The work of salvation is for everyone

Posted in homily by frtonys on February 23, 2022

Today’s gospel tells us about the incident where the disciples of Jesus attempted to prevent someone outside of their group from using the name of Jesus to drive out demons. Jesus Himself told them not to do it because whoever is not against them is for them. This is a great lesson for inclusivity. Many people have the mindset of exclusivity the “we versus others” attitude.

The Gospel reading shows us that God works in various ways. Many times He empowers ordinary people in ordinary situations as His instrument to do mighty deeds. He works in mysterious ways such that sometimes, it makes us wonder whether a particular work is really from Him or from the enemy. That is why, it is necessary to always ask the help of the Holy Spirit to grant us the gift of discernment.

The work of salvation is for everyone. Doing good is not the prerogative of anyone and no one can claim entitlement to heaven except those who have lived a life of holiness whether they belong to our group or not. The call is for all of us to be united in promoting the Kingdom of God and to fight evil in all its forms.

God works miracles in our lives, provided we pray with trusting Faith.

Posted in homily by frtonys on February 21, 2022

After their vision on the mountain-top, today’s Gospel brings the chosen apostles back down to earth, to a world of illness and distress. A distraught father describes all the heartache he has gone through, seeking a cure for his troubled son.

Jesus heals the epileptic but Jesus demands a strong Faith from the boy’s father as a condition for healing. Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Then Jesus commanded the evil spirit, using His Divine authority: “You dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again.” As the evil spirit left the boy, he was healed of his epilepsy.

How readily we can identify with the man’s anguished cry, ‘I do have faith. Help the little faith I have.’ The very fact of his coming to Jesus was itself a sign of faith, but he felt his faith was weak. There was nagging doubt mixed with his trust. That’s just how many of us feel from time to time. Our faith is dented when some great trouble comes our way. It’s hard to reconcile our faith with what’s happening to us. Faith can be severely tested when we struggle with the darker side of life.

God works miracles in our lives, provided we pray with trusting Faith. Jesus offers us freedom from bondage to sin, evil habits and addictions. Let us make full use of the protection and help God offers to those who seek Him with Faith in His power and trust in His mercy.

In the Lord’s Prayer, we ask God to forgive us on one condition, that we will forgive others in our turn.

Posted in homily by frtonys on February 20, 2022

In the Gospel Reading, Jesus commands us to love our enemies. Many people suppose that no one except a saint could fulfill this command. Jesus’ message was new and shocking for the religious leaders of his day. Their law decreed “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” In other words, they were expected to strike back at those who harmed them in any way.

In today’s Gospel we see just how radical and revolutionary Jesus’ teaching must have sounded back then. It is still revolutionary in today’s world, with our dog-eat-dog mentality. The process of salvation that Jesus came to establish is based on forgiveness. In order, to be part of that process each of us must always be tolerant, forgiving , and loving.

Jesus taught us a simple prayer, the Lord’s Prayer. One of the petitions is where we ask God to forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. We can rattle off this prayer, and fail to realize the blind that this places us in.

In the Lord’s Prayer, we ask God to forgive us on one condition, that we will forgive others in our turn. We are impressed by the power of forgiveness shown by people like Martin Luther King, who somehow managed to turn the other cheek. The bully cannot deal with the power of the one who won’t strike back, but often resorts to violence as the only way to silence their voice of protest. To err is human, to forgive is divine. We must aim to be big-hearted, tolerant and patient. But the ideal Jesus sets for us is, “Be merciful, just as your heavenly Father is merciful.”

Do we allow emotions such as hatred and jealousy guide our spiritual lives, or do we try to be more like our Lord? Let us start forgiving right now by curbing the sharp tongue of criticism, suppressing the revenge instinct, and patiently bearing the irritating behavior of a neighbor.

