2nd Sunday of Lent (Year B) – 25th February 2018

Theme: THE CROSS OF JESUS CHRIST IS GLORIOUS: IT IS RESURRECTION AND LIFE

  • Genesis 12:1-4;
  • Psalm 32 (33):4-5. 18-20. 22. R/ v. 22;
  • 2 Timothy 1:8-10
  • Matthew 17:1-9

Today is the 2nd Sunday of Lent, Liturgical Year B, but we are using the readings of Year A, because there will be Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! Lent is a time when we prepare for Easter. Lent is a time when we prepare for the Baptism of our catechumens on Easter Vigil Night and the renewal of our own Baptism on Easter Vigil Night!

The gospel today tells us that the cross of Jesus Christ is glorious! The cross of Jesus Christ is resurrection and life! That is why today’s gospel is found immediately after Jesus predicted his passion, death and resurrection, and after he instructed his disciples to take up their crosses to follow him in order to find life!

The gospel today tells us about the transfiguration of the Lord. His face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as light! The transfiguration was not the resurrection. It was only the preview, the foreshadow and the prefigure of the resurrection. The transfiguration was to strengthen the faith of the disciples for the coming suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ!

The gospel also tells us that a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favor. Listen to him”. That is, Jesus is the Son of God and the Suffering Servant of God (“he enjoys my favor”, Is 42:1), listen to him, especially when he tells you about his suffering, death and resurrection!

Finally, the gospel also tells us that Jesus ordered his disciples not to tell anyone about the transfiguration for fear that the people may mistake him to be a political, nationalistic, and military messiah, or a wonder-worker and miracle-worker messiah! Jesus is much more than all that! Jesus is the suffering messiah, the crucified Christ, the suffering and crucified Savior!

Again, the gospel today tells us that the cross of Jesus Christ is glorious! The cross of Jesus Christ is resurrection and life!

In the first reading the Lord tells Abraham to leave his country, his family and his father’s house and to go to a land that the Lord will show him. And the Lord will make him into a great nation, that is, the Lord will give him many descendents and make his descendents into a great nation! And the Lord will bless him and through him, the Lord will bless all the nations! And Abraham went as the Lord told him.

During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms; to help us leave our sins, our world, and ourselves and to go to a land that the Lord will show us. And the Lord will bless us and through us, the Lord will bless all the nations! And like Abraham, we will go as the Lord tells us!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us to put all our hope in God and in his love! Not half our hope, but all our hope; not in man, but in God; and not in his law, but in his love! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.” (Ps 32 (33): 22; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza (vv. 4-5) tells us that the Lord created us out of love. The second stanza (vv. 18-19) tells us that the Lord saved us out of love. And the third stanza (vv. 20. 22) from which the response is taken tells us that we are to put all our hope in God and in his love! The word “love” appears in all the three stanzas, and in the response! 

In the second reading, Saint Paul tells Timothy to suffer for the preaching of the Good News, because Jesus Christ has destroyed death and has proclaimed life and immortality through the Good News! Thus we read in the second reading:

“With me, bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News, …. He (Christ Jesus) abolished death, and he has proclaimed life and immortality through the Good News.” (2 Tm 1:8. 10; SM)

During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms; to help us carry our crosses to follow Jesus, that is, to help us to die to our sins, our world, ourselves and to live for God and for neighbor! The Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms, to help us prepare for Easter. And to help us to prepare for the Baptism of our catechumens on Eater Vigil Night and the renewal of our own Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! A blessed Lent to all of you! Amen!

1st Sunday of Lent (Year A) – 18th February 2018

Theme: LENT IS A TIME WHEN WE PREPARE TO DIE AND RISE WITH JESUS CHRIST TO THE NEW LIFE OF EASTER

  • Genesis 2:7-9. 3:1-7;
  • Psalm 50 (51): 3-6. 12-14. 17. R/ v. 3;
  • Romans 5:12. 17-19
  • Matthew 4:1-11

Today is the first Sunday of Lent. Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ at Easter. Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter in the sacrament of Baptism and in the renewal of our Baptism at Easter.

Lent is therefore a time of penance, repentance and conversion. Conversion is turning away from sin, from oneself, and from the world; and turning to God, to the God of love, mercy and forgiveness, to the God of Jesus Christ who died and rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Baptism. Lent is therefore a time when we prepare to die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter in the sacrament of Baptism and in the renewal of our Baptism at Easter! The readings today tell us to repent and to convert! The word “convert” comes from a Latin word convertere meaning “to turn around”!

The first reading tells us that Adam and Eve turned away from God and turned to themselves. They wanted to be like gods. They did not want to depend on God; they wanted to depend on themselves. They wanted to decide for themselves what is good and what is evil. As a result sin and death entered the world!

More importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus Christ the second Adam, the new Adam, turned back to God! Thus the three replies of Jesus to the three temptations of the devil:

To the temptation of changing stones into bread, Jesus replied: “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Mt 4:4/Dt 8:3)

To the temptation of throwing himself down from the top of the temple, Jesus replied: “You must not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Mt 4:7/Dt 6:16)

To the temptation of worshiping the devil for all the kingdoms of the world, Jesus replied: “Be off, Satan! For scripture says: You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone.” (Mt 4:10/Dt 6:13)

Most importantly, the second reading tells us that just as Adam brought sin and death into the world; Jesus Christ the second Adam, the new Adam brought grace, justification/salvation and life into the world! Thus we read in the second reading:

“For if, by the transgression of one person, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one person Jesus Christ.” (Rm 5:17/CSB)

It is through the grace of Jesus Christ that we repent, convert, and turn back to God this Lent!

Thus we can make the responsorial psalm our own “Prayer of Repentance”! (CSB) The “historical heading” (NJBC) of the responsorial psalm associates it with David when the prophet Nathan came to him after he committed the sin of adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband.

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas are a prayer for the forgiveness of our sins. The third and fourth stanzas ask God to give us his holy spirit to give us new life so that we will not sin anymore! (CSB/NJBC) Thus the responsorial psalm:

“Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. In your compassion blot out my offence. O wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. (Stanza 1)

My offences truly I know them; my sin is always before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned; what is evil in your sight I have done. (Stanza 2)

A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, nor deprive me of your holy spirit. (Stanza 3)

Give me again the joy of your help; with a spirit of fervor sustain me. O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall declare your praise.” (Stanza 4)

During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to do penance, to pray, to fast and to give alms. Penance is not a punishment. Penance helps us to repent and to convert. Prayer includes Lectio Divina (spiritual reading of the Bible), attending Sunday Mass, going to confession, etc. Fasting, that is, eating one full meal a day, is obligatory on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday for those over 18 years old and under 60 years old. Abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory for those over 14 years old. However we can voluntarily fast every Friday of Lent. Our religion is not a religion of the law, but a religion of love, a religion of the Spirit, a religion of freedom! Almsgiving is to help the poor and to help ourselves to trust in providence. God provides! Thus the religious take the vow of poverty! They depend on God! They do not depend on money!

Pope Benedict XVI has a Lenten Message for us! He emphasizes on fasting. He tells us that fasting helps us to avoid sin, to restore friendship with God, to do the will of God, to love God and neighbor, and to help the poor.

The Consequences of Not Fasting: cannot avoid sin, cannot restore friendship with God, cannot do God’s will, cannot love God and neighbor, and cannot help the poor.

Bishop Julius also has a Lenten Message for us! He tells us that Lent is a time of repentance, reconciliation and conversion. Lent is a time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving to prepare for the celebration of Easter. He emphasizes that Lent is a time to help the poor. He also tells us that Lent is a time when our catechumens prepare for their Baptism at Easter.

A Happy Lent to all of you!                                                                       Amen!

Ash Wednesday (Year A, B, C) – 14th February 2018

Theme: REPENT, AND BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL

  • Joel 2:12-18;
  • Psalm 50 (51):3-6.12-14. 17. R/ v. 3;
  • 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2
  • Matthew 6:1-6. 16-18

Today we celebrate Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lenten season of forty days. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, because the Sundays of Lent are not days of penance!

Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter! Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the baptism of our Catechumens and the renewal of our own baptism on Easter Vigil Night!

Lent is therefore a time of penance, repentance and conversion! The word conversion comes from a Latin word meaning an about turn, a U turn, a 180 degree turn! A turning away from sin, from the world, from oneself and a turning to God and neighbor!

The gospel today tells us to pray, to fast, and to give alms to the poor, not for show, as the hypocrites do, but for penance, repentance, and conversion!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us to repent. More importantly, the first reading tells us to repent because God is merciful. He will forgive us our sins!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm asks God to forgive our sins. More importantly, the responsorial psalm asks God to give us a new heart so that we will not sin anymore!

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas (vv. 3-6) ask God to forgive us our sins. The third and fourth stanzas (vv. 12-14. 17) ask God to give us a new heart so that we will not sin anymore!

The second reading follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading tells us to be reconciled to God, because God has already reconciled us to himself in Jesus Christ! And the time for reconciliation is now! The favorable time is now! The time for salvation is now!

During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms to the poor to help us do penance, repent and convert. The word Convert means to turn.

Prayer helps us to turn to God. Fasting helps us to turn away from ourselves and to turn to God, because fasting helps us in our prayers! Fasting also helps us to turn to our neighbor, because the money saved from fasting is given to the poor! Almsgiving to the poor and the needy helps us to turn away from the world and to turn to our neighbor.

Prayer, fasting and almsgiving help us to turn away from sin, from the world, from oneself, and to turn to God and neighbor!

Prayer, fasting and almsgiving help us to prepare for the celebration of Easter, particularly for the baptism of our catechumens on Easter Vigil Night, and the renewal of our own baptism on Easter Vigil Night!

We shall now proceed to bless and distribute the ashes! The ashes are a sign of our penance and repentance! As the priest distributes the ashes he says, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” (cf. Mk 1:15) In the old Missal the priest says, “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel.”

Repentance is not only turning away from sin, but it is also turning away from the world and from oneself. Believing in the gospel is not only being faithful to the gospel, but having faith in the gospel! Having faith in Jesus Christ and having faith in God!

The second formula is “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (cf. Gn 3:19) This was what God said to Adam when he sinned against God!

Without God we are indeed dust and death, but with God we are spirit and life and eternal life! That is why we have to “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”!

We shall now proceed with the blessing and distribution of the ashes! A happy Lent to all of you!

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 11th February 2018

Theme: THE LORD HEALS US OF OUR PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL LEPROSY

  • Leviticus 13:1-2. 44-46;
  • Psalm 31 (32): 1-2. 5. 11. R/ v. 7;
  • 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1
  • Mark 1:40-45

Today is the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. The readings today tell us that the Lord heals us of our physical and spiritual leprosy.

The gospel today tells us that Jesus healed a leper. Leprosy in the Bible includes many forms of skin diseases.

I once visited a leper hospital and I saw patients without noses, lips, toes, fingers, and even without a foot. I was assured by the doctor that they were not contagious as they were under treatment and medication.

But after shaking their hands I did not dare to touch my face or nose or any part of my body for fear that I may be infected. When I reached home I washed my hands many times over with soap.

Today there is a cure for physical leprosy, but today there is no cure for spiritual leprosy, that is, our sins. Only Jesus Christ can heal us of our spiritual leprosy by his death, resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

That is why after curing the leper, Jesus warned him sternly not to tell anyone about it, for fear that the people make mistake him to be a wonder-worker or a miracle-worker Messiah.

