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July 9-14: Weekday Reflections

From Fr. Tony Kadavil:

July 9 Monday (St. Augustine Zhao Rong, Priest and companion martyrs): Mt 9:18-26: 18 While he was thus speaking to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. 20 And behold, a woman who had suffered from a hemorrhage for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment; 21 for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I shall be made well.” 22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.  23 And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house, and saw the flute players, and the crowd making a tumult, 24 he said, “Depart; for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. 25 But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose.  26 And the report of this went through all that district.


The context: Today’s Gospel is a beautiful presentation of two miracles, a healing and a revival and restoration of life. These miracles were worked by Jesus as reward for the trusting Faith of a synagogue ruler and of a woman with a hemorrhage. Though the ruler trusted Jesus out of desperation, and the woman’s Faith may have been a bit superstitious, even their defective Faith was amply rewarded.
The ruler and the woman: The ruler of the synagogue supported Jewish orthodoxy, and he could have despised Jesus who befriended sinners. But he bravely approached Jesus as a last resort when all the doctors had failed, and his daughter was dying. Since the Jews believed that one was not actually dead until three days had passed, when word came that the child had died, the ruler showed courage and Faith in staying with Jesus, ignoring the ridicule of fellow-Jews. In the same way, the woman with the bleeding disease was ritually unclean, and she was not supposed to appear in public. She had the courage and Faith to ignore a social and religious taboo in order to approach and touch the garment of Jesus from behind. Both the ruler’s daughter and the sick woman were brought back to life and to the community.
 Life messages: 1) Jesus accepts us as we are. Hence, we need not wait until we have the correct motive and strong Faith to bring our problems before Jesus. Let us bring before him our bodily and spiritual wounds and ask for his healing touch.
2) We need to do our share of Christ’s healing mission by visiting the sick, by praying for their healing and by boosting their morale through our loving presence, words of encouragement and inspiration. (Fr. Tony) L/18

July 10 Tuesday: Mt 9:32-38: 32 As they were going away, behold, a dumb demoniac was brought to him.33 And when the demon had been cast out, the dumb man spoke; and the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” 34 But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.” 35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity.  36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

The context: Today’s Gospel describes the healing of a mute man by an exorcism Jesus performed during his preaching and healing journey, when he healed all sick persons who approached him with Faith. It also mentions the false accusation by Pharisees about Jesus’ exorcism and expresses Jesus’ sympathy for the leaderless people.
Jesus had a double mission, of preaching the Good News of God’s love and salvation and of liberating people from the power of sin, illnesses and evil spirits. The first part of today’s Gospel describes how his liberating mission was misinterpreted by the Pharisees when Jesus healed a dumb man by exorcism. In the second part, Jesus expresses his compassion for the shepherdless sheep of Israel because their shepherds were more interested in the external observance of the Law and its sacrifices than in giving people God’s words and promoting the practice of love, mercy and justice. That is why Jesus reminds his listeners to pray for genuine shepherds to feed them and lead them.

 Life message: We need to share Christ’s preaching and liberating mission. 1) Let us remember the words of St. Teresa of Avila: “Now Jesus has no other mouths, eyes, ears, hands and feet except ours.” He counts on us to continue his preaching and liberating mission. The most effective way of preaching Christ is by leading a transparent Christian life, radiating Jesus’ love, mercy and forgiveness. But we cannot liberate others as long as we are in bonds. Hence, let us first receive Jesus’ liberation of us from the chains which bind us. (Fr. Tony) L/18

July 11 Wednesday (St. Benedict, Abbot): Mt 10:1-7 1 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. 2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; 4 Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. 5 These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And preach as you go, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
The context: Today’s Gospel passage gives a short account of the call and mission of the apostles. Jesus is the first missionary sent by his Father with the “Good News” that God, his Father, is a loving, merciful and forgiving Father Who wants to save everyone through His Son Jesus. Today’s Gospel describes how this first missionary selects and empowers twelve future missionaries as apostles, giving them his own mission and sending them to Jewish towns and villages as his heralds.
Special features: Jesus selected very ordinary people, most of them hard-working fishermen with no social status, learning or political influence, because he was sure that they would be very effective instruments in God’s hands. It was a strange mixture of people. Matthew was a hated tax-collector for a foreign power while Simon the Cananaean was a Zealot and a fanatical nationalist who was determined to destroy Roman rule by any means. The others were mostly professional fishermen with a lot of good will, patience and stamina. It was only their admiration and love for Jesus that united them. Jesus selected them after a night of prayer and gave them his own powers of healing and exorcism and his own mission of preaching the Kingdom of God.
Life message: 1) As Christians we have the same mission that Jesus entrusted to his apostles. We fulfill this mission by proclaiming the word of God, primarily through our living out of Jesus’ teachings and through promoting and helping world-wide missionary activities of the Church with prayer, moral support and financial aid. (Fr. Tony) L/18

