Category Archives: Homilies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOKE OF THE WEEK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27 Additional anecdotes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

October 18-23 weekday homilies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

O.T. XXIX (B) Sunday homily – October 10, 2021

O.T. XXIX (Oct 17) Mk 10:35-45: 8-minute homily in one pageT. O. T. XXIX Sunday  (Oct 17) Is 53:10-11; Hebrews 4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45

Central theme: Today’s Scripture readings describe Christian leadership as the sacrificial service done for others.  They also explain the servant leadership of Jesus and teach us that  self-sacrificing service is the criterion of greatness in Christ’s Kingdom.

Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading is a Messianic prophecy taken from the Fourth Servant Song in the second part of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. It tells how the promised Messiah will save mankind by dying in atonement for our sins. Jesus has done this out of love for us, becoming  the Suffering Servant crucified as an offering for sin, interceding for us and taking our punishment on Himself.

 The second reading, taken from the letter to the Hebrews, tells us that, as Godman and Mediator-High Priest, Jesus has offered a fitting sacrifice to God to ransom us, liberating us from enslavement to sin. In the time of Jesus, ransom was the price paid to free someone from slavery.  Sometimes the ransomer offered himself as a substitute for the slave, as Jesus did. The reading also speaks of a High Priest who is able to sympathize with us in our weakness because Jesus has been tested in every way, though sinless, and so we can “confidently” hope for God’s mercy.

Today’s Gospel explains how Jesus foretells for the third time, his suffering and death to atone for our sins and to save us. But his disciples were still dreaming of a triumphant political messiah who would reestablish the glorious Davidic kingdom. They dreamed of sharing their master’s glory.  Hearing the  the selfish request made by James and John for key positions in the Messianic political kingdom,  Jesus challenges them and his followers to become great by serving others with sacrificial agape love: “Whoever wishes to be great must be a servant.” 

Life Messages: 1) We are challenged to give our lives in loving service to others. As Christians, we are all invited to serve others – and to serve with a smile!  We are challenged to drink the cup of Jesus by spending our lives in humble, sacrificial service for others, just as Jesus did. The best place to begin the process of service by “self-giving” is in our own homes and workplaces.   When parents sacrifice their time, talents, health, and blessings for the welfare of others in the family, they are serving God. Service always involves suffering because we can’t help another without some sacrifice on our part.  We are rendering great service to others, also when we present them and their needs before God daily in our prayers.

2) We are invited to give servant leadership in our homes, parishes and communities: We become servant leaders at home by serving each member of the family sacrificially with commitment. To become an effective Christian community, we need lay leaders with the courage of their Christian convictions to work for implementing social justice among our parishioners.  We also need spiritual leaders like pastors who can break open the Word for us, lead us in our prayer, offer us on the altar, and draw us together as sacrament.

O.T. 29 SUNDAY (Oct 17): Is 53:10-11; Heb 4:14-16; Mk 10:35-45

Homily starter anecdotes: #1: “Sir, I am a Corporal!” During the American Revolution, a man in civilian clothes rode past a group of soldiers who were busy pulling out a horse carriage stuck in deep mud. Their officer was shouting instructions to them while making no attempt to help. The stranger who witnessed the scene asked the officer why he wasn’t helping. With great anger and dignity, the officer replied, “Sir, I am a Corporal!” The stranger dismounted from his horse and proceeded to help the exhausted soldiers himself. When the job was completed, he turned to the corporal and said, “Mr. Corporal, next time you have a job like this and don’t have enough men to do it, inform your commander-in-chief, and I will come and help you again.” Too late, the proud Corporal recognized General Washington. — Washington understood that those who aspire to greatness or rank first among others must serve the needs of all. America’s first president found himself in a situation that invited him to demonstrate servant leadership. Where did Washington learn such leadership skills? I have no doubt he learned them here, in these words of Jesus: “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” The young corporal had these words modeled for him by the man at the top. Jesus’ disciples, likewise, receive from their leader a picture of servanthood. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

# 2: True Greatness: Nobel prizes are awarded every year in literature, economics, and science, among others. People who have made outstanding contributions in these fields are given due recognition for their achieved greatness. Excellence is recognized in the sports world, too. For example, when Pete Rose surpassed Ty Cobb’s record number of hits in 1985, he assured himself a place in baseball’s Hall of Fame. — We all aspire to greatness in some form or another. It is a desire which our Lord addresses in today’s Gospel. But if we look deeper into enduring examples of greatness, we see that the Lord is right. Alexander the Great was a remarkable leader because he stood by his men in battle. Albert the Great was an intellectual giant because he disciplined himself for study. Beethoven was a master composer because he struggled long hours to get the right note. (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds; quoted by Fr. Botelho.) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

#3: “I discovered that Service is Joy”: It may sound unbelievable, but it is true that Asia’s first Nobel Prize winner in Literature (1913), Rabindranath Tagore, was behind the three great national anthems of three nations, viz. Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka. He was also the first non-Westerner to win the Nobel Prize in literature. He did so in 1913. He wrote this short poem:

I slept and dreamt that life was Joy;
Then I awoke and realized
that life was Service.
And then I went to work – and, lo
and behold, I discovered that
Service is Joy. — Today’s Gospel teaches us that true happiness comes from surrendering ourselves completely in humble service to God through Christ. And all we need is a servant’s heart, mind, eyes, and touch. So, “How’s Your Serve?” Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

Introduction: Today’s Scripture readings describe leadership as the service of others and offer Jesus as the best example. They explain the servant leadership of Jesus, pinpointing service and sacrifice as the criteria of greatness in Christ’s Kingdom.

Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading is a Messianic prophecy taken from the Fourth Servant Song in the second part of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.  The Servant of the first reading intercedes with God for the people, taking upon himself their wrongdoings and accepting the punishment their sins have incurred. This passage speaks of the servant as giving “his life as an offering for sin.”  The prophecy was realized in Jesus who lived and died for others. Out of love, Jesus, the servant, lived and died so that the unjust might know God’s justification. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 33) instructs us, “See, the  eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear Him, upon those who hope for his Kindness, / to deliver them from death and preserve them in  spite of famine,”  The second reading, taken from the letter to the Hebrews, notes that Jesus, as God willed, became the mediator or priest for the people. The reading speaks of a High Priest, able to sympathize with us in our weakness. Because  Jesus was tested in every way, though sinless, we can “confidently” hope for God’s mercy. Today’s Gospel lesson explains how  Jesus accomplished the Messianic mission of saving mankind by becoming the “Suffering Servant” and challenged the disciples to become great by serving others: “Whoever wishes to be great must be a servant.” In the time of Jesus, ransom was the price paid to free someone from slavery.  Sometimes the ransomer offered himself as a substitute for the slave. Jesus’ death on the cross was just such a liberating offering made for mankind. The “slavery” mandated by Jesus is a loving service of liberation for others.

First reading, Isaiah 53:10-11, explained: The first reading about the “Suffering Servant” prepares us to hear today’s Gospel teaching (Mark 10:35-45), on ambition versus humility. Jesus predicts, for the third time, that the Messianic mission would be accomplished by the Messiah’s  suffering, dying and rising, taking on the sins of all mankind to set us free. The concluding words of Jesus in today’s Gospel, “For the Son of Man  did not come to be served but to serve and to give giving His life as a ransom for many,” refer to the Messianic prophecy of the prophet Isaiah. This reading forms part of one of the famous four passages from the second part of Isaiah known as the Songs of the Suffering Servant, foreshadowing aspects of Jesus’  life and mission..  In Isaiah, the Suffering Servant probably refers to a single individual, or to the remnant of the faithful within Israel, or to some other religious reformer who will bring about peace and restoration.  Isaiah speaks of God crushing the Suffering Servant (Jesus) with suffering.  “By His sufferings shall My servant justify many.” We are invited to see the death of Jesus as the fulfillment of this passage because Jesus dies as a willing sacrifice for our sins, making us righteous by taking our sins away. Out of love, Jesus the servant lives and dies so that the unjust may know God’s justification.   The passage also gives us the assurance that if we work for righteousness, we will be able to receive the loving care of our Father, God, who will never abandon us.

Second Reading, Hebrews 4:14-16, explained: The Letter to the Hebrews was written to bolster the Faith of Jewish converts to Christianity.  They suffered the contempt of former Jewish friends who had not been converted, and they felt nostalgia for the institutions of Judaism, such as rituals, sacrifices, and the priesthood .  This letter tries to show them how they still have all these “missing” things, and in a better form in Christianity than they had them in Judaism. While the first reading from Isaiah prophesies the necessary, sacrificial role of God’s servant, Jesus, in the plan of salvation, the author of Hebrews affirms Jesus’ priestly activity.  Since the Jewish converts to Christ did not have the priests they were used to, the author of Hebrews argues that Jesus is the true High Priest, superior to and far better than the Jewish priests because He, the Son of God, shares our fragile, suffering humanity.  Thus, we can “approach his throne of grace confidently to receive mercy,” because Jesus understands us.  Later, in Heb 9:10-14, St. Paul presents Jesus as both sacrificial victim and priest.  In both death and Resurrection, Jesus functions both as the Priest sacrificing the victim and as the Victim sacrificed.

Gospel exegesis:  The context:  Our Gospel reading for today is another classic text on the question of ambition.  For the third time, (Mk 8:31, 9:31, 10:32), Jesus predicts swiftly approaching sufferings ending in death, but followed by resurrection on the third day.  In spite of Jesus’ two previous predictions, James and John are still thinking of Jesus as a revolutionary freedom-fighter. They share their contemporaries’ Jewish belief that the Messiah will be a political king, sitting on David’s throne and ruling over a re-united Israel.  They are sure that the purpose of Jesus’ final trip to Jerusalem is to overthrow the Roman rulers.  Hence, they want an assurance from Jesus that they will be the first- and second-in-command in the coming Messianic Kingdom of God.  According to Middle Eastern custom, the seats on the right and left sides of the host were the places of honor, granted to the host’s closest friends and associates, or those the host wished particularly to recognize.

The high price of servant leadership: The request of James and John reveals their lack of understanding of true leadership.  They are looking for positions of power and prestige.  They think that leadership comes from where one sits rather than from how one serves.  Jesus gives them a sharp rebuke, saying, “You do not know what you are asking.  Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They answer Jesus’ question with a very quick, “You bet we can!” That’s the kind of answer  you give when you envision the ‘cup’ in question to be a bejeweled golden goblet filled with good wine at the feast of Jesus’ inauguration as the replacement for the Caesar.” (Center for Excellence in Preaching; online). “The request of James and John for a share in the glory (Mark 10:35-37) must of necessity involve a share in Jesus’ sufferings, the endurance of tribulation and suffering for the Gospel” (Notes to the New American Bible). The cup was a symbol of the life experience allotted to each person by God. To “drink the cup” Jesus drinks is to accept the reality of suffering and to do God’s will in the midst of it, as Jesus did in Gethsemane and on Calvary. Those who follow the way of Jesus and seek to imitate the Master’s example of servant leadership must be willing even to suffer for others. During royal banquets, it was customary for an ancient king to hand the cup to his guests.  Thus, the cup became a metaphor for the life and experiences that God gives to men.  Jesus insisted that the disciples must drink from Jesus’ cup if they expected to reign with Jesus in his kingdom.  The cup Jesus had in mind was a bitter one, involving crucifixion.  For Jesus, to take this cup was to suffer the  judgment all mankind’s sin had earned. Baptism was also linked to the Divine judgment that will come as a result of human sinfulness.  Jesus had in mind the cup of the sacrificial death and the baptism of fire which would be met in Jerusalem.

Troubleshooting: Without fully understanding what Jesus meant, James and John quickly affirmed that they could share in their Master’s cup and baptism.  They had no understanding of the personal cost that lay behind these two images. [History tells us that James was beheaded by Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:2), and John suffered deeply when he heard regularly for years, of the persecution of his fellow Christians, while he himself was forced into exile.]  Naturally, the request of James and John angered the other disciples.  They were upset that James and John had tried to gain some advantage over them.  So, Jesus called them all together to give them yet another lecture on real leadership in the kingdom of God. Jesus further explains that to sit on his right hand and on his left “is not Mine to give” to give, for these places are reserved for those for whom they are prepared by his Father. The passage thus declares that “Christ would give rewards to his followers; but only to such as should be entitled to them according to the purpose of his Father.” (Notes on the New Testament)

A challenge to achieve greatness through humble, sacrificial service: Jesus tells the apostles plainly what the nature of the Messianic mission is, how it will be accomplished and what should be the criteria of greatness among the disciples.  Jesus summarizes the Messianic  mission in one sentence: “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”  It is in service and humility, Jesus says, that one will find true greatness in the eyes of God. Jesus also explains that the accomplishment of the Messianic mission demands  the Messiah’s freely accepting and undergoing crucifixion, as a sacrifice to save people from their sins.  Here, Jesus challenges the apostles to share not only the power, but the service, sacrificing themselves for others as Jesus will do.  According to Jesus, greatness consists not in what we have, nor in what we can get from others but in what we give to others.  The CEO in Jesus’ kingdom is the one who serves the needs of all the others. The test of greatness in the reign of God is not how many people are in one’s service but how one may serve the many.  Jesus thus overturns all our values, teaching us that true greatness consists in loving, humble, and sacrificial service. Jesus has identified authority with selfless service and loving sacrifice.  For Jesus, true service means putting one’s gifts at the disposal of others.  Service is sacrifice:  extending a helping hand to those in need translates love into meaningful deeds. Jesus clearly teaches that when power and authority are used in selfish ways, for personal gain, pleasure or advantage, instead of on behalf of others, they cease to be Christian, and those who make this error become “like the leaders of the Gentiles.”  St. Paul, in Rom 1:1, says: “From Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus.”  No wonder the official title of the popes down through the centuries has been, “Servant of the servants of God”!  For our contemporary, St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa), greatness lay in the giving of her whole self to the very lowest, treating them as brothers and sisters and living close to them.

Authority exercised by sacrificial service: Very often, people in authority act as if others exist only to serve them.  Even in our democratic form of government, our elected officials, although called “public servants,” frequently strut around like monarchs, interested in serving their own appetites for power, prestige, and wealth.  They forget the fact that authority is different from power.  Power is something a person has and forces on people.  Authority is something one first receives from a higher power (ultimately God Who is the Source of Authority). That authority is recognized in one by the people who choose, receive and obey one as their Leader. One can exercise authority over those one leads, only through service and sacrifice, for this is God’s own pattern, shown in Christ Jesus.  When people see that a person has their best interests at heart and is willing to sacrifice and serve them, they will be willing to follow.  That’s real leadership and authority.  Jesus presents authority as one’s opportunity to serve others rather than to promote one’s own honor and glory.  Jesus connects authority with selfless service.  He considers authority exercised without sacrificial love as merely self-service.   A noted Italian sociologist Francis Alberoni in his Art of Commanding, listed the qualities of a true gifted leader: “inspiration, humility, a spirit of service, serenity, good example, determination, availability, and the capacity to expend oneself.” Such a leader is seen in Jesus who stoops down and wash the feet of the apostles (John 13).

Life messages: 1) We are challenged to give our lives in loving service to others. To become an authentic disciple of Jesus means to put ourselves in the humble, demanding role of servant to others, to seek intentionally the happiness and fulfillment of those we love regardless of the cost to ourselves.  The best place to begin the process of “self-giving” service is in our own homes and in the workplace.  We have to look upon our education, training, and experience as preparation for service to others.  Whatever may be our place in society — whether important or unimportant — we can serve.  We should learn to serve with a smile.  This is possible whether we are in military service, social service, law, medical service, government, or business. We get chances to serve others every day.  Nurses serve their patients, teachers serve their students, parents serve the needs of their children, and spouses serve each another and their children as well as their own parents in old age.   In our parishes, we are also called to serve not to be served. We can here apply the famous “ask not” of John Kennedy: “Ask not what your parish, what your Church, your God can do for you; rather ask what you can do for your parish, for your Church, your God!” If we want to be leaders, we must learn to be available, accountable, and vulnerable.  This triad — availability, accountability, and vulnerability — qualifies us for what Robert Greenleaf has called Servant Leadership. “Life becomes harder for us when we live for others, but it also becomes richer and happier.” —Albert Schweitzer

2) We serve by suffering:  In today’s Gospel, Jesus connects service with suffering. Suffering and service go hand in hand.  First, service always involves suffering because one can’t help another without some personal sacrifice.  Second, God always invites those who suffer to put their suffering at the service of others by uniting it with the salvific suffering of Jesus.  Third, we must learn to be sensitive to the suffering of those around us.  One way to cultivate this sensitivity is to focus on the needs of others rather than on our own needs.  Another way is through prayer, as explained in St. Francis of Assisi’s famous Prayer for Peace.

3) We are invited to drink from the cup of Christ’s suffering: People often tailor their religious beliefs to fit their own needs.  In Christianity, this represents a false approach.  The Church needs true disciples who are cross-bearers and servants.  They seek and follow wherever Christ leads.  A happy family is the result of true sacrifice and humble service.  The husband and wife sacrifice convenience, comfort, and time.  There can be no success without sacrifice.  We are challenged to drink the cup of Jesus by laying down our lives in humble and sacrificial service for others, just as Jesus did.

4) We are invited to servant leadership: We are a community of equals and we share in the responsibilities of being community.  In order to be effective, we need leaders – both ordained, as ministerial priests, and lay.  These servants have been raised up from among us to call us to order, to be the ground on which the rest of us can move around, refining our lives as followers of Jesus.  We need leaders who will help us to form personal relationships with God and with each other that will assist us to become what we must be in order to wash one another’s feet.  We require leaders to call us to the ways of social justice.  We need leaders who tie us to other communities and groups who share similar values.  Finally, we need leaders who can break open the Word for us, who can lead us in our prayer, offering us on the altar, and who can draw us together as sacrament.  No one of us possesses all that we as a community need.  Our job as servant leaders is to evoke, to recognize, to nurture, to celebrate, and to help unify the gifts of the Holy Spirit at work here in our community. Jesus, our model of selflessness, surrendered entirely to the Father’s will out of love for us (CCC #536). We have this possibility of becoming “partners” with Jesus, to be a servant just like Him – “there is no other ladder by which we may get to Heaven” (CCC #618).

Jokes of the Week #1: Support your senator doing free service:  A priest went into a Washington, D. C. barber shop for a haircut.  When the barber finished, the priest asked him what the charge was and the barber responded, “No charge, Father, you are serving the Lord and I consider my service rendered to you as a service to the Lord.”  The next morning when the barber arrived at his shop he found at his front door a stack of usable Christmas cards and a note of thanks from the priest.  A few days later, a police officer went to the same barber for a haircut.  When he went to pay, the barber said, “No charge, officer.  I consider it a service to our community because you serve our community.”  The next morning when the barber arrived at his shop there were a dozen donuts at the front door and a note of thanks from the policeman.  A few days after this an influential senator came in for a haircut.  “No charge, Senator, I consider it a service to my country.”  The next morning when the barber arrived at his shop there were two congressmen waiting for their chance for the barber’s free service, carrying a note of thanks from the Senator!

# 2: Good old days: George Bernard Shaw was once asked in what generation he would have preferred to live. The witty Irishman replied: “The age of Napoleon, because then there was only one man who thought he was Napoleon.

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

1) Catholic Radio: http://www.catholicradiointernational.com/index.php

2) EWTN radio: http://www.ewtn.com/audiovideo/index.asp

3) Catholic pages: http://www.catholic-pages.com/default.htm

4) Theological Resources: http://www.diocs.org/Faith/index.cfm

5) Tutorial on Latin Mass: http://www.sanctamissa.org/en/index.html

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

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

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

9) Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs: (Type https://sundayprep.org on the Address bar (topmost column) in Google search or YouTube Search and press the Enter button. Do not type it on You Tube Search column or Google Search)

32- Additional anecdotes:

1) NBA superstar on service: Nearly a decade after leaving professional basketball, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar decided to return to the sport he loved, by accepting a coaching position with the Alchesay Falcons – a high-school team of mostly White Mountain Apaches.  As an African American among Native Americans, Abdul-Jabbar had a great deal to learn about these people.  He discovered surprising cultural traditions that made it difficult for him to coach them, such as the Indian discomfort at being singled out for criticism as well as their extreme sensitivity.  By working with these people, however, and sacrificing his time and talents, Abdul-Jabbar learned to appreciate them and form them into a super team.  He did not try to lord it over them as an NBA superstar.  Instead, he served them.  In the end, he may have learned more than he actually taught.  He became a good example of servant leadership. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

2) Servant leader in a serving community: In his book, Dr. George Burns’ Prescription For Happiness: Buy Two Books and Call Me in the Morning, George Burns writes: “If you were to go around asking people what would make them happier, you’d get answers like a new car, a bigger house, a raise in pay, winning a lottery, a face-lift, more kids, less kids, a new restaurant to go to. Probably not one in a hundred would say a chance to help people. And yet that may bring the most happiness of all. I don’t know Dr. Jonas Salk, but after what he’s done for us with his polio vaccine, if he isn’t happy, he should have that brilliant head of his examined. Of course, not all of us can do what he did. I know I can’t do what he did; he beat me to it. But the point is, it doesn’t have to be anything that extraordinary. It can be working for a worthy cause, performing a needed service, or just doing something that helps another person.” [George Burns, Dr. George Burns’ Prescription for Happiness, (New York, NY, USA: Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, 1984), p. 141] — We need lots of people like those George Burns was describing, Dr. Salk and others like him who saw a need and tried to fill it. They were living a servant life. In our passage of Scripture for today, we find James and John wanting to race ahead of the others and jump into prime positions in the kingdom of God. But Jesus saw through their little ploy. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

3) Methodist & Baptist “servant-leader politics”: A Methodist pastor once wrote about power and politics in his denomination. Methodist preachers, he notes, are under the care of a bishop. Bishops, in turn, are Methodist preachers who are elected by fellow Methodist preachers after an extensive campaign for the office in which the candidate tries not to be caught campaigning. As he observes, “It is a long-standing Methodist tradition that bishops must not appear to have sought their office and, once elected, the new bishop must make a public declaration, saying, ‘I didn’t seek this office, and I didn’t want it but, once the Lord calls….'” Methodist preachers take all of this with a grain of salt, the same way Baptist congregations have learned to be somewhat skeptical when one of their preachers moves on to a better Church claiming, “I hate to leave this Church and I would rather stay here, but the Lord calls.” Baptists note that the Lord rarely calls someone out of one Church into another Church unless that Church has a higher salary. Methodists have likewise noted that there have been few preachers who, once they are elected bishop, turn the job down. [William H. Willimon, And the Laugh Shall Be First (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1986), p. 94]  Also found in William G. Carter, No Box Seats in the Kingdom, CSS Publishing, with this ending: “Teacher, we want you to put us on your right and on your left. But keep it quiet. Don’t make it too obvious. Others may become offended that we asked first.” — By telling us this story, Mark knows what you and I know: we are prone to the same desire for privilege and protected status. We want a Jesus who will give us what we want, a Lord who can shower a little power on us, a Savior who can make us better than we are. (Fr. Kayala). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

4) “Here comes the man God sent us.” When Doug Meland and his wife moved into a village of Brazil’s Fulnio Indians, he was referred to as “the white man,” an uncomplimentary term. Other white men had exploited the villagers, burned their homes, and robbed their lands. But after the missionaries learned the language and began to help people with medicine and in other ways, they began to call Doug, “the good white man.” And when the Melands began adopting the customs of the people, the Fulnio spoke of Doug as the “white Indian.” Then one day, as Doug was washing the dirty, blood-caked foot of an injured boy, he heard a bystander say, “Who ever heard of a white man washing an Indian’s foot? Certainly, this man is from God.” From that day, whenever Doug entered an Indian home, it would be announced, “Here comes the man God sent us.” [Stephen Olford, Committed to Christ and His Church (1991, Paperback).] — That’s the secret of greatness: Service. That’s also the chief characteristic of those who follow Jesus. “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10: 45; Matthew 20: 28). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

5) “Landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” In their influential book, Built to Last, James Collins and Jerry Porras coined the term BHAG (pronounced “bee-hag”). BHAG describes a bold, well-nigh impossible vision. BHAG stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal, B-H-A-G. Common sense would tell you that a BHAG would intimidate many people and discourage them from trying. But BHAGs are paradoxical, according to Collins and Porras. The idea of attempting the impossible is so exciting and energizing that organizations usually experience an upsurge of motivation when a leader presents a BHAG to his people. A great example of a BHAG is the vision announced by President John F. Kennedy in a speech on May 25, 1961: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.” [Linda Watkins, God Just Showed Up (Chicago: Moody Bible Institute, 2001), pp. 127-136.] — JFK was challenging our country to put a man on the moon, and we did! Jesus was trying to get the apostles to forget their petty power games for a moment and focus on the Biggest, Hairiest, Most Audacious Goal of all–to join with Jesus in redeeming this world. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

6) “Then there was only one man who thought he was Napoleon.” George Bernard Shaw, the famous author, was once asked in what generation he would have preferred to live. The witty Irishman replied: “The age of Napoleon, because then there was only one man who thought he was Napoleon.” — What James and John are asking for is nothing less than the power to command the army of Israel. Rabbis and scholars at the time taught that the Messiah when he came would be the new David, King of Israel. He would rule with a mighty sword and vanquish all of Israel’s enemies. The disciples were under the same impression. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

7) “I want to compete with IBM.” When Michael Dell was in college, his parents drove up for a surprise visit. They were concerned that Michael’s “hobby”–building computers in his dorm room–was distracting him from his studies. His father demanded that he get more serious about his college work, asking Michael, “What do you want to do with your life?” And the young college student infuriated his dad by replying, “I want to compete with IBM.” At the time, IBM was the dominant computer company in the world. Not long after that, Michael Dell dropped out of college and raised the capital to start his own computer business. By 1999, ten years after Michael Dell began his company, Dell Computers overtook IBM as the nation’s largest seller of personal computers. [John Eliot, Ph.D., Overachievement (New York: Portfolio, 2004), pp. 38-40.] — If you’re going to dream, why not dream big? It’s true. Our dreams are too small. That was the problem with James and John in today’s Gospel. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

8) “Neither of us got our wish.” : Dwight David Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States says that when he was a small boy in Kansas, he went fishing with a friend of his. Young Eisenhower confided to his friend that his dream was to be a major league baseball player one day. Interestingly, Eisenhower’s friend said that his dream was to be President of the United States. Eisenhower said wistfully, “Neither of us got our wish.” (Play Ball, Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour Publishing.) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

9) Determined Dreamer: In 1976, motivational speaker Steve Chandler interviewed an aspiring young actor named Arnold Swarzenegger. Swarzenegger was promoting his first film. “Now that you have retired from body-building,” Chandler asked him, “what are you going to do next?” With a calm voice, Arnold Swarzenegger said, “I’m going to be the No. 1 box office star in all of Hollywood.” Chandler said he tried not to show his amusement. Swarzenegger’s first attempt at movies hadn’t shown much promise, and his Austrian accent and monstrous build didn’t suggest instant acceptance by audiences. “It’s the same process I used in body-building.” Schwarzenegger went on to explain. “What you do is create a vision of who you want to be, and then live into the picture, as if it were already true.” “It sounded ridiculously simple,” says Steve Chandler, “Too simple to mean anything. But I wrote it down and never forgot it.” [Steve Chandler, 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself (Franklin Lakes, NJ: The Career Press, 2004), p. 22.] — I wonder what Chandler would have thought if Arnold had said his dream was to become governor of California. Most of us at one time or another have had our dreams. Some of those dreams were childish. Many were unrealistic. James and John, the sons of Zebedee had dreams, ambitions. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

10)  Carrot flight to heaven: Rev. Anthony DeMello S. J. shares this tale: An old woman was dying.  While examining her records, the Heavenly court could not find a single act of charity performed by her except for a carrot she had once given to a starving beggar.  Such, however, was the power of a single deed of love that the merciful Lord decreed that she be taken up to Heaven on the strength of that carrot.  The angel brought back the carrot from heaven and gave it to her soul which was leaving her body.  The moment she caught hold of the carrot, it began to rise as if pulled by some invisible string, lifting her up toward the sky.  The soul of a beggar appeared.  He clutched the hem of her garment and was lifted with her; a third person caught hold of the beggar’s foot and was lifted too.  Soon there was a long line of souls being lifted up to Heaven by that carrot.  And, strange as it may seem, the woman did not feel the weight of all those people who held onto her. In fact, since she was looking Heavenward, she did not even see them. Higher and higher they rose until they almost reached the Heavenly gates.  That was when the woman looked back to catch a last glimpse of the earth and saw this whole train of people behind her.  She was indignant!  She gave an imperious wave of her hand and shouted, “Off! Off, all of you!  This carrot is mine!”  In making her proud gesture, she let go of the carrot for a moment – and down she fell with the entire train. —  De Mello concludes: There is only one cause for every evil on earth: the “’This is mine!’ attitude!”  Today’s Gospel describes how Jesus handled greed in two disciples. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

11) “I wish every child could say the same.” In his book, Hide or Seek, James Dobson tells of a time when John McKay, the great football coach at the University of Southern California, was interviewed on television, and the subject of his son’s athletic talent was raised. Son John was a successful player on his dad’s team. Coach McKay was asked to comment on the pride that he felt over his son’s accomplishments on the field. His answer was most impressive: “Yes, I’m pleased that John had a good season last year. He does a fine job, and I’m proud of him. But I would be just as proud if he had never played the game at all.’ Dr. Dobson goes to on to say this: “Coach McKay was saying, in effect, that John’s football talent was recognized and appreciated, but his human worth did not depend upon his ability to play football. John’s place in his dad’s heart was secure, being independent of his performance. I wish every child could say the same.” (quoted by William J. Vamos, First Presbyterian Church, Elkhart, Indiana, “What Happens When You’re Not Number One?”, Pulpit Digest, p. 2117). — In today’s Gospel Jesus warns James and John that what is important is not higher positions but willingness to do humble service. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

12) First Baptist , First Presbyterian, First United Methodist Church:   Drive through any town or suburb in America and you will see signs announcing the names of local churches. There will be a “First Presbyterian, a “First United Methodist,” a “First Baptist,” a “First United Church of Christ.” Only after the “First” designation has been snapped up do later churches start to shop around for a different name. “Second” isn’t very popular. Better to be “Third” or “Fourth.” There is even one “Twelfth Presbyterian Church” that I know of. Every Church wants to be “First.” And if they can’t be first, most abandon being numbered altogether. There is a Church in Dayton, Ohio, founded and pastored by the Rev. Dr. Daryl Ward, that has taken a step out of that traditional lineup. They call themselves “Omega Baptist Church.” What is “Omega?” “Omega” is the last letter of the Greek alphabet. The Divine declaration of being “the Alpha and the Omega” is another way of saying “the first and the last.” In other words, “Omega Baptist Church” isn’t claiming “first” place for itself. It is putting itself at the end of the line. It’s another way of calling itself the “Last Baptist Church.” It appears to get the teaching in today’s Gospel. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

13) “Dad, did you realize that you treated the president of the hospital and the janitor just alike?” James Moore tells about a man named George. George was a peacemaker with a big heart and wonderful sense of humor. George claimed he was, “so tenderhearted that he cried at supermarket openings!” Everyone at Church loved George. He was respected at the hospital where he worked. The reason so many people loved George was because he was always kind and always respectful to everyone he met. His children vividly remember the days George spent in the hospital before he died. The president of the hospital paid him a visit. He and George talked like they were old friends. A couple of minutes later one of the janitors came to visit. And they spoke like they were old friends. When the janitor left, one of George’s children said to him, “Dad, did you realize that you treated the president of the hospital and the janitor just alike?” George smiled, chuckled and said, “Let me ask you something — if the president left for two weeks and the janitor left for two weeks, which one do you think would be missed the most?” Then George called his children around his bed. “Let me show you something I carry in my pocket all the time, even when I mow the lawn.” George pulled out a pocket-sized cross and a marble. George said, “On the cross are written these words, ‘God Loves You,’ and on the marble are these words, ‘Do unto Others as You Would Have Them Do unto You.’ The cross reminds me of how deeply God loves me, and the marble reminds me of how deeply God wants me to love others.” [James W. Moore, When All Else Fails (Nashville: Dimensions for Living, 1993), p. 78.] — That’s A SERVANT’S HEART. That’s the Heart Jesus wants us all to have as we seek to serve Him and become more and more like Him each day by giving Him our heart. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

14)  The lamp-lighter was a good example of the genuine Christian: The following story is told about John Ruskin, the 18th century English writer, when he was quite old. He was visiting with a friend, and he was standing looking out the front window of the house. It was night-time, and the lamp-lighter was lighting the streetlamps. From the window one could see only the lamps that were being lit, and the light the lamp-lighter was carrying from one lamp to another. The lamp-lighter himself could not be seen. Ruskin remarked that the lamp-lighter was a good example of the genuine Christian. His way was clearly lit by the lights he lit, and the light he kept burning, even though he himself might not be known or seen. — At the beginning of the Gospel, Jesus said that He was the light that had come into the world. Today, Jesus tells us that we are to become that Light for others…. (Jack Mc Ardle in And that’s the Gospel Truth; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

15) Incarnating God’s love: When the great Japanese Christian Kagawa first heard about the life of Jesus, he cried out, “O God, make me like your Christ!” To be more like Christ, Kagawa left a comfortable home and went to live in the slums of Tokyo. There he shared himself and his possessions with whoever needed help. In his book Famous Life Decisions, Cecil Northcott says that Kagawa once gave away all his clothing. He was left standing in only a tattered kimono. On another occasion, even though deathly sick, he continued to preach to people in a rain, repeating over and over: ‘God is love! God is love! God is love! Where love is, there is God.” William Barclay gives us an insight into the heart and mind of Kagawa when he quotes the great man as saying: “God dwells among the lowliest of men.. He is there with beggars. He is among the sick, He stands with the unemployed. Therefore let him who would meet God visit the prison cell before going to the temple. Before he goes to Church let him visit the hospital. Before the reads his Bible let him help the beggar.” (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

16) Muhammad Ali “the greatest.”  Muhammad Ali, the boxer, used to call himself “the greatest!”  There was something comical about his arrogance.  Once he declared: “I float like a butterfly, I sting like a bee.”  The story is told of him that once when he was on an airplane about to take off, the flight steward said, “Sir, would you please fasten your seat belt?”  Muhammad Ali replied, “Superman doesn’t need a seat belt.”  The steward replied, “In that case, Superman doesn’t need an airplane to fly.” —   Today’s Gospel tells us of two of Jesus’ disciples who wanted to be supermen—to sit at the right hand and the left hand of Jesus in the Messianic kingdom– to be the greatest, to be the first. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

17) Inflated Ego: Some American tourists one day visited the home of Beethoven. A young woman among them sat down at the great composer’s piano and began to play his Moonlight Sonata. After she had finished, she turned to the old caretaker and said: “I presume a great many musicians visit this place every year.” “Yes,” he replied. “Paderewski was here last year.” “And did he play on Beethoven’s piano?” “No,” he said, “he said he wasn’t worthy.” (Anonymous; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

 18)  Greatness at What Price: If we look at the enduring examples of greatness, we see that the Lord is right. Alexander was a remarkable leader because he stood by his men in battle. Albert the Great was an intellectual giant because he disciplined himself to study. Beethoven was a master composer because he struggled long hours to get the right note. Martin Luther was a great reformer because he persisted in spite of opposition. Archbishop Romero was great because he was ready to stand against the corrupt leaders and die for his people. St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) was great because she was able to give up the security of her convent life and open herself to the poorest of the poor. Mahatma Gandhi was great because he worked for freedom for his people and died practicing non-violence as a form of protest. (Quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

19) Converting or sharing the best? In the recent past I read that St. Teresa of Kolkata (Mother Teresa), was once summoned to court on a trumped charge that she was converting children in her care to the Catholic Faith. Standing before the judge, she was asked if that was true. Turning to one of her Sisters, who were cradling a little baby in her arms, Mother Teresa asked for the infant. Then turning to the judge, she replied: “Your honor, I picked this little baby from the garbage bin. I don’t know the religion of the family into which this innocent infant was born, nor do I know the language that its parents speak. All that I do is that I give this child my love, my time, my care, my food and the best thing that I have in my life -my faith in Christ Jesus. Can’t I give this child the best that I have in life?” The case was dismissed in favor of Mother Teresa. (James Valladares in Your Words, O Lord, Are Spirit, and They Are Life; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

20) Power from Above: In 1764 James Watt invented the steam engine, and steam power was used for the first time to drive machinery. In 1830 George Stephenson built the famous locomotive called the ‘Rocket’ which could carry heavy loads and move faster. It was the first real railway engine. The first motor car was built by Daimler in 1891 using petrol power to run on roads. The year 1903 opened the era of air flights, again with engines powered by petrol. Now space flights have become possible with power produced by other sources including liquid oxygen. — But there is a greater power which is mightier than these powers, the power of God. This power lives in men empowering them to live victorious lives even in this present world. The clay vessels are made into vessels of glory driven by His power for the Master’s use. (Daniel Sunderaraj in Manna for the Soul; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

21) To serve with love: A boy was consistently coming home late from school. There was no good reason for his tardiness, and no amount of discussion seemed to help. Finally, in desperation, the boy’s father sat him down and said: “The next time you come late from school you are going to be given bread and water for your supper -and nothing else. Is that perfectly clear son?” The boy looked straight into his father’s eyes and nodded. He understood perfectly. A few days later the boy came home even later than usual. That night however, when they sat down together at the table there was only a single slice of bread in his plate and a glass of water. His father’s and mother’s plates were full of food. The father waited for the full impact to sink in, then, quietly took the boy’s plate and placed it in front of himself. He took his own plate and put it in front of the boy. The boy understood what his father was doing. His father was taking upon himself the punishment that he, the boy, had brought upon himself by his own delinquent behavior. Years later the boy recalled the incident and said: “All my life I’ve known what God is like by what my father did that night.” — “The Son of Man came to give his life to redeem many people.” (J. Allan Peterson in Leadership Magazine; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

22) Caring Service and Its Impact: A room-service waiter at a Marriott hotel learned that the sister of a guest had just died. The waiter, named Charles, bought a sympathy card, had hotel staff members sign it, and gave it to the distraught guest with a piece of hot apple pie. “Mr. Marriott,” the guest later wrote to the president of Marriott Hotels, “I’ll never meet you. And I don’t need to meet you. Because I met Charles. I know what you stand for. … I want to assure you that as long as I live, I will stay at your hotels. And I will tell my friends to stay at your hotels.” Roger Dow and Susan Cook, “Turned On” (New York: Harper Business, 1996). (Fr. Kayala). Fr. Tony(https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

23) Operation Omega: Today’s Gospel message

We should be the last to leave the side of a sick bed.
We should be the last to let a grieving spouse sit alone.
We should be the last to write off the children whose parents have failed them or thrown them away.
We should be the last to ignore the homeless camped out along our streets.
We should be the last to allow hunger to gnaw at the bellies of our neighbors.
We should be the last to shrug our shoulders at ongoing environmental degradation.
We should be the last to let despair grind down the powerless.
We should be the last to condone cruelty of any kind, to any living thing.
We should be the last to let human hatred triumph over Divine love.

Here are some suggestions of how you’d conduct Operation Omega:

1) Purposely let others get in line before you.

2) Try to be the last in line. And pray for those who seem most hurried and stressed because they’re not first in line.

3) If someone in back of you at the check-out line has fewer items than you do, or even if they don’t but seem in a hurry, let them go in front of you.

4) Let other cars “in” when they need an assist.

5) Measure your success at sporting events not by how many points you can score, but how many assists you can generate. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

24) Who wears the authentic royal ring? Once upon a time in a far-off country, a king had twin sons. One was strong and handsome. The other was intelligent and wise. As the ruler grew old, everyone speculated about which son the king would choose as his successor – the strong son or the wise son. In this land the sign of kingship was a royal ring. Just before the king died, he had a copy of the royal ring made and presented both rings to his twin sons. The chief advisors to the king asked him, “How shall we know which son wears the authentic royal ring?” “You shall know,” answered the king, “because the chosen one will reveal his right to rule by his self-giving service to our people.” [Richard Carl Hoefler, Insights, October 1988]. And Jesus said, Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. [Mark 10: 43,44]. — Many congregations declare at the conclusion of their liturgy .. the worship has ended – now the service begins. Let that be our hope as we hear those words, Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. For if that is our intention, then we can truly say and mean .. Thanks be to God. Amen. (Fr. Almquist). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

25) He gave us all he had and gave gladly.” There is an old story of a rice farmer who saved an entire village from destruction. From his hilltop farm he felt the earth quake and saw the distant ocean swiftly withdraw from the shore line. He knew that a tidal wave was coming.   In the valley below, he saw his neighbors working low fields that would soon be flooded. They must run quickly to his hilltop or they would all die. His rice barns were dry as tinder.  So, with a torch he set fire to his barns and soon the fire gong started ringing. His neighbors saw the smoke and rushed to help him. Then from their safe perch they saw the tidal wave wash over the fields they had just left. In a flash they knew not only who had saved them but what their salvation had cost their benefactor. They later erected a monument to his memory bearing the motto, “He gave us all he had, and gave gladly.”– This poor farmer finished first in the eyes of his community, but it cost him everything he had.   There are not many people in our world like that farmer. He willingly sacrificed himself that others might succeed. Most people do everything they can to better themselves and think nothing of the people they step on, leaving them behind as they climb to the top of the heap.  This text is designed to teach us the truth that not everyone who finishes first is victorious. Sometimes those who take the last seat, those who willingly finish last, are the real winners in the game of life. (Sermon Notebook). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

26) The man was seen having a bagel and coffee: I have a story of servanthood to leave you with this morning. A woman found a stack of checks all made out to someone named Stacy, with a bank deposit slip for an amount over $3,000. Rather than call the woman, she decided to take the checks to the bank and deposit them in the woman’s account. She told the teller that the owner would likely come in soon all upset about losing the checks. Tell her the money was found and deposited. Then tell her to read this note, which said, “Hi, Stacy, I found your deposit and brought it to the bank. I don’t know if you take the train to work in the morning, but there is a homeless man who sits by the station nearby here every morning, and if you would like to pass on the good deed, he could use a cup of coffee and a bagel.” —  That was a Tuesday. The man was seen having a bagel and coffee on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. It seems Stacy was very happy about having the lost money deposited in her account. That’s an example of the kind of service God wants us to perform and is so needed, especially with people losing jobs today. (Rev. James F. Wright). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

27) The Narcissism Epidemic…Living in an age of entitlement. Perhaps you have heard of the ancient Greek legend of Narcissus.  He was supposedly the son of a river god.  A seer had told his mother that her son must never see his reflection if he were to mature into manhood.  For that reason, everything that threw off an image, such as metal, was removed from her son’s grasp.  But one day Narcissus found a spring that formed a pool filled with crystal-clear water.  As he stooped down to take a drink from the pool, he saw his reflection on the surface of the pool.  He fell desperately in love with himself, and seeking to embrace himself, he fell into the water and he drowned. We don’t speak much anymore of the legend of Narcissus.  We do, however, use his name to describe those who are hopelessly self-centered and self-absorbed.  In fact, narcissism is now identified and catalogued as an official personality disorder by the medical profession. In a broader sense, we use the name to describe one of the great maladies of our 21st century American culture.  Ours, in many ways, is a narcissistic culture.  We live in an age of entitlement.  In fact, about 10 years ago there was book written on the subject.  It was titled, The Narcissism Epidemic…Living in an Age of Entitlement. The authors give us a few examples of how our culture has turned in on itself. They write, five times as many Americans undergo plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures as did ten years ago, and ordinary people hire fake paparazzi to follow them around to make them look famous.  High school students physically attack classmates and post YouTube videos of the beatings to get attention.  And for the past several years, Americans have been buying McMansions and expensive cars on credit they can’t afford.” — None of this, of course, should surprise us.  Consider the contrast set before us this morning in the Gospel reading from Mark 10.  James and John versus Jesus–selfish ambition versus self-sacrifice; wanting to be a lord over others versus being Lord of all, and yet, desiring only to serve.  These are two completely different ways of life, two opposing mindsets, two contradictory purposes, even, for life itself. (Rev. Alan Taylor). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).      

 

28) Servant leadership: This passage also tells us about the standard of Greatness in the Kingdom of God,   when Jesus places before us the concept of the servant leader. In the Kingdom of God, the standard is that of service. Greatness consistsnot in reducing other men to one’s service, but in reducing oneself to their service. Hannibal Barca was a military commander of the Carthage army in 247 BC. He led a famous campaign in the second Punic War against the Roman army, remaining undefeated until the very gates of Rome. His most famous military accomplishment was the battle of Cannae, where he defeated a Roman army size double of his. What was the secret of his success?  He was a man who led by example. He would sleep among his soldiers and would not wear anything that made him distinct above his soldiers. He would lead the armies into battle and be the last to leave the battlefield. Even today he stands as a model for leadership. Ernest Shackleton is another great example of a servant leader. He was an early 20th century explorer whose ship was crushed in Antarctic ice. After countless brushes with death, including an 800-mile journey in open boats across the winter Antarctic seas, Shackleton brought every one of his 27 crew members home alive. It took two years, but his sense of responsibility toward his men never wavered. One of the many tactics he used to serve his men was to share sleeping quarters with those who were most disgruntled instead of his favorite people to be around. — These leaders put the needs of the people they lead ahead of their own. So, they became great. (Fr. Bobby Jose). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

29) Rudyard Kipling has a poem called “Mary’s Son” which is advice on the spirit in which a man must work.

If you stop to find out what your wages will be

And how they will clothe and feed you,

Willie, my son, don’t you go on the Sea.

For the Sea will never need you.

If you ask for the reason of every command,

And argue with people about you,

Willie, my son, don’t you go on the Land,

For the Land will do better without you.

If you stop to consider the work, you have done

And to boast what your labor is worth, dear,

Angels may come for you, Willie, my son,

But you’ll never be wanted on Earth, dear! [Quoted by William Barclay, The Gospel of Mark, p. 267]. (Fr. Bobby Jose). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

30) He Gives His Life: One of the most remarkable medical developments in the 1930’s and 1940’s was the blood-bank. Blood was taken from donors to be stored for later transfer into the bodies of those who had themselves suffered a major loss of blood. Rarely, since then, have we heard of the givers of blood charging for that service. Blood giving has rather struck people as an act of charity and compassion towards those whose life is endangered. Particularly during World War II those who were donating to the American Red Cross blood banks would vie with each other to become “gallonaires” – donors (at medically prescribed intervals) of a gallon of their lifeblood. Blood-banks were not restricted to the United States. The practice of donating one’s blood spread everywhere. To the Christians of the world the gift of blood was not only something humane, but something Christ-like. Pope Pius XII pointed this out in the fall of 1948. During and after World War II, many Italians had given generously of their blood to save the lives of the thousands who had been wounded or otherwise stricken in the Italian Campaign. In Autumn 1948 a group of these Italian blood donors had a special audience with the Holy Father. Praising their true Christian generosity, he told them “Christ, the Supreme and Divine Donor of His Blood, is your example in a particular way.” — In today’s first reading, the prophet Isaiah foresees that the death of Christ will be the cause of life for mankind. “If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long line…” (53:10). A moment before, Isaiah had said “By his stripes we were healed” (53:5). Know then, whenever you give blood to your fellowman that you, like Jesus, are giving of your very self so that others may live. (Father Robert F. McNamara). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     

31) Eagle among the Prairie chicken: Do you remember the story of the eagle’s egg that was placed into the nest of a prairie chicken? The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them. All his life, the eagle, thinking he was a prairie chicken, did what the prairie chickens did. He scratched in the dirt for seeds and insects to eat. He clucked and cackled, and he flew in a brief thrashing of wings and flurry of feathers no more than a few feet off the ground. After all, that’s how prairie chickens were supposed to fly. Years passed, and the eagle grew very old. One day, he saw a magnificent bird far above him in the cloudless sky. Hanging with graceful majesty on the powerful wind currents, it soared with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings. “What a beautiful bird,” said the eagle to his neighbor, “what is it? ”That’s an eagle–the chief of the birds,” the neighbor clucked. “But don’t give it a second thought. You could never be like him.” So the changeling eagle never gave it another thought, and it died, thinking it was a prairie chicken. — I believe far too many Christians are just like that eagle, living far below their great, sweet, soaring, massive potential. For far too many believers, God says, “Run,” but we walk. God says, “Obey,” and we consider our options. God says, “Serve,” and we’re content to be served. So which path are you on? Are you on the path of true spiritual greatness–the eagle? Or are you on the path of worldly greatness–the prairie chicken? (Rev. Chris Mueller). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/). 

32) He was proud of his humility: I knew a guy once who worked really hard at appearing humble. In public, he was always putting himself down, always declining praise when he’d done something good. But in private, it was a different story. One time he told me of a particularly generous thing he’d done for someone we both knew. And then he said, “But of course, I don’t want anyone to know it was me. Jesus says to give alms in secret.” And I thought, “but you just told me.” This same friend complained to me – privately, of course – when he didn’t receive an award for service that he was hoping to get. He thought the person who did receive the award “didn’t go above and beyond the call of duty” as much as he did, and wasn’t humble enough. — In reality, my friend was pretty proud of his humility. He didn’t understand that true humility comes from thinking less of yourself, and more of someone else. Real humility is the foundation of real greatness, particularly because it doesn’t care at all about recognition or glory; it only cares about the good of others. (Jo Anne Taylor). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).     L/21

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B (No 55) by Fr. Tony: akadavil@gmail.com

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

October 11-16 (weekday homilies)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why should we respect life?

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

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

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

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

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

Life messages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catechism of the Catholic Church:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

INTERCESSORY PRAYERS FOR RESPECT LIFE SUNDAY 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Respect life Sunday resources: visit these very useful resources:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESPECT LIFE SUNDAY by USCCB (resources)

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

Additional resources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

· 2017-2017 Respect Life Program Flyer :

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

· Make Room for People (En Español)Bulletin Insert

· Divine Mercy and the Death Penalty (En Español)

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

· Hope for Married Couples Who Want to Have a Child

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

· Sex Trafficking: The New Slavery

· Program Models, Clip Art & Photos

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

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

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

O. T. XXVIII (B) Sunday homily (Oct 10, 2021)

OT 28[B] Sunday (Oct 10) Eight-minute homily in one page (L/21)

Central theme: We must give priority to God in our lives, not to our possessions. Today’s readings remind us thatwe do not possess anything in our life that we refuse to surrender to the Lord.These things often possess us, and we become the prisoners of our possessions when we give our “things” top priority in our lives. Thus, we violate the First Great Commandment, You shall not have other gods beside mewhich demands that we give absolute and unconditional priority to God.

Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading advises us to use the God-given virtue of prudence and to seek true wisdom in preference to vanishing realities like riches or political and social influence. Solomon chose Wisdom before everything else. But when he accepted Wisdom, he received everything else along with it. Since Jesus is Wisdom Incarnate, when we put following Jesus ahead of everything else, we receive everything else along with Jesus. In the Responsorial Psalm(Ps 90), we beg God to teach us how to make proper judgments and choices in our lives that we may live with Him forever.

The second reading warns us that we are accountable before God as to how we use our blessings, and that the “living and effective word of God” must be our guide in evaluating the use of our blessings.

In today’s Gospel selection (Mk 10:17-30), we find three sections: a narrative about Jesus’ encounter with a rich man, Jesus’ sayings about wealth as a possible obstacle to discipleship and Jesus’ promise of reward for those who share their material possessions with the needy. Reminding the rich man of the commandments that deal with relationships with other people, Jesus challenged him to sell what he had, and to give the money to the poor. The disciples were shocked by this challenge. But Jesus declared that true religion consisted in one’s sharing one’s blessings with others rather than hoarding and/or getting inordinately attached to them.

Life messages: 1) We need to accept the invitation to generous sharing. Initially, Jesus, in generous, sacrificial love, gave us His very self; in response, we find rising in our hearts the desire to give Jesus our own total selves, and so to enter the Faith relationship Jesus offers. God does not ask us to give up our riches, but He does ask us to use them wisely in His service not allowing them to gain control over our hearts. God gives us time, talents, health and wealth and riches that we may use them as good stewards in the service of others.

2) Let us make a check list of our prioritized attachments, and give God priority: Are anger, lust, gluttony, evil habits and addictions, jealousy, holding grudges, infidelity, cheating our priorities? Let us invite God into our lives daily by praying for the strengthening grace and anointing of His Holy Spirit so that we may give God priority, keeping Bible as our guide.

3) We need to gain eternal life by our faith in Jesus as our God and Savior, lived out with God’s strengthening grace, detaching ourselves from unnecessary attachments. 

OT XXVIII [B] (Oct 10) Wis 7:7-11; Heb 4:12-13; Mk 10:17-30

Homily starter anecdotes:   #1:“It is Tough to be Billionaire.” Paul Getty, the founder and CEO of Getty Oil company and owner of several other companies died at 83 of cardiac arrest in 1976, leaving his wealth, $3-4 billion, to his three sons. He was the wealthiest man of his days. Born and brought up in the USA, he established his oil empire headquarters in London and led the corporation for 25 years. He spoke most European languages and understood Russian and Arabic, Latin and Greek. He married five times and divorced his wives. He told an interviewer, “I would give all my wealth for a successful marriage. I hate being a failure. I hate not being able to make a success of marriage.” He admitted that money could not buy him happiness, and often it gave him more unhappiness. He refused to give his money to charities arguing that it made people lazy. Besides, he saw giving money to needy people as unrewarding and wrong. He even wrote an article called, “It is Tough to be Billionaire.” His books are “My Life and Fortune” and “How to be Rich.”– In today’s Gospel, Jesus advises a rich young man to share his riches with the needy to gain eternal life and never-ending happiness. (https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/1215.html). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 2: Aladdin’s magic lamp and Solomon’s dream: Ala’ Ad-Din is the Arabic title of one of the best-known stories in The Thousand and One Nights. The chief protagonist of the tale, Ala’ Ad-Din, or Aladdin, chances upon an African magician who claims to be his uncle. At the magician’s request, Aladdin retrieves a lamp from a cave and discovers that he can summon up powerful jinn or genies to do his bidding. “Your wish is my command,” Aladdin is told, and he satisfies his desires for wealth, power and long life. Aladdin’s adventures and good fortune have left many young readers dreaming of sharing similar experiences. Imagine that you are Aladdin and that magic lamps and genies do exist. . . what would you ask for? — Solomon found himself in just such a situation in today’s first reading. Although magic did not factor into the equation, God Himself appeared to the young king Solomon in a dream, asking for his wishes. In 1 Kgs 3:5-14, Israel’s great king was told by Yahweh in a dream: “Ask something of Me and I will give it to you.” When Solomon asked for wisdom, i.e. for “an understanding heart to judge the people and to distinguish right from wrong,” he was praised by God. He had not asked for long life or riches or for the life of his enemies; because of this he was given the gift of wisdom. (Sanchez Archives). – He received the rest besides! Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

#3: How can you trap a monkey? With a coconut, some roasted peanuts or rice and a string, tribal people living in the border of forests in Africa, Sri Lanka, and India have been trapping monkeys for centuries. At one end of the coconut, they open a hole that is big enough to allow a monkey’s hand to push inside. However, the hole is too small for a monkey to remove his hand when he makes a fist. On the other end of the coconut, a string is firmly attached and tied to a tree trunk. The coconut trap, with roasted peanuts or roasted rice inside, is placed along a monkey’s trail, and the trapper hides behind bushes with a net. The monkey smells the peanuts and is attracted to them. He puts his hand through the hole and grabs a handful of peanuts, after which it is impossible for him to remove his hand since he is unwilling to let go of the peanuts. Suddenly the trapper casts the net over the monkey and traps it. — We too are attracted by different “peanuts” that can be detrimental to our spiritual and physical pursuits. Today’s Gospel presents a rich young man who wants eternal life but will not relinquish “the peanuts” of riches. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

#4: “Sir, we’ll take the one with the happy ending.” There was a father who one day took his little son to buy a puppy. When they arrived at the home where the puppies were sold … they walked around to the back yard where the puppies were. There they saw inside a fenced in area, seven little puppies. As the Father and son looked at them .. they noticed one little puppy whose little tail was wagging faster than the tails of the other little puppies. The father then said to the owner of the puppies, “Sir, we’ll take the one with the happy ending.” –I suppose everybody likes a story with a happy ending. When we look at the personal encounters Jesus had, while on earth, we see that most of them ended gloriously, for most often, the people who met Jesus were healed, saved and eternally changed. However, not every meeting ended so gloriously! In the Gospel Reading of today from St. Mark, we are presented with a man – young & rich – who had a personal encounter with the Jesus that ended in disappointment – “… his countenance fell, and he went away sad, …” Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Introduction:Today’s readings remind us thatwe do not possess anything in our life that we refuse to surrender to the Lord. But, in reality our “possessions” often possess us, and we become their prisoners. What we really do is give our “things” top priority in our lives. Thus, we violate the First Great Commandment, which demands that we give absolute and unconditional priority to God. The first reading advises us to use the God-given virtue of prudence and to seek true wisdom rather than to seek vanishing realities like riches or political and social influence. Solomon chose Wisdom before everything else. But when he accepted Wisdom, he received everything else along with her. Since Jesus is Wisdom Incarnate, when we put following Jesus ahead of everything else, we receive everything else along with Jesus. In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 90), we beg God to teach us how to make proper judgments and choices in our lives that we may live with Him forever. The second reading warns us that we are accountable before God as to how we use our blessings and that the “living and effective word of God” must be our guide in evaluating our use of God’s blessings. Today’s Gospel selection (Mk 10: 17-30), gives us Jesus’ teaching on the dangers of attachment to riches and the rewards awaiting those who put Jesus and the Good News before their earthly ambitions. Here we find three sections: a narrative about Jesus’ encounter with a rich man, Jesus’ sayings about wealth as a possible obstacle to discipleship, and Jesus’ promised reward for those who share material possessions with the needy. In today’s Gospel, a rich man encounters Jesus, the Incarnate Word of God, and Jesus reminds the rich man of the commandments that deal with our relationships with other people, challenging him to sell what he has and to give the money to the poor. Jesus’ challenge exposes two missing pieces in the rich man’s life: a sense of compassion for the poor and a willingness to share his blessings with the needy. Jesus shocks the disciples with this challenge to the Jewish belief that material wealth and prosperity are signs of God’s blessings, while poverty and difficulties signal His displeasure. Instead, Jesus declares that true religion consists in sharing one’s blessings with others rather than hoarding them and/or getting inordinately attached to them. Jesus’ teaching exposes the shallowness of our own easy assumptions about wealth and raises questions about the real basis of our security and hopes.

