Sept 16-21: 24th Week - Reflections

Sept 16 Monday (St. Cornelius, Pope and St. Cyprian Bishop, martyrs= ): Lk 7:1-10: 1 After he had ended all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2 Now a centurion had a slave who was dear to him, who was sick and at the point of death. 3 When he heard of Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his slave. 4 And when they came to Jesus, they besought him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, 5 for he loves our nation, and he built us our synagogue.”6 And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; 7 therefore I did not presume to come to you.
But say the word, and let my servant be healed. 8 For I am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, `Go,’ and he goes; and to another, `Come,’ and he comes; and to  my slave, `Do this,’ and he does it.” 9 When Jesus heard this he marveled at him, and turned and said to the multitude that followed him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I  found such faith.” 10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave well.
Context: Jesus’ healing of the centurion’s slave, described in today’s Gospel, shows us how God listens to our Faith-filled prayers and meets our needs. Centurions were reliable, commanding officers, brave captains in charge of 100 soldiers. They were the backbone of the Roman army. According to Luke’s account (Lk 7:1-10), this centurion loved the Jews, respected their religious customs, built a synagogue for them, loved his sick servant, trusted in Jesus’ power of healing and was ready to face the ridicule of his fellow-centurions by pleading before a Jewish rabbi.
The remote healing: The centurion asked Jesus to shout a command, as the centurion did with his soldiers, so that the illness might leave his servant by the power of that order. Jesus was moved by the centurion’s Faith-filled request and rewarded the trusting Faith of this Gentile officer by performing a telepathic healing.
 Life message: 1) We need to grow to the level of the Faith of the centurion by knowing and personally experiencing Jesus in our lives. We do so by daily meditative reading of the Bible, by our daily personal and family prayers and by frequenting the Sacraments, especially the Eucharistic celebration. The next step to which the Holy Spirit brings us is the complete surrender of our whole being and life to Jesus whom we have experienced, by rendering loving service to others seeing Jesus in them. (Fr. Tony) ( L/19

Sept 17 Tuesday (St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop, Doctor of the Church= ): Lk 7:11-17: 11 Soon afterward he went to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the city, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a large crowd from the city was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 And he came and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17 And this report concerning him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.
The context: Today’s Gospel presents one of the three stories in the Gospel where Jesus brings a dead person back to life. The other stories are those of Lazarus and of the daughter of Jairus, the synagogue leader. Today’s story is found only in Luke. Nain is a village six miles SE of Nazareth, and it is mentioned nowhere else in the Bible.  The scene is particularly sad because the mother in this story, who had already lost her husband, has now lost her only son and her only means of support.
Jesus’ touch of human kindness: Jesus was visibly moved by the sight of the weeping widow, perhaps because he could foresee his own mother in the same position at the foot of his cross. His compassionate heart prompted him to console the widow saying: “Do not weep.” Then Luke reports, “He touched the bier and when the bearers stood still, he said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise.’ And the dead man sat up and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother,” and participated in her indescribable joy. There were instances in the Old Testament of people being raised from death, by Elijah (1 Kings 17:17-24), and Elisha (2 Kings 4:32-37). Jesus’ miracle took place near the spot where the prophet Elisha had brought another mother’s son back to life again (see 2 Kings 4:18-37). These miracles were signs of the power of God working through His prophets.  In the case of the widow’s son in today’s Gospel, the miracle showed the people that Jesus, like Elijah and Elisha, was, at the least, a great prophet.
Life messages: 1) St. Augustine compares the joy of that widow to the joy of our Mother the Church when her sinful children return to the life of grace: “Our Mother the Church rejoices every day when people are raised again in spirit.”  2) The event also reminds us to have the same love and compassion for those who suffer that Jesus had. (Fr. Tony) ( L/19

