June 12, 2021

June 14-19 weekday homilies

Visit http://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed homilies. June 14-19: June 14 Monday: Mt 5:38-42: “You have heard that it was said, `An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; 40 and if anyone would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; 41 and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you. USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/

The context: During their captivity in Egypt, the Jews became familiar with the crude tribal law of retaliation called Lex Talionis (=Tit-for-Tat) given by the ancient lawmaker Hammurabi during the period 2285-2242 BC. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus rejects even the concession of milder retaliation allowed by Moses. In its place, Jesus gives a new law of love and grace — and no retaliation.

“An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” Moses instructed the Israelites to follow tit-for-tat retaliation, rather than to wreak total destruction upon their enemies. That is, instead of mutilating or murdering all the members of the offender’s family or tribe, they should discover, then punish by an equal mutilation or harm, only the offender. Later, a milder version of this law was substituted. It demanded monetary compensation, as decided by a judge, in place of physical punishment. Moses also gave the Israelites several laws commanding merciful treatment for the enemy if he also was a Jew (e.g., Lv 19:18).

The true Christian reaction: For Jesus, retaliation, or even limited vengeance, has no place in the Christian life. Jesus illustrates the Christian approach by giving three examples:

  1. Turn to him the other cheek:  Striking someone on the right cheek (with the right hand), requires striking with the back of one’s hand, and, according to Jewish concepts, the blow inflicts more insult than pain. Jesus instructs his followers to forgive the insult gracefully and convert the offender. 2) “Let him have your cloak as well.” Jesus instructs his followers that they should show more responsibility and a greater sense of duty than to fight over possessions. 3) Go with him two miles. A Christian has the duty of responding, even to seemingly unjust demands by helping or serving gracefully not grudgingly. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

June 15 Tuesday: Mt 5:43-48: “You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/

The context: Today’s Gospel passage is perhaps the central and the most famous section of the Sermon on the Mount.  It gives us the Christian ethic of personal relationship: love one’s neighbors and forgive one’s enemies. Above all, it tells us that what makes Christians different is the grace with which they interact with others, treating them with loving kindness and mercy, especially when those others seemingly don’t deserve it. The Old Law never said to hate enemies, but that was the way some Jews understood it.  Jesus commands that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us in order to demonstrate that we are children of a merciful Heavenly Father. From the cross, Jesus prayed for Mercy to God His Father for all of those who were responsible for the Crucifixion – which includes all fallen humankind, and so ourselves — saying, ‘Father forgive them; they know not what they do.’” (Lk 23:34). A Christian has no personal enemies.  If we only love our friends, we are no different from pagans or atheists.

We need to love our neighbors and our enemies, too: The Greek word used for loving enemies is not storge (affection or natural love towards family members), or philia = friendship (love of close friends), or eros (=romance) (passionate love between a young man and woman), but agápe =unconditional love which is the invincible benevolence, or good will, for another’s highest good. Since agápe, or unconditional love, is not natural, practicing it is possible only with God’s help. Agápe love is a choice more than a feeling. We choose to love them because Jesus loved them enough to die for them, and they, too, are the children of our God.  We have in the Acts of the Apostles the example of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, who, like Jesus on the cross, prayed for those who were putting him to death.

Life Messages: We are to try to be perfect, to be like God:  1) We become perfect when we fulfill God’s purpose in creating us: with His help, to become God-like. 2) We become perfect when, with His ongoing help, we try to love as God loves, to forgive as God forgives and to show unconditional good will and universal benevolence as God does. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

June 16 Wednesday: Mt 6:1-6, 16-18: “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 “Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 16 “And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/

The context: In today’s passage from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus takes three cardinal works of religious life in Judaism, namely, almsgiving, fasting, and prayer, and instructs the apostles, the crowd of disciples, and us on the principles underlying these acts of personal piety.

Life Messages: 1) Almsgiving becomes a noble and meritorious religious act when we give to bring glory to God. a) We are to help the poor as an expression of our sharing love, in thanksgiving for the blessings we have received from God. b) But Almsgiving becomes an act of self-glorification when we do it as the Pharisees did, to demonstrate our generosity in public and to get popular acclaim.

2) Fasting becomes a noble act pleasing to God when we do it: a) to experience what the real hunger of the poor is, b) to help the poor better by giving the price of what we do not eat to feed them, c) to discipline ourselves in eating and drinking and d) to appreciate better God’s blessings of good health, good appetite and generous provisions. e) Fasting for show, as the Pharisees did, is wrong and sinful.

