Week: May 3- 8
May 3 Monday: Saints Philip & James the Lesser, Apostles
James, son of Alphaeus, called James the Lesser wrote the epistle that bears his name and became the bishop of Jerusalem. He is brother of Jude and they are cousins of Jesus because their mother Mary is sister or cousin of Jesus’ mother and she was married to Alphaeus or Clophas.(He is different from James the Greater, son of Zebedee who married another sister of Mary and hence another cousin of Jesus. The Apostle John was his brother). James the Lesser is also known by the title of James the Just on account of his eminent sanctity. James and his brother Jude were called to the apostleship in the second year of Christ’s preaching, soon after the Pasch, probably in the year 31. James, son of Alphaeus, only appears four times in the New Testament, each time in a list of the twelve apostles as number 9. In Christian art he is depicted holding a fuller’s club because he was believed to have been martyred, beaten to death with a fuller’s club at Ostrakine in Lower Egypt, where he was preaching the Gospel.
Philip: John describes Philip as a fisherman from Bethsaida in Galilee, the same town as Andrew and Peter. It is possible that Philip was originally a follower or disciple of John the Baptist because John depicts Jesus calling Philip out of a crowd attending John’s baptisms. Immediately after his call as an apostle by Jesus, Philip introduced Jesus to his friend Nathaniel as the “one about whom Moses wrote” (John 1:45). On one occasion, when Jesus saw the great multitude following him and wanted to give them food, he asked Philip where they should buy bread for the people to eat. Philip expressed his surprise declaring “two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little bit” (John 6:7). It was in answer to Philip’s question “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us” (John 14:8) that Jesus answered, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Since Philip had a Greek name some Greek Gentile proselytes once approached him with a request to introduce them to Jesus. Eusebius records that Polycrates, 2nd century Bishop of Ephesus, wrote that Philip was crucified in Phrygia and later buried in Hierapolis, in Turkey. Tradition has it that his death was around AD 54. We celebrate his feast day on May 3rd.
Life message: Let us ask the intercession of Sts. James and Philip so that we too may bear witness of Jesus by our lives to those around us. (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 21.
May 4 Tuesday: Jn 14:27-31a:
The context: In his Last Supper discourse, Jesus gives two gifts to his disciples, namely, the gift of peace and the gift of the cross leading to glory. Today’s passage refers to the gift of peace. Wishing a person peace (Shalom), was, and still is, the usual form of greeting among the Jews and the Arabs. Shalom is a right relationship with God and with others. Arabs wish each other saying “Islam Alikum” in Arabic, meaning peace be with you. And the response is “alikum Islam” (and also with you). Moses instructed the Israelites to bless others with God’s peace: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:22-26). “Peace be with you!” is the greeting which Jesus used, and which the Apostles continued to use. Hence, the Church uses it several times in the liturgy. Peace is one of the great Messianic gifts. St. Paul tells us that it is it is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Jesus repeats his promise saying, “My peace I give to you, my peace I leave with you.” Pope St. Paul VI (canonized October 14, 2018), said: “True peace must be founded upon justice, upon a sense of the untouchable dignity of man, upon the recognition of an indelible and happy equality between men, upon the basic principle of human brotherhood.”
Life message: We are invited to live in the peace wished by Jesus. This requires that we be reconciled every day with ourselves, with our neighbors and with our God. Reconciliation with God demands that we obey His commandments, repent every day of our sins, and ask God’s forgiveness. Reconciliation with others demands that we forgive others for their offenses against us and that we ask for their forgiveness for our offenses against them in words and deeds. Reconciliation with ourselves comes from our grace-given humble recognition of our weaknesses and failures and our grateful acceptance and use of the Holy Spirit’s loving gifts to us of deepened love and trust that God loves us in spite of these weaknesses, forgives us our sins when we repent, helps us to do better, and uses our weaknesses to bring us closer to Him, and to demonstrate His own Love and Power working through us for His glory. (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 21.
May 5 Wednesday: John 15:1-8:
The context: During his Last Supper discourse, Jesus uses one of his favorite images, the vine and the branches, to help his disciples understand the closeness of their relationship with him and the necessity of their maintaining it. Jesus assures them, using the parable of the vine and branches, that the Life-giving Spirit, Whom Jesus will send them, will be present and active among his disciples and their successors. This Gospel passage also emphasizes the need for Christians to abide in Christ as an essential condition for producing fruits of kindness, mercy, justice, charity, and holiness. Paul further clarified this idea in Colossians 1:18 using another metaphor, that Christ is the Head and Christians are the different members of His Mystical Body. Pruning is an essential part of growing fruit-producing branches. In the vineyards in Palestine, dead branches were pruned to save the vine. Fruitless, leafy branches draining life sap from the main trunk were also pruned away leaving only fruit-bearing branches. Jesus tells his apostles that they have already been pruned by the words he has spoken to them. Eventually, they will be pruned of all attachment to the things of this world so that they may be ready to attach themselves to the things of Heaven.
