and sanctified us.  Today’s Gospel, taken from Mark (AD 69), offered hope to early Christians persecuted by the Roman Emperor Nero, and to us as well, reminding us of Jesus’ words about His glorious return to earth with great power and glory as Judge in order to gather and reward God’s  elect.  Though Daniel and Mark describe frightful scenes, their accounts also remind their audiences, and us, that God will ensure that the righteous will survive the ordeal and will find a place with Him. Through the parable of the fig tree, Jesus warns us all to read the “signs of the time,” and reminds us that we must be ever prepared to give an account of our lives to Jesus our Judge, because we cannot know “either the day or the hour” of our own death or of His final coming. When or how this world will end is of no great importance to us; what is important is that we shall leave this world very soon and our eternity will depend on the state of our consciences at the moment of our departure.

The first reading Dn 12:1-3, explained: Today’s first reading, taken from the prophet Daniel (167 BC), originally given to comfort and give hope to the Jewish people being persecuted by a cruel pagan king, advises us to live wisely and justly in the present time instead of worrying about the unknown future.  In the second century BC, the Jews were conquered by the Greeks.  The Greek king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, tried to Hellenize the Jews by imposing Greek norms on them, by forbidding them to practice circumcision, by stripping the Temple of its valuables, by burning the Torah scrolls, by introducing the worship of Greek gods to the Jews, forcing the Jews to join in the worship of these pagan gods.  In this frightening and dangerous time, the Lord God’s prophetic message to Israel through Daniel addressed the needs of the suffering Jewish people, bolstering their morale and promising them the sure and definite intervention of Yahweh, their God of power and glory, even if they faced persecutions and hardship for a short term.  Hence, they believed that Yahweh was on the verge of stepping into the world and definitively changing everything (Dan 12:1-3).  This short passage also describes the “great tribulation,” the “resurrection of the dead” and the Divine Judgment with its rewards for the wise and righteous and its punishments for the foolish and wicked.  Thus, today’s selection from Daniel introduces the belief in the resurrection of the dead and makes the first mention in the Bible of “everlasting life,” while such a doctrine was almost unprecedented among Jews even in the second century BC. Although this world will have an end marked by great upheavals and disasters, these will be followed immediately by a new and everlasting existence.

Second Reading, Hebrews 10:11-14, 18, explained: St. Paul continues to contrast the priesthood of Christ with the Jewish priesthood. This reading challenges us to look to the future with hope and serenity because Jesus, sitting forever at God’s right hand, is the Mediator Who secured the forgiveness of our sins and our sanctification through His willing, sacrificial death on the cross. The letter to the Hebrews was written for Jewish converts to Christ, in part to help them cope with the loss of the comforts they had enjoyed within the institutions of Judaism and from which they had been excluded by their conversion.  The author’s intent was to show that Jesus Himself had replaced those old institutions and exceeded them.  In today’s passage, the institutions in question are priesthood and sacrifices.  The author asserts that the old, repetitious sacrifices were futile, while the one sacrifice of Jesus makes us perfect forever and wins the forgiveness of sin, rendering further sacrifice unnecessary. Through Jesus’ saving gift of Himself, perfect praise has been offered to God, sin and guilt, have been expiated, and our absolute, intimate union with God has been achieved.  Jesus continues His priestly work in Heaven by interceding  for us in the presence of God, the Father. Furthermore, Jesus, the new and the only High Priest, has a seat at God’s right hand, closer than any other priest has ever come to Him.  For Jesus’ sacrifice made possible the forgiveness of sins and the formation of a new relationship between God and humankind.

Gospel exegesis: The context: Mark’s Gospel, written some 40 years after Jesus’ death, is the simplest, shortest, and oldest of the four Gospels.  This week’s Gospel text is taken from the thirteenth chapter of Mark, which, together with Matthew 24 and Luke 21, is often called the “Little Apocalypse.”  Apocalypse literally means unveiling. The whole of Mark’s thirteenth chapter is full of apocalyptic imagery and predictions borrowed from the Old Testament.  Verses 24-27 are taken from images appearing in the prophecies of Joel (2:10), Isaiah (13:10; 34:4), Daniel (7:13), Deuteronomy (30:3), and Zechariah (2:10).  Jesus skillfully weaves all these various strands into one powerful vision.  The Gospel of Mark was written in the year 69 AD, just one year before the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, at a time when the Romans were suppressing Jewish protests and persecuting Christians.  Many Christians began wondering why Jesus did not return as He had promised.  Some even wondered whether he had really been the promised Messiah.  Hence, Mark tried to strengthen their Faith by quoting Jesus’ predictions of the coming persecution of the faithful (13:9-13), the destruction of Jerusalem (13:2, 7-9, 14-20), the rise of the Anti-Christ (13:5-6, 21-23), the end of the world, and Christ’s Second Coming (13:24-26).  Mark also offered hope to a persecuted community by reminding the people of Jesus’ promise that wars, natural disasters and betrayal by family members would be overcome when the Son of Man returned to earth to gather in His loved ones.

The glorious coming of the Son of Man: In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks about the displacement of celestial bodies at the end of the world, followed by the appearance of the Son of Man in glory to establish the Reign of God.  The coming of the Son of Man, “in clouds with great power and glory,” echoes a passage in Daniel.  Cosmic disturbances of the sun, moon, and stars are images traditionally associated with the manifestations of God’s judgment on Israel. In the Creed we recite at Mass, we proclaim that Jesus “will come again to judge the living and the dead.” The New Testament writers used the Greek word Parousia which means the arrival and presence of a king, to describe this second coming of Jesus. Although no time-frame is given in the Gospels for the period between the destruction of Jerusalem and the final coming of Jesus as King and Lord of all, the early Christians believed that Jesus would come in their lifetime, based on their understanding of Jesus’ promise in Mark, “this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.”

Parable of the fig tree and warning for watchfulness: Jesus gives a warning lesson from the fig tree, using stock prophetic expressions well known to his listeners (Ezra 9:3; 13:1; Baruch 27:5-13; Amos 8:9; Joel 2:10, 3:15; Ezekiel 32: 7, 8; Isaiah 27:13, 35; Micah 7:12; Zechariah 10:6-11).  The fig tree sprouts its leaves in late spring heralding the summer season.  The application of this image to the end of the world suggests that the end of the world will mean good times, or summer, for Jesus’ disciples, because their God will be bringing things to a triumphant end, and His Truth, Love, and Justice will prevail forever.  But we must always be well prepared to face our judgment because we do not know the day nor the hour, either of the ending of the world or of our own call from this life.  Hence, true disciples are to watch and wait in a state of readiness.  Instead of worrying about the endtime events, we are asked to live every day of our lives in loving God in Himself and as living in others through our committed service.  Thus, we will enter into a deeper relationship with God, which will continue when we pass through death into a different kind of life.

