18th Week-August 5-10: Weekday Reflections

Aug 5 Monday: [The Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major]: Matthew 14:13-21: 13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 As he went ashore, he saw a great throng; and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a lonely place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.”
18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; and taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. (Cfr also MK 6:30-44, LK  9: 10-17, JN 6: 1-14)
The context: Today’s Gospel describes Jesus’ miraculous feeding of a great multitude. The story is told in all four Gospels and serves as Jesus’ way of introducing to his hearers a merciful and providing God. This miraculous feeding was meant to remind people of God’s provision of manna in the wilderness and to foreshadow the true Heavenly Bread which Jesus would offer his followers. Moses, Elijah and Elisha had fed people without the benefit of resources.  The present miracle resembles particularly the one performed by Elisha in 2 Kgs 4:42-44.
Jesus took pity on the growing physical hunger of his listeners as he preached, and he challenged his apostles to feed them. They brought him what they had — five loaves of bread and two dried fish. Jesus took these, said a prayer of blessing, broke them and asked the apostles to distribute them. Since it was mid-April, springtime in Israel, the people could sit comfortably on green grass in groups of hundreds and fifties as Jesus asked. After serving a sumptuous meal, which satisfied everyone’s hunger, the apostles collected twelve wicker baskets filled with leftover bread and fish pieces, a vivid demonstration of God’s generosity in giving.
Life message: 1) We may not be able to feed the hungry millions in the world, but today’s Gospel challenges us to do our humble share in alleviating hunger and poverty in our neighborhood. God will amplify our little contributions and reward our good will and generosity. 2) Let us be thankful to Jesus  for spiritually feeding us every day with the word of God and the Holy Eucharist. ( L/19

August 6 Tuesday The Transfiguration of the Lord: Lk 9: 28-36:
 28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, and when they wakened, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one  for Moses and one for Elijah” — not knowing what he said. 34 As he said this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silence and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.
The context: In the Transfiguration story in today’s Gospel, Jesus is revealed as a glorious figure, superior to Moses and Elijah. The primary purpose of Jesus’ Transfiguration was to allow Him to consult his Heavenly Father and ascertain His plan for His Son’s suffering, death and Resurrection.  The secondary aim was to make his chosen disciples aware of his Divine glory, so that they might discard their worldly ambitions and dreams of a conquering, political Messiah and might be strengthened in their time of trial. On the mountainJesus is identified by the Heavenly Voice as the Son of God. Thus, the Transfiguration narrative is a Christophany, that is, a manifestation or revelation of who Jesus really is. Describing Jesus’ Transfiguration, the Gospel gives us a glimpse of the Heavenly glory awaiting those who do God’s will by putting their trusting Faith in Him.
Life messages:(1)The “transfiguration” in the Holy Mass is the source of our strength: In each Holy Mass, the bread and wine we offer on the altar become “transfigured” – more properly, transubstantiated — into the living body and blood of the crucified, risen and glorified Jesus.  Just as Jesus’ Transfiguration strengthened the Apostles in their time of trial, each Holy Mass should be our source of Heavenly strength against temptations, and our renewal of Christian living.  (2) Each time we receive one of the Sacraments, we are transformed: For example, Baptism transforms us into sons and daughters of God and heirs of Heaven. Confirmation makes us temples of the Holy Spirit and warriors of God. By the Sacrament of Reconciliation, God brings back the sinner to the path of holiness. (3)A message of encouragement and hope: IN moments of doubt and during our dark moments of despair and hopelessness, the thought of our future transfiguration in Heaven will help us to reach out to God and to listen to His consoling words: “This is My beloved Son; listen to Him.” Let us share the glory of His Transfiguration with all we encounter. ( L/19 

August 7 Wednesday (Saint Sixtus II, Pope, and Companions, Martyrs; Saint Cajetan, Priest):  Mt 15:21-28: 21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. (Cfr Mark 7 24-30)
The context: In the Gospel, Jesus demonstrates that salvation is meant for the Gentiles as well as for the Jews. By healing the daughter of a Gentile woman as a reward for her strong, trusting faith expressed by her patient, persistent prayer, Jesus shows us that God’s mercy and love are available to all who call out to Him in Faith.
This is one of the two miracles of healing Jesus performed for Gentiles. The other is the healing of the centurion’s servant (Mt. 8:10-12). These miracles foreshadow the future preaching of the Gospel to the whole world.  Jesus first ignored both the persistent cry of the woman and the impatience of his disciples who wanted him to send the woman away. He then tried to awaken true Faith in the heart of this woman first, by ignoring the request and then, by an indirect refusal. We notice that the woman was refused three times by Jesus before he finally granted her request the fourth time. Her patient persistence was rewarded, and her plea was answered. Jesus was completely won over by the depth of her Faith, her confidence and her wit and hence responded exuberantly, “Woman, great is your Faith!  Let it be done for you as you wish.”
Life messages:1) We need to persist in prayer with trustful confidence.  Christ himself has told us to keep on asking him for our needs: “Ask and you shall receive. “Asking with fervor and perseverance proves that we have “great Faith.” 2) We must realize and remember that we do not always get exactly what we ask for, but rather what God knows we actually need, and what is really best for us,  at the most appropriate time we need it. 3) We need to pull down the walls of separation we have built between ourselves and others and share in the universality of God’s love. Today’s Gospel reminds us that God’s love and mercy are extended to all who call on him in Faith and trust, no matter who they are.  It is therefore fitting that we should pray that the walls our pride, intolerance and prejudice raise, should crumble. ( L/19