Jesus Christ is a suffering Messiah, a crucified Messiah! This “Messianic Secret” of the gospel of St. Mark will only be revealed after Jesus’ death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! (NJB; CCB; Fuller) That is why the symbol of Christianity is the crucifix, the crucified Christ, not the empty cross!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the leper is to be excluded from the community, especially from the worshipping community, because he is not only physically unclean, but he is also ritually unclean!

The Law of Moses cannot heal one of physical leprosy and spiritual leprosy. The Law of Moses can only exclude the leper from the community, especially the worshipping community. Only the love of Jesus Christ can heal one of physical leprosy and spiritual leprosy and include one in the community, especially the worshipping community!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Leprosy is a symbol of sin! The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving for the forgiveness of sins. (HCSB) It is a penitential psalm. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.” (Ps 31 (32): 7; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza (vv. 1-2) tells us that the forgiven sinner is blessed. The second stanza (v. 5) tells us that the sinner confesses his sins to God and God forgives his sins. And the third stanza (v. 11) tells us that the just and upright man is full of joy! (CSB; NJBC)

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us not to cause scandal, that is, not to cause other people to fall into sin! We may be doing the right thing, we may not be doing the wrong thing, but if what we do causes scandal, we are not to do it. Whatever we do, must be done for the glory of God and for the good of others!

In the second reading today, St. Paul tells the Corinthians not to eat food and not to drink drinks offered to idols, not because it is wrong, but because it will scandalize the weak! (IBC; CCB)

In our own day, the Chinese New Year Mass which we will celebrate next week may be a cause of scandal for some people. In 2012, a Catholic church in Malaysia, a red ancestral altar was erected, with red candles, big joss sticks, food offering, and with two priests bowing three times in veneration of the ancestral tablet has caused scandal to many people, including Catholics, non-Catholics, non-Christians, etc. It was a scandal of idolatry, that is, worshiping false gods! (Herald, 12.2.12, p. 4)

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 heal us of our physical and spiritual leprosy. The Holy Spirit will help us heal others of their physical and spiritual leprosy. And the Holy Spirit will help us not to cause scandal to other people. A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you!  Amen!

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 4th February 2018

Theme: THE LORD HEALS US PHYSICALLY, MENTALLY AND SPIRITUALLY

  • Job 7:1-4. 6-7;
  • Psalm 146 (147): 1-6. R/ v. 3;
  • 1 Corinthians 9:16-19. 22-23
  • Mark 1:29-39

Today is the 5th Sunday in Ordinary time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that the Lord heals us physically (body), mentally (mind) and spiritually (spirit)!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus healed the mother-in-law of Simon Peter physically by curing her of her fever. She recovered fuller. That is why she could serve Jesus and his companions.

The second paragraph of the gospel tells us that Jesus also healed a lot of people physically, mentally and spiritually by curing them of their many diseases and casting out devils!

Finally, the third paragraph of the gospel tells us that Jesus got up early in the morning, even before sunrise, to pray in a lonely place by himself. Peter and his companions went to look for him. In fact everybody was looking for him.

But Jesus left with his disciples to the other towns in Galilee to preach the good news, for that is what he came for! Jesus preached the good news and cast out devils in the other towns of Galilee.

It is important to note that after casting out the devils, Jesus forbade them to reveal that he was the Messiah; for fear that the people may think that he was a nationalistic, military, and political Messiah, or a wonder-worker, miracle-worker Messiah.

Jesus was more than all that! Jesus was a suffering Messiah, a crucified Messiah. This will only be revealed after his death, resurrection, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! This is the “Messianic Secret” of St. Mark’s gospel! (NJB; NJBC; Fuller)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Job was suffering physically, mentally and spiritually. Job lost all his property and children and Job himself was suffering from a painful skin disease.

In the first reading Job compared himself to a soldier, a laborer and a slave who in those days led very hard lives. Job could not sleep. When night came Job waited for morning and when morning came Job waited for night. Job’s life passed quickly away without any hope and without any happiness.

