FR TONY'S HOMILYBIBLE STUDYRCIA LESSONSFAITH FORMATION LESSONS

28th Sunday of Year B

TED-Ed (5:04) – Iseult Gillespie shares the myth of King Midas.
8-MINUTE HOMILY

Give Priority to God, Not to Possessions

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Today’s readings remind us that we do not possess anything in our life that we refuse to surrender to the Lord.These things often possess us, and we become the prisoners of our possessions when we give our “things” top priority in our lives. Thus, we violate the First Great Commandment, You shall not have other gods beside me” which demands that we give absolute and unconditional priority to God.

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: FIRST READING

Aladdin’s magic lamp and Solomon’s dream

Ala’ Ad-Din is the Arabic title of one of the best-known stories in The Thousand and One Nights. The chief protagonist of the tale, Ala’ Ad-Din, or Aladdin, chances upon an African magician who claims to be his uncle. At the magician’s request, Aladdin retrieves a lamp from a cave and discovers that he can summon up powerful jinn or genies to do his bidding. “Your wish is my command,” Aladdin is told, and he satisfies his desires for wealth, power and long life. Aladdin’s adventures and good fortune have left many young readers dreaming of sharing similar experiences. Imagine that you are Aladdin and that magic lamps and genies do exist. . . what would you ask for?

Solomon found himself in just such a situation in today’s first reading. Although magic did not factor into the equation, God Himself appeared to the young king Solomon in a dream, asking for his wishes. In 1 Kgs 3:5-14, Israel’s great king was told by Yahweh in a dream: “Ask something of Me and I will give it to you.” When Solomon asked for wisdom, i.e. for “an understanding heart to judge the people and to distinguish right from wrong,” he was praised by God. He had not asked for long life or riches or for the life of his enemies; because of this he was given the gift of wisdom. (Sanchez Archives). – He received the rest besides!

OPTION B: GOSPEL

How can you trap a monkey?

With a coconut, some roasted peanuts or rice and a string, tribal people living in the border of forests in Africa, Sri Lanka, and India have been trapping monkeys for centuries. At one end of the coconut, they open a hole that is big enough to allow a monkey’s hand to push inside. However, the hole is too small for a monkey to remove his hand when he makes a fist. On the other end of the coconut, a string is firmly attached and tied to a tree trunk. The coconut trap, with roasted peanuts or roasted rice inside, is placed along a monkey’s trail, and the trapper hides behind bushes with a net. The monkey smells the peanuts and is attracted to them. He puts his hand through the hole and grabs a handful of peanuts, after which it is impossible for him to remove his hand since he is unwilling to let go of the peanuts. Suddenly the trapper casts the net over the monkey and traps it.

We too are attracted by different “peanuts” that can be detrimental to our spiritual and physical pursuits. Today’s Gospel presents a rich young man who wants eternal life but will not relinquish “the peanuts” of riches.

OPTION C: GOSPEL

The Midas Touch

InGreek mythology, the god Dionysus offered King Midas whatever his heart desired. Without hesitation, King Midas exclaimed, “I wish that everything I touch be turned into gold!” And so it was. Midas was overjoyed. He drew up a handful of sand and it turned into gold dust. He picked up a stone and it turned into gold. He touched a leaf and it was gold. “Ah, I will become the richest man in the world, the happiest man in the world.” He danced all the way back to his home and announced to his servants, “Prepare a banquet. We will celebrate my good fortune.” But as the bread touched his tongue it turned into gold and as the wine touched his lips it turned into gold. The king became more dismayed the hungrier he got. And as he reached out to his beautiful daughter for solace, she, alas, was also turned into gold. And Midas cursed his gift and himself for his foolishness.

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 advises us to use the God-given virtue of prudence and to seek true wisdom in preference to vanishing realities like riches or political and social influence. Solomon chose Wisdom before everything else. But when he accepted Wisdom, he received everything else along with it. Since Jesus is Wisdom Incarnate, when we put following Jesus ahead of everything else, we receive everything else along with Jesus.

WANT TO SAY MORE?

