30th Week: Oct 28- Nov 2: Daily Reflections

Oct 28 Monday (Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles) : Apostles Simon (the Zealot) and Jude (Judas Thaddeus):   Lk 6:12-16 12 In those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles; 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. For USCCB video reflections:

Simon the Zealot was the brother of Jude and James the Lesser and, with them, was chosen by Jesus to become an apostle. His name appears in all four Gospels in the list of apostles. In order to distinguish him from Simon Peter, this Simon is called Simon the Zealot, probably because of his great zeal for the Jewish Law and its practice. The Zealots among the Jews were a Maccabaean rebel group of patriotic Jews who would only acknowledge Yahweh as their King. Therefore, they refused to pay taxes to the Roman Empire and were determined to fight against any foreign rule.  Some of the Fathers of the Church think that it was Simon’s marriage celebration in Cana of Galilee at which Jesus transformed water into wine. As an apostle and admirer of Jesus, Simon was transformed into a zealous evangelizer who preached in Egypt, Ethiopia and Persia and, along with his brother Jude, suffered martyrdom.
Jude or Judas Thaddeus: He was the brother of James the Lesser and Simon the Zealot. The three were probably cousins of Jesus on his mother’s side. Jude was the one who asked Jesus at the Last Supper why he did not manifest himself to the world as Jesus had done to his disciples. Jude wrote one Epistle to the Churches in the East and preached in Judea, Samaria, Idumea, Syria, Mesopotamia and Libya. (The most widespread tradition is that after evangelizing in Egypt, Simon joined Jude in Persia and Armenia or Beirut, Lebanon, where both were martyred in 65 A.D.) He was martyred by stoning. He is venerated as the patron saint of seemingly impossible cases because a) in his Epistle he stresses the importance of perseverance in harsh and difficult circumstances; b) he was a close relative of Jesus; and c) he was ignored (since he shared the name “Judas” with Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus). According to some first century Mesopotamian legends, he performed miracles that outshone those of the local sorcerers and magicians and cured a local king of leprosy.
Life message: We share the mission of the Apostles – the mission of preaching the Good News by bearing witness to Christ’s love and mercy and his spirit of forgiveness and service through our transparent Christian lives. (Fr. Tony) ( L/19

Oct 29 Tuesday: Lk 13: 18-21: 18 He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his garden; and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” 20 And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? 21 It is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” For USCCB video reflections:
The context: Today’s Gospel contains two of Jesus’ one-line parables about the Kingdom of God.  The parable of the mustard seed probably shows that Gentiles in the Church will one day outnumber Jews.  The parable of the yeast indicates that all are invited to salvation, and the Gentiles, who were considered evil, like yeast, will enable the Church to grow.
The small beginnings and great endings: Using a pair of mini-parables, the mustard seed and yeast, Jesus explains how the Kingdom, or Reign, of God grows within us by the power of the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit living within us.  When we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ and allow his word to take root in our hearts, we are transformed and made holy by the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.  In the parable of the mustard seed, the primary point of comparison is the contrast between the smallness of the seed and the greatness of the result (“the largest of plants”).  The life-principle in a small mustard seed enables it to grow into a large bush by a slow but steady process.  The microscopic yeasts within a small piece of leaven transform a thick lump of dough overnight into soft and spongy bread.  Christianity had a small beginning, like a mustard seed or yeast, with Jesus and a band of twelve Apostles in a remote corner of the world.  But through the power of the Holy Spirit living in individual Christians, Christianity has become the largest religion in the world, spreading in all countries and embracing all races of people.
Life messages: 1) We need to allow the Holy Spirit to transform us from our evil ways and tendencies to a life of holiness; from unjust and uncharitable conversation to speaking with God and listening to Him (prayer); from gossiping about people and a judgmental attitude to showing compassion for others and supporting them with consoling, encouraging and inspiring words and deeds.
2) We need to act like yeast influencing the lives of others around us: Just as Christianity in the past transformed the status of women, children, slaves, the sick and the poor by the power of Jesus’ Gospel, so we, as Christians in our time, have the duty to transform the lives of people around us by leading exemplary lives through the grace of God, according to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  (Fr. Tony) ( L/19

