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 16, 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.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019


Wednesday after Epiphany

(I John 4:11-18; Mark 6:45-52)

For the nine days before Christmas many Mexican households conduct posadas.  This tradition is situated in the gospel verse where Mary lays Jesus in a manger because there was no room for her and Joseph in the inn.  Posada means inn.  In the dramatization of the verse, Mary and Joseph are petitioning the innkeeper to give them lodging.  At first, the innkeeper rudely tells them to get out because there is no vacancy.  But when they ask again, he recognizes Mary as the Virgin Mother and warmly welcomes the family into his inn.  We should be able to recognize a similar drama taking place in the readings today and yesterday. 

In the gospel passages for these two days, Jesus shows himself to be the Son of God.  Only a divine person could feed thousands with a few loaves of bread and some fish.  Likewise, only a godlike person could walk on water.  Despite Jesus’ transparency on these occasions, his disciples remain clueless about his identity.  As is said today, “they were completely astounded…” and “their hearts were hardened...”  If they could have figured out who Jesus is, their worries would be ended.  They would feel no fear.  Rather they would realize that they have been embraced by love.  As the first reading states, “…love drives out fear.”

First, then we should recognize that we are loved by God -- completely and unconditionally.  Since we can choose to deny this love so that we do not feel it in our hearts, we must open ourselves to it.  Surely for the vast majority of us, this is not a demanding task.  We are blessed by the people and the opportunities that abound in our lives.  God’s love, for the majority at least, is hardly more difficult to see than the rising sun.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019


Tuesday after Epiphany

(I John 4:7-10; Mark 6:34-44)

Someone recently posed the word family as an acrostic.  The word is said to mean: Forget about me; I love you. Families are made to teach selfless love – how to make personal sacrifices for the benefit of others.  The first reading today shows how love is especially a characteristic of God’s family.

“God is love,” it says.  In another place John’s First Letter emphasizes that love is not just a word or a feeling.   “Let us not love in word or speech,” its author writes, “but in deed and truth.”  He gives God Himself as the model of love: “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.

“Everyone knows this,” we might say.  But we don’t always live it.  We tend to think of ourselves first and then others.  Jesus, as today’s gospel shows, opposes this outlook.  “’Give them some food yourselves,’” he tells his disciples when they want to dismiss the crowds.  He calls us as well to make sacrifices for others’ good.

Monday, January 7, 2019


Monday after Epiphany

(I John 3:22-4:6; Matthew 4:12-17.23-25)

One of the great corporations in our city sponsors a festival of lights during the Christmas holidays.  It invites the public to its production center adorned with colored LED lights.  The lights do not dispel the darkness as much as they take advantage of it.  Because of the darkness the brilliance of the many lights is revealed.  In a similar way the darkness of the human conditioned allows the light of Jesus to be manifested.

The Gospel of Matthew sees Isaiah’s prophecy of a great light in Galilee fulfilled in Jesus.  His ministry enkindles hope in people beset with the glum of misery.  Today’s passage shows him healing the pained, the possessed, the disturbed, and the paralyzed.  Jesus’ preaching further urges those ensconced in the darkness of sin to repent.  Coming out into the gentle glow of God’s mercy gives them freedom and joy.

We have begun a new year.  It is time for us to start over in the quest for virtue.  We must rid ourselves of thoughts that belittle others.  We need to let go of our fears so that we might affirm those around us.

Friday, January 4, 2019


Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, religious

(I John 3:7-10; John 1:35-42)

Today’s first reading speaks of God’s seed remaining in the Christian.  This seed enables her not to sin. What is it referring to with this obscure image?  May it be the same seed that impregnated the Virgin Mary?  It turns out that it is.  It is the Holy Spirit that comes down upon Christians to protect them from sinning.

Economists theorize how nation have comparative advantages in one way or another.  This conceptual reality will enable them outperform other nations in a particular industry.  Columbia’s many mountainous regions with moderate temperatures give it a comparative advantage over, say, the United States in producing coffee.  In a similar way the Holy Spirit gives Christians a comparative advantage over others in living righteous lives.

Unfortunately, Christians sometimes fail to use their comparative advantage.  We act contrary to the Holy Spirit when we choose to abuse others in order to love ourselves.  We may claim for ourselves more than justice permits.  Whenever this happens, we should note the whisper of the same Holy Spirit.  As invisibly as he was given to us, he calls us back to goodness.  Our comparative advantage does not fail us when we fail it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019


Wednesday after Epiphany

(I John 4:11-18; Mark 6:45-52)

For the nine days before Christmas many Mexican households conduct posadas.  This tradition is situated in the gospel verse where Mary lays Jesus in a manger because there was no room for her and Joseph in the inn.  Posada means inn.  In the dramatization of the verse, Mary and Joseph are petitioning the innkeeper to give them lodging.  At first, the innkeeper rudely tells them to get out because there is no vacancy.  But when they ask again, he recognizes Mary as the Virgin Mother and warmly welcomes the family into his inn.  We should be able to recognize a similar drama taking place in the readings today and yesterday. 

In the gospel passages for these two days, Jesus shows himself to be the Son of God.  Only a divine person could feed thousands with a few loaves of bread and some fish.  Likewise, only a godlike person could walk on water.  Despite Jesus’ transparency on these occasions, his disciples remain clueless about his identity.  As is said today, “they were completely astounded…” and “their hearts were hardened...”  If they could have figured out who Jesus is, their worries would be ended.  They would feel no fear.  Rather they would realize that they have been embraced by love.  As the first reading states, “…love drives out fear.”

First, then we should recognize that we are loved by God -- completely and unconditionally.  Since we can choose to deny this love so that we do not feel it in our hearts, we must open ourselves to it.  Surely for the vast majority of us, this is not a demanding task.  We are blessed by the people and the opportunities that abound in our lives.  God’s love, for the majority at least, is hardly more difficult to see than the rising sun.

Thursday, January 3, 2019


Wednesday, Christmas Weekday

(I John 2:29-3:6; John 1:29-34)

Paintings and statuettes of Jesus in the manger often have him with arms outstretched.  He seems to be welcoming the world to him.  But upon reconsideration there seems to be a better reason for picturing him so.  His arms are extended outward in anticipation of the crucifixion he will endure.  A similar motif runs through today’s gospel.

Upon seeing Jesus, John the Baptist exclaims, “’Behold the Lamb of God…’” He is not referring to Jesus’ meekness as if he acted like a lamb.  Rather the expression foresees Jesus being slain so that his disciples may be freed from sin.  This happens, of course, at the crucifixion on Good Friday.  Indeed, his death takes place in this Gospel of John at exactly the same hour when the paschal lambs are being slaughtered in the Temple.  As the Israelites in Egypt slayed a lamb to be saved from the destroying angel, Jesus’ death on the cross saves those who believe in him.

We have every reason to rejoice during this Christmas season.  Our savior has come to redeem us from sin.  But our rejoicing must be tempered.  For one thing, over-indulging would give counter testimony to our redemption from sin.  For another, we know that Christ has come to die on our behalf.  It would be shortsighted to separate completely the two events. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019


Memorial of Saint Basil and Saint Gregory Nazianzen, bishops and doctors of the Church

(I John 2:22-28; John 1:19-28)

The First Letter of John hinges on the belief that Christ came in the flesh.  This explains its use during the Christmas season.  In the first century doubters argued that Christ was an angel-like being who saved through revealing the divine will.  Of course, if he were only spiritual, he would not have been like us. Nor could he have sacrificed himself to redeem us from our sins. And we would not have gained an eternal destiny. 

Today’s passage references the anointing the faithful receive after Baptism and at Confirmation.  This sign assures that the Holy Spirit has penetrated our being.  The Spirit inculcates in us the sense of being joined to Christ so that we share in his crucifixion and resurrection.  Now as members of the Christian community, the Body of Christ, we receive all the support necessary to live a life of justice.

The lesson on the Holy Spirit fits the feast of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen.  These two Fathers of the Eastern Church commented extensively on the work of the Holy Spirit.  Also, their self-effacing friendship epitomizes the communal assistance necessary for the Christian quest of eternal life.