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, July 19, 2019

Friday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Exodus 11:10-12:14; Matthew 12:1-8)

Over the last few years the word weaponize has crept into English vocabulary.  It means to use an issue to hurt politically one’s opponent.  The fuss at the U.S.–Mexican border today has been weaponized by both political parties.  Democrats and Republicans are using the plight of Central America immigrants to their political advantage.  In today’s gospel Jesus criticizes the Pharisees for weaponizing the issue of sacrifice.

The Pharisees envy Jesus.  He speaks with authority while they cite sources ad nauseum.  Here the Pharisees chastise Jesus because his disciples have not kept the regular Sabbath observance.  Ostensibly because they have had nothing to eat all day, they eat grain picked in the field.  Jesus defends their action by showing that the law admits exceptions.  More important than Sabbath ritual, he says, is the quality of mercy.  God can judge whether his disciples are transgressing the law.  People should think mercifully when they see others in apparent need.

We may ask ourselves about beggars on street corners.  Should we give them money?  Virtuous people often do, but social workers sometimes recommend otherwise.  Stories of abuse exist as well.  There remains the obligation to help the needy.  Perhaps by a regular contribution to the local Gospel Mission is in order.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Thursday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Exodus 3:13-20; Matthew 11:28-30)

Most people these days prefer being on a “first name basis” with everyone.  Perhaps some seniors are jarred when telephone sales reps use their first names as if they played cards together.  But the younger generation generally finds such familiarity unremarkable.  For this reason some may have a hard time understanding the concession God is granting to Moses in today’s first reading.  When He reveals His name, “I am who am,” He is inviting interruption.  It is as if God’s were giving out cell number.  Now Moses and the Israelites can call to Him for assistance at any time.

By revealing His name, God is showing how much He cares about Israel.  In the Old Testament He focuses attention on the small nation.  But it is only an initial step in a larger plan.  Through Israel God will bring the whole human race together.  For a while, Israel seemed incapable of minding God’s ways. Eventually, however, one of its members will obediently carry out God’s purpose.  This one, of course, is Jesus, the son of Mary.

It is said that “I am who am” reveals the essence of God, i.e., the source of all being.  Jesus will show beyond any doubt that being is not a passive or indifferent at its source.  To the contrary, it is both active and compassionate.  Through Jesus God will break down the stubbornness and hatred that keep humans from Him and from one another.  In Jesus God will reach out to all – especially the lowliest of people -- to make them one with Him.

Wednesday, July 18, 2019

Wednesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Exodus 3:1-6.9-12; Matthew 11:25-27)

Humans today enter a church to encounter God.  In more primitive societies God was typically found in nature.  The latter is the case for Israel in today’s first reading.  Moses meets the Lord on the mountainside of Horeb.  As a sign of submissiveness to God, Moses must remove his sandals at the site.

God wants Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt.  He seems ideal for the task.  Having been raised in the royal family, Moses can speak directly to Pharaoh.  He also has the trust of the people.  He had slain the Egyptian who was beating the defenseless Israelite.  Still Moses needs God’s assurance of support. 

God also speaks to us in the sanctuary of our consciences.  He means to liberate us from the wrongful ideas and runaway emotions that can lead to ruin.  We should heed what He says.  He loves us and will supply all the strength necessary to love our neighbors.  He has in mind for us a more satisfying reward than any payoff the world offers.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

(Exodus 2:1-15a; Matthew 11:20-24)

Moses’ mother uses both work and wit to save him from destruction.  She takes pain to hide him when he is born so that he would not be taken away.  When that is no longer possible, she strategizes to have Moses adopted into the royal family.  She even manages to take care of him on behalf of the Egyptian princess.  Her care is of the order celebrated on this Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

In Christian tradition Mary, the Mother of God, is known in various ways.  She is the Virgin Maiden who disposes herself completely with God’s call.  She is also the Queen of Apostles, the first human to proclaim God’s love in Jesus Christ.  She is also the great protectoress giving shelter to those under siege.  Our Lady of Mount Carmel should be seen especially in this last way.

She is associated with the brown scapular.  Scapulars were originally exterior clothing worn over the shoulders as an outer vestment.  They were like sweaters or, if worn alone, light jackets to provide protection against the elements.  In time the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel became famous for protecting its wearer from vices.  Because the full-body version was not needed for this spiritual purpose, its size was reduced.  Today the scapular is but two cloth emblems linked by two laces but still worn over the head.  As always with sacramentals, the scapular itself does not protect anyone.  But it does remind us to ask Mary to pray for us to God.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Memorial of Saint Bonaventure, bishop and doctor of the Church

(Exodus 1: 8-14.22; Matthew 10:34-11:1)

A man tells the story of his daughter.  When she was a teenager, she became pregnant outside marriage.  She wanted to have her baby, but her mother encouraged her to have an abortion.  For the elder, the girl was not only too young to be a mother but also needed to finish her education.  The girl desperately turned to her father who was divorced from his wife.  The man believed in his daughter and promised to help her keep her baby.  Relieved, the girl said that she had bought a bus ticket to another town in case no one would support her at home.  Whether she knows it or not, this girl is following Jesus’ instructions to his apostles in today’s gospel.

It is not that Jesus has abortion in mind as he lectures his apostles.  Rather, he knows that his righteousness will always unleash opposition.  His insistence that divorce opposes the Creator’s original intention will cause a furor among those who favor a more lenient standard.  His reaching out to the grubby poor will scandalize those with a high sense of propriety.  In these ways Jesus forces people to choose.  Will they stand with him or conform to the defective ways of their family.

We may not have to choose between family and Jesus.  We may not have to choose between family and Jesus.  Our choice may be between Jesus and the urgings of the heart.  Will we follow our sexual impulses or will we resist sinful sexual desires?  Will we support organizations that assist the homeless or perhaps help them ourselves?  Or will we totally ignore those who roam the streets?  Facing issues like these, we realize that Jesus does not bring the peace of mind that we may desire.