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

O.T. XXXII (Nov 7) (MK 12:38-44) L-21

OT XXXII [B] (Nov 7) Sunday (Eight-minute homily in one page) L/21

ntroduction: Today’s readings invite us to surrender our lives to God with a humble and generous heart and trusting faith, by serving others lovingly and sacrificially.

Scripture lessons: The first reading and the Gospel today present poor widows who sacrificially gave their whole lives and means of livelihood to God, foreshadowing the supreme sacrifice Jesus would offer by giving His life for others.  In the first reading, taken from the First Book of Kings, a poor widow who has barely enough food for herself and her son welcomes the prophet Elijah as a man of God, offers all her food to him and receives her reward from God in the form of a continuing daily supply of food.  In the Gospel, Jesus contrasts the external signs of honor sought by the scribes with the humble, sacrificial offering of a poor widow and declares that she has found true honor in God’s eyes.  The poor widows in both the first reading and the Gospel give away all that they possess for the glory of God. The sacrificial self-giving of the widows in the first reading and the Gospel reflects God’s love in giving His only Son for us, and Christ’s love in sacrificing himself on the cross. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 146) reminds us that everything that exists belongs to the Lord and that He sustains us all, so that when we return thanks to Him, as the widows did, we please Him. That prepares us for the second reading which tells us how Jesus, as the High Priest of the New Testament, surrendered His life to God His Father totally and unconditionally as a sacrificial offering for our sins – a sacrifice far beyond the sacrifices made by the poor widows.

Life      messages: # 1: We need to appreciate the widows of our parish: Even in seemingly prosperous societies, widows (and widowers), in addition to their deep grief, often suffer from economic loss, from the burden of rearing a family alone, and from a strange isolation from friends, which often sets in soon after protestations of support at their spouses’ funerals. Let us learn to appreciate the widows and widowers of our parish community.  Their loneliness draws them closer to God and to stewardship in the parish.  They are often active participants in all the liturgical celebrations, offering prayers for their families and for their parish family.  Frequently, they are active in the 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 of judging people: We often judge people by what they possess.  We give weight to their position in society, to their educational qualifications, or to their celebrity status.  But Jesus measures us in a totally different way – 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.  The offering God wants from us is not our material possessions, but our whole hearts and lives.  What is hardest to give is ourselves in love and concern, because that gift costs us more than reaching for our purses. Let us, like the poor widow, find the courage to share our wealth and talents we own as God’s gifts. Let us pour out our stores of love, selflessness, sacrifice, and compassion and dare to give our whole heart, our whole being, our “whole life” into the Hands and Heart of God and so into the hidden, love-starved coffers of this world.

O. T. XXXII (B) (Nov 7) I Kgs 17:10-16; Heb 9:24-28; Mk 12:38-44

Homily starter anecdotes: # 1: Widow’s mite and Sts. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Jeanne Jugan’s & St Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa)’s mites: It is now well known how God transformed the humble mite of the widow St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and religious sisters St. Jeanne Jugan and St. Teresa of Calcutta to revolutionize the field of teaching and caring for the sick, the poor, and the discarded people all around the world. God empowered Elizabeth Ann Seton the young and bankrupt, 30-year-old widow with five children to start the first Catholic parochial school, the first Catholic orphanage and the first indigenous religious order for women (Sisters of Charity in 1809) in the U. S. The growth of the parochial school system and orphanages is now history. Thirty years later in 1839 God blessed the humble mite of a French single working woman, Jeanne Jugan, to assemble a group of kind-hearted women as what became a religious congregation, the Little Sisters of the Poor so they could take care of the abandoned poor, sick, and dying homeless people. The Congregation spread to many many countries and still operates worldwide, and in 26 U. S. dioceses. Mother Teresa who left the Sisters of Loreto in Calcuttta, India, to care for the poor, the sick the dying, and the marginalized in 1948, once she had been trained at the Little Sisters of the Poor in Calcutta and and complete a short course in nursing with the Medical Mission Sisters. She founded the Missionaries of Charity religious order in 1949. God blessed her mite, and before her death the Missionaries grew to 4500 Sisters and Brothers, 755 homes for the children, the sick, the destitute and the dying and 1,369 medical clinics that serve 120,000 worldwide. Today’s first reading as well as the Gospel, by citing the examples of two widows, challenge us to surrender our lives to God, sacrificially serving others. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

#2: A widow’s mite in the life of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

By birth and marriage, Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton was linked to the first families of New York and enjoyed the fruits of living in high society. Reared a staunch Episcopalian by her mother and stepmother, she learned the value of prayer, Scripture reading, and a nightly examination of conscience. At 19, Elizabeth was the belle of New York. She married a handsome, wealthy businessman, William Magee Seton. They had five children before his business failed, and William died of tuberculosis. At 30, Elizabeth found herself widowed and penniless, with five small children to support. While in Italy with her dying husband, Elizabeth had witnessed the Catholic Church in action, through the lives, beliefs and behavior of family friends. Three basic elements in Catholicism led her to become a Catholic in March, 1805: a belief in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary as Mother of God, and a conviction that the Catholic Church traced its origin and priesthood in a direct line back to the apostles and to Christ. When Elizabeth returned to the U. S., many of her family and friends rejected her because she had become a Catholic. To support her children, she opened a school in Baltimore with the cooperation of some of her friends. From the beginning, her group was organized along the lines of the religious community which would only be founded officially in 1809. Mother Seton became one of the keystones of the American Catholic Church. She founded the first American religious community for women, the Sisters of Charity. She opened the first American parish school and established the first American Catholic orphanage. All this she did in the span of 46 years while rearing her five children. She died on January 4, 1821, and was buriedjavd a presence in Emmitsburg, Maryland. In 1963, Mother Seton was beatified, the first American-born citizen to receive this honor. She was canonized in 1975. Elizabeth Ann Seton was a real widow who offered her mite to God without reservation as the poor widow in today’s Gospel did (Adapted from St. Anthony’s Messenger). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

