FR TONY'S HOMILYBIBLE STUDYRCIA LESSONSFAITH FORMATION LESSONS

27th Sunday of Year B

CBS SUNDAY MORNING (4:12) – This video was produced in February 2015 when Dale and Alice Rockey were each 99 years old. They met as kids just after the turn of the last century, in the small town of Hemingford, Nebraska. Worldwide Marriage Encounter crowned the Rockeys the Longest Married Couple of 2015, having been husband and wife for 81 years. Alice died shortly after this video; Dale died two years later at 101 years old.
8-MINUTE HOMILY

The bond of love that marriage creates between a man and a woman

http://frtonyshomilies.com/

Opening Illustration

The conventional wisdom is that every homily should begin with a story to capture the congregation’s attention and to introduce the theme. 
OPTION A: GOSPEL

The Grim Picture Presented by Divorce Statistics

We are told that during the last three years the divorce rate in the U.S has gone above 43%, although it is still less than that in Russia (65%), Sweden (63%), U.K (49%) and Australia (49%). In 1998 there were 19.4 million divorced adults in the U.S.A. Each year 2.5 million more couples get divorced. A greater number of divorces occur within the Christian Churches than in marriages made outside the Church. An ABC broadcast reports that the divorce rate in the “Bible Belt” is 50% higher than in other areas of the country. This affects the lives of one million new children every year, 84% of whom live in single parent homes. Statistics for the U.S. predict the possibility of 40% to 50% of marriages ending in divorce if current trends continue. People between the ages of 25 and 39 account for 60% of all divorces. More people are in their 2nd marriage than 1st (www. dicorcenter.com). With divorce being so common today, nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. Hence the importance of today’s readings about the indissolubility of marriage which is a freely agreed holy covenant commitment before God.

OPTION B: GOSPEL

Chemistry and Math of Marriage

Neil Warren, who has studied what he calls the “love secrets” of 100 couples with model marriages, says that his most significant finding is also the most surprising. Here’s the most shocking thing you may read in this entire book. Chemistry between two people is responsive to mental and emotional processes over which we have tremendous control. That’s right, you can make chemistry happen. If you don’t feel the flutter in your heart for your spouse that you once did, if the magic is gone from your relationship, don’t panic. You can change that! [Neil Clark Warren, The Triumphant Marriage (Dallas: Word Books, 1995), 72.] The phrase “The chemistry just isn’t there anymore,” should be banished from our vocabulary. Each of us can maximize chemistry to make new chemical reactions happen. The chemistry wrong? Mix up some new chemicals. Stir up some different romance ingredients. Here are some simple rituals of renewal which can keep your marriage romantically potent: Plant a tree together. Give a gift in honor of your marriage. Renew marriage vows. Buy the biggest wedding cake and invite friends over. Exchange gifts of jewelry. But as important as it is to become a good chemist, it is equally important to become a bad mathematician. In marriage, each partner must be willing to put in more than he or she takes out. Each person has to do a little more than what he thinks his share is’” [Prescription for a Quality Relationship (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988).] A lasting marriage is one in which each partner “looks out for number two,” not where each one is “looking out for number one.”

OPTION C: GOSPEL

12 Rules for a Happy Marriage

Recently I came across the following 12 rules for a happy marriage that had been given by the well-known Ann Landers in her weekly article. Although to my knowledge, Mrs. Landers has never obeyed the Gospel of Christ, I believe she set forth twelve practical suggestions that will promote a happier home environment. These twelve rules are actually Biblical; I have included Scripture references for each rule:

  1. Never both be angry at once (Proverbs 19:11)
  2. Never yell at each other unless the house is on fire (Proverbs 21:23)
  3. Yield to the wishes of the other as an exercise in self-discipline, if you can’t think of a better reason (Col. 3:18-19; Ephesians 5:21)
  4. If you have a choice between making yourself or your spouse look good–choose your spouse (Philippians 2:3-4; Matthew 19:19)
  5. If you feel you must criticize, do so lovingly (Ephesians 4:15)
  6. Never bring up a mistake of the past (Philippians 3:13-14)
  7. Neglect the whole world rather than each other (Ephesians 5:25-31)
  8. Never let the day end without saying at least one complimentary thing to your life partner (Proverbs 31:26)
  9. Never meet without an affectionate greeting (Proverbs 5:18-19)
  10. When you make a mistake, talk it out and ask for forgiveness (James 5:16)
  11. Remember, it takes two to make an argument. The one who is wrong is the one who will be doing most of the talking (James 3:5-8)
  12. Never go to bed mad (Ecclesiastes 7:9; Colossians 3:8).
Click on chevron banners for additional insights into this week’s scripture in order to relate it to the lives of your parishioners.

