2nd Sunday of Lent (Year A) – 28th Feb 2021

Theme: FAITH IN THE SUFFERING, DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST

  • Genesis 12:1-4;
  • Psalm 32:4-5. 18-20. 22. R/ v. 22;
  • 2 Timothy 1:8-10
  • Matthew 17:1-9

Today is the 2nd Sunday of Lent, Year A. Year A because there are catechumens preparing for Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ at Easter. Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter in the sacrament of Baptism and in the renewal of our Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! Lent is therefore a time of penance, repentance, and conversion.

    Conversion is turning away from sin, but more than that, conversion is also turning away from the world, but more than that, conversion is also turning to God, but more than that, conversion is also turning to the God of love, mercy and forgiveness, the God of Jesus Christ who died and rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Baptism, so that we will die and rise with him to the new life of Easter. Lent is therefore a time when we prepare to die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter in the sacrament of baptism and in the renewal of our Baptism on Easter Vigil Night!

The readings today tell us about faith; particularly, faith in the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! The gospel today tells us about the transfiguration of the Lord. The gospel tells us that Jesus took with him Peter, James and John to a mountain and there he was transfigured. His face shone like the sun and his clothes were as bright as light. And a voice from heaven said: this is my Son, the Beloved, my favor rest on him. Listen to him!

    Listen to his teaching, particularly when he teaches you about his suffering, death and resurrection. Today’s gospel is placed immediately after Jesus’ first prophesy of his passion, death and resurrection; and immediately after Jesus taught his disciples to take up their crosses and follow him!   

    The transfiguration was a preview and a foretaste of the resurrection. The transfiguration was to strengthen the faith of the apostles for the coming suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus! The transfiguration was to strengthen the faith of the apostles for their own suffering, death and resurrection as followers of Jesus! Thus St. Paul tells Timothy in the second reading: With me, bear the sufferings for the sake of preaching the Good News, relying on the power of God who saved us and called us to be holy!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us about faith; the faith of Abraham, the father of faith. Abraham was a nomad. He had no land and no children and he was 75 years old and his wife was childless; but Abraham had faith and because of his faith God blessed him with land and with children; as many children as the stars in heaven and as many children as the grains of sand on the seashore. (Gn 22:17) And through Abraham all the nations of the world will also be blessed!        

    Thus we read in the first reading: “The Lord said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your family and your father’s house, for the land I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name so famous that it will be used as a blessing. I will bless those who bless you: I will curse those who slight you. All the tribes of the earth shall bless themselves by you.’ So Abram went as the Lord told him.” (Gn 12:1-4/SM)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us to hope in the faithful love of God. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.” (Ps 32 (33):22/SM)

    God created us out of nothing but love, and when we sinned he loved us even more, he came to save us, and when we killed him, he loved us even more, he rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit to love us from within us and inside us until we love him back and until we love one another and until we love ourselves! He loves us not from heaven nor from earth but from within us and inside us! He is nearer to us than we are to ourselves. He loves us more than we love ourselves. (St. Augustine) And he knows us more than we know ourselves! Hope therefore in the faithful love of God! Do not hope in the unfaithful love of human beings!

During this time of Lent the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor, in order to help us strengthen our faith for Baptism and for the renewal of our Baptism on Easter Vigil Night so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! Immediately before Baptism and before renewing our Baptism we have to answer the 6 questions of faith, that is, we have to profess our faith!

    Prayer includes Sunday Mass, “Lectio Divina” (spiritual reading of the Scriptures), going to confession, etc. Fasting (one full meal a day) is obligatory for those over 18 and below 60 on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory for those over 14 years old. We can of course fast and abstain voluntarily!

    Again, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI tells us in his message for Lent that fasting helps us to avoid sin, to restore friendship with God, to do the will of God, to love God and neighbor, and to help the poor. I conclude that if we do not fast, we cannot avoid sin, we cannot restore our friendship with God, we cannot do the will of God, we cannot love God and neighbor, and we cannot help the poor!

    Almsgiving is to help the poor. Our Bishop Julius emphasizes in his Lenten message that we must help the poor. “Lenten Appeal” envelopes are available at the church’s entrance. Almsgiving also helps us to trust in providence! God provides! That is why our religious take the “vow of poverty”! Our priests should also voluntarily take the vow of poverty!               

    A Happy Lent to all of you! Amen!

