O.T. XVII [B] (July 25): 2Kgs 4:42-44, Eph 4:1-6, John 6:1-15
Introduction: Today’s readings invite us to become humble instruments in God’s hands by sharing our blessings with our needy brothers and sisters. They focus on hunger and food and about how we can satisfy the deeper hunger of our life. They remind us that if we and our country are blessed with abundant food supply, we need to share it with the hungry people and poor countries. Once physical hungers are satisfied, then we are challenged to satisfy the deeper hungers, for love, mercy, forgiveness, companionship, peace, and fulfillment.
Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading tells us how the prophet Elisha, by invoking God’s power, fed one hundred men with twenty barley loaves. Elisha relied not on what he had but on what God would do with what the Prophet had received as a gift. This miracle foreshadows the Gospel account of Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the pursuing crowd seeking the Master. Today’s Responsorial Psalm tells us that it is “the hand of the Lord that feeds us,” and that it is God who “answers all our needs.” In the second reading, St. Paul reminds the Ephesians that Jesus united the Jews and the Gentiles by bringing them together as Christians in one Faith by means of one Baptism, enabling them to become one by eating at Jesus’ Body.Hence, they have to live together, helping each other by sharing their blessings. Paul urges us to become communities of sharing Christians. In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the five thousand people, using five barley loaves and two fish offered by a boy in the crowd through the apostles, is associated with the Holy Eucharist early in the Church’s tradition. The people immediately interpreted the miracle, giving Jesus two Messianic titles: “The prophet” and “the one who is to come.” This miracle teaches us that God works marvels through ordinary people. Elisha’s servant and Jesus’ disciples distributed the bread provided by God through generous people who were willing to share their food with the hungry. Thus, God meets the needs of people through the good will and services provided by members of His community. The Gospel story teaches that Jesus meets the most basic human need, namely hunger, with generosity and compassion. Today’s readings also tell us that God really cares about His people, and that He provides more than enough for everybody. Studies show that the world today produces enough food grains to provide every human being on the planet with 3,600 calories a day, not counting such foods as tuber crops, vegetables, beans, nuts, fruits, meats, and fish. Hence, let us pray and work for better social justice in all communities and countries.
Life messages: A challenge to generous sharing: As Christians we need to commit ourselves to share and to work with God in communicating His compassion to all as the early Christians did. God always blesses those who share their blessings, time, and talents with loving commitment. We can begin our own humble efforts at “sharing” right in our parish by participating in the works of charity done by organizations like St. Vincent DePaul Society, the Knights of Columbus, etc. Once physical hungers are satisfied, then we are challenged to satisfy the deeper hungers, for love, mercy, forgiveness, companionship, peace, and fulfillment.
Poverty and hunger in the midst wealth and prosperity: In the Asian, African, and Latin American countries, well over 500 million people are living in what the World Bank has called “absolute poverty.” Every year 15 million children die of hunger. The Indian subcontinent has nearly half the world’s hungry people. Africa and the rest of Asia together have approximately 40%, and the remaining hungry people are found in Latin America and other parts of the world. Nearly one in four people, 1.3 billion – a majority of humanity – live on less than $1 per day while the world’s 358 billionaires have assets exceeding the combined annual incomes of countries with 45 percent of the world’s people. There are three reasons for this situation: 1) The unwillingness of the rich people and wealthy countries to share their blessings with poor and the needy. 2) The unjust distribution of wealth, enabling the rich to become richer and let the poor to get poorer. 3) The exorbitant military spending of rich and poor nations. Most countries spend more than half their national income for the military. For example, the U.S. spends 54% of its income for the military while allotting only 6% for education, 6% for housing and 3% for social security and unemployment benefits. Annual military expense of the U. S. for 2014-15 was $581 billion and, for the same time-period, that of China was $129 billion and that of Russia was $70 billion. We must remember that for the price of one cruise missile ($1.41 million), a school full of hungry children could eat lunch every day for 5 years. 100 million deaths could be prevented for the price of ten Stealth bombers, or what the world spends on its military in two days. (Each stealth bomber costs $2.1 billion). Although the food in the world should suffice to feed God’s children, it will never suffice to fill the greed of men. By describing how Jesus miraculously fed five thousand people using the sacrificial sharing of his lunch by a boy, today’s Gospel challenges us to plan what we can do to feed the hungry in the world around us by changing the way we live, personally and as a community. — Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
