“You may not put down your chalk. You may not return to your desk until you have correctly solved the math problem!” bellowed Sister.
For young Ann, math was a nightmare – and this particular Sister was merciless in her attempts to make her learn. Those feelings of inadequacy followed her through college and into adulthood. Ann eventually found happiness as a wife and mother and learned to deal with her lack of self-confidence.
Some years later, Ann was visiting a Sister from her old school she had stayed in contact with. Ann was stunned to learn that her fifth-grade math teacher was also a resident at that convent. Her friend explained that Ann’s nemesis had been sent back to school, earned two doctorates, spoke five languages fluently, and taught at colleges in the United States, Mexico and Peru. She was a brilliant woman who simply could not teach children.
Ann marshaled her courage and went to the room of her fifth-grade teacher. After a long moment and silent prayer, Ann knocked on the door. Sister’s steely gaze nearly stopped Ann’s heart – but she recognized Ann and with a big smile welcomed her. Ann and the elderly nun talked about the old school and Sister spoke of her years of teaching college and how much she loved her students.
Suddenly, the nun stopped. Tears were streaming down her face. She took Ann into her arms and asked for her forgiveness. She said that Ann’s class had been her first. She had 45 students and her instructions from Mother Superior had been to maintain complete control over every student, every day, no matter what. She had no idea how to help Ann with her math block, other than to scare her. Sister said she was more afraid of Ann and the other students than they could ever have been of her.
The two women laughed and cried as both hearts began to mend.
Fr. Tony Kadavil:
# 2: Who would examine me? One scholar who was a real authority in his subject was the famous George Lyman Kittredge, for years a professor of English literature at Harvard University. Having received his bachelor’s degree at Harvard, he showed such talent that the University engaged him as a teacher. This was long before the degree of Doctor of Philosophy was demanded of university faculty members or, indeed, was even a popular degree in America. Professor Kittredge, A.B. soon became one of the world’s most learned men in English literature. For decades, his courses on Shakespeare were the most popular courses taught at Harvard. Every now and then, in his later years, some of his students would ask him, “Why don’t you study for a doctorate of philosophy? The brusque bearded old scholar always had the same answer, “Who would examine me?” Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus had a completely new teaching in a spirit of authority! (Mark, 1-27. Today’s Gospel). (-Father Robert F. McNamara). Fr. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
# 3: God sends His prophets all the time: When Abraham Lincoln, proclaimed the freedom of all the slaves in the United States on January 1, 1863, his was that of a prophet. When Lincoln’s contemporary, Susan B. Anthony pioneered the suffrage movement that eventually led to the passage of the 19th Amendment (1920) and gave women the right to vote, hers was the voice of a prophet. When Pope Leo XIII delivered his encyclical entitled On the Condition of the Working Man and called upon Christians to attend to unjust labor laws and practices, his was the voice of a prophet. Similarly, when Cardinal Leo-Josef Suenens of Belgium stood up at the end of the first session of Vatican II and urged the Council to examine not only the mystery of the Church in itself but also the Church’s relationship to and responsibility for the world at large, his was the voice of a prophet. Rachel Carson’s book entitled Silent Spring (1962) was prophetic in that it summoned the world to an awareness of the dangers of environmental pollution. When Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu drew the world’s attention to the dangers and injustices of apartheid, his was the voice of a prophet as were so many others in this century alone, e.g., Dorothy Day, St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa), Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Teilhard de Chardin, Leonardo Boff, Jon Sobrino and the Latin American Bishops who raised their voices first at Medellin, Colombia (1968) and then at Puebla, Mexico (1979) to affirm the Church as “an instrument of liberation, an agent of social justice and a defender of the poor and the oppressed.” These prophets tried to bring the reality of the sacred into every sphere of the human experience. In today’s liturgical readings, we are called upon to allow the prophetic messages of Moses, Paul, and Jesus to penetrate our consciences and claim them for God. Moreover, we are challenged to continue to listen to the prophets among us, and to exercise the ministry of prophecy for our contemporaries in our words, works and manner of living. (Patricia Datchuck Sánchez). Fr. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
# 4: Jesus taught and acted with authority: Kenneth L. Woodward, writing in Newsweek magazine, gives us a glimpse of what Christ’s coming meant to the world. He writes, “Whether we like it or not, Christ’s life radically changed human culture throughout the world . . . Before Jesus came, the world was ruled by the ‘might makes right’ theory. But Jesus’ teaching about humility and turning the other cheek redefined our views of human character, of war, of masculinity. Jesus’ commitment to the poor, to women, and to children opened the way for civil rights and equality for women. Marriages became more equitable. In ancient Rome, it was a common practice in Roman families to kill female babies. Sociologist Rodney Stark notes that evidence exists that among at least 600 ancient Roman families, less than a dozen had more than one daughter. But Christians valued the life of all people, whether male or female, and prohibited the killing of any children.” (“2000 Years of Jesus,” March 29, 1999, p. 55.). But the revolution is not complete. We still live in a pre-Christian world. There is still too much hatred, too much violence, too much debasement of human dignity. If you are comfortable in Jesus’ presence, you simply do not see him as he really is. Fr. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
#5: “Show him yer papers!” “There is an old story about some telephone linemen who were busy putting up telephone poles through a farmer’s fields. The farmer ordered them off his land, whereupon they showed him a paper giving them the right to plant poles wherever they pleased. Not long afterward, a big and vicious bull charged the linemen. The old farmer sat on a nearby fence and yelled: ‘Show him yer papers, darn ye, show him yer papers!'” To many Christians, Jesus’ authority is only a paper authority. His word is something we study for inspiration, but we really don’t believe that what Jesus teaches applies to our situation. For many of us, Jesus’ authority doesn’t extend to putting a marriage or a family back together. It doesn’t mean curing an addiction or healing a character flaw. Maybe 2,000 years ago Jesus had authority, but not today. Fr. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
6. Authority to forgive sins: A dirty, drunken wino who was passing a Catholic Church one day, noticed a sign on the door that said: “Confessions Being Heard.” Since he had not been to confession for a long time, he staggered into the church, knelt down in the confessional and began to confess his sins. Unfortunately, his breath was so foul that the priest who was hearing confessions couldn’t stand it and decided to cut things short. “Look,” he said to the wino. “Have you murdered anybody lately?” “Nope,” the wino replied. “O.K. then,” the priest told him. “I am going to say the prayer of absolution.” Slightly puzzled, the wino staggered out of the confessional and as he was walking down the steps of the church steps, saw a fellow wino who was going into the Church. “You going to confession?” The first wino asked. “Yep,” said the second wino. “Don’t waste your time,” the first wino said. “He ain’t hearing nothing today except murder cases.”
7. Whose authority? Jesus’ or your denomination’s? I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said, “Stop! Don’t do it!” “Why shouldn’t I?” he said. “Well, there’s so much to live for.” “Like what?” “Well, are you religious?” “Yes.” “Me too! Are you Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist?” “Christian.” “Me, too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?” “Protestant.” “Me, too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist? ”Baptist.” “Wow, me, too! Are you Church of God or Church of the Christ?” “Church of God!” “Me, too! Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?” “Reformed Baptist Church of God!”
“Me, too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?” He said, “Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!” I said, “Die, heretic,” and pushed him off.
8. You may have heard about the preacher who asked one elderly lady how it was with her soul. “Oh,” she replied, “the old devil has been giving me a rough time.” Immediately her husband protested. “Now hold on,” he said, “she’s not too easy to live with herself.”
9. The new nurse asked the psychiatric doctor, “Is that man really sick?” “He surely is,” answered the doctor gravely. “I don’t know of a more serious set of complications. For forty years he has suffered agonies from imaginitis, scarecoma, apprehendicitis, and general fearosis of living!”
1) Who would deny that our century is possessed of an evil spirit? Jesus’ world was a demon-haunted world. Men and women in the ancient world believed in demons. Demons for them were intensely real. The first century world was one of pain and suffering. There was no relief from pain. It was a world of natural disasters that took a heavy toll on life. Disease, even the slightest illness, could be fatal. There was a high rate of infant mortality. Life expectancy was in the middle forties. Because they had no idea of the causes of natural disaster, calamity, or disease, the people associated them with demons. It is difficult for our modern world to realize the power and influence that demons had upon first century human life. But when it comes to evil and demons, is there that much difference between the first and twenty-first centuries? We cannot dismiss evil as a first century phenomenon. It operates as an active force in our world as well as in our souls. In one lifetime we have witnessed the Holocaust of World War II, the Jewish holocaust, genocide in Cambodia and in Jonestown, ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, child abuse in America, Branch Davidians, the bombings at New York’s Twin Towers and Oklahoma City. Boko Haram and ISIS atrocities. Who would deny that our century is possessed of an evil spirit? Fr. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
2) The en vogue theory: During a discussion of William Shakespeare, a student asked the old professor about the en vogue theory that Shakespeare did not write the plays ascribed to him. The professor growled, “Young man, if Shakespeare did not write those plays, then they were written by someone who lived at the same time and had the same name!” It is a sure sign of desperation in the atheistic circles to speak of Jesus as a myth or a “tall-tale” like Paul Bunyan or Robin Hood – to sayJohn We that Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man did not even exist, much less conduct a ministry with Divine power and Divine authority as described in today’s Gospel. Fr. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
3. Athletes proclaiming the authority of God. Athletes with religious convictions are nothing new. In 1954, the Fellowship for Christian Athletes (FCA) was founded “to present to athletes and coaches, and all whom they influence, the challenge and adventure of receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, serving him in their relationships and in the fellowship of the Church.” In a visit to the FCA’s extensive Web Site, we find many familiar names popping up: Minnesota Vikings’ wide receiver Cris Carter, Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne, University of Washington quarterback Brock Huard and Heisman-trophy-winner Charlie Ward. New Orleans Saints quarterback Danny Wuerffel is an active member of the FCA and a contributing writer to the FCA’s monthly publication, Sharing the Victory. Wuerffel has said: “I am a Christian who happens to be an athlete, and not vice-versa.” Courtney Chase declares, “For Christian athletes, religion is part of the game.” “Muscular Christianity” has been around since baseball-player-turned-evangelist Billy Sunday loudly refuted the idea that Jesus was a weakling, a man of sorrows, a loser. The football stadium at Notre Dame is situated next to a huge library mural known as “Touchdown Jesus.” It was big national news when Dallas Cowboys cornerback Deion Sanders gave God all glory for the victories of his after the Cowboys’ 37-7 rout of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Professional athletes are getting saved, and sports writers are getting annoyed! There can be no doubt that the number of athletes publicly testifying to their Faith has drastically increased in the last few years. The New York Times Sports writer Jack Curry, in an April 16, 1995 interview, quotes New York Yankees Closer, John Wetteland (pitcher who would go on to close out the Atlanta Braves in the Sixth Game winning the 1996 World Series) as declaring, “I honestly try and walk with Jesus Christs every day… My relationship with Jesus Christ … is of the utmost importance to me… even more important than my relationship with my wife; I know that my wife considers her relationship with Him more important than her relationship with me. Ultimately, that’s Who I’m going to have to face Increasingly, the athletes are attributing their victories to God. Such testimonies — along with the Bible study sessions, Chapel services pre-game and post-game group prayer — have become an accepted part of the game today, bearing testimony to the authority of God in all spheres of human activities. Today’s Gospel tells us how Jesus demonstrates this Divine power and authority in his teaching and healing ministry. Fr. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
5) “Mister, why don’t you get off the board?” Stephen Brown tells about a man who was sitting on a board of nails, and it was hurting. A psychologist came along and said, “Sir, the reason you are hurting is rooted in a childhood trauma. You need therapy.” A sociologist then came along, saw the hurting man, and said, “You’ve got a problem, and it is obviously the result of the kind of environment in which you grew up. Hurt is from an improper environment.” An economist next came along and said, “Money is the root of all hurt. Let me help you with your portfolio.” Then a minister came along and said, “If you learn to praise the Lord in all your circumstances, you won’t hurt so much. Your spiritual life leaves something to be desired. Start reading your Bible and praying every day, and it will get better.” Finally, a little girl came along and said, “Mister, why don’t you get off the board?” [No More Mr. Nice Guy! (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986).] Some of us need to get off the tack. We need to get moving and get help. Today’s Gospel tells us how Jesus responded to a hurting man. Fr. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
6) Demons are here and alive and active: Money Magazine has selected its top “Sin Stocks.” If you’re going to invest in companies that make money out of our propensity to sin, here are the top Seven Deadly Sin Stocks, the stocks that will give you the greatest return on your investment [Money Magazine (November 2002).] 1. Lust: Playboy Enterprises 2. Anger: World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) 3. Avarice: Trump Hotels & Casinos 4. Sloth: La-Z-Boy 5. Envy: Allergan (AGN) Botox injections 6. Gluttony: Krispy Kreme (KKD) 7. Pride: Fair Isaac FIC) (credit rating company). All we have to do is open a Wall Street Journal, read a tabloid headline at the check-out counter, or hear five minutes of Tom Brokaw or Bill O’Reilly to know that unclean spirits still stalk the Earth. After a half-century of world-wars, cold-wars, nuclear-wars, guerilla-wars, genocidal-wars, terrorist-wars, and now WMD-wars (WMD=”Weapons of Mass Destruction”), who among us has any reason to doubt the straightforward Biblical perceptions that unclean spirits and demonic powers roam in our midst? Some of you may remember Mercury Morris, a great running back for the Miami Dolphins back in their glory days when they were winning the Super Bowls. Mercury was one of the first professional athletes be caught involved in drugs. He was arrested, tried and sent to jail. Why should such a successful athlete do such a dumb thing? Why should he throw his life away? At his trial he said, “I wanted to get away from it, but the demons wouldn’t let me.” Fr. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
