26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 27th Spetember 2020

Theme: WE MUST REPENT: WE MUST NOT BE SELF-RIGHTEOUS

Today is the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us to repent and not to be self-righteous.

The gospel today tells us that the Jewish religious leaders were self-righteous. They did not repent and believe in John the Baptist. They will not enter the kingdom of God! (CSB) The Jewish tax-collectors and prostitutes were not self-righteous. They repented and believed in John the Baptist. They will enter the kingdom of God!

In the gospel parable today, the first son who said “no” to the father, but later did the father’s will represents the Jewish tax-collectors and prostitutes. The second son who said “yes” to the father, but later did not do the father’s will represents the Jewish religious leaders.

Today the gospel exhorts all, particularly, religious leaders to repent and not to be self-righteous! 

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that if we sin, we die; but if we repent, we shall live. Sin is not only doing something bad, or breaking the law, or being immoral, but sin is death!    

The first reading also tells us of individual responsibility, that is, we will not be punished for the sins of our parents, but we will be punished for our own sins.

Finally, the first reading tells us that if we sin, all the good that we have done in the past will be forgotten; but if we repent of our sins, all the sins that we have committed in the past will be forgiven and forgotten!

Again, the first reading exhorts us to repent and live!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a confident prayer for forgiveness and guidance. (CSB)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza is a prayer for guidance (vv. 4-5; HCSB). The second stanza is a prayer for forgiveness (vv. 6-7). The third stanza is a prayer of confidence (vv. 8-9). The emphasis today is on the second stanza, that is, a prayer for forgiveness. Thus we read in the second stanza:

“Remember your mercy, Lord, and the love you have shown from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth. In your love remember me, because of your goodness, O Lord.” (Ps 24 (25): 6-7; SM) 

And thus the response of the responsorial psalm which is taken from the second stanza:

 “Remember your mercy, Lord.” (Ps 24 (25): 6; SM)    

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something important to tell us. The second reading tells us about unity and humility. The two go together. There can be no unity without humility. Pride divides the community, humility unites the community.

St. Paul tells the Philippians in the second reading to be humble, that is, not to compete with one another, not to be conceited (vain); but to be self-effacing, to consider other people better than themselves, and not to think of their own interest first, but to think of others’ interest instead!

Above all, St. Paul tells the Philippians in the second reading to be humble like Jesus Christ, who though was God, did not count equality with God, but became man and became lower than man by dying on the cross. But God raised him high and gave him the name above all other names, so that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bend and every tongue shall confess Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father!    

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 not to be self-righteous. The Holy Spirit will help us to be humble so that we will be united with one another. Again, a happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen!

Today we also celebrate “Migrant Sunday” and our Pope Emeritus in 2011 has a special message for us! The theme of the Message was “One Human Family”. Message of His Holiness Benedict XVI for the 97th World Day of Migrants and Refugees (2011):

    Extracts:

“The World Day of Migrants and Refugees offers the whole Church an opportunity to reflect on a theme linked to the growing phenomenon of migration, to pray that hearts may open to Christian welcome and to the effort to increase in the world justice and charity, pillars on which to build an authentic and lasting peace.”  

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 20th September 2020

Theme: SALVATION COMES FROM THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS

CHRIST WHICH WE RECEIVE IN FAITH AS A FREE GIFT!

1. Today is the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that salvation does not come from the good works of the law, but salvation comes from the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ which we receive in faith as a free gift!

The gospel today tells us about the parable of the workers in the vineyard. The gospel tells us that a landowner hired workers for his vineyard. The first group of workers were hired at 6 a.m.; they worked for 12 hours under the hot sun, i.e., from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The second group of workers were hired at 9 a.m. They worked for 9 hours. The third group was hired at 12 noon and they worked for 6 hours. The fourth group was hired at 3 p.m. and they worked for 3 hours. The fifth group was hired at 5 p.m. and they worked for only 1 hour not in the hot sun, but in the evening sun.

But when it came to payment the last group was paid a whole day’s wage. The first group which worked for 12 hours in the hot sun expected more payment, but they were also paid only a day’s wage as agreed upon. They grumbled at the landowner, complaining that they had worked 12 hours in the hot sun and they were paid the same amount as the last group which worked only 1 hour in the evening sun; but the landowner replied that he was just to them as they were paid a day’s wage as agreed upon. But the landowner was only generous to the last group paying them a day’s wage for only an hour’s work!

Again, the parable tells us that salvation does not come from our good works, but salvation comes from the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ which we receive in faith as a free gift! Thus the first will be last and the last first. The Jews who came first but depended on the good works of the law for salvation became last; but the pagans and sinners who came last but depended on the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ became first! (NJB; Faley)

Incidentally, the sacraments are outward signs of inward grace instituted by Jesus Christ for our salvation! The Eucharist is the sacrament of sacraments! The word sacrament in both Latin and Greek means mystery! We have to celebrate the sacraments (mystery) in faith! Only then can we receive the graces for our salvation! And faith comes from the word of God! (Rm 10:17) Thus the liturgy of the word precedes the liturgy of the Eucharist!

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us that salvation comes from the love, mercy and forgiveness of God. Thus the first reading tells us to repent, i.e., to turn away from our sins and to turn to God who is merciful and forgiving. God is not like man. Man does not forgive, but God forgives. Therefore the difference between God and man is as far apart as heaven from earth! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Let the wicked man abandon his way, the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn back to the Lord who will take pity on him, to our God who is rich in forgiving; for my thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways not your ways – it is the Lord who speaks. Yes, the heavens are as high above earth as my ways are above your ways, my thoughts above your thoughts” (Is 55:7-9; SM)     

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us that the Lord is kind, compassionate, slow to anger, loving and good.

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us to praise God (vv. 2-3; CSB). The second stanza tells us that we praise God because he is kind, compassionate, slow to anger, loving and good (vv. 8-9; HCSB). The third stanza echoes the second stanza. The third stanza tells us that the Lord is just and loving and the Lord is close to all who call him (vv. 17-18; HCSB). Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“The Lord is close to all who call him.” (Ps 144 (145): 18; SM)

4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something important to tell us. The second reading tells us that St. Paul was caught in a dilemma as to whether to die and to be with Christ in heaven, or to live and to preach the good news to the Philippians. St. Paul thought that it was more urgent to live and to preach the good news to the Philippians!

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 put our faith in Jesus Christ, because salvation comes from the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and not from the good works of the law! The Holy Spirit will help us proclaim the good news so that others will also believe in Jesus Christ and be saved! A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you!

                                                                                                                        Amen!

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 13th September 2020

Theme: WE MUST FORGIVE ONE ANOTHER BECAUSE THE LORD HAS FORGIVEN US

  • Ecclesiasticus 27:30-28:7;
  • Psalm 102 (103): 1-4. 9-12. R/ v. 8;
  • Romans 14:7-9
  • Matthew 18:21-35

Today is the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that we must forgive one another because the Lord has first forgiven us!

The gospel today tells us that Peter asked Jesus, how many times must he forgive his brother, is it seven times; but Jesus answered, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

That is, Peter asked Jesus if he must forgive many times, but Jesus answered, not many times, but all the time. God has forgiven us all the time; we must also forgive others all the time! 

The gospel also tells us of the parable of the king who forgave his servant of a very big sum of “ten thousand talents”. His servant only asked that he be given time to pay back the debt, but the king cancelled his debt altogether! God is more forgiving than we can ever ask for!

But more importantly, the gospel tells us that when the servant met a fellow servant who owed him only a very small sum of “one hundred denarii”, he did not forgive him, even though he only asked that he be given time to pay back the debt. He had him put in jail until he should pay back the debt.

When the king heard of what had happened, he summoned his servant and said to him: I have forgiven you your debt; why have you not forgiven the debt of your fellow servant. In his anger the king had him sent to the torturers until he should pay up all his debts. In fact the debt is so huge that it is impossible to pay up!

The moral of the parable is that God has forgiven us, so we must forgive one another! If we do not forgive one another, God will not forgive us!    

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us that if we forgive others, God will forgive us; but if we do not forgive others, God will not forgive us! Thus we read in the first reading:

“He who exacts vengeance will experience the vengeance of the Lord, who keeps strict account of sin. Forgive your neighbor the hurt he does to you, and when you pray, your sins will be forgiven. If a man nurses anger against another, can he then demand compassion from the Lord? Showing no pity for a man like himself, can he then plead for his own sins? Mere creature of flesh, he cherishes resentment; who will forgive him his sins?” (Si 28:1-5; SM)   

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord is love, mercy and forgiveness! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy.” (Ps 102 (103): 8; SM)

And thus the second, third and fourth stanzas of the responsorial psalm:

“It is he who forgives all your guilt, who heals every one of your ills, who redeems your life from the grave, who crowns you with love and compassion.

His wrath will come to an end; he will not be angry for ever. He does not treat us according to our sins nor repay us according to our faults.

For as the heavens are high above the earth so strong is his love for those who fear him. As far as the east is from the west so far does he remove our sins.” (Ps 102 (103): 3-4. 9-12; SM) 

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something very important to tell us.

The second reading tells us that if we live, we live for the Lord and if we die, we die for the Lord for we belong to the Lord.

In the same way if we live, we live for one another and if we die, we die for one another because we belong to one another. Thus we read in the second reading:

“The life and death of each of us has its influence on others; if we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord, so that alive or dead we belong to the Lord.” (Rm 14: 7-8; SM)

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 forgive us our sins and help us forgive the sins of others.

The Holy Spirit will help us live and die for the Lord. And the Holy Spirit will help us live and die for one another.

Again, a happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you!

                                                                                                                        Amen!

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 6th Sept 2020

Theme: BROTHERLY CORRECTION

Ezekiel 33:7-9;

Psalm 94 (95): 1-2. 6-9. R/ v. 8;

Romans 13:8-10

Matthew 18:15-20

Today is the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us about brotherly correction.

The gospel today tells us that if a brother does something wrong, we are to correct him on our own, but if he refuses to listen to us, then we are to take one or two others with us to correct him, but if he refuses to listen, we are to report him to the community, but if he refuses to listen to the community, that is, the Church, then he should be excommunicated. Most importantly, the gospel asks us to pray for him and God will answer our prayers! (Craghan)   

It has been said that God helps those who help themselves, meaning to say that we have to help ourselves. Indeed, we have to help ourselves, but we also need the help of another person. We need the help of others. We need the help of family, friends, support groups, communities, the Church, and above all we need the help of God! We cannot go to heaven alone!    

I am happy to note that in our parish we have counselors under training for the individual counseling ministry; we have support groups (Bible-Sharing groups, “Preparation” groups, Prayer groups, etc.), communities (Basic Ecclesial Communities, Small Christian Communities, etc.), the Church, and above all we have God to help us in our journey to heaven!  

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that if we do not warn the wicked man to renounce his wicked ways and repent and the wicked man dies for his sins, we are responsible for his death. But if we warn the wicked man to renounce his wicked ways and repent, but the wicked man refuses to repent and dies for his sins, we are not responsible for his death. This is what God said to Ezekiel, the prophet of Israel. Thus we read in the first reading:

“If I say to a wicked man: Wicked wretch, you are to die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked man to renounce his ways, then he shall die for his sin, but I will hold you responsible for his death. If, however, you do warn a wicked man to renounce his ways and repent, and he does not repent, then he shall die for his sin, but you yourself will have saved your life.” (Ezk 33:8-9; SM)  

The responsorial psalm is a call to praise and worship God, and to be faithful to God. (CSB) The responsorial psalm has three stanzas.

The first stanza and the first part of the second stanza tell us to praise and worship God (vv. 1-2, 6). The second half of the second stanza (v. 7ab) tells us that we worship God, because he is our shepherd, that is, our ruler (HCSB), and our Savior (NJBC). The third stanza tells us to be faithful to God, and not to be like the people of Israel who quarreled (Meribah) with God and tested (Massah) God in the desert (vv. 7c, 8-9).

In the context of today’s readings, the responsible psalm is a call to the sinner to repent! Thus the response of the responsible psalm:

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

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something very important to tell us. The second reading tells us that love is the fulfillment of the law! (CSB)

Love fulfills all the commandments, including the commandments not to commit adultery, not to kill, not to steal, not to covet, etc.! For when we love, we will not commit adultery, kill, steal, covet, etc.!

Love is the fulfillment of the law! Love is the only law and the only law is love! Love and do what you will says St. Augustine! Love is above the law! Love does more than the law requires of us! Love is merciful and forgiving; love shows mercy to the poor and forgiveness to the sinner; the law is neither merciful nor forgiving!

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 correct our brothers and sisters, and help us accept brotherly corrections. The Holy Spirit will help us love our neighbor as ourselves! Again, a happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you!      

                                                                                                                        Amen!

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) 30th Aug 2020

Theme: WE ARE TO SUFFER AND SACRIFICE FOR LOVE OF GOD AND LOVE OF NEIGHBOR

  • Jeremiah 20:7-9;
  • Psalm 62 (63): 2-6. 8-9. R/ v. 2;
  • Romans 12:1-2
  • Matthew 16:21-27

Today is the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that it is not enough to serve; we must also suffer and sacrifice for the love of God and for the love of neighbor, and for the sanctification and salvation of the world!

The gospel today tell us that Jesus predicted his suffering, death and resurrection for the first time, and immediately Peter protested that this must not happen to Jesus. But Jesus called Peter, Satan, and told him to get behind him, because he was an obstacle in his path.

But more importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus told his disciples to take up their crosses and follow him. For anyone who saves his life will lose it, but anyone who loses his life for the sake of Jesus will find it! Thus we read in the gospel today:

“If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Mt 21:24-25; SM)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Jeremiah also suffered and sacrificed for preaching the word of God. Jeremiah was ridiculed, insulted and derided for preaching the word of God. In fact he was also beaten and put in stocks. (Jr 20:2) Thus we read in the first reading:

“I am a daily laughing-stock, everybody’s butt. Each time I speak the word, I have to howl and proclaim: ‘Violence and ruin!’ The word of the Lord has meant for me insult, derision, all day long.” (Jr 20:7b-8; SM)

The responsorial psalm tells us that the psalmist is longing for God. (CSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“For you my soul is thirsting, O Lord my God.” (Ps 62 (63): 2; SM)

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first stanza tells us that the psalmist is separated from God (v. 2; SM). The second and third stanzas tell us that the psalmist longs for God in the Temple (vv. 3-6; SM). The fourth stanza tells us that this is based on the psalmist’s intimate relationship with God (v.8-9; SM).

Incidentally, the second reading also follows the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us to offer our living bodies, that is, our whole living selves, as a holy sacrifice to God.

The Jews and the pagans offered dead animals for sacrifice, but we are to offer our living bodies, that is, our whole living selves, as spiritual sacrifices to God! Thus we read in the second reading:

“Think of God’s mercy, my brothers, and worship him, I beg you, in a way that is worthy of thinking beings, by offering your living bodies as a holy sacrifice, truly pleasing to God.” (Rm 12:1; SM)

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 carry our crosses and follow Jesus to suffer, die and rise from the dead for love of God and love of neighbor and for the sanctification and salvation of the whole world!

Again, a happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you!  Amen!