19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 9th Aug 2020

Theme: THE LORD WILL CALM THE STORMS IN OUR LIVES AND GIVE US PEACE / SHALOM

  • 1 Kings 19:9. 11-13;
  • Psalm 84 (85):9-14. R/ v. 8;
  • Romans 9:1-5
  • Matthew 14:22-33

Today is the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that the Lord will calm the storms in our lives and give us peace!

The gospel today tells us that the disciples were in a boat in a stormy sea, but more importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus walked on the water/lake towards them. And at the telling of Jesus, Peter also walked on the water towards Jesus, but because of the strong wind, Peter took fright and began to sink, but Jesus saved him, and chided him for his “little faith” and “doubt”. And as they entered the boat the wind dropped and there was calm and peace and the disciples worshipped him as “the Son of God”!

Again, the gospel today tells us that the Lord will calm the storms in our lives and give us peace. The storms in our lives may be natural, physical, ecclesial (church), personal, spiritual, emotional, social, political, environmental, economical, etc. The peace that the Lord gives us is “shalom”, that is, an all-embracing peace, a political, social, personal, spiritual, physical, ecclesial, etc. peace!

But we must pray and we must pray with faith, even with the “little faith” that we have! We must also ask God to increase our faith: ‘Lord I believe, increase my faith’!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that when the Lord appeared to Elijah, there was “the sound of a gentle breeze”, that is, there was calm and peace!

The first reading tells us that there was a strong wind, but the Lord was not in the strong wind; there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; then there was “the sound of a gentle breeze”. The Lord was in “the sound of the gentle breeze”! The Lord was in the calm and peace! Again, the Lord will calm the storms of our lives and give us peace!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. It is a reflection on the first reading. It is a prayer for peace, for messianic peace. (NJB) The word peace is present three times in all the three stanzas. Thus we read in stanzas one, two and three:

“I will hear what the Lord God has to say, a voice that speaks of peace.” (v. 9; SM)

“Mercy and faithfulness have met; justice and peace have embraced.” (v. 11; SM)

“Justice shall march before him and peace shall follow his steps.” (v. 14; SM)

Again, the word peace means “shalom”, that is, wholeness, completeness, soundness, well-being, fullness, perfection, lacking nothing, health, prosperity, happiness, love, salvation, etc.! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Show us, Lord, your love; grant us your salvation.” (v. 8; CSB)

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something important to tell us. The second reading tells us that St. Paul was sorrowful and in anguish because the Jews who were his own flesh and blood did not believe in Jesus Christ! The Jews were the chosen people of God, the Law of God was given to them, and Jesus Christ the Messiah came from them, but they did not believe in Jesus Christ!

The second reading is taken from the letter to the Romans chapter 9, but we have to read the whole section right up to chapter 11 inclusive to understand that St. Paul did not lose faith and hope in the love of God for Israel. St. Paul believed that in the end even Israel will be converted and will believe in Jesus Christ and will be saved!

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 pray to God in faith and the Lord will calm the storms in our lives. The Holy Spirit will also help us proclaim the good news so that all may believe and be saved, including the Jews! A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen!

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 2nd August 2020

Theme: WE THANK GOD FOR OUR MATERIAL AND SPIRITUAL FOOD AND WE SHARE OUR MATERIAL AND SPIRITUAL FOOD WITH OTHERS

  • Isaiah 55:1-3;
  • Psalm 144:8-9. 15-18. R/ v. 16;
  • Romans 8:35. 37-39
  • Matthew 14:13-21

Today is the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that the Lord gives us material and spiritual food! The gospel today tells us that Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish and gave thanks to God and he broke the loaves and gave them to the people to eat. The people ate as much as they wanted and they collected the leftovers which filled twelve baskets! Those who ate numbered five thousand men and if we include women and children the number would have been twenty to thirty thousand! (New Jerome Biblical Commentary)

The gospel today tells us that Jesus did three important things! First, he thanked God! The prayer of thanksgiving is most important! Even before we ask God for anything, we must thank God for everything! An American Creation theologian said that if the only prayer we know is “thank you”, that is good enough! Even if we start thanking God here and now we will not finish thanking him even at the end of the world!

The word Eucharist in Greek means “thanksgiving” and in the Eucharistic Prayer we first thank God before we ask him for anything! But today there are people who not only do not thank God but they do not believe in God at all! That is why they never come to Mass at all! That is why it is important that you bring them to Mass every Sunday!

The second thing that Jesus did was to break the loaves and give them to the people to eat! That is sharing! There is enough for everyone’s need but there is not enough for everyone’s greed! That is, if we share, then there will be enough for everyone! The Youth Catechism (YOUCAT; 448) tells us that:

“God has entrusted to us a rich earth that could offer all men sufficient food and living space. Yet ….There are more than a billion people living on this earth who must make do with less than one dollar per day. They suffer from a lack of food and clean drinking water; most of them have no access to education or medical care. It is estimated that more than 25,000 people die every day from malnutrition. Many of them are children.”