Life messages: 1) Let us recognize the “second coming” of Jesus in our daily lives. Today’s Gospel reminds us of a “coming” of God which we tend to forget, namely, God’s daily coming to us in the ordinary events of our lives.  We must learn to recognize and welcome Him in these everyday occurrences – happy, encouraging, painful, or disappointing – always remembering that He comes without warning.  Let us remember that the Lord is present wherever people treat each other with gentleness, generosity, and thoughtfulness.  Hence, let us try to bring Jesus to earth, as St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) puts it: “by doing little things to others around us with great love.”

2) Let us take heart and not be frightened: The end of the world should never be thought of as depressing, disheartening, or frightening because we are in the hands of a good and loving God.  Christ’s second coming gives us the message that God is journeying with us in the trials and difficulties of life, and that His word is ever-present as a light of hope.  He speaks to us through the Bible.  We have the Eucharist as a sign that God is with us, in our midst.  Holy Communion is our point of direct, personal contact with God.  That is why the holy Mass is special: the more fully and frequently we participate in the Mass, the more deeply the Lord can come to us, and the more completely He can remain with us. Let no one frighten us with disturbing descriptions of the end of the world because “the end” is all about the birth of everyone and everything into eternity.

3) Are we ready to meet our Lord with a clear conscience?  Suppose we were to learn today that we had just one year to live – that we would die on November 14, 2022.  What changes would we make in our lives?  If, to our dismay, we find there are several things which have to be put right before facing our Judge we will start right away to put them right. We will put our books in order; we will make peace with God and our neighbors. How would we spend our time, talents, wealth?  What changes would we make in our priorities? Would we be concerned about the petty quarrels and bickering of life?  No!  The next twelve months would be the best year of our lives because we would spend our time doing loving, holy and worthwhile things.

4) “Learn the lesson from the fig tree.”  Jesus tells us that our personal “endtime” is a prelude to eternal happiness.  However, we are all so taken in by our secular culture’s fascination and glamour that we are sometimes embarrassed or saddened by the signs of our own approaching end.  We foolishly consider growing old as an evil thing, rather than as a warning from a loving God to prepare to meet Him and to give an account of our lives.  Our aches and pains and frequent “doctor’s appointments” in our senior years should remind us of God’s warning that we are growing unfit to live in this world, and that we have to get ready for another world of eternal happiness.  Hence, let us take the spirit of the 27th Psalm: “Wait for the Lord.  Take courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord” (v. 14).

JOKES OF THE WEEK

#1: “You’ll wish you were Jewish!!”  A Protestant minister and a Catholic priest enjoyed teasing their Jewish rabbi friend, continually asking him when he was going to convert to their Faith.  When the Holidays rolled around, the rabbi sent them a card with the following: “Season’s Greetings!  Roses are reddish, Violets are bluish; When the Messiah comes, you’ll wish you were Jewish!!”

#2: Missed the “rapture” by a minute:  A certain man, Herbert Washington by name, was so taken up by the nearness of Christ’s second coming and “the rapture” that he became a pain in the neck to his coworkers.  So his coworkers hatched a plan to pay him back in his own coin.  One day, when Herbert went to the washroom, they laid their work clothes on their chairs and hid in the supply room.  When Herbert came back from the washroom, he thought the rapture had taken place.  The Muslim janitor, who was part of the joke, pretended to have witnessed everyone disappear and ran around the office feigning panic.  Herbert fell to the ground clutching his heart and screaming, “I knew you’d forget me, Jesus!  What did I do wrong?”  He was rushed to a local hospital with what was diagnosed as a mild heart attack. (Fr. Munachi).

#3: The Second Coming. A Sunday school teacher asked his class, “If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale and gave all my money to the Church, would that get me into Heaven?  “NO!” the children all answered.  “If I cleaned the Church every day, mowed the yard, and kept everything neat and tidy, would that get me into Heaven?”  Again, the answer was, “NO!”  Again the teacher asked, “Well, then, if I were kind to animals and gave candy to all the children, and loved my wife, would that get me into Heaven?”  Again, they all answered, “NO!”  “Well then how can I get into Heaven?”  A five-year-old boy shouted out, “YOU GOTTA BE DEAD!”  Good insight for a five-year old!

#4: Somnambulist or Methodist? “Be constantly on the watch!  Stay awake,” Jesus commands.  The signs-of-the-times are such that, clearly, this is no time for somnambulists.  A somnambulist, as you know, is a person who walks in his sleep.  On the eve of his wedding, a young man decided to confess all to his fiancée.  He went to her and said, “My love, there is something I feel I must tell you before we are married; something you must know. It may make a difference in your feeling toward me.  You see, I am a somnambulist.”  The young lady thought for a moment, then replied, “Oh that’s all right.  There’s no problem.  I was raised a Methodist.  We can go to your Church one Sunday and to mine the next.”

 Websites of the week

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

1 ) A handy link for all things Catholic:  http://www.catholicusa.com/

2) Questions on Church teaching: www.catholic.com

3) Courses on the Bible: www.salvationhistory.com

4) Information about Catholic and Christian faith: www.americancatholic.org

5) Mark 13: 24-32 commentaries: http://www.4catholiceducators.com/gospel-mark-13-a.htm

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

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

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

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

26 Additional anecdotes

1) The end time phobia: French “prophet” and astrologer Nostradamus (1503-1566), foretold that the world would end when Easter fell on April 25.  This happened in 1666, 1734, 1886 and 1943; it will occur again in 2038.  In 1379, St. Vincent Ferrer (1350-1419), a Spanish Dominican monk, basing his prediction on the number of verses in the Book of Psalms (2,537 verses), predicted the demise of the world in AD 3936.  By the end of 1998, the Mount of Olives Hotel, run by Palestinian Muslims, wrote to 2,000 Protestant Christian groups in the U.S. asking “How would you like to be reserving your rooms at the Mount of Olives Hotel, to wait for  the ‘second coming’ of  Jesus on the first day of the new millennium,  2000 A.D.?”  Some scientists fueled public anxiety by citing a series of possible ways, including nuclear war and collision with a comet, in which the world could come to an end.  A very popular book in 1989 was 89 Reasons Why the World Will End in 1989.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses frightened gullible followers at least 3 times during the last century with their “end of the world” predictions in 1914, 1918 and 1974It is this paranoid fear that led people to die in the mass suicides organized by Heaven’s Gate and Jim Jones.  The film Omega Code, released in October 1999, was an independent movie funded by the Trinity Broadcasting Network, the largest Evangelical Christian TV network in the U.S.  It was promoted by a team of 2,400 U.S. Evangelical pastors.  The plot involved a portrayal of the raptureat the imminent “Second coming” of Jesus, when “born again” and “saved” Christians, both alive and dead, are supposed to fly upward in the air to meet Jesus.  The film was rated in the top 10 grossing movies for October, 1999.  Over 17 million copies of Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins’ “Second Coming” novel, Left Behind, were sold by July 27, 2000.  This is how modern man reacts to the reality of the coming of the end of the world.  — Hence, today’s readings remind us that we should be well prepared and always ready to meet Jesus at any time, daily in our brothers and sisters, and at His Final coming for us — at the end of our lives or the end of the world, whichever comes first.