#1: A bag of rice to share: From her personal experience, Mother Teresa relates a story demonstrating the generosity of the poor, rising from their personal experience of hunger and poverty, as contrasting with the rich who have had no such experience to teach them. Learning of a poor Hindu family in Calcutta who had been starving for many days, Mother Theresa visited them and brought a big parcel of rice to the mother. She was surprised to see how the mother divided the rice into two equal portions and went out with one bundle to give it to her Moslem neighbor. When she returned, Mother Theresa asked her why she had done such a generous deed. The woman replied: “My family can manage with half the rice in this bag. My neighbor’s family has several children, and they are also starving.” Today’s Gospel tells the story of a small boy who showed this same kind of generosity. By sharing his small lunch (which consisted of five barley loaves and two dried fish), he became the instrument in Jesus’ working of a miracle that fed thousands. — Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
#2: “Me … go into a Protestant church? That would be a sin!” Back in 1950, before the Second Vatican Council had urged Catholics to have friendlier relations with their separated brothers of other Churches, Catholics were regularly reminded that they should not attend non-Catholic worship except when some duty required it. That year, Douglas Woodruff, the brilliant and witty columnist of the famous English Catholic journal, The Tablet, told the story of a robber who had lately been arrested for taking money from the poor-box of Westminster Cathedral. (This is the Cathedral Church of the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, located in London). When the judge questioned him, the “perpetrator” admitted that he had also stolen from the poor-boxes of several other London Churches. He ticked off a whole list of them. “These are all Catholic Churches,” said the judge, puzzled. “How does it happen that you didn’t rob the poor-boxes in any Protestant churches?” The thief bridled. “Me … go into a Protestant church? That would be a sin! I’m a good Catholic, I am!” — St. Paul certainly did emphasize unity in the Faith: “There is one Lord one Faith, one Baptism” (Eph 4:6). But something was out of kilter in the interpretation put on Christian unity by this staunch Catholic burglar! — Father Robert F. McNamara. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
Introducing Fr. Jacob Dankasa
My dear parishioners of Holy Family of Nazareth, I am elated to come serve you as we journey together in our Catholic faith. It is with a deep sense of joy that I join your community of faith to be one of you as your pastor.
I was born in Nigeria, the fifth in a family of seven. I was ordained a Catholic priest on July 17, 2004, for the Catholic diocese of Kafanchan, Nigeria. I obtained a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Urbaniana University, Rome and bachelor’s in Theology from the University of Jos, Nigeria. After my ordination, I served in pastoral roles in several parishes and held multiple administrative positions in my diocese in Nigeria, including a pastor of a parish, diocesan director of communications and diocesan chancellor. In July 2008, I came to the United States for further studies. I obtained a master’s degree in mass communications from St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minnesota. Coming to Minnesota directly from Nigeria was an interesting experience for me as it presented me with something I had never seen in my life before then: SNOW! Minnesota winter was an extreme experience for me. However, it was also fun, with many good people I met in the city of St. Cloud.
I relocated to Dallas to escape from Minnesota’s extreme winter only to arrive and be welcomed with extreme summer in Texas. I arrived in Dallas in July 2010 and have been serving in the diocese of Dallas to date. I have served as parochial vicar at St. Michael the Archangel parish in Garland, St. Joseph parish in Richardson, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Plano, St. Anthony, Wylie, and until now, at St. Gabriel the Archangel parish in McKinney. I found peace, joy and fulfillment in ministering to these parish communities, and I look forward to such an atmosphere as I assume my ministry as the Pastoral Administrator of Holy Family of Nazareth, Irving.
Furthermore, when I came to Dallas I extended my education by enrolling in a doctoral program, while concurrently serving in ministry in the parish. Eventually, I graduated with a doctorate in Information Science in 2015 from the University of North Texas, Denton. In addition to my pastoral ministry and spiritual exercises, I’m also a lover of academics. I became an American citizen in 2018.
I love writing, reading and exploring new ideas. My hobbies include watching movies (especially adventures, dramas based on true life stories and comedy – I don’t like movies that make me sad!!!), listening to music (among my best genres is country music, especially old country) and watching sports (soccer and basketball are the top two). I have gradually learned to understand American football. So far, I have gotten more interested in football as friends helped me to navigate it. At least, I now know more than when there is a touchdown! However, my brain is yet to comprehend baseball, but there is hope.