Life messages 1) We need pruning in our Christian life. Pruning which cuts out of our lives everything that is contrary to the spirit of Jesus and renews our commitment to Christian ideals in our lives every day is the first type of self-imposed pruning expected of us. A second kind of pruning is accomplished by practicing self-control over our evil inclinations, sinful addictions and aberrations. A third type of pruning is done by our permitting Jesus to prune, purify and strengthen us as God allows us to face pain, suffering, contradictions and difficulties with His grace and the courage of our Christian convictions.
2) Let us abide in Christ and let Christ abide in us: Personal and liturgical prayers, frequenting of the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation, daily, meditative reading of the Bible and selfless, loving acts of kindness, mercy and forgiveness enable us to abide in Jesus, the true vine, as fruit-bearing branches (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 21.
May 6 Thursday: Jn 15: 9-11:
The context: During the Last Supper discourse, Jesus teaches his disciples that love is the hallmark and the criterion of Christians. Jesus reminds his disciples that he has chosen them as his friends with a triple mission. First, they are to love others as he has loved them. Second, they are to bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Third, they are to ask God the Father for whatever they need in Jesus’ name.
The criteria of Christian love: First, Jesus modifies the Old Testament command from “love your neighbor as you love yourselves” (Lv 19: 18) to “love others as I have loved you.” This means that our love for others must be unconditional, forgiving, and sacrificial. Jesus invites each Christian to be in the inner circle of his friends by obeying his commandments including the new commandment of love. Such friends abide in Jesus, and Jesus abides in them, and their prayers in Jesus’ name will be answered promptly by God the Father. We express our love for Christ by obeying his new commandment of love. Jesus further explains that the real source of Christian joy is the certainty that God loves us. We, too, must be ready to express our love for others by our readiness to die for them as Jesus died for us.
Life message: 1) Let us remember that true Christian love is costly and painful because it involves sacrifice on our part when we start loving the unlovable, ungrateful and hostile people with Christ’s unconditional, forgiving and sacrificial love. But our Christian call is to love others as Jesus has loved us, and as Jesus loves them. (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 21.
May 7 Friday: Jn 15: 12-17:
The context: Today’s Gospel passage is a part of Jesus’ Last Supper discourse. Jesus reminds his disciples that he has chosen them as his friends with a triple mission. First, they are to love others as he has loved them. Second, they are to bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Third, they are to ask God the Father in Jesus’ Name, for whatever they need.
First, Jesus modifies the Old Testament command from “love your neighbor as you love yourselves” (Lv 19:18) to “love others as I have loved you.” This means that our love for others must be unconditional, forgiving, and sacrificial. We, too, must be ready to express our love for others by our readiness to die for them as Jesus died for us. Second, Jesus explains that the calling to produce fruits, which the Apostles received, and which every Christian also receives, does not originate in the individual’s good desires but in Christ’s free choice. Third, Jesus concludes his advice by referring to the effectiveness of prayer offered in his Name. That is why the Church usually ends the prayers of the liturgy with the invocation “Through Jesus Christ our Lord….”
Life message 1) Let us remember that true Christian love is costly and painful because it involves sacrifice on our part when we start loving unlovable, ungrateful and hostile people with Christ’s unconditional, forgiving and sacrificial love. But our Christian call is to love others as Jesus has loved us, and as Jesus loves them, and he always gives us the grace to do so. Tony
(Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 21.
May 8 Saturday: Jn 15:18-21:
The context: In today’s Gospel passage, taken from the Last Supper discourse, Jesus warns his apostles of what they are to expect from a world which ignores God and His teaching. They will be hated and persecuted as Jesus was. But there can be no compromise between Christ’s disciples and the followers of the powers of darkness. The term “world” in today’s Gospel passage means people who are hostile towards God and opposed to His will. They represent an evil society which “calls evil good and good evil” (Is 5:20). Such a society will hate Christ and his teachings because Christian teaching exposes the evil of society and its false and dangerous doctrines. Since the Church Jesus established stands for truth, morality and justice, it does not support the modern “dictatorship of relativism.” The modern world hates and ridicules everything Christian through its liberal, agnostic and atheistic media.
Life message: Let us ask the Holy Spirit for the courage of our Christian convictions to believe and practice what Jesus taught and what Jesus continues to teach through the Church.
(Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)