July 12 Thursday: Mt 10:7-15: 7 And preach as you go, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay. 9 Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the laborer deserves his food. 11 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it, and stay with him until you depart. 12 As you enter the house, salute it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.  14 And if any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the Day of Judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.
The context: Today’s Gospel describes the commissioning of the twelve apostles. Sent out in pairs to preach the coming of the Kingdom of God, repentance, forgiveness of sins and liberation, they were to follow Jesus’ detailed action-plan and bear witness to Jesus by their simple life-style.
Jesus’ instructions and travel tips. By his instructions, it is clear that Jesus meant his disciples to take no supplies for the road. They were simply to trust that God, the Provider, would open the hearts of believers to take care of their needs. Jesus’ instructions also suggest that his disciples should not be like the acquisitive priests of the day, who were interested only in gaining riches.  They should be walking examples of Faith in God’s love and providence. The Jews supported their rabbis and judged doing so a privilege as well as an obligation because hospitality was an important religious tradition in Palestine. The apostles, Jesus told them, should choose accommodation in a reputable household, should bless the residents with God’s peace and should be satisfied with the food and accommodation they received, not search for better. They were to preach “’the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand,’ heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and cast out demons.”
Life messages: 1) We have a witnessing mission:   Each Christian is called not only to be a disciple but also to be an apostle. As apostles, we are to evangelize the world by sharing with others, not just words, or ideas, or doctrines, but our experience of God and His Son, Jesus. It is through our transparent Christian lives that we must show the unconditional and sacrificial love, mercy and concern of Jesus to the people around us.
2)   We also have a liberating mission: There are many demons which can control the lives of people around us making them helpless slaves —the demon of nicotine, the demon of alcohol, the demon of gambling, the demon of pornography and promiscuous sex, the demon of materialism and consumerism. We need the help of Jesus to liberate ourselves and others from these things. (Fr. Tony) L/18

July 13 Friday (St. Henry): Mt 10:16-23: 16 Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.17 Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; 22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to another. Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
The context: Matthew’s Judeo-Christian community had experienced much persecution.  Jesus’ words “You will be dragged before governors and kings” and “brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death,” were beginning to come true. The Apostle James had been martyred by King Herod, and the lives of other apostles were also in danger.  Hence, by repeating Jesus’ warning to his apostles, Matthew encouraged his Judeo-Christians to rely on Jesus’ promise of the protective power of a providing God as they persevered in Faith and its practice.
Persecutions past and present: Jesus gave his frank warning to the apostles that their lives and their future followers’ lives were not going to be beds of roses. Jesus foretold three types of persecution awaiting Christians: by the Roman government, by the local Jewish synagogues and by their Jewish or pagan family members. The main accusations against the first-century Christians were that they were cannibals, atheists and incendiaries practicing immorality during worship services by their sharing of kiss of peace, that they caused a split in their families and that they considered slaves as equals in an empire with 60 million slaves.
Life message: 1) Although we have in this country freedom to practice the religion of our choice, the extreme interpretation of the “separation of Church and state” policy eliminates the religious instruction and moral training of children in public schools, allowing youngsters not given this training at home to grow up as pagans. The secular media, run by atheists and agnostics, ridicule all religious beliefs and practices, inflicting a type of “white martyrdom” on believers. Hence, the duty of parents to see that their children receive religious and moral instruction from their parishes and families becomes more important daily. (Fr. Tony) L/18

July 14 Saturday (St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin, U. S. A.): Mt 10:24-33: 24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master; 25 it is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. 26 “So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
The context: Today’s Gospel passage comes from the end of Jesus’ instruction to his disciples as he sends them forth to carry on his mission of preaching and healing. He asks them to live simple lives and to expect opposition and rejection. Predicting future opposition and persecution, Jesus encourages his disciples to stand firm. Three times He urges them, and us, “Do not fear!” “Do not be afraid!” Thus, we know that we, too, will be successful despite the opposition we encounter.
Have no fear. Jesus gives three reasons why his apostles, and we, should not be frightened. The first reason is that opponents will not be able to prevent Jesus’ followers from succeeding in their mission because God will expose their evil plans and deeds: “Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered.”  The Lord “will bring to light the hidden things of darkness” (1 Cor 4:5), and will vindicate the faithful. That God will not permit evil to win is the promise of v. 26. The second reason not to be afraid is the limited power of our opponents.  They can kill the body, which dies all too soon anyway, but have no power over the soul. The third reason we should not be afraid is God’s compassionate love. We are more important to God than sparrows “sold at two for a penny.” The God who cares for a trivial bird like the sparrow also cares about our smallest problems – even counting the hairs on our heads. While this is an encouraging assurance, it may be difficult to believe in the midst of persecution.
 Life messageWe need not be afraid: We can suffer from many fears: Fear of Loss: a) Loss of life by illness or accident; b) Loss of dear ones – spouse, children, parents; c) Loss of belongings and property or savings; d) Loss of job; e) Loss of good name and reputation by slanderers); f) Baseless fears due to mental illness; g) Fears about terrorist attack, nuclear holocaust, war etc. When we are afraid let us remind ourselves that God cares – we are each a dear child of His and He cares for each of us. “Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Fr. Tony) L/18