                                                                                                

1st Sunday of Lent (Year A) – 21st Feb 2021

Theme: LENT IS A TIME WHEN WE PREPARE TO DIE AND RISE WITH JESUS CHRIST TO THE NEW LIFE OF EASTER

1. Today is the first Sunday of Lent. Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ at Easter. Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter in the sacrament of Baptism and in the renewal of our Baptism at Easter.

    Lent is therefore a time of penance, repentance and conversion. Conversion is turning away from sin, from oneself, and from the world; and turning to God, to the God of love, mercy and forgiveness, to the God of Jesus Christ who died and rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Baptism. Lent is therefore a time when we prepare to die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter in the sacrament of Baptism and in the renewal of our Baptism at Easter! The readings today tell us to repent and to convert! The word “convert” comes from a Latin word convertere meaning “to turn around”!       

2. The first reading tells us that Adam and Eve turned away from God and turned to themselves. They wanted to be like gods. They did not want to depend on God; they wanted to depend on themselves. They wanted to decide for themselves what is good and what is evil. As a result sin and death entered the world!

3. More importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus Christ the second Adam, the new Adam, turned back to God! Thus the three replies of Jesus to the three temptations of the devil:

    To the temptation of changing stones into bread, Jesus replied: “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Mt 4:4/Dt 8:3)

    To the temptation of throwing himself down from the top of the temple, Jesus replied: “You must not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Mt 4:7/Dt 6:16)

    To the temptation of worshiping the devil for all the kingdoms of the world, Jesus replied: “Be off, Satan! For scripture says: You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone.” (Mt 4:10/Dt 6:13)  

4. Most importantly, the second reading tells us that just as Adam brought sin and death into the world; Jesus Christ the second Adam, the new Adam brought grace, justification/salvation and life into the world! Thus we read in the second reading:

    “For if, by the transgression of one person, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one person Jesus Christ.” (Rm 5:17/CSB)  

    It is through the grace of Jesus Christ that we repent, convert, and turn back to God this Lent!   

5. Thus we can make the responsorial psalm our own “Prayer of Repentance”! (CSB) The “historical heading” (NJBC) of the responsorial psalm associates it with David when the prophet Nathan came to him after he committed the sin of adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband.

    The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas are a prayer for the forgiveness of our sins. The third and fourth stanzas ask God to give us his holy spirit to give us new life so that we will not sin anymore! (CSB/NJBC) Thus the responsorial psalm:

    “Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. In your compassion blot out my offence. O wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. (Stanza 1)

    My offences truly I know them; my sin is always before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned; what is evil in your sight I have done. (Stanza 2)

    A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, nor deprive me of your holy spirit. (Stanza 3)

    Give me again the joy of your help; with a spirit of fervor sustain me. O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall declare your praise.” (Stanza 4)   

6. During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to do penance, to pray, to fast and to give alms. Penance is not a punishment. Penance helps us to repent and to convert. Prayer includes Lectio Divina (spiritual reading of the Bible), attending Sunday Mass, going to confession, etc. Fasting, that is, eating one full meal a day, is obligatory on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday for those over 18 years old and under 60 years old. Abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory for those over 14 years old. However we can voluntarily fast every Friday of Lent. Our religion is not a religion of the law, but a religion of love, a religion of the Spirit, a religion of freedom! Almsgiving is to help the poor and to help ourselves to trust in providence. God provides! Thus the religious take the vow of poverty! They depend on God! They do not depend on money!

7. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in his past Lenten Message emphasized on fasting. He told us that fasting helps us to avoid sin, to restore friendship with God, to do the will of God, to love God and neighbor, and to help the poor.     

    The Consequences of Not Fasting: cannot avoid sin, cannot restore friendship with God, cannot do God’s will, cannot love God and neighbor, and cannot help the poor.

    Bishop Julius also has a Lenten Message for us! He tells us that Lent is a time of repentance, reconciliation and conversion. Lent is a time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving to prepare for the celebration of Easter. He emphasizes that Lent is a time to help the poor. He also tells us that Lent is a time when our catechumens prepare for their Baptism at Easter.

    A Happy Lent to all of you!                                                                       Amen!

Ash Wednesday (Year A, B, C)

Theme: REPENT, AND BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL

  • Joel 2:12-18;
  • Psalm 50 (51):3-6.12-14. 17. R/ v. 3;
  • 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2
  • Matthew 6:1-6. 16-18

Today we celebrate Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lenten season of forty days. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, because the Sundays of Lent are not days of penance!

Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter! Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the baptism of our Catechumens and the renewal of our own baptism on Easter Vigil Night!

Lent is therefore a time of penance, repentance and conversion! The word conversion comes from a Latin word meaning an about turn, a U turn, a 180 degree turn! A turning away from sin, from the world, from oneself and a turning to God and neighbor!

The gospel today tells us to pray, to fast, and to give alms to the poor, not for show, as the hypocrites do, but for penance, repentance, and conversion!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us to repent. More importantly, the first reading tells us to repent because God is merciful. He will forgive us our sins!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm asks God to forgive our sins. More importantly, the responsorial psalm asks God to give us a new heart so that we will not sin anymore!

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas (vv. 3-6) ask God to forgive us our sins. The third and fourth stanzas (vv. 12-14. 17) ask God to give us a new heart so that we will not sin anymore!

The second reading follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading tells us to be reconciled to God, because God has already reconciled us to himself in Jesus Christ! And the time for reconciliation is now! The favorable time is now! The time for salvation is now!

During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms to the poor to help us do penance, repent and convert. The word Convert means to turn.

Prayer helps us to turn to God. Fasting helps us to turn away from ourselves and to turn to God, because fasting helps us in our prayers! Fasting also helps us to turn to our neighbor, because the money saved from fasting is given to the poor! Almsgiving to the poor and the needy helps us to turn away from the world and to turn to our neighbor.

Prayer, fasting and almsgiving help us to turn away from sin, from the world, from oneself, and to turn to God and neighbor!

Prayer, fasting and almsgiving help us to prepare for the celebration of Easter, particularly for the baptism of our catechumens on Easter Vigil Night, and the renewal of our own baptism on Easter Vigil Night!

We shall now proceed to bless and distribute the ashes! The ashes are a sign of our penance and repentance! As the priest distributes the ashes he says, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” (cf. Mk 1:15) In the old Missal the priest says, “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel.”

Repentance is not only turning away from sin, but it is also turning away from the world and from oneself. Believing in the gospel is not only being faithful to the gospel, but having faith in the gospel! Having faith in Jesus Christ and having faith in God!

The second formula is “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (cf. Gn 3:19) This was what God said to Adam when he sinned against God!

Without God we are indeed dust and death, but with God we are spirit and life and eternal life! That is why we have to “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”!

We shall now proceed with the blessing and distribution of the ashes! A happy Lent to all of you!

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 14th Feb 2021

Theme: THE LORD SAVES US FROM SINS AND GIVES US HAPPINESS

  • Leviticus 13:1-2. 44-46;
  • Psalm 31 (32): 1-2. 5. 11. R/ v. 7;
  • 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1
  • Mark 1:40-45

1. Today is the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that the Lord saves us from sins and gives us happiness!

    The gospel today tells us that the Lord had pity on a leper and touched him and healed him, but he warned him not to tell anyone about it, but to show himself to the priest who will certify that he was clean and offer the accompanying purification rituals. But the man told everyone about the cure and great crowds came to Jesus.

    Jesus forbade the cleansed leper to tell anyone about it because Jesus did not want to be mistaken to be a miracle worker. Jesus came to suffer, die, rise from the dead, and give us the Holy Spirit to save us from sins – the “Messianic Secret” of Saint Mark! (NJBC/CCB/Fuller)   

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the priest was to certify that a man was a leper. And as a leper he was to wear torn clothing, he was not to comb his hair, he was to cover his lips, and shout, “unclean, unclean”, and he was to be isolated from the community.      

    Leprosy symbolizes sin! In fact sin is worse than leprosy!

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord does not only heal us of leprosy, but the Lord also saves us from sins and gives us happiness! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.” (Ps 31 (32): 7/SM)

    The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us that when our sins are forgiven us we will be very happy! Thus we read in the first stanza: “Happy the man whose offence is forgiven, whose sin is remitted. O happy the man to whom the Lord imputes no guilt, in whose spirit is no guile.” (Ps 31 (32): 1-2/SM)

    The second stanza tells us that we have to confess our sins to God and God will forgive our sins. Thus the second stanza: “But now I have acknowledged my sins; my guilt I did not hide. I said: ‘I will confess my offence to the Lord.’ And you, Lord, have forgiven the guilt of my sin.” (Ps 31 (32): 5/SM)

    Verses 3 and 4 of the original psalm which are not quoted in the responsorial psalm tell us that if we do not confess our sins to the Lord, we will suffer!