Our Holy Communion with Jesus in the Eucharist should be the source of our daily “transfiguration

Posted in homily by frtonys on February 19, 2022

At his transfiguration the disciples saw Jesus as they had never seen him before. He was transfigured into a shining figure, full of Heavenly glory. Moses and Elijah the representatives of the Law and the Prophets, appeared conversing with him. It was a foretaste of the experience they would have of the risen Lord. It was an experience that was full of light and joy, so much so that Peter overwhelmed at the scene, exclaimed how good it was it was for them to be there. Then a Cloud covered them, and a Voice was heard speaking words from the Cloud: “This is My Son, the Beloved; with Him I am well pleased; listen to Him,”

Maybe like peter each of us had had moments when we felt something similar, when we had a very strong sense of the Lord’s nearness, and his care for us.

The transfiguration experience came just after the disciples had set out on the dangerous road to Jerusalem, the way to the cross. Jesus had call himself as the Son of Man who must suffer and die, words which they found so distressing. As they travelled this difficult road, they got this wonderful grace of seeing Jesus transfigured. In our own lives too when we are struggling, some needed grace is often given. When we seem weakest, he provides new strength. When darkness envelopes us, we need to look for the light of his presence.

The Holy Mass is the source of our transformation and strength: In each Holy Mass, the bread and wine we offer on the altar become the Body and Blood of Jesus. Therefore, our Holy Communion with Jesus in the Eucharist should be the source of our daily “transfiguration,” transforming our minds and hearts to do more good, by humble and selfless service to others.

Taking up one’s cross means not only accepting gracefully from God our pains and suffering, but also accepting the pain involved in serving others

Posted in homily by frtonys on February 18, 2022

In today’s gospel Jesus summons the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the Gospel will save it.

The paradox of saving/losing and losing/saving life: According to Bible commentators, the word “life” is here used, clearly, in a double sense: the temporary earthly life of man in flesh and his eternal life of happiness in Heaven. So, what Jesus means is that whoever wishes to save his (earthly) life will lose his (eternal) life. But whoever loses his (earthly) life for Jesus and the Gospel by spending it for others, will save his (eternal) life

Many people spend a lot of time avoiding the one, but not the other, which is strange.  This is strange because the death of the body is unavoidable, while the death of the soul is completely avoidable.  The death they try so hard to avoid is the door that Christ has made the gateway to eternal life, while the death they don’t worry much about is a death that never ends:  a death that is eternal.

Taking up one’s cross means not only accepting gracefully from God our pains and suffering, but also accepting the pain involved in serving others, in sharing our blessings with them, and in controlling our evil tendencies. Follow Me means following Jesus by obeying the word of God and adjusting one’s life accordingly. If we do so we will gain life eternal.

It really takes a deep desire, loving relationship and complete trust to fully know Jesus.

Posted in homily by frtonys on February 17, 2022

In the past two gospel readings we saw Jesus’ healing miracles of blind, deaf and mute people. In the gospel reading today, we have the great revelation of who Jesus is. In today’s reading the spiritual eyes and ears of the apostles were opened and they can now see Jesus as the Messiah. Peter, verbalize it by saying, “You are the Christ”.

Jesus confirms Peter’s insight as a special revelation from God. “No mere man has revealed this to you, but my Heavenly Father.” But Peter found it difficult to accept Jesus’ prediction that he would become the Savior by his suffering and death. When he tried to discourage his master from the path of suffering and death, Jesus promptly corrected Peter telling him that his temptation was from Satan.

Just like the Kingdom of God. Jesus assured us that the kingdom is in our midst. Yet we do not fully experience it. We believe that Jesus is the Messiah but our total deliverance from all forms of evil is yet to be completed. He is here within our midst but the time to be totally be united with Him is yet to come.

It really takes a deep desire, loving relationship and complete trust to fully know Jesus. Let us experience Jesus as our Lord and Savior and surrender our lives to him. We just have to open our heart and He Himself will reveal What He wants us to know. Let us continue to pray for the gift of wisdom and understanding.

We cannot walk the path alone but must be like the blind man whom Jesus took by the hand.