Finally, I love it when I’m called by my last name (Fr. Dankasa) because of its meaning: ‘Son of the Land’. It reminds me to always adapt to my environment, hence my preference for the name. Above all, being a priest is the biggest gift God has given me and I love sharing my priesthood with others. The ability to serve God by bringing Him to people is my greatest delight, because through ministering to people I also bring God to myself. I’m delighted to serve at Holy Family, in Irving. I’m here for you. I want to know you and pray with you. I have not come here to solve a problem, because there is no problem that I’m aware of. I’m at Holy Family in order to accompany you, the good parishioners of this community, in our journey of faith. And I want to do that in joy, peace and love. I look forward to a good working relationship and an enriching spiritual experience with you all.
OT XVI [B] (July 18) Jer 23:1-6, Eph 2:13-18, Mk 6:30-34
Introduction: Today’s readings explain how God, like a goodshepherd, redeems His people and provides for them. The readings also challenge us to use our God-given authority in the family, in the Church, and in society, with fidelity and responsibility. Today, pastoral ministry includes not only the pastoral care given by those named or ordained as “pastors,” but the loving service given by all Christians who follow different callings to serve and lead others.
Expectant waiting for dear ones: A story from the life of Mother Teresa shows her love for lonely and unwanted people, the “sheep without a shepherd,” who, while materially well-off, are sometimes “the poorest of the poor.” On one occasion, she visited a well-run nursing home where good food, medical care and other facilities were offered to the elderly. As she moved among the old people, she noticed that none of them smiled unless she touched them and smiled at them first. She also noticed that many of them kept glancing expectantly towards the door while listening to her. When she asked one of the nurses why this was so, she was told: “They are looking for a visit from someone related to them. But, except for an occasional visit, birthday gift or a get-well card, this never happens.” Jesus invites us, in today’s Gospel, to show concern, mercy and compassion for such sheep without a shepherd. -Fr. Tony
Scripture lessons summarized: In the first reading, the prophet Jeremiah (sixth century B.C.), thunders against Israel’s careless leaders – the king, some priests, and some court prophets – because they have shown no concern for the poor. The prophet also foretells the rise of a new, good shepherd in the family-line of David. Then he consoles the Israelites enslaved in Babylon, assuring them that God will lead them back to their original pasture in Israel. Today’s Good Shepherd Psalm (Ps 23) affirms David’s Faith and trust in God, the “Good Shepherd.”
The second reading introduces Jesus as the shepherd of both the Jews and the Gentiles and explains how Jesus, the good shepherd, has reconciled all of us with His Father by offering Himself on the cross. Paul also speaks about another reconciliation between Jews and Gentiles, brought about by Jesus’ accepting both into the same Christian brotherhood.
The reading from the Gospel of Mark presents Jesus as the good shepherd fulfilling God’s promise given through His prophet Jeremiah in the first reading. Here we see Jesus attending the weary apostles, who have just returned, jubilant, from their first preaching mission, while at the same time expressing concern for the people who, like “sheep without a shepherd,” have gathered at their landing place in the wilderness.
Life messages: 1) We need God’s grace to become good shepherds: The Christian life is a continuous passage from the presence of God to the presence of people and back to God again. Prayer is essentially listening to God and talking to Him. We should allow God the opportunity to speak to us and recharge us with spiritual energy and strength by setting aside enough time for Him to speak to us and for us to speak to Him. He speaks to us powerfully when we spend some time every day reading the Bible devoutly and meditating on the message God gives us in Scripture. We receive strength from God to do our share of the shepherd’s preaching and healing ministry by asking for it individually, in the family, and as a community in the parish Church, participating in the Eucharistic celebration.
2) The Church has the double responsibility of teaching and feeding: There can be no true Christianity without the proclamation of the Gospel. Teaching the Word of God is essential to a Christian community. Christians must also display the compassion of Jesus by meeting the social and material needs of others by our works of charity as individual Christians and as a parish community.
OT XV [B] SUNDAY (July 11) (Am 7:12-15, Eph 1:3-14, Mk 6:7-13)
Introduction: Today’s readings remind us of our Divine adoption as God’s children and of our call to preach the Good News of Jesus by bearing witness to God’s love, mercy, and salvation, as revealed through Jesus:“God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.” (Ephesians 1:4).
Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading (Am 7:12-15), warns us that our witnessing mission will be rejected, as happened to the Old Testament prophets like Amos. He was ordered by Amaziah, the angry chief priest serving in the Northern Kingdom of Israel at Bethel, to take his prophesying back to his own country, the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Amos defended his prophetic role with courage, clarifying that it was not his, but God’s choice to elevate him from a shepherd and tree-dresser to a prophet. Like Amos, we are chosen by God, through the mystery of Divine adoption in Jesus, to become missionaries and to preach the “Good News,” mainly by Christian witnessing. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 85) Refrain has us begging God for that Salvation, singing “Lord, let us see Your Kindness, and grant us Your Salvation.”
In the second reading (Eph 1:3-14), St. Paul explains the blessings that we have received through our Baptism and the responsibility we have to become missionaries. Then Paul reveals the Divine secret that it is God’s eternal plan to extend salvation, through Jesus, to all mankind — first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. Hence, the Jewish and the Gentile Christians need to love, help, and respect one another, and thus, to proclaim Jesus, giving true witness by their lives.
In today’s Gospel (Mk 6:1-13),the evangelist tells the story of Jesus’ commissioning of the twelve apostles to preach the “Good News” of repentance, forgiveness of sins, liberation, and salvation through Jesus. Just as God sent the prophet Amos to preach repentance to ancient Israel and St. Paul to preach the Good News of salvation to the Gentiles, so Jesus sends forth the Twelve to proclaim the Good News of God’s Kingdom and to bring healing to those who need it most. Today’s Gospel reports the instruction Jesus gave the apostles for their first mission. They are to be walking illustrations of God’s love and providence in action. They are to preach repentance — a change of heart and a change of action taking people from a self-centered life to a God-centered life.
Life Messages: # 1: We, too, have a witnessing mission:We are called to be witnessing disciples and evangelizing apostles. As witnessing disciples, we need to follow, imitate, reflect, and radiate only Jesus. As apostles, we need to evangelize the world by sharing with others our experience of God and His Son, Jesus, proclaiming Jesus’ Gospel and promised salvation through our transparent Christian lives and words, radiating the love, mercy, forgiveness, spirit of humble service and concern of Jesus to the people around us. 2) We also have the liberating mission of helping to free people from the demons of nicotine, alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography, promiscuous sex, hatred, jealousy, racial prejudice, and consumerism. We need the help of Jesus to liberate both ourselves and others from these things.
Anecdotes: Gideon’s army and Jesus’ fishermen: An angel spoke directly to Gideon, the fourth judge of the Israelites in the 12th century B.C. This two-way conversation is recorded in detail in Jgs. 6:11-25 and comprises the commissioning of Gideon to be a deliverer and “Judge” of God’s people. The angel of the Lord came to meet Gideon under the oak tree at Oprah with specific instructions for a raid on the Midianites who were the controlling force in the land, fielding a unique and fast-moving camel-battalion. The raiders had forcefully reaped all the grain of the Israelites during the harvest season for seven years. Gideon protested that his clan, Manasseh, was the weakest in the nation. But God assured Gideon, “I will be with you, and you shall strike down the Midianites, every one of them” (v 16). Gideon asked for a sign from God, and God graciously gave it to convince Gideon that it was God who was sending him to fight, and it was God who would be fighting for him. In Judges 7:2-11 God gave additional instruction to Gideon and asked him to send home those soldiers who were afraid to fight a strong, extensive army. That reduced the number of soldiers in Gideon’s army from 32,000 to 10,000. But it was still too many in God’s sight. God further instructed Gideon to conduct a water-drinking test in the river. The test eliminated 9700 more soldiers, leaving behind only 300 soldiers of God’s selection. The story of Gideon’s calling was about strategy: “Go in My strength.” The Midianites had a force of 135,000 men with them when they invaded Israel in the 8th harvest season. But Gideon trusted in the strength of the Lord and through the Spirit of the Lord possessing him, defeated and destroyed the mighty army of the Midianites by his surprise midnight attack. Today’s Gospel tells us how Jesus selected twelve ordinary men and delegated them for preaching and healing mission trip. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
