His table is always set for us

Posted in homily by frtonys on January 16, 2021

In selecting a tax-collector, Jesus calls the least likely person to follow him. As a tax collector under the hire of the Roman occupation force, Levi was not permitted to enter a synagogue nor to go up to the temple. He was excommunicated from social contact with faithful, law-abiding Jews. Jesus not only calls Matthew but also accepts Matthew’s invitation to dine in his home with all his friends and fellow tax collectors.

The devout scribes were shocked by the company Jesus kept. They asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Someone like Jesus, a teacher of religion, was expected to keep better company than that; he should move only in devout circles. However, Jesus clearly did not restrict his company to those who were seen to have measured up in some way. He seemed to mix happily among people who were considered sinners.

This story reminds us that Christ is happy to be in our company, even if we have fallen short of what is expected of us, even when we are far from being all that we can become. Our failings and weaknesses do not drive the Lord away from us. Rather his presence to us in our failings and weaknesses lifts us up. We always come before God in our brokenness and he never drives us away. His table is always set for us and there is always a place for us there, regardless of where we are at in life.

Is your faith this strong

Posted in homily by frtonys on January 15, 2021

Today’s gospel contains an expression of faith that at first sight appears strange. They removed the roof above him … let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay.’ Our Lord Jesus Christ focused, not on the physical breach of order of the bearers, instead on the motivating factor, namely their belief that Jesus would heal the paralytic. And so, they sacrificed and took all the risk. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, child, your sins are forgiven’

The sick man’s paralysis was seen by the people around as a punishment for some serious sin in his own life or the lives of his parents.  It was a common belief that no major sickness could be cured until sin was forgiven.  For that reason, Jesus began the young man’s healing by audibly forgiving his sins, so that he might feel no longer estranged from God. Then the young man was able to receive the physical healing he and his friends desired for him.  

Like this man’s friends we are called to intercede for others and to bring them to Christ. In the Old Testament, Moses who constantly begs God’s mercy and forgiveness for the Israelites’ sins. Later, we find the prophets interceding for the unfaithful Israelites. In the New Testament, the dramatic role played by the friends of the paralyzed man in the healing story reminds us of the continuing need for, and power of, intercession for and by others. The text gives us encouragement to intercede for those who are ill or in special need. When we pray and invite God into the situation, healing takes place.

All it takes is faith

Posted in homily by frtonys on January 14, 2021

Jesus often healed people by just his spoken word “Be healed!” But in his care for the poor leper, however, Jesus not only spoke to him, but physically touched him. In making physical contact with the man suffering from leprosy, Jesus did what was never done by people in that time and place.

For obvious reasons, people kept lepers at a distance, and lepers were expected to keep their distance from others. Yet Jesus kept nobody at a distance, not even one as ill as this leper.

Nobody was beyond his reach; nobody was untouchable. He came to touch our lives in every way, all of our lives, regardless of our condition. The leper wasn’t sure whether Jesus wanted to heal him, as is clear from his opening words to Jesus, “If you want to, you can cure me.”

Jesus showed he wanted to heal him, by touching him. Jesus wants to touch all of our lives, because he wants to bring life to us all. Nothing we do or fail to do, will place us beyond his reach. As Paul says in his letter to the Romans, “nothing can come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus.” The Lord touches our lives, where we are, as we are. All we need is the faith of the leper in approaching Jesus.

The importance of prayer

Posted in homily by frtonys on January 13, 2021

Today’s gospel opens by describing Jesus’ work of healing. He heals Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, and goes on to heal many sick people who were brought to the door of the house. This healing activity was in public and greatly appreciated by everyone; the whole town came crowding around the door. Growing weary of all this stress, early the next morning Jesus went off to a lonely place to think and to pray.

While he was praised for healing the sick, the act of going off to a quiet place to pray alone, is not appreciated by others. Even those closest to him didn’t think much of it. Peter, the leading disciple, comments, “Everybody is looking for you,” as much as to say, “Why are you wasting time out here on your own.”

Jesus knew that the source of his life-giving work was his relationship with Father, therefore prayer was important to him. The activity of prayer was as important to him as his work of healing.