    The third stanza tells us that when we confess our sins to the Lord and when the Lord forgives our sins we will be very happy! Thus the third stanza: “Rejoice, rejoice in the Lord, exult, you just! O come, ring out your joy, all you upright of heart.” (Ps 31 (32): 11/SM)

    We confess our sins to the priest because the priest represents the “mercy” of God the Father, the “reconciliation” of God the Son through his death and resurrection, and the “forgiveness” of God the Holy Spirit! Thus the formula for absolution:

    “God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself, and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.”

    And the penitent answers: “Amen”! The penitent believes that his sins are forgiven. Some people do not believe that God can forgive their sins, because their sins are “too big” and “too many”! They sin against the Holy Spirit, that is, they do not believe that God can forgive their sins! There is no forgiveness for the Sin against the Holy Spirit!           

    Note that in the formula of absolution the priest is number five, not number one: Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Church, and Priest!    

4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the day. But the second reading has something important to tell us. The second reading tells us that whatever we do; we must do it for the glory of God and for the good of man, that is, for their salvation!

    The second reading tells us that eating food offered to idols is not a sin, but if it scandalizes others then we are not to eat it!   

    The second reading also tells us to imitate St. Paul just as St. Paul imitated Jesus Christ! Let us imitate St. Paul in proclaiming the Good News just as St. Paul imitated Jesus Christ in proclaiming the Good News!

5. Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit will help us confess our sins to the Lord and the Lord will forgive our sins and give us happiness! The Holy Spirit will also help us to do everything for the glory of God and for the good of man, that is, for their salvation! The Holy Spirit will help us imitate St. Paul in proclaiming the Good News!

                                                                                                                                    Amen!

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 7th Feb 2020

Theme: THE LORD HEALS US PHYSICALLY AND SPIRITUALLY

  • Job 7:1-4. 6-7;
  • Psalm 146 (147): 1-6. R/ v. 3;
  • 1 Corinthians 9:16-19. 22-23
  • Mark 1:29-39

1. Today is the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. The readings today tell us that the Lord heals us physically and spiritually. The readings also tell us that the Lord heals us physically and spiritually by first preaching the word of God. The word of God gives faith. With faith we pray. And when we pray with faith we receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit heals us physically and spiritually!

    The gospel today tells us that the Lord heals us physically and spiritually. The second paragraph of the gospel today (Mk 1:32-34) tells us that the Lord heals the sick. A parallel text is found in today’s “Gospel Acclamation”: “He took our sicknesses away, and carried our diseases for us.” (Mt 8:17) But Matthew was quoting Isaiah 53:4 – the fourth Suffering Servant Song of Isaiah – which tells us that the Suffering Servant takes away our sins and guilt upon himself! (Is 53:4ff) Thus the Lord heals us physically and spiritually!

    The gospel also tells us that the Lord casts out devils. A few of us may be “possessed physically” by devils, but all of us are “possessed spiritually” by devils. “Spiritual possessions” by devils bring us sin and death. There are those who can cast out devils in cases of “physical possessions”, but are themselves “spiritually possessed” by devils, that is, they live in sin and death! But the Lord casts out devils both in physical possessions and spiritual possessions! Thus the Lord heals us physically and spiritually!

    The third paragraph of today’s gospel (Mk 1:35-39) tells us that the Lord heals us physically and spiritually by first preaching the word of God. The word of God gives faith. (Rm 10:17) With faith we pray. And when we pray with faith we receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit heals us both physically and spiritually!  

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Job was suffering physically and spiritually. Job’s body was covered with wounds and worms (Jb 7:5). Job’s children and properties were taken away from him. In Job’s time there was no belief in an afterlife. Job cursed the day he was born and Job’s wife told him to curse God and die. Job’s friends told him that he was punished by God for his sins, but Job was innocent. He lived an upright life before God. He was obedient to God!      

    The first reading tells us that he was suffering day and night. When it was day he waited for night to come, but when it was night he waited for day to come. He could not sleep. His days passed without hope and without happiness.