# 2: Prophet Amos being chased out of Bethel (First Reading, Amos 7:12-15) The text today is silent about that. Last week I talked about people who were “uncomfortable” in situations where they could control neither events nor the outcome. Today there is a different kind of “discomfort” – but this kind comes from being “disturbed” by hearing the word of God. Perhaps a better way of viewing those times when we feel “uncomfortable” hearing a reading or a homily, is to recognize that we are “being challenged” to become more responsible and just in all of our relationships. Amos was an ordinary lay person from Judah (southern kingdom) who was called by God to speak His word in Samaria (northern kingdom). Prophecy was not the normal “career path” for Amos, who worked in the vineyards and pastures. His message to Northern Israel was simple: the leaders and merchants were engaging in acts of gross injustice. This included cheating customers in the marketplace; being disdainful or inhospitable to strangers (especially females); and above all, disregarding the needs of the poor. The response of the Priest at Bethel in the north was to reject Amos as an “outsider” – after all, Amos wasn’t even a citizen of the northern kingdom! Therefore, his word was rejected, just as the “migrant” himself was rejected. In the Gospel today (Mk 6:7-13) Jesus warned the missionaries that they, too, would be rejected on many occasions. To reject the message and the messenger is to reject the sender, in this case, God Himself. Nevertheless, the duty of every disciple is to “challenge the comfortable” with the Truth. We need these reminders of the centrality of justice, charity, and dignity for all humankind. Otherwise, we may, inadvertently, build walls of exclusion. God’s love knows no boundaries; neither must our love. Evangelization (spreading the Good News of God’s love for all) is not an option; it is an ordinary responsibility for each one of us (CCC #905). Justice is the keystone in all of our relationships (CCC #2411), because it is a basic right belonging to both man and God (CCC #1807). (Fr. Mac Namara). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
# 3: “Bring your daughter to me in three weeks’ time and I will speak to her.” There’s a story about a troubled mother who had a daughter who was addicted to sweets. One day she approached Gandhi, explained the problem to him and asked whether he might talk to the young girl. Gandhi replied: “Bring your daughter to me in three weeks’ time and I will speak to her.” After three weeks, the mother brought her daughter to him. He took the young girl aside and spoke to her about the harmful effects of eating sweets excessively and urged her to abandon her bad habit. The mother thanked Gandhi for this advice and then asked him: “But why didn’t you speak to her three weeks ago?” Gandhi replied: “Because three weeks ago, I was still addicted to sweets.” And there’s the lesson: We must do more than just point out the right road to others, we must be on that road ourselves. For this reason, the integrity of our private lives and private morals, down to the smallest detail, is the real power behind our words. (Fr. Ron Rolheiser). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
July 11, 2021
Greetings in Christ,
Jesus calls disciples to proclaim God’s kingdom in his name. In all the Gospels, Jesus understands his mission and ministry are not to be accomplished by himself alone. The beginning of Mark’s Gospel portrays Jesus as giving his new disciples a quick course in how to prepare for and carry out their ministry. Jesus calls the twelve apostles to assist him. He empowers them to do what he does: have authority over unclean spirits and preach repentance. They are sent out two by two to fulfill a biblical mandate and to authenticate a teaching (Deuteronomy 19:15). They are to travel with an absolute minimum of provisions: taking only a walking stick and sandals; depending totally on the hospitality of others for food; and carrying no sack, money, or second tunic. They are not to argue when their message is rejected, but simply to move on, leaving behind the curse of shaking the dust from their feet.
Discipleship is an extension of Jesus’ ministry. Carefully understanding these guidelines for new discipleship make it clear that disciples are to imitate Jesus in how he lives and all that he does. This is not a summons to honor, glory, and fame, but rather an invitation to embrace a lifestyle of radical simplicity – with complete trust in God. This lifestyle allows the disciples to focus on the tasks at hand: proclaiming the Gospel, healing the sick, and driving out demons. As disciples of Jesus in the challenging circumstances of our modern time, we have the same call – to live our faith in Jesus.
Fr. Albert B. Becher
July 4: U. S. Independence Day: Synopsis of Independence Day Homily-2021
- This is a day to thank God for the political and religious freedom we enjoy and to pray for God’s special blessings on the rulers and the people of our country.
- It is a day to remember with gratitude the founding fathers of our democratic republic, especially,Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, and James Madison, the architect of the Constitution, who believed that all power, including political power, came from God and was given to the people who entrusted this power to their elected leaders.
- It is a day to remember and pray for all our brave soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice of their lives to keep this country a safe and a free country, and for those who are now engaged in the fight against terrorism in other countries.
- It is day to remember the basic principle underlined in the constitution, that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
- It is day to remind ourselves that we have a duty to protect these God-given rights by voting into power leaders who believe in God and who have character, integrity, experience, and strong belief in inalienable human rights.
