The Church of St. Timothy

Gathering in Faith, Giving Thanks, Serving the Least among Us

Weekend Homilies – 2020

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Cycle A – 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Matthew 5:38-487
Bishop Peter (8:30 am Mass)

THEME: HOW CAN WE DO WHAT JESUS IS ASKING? THE ANSWER, THE HOLY SPIRIT!

1. “Brothers and sisters: Do you not know that you are the Temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (I Corinthians 3:17)

a. Paul’s readers think of the temple of their goddess-protector Aphrodite, (Roman name Venus) the goddess of love, beauty and fertility and protector of sailors since Corinth was a port city.

b. How stunning to realize that each one of them is not only a temple but a temple of God, the Holy Spirit!

c. The Spirit, however, is not simply there. The Spirit is and continues to be active in the lives of believers. Thus we can count on the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit to carry out Jesus’ commands, even difficult ones such as those in today’s Gospel reading.

2. What is Jesus talking about? First, the saying, “An eye for an eye…” This is the Lex (or law) Talionis – we get retaliation from that. Goes back to the Law of Hammurabi (died in 1750 B.C.) of Babylon. Its purpose was to limit reaction to attacks and only a judge could give the offended party permission to carry it out. In Jewish world it was reduced to financial compensation.

3. Jesus then gives us three points:

a. “When someone strikes you on the right cheek…” How does a right-handed person strike another on the right cheek? Backhanded, thus insults. The disciple of Jesus doesn’t hold grudges, doesn’t brood over injuries. Doing so can move us to do harm to others – Herodias and Saint John the Baptist.

• This approach inspired Gandhi and Dr. MLK Jr. Passive resistance – no violence. No retaliation. “Vengeance is mine, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)

b. Tunic and cloak: The Jew had the right to get his cloak back by nighttime because he slept in it. The point: Insisting on one’s RIGHTS to the detriment of the common good. Example: The right (according to Roe. v Wade and Doe v Bolton) to an abortion at any time during pregnancy. Thus opposition to anything that would infringe on that right, such as the law in Louisiana mandating that a doctor who performs abortions have admitting privileges to a hospital in case the abortion causes serious injury to the mother. Example: The gun lobby that opposes any legislation that would limit the absolute right to bear arms, including background checks and a ban against attack weapons…

c. Press into service to go one mile… The Roman soldiers often did this to the Jews and others under their domination. Jesus’ point: Humble service as did Jesus when he washed the feet of the Apostles at the Last Supper – People who are busy but serve on boards, especially non-profits like hospitals – parish pastoral councils – Debby and her mission trips!

4. Love your enemies: In Greek, four words to express love – for family, between husband and wife, brotherly love and agape = rejects bitterness and wishes the offender “unconquerable benevolence” as one writer puts it. Example: My priest friend speaking with a communist – no matter what you do to me, I have to try and love you, that is, to reject resentment, wishing only good for you and not harm.

a. Pray for those who persecute you. Bishop Komarica (Francis) of Bosnia who asked his men and women in separate concentration camps to pray one Hail Mary a day for their Serbian captors. This changed the tenor of the camps in just one week. You can’t pray for someone and hate him at the same time.

5. In so doing we become perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. Better still, St. Luke in his gospel says, “Be merciful as your Father is merciful.” Thus to be perfect is to be merciful. May Jesus help us to reach these lofty goals that are essential to our well-being and that of society.

Amen.

Deacon Eric (4pm and 10:30 am Masses)

Cycle A – 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Matthew 5:17-37

State of the Parish (all Masses)

Bishop Peter (4pm Mass)

THEME: THE HOLY SPIRIT HELPS US UNDERSTAND THE MIND OF GOD AND TO ACT ACCORDINGLY.

1. St. Paul continually emphasizes the importance of the Holy Spirit who alone knows the mind of God. The HS scrutinizes or searches the depths of God and communicates that to each of us as according to our capability to receive it. This is most evident through the Word of God, the Sacred Scriptures.

a. The Scriptures are like a road map and the Holy Spirit is the power in us to get to our destination. In other words, the Holy Spirit in us helps us see what the Scriptures tell us and apply that to our lives, even though doing so can hurt. “Is that what I am doing? I’d better shape up!”

2. Jesus, moved by the Holy Spirit, gives us one of the most important passages of the New Testament/ from the Sermon on the Mount. He takes the Second Great Commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and gives us teachings that will help us get in line with this commandment. So let’s examine each of these sections and try to put in a modern context what Jesus is saying.

3. To be angry with one’s brother = everyone. It is not the anger a person feels when the Patriots lost or when a teenager comes home beyond curfew.

a. It’s the anger that one broods over that moves him or her to do harm to another. Example: Herodias who had John the Baptist beheaded… Henry VIII and St. Thomas More.

• Includes vengeance: “Vengeance is mine, says the Lord.” (Rom. 12)

b. Raca – To treat a person or persons with CONTEMPT. To bully someone – to put another down (parents, teachers and coaches beware) – Anti-Semitism (looking down on Jews to the point of persecuting them or belittling Muslims, blacks, Hispanics…

• Christian attitude: “We are all made in the image and likeness of God.”

c. You fool – in a moral sense – to attempt to ruin a person’s reputation by branding him or her as an immoral person – calumny – certain individuals who have falsely accused priests of sexually abusing them – Cardinal Joseph Bernardin by Steven Cook – Bernardin forgave him…

4. Bringing one’s gift to the altar (Even Yom Kippur – the act of atonement = at-one-ment/ was not valid unless persons reconciled with their neighbors.) Jesus shows just how important reconciliation is – without it, our assistance at Mass will not produce its full effect in our lives.

• This shows the great importance of reconciling with those we have hurt and even taking the first step towards those who have hurt us. For example, Pope St. John Paul II and Ali Acga who attempted to assassinate him.

5. “Everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her.” Works both ways, for men and women.

a. Sin begins in the mind. Pornography leads persons to commit adultery in their imaginations – those on their screens are real persons…

6. Divorce his wife: The wife in the Greek speaking world was the mother of the man’s children. She stayed home while he felt free to have sex with anyone he wanted, male or female.

a. To divorce one’s wife was too easy – this left her with her children to fend for herself with no support from him. Thus she often became poor and defenseless. Jesus takes the side of the poor and vulnerable.

b. As Christianity penetrated the Greek speaking world, monogamous marriages became a stumbling block but the church never backed down.

c. The exception – “unless the marriage is unlawful” = with close relatives, sister, first cousin aunt, etc. (Leviticus 18)

7. Oaths: Like the one taken by all senators in the impeachment trial of the president. Jesus says that, in an ideal world, one’s moral character should be so strong that everyone knows he or she will tell the truth. * Unfortunately, in the real world there are many who lie and therefore must be made to swear an oath that what they are saying is “the truth and the whole truth, so help us God.”

8. Eucharist: It is Jesus who calls us to be his true disciples and sends us his Holy Spirit who empowers us to become exactly that.

Amen.

Cycle A – 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Matthew 5:13-16
Deacon Eric (all Masses)

Cycle A – Presentation of the Lord

Luke 2:22-40
Fr. Le Blanc (all Masses)

We celebrate this weekend the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord Jesus in the temple in Jerusalem as a ‘baby’, a feast steeped in Jewish tradition at that time and
transformed into one of the earliest acts of ‘revelation’ of who Jesus truly was.

For it was exactly 40 days ago today that we celebrated the birth of Jesus at Christmas. That is why the ‘Feast of the Presentation of the Lord’ is celebrated each year on Feb 2nd – whether it falls on a weekday (as it usually does), or on the weekend as it does this year.

According to Jewish tradition at the time, on the 40th day after the 1st son was born in the family, his parents were required (by Jewish ritual law) to go to the temple in Jerusalem as part of the rite of purification after childbirth, to offer a sacrifice to God in thanksgiving. This was done in remembrance of the Passover in Exodus (when the angel of God had spared every 1st born Jewish son) while taking the 1st born son of every Egyptian family.

Thus we hear in today’s Gospel: ‘When the days were completed for their purification, Mary & Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to ‘present’ Him to the Lord, just as it was written in the law: “every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord”.

What took place with Jesus is what took place with every other 1st born Jewish boy 40 days after his birth. In the case of Jesus, however, this event was not to go unnoticed. For the first entry of Jesus into the temple after his birth, was to be seen as a ‘further’ occasion by God to ‘reveal’ (once again) ‘Who’ this child truly was, as God had revealed Him 40 days earlier to shepherds abiding in the fields at Christmas and then to the Magi from the East on Epiphany.

As before, God used as the instruments of ‘revelation’, not the ‘rich and powerful’, but the ‘poor and the lowly’ to reveal the significance of this child Jesus – revealing Him through Simeon, (an old, pious Jewish man who ‘awaited the consolation of Israel’), to whom it had been revealed that he would not see death until he had seen the ‘Anointed of the Lord’. He took the baby in his arms and prayed the beautiful hymn of praise, prayed in the ‘ Night Prayer’ of the Church, saying: ‘Now Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word. // For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples: a light for ‘revelation’ to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel’.