First Reading Remarks

The first reading, taken from Genesis explains God’s original plan concerning sex and marriage. It teaches us that God made man and woman for each other. Hence, in marriage they are no longer two but one, united by an unbreakable bond. The reading also describes the institution of marriage and shows that monogamy was God’s intention from the very beginning.

WANT TO SAY MORE?

Additional insights on the First Reading from Fr. Tony

The creation story in chapter two of Genesis shows that the ancient Israelites knew the importance of man and woman being joined one to another. The woman is made of the rib of man, and, hence, she is literally “bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh.” Figuratively, “bone” stands for strength and “flesh” stands for weakness. Woman’s origin makes her one with man. God deliberately created man and woman to bond permanently with one another. The clearest expression of this bonding is found in the marriage of a man and woman and their co-creation, with God, of a child, making of the three a new family unit. Woman is found to be a “suitable partner” for man. That is why, God says, “a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife” with the result that, “the two of them become one flesh.” The Genesis text attributes two essential qualities to marriage: unity (the two shall become one) and complementarity or mutual interdependence. The theme of marital bonding, which is essential for human fulfillment and happiness in marriage and families, appears in both the first reading and today’s Gospel and explains Jesus’ teaching on marriage and divorce. Divorce reveals an absence of marital bonding.


Responsorial Psalm Summary

The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 128) expands the marital theme of the first reading and the Gospel to include the children born of the union. Since the children enrich the lives of their parents, the Psalmist prays: “May you see your children’s children.”


Second Reading Summary

The second reading, taken from the Letter to the Hebrews, reminds us that Jesus became one of us, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. As one of us, Jesus “tasted death for everyone.” He was not only the Sacrifice, but also the High Priest. We are now Jesus’ brothers and sisters, bonded with Him, and through Him bonded with God. Thus, Christ became the Savior of all people – the good, the bad, the divorced, gays, lesbians – everyone, and received all of us as brothers and sisters. Jesus’ prohibition of divorce can be a source of suffering for those who face difficult married lives. Paul suggests that we have to accept pain as Jesus did, as the suffering we should endure on the way to glory.

WANT TO SAY MORE?

Additional insights on the Second Reading from Fr. Tony

TheLetter to the Hebrews explains the meaning of the early Christian confession that Christ died for us and our sins. It presents Christ as the great High Priest Who has willingly offered Himself as God and man in One Person, on our behalf. He is both the perfect Sacrifice and the Priest who offers it. Today’s passage from Hebrews says that, by the grace of God, Jesus tasted death for us all, becoming both our leader on the way to salvation, and receiving us as brothers and sisters. Christ was thus “perfect” for fulfilling the task of bringing us into a new relationship with God in which we may now approach God with confidence and even boldness. Christ became the Savior of all people – the good and the bad, the divorced, gays, lesbians – everyone, and we all became Jesus’ brothers and sisters. Jesus’ prohibition of divorce can be a source of suffering for those who experience difficult married lives. But Paul suggests that we have to accept pain the way Jesus did, as the suffering we should endure on the way to glory.


Gospel Summary

Today’s Gospel gives Christ’s explicit teaching on marriage and divorce, the Divine origin of marriage, the sacredness of family life, and the indissolubility of marriage. These are difficult messages to preach in a society that embraces co-habitation and ignores both the escalating divorce statistics and the dangerous consequences of divorce. The Gospel teaches that family life is sacred, that husband and wife are partners with equal rights and that the destruction of the family by divorce is producing the destruction of society.

WANT TO SAY MORE?

Additional insights on the Gospel from Fr. Tony

Today’s Gospel gives us lessons in Christian tolerance and exemplary Christian living.

The context: King Herod had married his brother’s wife, Herodias, violating the Mosaic Law. John the Baptist showed courage in condemning the king in public and lost his head for it. In today’s Gospel, the Pharisees were setting a trap, asking whether Jesus agreed with John on the non-legitimacy of divorce or would criticize the Mosaic tradition and alienate the people. But Jesus used the occasion to declare unequivocally that the bond of marriage comes from God, not man, and that it is permanent and indissoluble: “What God has joined, man must not separate”.