#3:St. Jeanne Jugan’s mite: St. Jeanne Jugan was the Mother Teresa of her time. It is probably no coincidence, either, that St. Teresa of Calcutta spent several of her formative years in India with the Little Sisters of the Poor before founding the Sisters of Charity. The congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor was founded in France in 1839 by a humble woman named Jeanne Jugan, who opened her own home to a blind elderly woman who had nowhere else to go. From this simple act of charity grew a movement — and then a full-throttle religious order dedicated to taking care of the needs of the elderly poor, doing so with a complete and absolute faith that God would provide all the resources necessary to carry out that mission in thirty countries. In 1868, the Little Sisters of the Poor landed in Brooklyn., New York. There were no planned giving departments, no Little Sisters of the Poor annuities to be purchased for a donation, just the sustaining providence of God and the generosity of friends and strangers. For 150 years, since first setting foot in New York, the sisters have experienced firsthand how God and all those friends and strangers have graced them, as they now havd a presence in 26 dioceses across the United States. Each of their Homes becomes a place where the charism of hospitality that moved and inspired St. Jeanne in 1839 continues world-wide, and each Home provides a place in which elderly and impoverished souls find love, compassion, and the face of Jesus through the acts of dedicated consecrated women and an equally devoted staff. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

# 4: St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa)’s mite: Consider David Porter’s comment on Mother Teresa: “She was born as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (AG-nes GOHN-jah BOY-yah-jee-oo), to Albanian parents in Yugoslavia. She went to India in 1929 as a member of the Loreto Order of nuns, after learning English in their Motherhouse in Dublin, Ireland. She taught in India for 17 years and became principal of the school. In 1946, she received her ‘call within a call’ to work with the poorest of the poor. By 1948, she had received permission to leave the Loreto order and had trained in the nursing skills she would need to carry out her calling. She prayed, “Oh God, if I cannot help these people in their poverty and their suffering, let me at least die with them, close to them, so that I can show them your love” [Mother Teresa: The Early Years, 67; cited by Caroline J. Simon, “The Media and Mother Teresa,”
Perspectives, 12 (March, 1997), 3.] Simon notes: “From this simple beginning, the Missionaries of Charity have grown to include 4,500 Sisters and Brothers, 755 homes for the children, the sick, the destitute and the dying and 1,369 medical clinics that serve 120,000 worldwide.” Mother Teresa’s mite has might, and it’s the ever-growing might of love in action. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

5) Superhero from Birmingham, Alabama: The story of Austine Perine from Birmingham Alabama would give you chills. The four-year-old African American boy was watching Animal Planet with his father when a mother Panda abandons her cub and walks away. Austin dad remarked that the cub would become homeless. Austin was moved with pity for the cub when he learned from the dad that being homeless meant not having a home to stay and not receiving the care of a dad and mom. On a later date, Austin’s dad, TJ Perine took him to a homeless shelter in the city at his request to see what it means to be homeless. When Austin saw people looking hungry and tired, he asked his dad if they could give them his Burger King chicken sandwich. His father had not prepared for that, but he couldn’t but responded to Austin’s recommendation to feed the homeless. After that, Austin requested that the parents convert the money for his toys to buying chicken sandwiches for the homeless. Every week, the superhero who is also known as “President Austin,” would dress up in a blue top and pants with a red cape and visit the homeless to hand them food and would always say to them “remember to show love.” Soon he became phenomenal in the city and later in the country. Soon the Austins started getting support from people and organizations including $1,000 monthly allowance from Burger King to feed the homeless every week.(https://www.birminghamtimes.com/2018/05/meet-austin-perine-birminghams-4-year-old-superhero-who-feeds-the-homeless/) . Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

Introduction: Today’s readings invite us to surrender our lives to God with a humble and generous heart by serving others lovingly and sacrificially. It is the self-giving in the gift, the heart in the sacrifice behind it, and the love and concern involved in it which God counts. God sees the inner motives and hidden intentions of our gifts and notices the ways it costs us.

Scripture readings summarized: The first reading and the Gospel today present poor widows who sacrificially gave their whole lives and means of livelihood to God, foreshadowing the supreme sacrifice Jesus would offer by giving His life for others. In the reading from the First Book of Kings, a poor widow who has just enough food for a single meal for herself and her son, welcomes the prophet Elijah as a man of God, shares her food with him and receives her reward in the form of a continuing daily supply of food. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 146) is the first in the final group of Hallel psalms. In it, we sing of the ways God, Who created all that is, never fails in His loving-kindness toward the needy and all in distress, including widows. In the Gospel, Jesus contrasts the external signs of honor sought by the scribes with the humble, sacrificial offering of a poor widow and declares that she has found true honor in God’s eyes. The poor widows in both the first reading and the Gospel gave away all that they possessed for the glory of God. The second reading tells us how Jesus, as the High Priest of the New Testament, surrendered His life to God His Father totally and unconditionally as a sacrificial offering for our sins – a sacrifice far beyond the sacrifices made by the poor widows.

First reading, 1 Kings 17:10-16, explained: This particular passage is one in a collection of stories of miracles wrought by the prophet Elijah who would challenge King Ahab and his cruel pagan Queen Jezebel over the issue of worship of the false god, Baal. Complementing the story of the Widow’s Mite told in today’s Gospel, the first reading explains how another poor, pagan widow, a Syro-Phoenician living in Zarephath in the territory of Sidon, in the middle of a famine and with little left for herself, shares the last of her meager resources with the prophet Elijah. As a reward for her sacrificial generosity, she receives God’s blessing for the remaining months of the famine in the form of sufficient continuing daily provisions which ensure their survival. Elijah, instructed by the Lord God and following the Near Eastern custom, has asked for hospitality in the form of food and accommodation. The widow is not unwilling but tells the prophet that she has enough for only one meal for her son and herself. Nevertheless, Elijah asks her to demonstrate her trust in his God’s provision by first giving food to himself, as the man of God. She does as he asks, and we know what happened. Her jar of meal and the jug of oil did not empty until the drought had ended. This story of the widow’s provisions, like the following story of Elijah’s raising of her son to life again after the boy had died, also emphasizes the power of God’s word and His love for those who love Him, working through the prophet’s prayers, words, and sctions.

