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.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter

(Acts 15:22-31; John 15:12-17)

An old song said, “Love makes the world go round.”  A high school teacher challenged this idea.  He told his students that love does not make the world go round.  Rather, he said, money does.  He was referring to the idea that money motivates most people to work which, in a way, sets the world in motion.  An astrophysicist would give another answer.  She would claim that the earth spins on its axis because of the way it was formed.  The swirling gases and dust from which the earth was formed started the rotation which has never ceased. 


With today’s gospel in mind we might ask ourselves, what does love do then after all?  Love puts us in harmony with God.  Since God’s very being is love, we share God’s life when we love others.  There is the difficulty of how to identify true love.  St. Augustine can help us here.  He once preached, “What does love look like? It has hands to help others.  It has feet to hasten to the poor and needy.  It has eyes to see misery and want.  It has ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men and women.  That is what love looks like.”

As we all know, it is easy to talk about love but quite another thing to live.  The novelist Dostoyevsky wrote that love in action is “a harsh and dreadful thing.”  It requires sacrifices that we would be loath to make except for the good of the beloved.  For God, the greatest good, we should be ready to make great sacrifices.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter

(Acts 15:7-21; John 15:9-11)

Humans today, as in any age, desire pleasure.  They crave the satisfaction of their senses from sex, food, or drugs.  Pleasure is not necessarily bad, but there is something much better.  Joy brings more beneficial satisfaction.  Pleasure is an agreeable sensation which passes quickly and must be renewed.  Joy, which comes from having done something well, fills the soul for a long time.  Pleasure is opposed to pain; they cannot coexist at the same time.  Joy is often accompanied by suffering in the quest to do something well.  Parents may take some pleasure in the vacation in Honolulu which their children gave them for their anniversary.  But they will feel joy after raising their children to be loving, honest, and hardworking human beings.  In today’s gospel Jesus teaches his disciples how to find joy.

He says that joy is the fruit of love.  When the disciples love one another like he has loved them, their spirits will be filled with joy.  When they lend a helping hand in time of need or a shoulder to cry on in distress, they will feel the joy of love.  All of God’s commandments are oriented to bring joy to those who keep them.

As we grow older, we should come to the realization that joy is what makes life worth living.  Experience teaches that more than forever eating tasty foods or exploring picturesque beaches, we become truly satisfied when we have given of ourselves in loving others.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter

(Acts 15:1-6; John 15:1-8)

Thomas Aquinas thought of virtue in a way that might surprise many.  He saw it as a good quality of the mind that disposes humans to live righteously.  So far, no surprises.  But Thomas went on that no one can make bad use of a virtue.  This idea is provocative.  “Cannot a terrorist show courage in a holy war” someone might ask, “so how can it be said that no one can make bad use of it?”  Thomas accepted the Christian tradition that true virtue is infused by God when the person surrenders to God in love.  It is a gift which no one can use badly because it comes from God and remains related to Him as a gift of his love.  The beginnings of virtue may be sown when God enters the soul at Baptism.  In any case no one can make bad use of a gift that keeps her in a relationship with God.  The same idea can be found in today’s gospel.

Jesus exhorts his disciples to remain in him as he remains in them.  Both he and the Father will come to them with the Holy Spirit.  The presence of all three will guide the disciple’s actions to always act in ways that conform to divine love.  In this way their actions cannot be anything but good.  Jesus uses the illustrative image of a vine and its branches to describe how virtue is transformed into benefits for others.  He says that the Father will act like a gardener pruning the vines’ branch.  Just as the pruned branches yield a greater harvest so life attentive to the Father’s commands will result in many blessings.

Our responsibility is to remain in Jesus by following his (and the Father’s) law of love.  We are to go beyond the Golden Rule.  Jesus tells us to love others as he has loved us.  We are to make sacrifices for the good of others as Jesus died to free us from sin.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Easter

(Acts 14:19-28; John 14:27-31a)

What is this peace of Christ that is unlike any other?  One biblical expert sees it as “being freed from sin and united to God."  Perhaps it is the same composure that drives Paul onward to preach the Good News despite just being stoned almost to death.  Paul does not harbor great resentment toward the Jews.  In fact, he maintains a great love for them.  He writes later, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed and separated from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kin according to the flesh” (Romans 9:3).  

The same peace is found among the families of the twenty-one Coptic Egyptians whom ISIS martyred four years ago.  The families proudly wear t-shirts with pictures of their beloved in martyrs’ array – white robes and crowns superimposed on their heads.  The author of an article on the martyrs has written provocative comments about the village where sixteen of the martyrs lived.  He says: “All the houses I visited shared one common feature: The household was not in mourning. Condolences and expressions of sympathy seemed out of place. They struck me as somehow elevated to another plane.”

We are not likely to feel Christ’s peace because our faith wavers.  We wonder if the legacy which the apostles have handed down is true.  We feel the cravings of sex and pride that our times offer.  To feel that peace we must do as Jesus preached from the beginning: “’Repent and believe…’”

Monday, May 20, 2019

Monday of the Fifth Week of Easter

(Acts 14:5-18; John 14:21-26)

The first reading sounds more like a situation comedy than an episode of true history.  Sometimes, however, reality is stranger than fiction.  In any case, people have an odd penchant of adulating men and women as if they were gods and goddesses.  Today athletes and entertainers have godlike status in the eyes of the public.  A Tom Brady or a Nicole Kidman command immense salaries and attention to the banalities of their lives.

In the biblical passage Paul and Barnabas are worshipped as gods after facilitating an instant healing.  The two apostles take advantage of the opportunity to explain God’s love for them.  They tell the pagan townspeople that such a mighty deed is but an extension of the care God shows in creation.  Still like many today the people in the reading refuse to abandon their fantasies.  They continue to prepare sacrifices for the apostles.

Unfortunately the attention paid to athletes and entertainers often detracts from worship of the true God.  We know of people who do not go to church on Sunday in order to watch a football game.  Many as well accept the caprices of entertainers as norms for everyone.  The situation leaves us with a double responsibility.  We must be careful not to fall into these vices.  And we must instruct our youth that the living God demands righteous living.