7) Tonya Harding and the demons: Look how powerfully destructive an evil spirit like greed can be when it is let loose in human life. Our environment is suffering from economic exploitation resulting from greed. A passion for wealth has produced a disregard for the world of nature and human survival. Greed can be very destructive to human life. Tonya Harding (born November 12, 1970) was an American figure skating champion. In 1991 she won the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and placed second in the World Championships. She was the second woman, and the first American woman, to complete a triple axel jump in competition. She was surrounded by vultures who wanted a share in the pot of gold that she might win at Lillehammer. Her mother, who had been married seven times, stood at rink-side with a hair brush to beat her daughter if her performance fell short of her expectations. Tonya became notorious after her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, conspired with Shawn Eckhardt and Shane Stant to attack her skating competitor Nancy Kerrigan at a practice session during the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. The story, which captured national attention for weeks, ended like most stories of greed. The characters self-destructed, and the pot of gold vanished. Joseph Conrad suggests to us that “the belief in the supernatural source of evil is not necessary. Men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.” Jesus confronts an Evil Spirit in today’s Gospel. Fr. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
9) It’s a sad story. We see good people addicted to alcohol, addicted to drugs, addicted to all kinds of inappropriate, often destructive behaviors, and with good reason we ask, “What got into them? Surely, they knew better. Why did they let this happen?” In Jesus’ time they might have answered it this way, “They were possessed by a demon.” How many of you, sports fans remember the name Mickey Mantle? When Mickey Mantle played for the New York Yankees, many fans and sports writers predicted that he would be the best ever to play the game of baseball. He demonstrated spectacular talent and athleticism from a young age. He was voted the Most Valuable Player of the American League three times, and set numerous records that still stand today. But even Mantle will admit that he never lived up to his potential. Mantle became addicted to alcohol during his second season in the big leagues. He did such a good job of hiding his problem that his coaches and teammates never suspected anything. Mantle continued to battle his addiction until he turned sixty-three when he finally went public with his secret. He went into treatment and gave up booze. Sadly, years of alcohol abuse had destroyed Mickey Mantle’s body. He died a few months later of liver cancer. His friends remember him for the dignity and Faith he demonstrated in his last days. Fr. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
10) “Would you mind delivering a parcel of homemade toffee to my son?” We are exposed to much human evil in our century. William Barclay tells of a traveler in Soviet Georgia in the days before the Second World War. She was taken to see a very humble old woman in a little cottage. The old peasant woman asked her if she were going to Moscow. The traveler said she was. “Then, “asked the woman, “would you mind delivering a parcel of homemade toffee to my son? He cannot get anything like it in Moscow.” Her son’s name was Josef Stalin, the same Stalin who is said to have murdered millions of his own people. Confronted with monsters like Stalin and Adolf Hitler who seemed in every respect normal human beings but found it possible to rationalize barbaric behavior, we feel no need to look behind every bush for demonic spirits. Fr. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
11) “24 Things About To Become Extinct In America.” There’s a book written for us list lovers called The Incredible Book of Wacky Lists by Patrick M. Reynolds (2001), where he has lists of “Plants That Eat Animals” (there are 4 of them: Venus’s flytrap, Butterwort, Sundew, Pitcher plant), “Seas Named After a Color” (Black, Red, White, Yellow Seas), 3 Tallest US Presidents (Abe Lincoln, 6’4″, LBJ, 6’3″, Thomas Jefferson, 6’2½”, now 4, with Barack Obama, 6’2″), “7 Birds That Can’t Fly” (emu, kiwi, penguin, ostrich, cassowary, rhea, Galapagos cormorant), “10 Animals with Pockets” (kangaroo, koala, opossum, sea horse, Tasmanian devil, wombat, wallaroo, bandicoot, cuscus, echidna), and “10 Knock-Knock Jokes” (enough is enough—I’ll spare you.) My new favorite list is at first glance an alarming one. It is called “24 Things About To Become Extinct In America.” Among the 24 predicted extinctions are the imminent demise of the Yellow Pages, movie rental stores, phone landlines, VCRs, Ham radio, incandescent light bulbs, cameras that use film, and the milkman. In fact, some extinctions are good. When things are no longer useful, when things do not function in a helpful way, or just aren’t sensible anymore, they should become extinct. In today’s Gospel text Jesus acted as an agent of extinction. When Jesus entered into the local synagogue in Capernaum it was time for the unclean spirit inhabiting that a person in that place to go elsewhere. The presence of Jesus, whom the unclean spirit declared to be “the Holy One of God,” left no room for the unholy attitude and actions of that demon. Go exorcize some demons this week! Make a list of things you want to go extinct in your life, and then stop feeding them: greed, jealousy, anger, hypocrisy, selfishness . . . . Change the climate in your home and in your heart. Make the climate in which you live inhospitable to hatred, a wasteland for bigotry, a desert for envy. Fr. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
12) “I want you to pray that Mary Jones will stop leading my husband into sin!” There’s a rather humorous story about a seminary professor who was lecturing one day when a hand went up from one of his students. A large pastor from the hills of West Virginia, a former pro wrestler, had a question: “I had something happen the Sunday before I come down here,” he said. “Don’t know if I handled it right or not. It was at the prayer time and so I asked the Church, ‘Do you have any special prayer needs?’ A woman raised her hand and said, ‘Yeah, I got one . . I want you to pray that Mary Jones will stop leading my husband into adultery.’” Now that’s not what you expect to happen in Church. The pastor continued: “With that Mary Jones jumped up screaming, [calling the woman a name we usually don’t use in Church] and the two of them locked in a fight, pulling and jerking each other all over the Church. Their husbands got into it too, one ramming the head of the other into the backside of the pew.” So, the pastor continued, “I pulled the two women apart and said, ‘Stop it and sit yourselves back down. Now, I’m gonna ask one more time. Are there any prayer requests, and I’m gonna see if you can do it right this time. And if you people don’t settle down and act like Christians, I’m gonna bust some heads.” They quieted down and we went on with the service. “Now Doc,” asked the West Virginia pastor, “was this what you call ‘good liturgical leadership’?” The professor mumbled something like “sounds good to me.” He was found later, however, praying in his office: “Lord, help me to be a good seminary professor.” (1) Now that story’s a little extreme, I think you will agree, but stranger things have been known to happen in Churches – not here, of course, but in some churches. Jesus was teaching in the synagogue, and this man began crying out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are the Holy One of God!” Fr. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
13) “Who’s Nobody In America” Several years ago, Derek Evans and Dave Fulwiler of San Diego began the world’s first reverse social register. This register is for people who couldn’t make it into Who’s Who. It is called Who’s Nobody In America. Evans and Fulwiler say that 3,800 people have sought places in the register since they began accepting entries. Each “nobody” is limited to a twenty-five-word biography. Some of those biographies are hilarious. According to these nobodies, you know you’re nobody if: “Your twin sister dies, and they bury you instead.” “Your own reflection in the mirror ignores you.” “You had your picture taken beside a tree and everyone admires the tree.” One applicant claimed that the government returned his taxes unopened. Another lamented that all of his mail was addressed to “Occupant,” and the Post Office had returned it with the legend, “No longer at this address.” Many of us have the feeling that our lives really don’t matter, that we’re unnoticed and unloved. And the same was true back then. But Jesus cared for the people. His love and concern came through in everything Jesus said and did. And Jesus cares for us as he cared for those who came to the synagogue as described in today’s Gospel. Fr. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
15) A demon possession: Baptist pastor Bruce McIver tells a great story about a couple named Alfred and Ernestine. Alfred and Ernestine had been visiting Bruce’s Church for quite a while, and they looked at Bruce as their pastor. That’s why they didn’t hesitate to call whenever they felt a situation warranted the presence of a “man of God.” Like the night Alfred called to say Ernestine had torn the house apart, and now she was locked in the bathroom with a gun. Alfred was afraid to go near her, but he was sure she would never hurt a pastor. So, with great fear, Bruce went to their house and calmed Ernestine down. A week later, Bruce got a call that scared him even more than the first. Alfred and Ernestine wanted to join his Church. Bruce visited them and tried to impress upon them the importance of this step, but they still felt ready to join. A few weeks after joining, Alfred and Ernestine came forward for Baptism. Ernestine was dressed in a white gown, and she radiated joy and serenity as Bruce dipped her in the water. Then Ernestine walked up the steps of the baptismal pool toward the women’s dressing room. Another woman waited at the top of the stairs to assist her. The woman gave Ernestine a towel and remarked, “Perhaps you’d like to stand here for a moment and watch your husband be baptized.” Ernestine turned to see Bruce praying over Alfred, and she shouted out from the top of the Baptismal steps, “I HOPE HE DROWNS!” [Bruce McIver, Just As Long As I’m Riding Up Front (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1995), pp. 85-89.] That is as close as most of us will come to the scene that Mark describes at the synagogue in Capernaum. We don’t really understand what the New Testament writers mean by demon possession. Fr. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
16) Dostoevsky and the demon of gambling: The Russian novelist, Feodor Dostoevsky is known as the “master of the human heart” on account of his penetrating psychological insights, but he had great difficulty mastering his own emotions. A “demon” which afflicted him was a gambling addiction. The addiction began when Dostoevsky entered a casino and placed a bet at the roulette wheel. He won – and it seemed like his financial troubles were over. He did not, however, stop when he was ahead; he kept playing and wound up losing everything. In desperation, he pawned his ring, his watch and his coat. Then he proceeded to lose that money as well. Afterward, he felt miserable, not just because of his losses, but because he had given into a frenzy which drove him to act recklessly. He resolved to never gamble again. To his wife he swore that he would quit, but that turned out to be a promise she would hear over and over. Dostoevsky’s gambling not only plunged him into ever deeper debt, it jeopardized his marriage and his family. This pattern continued for many years. One day things changed. Dostoevsky had scraped together a sum equaling a few hundred dollars. He carefully calculated what part he would risk and what part he would save. As always, the frenzy overtook him, and he not only bet everything, but pleaded with fellow gamblers to loan him money, offering them some item of clothes as collateral. About nine-thirty in the evening, he emerged from the casino, full of remorse. He decided to seek a priest to make a confession. In the distance he saw what looked like a Russian Church. When he finally got there, it turned out to be a Jewish synagogue. He later wrote, “It was as though I had cold water poured over me. I came running home…” From that day forward, he never entered another casino. We do not know exactly what happened to Dostoevsky that night, but somehow his addiction was broken. It certainly had something to do with his desire to confess his sins and seek Christ’s forgiveness. And it was as if an unclean spirit had been cast from him. He entered into some of the most productive – and happiest – years of his life. (Fr. Phil Bloom). Fr. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