Second Reading, Hebrews 9:24-28, explained: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 from the institutions of Judaism. The Temple authorities had refused to permit early Jewish Christians to participate either in the synagogue or the Temple services. St. Paul teaches these Judeo-Christians that Jesus, alive in the community, has become the Holy of Holies and the High Priest, around which pair all Temple worship revolved. Since Jesus has replaced both the Temple and human mediators, the Christians need not go to the Temple for worship. The true temple is no more the Temple of Jerusalem or any other place of worship.Now, the humanity of Christ is the Sanctuary in which God bodily dwells. The only begotten Son of God became this Sanctuary at His Incarnation in the womb of the Virgin Mary, remaining true God and becoming true Man. In today’s passage, the institutions in question are sanctuary, sacrifice, and judgment. Under the Old Covenant, a priest conducted an annual ritual sacrifice in the sanctuary of the Temple, slaughtering a lamb. Paul argues that Jesus Himself has replaced the whole class of ancient priests, and that the earthly sanctuary has been made obsolete by the Original Sanctuary that is Heaven, where Jesus the High Priest intercedes for us directly before God. Similarly, the repetitive annual sacrifices have been replaced by Jesus’ once-for-all sacrifice at the end of the ages. The old sacrifices were meant to forestall an unfavorable judgment by God. The new expectation is brighter and more positive: salvation for those who eagerly await Him.

Gospel exegesis: The context: Beginning from chapter 11 of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus confronts the Temple authorities and challenges the then-ongoing abuses in the “organized religion.” One by one Jesus engages in debate with the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the scribes, and the Herodians. Jesus’ overarching condemnation of the religious-political-economic establishment is summed up when the accusation that the leaders have transformed the Temple into a den of robbers (Mk 11:17). Today’s Gospel text demonstrates why all those who held traditional positions of religious power found Jesus’ presence and preaching so disturbing. Jesus’ denunciation of the scribes forms the conclusion of the series of Jerusalem conflict stories. These stories show the widening gulf between Jesus and the Temple authorities that will result in the Sanhedrin’s decision to get rid of Jesus.

The attack on pride and hypocrisy: The scribes of Jesus’ day were experts in the Law of Moses, scholars to whom people turned for a proper understanding of God’s will as revealed in Scripture. But in today’s Gospel, Jesus moves from the scribes’ erroneous theology to their bankrupt ethics, reflected in their craving for pre-eminence both in religious gatherings (in the synagogue), and in social settings (market places and banquets). Jesus publicly criticizes their behavior as a ceaseless grasping for honor, first attacking the popular style of scribal dress, a fairly easy target. A first-century scribe wore a long linen robe with a long white mantle decorated with beautiful long fringes. White robes identified the wearer as someone of importance and prestige. Jesus’ observation that the scribes liked “to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces” is a reference to the tradition which dictated that common people “in the marketplace” should respectfully rise to their feet when a scribe walked past. The Talmud notes that when two people meet in the marketplace, the one inferior in knowledge of the Law should greet the other first. But the scribes began to feel that such respect was a right owed to them for their learning in the Law, and this made them arrogant and proud. Likewise, at banquets and dinner parties, when rich men invited scribes and perhaps some of their pupils as guests, they would give these men prominent seats. Similarly, the scribe’s synagogue seat of honor placed him up front with the Torah, facing the congregation. Scribes were seated on a platform facing the people, resting their backs against the same wall that held the box which contained the Torah scrolls. The problem Jesus pinpoints is that the scribes had confused the respect intended for the position they held with respect given them for their own abilities and accomplishments. Jesus also characterizes the scribes’ offering of long prayers to God, whether in the synagogue or Temple or some other highly public place, not as an attempt to seek God’s will or praise God’s Name, but as a means of asserting, and being honored for, superior piety.

Devouring widows’ houses: In verse 40, Jesus denounces the shameless profiteering of the scribes at the expense of widows. The Jewish scribes of the first century were not paid for being scribes because they were not considered as belonging to a professional, self-supporting group. Thus, despite the honor their position brought them, many scribes were downright poor, and it was deemed an act of obedience and piety to extend the hospitality of one’s goods and services, of one’s home and resources, to scribes for their support. Devouring widows’ houses is Jesus’ condemnatory description of the source for the luxurious lives led by some scribes who impoverished gullible and pious widows who volunteered to support them. The reference to “widows’ houses” could also refer to the scribes’ tendency to abuse their powers as trustees for the estates of wealthy widows. Further, these authorities were charged with distributing the Temple collections to widows and the needy. In actuality, however, some spent the funds on conspicuous consumption: long robes, banquets, and Temple decorations. This is how they devoured the estates of widows. Power and position can lead even religious leaders to material greed and corruption.

Widow’s mite: By praising the poor widow, Jesus is pointing out the difference between giving what we have left over and giving all that we have. According to the Mishnah (Shekalim VI. 6), there were, standing up against the wall of the Court of Women, 13 trumpet-shaped receptacles that functioned to gather 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 only observing the tiny offering of two leptons (equivalent to a couple of pennies), made by a poor widow, that moved Jesus to get the attention of the Apostles and comment on the proceedings. It was not the woman’s poverty that made her gift significant for Jesus. For Jesus, it was the fact that this widow, alone among all the contributors lined up to give their offerings, gave her all. The very rich put in much, and the moderately well-off put in a decent amount. But all those who had gone before this widow had limited their giving by holding back a major portion of their money for their own use. This widow stood alone as the one who had turned over, as an offering to God for His use, everything she had — two leptons. Those two, almost worthless coins represented her last shred of security, her fragile earthly thread of hope for the future. With her deep desire to be an obedient servant of God, the widow gave all she had as an offering — even her future

future — for the sake of God.  In other words, she gave herself totally into God’s hands, with the sure conviction that He would give her the support she needed.

Compliment or lamentation? Oddly, some modern Bible commentators argue that Jesus’ statement that this poor widow put in all she had, was not intended primarily as praise of the woman but was meant both as a prophetic denunciation of the members of the Temple establishment who took advantage of such little people and as the expression of his personal moral indignation at the situation.  How, they ask, could Mark’s Jesus praise someone for sacrificing everything to a place and system which, even in the first century, Christians believed Jesus had replaced?  According to John Pilch (The Cultural World of Jesus), speaking of the widow who put her two mites in the Temple collection box, “Jesus laments this woman’s behavior because she has been taught ‘sacrificial giving’ by her religious leaders. Jesus’ constant Gospel teaching had been grounded in a belief that religion was never to use people’s benevolence to enrich itself.  Christians were to direct their generosity to the needs of others, not to enrich their parishes beyond a certain limit.  Yet Mark clearly focuses on the widow’s deed.  In contrast to the external signs of honor sought by the scribes, she sought only to please God, and she, not they, possessed true honor in God’s eyes. The simple piety of this woman of no social standing is contrasted with the arrogance and social ambitions of some so-called religious leaders.  This poor woman, in a daring act of trust in God’s providence, put into the treasury everything she had. Her action symbolized what Jesus would do by offering his very life to God his Father as an act of perfect   obedience.”

Life   messages: # 1: We need to appreciate the widows of our parish: In our seemingly prosperous society, widows (and widowers), in addition to their deep grief, often suffer from economic loss, from the burden of rearing a family alone, and from a strange isolation from friends which often sets in soon after protestations of support at their spouses’ funerals. Let us learn to appreciate the widows and widowers of our parish community.  Their loneliness draws them closer to God and to stewardship in the parish.  They are often active participants in all the liturgical celebrations, offering prayers for their families and for their parish family.  Frequently, they are active in the 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 of judging people: We often judge people by what they possess.  We give weight to their position in society, to their educational qualifications, or to their celebrity status.  But Jesus measures us in a totally different way – 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 God’s holy will.  The offering God wants from us is not our material possessions, but our hearts and lives.  What is hardest to give is ourselves in love and concern, because that gift costs us more than reaching for our purses.

# 3: We need to pour out our “whole life.” Can we, like the poor widow, find the courage to share the wealth and talents we hold? Can we stop dribbling out our stores of love and selflessness and sacrifice and compassion and dare to pour out our whole heart, our whole being, our “whole life” into the love-starved coffers of this world?

JOKES OF THE WEEK #1: You know the old joke about the chicken and the pig that saw the church sign saying “Help feed the hungry.”  The chicken said “That’s a good idea!  Let’s help by putting in our ‘widow’s mite.’  Let’s give ham and eggs.”  The pig said, “That’s easy for you to say, but for me it’s a total commitment!”

#2: A six-year-old boy, home from his first day at Church, was asked what he thought of the Holy Mass. “It was OK,” he replied, “but I think it was unfair that the pastor at the altar did all the work, and then a bunch of other people came around and took away all the money.” Amen to that small lad’s insight!

# 3: A colleague once told how “a certain woman phoned her personal banker to arrange for the disposal of a $1,000 bond. The voice on the phone asked for clarification, “Is the bond for conversion or redemption?” The confused woman paused and then inquired, “Am I talking to the bank or the church?”

# Kids! Aren’t they great? Recently I visited all our Prep classrooms. In the 2nd grade the teacher introduced me as Father Eschbach. I asked the kids why I was called Father. A number raised their hands and I pointed to one little guy who was really excitedly waving his hand. He promptly said, “Because you’re old!” I knew I was walking in troubled waters, but I doubled down and asked why I was wearing this white collar. A sweet little girl didn’t even bother raising her hand, she simply announced, “Because it prevents fleas and ticks for up to six months.” Really, I don’t know when to quit when I’m behind. So I asked another little girl what she was doing. She said, “I’m drawing God.” I said, “Wow, that’s really great, but no one has ever seen God. We don’t know what God looks like.” She continued drawing and without even looking up, she said, “You will in a minute.” (Fr. Eschbach).

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: (Type https://sundayprep.org

 

27 Additional anecdotes

1)Fanny Epps’ mite has might of love:  Mrs. Epps likes the time she spends with children. So she enjoys her time as a volunteer at the Norge Elementary School in Williamsburg, Virginia. There, she works with students who have mental and physical disabilities. Her day begins long before she goes on duty at 7 a.m. She has to catch a bus to get to the school. When she gets there, she greets Drew who has difficulty walking. Another one of her favorites has Down syndrome. He sits beside her, smiling. She turns on the tape recorder and plays “Jingle Bell Rock,” while her students sing and clap enthusiastically. It takes a lot of energy to work all morning, five days a week, with these children. Oh, did I mention that Mrs. Epps is 99 years old? — Wasted time, twisted values? “I don’t want to act dead while I’m still alive,” she says. Fanny Epps’ mite has might, and it’s the might of love! Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

2) 

Mr Harakhchand Sawla’s        mite: (http://jeevanjyot.in/design/white/about.html)  A young man in his thirties used to stand on the footpath opposite the famous Tata Cancer Hospital at Mumbai and stare at the crowd in front, fear plainly written upon the faces of the patients standing at death’s door; their relatives with equally grim faces running around.  These sights disturbed him greatly.  Most of the patients were poor people from distant towns. They had no idea whom to meet, or what to do. They had no money for medicines, not even food.  The young man, heavily depressed, would return home. ‘Something should be done for these people’, he would think. He was haunted by the thought day and night.  At last he found a way.  He rented out his own hotel that was doing good business and raised some money. From these funds he started a charitable activity right opposite Tata Cancer Hospital, on the pavement next to Kondaji Building.  He himself had no idea that the activity would continue to flourish even after the passage of 27 years.  The activity consisted of providing free meals for cancer patients and their relatives. Many people in the vicinity approved of this activity.  Beginning with fifty, the number of beneficiaries soon rose to hundred, two hundred, three hundred. As the numbers of patients increased, so did the number of helping hands.  As years rolled by, the activity continued, undeterred by the change of seasons, come winter, summer or even the dreaded monsoon of Mumbai. The number of beneficiaries soon reached 700. Mr Harakhchand Sawla, for that was the name of the pioneer, did not stop here. He started supplying free medicines for the needy. In fact, he started a medicine bank, enlisting voluntary services of three doctors and three pharmacists. A toy bank was opened for kids suffering from cancer.  The ‘Jeevan Jyot’ trust founded by Mr Sawla now runs more than 60 humanitarian projects. Sawla, now 57 years old, works with the same vigour. A thousand salutes to his boundless energy and his monumental contribution! —  There are people in this country who look upon Sachin Tendulkar as ‘God’- for playing 200 test matches in 20 years, a few hundred one-day matches, and scoring 100 centuries and 30,000 runs.  But hardly anyone knows Harakhchand Sawla, let alone calls him ‘God’ for feeding free lunches to 10 to 12 lac cancer patients and their relatives. We owe this discrepancy to our mass media!  God resides in our vicinity. But we, like mad men run after ‘god-men’, styled variously as Bapu, Maharaj or Baba. All Babas, Maharajs and Bapus become multi-millionaires, but our difficulties, agonies and disasters persist unabated till death.  For the last 27 years, millions of cancer patients and their relatives have found ‘God’, in the form of Harakhchand Sawla. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