First reading, Wisdom 7:7-11, explained: About a hundred years before the birth of Jesus, the Jewish community was a minority in the great cosmopolitan city of Alexandria, Egypt, cut off from the comforting religious institutions of Jerusalem, and subject to great cultural pressure from the majority who shaped and ruled this pagan Greek society. The Jews were in danger of losing their identity because of the constant temptation to follow Greek philosophy and Greek morality rather than their Faith traditions. A learned and faithful Jew assessed the situation of his fellow Jews in Alexandria and tried to bolster their faith with a book, now called Wisdom, which offered them a virtuous way of life. By “wisdom” the author meant not just worldly wisdom but a spiritual wisdom that included adherence to older Jewish traditions. Today’s first reading, taken from the book of Wisdom, teaches, somewhat analogously, that one should prefer wisdom to every other good thing. It quotes from King Solomon’s personal valuation of wisdom: “I preferred her [true wisdom] to scepter and throne and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her.” In his prayer for wisdom, the first-century BC Alexandrian Jewish wisdom teacher identifies wisdom as the greatest possession of all and contrasts it with material possessions. True wisdom comes from God; it is the ability to see things as God sees them and to understand things as God understands them. Only Divine wisdom can teach us how to live wisely and successfully in life, making wise choices. We are also invited to see Jesus as Wisdom Incarnate and, so, to give Jesus priority over everything else in our life. In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 90), we beg God to teach us how to use prudence to make proper judgments and choices in our lives that we may live with Him forever. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, prudence enables a person to do two things: to see one’s “true good” in any given circumstances and so recognize which good to aim for, and then helps one to discern and choose choose the means to reach this “true good”. After humility, prudence is the second-most foundational virtue.

Second Reading, Hebrews 4:12-13 explained: The Letter to the Hebrews was written to bolster the Faith of Jewish converts to Christianity. These converts faced the contempt of their former Jewish friends, and they felt nostalgia for the institutions of Judaism (rituals, sacrifices, priesthood, etc.), that were either absent or greatly transformed in their new religion, namely Christianity. This letter tries to show them in what ways the new religion of Christianity is better than their old Jewish faith. St. Paul tells them, “The word of God is something alive and active: it cuts like any double-edged sword.” The living and effective word of God has the power to penetrate our body and soul like a double-edge sword. We should allow the word of God in all its vital power and effectiveness to challenge us and our priorities and goals in life. The sharp word of God confronts, chastises, encourages, challenges, nourishes, and inspires all who will hear and receive it. Like a double-edge sword, the word has the dual capacity of revealing God to the believer and revealing the believer to him/herself. No wonder the “two-edged sword” in today’s Gospelstory of the young rich man, cuts through all our conventional ways of thinking and drives us to reflect on the things that really matter!

Gospel exegesis: The rich, “good” young man’s sins of omission. Obviously, this young man who came to Jesus in search of eternal life really wanted to be accepted by Jesus as a disciple. The words “inherit eternal life” not only means life with God after death, but also entering a deeper kind of life here on earth through prayer and the following of Jesus, and through deep relationships with other people, or involvement with some noble cause. However, Jesus did not want this young man as a disciple on his own terms, but rather on Jesus’ terms. The young man claimed that, from his youth, he had observed all the commandments Jesus mentioned, including the fourth commandment. His tragedy was that he loved “things” more than people. He was trapped by the erroneous idea that he could keep his possessions for himself and still obtain God’s mercy. He failed to realize the fact that his riches had built a wall between himself and God. In other words, his possessions “possessed” him. Even though the rich young man had never killed, stolen, or committed adultery, he was breaking both the commandment forbidding idolatry and the one commanding love of neighbor. He worshiped his wealth more than God. That is why Jesus challenged him to rid himself of the attachment to wealth, wherein lay what the young man saw as his security and social status, and trust himself completely to God by following Jesus.

Why should Jesus seemingly reject the title of “good teacher” telling the young man that God alone is good? According to Venerable Bede, the One and Undivided Trinity itself—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—is the Only and One Good God. The Lord, therefore, does not deny Himself to be good, but implies that He is God; He does not deny that He is ‘good Teacher [Master],’ but He declares that no master is good except God.” Fr. John Foley S. J. (Center for Liturgy) suggests a much simpler explanation. Jesus, seeing the seeds of Faith in this man, was trying to grow that Faith. The logic of Jesus’ response would be: (1) Only God is (fully) good. (2) You have called me good. (3) Are you, perhaps, sensing the Godliness in me? Jesus’ injunction to this man was the inspiration for many saints, who have taken Jesus at His word. Perhaps the two most famous were St. Anthony of Egypt (the “Father of Monks” and writer of the first monastic rule; ca. 250-356), and St. Francis of Assisi (ca. 1182-1226), who committed himself to live a life of radical Gospel poverty.

The unaccepted challenge: Jesus realizes that this rich young man is shackled by his possessions. So, he challenges the young man by listing those precepts of the Decalogue that deal with social and familial relations. Then Jesus tells the young man that, if he wants to be perfect, keeping the commandments is not enough. He challenges the young man to share his riches with the poor: Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘There is one thing lacking. Sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. After that, come, follow Me.’” Jesus thus makes it clear that a true follower who wants to possess eternal life must not only be a respectable gentleman who hurts nobody, but also someone who shares his riches, talents and other blessings with the less fortunate. In other words, Jesus tells the young man that life is a matter of priorities. God must have the first priority in our lives. Unfortunately, the rich man is unwilling to accept Jesus’ idea that wealth is not something to be owned but rather something to be shared with others, so “his face fell and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” Jesus challenges us to do what He asked of the rich young man — to break our selfish attachment to our “wealth” (time, talents, treasure), by sharing everything with our brothers and sisters., and so to follow Him. Our following of Jesus has to be totally and absolutely unconditional. Our attachment may be to money or material goods, to another person, a job, our health, or our reputation. We must be ready to cut off any such attachment in order to become true Christian disciples, sharing our blessings with others. We are called to be so much more than rule-followers; we are called to be Christ’s followers.

Camel through the eye of a needle: Jesus uses a vivid hyperbole, or “word cartoon,” to show how riches bar people from Heaven. The camel was the largest animal the Jews knew, and the eye of a needle the smallest hole. The needle’s eye is variously interpreted. Most probably Jesus used it literally. The little, low, narrow pedestrian gate on the outer wall of the city of Jerusalem through which even a man on foot could hardly pass erect, was also called “The Needle’s Eye” in Jesus’ time. Others have suggested that kamelos (camel) could have been a scribal or copyist’s error and should have read kamilos or cable (a ship’s thick cable or hawser rope). In either case, the difficulty of dealing carefully and conscientiously with riches is clearly affirmed. Some modern Bible scholars think that both of these interpretations are attempts to “water” down the impossibility of getting a camel through the eye of a needle, but Jesus is saying that it is not impossible, by the grace of God, for a wealthy person to keep his spiritual integrity, though it is extremely difficult and uncommon.

Why do riches prevent man from reaching God? First, riches encourage a false sense of independence. The rich think that they can buy their way to happiness and buy their way out of sorrow and, hence, that they don’t need God. Second, riches shackle a man to this earth (Mt. 6:21). If a man’s interests are all earth-bound, he never thinks of the hereafter. Instead of having security and tranquility, he is an eternal hostage of his money. Third, riches tend to make a man selfish. Fourth, Avarice, the greed for money, in addition to being idolatry, is also the source of unhappiness. The avaricious person is an unhappy one. Distrusting everyone else, miser isolates himself. But we need to understand that Jesus is not against riches as such, nor against the rich. Zacchaeus, Joseph of Arimathaea, and Nicodemus were Jesus’ close friends, and they were rich. Jesus never condemned wealth or earthly goods in themselves. What Jesus condemns is that disordered attachment to money and property which views acquiring, possessing, and hoarding them for oneself alone, as absolutely essential to maintain one’s life (Lk 12:13-21). In other words, Jesus is talking about our attitude towards wealth. There are very rich men who have acquired their wealth honestly and justly and who spend much of their wealth on charitable causes. Their wealth will not hinder them from reaching Heaven. On the other hand, there are many in the middle and lower income-bracket who may be offending against justice through the means they use to acquireand then to keep what they have, and in the little helps which they refuse to a needy neighbor. The Bible doesn’t say that money is the root of all evil; it says that the love of money is the root of all evil. Jesus also challenges the Jewish belief that material wealth and prosperity are signs of God’s blessings, while poverty is the sign of His displeasure. Jesus here condemns a value system that makes “things” more valuable than people. Finally, Jesus asserts that those who have made the kingdom of God their priority, will be well compensated both in this life with earthly blessings (accompanied by pains and suffering – this is the fallen world!), and in the next life with everlasting life.

Life messages: 1) We need to “Do something beautiful for God” by reaching out to others. That’s the message we need to reflect on. Our most precious possession is our soul. Let us give ourselves away and give lavishly. Mother Teresa puts it in a different way: “Do SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL for God. Do it with your life. Do it every day. Do it in your own way. But do it!”

2) We need to accept the invitation to generous sharing. Jesus’ generosity led to His free gift of His very self to save our lives eternally. The crucifix is “Exhibit A.” To follow Jesus, we must have the same kind of generosity, and be willing to give our money, time, and talents away to serve the needs of others. In the heart of every Christian there should be a desire to give. Martin Luther says that the man who has given his heart to God will also give God his wallet. God does not have to extort money from those who love him. God does not ask us to give up our riches, but He does ask us to use them wisely in His service. We must manage our possessions wisely, so that they do not gain control over our hearts. Almsgiving and donations to charities are no longer the only way to use wealth for the common good, or perhaps the most advisable. There is also honesty in paying one’s taxes, creating new jobs, giving a more generous salary to workers when the situation allows it, initiating local enterprises in developing countries, and the like. Let us also ask the question: “How do I use my talents?” God gives us talents. Hence, they are not really ours. He lends them to us to be used in this world. How do we use our talents? What about time – do we use it for God? We each get 168 hours every week. How do we use our time? Are we too busy to pray each day? Do we pray for others’ needs as well as our own?

3) “You are lacking one thing.” We all have something in our lives that serves as a major obstacle to happiness and peace. We must recognize this obstacle and address it head-on. It may not be riches — it may be anger, holding grudges, alcohol, drugs, lust, apathy, lies, unfaithfulness, theft, or fraud. Let us invite God into our lives and into our efforts to face and remove that one obstacle to holiness. We have a decision to make: whether to go away sad like the rich young man, or to follow Jesus and be happy. Let us choose happiness.

4) We need to follow Jesus on His terms, and not on our terms. This involves giving up whatever in our lives leads us to evil. That’s step one. Sometimes it may involve giving up things which are good. As parents, we might consider all the time and personal recreation and relaxation (all good things), which we have given up over the years for the sake of the children. As a mother or father who is also a disciple of Jesus Christ, this is required of us, and we make the sacrifice gladly. When we follow Jesus on His terms, there may be certain crosses to bear, but deep down in the core of our being there is peace, and there is joy, because we know that we are doing our best to carry out God’s perfect will in our lives.

JOKES OF THE WEEK: #1: “Oh Lord, hit him again!” The parish church was badly in need of repair. So the pastor called a special meeting to raise funds. At the assembly, the pastor explained the need of an emergency fund for plastering the roof and supporting pillars and for carrying out other items of repair. He invited the congregation to pledge contributions. After a brief pause, Mr. Murphy, the richest man in the parish, volunteered to give 50 dollars. Just as he sat down, a hunk of plaster fell from the ceiling on his head. He jumped up, looked terribly startled and said: “I meant to say 500 dollars.” The congregation stood silent and stunned. Then a lone voice cried out from the back: “Oh Lord, hit him again!”

#2: Andrew Carnegie made millions in the steel industry. He worked hard helping the poor and underprivileged. Once a socialist came to see him in his office and soon was railing against the injustice of Carnegie having so much money. In his view, wealth was meant to be divided equally. Carnegie asked his secretary for an assessment of everything he owned and at the same time looked up the figures on world population. He did a little arithmetic on a pad and then said to his secretary. “Give this gentleman l6 cents. That’s his share of my money.

# 3: A wealthy older gentleman had just recently married a lovely young lady and was beginning to wonder whether she might have married him for his money. So, he asked her, “Tell me the truth: if I lost all my money, would you still love me?” She said reassuringly, “Oh honey, don’t be silly. Of course, I would still love you. And I’d miss you terribly.”

#4: John MacArthur tells about sharing the Gospel with a young Muslim actor from India. At the close of their conversation, the young man bowed his head and asked Jesus into his heart. When he had finished he looked at Dr. MacArthur and said, “Isn’t it wonderful? Now I have Mohammed and Jesus too.

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: Resources for parish catechesis: http://www.blestarewe.com/index.cfm #2: Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter – International Website: http://www.fssp.org/

# 3: Catholic Information Center on Internet: http://www.catholic.net/

# 4: What the church teaches: http://www.osv.com/

# 5: http://www.faithfirst.com/pdfs/TH%20C%20Parenting%20Rituals.R1.pdf

# 6: Text Week homilies: http://www.textweek.com/mkjnacts/mark10b.htm

# 7: Sermons & liturgies: http://bki.net/sermonB.html

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

#9: Video Sunday-Scripture study by Fr. Geoffrey Plant:

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

#10: Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs: https://sundayprep.org/ (Type in the Address bar (topmost column) and press the Enter button of your keyboard

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B no. 54 by Fr. Tony 

33 Additional anecdotes:

1) The sin of over-consumption: Instead of glaring accusingly at those countries struggling to control their population growth, we must squarely attack the monster we ourselves have let ravage the world. On average, a U.S. citizen causes over 100 times more damage to the global environment than a person in a poor country. The average North American consumes five times more than a Mexican, 10 times more than a Chinese person and 30 times more than a person in India. The richest 25 percent of the world’s population uses 86 percent of all forest products, 75 percent of energy, 72 percent of steel production. The poorest 75 percent uses only two percent of the world’s resources. Workers in the developed world (North America, Western Europe and Japan), represent about 20 percent of the world’s population. This group uses over 67 percent of the natural resources consumed each year and generates over 80 percent of its pollutants. For added perspective, the poorest 20 percent consumes about two percent of resources. (Editorial by Director of Green Cross Fred Krueger in Green Cross, 1, Fall 1995.) Hence, economists like to call consumerism “The Jones Effect” (as in “keeping up with the Joneses”). Others, like Pope St. John Paul II, call consumerism one of those “structures of sin” named “super-development,” which the pope defined as “an excessive availability of material goods for the benefit of certain social groups” [“Pope John Paul II Addresses Over-consumption,” Green Cross, 2 (Summer 1996), 4.] In his 1990 World Day of Peace statement, “The Ecological Crisis: A Common Responsibility,” Pope St. John Paul II tied “super-development” to our polluting and pillaging of the environment, and stated most emphatically, “The ecological crisis is a moral issue.” Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

2) “Only Christians.” Willi Hoffsuemmer tells of the founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley, who had a dream. Wesley came to the gates of hell and asked, “What kind of people are here, Catholics?” The answer was, “Yes, many.” “Also, Anglicans?” “Yes, many” was the answer. “Also, Lutherans, Baptists and Orthodox?” The answer was always the same, “Yes, many.” And what about the Methodists?” “Also plenty,” was the answer. Wesley was upset and also he went to the gates of heaven. He knocked at the door and asked the same question. “Are there any Catholics here?” “No, not a single one,” was the answer. “And Anglicans?” “No not one!” “What about Lutherans, Baptists and Orthodox?” “No, none,” was again the answer. Finally, he dared to ask, “What about Methodists?” “No, not a single one here.” Wesley was shocked and in exasperation asked, “Well, what kind of people are there in Heaven anyway?” The answer came, “Only Christians.”– Actually, what Jesus wants from each one of us is the total, faithfully lived-out Baptismal dedication of our being to Him in love for Him and one another: that’s what makes us Christians. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

3) A challenge to make a real commitment: James Lallam tells this amusing story in one of his writings. Years ago, a young door-to-door salesman was assigned a rural area. One day he came upon a farmer seated in a rocking chair on his front porch. The young man went up to the farmer enthusiastically and said, “Sir, I have a book here that will tell you how to farm ten times better than you are doing now.” The farmer didn’t bother to look up. He simply kept on rocking. Finally, after a few minutes, he glanced up at the young salesman and said, “Young man, I don’t need your book. I already know how to farm ten times better than I am doing now.” — The story is a good illustration of what Jesus was talking about in today’s Gospel. The farmer was capable of farming better, but he lacked the commitment to do so. The rich young man was also capable of doing more than just keeping the commandments, but he too lacked the commitment to do so. (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho).Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

4) “There was no other way for me to keep my loincloth.” There is a story about an old monk who has been mentoring a young disciple. Believing that he has the ability to be on his own, the monk allows the boy to live in a lean-to near the river bank. Each night, happy as a lark, the young disciple puts out his loincloth, his only possession, to dry. One morning he is dismayed to find that it has been torn to shreds by rats. So he begs for a second loincloth from the villagers. When the rats come to destroy that one, he gets a cat to keep the rats away. But now he has to beg not only for food but also for milk for the cat. To get around that, he buys a cow. But then he has to seek food for the cow. He concludes, finally, that it would be easier to work the land around his hut, so he leaves off his prayers and meditations, and commits himself to growing crops to feed the cow. The operation expands. He hires workers. He marries a wife who keeps the household running smoothly. Pretty soon he is one of the wealthiest people in the village. Several years later the monk comes back to find a mansion where the lean-to had been. “What is the meaning of this?” the monk asks. The disciple replies, “Holy Father, there was no other way for me to keep my loincloth!” (http://www.salemquincy.org/steve/00sermon/00b.prp23.htm ) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

5) The monk and the jewels: A monk was lost in meditation at a river bank. A rich man offered him two exquisite jewels. As soon as the devotee left, the monk picked up the jewels and threw one of them into the river. One of his disciples immediately jumped into the river. But he could not find the jewel. The disciple asked the monk to point out the spot where the jewel had fallen. The monk picked up the second jewel and tossed it into the river, and said, “Right there.” The monk then added, “Do not allow yourself to be owned by objects. Only then will you be free.” — Like the disciple of the monk, the wealthy gentleman in today’s Gospel story had an inordinate love for his possessions. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

6) Dear Abby: A few years ago, an interchange of letters appeared in a nationally syndicated newspaper column. Dear Abby: We are not overly religious people, but we do like to go to Church once in a while. It seems to me that every time we turn around, we are hit for money. I thought religion was free. I realize that churches have to have some money, but I think it is getting to be a racket. Just what do Churches do with all their money? Curious in North Jersey. Abby wrote back, Dear Curious: Even priests, ministers and rabbis must eat. Since they work full-time at their tasks, their Churches must support them. Staff and musicians must also be paid. Buildings must be maintained, heated, lighted and beautified. Custodial staff members must eat and feed their families. Most Churches engage in philanthropic work (aid to the needy, missions, and education); hence, they have their financial obligations. Even orchids, contrary to folklore, do not live on air. Churches can’t live on air either. Religions, like water, may be free, but when they pipe it to you, you’ve got to help pay for the piping. And the piper. [Abigail Van Buren, “Religions need money too, for Heaven’s sake,” The Scranton Tribune (30 March 1994) C-2.]. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

7) Suicide is directly proportional to wealth. Writer and Speaker Matthew Kelly notes that the suicide rate among teens and young adults has increased by 5,000 percent in the last fifty years. More troubling, it is becoming increasingly apparent that suicide is directly proportional to wealth. What does that mean? Studies reveal that the more money you have, the more likely you are to take your own life. Peter Kreeft captured the alarming reality in a recent article of his own: “The richer you are, the richer your family is, and the richer your country is, the more likely it is that you will find life so good that you will choose to blow your brains out.” Economics, says Matthew Kelly, is clearly not a good measure of happiness. [Matthew Kelly, The Rhythm of Life (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999).] We know that. But how can we disentangle ourselves from the social pressures, as well as the inner greed, that cause us to fill our lives with material things? Jesus has the answer in today’s Gospel. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

8) Destined to drown with his treasure: There is an old story about an 18th century man who was moving overseas. His life’s savings of gold and silver coins were carried in a big money belt he wore around his waist. The ship hit an iceberg and started to go down. It was sinking so fast that many people had to jump in the water and swim to the lifeboats already launched. The man jumped in, but because he could not bear the thought of leaving that heavy money belt behind, he went to the bottom of the sea. — The story ends with this haunting question: “Would you say that this man had his money, or that his money had him?” Jesus tells the story of such a man in today’s Gospel. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

9) Are you a Faust? The legend of Faust has become part of our heritage. Faust was a man who longed for romance, academic success, and wealth. Unable to find these on his own, he made a pact with the devil. If he could be granted his wishes, have his true worth made public and enjoy its fruits, then he would give his soul to the devil. Sure enough, he enjoyed marvelous romances, fabulous successes, and much wealth. Oddly enough, when the time came, he was unwilling to sustain his part of the bargain. — I wonder if there is a parallel here. We put Jesus off, promising, “Just one more of this and one more of that — then I will be willing to go with you, Jesus.” Are we not like little Fausts, wanting to have it our way? After all, we say, we deserve it! And what do we say to Jesus when He comes to claim us? Today’s Gospel story about the rich, young man gives us a strong warning. (Thomas Peterson in The Needle’s Eye). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

10) The Success Syndrome: Harvard Medical School psychologist Steven Berglas has written a book called The Success Syndrome. He has found that individuals who in his word “suffer” from success have arrogance and a sense of aloneness. Insider-trader Dennis Levine was asked by his wife why he needed the money from insider-trading, and he really had no answer. Levine says that when his income was $100,000, he hungered for $200,000, and when he was making $1 million, he hungered for $3 million. Berglas says that oddly enough people who found that $200,000 did not make them happy, never asked themselves why they thought $300,000 would make them happy.– Asked to prescribe a cure for the success syndrome, Berglas said, “What’s missing in these people (Ivan Boesky, Michael Milken, Leona Helmsley), is deep commitment or religious activity that goes far beyond just writing a check to a charity.” [James W. Fowler, Becoming Adult, Becoming Christian (San Francisco: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1984), p. 88.] Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

11) The Midas touch: The ancient Greeks understood this. According to one of their myths, the god Dionysus offered King Midas whatever his heart desired. Without hesitation, King Midas exclaimed, “I wish that everything I touch be turned into gold!” And so it was. Midas was overjoyed. He drew up a handful of sand and it turned into gold dust. He picked up a stone and it turned into gold. He touched a leaf and it was gold. “Ah, I will become the richest man in the world, the happiest man in the world.” He danced all the way back to his home and announced to his servants, “Prepare a banquet. We will celebrate my good fortune.” But as the bread touched his tongue it turned into gold and as the wine touched his lips it turned into gold. The king became more dismayed the hungrier he got. And as he reached out to his beautiful daughter for solace, she, alas, was also turned into gold. And Midas cursed his gift and himself for his foolishness. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

12) Money does not give happiness: Andrew Carnegie was one of the richest men of his time. He was also very generous. Perhaps he explained his generosity when he said, “Millionaires seldom smile.” We are told, by the way, that Carnegie practically became allergic to money as he grew richer and older. He was offended, he said, just by the sight and touch of money, and never carried any. Because he had no money with him with which to pay the fare, Carnegie was once put off a London tram. Did money solve the problems of Howard Hughes or Aristotle Onassis? They died two of the world’s most miserable men. — Why invest your life in something that will only rot or rust? Why invest in something that will someday be left behind? Why invest in something that cannot of its own self bring you peace of mind? Study after study has shown that money is not the key to happiness. In a recent survey of 52,000 men and women, most of whom were in the upper economic brackets, money ranked thirteenth out of sixteen possible sources of happiness for married women. With married men, money ranked tenth. It was ninth with single women; seventh with single men. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

13) “I knew I should have put it in the basement instead of the attic.” An old mountaineer was on his deathbed. He called his wife to him. “Elviry,” he said, “go to the fireplace and take out that loose stone under the mantle.” She did as instructed, and behind that loose stone she found a shoe box crammed full of cash. “That’s all the money I’ve saved through the years,” said the mountaineer. “When I go, I’m goin’ to take it with me. I want you to take that there box up to the attic and set it by the window. I’ll get it as I go by on my way to heaven.” His wife followed his instructions. That night, the old mountaineer died. Several days after the funeral, his wife remembered the shoe box. She climbed up to the attic. There it was, still full of money, sitting by the window. “Oh,” she thought, “I knew it. I knew I should have put it in the basement instead of the attic.” — As someone has said, “We can’t take it with us, but we can send it on ahead.” Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

14) Earth-bound or Heaven-sent? Here are two persons whose deaths made the papers. The first was a woman who died in London. Her obituary was long, with a picture and bold headline. She was known as the best-dressed woman in Europe. She had over a thousand dresses. But, said Luccock, “in each dress she had the same unseeing eyes, the same deaf ears, the same enameled, painted face.” The second death was also in London. This man’s obituary was short; there was no picture. He owned but one suit, blue with a red collar on the coat. He was William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army. The wealthy woman invested in clothes; not worth much from an eternal perspective. Mr. Booth invested in Kingdom commodities. Now he is enjoying the glories of Heaven while his earthly heritage–the Salvation Army–goes marching on in the name of Jesus. — Where are your key investments? Earth-bound or Heaven-sent? Wherever your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The heavier the purse, the tighter the strings. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

15) “In God We Trust.” The year was 1861. Our nation was engaged in a bloody civil war. Then Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase sent a letter which, in part, said, “No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense. The trust of our people should be declared on our national coins.” So originated, the words “In God We Trust” on American currency. — Why? Because what’s impossible for you and me is totally within the realms of possibility for God, for with God nothing is impossible. Even rich people can get in the Kingdom of God if they have the good will to share their wealth with the needy. Thank God for His grace. That’s the Good News in today’s Gospel. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

16) “We’ll be quiet and just watch.” Maya Angelou tells about her Aunt Tee who worked as a housekeeper for a couple in Bel Air, California. She lived with the couple in their spacious fourteen-room ranch house. They were a very quiet couple. As they had gotten older they had stopped entertaining their friends and even spoke less to each other. “Finally,” Maya says, “they sat in a dry silence.” Aunt Tee, on the other hand, enjoyed entertaining her friends on Saturday evenings. She would cook a pot of pig’s feet, a pot of greens, fry chicken, make potato salad, and make banana pudding for her friends to feast upon. And they would have a marvelous time together. There was always plenty of laughter coming from Aunt Tee’s room. One Saturday as they were playing cards, the old couple called her. “Theresa, we don’t mean to disturb you…” the man whispered, “but you all seem to be having such a good time…” The woman added, “We hear you and your friends laughing every Saturday night, and we’d just like to watch you. We don’t want to bother you. We’ll be quiet and just watch.” At that moment they both won Aunt Tee’s sympathy forever. She agreed to allow them to watch her and her friends. — It was a sad situation, since the couple owned the spacious house, complete with swimming pool and three cars, but they had no joy in their lives. “Money and power can liberate only if they are used to do so,” Maya reflects. “They can imprison and inhibit more, finally, than barred windows and iron chains.” [Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now, (New York: Random House, 1993), pp. 62-64.]. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

17) Who is he? He’s rich. Italian shoes. Tailored suit. His money is invested. His plastic is platinum. He lives the way he flies, first class. He’s young. He pumps away fatigue at the gym and slam-dunks old age on the court. His belly is flat, his eyes sharp. Energy is his trademark, and death is an eternity away. He’s powerful. If you don’t think so, just ask him. You got questions? He’s got answers. You got problems? He’s got solutions. You got dilemmas? He’s got opinions. He knows where he’s going, and he’ll be there tomorrow. He’s the new generation. So the old had better pick up the pace or pack their bags. He has mastered the three “Ps” of life today. Prosperity. Posterity. Power. http://bethelfortsmith.org/pages/sermons/2000/sept1000] — Who is he? He is the top salesman in his district, making it up the career ladder. She is the rising lawyer who was just made a partner at her prestigious law firm. He’s the successful real estate broker who has more listings than he can handle-except he can handle them just fine. In today’s Gospel, he is the rich young man who came to Jesus with a question. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

18) Affluenza: Back in the year 2000 the New York Times ran an article describing the disease of “affluenza.” They made it up, but I think it is a great word. Affluenza—the sudden wealth syndrome, the disease everyone would like to have. Affluenza is a dysfunctional or unhealthy relationship with money or wealth or the pursuit of it. If you shrink the world’s population to a village of 100 people then here is what you have: Fifty-seven would be Asians, twenty-one Europeans, fourteen Westerners, eight Africans, fifty-one female, forty-nine male, seventy nonwhite, thirty white, seventy non-Christian and thirty would-be Christian, but 50% of the entire world’s wealth would be in the hands of six people and all six would be citizens of the U.S. Of that hundred people, eighty would be living in substandard housing. Seventy would be unable to read. Fifty would be suffering from malnutrition. One would have a college education. Lest we think the Bible is silent on the subject of money, I remind you that the Bible says more about economics than any other social issue. 1. Proverbs 11:28 says, “He who trusts in his riches shall wither.” 2. Matthew 6:9 says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth.” 3. In Luke 16:3, Jesus says, “You cannot serve God and mammon.” 4. In I Timothy 3:3 Paul says, “A bishop should not be a lover of money.” — Today’s Gospel is Jesus’ teaching on riches. It’s not money, but the misuse of money that is the root of all evil. Abraham, Job, David, and Solomon were very rich men. They managed large holdings for the glory of God and the greater public good. Deborah and Lydia were very wealthy women; and God used the first as a Judge in Israel to govern His Kingdom, and the second to help to build His Church. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

19) Exaggerated self-importance:A small passenger plane was cruising through the sky, carrying as its passengers a minister, a Boy Scout, and the president of a computer manufacturing firm. Suddenly, the engine went dead. Frantically, parachutes were passed among the passengers. There was fast breathing, a rush of wind as the door was thrown open. And as the plane tilted and fell through space, there came the horrible realization that there were not enough parachutes. There was one too few. “I have to have a parachute,” cried the pilot. “I have a wife and three kids.” So, he grabbed a parachute, put in on and leaped into the void. The wind whistled, and the three passengers looked at one another. “Well I certainly should have one of the parachutes,” exclaimed the computer manufacturer. “I’m the smartest man in the world.” And slipping his arms into the shoulder straps, he jumped out. “Son,” said the minister wistfully, “you take the last parachute. I’m old and ready to meet my Maker; you’re a fine youth with all your life ahead of you.” “Relax, Reverend,” said the Boy Scout with a smile. “There’s still a parachute for each of us. The smartest man in the world’ just jumped out wearing my backpack.” — Today’s Gospel explains the foolishness of the rich who are unwilling to share their blessings with the needy. (‘Quote’ – Magazine). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

20) Do all the good you can: Henry Thoreau said, “Be not merely good; be good for something.” That was Jesus’ challenge to the man who wanted to know what he could do to inherit eternal life. He had been good at making money, in being morally upright and keeping the commandments; but that is not the ultimate good: he must also give of himself and what he has in behalf of others. He needed to also realize that, “The gift without the giver is bare.” John Wesley proposed an excellent guide to goodness. He said, and he practiced what he preached: “Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

At all the times you can,

As long as ever you can.”

Someone else has expressed the ideal of goodness in a wonderful way, saying, “I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore, that I can do, or any goodness that I can show to my fellow creatures, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” (Clement E. Lewis, When It’s Twilight Time) Fr. Kayala. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

21) And his face fell: A college’s star baseball player went up to Jesus and asked: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “Go to the local playground and help set up an after-school program for kids at risk.” The baseball star’s face fell, and he went away sad, because his focus was on the making it to the majors. The owner of a small business asked Jesus: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said, “Go and create job opportunities for those who have lost their jobs and whose families are struggling.“ The business owner’s face fell, and he went away sad, because he was barely keeping his own company going. A woman who had just buried her sister who had died of cancer asked Jesus: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” With great compassion for her, Jesus said, “Go, put aside your grief for your dear sister, and give your time to help raise money for cancer research.” The woman’s face fell, and she went away sad, because the loss of her sister was still too painful. — We know how the rich young man feels in today’s Gospel. Yes, Jesus asks everything of us as the cost of being His disciple — but Jesus asks only what we have, not what we don’t have. Each one of us possesses talents and resources, skills and assets that we have been given by God for the work of making the kingdom of God a reality in the here and now. (Fr. Kayala). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

22) Prayer of Thomas Merton: Prayer of Thomas Merton: “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this You will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, will I trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death; I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.” (Fr. Kayala). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

23) Give me your spirit of detachment:A story is told of a poor beggar who lived on alms he received from begging. One day on his begging rounds, he came upon a holy man, who was lost in prayer, sitting in seclusion in the forest. Approaching the holy man, the beggar asked for alms. Without a second thought the holy man put his hand into his pocket took out a large precious stone and gave it to the beggar. The beggar could not believe his eyes. Before the holy man could change his mind, the beggar disappeared from the scene holding on to the jewel for dear life. He clutched it so tightly his hands hurt. All along the way, he was suspicious of everyone and reached his hut tense and worried. Once inside his hut he locked himself and was sure that some would come to attack him. He could not sleep at night for a moment for fear of losing the stone. He got up in the morning a mental wreck, exhausted, tense and worried. What was he going to do with this precious stone? He could not mix with others even of his own family lest they ask for it. Finally, he hurried to the holy man in the forest and quickly gave back the stone. The Holy man asked him why he was returning the precious stone. The beggar replied. “I don’t want the stone! It is ruining my life! But I want something else from you. When I asked you for alms, without a second thought you parted with that precious stone. Can you give me that spirit of detachment? Then I will be happy whether I have or don’t have anything!”
(Anonymous; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

24) “…Go, sell what you have and give to the poor ….”

The International L’Arche Federation and its linked communities illustrate what happens when a lot of people respond to Jesus’ challenge to the rich young ruler, look around, discover, and begin to meet the physical, social, spiritual, and political needs of the intellectually challenged, not so much by ministering to as by sharing life with these children of God, our brother and sisters. The website declares, “We believe that people with learning disabilities have much to teach us and contribute to the world.” To this end, “At L’Arche we celebrate people with intellectual disabilities and build circles of support around them. We go beyond supporting people’s basic needs. It is this focus on building relationships and cultivating a sense of belonging that makes us different.”

“L’Arche communities hold in balance four elements: service, community, spirituality and outreach. Experience has shown us that each element has an important role to play. L’Arche communities around the world share this common philosophy and approach while reflecting and celebrating the ethnic, cultural and religious composition of the areas in which they exist.” Inviting the intellectually or learning challenged, the website says, “ L’Arche is a chance to live with other people, sharing a house together and/or learn new skills in our own workshop and/or enjoy leisure activities with support from a network of friends. L’Arche believes each person has unique abilities and potential. If you join L’Arche, you can expect the community to help you discover your own talents, skills and dreams, so that you can open new doors in your life. L’Arche will invite you to build a community life which includes celebrations, shared meals, and time with other people. There will be many chances to help each other in a spirit of friendly relationships.”

In addition , in each house, there are about twice as many assistants/volunteers as there are challenged members. Of these, the website says, an Assistant can be anyone who chooses L’Arche as a way of enjoying a shared community life together with our members with and without disabilities. Whether live-in or live-out, assistants are paid according to the employment law of the country, taking into account their role and responsibility. Communities include both volunteers and salaried employees. Whatever their role or status, the commitment to the mission of L’Arche is based on mutual relationships.”

Finally, L’Arche has communities world-wide. “Today there are more than 154 communities and 19 projects in 38 countries around the world from Belgium to Argentina, Uganda to Japan and to the United States. While communities around the world share in the philosophy of L’Arche, each community celebrates and lives its own cultural and spiritual expression of community. At L’Arche, we value and celebrate the diversity within our communities…. The experiences we have together can contribute to a better world! We want to share our experiences, because when we bring our weaknesses and strengths together, when we recognize we need each other, these can contribute to building a more human society.” – Is this where the Spirit is calling you to follow Him and serve Him? Come and see! (Adapted by Dr. Lucy Parker). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

25) The Happy Saint:As compared to the rich, sad young man in the Gospels, there is a rich, glad youth revered by people of all faiths, worldwide. Born in Assisi and baptized ‘Giovanni’, he was given another name by his wealthy father, a cloth merchant, who added the name ‘Francesco’ and wanted him to inherit the family business. But young Francesco took Jesus’ words seriously. Not only did he hand over his inheritance and fine attire to the poor, but he also embraced ‘Lady Poverty’ lifelong to give himself fully to God. The novel by Felix Timmerman, The Perfect Joy of St. Francis is one of the finest books ever written. Was Francis of Assisi poor? Rich? One thing is sure: he was never sad.
(Francis Gonsalves in Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds; quoted by Fr. Botelho).Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

26) Challenge to overcome an obstacle: In June 1997, basketball enthusiasts were thrilled to witness as an obviously flu-stricken Michael Jordan pulled himself from his sickbed to rally his fading energies and lead his Chicago Bulls team to a stunning victory over the Utah Jazz. Stricken with a virus and unable to stand on his own at the end of the game, Jordan had once more borne witness to his conviction, “…obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” For Jordan, on that night in June of 1997, the obstacle, the wall that stood in his way, and that he worked around, was illness. — Today’s Gospel also features a young and gifted man who was challenged to overcome an obstacle. No doubt, his was an obstacle with which many of us would like to be burdened, viz., riches. Unfortunately, the young man was not up to the invitation Jesus extended to him. His riches stood between him and a share in everlasting life. Whether or not he eventually overcame his attachment to his wealth and opted to follow Jesus is not ours to know. Suffice it to say, the rich man’s experience, and others like it, should cause us to consider what stands between me and God. . . what obstacle hinders me from becoming all that I have been called to be? (Patricia Datchuck Sánchez). (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2os-hfXSUlA) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

27) The miraculously widened eye of the needle: There is an interesting expansion of this story in the apocryphal Acts of Peter and Andrew, probably written in the late second or early third century. The text says that, when Peter preached on this teaching, a certain local merchant by the name of Onesiphorus became enraged with him and physically attacked him, saying, “Truly you are a sorcerer … for a camel cannot go through the eye of a needle”. Peter ordered a needle to be brought (refusing a large, wide-eyed needle that someone had offered, hoping to help him). “And after the needle had been brought, and all of the multitude of the city was standing around watching, Peter looked up and saw a camel coming, and ordered her to be brought. Then he fixed the needle in the ground and cried out with a loud voice, saying: ‘In the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, I order you, O camel, to go through the eye of the needle’. Then the eye of the needle was opened like a gate, and the camel went through it, and all the multitude saw it.” (Dr. Murray Watson) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

28) Wise rich people: In history we see many people who used their wealth as means to glorifying God. Joseph Leek left nearly $1.8 million to an organization that provides guide dogs for the blind, and nobody, not even his own family, had any idea that he had that kind of money. The 90-year-old Britisher lived like a pauper. He watched television at a neighbor’s house to save on electricity, put off home repairs, and bought second-hand clothes. Rev. Vertrue Sharp raised hay and cattle preached and taught, while saving every penny he made. When he died in 1999, he left an estate of $2 million to the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, the University of Tennessee Medical Center, and other charities. English spinster, Mary Guthrie Essame was a retired nurse who lived in an old Victorian house and who clad herself in such worn clothes and old shoes that no one knew how well off she was. Neighbours were shocked to learn that her estate amounted to a whopping $10 million when she died in January 2002. (The money was left to a host of charities.). Benjamin Guggenheim, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was an heir in the wealthy Guggenheim family. He took up the family mining business, gaining the nickname “the Silver Prince”. Returning from a trip to Europe, he decided to sail back to New York on the maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic. Late on the night of April 14, 1912, the Titanic struck an iceberg and began to sink. Guggenheim and his secretary dressed in their finest evening clothes and assisted women and children with getting on the lifeboats. He told a crew member, “We’ve dressed up in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen.” Guggenheim asked a crew member to deliver a message to his wife Florette. “If anything should happen to me, tell my wife in New York that I’ve done my best in doing my duty.”– Jesus’ challenge to the young man exposed two missing pieces in the rich man’s life: a sense of compassion for the poor and the willingness to share his blessings with the needy. (Fr. Bobby Jose).Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

29) “Take back your coins and give back my songs.” The French have a story about a millionaire, who spent his days counting his gold coins. Beside his palace was a poor cobbler who spent his days singing as he repaired people’s shoes. The joyful singing irritated the rich man. One day he decided to give some gold coins to the cobbler. At first the cobbler was overjoyed, and he took the coins and hid them. But then he worried about the coin and was constantly going back to make sure the coins were still there. Then he worried in case someone had seen him and might steal the coins. Consequently, he ceased to sing. Then one day he realized that he had ceased to sing because of the gold coins. He took them back to the rich man and said, “Take back your coins and give me back my songs.” — Inordinate attachment to riches can take away our freedom and joy. (Gerry Pierse, Detachment and Freedom).Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

30) Heroic poverty that St. Francis and St. Clare: As we know very well, St. Francis of Assisi found complete freedom and joy only when he gave up all his possessions. Clare of Assisi agreed. When this noble young fellow-townsman of St. Francis first heard Francis preach on the Gospel invitation “sell what we have and give to the poor,” she was fired with the same desire to put her life and her needs wholly in the hands of God. Why spend our lives trying to push a camel through the eye of a needle? Francis assisted her in her decision and she became the foundress of the first convent of Franciscans of the Second Order, commonly called the “Poor Clares.” Her nuns could not go forth from the convent on apostolic missions as the Franciscan friars did. But they could practice within the convent walls the most drastic poverty. Clare’s reward, like that of Francis, was a radiant sense of liberation. She emptied herself, and then asked God, as we do in today’s response, “Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!” When she finally came to the end of her life of poverty, penance, and prayer, Clare bore her last illness with sublime patience. One day she was heard to say to herself, “Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear, for He that created you has sanctified you, has always protected you, and loves you like a mother.” “Blessed be you, O God,” she exclaimed, “for having created me!”– God does not call all of us to the heroic poverty that St. Francis and St. Clare practiced. But even if we do become poor, whether through vow or through financial loss, there is one possession we can never be deprived of: the gift of being – and of being ourselves and nobody else. For that gift we can always sing for joy and gladness! –(Fr. Robert F. McNamara). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

31) The eye of the needle: There is a legend that says that there was a gate called ‘the eye of the needle’ that led into the holy city of Jerusalem. This gate was actually shaped like the eye of a needle and a camel walking upright could not pass through it. However, if the camel stooped and had all its baggage removed, it could pass through the entrance. After dark, when the main gates were shut, travelers would have to use this smaller gate, through which the camel could only enter unencumbered and crawling on its knees! — The idea here is to show that we must humble ourselves, become free of our worldly goods, and be unburdened by sins to pass into the Kingdom of Heaven. It also implies that even rich people can get into heaven provided they approach God on their knees without all their baggage. “Travel light on your life-long journey to the Kingdom of Heaven!” (Fr. Lakra). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

32) The Man Who Went to Hell With Heaven on His Mind. Does that really happen? We certainly can not judge, we know, for only God can read the human heart and we are not God! The Church tells us that we can not know the final fate of anyone. For Saints and Heaven, she has a rigorous process of testing for heroic virtue and will proclaim people as eing in Heaven, but does not claim that any human being has gone to Hell whatever sins may have been committed, not even Judas Iscariot – who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, tried to undo that betrayal by returning the money and, horrified by what he had done hanged himself in what looks like despair Matt. 26:49, Acts 1:25. As for Felix, the governor, he listened to Paul frequently but made no decision; his future life may have led him to conversion (Acts 24:25) King Herod Agrippa and his wife Bernice also listened to Paul and concluded, with Festus, (the new Governor who had at first responded to Paul’s defense as madness brought on by too great learning), that he could have been released, exept that he had appealed to Rome, that he had done nothing to deserve death or imprisonment, an attitude that may well have led him, his wife Berenice and Festus to come to belief later– Acts 26:24, 30. — In this text, the young man who comes to Jesus seeking to do more than just keep the Commandments and desiring to be His disciple it seems. But when Jesus tells him, “If you want to be perfect, sgo sell what you have, give to the poor, and come, follow Me, he turns away “sad” because he does not want to let go of his riches. Jesus was concerned about him and identified his riches as a real obstacle, but that could well have changed later. We can hope, and pray, that this young man, touched by Jesus, rethought his priorities and came later to the Church and so to Jesus again. For ourselves, the same challenge rises. Will we come to Him? Will we say yes? Will we take the second and third and thousancth chance Jesus gives us and receive His Love fully by giving Him our selves? When? The sooner we do, the happier we will be! Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

33) Why Americans are rich, when compared to the majority of world’s population? Americans are rich, compared with the rest of the world. Fifty-six percent of the world’s population, or 3.4 billion people, live in extreme poverty. They survive on an income of less than $730.00 per year or $2.00 per day. Half of that number lives, or 1.7 billion people, live on less than $1.00 per day. At minimum wage, the average American worker earns over fifty times more than that. The average American spends $0.20 per day on cosmetics, perfume, and skin and hair products; over $0.50 on jewelry; nearly $3.00 on furniture and household goods; over $3.00 per day on clothing; over $6.00 per day gambling; $7.00 per day on automobiles; and over $9.00 per day on food. Over three billion people got up this morning not knowing where their next meal was coming from. Many do not have adequate clothing and shelter. Yet, most of us got up today with a good home, plenty of clothing, some money and enough food to keep us alive for many days. If you compare yourself to some people you know, you might not think you are rich, but the fact is, you are. — Our financial problems like our debts and our payments would be welcomed luxuries by most of the world’s population. Jesus in today’s Gospel challenges the rich countries to share their resources generously with the poor countries. (SNB). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/). L/21

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B (No 54) by Fr. Tony(akadavil@gmail.com)

Visit this website by clicking on https://frtonyshomilies.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 . (akadavil@gmail.com)

Weekday Homilies for Oct 4-9

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

Oct 4-9:Oct 4 Monday (St. Francis of Assisi) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-francis-of-assisi(Mt 11:25-30): St. Francis of Assisi is the best known and the most loved thirteenth century Italian saint. He was born in Assisi, Italy, the son of a rich merchant. As a carefree young man, he loved singing, dancing and partying. He joined the military and returned ill, as a changed man. He marked his conversion by hugging and kissing a leper. While at prayer in the Church of St. Damiano, he heard the message: “Francis go and repair my Church because it is falling down.” Francis took the command literally and got money by selling goods from his father’s warehouse. His father was furious and publicly disowned and disinherited Francis. Francis promptly gave back to his father everything except his underclothes and started living as a free man, wearing sackcloth and begging for food. Possessing nothing, he started preaching the pure Gospel of Jesus. Strangely enough, a few youngsters were attracted to Francis’ way of life and joined him.

Pope Innocent III had a vision of Francis supporting the leaning Church of St. Johns Lateran in Rome. Subsequently, he approved the Religious Order begun by Francis, namely the Friars Minor [Lesser Brothers] which practiced Charity as a fourth vow along with Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. Soon, the Franciscan Order became very popular, attracting large numbers of committed youngsters. The friars traveled throughout central Italy and beyond, preaching and invitation to their listeners to turn from the world to Christ. In his life and preaching, Francis emphasized simplicity and poverty, relying on God’s providence rather than worldly goods. The brothers worked, or begged, for what they needed to live, and any surplus was given to the poor. Francis wrote a more detailed Rule, which was further revised by the new leaders of the Franciscans. He gave up leadership of the Order and went to the mountains to live in secluded prayer. There he received the Stigmata, the wounds of Christ. Francis became partially blind and ill during his last years. He died at Portiuncula on October 4th, 1226 at the age of 44.

Francis called for simplicity of life, poverty, and humility before God. In all his actions, Francis sought to follow, fully and literally, the way of life demonstrated by Christ in the Gospels. Francis loved God’s gifts to us of nature, animals, and all natural forces, praising God for these “brothers and sisters.” One of Francis's most famous sermons is one he gave to a flock of birds during one of his journeys. "From that day on, he solicitously admonished the birds, all animals and reptiles, and even creatures that have no feeling, to praise and love their Creator." Francis is well known for the "Canticle of Brother Sun." Written late in the saint's life, when blindness had limited his sight of the outside world, the canticle shows that his imagination was alive with love for God in His creation. 
Life messages: 1) Let us learn to practice the spirit of detachment of St. Francis that we may be liberated from our sinful attachments, addictions and evil habits. In poverty one makes oneself available for the Kingdom. Once the goods are no longer one's own, they become available for all. Goods are made to be shared. 2) Let us preach the Good News of Jesus’ love, mercy and forgiveness as St. Francis did, by imbuing the true spirit of the Gospel, loving all God’s creation and leading transparent Christian lives radiating Jesus all around us. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 5: Matthew 11: 25-30: 25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; 26 yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. 27 All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” USCCB video reflections:  https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

The context: Jesus knew that ordinary people with large, sensitive hearts, rather than proud intellectuals, were able accept the “Good News.” Such people would inherit Heaven rather than the learned and the wise who prided themselves on their intellectual achievements. Hence, in the first part of today’s Gospel Jesus prays in thanksgiving to His Father, praising God for revealing Himself to the simple-hearted, and thus condemning intellectual pride. Jesus’ unique claim: that He Is God’s perfect reflection: No one really knows the Father except the Son, and him to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him” (Matthew 11:27). The claim that Jesus alone can reveal God to men forms the center of the Christian Faith. John presents Jesus’ claim in different words: “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (Jn.14:9). What Jesus says is this: “If you want to see what God is like, if you want to see the mind of God, the heart of God, the nature of God, if you want to see God’s whole attitude toward men–look at Me!”

Invitation to accept Jesus’ easy yoke and light burden: For the Orthodox Jew, religion was a matter of burdens: 613 Mosaic laws and thousands of oral interpretations, which dictated every aspect of life. Jesus invites us to take His yoke upon our shoulders. The yoke of Christ can be seen as the sum of our Christian responsibilities and duties. To take the yoke of Christ upon us is to put ourselves in a relationship with Christ as servants and subjects, and so to choose to conduct ourselves accordingly. By saying that His “yoke is easy” (Matthew 11: 30), Jesus means that whatever God sends us is made to fit our needs and our abilities exactly. The second part of Jesus’ claim, “My burden is light” (Matthew 11:30), does not mean that the burden is easy to carry, but that it is laid on us in love and is meant to be carried in love, and that love makes even the heaviest burden light.

Life message: We need to unload our burdens on the Lord. This is one of the functions of Divine Worship in the Church and the main purpose of our personal and family prayers. These are given to us by God as a time for rest and refreshment, when we let the overheated radiators of our hectic lives cool down before the Lord, unload the burdens of our sins and worries on the altar, and offer them and ourselves to God during the Holy Mass. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 5 Tuesday (Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, Priest, U. S. A.): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/blessed-francis-xavier-seelos Lk 10:38-42: 38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a village; and a woman named Martha received him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; 42 one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.” USCCB video reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

The context: Today’s readings are about hospitality and the necessity of listening to God before acting. Jesus welcomed and tended to the needs of all, reflecting in His actions the very hospitality of God. All four Gospels recount Jesus’ welcoming and feeding of the multitudes of people who came to hear the Good News. The Gospel passage describes how Martha, a true child of Abraham, wanted to extend the traditional generous hospitality of her people to Jesus, the true Messiah, by preparing an elaborate meal, while her sister Mary spent her time in talking and listening to Jesus.

Jesus’ advice: The episode is also intended to teach us where we should place our priorities. Presenting Martha as a dynamo of action and Mary as a true listener to the word of God, today’s Gospel invites us to serve others with Martha’s diligence, after recharging our spiritual batteries every day by prayer, listening to God and talking to God as Mary did. We are able to minister truly to the needs of others only after welcoming God’s words into our hearts, minds, and living.

Life messages: 1) We need to recharge our spiritual batteries: Without the “fuel” of prayer, silence, and communion with God, service can become a crushing responsibility, a burden rather than a vocation, an annoyed grumbling rather than a response to the invitation of God.

2) We need listening Marthas and serving Marys: Martha has become a symbol of action-oriented, responsible people who get the job done. Our world needs such men, women, boys and girls who get the job done. This is certainly true in the Church where we need the active cooperation of many parishioners in its various ministries. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 6 Wednesday (St. Bruno, Priest); https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-bruno ; Blessed Marie Rose Durocher, Virgin, U.S.A https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/blessed-marie-rose-durocher .) : Lk 11:1-4: 1 He was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread; 4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive every one who is indebted to us; and lead us not into temptation.” USCCB video reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video;   Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

The context: The disciples were fascinated by watching their master Jesus at prayer. They knew that John the Baptist had taught his disciples how to pray. In response to the request made by one of the apostles, Jesus taught the beautiful prayer, Our Father. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the Our Father “is truly the summary of the whole Gospel” (CCC #2761).