The Youth Catechism tells us that we have to share! We have to practice charity and justice towards the poor and needy!

The third thing that Jesus did is expressed more explicitly in a parallel verse in John 6:12 (Mt 14:20):

“When they had eaten enough he said to the disciples, ‘Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing is wasted.’” (New Jerusalem Bible (NJB))

Waste not, want not! Indeed it is our wasteful and greedy lifestyle that is destroying our environment today! We have to live a simple lifestyle to save our environment today! Thus Saint Pope John Paul II wrote in his Message for World day of Peace (1 January 1990):

“Modern society will find no solution to the ecological problem unless it takes a serious look at its lifestyle. … Simplicity, moderation and discipline, as well as a spirit of sacrifice, must become a part of everyday life. … .”

The gospel today also tells us that the Lord does not only give us material food, but he also gives us spiritual food! Thus the four actions of Jesus, that is, take, thank/bless, break and give, correspond to the four actions of the Eucharist, that is, take (Offertory), thank/bless (Eucharistic Prayer), break (Breaking of the Bread), and give (Holy Communion)! But our Sunday Mass has two parts, that is, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist! Thus the Gospel Acclamation today:

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

We must come to Mass every Sunday to eat the spiritual food of the Word and the Eucharist! We must not come to Mass late for the spiritual food of the Word; instead we must come to Mass early to read the Word of God before Mass!

The first reading today tells us that the Lord gives us spiritual food! Thus we read:

“Oh, come to the water all you who are thirsty; though you have no money, come! Buy corn without money, and eat, and, at no cost, wine and milk. Why spend money on what is not bread, your wages on what fails to satisfy? Listen, listen to me and you will have good things to eat and rich food to enjoy. Pay attention, come to me; listen, and your soul will live. With you I will make an everlasting covenant out of the favors promised to David.” (SM; Is 55:1-3)  

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

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

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us that “the Lord is kind and full of compassion, slow to anger, abounding in love” (Ps 144:8; Ex 34:6). The second stanza tells us that the Lord gives us food! Material and spiritual food! The third stanza tells us that the Lord is just and loving and he listens to our prayers!

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ! That is, nothing can stop God from loving us and nothing can stop us from loving God! God first loved us that is why we love God and neighbor as we love ourselves! Thus the greatest commandment of all:

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (NJB; Lk 10:27) This is the greatest commandment because this is our salvation!

Today we thank God for our material and spiritual food and we ask God to help us share our material and spiritual food with others! Today we also thank God for his love and we ask God to help us love him and love our neighbor as we love ourselves! Amen!

 

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 26th July 2020

Theme: SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS SALVATION AND ALL THE OTHER THINGS WILL BE GIVEN TO US AS WELL

  • 1 Kings 3:5. 7-12;
  • Psalm 118:57. 72. 76-77. 127-130. R/ v. 97;
  • Romans 8:28-30
  • Matthew 13:44-52 (Shorter Form, 13:44-46)

Today is the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us to seek first the kingdom of God/heaven and his righteousness/salvation and all the other things will be given to us as well!

The gospel today tells us that the kingdom of God is like a treasure hidden in a field which someone has found, he buries it again, goes off happy and sells all that he owns and buys the field! The gospel also tells us that the kingdom of God is like a merchant looking for fine pearls and when he finds one of great value, he sells all that he owns and he buys the pearl!

The gospel today tells us to sell all that we own and buy the kingdom of God! The gospel today tells us to sell all our houses, cars, business, property, land, etc. in order to buy the kingdom of God! In other words the gospel today tells us to seek first the kingdom of God/heaven and his righteousness/salvation (CSB) and all the other things will be given to us as well! (Mt 6:33)

The pagans seek first the kingdom of the world and its damnation and all they get is sin and death! The pagans seek wealth, power and fame, that is, the three temptations of the Devil (Mt 4:1-11) and all they get is sin and death!

We Christians seek first the kingdom of heaven/God and his righteousness/salvation and all the other things will be given to us as well! We seek first the love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation of God! We seek first the love, joy and peace of God and all the other things, including wealth, power and fame will be given to us as well!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Solomon asked God for wisdom to discern between good and evil so that he can govern God’s people! Solomon did not ask for wealth and long life!

More importantly, the first reading tells us that God was happy with the request of Solomon and God granted Solomon wisdom and more than that, God also gave Solomon riches and long life which Solomon did not ask for! (1Kgs 3:13-14)

Again, seek first the kingdom of God and his salvation and all the other things will be given to us as well!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us to look for God’s law and love and not to look for silver and gold! That is why we responded four times:

“Lord how I love your law!” (Ps 118:97; SM)

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first stanza tells us to look for God’s law and not to look for silver and gold:

“My part, I have resolved, O Lord, is to obey your word. The law from your mouth means more to me than silver and gold.” (Ps 118:57. 72; SM)

The second stanza tells us that the law of God gives us love:

“Let your love be ready to console me, by your promise to your servant. Let your love come to me and I shall live, for your law is my delight.” (Ps 118:76-77; SM)

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells us that everything works for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose! Everything, good as well as evil, because God can draw good out of evil! That is what Joseph told his brothers in Genesis 50:20:

“The evil you planned to do me has by God’s design been turned to good, to bring about the present result: the survival of a numerous people.” (NJB)  

Joseph prefigures Jesus Christ in the New Testament! The Jewish leaders put Jesus Christ to death on the cross, but God raised him from the dead and through him gave the Holy Spirit and saved the whole world! And according to Saint Paul even the Jews who put Jesus Christ to death on the cross will also be saved at the end of the world! (Romans, Chapter 11)

Today, we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ who established his kingdom here on earth, and we ask God our Father to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we will seek first the kingdom of God and his salvation, and all the other things will be given to us as well! Amen!

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 19th July 2020

Theme: THE LORD IS A MERCIFUL JUDGE

  • Wisdom 12:13. 16-19;
  • Psalm 85:5-6. 9-10. 15-16. R/ v. 5;
  • Romans 8:26-27
  • Matthew 13:24-43 (Shorter Form, 13:24-30)

Today is the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that the Lord is a Merciful Judge! The gospel today tells us about the parable of the wheat and the darnel (poisonous grass). The gospel tells us that a man sowed good seed, but when everyone was asleep his enemy sowed bad seed. And when the wheat grew, the poisonous grass also grew. The servants of the man wanted to pull up the grass, but the man left the grass to grow with the wheat until harvest when the grass will by pulled up and burned and the wheat will be gathered into his barn!

The gospel today tells us about the reality of our world today and the reality of ourselves today! In our world today we find good as well as evil. We find good people who work for peace, who sacrifice their lives in order to help the sick and the poor, who donate millions to charity, who forgive the enemies, etc.; but in our world today we also find a lot of evil people who practice injustice, who oppress and exploit the poor and the weak, who kill in the name of God, who kidnap and torture, who abuse children, etc.

In fact, in ourselves too, we find good and evil! We are kind to people, we help the poor, we pray for others, etc.; but we are also jealous, mean, selfish, indifferent, etc.

But more importantly and most importantly, the gospel today tells us that at harvest time, that is, at the end of time, at the end of the world, the fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness, will burn away all the evils in the world and in ourselves, totally, completely and finally!

That is why it is most important that we continue to proclaim the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the outpouring of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness for the salvation of the world!

The gospel of last Sunday, Bible Sunday, tells us about the parable of the sower (Mt 13:1-9, Shorter Form). The gospel tells us of the different responses of the different peoples in different situations to the word of God; but most importantly, the gospel tells us that ultimately and finally, the word of God will bear fruit, thirty fold, sixty fold and a hundredfold! A good harvest is only ten fold! (Fuller)

Again, we have to proclaim the good news “in season and out of season”, that is, every time and everywhere! That is what our Pope Francis tells us in his Apostolic Exhortation, “Joy of the Gospel / Evangelii Gaudium” (24 November, 2013)! The word of God is Spirit and Life (Jn 6:63)!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us that the Lord is a merciful judge. The first reading tells us that the Lord is a just judge, but more importantly, the first reading tells us that he is lenient and mild in his judgment! The first reading also tells us that just as the Lord is kind and merciful to us, we must also be kind and merciful to one another! Finally the first reading tells us that after sin, the Lord will give us repentance for the forgiveness of our sins!

Indeed, we responded three times in the Responsorial Psalm:

“O Lord, you are good and forgiving.” (Ps 85:5; SM)

Verses 5 and 15 of the Responsorial Psalm elaborate on the goodness and forgiveness of the Lord! Thus we read:

“O Lord, you are good and forgiving, full of love to all who call.” (Ps 85:5; SM)

“But you, God of mercy and compassion, slow to anger, O Lord, abounding in love and truth (faithfulness; HCSB), turn and take pity on me.” (Ps 85:15; SM; Ex 34:6; NJBC)

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells us that when we do not know how to pray properly, the Holy Spirit comes to help us to pray properly and correctly! The Holy Spirit helps us to pray according to the mind of God and according to the will of God!

Without the Holy Spirit we pray like the pagans according to our own minds and will and asking for material things, like power, money and fame! But with the Holy Spirit, we pray like Christians according to the mind and will of God, asking for spiritual things, like love, joy and peace! That is why the first thing we must ask for in prayer is to ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit!