Additional insights on the First Reading from Fr. Tony

About a hundred years before the birth of Jesus, the Jewish community was a minority in the great cosmopolitan city of Alexandria, Egypt, cut off from the comforting religious institutions of Jerusalem, and subject to great cultural pressure from the majority who shaped and ruled this pagan Greek society. The Jews were in danger of losing their identity because of the constant temptation to follow Greek philosophy and Greek morality rather than their Faith traditions. A learned and faithful Jew assessed the situation of his fellow Jews in Alexandria and tried to bolster their faith with a book, now called Wisdom, which offered them a virtuous way of life. By “wisdom” the author meant not just worldly wisdom but a spiritual wisdom that included adherence to older Jewish traditions. Today’s first reading, taken from the book of Wisdom, teaches, somewhat analogously, that one should prefer wisdom to every other good thing. It quotes from King Solomon’s personal valuation of wisdom: “I preferred her [true wisdom] to scepter and throne and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her.” In his prayer for wisdom, the first-century BC Alexandrian Jewish wisdom teacher identifies wisdom as the greatest possession of all and contrasts it with material possessions. True wisdom comes from God; it is the ability to see things as God sees them and to understand things as God understands them. Only Divine wisdom can teach us how to live wisely and successfully in life, making wise choices. We are also invited to see Jesus as Wisdom Incarnate and, so, to give Jesus priority over everything else in our life.

In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 90), we beg God to teach us how to use prudence to make proper judgments and choices in our lives that we may live with Him forever. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, prudence enables a person to do two things: to see one’s “true good” in any given circumstances and so recognize which good to aim for, and then helps one to discern and choose choose the means to reach this “true good”. After humility, prudence is the second-most foundational virtue.


Responsorial Psalm Summary

In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 90), we beg God to teach us how to make proper judgments and choices in our lives that we may live with Him forever.


Second Reading Summary

The second reading warns us that we are accountable before God as to how we use our blessings, and that the “living and effective word of God” must be our guide in evaluating the use of our blessings.

WANT TO SAY MORE?

Additional insights on the Second Reading from Fr. Tony

The Letter to the Hebrews was written to bolster the Faith of Jewish converts to Christianity. These converts faced the contempt of their former Jewish friends, and they felt nostalgia for the institutions of Judaism (rituals, sacrifices, priesthood, etc.), that were either absent or greatly transformed in their new religion, namely Christianity. This letter tries to show them in what ways the new religion of Christianity is better than their old Jewish faith. St. Paul tells them, “The word of God is something alive and active: it cuts like any double-edged sword.” The living and effective word of God has the power to penetrate our body and soul like a double-edge sword. We should allow the word of God in all its vital power and effectiveness to challenge us and our priorities and goals in life. The sharp word of God confronts, chastises, encourages, challenges, nourishes, and inspires all who will hear and receive it. Like a double-edge sword, the word has the dual capacity of revealing God to the believer and revealing the believer to him/herself. No wonder the “two-edged sword” in today’s Gospelstory of the young rich man, cuts through all our conventional ways of thinking and drives us to reflect on the things that really matter!


Gospel Summary

In today’s Gospel selection (Mk 10:17-30), we find three sections: a narrative about Jesus’ encounter with a rich man, Jesus’ sayings about wealth as a possible obstacle to discipleship and Jesus’ promise of reward for those who share their material possessions with the needy. Reminding the rich man of the commandments that deal with relationships with other people, Jesus challenged him to sell what he had, and to give the money to the poor. The disciples were shocked by this challenge. But Jesus declared that true religion consisted in one’s sharing one’s blessings with others rather than hoarding and/or getting inordinately attached to them.

WANT TO SAY MORE?

Additional insights on the Gospel from Fr. Tony

The rich, “good” young man’s sins of omission. Obviously, this young man who came to Jesus in search of eternal life really wanted to be accepted by Jesus as a disciple. The words “inherit eternal life” not only means life with God after death, but also entering a deeper kind of life here on earth through prayer and the following of Jesus, and through deep relationships with other people, or involvement with some noble cause. However, Jesus did not want this young man as a disciple on his own terms, but rather on Jesus’ terms. The young man claimed that, from his youth, he had observed all the commandments Jesus mentioned, including the fourth commandment. His tragedy was that he loved “things” more than people. He was trapped by the erroneous idea that he could keep his possessions for himself and still obtain God’s mercy. He failed to realize the fact that his riches had built a wall between himself and God. In other words, his possessions “possessed” him. Even though the rich young man had never killed, stolen, or committed adultery, he was breaking both the commandment forbidding idolatry and the one commanding love of neighbor. He worshiped his wealth more than God. That is why Jesus challenged him to rid himself of the attachment to wealth, wherein lay what the young man saw as his security and social status, and trust himself completely to God by following Jesus.