A prayer in two parts: In the first part of the prayer, we address God, lovingly acknowledging Him as our Heavenly Father, praising and worshipping Him. Then we promise Him that we will try to do His Holy Will in our lives on earth as perfectly as it is done in Heaven. In the second part, we ask our Father’s blessings on our present time (daily bread), our past (forgiveness of sins) and our future (protection against the tempter and his temptations). In this part we also invite the Triune God into our lives. We bring in 1) God the Father, the Provider, by asking for daily bread, 2) God the Son, our Savior, by asking forgiveness for our sins and 3) God the Holy Spirit, our Guide, Advocate, Comforter, and Illuminator, by asking for protection and deliverance from evil.

Special stress on spirit of forgiveness: In this prayer, Jesus instructs us to ask for forgiveness from others for our offenses and to give unconditional forgiveness to others for their offenses against us as a condition for receiving God’s forgiveness ourselves. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 7 Thursday (Our Lady of the Rosary): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/our-lady-of-the-rosaryhttps://www.franciscanmedia.org/our-lady-of-the-rosary/ : Lk 1:26-38: This feast was established by Pope St. Pius V in thanksgiving for the victory at Lepanto, 7 Oct 1571, which stopped the Turkish invasion of Europe. Importance: The word Rosary means “Crown of Roses,” and each prayer in the Rosary is considered a flower presented to Mary. It is called the “Breviary of the Common People” and the “Psalms of the Illiterate.” The prayers we repeat are Biblical and hence “inspired,” and the mysteries we meditate upon are taken from the lives of Jesus and Mary. The “Our Father” is a prayer taught by Jesus Himself. The “Hail Mary” is also rooted in the Scriptures. Its first half echoes the words of the Archangel Gabriel and those of Elizabeth, both addressed to Mary. The rest of our petition , “pray for us, sinners, now and at the hour of our death” is added by the Church, seeking Mary’s intercession.  The third prayer — the “Glory be to the Father” — ancient in its wording, surely reflects the unceasing prayer of adoration and praise found in the Book of Revelation. The various events in the lives of Jesus and Mary on which we meditate during the Rosary are expressions of the Paschal Mystery, that is, the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus, in which Mary shared.

History: Prayer using rosary beads is as old as mankind. The Hindus in India used to recite the thousand names of their gods and goddesses and their “mantra” prayers using multi-beaded rosaries, and their sages wear such rosaries around the neck, constantly rolling the beads in prayer. The Jews used beads to repeat the psalms, the Laws of Moses and the memorized sayings of the prophets. The Muslims use rosaries with a hundred beads for their prayer. In the ninth century, the Christian monks who recited the 150 psalms instructed the illiterate common people to recite the Our Father 150 times. It was in the eleventh century that the Europeans added the Hail Mary to the Our Father. In 1214, according to the legend, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Dominic Guzman and instructed him to pray the Rosary in a new form as an effective antidote against the Albigensian heresy. The Rosary devotion attained its present form around 1500 A.D. An additional boost to the Rosary devotion was given in 1917, when our Blessed Mother, in her sixth apparition to the three shepherd children, on the thirteenth of May, asked them to, “Say the Rosary every day… Pray, pray a lot and offer sacrifices for sinners… I am Our Lady of the Rosary.” The “Fatima prayer(O my Jesus forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell and bring all souls to Heaven, expecially those who are most in need of Your mercy), requested by Mary herself at Fatima (July 13, 1917), was added following the “Glory be…”n after the 1930 acceptance of the Bishop of the apparitions as genuine century. Pope St. John Paul II enriched the Rosary by adding the “Luminous Mysteries” (Rosarium Virginis Mariae).

How to pray the Rosary: The ideal is to recite at least five decades of the Rosary (and if possible, the entire twenty), with one’s whole family daily. We need to say the Rosary slowly enough to make its recitation devout and reverent. We are to reflect for a minute or two on the mystery, and then concentrate on the meaning of the prayers as we say them, to avoid distractions. Besides saying the Rosary with others in the family before bedtime, let us make it a habit of reciting the Rosary during our journey to the workplace and during our exercises. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20 (USCCB video reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; ). (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 8 Friday: Lk 11:15-26: 15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons”; 16 while others, to test him, sought from him a sign from heaven. 17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. 18 And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. 19 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore, they shall be your judges. 20 But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace; 22 but when one stronger than he assails him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoil. 23 He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. 24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest; and finding none he says, `I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when he comes he finds it swept and put in order. 26 Then he goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. USCCB video reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video;  https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

The context: When Jesus healed a mute man by exorcism, the jealous scribes and the Pharisees spread the malicious slander that Jesus was collaborating with Beelzebul, the head of the devils, to cast out smaller devils.

Jesus’ response: Jesus makes his counterattack, first by asking the rhetorical question “By whom do your sons (the Jewish exorcists), cast them out?” The implication is that, if what they say about Him, Who casts them out with a single command, is true, the Jewish exorcists, who require so much more prayer and so many more exercises to do exorcisms, must certainly have to seek the help of the big devil to exorcise minor devils. Then Jesus asserts that no kingdom, divided against itself, can survive for long. Obviously, then, the chief devil will not help any exorcists to cast out devils. Jesus then claims that His exorcisms are proof that He has brought the Kingdom of God. When people are liberated from the control of evil spirits, it is a sure sign that the loving power of God (the finger of God), is at work. Then Jesus uses the image of a strong man guarding his house and keeping his possessions safe until someone stronger attacks and overthrows him. Jesus claims that He is the stronger one and the evil spirits are being driven away by Him. They are helpless before him. This liberation of people and society from evil powers is one of the most dramatic proofs that the all-powerful reign of God is present in the Person of Jesus.

Life messages: 1) Jesus teaches us that the devil is relentless in his struggle against man. The devil continues to lay his traps, in spite of man’s rejecting him with the help of grace. That is why St. Peter warns us to be sober and vigilant because, “your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your Faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9). 2) We have to fortify ourselves against the devil by prayer, penance, the Sacraments and the effective use of the word of God. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 9 Saturday(St. Denis, Bishop and Companions, Martyrs); https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-denis-and-companions St. John Leonardi, Priest): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-john-leonardiLk 11:27-28: 27 As he said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!” 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” USCCB video reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video;  (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

The context: A woman in the audience was so impressed by Jesus’ powerful refutation of the slander (that Jesus collaborated with the devil in exorcisms), that she shouted a blessing, praising the mother of Jesus: “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!” She meant that any woman would be proud to have such a great son. Jesus tells her that His mother is more blessed for obeying the word of God throughout her life.

The reason for real blessedness: Completing the truth of the blessing the woman had pronounced, Jesus states that the real source of blessedness is the willingness to hear and the readiness to obey the word of God. Mary heard God’s message at the Annunciation, and her prompt response was, “I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). That is why she could boldly proclaim to her cousin Elizabeth in her canticle, “All generations will call me blessed(Lk 1:48). No one listened more attentively to the word of God than Mary did. She “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart(Lk 2:10). Jesus clarified the same truth on another occasion, stating that His true mother and brothers and sisters are those who hear the word of God and do it (Lk 8:21). In today’s Gospel, Jesus declares that that those who hear God’s word and keep it are more blessed than those who are related to Him only by blood.

Life messages: 1) We become the members of the Heavenly family of the Triune God, that is, we are made children of God and brothers and sisters of Jesus, by our Baptism. 2)But it is our fidelity in hearing the word of God and in putting that word into practice in our daily lives that makes us really blessed. 3) What makes a person happy in this life and in the life to come is precisely the fulfillment of God’s will, as we learn through the attentive reading of, and listening to, His words. (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

O.T. XXVII Sunday Homily (October 3, 2021)

OT XXVII [B] Sunday (Oct 3, 2021) Homily

(Eight-minute homily in one  page)

Introduction: Today’s Scripture readings are about the bond of love that marriage creates between a man and a woman, a bond that God intends to be permanent. These readings challenge the spouses to practice the fidelity of their ever-faithful God, honoring their holy covenant commitment before Him.

Scripture lessons: The first reading, taken from Genesis explains God’s original plan concerning sex and marriage. It teaches us that God made man and woman for each other. Hence, in marriage they are no longer two but one, united by an unbreakable bond. The reading also describes the institution of marriage and shows that monogamy was God’s intention from the very beginning. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 128) expands the marital theme of the first reading and the Gospel to include the children born of the union. Since the children enrich the lives of their parents, the Psalmist prays: “May you see your children’s children.”

The second reading, taken from the Letter to the Hebrews, reminds us that Jesus became one of us, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. As one of us, Jesus “tasted death for everyone.” He was not only the Sacrifice, but also the High Priest. We are now Jesus’ brothers and sisters, bonded with Him, and through Him bonded with God. Thus, Christ became the Savior of all people – the good, the bad, the divorced, gays, lesbians – everyone, and received all of us as brothers and sisters. Jesus’ prohibition of divorce can be a source of suffering for those who face difficult married lives. Paul suggests that we have to accept pain as Jesus did, as the suffering we should endure on the way to glory.

Today’s Gospel gives Christ’s explicit teaching on marriage and divorce, the Divine origin of marriage, the sacredness of family life, and the indissolubility of marriage. These are difficult messages to preach in a society that embraces co-habitation and ignores both the escalating divorce statistics and the dangerous consequences of divorce. The Gospel teaches that family life is sacred, that husband and wife are partners with equal rights and that the destruction of the family by divorce is producing the destruction of society.

Life messages: 1) Both spouses need to work hard to create a good marriage: Marriage demands that they should become the right persons for each another as God-given gifts. Marriage is a union based on committed sharing, and forgiving, sacrificial agape love. It requires many mutual adjustments; much mutual generosity and great good will to forgive and ask for forgiveness; sincere cooperation in training children and raising them as practising Catholic Christians; and daily strength from God obtained through personal and family prayers and punctual participation in the parish liturgy.

2) We need to reach out with Christian sympathy to the divorced and to troubled families. The parish community needs to accept them with respect, compassion, sensitivity, love, and support, sharing the depth of their pain from a failed, or failing, marriage. The Church cannot sanction a second marriage for either spouse unless the previous marriage has been declared annulled by the Diocesan Marriage Tribunal. In the meantime, “…they should be encouraged to listen to the Word of God, to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to bring up their children in the Christian Faith” (CCC #1651).

OT XXVII  (Oct 3, 2021) Gn 2:18-24; Heb 2:9-11; Mk 10:2-16 [2-12]

Homily starter anecdotes: # 1: The grim picture presented by divorce statistics.We are told that during the last three years the divorce rate in the U.S has gone above 43%, although it is still less than that in Russia (65%), Sweden (63%), U.K (49%) and Australia (49%). In 1998 there were 19.4 million divorced adults in the U.S.A. Each year 2.5 million more couples get divorced. A greater number of divorces occur within the Christian Churches than in marriages made outside the Church. An ABC broadcast reports that the divorce rate in the “Bible Belt” is 50% higher than in other areas of the country. This affects the lives of one million new children every year, 84% of whom live in single parent homes. Statistics for the U.S. predict the possibility of 40% to 50% of marriages ending in divorce if current trends continue. People between the ages of 25 and 39 account for 60% of all divorces. More people are in their 2nd marriage than 1st (www. dicorcenter.com). With divorce being so common today, nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. Hence the importance of today’s readings about the indissolubility of marriage which is a freely agreed holy covenant commitment before God. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

#2: Guinness world record for the longest marriage: A British couple holds the Guinness world record for the longest marriage. Percy and Florence Arrowsmith married on June 1, 1925 and celebrated their 80th anniversary on June 1, 2005. “I think we’re very blessed,” Florence, 100, told the BBC. “We still love one another, that’s the most important part.” Asked for the secret of their long marriage, Florence said you must never be afraid to say “sorry.” “You must never go to sleep bad friends,” she said. Of course, she’s right. There are times in every marriage for forgiving and forgetting and saying, “I’m sorry,” and going to sleep good friends. That’s positive sentiment override. By the way, Florence’s husband Percy, 105, said his secret to marital bliss was, “Are you able to overlook one another’s faults and forgive one another’s mistakes?” Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 3: Divorce a curse on children: Today divorce is at an all-time high, and there are more lives shattered by it than can ever be documented or calculated. There is hardly a child or a family in the advanced countries that hasn’t been touched by the pain of divorce in one way or another. Judith S. Wallerstein, Sandra Blakeslee, and Julia M. Lewis state in their book: The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: a 25 Year Landmark Study: “… children of divorce have a very hard time growing up. They never recover from their parents’ breakups and have difficulty forming their own adult relationships.” In How Now Shall We Live? Chuck Colson (A Special Counsel to President Richard Nixon from 1969 to 1973 and later, after his release from prison, a noted Evangelical Christian leader and cultural commentator), notes some disturbing realities that plague children who grow up without a father: a) Children of single-parent families are five times more likely to be poor because half the single mothers in the United States live below the poverty line. b) Children of divorced parents suffer intense grief and other metal problems requiring psychological help. c) Children from disrupted families have more academic and behavioral problems at school and are nearly twice as likely to drop out of high school. d) Girls in single-parent homes are at a much greater risk for being sexually precocious and are more likely to have a child out of wedlock. e) Crime and substance abuse are strongly linked to fatherless households. f) Statistics show that 60 percent of rapists grew up in fatherless homes, as did 72 percent of adolescent murderers, and 70 percent of all long-term prison inmates. In fact, most of the social problems disrupting American life today can be traced to divorce. Today’s Gospel contains Jesus’ clear teaching on marriage and divorce. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Introduction: Today’s Scripture readings are about the bond of love that marriage creates between a man and a woman, a bond that God intends to be permanent. They challenge the spouses to practice the fidelity of their ever-faithful God.

Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading, taken from Genesis, explains God’s original plan concerning sex and marriage. It teaches us that God made man and woman for each other. Hence, in marriage they are no longer two but one, united by an unbreakable bond. The reading also describes the institution of marriage and shows that monogamy was God’s intention from the very beginning. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 128), expands the marital theme of the first reading and the Gospel to include the children born of the union. Since the children enrich the lives of their parents, the Psalmist prays: “May you see your children’s children.” The second reading, taken from Hebrews, reminds us that Jesus became one of us, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. As one of us, Jesus “tasted death for everyone.” Jesus was not only the Sacrifice, but also the High Priest. We are now bonded with Jesus as brothers and sisters and to God as His adopted children. Thus, Christ became Savior to all people – the good and the bad, the divorced, gays, lesbians – everyone, and we all became Jesus’ brothers and sisters . Jesus’ prohibition of divorce can be a source of suffering for those who face difficult married lives. Paul suggests that we have to accept that pain as Jesus did, as the suffering we should endure on the way to glory. Today’s Gospel gives Christ’s explicit teaching on marriage and divorce, the Divine origin of marriage, the sacredness of family life, and the indissolubility of marriage. These are difficult messages to preach in a society that embraces co-habitation and ignores both the escalating divorce statistics and divorce’s dangerous consequences. The Gospel teaches that family life is sacred, that husband and wife are partners with equal rights, and that the destruction of the family by divorce is producing the destruction of society.

The first reading: Genesis 2:18-24, explained: The creation story in chapter two of Genesis shows that the ancient Israelites knew the importance of man and woman being joined one to another. The woman is made of the rib of man, and, hence, she is literally “bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh.” Figuratively, “bone” stands for strength and “flesh” stands for weakness. Woman’s origin makes her one with man. God deliberately created man and woman to bond permanently with one another. The clearest expression of this bonding is found in the marriage of a man and woman and their co-creation, with God, of a child, making of the three a new family unit. Woman is found to be a “suitable partner” for man. That is why, God says, “a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife” with the result that, “the two of them become one flesh.” The Genesis text attributes two essential qualities to marriage: unity (the two shall become one) and complementarity or mutual interdependence. The theme of marital bonding, which is essential for human fulfillment and happiness in marriage and families, appears in both the first reading and today’s Gospel and explains Jesus’ teaching on marriage and divorce. Divorce reveals an absence of marital bonding.

The second reading (Hebrews 2:9-11), explained: TheLetter to the Hebrews explains the meaning of the early Christian confession that Christ died for us and our sins. It presents Christ as the great High Priest Who has willingly offered Himself as God and man in One Person, on our behalf. He is both the perfect Sacrifice and the Priest who offers it. Today’s passage from Hebrews says that, by the grace of God, Jesus tasted death for us all, becoming both our leader on the way to salvation, and receiving us as brothers and sisters. Christ was thus “perfect” for fulfilling the task of bringing us into a new relationship with God in which we may now approach God with confidence and even boldness. Christ became the Savior of all people – the good and the bad, the divorced, gays, lesbians – everyone, and we all became Jesus’ brothers and sisters. Jesus’ prohibition of divorce can be a source of suffering for those who experience difficult married lives. But Paul suggests that we have to accept pain the way Jesus did, as the suffering we should endure on the way to glory.

The Gospel exegesis: The context: King Herod had married his brother’s wife, Herodias, violating the Mosaic Law. John the Baptist showed courage in condemning the king in public and lost his head for it. In today’s Gospel, the Pharisees were setting a trap, asking whether Jesus agreed with John on the non-legitimacy of divorce or would criticize the Mosaic tradition and alienate the people. But Jesus used the occasion to declare unequivocally that the bond of marriage comes from God, not man, and that it is permanent and indissoluble: “What God has joined, man must not separate”.

High ideal and low practice: “The ancient Jewish term for marriage was kiddushin, a term that meant sanctification or consecration. Ordinarily, kiddushin signified the husband’s absolute consecration to his wife and of the wife to her husband. Each became an offering totally given to the other.” (William Barclay). Thus, the Jews had a high ideal of marriage and their rabbis taught: “the very altar sheds tears when a man divorces the wife of his youth.” But their practice was far from that ideal, and divorce was common and easy. The wife was considered to be a husband’s property with no legal rights whatsoever. So, Moses commanded the men at least to give the woman they were abandoning a certificate of divorce which stated: “She is not my wife, and I am not her husband.” He would give this paper to his wife and tell her to leave. They were then legally divorced. That way she would at least be free to remarry. Without that certificate, technically she was still the property of her former husband. So, Moses was trying in a small way to give women some protection. There were two interpretations prevalent in Jewish theological schools concerning the Mosaic Law on divorce by which Moses allowed divorce when the husband found “some indecency” in his wife. “When a man, after marrying a woman and having relations with her, is later displeased with her because he finds in her something indecent, he writes out a bill of divorce and hands it to her, thus dismissing her from his house” (Dt 24:1). A “bill of divorcement” told society that the woman was not a harlot, but that she was free to remarry. A common “bill of divorcement” read as follows: “Let this be from me thy writ of divorce and letter of dismissal and deed of liberation, that thou mayest marry whatsoever man thou wilt.” In later days, they became far more complex, but the intent was the same. The Shammai School interpreted “indecency” as adultery, or some grounds of sexual impropriety, while the Hillel School interpreted it as anything which the husband did not like in his wife’s word, behavior, actions, or even her appearance. There are grounds for divorce if the wife burned his breakfast, put too much salt on his food, showed disrespect to him, spoke disrespectfully of her husband’s parents in his presence, spoke to a man on the street, or even let her hair down in public — or simply if he found a woman who was more attractive to him! Perhaps the most significant difference between their customs and ours lay in the status of the different genders. A man could divorce a woman on a whim, but a woman could not divorce a man for any cause.

Jesus’ stand: Jesus’ prohibition of divorce here stands out dramatically for its sternness, which admits of no exceptions. It is interesting to note that Matthew’s parallel version (in Mt 19) adds the exception “except for unchastity/adultery” (v.9); Luke (in 16:18) does not include this exception. Jesus did not claim to introduce a new teaching, but reminded the Jews of the original intention of God. Citing the book of Genesis, Jesus proved that God made us male and female and commanded that “the two shall become one flesh,” then drew the conclusion, “they are no longer two, but one body” – partners with equal rights. The marriage relationship is God’s gift to us. It is God’s way of providing a lover, a helpmate, someone who will always be there for us.Hence, He declared that no man was allowed to separate what God had joined together (Mt 19:6). In contrast with the prevailing culture, Jesus presents man and woman as having equal rights and their marriage as essentially a permanent relationship. (“In creating men ‘male and female,’ God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity” CCC #2334). These words might have reminded the Pharisees of Yahweh’s warning given through his last prophet: “I hate divorce” (Malachi 2:16). Jesus also explains that Moses’ permission for divorce was only a temporary concession to control the growing rate of divorce even in his time, by introducing a law governing divorce. Jesus adds that it was because of the hard-heartedness of the Jewish men that Moses allowed such a concession. (The Greek expression used, σκληροκαρδία, sklērokardia, frequently means “stubbornness; obstinacy; refusal to be taught; insensitivity; persistent refusal to change one’s behavior.” Dr. Watson). By negating an interpretation of Dt 24:1-6 that allowed easy divorce, Jesus says, in effect, that where such a possibility of injustice and inequality exists in marriage, there can be no true marriage according to the intent of Genesis. According to the Mosaic sanction, men were allowed to divorce their wives, but wives were not able to divorce their husbands. By denying the man’s right to divorce, Jesus places the husband and wife on an equal footing in marriage and teaches that no Mosaic regulation dealing with a temporary situation can alter the permanency and unity of marriage, which God intended.

The Catholic teaching: Today’s reading from Mark’s Gospel, taken with Mt 5:31-32; Mt 19:3-9; Lk 16:18; and 1 Cor 7:10-11, is the main source from which the Catholic Church derives Jesus’ teaching on the Sacramental nature of marriage and its indissolubility. Christian marriage involves both a sacred and legal contract between a man and woman and at the same time is rooted in a special Covenant with the Lord. That is why Jesus states that a valid marriage is permanent. Hence, the Church has always firmly taught that a Sacramental marriage between Christians in which there has been true matrimonial consent and consummation, is absolutely indissoluble, except by the death of one of the spouses. The Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes the Church’s teaching: “Divorceis a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death…… Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society” (CCC #2384, 2385).

Stability in marriage: Of course, it is not always easy for the two partners in a marriage to get along with each other because marriage, though one of the most fulfilling of all relationships, is also one of the most demanding. The husband and wife bring to the marriage their strengths and weaknesses, loves and hates, hurts and wounds, hopes and fears. Hence, the first requisite for a lasting marriage is that the spouses learn to accept each other as they are: two imperfect and vulnerable human beings. They are God’s gift to each other: “I will make a suitable partner for him.” They must learn that healing the wounds of family life is as necessary as healing the wounds in the body. In FamiliarisConsortio (n. 17), Pope St. John Paul II encourages families with the following plea: “Family, become what you are!” This echoes the Second Vatican Council, which calls the family, “the intimate community of life and love in which the partners are nourished spiritually and physically, accept one another as they are, and adjust to each other, deriving strength through prayer, the Word of God, the Sacrament, plus guidance and counseling…” When the marriage relationship breaks down and reconciliation is not possible, the Church recognizes the right of the couple to separate and live apart permanently. If divorced Catholics then enter into a civil marriage, they are allowed to receive Eucharistic Communion only if they refrain from sexual relations.

Life messages:

1)Both spouses need to work hard to create a good marriage: Marriage demands that each should become the right person for the other. It means building a union based on committed, sharing and forgiving, sacrificial agape love. This requires a lot of mutual adjustments; mutual generosity and mutual good will to forgive and ask for forgiveness; sincere cooperation in training children and raising them as practising Catholic Christians; and daily strength from God, obtained through personal and family prayers and punctual participation in the parish liturgy.

2) We need to reach out with Christian sympathy to the divorced and troubled families. There must be compassion, and a challenge to sin no more. Those who are divorced must be taught that God has not abandoned them. The parish community needs to accept them with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. It is the duty of the Christian community to love and support them. We must reach out to those who have been hurt by bad marriages. We may not realize the depth of their pain, but we must be aware of our own frailty. Those who are divorced and remarried must not be excluded from our community. While the Church cannot sanction remarriage unless the previous marriage has been declared annulled by the Diocesan Marriage Tribunal, we must make it clear that the Church is not issuing a condemnation. “They should be encouraged to listen to the Word of God, to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to contribute to works of charity and to community efforts for justice, to bring up their children in the Christian Faith, to cultivate the spirit and practice of penance and thus implore, day by day, God’s grace” (CCC #1651). The National Catechetical Directory for Catholics of the United States says: “Divorced persons and their children should be welcomed by the parish community and made to feel truly a part of parish life. Catechesis of the Church’s teaching on the consequences of remarriage after divorce is not only necessary but will be supportive for the divorced” (No. 131).

3) We need to be aware of the dangers of cohabitation. According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, the rates of depression are three times higher for cohabiting couples than they are for married couples. Cohabiting men and women reported significantly more alcohol problems than married or single men and women. Cohabiting unions have more disagreements, fight more often and report lower levels of happiness than their married counterparts. Male aggression is twice as common among cohabiting couples as it is among married partners. Hence, parents must make sure that children understand that cohabitation is morally evil and not an innocent option for fun.

JOKES OF THE WEEK

#1: “My husband and I divorced over religious differences. He thought he was God and I didn’t.”

# 2: A 98-year-old man and a 95-year-old woman went to a lawyer to get a divorce. “How long have you been married?” he asked. “75 rough and rocky years,” they said. “Then, why have you waited so long to file for divorce?” They replied, “We had to wait for the kids to die!”

# 3: “The secret of my success in my married life and in my business is the same”, said, Henry Ford on the 50th anniversary of his wedding, “I don’t change models every now and then; instead I stick on to one and try to improve it.”

# 4: A couple was being interviewed on their Golden Wedding Anniversary. “In all that time — did you ever consider divorce?” they were asked. “Oh, no, not divorce,” the wife said. “Murder sometimes, but never divorce.” (Jack Benny, comedian)

# 5: Marriage markers: I never married because there was no need. I have 3 pets at home which answer the same purpose as a husband: I have a dog that growls every morning, a parrot which swears all afternoon and a cat that comes home late at night.

#5: Marriage miscellany: “A marriage may be made in Heaven but the maintenance must be done on earth.” Marriage is a three-ring circus: Engagement ring, wedding ring, and suffering. At the cocktail party, one woman said to another, “Aren’t you wearing your wedding ring on the wrong finger?” The other replied, “Yes I am; I married the wrong man.” Adam and Eve had an ideal marriage. He didn’t have to hear about all the men she could have married, and she didn’t have to hear about the way his mother cooked. A man tells his wife of 15 years that it feels like they’ve only been married for 5 minutes, the wife says, “That’s so sweet!” and he says, “Yeah, 5 minutes under water!”

# 6: Right and wrong: A Sunday school teacher was trying to demonstrate the difference between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. “All right children, let’s take an example,” she said. “If I were to go into a man’s pocket and take his wallet with all his money, what would I be?” A child in the back answered, “You’d be his wife.”

# 7: Plato, the great Greek thinker of the fourth century BC, reports the legend that human beings were originally twice as big and twice as strong as they are now. However, because their size and strength made them arrogant, the gods cut them down to half their size; only when two-matching halves found one another and completed one another in marriage did they find true happiness.

8)”We’re getting a divorce!”: Morris calls his son in NY and says, “Benny, I have something to tell you. However, I don’t want to discuss it. I’m merely telling you because you’re my oldest child, and I thought you ought to know. I’ve made up my mind, I’m divorcing Mama.” The son is shocked and asks his father to tell him what happened. “I don’t want to get into it. My mind is made up.” “But Dad, you just can’t decide to divorce Mama just like that after 54 years together. What happened?” “It’s too painful to talk about it. I only called because you’re my son, and I thought you should know. I really don’t want to get into it any more than this. You can call your sister and tell her. It will spare me the pain.” “But where’s Mama? Can I talk to her?” “No, I don’t want you to say anything to her about it. I haven’t told her yet. Believe me it hasn’t been easy. I’ve agonized over it for several days, and I’ve finally come to a decision. I have an appointment with the lawyer the day after tomorrow.” “Dad, don’t do anything rash. I’m going to take the first flight down. Promise me that you won’t do anything until I get there.”

“Well, all right, I promise. Next week is Christmas. I’ll hold off seeing the lawyer until after then. Call your sister in MA and break the news to her. I just can’t bear to talk about it anymore.” A half hour later, Morris receives a call from his daughter who tells him that she and her brother were able to get tickets and that they and the children will be arriving in Florida the in two days. “Benny told me that you don’t want to talk about it on the telephone but promise me that you won’t do anything until we both get there.” Morris smiles and tells his wife, “Isn’t that the best way to get your kids together for Christmas!”

