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, September 19, 2019

Thursday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

(I Timothy 4:12-16; Luke 7:36-50)

We may think of Jesus as unfriendly toward all Pharisees, but this is not the case.  True, he chastises a few, but then he eats with others.  He has a lot in common with Pharisees.  Like them Jesus is a layman and learned in the Law.  Also like the Pharisees, Jesus teaches in synagogues and exerts effort to live righteously.  Nothing should seem peculiar, therefore, in Jesus’ entering a Pharisee’s home in the gospel today.

Simon, the Pharisee, becomes scandalized with Jesus.  He sees our Lord allowing a notoriously sinful woman to bathe and anoint his feet.  As if that were not enough, Jesus also lets her kiss them. Although he does not say it, Simon thinks that Jesus cannot be a prophet.  If he were, Simon figures, Jesus would look into the woman’s heart and see that she is not worthy.  But Jesus proves himself a prophet with Simon’s criterion.  He knows the woman’s heart to be repentant and thus receptive of God’s grace.  Likewise, he reads the cynicism of Simon’s heart that criticizes too much and loves too little.

Jesus demonstrates God’s mercy as he forgives the woman her sins and enlightens Simon of his.  Mercy at times requires fraternal correction as Jesus calls Simon to task for cynicism.  It also allows a humble person to express love in her own way even if it means embarrassment.  We should pray that Jesus will treat us as graciously as he does these two sinners.  As church-goers, we are susceptible to cynicism, which is finding faults in others.  When we criticize others harshly, may Christ remind us of our sin.  May he also offer us opportunities to show our love for him.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Wednesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

(I Timothy 3:14-16; Luke 7:31-35)

Cardinal Avery Dulles once wrote a book that must have sold a million copies.  Titled Models of the Church the book described alternative ways to understand the Church.  Sacrament, servant, and herald are just three of the images he used.  In today’s first reading the writer gives two others.

The Church is termed “the household of God.”  Its members belong to God’s family by virtue of their baptism.  They are in a process of spiritual growth to become like their heavenly Father.  The Church is also called a “pillar and foundation of truth.”  This metaphor conveys permanence of doctrine in a world where truth seems to be relative to circumstances.  The reading exhorts the contemplation of Jesus, who is named “the mystery of devotion.”  Church members find in him their model for living.

It is said now that the young do not want to commit themselves to anything.  In other words, they do not want to devote time and effort to anyone or anything but themselves .  They want to stand aloof and to “be cool.”  Doing so, they might be noticed and perhaps admired.  However, they might as well miss something. They might not be “taken up in glory” like Jesus,

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Tuesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

(I Timothy 3:1-13; Luke 7:11-17)

Today’s first reading lists criteria for choosing bishops and deacons in the late first century Church.  These offices are only roughly equivalent to what has developed.  Still the advice provides guidance in selecting ordained ministers given today’s clerical crisis.

Both bishops and deacons need to be stable, practical, and caring.  Most importantly, they should not give the devil inroads into their souls.  That is, they should not be deceitful, greedy, or self-indulgent.  They will keep the devil at bay by remaining close to Christ in prayer.  If they mean to serve the Church, they must be intimate with Christ, its head.

Much is being said about the cause of sexual abuse.  Pope Benedict wrote that it is to be found in the sexual permissiveness of our time.  Pope Francis seems more convinced that it is the misuse of power inherent in clericalism.  Both these men would agree that the cancer needs to be treated by prayer.  They no doubt would agree that there must be greater attention to the selection of candidates.  But even there what should be sought are humble men who seek God’s assistance.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Memorial of Saint Cornelius, pope and martyr, and St. Cyprian, bishop and martyr

(I Timothy 2:1-8; Luke 7:1-10)

Saints Cornelius and Cyprian lived in an age of martyrdom.  Both also faced challenges to their offices as they traced middle ground in a controversy over apostasy.  Cornelius was pope; the latter, the bishop of Carthage in the middle of the third century.  An upstart priest named Novatus assumed Cyprian’s office during a persecution which sent Cyprian into exile.  Novatus accepted back into the Church lapsed Catholics without any significant penance.  They had given up the faith rather than be martyred. Cornelius supported Cyprian’s stand against easy return. 

In Rome Cornelius was challenged by a priest named Novatian on the other side of the return issue.  Novatian taught that no one who apostatized could be readmitted to the Church.  He also declared himself pope.  A synod of bishops eventually condemned and excommunicated him.  Both Cornelius and Cyprian were martyred not long after their status controversies were settled.

The first reading today recommends that we should pray for everyone.  We want all to be saved although we realize that salvation is beyond human capacity.  It requires that we take up our cross to follow Jesus.  This means doing what only what God can do; hence, the need for prayer.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Memorial of Saint John Chrysostom, bishop and doctor of the Church

(I Timothy 1:1-2.12-14; Luke 6:39-42)

Pope Francis has raised eyebrows by moving out of the papal apartments.  This is the spirit of St. John Chrysostom whom the Church remembers today.  As Patriarch of Constantinople, then the capital of the Roman Empire, John criticized the wealthy for not caring for the poor.  Pointedly, he accused the empress of lavishness.

John Chrysostom criticized the aristocracy of Constantinople as he was a faithful disciple of Jesus.  As Jesus says in today’s gospel, when a disciple is fully trained, he will become like the master.  As Jesus chastised the powerful for neglect of charity, so John Chrysostom challenged spendthrift Christians.

Pope Francis is calling the Church to a deeper sensitivity toward the poor and war-weary.  No doubt, he realizes that the complexities of poverty and of warfare are daunting.  Nevertheless, he wants Catholics to show more urgency in dealing with them.  In other words, he wants us to become true disciples of Jesus.