For this week’s homily, please watch the video below.
For this week’s homily, please watch the video below.
25 Mon Weekday (Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time)
2 Kgs 17:5-8, 13-15a, 18/Mt 7:1-5 (371) Pss IV
26 Tue Weekday
2 Kgs 19:9b-11, 14-21, 31-35a, 36/Mt 7:6, 12-14 (372)
27 Wed Weekday
[Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop and Doctor of the Church]
2 Kgs 22:8-13; 23:1-3/Mt 7:15-20 (373)
28 Thu Saint Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr
2 Kgs 24:8-17/Mt 7:21-29 (374)
29 Fri SAINTS PETER AND PAUL, APOSTLES
Vigil: Acts 3:1-10/Gal 1:11-20/Jn 21:15-19 (590)
Day: Acts 12:1-11/2 Tm 4:6-8, 17-18/Mt 16:13-19 (591) Pss Prop
30 Sat Weekday
[The First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church;
Lam 2:2, 10-14, 18-19/Mt 8:5-17 (376)
1st and 2nd Kings are Old Testament books that relate the history of the Jewish people after the time of Judges when Israel was ruled by kings, but they are not historical accounts as history is written today. Prophets like Elijah and Isaiah have an important part of play in these accounts. However grim and violent the accounts may see, the destiny of Israel is in God’s hands,. We might see them too much like the violent stories of today and turn away from them, but they’re reminders that our destiny is in God’s hands, no matter how bad our times are.
The saints we remember this week, Peter and Paul, Irenaeus, Cyril of Alexandria, take us back to the first centuries of the church. God provides leaders for every age, from the first centuries till now. The graces of the prophets are never lacking from age to age.
In this Thursday’s Gospel (Mt 6: 7-15) our Lord Jesus introduces the “Our Father” to His followers. This prayer is certainly a pillar of our Catholic faith. I find the Lord’s Prayer so comforting and yet so challenging, even disturbing. At times it feels like a downward slide from Heaven into the heart of life’s darkness.
In the previous day’s Gospel (Mt 6: 6) Jesus describes prayer as a private, secret moment with God in our “inner room”. This is the kind of prayer I always yearn for, full of gratitude, no petitions, not even words, just basking in the loving light of God, present within, and all around me. It feels like a vacation from life. To feel loved like that!
Unfortunately, this does not happen every day. There are times when I feel so dry and lost in darkness, where the fire within me has dwindled down to a small, smoldering ember. There are times when I feel so frustrated with the situation, or so anxious, that I don’t know what to do. It is always in these moments that I find myself going back to the Lord’s Prayer. It never fails to begin to put me back on track, with my Lord. It is my way back into the Light. I find myself praying the “Our Father” several times during the week. This prayer is no vacation from life. It strengthens us to confront the dangers of life, but it is not easy.
I try to pray it in a quiet place, slowly and carefully. It has such a blissful beginning. I feel so close to Jesus, praying with me, teaching me. Sometimes I even imagine myself with Him, on a Galilean hill, beneath the rim of the Milky Way, surrounded by the universe, in the presence of Abba, the tender Father. In my mind’s eye, Papa has blue eyes, like my handsome earthly father, Orlando, when he would hold me in his arms as a toddler. I feel so loved and protected. I am indeed in Heaven, with my loving God.
And I am not alone, but with all of humanity, saints and angels “hallowing” , praising, recognizing the goodness, the beauty, the truth of “His name!” Wow! This Kingdom is a kingdom of love and hope. The Will of the Father is all mercy and happiness for me.
Then, it seems, maybe not completely. I realize how much is required of me, so many difficult tests, so many painful experiences that might come. I must accept what God has in store for me. I say “Yes,” even knowing how prone I am to letting Him down.
In asking for “our daily bread,” I imagine Jesus, the Bread of Life. I can almost taste Him. I love Him so much. But somehow He reminds me of humanity’s constant challenge to find the daily bread, the basic things that we need to survive. I pray for my family, my friends: may they not lose their jobs. We have it so good in our country, but the threat of having to rely upon a food pantry or a homeless shelter is not so far away for most of us. I pray for the hundreds of millions of people without adequate shelter, nourishment, even water. I think about how little I do to be God’s instrument for the fulfillment of this petition— send money to relief agencies, work at St. Vincent de Paul, give $20 to a homeless person? Does that even make a dent? I find myself feeling helpless and guilty.
Then I ask forgiveness once again for the many sins I constantly repeat! My heart breaks when I imagine His Son on the Cross, because of these sins. I realize how undeserving I am. I remember my grudges and secret resentments. Can I forgive? I pray for so many brothers, sisters, parents and children in my own family, who cannot forgive each other. I pray for humanity, caught in a cycle of offense and counter-offense. Am I an instrument of God’s peace?
I am filled with the fear of giving in to so many temptations within and without me. Come on! Where is my confidence? Father, help me, help me! Deliver us from the evil inside of us. Help us to control ourselves!
And the evil from outside? The danger of violence, disease, accidents, natural disasters? The morning news remind us of so many ruined lives. I think of my atheist friends asking, “How could a loving God permit this?”
And then, abruptly, the prayer ends. Am I ready to say “Amen?” Do I believe with all my heart that God will actually answer all our pleas? I find myself forcing my eyes away from the not-so-far-away abyss of doubt. I frown. I approach the abyss. I jump and cry, “Lord!” And God always catches me in His loving hands. I begin to feel this strange peace, this hope that our God has the best plan for all of us. I believe that Supernatural Grace has touched me once again. Lord, why do You love me like this? Thank You, Beloved, King of Peace!
I sometimes think of this prayer as Jesus’ battle hymn. Yes, it has a somewhat bleak ending, but it “works”, it strengthens, it comforts. The extra ending that our Church fathers added explains why: “Because Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory.”
You better believe it! Amen!
What does it mean to be holy today, Pope Francis asks in his recent Letter “Gaudete et Exultate.” We’re called to holiness, God calls us. Jesus Christ is with us and saints encourage us to achieve that call. There’s a ”great cloud of witnesses” the Letter to the Hebrews says, and we’re called to be in that number.
Don’t miss “the saints next door,” the pope says. “These witnesses may include our own mothers, grandmothers or other loved ones (cf. 2 Tim 1:5). Their lives may not always have been perfect, yet even amid their faults and failings they kept moving forward and proved pleasing to the Lord.”
Canonized saints are not the only ones who are holy, Francis says. “I like to contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God’s people: in those parents who raise their children with immense love, in those men and women who work hard to support their families, in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile. In their daily perseverance I see the holiness of the Church militant. Very often it’s a holiness found in our next-door neighbours, those who, living in our midst, reflect God’s presence. We might call them “the middle class of holiness”. (7]
The pope’s interested in ordinary holiness, and he has a gift for speaking about it. .
We are all called to be holy. “Each in his or her own way,” the Vatican Council says. Each of us has to discern God’s call; we must find our own path, discover the gifts God gives us. We don’t have to follow someone else’s path or have someone else’s gifts. To be holy means to grow with the gifts God gives us.
Some may think only those who have a church calling can be holy. We may think only those who belong to our religious tradition can be holy. Not so, Francis says, It’s a universal call.
You can read Gaudete and Exultate online at the Vatican website. Worth reading. It’s Francis at his best.
18 Mon Weekday
1 Kgs 21:1-16/Mt 5:38-42 (365)
19 Tue Weekday
[Saint Romuald, Abbot]
1 Kgs 21:17-29/Mt 5:43-48 (366)
20 Wed Weekday
2 Kgs 2:1, 6-14/Mt 6:1-6, 16-18 (367)
21 Thu Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious
Sir 48:1-14/Mt 6:7-15 (368)
22 Fri Weekday
[Saint Paulinus of Nola, Bishop; Saints John Fisher, Bishop, and Thomas More, Martyrs]
2 Kgs 11:1-4, 9-18, 20/Mt 6:19-23 (369)
23 Sat Weekday
2 Chr 24:17-25/Mt 6:24-34 (370)
We’re reading these days the first and most important of five teachings of Jesus from Matthew’s gospel, the Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5, 1-7,29) These extended teachings are not only meant for us. In Matthew’s gospel they indicate how Jesus lived his life and ministry. He lives what he teaches.
Elijah’s story concludes this week in readings praising the mighty prophet. He’s not afraid of the powerful people. Neither is Jesus afraid of the powerful; the crowds who encounter him wonder if he’s not Elijah returned.
The saints this week come from different times, Romuald, 11th century Italy, Paulinus of Nola, 5th century Italy, Aloysius Gonzaga, 16th century Italy, Thomas More and John Fisher, 16th century England. Holiness is found in every age and social condition.
For this week’s homily, please play the video below:
“At the mountain of God, Horeb,
Elijah came to a cave, where he took shelter.
But the word of the LORD came to him,
“Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” (1 Kings 19, 1-16)
Some 30 years ago, a younger man climbed that mountain, Sinai, on a memorable tour with Fr. Donald Senior. We rose about 2 AM to begin the climb in the dark, guided up the rocky winding path by a guide with a flashlight. Bedouins offered a camel ride for anyone who couldn’t make it, almost 7,000 feet up.
We arrived at the barren top at sunrise. I remember the silence of the place, the bare rock, the absence of plants or trees or any sign of life. The guide pointed to a speck of green down aways, “Elijah’s cave,” he said. We left before the sun was high; too hot to stay there long.
The scriptural story says Elijah was told to “stand outside on the mountain before the Lord,” and he experienced a strong wind, an earthquake, fire, but God was not in any of these. Then, in the silence, he heard a “tiny whispering sound” and he hid his face before God.
“A tiny whispering sound.” That’s the way God speaks to us, I told those at Mass this morning. Elijah pours out his woes to God. He’s a fugitive, fighting for his life, with no chance against Ahab and Jezebel.
But God whispers to Elijah. Go down the mountain and go north again. Your enemies won’t stop you. There’s a mission I have for you; I’ll be with you. In the silence Elijah heard God.
In the silence of the Eucharist, God whispers.