3rd Sunday of Advent (Year A) – 15th Dec 2019

Theme: REJOICE: THE LORD COMES TO SAVE US!

Today is the 3rd Sunday of Advent, Liturgical Year A. Today is also “Rejoice Sunday”! That is why we use rose/pink vestment and light the pink candle! We rejoice because we are more than half way through to Christmas! More importantly, we rejoice because the readings today tell us that the Lord comes to save us!
The gospel today tells us that John the Baptist was not sure if Jesus was the Messiah. John the Baptist expected the Messiah to be a fiery judge who judges, condemns and punishes sinners; but Jesus was a Messiah who loves, forgives and saves sinners!
John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the Messiah and Jesus told them to tell John what they have heard and seen, that is, the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, lepers are made clean, the dead raised to life, and the Good News is preached to the poor!
Jesus was quoting the prophet Isaiah on the saving works of the Messiah! Very important too are what Jesus said at the end of the first and second paragraphs of the gospel, that is, “happy is the man who does not lose faith in me” and “the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is”. In the first quotation Jesus warns John not to lose faith in him and in the second quotation Jesus tells us that to be in the kingdom of love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation is to be greater than John the Baptist!
The gospel today tells us that Jesus is not a fiery judge who condemns sinners, but Jesus is a merciful savior who saves sinners! That is why we rejoice! That is why we have “Rejoice Sunday” or Sunday of joy!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading is fulfilled in the gospel! The first reading also tells us to rejoice because the Lord comes to save us! The first reading tells us about the return from exile from Babylon. It is the second exodus, more important than even the first exodus, but most importantly it points to the salvation by Jesus Christ! Thus the caption of the first reading:
“God himself is coming to save you”.
Thus the first reading tells us about the saving works of the Messiah and its accompanying joy:
“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, the ears of the deaf unsealed, then the lame shall leap like a deer and the tongues of the dumb sing for joy, for those the Lord has ransomed shall return. They will come to Zion shouting for joy, everlasting joy on their faces; joy and gladness will go with them and sorrow and lament be ended.” (Is 35: 5-6a. 10; Sunday Missal (SM))

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the response:
“Come, Lord, and save us.” (cf. Is 35:4; SM)
Thus again, the first and second stanzas of the responsorial psalm tell us about the saving works of the Messiah:

“It is the Lord who keeps faith for ever, who is just to those who are oppressed. It is he who gives bread to the hungry, the Lord, who sets prisoners free. It is the Lord who gives sight to the blind, who raises up those who are bowed down, the Lord, who protects the stranger and upholds the widow and orphan.” (Ps 145:6c-9; SM)

The second reading tells us to be patient as we wait for the Lord’s coming! Just as a farmer is patient as he waits for the fruits of the earth and just as the prophets are patient as they wait for their prophecies to be fulfilled by the Lord; we have also to be patient as we wait for the Lord’s coming! Thus we read:
“You too have to be patient; do not lose heart, because the Lord’s coming will be soon.” (Jm 5:8; SM)

Again, today is “Rejoice Sunday” or Sunday of joy! We rejoice because we are more than half way through to Christmas! More importantly, we rejoice because the readings today tell us that the Lord comes to save us!
Again, Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time! We prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by praying, by doing good works, and by repentance and confessing our sins. That is why we have the “Penitential Service” with individual confessions this coming Monday! A blessed Advent to all of you! Amen!

2nd Sunday of Advent (Year A) – 8th Dec 2019

Theme: ADVENT: THE COMING OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST AT
CHRISTMAS AND AT THE END OF TIME

  • Isaiah 11:1-10;
  • Psalm 71:1-2. 7-8. 12-13. 17. R/ cf. v. 7;
  • Romans 15:4-9
  • Matthew 3:1-12

Today is the 2nd Sunday of Advent in the new Liturgical Year A. Advent means coming, that is, the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time! Advent is therefore a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time!
Jesus came 2,000 years ago in memory, Jesus continues to come every Christmas in mystery, and Jesus will come at the end of time in majesty! Because Jesus came 2,000 years ago in memory, died, rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit; we believe Jesus comes every Christmas in mystery. The word Christ-mas comes from two words, that is, Christ’s Mass. And the Mass or the Eucharist is the sacrament of sacraments. The word sacrament in both Greek and Latin means mystery. Thus Jesus comes every Christ-mas in mystery. Because Jesus comes every Christmas in mystery, we believe Jesus will come at the end of time in majesty to be king of the universe!
Advent is therefore a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time!

The gospel today tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by repentance and by confessing our sins. Repentance or conversion is not only turning away from sin, but it is also turning away from the world; and it is not only turning to God, but it is also turning to the God of Jesus Christ, that is, a God of love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation! Only the God of Jesus Christ can save us! The God of Law cannot save us! Only the God of love can save us!
Thus the gospel today tells us that when Jesus Christ comes he will burn away our sins with the fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of God’s love! Thus John the Baptist tells us in the gospel today:
“I baptize you in water for repentance, but the one who follows me is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to carry his sandals; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Mt 3:11; Sunday Missal (SM))

The Gospel Acclamation also tells us to prepare for the coming of the Lord, for when he comes he will bring us salvation! Thus we read:
“Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight, and all mankind shall see the salvation of God.” (Lk 3:4. 6; SM)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that when the Lord comes he will bring us justice and peace! Peace, shalom, salvation! Thus we read in the first reading:
“He does not judge by appearances, he gives no verdict on hearsay, but judges the wretched with integrity, and with equity gives a verdict for the poor of the land.” (Is 11: 3-4; SM)
Thus again we read in the first reading:

“The wolf lives with the lamb, the panther lies down with the kid, calf and lion cub feed together with a little boy to lead them. The cow and the bear make friends, their young lie down together. The lion eats straw like the ox. The infant plays over the cobra’s hole; into the viper’s lair the young child puts his hand.” (Is 11:6-8; SM)
Thus a re-turn to the peace/shalom of Paradise!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the response:
“In his days justice shall flourish and peace till the moon fails.” (Ps 71:7; SM)
The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first stanza tells us that he will bring justice (vv. 1-2). The second stanza tells us that he will bring justice and peace/shalom (vv. 7-8; SM). The third stanza tells us that he will bring salvation (vv. 12-13; SM). And the fourth stanza tells us to bless him, that is, to praise and thank him! (v. 17; SM)

The second reading tells us that the Lord comes not only to save the Jews, but also to save the pagans! Thus we read in the second reading:
“The reason Christ became the servant of circumcised Jews was not only so that God could faithfully carry out the promises made to the patriarchs, it was also to get the pagans to give glory to God for his mercy, as scripture says in one place: For this I shall praise you among the pagans and sing your name.” (Rm 15: 8-9; SM)

Again, Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time. Again, we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by:
(i) Praying, going to Sunday Mass, going to prayer meetings, attending BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) meetings, attending Bible-sharing, reading the Bible, etc.
(ii) Doing good works, e.g. by helping the poor and the needy; and by visiting the sick and the aged, etc.
(iii) Repentance and confessing our sins, that is, going for the Penitential Service.
(iv) Avoiding sin and avoiding the occasions of sin, that is, avoiding the peoples, places and things that cause us to sin.
(v) Caroling, that is, proclaiming the good news of the Lord’s coming, so that others may believe and be saved, and so that others may also prepare for the coming of the Lord.
A blessed Advent to all of you! Amen!

1st Sunday of Advent (Year A) – 1st Dec 2019

Theme: ADVENT: THE COMING OF JESUS CHRIST!

  • Isaiah 2:1-5;
  • Psalm 121:1-2. 4-5. 6-9. R. v. 1;
  • Romans 13:11-14
  • Matthew 24:37-44 

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. The word Advent means arrival or coming; the coming of Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ came 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem and Jesus Christ will come again at the end of time! When Jesus Christ came 2,000 years ago, he died, rose from the dead, and gave the Holy Spirit! Jesus Christ continues to come to us in the Holy Spirit every Christmas until the end of time when everything will be perfected in the Holy Spirit; then Jesus Christ will come a second time in glory!

Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ! The readings today tell us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ; but more importantly, the readings today tell us that when Jesus Christ comes, he will bring justice and peace to the whole world! He will bring love, mercy, forgiveness, salvation and joy to the whole world!

The gospel today tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. The gospel today tells us that during the time of Noah, people were eating and drinking and marrying, until the floods came and swept them all away! The gospel tells us not to eat and drink and marry until we forget the coming of Jesus Christ!

The gospel also tells us that two men will be working in the fields, but one will be taken away; and two women will be at the millstone grinding, but one will be taken away, that is, the one who is ready and prepared for the coming of Jesus Christ will be taken away to heaven!

Again, the gospel tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by not eating and drinking and marrying until we forget the coming of Jesus Christ! Incidentally, it is the practice of our Diocese not to encourage marriages and marriage dinners (“eating” and “drinking”) during Advent!

The second reading also tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ! The second reading tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by living decent lives, that is, no drunken orgies, no indecency, no immorality, no quarrelling and fighting, and no jealousy.

Thus we read in the second reading: “Let us live decently as people do in the daytime: no drunken orgies, no promiscuity or licentiousness, and no wrangling or jealousy.”! (Rm 13:13)

But more importantly, the first reading tells us that when Jesus Christ comes, he will bring justice and peace to all the nations of the world! Thus we read in the first reading: “He will wield authority over the nations and adjudicate between many peoples; these will hammer their swords into ploughshares, their spears into sickles. Nation will not lift sword against nation, there will be no more training for war.”! (Is 2:4)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us that when Jesus Christ comes he will bring justice and peace! Thus we read in the responsorial psalm: “There were set the thrones of judgment of the house of David. For the peace of Jerusalem pray: ‘Peace be to your homes! May peace reign in your walls, in your palaces, peace!’” (Ps 121:5-7)

Both in the first reading and in the responsorial psalm, justice comes before peace; because there can be no peace without justice! But I always remember what our late Pope John Paul II said in reference to the Middle East conflict: ‘There can be no peace without justice, but there can be no justice without forgiveness.’!

Thus when Jesus Christ comes he will bring us not only justice and peace, but also and especially, love, mercy, forgiveness, salvation and joy! Thus we read in the Gospel Acclamation of today’s Mass: “Let us see, O Lord, your mercy and give us your saving help.” (Ps 84:8/SM) An alternative translation reads thus: “Show us, Lord, your love; grant us your salvation.” (Ps 85:8/CSB)     

Again, Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ! During this time of Advent, let us be “Santa Claus” to the poor, the sick, the aged, the undocumented, etc., that is, let us practice charity towards them; but even before we practice charity, we must practice justice towards the poor and the undocumented, that is, we must pay them a just and living wage, and we must provide them with health care and decent living conditions, etc.!

During this time of Advent, let us also pray, read the Bible, attend Sunday Masses, attend BEC meetings, receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession), and let us also go caroling to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ’s coming!

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, to help us prepare for His coming! And when He comes, he will bring us justice and peace! He will bring us love, mercy, forgiveness, salvation and joy! Amen!

CHRIST THE KING (C) – 24th Nov 2019

Theme: AT THE END OF THE WORLD, JESUS CHRIST WILL BE THE KING OF THE UNIVERSE

  • 2 Samuel 5:1-3;
  • Psalm 121 (122): 1-5. R/ cf. v. 1;
  • Colossians 1:12-20
  • Luke 23:35-43

Today is the last Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. Today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King! We celebrate the feast of Christ the King on the last Sunday of the Liturgical year, because we believe that at the end of the world, Jesus Christ will be the King of the universe! His Kingdom will be a Kingdom of love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation, peace and justice, unity and joy, etc. The kingdom of the Devil will be destroyed! The kingdom of sin and death, injustice and hatred, division, revenge and war, will be destroyed!

The first reading tells us that David was anointed king of the northern tribes of Israel. In this second anointing, David became king, not only of Judah, but also of Israel, that is, he became king of the united kingdom of Judah (South) and Israel (North). After that David conquered Jerusalem and made it the capital of his united kingdom! (2 S 5:6-12; CCB)

David was anointed king because he was chosen by God, and because he was the one who fought and won all the battles even when Saul was king!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us about Jerusalem, the capital of the united kingdom of Israel and Judah! The responsorial psalm is a hymn of a pilgrim on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem!

The responsorial psalm has five verses. The first verse tells us that the pilgrim is anticipating his pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The second verse tells us that the pilgrim is already in Jerusalem. The third verse tells us that Jerusalem is a secure city. The fourth verse tells us that the Israelites praise and worship God in Jerusalem. And the fifth verse tells us that the throne of God’s judgment is in Jerusalem. The justice of God is executed by King David and his descendents who sit on the thrones of judgment! (HCSB) Thus the note of joy in the response of the responsorial psalm which is taken from the first verse:

“I rejoiced when I heard them say: ‘Let us go to God’s house.’” (Ps 121 (122): 1; SM) 

The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ is the King of the Jews, but unlike David, he has no political power, military might, or nationalistic ambitions! He has no throne. He hangs on a cross!

The Jewish religious leaders mocked him to be the Messiah. The soldiers taunted him to be the king of the Jews. The inscription on his cross condemned him to be the king of the Jews. And even the criminal abused him to be the Messiah. But most importantly, the “good” criminal acknowledged him to be the Messiah-King of the Jews! In “the gospel within the Gospel” (NJBC) the “good” criminal asked Jesus to remember him in his kingdom, and Jesus replied that, that very day he will be with him in paradise, in heaven, in his kingdom! Thus we read in the gospel today:

‘“Jesus,’ he said ‘remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ ‘Indeed, I promise you,’ he replied ‘today you will be with me in paradise.’” (Lk 23:42-43; SM)

Jesus is indeed the King of the Jews! But his kingdom is a kingdom of love, mercy, forgiveness, and salvation! A heavenly and spiritual kingdom; not a political, military and nationalistic kingdom!

The second reading tells us that Jesus Christ is not only the king of the Jews, but he is also the king of the Gentiles, the Pagans! More than that, he is not only the king of all humanity, but he is also the King of all creation! Just as creation suffered the consequences of human sins, so creation also shares in the salvation of humanity! (NJB)

This second reading is especially relevant today in the face the ecological crisis! It is the sin and greed of humanity that destroys the environment, but when humanity is saved from sin and greed, the environment will not be destroyed! The environment will be protected! Thus we read in the second reading:

“For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.” (Col 1:19-20; 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 build the kingdom of God, until the end of the world, when Jesus Christ will come a second time to be the King of the universe! Amen!