30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 24th October 2021

Theme: JESUS HEALS US OF OUR SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS SO THAT WE CAN SEE WITH THE EYES OF FAITH AND FOLLOW HIM TO JERUSALEM TO SUFFER, TO DIE AND TO RISE FROM THE DEAD

  • Jeremiah 31:7-9;
  • Psalm 125 (126): R/ v. 3;
  • Hebrews 5:1-6
  • Mark 10:46-52

1. Today is the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that Jesus heals us of our spiritual blindness so that we can see with the eyes of faith and follow him to Jerusalem to suffer, to die and to rise from the dead!

    The gospel today is a continuation of the gospel of last Sunday (Mk 10:35-45). The gospel last Sunday tells us that even after the third prophesy of his passion, death and resurrection, the disciples still did not understand. In fact, James and John requested to be seated at the right and left hand of Jesus in his glory. Jesus then told them that they have to drink the cup of suffering that Jesus was to drink and that they have to be baptized by the baptism of death that Jesus was to be baptized.

    The gospel last Sunday also tells us that the other ten disciples were indignant with James and John; presumably, they also wanted to sit at the right and left hand of Jesus in his glory. Jesus then taught them that to be great one must be servant, and to be first one must be slave of all. For Jesus himself came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many!

    The gospel today tells us that the disciples were spiritually blind though they were not physically blind. More importantly, the gospel today tells us that Bartimaeus the blind man was physically blind, but not spiritually blind. Bartimaeus had faith in Jesus and Jesus heals him of his physical blindness and he follows Jesus to Jerusalem to suffer, die and rise from the dead with Jesus! (NJBC) The gospel today continues in chapter eleven where Jesus enters Jerusalem to suffer, die and rise from the dead!        

    We started the Neo-Catechumenate Community in our parish to help us grow in faith so that we may follow Jesus in his passion, death and resurrection. The Catechumenate (RCIA) gives us faith so that we may be baptized, but the Neo-Catechumenate – neo means new – helps us to continue to grow in faith.

    We also started the BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities) to help us grow in faith so that we may follow Jesus in his passion, death and resurrection. In the BECs we share and pray on the word of God (Sunday Mass readings) so that we grow in faith. Faith comes from the word of God (Rm 10:17)!      

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the blind and the lame of the Northern Kingdom of Israel will return from exile from Assyria and they will be full of joy! Thus we read in the first reading:

    “The Lord says this: Shout with joy for Jacob! Hail the chief of nations! Proclaim! Praise! Shout! ‘The Lord has saved his people, the remnant of Israel!’ See, I will bring them back from the land of the North and gather them from the far ends of the earth; all of them: the blind and the lame, women with child, women in labor: a great company returning here. They had left in tears, I will comfort them as I lead them back; I will guide them to streams of water, by a smooth path where they will not stumble. For I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my first-born son.” (Jr 31:7-9)    

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us of the return from exile of the Southern Kingdom of Judah from Babylon. Again, the returnees are full of joy! Thus the first and second stanzas of the responsorial psalm:

    “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, then we thought we were dreaming. Our mouths were filled with laughter; our tongues sang for joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’ The Lord had done great things for us; Oh, how happy we were!” (Ps 125 (126): 1-3/CSB)  

    And thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “What marvels the Lord worked for us! Indeed we were glad.” (Ps 125 (126):3/SM)

4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us that Jesus was called by God to be the high priest. The second reading tells us that the high priesthood of Jesus is not that of the hereditary priesthood of the Jews, the Levitical priesthood, the priesthood of Aaron; but the priesthood of Jesus is that of the priesthood of Melchizedek. Melchizedek has no beginning and no end, no father and no mother. He is like the Son of God! He is a priest for ever. (Heb 7:1-3)

    The second reading tells us of “Jesus the compassionate high priest”. (Heb 5:1-10/NJB) The word com-passionate means to feel and to suffer with. Jesus does not only love us, but he also feels and suffers with us. He sympathizes with us, that is, he feels and suffers with us. He empathizes with us, that is, he feels and suffers in us.

    Let us pray that our present and future priests be compassionate priests like Jesus Christ. Let us also pray that all of us who are baptized and who share in the common priesthood of Jesus Christ be compassionate “priests” like Jesus Christ.   

5. Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and our Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will heal us of our spiritual blindness so that we may see with the eyes of faith and follow Jesus to Jerusalem to suffer, die and rise from the dead with him. The Holy Spirit will fill us with the joy of the returning exiles from Assyria and Babylon. The Holy Spirit will help all of us to be compassionate priests, both in the ministerial priesthood and in the common priesthood.

Amen!

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 17th October 2021

Theme: JESUS CAME TO SERVE, TO SUFFER, AND TO SACRIFICE, IN ORDER TO SANCTIFY AND SAVE THE WORLD

  • Isaiah 53:10-11;
  • Psalm 32 (33):4-5. 18-20. 22. R/ v. 22;
  • Hebrew 4:14-16
  • Mark 10:35-45 (Shorter Form, verses 42-45)

1. Today is the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that Jesus came to serve, to suffer, and to sacrifice, in order to sanctify and save the world!

    The gospel today tells us that even after the third prophesy of Jesus’ passion death and resurrection (Mk 10:32-34), the disciples still did not understand. In fact James and John, the inner disciples of Jesus, requested Jesus to give them seats at his right hand and left hand in his glory! Jesus told them that they had to drink the cup of suffering that Jesus was to drink, and they had to be baptized with the baptism of death that Jesus was to be baptized, but as for the seats at his right hand and left hand, it was not for Jesus to give, but it was for God the Father to give! (Mt 20:23)

    The gospel also tells us that the other ten disciples were indignant with James and John, presumably, because they too wanted to be at Jesus’ right and left hand in his glory. Jesus then taught them that anyone who wants to be great must be a servant (diakonos), and anyone who wants to be first must be a slave (doulos – an even humbler word than diakonos/NJBC) to all. For Jesus himself came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life for the ransom of many!

    The gospel today is the climax of Mark’s central section (8:22-10:45). Mark wants to tell us that Jesus Christ is not only a “divine man” or miracle worker, but He is the Son of man to be crucified for the salvation of the world! (Fuller)

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading is from the fourth of four suffering servant songs of Isaiah! The first reading tells us that the suffering servant of God was to suffer and die for the sins of the world and that God will save him and through him God will save the whole world! Thus we read in the first reading:

    “The Lord has been pleased to crush his servant with suffering. If he offers his life in atonement, he shall see his heirs, he shall have a long life and through him what the Lord wishes will be done. His soul’s anguish over he shall see the light and be content. By his sufferings shall my servant justify many, taking their faults on himself.” (Is 53:10-11)             

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us of the steadfast love of God, that is, the faithful love of God (IBC). Although we do not love him, he still loves us in Jesus Christ, and although we are not faithful to him, He is still faithful to us in Jesus Christ!

   The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us that the Lord fills the earth with his love, not only in salvation, but also in creation! The second stanza tells us to hope in God’s love. And the third stanza is a prayer for God’s 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)    

4. Incidentally, the second reading tells us of Jesus, the merciful high priest! (NJBC/HCSB) The second reading tells us to have faith in God’s mercy and grace! The second reading tells us to have confidence to approach the throne of grace so that we may obtain mercy and find grace when we need help!

    The mercy of God forgives our sins and the grace of God helps us to overcome sins! We are saved in two ways, that is, by the forgiveness of our sins and by being preserved from sin by the grace of God. Mary was saved in the second way! Mary was without sin!

The Sacrament of Reconciliation/Penance (“Confession”) forgives our sins and gives us the grace to live a new life!

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 serve, suffer and sacrifice in order to sanctify and save the world! The Holy Spirit will help us hope in God’s love. And the Holy Spirit will help us to have faith in God’s mercy and grace.

Amen!      

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 10th October 2021

Theme: ATTACHMENT TO WEALTH IS AN OBSTACLE TO CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIP

  • Wisdom 7:7-11;
  • Psalm 89 (90): 12-17. R/ v. 14;
  • Hebrews 4:12-13
  • Mark 10:17-30

1. Today is the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The gospel today tells us that attachment to wealth is an obstacle to Christian discipleship. (Fuller; Faley)

The gospel today tells us that a rich man came to Jesus to look for eternal life. He was a good man because he kept all the commandments of God. He did not kill, he did not commit adultery, he did not steal, etc. But Jesus asked him to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor and follow Jesus. The man went away sad because he had great wealth. He did not follow Jesus and become Jesus’ disciple. He was attached to his wealth. The gospel today tells us to be detached from our wealth and to share our wealth with the poor and the needy and to follow Jesus and become His disciple.

The gospel also tells us that it is very hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. In fact it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God! Again, attachment to wealth is an obstacle to enter the kingdom of God. Again, detach from your wealth, share your wealth with the poor, and enter the kingdom of God! For salvation is “impossible” for men and money, salvation is “possible” only for God!

Finally, the gospel tells us that those who have detached themselves from their wealth and family and followed Jesus will be rewarded a hundred times over with houses, land, mothers, sisters, brothers, children, etc. now in this life and also eternal life in the world to come! That is, they will be rewarded with a Christian community of brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, and children, who will share with them their houses and lands and possessions! And they will also be rewarded with eternal life in heaven! 

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us to pray for wisdom and not to pray for wealth, power, health or beauty. When we have wisdom we will know the will of God and all the other things will be given to us as well! Thus we read in the first reading:

“In her company all good things came to me, at her hands riches not to be numbered.” (Ws 7:11; SM)

Solomon did not pray for wealth, power or long life, but Solomon prayed for wisdom and God gave Solomon wisdom as well as wealth, fame and long life! (1 K 3:5-15)

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us to pray for wisdom. (NJBC; CCB) Thus the first verse of the first stanza:

“Make us know the shortness of our life that we may gain wisdom of heart.” (Ps 89 (90): 12; SM)

The responsorial psalm also asks us to pray for love and joy. Thus the second stanza:

“In the morning, fill us with your love; we shall exult and rejoice all our days. Give us joy to balance our affliction for the years when we knew misfortune.” (Ps 89 (90): 14-15; SM) 

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

“Fill us with your love that we may rejoice.” (Ps 89 (90): 14; SM)

4. The second reading is a warning; a warning that the word of God is both judgment and salvation. (CSB) The word of God is judgment for those who do not persevere in the faith and salvation for those who persevere in the faith. It is not enough to have faith. We have to persevere in the faith, especially in times of trials, so that the word of God becomes salvation for us!     

5. Today in this Mass we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ, who suffered died and rose from the dead to give us the Holy Spirit; and we ask God our Father through his Son Jesus Christ to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we may be detached from our wealth, share our wealth with the poor and needy, and follow Jesus and become his disciples. And so that we will have the wisdom to know God’s will. We also ask God to help us persevere in the faith, especially in times of great trials. A happy and joyful Sunday to all of you!

Amen!

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 3rd October 2021

Theme: MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE

  • Genesis 2:18-24;
  • Psalm 127 (128). R/ v. 5;
  • Hebrews 2:9-11
  • Mark 10:2-12 (Shorter Form)

1. Today is the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that it is against the law to divorce one’s husband or wife. And this law comes from God. The Church cannot change this law, the Pope cannot change this law, and not even Jesus can change this law. It is a law from God his Father! Thus in the gospel today Jesus quotes from Genesis, that is, the first reading:

“This is why a man must leave father and mother, (and cling to his wife; NJB), and the two become one body. They are no longer two, therefore, but one body. So then, what God has united, man must not divide.” (Mk 10:7-9; SM) 

To understand the law against divorce we must understand marriage! People get married for two reasons, that is, for love and for procreation. We are created in the image of God and we have to do what God does and we will be happy as God is happy in heaven! God does two things, that is, He loves and He creates, especially human beings. 

We are to love as God loved us. We see the love of God in Jesus Christ on the cross; a self-giving love, a self-sacrificing love; a forgiving love, a merciful love, a saving love! Husbands and wives are to love one another as Jesus Christ loved them, that is, they are to love one another, not only with a romantic, erotic and sexual love; but with a self-giving, self-sacrificing, and forgiving love! With the love of Jesus Christ there can be no divorce! In fact the love will grow stronger and deeper with each passing year!

We are to create as God created us, that is, we have to have children! A marriage without the desire to have children is not a Christian marriage. It is not open to life. It is not a consummated marriage, that is, the marriage does not exist! And such a marriage can be annulled by the Church! Today with both parents working, it is a real sacrifice to have children. But Christian love is sacrificial love and it is only this love that can bring us true happiness!

Today, sadly, many do not want to have children. In 2010 the president of the Bishops’ Conference of Italy, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco warned the Italians of “demographic suicide”, that is, over 50% of Italian families are without children. Another quarter have only one child, while just 5.1% have three or more children. (CWN, May 28, 2010)

In 2012, the founding prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew lamented the low birth rate of Singaporeans, that is, 1.2 live births per female – far below the 2.1 needed for replacement. 31 per cent of Singaporean women and 41 per cent of men are choosing not to have children. “We’ve got to persuade people to understand that getting married is important, having children is important”, said Lee, once an ardent population-control advocate. (CWN, August 14, 2012)

Again, we have to have children, that is, three or more children in each family!

Now we understand the law against divorce and more importantly we understand marriage! The first reading was quoted by Jesus in today’s gospel:

“This is why a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife, and they become one body.” (Gn 2:24; SM), that is, one body in love and procreation of children!

2. The responsorial psalm tells us that if we follow God’s law, particularly the laws on marriage and divorce, God will bless us with a happy family! (NJB; HCSB; CCB) God will bless us with many children and many grand children! God will bless us with abundance of food to eat to our satisfaction. God will bless us with prosperity. God will bless us with happiness and peace. God will bless us with long life! Thus the response:

“May the Lord bless us all the days of our lives.” (Ps 127 (128): 5; SM)

3. The second reading tells us that Jesus the Son of God became man and became our brother in order to suffer, die and rise from the dead for our salvation! And this is what we celebrate in the Eucharist every Sunday!

It is most urgent and most important that we come to Mass every Sunday to receive the Holy Spirit of our Risen Lord so that we can love as God loves and we can procreate as God creates and so that we can be happy as God is happy in heaven!   

A study in the United States showed that one third or more of marriages end in divorce, but only “one out of fifty-seven marriages ended in divorce among husband and wife that worshipped at church consistently. Even more amazing was the finding that only one marriage in five hundred concluded in divorce in couples where there is organized Scripture reading and prayer.” (Fr. James Gilhooley’s Reflections on the Sunday Gospels)

Therefore if you want a happy marriage and a happy family, come to Sunday Mass every Sunday and if possible come for BEC meetings, Prayer Meetings, Alpha courses, Neo-Catechumenal community celebrations, Bible-Sharing, etc.! A happy and joyful Sunday to all of you!

Amen! 

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 26th September 2021

Theme: WE MUST WORK WITH ONE ANOTHER FOR THE SAKE OF JESUS AND FOR THE SAKE OF GOD HIS FATHER

  • Numbers 11:25-29;
  • Psalm 18 (19): 8. 10. 12-14. R/ v. 9;
  • James 5:1-6
  • Mark 9:38-43. 45. 47-48

1. Today is the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that we must not be jealous of one another or compete with one another, but we must be tolerant (be inclusive; Faley) towards one another and work with one another for the sake of Jesus and for the sake of God His Father!

The gospel today tells us that John complained to Jesus that there was a man who cast out devils in Jesus’ name and John tried to stop him, because he did not belong to the company of Jesus. But Jesus told John not to stop him, because he who works a miracle in Jesus’ name will not speak ill of Jesus. Those who are not against Jesus are for Jesus!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Joshua told Moses to stop two men from prophesying, because the two men did not belong to the company of the seventy elders who received the spirit of Moses. But Moses told Joshua not to be jealous because of him. In fact Moses wished that all the people received the spirit and became prophets!

These two readings tell us that we must not be jealous of one another or compete with one another, but we must tolerate one another and work with one another for the sake of Jesus and for the sake of God His Father!

Within our Catholic Church we have many groups, communities, apostolate, ministries, movements, etc., with different gifts and charisms of healing, miracles, exorcism, teaching, preaching, praying, counseling, catechizing, evangelizing, etc.! We must not be jealous of one another or compete with one another, but we must work with one another for the sake of Jesus and God His Father.

Within the Christian Churches too we have different denominations with different organizations, structures, ministries, gifts, charisms, etc. Again, we must not be jealous or compete with other Christian denominations, like the Anglicans, Methodists, Basel, etc., but we must learn from them and work with them for Jesus and for God our Father.

Within the religious communities too, we have different religions, like Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. Again, we must not be jealous of one another or compete with one another, but we must tolerate one another and work with one another to overcome “secularism”, “individualism” and “relativism”!

“Secularism”, that is, atheism, that is, people do not believe in God anymore! “Individualism”, that is, people are individualistic, they think of themselves only, they do not think of others. They are selfish. “Relativism”, that is, there are no absolute truths; all truths are relative. I have my truth and you have your truth; I do not believe in God and you believe in God. Absolute truths of Religions have been reduced to relative truths of cultures!  

But we believe in absolute truths, that is, we believe in God and we believe that God is love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation! This is the absolute truth!

2. The second part of the gospel tells us that we must not cause scandal, that is, we must not cause others to sin. (NJBC) The gospel tells us that if our eye, hand or foot causes others to sin, we must cut them off! It is better to enter heaven with one eye, one foot and one hand than to have the whole body cast into hell! (IBC; CCB) That is, we must not cause scandal; we must not cause others to sin, even if it means making sacrifices!  

3. The response of the responsorial psalm and the first stanza tell us that the law is good, because it gives happiness to the heart, life to the soul, and wisdom to the simple! Thus the response:

“The precepts of the Lord gladden the heart.” (Ps 18 (19):9; SM) 

And thus the first stanza:

“The law of the Lord is perfect, it revives the soul. The rule of the Lord is to be trusted, it gives wisdom to the simple.” (Ps 18 (19):8; SM)

4. The second reading is not against riches. The “gospel of prosperity” tell us that riches are a blessing from God! But the second reading is against injustices, that is, the rich do not pay the poor their wages or the rich underpay the poor their wages. That is, the rich oppress and exploit the poor, that is, social injustice. Thus we read in the second reading:

“Laborers mowed your fields, and you cheated them – listen to the wages that you kept back, calling out; realize that the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.” (Jm 5:4; SM)   

5. Today in this Mass, we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus who suffered, died, and rose from the dead to give us the Holy Spirit. And we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we may work with one another for the sake of Jesus and for the sake of God His Father; and so that we will not cause others to sin, even if it means making sacrifices; and so that we will keep the laws of God and find happiness, life and wisdom; and so that we will practice social justice towards the poor by paying them just and living wages. A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you!                                                 

Amen!