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.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Feast of Saint Luke, evangelist

(II Timothy 4:10-17b; Luke 10:1-9)

In a sense today, today we celebrate a Scripture more than a man.  We know very little about St. Luke other than what can be gleaned from his writing.  The New Testament references to him are thin.  Indeed, it cannot be said with complete certainty that the “Luke” found in the writings attributed to St. Paul is the author of the third gospel.  Nothing is known of how he died, much less of where he was born. This is said not to create skepticism but awe for the magnificent work of this evangelist.

Luke refers to himself directly only twice in his New Testament writings.  At the beginning of his gospel he says that he investigated “everything accurately anew.”  He does present much material that is not found in the other gospels – the parable of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son, for examples, as well as the Christmas story from the viewpoint of Mary.  The writings’ classical style and polished Greek indicate that Luke was well educated.  Luke emphasizes the Holy Spirit in both his gospel and the Acts of the Apostles.  Not only are there numerous references to the Spirit’s presence, but also the effects of the Spirit are manifest.  More than the other evangelists, Luke pictures Jesus and the disciples praying.  Also, he testifies to the Spirit’s uniting all people by continually including women and both the poor and the wealthy.

Luke is often referenced as the patron of physicians and artists.  We could easily see him as the sponsor of writers, scholars and charismatic prayer groups as well.  He is also a special friend of women, of the poor, and of those with great Marian devotion.  Really all Christians are indebted to him.  He deepened, expanded, and colored our knowledge of our Savior.  How can we not toast him and pray to him today?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr

(Galatians 5:18-25; Luke 11:42-46)

The letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch come as a ray of sun shining through a miry fog.  The New Testament leaves the episcopacy in a murky state.  They detail in a limited way the qualifications for the office of bishop but say little about his functions.  St. Ignatius, who lived at the end of New Testament times, fills in the lacunae.

Ignatius clearly distinguishes the duties of bishop, priest, and deacon.  He leaves no doubt as to who is in charge.  But he has favorable words for all the ordained.  He compares the bishop with God, the Father.  For this reason he is considered the originator of the “monarchial bishop.”  He sees the priests’ role as like that of the Holy Spirit who is found sanctifying the people in all places and ways.  Deacons in Ignatius’ view are quite honored.  They are like Christ, the Savior, doing good to all whom they meet.

As much as a theologian, Ignatius is renowned as a spiritual writer.  His letters can turn deeply personal.  He reflects on his upcoming execution as an opportunity to join Christ in suffering and death.  In one memorable passage he tells Roman Christians not to interfere with his being sent to the lions.  Why? He wrote, “I am the wheat of God and am ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ”!  Saint Ignatius of Antioch was a martyr and a bishop, a wise man and a holy man.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Tuesday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time

(Galatians 5:1-6; Luke 11:37-41)

All great religions stress the importance of almsgiving.  It is one of the five obligations of every Muslim.  Jews find testimony of it in their Scriptures written in the last centuries before Christ.  Jesus speaks of its importance to cleansing the soul in today’s gospel.  Then why do people have such difficulty giving money to the poor?

The reason is not hard to imagine.  Often enough recipients of alms do not use them for basic needs.  Rather they purchase peripheral goods and sometimes harmful substances.  As much as this is the case giving alms implicates one in an evil.  But there are other ways to help those begging assistance.

Perhaps befriending the poor, listening to the stories of their lives, and providing them with food is the best thing that can be done.  Also, when we see them on a street corner soliciting cars passing by, we might promise ourselves to send a donation to Catholic Charities or the St. Vincent de Paul Society.  Finally, praying for the poor not only secures God’s help but reminds us to do what we can.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Memorial of Saint Teresa of Jesus, virgin and doctor of the Church
(Galatians 4:22-24.26-27.31-5:1; Luke 11:29-32)

One of the great debates in ethics is over the definition of freedom.  Is freedom merely the absence of physical restraints?  If this were the case, one would be free as long as no one were holding the person back.  In freedom Jack could help Jill, ignore Jill, or kill Jill.  A second, deeper definition of freedom sees it as transcending both physical and spiritual barriers.  One is free if in addition to having no physical holds to overcome, there were no inward compulsions determining how the person will act.  The person would choose between different ways of doing good because humans are made for that.  Jack might buy Jill a cup of coffee, read her a sonnet of Shakespeare, telephone her when she gets sick, etc.  Surely St. Paul has this second idea in mind when he writes to the Galatians in today’s first reading, “For freedom, Christ has set you free.”

Paul realizes that sin has short-circuited human freedom.  Since Adam no one has been able to do the good that they deeply desire to do because of pride, lust, envy, and the other vices.  Recently, however, Christ has freed them from sin by his cross and resurrection.  His obedience to God and God’s ever-gracious approval have unbound the inner hold that sin has had on humans.  Now they can love as they were always meant to do.

If we are to realize the freedom Christ has won for us, we must remain close to him.  We do so through receiving Holy Communion and the other sacraments; by reading Scripture, especially the gospels; and by associating with the good people who comprise his body, the Church. 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Friday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

(Galatians 3:7-14; Luke 11:15-26)

In every election cycle candidates court the people’s favor by distributing T-shirts.   If they are incumbents, they finagle legislation that gives voters more incentives to vote for them.  Like the crowd in the gospel wondering if Jesus casts out demons because he is in league with Beelzebub, the voters should question such freebies.

Knowing the suspicions of the people, Jesus tries to assuage their doubts in different ways.  First, he uses logic.  Beelzebub would be working against himself, he says, if he were casting out demons in his name.  Then Jesus tries to convince the people of his innocence with a comparison.  He casts out demons no differently than local healers.  If they suspect him of being in league with the devil, should they not also question the validity of the village exorcist?  Finally, Jesus proposes a challenge.  They should accept his marvelous deeds – he tells them - as a sign that the Kingdom of God has finally come.  “Wouldn’t that be wonderful!” he intimates.

But Jesus does not avoid the fact that the coming of the Kingdom will entail a response on the part of its beneficiaries.  People have to convert to its standards of justice, compassion, and peace.  If not, the vacuum created by the removal of the evil spirit will invite an even more pernicious presence.  We might think of a household that has been exterminated of mice.  But unless safeguards against pests are put in place quickly, rats will invade the house in force.