High ideal and low practice: “The ancient Jewish term for marriage was kiddushin, a term that meant sanctification or consecration. Ordinarily, kiddushin signified the husband’s absolute consecration to his wife and of the wife to her husband. Each became an offering totally given to the other.” (William Barclay). Thus, the Jews had a high ideal of marriage and their rabbis taught: “the very altar sheds tears when a man divorces the wife of his youth.” But their practice was far from that ideal, and divorce was common and easy. The wife was considered to be a husband’s property with no legal rights whatsoever. So, Moses commanded the men at least to give the woman they were abandoning a certificate of divorce which stated: “She is not my wife, and I am not her husband.” He would give this paper to his wife and tell her to leave. They were then legally divorced. That way she would at least be free to remarry. Without that certificate, technically she was still the property of her former husband. So, Moses was trying in a small way to give women some protection. There were two interpretations prevalent in Jewish theological schools concerning the Mosaic Law on divorce by which Moses allowed divorce when the husband found “some indecency” in his wife. “When a man, after marrying a woman and having relations with her, is later displeased with her because he finds in her something indecent, he writes out a bill of divorce and hands it to her, thus dismissing her from his house” (Dt 24:1). A “bill of divorcement” told society that the woman was not a harlot, but that she was free to remarry. A common “bill of divorcement” read as follows: “Let this be from me thy writ of divorce and letter of dismissal and deed of liberation, that thou mayest marry whatsoever man thou wilt.” In later days, they became far more complex, but the intent was the same. The Shammai School interpreted “indecency” as adultery, or some grounds of sexual impropriety, while the Hillel School interpreted it as anything which the husband did not like in his wife’s word, behavior, actions, or even her appearance. There are grounds for divorce if the wife burned his breakfast, put too much salt on his food, showed disrespect to him, spoke disrespectfully of her husband’s parents in his presence, spoke to a man on the street, or even let her hair down in public — or simply if he found a woman who was more attractive to him! Perhaps the most significant difference between their customs and ours lay in the status of the different genders. A man could divorce a woman on a whim, but a woman could not divorce a man for any cause.


Jesus’ stand: Jesus’ prohibition of divorce here stands out dramatically for its sternness, which admits of no exceptions. It is interesting to note that Matthew’s parallel version (in Mt 19) adds the exception “except for unchastity/adultery” (v.9); Luke (in 16:18) does not include this exception. Jesus did not claim to introduce a new teaching, but reminded the Jews of the original intention of God. Citing the book of Genesis, Jesus proved that God made us male and female and commanded that “the two shall become one flesh,” then drew the conclusion, “they are no longer two, but one body” – partners with equal rightsThe marriage relationship is God’s gift to us. It is God’s way of providing a lover, a helpmate, someone who will always be there for us.Hence, He declared that no man was allowed to separate what God had joined together (Mt 19:6). In contrast with the prevailing culture, Jesus presents man and woman as having equal rights and their marriage as essentially a permanent relationship. (“In creating men ‘male and female,’ God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity” CCC #2334). These words might have reminded the Pharisees of Yahweh’s warning given through his last prophet: “I hate divorce” (Malachi 2:16). Jesus also explains that Moses’ permission for divorce was only a temporary concession to control the growing rate of divorce even in his time, by introducing a law governing divorce. Jesus adds that it was because of the hard-heartedness of the Jewish men that Moses allowed such a concession. (The Greek expression used, σκληροκαρδία, sklērokardia, frequently means “stubbornness; obstinacy; refusal to be taught; insensitivity; persistent refusal to change one’s behavior.” Dr. Watson). By negating an interpretation of Dt 24:1-6 that allowed easy divorce, Jesus says, in effect, that where such a possibility of injustice and inequality exists in marriage, there can be no true marriage according to the intent of Genesis. According to the Mosaic sanction, men were allowed to divorce their wives, but wives were not able to divorce their husbands. By denying the man’s right to divorce, Jesus places the husband and wife on an equal footing in marriage and teaches that no Mosaic regulation dealing with a temporary situation can alter the permanency and unity of marriage, which God intended.