Posted in homily by frtonys on February 16, 2022

Today’s miracle story is told is probably the only miracle that takes place in stages. At first, by touching the man’s eyes with saliva, and laying his hands on him, he asked him, “Can you see anything?” And the man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

By touching his eyes with saliva Jesus only half cured the man’s blindness, and only after a full laying on of hands was the man fully healed. There’s probably a lesson here for every kind of therapy. We are healed by stages.

The story suggests that our own growth to spiritual maturity comes in stages . We may need his healing spittle on our eyelids, to give us a more compassionate view of life. He can then gently lay hands on us until we get full insight and see everything in a new light. We could find more ways for helping others, finding the time and the resources to serve where we are needed.

We cannot walk the path alone but must be like the blind man whom Jesus took by the hand. This hand we clasp is leading us to salvation, just as Jesus led the blind man into a new way of seeing the world. We need to continue to clasp the hand of God in our daily lives, in the events of our lives and in all the people we encounter.

With trusting Faith, let us rely on the miraculous provision God has in store for us

Posted in homily by frtonys on February 15, 2022

The Jews considered fermentation by yeast as equivalent to putrefaction so it was viewed as something evil. That is why Jesus equated evil influence with leaven. When Jesus strongly warned against the leaven (meaning sin or corruption) of the Pharisees and of Herod, the Apostles misunderstood Jesus’ warning as a scolding for their having forgotten to bring enough bread for all of them.

This happened after they witnessed the multiplication of bread. However, it was their lack of understanding of Who He is that really disappointed Jesus. We must recall that Jesus reprimanded the Pharisees for being meticulous about eating physical bread but forgetting the real bread which is the Word of God.

Jesus asked His disciples at least eight rhetorical questions to show them His dismay. Why would His disciples worry over physical food when the God of creation is with them? Did He not feed thousands of hungry mouths with five loaves? Did He not cure the sick and cast our evil spirit? Did He not stop a storm that endangered their lives? Jesus was practically rebuking them for their lack of faith that He is the Messiah, the Word Incarnate, and the Bread of Life.

With trusting Faith, let us rely on the miraculous provision God has in store for us in our daily life in the word of God and the Holy Eucharist. Let us take Jesus’ warning against allowing the evil influence of the society around us to define and defile us., but let us rely on the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us for guidance and protection.

God does give signs to His faithful children even if we don’t ask for them

Posted in homily by frtonys on February 14, 2022

The Pharisees were known critics of Jesus. They did everything to find away to discredit Him. In the gospel passage, they are looking for a sign from heaven. He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” Then he left them, got into the boat again, and went off to the other shore.

Jesus does not have to give them a sign from Heaven. His authoritative teachings and His miraculous healings and exorcisms are proof in themselves. If you don’t believe in Him, no amount of signs will suffice. If you believe in Him, no amount of proof is needed.

We, His followers should follow His example. It is best to just leave people who want to argue. There is nothing to be gained from it. What we need to do is to do good at all times.

God does give signs to His faithful children even if we don’t ask for them. God reveals Himself in more ways than one. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will help us see, understand and appreciate these heavenly signs and wonders.

We need to respond to the challenge of the Beatitudes in our daily life.

Posted in homily by frtonys on February 13, 2022

The beatitudes we here in today’s Gospel are not the beatitudes we are used to. They are not the nine beatitudes from the Gospel of Matthew. There are only four beatitudes. And these are followed by four woes. Today’s Gospel is from the Gospel of Luke, Instead of “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven,” we hear, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God.” Luke is telling those who are poor, hungry, weeping, hated, excluded, insulted, and denounced that they are blessed. And he’s telling those who are not suffering, those who are rich, filled with food, laughing, and treated with respect that they will suffer.

What is this all about ?

Is it good to be poor? Should we throw away all our possessions and become beggars? Well, that can’t be what the Lord is saying. There are a few, only a few, saints, like Francis of Assisi  and Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) who freely choose the sufferings and hardships that poverty brings.

