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March 15-20: March 15 Monday: Jn 4:43-54: 43 After the two days he departed to Galilee. 44 For Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. 45 So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast, for they too had gone to the feast. 46 So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was a royal official whose son was ill. 47 When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 Jesus therefore said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” 49 The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went his way. .  As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was living.  So he asked them the hour when he began to mend, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.”  The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live”; and he himself believed, and all his household.  This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee. USCCB video reflections http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/(L/21).
The context: According to John’s Gospel, after facing rejection by his hometown, Nazareth, Jesus went to Jerusalem in Judea for the Passover feast. From Jerusalem, Jesus returned to Galilee and to his headquarters, Capernaum, where people received him as a miracle-working preacher and prophet. Today’s Gospel describes how Jesus did a long-distance (telepathic) healing for the dying son of an official employed in the royal court of king Herod. Jesus was preaching at Cana, twenty miles away from Capernaum. Herod’s officer came on horseback from Capernaum to Cana urgently seeking Jesus’ presence for the healing of his dying son. He was desperate enough to swallow his pride and make a public request to a wandering preacher for this healing. Jesus’ critical comment on the lack of belief in the Pharisees did not discourage the official. With expectant Faith he pleaded with Jesus, reminding him of the seriousness of the illness. So, Jesus told him, “Go; your son will live.” With trusting Faith in the assurance Jesus had given him, the officer rushed back toward his house. On the way there, he received the good news that his son had been healed at the very time Jesus gave his assurance. The officer was so grateful that he and the other members of his family accepted Jesus as the promised Messiah without fearing the ridicule of fellow-officers and friends.
Life message: 1) Miraculous healings can take place in our lives, too, if we approach Jesus the healer with true humility, trusting Faith, earnest prayer and the willingness to surrender ourselves to God’s will. We have the unfailing word of Jesus to rely on, only that, nothing less. (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21
March 16 Tuesday: Jn 5:1-16: 1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, which has five porticoes. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed.5 One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your pallet, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the Sabbath, it is not lawful for you to carry your pallet.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me said to me, `Take up your pallet, and walk.'” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, `Take up your pallet, and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. 14 Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16 And this was why the Jews persecuted Jesus, because he did this on the Sabbath. USCCB video reflections http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/(L/21)
The context: The Jews had three major feasts – the Feast of Tabernacles, the Feast of Passover and the Feast of Pentecost. Although only adult male Jews living within a 15 mile-radius of Jerusalem were bound to participate in the Passover feast, Jesus went to Jerusalem as a practicing Jew. Today’s Gospel passage describes how Jesus healed a paralyzed man who had been lying near the “Probatic” pool of Bethesda (also called Bethzatha), for 38 years, hoping for a healing when the water was miraculously stirred by an angel. Before granting the healing, Jesus asked the paralytic if he wanted to be healed. The man expressed his intense desire for healing and confessed his inability to crawl to the pond in time. At once, Jesus gave the healing command, “Take up your pallet, and walk,” and the man obeyed. The Pharisees sternly told the healed man that he shouldn’t be carrying his mat as that the day was the Sabbath. The man responded that his healer had told him to but was unable to identify Jesus as that healer when they asked. Later, when Jesus caught up with former paralytic in the Temple and warned him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you!” the former paralytic recognized that it was Jesus who had healed him and reported the fact to the Jews who had earlier questioned him about carrying his mat.
Life message: 1) We too will experience miracles in our lives when we approach God with trusting Faith in His power to do the impossible and in His mercy for His children. But we need to express our desire to Him with persevering and fervent prayers. (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21
March 17 Wednesday: (St. Patrick-homily on next page) Jn 5:17-30: 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working still, and I am working.” 18 This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath but also called God his Father, making himself equal with God. 19 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all that he himself is doing; and greater works than these will he show him, that you may marvel. USCCB video reflections http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/
Context: Today’s Gospel passage gives Jesus’ explanation vindicating himself when he has been accused by the Jews of breaking the Sabbath by healing on that day, and of being a blasphemer, by claiming, as God’s Son, equality with God and the same authority and power as God.