3) The Operation Smile mite: Consider William Magee, 52, and Kathleen Magee, 51, founders of Operation Smile.  One is a plastic surgeon and the other a social service worker.  Op Smile began in 1982.  Since then, it has performed surgery on 18,000 kids in 15 countries to correct — without charge — such disfigurements as cleft palates and burn scars, while training local doctors in the procedures.  Says William: “The world is changed by emotion.” —  On June 20, 1996, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation awarded the group a $1 million prize to continue the work.  William and Kathleen Magee’s mite has might, and it’s the might of love. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

4) The poorest state in the U.S. is the most charitable: An interesting study appeared on p. 17 in the January 13, 2003, issue of Time magazine. It was a study ranking each of the 50 states’ personal income levels as compared to their rate of charitable giving. The results were surprising. Massachusetts, with the fourth highest personal income in the country ranked last in charitable contributions. The citizens of New Hampshire ranked 6th overall in average personal income, but ranked 45th in the percentage of their income given to charitable causes. On the other end of the spectrum, the citizens of Mississippi ranked 49th in average personal income, the second poorest state in the nation. Yet, Mississippians ranked 6th in the nation in their percentage of charitable giving. It also ranked first in actual dollars contributed. In Mississippi, forty-ninth in income, Mississippians gave, on average, about forty percent more to charity than did their Yankee cousins! —  The more you have, the less you give. What that reflects is your values. Converted to percentage of income contributed to charity, the disparity was even greater. Another fact emerged: Wealthy people tend to give more to secular charities than to religious institutions. Poorer families give mostly to religious institutions and their social ministries. What’s going on? Are lower income families more generous or more religious? Do rich people see more direct benefit to their well-being from museums, colleges, or concerts than from worship, outreach, and fellowship at their churches? Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

5) “All that I have today is what I gave away.” In 1930, George Pepperdine, who was the owner of Western Auto, sold all of his Western Auto stock and went to Los Angeles. He endowed a college for three million dollars it was named Pepperdine College. Everyone thought that college was secure forever. A $3 million endowment in 1930! But as the years passed, it became hemmed in there in Watts in the heart of L.A. I think there was only 15 acres of campus. Dr. Binowski, a young president came to Pepperdine with a great dream. He raised 100 million dollars and moved to that college to a hundred acres of the most-beautiful property in Southern California – Malibu, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The college has become a great university, with the name Pepperdine University. It has a huge endowment, a growing student body and an expanding national reputation. George Pepperdine, in 1930, would have never dreamed of the legacy he would leave the world. In 1950, George Pepperdine made some unfortunate investments, and lost everything. — In 1962, he was virtually broke, except for Pepperdine College, now Pepperdine a university. Pepperdine wrote a book entitled, Faith is My Future. The opening sentence of that book is, “All that I have today is what I gave away.” Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

6) Evie Rosen’s mite: Evie Rosen, 69, of Wausau, Wisconsin, is no doubt busy right now, knitting afghans. The reason: Winter is almost upon us, and someone is going to need a blanket. Evie is a retired needlework shop owner. Disheartened by news stories about the homeless, Rosen wanted to do something to help. “Almost every home has little balls of yarn. I thought if we could all knit 7-inch by 9-inch rectangles, we could stitch them together and make a lot of afghans.”  — She started Operation Warm Up America in 1992, getting the word out to churches, retirement homes and craft shops. Last year, with help from other organizations, the group distributed 16,000 afghans! Evie Rosen’s mite has might, and it’s the might of love!Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

7) Norm and Lori Nickel’s mite: Norm and Lori Nickel of Abottsford, British Columbia, wanted to offer their services as a family to help others. So, with four of their children, they took three weeks off in the summer last year to work with SOAR (Sold Out and Radical, Youth Mission International’s teen program). They were placed in Reedley, California, where they worked with an organization called Community Youth Ministries that had been able to get into a Hispanic apartment complex housing 2,000 mostly illegal immigrants, 1,500 of whom were kids. They did Vacation Bible School, sports camps, drama and various other activities with the children. Lori says: “I could feel God working through our hands as we played with the children, our mouths as we verbally shared his love, and our eyes and ears as we saw and heard their hurts and pains. Just to think that God had set our family apart for three weeks so that He could convey His love and compassion to hurting people was life-changing for me.” — Norm and Lori Nickel’s mite has might, and it is the might of love! Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

8) Paul’s mite has might: Paul Beyer calls it “the Lord’s work.” Beyer lives in Leola, Pennsylvania. Every week for 35 years he has driven a truck to New York City, a six-hour round trip, to deliver food to the Bowery Mission, located in one of the seedier sections of Manhattan. His truck is loaded with produce, canned meats and pastries which the Mennonite farmers and businesses near his town have donated. He says that people trust him with the food he takes and that the reward is to see all the happy faces when the food arrives.  — Paul’s mite has might, and it’s the might of love! Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

9) Mite of volunteers: In Santa Monica, California, volunteer pilots can fly with Angel Flight, an organization that helps the disadvantaged get to places where they can get the appropriate medical diagnosis and treatment. In 1995-1996, over 9,000 volunteers assisted the Red Cross in local relief efforts around the country. In Toronto, if you are a youth 16-24, you qualify to be placed with another youth aged 6-15 suffering from emotional, behavioral and social problems in a program called Youth Assisting Youth. The program has a phenomenal success rate of 98 percent in keeping kids in school and out of the criminal justice system. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

10) When Giving Becomes a Sacrifice: St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) said, “If you give what you don’t need, it isn’t giving.” She used to tell a story of how one day she was walking down the street when a beggar came up to her and said, “Mother Teresa everybody is giving to you, I also want to give to you. Today for the whole day I got only fifteen rupees (thirty cents). I want to give it to you.” Mother Teresa thought for a moment: “If I take the thirty cents, he will have nothing to eat tonight, and if I don’t take it I will hurt his feelings. So I put out my hands and took the money. I have never seen such joy on anybody’s face as I saw on the face of that beggar at the thought that he too could give to Mother Teresa.” She said that gift meant more to her than winning the Nobel Prize. Mother Teresa went on: “It was a big sacrifice for that poor man, who had sat in the sun the whole day long and received only thirty cents. — Thirty cents is such a small amount and I can get nothing with it, but as he gave it up and I took it, it became like thousands because it was given with so much love. God looks not at the greatness of the work, but at the love with which it is performed.” (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

11) “So why should I do anything for you?” There is a story told of a wealthy man who had never been what anyone would call a generous giver. His Church was having a big expansion program and financial campaign, so they resolved to visit him. In order to succeed where they had so often failed, they appointed a committee to study the situation. Finally the committee called on the prospect and told him that in view of his resources they were sure that he would want to make a rather substantial contribution. “I see,” he said, “that you have considered it all quite carefully. In the course of your investigation did you discover that I have an aged, widowed mother who has no other means of support?” No, they hadn’t known that. “Did you know that I have a sister who was left by a drunken husband with five small children and no means of providing for them?” No, they hadn’t known that. “Did you know that I have a brother who was crippled in an accident and will never be able to do another day’s work in his life to support himself and his family?” No, they hadn’t known that. “Well,” he thundered triumphantly, “I’ve never done anything for them, so why should I do anything for you?” (Ray Balcomb, Stir What You’ve Got). — That makes the point in a sadistically humorous way. It’s not a matter of giving ‘til it hurts, but giving ‘til it helps. To be sure, like that man, most of us never give ‘til it hurts, much less giving ‘til it helps. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

12)  “I would give it to the poor.” A government social worker was visiting New England farms. He had the authority to give federal dollars to poor farmers. He found an elderly widow farming a few acres. Her house was clean but tiny. There did not appear to be much food in the house. The windows had no screens to keep out the summer flies. The exterior needed a paint job. He wondered how she could survive. He asked, “What would you do if the government gave you five hundred dollars?” Her answer was, “I would give it to the poor.” — Do most Catholics give a fair share of their income to the Church and to charities? A Gallup poll answered that query.  In a recent year, American Catholics gave 1.3% of their income to parish and charities. But Protestants gave 2.4% and Jews 3.8%. A survey reveals while 44% of Baptists tithe giving to their parishes and charities, only 4% of Catholics do. Many Catholics are more generous to waiters than to God. They give up to 20% of their bill. That is double-tithing. Our comparative tightness with our dollars comes despite Rousseau’s admonition. “When a man dies, he carries in his hands only that which he has given away.” (Fr. James Gilhooley). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

13) Widow’s mite in the Old Testament: Elijah had to flee, went off to the desert, east of the Jordan, where there was even less food and no water. He was fed by ravens, until God sent him to a widow in a little desert village named Zarephath. That’s all we know about her:  to us, she is the otherwise nameless widow of Zarephath. Elijah meets her as she’s gathering sticks for fuel to cook the last of her food for herself and her son. He asks her for a drink of water and she goes to get it, when he asks to bring back a bit of bread with the water. . She replies, “All I have is some barley meal and a cruse of oil. I’m about to make bread for myself and my son. When we have eaten that, we shall die.” He told her  to do that, but first to make bread for him.  She does so; she shares what she has for herself and her son with Elijah, shares out of her poverty, because he’s in need. And behold, there is just enough for him, her and her son,  a “just enough” that continues until the rains come and the famine ends, a whole year! —  It’s a miracle.  It’s the miracle that happens when you give all you have in trust. It wasn’t much, but when she gave there was enough, and God kept her supplies from running out until the drought and famine finally ended. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).   Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).   

14) “They died from the cold within.”: Dr. Thomas Lane Butts tells the story of six people who froze to death around a campfire on a bitterly cold night. Each had a stick of wood they might have contributed to the fire, but for reasons satisfactory to themselves each person refused to give what they had. A woman would not give her stick of wood because there was an African-American person in the circle. A homeless man would not give because there was a rich man there. The rich man would not give because his contribution would warm someone who was obviously shiftless and lazy. Another would not give his stick when he recognized one not of his particular religious faith. The African-American man withheld his piece of wood as a way of getting even with the whites for all they had done to him and his race. And the fire died as each person withheld his/her piece of fuel for reasons justifiable to them. This story was originally told in a poem that ends with these tragic lines: “Six logs held fast in death’s still hand was proof of human sin; They did not die from the cold without; they died from the cold within.” (Rev. Siegfried S. Johnson) –The wealthy people in our story were cold within, but this poor widow glowed with her love for God and for His Temple. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).   

15) The Paradox of Our Time in History is that we spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less.  We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; more medicine, but less wellness.  We read too little, watch TV too much and pray too        seldom.  We have multiplied our possessions but reduced our values.  These are the times of tall men, and short character; deep profits, and shallow relationships.  These are the days of two incomes, but more divorce; of fancier houses, but more broken homes. We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life; we’ve added years to life, not life to years; we’re cleaning up the air but polluting the soul. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

16) Widow’s mite necklace: Writer Angela Akers tells of traveling on American Airlines. Out of sheer boredom, she began flipping through the airplane shopping catalogue. These catalogues are perfect for bored passenger with too much money on their hands. They are filled with expensive doodads. Among the jewelry items, there was a necklace that caught Ms. Akers’ eye. It was labeled “The Widow’s Mite Necklace.” No, they weren’t kidding. Some jeweler had taken a mite, an ancient coin that was practically worthless in Jesus’ time, and coated it in sterling silver, then hung the trinket on a glittering, sterling silver chain. Or, for a few hundred dollars more, you could get that same necklace in 14 karat gold. — I wonder what Jesus would have thought of a gold-plated widow’s mite. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

17) Supersize your vision and you will supersize your giving. John Maxwell tells us that during World War II parachutes were sewn by machine and packed by hand. It was a tedious, painstakingly repetitive process. Workers crouched over sewing machines and stitched for eight hours a day, producing an endless line of fabric, all the same, boring color. They folded, packed and stacked the parachutes. How could they maintain peak concentration in the midst of such boring labor? Every morning they met in a large group and were made to ask, “How would I feel if the parachute I am packing today were tomorrow strapped to the back of my son, my husband, my father, my brother?” — These workers worked sacrificially and uncomplainingly, because someone had helped them connect their little contribution to the larger picture, to the larger mission of saving lives. It’s easy to lose the larger picture of the Church’s mission in the day-to-day work of the Church. We need constantly to be reminded to connect what we are doing to the larger scope, the larger mission of the Church. Supersize your vision and you will supersize your giving. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