That is not what the Beatitude suggests, nor what Jesus asks of most of us. It is true that we are unable to eradicate poverty from the face of the earth. But we can help, either directly or by working with others for our poor brothers and sisters, to improve their living conditions and education.

Luke’s account offers the rich the Good News that their salvation lies in their concern for the poor and in the good stewardship of sharing their goods with others in need. But the rich among us remain cursed as long as they remain unwilling to share their surplus with the needy.

We need to respond to the challenge of the Beatitudes in our daily life. Millions are starving, persecuted, homeless, and leading hopeless lives. The only way the promises of the Beatitudes can become a reality for them is through the efforts of people like us.

We need to be fed by Jesus so that we may feed others.

Posted in homily by frtonys on February 12, 2022

Today’s Gospel takes place on a hill near the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd remained with Jesus for three days, participating in his preaching and healing ministry till all the food they had carried with them was gone.

Jesus felt pity for the hungry multitude and instructed his Apostles to feed them with what they had, namely, seven loaves of bread and a few small fish. They brought these to Jesus who said a prayer of thanksgiving over them and instructed them to distribute the bread and fish to the people.

After the crowd had eaten. the Apostles filled seven baskets with leftover broken pieces. This passage appears to be a repetition of Marks gospel, but there are two differences: the first account shows the miracle performed for the benefit of Jews, the second for Gentiles. In the first account there are twelve basketfuls of scraps left over, in the second only seven. The language is “Eucharistic”: Jesus “took the loaves and giving thanks he broke them and handed them to his disciples to distribute.”

We need to help Jesus to feed the hungry today. Jesus invites us to give him our hearts so that he may touch the lives of people in our day though us just as he touched the lives of millions through saintly souls like Francis of Assisi, Fr. Damien, Vincent de Paul and Mother Teresa. Let us feed the spiritually hungry with words and deeds of kindness, mercy, and sharing love.

We need to be fed by Jesus so that we may feed others. Jesus continues to feed us in His Church with His own Body and Blood in Holy Communion and with the word of God through the Holy Scripture.

How well do we use our ears and tongues?

Posted in homily by frtonys on February 11, 2022

In today’s Gospel a man is brought to Jesus who was deaf and had difficulties in speaking. It is tough to live without the ability to hear or speak well. They begged Jesus to lay his hands on the man, but Jesus did something different. He took the man out of the crowd, put his finger into the man’s ears, spat and touched his tongue, looked up to heaven and sighed, “Ephpatha” (be opened). Immediately, the man received his power of speech and sense of hearing.

The work of Jesus is a fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah: “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the dumb will sing” (Isaiah 35:5-6).

We may not be physically deaf and dumb, but we may be suffering from spiritual deafness and dumbness. Spiritual deafness being stubbornness and refusal to listen or take God’s word seriously; and spiritual dumbness as the refusal to speak out in defending what is right and just, as well as rejecting the duty of proclaiming the Good News. How well do we use our ears and tongues?

It is important to have the courage of the woman to beg for the mercy and the grace of Jesus

Posted in homily by frtonys on February 10, 2022

In today’s Gospel, Jesus goes to Tyre, a Gentile territory where the people are considered unclean by the Israelites. He went there to rest but still, the people recognized Him as the miracle worker. One of them was a woman who humbly begged Jesus to cast out the unclean spirit from her daughter.

As a Gentile and a woman she was considered politically an outsider, sociologically inferior, and religiously unclean. Yet she was a mother with a daughter who needed healing. Her motherly instinct was to be brave enough to approach Jesus for the sake of her beloved daughter. She had the courage to meet Jesus face to face and humbly presented her case.

Jesus did not immediately grant her petition. Instead, He told her to “Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” these words of Jesus were not an insult, He was just using the standard of the time where non-Jewish people were considered as dirty like dogs. Considering that the mission of Jesus was to gather the “lost sheep of Israel.

Understanding the standard of the time, she knew as a pagan she had no right whatsoever to approach a Jew, much less to ask for help from Him. However, because of her faith that Jesus has the power to heal and to cast out unclean spirit, her wish was granted.