Prayer is as important for us as it was for Jesus, even more important. We need the Lord if we are to live as he desires us to live and if we are to share in some way in the Lord’s work. In prayer we acknowledge our dependence on the Lord; we open ourselves to the Lord’s life-giving presence so as to be channels of that presence to others.

St Teresa of Calcutta, Parking Lot Gang strikes again in St Petersburg, FL.

Posted in homily by frvictorray on January 12, 2021

On Saturday, St Teresa’s Parking Lot Gang went into full swing passing out Hats, blankets, clothing to our community in need. They also served a wonderful egg casserole to anyone who came. The weather was cool in Florida Standards so the Shower trucks could not come, but that did not deter spirit of giving for this group. Notice the masks they are wearing. If you would like one, St Teresa’s is doing a fundraiser and selling those masks, the proceeds go to the ministry. See us at: WWW.STOCCC.ORG for the masks and any other donations you would like to make. Make a Difference use the talents God has given you….be a BLESSING to those you meet…..because we are your neighbor!

Image may contain: Kelvin Muncy, outdoor


Use your authority to work for Jesus

Posted in homily by frtonys on January 12, 2021

Today’s gospel find that Jesus is very quickly setting himself apart from others.  People are noticing that he is different.  He is teaching something new and with authority.   There was something energetic and charismatic about Jesus to capture people’s attention.  But for the people to notice, they must have had something going on in them, a hunger or longing, that allowed their hearts to be open and searching for something to fill it. 

They had to be receptive to the message and messenger. For someone or something to have authority in our lives, we have to give it to them.  Many times when we give others authority, when we trust them or elect them or look to them, they abuse the authority or trust.  Take advantage.  Jesus does just the opposite. 

He healed the man with the unclean spirit.  Essentially, he returned the man to himself.  I think of the dignity that he returns to the woman caught in adultery and the living water he gives to the Samaritan woman, both stories in the Gospel of John, as other examples of this.  All throughout the gospels people are trying to raise him up as king, and in return he is healing and inviting us to reclaim our own authority, dignity and power. 

We are invited into relationship with the Divine through Jesus. I believe Jesus is showing us that the relationship is not one of giving all our authority to him, but the encouragement to maintain our own authority and power in order to work with him.

Jesus calls you daily

Posted in homily by frtonys on January 11, 2021

The kind of encounter that Peter, Andrew, James and John had with Jesus is offered to each one of us. Jesus is not just a figure of history, belonging to the past. He is the living Lord, still present in his church and in the world, constantly calling out to us and meeting with us in the course of our day to day lives, as he met with Simon, Andrew, James and John while they were going about their work as fishermen.

The Lord meets with us and he speaks to us through the Sacraments, through the Scriptures, through other people, and from deep in our own hearts. Each time the Lord meets with us we will first hear the good news of God’s unconditional love for us, “the kingdom of God is close at hand.” We will also hear the call to mission, the call to be good news for others, to be the Lord’s body in the world, his feet, his hands, his mouth, his eyes, his ears, “I will make you into fishers of people.” This morning we pray for the grace to be as open and response to the Lord’s presence and call as Peter, Andrew, James and John were.

In the next few days and weeks ahead. Let us all be true Christians in all words and actions, so that through us, God may be glorified and made known, and more people will come to believe in Him.

Jesus is human and divine He is God

Posted in homily by frtonys on January 10, 2021

On Christmas, we celebrate God becoming one of us, taking upon himself a human nature.  On the Feast of the Baptism, we celebrate the public proclamation that Jesus is more than just one of us.  He has more than a human nature.  He has a Divine Nature.  He is the Son of God, in whom the father in well pleased. 

Jesus chooses to be baptized by John.  John says that he himself does not deserve to unfasten Jesus’ sandals, but Jesus demands he be baptized.  The people of the world who long for the Kingdom must see that their King is one of them.  The voice of God the Father proclaims that Jesus is the Son of God. This is my Son, my Beloved, in whom I am well pleased.

What does this mean to us? It means that our union with Jesus is a union with God. It means that Jesus is not just another man, He is God. He has a human nature given to him through Mary, and a divine nature eternally at one with the Father. The One who is our brother is also the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. We don’t just give him the title God. He is God.

When we call upon Jesus to help us, we are praying to God.  When we receive communion, we receive God within us.  When we seek forgiveness, we are forgiven not by the priest but by God. 