Jesus’ claims and justification: In general, Jesus claims that he is one with the Father in all he does as Mediator, and that there is a perfect understanding between him and his Father in the whole matter. But, at the same time, he is obedient, and so entirely devoted to his Father’s will that it is impossible for him to act separately from his Father in anything. Thus, Jesus claims that his identity with the Father is made visible in his complete obedience: Jesus always does what his Father wants him to do. Then Jesus proves his equality with the Father by doing some works that are the exclusively works of God Who is his Father. For example, it is God’s prerogative to raise the dead, and give life, and Jesus exercises these prerogatives. Jesus has received Divine power from the Father to exercise his judgment and authority over life and death. That is why Jesus’ words bring healing and life to those who believe in the One Who sent him, and condemnation to those who do not. At the last judgment, all who have heard Jesus’ voice and obeyed his word will be raised to eternal life.
Life message: True Christian life is the surrender of our lives to God with the same love and obedience which Jesus demonstrated for his Father. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21
March 17: (St. Patrick’s Day): Jn 8: 51-59:
March 17: (St. Patrick’s Day): Jn 8: 51-59: Known as the “Apostle of Ireland”, he is the primary patron saint of Ireland, the other patron saints being Brigit of Kildare and Columba. Since there were no official canonization process in the Church, in the early centuries, St. Parick, like the early martyrs of the Church, was never canonized. But he is venerated as a Saint in the Catholic Church and in the Eastern Orthodox Church, where he is regarded as equal-to-the-apostles and Enlightener of Ireland. He is also regarded as a Saint within the framework of their respective doctrine by the Anglican Communion and the Lutheran Churches. St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated inside and outside Ireland as a religious and cultural holiday. In the dioceses of Ireland, it is both a solemnity and a holy day of obligation. Besides numerous legends, St. Patrick is known only from two short works, the Confessio, a spiritual autobiography, and his Letter to Coroticus, a denunciation of British mistreatment of Irish Christians. The stories of driving out all the snakes of Ireland into the sea, using the shamrock leaf to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity and raising 33 people from the dead are legends.
St. Patrick was born to Roman parents in Banwen in Wales. So, he called himself both a Roman and a Briton. He was the son of a Deacon named Calpornius and his wife, Conchessa. Patrick was taken captive by the Irish marauders (pirates) at about the age of 16. While in captivity for six years, he learned Irish (Gaelic), which would be essential for his later mission in Ireland. Since his master was a high priest of the Druids, Patrick had access to information about this religion from him, which might have proved very useful to him in his later mission, converting the Irish to Christianity. While Patrick was working as a shepherd boy in Ireland, he underwent a conversion experience and became a young man of deep prayer. After working for six years as a shephrrd boy in County Mayo, he managed to escape to his native England (walking 200 miles to the seaport) and then based on a vision received to convert Ireland for Christ, he went to France for 15 years of training as a missionary priest. A few years after his ordination, Fr. Patrick was consecrated bishop at the age of 43, and the ecclesiastical authorities sent him to Ireland, at his request, probably in AD 432.
Before Patrick came to Ireland, there was a strong belief there in all kinds of gods, including the sun. Patrick tapped into these pagan beliefs and taught the people the true Faith about the true God. He understood the Irish clan system. Hence, he knew that if the chieftains of the various clans became Christian, the rest of the clans would also. Patrick used every means possible including cultural assimilation, to spread the word of God. The shamrock was the sacred plant of the Druids, and a legend says Patrick used it to teach the people about the Trinity. He also used the image of their Sun- god in his Celtic cross. He worked night and day to bring the faith all over Ireland. He was a charismatic person who preached with authority and acted with miracles. We have two of Patrick’s writings, his Confessions in which we see his humility and his Letter to Coroticus in which we see the courage of his Christian convictions. In 432 A.D., Patrick built a church on the site of the present-day St. Patrick’s Memorial Church in Saul — the first ever Christian church in all of Ireland. It’s considered the cradle of Irish Christianity.
Contrary to popular belief, it was not St. Patrick who brought the Christian Faith for the first time to Ireland. It was there already before him in the south and east of Ireland, probably due to traders and contacts with the continent. But it was St. Patrick who revitalized the Faith of the local minority of Christians and converted the whole country to the Christian Faith. First, he went to the west and north, where the Faith had never been preached. He managed to obtain the protection of local kings and made numerous converts. He ordained many priests, divided the country into dioceses, held Church councils and founded several monasteries. All this groundwork done by St. Patrick later enabled the Church in Ireland to send out missionaries whose efforts were greatly responsible for Christianizing Europe. Patrick died on March 17th, 461(?) and was buried in Ulster in County Down. As we celebrate the feast of this great missionary saint, let us ask ourselves whether we are grateful to God for the gift of Faith, which has been passed down to us. Do we, like Patrick, use every means to pass on this Faith and spread it? St. Patrick’s life of solid spirituality and dependence on God should serve as a model for us to get our priorities correct. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21
Patrick’s poem of faith and trust in God, in his “The Breastplate”:“Christ be within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ inquired, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.”
March 18 Thursday (St Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop, Doctor of the Church): https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-cyril-of-jerusalem Jn 5:31-47: If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony cannot be verified. But there is another who bears witness to me, and I know that the testimony which he bears to me is true. 33 You sent emissaries to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony which I receive is from man; but I say this that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father has granted me to accomplish, these very works which I am doing, bear me witness that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness to me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen; 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe him whom he has sent. 39 You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from men. 42 But I know that you have not the love of God within you. 43 … ..47 USCCB video reflections http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/(L/21)
The context: In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus defends His Messianic claims. The Jews demanded proofs for Jesus’ Messianic claims, quoting Dt 19:15 which requires two or three witnesses to substantiate a person’s claims. Here, Jesus presents four witnesses who approved His Messianic and Divine claims: John the Baptist, his own miracles, his Heavenly Father, and the Sacred Scriptures of the Old Testament.
1) John the Baptist, whom many Jews considered a prophet, bore witness to Jesus as the “Lamb of God” and the Holy One whose paths he had come to prepare. 2) The miracles Jesus worked could only have been done by the power of God his Father. 3) God the Father attested to the Divinity of Jesus at Jesus’ Baptism (cfr. Jn 1:31-34); at the Transfiguration (cfr. Matthew 17:1-8), and later, in the presence of the whole crowd (cfr. John 12:28-30). 4) The books of the Old Testament, namely the Law and the Prophets, bear testimony to Jesus’ Divine and Messianic claims. It was the Spirit of God Who prompted the prophets of the Old Testament to write their Messianic prophecies. Then Jesus identifies four obstacles which prevented the Jews from recognizing him as the Messiah and Son of God: 1) their lack of love of God, 2) their striving after human glory, and 3) their prejudiced interpretation of Sacred texts and 4) their lack of Faith in Moses and the prophets.
Life message: When we have doubts about Faith and the Church’s teachings we need to 1) read the Bible with trusting Faith; 2) pray for an increase of Faith; 3) learn the teachings of the Church, starting with the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the official documents of the Church; 4) accept the mysteries of our Faith, relying on the Divine Authority and veracity of Jesus; and 5) examine how strong our own Christian testimony is. Does our life reflect the light of Christ so much that it brings light to the darkness in others? (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21
March 19 Friday (St. Joseph, Chaste Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary) —
Pope Francis has proclaimed 2021 as “The Year of Saint Joseph”: December 8, 2020-December 8, 2021. https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-joseph-husband-of-mary Sm 7:4-5, 12-14, 16; Rom 4:13-14, 18-22; Mt 1: 16, 18-21, 24; Lk 2:41-51): Video: https://youtu.be/E8FAcs6lh_A
ST. JOSEPH IN THE HOLY BIBLE: We have the description of St. Joseph only in the Gospels of Mathew and Luke. They present him as Joseph, the just man, the dreamer, and the silent saint who was the custodian and protector of Jesus and Mary, always doing the will of God.
(A) Joseph, the just man: (Matthew. 1:19). In the Biblical sense, a just man is one who faithfully does his duties to God, to lawful authorities and to his fellow human beings.
(1)-Joseph did his duties to God faithfully by obeying His laws revealed through Moses, through his king and through his foster son Jesus.
- He obeyed the Mosaic laws: i) by circumcising and naming Jesus on the 8th day, ii) by presenting Mary with her child in the Temple for the purification ceremony, iii) by making Jesus “son of the Law,” bringing him to the Temple of Jerusalem for the feast of Passover at the age of twelve.
- He obeyed his King’s law by taking his pregnant wife Mary to Bethlehem for the census ordered by the Emperor.
- He obeyed Jesus by respecting his desires and opinion. (Lk.2: 49)
(2)-Joseph did his duties to others faithfully:
- to his wife by giving her loving protection in spite of his previous suspicion about her miraculous pregnancy. He could have divorced her. Pope St. John Paul II: St. Joseph protects Mary “discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand.”
- to Jesus by training him in his trade, in the Law of Moses and in good conduct (Lk. 2:52).
c) to his neighbors by being an ideal carpenter and good neighbor.
(B)- Joseph, the dreamer (like Joseph in the O.T.) receiving answers to his fervent prayers as dreams. Joseph raised his heart and mind to God in all his needs and dangerous situations in life, besides praising and thanking Him.
Dreaming in the Old Testament was one way God used to communicate His will to men. Joseph received instructions from God through four dreams: i) “Do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife” (Mt.1:20); ii) “Get up, take the Child and his mother and escape to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you to leave” (Mt. 2:13); iii) “Get up, take the Child and his mother, and go back to the land of Israel” (Mt.5:20); iv) as a confirmation of Joseph’s prudent thought of taking Mary and Jesus out of Jerusalem (where a worse ruler might endanger them), and back to Nazareth, a small, out of the way village in the country.
(C) As a silent saint, Joseph always did the will of God and protected and provided for Jesus and Mary. Hence, he continues to protect the mystical body of Christ, the Church.
How did Joseph provide this protection and provision? By his unfailing presence and committed fidelity. He did it silently, justly and doing the will of God. He is a silent saint in our noisy world, giving himself to others. He continues to protect those who protect and take care of elderly parents, the aged and the sick in nursing homes. He courageously did his protective role starting with his receiving his wife into his home at the angel’s command in a dream and continuing through the flight to Egypt with Mary and the Child and their sojourn there, all the way to Nazareth and their life there, where, at some point, he died peacefully in their presence.
Life Messages: 1) We need to lead saintly lives by becoming faithful in little things, as St. Joseph was. “Bloom where you are planted” was the favorite advice of St. Francis de Sales. Let us love our profession and do good to others. 2) We need to consult God daily in prayer to know His will and to do it. 3) We need to be just, as St. Joseph was, by “giving everyone his or her due.” 4) We need to raise our families in the spirit of the Holy Family and to be responsible, God-fearing, ideal parents like Joseph and Mary. 5) Let us become protectors like St. Joseph, by keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good and evil intentions: intentions that build up and tear down! We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!” (Pope St. John Paul II). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) USCCB video reflections http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/(L/21)
March 20 Saturday: Jn 7:40-53: 40 When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This is really the prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? 42 Has not the scripture said that the Christ is descended from David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” 43 So there was a division among the people over him. 44 Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him. 45 The officers then went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” 46 The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this man!” 47 The Pharisees answered them, “Are you led astray, you also? 48 Have any of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 But this crowd, who do not know the law, are accursed.” 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, 51 “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” 52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and you will see that no prophet is to rise from Galilee.” 53 They went each to his own house. USCCB video reflections http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm https://catholic-daily-reflections.com/daily-reflections/ Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/(L/21)
The context: Today’s Gospel describes the reaction of the people, the Pharisees, the Temple police, and Nicodemus, the Sanhedrin member, to Jesus’ pubic claim to be the promised Messiah and the “Son of Man” prophesied by Daniel.
The common people say that Jesus probably is the expected Messiah because of His authoritative teaching and authentic miracles. But the Pharisees, the Scribes and the Jewish priests can only see Jesus as a Galilean from Nazareth, and they argue from Scripture that the real Messiah must be born in David’s family in Bethlehem. The Temple police, whom they have sent to arrest Jesus, report that they have not arrested Jesus because, “nobody ever spoke like Him.” They are impressed by Jesus’ wisdom and authoritative teaching. Nicodemus, a prominent member of the supreme council of the Jews defends Jesus, demanding that the Sanhedrin give Jesus a fair trial before they have Him punished for blasphemy on unfounded claims.
Life messages: 1) We believe in Jesus’ teachings, based on His authority as God. We believe in the Sacred Scriptures based on the teaching authority Jesus gave to Peter and his successors. Since Jesus and His Apostles believed in the Old Testament Books as the inspired word of God, and since the Church teaches the same thing, we, too, believe them to be the real word of God, and we follow the instructions given in the Bible. Hence, we need to follow the Bible as the guide of our Christian life and accept the traditional interpretation given to the word of God by the teaching authority in the Church.
2) Today we Christians are also “a sign of contradiction,” as Simeon described Jesus, because we are different and challenging when we stand for Christ and choose His teachings while others reject them. We need to have, and act on, the courage of our Christian convictions. (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/21