This gospel reading teaches us several lessons. First, let us be humble to acknowledge that we are all unclean and therefore, unworthy to approach Jesus.

Second, it is important to have the courage of the woman to beg for the mercy and the grace of Jesus

We need to maintain the faith that He can do miracles in our life, knowing also that His mission is still to reach out to the outsider, the sick and the unclean.

Lastly, the gospel is reminding us that salvation is for all. Although Jesus started His mission in a small territory in the Middle East, His command is to spread the gospel to all nations.

So what is in your heart?

Posted in homily by frtonys on February 9, 2022

You are what we eat. Surely you all heard this before, it is true only in terms of healthy living. Yet in today’s gospel reading, Jesus tells us to be careful of what comes out from within, not what goes inside us. Previously, He scolded the religious leaders for being too meticulous about externality such as washing of hands before eating. Now He continues to teach us that food intake which is also external does not make us sinful. It is what comes from within us that make us so.

Jesus mentions the heart but He includes our conscience, thoughts, moods, and feelings. Our thoughts and feelings become our word and actions which then become our choices, attitudes and habit. If our heart is true and pure, it will reveal itself outwardly in our speech and behavior. On the other hand, our evil thoughts, as Jesus explained, can readily turn into the twelve evil acts namely: unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, and folly.

It is necessary that we examine our own mental and emotional processes.

Regular quiet introspection can be extremely valuable. Although we were made in the image and likeness of God, we are prone to harbor evil thoughts and the tendency to rebel.

So what is in your heart? Do you have a heart of stone or a heart that is willing to accept the presence of God? With the help of the Holy Spirit, let us pray “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Create in me a clean heart, o God and renew a right spirit within me.

Washing hands before eating is necessary for hygiene but a clean heart is far more important.

Posted in homily by frtonys on February 9, 2022

The message from God to His people as spoken through the prophet is about love, compassion and forgiveness. Through the years this message got lost in the myriads of legal and formal religious requirements that became burdensome to the majority of the population.

The religious leaders who were well educated on the Torah tried to adhere to these precepts and demanded others to do the same. The problem was the superficiality of their behavior which became very obvious to Jesus.

In today’s gospel reading, the religious authorities noted that the disciples of Jesus did not follow the tradition of washing hands before eating. Jesus chastised them for their hypocrisy. They cling to human tradition but disregard God’s commandment. They worship God with their lips but their heart is far away from God who is love. In short, there is a disconnection between their outward appearance and their inward disposition.

Washing hands before eating is necessary for hygiene but a clean heart is far more important. God is more interested in our intentions rather than our appearance. He looks into our words and actions and determines whether they are loving or not. After all, a heart full of love will express itself in our words and actions.

May the Lord be with us always

Posted in homily by frtonys on February 7, 2022

In today’s Gospel, we see how the Lord Jesus came among the people, and how He and His disciples cared for all those who have come to the Lord seeking His healing and teachings. The Lord reached out to them and touched them, healing many among them and teaching all, bringing them His truth and His salvation, showing them the love of God so they all came to know just how beloved and fortunate they were to have been graced by the loving presence of God in Christ, His one and only begotten Son.

Through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who the Lord sent into this world to be our Savior, God has revealed His love in the flesh and His Presence dwells among us.

Jesus walked among us and showed us God’s love through His Presence, all of us are called to remember the great grace and kindness that we have received through Christ, His Son. God come down to us so that He may bridge the unbridgeable chasm that existed between us and Him. God has always wants us to be reconciled to Him but it is always us who delayed and dragged our feet, not being truthful to ourselves and. Continuing to deny His love and kindness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all carefully reflect on what we have heard from the readings of the Sacred Scriptures. Let us seek to embrace God’s love and kindness, and open ourselves to allow Him to dwell within our hearts. Let us realise just how fortunate we are that God has endeavored to walk alongside us and to guide us in our journey of faith through life. May the Lord be with us always and may He empower each and every one of us to love Him ever more genuinely from now on.