5th Sunday of Easter (C)

FR TONY'S HOMILYRCIA LESSONSFAITH FORMATION LESSONS

Fr. Tony’s Homily

Fr. Tony’s Homily

Fr. Tony’s Homily


CATHOLIC ONLINE (4:14)

I wouldn’t do that for
a million dollars

Choose  an anecdote which is somehow related to the rest of your homily. Adapt as time allows, and use your own words. A video is provided to help you make further connections to the story/anecdote by highlighting important details, and understanding the characters and settings. 

One day, as St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa, 1910-1997) and her Missionaries of Charity were tending to the poorest of the poor on the streets of Calcutta, they happened across a man lying in the gutter, very near death. He was filthy, dressed in little more than a rag and flies swarmed around his body. Immediately, Mother Teresa embraced him, spoke to him softly and began to pick out the maggots that were nesting in his flesh. A passerby was repulsed by the sight of the man and exclaimed to Mother Teresa, “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars.” Her response was immediate, “Neither would I!”

Obviously, monetary gain did not motivate the diminutive woman known as the Saint of Calcutta; love did. In her writings, Mother Teresa frequently affirmed the motivating power of love. Quoting Jesus in today’s Gospel, she wrote, “Jesus said, ‘Love one another. Such as my love has been for you, so must your love be for each other.’” She continued, “We must grow in love, and to do this we must go on loving and loving and giving and giving until it hurts – the way Jesus did. Do ordinary things with extraordinary love: little things, like caring for the sick and the homeless, the lonely and the unwanted, washing and cleaning for them.”

MORE HOMILY ANECDOTES

Fr. Tony's Homily

Introduction

FR. TONY’S HOMILIES – Today’s readings are about new things: the New Jerusalem, a new Heaven and a new earth, and a new commandment. In the reading taken from the Book of Revelation, God tells us that His saving and healing work in the world is ongoing: “See, I am making all things new” (Rv 21:5a).

Fr. Tony's Homily

Summary of the Readings

First Reading

The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, describes how the small Christian communities helped the work of renewal in their members by their agápe love, imitating the agápe love of Paul and Barnabas.

THE FIRST READING EXPLAINED

Additional insights you may want to include in your summary of the first reading. 

Each Jewish synagogue served its Faith community year-round as a) a House of Prayer (b) a House of Study and (c) a House of Assembly or Socialization. When Jesus came, acting as a Teacher, a rabbi, he gathered around him a talmudim — a small group of twelve men to travel with him, to share prayer, ministry, Faith, and values. Jesus promised his followers that wherever two or three would gather in his name, he would be present among them. After his death and Resurrection, Jesus’ disciples tried to establish small Christian communities wherever they found a welcome. Paul and Barnabas knew that evangelization and Baptism were but the first steps in a lifelong process of turning to, and being transformed by, Christ. Hence, in their subsequent visits to Christian communities, they continued to instruct their converts. Already in the first Christian century, believers understood that catechesis is a cradle-to-grave endeavor. Paul and Barnabas also considered their mission an extension of the small community’s outreach to the world. Because of this they were accountable to the Christian community that had sent them. Therefore, they returned to relate all that they had done, careful to credit God for their success and the increasingly universal character of the Church, for it was He who had “opened the door of the Faith to the Gentiles” (v. 27). It is a welcome sight to see modern Christian communities, which are criticized for too much structural set-up,returning to their first century roots by establishing congregations that are a network of individual Christians, bound together in prayer, Faith, mutual support, service, missionary outreach, and accountability. We may not be called to the same kind of missionary activity as were Paul and Barnabas, but we must be as unselfish in our service of others as were these early Christians.

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Responsorial Psalm

The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 145) prays that “Your faithful ones” may “make known Your might to the children of Adam,” not just to Israel.


Second Reading

The second reading, taken from Revelation, explains how God renews His Church by being present in her members and in their parish communities and liturgical celebrations.

THE SECOND READING EXPLAINED

Additional insights you may want to include in your summary of the second reading. 