Oct 30 Wednesday: Lk 13:22-30: 22 He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 And some one said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, 24 “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, `Lord, open to  us.’ He will answer you, `I do not know where you come from.’ 26 Then you will begin to say, `We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 But he will say, `I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!’ 28 There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out. 29 .. For USCCB video reflections: ;
The context: As he continued his fateful journey to Jerusalem, Jesus answered the question about how many would be saved by answering four presumed questions: Who will be saved? How? Why? When?  Jesus clearly explained that anyone who followed him through the narrow gate of sacrificial serving and sharing love would be saved.   Jesus also admonished His followers to concentrate on their own salvation rather than on other people’s salvation.
Explanation: When the Jewish questioner asked Jesus, “How many will be saved?” he was assuming that the salvation of God’s Chosen People was virtually guaranteed, provided they kept the Law. In other words, the Kingdom of God was reserved for the Jews alone, and Gentiles would be shut out.  Jesus declared that entry to the Kingdom was never an automatic event based purely on formal religion or nationality. What Jesus is saying is that Salvation is not guaranteed for anyone. In order to be “saved” one has to live and to die in a close loving relationship with God and with others. Then Jesus added two conditions:  a) Eternal salvation is the result of a struggle: Hence, we are to “keep on striving to enter.” b) We must enter through the “narrow gate” of sacrificial and selfless service. Our answer to the question: “Have you been saved?” should be: “I have been saved from the penalty of sin by Christ’s death and Resurrection.  I am being saved from the power of sin by the indwelling Spirit of God.  I have the hope that I shall one day be saved from the very presence of sin when I go to be with God.”
Life messages: 1) We need to make wise decisions and choose the narrow gate when God gives us the freedom to choose. That is, we need to choose consistent denial of self and the steady relinquishing of sinful pleasures, pursuits, and interests.
2) We need to check our track on a daily basis.  The parable of the locked door warns us that the time is short.  Each day sees endings and opportunities missed. “Opportunity will not knock twice at your door.” Let us ask this question every day: How much did I strive today to enter through the narrow gate of sacrificial and serving love in action? (Fr. Tony) ( L/19

Oct 31 Thursday: Luke 13: 31-35: 31 At that very hour some Pharisees came, and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32 And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, `Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. 33 Nevertheless I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ 34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! 35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, `Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'” For USCCB video reflections:
The context: Some Pharisees warned Jesus of his imminent danger of arrest by Herod. They might have been either his friends among the Pharisees or Jesus’ enemies who wanted him to leave their territory.
Jesus’ reaction:  Jesus called Herod a fox – a cunning, fearful and dangerous animal. But with prophetic courage, he was determined to do the Messianic work entrusted to him by God his Father. Hence, Jesus sent the message to Herod that he would continue with his preaching and healing ministry. Prophesying his death in Jerusalem, Jesus expressed his love and longing for the Holy City of Jerusalem using the image of a mother hen gathering all her chicks under her protective wings. Across the valley from the city of Jerusalem there is a church called Dominus flevit, which means, “The Lord wept.”  On the base of the altar of that Church, there is a small mosaic showing a mother hen with her chicks.  They are under her wings for protection, some of them peering out in the way that chicks do.  (“The image of being protected by wings, which occurs often in the Old Testament, refers to God’s love and protection of his people. It is to be found in the prophets, in the canticles of Moses (cf. Deut 32:11), and in many psalms” (cf. 17:8; 36:8; 57:2; 61:5; 63:8). That mosaic is the representation of today’s text expressing God’s warm and protective maternal love. Jesus loved Jerusalem and its inhabitants. Hence, he felt deep sorrow at its lack of response to his message, which would continue when he preached there in the last week of his earthly life. Finally, he said to those who had warned him, “Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord'”(Luke 13:35) – either at Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday or at his final coming as Judge and Lord of all.
 Life messages: 1) As Christians we should have the courage of our religious convictions and the good will to practice them. 2) We need to be aware of the dire consequences of rejecting God’s graces and the chances He gives us every day to reform our lives. (Fr. Tony) ( L/19
Nov 1 Friday ( All Saints Day) (Holy Day of Obligation in the U. S. ) The feast and its objectives: All baptized Christians who have died and are now with God in glory are considered saints. All Saints Day is intended to honor the memory of countless unknown and uncanonized saints who have no feast days. Today we thank God for giving ordinary men and women a share in His holiness and Heavenly glory as a reward for their Faith. This feast is observed to teach us to honor the saints, both by imitating their lives and by seeking their intercession for us before Christ, the only mediator between God and man (I Tim. 2:5). The Church reminds us today that God’s call for holiness is universal, that all of us are called to live in His love and to make His love real in the lives of those around us. Holiness is related to the word wholesomeness. We grow in holiness when we live wholesome lives of integrity truth, justice, charity, mercy, and compassion, sharing our blessings with others.
Reasons why we honor the saints: 1- The saints put their trust in Christ and lived heroic lives of Faith. St. Paul asks us to serve and honor such noble souls. In his Epistles to the Corinthians, to Philip and to Timothy and in His remarks to Philip at the Last Supper, he advises Christians to welcome, serve and honor those who have put their trust in Jesus. The saints enjoy Heavenly bliss as a reward for their Faith in Jesus. Hence, they deserve our veneration of them. 2- The saints are our role models. They teach us by their lives that Christ’s holy life of love, mercy and unconditional forgiveness can be lived by ordinary people from all walks of life and at all times.
3- The saints are our Heavenly mediators who intercede for us before Jesus, the only mediator between God and us. (Jas 5:16-18, Ex 32:13, Jer 15:1, Rv 8:3-4,). 4- The saints are the instruments that God uses to work miracles at present, just as He used the staff of Moses (Ex), the bones of the prophet Elisha (2Kgs 13:21), the towel of Paul (Acts: 19:12) and the shadow of Peter (Acts 5:15) to work miracles.
Life messages: 1) We need to accept the challenge to become saints. Jesus exhorts us: “Be made perfect as your Heavenly Father is Perfect” (Mt 5:48). St. Augustine asked: “If she and he can become saints, why can’t I?” (Si iste et ista, cur non ego?).
2) We can take the short cuts practiced by three Teresas: i) St. Teresa of Avila: Recharge your spiritual batteries every day by prayer, namely, listening to God and talking to Him ii) St. Therese of Lisieux: Convert every action into prayer by offering it to God for His glory and for the salvation of souls and by doing God’s will to the best of one’s ability. iii) St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa): Do ordinary things with great love For USCCB video reflections: (Fr. Tony) ( L/19

