Fr. Tony’s 8-Minute Homily
Greatest Extremophile of All Time
My God, I could have bought back two more people with this ring.
Mary Lou Retton Losing to Win
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of All Time
Probably, you’ve never met these creatures called extremophiles. This is because they are extremely small microorganisms which live in environments where the Fahrenheit temperature ranges either from 170 to 215 degrees (water boils at 212 °F), or down to several degrees below freezing point — or in acidic media. One such extremophile is Pyrococcus furiosus. Pyro is only one of many microorganisms attracting the attention of scientists today. Biotechnologists are learning a lot from such microorganisms living way out there, in dangerous places like hot springs, polar ice caps, salty lakes and acidic fields. They live in conditions that would kill humans and most plants and animals. Extremophile microbes are also busy industrialists, reports The Futurist magazine, because they produce enzymes that are enormously useful in the food, chemical, pharmaceutical, waste treatment and other industries. Suppose you need an enzyme to replace bleaching by Chlorine …. (Cynthia G. Wagner, “Biotech Goes to Extremes,” The Futurist, October 1998).
Today’s reading points us to the Greatest Extremophile of all time. In the district of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus reveals himself to be an “extremophile,” showing his disciples that he “must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Mt 16:21).
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“My God, I could have bought back two more people
with this ring.”
There is a powerful scene in the movie Schindler’s List. In the beginning of the story, a Czech businessman named Oskar Schindler builds a factory in occupied Poland using Jewish labor because, in those tragic days at the start of World War II, Jewish labor was cheap. As the war progresses, however, and he learns what is happening to the Jews under Adolph Hitler, Schindler’s motivations switch from profit to sympathy. He uses his factory as a refuge for Jews to protect them from the Nazis. As a result of his efforts, more than 1,100 Jews were saved from death in the gas chambers. You would think that Oskar Schindler would have felt quite pleased with himself, but at the end of the war Schindler stands in the midst of some of the Jews he has saved, breaks down in tears, takes off his gold ring and says, “My God, I could have bought back two more people [with this ring]. These shoes? One more person. My coat? Two more people. These cufflinks? Three more people.” There he stands, not gloating but weeping with regret that he has not done more.
I wonder if one day you and I, as followers of Christ, will ask ourselves, “Could I have done more? Have I truly borne the cross of Christ?” That is the first question on today’s test: Is our Faith sacrificial? Is it costing us something?
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Mary Lou Retton Losing to Win
In the 1984 Olympics at Los Angeles, 16-year-old Mary Lou Retton became the first American girl to win a gold medal in gymnastics. To accomplish this extraordinary feat, she had to make sacrifices during her two years of intensive training prior to the Olympics. While other teenagers were enjoying themselves with a full schedule of dating and dancing, Mary Lou Retton could only participate on a very limited basis. To improve her skills, she had to practice long hours in the gym; to nourish her body properly she had to follow a strict diet and practice long hours, and to increase her confidence she had to compete frequently in meets. — But what Mary Lou Retton gave up in terms of good times and junk food was little compared to what she gained when she won her Olympic gold medal. What she lost in the usual social life of a teenager she found in the special setting of becoming a champion gymnast – acceptance, camaraderie, and respect.
Mary Lou Retton’s Olympic experience illustrates somewhat Christ’s paradox in today’s Scripture: “Whoever would save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Source: Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds; quoted by Fr. Botelho
22nd Sunday of Year A
Fr. Tony started his homily ministry (Scriptural Homilies) in 2003 while he was the chaplain at Sacred Heart residence, applying his scientific methodology to the homily ministry. By word of mouth, it spread to hundreds of priests and Deacons, finally reaching Vatican Radio website. These homilies reach nearly 3000 priests and Deacons by direct email every week.
The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000. It may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.
