6th Sunday of Easter (C) – 26th May 2019

Theme: THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL HELP US UNDERSTAND THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS AND PUT THEM INTO PRACTICE

  • Acts 15:1-2. 22-29;
  • Psalm 66 (67): 2-3. 5-6. 8. R/ v. 4;
  • Apocalypse 21:10-14. 22-23
  • John 14:23-29

Today is the 6th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical year C. Next Sunday will be “The Ascension of the Lord”, and the Sunday after that will be “Pentecost Sunday”. Easter is the most important feast in the Church. It is more important than Christmas.

The Church started to celebrate Christmas only in the 4th century, but Easter was celebrated in the very first centuries. In fact, in the first three centuries there were no other celebrations except Easter! Easter is the most important feast, because at Easter we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the whole world!

The gospel today tells us that the Father will send us the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus. And the Holy Spirit will teach us everything and remind us all that Jesus taught us. That is, the Holy Spirit will help us understand the teachings of Jesus and put them into practice! (BM, Opening Prayer 2)

The gospel also tells us that Jesus will give us peace through the Holy Spirit. Peace, shalom, salvation! Peace is not just the absence of war, but peace is shalom (Hebrew), that is, wholeness, well-being, completeness, soundness, lacking nothing, etc., that is salvation!

That is why the gospel tells us not to be afraid! There is nothing to fear, not even sin and death, because there is resurrection and life! A life better than the life before sin and death! In short, there is salvation!

The first reading also tells us about the Holy Spirit. The first reading tells us that the Holy Spirit is with the Church and in the Church, and that the Church teaches in and with the Holy Spirit! (Magisterium)

The first reading tells us that the Holy Spirit and the apostles taught that the Gentile Christians need not follow the Mosaic Law of the Jewish Christians, particularly the law of circumcision; but that as a compromise they have to follow the dietary laws, that is, they are not to eat food offered to idols and they are not to eat meat with blood in them; because they live with the Jewish Christians and eat with them and celebrate the Eucharist with them! They are also to avoid fornication. But for us Christians today the dietary laws symbolize the capital sins of idolatry and murder.

More importantly, the Holy Spirit does not only teach us what laws to keep or not to keep, but the Holy Spirit also helps us to do good, and to avoid evil and to overcome sin!

The responsorial psalm is a petition to God to bless Israel with a good and rich harvest, so that the nations of the world will see the blessings of God on Israel and will worship the God of Israel! Thus the response:

“Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.” (Ps 66 (67): 4)

But in the context of today’s liturgy and readings, we ask God to bless us with the Holy Spirit and with salvation, so that all the nations may see the blessings of the Holy Spirit and of salvation and worship our God! Thus the response:

“Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.” (Ps 66 (67): 4)

The second reading tells us about the New Jerusalem, that is, the Church. The second reading tells us that the New Jerusalem will come down from heaven and God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit will dwell in it. And we will not need the Temple anymore, nor the sun and the moon to light up the day and the night, because the radiant glory of God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit will light up the Church and the world!

That is why today in the Church we have the Liturgy, the Sacraments, and the Sacrament of Sacraments, that is, the Eucharist/Mass! Every Sunday Eucharist/Mass is a celebration of Easter and Pentecost! Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI told the youths in one of the World Youth Days that the Sunday Eucharist/Mass is a perpetual Pentecost! In the Sunday Eucharist/Mass, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! That is why it is most urgent and most important to come to Mass every Sunday!

Today, we thank God our Father for Easter, that is, for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world; and we ask God to continue to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we will understand the teachings of Jesus and put them into practice; and so that like Paul and Barnabas in the first reading, we will proclaim the good news of the resurrection, so that all may hear and believe and be saved; and so that like Paul and Barnabas in the first reading, we will build Christian communities of love and unity, so that all may see and believe and be saved; and so that our Church may be a communion of communities of love and unity, and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the whole world! A happy Easter Season to all of you! Amen!

5th Sunday of Easter (Year C) – 19th May 2019

Theme: WE ARE TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS JESUS LOVED US

  • Acts 14:21-27;
  • Psalm 144 (145): 8-13. R/ v. 1;
  • Apocalypse (Revelation) 21:1-5
  • John 13:31-35

Today is the 5th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical Year C. The gospel today tells us to love one another as Jesus loved us, that is, to love one another in the dimension of the cross, that is, to love the sinner, to forgive the sinner and to save the sinner!

The gospel passage today is sandwiched between the announcement of Judas’s betrayal of Jesus and the prediction of Peter’s denial of Jesus. That is why to love one another as Jesus loved us is to love in the dimension of the cross, to love the sinner, to forgive the sinner and to save the sinner!

St. Cyril of Alexandria who lived between the 4th and 5th centuries (c. 376 – 444) tells us that this commandment to love one another as Jesus loved us is new, because in the old commandment we were asked to love our neighbor as ourselves (Lv 19:18), but in the new commandment we are asked to love our enemies more than we love ourselves! (Herald, 28th April 2013, 5th Easter)

Jesus loved sinners more than he loved himself! That is why he forgave sinners and sacrificed his life for the salvation of sinners! This is the only love that can save the world! Indeed, only this love can save the world!

But how can we love as Jesus loved? How can we love, forgive and save sinners, when we ourselves are sinners? Indeed, we can, with the help of the Holy Spirit! Jesus died, rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit! That is why the words glorify and glorified are mentioned five times at the beginning of today’s gospel!

With the help of the Holy Spirit we can love one another as Jesus loved us, that is, to love in the dimension of the cross, that is, to love, to forgive and to save sinners! Only the love of Jesus Christ can save the whole world!

The first reading tells us about the end of the first missionary journey of St. Paul. The first reading tells us that St. Paul proclaims the good news of the love of Jesus Christ to the pagans, that is, to the whole world! More than that, the first reading also tells us that St. Paul does not only proclaim the good news of the love of Jesus Christ, but he also built churches, not material buildings; but Christian communities of love and unity as signs and sacraments of salvation for the whole world; so that the whole world may see and believe and be saved! The first reading also tells us that we have to suffer many hardships and persecutions in order to build the kingdom of God!

The second reading tells us that in spite of all the persecutions and martyrdoms there will be a new heaven and a new earth. There will be a new Jerusalem, that is, the Church, and there will be a new creation, because God is the one who makes all things new!

Indeed, there will be a new heaven and a new earth, there will be a new Jerusalem, that is, the Church, and there will be a new creation, where we will love one another as Jesus loved us, where we will love in the dimension of the cross, where we will love the sinner, forgive the sinner and save the sinner!

The historical context of the second reading is the persecution and martyrdom of the Christians by the Roman emperors Nero and Domitian in the first century. (HCSB)

The responsorial psalm is a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to God who is love and compassion and who rules with love and compassion! (HCSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“I will bless your name for ever, O God my King.” (Ps 144 (145): 1; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us that God is love and compassion. Thus we read in the first stanza:

“The Lord is kind and full of compassion, slow to anger, abounding in love. How good is the Lord to all, compassionate to all his creatures.” (Ps 144 (145): 8-9; SM)

The second and third stanzas give praise and thanks to God who is love and compassion and who rules with love and compassion.

Today we give thanks to God for his love and compassion in creation and in salvation and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit of his love, so that we can love one another as Jesus loved us, and so that we can proclaim the good news of his love to the whole world, and so that we can build Christian communities of love and unity as signs and sacraments of salvation for the whole world, and so that the whole world might be saved by his love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation! A happy Easter Season to all of you! Amen!

4th Sunday of Easter (C) – 12th May 2019 (Good Shepherd Sunday/Vocation Sunday)

Theme: THE GOOD SHEPHERD KNOWS, LOVES AND SACRIFICES HIMSELF FOR HIS SHEEP

  • Acts 13:14. 43-52;
  • Psalm 99 (100): 1-3. 5. R/ v. 3;
  • Apocalypse (Revelation) 7:9. 14-17
  • Jn 10:27-30 

Today is the 4th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical year C. Today is also Good Shepherd Sunday/Vocation Sunday! The gospel today tells us about Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd. To begin with, the gospel today taken from John chapter 10 on the Good Shepherd is a commentary on John chapter 9 on the “Bad Shepherd”, that is, the Pharisees who excommunicated the cured blind man from the synagogue! (CSB)

The Gospel Acclamation today tells us that the Good Shepherd knows his sheep and his sheep know him, that is, the Good Shepherd knows and loves his sheep and his sheep know and love him! (Jn 10:14; NJB) To know is to love and to love is to know! We cannot love someone we do not know!

The gospel today tells us that the Good Shepherd gives eternal life to his sheep, and his sheep will not be lost, and no one can steal his sheep from him! That is, the Good Shepherd through his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit gives eternal life to his sheep! That is why his sheep will not be lost and no one can steal his sheep from him!

The gospel also tells us that the Good Shepherd and the Father are one! That is, the Good Shepherd lives in love and unity with the Father; the Good shepherd is in communion, communication and community with the Father! In fact the Good Shepherd shares in the very divine nature of the Father!

The second reading also tells us about the Good Shepherd. The second reading tells us that the Lamb of God who was slain and sacrificed and who washed away our sins with his blood is the Good Shepherd! That is why he can give us eternal life! In fact, only he can give us eternal life! Thus we read in the second reading:

“They will never hunger or thirst again; neither the sun nor scorching wind will ever plague them, because the Lamb who is at the throne will be their shepherd and will lead them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.” (Rv 7:16-17; SM)

The gospel and the second reading today tell us that the Good Shepherd knows and loves his sheep, sacrifices himself for his sheep, and is one with the Father! Let us today give thanks to God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd, and let us ask God to give us Good Shepherds who will know and love us, who will sacrifice themselves for us and who will be one with the Father in faith and prayer!

The Good Shepherd is not only for the Jews. The Good Shepherd is also for the pagans and non-Jews! Indeed, the Good Shepherd is for all the nations and for the whole world!

The first reading today tells us that the word of God, the good news, is not only for the Jews, but the word of God, the good news, is also for the non-Jews, the pagans! In fact the first reading tells us that the Jews rejected the word of God, the good news; as a result the word of God was preached to the pagans and the pagans accepted it with joy! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, ‘we had to proclaim the word of God to you first, but since you have rejected it, since you do not think yourselves worthy of eternal life, we must turn to the pagans. For this is what the Lord commanded us to do when he said:

I have made you a light for the nations, so that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth.’” (Ac 13: 46-47; SM)

The responsorial psalm also tells us about the Good Shepherd. The responsorial psalm is a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to God our Shepherd. (HCSB) Thus the response:

“We are his people, the sheep of his flock.” (Ps 99 (100): 3; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza gives praise and thanks to God (vv. 1-2). The second stanza gives praise and thanks to God because he is our creator and shepherd (v. 3)! The third stanza gives praise and thanks to God for his goodness and faithful love (v. 5)!

Today, Good Shepherd Sunday, we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, and we ask God to give us Good Shepherds who will know and love us, who will sacrifice themselves for us, and who will be one in faith and prayer with God the Father!

Today is also Vocation Sunday, today we thank God for the many priestly and religious vocations, and today we ask God to give us many more priestly and religious vocations. Today in our diocese of Sandakan, we have 7 priests and 1 bishop! Today we also have 12 seminarians in our seminary, 5 in Kota Kinabalu and 7 in Kuching. Today we thank God for our seminarians and we continue to pray for them. Today the first and second collections will be given to our Bishop for the upkeep of our seminary and our seminarians.

A happy Easter to all of you, and a happy Good Shepherd and Vocation Sunday to all of you! Amen!

Today, let us also reflect on “Evangelization” and “Pastoral Care”. The two themes are related. In evangelization we proclaim the good news, so that others may believe and be baptized! In pastoral care we continue to love and care for the baptized!

In fact these two themes were present in the longer form of the gospel of last Sunday (Jn 21:1-19; SM; Faley; Brown)! In the shorter form of the gospel of last Sunday, Peter was presented to us as the fisherman, the fisher of men, to catch men for God, that is, evangelization; but the longer form of the gospel presented Peter to us as the shepherd who feeds Jesus’ sheep, that is, pastoral care!

Today the first reading also tells us about evangelization, and the second reading and the gospel tell us about pastoral care!

Three weeks ago on Easter Vigil Night many of our brothers and sisters received the three sacraments of Christian Initiation, namely, Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist! We need to continue to love and care for them! We need to invite them to be with us in the Alpha Course, the Prayer Meetings, the Neo-Catechumenal Communities, the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs), the Bible-Sharing Groups, the Legion of Mary, etc.!

Most importantly, parents and godparents must make sure that our newly baptised and confirmed attend Mass every Sunday! The shepherds must make sure that the sheep eat and drink every Sunday! Again, a happy Good Shepherd Sunday to all of you!  Amen!