The Most Holy Trinity (Year B) – 27th May 2018

Theme: THE MYSTERY OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY IS THE MYSTERY OF GOD’S LOVE FOR US

  • Deuteronomy 4:32-34. 39-40;
  • Psalm 32 (33): 4-6. 9. 18-20. 22. R/ v. 12;
  • Romans 8:14-17
  • Matthew 28:16-20

Today we celebrate the feast of the Most Holy Trinity; three persons in one God and one God in three persons; God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit; God the Father creates, God the Son saves, and God the Holy Spirit sanctifies; God the Father creates out of love, God the Son saves out of love, and God the Holy Spirit sanctifies out of love! The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the mystery of God’s love for us!

God the Father created us out of love, but when we sinned, God loved us even more. He became man and came down to earth to save us, but when we killed him on the cross, He loved us even more. He rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not dwell in heaven nor on earth, but the Holy Spirit dwells in us and within us, loving us from inside us; nearer to us than we are to ourselves, knowing us more than we know ourselves, and loving us more than we love ourselves.

The Holy Spirit will continue to love us until we love God back, until we love our neighbor, and until we love ourselves. Again, the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the mystery of God’s love for us. It is not about believing in one God or three Gods. It is about believing in a God of love, mercy and forgiveness who can save us; it is not about believing in a God of law, justice and punishment who cannot save us.

Someone of another religion said that he cannot believe that God can become man, God can die, and that we can even eat God in the Eucharist! But this is precisely what we Christians believe! We Christians believe in a God of love, mercy and forgiveness who can save us! That someone believes in a God of law, justice and punishment who cannot save us! I believe that that someone will also believe in the Trinity if he is here tonight to listen to the good news! The good news gives faith!

The readings today tell us about the Most Holy Trinity – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The first reading tells us about God the Father. The first reading tells us that God the Father created us and gave us laws and commandments to keep so that we and our children will be prosperous and live long lives! Thus we read in the first reading:

 “Moses said to the people: ‘Put this question to the ages that are past, that went before you, from the time God created man on earth: Was there ever a word so majestic, from one end of heaven to the other? Was anything ever heard? …. Keep his laws and commandments as I give them to you today so that you and your children may prosper and live long in the land that the Lord your God gives you for ever.’” (Dt 4:32. 40) 

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. Stanzas one and two tell us that God created the universe by a mere word. Stanzas three and four tell us that God chose us and our response to God’s choice. (CSB) Thus we read in the second stanza of the responsorial psalm:

  “By his word the heavens were made, by the breath of his mouth all the stars. He spoke; and they came to be. He commanded; they sprang into being.” (Ps 32 (33): 6. 9)

And thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.” (Ps 32 (33): 12)    

The gospel tells us that when we sinned God loved us even more! He became man and came down to earth to save us. But when we killed him on the cross, he loved us even more. He rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit and sent us out to make disciples of all the nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, so that all may receive the Holy Spirit and keep the commandments of God.

The gospel also tells us that He will be with us until the end of time, that is, he will be with us in the Holy Spirit until the end of time. Note that in the gospel of Matthew that we read today, there is no Ascension, and there is not even Pentecost! The Ascension and Pentecost are in the Resurrection! (Faley) Thus we read in the gospel today:

“Jesus said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.’” (Mt 28:18-20) 

The second reading tells us that the Holy Spirit makes us into children of God, calling God, ‘Abba, Father!’ And as children of God we are heirs of God and coheirs with Jesus Christ, sharing in his sufferings so as to share in his glory! Thus we read in the second reading:

  “Everyone moved by the Spirit is a son of God. The spirit you received is not the spirit of slaves bringing fear into your lives again; it is the spirit of sons, and it makes us cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit himself and our spirit bear united witness that we are children of God. And if we are children we are heirs as well: heirs of God and coheirs with Christ, sharing his sufferings so as to share his glory.” (Rm 8:14-17) 

Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and our Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit, and send us out to make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, so that they will receive the Holy Spirit and keep the commandments of God; and so that they will become the children of God, calling God, ‘Abba, Father!’; and so that they will be heirs of God and coheirs with Jesus Christ, sharing in his sufferings so as to share in his glory. Amen!

Pentecost Sunday (Year A, B, C) – 20th May 2018

Theme: THE HOLY SPIRIT EMPOWERS US TO PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS TO RENEW THE EARTH IN LOVE AND UNITY   

  • Acts 2:1-11;
  • Psalm 103: 1. 24. 29-31. 34. R. cf v. 30;
  • 1 Corinthians 12:3-7. 12-13
  • John 20:19-23 

Today we celebrate the feast of Pentecost, that is, the descend of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost was originally a harvest festival which began at the Passover. The word Pentecost means fifty. Just as our Kadazandusun brothers and sisters celebrate harvest festival for the whole month of May climaxing at the end of May, the Jews also celebrated their harvest festival for fifty days climaxing on the day of Pentecost. Later the feast of Pentecost became a celebration of the giving of the Law to Moses at Mount Sinai. In the New Testament Pentecost became a celebration of the giving of the Holy Spirit! (Fuller) As creatures we need food, as human beings we need the law, and as children of God we need the Holy Spirit of God!

Another important point to note is that there are two different accounts of Pentecost in today’s readings. The gospel of John tells us that Pentecost happened on Easter Sunday, but the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles tells us that Pentecost happened fifty days after Easter Sunday. The Acts of the Apostles also tell us that the Ascension happened forty days after the Resurrection, but the gospel of Luke also written by Luke tells us that the Ascension happened on the day of the Resurrection. Again, in the gospel of John there is no “speaking in tongues” on the day of Pentecost, but in the Acts of the Apostles there is “speaking in tongues” on the day of Pentecost. The details are not as important as the essentials. The essentials are these: Jesus Christ died, rose from the dead, and gave the Holy Spirit!

The gospel today tells us that on the day of His resurrection the Lord gave the Holy Spirit to the disciples and sent them out to proclaim the good news so that those who believe and are baptized will have their sins forgiven, but those who do not believe and are not baptized will not have their sins forgiven. Thus we read in the gospel:

“And he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.’ After saying this he breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’” (Jn 20:21-23)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us that after receiving the Holy Spirit the Apostles spoke in foreign languages. Note that Luke changed the words “speaking in tongues” to “speaking in foreign languages” to indicate the universal mission of the Church to proclaim the good news of the Resurrection! The universal mission of the Church is symbolized by the Jews from all the nations!

The first reading also tells us that the Holy Spirit is a Spirit of unity. The Holy Spirit unites all the languages and nations of the world. Pentecost undoes and reverses the Tower of Babel (Gn 11:1-9) where and when the people were confused in their language and were divided and scattered all over the world! Thus we read in the first reading:

“They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak foreign languages as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech.

Now there were devout men living in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven, and at this sound they all assembled, each one bewildered to hear these men speaking his own language.” (Ac 2: 4-6)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that the Holy Spirit does not only create the earth, but the Holy Spirit also sustains the earth. More importantly, the responsorial psalm tells us that the Holy Spirit does not only sustain the earth, but the Holy Spirit also renews the earth! Thus the second stanza of the responsorial psalm:

“You take back your spirit, they die, returning to the dust from which they came. You send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the earth.” (Ps 103 (104): 29-30)

And thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.” (Ps 103 (104): 30)

Like the first reading, the second reading also tells us that the Holy Spirit is a Spirit of unity. Thus we read in the second reading:

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Co 12: 4-7. 12-13/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, and send us forth to proclaim the good news of his resurrection to renew the earth in love and unity!   Amen!

THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD (B)

Theme: THE LORD ASCENDS INTO HEAVEN IN ORDER TO SEND US THE HOLY SPIRIT SO THAT WE TOO MAY ASCEND INTO HEAVEN WITH HIM IN GLORY 

  • Acts 1:1-11;
  • Psalm 46 (47): 2-3. 6-9. R/ v. 6;
  • Ephesians 4:1-7. 11-13
  • Mark 16:15-20 

Today we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord into heaven in glory, Liturgical Year B. Next Sunday we will celebrate Pentecost Sunday, that is, the descend of the Holy Spirit! The Easter Season of fifty days which began on Easter Sunday will end next Sunday with Pentecost Sunday.

The readings today tell us that the Lord ascends into heaven, not to abandon us, but to send us the Holy Spirit, so that we may do his work on earth, and so that one day we too may ascend into heaven with him in glory!

The gospel today tells us that after his resurrection and before his ascension, the Lord sent his apostles out into the world to preach the Good News, so that those who believe and are baptized will be saved, but those who do not believe and are not baptized will not be saved!

And these are the signs associated with believers, that is, in the name of Jesus, they will drive out devils, they will speak in tongues, they will pick up snakes in their hands, and even if they drink poison they will not die, and they will heal the sick.

