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.

Homilette for April 4, 2008

Homilettes for weekdays between March 27 and April 4 follow below. May the fifty deays of Eastertime fill you with joy. Please write me if you have any comments regarding these homilettes. cm

Friday of the Second Week of Easter

(Acts 5:34-42)

It is safe to say that Pharisees are not gospel favorites. Many picked on Jesus because they could not recognize that his healing on the Sabbath marked the dawning of a new age. But the New Testament does recall some Pharisees who helped Christ. Nicodemus in the Gospel of John comes first by night to learn from him and then in daylight to bury him. In the reading form the Acts of the Apostles today the leading Pharisee Gamaliel defends the apostles in front of the Jewish Sanhedrin.

Of course, Gamaliel does not accept Christianity. He only states that as a matter of policy religious tolerance is more judicious than persecution. His reasoning is summarized in the memorable lines: “But if (Christianity) comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.” Religious tolerance was mandated by Vatican II with a different logic. The Council taught that the human conscience is inviolable. No state or person has a right to interfere with how an individual worships God.

During Easter-time the Church asks us to recall the experience of the early Church. Every day at Mass this year we read from the Acts of the Apostles. We see how the Church starts as a small community in Jerusalem that spreads throughout the western world. She has little reason to fear other faith traditions. Rather, she has the commission to dialogue with them concerning the experience of reconciliation to God.

Homilette for April 3, 2008

Thursday of the Second Week of Easter

(John 3:31-36)

We should take note of who is speaking in this gospel. It sounds somewhat like Jesus himself. We may remember the gospel passage yesterday where Jesus tells Nicodemus that “’God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” Today’s passage is remarkably similar. The speaker proclaims, “’Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life...’” The speaker, however, is John, whom we call “the Baptist.”

The reading does not give us the context of John’s testimony, but we can easily find it by referring to the whole gospel. Jesus has left Jerusalem and gone into the country of Judea where John is baptizing. The text shows Jesus baptizing many people and John’s disciples worried that Jesus is encroaching on John’s turf. However, John -- the true prophet that he is -- offers no protest. On the contrary, he utters his famous submission, “He (Jesus) must increase; I must decrease.”

Today’s gospel lays out a challenge for us. What is the “eternal life” it speaks of in comparison to the many ways we have to gratify ourselves? Is it better than high definition television, central air and heating, vacation cruises? Perhaps more to the point, can we be assured of “eternal life” as much as modern luxuries are affordable to us? Our celebration of Easter buoys us up so that we might answer these questions with sense and conviction. “Eternal life” is companionship with the risen one. It far exceeds anything the world has to offer because it provides a joy not limited to time and space. Just as surely as Jesus rose from the dead, we will experience “eternal life” when we, like John, submit to him.

Homilette for April 2, 2008

Wednesday of the Second Week of Easter

(John 3:16-21)

Why does it happen? After a tragedy such as the massacre at Virginia Polytechnic Institute last year or a similar slaughter this year at Northern Illinois University we want to know how such mass murders could take place in America today. There is no shortage of answers.

Many point fingers at school administrators. They criticize their failure to provide enough security or to act decisively when trouble starts. Ideologues certainly have their say. From the left they charge that permissive gun laws make every meeting place in the country a potential blood bath. From the right they argue as stridently that violent movies start time bombs ticking in many individuals. God will be accused for not intervening as well. Some will charge that His plan of allowing humans free will is defective. Others will rebut that idea saying, “Whose will is really free?” and add for argument, “Does not God’s power transcend human freedom?”

The Gospel of John does not provide a detailed answer to why mass murders take place. It does tell us today, however, that people prefer darkness to light. From almost the very beginning the world has been marred by wickedness which is not about to stop. The gospel shows us how God acts to relieve suffering. He sends His son to mend many hurts and to teach better ways than the narrow self-interests many people pursue. He further gives His son on the cross, more cruel a death than any rendered by an automatic firearm. He does this, first, to show solidarity with the suffering around the world and through the ages. But much more significantly, His gift provides us the opportunity to stand with him in death so that we may experience the resurrection which inevitably follows.

Homilette for April 1, 2008

Tuesday of the Second Week of Easter

(Acts 4:32-37)

Once a man was going to give a substantial piece of real estate to a church association. Perhaps he had in mind the first reading today where Joseph Barnabas sells his property and gives the entire proceeds to the Jerusalem church community. However, the man’s wife was opposed to giving away the land. She objected that they had children who some day might need extra resources to get by.

Often, it seems, genuine impediments arise in the quest for Church unity. The man wanting to give property to the church association was probably well-intentioned. However, for the sake of his wife’s peace he might have found a more congenial way to lend support. In the early church community of Jerusalem as well impediments to unity creep in. The reading today certainly highlights both generosity and unity as a hallmark of the Christian community following Jesus’ resurrection. But the very next chapter in the book relates how another man similarly sells his property, pretends to give the whole payment to the community, but actually retains part for himself.

Church unity is both a reality to be witnessed and an ideal to be achieved. We are one when we gather together for Mass on Sunday and when we take up a collection for disaster victims. But, of course, not everybody in the community attends Sunday Mass or contributes to relief efforts. We have to try to understand their reasons for lagging support, pray that they may be reconciled with us, and perhaps remind them of how Jesus’ resurrection impels all of his followers to stand together.

Homilette for March 31, 2008

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

(Luke 1:26-38)

In the novel All We Know of Heaven, author Rémy Rougeau, O.S.B., describes how a monk (possibly himself) receives his vocation. It happens literally by a star falling from heaven. Observing the night sky, a boy sees a shooting star land near his home. He is what we might call “a good boy,” but not remarkably superior to others. When he goes to investigate, the lad finds the fallen meteor. Thinking over its significance, he concludes that the incident represents a personal call from God. A number of years later as a young man, he joins a Cistercian monastery.

Luke’s gospel today tells a similar story. Mary has a religious experience. She is devout although the extent of her sanctity is perhaps not evident. An angel tells Mary of her special vocation to be the mother of Jesus Christ. Like the boy pondering the significance of the meteor, Mary questions whether the angel really intends the message for her. After all, she is not married. When the angel assures her that God will provide whatever she lacks, Mary does not hesitate to accept.

We have all probably had an experience that we would call “religious.” Perhaps it was a dream or a conversation with a special person. We probably don’t consider ourselves better than any other person, yet God seems to have shown us His special favor. Like Mary and like the monk in Rémy Rougeau’s novel, let us not fail to consider what He wants us to do.