18) Dabbling in the Occult is anti-Christian: This is why the Church consistently and tirelessly warns all of her children against experimenting with occult practices. These are popular and accepted in our society, but that doesn’t mean that they are good. Horoscope watching, Ouija boards, palm reading, tea-leaves, crystals. these seemingly innocent entertainments are hooks the devil uses to draw us into his web of lies and false promises. They are the first step towards deeper contact with evil spirits through things like Wicca, neo-paganism, New Age, white and black magic, spiritism, theosophy, and even Satanism. Far from innocent pastimes, these activities directly contradict our friendship with Christ, because they look for fulfillment, meaning, and purpose apart from Christ. Dabbling with them is consciously and foolishly putting our friendship with Christ at risk (E- Priest). Fr. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
19) Blind following of wrong authority: For centuries people believed that Aristotle was right when he said that the heavier an object, the faster it would fall to earth. Aristotle was regarded as the greatest thinker of all time, and surely he would not be wrong. Anyone, of course, could have taken two objects, one heavy and one light, and dropped them from a great height to see whether or not the heavier object landed first. But no one did until nearly 2,000 years after Aristotle’s death. In 1589 Galileo summoned learned professors to the base of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Then he went to the top and pushed off a ten- pound and a one-pound weight. Both landed at the same instant. The power of belief was so strong, however, that the professors denied their eyesight. They continued to say Aristotle was right. This illustrates perfectly what is going on in the world today. You could show the terrible ravaging effects of AIDS and people will have promiscuous sex anyway. You can show someone a diseased liver and cancerous lungs and people are going to abuse alcohol and smoke regardless of the facts. [Bits & Pieces (January 9, 1992), pp. 22-23; quoted by Fr. Kayala.] Fr. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
20) “Do you know who I am?” When Christian Herter was governor of Massachusetts, he was running hard for a second term in office. One day, after a busy morning chasing votes (and no lunch), he arrived at a church barbecue. It was late afternoon and Herter was famished. As Herter moved down the serving line, he held out his plate to the woman serving chicken. She put a piece on his plate and turned to the next person in line. “Excuse me,” Governor Herter said, “do you mind if I have another piece of chicken?” “Sorry,” the woman told him. “I’m supposed to give one piece of chicken to each person.” “But I’m starved,” the governor said. “Sorry,” the woman said again. “Only one to a customer.” Governor Herter was a modest and unassuming man, but he decided that this time he would throw a little weight around. “Do you know who I am?” he said. “I am the governor of this state.” “Do you know who I am?” the woman said. “I’m the lady in charge of the chicken. Move along, mister.” [Bits & Pieces (May 28, 1992), pp. 5-6; quoted by Fr. Kayala). Fr. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
21) Pat Robertson’s devil mania: After calling for the assassination of President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, then claiming that God caused Ariel Sharon’s massive stroke as punishment for conceding land to the Palestinians, Pat Robertson later claimed that Satan caused Dick Cheney’s shortness of breath that briefly hospitalized the Vice President. Why? “Because he is dedicated to defeating the evildoers in Iraq, and that angered the evilest doer of all, Satan.” On that same show Robertson extended condolences to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who needed fifteen stitches in his lip after “a motorcycle accident that I’m pretty sure was caused by Satan.” Satan, he advised, “is no match for a Republican” (The 700 Club, January 5, 10, 2006). Pat Robertson’s remarks are not only idiotic but as indefensibly reprehensible and appalling. Today’s Gospel describes how Jesus exercised his authority over the devil. (Dr. Murray Watson). Fr. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
22) Freedom to serve: During the early days of the nineteenth century, a wealthy plantation owner was attracted by the heartbreaking sobs of a slave girl who was about to step up to the auction block to be sold. Moved by a momentary impulse of compassion, he bought her at a very high price and then disappeared in the crowd. When the auction was over, the clerk came to the sobbing girl and handed her the bill of sale. To her astonishment, the plantation owner had written ‘Free’ over the paper that should have delivered her to him as his possession. She stood speechless, as one by one the other slaves were claimed by their owners and dragged away. Suddenly, she threw herself at the feet of the clerk and exclaimed: “Where is the man who bought me? I must find him! He has set me free! I must serve him as long as I live!” Are we ready to surrender our lives to Jesus who set us free and taught with divine authority? (Anthony Castle in More Quotes and Anecdotes; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