Jesus is not just another human being. He is God. Yet he is one of us. He knows all the emotions that we feel. He has felt them in his human nature. Through His divine nature, he can and does heal us. The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is an Epiphany. God is manifested to us in Jesus Christ. We need to pray to Him. We need to trust in Him.

Can you act as the bridegroom’s friend

Posted in homily by frtonys on January 9, 2021

Today’s Gospel passage shows the loveliness of John the Baptist’s humility. John was responding to his disciples who complained that many among them were deserting John to join the new preacher, Jesus, whom John had baptized. John told them plainly who he really was and what his mission was. He told them that he was only a forerunner of the Messiah and that his mission was to prepare a people for the Messiah by preaching repentance. John explained further that his role was to be the “friend of the bridegroom” the. Bridegroom was Jesus.

Each of us like John are friends of the bridegroom, Jesus. Like John, our role is to prepare the way for him and to point out to him through our words and actions. If we understand this role and if at every moment we realize where our authority ends, we can fulfill this role as we ought to.

Feel Jesus’ gentle touch

Posted in homily by frtonys on January 8, 2021

In today’s gospel the leper falls down in front of Jesus and pleads, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” He reveals to Jesus that he believes Jesus can heal him. Jesus, in effect, says, “Of course I want to.” But, first, Jesus does the most remarkable thing in this story: He reaches out and touches the man, to reasure him that he’s not untouchable. Then he responds to the man’s faith and says, “Be made clean.” Jesus, completely unconcerned for his own safety, or worried about ritual impurity, just reaches out to the man in deep empathy and compassion. Our heart melts as we witness the scene.

The great news is that Jesus looks on us in our need in the same way. He knows how we feel about ourselves. He sees through the ways we present ourselves on the outside. He sees whatever pain we have and he reaches out to us.

This story lets us boldly imagine approaching Jesus today and saying, in our own words, with our own pain, “Lord, if you want to, I believe you can make me clean. I believe you can relieve this thing in me that is self-defeating, and isolates me from others.” And, we can prepare ourselves to hear his most graceous and merciful response, “Of course, I want to. Be clean. Be healed. Be set free. Be whole again.”

And, when we are whole again, we will be full of gratitude and know that we have eternal life in him. We can be bold in touching and relieving the isolation of others

Often it is not external medicine but a kind word, a loving touch or an uninhibited hug that can result in healing. This remains the challenge for us today.

Posted in homily by frtonys on January 7, 2021

We need to receive Christ’s Freedom

Posted in homily by frtonys on January 7, 2021

Today’s Gospel describes how Jesus participated in the Sabbath prayer of the synagogue in his native place with a band of his disciples. The prayer began with the jewish confession of faith followed by the recital of the “Eighteen Blessings,” Then four passages from the “Torah” the book of Law were read and explained by a priest, followed by a selection from the Prophets, which was read and interpreted by an invited scholar or guest or volunteer. 

Since Jesus had become popular as a miracle working preacher in Capernaum, he was given the chance to read from the Book of the Prophets and to interpret the Scripture. Jesus, handed the Scroll of the prophet Isaiah, opened it and read his prophecy on the mission of the expected Messiah. 

Surprising everyone, Jesus claimed that he was the One sent to bring glad tidings to the poor, liberation to captives, recovery of sight to the blind and freedom for the oppressed. To the great amazement of his own townsmen, Jesus declared that Isaiah’s prophecy was being fulfilled at that very moment because the prophet was foretelling Jesus’ mission and ministry. Jesus’ mission would be to give liberation to everyone who would listen to his “Good News,” accept it and put it into practice.

We need to receive Christ’s freedom, live it and pass it on to others. As members of Christ’s Mystical Body, we share in the freeing, saving mission of Jesus. But we are often blinded by our evil habits, addictions and need for financial security. We need Christ to set us free. We Once we receive true liberation from Christ, we have to share it with those we encounter in our daily lives, families, neighborhoods, and workplaces. We need to let the power of the Holy Spirit fill us, and to be ready to have miracles done through us. Let us be ready to become Spirit-filled instruments of Christ’s saving freedom.