Why should Jesus seemingly reject the title of “good teacher” telling the young man that God alone is good? According to Venerable Bede, the One and Undivided Trinity itself—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—is the Only and One Good God. The Lord, therefore, does not deny Himself to be good, but implies that He is God; He does not deny that He is ‘good Teacher [Master],’ but He declares that no master is good except God.” Fr. John Foley S. J. (Center for Liturgy) suggests a much simpler explanation. Jesus, seeing the seeds of Faith in this man, was trying to grow that Faith. The logic of Jesus’ response would be: (1) Only God is (fully) good. (2) You have called me good. (3) Are you, perhaps, sensing the Godliness in me? Jesus’ injunction to this man was the inspiration for many saints, who have taken Jesus at His word. Perhaps the two most famous were St. Anthony of Egypt (the “Father of Monks” and writer of the first monastic rule; ca. 250-356), and St. Francis of Assisi (ca. 1182-1226), who committed himself to live a life of radical Gospel poverty.


The unaccepted challenge: Jesus realizes that this rich young man is shackled by his possessions. So, he challenges the young man by listing those precepts of the Decalogue that deal with social and familial relations. Then Jesus tells the young man that, if he wants to be perfect, keeping the commandments is not enough. He challenges the young man to share his riches with the poor: Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘There is one thing lacking. Sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. After that, come, follow Me.’” Jesus thus makes it clear that a true follower who wants to possess eternal life must not only be a respectable gentleman who hurts nobody, but also someone who shares his riches, talents and other blessings with the less fortunate. In other words, Jesus tells the young man that life is a matter of priorities. God must have the first priority in our lives. Unfortunately, the rich man is unwilling to accept Jesus’ idea that wealth is not something to be owned but rather something to be shared with others, so “his face fell and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” Jesus challenges us to do what He asked of the rich young man — to break our selfish attachment to our “wealth” (time, talents, treasure), by sharing everything with our brothers and sisters., and so to follow Him. Our following of Jesus has to be totally and absolutely unconditional. Our attachment may be to money or material goods, to another person, a job, our health, or our reputation. We must be ready to cut off any such attachment in order to become true Christian disciples, sharing our blessings with others. We are called to be so much more than rule-followers; we are called to be Christ’s followers.


Camel through the eye of a needle: Jesus uses a vivid hyperbole, or “word cartoon,” to show how riches bar people from Heaven. The camel was the largest animal the Jews knew, and the eye of a needle the smallest hole. The needle’s eye is variously interpreted. Most probably Jesus used it literally. The little, low, narrow pedestrian gate on the outer wall of the city of Jerusalem through which even a man on foot could hardly pass erect, was also called “The Needle’s Eye” in Jesus’ time. Others have suggested that kamelos (camel) could have been a scribal or copyist’s error and should have read kamilos or cable (a ship’s thick cable or hawser rope). In either case, the difficulty of dealing carefully and conscientiously with riches is clearly affirmed. Some modern Bible scholars think that both of these interpretations are attempts to “water” down the impossibility of getting a camel through the eye of a needle, but Jesus is saying that it is not impossible, by the grace of God, for a wealthy person to keep his spiritual integrity, though it is extremely difficult and uncommon.


Why do riches prevent man from reaching God? First, riches encourage a false sense of independence. The rich think that they can buy their way to happiness and buy their way out of sorrow and, hence, that they don’t need God. Second, riches shackle a man to this earth (Mt. 6:21). If a man’s interests are all earth-bound, he never thinks of the hereafter. Instead of having security and tranquility, he is an eternal hostage of his money. Third, riches tend to make a man selfish. Fourth, Avarice, the greed for money, in addition to being idolatry, is also the source of unhappiness. The avaricious person is an unhappy one. Distrusting everyone else, miser isolates himself. But we need to understand that Jesus is not against riches as such, nor against the rich. Zacchaeus, Joseph of Arimathaea, and Nicodemus were Jesus’ close friends, and they were rich. Jesus never condemned wealth or earthly goods in themselves. What Jesus condemns is that disordered attachment to money and property which views acquiring, possessing, and hoarding them for oneself alone, as absolutely essential to maintain one’s life (Lk 12:13-21). In other words, Jesus is talking about our attitude towards wealth. There are very rich men who have acquired their wealth honestly and justly and who spend much of their wealth on charitable causes. Their wealth will not hinder them from reaching Heaven. On the other hand, there are many in the middle and lower income-bracket who may be offending against justice through the means they use to acquireand then to keep what they have, and in the little helps which they refuse to a needy neighbor. The Bible doesn’t say that money is the root of all evil; it says that the love of money is the root of all evil. Jesus also challenges the Jewish belief that material wealth and prosperity are signs of God’s blessings, while poverty is the sign of His displeasure. Jesus here condemns a value system that makes “things” more valuable than people. Finally, Jesus asserts that those who have made the kingdom of God their priority, will be well compensated both in this life with earthly blessings (accompanied by pains and suffering – this is the fallen world!), and in the next life with everlasting life.

Life messages

We need to accept the invitation to generous sharing.

Initially, Jesus, in generous, sacrificial love, gave us His very self; in response, we find rising in our hearts the desire to give Jesus our own total selves, and so to enter the Faith relationship Jesus offers. God does not ask us to give up our riches, but He does ask us to use them wisely in His service not allowing them to gain control over our hearts. God gives us time, talents, health and wealth and riches that we may use them as good stewards in the service of others.


Let us make a check list of our prioritized attachments, and give God priority

Are anger, lust, gluttony, evil habits and addictions, jealousy, holding grudges, infidelity, cheating our priorities? Let us invite God into our lives daily by praying for the strengthening grace and anointing of His Holy Spirit so that we may give God priority, keeping Bible as our guide.

WANT TO SAY MORE?

1) We need to “Do something beautiful for God” by reaching out to others. That’s the message we need to reflect on. Our most precious possession is our soul. Let us give ourselves away and give lavishly. Mother Teresa puts it in a different way: “Do SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL for God. Do it with your life. Do it every day. Do it in your own way. But do it!”

2) We need to accept the invitation to generous sharing. Jesus’ generosity led to His free gift of His very self to save our lives eternally. The crucifix is “Exhibit A.” To follow Jesus, we must have the same kind of generosity, and be willing to give our money, time, and talents away to serve the needs of others. In the heart of every Christian there should be a desire to give. Martin Luther says that the man who has given his heart to God will also give God his wallet. God does not have to extort money from those who love him. God does not ask us to give up our riches, but He does ask us to use them wisely in His service. We must manage our possessions wisely, so that they do not gain control over our hearts. Almsgiving and donations to charities are no longer the only way to use wealth for the common good, or perhaps the most advisable. There is also honesty in paying one’s taxes, creating new jobs, giving a more generous salary to workers when the situation allows it, initiating local enterprises in developing countries, and the like. Let us also ask the question: “How do I use my talents?” God gives us talents. Hence, they are not really ours. He lends them to us to be used in this world. How do we use our talents? What about time – do we use it for God? We each get 168 hours every week. How do we use our time? Are we too busy to pray each day? Do we pray for others’ needs as well as our own?

3) “You are lacking one thing.” We all have something in our lives that serves as a major obstacle to happiness and peace. We must recognize this obstacle and address it head-on. It may not be riches — it may be anger, holding grudges, alcohol, drugs, lust, apathy, lies, unfaithfulness, theft, or fraud. Let us invite God into our lives and into our efforts to face and remove that one obstacle to holiness. We have a decision to make: whether to go away sad like the rich young man, or to follow Jesus and be happy. Let us choose happiness.

4) We need to follow Jesus on His terms, and not on our terms. This involves giving up whatever in our lives leads us to evil. That’s step one. Sometimes it may involve giving up things which are good. As parents, we might consider all the time and personal recreation and relaxation (all good things), which we have given up over the years for the sake of the children. As a mother or father who is also a disciple of Jesus Christ, this is required of us, and we make the sacrifice gladly. When we follow Jesus on His terms, there may be certain crosses to bear, but deep down in the core of our being there is peace, and there is joy, because we know that we are doing our best to carry out God’s perfect will in our lives.

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

“Oh Lord, hit him again!” The parish church was badly in need of repair. So the pastor called a special meeting to raise funds. At the assembly, the pastor explained the need of an emergency fund for plastering the roof and supporting pillars and for carrying out other items of repair. He invited the congregation to pledge contributions. After a brief pause, Mr. Murphy, the richest man in the parish, volunteered to give 50 dollars. Just as he sat down, a hunk of plaster fell from the ceiling on his head. He jumped up, looked terribly startled and said: “I meant to say 500 dollars.” The congregation stood silent and stunned. Then a lone voice cried out from the back: “Oh Lord, hit him again!”


Andrew Carnegie made millions in the steel industry. He worked hard helping the poor and underprivileged. Once a socialist came to see him in his office and soon was railing against the injustice of Carnegie having so much money. In his view, wealth was meant to be divided equally. Carnegie asked his secretary for an assessment of everything he owned and at the same time looked up the figures on world population. He did a little arithmetic on a pad and then said to his secretary. “Give this gentleman l6 cents. That’s his share of my money.


A wealthy older gentleman had just recently married a lovely young lady and was beginning to wonder whether she might have married him for his money. So, he asked her, “Tell me the truth: if I lost all my money, would you still love me?” She said reassuringly, “Oh honey, don’t be silly. Of course, I would still love you. And I’d miss you terribly.”

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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