About Me

Bilingual Roman Catholic priest of the Southern Dominican Province. The "homilettes" on this website are completely the work of Fr. Mele. He may be contacted at cmeleop@yahoo.com. Telephone: (415) 279-9234.

Wednesday, January 15, 2019

Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

(Hebrews 2:14-18; Mark 1:29-39)

People were talking about the burdens of old age.  One participant of the conversation asked, “Ninety-four years – who would want to live that long?”  An elderly sister answered, “Maybe someone who is ninety-three.”  Few people with reasonable health want to die.  Most hope to keep enjoying family and friends, food and entertainment.  The readings today assure that Jesus understands human desires.  He aims to assist us with our natural needs.

In the gospel Jesus is pictured curing illnesses from Peter’s mother-in-law’s fever to “various diseases.“ Certainly he staves off death with these healings.  The first reading suggests a more comprehensive campaign against death. The Letter to the Hebrews testifies to how Jesus’ paschal mystery has overcome both death and the dread of it.  It reminds believers that clinging to him they too will rise from the dead. This means that they may live without anxiety, choose without intimidation, and dream without fear. 

We want to visit Jesus.  The gospel describes how “the whole town was gathered at the door.”  We can place ourselves there through prayer.  When we talk him as with our doctor, his will for us will be clarified.  He knows how we feel because he experienced our human life.  He will tell us to be bold with our love and humble with our expectations.  Such is the way of victory over death.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

(Hebrews 2:5-12; Mark 1:21-28)

Last month a leading American magazine featured a story on exorcism.  It interviewed a person who believes herself to be possessed, exorcists, and scientists.  After relating difficult to explain phenomena, the article left open the possibility of demonic possession.  Still possession seems more a part of a first century mentality than a twenty-first.  Today’s gospel relates the first of many incidents in which Jesus casts out a demon.

The passage testifies to Jesus’ authority.  The people are amazed that when he speaks, the spirit obeys. He does not hesitate to address the demon much less does he show it deference.  Like a four star general with a division of soldiers behind him, his word calls the devil to attention.

Jesus will help us as he helps the demoniac.  We are not likely possessed by anything more than bad habits or errant thinking.  Nevertheless, opening ourselves to his words will free us from these faults.  We will not only live more happily but also look forward to eternal life as our destiny.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Monday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

(Hebrews 1:1-6; Mark 1:14-20)

A watershed is a mound of dirt that has been built up to stop water from running off the land.  It conserves water for the dry season.  To speak of a “watershed moment” is to see a past event as decisive in shaping history.  Like water conservation such an event has repercussions for a long time afterwards.  Today’s gospel describes a watershed moment in salvation history.

Jesus emphatically proclaims the beginning of God’s rule. “’The Kingdom of God is at hand,’” he says. John, the precursor, has completed his mission.  Now Jesus will carry out the project of humanity’s return to the goodness of the Garden of Eden.  He will need helpers and calls on robust and resourceful fishermen.  Although it means starting a new career, they cannot resist Jesus’ magnetic personality.  They leave not just boats and nets but their families to join him in this world-changing endeavor.

We should see ourselves making the same kind of critical choice.  We may not be at a point to change careers, but always there is need to improve our behavior.  We may have to show kindness to people we tend to ignore at work.  Or perhaps we have to leave behind unhealthy habits like smoking and squandering time on the Internet.  We certainly want to join Peter, Andrew, James and John in assisting Jesus establish the Kingdom of God.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Friday after the Epiphany

(I John 5:5-13; Luke 5:12-16)

The Christmas season will end this Sunday with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.  Perhaps all of us have participated in its colossal gift exchange.  We may ask ourselves what was the greatest gift that we received.  But there is no need to weigh the running shoes from Aunt Anne against the concert tickets from Uncle John.  The greatest gift of any kind, in any season, from anyone is God’s gift of His Son.  Jesus has not only shown us the way to eternal happiness but paved it with his own flesh.

Both readings today testify to the gift of Jesus.  The Letter of John names the three witnesses to his accomplishment.  Water refers to his human life.  He told the world of God’s love and performed marvelous deeds to demonstrate it.  Blood represents his sacrifice on the cross.  By dying there he overcame the grip of Satan on the world.  With the descent of the Spirit on his disciples, Jesus has been preached throughout the world.

The gospel testifies to Jesus’ fame being spread by his healings.  It sounds too good to be true.  It also demands a continual response of gratitude on our part.  We may want to put it out of our minds and concentrate on how to thank Aunt Anne and Uncle John.  But the testimonies are undeniable.  We must show due appreciation to God for the gift of His Son.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Thursday after Epiphany

(I John 4:19-5:4; Luke 5:12-16)

In a movie adaptation of Les Miserables, Jean Valjean writes his wife a letter from prison.  A largely unlettered man, he only manages to say, “I love you,” over and over again.  The first letter of John may sound equally simplistic.  However, its meaning is as profound as its lesson is worth repeating.

The author of the letter knows how the world can corrupt a person.  For this reason he underlines the need to keep God’s commandments.  He argues that this is not a difficult task.  Since the essence of the commandments is love, keeping them brings one delight.  “Not necessarily true,” one might object after trying to please a difficult person.  But John locates the object of love not in other people but in God.  Remembering the Father’s gift and the Son’s crucifixion makes our sacrifices for others seem trivial. 

As defrocked Christmas trees dot empty lots, Christmas becomes a flickering memory.  Our resolve to live each day with the love we felt on Christmas can grow similarly vague.  These readings from the First Letter of John, then, serve as critical reminders.  They tell us how God has given us Christ so that we might care for one another.