There are two important things to note about Job. The first is that in Job’s time the Jews did not quite yet believe in an afterlife or an eternal life. The second is that Job was innocent. The question is why do good people suffer? Why do innocent people suffer?

The answer is, to test their faith, not in the sense of seeing how strong their faith is, but in the sense of making their faith stronger! And with a stronger faith, God will reward them even more as Job was rewarded twice over in the end! (Jb 42: 10-17; CSB, Introduction)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord heals the broken-hearted. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Praise the Lord who heals the broken-heart.” (Ps 146 (147): 3; SM)

The responsorial psalm is an “invitation to praise God, the creator who cares for the afflicted”. (NJBC) Thus verse 3 of the responsorial psalm from which the response is taken:

“He heals the broken-hearted, he binds up all their wounds.” (Ps 146 (147): 3; SM)

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us that St. Paul was called by God to preach the good news and that is why he does it free of charge! St. Paul did not choose to preach the good news himself. Had St. Paul chosen to preach the good news himself he would have charged for preaching the good news.

Like Jesus in the gospel today, the first duty of St. Paul was to preach the good news and to preach it free of charge! Today too, the first duty of bishops, priests and the whole people of God is to preach the good news and to preach it free of charge! It is a vocation, not a profession! That is why it is free of charge!

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 heal us physically (body), mentally (mind) and spiritually (spirit); and the Holy Spirit will help us heal others physically, mentally and spiritually. The Holy Spirit will help us preach the good news and to preach it free of charge! A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen!

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 28th January 2018

Theme: JESUS THE TEACHER OF LOVE WITH POWER TO EXORCISE THE DEVIL OF SIN AND DEATH

  • Deuteronomy 18:15-20;
  • Psalm 94 (95): 1-2. 6-9. R/ v. 7f;
  • 1 Corinthians 7:32-35
  • Mark 1:21-28

Today is the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us about Jesus the teacher. The gospel today tells us that Jesus teaches something new and with authority behind it. He has the authority and power even to exorcise the devil of sin and death.

The Devil brought sin and death into the world through Adam. Jesus the new Adam has the power to exorcise the devil of sin and death. Jesus is also the new Moses who teaches the new law of love with the power to overcome sin and death! Thus we read in the gospel today:

“‘Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’” (Mk 1:27; SM)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. In the first reading Moses tells the people of Israel that God will raise up for them a prophet like Moses himself and that they must listen to him. Christians see in this future prophet the “Messiah-Prophet”, the “second Moses” (NJB), the new Moses, Jesus Christ! (NJBC)

Again, Jesus Christ, the new Moses teaches the new law of love with the power to overcome sin and death. The old Moses teaches the old law. The old law is without power to overcome sin and death! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Moses said to the people: ‘Your God will raise up for you a prophet like myself, from among yourselves, from your own brothers; to him you must listen.’” (Dt 18:15; SM)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“O that today you would listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts.” (Ps 94 (95): 7f; SM)

The responsorial psalm is a call to worship and obedience. (HCSB) The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first and second stanzas are a call to worship God the creator and savior/shepherd. The third stanza is a call to obedience, that is, to listen to God! (CSB; NJBC) Thus the third stanza from which the response is taken:

“O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as on that day at Massah in the desert when your fathers put me to the test; when they tried me, though they saw my work.’” (Ps 94 (95): 7-9; SM)

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday. The second reading is a continuation of the second reading of last Sunday. Again, in the second reading, St. Paul was mistaken to think that the end of the world was imminent, that is, in his own lifetime! (HCSB; NJBC; IBC)

In the second reading, St. Paul tells the men who are not married not to marry so that they can devote all their time to God. A married man has to divide his time between God and his wife. St. Paul also tells the women who are not married not to marry so that they can devote all their time to God. A married woman has to divide her time between her husband and God. Thus we read in the second reading:

“An unmarried man can devote himself to the Lord’s affairs, all he need worry about is pleasing the Lord; but a married man has to bother about the world’s affairs and devote himself to pleasing his wife: he is torn two ways. In the same way an unmarried woman, like a young girl, can devote herself to the Lord’s affairs; all she need worry about is being holy in body and spirit. The married woman, on the other hand, has to worry about the world’s affairs and devote herself to pleasing her husband.” (1 Co 7:32-34; SM)

Although the end of the world is not imminent, the second reading is still relevant to us, especially for priests and religious brothers and sisters! Priests and religious brothers and sisters do not marry so that they have more time for God!