And then in the 2nd part of today’s Gospel, Jesus is further ‘revealed’ by Anna, (an elderly 84 year old woman), constantly in the temple day and night for years – worshipping, praying and fasting. She sees the baby Jesus, she understands ‘Who’ He is, and she gives thanks to God and then talks about the child to all who look forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.
Through the ‘poor & lowly’ in the temple, God again ‘revealed’ Jesus as a ‘light’ to the Gentiles’ and the ‘glory of God’s people Israel’- (as done in the very 1st days of ‘Jesus’ life in revealing Him to the Shepherds and Magi).

Like Simeon & Anna, we too know Jesus to be that ‘light’. We are called to be ‘evangelizers’ witnessing to the light by making Christ known more & more through our lives as disciples. We do this by the way we live our lives. We do this through the Christian values we hold and share with others. We do this by the care & concern we show to the less fortunate, as Jesus would have us do.

In the time I have been at St.Timothy’s, I have seen this in the ‘goodness’ of this parish community through the many ‘works of charity’ that are done here, including our ‘Soup-er’ Bowl ‘can drive on this ‘Super Bowl Weekend’. We do so in the continuous generosity which this parish shows through our ‘monthly’ drives – helping the ‘less-fortunate’ in the greater-Hartford area, including our recent very generous response to our ‘Winter boot and clothe drive’ and other regular collections throughout the year. We do so communally or individually as well when we share our personal ‘time and talents’ with others out of Christian concern & love as disciples of Jesus, manifesting acts of kindness, lending a helping hand to others in need.

For in the end, this is what being a ‘Christian disciple’ is all about. Evangelization is done, Jesus is ‘witnessed to’, and God’s love continues to be made manifest to a waiting world, so much in need of hearing & experiencing this ‘Good News.

In French, we have a saying: ‘Qu’il est Bon le Bon Dieu’ – (meaning ‘How good is our ‘Good God’). I often tell families at Baptisms that after life itself, Faith is the greatest gift God gives us – especially our faith in JESUS, the Son of God, who loves us and continually calls us to be His disciples: witnessing to Him as the ‘true light of the world’, revealed again this weekend on this Feast of His Presentation – so that others may come to know Him, experience His love, grace and presence along life’s journey, giving us true life even now through our belief and witness to Him as disciples building God’s Kingdom in our given time and place.

Cycle A – 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Matthew 4:12-23
Bishop Peter (10:30 am Mass)

1. Recently Pope Francis declared that, from now on, the third Sunday in Ordinary Time shall be designated as “Sunday of the Word of God.” He said: “A day dedicated to the Bible will help the Church experience anew how the risen Lord opens up for us the treasury of his word and enables us to proclaim its unfathomable riches before the world.”

2. Most people hear the Word of God proclaimed during the first part of the Mass.

a. Question: A French preacher once asked a congregation: If Jesus appeared to you holding in one hand the New Testament and in the other, the Most Holy Eucharist and asked you to choose either one, how would you respond?

• Actually we need both. The New Testament tells us of the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper and the Eucharist gives us the power to integrate into our lives what we have heard or read.
• As an aside, when incense is used, the Eucharist and the Gospels receive the same attention.

3. How important for us are the bible readings? “When the Sacred Scriptures are read in the Church, God himself speaks to his people, and Christ, present in his word, proclaims the Gospel” (General Introduction to the Roman Missal, no. 29).

a. From our Bishops’ Conference: “… the Word of God proclaimed in the liturgy possesses a special sacramental power to bring about in us what it proclaims. The Word of God proclaimed at Mass is ‘efficacious,’ that is, it not only tells us of God and God’s will for us, it also helps us to put that will of God into practice in our lives.”

b. Also, a priest friend of mine says that reading the scriptures on our own or as a family is similar to receiving Holy Communion. The word of God can change our hearts if we are open to receiving it.

4. What about today’s readings? Here are some ideas we might apply to ourselves. In reality it is the homilist’s task to “break open” (as though we were breaking a loaf of bread) the scriptures so the people may see how they may be affected by them.

a. From the second reading (I Corinthians, 1: 10-13, 17) – “Let there be no divisions among you.” Paul says this constantly to his communities. As you know, divisions are painful.

• Thus: what about our parish? If you notice divisions, what can you do to heal them?
• The same for your families: How can you reconcile members who are estranged from one another?
• How do we deal with divisions in our own country? In our church, our nation and the world?

b. From the Gospel (Matthew 4:12-23) – Jesus is the light predicted by the Prophet Isaias.

c. First, he calls all his hearers to repentance. People might say, “Well, I have nothing to be sorry for.” It might be helpful, however, to make a good and honest examination of conscience while asking Jesus’ light to penetrate our souls. You may be surprised at what you discover.

d. He calls his first disciples who would later become his Apostles. (Why does Jesus choose fishermen and shepherds?…) The qualities of these fishermen should be ours too as we strive to follow Jesus in our daily lives: (Some of you go fishing so you will relate to these.)

• Openness to hear Jesus calling us. “Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening.” (The young Samuel)
• Patience: It is rare that we will see quick results in our life of prayer or what we ask God for. God will give you an answer though it may not be what you want.
• Perseverance: St. Monica prayed for 27 years for the conversion of her son, St. Augustine.
• Courage: To face ourselves and in humility to ask God for the strength (grace) necessary to overcome our faults and/or addictions.

5. Now we come to our Eucharist. May Jesus ever present help us to discover him in his WORD so that we may attain the ideal of becoming his true disciples.

Amen.

Cycle A – 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

John 1:29-34
Deacon Dennis (8:30 and 10:30 am Masses)

In the Second Book of Samuel, the prophet Nathan tells King David this story. Two men were citizens of the same town. One man was rich and powerful. The other was poor and helpless. The rich man had great flocks of sheep. He had so many sheep that he lost count of hem.

The poor man, on the other hand, had only one tiny lamb. But the poor man’s children loved the lamb. They played with it all day long. They even brought it to table to share the little food they had. One day an important visitor came to the rich man’s house. But the rich man didn’t want to kill any of his own lambs to feed his guest. So, he had his servants go over to the poor man’s house, take the poor man’s lamb, and slaughter it to feed his guest.

This story of a rich man’s cruelty and callousness was one of the images John the Baptist had in mind when he pointed a finger at Jesus and said to his disciples, “There is the Lamb of God.”

Nathan’s story of the poor man’s pet lamb certainly fit Jesus. Jesus, too, was deeply loved. He, too, was to be cruelly slain by evil men.

But there was another image in John’s mind when he said, “There is the Lamb of God.”

It was the image of the lambs that were sacrificed daily in the Temple. The daily sacrifices in the Temple were made year after year, even in times of great famine when food was scarce and people were starving.

In effect, John was saying to his disciples, We offer lambs daily in the Temple for our sins, but the Lamb of God is the only one who can save us from those sins.

But there is one final image that “Lamb of God” conjures up. We find it in the Book of Revelation. The author of this book applies the title “Lamb of God” to Jesus no less than 28 times. He keeps the notions of love and affection, and of suffering and sacrifice, but adds the further notions of glory and triumph.

It comes as no surprise that of the many titles of Jesus—“Light of the World,” “Good Shepherd,” and “Bread of Life”— the title “Lamb of God” is the one we use each time we celebrate Mass. Just before Communion, we sing the Lamb of God. That very special moment at Mass is a preview of the moment at the end of time when people of every tribe, language, nation, and race will join the angels of heaven to sing to Jesus, the eternal Lamb of God.

Let me close with a story that I ask you to think about this week.

A man dove into a raging river and saved a drowning young person. A few days later, after recovering from the shock, the young person visited the man and said, “How can I ever thank you for what you did for me?”

The man looked at the youth and said, “The best thanks — you can give me is to live the rest of your life in a way that will have made it worth saving.”

I pray that when you and I come face-to-face with the Lamb of God, we can look back on our lives and say, they were worth saving.

Bishop Peter (4:00 pm Mass)

THEME: JESUS TAKES OUR SINS ON HIMSELF AND UNMASKS SCAPEGOATING.

1. Again, the lectionary presents the scene of Jesus’ baptism by John in the Jordan River, this time from the Gospel of John.

a. Jesus is humble – he empties himself, standing in solidarity with sinners, the sinless one in the sinner’s stead.

b. When he rises from the water, the Holy Spirit descends on him and after his Father raises him from the dead, he sends his HS to form the church and to enter into each baptized person. Thus we can think and act like Jesus himself though we must constantly be aware of our flawed human nature (Original Sin).

2. During his horrible passion, Jesus becomes the scapegoat because God places on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53) What does this mean?

a. (I got this from the internet.) “In the Bible, a scapegoat is an animal that is ritually burdened with the sins of others, and then driven away. The concept first appears in the Book of Leviticus, in which a goat is designated to be led into the desert to carry away the sins of the community.” The goat eventually dies.

b. Moreover, Jesus becomes the scapegoat of the people’s frustrations because they expected a glorious Messiah who would drive out the Romans, restore home rule, and end the world, rewarding the just and condemning sinners. Because Jesus didn’t meet their expectations, they clamored for his death. As usually happens in these cases, the oppressors will feel good for a while only.

3. Scapegoating is a tendency deep in the human psyche to the point that people often are unaware of it. Here are some examples:

a. Nero and the Christians of Rome

b. The most notorious is how Hitler blamed the Jews for the economic problems Germany faced following the First World War. Once the Jews were scapegoated, the people on the other side could do whatever they wanted to them. This led to the horrible Holocaust during which 6 million Jews were slaughtered.

c. Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia made the Muslims of Bosnia the scapegoats for the anger of his people against them after they lost to the Muslims in 1389. They then invaded Bosnia and slaughtered thousands of helpless Muslims.

d. Here in our own country blacks became scapegoats for poor economic conditions in the 1920’s and 30’s. This lead to outbreaks of violence against them and the creation of the KKK. Thus those in the “offended” and powerful group could justify any action against black people including thousands of lynchings.

e. What about today? Certain political figures and others have made immigrants, in particular undocumented ones, scapegoats of economic problems and threats to society. Once again, this results in negative actions against them.

f. On a lesser scale, that’s what happens when people gossip and stab others in the back. “Where two or three are gathered, there are victims.” (From Bishop Barron’s book, Seeds of the Word, p. 45)

4. Who has an answer to this syndrome? Jesus unmasks it because he chose to identify with those who are being scapegoated, having suffered the same fate. “Whatsoever you do to the least of my sisters and brothers, you do to me.” To Jews, to blacks, to Muslims, to Christians, to immigrants, to fellow workers and family members – you do to me… RESPECT ONE ANOTHER!

a. (As an aside, Bishop Barron states that human sacrifice perpetrated by the Romans and the Aztecs stopped when they were confronted by the crucified Jesus who sacrificed himself for all human beings past, present and future.)

5. Now we come to the Eucharistic part of our liturgy. It is Jesus who takes on himself the sin of the whole human race and who continues to confront those who make scapegoats of others because of social or economic ills.

Amen.

Cycle A – The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Matthew 3:13-17
Bishop Peter (4:00 pm Mass)

Theme: The Holy Spirit comes to Jesus and to us as well.

1. John is baptizing – explain – people from all over are walking about 20 miles for this because they want to repent of their sins and get ready for the coming of the Messiah and the end time (explain).

2. They recognize that they are sinners – tax collectors, prostitutes, perhaps shepherds and Jesus is in the midst of them, with them, identifying with them – the sinless with sinners.

a. Jesus in solidarity with people, all people. He is one of us, like us in everything except sin. ***See Hebrews II:17-18***

b. John is surprised and confused to the point that he doesn’t know what to do.

c. Jesus tells him to go ahead. Jesus submits humbly and obediently to His Father. (unlike Adam and Eve) He identifies with sinners now and will do so even more dramatically on the cross… The sinless in sinners’ stead. (behalf)

d. Because he is obedient, the Holy Spirit comes upon Jesus – like the dove that flew over the waters at the moment of creation – and the new creation after the flood when Noah and his family were saved. THIS IS A NEW BEGINNING.

3. See the connection between what the Father says when Jesus is baptized (“This is my Son, my Beloved with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew, 3: 17) and what the prophet Isaiah writes (our first reading): “This is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased. Upon him I have put my spirit… I formed you and set you as a … light for the nations/ to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.”

a. Shortly after being baptized by John, Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, is tempted in the desert. Next, he goes to the synagogue in Nazareth, his home town, and reads from the scroll the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, to heal the blind and to let the oppressed go free.”

4. What does this say to us today?

a. Jesus is one of us, like us in all things but sin. (Hebrews II:17) HE IS ON OUR SIDE BECAUSE HE LOVES US AND KNOWS HOW DIFFICULT OUR LIVES CAN BE. EVEN IN HEAVEN HE RECALLS THIS.

b. We too have received the Holy Spirit. We are Christ – anointed ones. Thus we must let the HS lead us so that we can continue Jesus’ work.

c. It is clear in the account of Jesus’ baptism that he stands in solidarity with all people and is especially present to those who know they are sinners. His name = God saves. So must our church, so must we. These include former prisoners or members of our family who have done wrong and embarrassed us, for example.

d. Jesus reached out to the economically poor, the oppressed, the sick, even to the point of identifying with them in the Parable of the Last Judgment – and he was all of these (stranger = documented and non-documented). So must we!

