Opening our Sanctuary
My dear parish family,
In today’s world we talk about the “new normal” to indicate the unusual and difficult changes that we must endure as a people because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless of whether or not we believe that there will be a new normal, let’s continue to hope in a future that will be a blessing to us as children of God. Let us hope that our new normal will not include locking down our churches for eternity.
As we welcome parishioners back to the church building, we’re fully aware that COVID-19 is still with us. But instead of locking down our churches we will create ways to worship while not ignoring safety protocols for ourselves or for others. We understand that there are those who want to wear face masks, and there are others who don’t. And we don’t want to compel anyone to sit with everyone regardless of their personal safety preference. To this end, we’re adjusting our seating arrangements in the church to provide some level of comfort for everyone as we return for Mass.
Beginning this weekend (August 7/8), the seating in the sanctuary will be as follows: The left side from the altar, the St. Joseph wing, will continue to be sectioned off for social distancing, and face masks will be required in this section. All other rows of the sanctuary will be open for general seating. Face masks will not be required in the open sections, but they are encouraged.
We are creating these separate seating arrangements to give everyone who returns to church the opportunity to be comfortable as they return to worship, while remaining conscious of the comfort and safety of others. All doors of the church will be open for weekend Masses, and temperatures will no longer be taken as we enter the church.
As we go forward we will continue to adjust the seating arrangements, depending on changing circumstances. And if the COVID advisory changes, we will adjust accordingly.
Our ministries will also begin to hold onsite meetings and gatherings on our campus. This will be a gradual process, and the number of meetings will be determined by space availability and the size of the event.
I thank you for your continuing patience as we find ways to navigate these difficult times.
Sending blessings to you all,
Father Jacob Dankasa
OT XIX [B] (Aug 8, 2021) I Kgs 19:4-8, Eph 4:30-5:2, Jn 6:41-51
Introduction: We are living in a world where people of all races and creeds hunger more for spiritual sustenance than for physical food. In response to the spiritual hunger of people in his own day, Jesus proclaims Himself to be “the Bread of Life that came down from Heaven” and feeds them with His words.
Scripture lessons: The first reading describes the physical and spiritual hungers experienced by the prophet Elijah. The Bread of Life Jesus speaks about is prefigured in this reading by the miraculous food with which the angel nourished the Prophet Elijah in the desert while he was fleeing from the soldiers of Queen Jezebel. After being nourished by the Lord, Elijah was strengthened for the long journey of “forty days and forty nights,” to Mount Horeb where God instructed Elijah to continue his prophetic work. The second reading presents Christ Jesus, the “Bread of Life,” as a “sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.” Paul reminds the Ephesian Christians that, instead of seeking satisfaction in the stale food of anger, slander, bitterness, and malice, they are to nourish one another with the spiritual food of compassion, kindness, and mutual forgiveness. Today’s Gospel describes Jesus’ discourse in the synagogue at Capernaum on his return there after his miraculous feeding of the five thousand. During the discourse, Jesus reveals himself as the true “Bread of Life that came down from Heaven,” to give life to the world. Jesus proclaims that it is He himself, the Incarnate Son of God, who is the new and perfect manna, literally “come down from Heaven.” This means that in the Holy Eucharist, Jesus gives us a share of eternal life while we are still on earth. But some of Jesus’ followers turn away when Jesus explains the Source of His mysterious power and Heavenly origin.
Life messages: 1) Let us accept the challenge to become bread and drink for others: “You are what you eat?” Let us recognize that Jesus whom we consume in the Holy Eucharist is actually God Who assimilates us into His being. Thus, from Sunday to Saturday we will grow into Jesus, as Jesus grows in us, our lives will be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, and we will become more like Jesus. In this way, we shall share in the joyous and challenging life of being the Body of Christ for the world – Bread for a hungry world, and Drink for those who thirst for justice, peace, fullness of life, and even eternal life. In other words, the Eucharist challenges us to sacrifice ourselves for others, as Christ has done for each of us.