23) “You will give me your decision before you leave that circle.” Antiochus IV Ephiphanes, King of Syria, had a great interest in Egypt. He amassed an army and invaded that country in 168 B.C. To his deep humiliation the Romans ordered him home. They did not send an army to oppose him; such was the might of Rome that they did not need to. They sent a senator called Popilius Laena with a small and quite unarmed suite. Popilius and Antiochus met on the boundaries of Egypt. They talked; they both knew Rome and they had been friendly. Then very gently Popilius told Antiochus that Rome did not wish him to proceed with the campaign and wished him to go home. Antiochus said he would consider it. Popilius took the staff he was carrying and drew a circle in the sand round about Antiochus. Quietly he said, “Consider it now; you will give me your decision before you leave that circle.” Antiochus thought for a moment and realized that to defy Rome was impossible. “I will go home,” he said. It was a shattering humiliation for a king. But that was the power and the authority of the Roman Caesars. (See Daniel 11:29 and following, with the notes) – In today’s Gospel we hear of another man who exercised authority — not the authority of brute power that subjugated people, but the power that comes from God. His authority was different from anyone else. His authority was Divine. (John Rose in John’s Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
24) The movement is Christianity and the prophet is Jesus Christ. In one of its issues, Newsweek, addressed in depth the Women’s Liberation Movement. It observed that once the revolution was declared, the nation was flooded with books on the subject. Some books, like those written by Nancy Woloch and Phyllis Schlafly, were serious studies of the significance of the movement. Other books, like those authored by Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, were more strident and dogmatic. The latter illustrate what often happens in a movement: self-styled prophets emerge who presume to speak with full authority. And so we have had such figures as Hugh Hefner as the spokesman for the Playboy Philosophy, guru Timothy Leary for the LSD cult and the militant Malcolm X for the Black Power movement. History shows that many of these movements die out and that their prophets fade away. But there is one movement that endures, one prophet who lives forever. The movement is Christianity and the prophet is Jesus Christ. (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
25) Authority is a strange thing! Authority is a strange thing. A fourteen-year-old boy argues about the curfew imposed by his parents. Then the next day in the freshman baseball game, he dutifully lays down a good bunt, forgoing a mighty swing at the fence, because the coach flashed a signal from the bench. Instant obedience to the coach; reluctant submission to mum and dad! On an airliner the captain flashes the seat-belt sign, and everybody complies. Four hours later in a rented car, the passenger disregards the seat belt. The irony: for the same distance travelled, the airliner is three times safer. (Gerard Fuller in Stories for All Seasons; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
26) Difference between “power” and “authority.” Suppose that you’re sitting at a traffic light, in the middle lane, waiting for the light to change. On your left is a Dodge Viper, with about a zillion horsepower, just waiting to streak away like a shot. That is power! On your right is the biggest, shiniest eighteen-wheeler you ever saw, with chromium exhaust pipes and a cab that looks two stories tall, and it is rumbling like a thousand snarling lions, waiting for the light to change. That’s power! But just before the light begins to change, you see a State Policeman, in shiny boots and spit-and-polish uniform. His car is parked across the way. He is evidently filling in for the school crossing guard. He walks to the center of the street and holds up his hand. All the traffic comes to a stop. You wait. The Viper waits. The eighteen-wheeler waits. And a tiny little girl with a backpack walks kitty-corner across the busy intersection. The rumbling engines may have power. But he has the authority! Just like the drivers in the outside and inside lanes, the Scribes could make a lot of noise and show off a lot with their pretentious knowledge, arguing from sunrise to sunset on obscure points of law. But only Jesus had both power and authority that was recognized by demons, and also the power and authority to command their instant, unquestioning obedience. Here is the point: The Scribes never yielded to the wisdom and truth of Jesus Christ. Now it is your turn: will you recognize, trust and yield to the authority of Jesus, or will you follow your own opinions? Fr. Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
Have a discerning weekend recognizing the prophetic presence of God in our midst!
In the earlier part of Deuteronomy Israel was warned about using all kinds of soothsayers and magical techniques to find out the will of God. The divine will was to be made known only through the prophets. Prophesy was to be Israel's special means of communication with God, Yahweh's special gift to his people. The people asked to be spared the ordeal of hearing the voice of God directly. They asked Moses to intercede with God to let His prophets speak on his behalf. Yahweh granted this request and the prophet became a mediator for the people. In the first reading Moses foretells the coming of a prophet who will speak about God's word to the people. Deuteronomy presents Moses himself as the ideal prophet. The prophet can never speak on his own authority, but speaks on behalf of God. The Jews believed that God would raise up in the last days a prophet like Moses.
Freedom to serve
Speaking with Authority
Glenstal Bible Missal
Speaking with Authority
Authority is a strange thing!
May we discover in the word of God the power and authority of Jesus Christ!
I believe that this illustrates perfectly what is going on in the world today. You could show the terrible ravaging effects of AIDS and people will have promiscuous sex anyway. You can show someone a diseased liver and cancerous lungs and people are going to abuse alcohol and smoke regardless of the facts.