True, Dynamic Christian Discipleship
The readings for this Sunday remind us that Christians are called to live their lives in a different way from others around them. Christian discipleship demands honesty, the willingness to suffer (“take up your cross”), generosity (“to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to God”), and readiness to follow Jesus by obeying his commandment of love. Today’s readings explain how this Christian mission should be accomplished. They explain how we should know and live the will of God, accepting the suffering involved in doing so. These readings tell us as well that while suffering is an integral part of our earthly life, it is also our road to glory. There is no crown without a cross.
1st Reading – Is 22:19-23
Jeremiah, in the first reading, is a certainly a prototype of the suffering Christ. He tried to live the will of God bravely facing confrontations and persecution, and he continued to proclaim His message because the message itself “becomes like a fire, burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.”
2nd Reading – Rom 11:33-36
In the second reading, Paul advises the Romans and us (Rom 12:1-2): to ‘’offer our bodies as a living sacrifice” to God by explicitly rejecting the ungodly behavior of the world around us and by discerning and doing the will of God. He learned from his experience that commitment to God’s will required an attitude of non-conformity to one’s contemporary culture and drew hostility and physical danger on him because of his fidelity to Jesus.
Gospel – Mt 16:13-20
In today’s Gospel, Jesus takes his disciples by surprise when, after Peter’s great confession of Faith, Jesus “began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” After correcting Peter’s protest, Jesus announces the three conditions of Christian discipleship: “deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.” Unless we constantly remind ourselves of the demands of this difficult vocation from God, we will fail to be the kind of disciples that Christ expects us to be.
22nd Sunday of Year A
We need to be extremophiles for Christ
True disciples of Christ are:
a) truly compassionate: they are willing to visit the infected and the sick in hospitals, the incontinent elderly, the handicapped, and those who suffer dementia in nursing homes, and AIDS patients in hospices;
b) truly humble: they are able to see that every good gift comes from God alone, and that His gifts to us of time, personal talents, and resources should inspire gratitude, not pride;
c) truly patient: they are committed to working with challenging children, adolescents with problems, young adults who are struggling with their Faith, with the intellectually challenged, and with those suffering dementia;
d) truly forgiving: they are willing to forgive, not just once or twice but again and again, because they know that God has forgiven them again and again;
e) truly loving: they willingly visit people in prisons, in retirement homes, and in homeless shelters;
f) truly faithful: they are living out a committed, trusting relationship with God, with spouse, with family and friends.
We need to ask these questions as we examine our conscience
A true disciple examines his or her conscience every day asking three questions about discipleship:
a) Did I sacrifice a part of my time, talents, and income for my parish and the missionary activities of the Church?
b) Did I practice self-control over my thoughts, words, deeds, and use of mass media, and put loving restriction on the cell phone and Internet activities of my children?
c) Did I train my children in my Faith in a loving, providing, redeeming God by encouraging them as we spend some time together as a family praying and reading the Bible and by teaching them through example and word to pardon each other, to ask for God’s pardon for our own sins and failures, to thank God for His blessings and to participate in the Sunday school classes and youth programs?
We need to ask additional questions
Does my Church offer a Faith strong enough to command a sacrifice on my part? Do I have enough Faith to offer up a genuine sacrifice for Christ’s sake? Can a Church in today’s self-centered culture ask its people to sacrifice something for the sake of the Gospel? Jesus’ challenge to all would-be disciples requires more than a “feel-good” spirituality. A true disciple asks, “Am I willing to sacrifice something for the Kingdom?” What made it possible for first-century Christians to choose a martyr’s death? What has kept generations of Christians from losing Faith and falling apart when confronted by the violence and hatred of this world? How can I offer even the day-to-day sacrifices of my Faith that demand things I don’t want to do or give? Can I sacrifice some of my time in order to visit a homeless shelter or soup kitchen? Can I sacrifice my job security and refuse to “go along” with a policy that is unjust? Can I sacrifice my need to be in control and let Christ do with me whatever he may will? Can I refuse to let my children watch television programs filled with sex and violence?