- It is day to pray and fight for the fundamental right to life denied to pre-born children to grow and develop in their mothers’ wombs and to the sick and the elderly to die gracefully without fearing euthanasia.
- It is day to pray for and work for liberation for all those who are still slaves in our free country – slaves to evil habits and addictions to nicotine, alcohol, drugs, pornography, promiscuity, and sexual aberrations.
- It is a day to take a pledge to become recommitted to doing something about our own growth in Christ, and to living as Americans who contribute something to our religion, Church, country, and the lives of others.
- It is a day to remember Whose we are, where we came from, what we stand for, and the sacrifices that thousands of our countrymen have made on our behalf.
- It is a day to raise our voice of protest against liberal, agnostic, and atheistic political leaders, media bosses, and activist, liberal judges who deny religious moral education to our young citizens, and to pray for their ongoing conversion, as well as for our own.
- It is a day to offer our country and all its citizens on the altar of God, asking for our ongoing conversion and for His special providential care, protection and blessings.
OT XIV [B] (July 4) Ez. 2:2-5; II Cor 12:7-10; Mk 6:1-6
Introduction: Today’s readings introduce Jesus as a prophet and explain how prophets and other messengers from God inevitably suffer rejection. The readings challenge us to face rejection and hardship with prophetic courage.
Scripture lessons: The first reading, taken from the book of the prophet Ezekiel, tells us about his call from God to be a prophet. Yahweh warns Ezekiel that he is being sent to obstinate and rebellious Israelites in exile in Babylon. Hence, as God’s prophet, he will have to face rejection and persecution for giving God’s message. This reading warns us that, as Christians who accept the Way of Jesus and seek to follow it, we also may face indifference, hostility, contempt, scorn, weakness, hardship, persecution, insults, and rejection.
In the second reading, St. Paul gives us the same warning from his own experience, that not only prophets, but apostles and missionaries will encounter hardships and rejection in their preaching mission. Paul confesses that God has given him a share in Christ’s suffering – a chronic illness which causes physical suffering — a “thorn in the flesh,” — so that he might rely solely on God’s grace in all his work and might glory in the power of the strengthening God Who alone sustains him. The apostle invites us to rise above our own weaknesses and disabilities, cooperating with the grace of God and proclaiming His message by word and example as Paul did.
Today’s Gospel passage, Mark 6:1-6, shows us that many people of Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth did not accept him as a prophet because they “knew” Jesus and the family. They also “knew” that this “son of the carpenter” could not be the promised Messiah who would come from Bethlehem as a descendant of David’s royal family. Besides, they were angry when Jesus not only did not work any miracles in Nazareth but chided them with prophetic courage for their lack of Faith, then left them, to proclaim God’s message, through a preaching, healing ministry to those who would receive it and believe.
Life message: Today’s Scriptures challenge us to face rejection with prophetic courage and optimism. Very often our friends, families, or childhood companions fail to listen to us and refuse to accept the words of grace, love, and encouragement that we offer to them because they are so familiar with us that they are unable to see us as God’s appointed instruments, the agents of God’s healing and saving grace. But we have to face such rejection with prophetic courage because by our Baptism we are called to be prophets like Jesus, sharing Jesus’ prophetic mission. As prophets, our task is to “speak the truth in love,” and to oppose the evils in our society without condoning or encouraging sinful behavior even in our dear ones. Let us also acknowledge, appreciate, and encourage the prophets of our time who stand for Truth and Justice in our society with the wisdom of God in their heads, the power and love of the Holy Spirit in their words, and the courage of God in their actions.
#1. Do not allow rejection to derail your dreams: The annals of human history are replete with case after case of good people being rejected by those who knew them best. Beethoven, for example, had a rather awkward playing style and preferred to work at his own compositions rather than play the compositions of the classical artists of his day. Disapproving of his technique, his teacher called him hopeless as a composer. Albert Einstein did not speak until he was four and could not read until age nine. His school master said that he was “mentally slow, unsociable and adrift in his foolish dreams, and that he would never amount to anything.” Thomas Edison’s teachers advised his parents to keep him home from school, stating that he was “too stupid to learn anything.” In his autobiography, Charles Darwin wrote, “I was considered by all my masters and my father, a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard in intellect.” An expert once said of the great football coach, Vince Lombardi, “He possesses minimal football knowledge and lacks motivation.” Socrates was written off as “an immoral corruptor of youth.” Louisa May Alcott’s family thought she was hardly educable and encouraged her to find work as a seamstress or house-servant. When F. W. Woolworth first sought work at a dry goods store, his employers said he did not have the intelligence to wait on customers. Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor who complained that he was lacking in creative ideas. The father of the sculptor Rodin said, “I have an idiot for a son.” Described as the worst pupil in his school, Rodin failed three times to secure admittance to a school of art. After Fred Astaire’s first screen test, the memo from the testing director said, “Can’t act! Slightly bald! Can dance a little! “Obviously, all of these people lived to contradict their naysayers and so excelled in their respective fields as to become a surprise to those who thought they “knew” them. – So also, Jesus. So also, Paul. So also, Ezekiel. Each of the readings for today’s liturgy challenges the human propensity for labeling and limiting and invites believers to begin to look at God, the world, and one another with more open eyes and more receptive hearts. (Sanchez Files) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
# 2 Rejected geniuses: Bishop Fulton Sheen, the great Preacher, was told by his college debate coach, “You are absolutely the worst speaker I ever heard.” (Mark Link S.J.). Ruth Graham felt an uncontrollable urge to run out of the meeting the first time she heard Billy Graham preach. She was not convinced of his preaching ability. She was put off by his preaching style. Billy had to improve his preaching before Ruth would become his wife. Brilliant British Theologian G.K. Chesterton could not read until he was eight years old. A teacher said if his head were opened, they would probably find a lump of fat where there was supposed to be a brain. That teacher was wrong. Earnest Hemingway, the great novelist, was told by his teachers,” Forget about writing; you don’t have enough talent for it.” Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit was rejected by seven publishers. Richard Bach got twenty rejection slips before Jonathan Livingston Seagull was published. Richard Hooker’s humorous war novel, MASH was rejected by 21 publishers before it became a bestseller, a movie, and long-running television series. Dr. Seuss, one of the most popular children’s authors of all time, got more than two dozen rejection slips before The Cat in the Hat made it to print. Today’s Gospel tells us how Jesus encountered rejection with prophetic courage. If people rejected Jesus in his lifetime, we should not be surprised if people reject us who believe in and follow Jesus in our lifetime. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
# 3: Rev. Deacon Prophet: There is a funny story about a bishop who was interviewing a senior seminarian before his ordination as deacon and asked him where he would like to be assigned as a deacon for pastoral training. The seminarian said, somewhat boldly, “Oh, my bishop, anywhere but New Canaan!” “Why not there,” the bishop asked? “You know,” the seminarian answered, “that’s my hometown – and we all know that ‘a prophet is not without honor except in his native place.’ The bishop replied, “Don’t worry my friend! Nobody in your hometown is going to confuse you with a prophet.” Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
July 4, 2021
Greetings in Christ,
Happy Fourth of July! Today we recall the story of how our country gained its Independence. The liberation and freedom this country enjoys have been paid for by so many lives, and by their heroic efforts. We remember them in our prayers as we are united with them in faith.
Most of all, the greatest liberation given to us comes from Jesus. He died on the cross to give us his Body and Blood, that we may be liberated from the slavery and cycle of sin. A wonderful exchange takes place during our Eucharistic celebration. During Consecration at Mass, the bread turns into Jesus’ Body, and the wine turns into his Blood. We receive this during Communion, then become one with Jesus, and he becomes one with us. Through our acceptance and understanding, by faith, we come to know this saving mystery.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus arrives in his native town, where people knew him as he grew up. There, they are astonished and offended by his teaching in the synogogue. Jesus is amazed by their lack of faith. Faith is needed to accept things beyond our imagination. God is still in charge and in control of everything. Have faith in Jesus – He is the giver of life, love, and freedom. We remember and recognize that all the things we enjoy are God’s loving gifts to us, and we must celebrate the fullness of life in Him.
Again, Happy Fourth of July!
Fr. Albert B. Becher
June 27, 2021
Greetings in Christ,
By reflecting on the double miracles Jesus performs in this Sunday’s Gospel, we are made aware of why we come together in Jesus, to be touched by the tremendous power of His Holy Eucharist. These miracles are signs of God’s reign, amid great crowds. Everyone is drawn by Jesus’s presence. He does not allow anyone to go home with souls hungry for him. Even now, Jesus continues doing this, feeding our souls by our coming to Him during our Mass celebrations. After our communion prayers, we go home with Jesus’ renewed presence in our hearts, inspired by his life and love.
