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.

Monday, October 18, 2019

Monday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

(I Maccabees 1:10-15.41-43.54-57.62-63; Luke 18:35-43)

The alienation of Jewish culture begins harmlessly enough.  The First Book of Maccabees relates how the Greek king begins his program of cultural hegemony.  He builds a gymnasium so that Jewish and Greek men could know one another as they exercise together.  At the gym they also expose their flesh to one another.  As the Jews for some reason feel embarrassed, they begin to hide the mark of their distinction.  Increasing socialization among the peoples leads Jews to break Covenantal laws.  Propaganda then is pitched to malleable children who begin to rebel against traditional ways.  Many Jews, perhaps unwittingly, begin to make sacrifices to pagan gods.  Then the king does the unthinkable.  He erects an idol in the middle of the Temple.  If the Jewish people accept this abomination, they are lost.

But they don’t.  The Maccabee family together with other faithful Jews rebel against the Greeks.  The tale is bloody, but the Greeks are eventually defeated.  Regrettably, the Maccabees and their successors prove to be inept rulers themselves.  By the time Jesus is born, the more capable Romans control the land.  Jesus will begin a peaceful revolution.  He will show the people how to worship the God of Israel in the most worthy of ways. 

Resisting the alienation of religion requires intensive effort.  Many parents today homeschool their children rather than send them to secularistic schools.  Wearing religious symbols like a cross helps secure religious identity.  Praying together in the home and worshipping weekly in church are foundational.  Experiencing the benefits of religion may require even greater sacrifices in the future.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Optional Memorial of Saint Albert the Great, bishop and doctor of the Church

(Wisdom 13:1-9; Luke 17:26-37)

The first reading suits today’s patron Saint Albert the Great.  The passage from Wisdom recounts how creation reflects God, its maker.  Because of this, scientists should come to know God. However, it says, some are so distracted by the beauty of creation that they misrepresent God.  Albert was able to come to the right conclusions.  Excelling as a natural scientist and philosopher, he ordered all knowledge.  Besides being called “the Great,” he is also known as the “universal doctor.”

Perhaps Albert’s greatest claim to fame is his pupil Thomas Aquinas.  He recognized Thomas’ enormous intellectual capacity when fellow students named him the “dumb ox.”  Albert also defended Thomas after his death.  Thomas’ works pilloried as heretical, Albert illuminated their profound exposition of divine truth.

Albert the Great has left scientists a challenging legacy.  Following him, they do not have to suspend religious belief to pursue scientific truth.  As he showed, they can come to deeper appreciation for nature by clinging to nature’s God.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Thursday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time

(Wisdom 7:22b-8:1; Luke 17:20-25)

The first reading today remarkably resembles St. Paul’s “Hymn to Love.”  The passage begins with a personification of wisdom as a spirit with many virtues: “In Wisdom is a spirit intelligent, holy, unique…”  So too Paul will write of love as a person with excellent qualities: “Love is patient; love is kind;…”

The author of Wisdom goes on to describe wisdom in action.  He writes: “…she penetrates and pervades all things by reason of her purity…(she) renews everything while herself perduring; and passing into holy souls from age to age, she produces friends of God and prophets.”  Paul also describes acts of love: “(Love) rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

People have observed how the name “Christ” may be substituted for “love” with perfect sense in Paul’s letter: “(Christ) does not seek (his) own interests; (Christ) is not quick-tempered; (Christ) does not brood over injuries.”  “Christ” may also replace the word “wisdom” in today’s passage: For there is nought God loves, be it not one who dwells with (Christ).  For (Christ) is fairer than the sun and surpasses every constellation of the stars.”

We should not be surprised that Christ epitomizes every virtue.  He is, after all, the perfect image of God, the Father.

Tuesday, November 20, 2019

Tuesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

(II Maccabees 6:18-31; Luke 19:1-10)

We look to the aged for prudence.  Experience has taught them not to delay something which must be done and to work diligently.  We also expect faithfulness in our elders.  They have learned the value of keeping commitments over the long haul.  Generosity is another virtue associated with the silver years.  Seniors have come to realize that giving has never made anyone poor.  Today’s first reading celebrates old age with the story of Eleazar, a virtuous Jew.

Eleazar refuses to eat pork to save his life.  He does not care that he will be tortured, much less that his das are ended.  What matters to him is keeping faith in God who created him.  Even when he is offered a ploy to avoid execution, he refuses.  Eleazar understands that being part of a people makes one responsible for others.  In this case he does not want to create scandal by giving bad example.  He is particularly conscious of the young who might be led astray.  They need to learn the nobility of the nation’s traditions.

We live in an age of individualism.  People care mostly about themselves and the circle immediately around them.  Too often the elderly lack a sense of intergenerational responsibility.  We need them to act like heroes as Eleazar does.  We need them to show us how not to live only for ourselves but for others.  We need them to assure us that God’s ways will lead to glory.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Memorial of Saint Frances Cabrini, virgin

(Wisdom 6:1-11; Luke 17:11-19)

We should not be dismayed by the mindlessness of the nine in today’s gospel who do not return to give thanks.  Many of us act in the same way.  We are often blessed but quickly forget the Lord, the source of all goodness.  We may even attribute our blessing to luck or to some personal quality.  We should emulate the man who seeks to pay homage Jesus in gratitude.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini returned to the Lord after receiving his blessing.  She was at one point so frail that the sisters who educated her refused her petition to join them.  Yet she persisted in serving the Lord.  Gathering a group of women around her, she fulfilled her childhood hope of becoming a missionary.  Mother Cabrini, as she was called, established sixty-seven orphanages, schools, and hospitals.  She worked largely as an Italian immigrant with other immigrants in the United States.  Yet her dynamism did not stop at U.S. shores.  She extended her reach to South America and back to Europe. 

Gratitude becomes a person.  It bespeaks humility that enables him or her to keep self-deceiving pride at bay.  Recognizing the connectedness of society, gratitude further impels one to assist others.  It is not surprising then to see the Lord blessing the grateful cured leper with salvation.