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, January 23, 2020

Thursday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

(I Samuel 18:6-9.19:1-7; Mark 3:7-12)

Jesus keeping his divine origin hidden has been called the “Messianic secret.”  Demons know of it because they have supernatural knowledge.  Humans, in Mark’s gospel, have to figure it out by attention to development.  Peter will reach the conclusion first by Jesus’ works and teachings.  The Roman centurion will come to the same insight after seeing Jesus valiantly suffer and die.

The first reading gives a partial motive for Jesus’ keeping secret his identity.  The people exaggerate David’s accomplishments to make him sound superior to King Saul.  Just so, the people of Jesus’s day would see him as a political leader with potential to overthrow Roman rule.  More than this, however, Jesus has important work to do.  If people see him as a political Messiah, his message work would be attenuated.  Jesus has come to call attention to God’s love self-evident in creation and in loving relationships.  To experience fully this love, he preaches the need for people to let go of pride and covetousness.

It is a hard lesson to drive home.  Especially when people have been severely abused, appreciating God’s love is difficult.  Striving to build up the self with acquisitions becomes paramount to such people.  We must help them to find God’s love by acts of compassion. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children

(I Samuel 17:32-33.37.40-51; Mark 3:1-6)

Many issues divide the people of the United States today.  Some see undocumented immigrants not only as legitimately needy people but also a boon to the American economy.  Others find them both draining resources and defiant of the law.  Likewise, people have polar differences regarding government control of health care.  But no issue is as divisive as abortion. “Pro-life” and “pro-choice” are ardent about their causes and ready to create civil unrest to defend them.

Seeing the shape and movement of their fetuses has caused many women contemplating abortion to change their minds.  Yet pregnant women who have already had children sometimes feel incapable of going through the agony of childbirth again.  It is also true that many people support legal abortion as a way to cover up promiscuous sexual relationships.

The Church in the United States has set aside today to reconsider the issue.  We know that women must be supported in the process of giving birth.  We also recognize that sexual intimacy is meant for marriage where a couple can draw closer together in procreating and raising children.  Most of all, we see the inherent dignity of every human life which must never be destroyed because it is unwanted.  So we pray today for the unborn, for women about to undergo the ordeal of childbirth, and for those caught up in promiscuous relationships.  We say a special prayer for legislators that they may provide legal protection for the unborn.  We ask God to give all concerned strength and courage to preserve human life.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Memorial of St. Agnes, virgin and martyr

(I Samuel 16:1-13; Mark 2:23-28)

Tomorrow you may find in the newspaper a picture of Pope Francis with a pair of lambs.  Traditionally Italian farmers present the pope two lambs on today’s feast of St. Agnes.  The name Agnes sounds like agnus, the Latin word for lamb.  Also, St. Agnes died a virgin martyr whose purity is symbolized by the lamb.

Much like David in the first reading today, Agnes was predestined by God to be a martyr.  This will not seem like blessing to those of little faith.  However, Agnes has enjoined eternal life with her Creator and Redeemer.  She is also memorialized throughout the world and has served as a model for adolescents for centuries.

It may be said that youthful idealism enabled Agnes to give her life as a witness to Christ.  Older people, having grown cautious, often are not willing to make such a sacrifice.  On the other hand, by old age we should have cultivated wisdom to do what is right.  What really matters, however, is not our age but God’s predestinating grace.  If He has ordained that we become saints, then it will happen.  Such grace, however, is not fickle. We can pray for it with hope of receiving it.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

(I Samuel 15:16-23; Mark 2:18-22)

In 1964 Martin Luther King, Jr. published Why We Can’t Wait.  The book answers a question of the time, “Why are Blacks causing so much civil unrest?”  Echoing Abraham Lincoln, Dr. King replied that no man or woman can exist half-slave and half-free.  Such a condition thwarts the mind and kills the soul.  The question answered by King resembles the one posed to Jesus in today’s gospel.

The people wonder why Jesus’ followers never fast from food and drink.  They point to the Pharisees’ disciples who enthusiastically do so.  Jesus’ answer indicates the breath of his mission.  He tells the people that the Kingdom of God is being initiated with his ministry.  This in-breaking needs to be celebrated.  He knows that his life will soon end; then the fasting may begin. His short life may even be considered an extended Sabbath.  People should no more fast during its duration than they should be silent at a social.  In this way the people can recognize his Father’s mercy like his disciples are doing.

Today the United States remembers the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with a national holiday.  It may seem pretentious given that he is the only person to be so celebrated annually besides Jesus on Christmas.  However, the injustice which King fought was outrageous, to say nothing of the slavery which precipitated it.  Taking time to consider that and to celebrate the victory over bigotry is both fitting and helpful.  We might also contemplate that more than anyone else, Jesus was King’s inspiration and hope.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Memorial of Saint Anthony of the Desert, abbot

(I Samuel 8:4-7.10-22a; Mark 2:1-12)

Monks are often thought of as men in retreat.  But they do not see themselves in that way.  Rather they recognize their solitary life as a battle with the evil spirits of pride and concupiscence.  If they win, they will have peace with God, nature, self, and others.  Today the Church celebrates the man credited with founding Christian monasticism – Anthony of the Desert. 

As a youth Anthony heard the gospel of the rich man who asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life.  Jesus answered that one has to sell all that he owned, give the money to the poor, and follow him.  The man did not find the wherewithal to fulfill Jesus’ prescription, but Anthony did.  He sold his inherited property, provided for his sister, and gave the rest of the money away.  Then he proceeded to the desert where he exhibited holiness, charity and wisdom.  Anthony’s difficult life did not curtail longevity.  He died at one hundred and four years old.

It is not necessary to enter a monastery to battle pride and concupiscence.  We must engage these nemeses every day of our lives.  However, the struggle cannot be won without asceticism or self-denial.  We have to let go of what others think about us and what are desires tell us we need.  In their places we should make sacrifices for God and others, particularly the poor.