Sept 18 Wednesday (Saint Joseph of Cupertino= : Lk 7: 31-35: 31 “To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the market place and calling to one another, `We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep.’ 33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine; and you say, `He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of man has come eating and drinking; and you say, `Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”
USCCB video reflections:
The context: The message of John the Baptist and the message of Jesus fell on deaf ears and met with stiff resistance from the scribes and the Pharisees because of their pride, jealousy, prejudice and spiritual blindness. Hence, they attributed the austerities of John the Baptist to the devil and saw Jesus’ table fellowship with sinners as evidence that he was a glutton and a drunkard – both evidence that Jesus’ reputation and silent Messianic were patently false. In today’s Gospel, Jesus compares these Scribes and Pharisees with irresponsible and immature street-children.
Dog-in-the-manger attitude: Jesus compares the attitude of the Scribes and the Pharisees with that of street-children who want to entertain themselves by acting out wedding and funeral songs. They divide themselves into two groups. But when one group proposes to sing wedding songs and asks the other group to dance, the second group will refuse, proposing funeral songs instead, and asking the first group to act as a funeral procession, carrying one of them on their shoulders. In the end both groups will be frustrated. Jesus states that the scribes and Pharisees, because of their pride and prejudice, act exactly like these irresponsible and immature children. Jesus criticizes the unbelieving Jews for not listening either to John the Baptist, who preached a message of austerity, repentance, and God’s judgement on unrepentant sinners, or to Jesus, who preached the Good News of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation.
Life messages: 1) Ignore and correct: Some people will criticize us as they criticized Jesus and John the Baptist, even when we do good, correct things with the best of intentions. The best response is to ignore the critics, while examining our actions and correcting anything we may find in them. 2) Hearing the Gospel implies the total acceptance and assimilation of what we hear and the incorporation of it into our daily lives. We should not be “selective listeners,” hearing only what we want and doing only what we like. 3) Like the generation of Jesus’ time, our age is marked by indifference and contempt, especially in regard to the things of Heaven.  Indifference dulls our ears to God’s voice and to the Good News of the Gospel.   Only the humble of heart can find joy and favor in God’s grace. (Fr. Tony) ( L/19

Sept 19 Thursday (St. Januarius, Bishop, Martyr)= : Luke 7: 36-50: 36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house, and took his place at table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of  woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “What is it, Teacher?” 41 …43
The context: The central theme of today’s Gospel is an invitation to repent, do penance and renew our lives instead of continuing to carry the heavy baggage of our sins. It celebrates the gift of God’s forgiveness. Our God is a God Who always tries not to punish but to rehabilitate, so that we may be made whole and experience inner peace and harmony.  The sinner at the feet of Jesus: The Gospel story tells of a woman of the street who washes Jesus’ feet with her tears, wipes them with her hair, and perfumes them with costly oil. In sharp contrast, the host, Simon the Pharisee, has purposely omitted these Jewish customs of welcoming a guest.  When one invited a Rabbi to one’s house, it was normal to place one’s hand on his shoulder and give him the kiss of peace, to bathe his feet (Palestine is a very dusty country), and to burn a grain of incense or put a drop of attar of roses on his head. Jesus contrasts Simon’s rudeness with the prostitute’s public expression of repentance and says that her sins are forgiven because of her love. By telling the short parable of the two debtors, Christ teaches us two things–his own Divinity and his power to forgive sins. The parable also shows the merit the woman’s love deserves and underlines the discourtesy implied in Simeon’s neglecting to receive Jesus in the conventional way.
Life messages: 1) We can accept or reject the mercy of God: We are challenged to accept or reject the mercy of God. We often share Simon’s mentality by displaying an attitude of lovelessness and harshness.   We need to love Jesus because he is the one and only Savior who has died for our sins. 2) We need to be grateful to our forgiving God: Our serious attempts to avoid the occasions of sin will be both the proof of our sincere repentance and the expression of our gratitude to the merciful God who has forgiven our sins. 3) We need to cultivate a forgiving attitude towards our neighbor: Although it is not easy, we must learn to forgive those who hurt us if we want to be able to receive the daily forgiveness we need from a merciful God. (Fr. Tony) ( L/19

Sept 20 Friday Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gon, Priest and Paul Chong Ha- ang and companions, martyrs= ): Luke 8: 1-3: Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, 2 and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone  out, 3 and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means. USCCB video reflections: L/19 
The context: Today’s Gospel describes how Jesus began his preaching and healing ministry in the company of his twelve Apostles and a group of women volunteers.  Luke’s Gospel pays special attention to women. The female following of Jesus was out of the ordinary at the time and place where Jesus lived. In those days, strict rabbis would not speak to a woman in public, and very strict ones would not speak to their own wives in the streets or public places.  In his Gospel, Luke describes several women around Jesus, like Mary’s kinswoman, Elizabeth, the prophetess Anna, the sinful woman, Martha and Mary, the crippled woman, the woman with hemorrhage, the women who supplied the needs of Jesus and his Apostles out of their own resources, and, in the parables, the woman kneading yeast into the dough, the woman with the lost coin and the woman who tamed the judge.
The ministry and the associates: Jesus started preaching the “Good News” that God His Father is not a judging and punishing God but a loving and forgiving God Who wants to save mankind through His Son Jesus. Luke mentions the names of a few women who helped Jesus’ ministry by their voluntary service and financial assistance. Some among them were rich and influential like Joanna, the wife of King Herod’s steward, Chuza. We meet Joanna again among the women who went to the tomb on the morning of the Resurrection (Luke 24:10). Some others like Mary of Magdala were following Jesus to express their gratitude for the healing they had received from Jesus. It was a mixture of different types of women volunteers who were attracted by the person and message of Jesus. They supported the work of proclaiming the Gospel by providing food and other material assistance to Jesus and the Apostles who proclaimed the Gospel by word and deed and by their communal and shared life. It is nice to know that our Lord availed Himself of their charity and that they responded to Him with such refined and generous detachment that Christian women feel filled with a holy and fruitful envy (St. J. Escriva).  At crucial moments, Jesus was better served by his women disciples than by his men.
Life message: The evangelization work of the Church needs the preaching of the missionaries and preachers, feeding and leading the believers in parishes, and the active support of all Christians by their transparent Christian lives, fervent prayers and financial assistance. (Fr. Tony) ( L/19

Sept 21 Saturday, St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist= : Mt 9:9-13: 9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.  10 And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples.  11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  13 Go and learn what this means, `I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The context: Today’s Gospel episode of Matthew’s call as Jesus’ apostle reminds us of God’s love and mercy for sinners and challenges us to practice this same love and mercy in our relations with others. The call and the response: Jesus went to the tax-collector’s office to invite Matthew to become his disciple. Since tax-collectors worked for a foreign power and extorted more tax money from the people than they owed, the Jewish people, especially the Pharisees, hated and despised the tax collectors as traitors, considered them public sinners, and ostracized them. But Jesus could see in Matthew a person who needed Divine love and grace. That is why, while everyone hated Matthew, Jesus was ready to offer him undeserved love, mercy and forgiveness. Hence, Matthew abandoned his lucrative job, because, for him, Christ’s invitation to him, to become Jesus’ follower, was a promise of salvation, fellowship, guidance and protection. Scandalous partying with sinners. It was altogether natural for Matthew to rejoice in his new calling by celebrating with his friends who were also outcasts. Jesus’ dining with all these outcasts in the house of a “traitor” scandalized the Pharisees, for whom ritual purity and table fellowship were important religious practices. Hence, they asked the disciples, “Why does your master eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  In answer to their question, Jesus stressed his ministry as healer: “Those who are well do not need a physician; the sick do.” Then Jesus challenged the Pharisees, quoting Hosea, “Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’” (Hosea 6:6).  Finally, Jesus clarified his position, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” [After the Ascension, Saint Matthew remained for over ten years in Judea, writing his Gospel there in about the year 44. Then he went to preach the Faith in Egypt and especially in Ethiopia, where he remained for twenty-three years. The relics of Saint Matthew were for many years in the city of Naddaver in Ethiopia, where he suffered his martyrdom, but were transferred to Salerno in the year 954].
Life messages: 1) Jesus calls you and me for a purpose: Jesus has called us through our Baptism, forgiven us our sins, and welcomed us as members of the Kingdom. In fact, Jesus calls us daily through the Word and through his Church, to be his disciples and to turn away from all the things that distract us and draw us away from God. 2) Just as Matthew did, we, too, are expected to proclaim Christ through our lives by reaching out to the unwanted and the marginalized in society with Christ’s love, mercy and compassion. (Fr. Tony) ( L/19