You know what I wish? I wish someone would just climb to the top of the tower and push off a ten-pound argument and a one-pound argument and let's just see if they reach the ground first. That would finally prove who is right and who is wrong. But then I am reminded that when Galileo did that no one believed him. Even with the authority of obvious visible proof, i.e. the two weights reached the ground at the same time, the professors did not believe. The problem here is obvious. Most people are going to believe what they have always believed regardless of the facts.
But something different occurred in the life of Jesus. Something persuasive...
Scott Hoezee, Center for Excellence in Preaching
Help in Facing Our Fears
Adapted from Leslie Weatherhead.
Kathleen Norris writes, "When I think of the demons I need to exorcise, I have to look inward, to my heart and soul. Anger is my best demon, useful whenever I have to go into a Woman Warrior mode, harmful when I use it to gratify myself, either in self-justification, or to deny my fears. My husband, who has a much sweeter nature than I, once told me that my mean streak grieved him, not just because of the pain it cause him but because it was doing me harm. His remark, as wise as that of any desert Abba, felt like an exorcism. Not that my temptation to anger was magically gone, but I was called to pay closer attention to something that badly needed attention, and that was hurting our marriage. It confirmed my understanding of marriage as a holy act: one can no more hide one's true faults from a spouse than from God, and in exorcising the demon of anger, that which could kill is converted, transformed into that which can heal."
6. Sermons Illustrations:
These illustrations are well known but here it is for the record:
In U.S. Navel Institute Proceedings, the magazine of the Naval Institute, Frank Koch illustrates the importance of obeying the Laws of the Lighthouse. Two battleships assigned to the training squadron had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy weather for several days. I was serving on the lead battleship and was on watch on the bridge as night fell. The visibility was poor with patchy fog, so the captain remained on the bridge keeping an eye on all activities.
Shortly after dark, the lookout on the wing reported, "Light, bearing on the starboard bow."
"Is it steady or moving astern?" the captain called out.
The lookout replied, "Steady, Captain," which meant we were on a dangerous collision course with that ship.
The captain then called to the signalman, "Signal that ship: 'We are on a collision course, advise you change course twenty degrees.'"
Back came the signal, "Advisable for you to change course twenty degrees."
The captain said, "Send: "I'm a captain, change course twenty degrees.'"
"I'm a seaman second-class," came the reply. "You had better change course twenty degrees."
By that time the captain was furious. He spat out, "Send: 'I'm a battleship. Change course twenty degrees.'"
Back came the flashing light, "I'm a lighthouse."
We changed course.
Max Lucado, In the Eye of the Storm, Word Publishing, 1991, p. 153.
When Christian Herter was governor of Massachusetts, he was running hard for a second term in office. One day, after a busy morning chasing votes (and no lunch) he arrived at a church barbecue. It was late afternoon and Herter was famished. As Herter moved down the serving line, he held out his plate to the woman serving chicken. She put a piece on his plate and turned to the next person in line.
"Excuse me," Governor Herter said, "do you mind if I have another piece of chicken?"
"Sorry," the woman told him. "I'm supposed to give one piece of chicken to each person."
"But I'm starved," the governor said.
"Sorry," the woman said again. "Only one to a customer."
Governor Herter was a modest and unassuming man, but he decided that this time he would throw a little weight around.
"Do you know who I am?" he said. "I am the governor of this state."
"Do you know who I am?" the woman said. "I'm the lady in charge of the chicken. Move along, mister."
Bits & Pieces, May 28, 1992, pp. 5-6.
For centuries people believed that Aristotle was right when he said that the heavier an object, the faster it would fall to earth. Aristotle was regarded as the greatest thinker of all time, and surely he would not be wrong. Anyone, of course, could have taken two objects, one heavy and one light, and dropped them from a great height to see whether or not the heavier object landed first. But no one did until nearly 2,000 years after Aristotle's death. In 1589 Galileo summoned learned professors to the base of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Then he went to the top and pushed off a ten- pound and a one-pound weight. Both landed at the same instant. The power of belief was so strong, however, that the professors denied their eyesight. They continued to say Aristotle was right.
Bits & Pieces, January 9, 1992, pp. 22-23.
Amy Carter brought an assignment home one Friday night while her father was still President. Stumped by a question on the Industrial Revolution, Amy sought help from her mother. Rosalynn was also fogged by the question and, in turn, asked an aide to seek clarification from the Labor Department. A "rush" was placed on the request since the assignment was due Monday. Thinking the question was a serious request from the Prez himself, a Labor Department official immediately cranked up the government computer and kept a full team of technicians and programmers working overtime all weekend...at a reported cost of several hundred thousand dollars. The massive computer printout was finally delivered by truck to the White House on Sunday afternoon and Amy showed up in class with the official answer the following day. But her history teacher was not impressed. When Amy's paper was returned, it was marked with a big red "C."
Campus Life, May, 1981 p. 59.