# 2: Let us appreciate Christ’s presence in the Holy Eucharist: Since the Holy Eucharist is “the Body and Blood, together with the Soul and Divinity, of our Lord, Jesus Christ,” the Sacrament a) increases our intimate union with Christ; b) preserves, increases, and renews the Sanctifying Grace we received at Baptism; c) cleanses us of past sin and preserves us from future sins; d) strengthens the theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity in us, thus enabling us to be separated from our disordered attachments and to be rooted in Christ; and e) unites us more deeply with the mystery of the Church.
Insatiable thirst for eternal life: Shortly after Columbus discovered America, rumors spread in Spain that the New World contained a fountain of youth. A sixteenth century Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon, first Governor of Puerto Rico, constructed a ship and sailed to America to search for this legendary fountain but never found it. Cocoon is a 1985 American science fiction fantasy comedy drama film directed by Ron Howard about a group of elderly people rejuvenated by aliens. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cocoon(film). In the movie Cocoon, a group of senior citizens experienced a return to their youth when they bathed in a swimming pool used by aliens from another planet. Their exciting experience prompted them to accept an invitation from the aliens to go back with them to their planet. The senior citizens were told that once they reached the alien planet, they would live forever. In today’s Gospel, Jesus promises a fountain of eternal life claiming that those who eat the Bread from Heaven will live forever. -Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
Starving to death during plenty: During the winter of 1610, the population of British immigrants to Jamestown, in the U.S. (the Pilgrims) went from about 500 people to about 60. While disease and American Indians took some lives, most of the settlers simply starved. There were plentiful supplies of fish, oysters, frogs, fowl, and deer all around them. But these settlers from the city were not accustomed to obtaining food from the land. Hence, they starved! [Cullen, Joseph P. “James’ Towne,” American History Illustrated (October 1972).] We sometimes act the same way. God comes to us continually in the Person of the Holy Spirit to guide us. As a loving Father, God awaits the opportunity to meet our needs, but we are accustomed to meet our own needs, not to receive things from His loving hand. In today’s Gospel, Jesus promises to give us spiritual Food, but we must prepare and choose to receive the Heavenly Bread. -Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
Introduction: Today’s readings challenge us to be more concerned with spiritual food than with physical food and to get our spiritual food regularly from the word of God and from the Holy Eucharist – the Heavenly Bread — because only God can satisfy the various forms of our spiritual hunger.
Scripture lessons: The first reading shows us how God satisfied the physical hunger of His chosen people in the desert by giving them manna and quail. The restrictions imposed by God for the collecting of manna remind us to acknowledge humbly our total dependence on God and to trust that He will always provide for what we need. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 78) refers to manna as “Heavenly bread” and the “bread of angels” which God provided for Israel and provides for us today. In the second reading, St. Paul advises the Ephesians to satisfy their spiritual hunger by turning away from their former evil ways and by leading renewed lives of love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. Paul reminds us that our acceptance of Jesus as the real source of our life and the nourishment of our souls, produces a total transformation in us. Having been nourished by the Bread from Heaven and the word of God, we need to bear witness to Christ by living lives renewed by the Holy Spirit. Today’s Gospel passage is taken from the “Bread of Life Discourse” in John’s Gospel. Here, Jesus makes the unique and bold claim: “I am the Bread of Life; whoever comes to Me will never hunger, and whoever believes in Me will never thirst.” Jesus is offering the crowd Bread from Heaven, Bread that nourishes them for eternal life, the Bread available to people who have Faith in Jesus Christ – the presence and indwelling of God in their hearts. When Jesus instructed those, who had sought after him for earthly food that they should be fed by the Bread that Jesus would give them, some accepted this teaching. But others turned away disappointed, because Jesus’ challenge required a commitment that they were unwilling to make.