The Catholic teaching: Today’s reading from Mark’s Gospel, taken with Mt 5:31-32; Mt 19:3-9; Lk 16:18; and 1 Cor 7:10-11, is the main source from which the Catholic Church derives Jesus’ teaching on the Sacramental nature of marriage and its indissolubility. Christian marriage involves both a sacred and legal contract between a man and woman and at the same time is rooted in a special Covenant with the Lord. That is why Jesus states that a valid marriage is permanent. Hence, the Church has always firmly taught that a Sacramental marriage between Christians in which there has been true matrimonial consent and consummation, is absolutely indissoluble, except by the death of one of the spouses. The Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes the Church’s teaching: “Divorceis a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death…… Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society” (CCC #2384, 2385).


Stability in marriage: Of course, it is not always easy for the two partners in a marriage to get along with each other because marriage, though one of the most fulfilling of all relationships, is also one of the most demanding. The husband and wife bring to the marriage their strengths and weaknesses, loves and hates, hurts and wounds, hopes and fears. Hence, the first requisite for a lasting marriage is that the spouses learn to accept each other as they are: two imperfect and vulnerable human beings. They are God’s gift to each other: “I will make a suitable partner for him.” They must learn that healing the wounds of family life is as necessary as healing the wounds in the body. In FamiliarisConsortio (n. 17), Pope St. John Paul II encourages families with the following plea: “Family, become what you are!” This echoes the Second Vatican Council, which calls the family, “the intimate community of life and love in which the partners are nourished spiritually and physically, accept one another as they are, and adjust to each other, deriving strength through prayer, the Word of God, the Sacrament, plus guidance and counseling…” When the marriage relationship breaks down and reconciliation is not possible, the Church recognizes the right of the couple to separate and live apart permanently. If divorced Catholics then enter into a civil marriage, they are allowed to receive Eucharistic Communion only if they refrain from sexual relations.

Life messages

The word of God is meant not only to be heard but to be acted on whether it be the desire to amend ones life or to make an even deeper commitment to Christ and his Church.

Both spouses need to work hard to create a good marriage

Marriage demands that they should become the right persons for each another as God-given gifts. Marriage is a union based on committed sharing, and forgiving, sacrificial agape love. It requires many mutual adjustments; much mutual generosity and great good will to forgive and ask for forgiveness; sincere cooperation in training children and raising them as practising Catholic Christians; and daily strength from God obtained through personal and family prayers and punctual participation in the parish liturgy.


We need to reach out with Christian sympathy to the divorced and to troubled families

The parish community needs to accept them with respect, compassion, sensitivity, love, and support, sharing the depth of their pain from a failed, or failing, marriage. The Church cannot sanction a second marriage for either spouse unless the previous marriage has been declared annulled by the Diocesan Marriage Tribunal. In the meantime, “…they should be encouraged to listen to the Word of God, to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to bring up their children in the Christian Faith” (CCC #1651).

WANT TO SAY MORE?

1)Both spouses need to work hard to create a good marriage: Marriage demands that each should become the right person for the other. It means building a union based on committed, sharing and forgiving, sacrificial agape love. This requires a lot of mutual adjustments; mutual generosity and mutual good will to forgive and ask for forgiveness; sincere cooperation in training children and raising them as practising Catholic Christians; and daily strength from God, obtained through personal and family prayers and punctual participation in the parish liturgy.


2) We need to reach out with Christian sympathy to the divorced and troubled families. There must be compassion, and a challenge to sin no more. Those who are divorced must be taught that God has not abandoned them. The parish community needs to accept them with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. It is the duty of the Christian community to love and support them. We must reach out to those who have been hurt by bad marriages. We may not realize the depth of their pain, but we must be aware of our own frailty. Those who are divorced and remarried must not be excluded from our community. While the Church cannot sanction remarriage unless the previous marriage has been declared annulled by the Diocesan Marriage Tribunal, we must make it clear that the Church is not issuing a condemnation. “They should be encouraged to listen to the Word of God, to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to contribute to works of charity and to community efforts for justice, to bring up their children in the Christian Faith, to cultivate the spirit and practice of penance and thus implore, day by day, God’s grace” (CCC #1651). The National Catechetical Directory for Catholics of the United States says: “Divorced persons and their children should be welcomed by the parish community and made to feel truly a part of parish life. Catechesis of the Church’s teaching on the consequences of remarriage after divorce is not only necessary but will be supportive for the divorced” (No. 131).


3) We need to be aware of the dangers of cohabitation. According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, the rates of depression are three times higher for cohabiting couples than they are for married couples. Cohabiting men and women reported significantly more alcohol problems than married or single men and women. Cohabiting unions have more disagreements, fight more often and report lower levels of happiness than their married counterparts. Male aggression is twice as common among cohabiting couples as it is among married partners. Hence, parents must make sure that children understand that cohabitation is morally evil and not an innocent option for fun.