August 8 Thursday(Saint Dominic, Priest): Mt 16: 13-23:13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth  shall be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. 21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men.”
The context:Today’s Gospel passage is the first of the three times when Jesus foretold his passion, death and Resurrection. The passage consists of two sections, the Messianic confession of Peter and the prediction of his passion by Jesus.
Jesus as the Christ, our Lord and Savior: Today’s Gospel explains the basis of our Faith as the acceptance of Jesus as the Christ, our Lord and Savior. It also tells us that Christ Jesus became our Savior by his suffering, death and Resurrection. This famous profession of Faith by Peter took place at Caesarea Philippi, at present called Banias, twenty-five miles northeast of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus realized that if his disciples did not know who he really was, then his entire ministry, suffering and death would be useless. Hence, he decided to ask a question in two parts. 1) “What is the public opinion about me?” 2) “What is your personal opinion?” Their answer to the first question was: “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Peter volunteered to answer the second question saying: “You are the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God. “Jesus confirmed Peter’s insight as a special revelation from God. “No mere man has revealed this to you, but my Heavenly Father.”
Life message:1) Let us experience Jesus as our Lord and Savior and surrender our life to him. We experience Jesus as personal Savior by listening to him through the daily, meditative reading of the Bible, by talking to him through daily, personal and family prayers, by frequenting Holy Mass and offering him our lives on the altar, by being reconciled with him every night, asking his pardon and forgiveness for our sins and by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation whenever we are in mortal sin.  The next step is the surrenderof our lives to Jesus by rendering humble and loving service to others with the strong conviction that Jesus is present in every person.  ( L/19

August 9 Friday (Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Virgin and Martyr): Matthew 16: 24-28: 24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? 27 For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” 
The context: After Peter made his famous declaration of Faith in Jesus as God and Messiah, Jesus plainly warned his disciples about his suffering and death and promised his Resurrection. But the apostles were unwilling to accept such a fate for their Master. Peter even took Jesus aside and prayed, “God forbid it. It was after Peter’s protest that Jesus declared three conditions of the discipleship which he expects from his followers. We hear them in today’s Gospel.
Conditions of Christian discipleship: 1) Deny yourself 2) Take up your cross. 3) Follow Me. Denying oneself means evicting the self, with its selfish thoughts and desires, from one’s heart. It also means cleansing the heart of all bad habits and evil tendencies.  Finally, it means enthroning God in one’s cleansed heart and surrendering one’s life to God’s service by serving others. Carrying the cross means willingly accepting the pain involved in serving others sacrificially. It also means spending our time, talents, wealth and health for others until it hurts us. Cross-bearing is also our sacrificial sharing of God’s blessings with others. Further, it means our doing penance to make reparation for our sins and to grow in self-control. Carrying one’s cross becomes easier and more meritorious when we accept life’s crosses as loving gifts given by a loving Father. The comparison of our light crosses with the heavy crosses given to others should make us grateful. Finally, we should carry our crosses, praying for Heavenly strength. “Follow Me” means the disciple should be ever ready to obey as Jesus directs him or her through his words in the Bible and through the teaching authority he instituted in the Church.
Life message: We need to love the cross, wear the cross, and transform the God-given crosses of our life into the instruments of our salvation by working with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. ( L/19

 August 10 Saturday (Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr): Jn 12:24-26: 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him.
The context:Jesus tells us a short parable followed by two amazing paradoxes. The parable is that of a wheat grain sown into the muddy field, growing up and yielding a good crop.
The parable followed by the paradoxes teaches us three lessons for Christian life. The first lesson is that life comes only through death. Only when the grain of wheat dies in the muddy soil of the field does it become a seedling. In the same way, the Church would grow up and flourish in the death of its martyrs:“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” When we die to our personal ambitions and desires, we are born as useful instruments in the hands of God. The second lesson is that only by spending life we can retain it. The world owes a lot to saintly people like St. Don Bosco, St. Vincent De Paul, St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa), St. Jeanne Jugan, and St. Damien, among others, who spent their energy for service of the poor and the downtrodden and gave themselves to God. The third lesson is that greatness comes through selfless and committed service. This explains why the world still honors and cherishes the memory of great souls mentioned above.
Life message: Let us surrender our lives to God in the service of others with agape love in all humility, seeing the face of Jesus in each of them. ( L/19