He will calm your storms

Posted in homily by frtonys on January 6, 2021

Today’s gospel story occurs just after Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish. Sensing the danger of being seized by the people and “made King” as the leader of a revolt, Jesus promptly instructs his Apostles to leave the place by boat. He dismissed the crowd and goes to pray in solitude.

When the Apostles in the boat were several furlongs away from the shore, they faced an unexpected storm on the sea. Recognizing His Apostles’ danger, Jesus went toward their boat, walking on the stormy sea. Jesus calmed the frightened disciples as he approached the boat. As soon as Jesus got into the boat, the storm ceased, to the great astonishment of the Apostles.

Let us approach Jesus with strong Faith in His ability and availability to calm the storms in our lives and in the life of the Church. Let us ask Jesus to protect us when we face storms of strong temptations, storms of doubts about our religious beliefs, and storms of fear, anxiety and worries in our personal lives. Experiencing Jesus’ presence in our lives, let us confess our Faith in him and call out for his help and protection.

Jesus shows us that God will provide

Posted in homily by frtonys on January 5, 2021

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 prefigure the true Heavenly Bread, which Jesus would offer His followers because Jesus performed this miracle just before promising the Sacrament of the Eucharist for our spiritual feeding.

Jesus took pity on the growing physical hunger of his listeners as he preached, and he challenged his Apostles to feed them. But they had with them only 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 till the hungry people were fully satisfied.

After serving a generous meal which satisfied all, the Apostles collected twelve wicker baskets of leftover bread and fish pieces, a vivid proof and reminder of God’s generosity in giving and as a warning not to waste God’s blessings.

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. We must be thankful to God for miraculously giving us our daily spiritual bread in the Holy Eucharist.

He came for all

Posted in homily by frtonys on January 4, 2021

In today’s gospel St Matthew portrays Jesus as a kind of new Moses, adding to the ethical teachings of Israel’s great lawgiver and shaping the New Covenant in a way that was more spiritual, more personally demanding than the Old Covenant.

These parallels between Jesus and Moses were important for Matthew’s jewish community, but even more important is the idea that God’s favor is not limited to Abraham’s descendants. There is great significance in Jesus’ moving to Capernaum, referred to by Matthew as “Galilee of the Gentiles.” It symbolised that all nations will see the light of salvation through him – that is, they will be called into God’s own family and be saved.

Jesus visited various synagogues in Galilee, proclaiming his message about God’s ways, and curing every kind of sickness among the people. It was his healing power, that drew the crowds to him. His love for the people moved him to preach and made him available to all kinds of outsiders. If he called on people to “repent” or change their life style – it was for their good, to open them up to a fuller kind of life. Then Matthew sums up the impact of all Jesus’ activities in the lovely phrase: “the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light!

There was something so powerful and attractive about him and his message that people gathered to him from a very large area, Galilee, the Decapolis, Judaea and Transjordan, to be taught and renewed in spirit.

The person of Jesus and the message he proclaims are as powerful today as when he walked this earth. He is as much God’s gift to us today as he was two thousand years ago for the people who flocked to him. He is just as much a light in our darkness now as he was then. It is good to remind ourselves of this basic truth about our faith as we face into the year that lies ahead.

We must continue the search

Posted in homily by frtonys on January 3, 2021

The solemnity of the Epiphany celebrates Jesus showing himself to those whose faith lead them to him, to those who wish to see him.  The wise men who did not know God were searching for him.  They found him.  The Jewish scholars who had the help of scripture were not searching for him, and they missed his presence on earth

This feast leads us to ask ourselves about our own attitudes in life.  Are we really searching for God?  Do we really want to find him?  That is a very important question, because finding God necessitates changes in our lives. 

Every experience of God demands a change in the status quo of our lives.  If on Christmas we feel drawn closer to the Lord, then we have to refine our lives so we can enjoy his presence.  If we are not willing to come closer to Christ, then Christmas is just a week full of empty sentiment.

Jesus is calling all of us to come before his presence. This presence is not just in Bethlehem, but in the many places of our everyday lives. He is present in all who are struggling to get by in difficult times. He is present in each of us as we stop to listen to our consciences rather than just go with our emotions. If we really want the Lord in our lives, we will continue the search, the journey towards a new experience of his presence.