Life messages: 1) We receive the spiritual nourishment we need from the word of God and from the Holy Eucharist: In the Holy Mass, the Church offers us two types of bread: a) the Bread of Life, contained in God’s Word and b) the Bread of Life, contained in the Holy Eucharist. Let us nourish our souls with this Heavenly Manna and carry Jesus to our homes and workplaces, radiating Jesus’ love, mercy, and compassion all around us. But we should not take for granted the Divine generosity, that so readily provides these gifts gratuitously, by sharing in the Bread of Life simply as a matter of habit, without repenting of our sins or showing due attention and proper respect. 2 We need to gain the benefits of our Holy Communion with Jesus. Our reception of Jesus in Holy Communion acts spiritually as Food to nourish the spirit, as, similarly, bread and wine act materially for our body. Unconsecrated bread and wine, i.e., material food, (1), is assimilated by our bodies into our substance; (2), maintains physical life, promoting physical growth; (3), dispels fatigue and weakness from, and imparts strength to, the body; (4), affords a certain satisfaction by pleasing the palate; and (5), influences the mind and spirit by the medium of the body. In a similar way, the action of Jesus on our soul in Holy Communion may be described, as (1), uniting us most closely to Himself: Our Lord says: “He that eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood, abides in Me, and I in him” (Jn 6:57); (2), uniting each of us individually to each individual member of the human race by joining us to Himself; (3), imparting actual graces, including strength, the power to withstand temptation, and the desire to practice virtue, while maintaining, deepening, and increasing Sanctifying Grace in the soul; (4), lessening force of concupiscence of the eyes, concupiscence of the flesh and the pride of life , and freeing us from repented venial sin; as a result , one who communicates frequently will feel less sharply the stimulus of anger, envy, uncleanness, and other evil propensities; (5), often affording much refreshment to the soul; (6),sanctifying the body, and implanting in it the germ of a future glorious resurrection; and (7), cancelling the temporal penalties of sin according to the measure of our devotion. (https://bellarmineforum.org/bf_catechism/the-catechism-explained/)..
All about food, earthly and Heavenly: In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks about food. The two biggest sellers in any bookstore, according to Andy Rooney, are the cookbooks and the diet books. The cookbooks tell you how to prepare the food, and the diet books tell you how not to eat any of it! Orson Wells once said, “My doctor has advised me to give up those intimate little dinners for four — unless, of course, there are three other people eating with me.” Champion archer Rick McKinney confesses that he regularly eats chocolate chip cookies for breakfast. He refers to “the basic four food groups” as a Big Mac, fries, a shake, and a lemon tart. A California scientist has computed that the average human being eats 16 times his or her own weight in an average year, while a horse eats only eight times its weight. This all seems to prove that if you want to lose weight, you should eat like a horse. (Sunshine Magazine). — That’s a subject most of us know too much about. A recent survey found that 41% of men and 55% of women consider themselves overweight. In one way or another, many of us are obsessed with earthly food. Think what a difference it would make in our lives if we were equally obsessed with Heavenly Food, the Food that Christ gives us! Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
My dear parish family,
One of the major effects of the Covid-19 pandemic is its negative impact on our faith communities and disruption of religious worship. As a people of faith our religious activities may be disrupted but our faith will remain even stronger. I’m thankful that our churches are already opening, and we’re seeing an increased rate of attendance to nearly pre-pandemic levels in many parishes of our diocese. This is good news. It means Satan will not have the last words in this battle.
In response to the progress made so far, Bishop Burns has lifted the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass, effective August 15, 2021. This means that from this date every Catholic in the diocese will be obligated to attend Sunday Mass, except if a grave reason (such as sickness, disability or homebound) prevents one from doing so.
One of my very first priorities here at Holy Family is to bring people back to Church. It’s my desire to see our pews filled again to pre-pandemic levels. I want to see our community life return, with ministry activities flourishing on campus once again. Very soon at Holy Family we’ll safely and gradually ease out restrictions and open our church pews for more people and our campus for onsite activities. Although we’re not out of the woods yet from the virus, as we safely open
, we will continue to appeal to our individual sense of responsibility for your safety and respect for the safety of others. We’re carefully monitoring the covid situation and we shall in due course provide guidance on how to open up our church pews and facilities without compromising safety.
As humans, we must take all necessary precautions to remain safe from the virus. Of course, taking the vaccine is an individual decision to make, but I want to strongly encourage us all to take the vaccine which is shown to be effective in minimizing the effects of the virus.
As we look forward to gradual opening of our church pews and easing restrictions, as Christians we must remain hopeful and trusting in the God that we serve. Know that like the people of Israel, as we fight this battle, God is fighting for us. Therefore, let’s not allow fear to have the last word
s. I invite you to consider returning to Mass in person if you haven’t yet. Blessings to you all.
Father Jacob Dankasa
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.