Funny  & useful You Tube items on marriage

(The easiest method to visit these websites is to click on the URLS (web addresses) given below.

1)      The be-attitudes of marriage (fun filled talk by Rev Mark Gungor)

https://youtu.be/HpyMhlT94Nc (The be-attitudes of marriage)

 

https://youtu.be/v9dEktzDSDA (Rules in relationships)

 

https://youtu.be/814eR5K7KD8 (Tale of man’s & woman’s brains)

 

https://youtu.be/sXKDJcGkYbE (How to stay married and not kill anybody)

 

2)      Focus on the family: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/

USEFUL WEBSITES OF THE WEEK

(The easiest method to visit these websites is to click on the URLS (web addresses) given below. The second method is 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: Roman Catholic Divorce Issues: http://www.divorceinfo.com/catholic.htm

# 2: Annulment Guide: http://www.idotaketwo.com/christian_remarriage.html

# 3: Divorce and Remarriage: http://www.religioustolerance.org/div_rc.htm

# 4: The Catholic Church on Marriage, Divorce, and Annulments: http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/62/Catholic_Church_on_Marriage__Divorce__and_Annulment.html

# 5: Annulment FAQS (USCCB):http://www.foryourmarriage.org/catholic-marriage/church-teachings/annulments/

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 https://sundayprep.org in the topmost Address bar in the YouTube or Google or MSN website and press the Enter button).

28- Additional anecdotes:

1) 12 Rules for a happy marriage: Recently I came across the following 12 rules for a happy marriage that had been given by the well-known Ann Landers in her weekly article. Although to my knowledge, Mrs. Landers has never obeyed the Gospel of Christ, I believe she set forth twelve practical suggestions that will promote a happier home environment. These twelve rules are actually Biblical; I have included Scripture references for each rule:

  1. Never both be angry at once (Proverbs 19:11)
  2. Never yell at each other unless the house is on fire (Proverbs 21:23)
  3. Yield to the wishes of the other as an exercise in self-discipline, if you can’t think of a better reason (Col. 3:18-19; Ephesians 5:21)
  4. If you have a choice between making yourself or your spouse look good–choose your spouse (Philippians 2:3-4; Matthew 19:19)
  5. If you feel you must criticize, do so lovingly (Ephesians 4:15)
  6. Never bring up a mistake of the past (Philippians 3:13-14)
  7. Neglect the whole world rather than each other (Ephesians 5:25-31)
  8. Never let the day end without saying at least one complimentary thing to your life partner (Proverbs 31:26)
  9. Never meet without an affectionate greeting (Proverbs 5:18-19)
  10. When you make a mistake, talk it out and ask for forgiveness (James 5:16)
  11. Remember, it takes two to make an argument. The one who is wrong is the one who will be doing most of the talking (James 3:5-8)

12.Never go to bed mad (Ecclesiastes 7:9; Colossians 3:8).

2) Immoral alternatives to divorce: The U.S. Census for the year 2000 reveals that 9.7 million Americans live with unmarried partners of the opposite sex while 1.2 million Americans live with same-sex partners. The report also indicates that 41% of American women, ages 15-44, have cohabited with an unmarried man at some point in their lives. Biblical Counseling for Todayasks the following questions. a) Do you know that 90 percent of cohabitating couples plan to get married someday, but 40 percent break up before they do? b) Do you know that those who live together before they get married are nearly twice as likely to get a divorce afterward, compared to couples who remain chaste? In fact, the longer a couple lives together before marriage, the more likely they are to get divorced afterward!”… c) Do you know that 84 percent of all documented child abuse occurs in single–parent homes, with half of those instances occurring at the hands of the male partner? d) Do you know that an unmarried pregnant woman is 4 times more likely to be beaten by her partner than a married woman?’ Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

3) Divorce and cohabitation:The U.S. Census Bureau report for the decade of the 90’s was released May 15 2001. Here are its disturbing findings concerning the family. The average life span of a marriage has dropped alarmingly. Any marriage without an expiration date of 10 years is, well, a miracle. Households headed by unmarried partners grew by almost 72 percent from 1990 to 2000. Most of these arrangements were men and women living together out of wedlock. Other studies have shown that cohabitation increased by close to 1,000 percent from 1960 to 1998. Households headed by single mothers increased by more than 25 percent, and those led by single fathers grew, get this, by almost 62 percent. And this next finding is astounding: For the first time ever, nuclear families dropped below 25 percent of households. That means the nuclear family, a mom and a dad and children, represents less than a quarter of all homes. Another finding partially explains why this is happening: A third of all babies are born to unmarried women (33 percent) compared to only 4 percent in 1940. You will remember some years back the actress Jodie Foster was in the news because she chose to bear and raise a child alone. There are a growing number of women in their late 20’s and 30’s who are doing the same. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

4) In search of a perfect woman to marry: One afternoon, according to an old Sufi tale, a man named Nasiruddin was sitting in a cafe, drinking tea with a friend and talking about life and love. “How come you never got married, Nasruddin?” asked his friend at one point. “Well,” said Nasruddin, “to tell you the truth, I spent my youth looking for the perfect woman. In Cairo, I met a beautiful and intelligent woman, with eyes like dark olives, but she was unkind. Then in Baghdad, I met a woman who was a wonderful and generous soul, but we had no interests in common. One woman after another would seem just right, but there would always be something missing. Then one day, I met her. She was beautiful, intelligent, generous and kind. We had everything in common. In fact, she was perfect.” “Well,” said Nasruddin’s friend, “what happened? Why didn’t you marry her?” Nasruddin sipped his tea reflectively. “Well,” he replied. ”It’s a sad thing; seems she was looking for the perfect man.” — In today’s Gospel Jesus reminds us that an imperfect man has no right to divorce his equally imperfect wife whom God has given him as His perfect gift. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

5) “Chemistry and Math of marriage”: Neil Warren, who has studied what he calls the “love secrets” of 100 couples with model marriages, says that his most significant finding is also the most surprising. Here’s the most shocking thing you may read in this entire book. Chemistry between two people is responsive to mental and emotional processes over which we have tremendous control. That’s right, you can make chemistry happen. If you don’t feel the flutter in your heart for your spouse that you once did, if the magic is gone from your relationship, don’t panic. You can change that! [Neil Clark Warren, The Triumphant Marriage (Dallas: Word Books, 1995), 72.] The phrase “The chemistry just isn’t there anymore,” should be banished from our vocabulary. Each of us can maximize chemistry to make new chemical reactions happen. The chemistry wrong? Mix up some new chemicals. Stir up some different romance ingredients. Here are some simple rituals of renewal which can keep your marriage romantically potent: Plant a tree together. Give a gift in honor of your marriage. Renew marriage vows. Buy the biggest wedding cake and invite friends over. Exchange gifts of jewelry. But as important as it is to become a good chemist, it is equally important to become a bad mathematician. In marriage, each partner must be willing to put in more than he or she takes out. Each person has to do a little more than what he thinks his share is'” [Prescription for a Quality Relationship (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988).] A lasting marriage is one in which each partner “looks out for number two,” not where each one is “looking out for number one.” Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

6) Flex the muscles of trust and bend the knees of prayer. Trust may not seem glamorous or sexy, but many married people have found out too late that without trust, there is nothing. Mistrust is a cancer that rots away relationships. Faithfulness in a relationship is measured in more ways than monogamy; trust is the key component of faithfulness, while mistrust always plays a part in unfaithfulness. Bend the knees of prayer. The connection between complete, genuine trust in one another and faithfulness is perhaps what underlies one final finding about lasting marriages that shouldn’t be a surprise, but is. Andrew Greeley says, “It’s one of those statistics that catches your eye and makes you say, ‘No, that can’t be!’ But according to a groundbreaking Gallup survey, happiness in a marriage is better predicted by how often a couple prays together than by how often they make love.” [For more on this see Faithful Attraction (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991), 190.] There’s more. Couples who pray together (compared to couples who don’t), report having greater respect for their mate (83 percent vs. 62 percent), agree on how to raise children (73 percent vs. 59 percent), are more playful (56 percent vs. 45 percent), and believe their mate is a skilled lover (62 percent vs. 49 percent). Individual prayer correlates with marital happiness, too, but joint prayer correlates at a level twice as high. According to a 1990 university study, virtually ignored by social scientists, decades of research have demonstrated that people highly involved in their Faith have the happiest marriages. [See D. Thomas and M. Cornwall, “Religion and Family in the 1980s: Discovery and Development,”
Journal of Marriage and the Family, 52, (1990), 983-992.]. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

7) “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” A newly-ordained priest was about to perform his first wedding, and he was very nervous. So he asked his pastor for help. The old monsignor told him everything he needed to know and then ended with some advice. “Father,” he said, “if you get lost and can’t think of what to say, quote Scripture. It’s always safe, and you’ll never go wrong.”
With that the young priest went off to the Church and did a fine job of conducting the wedding … until the very end, that is, when he was to pray the solemn blessing over the bride and groom. At that crucial moment, with hand outstretched and every eye upon him, he froze. He couldn’t find his place in the prayer book. His mind was a blank. He had no idea of what to say. Then he remembered the monsignor’s advice: if you get lost, quote scripture. So he ended the wedding by quoting most solemnly the only verse he could remember, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Fr. Dennis Clarke). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

8) “I want to be married, but I didn’t know how to draw it.” A fifth-grade teacher asked the children in her art class to draw pictures of what they want to be when they grow up. Sally drew an astronaut, Sue a doctor, Bruce a missionary. But Karen turned in a blank sheet of paper. “Isn’t there something you want to be?” the teacher inquired. The child replied, “I want to be married, but I didn’t know how to draw it.” — Sad, but isn’t that true of our society today? Over 95 percent of us will marry at some point in our life. Yet nearly forty percent of us will divorce. In 1890 there were nearly 10,000 divorces nationwide. Last year there were over 1,200,000! In Charlotte, North Carolina, last year there were more divorces than there were marriages. Ditto for Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C. It is as if we’ve lost the blueprint for building a lasting and satisfying home. Where can we go to find the blueprint? Can your U.S. Senator supply it? Is it in the pages of Better Homes and Gardens? — That is why we have the Gospel on marriage and divorce today. Jesus’ words repeat the oldest Biblical teaching on matrimony: `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ (Genesis 2:24). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

9) “We’ve had a fight. Papa, I want to come home.” A young couple had a quarrel and the bride of three months called her parents long distance saying, “Mama, I hate him. We’ve had a fight. Papa, I want to come home.” The father very discreetly said, “I’m sorry, daughter, you have no home here. For better or worse you’ve left for a new home. Work it out the best you can!” and he hung up the phone. — Now I know that was a difficult thing for a parent to do, but it was the right thing. The best advice to a parent is to hold your children very close, love them, and train them up in God’s Word. Then let them go! Let them leave! Don’t interfere. Don’t give them advice unless you are asked. And don’t live near them if you can help it. Across town is best! Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

[Original form of Joke of the week #8] “I’ve made up my mind, I’m divorcing Mama.” There is a story about a Jewish couple from New York that moved to Florida. Because of that move their children never visited them. Morris calls his son in NY and says, “Benny, I have something to tell you. However, I don’t want to discuss it. I’m merely telling you because you’re my oldest child, and I thought you ought to know. I’ve made up my mind, I’m divorcing Mama.” The son is shocked, and asks his father to tell him what happened. “I don’t want to get into it. My mind is made up.” “But Dad, you just can’t decide to divorce Mama just like that after 54 years together. What happened?” “It’s too painful to talk about it. I only called because you’re my son, and I thought you should know. I really don’t want to get into it any more than this. You can call your sister and tell her. It will spare me the pain.” “But where’s Mama? Can I talk to her?” “No, I don’t want you to say anything to her about it. I haven’t told her yet. Believe me it hasn’t been easy. I’ve agonized over it for several days, and I’ve finally come to a decision. I have an appointment with the lawyer the day after tomorrow.” “Dad, don’t do anything rash. I’m going to take the first flight down. Promise me that you won’t do anything until I get there.” “Well, all right, I promise. Next week is Rosh Hashanah. I’ll hold off seeing the lawyer until after then. Call your sister in MA and break the news to her. I just can’t bear to talk about it anymore.” A half hour later, Morris receives a call from his daughter who tells him that she and her brother were able to get tickets and that they and the children will be arriving in Florida in two days. “Benny told me that you don’t want to talk about it on the telephone, but promise me that you won’t do anything until we both get there.” Morris promises. After hanging up from his daughter, Morris turns to his wife and says, “Well, it worked this time, but we are going to have to come up with a new idea to get them here for Passover!” Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

11) “I love you so much!” Michael Hargrove tells about a scene at an airport that literally changed his life. He was picking up a friend. He noticed a man coming toward him carrying two light bags. The man stopped right next to Hargrove to greet his family. The man motioned to his youngest son (maybe six years old) as he laid down his bags. They hugged and Hargrove heard the father say, “It’s so good to see you, son. I missed you so much!” “Me, too, Dad!” said the son. The oldest son (maybe nine or ten) was next. “You’re already quite the young man. I love you very much, Zach!” Then he turned to their little girl (perhaps one or one-and-a-half). He kissed her and held her close. He handed his daughter to his oldest son and declared, “I’ve saved the best for last!” and proceeded to give his wife a long, passionate kiss. “I love you so much!” He said to his wife softly. Hargrove interrupted this idyllic scene to ask, “Wow! How long have you two been married?” “Been together fourteen years total, married twelve of those,” the man replied, as he gazed into his wife’s face. “Well then, how long have you been away?” The man turned around and said, “Two whole days!” Hargrove was stunned. “I hope my marriage is still that passionate after twelve years!” The man stopped smiling and said, “Don’t hope, friend . . . decide!” (Michael D. Hargrove, Chapnotes, ChapnotesMail.) — And that’s it, isn’t it? For most of us it comes down to a decision. “Till death do us part.” It doesn’t happen in every relationship, but that is still the ideal that Jesus gives us. “Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Amen. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

12) “The wedding was nice. How about inviting me to the marriage? God.” A satisfying marriage requires the presence of God. In the fall of 1998, an anonymous donor in Florida had an idea. He decided to hire an ad agency, the Smith Agency, to design a campaign to get the people of his community talking about God. The Smith Agency designed eighteen billboards with what were supposedly sayings from God. Signs like, “Come on over and bring the kids . . . – God,” and “Let’s meet at my house Sunday before the game . . . – God,” and “We need to talk . . . – God,” and “What part of ‘Thou Shalt Not’ didn’t you understand? – God” and “Keep using my name in vain, I’ll make rush hour longer . . . – God.” The signs were an instant hit with much of the public. In fact, in the spring of 1999, the Outdoor Advertising Agency of America decided to use the spiritual billboards for its public service campaign that year. Soon, the sayings from God were appearing on ten thousand billboards around the country free of charge. One memorable billboard said this, “The wedding was nice. How about inviting me to the marriage? . . . – God.” [Tommy Nelson,
The 12 Essentials of Godly Success (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), p.170.] Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

13) “I love you.” Dr. James Dobson and his wife, Shirley, tell about a husband named Jim who was tragically killed in an accident while driving home from work. It was his wife Carol’s fiftieth birthday. Rescue teams found two plane tickets to Hawaii in Jim’s pocket; he had planned to surprise Carol with them. Months later, Carol was asked how she was coping. She answered that on their wedding day, she and Jim had promised to say, “I love you” before noon each day of their marriage. Over the years it had become a fun–and often difficult–challenge. She recalled running down the driveway saying, “I love you,” even though she was angry at Jim. On other occasions she drove to his office to drop a note in his car before the noon deadline. The effort it took to keep that promise led to many positive memories of their years together. The morning Jim died, he left a birthday card in the kitchen, then slipped out to the car. Carol heard the engine starting and raced outside. She banged on the car window until he rolled it down, then yelled over the roar of the engine, “Here on my fiftieth birthday, Mr. James E. Garret, I, Carol Garret, want to go on record as saying I love you!” “That’s how I’ve survived,” Carol said later. “Knowing that the last words I said to Jim were ‘I love you!’” — Wouldn’t it be tragic if you had to remember that the last word you spoke to your husband or wife was a word of criticism, a word that belittled him or her? Is your marriage marked by positive comments and words of encouragement? Are you able to overlook one another’s faults and forgive one another’s mistakes? This is getting more and more difficult, isn’t it? Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

14) They made plans to renew their wedding vows in the National Forest: There was an interesting article in a women’s magazine recently. After sixteen years of marriage, Suzanne and Jim Shemwell of Boise, Idaho, were ready to call it quits. They argued constantly. Divorce seemed like their only option. But then, on March 5, 2003, while on a snowmobile trip in the Boise National Forest, Suzanne and Jim became stranded in a blizzard. For the next five days, they had to rely on one another for their very survival. Trapped in the forest, fighting frostbite, hunger, and various injuries, Jim and Suzanne stopped arguing and began cooperating. Back home, their conversations were filled with insults and discouraging comments. But out in the woods, they focused on encouraging and comforting one another. By the time they were rescued on March 10, 2003, the Shemwells were wondering why they had ever wanted to separate in the first place. They made plans to renew their wedding vows on March 10, 2004, in the Boise National Forest. — It would probably help many couples to get lost in a forest for a while so that they could really get to know each other. How well do you know your spouse? Are you sensitive to one another’s needs? That’s question one on our test. Here’s question two: Is your marriage marked by positive comments and words of encouragement? Now here things get a little stickier. How easy it is for marriage partners to aim barbs toward one another! Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

15) “I don’t know, fills gaps I guess.” Perhaps you saw the original Rocky film before Sylvester Stallone. Do you remember the love relationship Rocky had with Adrian in Rocky? She was the little wallflower who worked in the pet shop, the sister of Pauly, an insensitive goon who worked at the meat house and wanted to become a collector of debts for a loan shark. Pauly couldn’t understand why Rocky was attracted to Adrian. “I don’t see it,” he said. “What’s the attraction?” Do you remember Rocky’s answer? Rocky said, “I don’t know — fills gaps I guess.” “What’s gaps?” asks Pauly. “She’s got gaps,” says Rocky, “I got gaps. Together we fill gaps.” — In his simple but profound way, Rocky hit upon a great truth. He was saying that he and Adrian each had empty places in their lives. But when the two of them got together, they filled those blank spots in one another. [Dennis and Barbara Rainey,
Moments Together for Couples (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1995).] And that is exactly what God intended. God takes marriage seriously. There are no perfect marriages but there can be great marriages. Those great marriages occur when two people commit themselves to God and to one another. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

16) Anna Ruby Falls: In the mountains of Georgia there is a waterfall called Anna Ruby Falls. It is a perfect example of what becoming one in marriage is like. Two separate mountain streams lap and gurgle down a mountain and plummet separately, one 150 feet, the other 300 feet, in a dazzling display of watery lace and rainbow colors. At the base of the mountain both falls enter a common pool. Here the two creeks are joined and flow on as a river together. — Marriage is like this, too. We become one and flow on. His is hers and hers is his. Neither mate loses his identity. They blend. Talents, strength, faults, Faiths, needs — they are joined in marriage and the two become one. Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

17) United Methodist Social Principles Centuries ago, Tertullian wrote: “How beautiful, then, is the marriage of two Christians, two who are one in hope, one in desire, one in the way of life they follow, and one in the religion they practice.” — The United Methodist Social Principles are an example of how Christ’s words are heard and how we, in our brokenness, live. “When a married couple is estranged beyond reconciliation, even after thoughtful consideration and counsel, divorce is a regrettable alternative in the midst of brokenness.” Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

18) Polygamy, bigamy, monogamy? There was once a story about teacher of English who asked her sophomore class what’s the word denoting a marriage with many wives. A student answered, “Ma’am, polygamy.” “Correct,” she said. “How about a marriage with two spouses,” another student replied, “Ma’am, it is bigamy.” “Correct,” the teacher said, “And how about a marriage with only one wife?” A student raised his hand and blurted out, “Ma’am, monotony!” — Actually what the student meant was “monogamy,” of course. However, unwittingly his answer touched on a problem in marriage, that is, monotony, which can lead to divorce which Jesus condemns in today’s Gospel. (Fr. Benitez). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

19) “I remember who she is and I remember who I am.” A few years ago, there was a man whose wife became seriously ill with Alzheimer’s disease. She completely lost all of her memory and her ability to remember who she was or who anyone else was. She was in a nursing home and her husband came by to sit beside her bed and be beside her every day. One of his sons told him that he didn’t need to keep doing that because she didn’t remember who she was and she didn’t remember who he was. The man said: “I know she doesn’t remember anything, but I do. I remember who she is and I remember who I am. I am the husband who said to her 55 years ago, ‘I will love and cherish you for better or worse and in sickness and health.’ And I intend to do just that.” (http://www.parkavemethodist.org/sermon.php?s=16.) Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

20) Carrying the most valuable treasure: Among the folkloric literature of Eastern Europe, there is a tale which reflects the quality of love which marriage demands: After a long siege, the duke of Bavaria sat trapped in his castle of Weisberg. Outside the city walls, his enemy, emperor Konrad, was demanding his surrender. While the conditions of surrender were being determined, the women of Weisberg sent a message to Konrad, asking for safe passage out of the city. They also requested that they be allowed to take with them as many of their valuables as they could carry. Their request granted, soon the castle gates were opened and out came the women. To Konrad’s amazement, they carried no gold or jewels. Each woman was bending under the weight of her husband whom she hoped to save from the vengeance of their conqueror. — Their loving stratagem proved successful and their story continues to bear witness to selfless love which constitutes a true marriage. (Sanchez Archives). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

21) Authentic married love: In their book, Spiritual Partners, Cornelia Jessey and Irving Sussmann have chronicled the marriage of some of the world’s most noted couples. Among the relationships cited are those of Catherine and William Blake, Olivia and Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), Paula and Martin Buber, Maisie Ward and Frank Sheed (Sheed and Ward Publ. Co.), and Raissa and Jacques Maritain. Each marriage was a union of two very different people with very different backgrounds and experiences. — Many of the spouses were from vastly different cultures, countries and religious affiliations. Yet each of these remarkable marriages was enduring, monogamous and offered to the world an example of authentic married love as well as a deep spiritual outpouring of creativity and service which influenced religious thought and western culture. (Sanchez Archives). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

22) Androgyne legend on marriage: Marriage has been a mystery throughout human history. From the time immemorial philosophers have reflected on this mystery, poets have sung about it, and religious men have glorified it. They realized that marriage is a union of man and woman in physical, mental, religious, and social realms. In their attempt to give a convincing explanation for this mystery the wise men of the ancient past offered many legends. According to a Greek legend, “The original human nature was not like the present, but different. The sexes were not two, as they are now, but originally the man and woman were together. The primeval man was called Androgyne. He was round, his back and sides forming a circle; one head with two faces looking in opposite ways, set on a round neck and precisely alike; also four ears, two privy members, and the remainder to correspond. He could walk upright as men do now, backwards or forwards as he pleased, and he could also roll over and over at a great pace. Terrible was their might and strength, and the thoughts of their hearts were great, and they dared to scale the heavens, and they made an attack on the gods. The gods took council and Zeus discovered a way to humble their pride. So they decided to cut them in to two. After the division, each of the two parts of man (the Androgyne), desired union with its other half. And that desire for the reunion takes place in marriage. — So, the desire of one another is implanted within us, reuniting our original nature, making one of two. (Fr. Bobby Jose). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

23) The Marriage Commitment: Harold Kushner, an American rabbi tells how a young couple came to see him one evening. Their wedding was coming up and he was to officiate at it. At one point the young man said to him, “Rabbi, would you object if we made one small change in the wedding ceremony? Instead of pronouncing us husband and wife ‘till death do us part,’ could you pronounce us husband and wife ’for as long as love lasts?’ We’ve talked about this and we both feel that, should the day come when we no longer love each other, it wouldn’t be morally right for us to be stuck with each other.” But the rabbi replied, “I do object, and I won’t make the change. You and I know that there is such a thing as divorce, and we know that a lot of marriages these days don’t last until one of the partners dies. But let me tell you something. If you go into marriage with an attitude of, ‘If it doesn’t work out, we can always split,’ then I can almost guarantee you that things won’t work out for you. I appreciate your honesty. But you must understand that a marriage commitment is not just a mutual willingness to live together, but a commitment to accept the frustrations and disappointments that are an inevitable part of two imperfect human beings relating to each other. It’s hard enough to make a go of marriage even when you give it everything you’ve got. But if only a part of you is involved in the relationship, then you have virtually no chance.” (Flor McCarthy in New Sundays and Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

24) Strange Arithmetic: Dr. Paul Popenoe, the famous marriage counselor, was talking to a young husband who had been openly critical of his wife. Dr. Popenoe was explaining how two become one in marriage. In a smart reply the husband said, “Yes, but which one?” The counselor said, “A little of each.” Then he went on to explain that in marriage you have to develop “we-psychology”…and to think of yourself in terms of a pair rather than as an individual. What happens when two become one in a real marriage? Some think that it reduces your individuality. Too often one party or the other seems to be saying: “All right – we two shall become one…and I AM the one!” — Obviously, such a marriage is headed for trouble. Ideally, when “two become one” it means that each one is doubled, but not duplicated. You still retain your individual identity, but you add to yourself the identity of the other, and the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. “For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (Mark 10:7). A wise person once said: “A marriage consists of one master, one mistress, and two slaves; making, in total, one.” That may be strange arithmetic, but it is good theology. (Donald B. Strobe, Collected Words, www.Sermons.com). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

25) “From now on, I’m the One!” A feature in weddings in more recent times is the lighting of candles. The couple light two before the ceremony, signifying their individual lives, then when they become husband and wife they blow them out and light a single candle to symbolize the two becoming one and the unity of the partnership henceforth. On one occasion when not only the candles but also the readings proclaimed their unity, the couple were walking down the aisle after signing the register, and as they beamed at the admiring guests the bride gave her newly-acquired husband a nudge and whispered, “Did you take that all in?” “All what?” he said. “All that about the two being one.” “Yes, I guess so,” he said, and then came the coup de grace. “Well in case you’re in any doubt, from now on, I’m the one!” (James A. Feeban in Story Power; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

26) Old Love:The question is asked, “Is there anything more beautiful in life than a boy and a girl clasping clean hands and pure hearts in the path of marriage? Can there be any thing more beautiful than young love?” And the answer is given. “Yes, there is a more beautiful thing. It is the spectacle of an old man and an old woman finishing their journey together on that path. Their hands are gnarled, but still clasped; their faces are seamed but still radiant; their hearts are physically bowed and tired, but still strong with love and devotion for one another. Yes, there is a more beautiful thing than young love. Old love.” (Anonymous; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/).

27) “I love You!” There is a cute love story told of a boy and a girl: The boy says to the girl – “Hey, I’ve got two words to say.” “What?” the girl asks. The boy says: “I love You!” “Huh… Isn’t that three words?” the girl objects. “No,” replies the boy, “because, ‘YOU’ and ‘I’ are ONE.” ( Fr. Lakra). Fr. Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/). LP/21

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B (No 53) by Fr. Tony:akadavil

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

or 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. Tony, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604 .

Sept 27 – Oct 2 (L-21) Weekday Homilies

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

Sept 27- Oct 2: Sept 27 Monday (St. Vincent de Paul, Priest) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-vincent-de-paul : Lk 9:46-50: 46 And an argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. 47 But when Jesus perceived the thought of their hearts, he took a child and put him by his side, 48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me; for he who is least among you all is the one who is great.” 49 John answered, “Master, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he does not follow with us.” 50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him; for he that is not against you is for you.” USCCB video reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ ; https://www.epriest.com/homily_packs Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

The context: Today’s Gospel describes Jesus’ criterion for greatness with advice to be accepting of others who do good in ways different from ours. Jesus  exhorts the spiritual leaders as well as all believers in responsible positions in the Church to be like children, humble, trusting and innocent. Child-like qualities: Children are basically innocent and honest. They are naturally humble, because they depend on their parents for everything. They trust and obey their parents because they know their parents love them.  Hence, Jesus advises his disciples to forget their selfish ambitions and to spend their lives serving others in all humility, with trusting Faith in a loving and providing God.  Then they will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Next, Jesus tells his disciples that there should not be any rivalry, jealousy or suspicion among them, as long as all hold the same belief.  In today’s passage, the Apostles, upset  by seeing someone who did not belong to their group using Jesus’ name to cast out demons, complain to Jesus.  Since the present-day divisions in Christianity are substantive, rising from differences over the basic tenets of Faith, today’s Gospel passage does not apply to them.  But there is no reason for any Christian denomination to be jealous of another denomination because of the greater good they do for people for the glory of God.  True love seeks the highest good of our neighbor, while envy results from selfishness and pride, and it is contrary to true Christian love.