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord heals us physically and spiritually! Thus verse three of the responsorial psalm: “he heals the broken-hearted, he binds up all their wounds.” (Ps 146 (147): 3) And thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “Praise the Lord who heals the broken-hearted.” (Ps 146:3)

    The responsorial psalm is an “invitation to praise God, the creator who cares for the afflicted” (NJBC) The first verse is an invitation to praise God. The second and third verses tell us that God cares for the afflicted. And the fourth and fifth verses tell us that God is the creator.

4. Again, the Lord heals us physically and spiritually by first preaching the word of God! Thus St. Paul tells us in the second reading that it is his duty to preach the gospel and that if he does not preach the gospel he should be punished. St. Paul also tells us that it is not his choice to preach the gospel, but it is God’s choice that he preached the gospel. Finally, St. Paul tells us that he preaches the Good News free of charge!   

    Let us do what St. Paul did, that is, preach the Good News, and like St. Paul, preach it without charge! Preach it free of charge!

    Preach the Good News, not the Bad News! The Bad News cannot give faith, cannot give the Holy Spirit and cannot heal us physically and spiritually! Only the Good News can give faith, can give the Holy Spirit, and can heal us physically and spiritually!

5. Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit will help us proclaim the Good News! The Holy Spirit will help us heal physically and spiritually!

                                                                                                                                    Amen!

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 31st Jan 2021

Theme: WE ARE TO BE THE PROPHETS OF GOD; TO LISTEN, OBEY AND SPEAK THE WORD OF GOD

  • Deuteronomy 18:15-20;
  • Psalm 94 (95): 1-2. 6-9. R/ v. 9;
  • 1 Corinthians 7:32-35
  • Mark 1:21-28

1. Today is the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. The readings today tell us to be the prophets of God; to listen, obey and to speak the word of God. 

    The gospel today tells us that Jesus is the Messianic Prophet of God who teaches new teachings and who teaches with authority! Jesus the New Moses does not only repeat the Law of Moses, but he teaches the New Law of Love of God and Love of Neighbor! It is this Holy Spirit of God’s love that comes from His death and resurrection that has the power to drive away the Devil and destroy sin and death!   

    Today the Catholic Church continues the prophetic role of Jesus and speaks the word of God to expel the Devil and to destroy sin and death! Today the Catholic Church speaks up against the culture of death! Today the Catholic Church speaks up against abortion, war, destruction of the environment, social injustice, etc. The Catholic Church is pro-life. The so called pro-choice is in fact pro-death!

    The Catholic Church also speaks up against the war in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas where many Palestinians were killed – many of them women and children. The Church speaks for peace, justice and forgiveness. There can be no peace without justice, but there can be no justice without forgiveness! In a globalized world and with the present economic crisis the Church is speaking up for justice for the poor, but not only justice for the poor, but also charity for the poor. The Church is also beginning to speak up for the protection of the environment!          

    The Church does not speak up out of ignorance! For the Catholic Church the word of God is not only the Bible, but the word of God is also the Church and Tradition. In fact the Church and Tradition existed before the Bible and determined the books of the New Testament! The Church is in dialogue with science, experience and reason! St. Augustine studied the philosophy of Plato and St. Thomas studied the philosophy of Aristotle! Today our Catholic seminarians spend two years studying philosophy and three years studying theology! Philosophy helps us to dialogue with science, experience and reason!        

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that we cannot speak the word of God if we do not first listen to the word of God. The first reading tells us that Jesus is the Messianic Prophet of God. He is the New Moses. The first reading tells us that God puts his words into Jesus’ mouth. We have to listen to Jesus the Word of God! Today we have to listen to his Church.

    The first reading also warns us of the false prophets who do not listen to the word of God and speak the word of God. Today too there are priests who do not listen to the Church and speak the mind of the Church.

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us not only to listen to the word of God but also to obey it! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

    “O that today you would listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts.” (Ps 94 (95): 8)

    The responsorial psalm is a call to praise/worship and obey God. The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. Stanzas one and two are a call to praise and worship God our Shepherd and Savior. Stanza three is a call to obey God. Thus the third stanza of the responsorial psalm from which the response is taken:

    “O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as on that day at Massah in the desert when your fathers put me to the test; when they tried me, though they saw my work.’” (Ps 94 (95): 8-9)

    The word Meribah means “the (place of the) quarreling”, and the word Massah means “the (place of the) test”. (Ex 17:7/CSB) Israel quarreled with God and tested God in the desert, because there was no water in the desert. (Ex 17:1-7) Thus we read in Exodus 17: 3. 7/NJB): “But tormented by thirst, the people complained to Moses. ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt,’ they said, ‘only to make us, our children and our livestock, die of thirst?’ …. ‘Is Yahweh with us, or not?’”      