End of homily

Jokes of the Week

At the end of Mass, some priests like to offer a joke to their parishioners. Please be sensitive though to particular circumstances or concerns. Some Jokes may not be suitable for particular times, placeS, OR CONGREGATIONS. 

CHOOSE ONE

Religious Differences: “My husband and I divorced over religious differences. He thought he was God and I didn’t.”


Henry Ford’s Marriage Advice: “The secret of my success in my married life and in my business is the same”, said, Henry Ford on the 50th anniversary of his wedding, “I don’t change models every now and then; instead I stick on to one and try to improve it.”


 Jack Benny: A couple was being interviewed on their Golden Wedding Anniversary. “In all that time — did you ever consider divorce?” they were asked. “Oh, no, not divorce,” the wife said. “Murder sometimes, but never divorce.” (Jack Benny, comedian)


Marriage markers: I never married because there was no need. I have 3 pets at home which answer the same purpose as a husband: I have a dog that growls every morning, a parrot which swears all afternoon and a cat that comes home late at night.


Plato, the great Greek thinker of the fourth century BC, reports the legend that human beings were originally twice as big and twice as strong as they are now. However, because their size and strength made them arrogant, the gods cut them down to half their size; only when two-matching halves found one another and completed one another in marriage did they find true happiness.

About Fr. Tony

Fr. Tony started his homily ministry (Scriptural Homilies) in 2003 while he was the chaplain at Sacred Heart residence, applying his scientific methodology to the homily ministry. By word of mouth, it spread to hundreds of priests and Deacons, finally reaching Vatican Radio website (http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html). Fr. Tony’s homilies reach nearly 3000 priests and Deacons by direct email every week. Since Fr. Tony is retiring from parish duties, he has started a personal website: https://frtonyshomilies.com/ where he has started putting his Sunday and weekday homilies, RCIA lessons, Faith Formation articles and other useful items for pastors and pastoral assistants. Fr. Tony warmly invites priests and deacons and the public to visit his website and use it for their preaching and teaching ministries. He welcomes your corrections, modifications and suggestions to improve the homilies and articles given in this website.

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NAB Introductions

Clicking on these links to download Fr. Tony’s Microsoft Word documents on the introductory material from the NAB Bible provided by the USCCB. 

Genesis

Exodus

Leviticus

Numbers

Deuteronomy

Joshua

Judges 7

Ruth

Samuel I, II

Kings I & II

Chronicles I & II

Ezra

Nehemiah

Tobit

Judith

Esther

MACCABEES I & II

Job & Introduction to Wisdom Books

Psalms

Proverbs

Ecclesiastes

Song of Songs

Wisdom

Sirach

Isaiah

Jeremiah

Lamentations

Baruch

Ezekiel

Daniel

MINOR PROPHETS

Hosea

Joel

Amos

Obadiah

Jonah

Micah

Nahum

Habakkuk

Zephaniah

Haggai

Zechariah

Malachi

Preface to the New American Bible

ntroduction to the gospels

Matthew (L)

Mark (L)

Luke (L)

John (L)

Acts of the Apostles (L)

Introduction to Paul’s epistles to the Romans (L)

Romans (L)

Corithians I (L)

Corinthians II (L)

Galatians (L)

Ephesians (L)

Philippiens (L)

Colossians (L)

Thessalonians I, II (L)

Timothy I, II (L)

Titus (L)

Philemon (L)

Hebrews

James

Peter I, II

 John I, II, III

Jude

The Book of Revelation

About Fr. Tony

Fr. Tony started his homily ministry (Scriptural Homilies) in 2003 while he was the chaplain at Sacred Heart residence, applying his scientific methodology to the homily ministry. By word of mouth, it spread to hundreds of priests and Deacons, finally reaching Vatican Radio website (http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html). Fr. Tony’s homilies reach nearly 3000 priests and Deacons by direct email every week. Since Fr. Tony is retiring from parish duties, he has started a personal website: https://frtonyshomilies.com/ where he has started putting his Sunday and weekday homilies, RCIA lessons, Faith Formation articles and other useful items for pastors and pastoral assistants. Fr. Tony warmly invites priests and deacons and the public to visit his website and use it for their preaching and teaching ministries. He welcomes your corrections, modifications and suggestions to improve the homilies and articles given in this website.

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