Life Messages: 1) We need to practice humility in thoughts, words and actions. “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart.”  2) We should not seek recognition and recompense for the service we do for Christ and the Church as parents, teachers, pastors etc. 3) Trusting Faith resulting from true humility is essential for all corporal and spiritual works of mercy.  4) Let us not try to prevent anyone from doing good to others because of envy or jealousy.  Envy and jealousy are sinful because they lead us to sadness over what should make us rejoice.  True love always seeks the highest good of the neighbor. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 27, 2021: St. Vincent de Paul: Vincent de Paul was born to a poor peasant family in France in 1580.  Although he later achieved fame for his dedication to the poor, his early life was spent attempting to escape his humble roots. His family shared his ambition, hoping that a career in the priesthood would better the family fortune.  Vincent became a priest at the young age of 19. But he had to be 24 to become an associate pastor in a parish. So he was sent for higher studies in theology and canon law for six years. As a young priest of 25,  he spent most of his early priesthood mingling with members of the elite. He was very well liked because of his charm, intelligence, and sense of humor.

God had a different plan for Vincent: In 1605, (at 25)  Vincent was returning home by boat from a trip. He had been on his way to sell some property he had received in an inheritance from a wealthy patron. While travelling, he was captured by pirates, who brought him to Tunis in Northern Africa. He was sold into slavery, and he remained a slave for two years.  During this time, he prayed to God, telling Him that if his life would be spared and he was freed, he would devote the rest of his life to the service of the poor.

A pastor and community organizer: After his eventual escape from Africa, Vincent volunteered  to serve a church in rural France. The poverty he found there shocked him—it was not uncommon for people who were unable to find work in his poor community to die from starvation.  He began to take stock of his resources, and his former connections with the wealthy and influential led him to seek their financial assistance. He met with affluent friends and inspired them to organize into groups going from house to house requesting furniture, food and clothing for the poor parishioners. They were extremely successful in their efforts, and other parishes began to seek him out to learn how they could organize in the same way.

Founding the Vincentian congregation and Sisters of Charity: As time went by, Fr. Vincent realized that the mistakes of his young life, especially his focus on wealth and fame, had been caused by a poor faith foundation. As a result, he founded in 1625 an order of priests, the Vincentians, who received thorough seminary training and who pledged to devote their lives to the spiritual and material needs of the poor. Later, along with Louise de Marillac, he founded the Sisters of Charity. He then expanded his work, founding hospitals, orphanages and homes for people who were mentally ill.  He also devoted his last years to serving prisoners and slaves, sharing with them his story of hope as a former slave himself.  He was very well known throughout Europe in his own time. He died on September 27, 1660, and he was canonized in 1737. Pope Leo XIII made him the patron of all charitable societies.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul: The Society of St. Vincent de Paul was not founded until more than 150 years after St. Vincent’s death.  When Frederic Ozanam founded the Society, he named it after St. Vincent de Paul. Ozanam was devoted to St. Vincent, who is the patron saint of charitable societies, and he modeled the Society on his call to “see Christ in the poor and to be Christ to the poor”.  The members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul continue to honor his life and legacy by helping people in need and do not discriminate against cultural, religious or political beliefs.

Sept 28 Tuesday (St. Wenceslaus, Martyr) (https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-wenceslaus) , St. Lawrence Ruiz & companions, Martyrs) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-lorenzo-ruiz-and-companions : Lk 9: 51-56: 51 When the days drew near for him to be received up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him; 53 but the people would not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?” 55 But he turned and rebuked them. 56 And they went on to another village. USCCB video reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21; https://www.epriest.com/homily_packs

The context: Today’s Gospel passage deals with the beginning of Jesus’ journey from the northern towns of Galilee to the southern city of Jerusalem in Judea through the land of Samaria. The Samaritans were hostile towards the Jews because the Jews considered them impure. The Samaritans were descendants of Jewish men and women who married Assyrian  Gentile immigrants during the Assyrian captivity(721 BC). In addition, the Samaritans had mixed the religion of Moses with various superstitious practices of the Assyrians. When the “pure” Israelites of Judah rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem (520-525 BC) after their Babylonian captivity (598 BC—538 BC), the Samaritans offered to help, but they were rejected because of their racial impurities. Hence, the angry Samaritans built their own temple on Mount Gerizim, in opposition to the Temple in Jerusalem (cf. John 4:20), and started offering sacrifices there.  Because of this mutual hatred, the Jews from Galilee never took the shortcut through Samaria to go to Jerusalem. They took the long route east of the Jordan River.   Jesus, however, chose the shortcut through Samaria. Hence, the Samaritans not only refused to honor Jesus as a prophet, but also violated the sacred duties of hospitality due to a rabbi.  This made the Apostles angry, and two of them, James and John, asked if Jesus wanted them to command fire to come down from Heaven and consume these Samaritans as Elijah had done to destroy the messengers from the king of Samaria.  (II Kings 1:9-12).  Jesus rebuked them because Jesus was not a destroyer but a Savior. Lesson in tolerance: In today’s Gospel, Jesus corrects the disciples’ desire for revenge because it is out of keeping with the mission of the Messiah, to save men and not to destroy them.  Jesus knew that prejudices are cured through love, not force, through mercy, not punishment.

Life message: Today’s Gospel gives us the greatest passage in the Bible concerning tolerance, which is brotherly, patient love, our “bearing with” one another. Quick anger over little incidents flares up – in the home between parents and children, in the workplace between the co-workers, and in the neighborhood between neighbors. Very often the anger explodes over nothing. The Spirit of Jesus is opposed to such feelings. Hence, let us have this beautiful prayer in our hearts and on our lips: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and a right spirit within me.  Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation.” (Psalms 51: 10). Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Sept 29 Wednesday (St. Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Archangels): Saints Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Archangels): (The Archangels: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saints-michael-gabriel-and-raphael/ : Jn 1: 47-51: Jesus saw Nathaniel coming to him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” 48 Nathaniel said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathaniel answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”50… 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”

The Archangels: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael: The angels are spirits created by God before He created man. They are meant to be extensions of God’s love and provident care for us. Their role is to praise and worship God, act as God’s messengers, do God’s will, and protect human beings. “He will give His angels charge over you to guard you in all your ways (Psalm 91:1). God sent His angels to destroy the evil cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, and to save Lot’s family. God gave Moses an angel to support and guide him: “My angel shall go before you” (Ex 32:34).  It was an angel who helped Jesus in the desert and encouraged Jesus during His agony in Gethsemane. The Acts of the Apostles (1:14) describes how God sent an angel to liberate Peter from the prison. The Archangels form one of the nine orders of angels. The most prominent among them in Scripture are Michael the protector, Gabriel the messenger of God, and Raphael, the healer and guide for humans. All their names end in the suffix –el. This is a reference to God called Elohim in the Old Testament. Michael then means “Who is like God?” Gabriel means “God is my strength.” Raphael means “God heals.”

Michael: Michael means “Who is like God?” from the challenge he flung at the rebel angels  led by Lucifer. In Daniel, he is the great prince who defended Israel. In the Book of Revelation, he is the mighty prince who fought with Lucifer and who dragged the serpent into Hell. Since he is the protector of the Church we recite the prayer to him, composed by Pope Leo XIII.   Gabriel: He is God’s messenger. (Gabriel means “God is my strength”). It was Gabriel who announced to Elizabeth’s husband, the priest Zechariah, the happy news that his barren wife would conceive a son, John the Baptist. He announced the “good news” to Mary, that she was to bear the Son of God. He may have been the angel sent to Joseph in a dream to tell him that he was to take Mary into his home as his wife, “for it is through the Holy Spirit that this Child has been conceived in her. She will bear a Son, and you are to name Him Jesus because He will save His people from their sins.” Gabriel also announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds; he may have been the messenger instructing the Magi to return to their lands by another route rather than returning to King Herod, and also the messenger who appeared to Joseph in a dream to instruct him to return to Israel, as, “They who sought the life of the Child are dead.” RaphaelHe is man’s God-appointed guide and healer. He guided Tobiah’s journey, did Tobiah’s task of collecting his father’s money from Gabael of Rhages, arranged Tobiah’s marriage with Sarah, gave Tobiah the means to heal Tobit’s blindness, and protected Sarah from the devil.

Life messages:  1) Dependable angelic assistance is a salutary, encouraging assurance for us to remember in our fears. 2) The truth that an angel is always watching us is an incentive for us to do good and to avoid evil. 3) Angelic protection and assistance form a great provision for which we must be always thankful to God. https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21; https://www.epriest.com/homily_packs

Sept 30 Thursday (St. Jerome, Priest, Doctor of the Church) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-jerome : Lk 10:1-12:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come. 2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. 4..9 USCCB video reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ ; https://www.epriest.com/homily_packs Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

The context: Today’s Gospel describes the sending forth of another group of paired disciples by Jesus to prepare towns and villages for Jesus’ own arrival there. Sent out with power and authority from Jesus, they exercised their preaching and healing mission according to the action plan given by Jesus. Jesus sent out seventy disciples, just as God had Moses commission 70 elders to be prophets in Israel. (Nm 11:24-25). Their ministry anticipates the Church’s mission to the nations. Jesus’ instructions and travel tips. Elisha gave similar instructions when he sent his servant on a pressing mission (2 Kgs 4:29). By these instructions, it is clear that Jesus meant the disciples to take no supplies for the road. They were simply to trust that God, the Provider, would open the hearts of believers to take care of their needs. Jesus’ instructions also suggest that the disciples should not be like the acquisitive priests of the day, who were interested only in gaining riches.  They were to be walking examples of God’s love and providence. The Jews supported their rabbis and judged doing so a privilege as well as an obligation, for hospitality was an important religious tradition in Palestine. The Apostles and disciples were to choose temporary accommodation in a reputable household, they were to bless the residents with God’s peace, and they were to be satisfied with the food and accommodation they received, not search for better.

Life messages: 1) We have a witnessing mission:   Each Christian is called, not only to be a disciple, but also to be an apostle. As apostles, we are sent out to evangelize the world by sharing with others, not just words, or ideas, or doctrines, but our experiences of God and His Son. We are to make Jesus “visible” through our transparent Christian lives, showing the people around us the love, mercy, and concern of Jesus for them. 2)  We also have a liberating mission: There are many demons which can control our lives and the lives of people around us making us and them helpless slaves —the demon of nicotine, the demon of alcohol, the demon of gambling, the demons of pornography and promiscuous sex, the demons of secularism,  materialism and consumerism. We need the help of Jesus to be liberated from these demons ourselves and to help Him liberate others from these bondages. 3)  We have a supporting mission: According to Catholic tradition and Canon Law (Canon 222 #1), Christians are obliged to contribute to the Church from their earnings to help to support the clergy, to provide for the necessities of liturgical worship and to equip the Church to minister to the needy (CCC #2043, 2122). (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 1 Friday (St. Teresa of Child Jesus, Virgin, Doctor of the Church) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-teresa-of-avila :  1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me. USCCB video reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video  https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ ; https://www.epriest.com/homily_packs Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Marie Therese Martin was born on Jan 2, 1873 as the youngest of nine children of a watch-maker, Louis Martin, and his wife, a lace-maker, Zelie Guerin. Therese lost her mother at 4 and four of her siblings in their early childhood. She was the “little flower” of her father. One of her older sisters joined the Visitation convent and three others became Carmelite nuns. Therese joined the Carmelite convent at Lisieux at 15 with special permission from Pope Leo XIII. She died of tuberculosis when she was 24 years and 9 months old on September 30, 1897. Pope Pius XI declared her a saint on May 17, 1925, just 28 years after her death. Pope St. John Paul II declared her a “Doctor of the Church” in 1997.

Sources of her life history: 1) Autobiography of a Little Flower (The Story of a Soul); 2) 300 letters; 3) 8- One act Plays; 4) 50 poems.

Secret of her Little Way and short-cut to Heaven: Do ordinary things in an extraordinary way out of love for God, with 100% dedication and child-like trust, being ever ready to undertake any type of sacrifice. Convert suffering into redemptive suffering and use it for the apostolate.

Conditions: 1)   Be child-like and innocent with trusting Faith in a loving Heavenly Father. 2)    Do everything with 100% dedication as being done for our caring and forgiving God, our Father.  3)    Be ready to undertake sacrifice for others. St. Therese offered all her sacrifices a) in reparation for the sins of others and for her own sins b) for missionaries c) for the conversion of sinners.

Message: Let us follow the shortcut of Little Flower by becoming child-like in our relationship with God by doing His will with 100% sincerity, commitment and love. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Oct 2 Saturday (The Holy Guardian Angels):  https://www.franciscanmedia.org/feasaint-of-the-guardian-angels/ : Mt 18:1-5, 10: 1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; 10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven 1 angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven. USCCB video reflections: https://bible.usccb.org/podcasts/video; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ https://www.epriest.com/homily_packs ; Tony (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

The Guardian Angel: Although the doctrine and traditional belief in the Guardian Angel is not a dogma of Faith, it is based on the Bible. Each person’s Guardian Angel is an expression of God’s enduring love and providential care extended to him or her every day.  Today’s prayers in the Breviary and in the Roman Missal mention the three-fold function of the angels: a) they praise and worship God, b) they serve as His messengers, c) they watch over human beings.

Historical note: Devotion to the Guardian Angels began to develop in the monasteries. St. Benedict gave it an additional impetus and St. Bernard of Clairvaux (12th century reformer), spread the devotion in its present form. The feast of the Guardian Angels originated in the 1500s. It was placed on the official liturgical calendar of the Church by Pope Paul V in 1607. “By God’s Providence angels have been entrusted with the office of guarding the human race and of accompanying every human being so as to preserve him from any serious dangers […]. Our Heavenly Father has placed over each of us an angel under whose protection and vigilance we are” (“St. Pius V Catechism”, IV, 9, 4).

Biblical teaching: Today’s Gospel (Mt 16:10), clearly states that even children have their Guardian Angels: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in Heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father Who is in Heaven.” Psalm 91:1 teaches: “For He has given His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.”  

Life messages: 1) The conviction that we are protected by an angel is an encouragement against our baseless fears and unnecessary anxieties. 2) The thought that a messenger from God is constantly watching our thoughts, words and deeds is an inspiration for us to lead holy lives and to do good for others and avoid evil. 3) We need to be grateful to God every day, thanking Him for His loving care given us through His angel. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

Easter VII (B) L-21

Easter VII [B] (May 16) Homily summarized in one page (L/21)

Introduction: Christian love resulting in the unity of all Christian denominations is the main theme of today’s Scripture lessons.

Scripture lessons: The first reading, taken from Acts, tells us how the eleven apostles as one unit, relying on the power of God, elected Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot.  This incorporation was an action done by the whole community under the chairmanship of Peter. They chose Matthias by lot — by prayer submitting the process to the power of God and in Faith, accepted the result as His will. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 103) thanks God forgiving our transgressions, putting them “as far [from us] as the east is from the west.”

The second reading, taken from John’s first epistle to the Church, emphasizes the centrality of love in our Christian living.  The apostle deals with disunity in the Church by teaching the members the basis of true Christian love and unity.  For John, love and unity among Christians is the first and most important witness for believers to bear.

In today’s Gospel passage, taken from Jesus’ high-priestly prayer, Jesus prays in particular, for those disciples who are sharing the meal with him.  The core of Jesus’ message is love, a love that is to be manifested not only in nice-sounding words but, more convincingly, in the genuine acts of love that will bind his disciples together into one community. The world cannot be evangelized by competing Churches, and that is why Jesus prayed that his disciples might be as fully one as he and the Father are one.

Life messages: #1: We need to understand, appreciate, cooperate and pray: The denominations are a reality.  There is no use in our blaming each other for the historical events which caused these divisions in Christ’s Body.  What we can do is to learn sympathetically about the doctrinal similarities and differences to our own beliefs among Christian believers, to shed prejudices and suspicion about each other, to learn to love each person we encounter, and to cooperate with the members of all denominations in all ways possible.

# 2: We need to go beyond friendship and cooperation: The unity for which we pray is not merely a “comfortable” notion of friendliness and cooperation. It requires also our willingness to dispense with competition between us. We need to open ourselves to each other, to offer gifts to and receive gifts from one another, so that we may truly enter into our shared new life in Christ, which is the only true victory.

# 3: We need to pray fervently in our own denominations and in interdenominational prayer gatherings that God may show us the right way to proceed in achieving true and lasting Christian unity without sacrificing the basic Christian principles and teachings. We should offer also our personal prayers that the unity for which Our Lord prayed may be brought nearer.

EASTER VII Acts 1:15-17, 20a, 20c-26; 1Jn 4:11-16; Jn 17:11b-19

Homily starter anecdotes: # 1: “Then I’d Be a Baptist” (By Tony Campolo, the Baptist preacher and writer): A preacher pounding away at the pulpit, yelled at the congregation, “Is everybody here a Baptist?” A man several rows back answered, “No I am a Methodist!”  “Why are you a Methodist?” asked the preacher.  “Well, my mother was a Methodist,” said the man.  “And my father was a Methodist.  So, they raised me as a Methodist.”  “That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard,” said the preacher.  “If your mother was an ignoramus and your father was an ignoramus, would you be an ignoramus?”  “No,” said the man.  “If my father was an ignoramus and my mother was an ignoramus, I suppose I’d be a Baptist!” Denominationalism is the curse of Christianity and the greatest stumbling block to evangelization.  In today’s Gospel, we hear how Jesus prayed for unity among his future followers; ignoring Jesus’ wish and prayer has resulted in more than 30,000 Christian denominations giving counter-witness to the true Christian message of forgiveness, unconditional love, unity, and universality. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

# 2: Origin of Christian denominations: Here is a funny story about the origin of Christian denominations. Jesus came to a village and found a man there who was blind. He laid hands on Him and prayed over the man, and he was healed completely. The townspeople were so appreciative that they built a Church, and they called it The First Church of the Laying on of Hands and Healing. So, Jesus went to the next village, and there He found another blind man. Jesus spit on the ground and made some mud, and applied it to the man’s eyes. He then told the man to go wash in the pool, and the man received his sight. The townspeople were so overjoyed that they decided to start a Church in Jesus’ honor, and they called it The First Church of Here’s Mud in Your Eye and be Healed. Jesus went on to yet a third village, and found a third blind man there. So, Jesus told the man, “If you go and wash in this pool, seven times you will receive your sight back.” So the man did as Jesus said. The townspeople were so appreciative of God’s work that they built a Church in Jesus’ honor too. They named it The First Church of Washing Seven Times and Healing. One day, the Lord called all these groups together for fellowship. But, over the course of time they began to break down over doctrinal discussion as to how healing takes place. One group said, “You can’t heal unless you lay hands on those who are sick.” A second group said, “That’s fine, but if you forget the mud in their eye it doesn’t work.” The third group said, “You guys only have part of the truth; washing seven times is the real key.” The contention became so great among them that they broke the fellowship among them, none of them wanting to associate with heretics any longer. The reality is that their judgments were based on a sliver of insight that God had given them each individually. – Gayle Erwin. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

# 3: “There are only Christians here.” Being much concerned about the rise of denominations in the reformed church, John Wesley tells of a dream he had. In the dream, he was ushered to the gates of Hell. There he asked, “Are there any Presbyterians here?” “Yes!” came the answer. Then he asked, “Are there any Baptists? Any Episcopalians? Any Methodists?” Any Catholics? The answer was “Yes!” each time. Much distressed, Wesley was then ushered to the gates of Heaven. There he asked the same question, and the answer was “No!” “No?” To this, Wesley asked, “Who then is inside?” The answer came back, “There are only Christians here.” (Source unknown). (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

Introduction: Christian love resulting in Christian unity is the main theme of today’s Scripture lessons.

Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading, taken from Acts, tells us how the eleven apostles as one unit, relying on the power of God, elected Matthias to replace Judas.  This incorporation was done by the whole community under the chairmanship of Peter, choosing Matthias by lot.  The process was first submitted to the Power of God by prayer, and the outcome was accepted as the will of the Holy Spirit. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 103) thanks God forgiving our transgressions, putting them “as far [from us] as the east is from the west.” The second reading, taken from John’s first Letter to the Church, emphasizes the centrality of love in our Christian living.  It shows us how the apostle dealt with disunity in the Church by teaching the members the basis of true Christian love and unity.  For John, love and unity among Christians is the first and most important witness for believers to bear. In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus prays in particular for those disciples who are sharing the meal with him.  The core of Jesus’ message is love, a love that is to be manifested not only in nice-sounding words but, more convincingly, in the genuine acts of love that bind his disciples together into one community.

First reading, Acts 1:15-17, 20a, 20c-26 explained: The paragraphs in Acts 1 immediately preceding today’s reading tell the story of the disciples’ witnessing Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven and then returning to Jerusalem to spend their time in prayer, preparing to receive the promised “Power from above.”  Then comes this passage.  The apostles’ eagerness to fill their vacant twelfth position might make us ask what’s so special about twelve.  Well, twelve is the number of the tribes of ancient Israel, each historically led by a patriarch, then by a judge, and Jesus had chosen Twelve of them, thus connecting them to the pattern of the Old Covenant as successors to the Patriarchs in the New Covenant He would establish.  Jesus has just commissioned them to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.  Moved by the Holy Spirit, Peter, to whom Jesus had given Primacy after His Resurrection (at the beach breakfast beside the Sea of Galilee, after the miraculous draught of fish), calls the believers (around 120) into assembly. There, he explains to them why someone must be chosen, not by them but by God, to take the place of Judas, the betrayer, now deceased, as the twelfth of the Apostles who were to be Jesus’ messengers to the whole world. Thus we, who come after them, see in the Church of the New Covenant, the fulfillment of ancient promises.

Second Reading, 1 John 4:11-16 explained: The New American Bible states that the first letter of John was addressed to the early Christian community beset with many problems.  Some members were advocating false doctrines.  Some of them refused to accept the full Divinity and full humanity of Jesus.  Others disregarded the commandment of love of neighbor.  Still others   denied the redemptive value of Jesus’ death and refused to accept Faith in Christ as the source of sanctification. These errors are here recognized and rejected.  Here, in the Baltimore-style catechism form are the truths contained in this part of John’s letter:  God loves us and it is God who first loved us.  God doesn’t love us because we are good.  God loves us because He is good.  So what should we do?  Love one another. How are we to love each other? We are to show our love for God by loving one another. What happens when we love one another? When we love one another,   God remains in us.  How do we know God remains in us?  We know God remains in us because, through the holy Spirit He has given us, we can experience His presence within us.  What happens to those who acknowledge Jesus as Son of God?  Those who acknowledge Jesus as Son of God remain in God and God remains in them.  Who is God?  God is Love.  What happens to those who remain in Love? Those who remain in Love remain in God and God remains in them.

Gospel exegesis: The number of Christian denominations: According to World Chris­t­ian Ency­clo­pe­dia (Bar­rett, Kurian, and John­son; Oxford Uni­ver­sity Press) World Chris­tian­ity con­sists of over 33,000 dis­tinct denom­i­na­tions (Vol. I, p. 16).

Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer.  “Jesus’ last testament represents the longest prayer in the Christian Scriptures and revolves around the shared union between the Father and the Son, between the Son and his disciples and among future generations of believers.” (Sanchez Files). The Holy Spirit, through John, wants us to know that Jesus prayed for his disciples that they would carry on His distinctive witness in the world.

The context: Following the Passover washing of the Apostles’ feet, Jesus begins to prepare the disciples for his departure.  He foretells his betrayal, gives them the great commandment of love, and foretells Peter’s denial.  He then tells them that he is going to the Father’s house where he will prepare a place for them and that he will come again to take them with him.  He promises them the gift of the Holy Spirit and assures them that the Holy Spirit will teach them everything.  He warns them of the world’s hatred and explains that the Spirit cannot come unless Jesus goes.  Finally, he promises them joy and peace.  Jesus then prays his “High Priestly Prayer,” of which our Gospel lesson is part.

The content of the prayer: The New Interpreter’s Bible distinguishes three parts in Jesus’ prayer.  1) Jesus Prays for His Glorification (17:1-8).  2) Jesus Prays for the Faith Community (17:9-23).  3) Jesus Prays for the Eschatological Union of Father, Son, and Believers (17:24-26).  The main elements of the prayer are a) the founding of the community (17:6-8), b) the petition for the preservation and sanctification of the community (17:9-19), c) the petition for the oneness of the community (17:20-23), and d) the petition for the perfecting of the believers (17:24-26).

Analysis of Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer. (A) Jesus’ relationship with His Disciples:  This prayer show us how Jesus’ relationship with his disciples in meant to work:  (i) The disciples are given to Jesus by God.  It is the Holy Spirit, God, Who prompts us to become Jesus’ disciples.   (ii) Through the disciples, glory has come to Jesus, because the men whom Jesus has redeemed bring honor to him.  (iii) A disciple is a man who is commissioned to a complete a task.  As the Father has sent Jesus to redeem the world, Jesus sends out his disciples into the world, in order to make that world aware of God and then to lead that world back to Him.  He prays for his men in order that they may be such as to win the world for him.

(B) Jesus’ warning and promise: Further, this passage tells us that Jesus offered his men two things.  (i) He offered them a warning.  He told them that they were different from the world, and that they could not expect anything but hatred from it because their values and standards were different from those of the world.  ii) He offered them his joy.  All Jesus was saying to them was designed to bring them joy.  It is by facing the hostility of the world that they will enter into Christian Joy the Gift of the Spirit.

(C) Jesus’ unique claim:  In this prayer Jesus makes the greatest claim he ever made: “All that I have is Yours, and all that You have is M ine”(John 17:10).  Never did Jesus so vividly set forth his oneness with God, He is so much One with God his Father that Jesus exercises the Father’s very power and prerogatives.

The content of Jesus’ prayer for his disciples: Jesus prayed for the victory, unity, protection, and consecration of his disciples (in reverse order of the way these would occur):   (i) Jesus prayed that they might find victory by living out their Christianity in the rough-and-tumble of life, instead of spending full time in prayer and meditation in convents and monasteries or in a life withdrawn from the world.  Of course, there is a need for prayer, meditation and quiet times for this equipping process.  The disciples must win the world for Christ by living out their Christianity within the world. They must bear witness to Christ through their transparent Christian lives, by reflecting Christ’s love, mercy, forgiveness and spirit of humble service.  (ii) Jesus prayed for the unity of his disciples.  The world cannot be evangelized by competing Churches, and that is why Jesus prayed that his disciples might be as fully one as he and the Father are one. But Christian unity is not determined by whether we agree with each other about every interpretation of Scripture or doctrine or form of Church government. Rather, Christian unity is determined by whether and how well we love one another, and whether we reflect the love of God in Christ for the world. (Eph­esians 4:4–6: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; d5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; e6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all). (iii) Jesus prayed for His Father’s protection for his disciples from the attacks of the Evil One.  If the disciples of Christ fall, it is because they try to meet life on their own strength and do not remember the presence of their protecting God and seek His help.  (iv) Jesus prayed that his disciples might be consecrated in the Truth.  (a) ‘Consecrate’ means to set apart for a special task (Jer 1:5; Ex 28:41).  (b) It also means to equip a man with the qualities of mind, heart, and character which are necessary for that task.  (c) The Truth in which they and we are to be consecrates is the fulness of the Deposit of Faith Jesus, Who IS the Way, the Truth and the Life, has entrusted to His Church, His Mystical Body, in and through its Magisterium. God has chosen us and dedicated us for His special service of loving and obeying Him and bringing others to do the same.  He has not left us to carry out that great task with only our own strength, but by His grace He fits us for our task, if we place our lives in His hands. 