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 the new teaching of Jesus on love and the Holy Spirit will help us teach the new teaching of Jesus on love with the power to overcome sin and death! A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen!

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 21st January 2018

Theme: TURN AWAY FROM SIN AND FROM THE WORLD AND TURN TO GOD – TO THE GOD OF JESUS CHRIST

  • Jonah 3:1-5. 10;
  • Psalm 24 (25): 4-9. R/ v. 4;
  • 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
  • Mark 1:14-20 

Today is the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The gospel today tells us to “Repent, and believe the Good News”. That is, to turn away from sin and from the world, and to turn to God, to the God of Jesus Christ! A God of love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation!

The gospel also tells us that the first disciples, Simon (Peter), Andrew, James and John repented and believed the Good News. That is they turned away from the world and they turned to Jesus Christ! They followed Jesus Christ!

In the case of Simon (Peter) and Andrew, they left their nets at once and followed Jesus. And in the case of James and John they left their father and their father’s employees and their boat and they followed Jesus!

The first four disciples responded to the Good News of repentance immediately (NJBC) and totally, that is, they left everything and followed Jesus (NJB)!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the message of repentance is not only for the Jews, but it is also for the gentiles, the pagans, the non-Jews, the enemies of the Jews, the worst enemies of the Jews, that is, the Ninevites, the Assyrians!

The first reading tells us that when Jonah preached the message of repentance to the Ninevites, they repented with fasting and sackcloth! Consequently, God did not punish them.

It is important to note in the following chapter 4:1-3 that Jonah was angry because God was merciful! Jonah did not want the Ninevites to repent and be saved. Jonah wanted God to destroy the Ninevites.

In the first place, Jonah did not even want to preach to the Ninevites, because he knew that God was loving and merciful, slow to anger and rich in kindness, and slow to punish. (GNB) Jonah was quoting Exodus 34:6-7 where God revealed himself and his divine attributes – most particularly his faithful love – to Moses! (NJB)

Jonah was so angry that he asked God to take his life! He preferred to be dead than to be alive! Jonah was a typical Jew of his time! But most importantly, the whole book of Jonah prepares for the gospel revelation that “God is love”! (NJB)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a prayer for guidance and forgiveness. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Lord, make me know your ways.” (SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza is a prayer for guidance (vv. 4-5). The second stanza is a prayer for forgiveness (vv. 6-7). And the third stanza is an affirmation of God’s goodness, which is the ground of the prayer (8-9)! (HCSB; CSB)

Incidentally, the second reading also follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading also tells us to turn away from the world! In the second reading St. Paul mistakenly thought that the end of the world was imminent! (HCSB; NJBC) Nonetheless the second reading is relevant to us because it corresponds to the gospel exhortation to turn away from the world! Thus we read in the second reading:

“Brothers: our time is growing short. Those who have wives should live as though they had none, and those who mourn should live as though they had nothing to mourn for; those who are enjoying life should live as though there were nothing to laugh about; those whose life is buying things should live as though they had nothing of their own; and those who have to deal with the world should not become engrossed in it. I say this because the world as we know it is passing away.” (1 Co 7:29-31; SM)

Incidentally, St. Paul was advising virgins! (CSB; 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 “Repent and believe the Good News”. The Holy Spirit will help us to turn away from sin and from the world, and to turn to God – to the God of Jesus Christ; a God of love, mercy, forgiveness, and salvation! A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen!