18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 1st Aug 2021

Theme: “WORK FOR FOOD THAT ENDURES TO ETERNAL LIFE.”

  • Exodus 16:2-4. 12-15;
  • Psalm 77 (78): 3-4. 23-25. 54. R/ v. 24;
  • Ephesians 4:17. 20-24
  • John 6:24-35

1. Today is the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us not to “work for food that cannot last”, but to “work for food that endures to eternal life”!

The gospel today tells us that after being fed at “the miracle of the loaves” (Jn 6: 1-15; NJB), the people followed Jesus, but Jesus told them not to work for food that do not last, but to work for food that endures to eternal life. 

More importantly, the gospel tells us that to work for food that endures to eternal life means to believe in Jesus! And when we believe in Jesus, God our Father will give us “bread from heaven”. And the bread from heaven will give life to the world!

Most importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus is the “bread from heaven” who gives life to the world! Thus we read in the gospel today:

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never hunger; he who believes in me will never thirst”. (Jn 6:35; SM)

Indeed Jesus is the “bread of life” both in word and in sacrament! Thus the “Gospel Acclamation” today:

“Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Mt 4:4; SM)     

And thus verse 54 of chapter 6 of today’s gospel:

“Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day”. (NJB)

That is why our Sunday Mass consists of two parts, namely, “the Liturgy of the Word” and “the Liturgy of the Eucharist”. The “Liturgy of the Word” gives us faith. (Rm 10:17) And when we celebrate “the Liturgy of the Eucharist” with faith and eat the body of Christ and drink his blood, the Holy Spirit will transform us into the Body of Christ!

That is why it is important that we come early for Sunday Mass to read the readings before Mass to prepare ourselves for the Mass. And that is why it is important that we listen attentively to the readings and homily during Mass and not talk or use our hand phones during Mass! And that is why it is important that after Mass we share and pray spiritually and personally on the Sunday Mass readings in our Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs)! 

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the people of Israel had nothing to eat in the desert, so they grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and against God. They wanted to return to Egypt to eat meat and bread.

And more importantly, the first reading tells us that God gave them “bread from heaven”! The first reading prefigures the “bread from heaven” that Jesus gives in today’s gospel!

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

“The Lord gave them bread from heaven”. (Ps 77 (78): 24; SM)

And thus verses 23 to 25 of the responsorial psalm:

“He commanded the clouds above and opened the gates of heaven. He rained down manna for their food, and gave them bread from heaven. Mere men ate the bread of angels. He sent them abundance of food”. (SM)

Again, the responsorial psalm prefigures the “bread from heaven” given by Jesus in today’s gospel!

4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again, the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells about “Renewal in Christ” (CSB), that is, to put off “the old self” and to put on “the new self”! This we did in baptism and we continue to do every Sunday in the Eucharist!

    But we are happy to note that in our parish there are so many renewal movements that help us to renew ourselves in Jesus Christ! We have the Charismatic Renewal, the Prayer Meetings, the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs), the Neo-Catechumenal Communities, the Bible-Sharing Groups, the Alpha Course, the Divine Mercy, etc.! All these renewal movements help us renew ourselves in Jesus Christ!   

5. Today in this Mass, we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ, the food of eternal life! And we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we may be renewed in his Son Jesus Christ! A happy and holy Sunday to all of you! Amen!

                                                                                                                                   

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 25th July 2021

Theme: THE LORD FEEDS US WITH MATERIAL AND SPIRITUAL FOOD

  • 2 Kings 4:42-44;
  • Psalm 144 (145): 10-11. 15-18. R/ v. 16;
  • Ephesians 4:1-6
  • John 6:1-15

1. Today is the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that the Lord feeds us with material and spiritual food!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus did three most important things that can solve the three biggest problems in our world today!   

(1) Jesus thanked God for the bread! Today the world does not believe in God and does not pray. Jesus did not only believe in God, but he believed that God was his Father; and Jesus did not only pray, but he prayed the most important prayer of all, that is, the prayer of thanksgiving! The word “Eucharist” means thanksgiving!

Indeed, an American Creation theologian said that if the only prayer we know is “thank you”, that is more than enough! We thank God for creation, salvation and sanctification! Indeed, if we begin by thanking God for creation; for the sun, moon and stars; for the sky, the land and the sea; for the food, the drink and the air, etc.; we will not be able to finish thanking Him even until the end of time!

(2) Jesus fed five thousand men with five loaves and two fish! Today, one of the biggest problems in the world is poverty, hunger, sickness and injustices. Today the gospel exhorts the rich nations of the first world to share with the poor nations of the third world! There is enough for everyone’s need, but there is not enough for everyone’s greed! (M. Gandhi) 

(3) After the people had eaten enough, Jesus instructed his disciples to pick up the pieces left over so that nothing gets “wasted”! (NJB; CSB) “Waste not, want not”! Today our wasteful and greedy lifestyles have destroyed the environment: Global warming, melting of ice, rising seas, floods, drought, fire, and extreme climate change, etc. We need to live a simple lifestyle; we need to distinguish between our needs and our wants! We need to distinguish between our need and our greed! Again, there is enough for everyone’s need, but there is not enough for everyone’s greed!

I am happy to note that in our parish we have begun recycling our newspapers, reusing our plastic bottles and Christmas decorations and we have begun our jumble sale! This is not only to raise funds for building our Catechetical Centre, but more importantly, this is also to protect the environment! Indeed, we need to reduce, reuse and recycle! The 3 Rs!                      

But most importantly, the gospel today tells us that after having eaten enough and having leftovers, the people wanted to make Jesus king, but Jesus escaped back to the hills by himself! Jesus was not only a king who feeds the people with material food, but Jesus was also a Savior who feeds the people with spiritual food, the spiritual food of his body and blood in the Eucharist! Indeed the actions of Jesus in the feeding of the five thousand men symbolize the actions of Jesus in the Eucharist: take, thank, break and give! And indeed, chapter 6 of today’s gospel ends with a discourse on the Eucharist! (Jn 6: 51-58)

“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” (Jn 6:54; CSB)

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the prophet Elisha fed one hundred men with twenty loaves! Jesus fed five thousand men with five loaves! Elisha prefigured Jesus Christ! Again, as in the feeding of the five thousand, there were leftovers! Indeed, God provides and He provides abundantly; not only was there enough to eat, but there were leftovers!

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God provides not only for human beings, but God provides for all His creatures! Thus we read in the second stanza:

“The eyes of all creatures look to you and you give them their food in due time. You open wide your hand, grant the desires of all who live.” (Ps 144 (145): 15-16; SM)

And thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“You open wide your hand, O Lord, and grant our desires.” (Ps 144 (145): 16; SM)

4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again, the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells us to live in unity. This is because of the “seven unities” (CSB), that is, we are united in one Body (church), one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God who is Father of all! That is why we have to live in unity! Become what we are!   

5. Today in this Mass, we thank God the Father for his Son Jesus Christ and we ask God to give us His Holy Spirit, so that like his Son Jesus Christ we may thank Him for all things, we may share our resources with others and we may protect the environment. And so that like his Son Jesus Christ we may give our lives to others and live in unity. A happy and holy Sunday to all of you!   

Amen!

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 18th July 2021

Theme: JESUS CHRIST THE GOOD SHEPHERD

  • Jeremiah 23:1-6;
  • Psalm 22 (23): R/ v. 1;
  • Ephesians 2:13-18
  • Mark 6:30-34

1. Today is the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. The readings today tell us about Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd.

    The gospel tells us that the people were like sheep without a shepherd. More importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd had compassion and pity on them and taught them at some length, though he was tired and had no time to rest and no time to eat. The first duty of a good shepherd is to preach and teach the word of God! Thus we read in the gospel today:

    “So as Jesus stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length.” (Mk 6:34)    

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. But the first reading tells us about the bad shepherds of Judah, particularly King Zedekiah of Judah (6th Century BC) who against the prophet Jeremiah made alliance with Egypt to rebel against Babylon. As a result Jerusalem was destroyed and the people exiled into Babylon.

    The first reading tells us that the bad shepherds (kings) of Judah did not take care of the flock (people) of Judah; as a result the flock was destroyed and scattered. But more importantly, the first reading tells us that the Lord will send good shepherds to Judah to take care of the flock of Judah. But most importantly, the first reading tells us that the Lord will send a good shepherd to Judah to save Judah. The good shepherd’s name will be: The Lord is our Saving Justice, that is, the Lord is our Salvation! (NJBC) Thus we read in the first reading:

    “Look, the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when I shall raise an upright Branch for David; he will reign as king and be wise, doing what is just and upright in the country. In his days Judah will triumph and Israel live in safety. And this is the name he will be called, ‘Yahweh-is-our-Saving-Justice.’” (Jr 23:5-6/NJB)       

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us about the Good Shepherd. The responsorial psalm tells us that the good shepherd provides food and drink for his sheep. Thus we read in the first stanza of the responsorial psalm:

    “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose. Near restful waters he leads me, to revive my drooping spirit.” (Ps 22 (23): 1-3a)

    The responsorial psalm also tells us that the good shepherd is also “the host of the messianic banquet”! (NJB) The images of “shepherd” and “host” are closely related as both provide food and drink! (NJBC) Thus we read in the third stanza of the responsorial psalm:

    “You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes. My head you have anointed with oil; my cup is over flowing.” (Ps 22 (23): 5)         

    Indeed, Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd gives us his Body to eat and his Blood to drink in the Eucharistic banquet!