The Book of Revelation was written to bolster the Faith of persecuted Christians in all ages. Today’s passage begins the final section of the book. The scene is really a vision of the new age of eschatological fulfillment inaugurated by the death and Resurrection of Jesus. The ancient city of Jerusalem had long been for the Jews a token of God’s presence with them. God had aided them in capturing and holding it, in making it their capital, in building His Temple there, and in returning to it to rebuild it after its destruction by their captors and their consequent exile in Babylon. Within the holiest chamber of the Jerusalem Temple, they kept the stone tablets of the Law given to Moses in a chest known as the Ark of the Covenant. God dwelt in a particular way above this chamber. These details give richness to the image of the “New Jerusalem” spoken of in Revelation. The image is a metaphor for the Church, which is always called to reveal God’s presence among us. Today’s passage from the Book of Revelation (21:3) gives us the assurance that “God’s dwelling is with the human race.” It affirms the fact that God is present at every moment of human history, even those most desperate and threatening. Jesus’ death and Resurrection have created a state in which a once-distant God is now present to every person and in every situation. Moreover, Jesus has given us the insight and power to transform everything in our lives by practicing agápe love in our interactions with people. It is through this constant love-centered interaction among us that the “new earth, the new Heaven, and the new Jerusalem” can begin to come into existence – not at some unknown future time and in some other place, but here and now. In this second reading, taken from Revelation, John shares a vision of nuptial love. When all the former things have passed away and sin and evil are completely overcome, God will welcome the redeemed as a husband welcomes a bride. The love and life that they will share will preclude tears, pain, crying out, mourning and death.

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Gospel

oday’s Gospel passage gives us the secret of Christian renewal as the faithful practice of Jesus’ new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:35). Jesus has added a new element to the Old Testament command of love by telling us that the true test of discipleship is to love other people in the same way that he has loved us. Hence, the renewal of Christian life means a radical change of vision and a reordering of our priorities in life. Such a renewal brings us to embrace new attitudes, new values, and new standards of relating to God, to other people and, indeed, to our whole environment. For most of us, “renewal” is something that comes at different stages in our lives, each time bringing us to a deeper understanding, insight, and commitment.

GOSPEL EXEGESIS

Additional insights you may want to include in your summary of the Gospel reading. 

The Christian concept of glory: The glorification mentioned in today’s passage refers, above all, “to the glory which Christ will receive once he is raised up on the cross (John 3:14; 12:32). St. John stresses that Christ’s death is the beginning of his victory: his very crucifixion can be considered the first step in his Ascension to his Father. At the same time, it is glorification of the Father, because Christ, by voluntarily accepting death out of love, as a supreme act of obedience to the Will of God, performs the greatest sacrifice man can offer for the glorification of God. The Father will respond to this glorification which Christ offers Him by glorifying Christ as Son of Man, that is, in his holy human nature, through his Resurrection and Ascension to God’s right hand. Thus, the glory which the Son gives the Father is at the same time glory for the Son.” (The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries). As Christ’s disciples, we also will find our highest motivation and glory by identifying ourselves with Christ’s obedience in our daily lives, especially by keeping his new commandment of sacrificial, unconditional, forgiving agápe love.

The new commandment: In the second part of the farewell discourse, Jesus gives his followers a new commandment: they must love one another as he has loved them. They would be known, not by the sign of the fish or even of the cross, but by their mutual love, the fruit of their conversion. Just as Solomon, in the story of the disputed child, was able to discern the identity of the true mother by her love, so will the world be able to identify the true disciples of Jesus by their love for one another. The command of Jesus is both new and old. It repeats the precept of Lv 19:18 to love one’s neighbor as one’s self. What is new is that this love characterizes the new life inaugurated by Jesus and is proof of one’s love for God (1 Jn. 4:7). Jesus’ new commandment calls for love without limits, conditions, or prerequisites. This love opens our eyes to facts that we might otherwise overlook — that the poor in the world belong to our family; that those who live in despair may be saved by God through our care of them; that God’s peace can come to the world through our efforts as we pray and work with Him.

The nature of Christian love: Jesus speaks ofagápe, a love that requires total commitment and trust. It is the kind of love with which God loves us, a love that should be the model of the love we have for others. This love should be more than just a warm feeling toward others; it should be a compassionate gift of ourselves to meet the spiritual and bodily needs of our brothers and sisters. Agápe implies a reaching out to others in a caring attitude for their wellbeing without expecting any favor in return. It is strong, positive, difficult, determined action. Jesus repeats the command to love one another three times, first explaining what it is (“a new commandment”), how it is to be applied (“as I have loved you“), and finally noting that this love would stand as the trademark of his disciples. Not only is this a new commandment, but also, Jesus teaches, it is the greatest. To love, in fact, is to know God—”Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8). The early Christians practiced this love literally. That is why Tertullian stated why the heathens held the Christian congregations in high regard: “See, how these Christians love one another!” The fact is that Jesus’ death and Resurrection serve, not just as an example of how to love, but as the agent that actually frees us from our selfish love through His indwelling presence. It was this new kind of love which was manifested by the first disciples of Jesus in Jerusalem (Acts 2:44-45), and in the Churches in Macedonia (2 Cor 8:1-5). It was a love that was attentive to the poor and the needy. During his life on earth, Jesus Himself was lovingly present to those who were not at all lovable. He allowed himself to be moved with pity and compassion when he encountered those in need, and he was moved to tears in the midst of sadness. He openly shed tears at the tomb of Lazarus. He shed tears also over the city of Jerusalem (Lk 19:41-44). Even the anger that Jesus displayed in the Temple was rooted in love — the love for His Father and for His Father’s house. Jesus loved by serving others, by helping them, and by healing others. His was a love that healed and built up, challenged, and inspired people. It was a deeply forgiving and sacrificial love. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13).

St. Augustine’s commentary on the new commandment of love: Isn’t Jesus asking the “impossible” when he asks his disciples to “love one another” (Jn 13:31-35)? Can anything be harder? St. Augustine also wrestled with the question of love and demonstrated through the life of Jesus that love conquers all. Available on the “New Advent” website is his “Homily 7 on the Epistle of John” which contains the famous phrase, “love and do what you will.” His example contrasts the actions of beating and caressing: which of those two would you rather receive? Which is better: a father chastising his son, or a pedophile caressing his object of lust? Everything depends on what is in the heart of the person before and during the action. Augustine’s point is his interpretation of Jesus’ command to love one another as He has loved us. Some things may have a good appearance, but one’s actions are only discerned by the root of charity. This is why he confidently says, “love and do what you will.” If you have a right relationship with God and with others, then you have nothing to worry about. This kind of love is a sacrificial love, not a selfish love. It only thinks of the best for the other person – even if that “best” means corrective action out of love. If this kind of love is within you, then with Augustine we say “from this root can spring nothing but what is good.”

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Fr. Tony's Homily

Life Message

Let us learn to love ourselves so that we may learn to love each other

The old commandment (Lv 19:1-2, 9-18), says: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” How do we learn to cherish others and care for them if we have never learned to do the same for ourselves? We live in a culture that devalues life and worships death—a culture in which people drug themselves into oblivion. Women and girls are willing to starve themselves to fit some unrealistic media image of beauty and worth. People and relationships are sacrificed on the altar of “workaholism.” How are we to love ourselves when we are told over and over again that we are unlovable? How do we reclaim our basic worth? We can become whole and holy only when we learn to love ourselves properly, acknowledging the loving presence of the Triune God in our souls, making our bodies the “temple of the Holy Spirit.” Only those persons who are fully convinced that they are themselves lovable because God has loved them and so brought them into being can reach out comfortably and unconditionally to love those who themselves cannot love but can only hurt and hate and destroy. It is through constant love-centered interaction with God and each other that the “new earth, the new Heaven and the new Jerusalem” can begin to come into existence.

MORE LIFE MESSAGES

Additional life messages from Fr. Tony

Let us love others in our daily lives

We are asked to love as Jesus loved, in the ordinary course of our lives. This means that we should love others by allowing ourselves to be moved with pity for them. We love others by responding to their everyday needs. We can show love by materially sharing with those who have less. We love others by comforting and protecting those who have experienced loss. We love others by serving others in every possible way, no matter how small. We love others by forgiving rather than condemning, by challenging rather than condoning. We love others by responding to the call of God in our lives and by walking in the footsteps of Jesus. We love others by making sacrifices for them. This is how the world will know that we are the Disciples of Christ.


Let us demonstrate our love for others

When we are assembled and have guests, we have an opportunity to demonstrate our love for one another. They must see Christians as people who are glad to see one another, who are willing to take the time to visit with each other and who know each other’s names. Our assemblies may be the only time some guests have the opportunity to see Christians interact with love and concern for one another, an interaction that reveals the strong love and appreciation for one another which the members have. Christians will often sin against one another and offend one another. But others should see in us a quickness to forgive, even as Christ has forgiven us.

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End of homily

Fr. Tony's 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.

One Sunday a priest was finishing up a series on marriage. At the end of the service, he was giving out small wooden crosses to each married couple. He said, “Place this cross in the room in which you fight the most and you will be reminded of Jesus’ new commandment, and you won’t argue as much.” One woman came up after the service and said: “You’d better give me five crosses.”

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