But more importantly, the gospel tells us that the Lord has ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father in glory! But most importantly, the gospel tells us that the apostles went out preaching and the Lord was working with them confirming their words with signs! The Lord was with them in the Holy Spirit!

The first reading tells us that after his resurrection the Lord spent forty days with his disciples instructing them on the kingdom of God, preparing them to preach the kingdom of God! Moses also spent forty days on the mountain and Jesus also spent forty days in the desert to prepare for their ministries!

More importantly, the first reading tells us that after forty days, the Lord will ascend into heaven in order to send down the Holy Spirit on the apostles, so that they will become his witnesses, not only in Jerusalem, but also in Judaea, and Samaria and indeed to the ends of the earth! That is, not only in Jerusalem where Jesus died, rose from the dead and gave the Holy Spirit, but also in Judaea, that is, to all the Jews, and also in Samaria, that is, to the “half-Jews”, and indeed to the ends of the earth, that is, to the non-Jews, the gentiles, the pagans!

But most importantly, the first reading tells us that the Lord has been taken up into heaven in a cloud. And when the disciples were staring at him into the sky, two men in white (angels) appeared to them and said to them, ‘Men of Galilee, why are you staring into the sky, the Jesus that has been taken up into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him go’, that is, he will return in a cloud in glory at the Parousia, that is, at his Second Coming at the end of the world, when all will be saved!

The Responsorial Psalm is a hymn calling on all the nations of the earth to acknowledge the universal rule of the God of Israel who is enthroned as king of Israel and as king of all the nations! (CSB)

The Responsorial Psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza (vv. 2-3) calls on all the nations to acknowledge the universal rule of the God of Israel. The second and third stanzas (vv. 6-9) tells us that the God of Israel is enthroned as king of Israel and as king of all the nations!

In the liturgy today the Responsorial Psalm tells us about the Ascension of the Lord into heaven in glory! (CSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“God goes up with shouts of joy; the Lord goes up with trumpet blast.” (Ps 46 (47): 6; SM)

As we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord today and as we will celebrate Pentecost next Sunday, the second reading tells us about the Holy Spirit! The second reading tells us that the Holy Spirit is a Spirit of unity! Because there is only one body (church), one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God! The “seven unities”! (CSB)

And although there are many gifts, that is, the gifts of being apostles, prophets, evangelizers, pastors and teachers; all these gifts unite into one service of the one body of Christ!

Today in the Eucharist, we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ, especially for his death and resurrection and ascension into heaven; and we ask God to send us the Holy Spirit so that we may do the work of Jesus Christ on earth, especially in proclaiming the Good News as apostles, prophets, evangelizers, pastors, and teachers, and so that at the end of time, we may all ascend into heaven with him in glory! A happy Ascension Day to all of you!

Amen!

 

6th Sunday of Easter (Year B) – 6th May 2018

Theme: “LOVE ONE ANOTHER, AS I HAVE LOVED YOU.” (Jn 15:12)

  • Acts 10:25-26. 34-35. 44-48;
  • Psalm 97 (98): 1-4. R/ cf. v. 2;
  • 1 John 4:7-10
  • John 15:9-17

Today is the 6th Sunday of Easter. The readings today tell us to love one another as Jesus loved us. Jesus tells us in the gospel today to love one another as he has loved us. Jesus tells us in the gospel today: ‘As the Father has loved him so he has loved us. Remain in his love. If we keep his commandments we will remain in his love, just as he has kept his Father’s commandments and remain in his love. He has told us this so that his own joy may be in us and our joy be complete. This is his commandment: love one another, as he has loved us. A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends’.

Again, Jesus tells us in today’s gospel to love one another as he has loved us, that is, to lay down our lives for our friends. Jesus also tells us in today’s gospel that his own joy will be in us and our joy will be complete, that is, if we love as Jesus loved we will be joyful and happy as Jesus was joyful and happy. We seldom think of Jesus as being joyful and happy, but Jesus was joyful and happy. Love and joy cannot be separated, that is, if we love we will be happy, if we do not love we will not be happy. God the Father is love, that is why we call him Father; and God the Father is happy, that is why he is in heaven! Thus we read in today’s gospel:

“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete. This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you. A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends’.” (Jn 15: 9–13/SM)

The second reading follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading also tells us to love one another. The second reading tells us to love one another because love is from God. And he who loves is begotten by God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God for God is love. God’s love was revealed to us when God sent his Son into the world so that we may have life through him. This is the love the second reading means: not our love for God, but God’s love for us when he sent his Son to be the sacrifice to take away our sins. Thus we read in the second reading:

“My dear people, let us love one another since love comes from God and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Anyone who fails to love can never have known God, because God is love. God’s love for us was revealed when God sent into the world his only Son so that we could have life through him; this is the love I mean: not our love for God, but God’s love for us when he sent his Son to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away.” (1 Jn 4: 7-10/SM)

The good news today is that this love comes to us today already fulfilled in Jesus Christ, in his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. And this love will be fulfilled in us today here and now through the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus the first reading tells us about the “Pentecost of the Pagans”, that is, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the pagans. The first reading tells us of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Roman centurion Cornelius and his household and their baptism. Thus we read in the first reading:

“While Peter was still speaking the Holy Spirit came down on all the listeners. Jewish believers who had accompanied Peter were all astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit should be poured out on the pagans too, since they could hear them speaking strange languages and proclaiming the greatness of God. Peter himself then said, ‘Could anyone refuse the water of baptism to these people, now they have received the Holy Spirit just as much as we have?’ He then gave orders for them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” (Ac 10:44-48/SM)

The Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of God’s love. God the Father is love, God the Son is love, God the Holy Spirit is also love. It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can love as Jesus loved us, and we can lay down our lives for our friends as Jesus laid down his life for us his friends, and we can be joyful and happy as Jesus was joyful and happy!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a call to praise God. The responsorial psalm is a call to God’s people to praise God for saving Israel. (Ps 97 (98): 1-3) But the last verse of the responsorial psalm is a call to all the nations which have seen the salvation of Israel to praise and worship the God of Israel. Thus the last verse of the responsorial psalm:

“Shout to the Lord all the earth, ring out your joy.” (Ps 97 (98): 4)

And thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“The Lord has shown his salvation to the nations.” (Ps 97 (98): 2)

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 love one another as Jesus loved us. The Holy Spirit will help us lay down our lives for our friends as Jesus laid down his life for us his friends. The Holy Spirit will help us be happy and joyful as Jesus was happy and joyful. And the Holy Spirit will help us proclaim the Gospel (Good News) to the pagans! Amen.

5th Sunday of Easter (Year B) – 29th April 2018

Theme: IT IS THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT THAT GOD DWELLS IN US AND WE DWELL IN GOD AND THAT WE BEAR FRUIT IN PLENTY

  • Acts 9:26-31;
  • Psalm 21:26-28. 30-32. R/ v. 26;
  • 1 John 3:18-24
  • John 15:1-8

Today is the 5th Sunday of Easter. Easter is about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It is through the Holy Spirit that God dwells in us and we dwell in God and that we bear much fruit. It is through the Holy Spirit that we love God and love our neighbor. It is through the Holy Spirit that we proclaim the good news even in the face of persecution and death. It is through the Holy Sprit that we praise and worship God. The readings today are to be read in the light of Easter, that is, in the light of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit!
The gospel today tells us that it is through the Holy Spirit that God dwells in us and we dwell in God and that we will bear much fruit. Cut off from God we will not bear fruit, we will die. Thus we read in the gospel today:
“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Make your home in me, as I make mine in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself, but must remain part of the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is like a branch that has been thrown away – he withers; these branches are collected and thrown on the fire, and they are burnt.’” (Jn 15:4-6)
The gospel today touches me personally because it tells me that our God is a God of mutual indwelling (God dwells in us and we dwell in God), that is, our God is a God of personal relationship, community, love, unity, mutuality, communion, intimacy, etc. Our God is a God of BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) because it is in the BEC that we experience intimacy, mutuality, communion, love, unity, personal relationship, community, fellowship, sharing, etc. with God and with one another in a personal, spiritual and real way. That is why our Bishop asks us to build BECs!

The second reading follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading tells us that it is through the Holy Spirit that God dwells in us and we dwell in God and that it is through the Holy Spirit that we love God and love our neighbor. Thus we read in the second reading:
“Whoever keeps his commandments lives in God and God lives in him. We know that he lives in us by the Spirit that he has given us.” (1 Jn 3: 24)
“His commandments are these: that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and that we love one another as he told us to.” (1 Jn 3: 23)
For John to believe in God is to love God, and to love God is to believe in God. (NJBC/Mk 12:28-31/Faley/Jn 16:27)
Without the Holy Spirit we cannot even keep the Ten Commandments, but with the Holy Spirit we can even keep “the greatest commandment of all”, that is, to love God and to love our neighbor! We have to read the readings today in the light of Easter, that is, in the light of Jesus Christ’s death, resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! Only then can we proclaim the good news!

The first reading tells us that it is through the Holy Spirit that Paul and the Apostles preached the good news in Jerusalem even in the face of persecution and death. Thus we read in the first reading:
“Saul now started to go around with them (the apostles) in Jerusalem, preaching fearlessly in the name of the Lord. But after he had spoken to the Hellenists (Greek speaking Jews), and argued with them, they became determined to kill him. When the brothers knew, they took him to Caesarea, and sent him off from there to Tarsus.” (Ac 9:28-30)
Paul was ultimately beheaded as his Master Jesus Christ was crucified for proclaiming the good news! We started the “Neocatechumenal Way” in our parish to produce priests and itinerant catechists to proclaim the good news to the nations even in the face of persecution and death!

Finally, it is through the Holy Spirit that we praise and worship God! The responsorial psalm is a call to praise God. The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza is a call to the community to praise God. (Ps 21 (22): 26-27) The second stanza is a call to all the nations to praise God. (Ps 21 (22): 28. 30) And the third stanza is a call to the future generations to praise God. (Ps 21 (22): 31-32) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:
“You, Lord, are my praise in the great assembly.” (Ps 21 (22): 26)

Today in the Eucharist we celebrate Easter, 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. It is through the Holy Spirit that the Risen Lord dwells in us and we in him and that we bear fruit in plenty. Fruits of the Spirit: love, peace, joy, forgiveness, freedom, salvation, etc. It is through the Holy Spirit that we love God and neighbor. It is through the Holy Spirit that we proclaim the good news even in the face of persecution and death. It is through the Holy Spirit that we praise and worship God. Amen.

4th Sunday of Easter – Good Shepherd Sunday – Vocation Sunday (Year B) – 22nd April 2018

Theme: WE THANK THE FATHER FOR JESUS CHRIST OUR GOOD SHEPHERD AND WE ASK THE FATHER TO GIVE US GOOD SHEPHERDS

  • Acts 4:8-12;
  • Psalm 117 (118): 1. 8-9. 21-23. 26. 28-29. R/ v. 22;
  • 1 John 3:1-2
  • John 10:11-18

Today is the fourth Sunday of Easter. The readings today tell us that Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd! The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd has four qualities:

(i) He knows the Father and the Father knows him, that is, he loves the Father and the Father loves him. (NJB) (ii) He knows his sheep and his sheep knows him, that is, he loves his people and his people love him. (iii) He lays down his life for his sheep. (iv) He leads all the sheep, that is, not only the Jews, but also the Gentiles, irrespective of race, religion and nationality! Thus we read in the gospel today:

“I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep. And there are other sheep I have that are not of this fold, and these I have to lead as well.” (Jn 10:14-16 a/SM)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep through his death and resurrection! The Good Shepherd saves his sheep through his death and resurrection! Thus we read in the first reading:

“This is the stone rejected by you the builders, but which has proved to be the keystone. For of all the names in the world given to men, this is the only one by which we can be saved.” (Ac 4:11-12/SM)

The name “Jesus” in Hebrew means “God saves”! (Mt 1:21) At the time when Luke wrote the “Acts of the Apostles”, the Roman world believed that the emperor was “savior” and “god”! Luke tells us that only Jesus is “Savior” and “God”! (CSB)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:
“The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone.” (Ps 117 (118): 22)

The responsorial psalm is a hymn of thanksgiving for salvation. (HCSB) The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza (Ps 117 (118): 1. 8-9) is a call to praise God and an expression of confidence and trust in God. The second stanza (Ps 117 (118): 21-23) is a thanksgiving to God for saving us through the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ. Thus we read in the second stanza from which the response is taken: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone.” (Ps 117 (118): 22) The third stanza (Ps 117 (118): 26. 28-29) continues to praise and thank God for saving us.

Note that the first verse (v. 1) and the last verse (v. 29) of the responsorial psalm and of the original psalm are the same: “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.” (Ps 117 (118): 1. 29) God is love. God’s love has no end. It is out of love that God saved us through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ!

This theme of love is carried over into the second reading. The second reading tells us to think of the love God has for us by calling us his children! The second reading also tells us that when all is revealed at the “Parousia”, that is, at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, we will be like him! We will be like Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd! Thus we read in the second reading:

“Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us, by letting us be called God’s children; and that is what we are. …. My dear people, we are already the children of God but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed; all we know is, that when it is revealed we shall be like him because we shall see him as he really is.” (1 Jn 3: 1-2/SM)

Today we thank the Father for Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd and we pray the Father to give us good shepherds. We pray the Father to give us good priests, good religious brothers and sisters, and good lay leaders!

Indeed today is the “46th World Day of Prayer for Vocations” and our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has a special message for us. Our Pope tells us that vocation is a call from God and our response to God’s call. Our Pope tells us to pray for vocations to the priesthood and the religious life. Thus we read in the Pope’s message:

“On the occasion of the next World Day of prayer for vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life, which will be celebrated on 3 May 2009, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, I want to invite all the People of God to reflect on the theme: Faith in the divine initiative – the human response. The exhortation of Jesus to his disciples: ‘Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest’ (Mt 9:38) has a constant resonance in the Church. Pray!

The urgent call of the Lord stresses that prayer for vocations should be continuous and trusting. The Christian community can only really ‘have ever greater faith and hope in God’s providence’ (Sacramentum Caritatis, 26) if it is enlivened by prayer.”

“Our first duty, therefore, is to keep alive in families and in parishes, in movements and in apostolic associations, in religious communities and in all the sectors of diocesan life this appeal to the divine initiative with unceasing prayer. We must pray that the whole Christian people grows in its trust in God, convinced that the ‘Lord of the harvest’ does not cease to ask some to place their entire existence freely at his service so as to work with him more closely in the mission of salvation.

What is asked of those who are called, for their part, is careful listening and prudent discernment, a generous and willing adherence to the divine plan, and a serious study of the reality that is proper to the priestly and religious vocations, so as to be able to respond responsibly and with conviction.” Amen!

3rd Sunday of Easter (Year B) – 15th April 2018

Theme: BE WITNESSES OF THE RESURRECTION AND PREACH REPENTANCE FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS

  • Acts 3:13-15. 17-19;
  • Psalm 4:2. 4. 7. 9. R/ v. 7;
  • 1 John 2:1-5
  • Luke 24:35-48 

A Happy Easter to all of you! Today is the 3rd Sunday of Easter, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us to be the witnesses of the resurrection and to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

The gospel today tells us that on the day of his resurrection the Lord appeared to his disciples and said to them, ‘Peace be with you!’ That is, shalom, salvation! A peace that the world cannot give! (Jn 14:27; CSB) And he showed them his hands and his feet. He also asked them to touch him for he has flesh and bones. He is not a ghost. A ghost has no flesh and bones. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! A joy that the world cannot take away! (Jn 16:22) He then ate a piece of baked fish in front of their eyes! Indeed, the Lord has risen from the dead!

More importantly, the gospel also tells us that, in fact, even before his death and resurrection, when he was still with his disciples, he had already told them that he had to fulfill the Law of Moses, the prophets and the psalms, that is, the scriptures, that the Messiah was to suffer and on the third day rise from the dead and that in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations beginning from Jerusalem. That is, from Jerusalem to Judea, to Samaria, and to the ends of the earth! (Ac 1:8)

And most importantly, the gospel also tells us that the disciples were to be his witnesses!

Indeed, the first reading tells us that the disciples were witnesses to his resurrection and preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins! The first reading tells us that Peter and the other apostles preached the good news of his resurrection:

“You killed the prince of life. God, however, raised him from the dead, and to that fact we are the witnesses.”! (Ac 3:15; SM)

They preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins:

“Repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out.” (Ac 3:19; SM)

Indeed, repentance is not only turning away from sin, but repentance is also turning away from the world, that is, from wealth, power, fame, etc., and more importantly, repentance is turning to God, and most importantly, repentance is turning to the God of Jesus Christ, a God of love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation; not a God of law, justice, punishment and damnation!

Thus the responsorial psalm tells us that salvation is a favor, a grace and a blessing, that is, salvation is a free gift! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Lift up the light of your face on us, O Lord.” (Ps 4:7; SM)

That is, show us your favor, O Lord! (HCSB; NJBC) Salvation is a favor, a grace, a blessing and a free gift, because the God of Jesus Christ is a God of love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation!

Thus the second reading tells us that Jesus Christ is the sacrifice that takes away our sins, and not only our sins, but the sins of the whole world! Thus we read in the second reading:

“He is the sacrifice that takes our sins away, and not only ours, but the whole world’s.” (1 Jn 2:2; SM)

That is why we have to be witnesses of the resurrection and preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins, so that all may believe and be baptized and have their sins forgiven!

Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and our Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us to be witnesses of the resurrection and preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins! Again, a Happy Easter to all of you!

Amen!