Life messages: #1: We need to understand, appreciate, cooperate with, and pray with and for each other: The denominations are a reality.  There is no use in our blaming each other for the historical events which caused these divisions in Christ’s Body.  What we can do is to learn sympathetically about the doctrinal similarities and differences of the members of our Christian community, learn to love each one, and seek to cooperate with the members of all denominations in all way possible. 2)  Let us pray fervently that God may show us how to work with Him in building true and lasting Christian unity without sacrificing the basic Christian principles and teachings. 

JOKES OF THE WEEK

# 1: “What’s the difference between a Baptist and a terrorist?”  The answer is, “You can negotiate with a terrorist!” (Rev. Tony Campolo, the Baptist preacher).

# 2: A sense of humor in church leaders is essential for Christian unity.  Pope John XXIII had it.  When asked by a reporter how many people worked in the Vatican, pope answered, “About half of them!”  On another occasion, when he was being interviewed by the media, the Pope was asked what he would tell the Church to do today if he knew that Christ’s return was to occur tomorrow.  He smiled and answered, “Look busy.”

# 3: At times we probably feel it would be so much easier if we could be like Lucy in the old Peanuts cartoon: Lucy says to Charlie Brown, “I would have made a great evangelist.” Charlie Brown answers, “Is that so?” She says, “Yes, I convinced that boy in front of me in school that my religion is better than his religion.” Charlie Brown asked, “Well, how did you do that?” And Lucy answers, “I hit him over the head with my lunch box.”

# 4: Q: How do you know that Lutherans (or your favorite denomination) will be the first ones to rise on the day of resurrection? A: Because Scripture says that the “dead in Christ will rise first.”

# 5: You know the joke about the woman crossing a high bridge? There on the parapet is a man preparing to jump off and she rushes to save him. “Don’t jump” she cries, “you are young and have so much to live for.” And before long she is comforting him and asking him about his background. “Are you a Christian?” she asks, and he says yes. “Are you a Baptist by any chance?” and again he says yes. “Are you Strict or Particular?” “Particular” he says and she is radiant. “So am I!” “Are you Particular and vegetarian or Particular and vegan?” “Particular and vegan” he says and she is ecstatic; “so am I! And are you Particular and Vegan of the 2001 Confession or the 2006 confession?” “2001” he says wearily but she is back on her feet. “Then jump, you vile heretic” and she pushes him off…

# 6: “To dwell above with saints we love,

That will be grace and glory.

To live below with saints, we know;

Well, that’s another story!”

WEBSITES OF THE WEEK

1)Dr. Bryant Pitro’s blogs with video talks: https://catholicproductions.com/blogs/blog

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

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

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

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

5)      Catholic Resources: http://www.catholicusa.com/

6)      Catholic Digest: http://www.catholicdigest.com

7)      Patron Saints Index: http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/patron02.htm

 

 

A

 

24- Additional anecdotes:

1) “If you want to complain about the rabbi, press 4, 5, or 6”: Rabbi Robert Alpers says he once phoned a synagogue and was greeted with this message. “Welcome to Temple Beth Shalom. If you want information about our programs and events, please press 1. For information on our service hours, please press 2. If you would like to complain to the rabbi, please press 3. If you want to complain about the rabbi, press 4, 5, or 6.” It seems that, apparently, more than a few people were upset with the rabbi. Too many things can disrupt the unity of a Church. People get upset with the decisions of a board. Or people get upset with the pastor. Jesus knew that it would not be not easy to maintain unity among a talented, yet sometimes cantankerous group of people. He also knew, however, that we can never accomplish the things that he has called us to accomplish if we do not ask His help to pull together. That is why we have this prayer for unity in today’s Gospel.(Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

2) “Hmm, he is an atheist.”  Jesus Christ said he had never been to a football match. So we took him to one, my friends and I. It was a ferocious battle between the Protestant Punchers and the Catholic Crusaders. The Crusaders scored first. Jesus cheered wildly and threw his hat high up in the air. Then the Punchers scored. And Jesus cheered again wildly and threw his hat high up in the air. This seemed to puzzle the man behind us. He tapped Jesus on the shoulder and asked, “Which side are you rooting for, my good man?” “Me?” replied Jesus, visibly excited by the game. “Oh, I’m not rooting for either side. I’m just enjoying the game.” The questioner turned to his neighbor and sneered, “Hmm, an atheist.” (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

3)  People get upset at some of the silliest things in Church, causing division. There is an old story about two men who were talking, and one of them said, “Did you hear that lightning struck the community Church?” “No,” the other man answered. “I haven’t been to that Church since they installed that fancy new pulpit. I guess this shows that the Lord was unhappy about such an extravagant waste of money, too.” The first man said incredulously, “But the pulpit was at the opposite end of the Church from the place the lightning struck.” “Well,” said the second man, “I guess God hadn’t been in that Church for so long, that He didn’t know where the pulpit was.” (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

4) “This is All Y’all’s Christian Church.” That’s why I think we should all subscribe to the Southerner’s version of the Gospel. You see, there’s no such thing as a second person singular pronoun in the deep South. They don’t say you. They say y’all. Even if they’re talking to one person. “Y’all think Wal-Mart’s still open?” “Y’all going to the pig roast tonight?” “Hey Bubba, y’all want some sweet tea?” So in Southern theology, there’s no such thing as an individual. Everyone is a stone built into a spiritual house; everyone is an individual in the midst of a community. But they don’t use the word community in the south; they just use the plural of “y’all,” which is “all y’all.” — So, what Peter is really saying is “Come to Jesus Christ, the living stone, and because y’all are living stones, too, all y’all will be built into a spiritual house.” This is All Y’all’s Christian Church. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

5) Then he put in a Baptist, Presbyterian, and Catholic: A book that has changed my life is What’s So Amazing About Grace? In it the author, Philip Yancey quotes Mark Twain. Apparently Twain used to say 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, Presbyterian, and Catholic; soon there was not a living thing left. –In this area it might be Baptist, Pentecostal and Catholic. But you know, it’s hard enough sometimes for a Wesleyan, a Wesleyan and a Wesleyan to get along. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

6)  Finding a solution to Christian disunity is more difficult! A man’s car was held up by a broken-down car in front of him. He just sat there and sounded the horn while the woman driver in front was desperately trying to start her car. He sounded the horn even more impatiently and the lady walked round to his car and said sweetly, “Why don’t we change places? I’ll sound the horn and you can start the car!” — It’s easy to grumble – finding a solution is more difficult! (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

7) “What is required that the world may believe?” One of the most memorable sections in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ prize-winning novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, concerns a strange disease that invaded the old village of Macondo from somewhere in the surrounding swamp. It was a lethal form of insomnia that attacked the whole town. The initial effect was the inability of people to sleep, although the villagers did not feel any bodily fatigue at all. A more critical effect than that slowly manifested itself: loss of memory. Gradually the victims realized they could no longer remember or recall the past. Soon they found that they could not remember the name or the meaning of the simplest things used every day. – You may have heard of the fellow who said two things happen to you when you grow old: “…one is the loss of memory, and I can’t remember the other!” Christians are to be reminders, living reminders, of Christ’s presence in the world. The world’s lethal disease is amnesia, the loss of memory. The Christian is God’s secret potion that cures this malady. The original source for, “The Church is never more than one generation away from oblivion,” seems to have been Ronald Regan’s identical comment about Freedom. But the real question is, “What is required that the world may believe?” (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

8) “Real” Lord’s Prayer : Here’s a good story for football fans. Many of you may know the name Reggie White. Reggie is a defensive end for the Green Bay Packers. But he is also an ordained minister. Before signing a $17 deal with the Packers, White had said that he would look to God to tell him where to play. Later, Green Bay Coach Mike Holmgren confessed that he had left a message on White’s answering machine that said, “Reggie, this is God. Go to Green Bay.” (1) — Today we want to focus for a few moments on prayer, but not just any prayer. Today, we are focusing on a prayer from the lips of Jesus. Our lesson from John’s Gospel is often referred to as the “real” Lord’s Prayer for Christian unity. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

9)”Lunatics never unite.” A man went to an asylum for the criminally insane. He was a bit surprised to find that there were only three guards to take care of a hundred inmates. He said to one of the guards, “Aren’t you afraid that the inmates will unite, overcome you, and escape?” The guard said, “Lunatics never unite.” — Locusts do. Christians should. If we don’t, we don’t know where our power is. (Haddon Robinson, “The Wisdom of Small Creatures.” www.preachingtoday.com/sermons/sermons 2007/ July) (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

10) Peg Baptist church and Anti-Peg Baptist church: Church conflicts happen for pretty unusual reasons. In the 1890s there was a small Baptist church in Mayfield County, Kentucky. The church had just two deacons, and those two men seemed to be constantly arguing and bickering with each other. On a particular Sunday, one deacon put up a small wooden peg in the back wall so the pastor could hang up his hat. When the other deacon discovered the peg, he was outraged. “How dare someone put a peg in the wall without first consulting me!” The people in the church took sides and the congregation eventually split. Over a hundred years later, residents of Mayfield County still refer to the two churches as Peg Baptist and Anti-Peg Baptist. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

11) General church memberships: In 1989, the director of Ecumenical Affairs for the National Council of Churches wrote that the Roman Catholic Church and the major Protestant Churches—as a start—should recognize the existence of “general church memberships.” This would hasten the unification of all churches into one super body. He said: “This means that, if you become a Christian, other Christians will acknowledge that you are fully a Christian… anyone who belongs to one church belongs to all! Thus if you should become a member of the Methodist Church, you would become simultaneously a full member of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the United Church of Christ and the Episcopal Church.” (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

12) We forget that we have a common enemy outside the walls of the Church. We can see in our national headlines the power of unity to fulfill a common goal. None of us will forget what happened September 11, 2001. Out of that terrible day we saw our nation join together in unity. President George W. Bush had the support of the nation as he led the nation into the war against the terrorist who murdered so many innocent Americans. Let’s go get ’em! But nearly 9 months later we started pointing fingers. What did our president know before the attacks? What could the government have done to prevent the terrorist attacks? The unity that was born through terror   unraveled. We forgot who our enemy was. — The same happens within the Church. We can so easily begin to point fingers at other “sheep;” we become critical of the “shepherd.” All the while we forget that we have a common enemy outside the walls of the Church. Satan seeks to “steal kill and destroy.” Let’s not forget who our enemy is. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

13) Primary condition for world’s belief in the Divinity of Christ: In fourth round of the 39th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee (June, 1966), in Washington, Rosalie Elliott, then an eleven-year-old from South Carolina, drew the word “avowal.” In her soft, Southern accent, she spelled it. But did the seventh grader use an “a” or an “e” as the next to the last letter? The judges couldn’t decide. For several minutes they listened to tape recording playbacks, but the critical letter was accent-blurred. Chief Judge John Lloyd finally put the question to the only person who knew the answer. “Was the letter an “a” or was it an “e”?” he asked Rosalie. Surrounded by whispering young spellers, she knew by now the correct spelling of the word. But without hesitating, she replied that she had misspelled it. She walked from the stage. The entire audience stood and applauded, including fifty newspaper reporters, one of whom was heard to remark that Judge Lloyd had put quite a burden on an eleven-year-old. Rosalie rated a hand, and it must have been a heart-warming and proud moment for her parents. [quoted by Don Shelby, “Who’s in Charge Here?” September 16, 1984); for people who like to know such things, Rosalie Brady Elliot died December 3 2020, at 85; Google Rosalie Elliot Spelling Bee for her obituary.] — But there were in that incident feelings that raised a big question, “…the apparent feeling on the part of so many that the issue might have been in doubt and that honesty might have bowed to temptation!” since even children will be dishonest if it serves their purpose. Have we in our age stopped taking honesty for granted even from our children, and especially from ourselves? It was a spelling bee, and eleven- and twelve- year-olds were the actors, but it’s a forceful parable. The world will believe when our performance is in harmony with our profession. Integrity is the word: performance and profession in harmony that the world may believe. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

14) “United they pulled the plough”:  Back in 1957 the First Brethren Church of Sarasota, Florida, had a ground-breaking service. But instead of bringing a few shovels for a few special people to use in the ceremony, they brought an old one-horse plow. Recalling the words of Jesus, “Take my yoke upon you,” they borrowed an old yoke and two stalwart laymen were hitched up. But the two were unable to pull the plow. Then the members of the Building Committee were put on the rope, but even they could not move the plow. Other church officers were added, including the Sunday school officers and teachers, but still the plow did not move. Finally, every member of the congregation present took hold of the rope, and with every member pulling together, the plow moved, the ground was broken (Sermons Illustrated). — I don’t think that I need to elaborate too much on how this represents our need to work together for Christ’s Church. Jesus is praying for us. He is asking God two things on our behalf. First of all He is asking that we may be strong.  And you know what? In the same way that Jesus prayed for the apostles, he prays for us. In times of confusion, when we are unsure of what to do next, it is a great comfort to know that Jesus is praying for us. Jesus prayed for the apostles. And Jesus prays for us. But how did he pray? What did he ask for? JESUS PRAYED THAT GOD WOULD HELP HIS FRIENDS REMAIN STRONG! (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

12) “If you mention God or Jesus, it’s taboo.” The great soul singer, Smokey Robinson, was a scheduled speaker for a two-day Youth Anti-Drug rally for the public schools of Sarasota, Florida. On the first day, he testified how God had rescued him from drug abuse. As a result, his speech for the second day was canceled. Smokey Robinson said, “The awful thing is that you can go into many public schools and talk about the Charles Manson murders, describe sexual promiscuity, and even pass out condoms, but if you mention God or Jesus, it’s taboo.” — Something is out of kilter. Smokey discovered that we Christians are always caught in tension between the prevailing standards of our culture and the standards of Jesus Christ. We are called to live in that tension. We must neither cave in nor bailout. The more we are molded by Christ, the more tension we will have with the culture. The sparks ought to fly. Through that friction and tension, Jesus Christ can change our culture. Note our two Scriptural passages for today. The passage from John 17 is part of Jesus’ high priestly prayer. Jesus is on the eve of his crucifixion. He has nurtured this little band of disciples for about three years. Now he is going to leave them. He prays to God for them. “They’re going to be hated by the world,” says Jesus, “just as I was hated.” Jesus asks two specific requests for the infant Church. “Protect them from the evil one” and “sanctify and consecrate them in the truth.” (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

13) We are united by the One we serve as our Lord and Savior: Somewhere I read about a magazine advertisement for a humane society in which there is a photograph of a dog and a cat sitting side by side in uncustomary harmony. The caption over their heads is, “A Couple of VIP’s – Very Important Pets.” And in the fine print underneath, the next line adds, “What makes them important is who owns them.” If you and I are VIP’s, it’s only for one reason – the One Who owns us. We are His. It is in His steps that we walk. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

14) A Church where someone is running in the wrong direction: You may notice during the autumn of the year that many of our men around the country are glued to the football games on television. College football is a great part of American tradition. It all builds up to the bowl games at the end. That is what people are waiting for, to win the big bowl game. There may not be another bowl game more prestigious than the Rose Bowl. College players will dream of making it to the Rose Bowl to play under this great college football tradition. One man who actually lived out that college dream was named Roy Regal. He made it to the Rose Bowl and was able to play in this great game. He did more than just play. He got his hands on the football and he ran. He ran all the way down the field almost the full one hundred yards, making it almost all the way across the goal line before he was finally tackled. He lived out the dream. Yet this dream was not the dream he thought it was. There were two problems with the run that Roy Regal made. One is he was going the wrong direction, and secondly he was tackled by his own teammate to prevent him from crossing the goal line and thus scoring for the other team! — This is a picture of disunity. The team normally goes one way together across the goal line. Can you imagine if in a Church there is this kind of disunity? A Church where someone is running in the wrong direction and being tackled by his own teammate? Church unity is so important. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

15) We are united by what we believe: On Lakemba, one of the Fiji Islands, if you visit the Centenary Church, you will find a white chapel with a thatched roof, built in the shape of a cross. Several hundred people worship there at all services. All the furniture is white wood, except for the baptismal font. It is a light gray coral stone about three feet high, with a place hollowed out for the water. When the first missionary arrived in 1835, the islanders worshipped a god of harvest, to whom an annual sacrifice had to be offered to insure good crops. Usually a small young boy was chosen. On a killing stone, the little head was crushed with a rock, so that the victim’s blood would flow down and cover the whole stone. Then the god would give a good and plentiful harvest. The old killing stone where life was taken has now become the baptismal font, where new life begins for those who are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. [Peter Drucker, The Effective Executive (New York: Harper and Row, (1967), p.57]. — How absurd to say that it doesn’t matter what you believe! Of course it matters. Sometimes it matters so much that Churches divide. That’s sad. But when the dust settles, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us, there is a common bond that unites everyone who takes upon himself or herself the name Christian. That bond is this: We believe that God so loved the world that He gave His own Son so that whoever believes in him shall have life everlasting. We believe that, and that unites us with millions of believers around this planet. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

16) “The silver trailer down the road a mile.”: Tony Campolo tells an intriguing story about being in a worship service where a man prayed a very pointed prayer for a friend. “Dear Lord,” the man prayed, “you know Charlie Stoltzfus. He lives in that silver trailer down the road a mile. He’s leaving his wife and kids. Please do something to bring the family together.” Amazingly, as the man prayed, he repeated the location “the silver trailer down the road a mile.” Tony wanted to say, “KNOCK IT OFF, FELLA. Do you think God’s asking, ‘What’s that address again?'” After the prayer, Tony preached, and then left to drive home. On the turnpike he noticed a hitchhiker and decided to give him a lift. “My name’s Tony,” Campolo said, “What’s your name?” “Charlie Stoltzfus,” the hitchhiker said. Campolo was dumbfounded. It was the young man for whom the prayer had been offered. Campolo got off at the next exit. “Hey, where are you taking me?” asked the hitchhiker. “Home,” Campolo said. The hitchhiker stared in amazement as Tony drove right to the young fellow’s silver trailer. That afternoon that young man and his wife surrendered their lives to Christ. And today that hitchhiker is a preacher of the gospel. [“You Can Make a Difference,” Today’s Christian Woman (Nov/Dec. 1988).] — We sometimes forget how powerful a simple prayer can be. Do you pray for your friends? Jesus did. Jesus’ High Priestly prayer in today’s Gospel is about our Christian unity, remembering each future denomination by name. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

17)  Prayer for unity of the rich and the poor  in the slum: I was reading recently about a lawyer named Ned from Australia. He had once visited Kenya, and while there he walked through one of the worst slums in the world, to a hut where three brothers lived. When he entered the hut he immediately found himself in the center of a dozen or so children leaping into the air with joy at his presence. There was a contagious spirit in that rundown little hut, and soon Ned was jumping up and down with them. Then the kids started a sing-along, and they had a wonderful time together. When it came time for Ned to leave, something happened that he says he will always remember. From the far side of the room he heard a quiet but clear voice. And what Ned heard was something like this: “We pray for the people of Australia, for Ned and his family.” The group of children suddenly became very quiet. Then they responded: “Jesus, remember them when You come into Your Kingdom.” Ned couldn’t believe it. In the middle of Africa, in the middle of the worst slum in the world, a group of slum kids, with reverence and earnestness, were holding up before God the people of Australia. The prayer hit him hard, and he thought to himself, “God, if Australia has any hope at all, it will be because of kids like this.” [Bruce Larsen. My Creator, My Friend (Dallas: Word Books 1986), pp. 142-143).] (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

18) The Wheel of Fortune: Any casual breakdown of television programs anywhere in the world would reveal a sizeable proportion of them devoted to games of chance. One of the more popular ones in France and in the United States and perhaps elsewhere, is a word game called The Wheel of Fortune. There is almost no country now without its national lottery with its regular draws on television nationwide. Their astronomical prizes are only dwarfed by their astronomical returns. This enormous expenditure on lottery tickets, particularly in times of recession, would be obscene, were it not in most cases a disguised form of taxation. — Faith in God the Father may well be on the wane in the third decade of the twenty-first century but belief in Mother Luck was never more widespread. The wife of President Reagan of the United States revealed that her husband never made any important decision without consulting his stars. The star-gazing public was not greatly perturbed by that revelation. From the account given in today’s reading of the election of a replacement for Judas, it might seem that there is a certain Scriptural precedence for such behavior. (Biblical IE). (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

19) “I am drawing a picture of God. “Chicken Soup for the Soul [Jack Cornfield and Mark V. Hansen, (Deerfield Beach FL: Health Communications Inc., 1993).] is a delightful anthology of stories poems and anecdotes about the extraordinary moments of our ordinary lives. Included among its varied collection is a story about a little girl. She and her mother had just returned home from Church and the child went immediately to her desk and began to draw. After watching her work intently for a while, the mother asked, “What are you drawing, dear?” “A picture of God,” came the reply. “But,” said the mother, “no one has ever seen God. No one knows what God really looks like.” Undeterred and still at work, the girl answered, “They will when I’m finished!” — The charming naiveté of this little girl provides believers with a key for understanding one of the most profound aspects of Johannine theology. Like the mother in this story, the Johannine author told his readers, “No one has ever seen God. . . yet if we love one another as God has loved us, then God’s love is brought to perfection in us” (v. 12). In all we say and in all we do in the course of our life, we are, as it were, a living, breathing, drawing or illustration of who God is. Inasmuch as our life and love are an authentic facsimile of the life and love of God, then when our life’s portrait is given its final stroke, people will know what God looks like. (Sanchez Files) (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

20) “Spread love wherever you go.” Adding some strokes and finishing touches to the picture of God which was her life, St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) reminded us, “Spread love wherever you go: first of all, in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next-door neighbor. . . Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s love, love in your face, love in your eyes, love in your smile, love in your warm greeting.” (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

21) Do you have any idea when your religion or denomination was founded and by whom?

If you are a Hindu, your religion developed in India around 6000 B.C.

If you are a member of the Jewish faith, your religion began with God’s choice of Abraham about 4,000 years ago.

If you are a Buddhist, your religion split from Hinduism, and was founded by Buddha, Prince Siddhartha Gautama of India, about 500 B.C.

If you are Roman Catholic, Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man, began your religion in the year 33 A.D.

If you are Islamic, Mohammed started your religion in what is now Saudi Arabia around 600 A.D.

If you are Eastern Orthodox, your sect separated from Catholicism around the year 1,000.

If you are Lutheran, your religion was founded by Martin Luther, an ex-monk of the Catholic Church, in 1517.

If you belong to the Church of England (Anglican), your church split off from the Roman Catholic Church in the rebellion of  King Henry VIII in the year 1534 — because the Pope would not grant Henry a decree of nullity for a marriage that Pope had given Henry a dispensation to make!

If you are Calvinist, your religion was founded when former-Catholic-turned-reformer John Calvin published his Institutes of the Christian Religion in 1536.

If you are Presbyterian, your religion was founded when John Knox brought the teachings of John Calvin to Scotland in the year 1560.

If you are Unitarian, your religious group developed in Europe in the 1500’s.

If you are Congregationalist, your religion branched off from Puritanism in the early 1600’s in England.

If you are Baptist, you owe the tenets of your religion to John Smyth, who launched it in Amsterdam in 1607.

If you are Methodist, your religion was founded by John and Charles Wesley in England in 1744.

If you are Episcopalian, your religion was brought over from England to the American Colonies and formed a separate religion founded by Samuel Seabury in 1789.

If you are Mormon (Latter-day Saints), Joseph Smith started your church in Palmyra, N.Y. The year was 1830.

If you worship with the Salvation Army (it is a religious group), your sect began with William Booth in London in 1865.

If you are Christian Scientist, you look to 1879 as the year your religion was founded by Mary Baker Eddy.

If you are a Jehovah’s Witness, your religion was founded by Charles Taze Russell in Pennsylvania in 1870’s .

If you are Pentecostal, your religion was started in the U.S. in 1901.

If you are agnostic, you profess an uncertainty about the existence of God.

If you are an atheist, you do not believe God exists. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

22) Out of the World? When Curtis and Kathleen Saville, who had left Casablanca March 18, 1981, paddled into Antigua on June 10, 1981, they broke the 1896 record for rowing across the Atlantic by six hours. As they described it in Smithsonian, their craft “Excalibur” was a pretty sophisticated carrier; still it qualified as a row boat because it was propelled by oars and brawn. During the crossing the little boat was very much alone in the great ocean. The Savilles were pestered by the fear that Hurricane Arlene would come their way; and one day the Spanish freighter Atlantico almost ran them down. Though visually and spatially cut off from people, they kept human contact by radio. However, radio newscasts proved to be a mixed blessing. The solitude of the ocean had its charms: the “wet desert” was simple, fresh, and mercifully free of crime and violence. “We listened,” they said, “to the BBC, the Voice of America – all sorts of stations. We heard when President Reagan was shot, when the Pope was shot, when the president of Bangladesh was assassinated – and sometimes wondered why we were rowing so hard to get back to civilization.” — At the Last Supper, Jesus prayed that His Father would protect his disciples. They belonged to the world no more than He Himself did, meaning the worldly world of injustice, cruelty, violence. Still, the people in the world had to hear the truth, so he had to leave the apostles among them. As ocean voyagers have to steer towards port despite the sea’s enchantment, and astronauts have to return to earth from the stirring loneliness of space, so the Twelve had to leave the Upper Chamber and mingle again in a world of imperfect men. The important thing for all who have come close to God is that they not let the evil world again contaminate them. That is why Christ prayed for his messengers, “I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but to guard them from the evil one.” (John 17:15. Today’s gospel.) Father Robert F. McNamara. (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

23) Why would the apostles use a game of chance, a form of “gambling,” to select he successor of Judas? It surely does seem like an unusual way to select a Church leader! But we need to understand the cultural setting for this type of thinking that was “normal” many centuries ago. Drawing straws or flipping a coin wouldn’t fit our modern mentality when it comes to choosing presidents or popes. There are many Scriptural examples of “tossing the dice” (casting lots) to answer or solve problems, including the one in our First Reading today. They even “cast lots” for Jesus’ clothes, after he was crucified (Jn 19:24). In many cases the Old Testament shows this method was used to assign duties or take actions that did not really require investigation or special discernment (e.g., Judges 20:9; Joel 4:3). — Scripture scholar Fr. John McKenzie says that the use of “lots” in choosing a successor for Judas implies two beliefs about the office of Apostle: that the number 12 should be maintained, and that the selection of the man must come from God. Since the “candidate” disciples were already humbly living the Gospel, living in Christ, there was no need to “campaign” for the office; both were qualified by those dispositions. So the group showed that they believed in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, even by “drawing lots,” because not one of the candidates was “of the world” as our gospel today describes it (Jn 17:16). Thus, in the eyes of the believing community, the selection by lot, having been made after prayer for guidance, would indeed be “made by God” not by chance. — It would be good to check our own Faith against the Faith of this early community described in the Acts of Apostles. We are not suggesting an abdication of our responsibilities, nor are we avoiding the need to discern spiritual matters carefully. What we are suggesting is a greater trust in God, reflected in the way we pray and our willingness to surrender to God’s will in all things. (Bishop Clarke). (Fr. Tony) (https://frtonyshomilies.com/L/21

Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B (No 33) 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 Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at akadavil@gmail.com. Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies  under CBCI or  Fr. Tony for my website version. (Special thanks to Vatican Radio website http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html -which completed uploading my Cycle A, B and C homilies in May 2020) Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604

 

“The Reformers” (German School of the Early 17th Century). Pictured: Bullinger, Zanchi, John Knox, Zwingli, Bucer, Matthew Parker, William Perkins, Melanchthon, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Theodore Beza and John Wyclif.

“The Reformers” (German School of the Early 17th Century). Pictured: Bullinger, Zanchi, John Knox, Zwingli, Bucer, Matthew Parker, William Perkins, Melanchthon, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Theodore Beza and John Wycliffe