3) Prayer: Prayer is opening our connection to God by talking to Him and listening to Him, convinced of His all-pervading holy presence within us and all around us. a) By prayer we acknowledge our total dependence on God, draw from Him our daily spiritual strength and recharge our spiritual batteries from God’s infinite power. b) Long, noisy, repetitious prayer performed in public for show as the Pharisees did is no prayer at all. It is hypocrisy. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

June 17 Thursday: Mt 6: 7-15: 7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their 10many words. 8 “So do not be like them; for 11your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. 9 “12Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 ’13Your kingdom come. 14Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 ’15Give us this day our daily bread. 12 ‘And 16forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but 17deliver us from 18evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] 14 “19For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 “But 20if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/

The context: In today’s passage from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructs the crowd that they should not pray like the Gentiles, repeating empty phrases. He means that true prayer is not so much a matter of the number of words as of the frequency and the love with which the Christian turns towards God, raising his or her mind to God. So, Jesus teaches them a model prayer.  Jesus’ prayer, “Our Father,” consists of two parts. In the first part, we praise and worship God, addressing Him as our loving, caring, and providing Heavenly Father and promising Him that we will do His holy will in our lives, thus remaining in His kingdom. In the second part, we present our petitions before the Triune God. First, we ask God for our present needs, food clothing and shelter, (“give us this day our daily bread”), then for our past needs, especially for forgiveness of our sins (“forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”), and finally, for our future needs, protection against the tempter and his temptations (“and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”). In this part, we also bring the Trinitarian 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, the Paraclete, Who is our Guide, Advocate, Comforter and Illuminator, by asking for protection and deliverance from evil. Special stress on the spirit of forgiveness: We are told to ask for forgiveness from others for our offenses against them, and to offer unconditional forgiveness to others for their offenses against us as a condition for receiving God’s forgiveness. Jesus further clarifies, “If you forgive others their wrongs, your Father in Heaven will also forgive yours. If you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive you either” (Mt 6:14-15).

“For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory, now and forever. Amen.” The manuscripts of the Gospel of Matthew do not contain this phrase, nor do any of the Catholic translations. Martin Luther added this doxology to Our Father in his translation of Matthew’s Gospel, and the King James editions of the Bible keep it.  The doxology is actually taken from the Divine Liturgy or Catholic Mass.  Known as the final doxology, it takes up the first three petitions to our Father. By the final “Amen,” which means, “So be it”, we ratify what is contained in the prayer that God has taught us. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

June 18 Friday: Mt 6:19-23: 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; 23 but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/

The context: Today’s Gospel passage from the Sermon on the Mount instructs us to amass secure and lasting treasures in Heaven by a life of righteousness on earth, doing the will of God and sharing our blessings with the needy. Jesus uses two metaphors, one explaining the folly of keeping perishable treasures on earth and the other of loving the darkness caused by pride and prejudice.

The image of earthly & heavenly treasures: Man’s heart yearns for a treasure which will give him security and lasting happiness. But treasure in the form of riches very often gives him constant worry because riches can be lost, destroyed or stolen, or his life may be terminated abruptly.   The only treasure which will last beyond this life is treasure stored in Heaven. Obtaining and keeping such a treasure is possible only by lovingly and sacrificially sharing God’s blessings with others and leading an upright life doing the will of God with His grace.

The image of sound eye and clear vision:  Jesus compares the human eye to a lamp which provides the body with light. St. Thomas Aquinas in his commentary on Mathew gives the following explanation: “The eye refers to motive.  When a person wants to do something, he first forms an intention: thus, if your intention is sound – simple and clear—that is to say, if it is directed towards God, your whole body (that is, all your actions), will be sound, sincerely directed towards good.” Bad eyesight is also a Biblical metaphor for stupidity and spiritual blindness. Such blindness is caused by pride, prejudice, jealousy, hatred, etc., which would destroy our fair judgment.

Life message: 1) Let us spend our lives here on earth doing good for others without being blinded by pride and prejudice. In this way, we will store up everlasting treasures in Heaven. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21

June 19 Saturday: Mt 6. 24-34: the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon. 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more  value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O  men of little  faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day. ! USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm; https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/

The context: Today’s passage from the Sermon on the Mount instructs us to serve God alone as our Master and to avoid worries and anxiety by placing our trusting Faith in the providence and care of a loving God and by living one day at a time in God’s presence, doing His will and praying for and deriving strength from Him.

Impossibility of serving two opposing masters:  Man’s ultimate goal and Master is God and not material possessions. We cannot serve both at the same time. Material possessions should not replace God and become gods.  They are given to us to be used as means to reach our ultimate goal, especially by sharing them with the needy.

Jesus’ arguments against unnecessary worries: 1) Unnecessary worries and anxiety cause spiritual, physical, and mental damages. a) Worries and anxiety cause the spiritual disease of sin by not trusting in the goodness and providential care of a loving heavenly Father as the pagans and atheists do. b) They cause physical diseases like hypertension, heart problems, respiratory diseases, insomnia, and rheumatic diseases. c) They cause  mental diseases like depression, phobias, obsessive- compulsive disorders and so many others.  2) In nature, other creatures (like birds), work hard for their daily food, but they do not worry about tomorrow’s food. 3) Worry is useless because we cannot increase even an inch of our height or a day o four lives by hours of worrying.

Life Messages: How to avoid worry: 1) Trust in the providence of a loving God. 2) Acquire the art of living one day at a time without worrying over the dead past, the living present or the unknown future. 3) Seek God’s kingdom by doing His will every day and live a righteous life obeying God’s law. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21