Nov 2 Saturday All Souls’ Day) : All Souls Day (Nov 2): : All Souls’ Day is a day specially set apart that we may remember and pray for our dear ones who have gone for their eternal reward and who are currently in a state of ongoing purification.
Ancient belief: 1) People of all religions have believed in the immortality of the soul, and have prayed for the dead. 2) The Jews, for example, believed that there was a place of temporary bondage from which the souls of the dead would receive their final release. The Jewish catechism, the Talmud, states that prayers for the dead will help to bring greater rewards and blessings to them. Prayer for the souls of the departed is retained by today’s Orthodox Jews, who recite a prayer known as the Mourner’s Kaddish for eleven months after the death of a loved one so that he/she may be purified. 3) Jesus and the apostles shared this belief and passed it on to the early Church. “Remember us who have gone before you, in your prayers,” is a petition often found inscribed on the walls of the Roman catacombs (Lumen Gentium-50).
4) The liturgies of the Mass in various rites dating from the early centuries of the Church include “Prayers for the Dead.”
5) The early Fathers of the Church encouraged this practice. Tertullian (A.D. 160-240) wrote about the anniversary Masses for the dead, advising widows to pray for their husbands. St. Augustine remarked that he used to pray for his deceased mother, remembering her request: “When I die, bury me anywhere you like, but remember to pray for me at the altar” (St. Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, Book 9, Chapter 11, and Section 27).
6) The synods of Nicaea, Florence and Trent encouraged the offering of prayers for the dead, citing Scriptural evidences to prove that there is a place or state of purification for those who die with venial sins on their souls.
8) Theological reason: According to Rv 21:27: “nothing unclean shall enter heaven.” Holy Scripture (Prv 24:16) also teaches that even “the just sin seven times a day.” Since it would be contrary to the mercy of God to punish such souls with venial sins in Hell, they are seen as entering a place or state of purification, called Purgatory, which combines God’s justice with His mercy. This teaching is also contained in the doctrine of the Communion of Saints.
Biblical basis: 1) II Maccabees, 12:46 is the main Biblical text incorporating the Jewish belief in the necessity of prayer and sacrifice for the dead. The passage (II Maccabees 12: 39-46), describes how Judas, the military commander, “took up a collection from all his men, totaling about four pounds of silver and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering” (II Macc. 12: 43). The narrator continues, “If he had not believed that the dead would be raised, it would have been foolish and useless to pray for them.”
2) St. Paul seems to have shared this traditional Jewish belief. At the death of his supporter Onesiphorus, he prayed: “May the Lord grant him mercy on that Day” (II Timothy: 1:18). Other pertinent Bible texts: Matthew 12:32, I Corinthians, 3:15, Zechariah 13:19, Sirach 7:33. The Church’s teaching: The Church’s official teaching on Purgatory is plain and simple. There is a place or state of purification called Purgatory, where souls undergoing purification can be helped by the prayers of the faithful (Council of Trent). Some modern theologians suggest that the fire of Purgatory is an intense, transforming encounter with Jesus Christ and his fire of love. They also speak of Purgatory as an “instant” purification immediately after death, varying in intensity from soul to soul, depending on the state of each individual.
How do we help the “holy souls”? The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC #1032) recommends prayer for the dead in conjunction with the offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The CCC also encourages “almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead.” Let us not forget to pray for our dear departed, have Masses offered for them, visit their graves, and make daily sacrifices for them. (Fr. Tony) ( L/19 For USCCB video reflections: