PASSION SUNDAY / PALM SUNDAY (Year A, B, C) – 5th April 2020

Theme: THE PASSION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IS VICTORIOUS AND GLORIOUS

  • Mathew 21:1-11;
  • Isaiah 50:4-7;
  • Psalm 21:8-9. 17-20. 23-24. R. v. 2;
  • Philippians 2:6-11
  • Matthew 26:14 – 27:66 (Shorter form 27:11-54)

Today is “Passion Sunday” or “Palm Sunday” or “Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion”! The readings today tell us that the passion (suffering and death) of our Lord is victorious, glorious, triumphant, resurrection, life, and life-giving! The palm symbolizes glory, life, hope, victory, triumph, and resurrection! (HWK, CG, Penang)

The gospel today tells us that immediately after the death of our Lord Jesus Christ the veil of the temple was torn in two, that is, the Holy of Holies where God is present will not be accessible only to the High Priest and only once a year on the day of Atonement; but it will be accessible to all and everyday of the year! (CSB/HCSB)

The gospel also tells us that immediately after the death of Jesus the bodies of many holy men rose from the dead! And finally the gospel tells us that the pagan centurion and his soldiers believed in Jesus and professed their faith: “In truth this was a son of God.”!

Thus we read: “But Jesus again crying out in a loud voice, yielded up his spirit. At that, the veil of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked; the rocks were split; the tombs opened and the bodies of many holy men rose from the dead, and these, after his resurrection, came out of the tombs, entered the Holy City and appeared to a number of people. Meanwhile the centurion, together with the others guarding Jesus, had seen the earthquake and all that was taking place, and they were terrified and said, ‘In truth this was a son of God.’”! (Mt 27:51-54)

Again, the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ is victorious, glorious, triumphant, resurrection, life, and life-giving!

The second reading also tells us that the passion of Jesus Christ is victorious and glorious! Thus we read in the second reading:

“His state was divine, yet Christ Jesus did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave, and became as men are, and being as all men are, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross.

But God raised him high and gave him the name which is above all other names so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”! (Ph 2:6-11)

Finally, the first gospel (Mt 21:1-11/Blessing of the palms) also tells us that the passion of Jesus is victorious and glorious! The first gospel tells us that Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem to undergo his passion is triumphant, victorious and glorious! (HCSB/NJBC): “A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna (Praise/HCSB) to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!’” (Mt 21:8-9)

The palms are to be put close to the crucifix to show that the cross is glorious!! 

Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday) begins Holy Week! On Holy Thursday we will celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Washing of feet)! On Good Friday we will celebrate the Lord’s Passion (Veneration/Kissing of the Cross)! And on Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday we will celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord (Baptism and Renewal of Baptism)! A Happy and Holy Week to all of you! Amen!

5th Sunday of Lent (Year A) – 29th March 2020

Theme: IN BAPTISM JESUS RAISES US FROM DEATH AND IN BAPTISM JESUS PREVENTS US FROM SIN AND DEATH WITH HIS GRACE SO THAT WE WILL NOT SIN AND DIE ANYMORE

  • Ezekiel 37:12-14;
  • Psalm 129 (130). R/ v. 7;
  • Romans 8:8-11
  • John 11:1-45 (Shorter Form, verses 3-7. 17. 20-27. 33-45)

Today is the 5th Sunday of Lent, and next Sunday will be Passion/Palm Sunday, and the Sunday after that will be Easter Sunday! Again, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter. Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the sacrament of baptism on Easter Vigil night! Again, the readings today tell us about baptism. The readings today tell us about the great themes of baptism, namely, faith, resurrection, life, the Holy Spirit and repentance.

The gospel today tells us that Jesus is the resurrection and the life, and whoever believes in him even though he dies he will live, and whoever lives and believes in him will never die! The gospel tells us that whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the one who was to come into the world will be raised from death!

Again, Jesus is the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in him even though he dies he will live and whoever lives and believes in him will never die.

The gospel today tells us that Jesus will raise us up from the dead on the last day. But more than that, the gospel tells us that Jesus will raise us up from the dead here and now in the sacrament of baptism.

And more than that, the gospel tells us that Jesus will not only raise us up from the dead here and now, but he will also prevent us from sin and death here and now with the grace of baptism, so that we will not sin and die anymore!

Mary was prevented from sin and death by the grace of Jesus Christ! That is why we Catholics believe in the “Immaculate conception”, that is, Mary was conceived without sin to prepare her to be the Mother of God!

Again, in baptism, Jesus raises us up from death, here and now; and in baptism Jesus Christ also prevents us from sin and death by his grace, so that we will not sin and die anymore!

Thus we read in the gospel today:

“Jesus said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ‘Yes Lord,’ Martha said ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world.’ Jesus cried in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, here! Come out!’ The dead man came out.” (Jn 11: 25-27. 43-44; SM)

The second reading follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading tells us that Jesus Christ raises us from the dead through the power of the Holy Spirit. The second reading tells us that just as Jesus Christ was raised from the dead by the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus will also raise us from the dead through the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus we read in the second reading:

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, then he who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your own mortal bodies through the Spirit living in you.” (Rm 8:11; SM)

The waters of baptism are not just holy water, but the waters of baptism are waters of the Holy Spirit! Only the Holy Spirit can destroy sin and death and give us new life! We enter and leave the church by signing ourselves with the sign of the cross and with holy water to remind ourselves of our baptism!

The first reading also follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us that we are raised to life by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The first reading is a prediction of the restoration of Israel from the Babylonian exile, but more importantly, for us Christians, it is a prophecy of the resurrection from the dead through the power of the Holy Spirit! Thus we read in the first reading:

“You will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you from your graves, my people. And I shall put my spirit in you, and you will live.” (Ezk 37:13-14; SM)

The responsorial psalm is a penitential psalm. It is a prayer for pardon and mercy. The responsorial psalm has four stanzas.

The first stanza tells us that the psalmist cries to God (vv. 1-2). The second stanza tells us that the psalmist prays for God’s mercy and forgiveness (vv. 3-4). The third stanza tells us that the psalmist trusts in God’s mercy and forgiveness (vv. 5-6). The fourth stanza tells us that the whole community must trust in God’s mercy and forgiveness (vv. 7-8). (CSB)

Thus the response of the responsorial psalm which is taken from the fourth stanza:

“With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.” (Ps 129 (130): 7; SM)

Again, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter. Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the sacrament of baptism on Easter Vigil night. That is why during this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms to the poor. A happy Lent to all of you! Amen!

4th Sunday of Lent (Year A) – 22nd March 2020

Theme: LENT IS A TIME WHEN WE PREPARE TO CELEBRATE THE SACRAMENTS OF INITIATION: BAPTISM, CONFIRMATION AND EUCHARIST

  • 1 Samuel 16:1. 6-7. 10-13;
  • Psalm 22. R/ v. 1;
  • Ephesians 5:8-14
  • John 9:1-41 (Shorter Form, verses 1. 6-9. 13-17. 34-38)

Today is the 4th Sunday of Lent. Today is also “Rejoice” Sunday or joyful Sunday! We are joyful because we are more than half way through to Easter! That is why today we use rose vestments instead of purple vestments!

Again, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter. Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the sacrament of baptism on Easter Vigil night! Besides receiving the sacrament of baptism, some of us are also receiving the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist! These three sacraments are the sacraments of initiation into full communion with the Catholic Church!

The readings today tell us about these three sacraments of initiation, namely, baptism, confirmation and Eucharist.

The gospel today tells us about the sacrament of baptism. The gospel today tells us that Jesus “anointed” (Lefrois; Brown) the blind man with saliva mixed with earth and told the blind man to wash himself in the Pool of Siloam. Siloam means ‘sent’. Jesus was sent by the Father. After washing himself, the blind man could see, that is, see with the eyes of faith! He could see God in creation, in salvation, and in sanctification!

Washing, anointing and faith are three important themes of baptism. When we are baptized, we are washed with the waters of baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit cleanses us of our sins and gives us new life! A new life that is even better than the life before sin! Paul tells us that the grace of Jesus Christ more than compensated for the sin of Adam! When sin increased, grace increased all the more!

After that we are anointed with the oil of Chrism as Christ was anointed priest, prophet and king. We share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ. As a priest, I share in the “ministerial priesthood” of Christ in the “parish church”. You share in the “common priesthood” of Christ. This is especially evident in the “BECs” (Basic Ecclesial Communities), that is, in the “community church” and in the “domestic church” where the head of the house presides in prayer and worship. You are also prophets. You proclaim the word of God and you share and pray and act on the word of God in the BECs! You are also kings. You build the kingdom of God and you build the Church by building BECs of love and unity, and of justice and peace!

After washing himself, the blind man could see with the eyes of faith! The gospel tells us that not only the blind man had faith, but that his faith also grew. At first he saw Jesus as a man, then he recognized Jesus to be a prophet, and finally he believed in the Son of Man, Jesus and worshipped him as Lord! The Pharisees on the other hand did not believe in Jesus, then they did not even believe that the blind man was blind, and finally they believed that Jesus was a sinner! Even today there are those who believe that Jesus was a sinner! Indeed, they have lost their faith!

After baptism, we have to renew our baptism every year, so that like the blind man, our faith will grow stronger and stronger every year! Otherwise like the Pharisees our faith will grow weaker and weaker every year!

There is another important theme of baptism found in the longer form of the gospel today, that is, light! It is related to the theme of faith, particularly to the faith of the blind man. Light in the New Testament basically, symbolizes three things, namely, faith, life and good. (NJB; Jn 8:12) The three themes are related, that is, if we have faith in God, we will receive new life, and this new life is a life of good and good works!

The gospel today tells us about the light of faith. Thus we read in the long form of the gospel: “As long as I am in the world I am the light of the world.” (Jn 9:5; SM)

The Gospel Acclamation today tells us about the light of life. Thus we read in the Gospel Acclamation: “I am the light of the world, says the Lord; anyone who follows me will have the light of life.” (Jn 8:12; SM)

Finally the second reading tells us about the light of good and good works. Thus we read in the second reading: “You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord; be like children of light, for the effects of the light are seen in complete goodness and right living and truth.” (Ep 5:8-9; SM)

After baptism and after being anointed with the oil of Chrism, we will be given candles lighted from the big Easter candle symbolizing the light of Jesus Christ, the light of faith, life and goodness!

The first reading tells us about the sacrament of confirmation. To confirm is to strengthen, to make strong. In the sacrament of baptism we are born again in the Holy Spirit. In the sacrament of confirmation we are made strong in the Holy Spirit! David was a youth, but he was made strong in the Spirit so he could defeat the giant Goliath! We read this in the next chapter (1 S 17). Thus we read in the first reading:

“The Lord said, ‘Come, anoint him, for this is the one.’ At this, Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him where he stood with his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord seized on David and stayed with him from that day on.” (1 S 16:12-13; SM) In the next chapter, David defeats the giant Goliath! (1 S 17)

The responsorial psalm today tells us about the Eucharist! Just as we are born again in baptism and we are made strong in confirmation, we continue to grow stronger and stronger in the Eucharist by eating the body of Christ and drinking the blood of Christ every Sunday! That is why it is important to come to Mass every Sunday after baptism! If we do not eat and drink, we die! Our faith will die! That is why not coming to Mass on Sunday is a mortal sin! The word mortal is from a Latin word meaning death!

Again, it is the Lord who provides – providence! The Lord provides us with both material food and drink, and spiritual food and drink! Thus we read in the first and third stanzas of the responsorial psalm depicting the Lord as Shepherd and Host respectively:

“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.” (Stanza 1; SM)

“You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes. My head you have anointed with oil; my cup is overflowing.” (Stanza 3; SM)

Again, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter. Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the sacrament of baptism on Easter Vigil night. Besides receiving the sacrament of baptism, some of us are also receiving the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist.

Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the sacraments of initiation, namely, baptism, confirmation and Eucharist. That is why the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms to the poor during this time of Lent. A happy Lent to all of you! Amen!

3rd Sunday of Lent (Year A) – 15th March 2020

Theme: IN FAITH AND BAPTISM WE RECEIVE THE LIVING WATER OF  THE HOLY SPIRIT AND WE DIE AND RISE WITH JESUS CHRIST TO  THE NEW LIFE OF EASTER

  • Exodus 17:3-7;
  • Psalm 94:1-2. 6-9. R. v. 8;
  • Romans 5:1-2. 5-8
  • John 4:5-16. 19-26. 39-42. (Shorter Form)

Today is the 3rd Sunday of Lent, Year A. The readings today tell us that in faith and Baptism we receive the living water of the Holy Spirit and we die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

The first reading tells us that the people of Israel did not have faith in God and grumbled against Moses: ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt to die of thirst, and our children too and our cattle too?’ The place was called Meribah and Massah because the people of Israel quarreled with God and tested God saying: ‘Is the Lord with us, or not?’

The responsorial psalm is a call to praise and obedience. The first two stanzas is a call to praise God the Shepherd of Israel.

The third stanza follows the theme of the first reading, “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.’

In other words, do not test God, do not try God; but trust God and have faith in God!

The gospel tells us that the Samaritan woman had faith in Jesus, but more than that the gospel tells us that her faith in Jesus grew from believing Jesus to be a man, to believing Jesus to be a prophet, and to believing Jesus to be the Messiah! And more than that she became a missionary of Jesus and she brought many Samaritans to Jesus and the Samaritans believed that Jesus is the savior of the world!

Finally, the second reading tells us that we are justified by faith through Jesus Christ! Thus we read in the second reading: “Through our Lord Jesus Christ by faith we are judged righteous and at peace with God, since it is by faith and through Jesus that we have entered this state of grace in which we can boast about looking forward to God’s glory.” (5:1-2)

But more importantly, the readings today tell us that in faith and Baptism we receive the living water of the Holy Spirit and we die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

The first reading tells us that God gave the people of Israel water to drink in the desert so that the people of Israel will not die of thirst in the desert!

In Baptism God gives us the living water of the Holy Spirit to forgive our sins, so that we will not die in our sins, but live a new life!

The gospel tells us that Jesus gave living water to the Samaritan woman who although has had five husbands was thirsting for the living water of the Holy Spirit of God’s love!

In Baptism God gives us the living water of the Holy Spirit of God’s love to forgive our sins and to give us new life!

Finally, the second reading tells us that the living water is the love of God poured into our hearts by the gift of the Holy Spirit!

Again, in Baptism God pours the living water of his love into our hearts by the gift of the Holy Spirit to forgive our sins and to give us new life!

The readings today have been chosen by the Church to prepare our catechumens for Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! These readings from Year A are read whenever there will be Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! During this time of Lent the Church has also asked our catechumens to pray, to fast, and to give alms, in order to prepare themselves for Baptism on Easter Vigil Night!

We will now celebrate the Rite of the First Scrutiny with our Catechumens and we will pray for them so that they will be prepared to receive the sacrament of Baptism on Easter Vigil Night and die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! A Happy Lent to all of you, especially to our Catechumens! Amen!