• Father Bob Beloin’s story of St. Thomas More Chapel at Yale and where to locate their weekly food service to the needy. Should it continue to be in the basement of the chapel or in their new center? He said, “In our new center because nothing is too good for the poor.”

e. Jesus forms relationships with people. He never dominates them. Thus we must avoiding the temptation of putting ourselves above anyone else… Is this one of the root causes of Anti-Semitism? Of White supremacy? Some people have to feel superior to others to feel good about themselves. Why?

f. Jesus gave us his gift of peace as he faced his cruel passion. In that vein, our Catholic Bishops’ Conference wrote recently concerning the tense situation in the Middle East: “May the Lord help all parties in this time of growing belligerence to peer through one another’s transgressions and appreciate the legitimate fears that lie behind them. All must discover islands of trust in a sea of distrust, do the hard work of reasoning together, acknowledge the futility of further violence and military action, and humbly pursue the common good together. Let us reflect on Pope Francis’ World Day of Peace message for 2020 and pray ‘to overcome evil with good and respond to hatred with love.’”

5. Eucharist – May the Father send us his HS with greater force so that we may truly believe that Jesus loves us and trusts us to do what we can to alleviate human suffering. Amen.

Cycle A – The Epiphany of the Lord

Matthew 2:1-12
Bishop Peter (8:30 am Mass)

Theme: When we seek the Lord, he always draws us close to himself. “Listen. I am standing at the door knocking. If you hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in and eat with you and you with me.” (Rev. III:20)

1.The Magi gave gifts to Jesus that represented the gift of themselves to Jesus.

a. Gold, frankincense (from the sap of a tree in Arabia) and myrrh (also from the sap of a tree that is turned into a sort of oil)

• Gold, Jesus as King, frankincense, divinity, myrrh, his burial.

• They adore the newborn king, reminding us of the first Great Commandment of the Jews and now ours too: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…”

2. The fact that the Magi came from such a long distance to find Jesus shows what Saint Augustine said in the 4th Century: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

a. That’s one of the reasons we come to him. That’s why people become tired of material pleasures from sources like pornography, the hook-up culture and the recreational use of drugs. They desire something more substantial, more profound. All these material things can never satisfy the cravings of the human heart – that explains in part why so many people turn to various kinds of spirituality. Hopefully many of these will turn to Jesus.

3. King Herod is threatened! He fears that the new-born king will take away his power and position.

a. Like those today in positions of authority who feel threatened when a younger man or woman with talent is promoted to work under them. Rather, they should count on their work and advice and delegate authority to them for the good of the enterprise, instead of thinking of themselves!

4. Saint Augustine knew he needed more in life. “Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, O Beauty ever new. Late have I loved you. You called, shouted, broke through my deafness; you flared, blazed, you banished my blindness; you lavished your fragrance on me. I breathed it in and now I pant for you; I tasted you, and I hunger and thirst for you;
you touched me, and I burned for your peace.”

5. Where should we seek the Lord? First, where he says he is: “I was hungry and you gave me food, etc. Matthew 25

a. In the aging parents you care for, in a child with disabilities, in people who come to a local soup kitchen such as the House of Bread in Hartford.

b. In vulnerable immigrants: Today the Catholic Church in the USA begins a week dedicated to the support and welcome of migrants or immigrants:

* What does our church teach about how immigrants should be treated? We go to the Bible and find the following: “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Ex 22:21); “Love the foreigner for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt” (Deut 10:19). + “I was a stranger (foreigner) and you took me in.” (Matthew 25)

6. We also should bring Christ to others by the way we live and treat them. This means to live the Mystery of the Visitation. Mary, pregnant with Jesus, visits Elizabeth, her cousin and when they greet, “the child in Elizabeth’s womb leaps for joy.”

a. Similarly, we are Christ-bearers (Christophers) because He lives in us. Each of us should ask how we can be Christ to the people we live and work with. How can we support them and lessen their burdens and pain? How can we make them happy? (Bob Hope and the millions of people who were inspired by his humor)

7. We thank Jesus for letting us find him and for his invitation to be Christ to one another, especially the most vulnerable. May Jesus in the Eucharist we celebrate and receive help us to represent him with ever greater authenticity.

Amen.

 

Homilies 2019