    We start “Basic Ecclesial Communities” (BECs) and “Neo-Catechumenal Communities” in our parish in order to help us listen to the word of God, obey, that is, believe and act on the word of God, and speak the word of God!

4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the day, but the second reading has something important to tell us! St. Paul tells us in the second reading that it is better to remain single than to get married! Maybe St. Paul was thinking of the imminent end of the world!  

    We often only think of two vocations, that is, vocation to the priesthood and vocation to the married life, but the second reading tells us of a third vocation, that is, vocation to the single life! More importantly, the second reading tells us that whether our vocation is to the priesthood, married life or single life, our vocation is to love and serve God!

5. Today in the Eucharist we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us listen to the word of God, obey the word of God, and speak the word of God! Amen!     

                                                                                                                                   

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 24th January 2021

Theme: TURN AWAY FROM SIN AND FROM THE WORLD AND TURN TO GOD – TO THE GOD OF JESUS CHRIST

  • Jonah 3:1-5. 10;
  • Psalm 24 (25): 4-9. R/ v. 4;
  • 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
  • Mark 1:14-20

Today is the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The gospel today tells us to “Repent, and believe the Good News”. That is, to turn away from sin and from the world, and to turn to God, to the God of Jesus Christ! A God of love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation!

The gospel also tells us that the first disciples, Simon (Peter), Andrew, James and John repented and believed the Good News. That is, they turned away from the world and they turned to Jesus Christ! They followed Jesus Christ!

In the case of Simon (Peter) and Andrew, they left their nets at once and followed Jesus. And in the case of James and John they left their father and their father’s employees and their boat and they followed Jesus!

The first four disciples responded to the Good News of repentance immediately (NJBC) and totally, that is, they left everything and followed Jesus (NJB)!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the message of repentance is not only for the Jews, but it is also for the gentiles, the pagans, the non-Jews, the enemies of the Jews, the worst enemies of the Jews, that is, the Ninevites, the Assyrians!

The first reading tells us that when Jonah preached the message of repentance to the Ninevites, they repented with fasting and sackcloth! Consequently, God did not punish them.

It is important to note in the following chapter 4:1-3 that Jonah was angry because God was merciful! Jonah did not want the Ninevites to repent and be saved. Jonah wanted God to destroy the Ninevites.

In the first place, Jonah did not even want to preach to the Ninevites, because he knew that God was loving and merciful, slow to anger and rich in kindness, and slow to punish. (GNB) Jonah was quoting Exodus 34:6-7 where God revealed himself and his divine attributes – most particularly his faithful love – to Moses! (NJB)

Jonah was so angry that he asked God to take his life! He preferred to be dead than to be alive! Jonah was a typical Jew of his time! But most importantly, the whole book of Jonah prepares for the gospel revelation that “God is love”! (NJB) God is love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation! 

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a prayer for guidance and forgiveness. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Lord, make me know your ways.” (v. 4; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza is a prayer for guidance (vv. 4-5). The second stanza is a prayer for forgiveness (vv. 6-7). And the third stanza is an affirmation of God’s goodness, which is the ground of the prayer (vv. 8-9)! (HCSB; CSB)

Incidentally, the second reading also follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading also tells us to turn away from the world! In the second reading St. Paul mistakenly thought that the end of the world was imminent! (HCSB; NJBC) Nonetheless the second reading is relevant to us because it corresponds to the gospel exhortation to turn away from the world! Thus we read in the second reading:

“Brothers: our time is growing short. Those who have wives should live as though they had none, and those who mourn should live as though they had nothing to mourn for; those who are enjoying life should live as though there were nothing to laugh about; those whose life is buying things should live as though they had nothing of their own; and those who have to deal with the world should not become engrossed in it. I say this because the world as we know it is passing away.” (1 Co 7:29-31; SM)  

Incidentally, St. Paul was advising virgins! (CSB; HCSB)

Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us “Repent and believe the Good News”. The Holy Spirit will help us to turn away from sin and from the world, and to turn to God – to the God of Jesus Christ; a God of love, mercy, forgiveness, and salvation! A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen!