33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 18th Nov 2018

Theme: THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS CHRIST

  • Daniel 12:1-3;
  • Psalm 15 (16): 5. 8-11. R/ v. 1;
  • Hebrews 10:11-14. 18
  • Mark 13:24-32

Today is the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical year B. Next Sunday will be the last Sunday of the Liturgical year. As we come to the end of the Liturgical Year the readings today tell us about the end of the world, that is, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ will come a second time when he will win over all!

The gospel today tells us of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The gospel tells us that he will come in the clouds with power and glory and his angels will gather all his chosen ones and bring them to heaven! Thus we read in the gospel:

“And then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory; then too he will send the angels to gather his chosen from the four winds, from the ends of the world to the ends of heaven”. (Mk 13: 26-27; SM)

The gospel also tells us that we do not know when Jesus Christ will come a second time, not even the angels, not even Jesus Christ himself! Only God the Father knows when Jesus Christ will come a second time! Thus the gospel ends by telling us:

“But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son; no one but the Father.” (Mk 13:32; SM)

That is why the Gospel Acclamation today tells us to be always prepared for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ:

“Stay awake and stand ready, because you do not know the hour when the Son of Man is coming.” (Mt 24:42. 44; SM)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us about the end of the world. The first reading tells us that at the end of the world the dead will rise to life! The virtuous will rise to everlasting life, but the wicked to everlasting damnation. The wise who instructed many in righteousness will shine like the vault of heaven and like the stars of heaven! (HCSB) Thus we read in the first reading:

“Of those who lie sleeping in the dust of the earth many will awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting disgrace. The learned will shine as brightly as the vault of heaven, and those who have instructed many in virtue, as bright as stars for all eternity.” (Dn 12:2-3; SM)

It is significant that the resurrection of the dead is mentioned for the first time in the Old Testament! (NJBC; CCB)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us to trust God, because he is the only one who can save us from death and give us life and happiness! (CSB)

The response and the first verse of the responsorial psalm tell us to trust in God. Thus we pray with the psalmist:

“Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you. O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup; it is you yourself who are my prize.” (Ps 15 (16): 1 and 5; SM)

Verses 10 and 11 tell us that God is the only one who can save us from death and give us life and happiness. Thus we pray with the psalmist:

“For you will not leave my soul among the dead, nor let your beloved know decay. You will show me the path of life, the fullness of joy in your presence, at your right hand happiness for ever.” (SM)

The second reading is a continuation and a conclusion of the second readings of the past few Sundays. Again, the second reading compares the Levitical priesthood of the Jews of the Old Testament with the priesthood of Jesus Christ in the New Testament:

(i) The Levitical priests offer sacrifices everyday, but their sacrifices cannot take away sins.

(ii) Jesus Christ offered himself once and for all and has taken away all our sins and made us holy.

(iii) We do not need the sacrifices of the Levitical priests anymore. We already have the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We only need the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Thus we read in the second reading today:

“All priests stand at their duties every day, offering over and over again the same sacrifices which are quite incapable of taking sins away. Christ, on the other hand, has offered one single sacrifice for sins. .… By virtue of that one single offering, he has achieved the eternal perfection of all whom he is sanctifying. When all sins have been forgiven, there can be no more sin offerings.” (Heb 10: 11-12a. 14. 18; SM)

Today in the Mass, in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Church makes present, real and effective, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our salvation; and today in the Mass, we receive the Holy Spirit, to help us prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! A happy and holy Sunday to all of you! Amen!

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (year B) – 11th November 2018 (Alternative Homily)

Theme: GIVING

  • 1 Kings 17:10-16;
  • Psalm 145 (146):7-10. R/ v. 2;
  • Hebrews 9:24-28
  • Mark 12:38-44

Today is the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us about giving. The gospel today tells us that a widow gave to the Temple treasury all that she possessed and all that she had to live on. The first reading tells us that a widow shared her last meal with the prophet Elijah. The second reading tells us that Jesus gave himself once and for all! These three readings tell us about giving:

(1) No one is too poor to give. The widow in the gospel gave two small coins. The widow in the first reading shared her last meal. Jesus gave himself! 

(2) It is not how much we give, but how much we have left after giving. The two widows and Jesus had nothing left after giving! 

(3) One cannot love without giving. Last Sunday’s readings were on love. This Sunday’s readings are on giving! 

(4) In giving, we do not only help the poor, but we also help ourselves to depend on God and not to depend on money. Our religious sisters, brothers and priests take the vow of poverty, not because poverty is good, not even because they want to help the poor, but because they want to depend on God and not on money. (Mt 5:3; Mt 6:33) 

(5) It is more blessed to give than to receive. The widow was blessed with food and life after she shared her last meal with the prophet Elijah. 

(6) We do not only give to the poor, we also give to God. The first widow gave to the Temple treasury. The second widow shared her last meal with Elijah the Prophet of God. Jesus gave himself to God his Father! 

(7) Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who worked among the poorest of the poor, tells us that we must give until it hurts. The two widows and Jesus gave until it hurts! 

(8) We do not only give money. We also give things, food, oneself, time, service, talents, love, etc. One widow gave money, one gave food, and Jesus gave himself. 

(9) We give what we have received from God! What we have received freely from God, we give freely! 

(10) We have to give and to receive, that is, to love and to be loved! Reciprocal love! (Focolare)

Today in this Mass, let us pray that we may have the Spirit of the two widows and of Jesus Christ Himself, so that we may give to God and to neighbour, especially to the poor and needy. Amen!

32nd Sunday in ordinary Time (Year B) -11th November 2018

Theme: DEPEND ON GOD FOR OUR MATERIAL AND SPIRITUAL SUSTENANCE

  • 1 Kings 17:10-16;
  • Psalm 145 (146): 7-10. R/ v. 2;
  • Hebrews 9:24-28
  • Mark 12:38-44

Today is the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us to depend on God for our material and spiritual sustenance. The Gospel Acclamation today tells us that the poor in spirit are blessed and the kingdom of God belongs to them!

The poor in spirit are the materially poor, the spiritually poor, and most importantly, they are those who depend in God for their material and spiritual sustenance! Thus the Gospel Acclamation:

“How happy are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:3; SM)

Our religious sisters, brothers and priests take the vow of poverty, not because poverty is good, not even because they want to help the poor, but because they want to depend on God for their material and spiritual sustenance! They believe that God will provide! They believe in providence! They have great faith!

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” (Mt 6:33; CSB)

That is, seek first the kingdom of love, justice and peace and his salvation, and all these other things will be given to you as well!

The gospel today tells us that a widow gave all she had and all she had to live on to the Temple treasury! Indeed she was very very generous! She was more generous than the rich who gave much more. Although she gave only two small coins, she gave all that she had and all that she had to live on! She gave her whole life to the Temple treasury!

But more importantly, she was a widow of great faith. She depended on God for her spiritual and material sustenance! (CSB) She prefigured Jesus Christ who depended on God for his material and spiritual sustenance until his death, resurrection and the salvation of the whole world!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us of another widow – in a man’s world, widows have no power or money! The first reading tells us that a widow shared her last meal with the prophet Elijah. After that she and her son will die of hunger because there will be nothing left to eat. Indeed the widow was very very generous. She shared all that she had to live on with the prophet Elijah.

But more importantly, she was a widow of great faith. (CCB) She depended on God for her spiritual and material sustenance! And because of her great faith the Lord rewarded her with food and life. She and her son were not to die of hunger. She and her son will have food to eat and will live! Thus the first reading tells us,

“The jar of meal was not spent nor the jug of oil emptied, just as the Lord had foretold through Elijah.” (1 K 17: 16; SM)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us to trust in God and to depend on God, because he is a God who gives justice to the oppressed, gives food to the hungry, sets prisoners free, gives sight to the blind, protects the stranger, helps the widow and the orphan, etc.! (CSB; HCSB) Thus we read in the responsorial psalm:

“It is the Lord 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. It is the Lord who loves the just, the Lord, who protects the stranger. The Lord upholds the widow and orphan.” (Ps 145 (146): 7-9; SM)

And thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“My soul, give praise to the Lord.” (Ps 145 (146): 2; SM)

The second reading is a continuation of the second readings of the past few Sundays. Again, the second reading compares the Levitical priesthood of the Jews in the Old Testament with the priesthood of Jesus Christ in the New Testament:

(i) The Levitical priesthood has its sanctuary on earth made by human beings, but the priesthood of Jesus Christ has its sanctuary in heaven where God is!

(ii) The Levitical priest offers sacrifices of blood of animals every year on the Day of Atonement, but Jesus Christ offered himself as a sacrifice once and for all!

(iii) The Levitical priest will not come a second time at the Parousia, but Jesus Christ will come a second time at the Parousia to reward with salvation all who are waiting for him!

Again, today in this Mass, in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Church makes present, real and effective, the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our salvation and again today in this Mass, we receive the Holy Spirit to help us to depend on God for our material and spiritual sustenance! A happy and holy Sunday to all of you! Amen!

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 4th November 2018

Theme: WE LOVE GOD, NEIGHBOR AND ONESELF BECAUSE GOD FIRST LOVED US

  • Deuteronomy 6:2-6;
  • Psalm 17 (18): 2-4. 47. 51. R/ v. 2;
  • Hebrews 7:23-28
  • Mark 12:28-34

Today is the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us about the greatest commandment of the Law, that is, we are to love the Lord our God with all our soul, all our heart, all our mind and with all our strength, that is, we are to love the Lord our God with our whole person and being! And we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves! Three things come to mind:

(i) We love because God first loved us! (1 Jn 4:19) We love God because God first loved us. We love our neighbor because God first loved us. And we love ourselves because God first loved us. Our love for God, neighbor and oneself is only a response to God’s first love for us!

(ii) We cannot love God if we do not also love our neighbor!

“Anyone who says ‘I love God’ and hates his brother, is a liar, since whoever does not love the brother whom he can see cannot love God whom he has not seen. Indeed this is the commandment we have received from him, that whoever loves God, must also love his brother.” (1 Jn 4: 20-21; NJB)

But more importantly, we cannot love our brother if we do not first love God, because love comes from God!

“Love consists in this: it is not we who loved God, but God loved us and sent his Son to expiate our sins. My dear friends, if God loved us so much, we too should love each other.” (1 Jn 4:10-11; NJB)  

H. Fuller (Preaching the Lectionary, 1984) tells us that Jesus joined the first and second commandments in a radical sense:

“Love of God is illusory if it does not issue in love of neighbor, and love of neighbor is refined self-love if it does not proceed from the love of God.”

(iii) In the year 2007, 138 Muslim scholars, clerics and intellectuals, etc. from all over the world, including 2 from Malaysia wrote a letter to Pope Benedict XVI to dialogue on these two greatest commandments to love God and neighbor! Our Pope accepted the invitation to dialogue, emphasizing that one cannot love God if one does not also love one’s neighbor!

The letter was entitled “A Common Word Between Us and You”! (13th October 2007) The common word is love, that is, love of God and love of neighbor! When two of the greatest religions of the world, that is, Christianity and Islam, come together to dialogue on the two greatest commandments of God, there is hope for love and peace in the world! The dialogue is still going on!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us about the greatest commandment of the Law, that is,

“The Lord our God is the one Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength.” (Dt 6:4-5; Sunday Missal (SM))

The first reading also tells us that if we keep the commandments of God, especially the commandment to love God, we will be blessed with long life; long life for ourselves, for our children and for our grand children. We will also be blessed with prosperity and fertility so that we will increase and multiply and have many children and grand children! We will also be blessed with a land flowing with milk and honey, that is, a land of grace and a land of abundance!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the first sentence of the responsorial psalm from which the response is taken:

“I love you, Lord, my strength, my rock, my fortress, my saviour.” (Ps 17 (18): 2-3; SM)

Indeed, the Lord saved us (NJBC) by loving us in his Son Jesus Christ! Thus verses 4. 47 and 51 of the responsorial psalm:

“The Lord is worthy of all praise: when I call I am saved from my foes. Long life to the Lord, my rock! Praised be the God who saves me. He has given great victories to his king and shown his love for his anointed.” (Ps 17 (18): 4. 47. 51; SM)

And thus the response:

“I love you, Lord, my strength.” (Ps 17 (18): 2; SM)

The second reading tells us about the differences between the Levitical Priesthood and the Priesthood of Jesus Christ:

(i) The Levitical Priesthood is temporary and transitory, but the Priesthood of Jesus Christ is eternal and permanent.

(ii) The Levitical priest is himself a sinner, but Jesus Christ is sinless.

(iii) The Levitical priest offers sacrifices every year and according to the letter to the Hebrews, everyday, but Jesus Christ offered himself once and for all!

(iv) The Levitical priest cannot save, but Jesus Christ is the only Savior of the world!

Today in the Eucharist, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we make present, real and effective the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our salvation and today in the Eucharist we receive the Holy Spirit to help us love God with all our soul, our heart, our mind and our strength, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves! A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you! Amen!