2)  Bingo first! Who cares about the Second coming? There is a second group of people who ignore Christ’s Parousia and stick to their addictions. A woman was hurrying home from work. This was her Bingo night. Suddenly she spotted this fellow standing on the edge of the pavement holding aloft a placard which read: The end of the world is near. She went up to him and said, “You say the end of the world is near.” “That’s right, missus,” he replied. “But are you sure?” “Quite sure, missus.” “And you say it’s near.” “Yes, missus.” ”How near?” “Oh, very near.” “Could you be more precise?” “This very night, Missus.” She paused for a moment to reflect on this. Then in a voice full of anxiety, she asked, “Tell me, son. Will it be before or after Bingo?” (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies).Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

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

4) Left Behind: The scene is the interior of a Boeing 747. It is the wee hours of morning and the plane is somewhere over the Atlantic en route to London. The captain leaves his cockpit and strolls down the aisle intending to flirt with the senior flight attendant. She is in shock. People are missing. They have vanished leaving shoes, socks, clothes, jewelry-everything behind. An elderly lady, sitting in first class, cries as she holds her husband’s sweater and pants. She has been left behind. (Matthew 24:40): “Two men will be in the field, one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill, one will be taken and the other left.” So begins Left Behind, the first novel of the immensely popular fiction series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Sixteen volumes are now on the market with 62 million copies sold for $650 million, along with a movie, web site, 2002 calendar, and survivor kits for children and youth. Tyndale publishers tripled their company’s profits in two years. — But the truth is that Left Behind is fiction, not fact. It has more to do with finances than faith. Its miracle lies in its marketing, not its theology. The Rapture, on which the whole series is built, is the remote idea that believers will somehow be caught up in the clouds with Jesus to avoid the great persecution spreading over the earth. Matthew knows nothing about “rapture” when he talks about the endtime. Just read the text. In Verse 36 we read, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Who of us is smarter than Jesus? Jesus didn’t even know. Why should we try to second guess the Savior? (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-schaeffer/end-times-election-result_b_777865.html). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

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

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

6) More endtime fixations:  Endtime fixations are not exclusive manifestations of ancient communities. On October 23, 1844, thousands of Christians sold their earthly possessions, dressed in white robes, climbed to the tops of the highest mountains they could find, climbed to the tippy-tops of trees to get even higher, and waited for Jesus to return. They had been told this was the date by William Miller, a farmer from western New York who dabbled in apocalypticism which led him to declare this as the date of Jesus’ return based on his exegesis of the Scriptures. When no one went anywhere but down the mountain, he announced a calculation error. The real date was to be six months later, which also came and went as his followers now went . . . away . . . for good. Jim Jones was another apocalyptic leader. In the 1970s he moved his People’s Temple Full Gospel Church from San Francisco to Guyana, where he could wait for the endtime by creating a community that would live as if the endtime had already occurred. On November 18, 1978, Jim Jones and 911 of his followers ended their wait for the endtime by drinking cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. Other apocalyptic communities, from Mother Ann Lee’s Shakers to John Humphrey Noyes’ Oneida Community, sublimated their endtime energies into crafting, the first, Shaker furniture and the second, Oneida silverware. Jesus’ words to his disciples this morning warn us against such idle speculations or apocalypticism.  Apocalypticism can be defined as a set of beliefs and behaviors flowing from the assumption that humans are able to discover the date of the coming consummation of time, the coming Day of the Lord and the return of the Son of Man by using the speculations, learning and lore of sages and scholars, ancient and modern. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

7) Still more Doomsday bluffing: Anticipating the end of the world in 1975, twenty-four men, women, and children from Grannis, Arkansas, moved into one tiny house and waited there for ten months. The end did not come as they had expected, and they were evicted for not paying their rent. In 1986 a man named Richard Kieninger of Garland, Texas, organized a group of people to survive the calamities of the end of time. On May 5, 2000, Kieninger’s followers planned to witness the last day from a dirt pile. Similarly in 1525, a German preacher. Johann Stoeffler, predicted the end of the world by flood. All of his parishioners built boats and rafts to survive the end. When the flood did not come, they threw Herr Stoeffler into a deep pond. Such was the case on October 22, 1844. The followers of William Miller, a farmer turned preacher, donned white ascension robes and waited on a hilltop for the Second Coming of Christ. When Christ did not come, they adjusted their beliefs and formed what is now known as the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Jesus said that we should not wait by trying to guess the date. Said Jesus, “But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of Heaven nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Mt 24:36). Jesus wanted us to be ready for the day of the coming of the Lord at any time. He said that we must be ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour we least expect. Jesus’ call is clear: we are to expect the end — of our own lives, as of the end of the world – to come at any moment.Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

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

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

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

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

There’s a king and a captain high, and he’s coming by and by
And he’ll find me hoeing cotton when he comes.
You can hear his legions charging, the regions of the sky
And he’ll find me hoeing cotton when he comes.Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

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

13) Wake up and stay awake: Ever since the attack on the World Trade center in New York on Sept 11, 2001, there have been nonstop warnings to be alert to possible terrorist attacks. In USA airports repeated public announcements from Homeland Security advise whether the level of alert is yellow, orange or red. People are asked to be vigilant. Today’s second and third readings want us to move to red alert. Paul wants the Romans to wake up and Jesus warns us to stay awake. (Sr. Dr. Barbara E. Reid, NT professor at CTU, Chicago). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

14) In the end all will be fineRobert Muller was an undersecretary of the United Nations. He wrote, practically using apocalyptic imagery, “We are witnessing a unique moment of evolution, the birth of collective organs in the human species. For the first time humankind is emerging as a global organism with a common blood stream, a central nervous system, a shared heart, a corporate brain, and a common destiny.” He said it is a secular way. The prophet and today’s Gospel uses more mystical terms. Let us live with this vision: humanity in labour to give birth –through distress and pain –to that human and divine organism of whom Jesus is the head, [Joseph Donders in Praying and Preaching the Sunday Gospel; quoted by Fr. Botelho.]

15) “Then comes the dawn:” Years ago an old municipal lamplighter, engaged in putting out his lights one by one, was met by a reporter who asked him if he never grew tired of his work in the cold dark night of labour. “Never am I cheerless,” said the old man, for there is always a light ahead of me to lead me on.” “But what would you have to cheer you when you have put out the last one?” asked the writer. “Then comes the dawn.” said the lamplighter. A man of the world might have asked Jesus the same question. One light after another did Jesus put out: the lamp of popular acclaim, the lamp of patriotic approval, the lamp of ecclesiastical conformity –all for the sake of God’s love which burned in Jesus’ heart and showed Jesus a better way. At last even the light of Jesus’ life was to flicker out on the hill called Calvary. What then? We hear Jesus’ voice, “Into Thy hands I commend my spirit,” and then the dawn came. [Carl Knudsen in The Living One; quoted by Fr. Botelho.] Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

 16) The sound of the Gospel: I read recently of a small foundry town where mills are kept running day and night. The steam hammers, some of them several tons in weight, are constantly kept busy, beating out the huge masses of molten metal. The inhabitants of the town had become accustomed to the constant noise, and could sleep soundly through the night without being disturbed. One night, because of some breakdown in the machinery, these hammers suddenly stopped working, and the consequence was that nearly everyone in the town woke up. What awakened them? Not the oft-repeated stroke of the heavy hammers, but their sudden stopping. This reminds us of the state of millions of people in our day. While the Gospel hammer is kept at work, millions within sound of it are fast asleep. But the time will come when the Lord shall return and take his people away, and then the hammer of God’s word shall suddenly cease. Then there shall be an awakening of many-Gospel hardened sleepers, but it will be too late. [C. Johnson in  Quotes and Anecdotes; quoted by Fr. Botelho.] Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

 17) The coming of the Lord: A 200-seater amphitheatre, costing 20,000 pounds, was built overlooking the Sydney Harbour, Australia, in 1925, for the second coming of Christ. Members of “The Order of the Star of the East,” led by Hindu mystic Krishnamurti, believed that Christ would soon return to earth in human form and walk across the Pacific Ocean to the amphitheatre, When Jesus did not arrive in 1929, the group dissolved, and a block of flats now occupies the site. May we be aware of the signs of His coming and always be prepared! [Anonymous; quoted by Fr. Botelho.].Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

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

19) Death comes sometimes in a most unexpected manner. a) Atilla was the fearsome ruler of the Huns from AD 434 to 453. He was a public enemy to the Roman Empire. Twice he attacked the Balkans; he marched his army through France; and his rulership spread from Germany to the Ural River and from the Danube River to the Baltic Sea. Many today regard him as a monster, a cruel dictator who ruled through fear. His death was really mysterious. He died on his wedding night from a simple nosebleed. b) Bruce Lee’s son Brandon was on the set of the film The Crow in which he was playing the lead role. One scene required Lee to be shot by a prop-gun firing blanks. The gun had been used several times before in filming but a cheaply made round of blanks had lodged part of the lead in the barrel of the gun. It caused his death. Jesus said: “But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it.” Hence he asks us to be prepared. None of us is guaranteed the next breath. (Fr. Bobby Jose). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

20) “I shall return!” The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour in Hawaii on December 7th, 1941. Soon after, they invaded and occupied the Philippines. The US General Douglas McArthur was stationed in the Philippines, and on March 11th, 1942, he was forced to leave the islands. Before leaving for Australia, he promised the islanders “I shall return.” On October 20th, 1944, two and a half years later, he kept his promise. He landed on one of the islands and announced, “I have returned.” This heralded freedom for the Philippines. –Jesus assures us: “Heaven and earth shall pass away before My Word passes away.” (Jack McArdle in And That’s the Gospel Truth; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 21) Vision of a better future: The leader of a certain Indian tribe was dying, so he summoned his three sons and said: “I am dying; before my death, I must choose one of you to succeed me as the head of our tribe. I have the same task for each of you. I want you to climb our holy mountain and bring me back something beautiful. The one whose gift is most outstanding will be the one who will succeed me.” The following morning the sons set out on their search, each taking a different path up the mountain. After several days the sons returned. The first brought his father a beautiful and rare flower that grew near the summit of the mountain. The second son brought his father a valuable stone, round and colorful which had been polished by the wind and the rain. The third son, who came empty handed, said to his father: “I have brought back nothing to show you father. As I stood on the top of the holy mountain, I saw that on the other side was a beautiful land filled with green pastures. In the middle of these pastures is a crystal lake. I have a vision of where our tribe could go for a better life. I was so overwhelmed by what I saw and by what I could see that I could not bring anything back.” The father replied: “You shall be our tribe’s new leader, for you have brought back the most precious thing – the gift of a vision for a better future.” — Today’s Gospel on the end time warnings gives us a better vision of how to lead our lives. (Dennis McBride; quoted by Fr.      Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/). 

22) Making Adjustments: An old sea captain named Eleazar Hall lived in Bedford, Massachusetts, during the time of the great sailing ships. He was renowned, legendary, and revered as the most successful of the sea captains of the day. Captain Hall was often asked about his uncanny ability to stay out so long without navigational equipment. Eleazar simply replied, “Oh, I just go up on deck and listen to the wind and rigging. I get the drift of the sea, look up at the stars, and then set my course.” Well, times changed at Bedford. The big insurance companies moved in and said they no longer insured the ships if the captains didn’t have a certified and properly trained navigator on board. They were terrified to tell Eleazar. But to their amazement he said, “If I must, I will go and take the navigational course.” Eleazar graduated high in his class, and having greatly missed the sea, he immediately took off for a long voyage. On the day of his return, the whole town turned out to ask him the question: “Eleazar, how was it having to navigate with all those charts and equations?” Eleazar sat back and let out a long low whistle. “Oh,” he replied, “it was simple. Whenever I wanted to know my location, I’d go to my cabin, get out my charts and tables, work the equations and set my course with scientific precision. Then I’d go up on deck and listen to the wind and the rigging, get the drift of the sea, look at the stars, and go back and correct the errors I had made in computation.” — When I heard that, I prayed, “Lord, I want to know You that way. I want to go up on deck, hear Your quiet Voice in my heart, consider Your eternal Word, and then go back down below and make adjustments to all those fine, logical, scientific plans I’ve drawn up in my head.” Ron Mehl from Surprise Endings; (quoted by Fr. Botelho).  

23) It began in “the hole”! There is a story of a hardened criminal serving a life sentence, who felt such despair that life had no longer any hope for him. His behavior got so mean that he was sent to solitary confinement for three weeks in what was known as “the hole.” One day while in “the hole” a remarkable thing happened. He was lying on the cold cement doing sit-ups when he noticed that something was wedged into the back corner of the cell, under the sleeping platform. He had no idea how it got there but figured a former resident of “the hole” must have left it. He wiggled it out. It was, of all things, a copy of the New Testament. Now the thing that is so remarkable is that the inmate actually began to read from it. The inmate had always been a dynamo of power and energy. Suddenly, he began to wonder what would have happened to him had he used his power and energy for good rather than evil. The thought completely boggled his mind. For a long time he lay there thinking: “Why did God create me? Why did God create someone who would end up behind bars? Why did God create someone who would die to goodness and love and be buried in a tomb of evil and hate in a prison cell?” What happened next is hard to describe. A surprising thought entered the inmate’s mind. The greatest event in history began in a tomb- a tomb just as secure and guarded as his cell. That event, of course was the resurrection of Jesus. A second thought jolted him. What happened to Jesus could happen to him too, in “the hole.” Because of Jesus’ new life and glory, he too could be reborn. He too could be re-created. In a sense he too could rise from the dead. At that moment something roused deep inside him; he felt it stirring. He asked Jesus to come to him and raise him to a new life, to re-create a hardened criminal into a new person. And what happened to Jesus in the tomb happened to the prisoner in his tomb, “the hole.” The resurrection power of God brought him new life. — That man was Starr Dailey, who after being released from prison became one of the pioneers of prison reform in the United States. (Mark Link). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/). 

24)   If the earth, hit by a giant meteorite,  tilts on its axis a mere fraction of an inch:  One writer (quoted in a sermon by John MacArthur),  describes what would happen on the earth if some heavenly body happened to pass close enough to the earth to cause it to tilt on its axis a mere fraction of an inch. “At that very moment, an earthquake would make the earth shudder. Air and water would continue to move through inertia. Hurricanes would sweep the earth and the seas would rush over the continents carrying gravel and sand and marine animals and casting them on the land. Heat would be developed. Rocks would melt. Volcanoes would erupt. Lava would flow from fissures in the ruptured ground and cover vast areas. Mountains would spring up from the plains and would travel and climb on the shoulders of other mountains causing faults and rifts. Lakes would be tilted and emptied. Rivers would change their beds. Large land areas with all their inhabitants would slip under the sea. Forests would burn and the hurricane and wild seas would wrest them from the ground on which they grew and pile them branch and root in huge heaps. Seas would turn into deserts. Their waters flowing away.” (SNB files). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/). 

25) Ready or not, here I come. One of the most memorable games from my childhood days is the game of hide-and-seek. On many occasions throughout the year, the family would gather at my grandparents’ home. The children would usually start a game of hide-and-seek.         When the game started, someone was chosen to be “it”.  A spot was chosen to be “base”. Whoever was “it” would stand at “base” with closed eyes and count to 100. The other players ran and hid. Then it was “its” job to find them before they could return to “base”. The game ended when everyone made it back to “base”, or when “it” found someone who was hiding. In the next game, the person who was caught became “it”.         The part of that game that still echoes in my mind is what “it” would say before he or she came looking for those who were hiding. “It would always say, “Ready or not, here I come.” When “it” said that, you had better be ready, or you were going to be in trouble.  —   When I read these verses, that old childhood game came back to my memory. Jesus is telling His men that there will be a day when He will come again. That day will arrive whether people are ready or not. (SNB files) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/). L/21

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

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

November 8-13 weekday homilies

Nov 8-13: Nov 8 Monday: Lk 17:1-6 1 And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung round his neck and he were cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. 3 Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him; 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, and says, `I repent,’ you must forgive him.” 5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, `Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus gives us two warnings: 1) We should not give scandal to anyone. 2) We need to practice unconditional forgiveness. Jesus also stresses our need for trusting Faith in God’s power if we are to avoid giving scandal and to practice forgiveness.

The great sin of scandal: Literally, scandal is a trap or stumbling block. The catechism defines it as any saying, action or omission which causes an occasion of sin for another. Giving scandal to children and beginners in the Faith is a serious sin because it causes a chain reaction of sins for years, affecting so many, taking away the life of grace from the victims. That is why Jesus says that it would be better for its perpetrators to have their necks inserted in heavy circular millstones and to be drowned in the sea than to suffer God’s punishment for this sin.

The necessity of practicing forgiveness: Jesus commands his followers to forgive their offending brothers and sisters repeatedly, as often as they are repentant. Further, we need to offer fraternal correction to the offender with charity, without humiliating him or offending his feelings. At the same time, we should not allow the offender to violate our just rights. Sincere forgiveness leads us to forget the particular offense and to extend the hand of friendship, which in turn helps the offender to repent. Jesus concludes his instructions by reminding his followers that avoiding scandals and forgiving the offenders are possible only if they have the trusting faith in God which enables Him to work miracles in their lives.

Life messages: 1) We need to avoid giving scandal to any one because it causes a series of sins and does damage to a number of innocent victims. 2) We should ask God to enlarge our hearts to forgive others and to help us to be ready to grant forgiveness to those who have offended us. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Nov 9 Tuesday (Dedication of the Lateran Basilica): (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/dedication-of-saint-john-lateran/):Jn 2.13-22 Historical note: Today the Church celebrates the anniversary of the dedication of the Cathedral Church of Rome by Pope Sylvester I (AD 314-335), in AD 324. This Church serves as the Episcopal seat of the Pope as the Bishop of Rome and, hence, is called “the mother and head of all Churches of Rome and the world.” The basilica and baptistery were built originally by the Emperor Constantine and called Basilica Constantinia. Later it was named the Arch-Basilica of the Most Holy Savior. However, it is now called St. Johns Lateran Basilica because it was built on property donated to the Church by the Laterani family, and because the monks from the monastery of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Divine served it. The name St. Johns comes, first, from the Baptistery, rebuilt after its hard treatment by the Visigoths (AD 410), by Pope St. Sixtus II (AD 432-440), and dedicated by him to St. John the Baptist. Later, Pope St. Hilary (AD 461-468), dedicated it to St. John the Evangelist, in thanksgiving to that apostle for saving his life. [Richard P. McBrien, Lives of the Popes (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997), pp. 58-58, 71-72, 77-78.]. USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm

The context: Today’s Gospel gives us the dramatic account of Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem. He drove out its merchants and moneychangers with moral indignation at the unjust commercialization of a House of Prayer and the exploitation of the poor pilgrims in the name of religion. The merchants charged exorbitant prices for animals for sacrifices, and the moneychangers charged unjust commissions for the required exchange of pagan coins for Temple coins. The Temple Jesus cleansed was the Temple in Jerusalem. Originally built by Solomon in 966 BC and rebuilt by Zerubbabel in 515 BC after the Babylonians had destroyed it, the Temple was renovated for the last time by King Herod the Great starting in 20 BC. The abuses which infuriated Jesus were 1) the conversion of a place of prayer to a noisy marketplace and 2) the unjust business practices of animal merchants and moneychangers, encouraged by the Temple authorities. Hence, Jesus made a whip of cords and drove away the animals and the moneychangers, quoting Zechariah the prophet, “Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace”(Zechariah 14:21).

Life messages: 1) We need to avoid the business mentality of profit and loss in Divine worship. Our relationship with God must be that of a child to his parent, one of love, respect and desire for the common good, with no thought of gain or loss. 2) We need to remember that we are the temples of the Holy Spirit. Hence, we have no right to desecrate God’s temple by impurity, injustice, pride, hatred, or jealousy.

3) We need to love our parish Church and use it. Our Church is the place where we come together as a community to praise and worship God, to thank Him for His blessings, to ask pardon and forgiveness for our sins, and to offer our lives and petitions on the altar. Let us make our Church an even more holy place by adding our prayers and songs to community worship and by offering our time and talents and treasure in the various ministries of our parish. (Fr. Tony) https://frtonyshomilies.com/ (L/21) Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

Nov 10 Wednesday (St. Leo the Great, Pope, Doctor of the Church) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-leo-the-great: Luke 17: 11-19:11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then said Jesus, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: Jesus was on the border between Galilee and Samaria when he was met by a band of ten lepers, both Jews and Samaritans. By describing Jesus’ miraculous healing of the ten lepers from a physically devastating and socially isolating disease, today’s Gospel presents a God Who desires only gratitude from us for the many blessings we have received from Him and Who feels pain at our ingratitude. The Gospel story tells of a single leper (a “Samaritan heretic”), who returned to thank Jesus for healing him, while the others went their way, the Jews perhaps under the false impression that healing was their right as God’s chosen people. They did not seem to feel indebted to Jesus for the singular favor they had received. Instead, they hurried off to obtain a health certificate from the priests. “Where are the other nine?” Jesus asked the Samaritan leper. “Did only one come back to say ‘thank-you?’” Today’s reading also presents Faith and healing going hand in hand, as do Faith and reconciliation.

Life messages: 1) We need to learn to be thankful to God and to others. Often we are ungrateful to God. Although we receive so much from Him, we often take it all for granted without appreciating His gifts. Often we are ungrateful to our parents and consider them a nuisance, although in the past we were dependent on them for literally everything. Similarly, we owe a great debt of gratitude to our friends, teachers, doctors and pastors — but we often fail to thank them. Hence, in the future, let us be filled with daily thanksgiving to God and to others for the countless gifts we have received. Let us pray: “Please, God, heal my heart of ingratitude.”

2) We need to celebrate the Holy Eucharist as the supreme act of thanksgiving. When we celebrate Holy Mass together, we are thanking God for the great gift of His Son, whose sacrifice formed us into the People of God. We thank God for the gift of the Spirit, through whom we bring the presence of the Lord to others. 3) We all need healing from our spiritual leprosy. Although we may not suffer from physical leprosy, when we suffer from the “spiritual leprosy” of sins, Jesus, our Savior, wants to heal us through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. (Fr. Kadavil) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Nov 11 Thursday (St. Martin of Tours, Bishop) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-martin-of-tours:Lk 17:20-25: 20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 21 nor will they say, `Lo, here it is!’ or `There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” 22 And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and you will not see it. 23 And they will say to you, `Lo, there!’ or `Lo, here!’ Do not go, do not follow them. 24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of man be in his day. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: The Jews believed that the sudden and unexpected arrival of the promised Messiah would be accompanied by special signs. They also believed that he would be a political Messiah, who would rule Israel forever after overthrowing all other rulers. Hence, they asked Jesus about the signs accompanying his arrival as the Messiah – if he were the Messiah.

Jesus’ reply: Jesus replied that the kingdom of God was already within them, and that was the greatest messianic sign. The Greek word we translate as “within” means both within you and among you. Considering the kingdom of God as within you, we are to understand that the Messiah is going to rule the hearts and minds of individuals, creating a revolution in human hearts and converting them from stony hearts to Spirit-filled loving, merciful, and compassionate hearts. Considering the kingdom of God as among you, we are to understand that God Himself is present among His people in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth, representing the Kingdom of God and doing God’s will in the most perfect way possible. Jesus also warned the Pharisees not to search for the Messiah anywhere else. He would appear again in Jesus’ Second Coming, quite unexpectedly, and as unmistakably as a flash of lightning that “lights up the sky from one side to the other.”

Life message: 1) Let us be Kingdom people by allowing Jesus the true Messiah to have complete control of our lives. Let us allow Him to rule our lives by giving priority to him in all our actions. (Fr. Tony) https://frtonyshomilies.com/ (L/21)

Nov 11: Veteran’s Day in the U. SSYNOPSIS OF VETERANS DAY HOMILY (NOV 11th) L-21

1)      A day when the Unites States honors the service and sacrifice of more than 22 million living American veterans who guaranteed its freedom and who kept America secure against its enemies. Today, at the 11th hour, on the 11th day, of the 11th month of 2015, we will pause to honor them and celebrate their contributions to our way of life.

2)      A day to thank every Marine, Sailor, Soldier, Airman and Coast Guardsman who has ever worn the uniform, for what he or she  has done for our country.

3)      A day to thank also those who do military service for the freedom and welfare of their country and for preserving the freedom of other countries, in the wake of world-wide acts of terrorism by terrorist organizations.

4)      A day to thank the families and dear ones of our soldiers who volunteered to give up  their sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters for the well-being of their country and the world.

5)      A day to pray for all our soldiers and their helpers so that God may protect them in their tough mission, demanding total commitment.

6)      A day to pray for the eternal repose of the souls of all our warriors who made the ultimate sacrifice by offering their lives for their country in battles, and for others who died a natural death after  a long period of meritorious service in the Army, Navy, Marines or Air Force.

7)      A day to honor and worship the greatest veteran – Jesus Christ – who fought for our salvation and won our redemption by shedding his blood.

How to observe Veterans Day:  1)      By offering all our veterans and current soldiers on the altar and praying for their health in mind and body.  2)      By praying for the eternal repose of all our deceased soldiers.   3)      By attending a local Veterans Day ceremony or parade or by finding some other meaningful way to honor those who served our country in the military and those who continue to serve.

4)      By teaching the younger generation to appreciate the courage and commitment of our soldiers and the enormous sacrifice they are making for their country.

Nov 12 Friday (St. Josaphat, Bishop, Martyr) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-josaphat : Lk 17: 26-37: 26 As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of man. 27 They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise as it was in the days of Lot — they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom fire and sulphur rained from heaven and destroyed them all — 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of man is revealed. 31 On that day, let him who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away; and likewise let him who is in the field not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it. 34 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding together; one will be taken and the other left.” 37 And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.” Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: In today’s Gospel, Jesus is prophesying three endings: 1) the end of his public life, 2) the destruction of Jerusalem, and 3) the end of the world. He warns his listeners to be ready and not to think that they can postpone their preparations, because when the end strikes it will already be too late. Through this prophecy and warning, Jesus asks us, too, 1) to be ready to meet him as our Judge at his Second Coming, whenever that may take place, and 2) to be prepared to meet him and to give an account of our lives at the moment of our death, which is also unknown to us.

We need to learn lessons from the past: Jesus gives the example of the Flood during Noah’s time, when people ate and drank right up to the moment of disaster. Similarly, He goes on, in the days of Lot, people were leading their ordinary, sinful lives when fire and brimstone rained down on the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Only Lot and his family, who had been previously warned, and directly assisted, by the angels, escaped. The same events would be repeated at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem (AD 70), and will be repeated again at the end of the world. Some will be saved and others destroyed. Some will be prepared to meet their God and will be rewarded, while the unprepared will be punished. The criterion of selection will be our intimacy with Jesus in a life of grace. If we really want to see the Kingdom of God on earth in our times, we need only look at people’s lives. The Kingdom is there when people are reflecting in their lives the vision of life and the values that Jesus revealed to us, that is, loving God in offering loving service to all they encounter.

Life messages: 1) We need to stay ready always by living holy and prayerful lives spent in doing good for others. 2) We need to make reparation for our past sins and to prepare our lives to meet our Savior as our Judge by living lives of penance and prayer and by doing works of charity. (Fr. Tony) https://frtonyshomilies.com/ (L/21)

Nov 13 Saturday (St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, Virgin, (U. S. A.) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-frances-xavier-cabrini : Lk 18:1-8: 1 And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man; 3 and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, `Vindicate me against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, `Though I neither fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.'” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7…8. Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: Today’s Gospel gives a parable Jesus told during his last trip to Jerusalem. When Luke recorded this passage, the Parousia or Second Coming of Jesus had been delayed beyond what the early Church had expected. Further, the Church was experiencing persecution from both the Jews and the Romans. The persecuted early Christians were finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their Faith. Today’s Gospel lesson, addressing the issues of Faith in difficult times, must have reassured those disciples, as Jesus reassured His own contemporaries, that God was listening to their persistent prayers and would grant them justice and vindicate their Faith in the end. Jesus presents the widow in today’s Gospel as a model of the trust and tenacity with which all his disciples are to pray.

The parable: This parable is based on the corrupt Roman legal practices prevalent in Palestine at the time of Jesus. The judge in the parable was a magistrate appointed either by Herod or by the Romans. Such judges were avaricious, corrupt, and without fear of God or the public. By publicly badgering the judge every day, the woman was trying to shame this shameless person. Finally, the unjust judge was forced to yield. Hence, this parable is not only about the efficacy of persistent prayer, but also about the character of God, His Trustworthiness and Justice. His is a Justice that reaches out to the poor and the weak, enabling them to fight against injustice. The parable teaches us that the purpose of all our prayers is the augmentation of our trusting Faith in a loving and caring God Who is our Father.

Life messages: 1) Prayer attunes our minds to God’s, enabling us to do what God wants. The parable teaches us that our prayers do not change God’s will. Instead, they bring our hearts into line with His purposes. Sincere and persistent prayer makes us ready to accept and live out His will in love and trust. 2) We should not expect to get whatever we pray for. We prefer to get from God what we want , when we want it! God hears all our prayers. But He knows how and when to grant our prayers. Only God sees time whole, and, therefore, only God knows what is good for us, and when, in the long run. Hence, we have to leave it to God’s decision saying, “Thy will be done,” and to express our trusting Faith in, and dependence on, Him by persevering in our prayers. (Fr. Tony) https://frtonyshomilies.com/ (L/21)

Nov. 1-6 (L-21)

Nov 1-6: Nov 1 Monday (All Saints Day): Mt 5:1-12: (Not a Holy Day of Obligation in the USA) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/solemnity-of-all-saints/ The feast and its objectives: All baptized Christians who have died and are now with God in glory are considered saints. All Saints Day is intended to honor the memory of countless unknown and uncanonized saints who have no feast days. Today we thank God for giving ordinary men and women a share in His holiness and Heavenly glory as a reward for their Faith. This feast is observed to teach us to honor the saints, both by imitating their lives and by seeking their intercession for us before Christ, the only mediator between God and man (I Tm 2:5). The Church reminds us today that God’s call for holiness is universal, that all of us are called to live in His love and to make His love real in the lives of those around us. Holiness is related to the word wholesomeness. We grow in holiness when we live wholesome lives of integrity, truth, justice, charity, mercy, and compassion, sharing our blessings with others.

Reasons why we honor the saints: 1- The saints put their trust in Christ and lived heroic lives of Faith. St. Paul asks us to serve and honor such noble souls. In Paul’s Epistles to the Corinthians, to Philip, and to Timothy, Christians are advised to welcome, serve, and honor those who have put their trust in Jesus, for, as Jesus remarks to Philip at the Last Supper, ”Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father.” So, whoever belives in, trusts, loves, and serves Jesus, at the same time believes in, trusts, loves, and serves the Father as well. The saints enjoy Heavenly bliss as a reward for their Faith in Jesus. Hence, they deserve our veneration of them. 2- The saints are our role models. They teach us by their lives that Christ’s holy life of love, mercy and unconditional forgiveness can be lived by ordinary people from all walks of life and at all times.

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

4- The saints are the instruments that God uses to work miracles at present, just as He used the staff of Moses (Ex), the bones of the prophet Elisha (2Kgs 13:21), the towel of Paul (Acts: 19:12), and the shadow of Peter (Acts 5:15,) to work miracles.

Life messages: 1) We need to accept the challenge to become saints. Jesus exhorts us: “Be made perfect as your Heavenly Father is Perfect” (Mt 5:48). St. Augustine asked: “If she and he can become saints, why can’t I?” (Si iste et ista, cur non ego?).

2) We cantake the short cuts practiced by three Teresas: i) St. Teresa of Avila: Recharge your spiritual batteries every day by prayer, namely, listening to God and talking to Himii) St. Therese of Lisieux: Convert every action intoprayer by offering it to God for His glory and for the salvation of souls and by doing God’s will to the best of one’s ability. iii) St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa): Do ordinary things with great love. Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections; Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Nov 2 Tuesday: Jn 6: 37-40: (All Souls Day):All Souls’ Dayisa day specially set apart that we may remember and pray for our dear ones who have gone for their eternal reward, and who are currently in a state of ongoing purification.

Ancient belief supported by Church tradition: People of all religions have believed in the immortality of the soul and have prayed for the dead:

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

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

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

4) The early Fathers of the Church encouraged this practice. Tertullian (AD 160-240) wrote about the anniversary Masses for the dead, advising widows to pray for their husbands. St. Augustine (AD 354 – 430) remarked that he used to pray for his deceased mother, remembering her request: “When I die, bury me anywhere you like, but remember to pray for me at the altar” (St. Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, Book 9, Chapter 11, Section 27).

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

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

Biblical basis: 1) II Mc 12:46 is the main Biblical text incorporating the Jewish belief in the necessity of prayer and sacrifice for the dead. The passage (II Mc 12:39-46), describes how Judas, the military commander, “took up a collection from all his men, totaling about four pounds of silver and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering” (II Mc 12:43). The narrator continues, “If he had not believed that the dead would be raised, it would have been foolish and useless to pray for them.” 2) St. Paul seems to have shared this traditional Jewish belief. At the death of his supporter Onesiphorus, he prayed: “May the Lord grant him mercy on that Day” (II Tim: 1:18). Other pertinent Bible texts: Mt 12:32, I Cor 3:15, Zec13:19, Sir 7:33.) The Church’s teaching: The Church’s official teaching on Purgatory is plain and simple. There is a place or state of purification called Purgatory, where souls undergoing purification can be helped by the prayers of the faithful (Council of Trent). Some modern theologians suggest that the fire of Purgatory is an intense, transforming encounter with Jesus Christ and His Fire of Love. They also speak of Purgatory as an “instant” purification immediately after death, varying in intensity from soul to soul, depending on the state of each individual.

How do we help the “holy souls”? The Catechism of the Catholic Church recommends prayer for the dead in conjunction with the offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, and encourages “almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead” (CCC #1032). Let us not forget to pray for our dear departed, have Masses offered for them, visit their graves, and make daily sacrifices for them. God can foresee and apply the merits of our prayers, penances, and works of charity, done even years after their death, in favor of our deceased dear ones at the moment of their deaths. Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections; Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Nov 3 Wednesday (St. Martin De Porres, Religious) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-martin-de-porres : Lk 14:25-33: 25 Great crowds were traveling with Jesus, and He turned and addressed them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, `This man began to build, and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace. 33 So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: Jesus was making his final journey to Jerusalem, and both the apostles and the common people, thought that the Master was going to overthrow the Roman government by using miraculous powers. Hence, a big crowd was following along. Jesus thought it was necessary to clarify for them the real cost involved in Christian discipleship.

The teaching: Today’s Gospel passage from Luke challenges us to make a total commitment to the will of God by putting Him first in our lives. Jesus reminds us to count the cost of being a Christian, because the cost is high. Christian discipleship requires one to “renounce” both possessions of the earth and possessions of the heart (i.e., one’s relationships). Jesus lays out four “trip wires” challenging true Christian discipleship: i) attachment to family; ii) attachment to possessions; iii) the hard consequences of discipleship which may involve even losing one’s life; and iv) the cost involved. Using the examples of a watch tower in a vineyard, left uncompleted due to lack of funds, and the example of a foolish king facing defeat by going to war without assessing the strength of the enemy, Jesus warns his would-be followers to count the cost and calculate the consequences before becoming disciples.

Life messages: 1) We need to accept Jesus’ challenge of making a total self-gift to Him in our commitment in true Christian Discipleship: “A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing and suffers nothing, is worth nothing.” (Martin Luther). Jesus’ challenge can be accepted only if, with God’s grace, we practice the spirit of detachment and renunciation in our daily lives. Real Christian discipleship also demands a true commitment both to the duties entrusted to us and to loving acts of selfless, humble, sacrificial love offered to God in all His children around us. 3) This is possible only if we rely on His grace, on the power of prayer and on the guidance of the Holy Spirit through a) daily prayer, b) devout participation in the Sunday Mass c) diligent study of the Bible, d) service in and beyond the parish, e) spiritual friendships, and f) giving time, talents, and resources to the Lord’s work. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Nov 4 Thursday (St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop): Lk 15:1-10: 1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.2 And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” 3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, `Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. 8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, `Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: Today’s Gospel passage, taken from chapter 15 of Luke’s Gospel, is known as the “Gospel in the Gospels,” or the “distilled essence of Christ’s Good News.” In this chapter, using three parables, Jesus answers two accusations made by the Scribes and Pharisees, namely, that Jesus is mingling with the sinners and sharing their meals. These parables teach us that our God is a loving, patient, merciful, and forgiving God. He is eager to be merciful toward us, not vengeful and punishing. He is always in search of His lost and straying children.

The parables: Since the self-righteous Pharisees who accused Jesus of befriending publicans and sinners could not believe that God would be delighted at the conversion of sinners, Jesus told them the parable of the lost sheep and the shepherd’s joy on its discovery; the parable of the lost silver coin (a drachma, worth about a denarius, a farm worker’s “daily wage”), and the woman’s joy when she found it; and the parable of the lost son and his Father’s joy at His repentant son’s return. Besides presenting a God Who is patiently waiting for the return of sinners, ready to pardon them, these parables teach us God’s infinite love and mercy. Christianity is not about man seeking God, but rather about a Holy God seeking a sinful man. In other words, in salvation, as in forgiveness, the initiative is always God’s. These three parables defend Jesus’ alliance with sinners and respond to the criticism leveled by certain Pharisees and scribes at Jesus’ frequent practice of eating with and welcoming tax collectors and sinners.

Life messages: 1) We need to meet the challenge for self-evaluation and return to God’s mercy: If we have been in sin, God’s mercy is seeking us, searching for our souls with a love that is wild beyond all imagining. God is ready to receive and welcome us back as Jesus welcomed sinners in his time. 2) Let us get reconciled with God, through the Sacrament of Reconciliation when we are in mortal sin, and in asking His forgiveness for our sins every night before we sleep. We also need to ask God for the courage to extend this forgiveness to others who have offended us. As we continue with the celebration of the Holy Mass, let us pray as well for God’s Divine Mercy on those who have fallen away from grace. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Nov 5 Friday: Luke 16:1-8: 1 He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a steward, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. 2 And he called him and said to him, `What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’ 3 And the steward said to himself, `What shall I do, since my master is taking the stewardship away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4 I have decided what to do, so that people may receive me into their houses when I am put out of the stewardship.’ 5 So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, `How much do you owe my master?’ 6 He said, `A hundred measures of oil.’ And he said to him, `Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 7 Then he said to another, `And how much do you owe?’ He said, `A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, `Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 8 The master commended the dishonest steward for his shrewdness; for the sons of this world are shrewder in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us the strange parable of a steward who was a rascal to teach us that serving God is a full-time job, not a part-time job or a spare-time hobby. Jesus also teaches us that, in matters spiritual and eternal, we should use the same ingenuity and planning which business people show in the business world. The parable challenges us to use our blessings — time, talents, health, and wealth — wisely and shrewdly, so that they will count for our reward in eternity. We are on the right road only if we use our earthly wealth to attain our Heavenly goal. The parable: In the parable, Jesus tells us how the slave-steward of an absentee landlord, caught red-handed in misappropriating his master’s wealth, ingeniously cheated his master by his unjust manipulation of the master’s business clients. His tricks were intended to make him the friend of his master’s debtors and gave him the prospect of becoming rich by working for them (or blackmailing them?) when he was fired by his master from the stewardship.

Life messages: 1) We need to be faithful in the little things of life: As Saint John Chrysostom said, “Faithfulness in little things is a big thing.” Our future opportunities in the eternal service of God largely depend on our stewardship in handling the little opportunities we have had on earth. As Mother Teresa used to recommend, “Do little things with great love.” 2) We have to act shrewdly, trusting in the power and assistance of God. Let us make use of our resources — like Hope in God’s justice, Faith in God’s assistance, and Trust in God’s grace, celebrating the Mass and the Sacraments as sources of Divine grace and prayerfully studying the Holy Bible as the word of God for daily meditation. 3) Let us remember that as God’s stewards we need to be prepared to give an account of our lives at any time (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Nov 6 Saturday: Lk 16:9-15: 9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations. 10 “He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” 14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they scoffed at him. 15 But he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts; for what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. Additional reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/; https://www.epriest.com/reflections

The context: After telling the parable of the rascally steward as an example of shrewdness and as a warning against using unjust means for gain, Jesus advises his listeners to make friends with the poor by almsgiving and to be faithful and honest in the little things entrusted to them by God.

The teaching: Jesus advises his followers to imitate the shrewd steward who used money generously to make friends for himself. Jesus suggests that his disciples should show their generosity and mercy by almsgiving: “sell your possessions and give alms” (Luke 12:33). The recipients immediately become friends of the kind donor.It is God’s generosity which makes one rich, and, hence, the money we have is unrighteous in the sense that it is unearned and undeserved. So, God expects us to be generous stewards of His generous blessings. Generosity curtails our natural greed, making almsgiving an act of thanksgiving to God for His generosity. Then Jesus tells us that what we get in Heaven will depend on how we have used the things of the earth and on how faithful we have been in the little things entrusted to us. A slave is the exclusive property of his master, and our Master, God, is the most exclusive of masters. So, serving Him cannot be a part-time job or spare-time hobby; it is full-time job. Finally, Jesus warns the Pharisees that material prosperity is not a sure sign of one’s goodness and God’s blessing, but a sign of God’s mercy and generosity.

Life messages: 1) We need to share our blessings with others. Since all our blessings are God’s generous loans to us, we need to be equally generous with others. 2) We need to serve God full-time: Since God owns us totally, we are expected to be at His service doing His holy will all the time. Hence, there is no such thing as a part-time Christian. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21