The first mission Jesus wants us to fulfill is bringing His loving presence into our own home. St. Augustine says, “we become what we eat”. Be another Christ to each other at home. This makes our family holy- filled with Jesus’ presence. There grow in faith and wisdom of God. Celebrate that faith at home-by-home prayers together. Bring the same spirit of Jesus’ presence in the heart at workplaces wherever they may be. Doing this we are tasked by Jesus to promote God’s reign wherever we go.
Fr. Albert B. Becher
OT XIII (June 27) Wis 1:13-15, 2:23-24; II Cor 8:7,9,13-15; Mk 5:21-43
Introduction: Today’s readings speak of the gift of life, both physical and spiritual, that God has given us. They urge and challenge us to be grateful for our health in body and soul and to use God’s gifts of life and health responsibly.
Scripture lessons: The first reading, taken from the Book of Wisdom, tells us that God gave us life and health, and that it was the jealousy of the Satan that produced illness and death. The reading also suggests that the goal of our lives on earth is to know, to love, and to serve God here, with perfect health in body and soul, and to share God’s immortal Life forever. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 30) celebrates Christ’s victory over death. The Psalm refrain, “I will praise you Lord, for You have rescued me,” allows us to join the Psalm in thanksgiving. In the second reading, St. Paul asks the Corinthian Christian community to show to their suffering, starving Jewish brothers and sisters in Jerusalem, living in poverty and sickness, the same generous kindness and compassion Jesus showed in healing all who came to Him believing. The generosity of Jesus is the central theme here also, for Paul describes Jesus’ life, death, and Resurrection as “the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“Do not be afraid; just have Faith.”Ann Jillian, a three-time Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning actress and singer, is an American actress born to Lithuanian Roman Catholic immigrant parents. Since 1985, she has added motivational speaking to her impressive list of credits, addressing business, medical, professional and women’s groups with her own unique blend of humor and inspiration. Her prowess extends from the world’s concert halls, to feature film and the Broadway stage. She has starred in over 25 TV movies and made hundreds of other TV appearances. Her TV movie, The Ann Jillian Story, which recounts her victory over breast cancer, was the #1 film of that TV season, but, more important, it delivered Ann’s message about the hopeful side of breast cancer to its millions of viewers. It was in 1985 that the then 35-year-old actress made headlines when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. On her way to the hospital to check the nature of the growth which she had noticed, she stopped at St. Francis de Sales Church and read the inscription on the door. “The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.” She went into the Church and prayed for the strength to accept her ordeal. The radiant trust in God and peace of mind she maintained before and after the surgery (double mastectomy), was big news in the media and a great inspiration for all cancer patients. She trusted in Jesus’ words given in today’s Gospel, “Do not be afraid; just have Faith.” This phrase is repeated in the Bible 365 times.
Today’s Gospel describes two of our Lord’s miracles, the healing of a woman who suffered from a chronic bleeding disease and the returning of the dead daughter of Jairus to life. These healings teach us that Jesus wants to heal us in any situation and also he wishes that all to have full life as we are all God’s children. They also reveal Jesus as a generous, kind, compassionate God Who wills those men should live their wholesome lives fully, giving us further proof of the Divine power and the Infinite Mercy of our Savior. These miracles were worked by Jesus as reward for the trusting Faith of a synagogue ruler and of a woman with a hemorrhage. Although the Faith of the ruler may have been defective, and the woman’s Faith may have been a bit superstitious, Jesus amply rewarded the Faith they had by granting them health and life.
Life messages: # 1: We need to accept God’s call to health, wholeness, and holiness. Jesus accepts us as we are. Hence, let us bring before him our bodily illnesses and spiritual wounds and ask for his healing touch. As Christians, we believe that Jesus continues to heal us through God’s instruments in the medical profession like doctors, nurses, and medical technicians. Hence, when we go to a doctor, we need to offer a prayer to Christ, The Divine Healer, that we may choose the right doctor, who will make the correct diagnosis, prescribe the correct treatment, and give us the right medicine. Let us not forget the truth that Christ still works wonders of healing. Let us also thank God for the great gift of health and use it for helping those who are sick.
#2: We need to continue the healing mission of the Church: As members of the Church, we are not excused from our vocation to be healers. We do our share of Christ’s healing mission by visiting the sick, by praying for their healing, and by boosting their morale with our loving presence, and words of encouragement and inspiration. Thus, we may enable them to experience the compassion of Jesus the healer.
Think about it!