18)  Widow’s commitment: There was once a man who had a disabled leg, but he was determined to walk. And so every day he got up, he went out and he walked. Eventually he worked his way up to several miles a day. One day he was out in the countryside and for some reason he felt exhausted – far more than usual. He hoped someone might come along and offer him a ride. Sure enough, a friend of his came riding along on a racehorse and noticed that his crippled buddy seemed exhausted. His racehorse-riding friend naturally volunteered to loan the man his racehorse. “Just be careful, though, this is kind of a peculiar racehorse. He’s been trained a bit differently than normal. When you want him to go, you don’t say, ‘Gitty Up!’ you say, ‘Praise the Lord!’ He won’t move if you say, ‘Gitty Up!’ And once you get him going, if you want to speed up, just repeat, ‘Praise the Lord!’ And then, when you want him to stop, you don’t say ‘Whoa!’ You say, ‘Amen.’ If you remember that you won’t have any problem at all.” Grateful for his friend’s generosity the man mounted the racehorse, got comfortable in the saddle and said, “Praise the Lord” and the racehorse moved right out. Now that he was riding the man found that he was enjoying himself so he decided to take the scenic route home and speed the racehorse up a bit as he was going so he said again, “Praise the Lord!” As he came around a curve in a bend he saw a cliff where the bridge had been disassembled for repair. Quickly the man attempted to stop the racehorse, “Whoa!, Whoa!, Whoa!,” but the racehorse didn’t stop. He was getting closer and closer to the dangerous edge, but he just couldn’t think of the right word. He was now able to peer over the cliff and see just how far down it really was when – all of a sudden – the man was able to recall the right word to stop. “Amen!” he cried, and the racehorse stopped right on the brink of the cliff. Overjoyed, the man raised his hands toward the sky and shouted, “Praise the Lord!”– Friends, there’s something to glean from this story: commitment matters. Whether it’s the manner in which you ride a horse or the way in which stay faithful to God – commitment matters. Today’s Scripture reading from Mark is one of the most shining examples of commitment in all of Scripture, for today we are allowed a glimpse of the power of the widow’s mite. (Rev. Chris Perkins). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

19) Someone to divide with: At the turn of the century, a man wrote in his diary the story of a young newsboy he met on a street near his home in London. It was well known in the neighborhood that the boy was an orphan. All attempts to place the boy in either an institution or a foster home were thwarted, because the boy refused each offer of help and ran away when attempts were made to confine him. ‘I can take care o’ myself jest fine, thank ye!” he would say to kindly old ladies who questioned whether he’d had his porridge that day. Indeed, he never looked hungry and his persistence at selling papers, load after load, gave the impression he spoke the truth. But the streets are a lonely place for a child to live, and the man’s diary reflects a conversation he had with the child about his living arrangements. As he stopped to buy his paper one day, the man bought a little extra time by fishing around in his pocket for coins and asked the boy where he lived. He replied that he lived in a little cabin in an impoverished district of the city near the riverbank. This was something of a surprise to the man. With more interest, he inquired, “Well, who lives with you?” The boy answered, “Only Jim. Jim is crippled and can’t do no work. He’s my Pal.” — Now clearly astounded that the child appeared to be supporting not only himself but also someone who was unable to contribute any income the man noted, ”You’d be better off without him?” The answer came with not a little scorn- a sermon in a nutshell: “No sir, I couldn’t spare Jim. I wouldn’t have nobody to go home to. An’ say, mister, I wouldn’t want to live and work with nobody to divide with, would you?” (Alice Gray in Stories for the Heart; quoted by Fr. Botelho).Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

20) History will be kind to me!” When asked about the possible permanent damage the Watergate scandal would have upon his political career, Richard Nixon replied, “History will be kind to me!” Only time will tell if Mr. Nixon was right and if modern historians will assess his political accomplishments as great enough to outweigh his moral failures when they tell the story of his administration. Such was not the case, however, with the political leaders of Israel and Judah. When the Deuteronomic historian set about the task of recording the deeds of the kings of his people, he evaluated them using a very different set of criteria. Rather than praise their diplomacy or achievements in foreign affairs, he dealt with each of Israel’s and Judah’s kings according to their moral rectitude and fidelity to the Covenant and the Law. With the brief statement, “And he did evil before the Lord,” the overwhelming majority of the kings of Israel and Judah were written off as infidels and sinners. —  Jesus too writes off in today’s Gospel the rich and proud Pharisees who displayed their generosity in the temple by contrasting them with the mite of the widow. (P.D. Sanchez). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

21) A box full of loving kisses: Some time ago, a father punished his 3-year-old daughter for wasting a roll of gold wrapping paper. Money was tight, and he became infuriated when the child tried to decorate a box to put under the tree. Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift to her father the next morning and said, “This is for you, Daddy.” He was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, but his anger flared again when he found that the box was empty. He yelled at her, “Don’t you know that when you give someone a present, there’s supposed to be something inside of it?” The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and said, “Oh, Daddy, it’s not empty. I blew kisses into the box. All for you, Daddy.” The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little girl, and he begged her forgiveness. He kept the gold box by his bed for years. Whenever he was discouraged, he would take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it there. — We require total surrender to do such giving. The tragedy of our lives is that often we hold back some part of us. There are many barriers that block our total surrender to God: fear, pride, selfishness and confusion. It is time that we examined ourselves, and practiced our charity with an element of love and sacrifice. (Fr. Bobby).

22) “Find someone in need and do something to help that person.” Dr. Karl Menninger, the famous psychiatrist, once gave a lecture on mental health and afterward answered questions from the audience. “What would you advise a person do to,” asked one man, “if that person felt a nervous breakdown coming on?” Most people expected the doctor to reply, “Consult a psychiatrist.” To their astonishment, he replied, “Lock up your house, go across the highway, find someone in need and do something to help that person.” –The Gospel message for this Sunday is about giving. Christ praises the poor widow who drops only two small coins in the coffer of the Temple, unlike the others who “put in their surplus money’” (v. 43). The poor widow received the praise of Jesus because she put her last money, though she was poor. As Jesus said: “she gave all she had to live on.” The message of Jesus is very clear: Every person is capable of sharing no matter how poor or needy he is. (Fr. Benitez). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

23) “You called me your bother.” Walking along a street in Russia during a famine, the great writer Leo Tolstoy met a beggar. Tolstoy searched in his pockets to look for something he could give. But there was none. He had earlier given away all his money. In his pity, he reached out, took the beggar in his arms, embraced him, kissed him on his hollow checks and said: “Don’t be angry with me, my brother, I have nothing to give.”– The beggar’s face lit up. Tears flowed from his eyes, as he said: “But you embraced me and kissed me. You called me brother – you have given me yourself – that is a great gift.” (Fr. Benitez). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

24) You are welcome! One-night years ago, a cloudburst stranded a newly-wed couple on a remote country road. Unable to go any further, they got out of their car and set out on foot towards a dimly lit farmhouse. When they reached the farmhouse, an elderly couple carrying a kerosene lamp met them at the door. Explaining their predicament, the young man asked: “Could you put us up till morning? A place on the floor or a few easy chairs would be fine.” Just then a few grains of rice slipped from the young lady’s hair and fell to the floor. The elderly couple glanced down at it and exchanged a knowing glance. “Why surely children” said the elderly woman. “We just happen to have a spare bedroom. You get your things from the car while my husband and I freshen it up a bit.” The next morning the newly-weds got up early and prepared to leave without disturbing the elderly couple. They dressed quietly, put a ten-dollar bill on the dresser, and tiptoed down the stairs. When they opened the door to the living room, they found the old couple asleep in chairs. They had given the newly-weds their only bedroom. The young man had his wife wait a minute while he tiptoed back upstairs and put another five dollars on the dresser. (Mark Link S. J. ) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

25) Copper coin Gandhi received: Mahatma Gandhi went from city to city, village to village collecting funds for the Charkha Sangh (Hand Spinners Association).  During one of his tours he addressed a meeting in Orissa. After his speech a poor old woman got up. She was bent with age, her hair was grey and her clothes were in tatters. The volunteers tried to stop her, but she fought her way to the place where Gandhiji was sitting. “I must see him,” she insisted and going up to Gandhiji touched his feet. Then from the folds of her sari she brought out a copper coin and placed it at his feet. Gandhiji picked up the copper coin and put it away carefully. The Charkha Sangh funds were under the charge of Jamnalal Bajaj. He asked Gandhiji for the coin but Gandhiji refused. “I keep cheques worth thousands of rupees for the Charkha Sangh,” Jamnalal Bajaj said laughingly “yet you won’t trust me with a copper coin.”– “This copper coin is worth much more than those thousands,” Gandhiji said. “If a man has several lakhs and he gives away a thousand or two, it doesn’t mean much. But this coin was perhaps all that the poor woman possessed. She gave me all she had. That was very generous of her. What a great sacrifice she made. That is why I value this copper coin more than a crore (10 million) of rupees.” Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

26) They like to parade around: St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars in France, achieved such note as a spiritual leader in the first half of the nineteenth century that many worthy but unwise people wanted to honor him in some way. Their efforts brought the saint does not pleasure but agony. His own bishop was the first to try. Bishop Chalandon, newly installed in the Diocese of Belley, called at Ars one day while the Cure was hearing Confessions. St. John broke away from the Confessional to receive his superior. After a little speech, the bishop took out a hidden mozzetta (a silk shoulder cape trimmed with ermine) and put it on the priest’s shoulders. This was the garb of an honorary diocesan canon – something like the honor of Vatican Monsignor bestowed by the popes. The poor pastor was most embarrassed, and almost in tears. When the bishop left, Vianney quickly sold the mozzetta for fifty francs which he gave to the poor. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

Sometime later, the Marquis de Castellane, civil official of the Ars district proposed that Emperor Napoleon III bestow on Father Vianney the cross of Knight of the Legion of Honor. “Is there a pension attached to that cross?” the priest asked when he was informed. “Does it mean money for my poor?” “no”, he was told, “it is just a distinction. So, the Cure asked the Emperor’s messenger to please tell his Imperial Majesty that he did not want the decoration. Of course, the Emperor conferred it anyhow. When St. John’s friends now urged him to have his portrait painted wearing the mozzetta of canon and the cross of the Legion, he brushed their request aside with a laugh. “I advise you to paint me with my mozzetta and cross of honor, and to write underneath: “Nothingness, pride!” —  St. John Vianney, you see, was familiar with Jesus’ criticism of those Pharisees “who like to parade around in their robes and accept marks of respect in public.” (Mk 12:38 Today’s Gospel). And saint that he was, he particularly remembered Jesus’ criticism of those hypocrites who “preferred the praise of men to the glory of God.” The only reward that the good Cure wanted was a place in Heaven.(Father Robert F. McNamara).

27) Meaningful Offertory prayer: In the Offertory of the Mass, the priest says a prayer as he offers bread at the altar which begins like this: “Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you”. When this particular translation of the prayer was introduced a decade ago, the addition of the phrase “we have received” was particularly striking. For the previous translation had merely said that it was thanks to God’s goodness that we offered him this bread, and so it could have been inferred that this referred to the very act of offering in itself; it’s thanks to God that we can be here at the altar doing this good work. However, the revised translation made explicit the notion that the bread that we brought to the altar, the bread that the priest had received from the hands of his parishioners at the Offertory, the bread that was raised up in offering to God had, in fact, first of all been received from God as a gift. And this was the point: that all we have, and indeed, all that we are, we owe to the good giving of our Creator God. Nothing, therefore, is truly our own, nothing is our possession, not even life itself, for we have received all from the providence and merciful hand of God (cf 1 Cor 4:7). God, therefore, is our provider and we are invited to trust in his provision of our most fundamental needs as the widow of Sidon does. The poor widow in the Gospel, therefore, gives all she has freely to God, knowing that it is through God’s goodness that she has received the mite that she offers him. (Fr. Lawrence Lew) https://www.english.op.org/category/torch/L/21

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B (No 58) 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

O.T. XXXI (Oct 31) (MK 12.28-34) L-21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

# 5:

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

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

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

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

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

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

19-Additional anecdotes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Websites of the week

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

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

18 Additional anecdotes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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October 25- 30 Weekday homilies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All Souls Day (Nov 2, 2021)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Websites of the week on All Souls Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOKE OF THE DAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

L/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOKE OF THE WEEK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27 Additional anecdotes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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