Today, we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ who died, rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit, and we ask our Father to continue to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we will pray according to his mind and will; and so that the fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of His love, mercy and forgiveness will continue to burn away all the evil in the world and all the evil in ourselves, and so that at harvest time, that is, at the end of time, at the end of the world, at the second coming of Jesus Christ, the fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of His love, mercy and forgiveness will burn away all the evil in the world and in ourselves, totally, completely and finally! Amen!

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) -12th July 2020

Theme: THE WORD OF GOD WILL BEAR FRUIT ABUNDANTLY IN SPITE OF  REJECTIONS, PERSECUTIONS AND THE TEMPTATIONS OF THE WORLD

  • Isaiah 55:10-11;
  • Psalm 64 (65):10-14. R/ Lk 8:8;
  • Romans 8:18-23
  • Matthew 13:1-9. 18-23 (Shorter Form) 

Today is the 15th Sunday of the Year, Liturgical Year A. Today is also “Bible Sunday” for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. The readings today tell us that the word of God will bear fruit abundantly, in spite of rejections, persecutions and the temptations of the world.

The gospel today tells us of the parable of the sower. The gospel today tells us that a sower went out to sow and as he sowed, some seeds fell besides the path and the birds ate them up. These are the people who reject the word of God. Some seeds fell on rocks where the soil was shallow. They took no root and when the sun rose they were scorched. These are the people who accepted the word of God, but because of persecutions they gave up. Some seeds fell among thorns and the thorns grew up and choked them. These are the people who at first accepted the word of God, but because of the temptations of the world, they bore no fruit. Some seeds fell on rich soil and they produced a hundred-fold, sixty-fold, thirty-fold. The usual harvest is about eight-fold. (Fuller)

Again, the gospel today tells us that the word of God will ultimately bear abundant fruit, in spite of rejections, persecutions and the temptations of the world. We are therefore to proclaim the word of God in season and out of season!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the word of God is like the rain. The rain does not return to God empty, but the rain waters the earth to make it bear fruit. The word of God does not return to God empty, but the word of God makes us bear spiritual fruits! Thus we read in the first reading:

“As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.” (Is 55:10-11; SM)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a reflection on the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us that the word of God makes us bear fruit. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Some seed fell into rich soil and produced its crop.” (Lk 8:8; SM)

The responsorial psalm tells us that God sends down rain to water the earth to make the earth bear fruit, to make the wheat grow and the flocks of sheep multiply. In the same way God sends us the word of God to make us bear fruit. Thus we read in the first and fourth stanzas of the responsorial psalm:

“You care for the earth, give it water, you fill it with riches. Your river in heaven brims over to provide its grain.

The hills are girded with joy, the meadows covered with flocks, the valleys are decked with wheat. They shout for joy, yes, they sing.” (Ps 64 (65): 10. 13b-14; SM)

Again, the word of God is like the rain. It makes us bear spiritual fruits!

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something important to tell us. The second reading tells us that we are intimately connected to creation, so much so that when we sin, creation also suffers the consequences, but more importantly, when we are saved, creation is also blessed.

An Australian theologian by the name of Denis Edwards tells us that we are intimately connected with creation. He tells us that we all came from the same “Big Bang” about 14 billion years ago, we all came from the same supernova about 5 billion years ago, we all came from the same biological evolution which began on earth about 4 billion years ago, and today we share the same environment.

But more importantly, he tells us that it is in human beings that creation became conscious of itself, that is, self-awareness. And it is in human beings that creation consciously and freely gives praise to God.

But when humans sinned and stop giving praise to God, creation also suffers its consequences. Today, the consequences of human sins can be seen in the destruction of creation, in the destruction of the rainforest, global warming, climate change, the destruction of other species, environmental pollution, desertification, etc.

More importantly, the second reading tells us that when humans are saved from sin, creation will also be blessed and restored to its original and pristine state!

Pope John Paul II said something similar in his “World Day of Peace” Message (1.1.1990) entitled: “Peace with God the Creator, Peace with all of Creation”.

Today is also “Bible Sunday” for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. The Regional Biblical Commission of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei has a message for us based on the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Benedict XVI (Verbum Domini – The Word of the Lord, 2010). We will summarize the message in 8 points:

(i) The word of God in Creation. God speaks to us in Creation. 

(ii) The word of God in History. God speaks to us in the History of Israel.

(iii) The word of God in the Prophets. The Prophets help us understand the word of God.

(iv) Jesus Christ is the Word of God. Jesus Christ died, rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit.

(v) The word of God in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was given to the Church. 

(vi) The word of God in the Church.

(vii) The word of God in the Living Tradition of the Church.

(viii) The word of God in the Bible of the Church.  

Let us then continue to proclaim the word of God, share and pray it in BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities), share and pray it in “Bible-Sharing” groups every Monday, and celebrate it every Wednesday! Amen!