4. The second reading tells us that it is through the body and blood of Jesus Christ, it is through his cross, it is through his death and resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit, that the Gentiles are united with the Jews, and that the Gentiles and Jews are united with God the Father!    

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 be good shepherds, to preach and teach the word of God, to celebrate the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and to build Christian communities of love and unity, so that our parish Church may be a community of communities of love and unity, and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the world!

                                                                                                                                    Amen! 

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 11th July 2021

Theme: WE ARE TO PREACH THE WORD OF GOD, CAST OUT DEVILS, AND CURE THE SICK

  • Amos 7:12-15;
  • Psalm 84 (85): 9-14. R/ v. 8;
  • Ephesians 1:3-10 (Shorter Form);
  • Mark 6:7-13

1.    Today is the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. Today is also Sunday of the Word of God. The Bible is the word of God. The readings today tell us to preach the word of God.

    The gospel today tells us to preach the good news of repentance (“Repent, and believe the gospel.” cf. Mk 1:15/NJB), to cast out demons and to heal the sick. The good news has the power to effect repentance, to cast out devils and to heal the sick. The good news is about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the giving of the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness; the Holy Spirit of sanctification and salvation. Those who believe in the good news receive the Holy Spirit. And it is in the power of the Holy Spirit that we effect repentance, cast out devils and heal the sick. In fact the good news has the power to prevent us from sinning, prevent the devil from possessing us, and the good news has the power to prevent us from sickness. Indeed, prevention is better than cure!

    The bad news of law, justice and punishment has no power to effect repentance, to cast out devils and to heal the sick. So proclaim the good news and not the bad news! Thus we read in the gospel today:

    “So they set off to preach repentance; and they cast out many devils, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them.” (Mk 6:13)

    The gospel today also tells us that in order to preach the good news of repentance, and to cast out devils, and to cure the sick, we have to depend totally on God. Thus we read in the gospel today:

    “And Jesus instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no haversack, no coppers for their purses. They were to wear sandals but, he added, ‘Do not take a spare tunic.’” (Mk 6:8-9)

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. But the first reading tells us that the prophet Amos preached bad news. The first reading tells us that the priest Amaziah expelled Amos because he preached bad news. Amos was preaching against Israel and its king. He was prophesying the destruction of Israel and its king because of idolatry and injustices. (CSB) Amos was a prophet who prophesied in the eighth century BC in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He was a shepherd/farmer from the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Thus we read in the first reading:

    “Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, said to Amos, ‘Go away, seer, get back to the land of Judah; earn your bread there, do your prophesying there. We want no more prophesying in Bethel; this is the royal sanctuary, the national temple.’” (Am 7:12-13)      

    Today there are those who think that we should proclaim bad news, because today there is also idolatry, that is, the worship of the false gods of money, power, fame, etc., and today there are also injustices as the gap between the rich and the poor nations widen! But we are in the New Testament; we have to proclaim the good news. The good news has the power to change people so that they worship the one true God and so that they practice social justice!     

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a “prayer for the restoration of God’s favor”. It is a prayer for salvation by God. (HCSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “Let us see, O Lord, your mercy and give us your saving help.” (Ps 84 (85): 8) Or a better translation: “Show us, Lord, your love; grant us your salvation.” (Ps 84 (85): 8/CSB)

    The responsorial psalm itself is an announcement/oracle of salvation by the psalmist/prophet on behalf of God (HCSB); it is an announcement of love, mercy, peace, salvation, justice, faithfulness, righteousness, prosperity, fruitfulness, happiness, glory, etc.!      

4. The second reading tells us of God’s plan of salvation and its fulfillment through Jesus Christ. (CSB) The first part of the second reading tells us of God the Father’s plan of salvation (Ep 1:3-6) and the second part of the second reading tells us of its fulfillment through Jesus Christ! (Ep 1:7-10) Thus the caption of the second reading: “God chose us in Christ, before the foundation of the world.” (Ep 1:4/Vatican II SUNDAY MISSAL)

    “God’s plan of salvation” (NJB) is before creation, in creation, and is fulfilled in salvation in Jesus Christ. Creation has a purpose, a meaning, and a direction! The meaning, purpose and direction of creation is salvation in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the Alpha and the Omega! Thus Fr. Teilhard de Chardin SJ (priest and scientist) tells us that evolution gives rise to consciousness and consciousness effects union! Thus we read in the second reading:

    “He has let us know the mystery of his purpose, the hidden plan he so kindly made in Christ from the beginning to act upon when the times had run their course to the end: that he would bring everything together under Christ, as head, everything in the heavens and everything on earth.” (Ep 1:9-10)

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 preach the good news of repentance, cast out devils, and cure the sick!     Amen.                                                                                                                              

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 4th July 2021

Theme: WE ARE TO BE THE PROPHETS OF GOD TO SPEAK THE WORD OF GOD

  • Ezekiel 2:2-5;
  • Psalm 122 (123): R. v. 2;
  • 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
  • Mark 6:1-6

1. Today is the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that we are to be the prophets of God to speak the word of God!

    In the year 2001 there was a synod of the world’s bishops in Rome on the duties of the bishop. The synod concluded that the duties of the bishop was to be prophet, priest and king, that is, to preach and teach the word of God (prophet), to celebrate the sacraments, especially the Eucharist (priest), and to build the Christian community, the Church, and the Kingdom of God (king). But of the three, the first is to preach and teach the word of God! The first is to be a prophet of God!     

    The duties of the priest is also to be prophet, priest, and king, that is, to preach and teach the word of God; to celebrate the sacraments, especially the Eucharist; and to build the Christian community, the Church, and the Kingdom of God. But again, the first duty of the priest is to preach and teach the word of God. The first duty of the priest is to be a prophet of God!

    The priest is not only a priest; he is also a prophet and a king. The “pastoral work” of the priest is not only “sacramentalization”, but also “evangelization”! Indeed, the word of God gives faith, and only with faith can we celebrate the sacraments, and when we celebrate the sacraments with faith, the risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit will help us build the community of love and unity, and the community will become a sign of salvation for the world.

    Indeed, the Church is not a gasoline station or a service station where we come for baptism, marriage, and the other sacraments, etc., but the Church is a Christ centered community, that is, centered on the Word and Eucharist that the Lord has given us. And when we celebrate the Word and Eucharist, the risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit will help us build a community of love and unity, and the community will become a sign of salvation for the world. The identity of the priest cannot be separated from the nature of the Church!

2. The gospel today tells us that Jesus himself was a prophet, but he was rejected by his own people. But Jesus continued preaching and teaching the word of God until his death and resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! We have to preach the word of God even in the face of opposition because it is the word of God and the word of God will prevail! Thus we read in the gospel:

    “And they would not accept him. And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is only despised in his own country among his own relations and in his own house’; and he could work no miracle there, though he cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.” (Mk 6: 3c-6)

3. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading is on the call of Ezekiel to be a prophet to speak the word of God to a rebellious people. Again, Ezekiel had to speak the word of God even in the face of opposition because it is the word of God, and again, the word of God will prevail! Thus we read in the first reading:

    “The Lord said, ‘Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to the rebels who have turned against me. Till now they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me. The sons are defiant and obstinate; I am sending you to them, to say, “The Lord says this.” Whether they listen or not, this set of rebels shall know there is a prophet among them.’” (Ezk 2: 3-5)         

4. In order to be the prophets of God we have to rely on God, we have to depend on God, and we have to put our confidence in God. The responsorial psalm is a psalm of reliance on God. The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first and second stanzas are expressions of confidence in God. The third stanza asks God to save us from our persecutors. (CSB/HCSB)

    Thus the response of the responsorial psalm which is taken from the second stanza: “Our eyes are on the Lord till he show us his mercy.” (Ps 122 (123): 2) And thus the third stanza of the responsorial psalm: “Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy. We are filled with contempt. Indeed all too full is our soul with the scorn of the rich, with the proud man’s disdain.” (Ps 122 (123): 3-4)

5. Incidentally, the second reading tells us that in the face of opposition and persecution St. Paul relied on God. The second reading tells us that St. Paul had a thorn in his flesh. This could mean a sickness (physical or mental), a temptation, or an opponent and persecutor. Probably it meant his opponents and persecutors. Thus the second reading tells us that in the face of opposition and persecution St. Paul relied on God. Thus we read in the second reading:

    “So I shall be very happy to make my weaknesses my special boast so that the power of Christ may stay over me, and that is why I am quite content with my weaknesses, and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and the agonies I go through for Christ’s sake. For it is when I am weak that I am strong.” (2 Co 12: 9b-10)       

6. 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 to be the prophets of God to speak the word of God! Amen.