25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 23rd September 2018

Theme: WE ARE TO BE THE LAST OF ALL AND THE SERVANT OF ALL AND WE ARE TO SERVE THE LEAST OF ALL AND THE LAST OF ALL

  • Wisdom 2:12. 17-20;
  • Psalm 53 (54): 3-6. 8. R/ v. 6;
  • James 3:16-4:3
  • Mark 9:30-37

Today is the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The gospel today tells us that we are to be the last of all and the servant of all, and we are to serve the least of all and the last of all!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus predicted his Passion for a second time, that is, he was to be delivered into the hands of men and they will put him to death, but he will rise again on the third day! But the disciples still did not understand, though Jesus predicted his passion for a second time!

In fact, the disciples were arguing amongst themselves as to who was the greatest! Jesus then called them together and taught them that in order to be first one must be the last of all and the servant of all!

Jesus then took a child and put him in front of them and taught them that whoever welcomes a child welcomes him and whoever welcomes him welcomes the one who sent him! A child is a symbol of the lowly, the poor, the weak, the helpless, the vulnerable, etc. (CSB; NJBC; IBC), that is, the least and the last!      

Thus the gospel today tells us that we are to be the last of all and the servant of all, and we are to serve the least of all and the last of all!

Who are the last of all and the servant of all in our parish? Do we serve the least of all and the last of all? Who are the least of all and the last of all in our parish; the poor, the sinners, the sick, the aged, the children, the migrants, etc.?

As we celebrate the 40th Anniversary (Ruby Anniversary) of our Catholic Women’s Apostolate (CWA), whose motto is our Bishop Julius’ motto: “to serve with God’s love”; let us ask ourselves if our Catholic Women’s Apostolate are the last of all and the servant of all and serve the least of all and the last of all, that is, the poor, the aged, the sick, the migrants, the children, the youths, the sinners, etc.!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading is based on the fourth of four Suffering Servant Songs of Isaiah. (Is 52:13-53:12; HCSB) The first generations of Christians and a number of the Fathers of the Church see in this first reading the prophecy of the Passion of Jesus Christ! (CSB; NJB)

Thus we read in the first reading:

“If the virtuous man is God’s son, God will take his part and rescue him from the clutches of his enemies. Let us test him with cruelty and with torture, and thus explore this gentleness of his and put his endurance to the proof. Let us condemn him to a shameful death since he will be looked after – we have his word for it.” (Ws 2: 18-20; SM)

The first reading is reflected in the gospel of Mathew 27:41-44 (CSB), especially in Matthew 27:43 where the crucified Jesus was mocked by the chief priests, the scribes and the elders (NJB):

“He has put his trust in God; now let God rescue him if he wants him. For he did say, ‘I am God’s son.’”

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God will deliver him from death! (Fuller) Thus the response of the responsible psalm:

“The Lord upholds my life.” (Ps 53 (54): 6; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first and second stanzas are a prayer for deliverance. The third stanza tells us that God will deliver him from death and he will thank God for his deliverance! (CSB; HCSB) Thus we read in the third stanza from which the response is taken:

“But I have God for my help. The Lord upholds my life. I will sacrifice to you with willing heart and praise your name for it is good.” (Ps 53 (54): 6 &8; SM)

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again the second reading has something important to tell us. The first paragraph of the second reading tells us about true wisdom and false wisdom, that is, heavenly wisdom and earthly wisdom.

Earthly wisdom brings about jealousy, selfishness/ambition, disunity and evil works; but heavenly wisdom brings about peace, mercy, good works and justice/righteousness!

The first paragraph of the second reading belongs to chapter 3 of the letter of St James, but the second paragraph belongs to chapter 4.

Today we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ who suffered, died and rose from the dead for our salvation; and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we may become the last of all and the servant of all and so that we will serve the least of all and the last of all! We also ask God to give us the true wisdom from heaven so that we may bring about peace, mercy, good works and righteousness/justice in our Church and in our world! A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you! Amen!

 

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 16th September 2018

Theme: JESUS IS NOT A POLITICAL, NATIONALISTIC AND MILITARY MESSIAH, BUT JESUS IS A SUFFERING MESSIAH

  • Isaiah 50:5-9;
  • Psalm 114 (115):1-6. 8-9. R/ v. 9;
  • James 2:14-18
  • Mark 8:27-35
Today is the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The gospel today tells us that Jesus is not a political, nationalistic, and military Messiah, but Jesus is a suffering Messiah! That is, Jesus is to suffer, die and rise from the dead for the love of God and for the love of humanity, that is, to do the will of God his Father and to save humanity from sin and death!

The gospel also tells us that as Christians we are to take up our crosses and follow Jesus, to lose our lives for his sake and for the sake of the gospel in order to save our lives and the lives of the whole world!

The gospel today tells us that when Peter professed his faith in Jesus as the Messiah/Christ, Jesus warned his disciples not to tell anyone about it for fear that people may think that he was a political Messiah.

Jesus also told his disciples that he was to suffer, to die and to rise from the dead on the third day! And when Peter protested, he called Peter Satan! For the way Peter thought was man’s way, not God’s way. Man thought of a nationalistic Messiah, but God thought of a suffering Messiah, because God is love!

In the gospel today, Jesus also told the people and his disciples to take up their crosses and follow him, to lose their lives for his sake and for the sake of the gospel in order to save their lives and the lives of the whole world!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Jesus was the Suffering Servant of God (Third of Four Suffering Servant Songs). He listened to God. He did not turn away from God. He offered his back to be beaten, his beard to be torn and his face to be spat upon!

Vicarious suffering, that is, suffering on behalf of sinners, suffering in the place of sinners! But more importantly, the first reading tells us that God will not abandon him, God will not forget him; but God will come to his help, God will save him, and through him God will save the whole world!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God will save him from death! Thus the response:

“I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.” (Ps 114 (115): 9; SM)

The responsorial psalm itself tells us of his suffering and death, but more importantly, it tells us that God will save him from death. Thus the responsorial psalm ends with verse 9, from which the response is taken, again:

“I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.”!
The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again, the second reading has something important to tell us. The second reading tells us that faith and good works have to go together. Faith without good works is dead! And the good works mentioned in the second reading are clothing the naked and feeding the hungry. Two basic human needs!

The second reading is not contrasting faith and good works, but the second reading is contrasting living faith and dead faith! Living faith will produce good works, but dead faith will not produce good works!

Today in this Mass, we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ, who suffered, died and rose from the dead for our salvation; and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we may carry our crosses to follow him, to lose our lives for his sake and for the sake of the gospel, so that we will save our lives and the lives of the whole world!

We also thank God for the gift of faith and we ask God to help us to do good works!
A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you! Amen!

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 9th September 2018

Theme: JESUS MADE THE DEAF HEAR AND THE DUMB SPEAK SO THAT THEY CAN COMMUNICATE AND BE IN COMMUNION AND COMMUNITY WITH GOD AND MAN

  • Isaiah 35:4-7
  • Psalm 145 (146): 7-10. R/ v.1
  • James 2:1-5
  • Mark 7: 31-37

Today is the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that Jesus made the deaf hear and the dumb speak so that they can communicate and be in communion and community with God and Man!

The three words, communication, communion and community come from the same Latin word “communis” meaning common. (WNNCD) If there is no communication, there is no communion and community.

The deaf cannot hear and the dumb cannot speak. We cannot speak to the deaf and we cannot hear the dumb. There is no communication, communion and community. But spiritual deafness and spiritual dumbness is even worse. We cannot hear God speak to us and we cannot speak to God in prayer. And we cannot hear and speak to one another on the personal-spiritual level.

The gospel today tells us that Jesus made the deaf hear and the dumb speak so that they can hear the word of God and speak to God in prayer; so that they can communicate with God and be in communion and community with God. And so that the spiritually deaf and dumb can hear and speak to one another on the personal-spiritual level; so that the spiritually deaf and dumb can communicate with one another and be in communion and community with one another.

That is what we do in our Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs). In our BECs we listen to God in the Sunday Mass readings and we pray to God. In our BECs we listen to one another, and we share with one another on the personal-spiritual level. We communicate with God and with one another and we are in communion and community with God and with one another!

Thus the caption of today’s gospel: “He makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.”! (Mk 7:37)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading was a prophesy of the return from exile from Babylon in the sixth century B. C.

But our theme today is the deaf and dumb. The first reading tells us that the deaf will hear and the dumb will speak, that is, the spiritually deaf and dumb. This prophesy is already fulfilled in Jesus Christ. He made the deaf hear and the dumb speak so that they can communicate with God and man and be in communion and community with God and man!

Thus the caption of the first reading: “The ears of the deaf shall be unsealed and the tongues of the dumb shall be loosed.”!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a hymn of praise to God the Redeemer who saves the weak and the oppressed. (NJBC) He saves the oppressed, the hungry, the prisoners, the blind, the bowed down, the just, the stranger, the widow, and the orphan. Although the deaf and the dumb are not mentioned here, they are implied. (Fuller)

Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “My soul, give praise to the Lord.”! (Ps 145 (146): 1) My soul, give praise to the Lord for making the deaf hear and the dumb speak! (Imperative)

The second reading tells us that the Christian community must not favor the rich and discriminate against the poor. We must not give the “best seats” to the rich and tell the poor to stand or sit on the floor. We must give the “best seats” both to the rich and the poor!

In our Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs), we have the rich and the poor, men and women, young and old, single and married, and peoples of different races, cultures and nationalities! In our BECs we must not favor anyone or discriminate against anyone! All are equal and mutual!

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 God and speak to God in prayer and be in communication, communion and community with God.

The Holy Spirit will help us listen to one another and speak to one another on the personal-spiritual level and be in communication, communion and community with one another. The Holy Spirit will help us not favor the rich and discriminate against the poor, but to give the “best seats” to the rich and poor alike! Amen!

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 2nd September 2018

Theme: THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD GIVES LIFE AND LOVE 

  • Deuteronomy 4:1-2. 6-8;
  • Psalm 14 (15): 2-5. R/ v. 1;
  • James 1:17-18. 21-22. 27
  • Mark 7:1-8. 14-15. 21-23

Today is the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that the commandment of the Lord gives us life and love!

The gospel today tells us not to substitute human traditions for the commandment of God. Human traditions cannot give us life and love, only the commandment of God can give us life and love!

Human traditions, like the ritual purifications of the scribes and Pharisees, that is, the washing of hands before eating and the washing of cups, pots and dishes cannot wash away the fornication, theft, murder, adultery, greed, jealousy, pride, etc., in our hearts and give us life; only the commandment of God can wash away the sins in our hearts and give us life! Thus the Gospel Acclamation today:

“Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life: you have the message of eternal life.” (cf. Jn 6:63. 68)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the commandments of the Lord give us life and give us the Promised Land, that is, Heaven! That is why we must not add anything to the commandments of God or subtract anything from the commandments of God! If we do, then it will not give us life and love! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Now, Israel, take notice of the laws and customs that I teach you today, and observe them, that you may have life and may enter and take possession of the land that the Lord the God of your fathers is giving you. You must add nothing to what I command you, and take nothing from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God just as I lay them down for you.” (Dt 4:1-2; SM)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm was originally “a liturgy for entrance into the sanctuary/temple” (HCSB; CSB), but in the context of today’s readings and liturgy, it also tells us that the commandments of the Lord give us life and love! (CCB) Thus the response:

“The just will live in the presence of the Lord.” (Ps 14 (15): 1; SM)

The responsorial psalm tells us of the commandments of the Lord, that is, act with justice, speak the truth, do no wrong to the neighbor, do not slander the neighbor, keep your pledge, do not take interest on your loan, do not take bribes against the innocent, etc. If we keep these commandments of the Lord we will live in the presence of the Lord!

But the opposite is also true, that is, if we do not act with justice, do not speak the truth, do wrong to the neighbor, slander the neighbor, take interest on our loans, take bribes against the innocent, do not keep our oaths, etc., then we will not live in the presence of the Lord, but we will die in the absence of the Lord!

Incidentally, the second reading also follows the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us that we must not only listen to the word of God, but we must also do what the word tells us! And the word tells us to help the widow and orphans, that is the poor and the needy! (CSB) Thus we read in the second reading:

“But you must do what the word tells you, and not just listen to it and deceive yourselves.

Pure unspoilt religion, in the eyes of God our Father is this: coming to the help of orphans and widows when they need it.” (Jm 1:22. 27; SM)

 

Today in this Mass we thank God for the commandments and we ask God to help us keep the commandments so that we may have life and love and so that we will help the poor and the needy. A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you!

 

Amen!