16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 21st July 2019

Theme: OUR GOOD WORKS AND SERVICES MUST COME FROM THE WORD OF GOD, FROM FAITH, AND FROM PRAYER  

  • Genesis 18:1-10;
  • Psalm 14 (15):2-5. R/ v. 1;
  • Colossians 1:24-28
  • Luke 10:38-42

Today is the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The gospel today tells us that Jesus was in the house of Martha and Mary, and Martha was busy serving. She was preparing a meal, but Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to Jesus speaking. At this Martha complained to Jesus to ask Mary to help her in her work, but Jesus chided her and told her that she was busy over many things, yet only one thing was needed and Mary had chosen the better part and it would not be taken from her!

The gospel today does not tell us that good works and services are not important, but the gospel tells us that the word of God is more important, because all our good works and services must flow from the word of God, from faith, and from prayer, in short, from God! Otherwise our services may become self-services and our good works may become empty and boring activities devoid of meaning!

Indeed the “Gospel Acclamation” today tells us to respond to the word of God with generosity and perseverance and we will bear fruit! (NJBC; CSB) Thus we read in the “Gospel Acclamation” which is taken from the explanation of the “Parable of the Sower”:

“Blessed are those who, with a noble and generous heart, take the word of God to themselves and yield a harvest through their perseverance.” (cf. Lk 8:15) 

And indeed in the “Parable of the Sower”, we are told that in spite of the devil, the persecutions and the temptations of the world, the word of God will ultimately bear fruit in abundance, that is, a hundredfold! (NJBC; CSB; IBC) Thus we read:

“And some seed fell into good soil and grew and produced its crop a hundredfold.” (Luke 8:8; NJB)    

Again, our good works and services must come from the word of God, from faith and from prayer, that is, from God! The word of God gives faith and we respond to the word of God in prayer and God will act in and through us, in and through our good works and services!

The first reading tells us that Abraham welcomed three men, that is, the Lord and two angels! Abraham prepared a meal for them and waited on them! More importantly, the first reading tells us that the Lord promised Abraham a son in his old age!

In the context of today’s gospel where Martha welcomed Jesus into her house and Mary welcomed Jesus into her heart, the first reading tells us to welcome Jesus into our home and heart and we will receive eternal life! Jesus the word of God is spirit and life! He has the message of eternal life! (“Gospel Acclamation” of previous Sunday; cf. Jn 6:63. 68; SM) The son symbolizes eternal life! One’s life continues in the son!

The responsorial psalm is an entrance liturgy for entry into the temple. The responsorial psalm has five verses. The first verse is the question the worshipers ask the temple official, that is, what qualifications are required to enter the temple. The four verses that follow are the answer to the question, that is, the requirements.

Again, in the context of today’s gospel, the responsorial psalm tells us that when we welcome Jesus into our house and heart, like Martha and Mary, respectively, we “will live in the presence of the Lord” (Response), and we will also love our neighbor as ourselves (cf. Lev 19:18), as spelled out in the eleven moral conducts from verses two to five (IBC), that is:

(1) “Walk without fault.” (2) “Act with justice.” (3) “Speak the truth from one’s heart.” (4) “Do not slander.” (5) “Do no wrong to one’s brother.” (6) “Cast no slur on one’s neighbor.” (7) “Hold the godless in disdain.” (8) “Honor those who fear the Lord.” (9) “Keep one’s pledge.” (10) “Take no interest on a loan.” (11) “Accept no bribes against the innocent.”

Finally, in the second reading, Saint Paul tells us that he suffers for the proclamation of the word of God, that is, Jesus Christ, for the salvation of the pagans! It is a mystery hidden for ages, but is now revealed for the salvation of the pagans!

Today we thank God for the word of God, that is, Jesus Christ, and we ask God to help us proclaim his word, that is, Jesus Christ, to the whole world, so that all may believe and be saved!

Today we also thank God for all the good works, services and activities in our parish! We believe that all our good works, services and activities are from the word of God, from faith, from prayer and from God! This is because in our parish we have the Bible-Sharing Groups, the Charismatic Renewal, the Alpha Course, the Neo-Catechumenal Communities, the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs), and most importantly, the Sunday Mass! All these are centered on the word of God, on faith, on prayer and on God!

A blessed Sunday to all of you!  Amen!

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 14th July 2019

Theme: THE WORD OF GOD IS LIFE, LOVE AND HAPPINESS

  • Deuteronomy 30:10-14;
  • Psalm 18:8-11. R/ v. 9;
  • Colossians 1:15-20
  • Luke 10:25-37

Today is the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us that the Word of God is life, love and happiness! Thus the Gospel Acclamation:

“Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life: you have the message of eternal life.” (cf. Jn 6:63. 68)

The gospel today tells us that the law of God gives us life! That is, if we keep the law of God by loving God and neighbor we will find life! But experience tells us that we cannot love God and neighbor on our own strength. The good news is that the law of God is fulfilled in Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ loved God and neighbor and through his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit he will fulfill the law of God in us, so that we too will love God and neighbor and find life!

Today Jesus Christ continues to fulfill the law of God in us through the power of the Holy Spirit, especially in the Sacraments, and especially in the Sacrament of Sacraments, that is, the Holy Eucharist, so that we will love God and neighbor and find life!

The second part of the gospel is an elaboration of the first part of the gospel. The second part of the gospel which is the parable of the Good Samaritan tells us that besides loving God we must also love our neighbor. In fact we cannot love God without also loving our neighbor! And we have to love not only in thoughts and words, but also in deeds and in actions!

The parable tells us that the priest and the Levite loved God, but they did not love their neighbor! The priest and Levite were on their way from Jerusalem to Jericho, that is, they were on their way back from service in the Temple (IBC) in Jerusalem, but they did not stop to help the man who was beaten, robbed and stripped by the robbers. It was the Good Samaritan who stopped to help the man in need. He poured oil and wine on his wounds and bandaged him and he put him on his animal and brought him to the inn and cared for him. He also paid the innkeeper to continue to care for him!

The Good Samaritan is Jesus Christ himself and we are the man beaten, robbed and stripped by the robbers! Jesus Christ loved us in deeds and in action, so that we too can love those in need, in deeds and in action! Our love for God and neighbor is only a response to the love of God for us in Jesus Christ. We love God because God first loved us and we love our neighbor because God first loved us! (E. Lawrence)

The first reading tells us that the law is not beyond our strength and beyond our reach. The law is not in heaven so that we need someone to go to heaven to take it down for us to hear and keep. And the law is not across the sea so that we need someone to cross the sea to bring it to us to hear and keep! No, the law is very near to us, the law is in our mouths and in our hearts for us to observe!

This first reading is the “gospel” of Deuteronomy (IBC)! It is similar to Jeremiah 31:33 and Ezekiel 36:26-27 where God puts his law in our hearts, where God gives us a new heart, where God puts his Spirit in our hearts so that we will keep his law and find life! In fact this first reading should not begin from verse 10, but should begin with verse 6 where God will circumcise our hearts and make us keep his laws so that we will find life and prosperity! (NJBC; IBC; CCB)

The responsorial psalm tells us that the law of God gives us happiness! Thus the response:

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

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas tell us that the law of God gives us life, wisdom, joy and faith! Thus the first and second stanzas:

“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. The precepts of the Lord are right, they gladden the heart. The command of the Lord is clear, it gives light to the eyes.” (Ps 18: 8-9; SM)

The fourth stanza tells us that the laws of God are better than gold and sweeter than honey! Thus we read in the fourth stanza:

“They are more to be desired than gold, than the purest of gold and sweeter are they than honey, than honey from the comb.” (Ps 18:11; 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 was created in Jesus Christ, through Jesus Christ and for Jesus Christ and more importantly, everything was saved in Jesus Christ, through Jesus Christ and for Jesus Christ!

In the Mass we meet the Liturgical Christ, but in Creation we meet the Cosmic Christ! In the second reading today we meet the Cosmic Christ! Indeed, a liturgist who lectures in the seminary told me that in the Evening Prayer, the Divine Office, the Liturgy of the Hours, we meet the Liturgical Christ, but in viewing the planets and the stars we meet the Cosmic Christ!

That is why some priests are both “astronomers” and “environmentalists”! It is all about creation! The God who saved us is in the first place the God who created us! This is in the very first article of our creed! Thus the first article of the Apostles’ Creed:

“I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.”

A professor in the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California, told me that today we have forgotten about God the Father, the Creator, thus the environmental destruction!

Today we thank God for his word of life, love and happiness fulfilled in Jesus Christ and we ask God to continue to fulfill this word in us through the power of his Holy Spirit, especially in the Sacraments, and especially in the Sacraments of Sacraments, that is, the Holy Eucharist, so that we may love God and neighbor and find life, love and happiness! A blessed Sunday to all of you! Amen!

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 7th July 2019

Theme: THE PEACE OF SALVATION (SHALOM)

  • Isaiah 66:10-14;
  • Psalm 65:1-7. 16. 20. R/ v. 1;
  • Galatians 6:14-18
  • Luke 10: 1-9 (Shorter Form)

Today is the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us about The Peace of Salvation (Shalom)! The word “Peace” comes from the Hebrew word “Shalom” meaning wholeness, completeness, perfection, soundness, well-being, lacking nothing, prosperity, happiness, etc., in the Old Testament. In the New Testament it is almost synonymous with Salvation!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus sent out the seventy-two disciples to preach the “Peace of Salvation (Shalom)” (HCSB) to the whole world. The number seventy-two (or seventy) symbolizes the universal mission of the Church!

They were sent out two by two, they were instructed to pray for laborers for the harvest, they were told not to carry any purses, bags and sandals, they were told not to greet anyone on the road, and they were told to preach the peace of salvation!

They were sent out two by two for mutual support, to bear witness to each other’s testimony, and to embody the peace that they preach. (NJBC) They were instructed to pray for laborers for the harvest, because the mission of the Church is from God. Thus prayer and mission cannot be separated. Every mission has to begin and end with prayer. They were instructed not to carry any purses, backpacks or sandals, because they were to depend on the providence of God. God provides! Thus the vow of poverty of the religious! They were not to greet anyone on the way, that is, they were not to be distracted from their mission! Today our hand phones distract us even during Mass and we distract others too. We must switch off our hand phones, especially during Mass! And finally they were to preach the peace of salvation and not to preach damnation!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us about the joy of the peace of salvation in the New Jerusalem! The New Jerusalem becomes our Mother and we the infants who suckle milk from her breast! Today the New Jerusalem is our mother Church! It is in her that we find the peace of salvation and it is from her that missionaries are sent to the whole world to preach the peace of salvation! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Rejoice, Jerusalem, be glad for her, all you who love her! Rejoice, rejoice for her, all you who mourned her! That you may be suckled, filled, from her consoling breast, that you may savor with delight her glorious breasts. For thus says the Lord: Now towards her I send flowing peace, like a river, and like a stream in spate the glory of the nations.” (Is 66: 10-12; SM)       

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us about the joy of salvation! Thus the response:

“Cry out with joy to God all the earth.” (Ps 65:1; SM)

That is, cry out with joy to God all the earth in praise and thanksgiving for salvation! The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first, second and third stanzas (vv 1-7) are a praise and thanksgiving for salvation! Thus verse 6 of the third stanza:

“He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the river dry-shod. Let our joy then be in him.” (Ps 65:6; SM)

Verse 6 is a summary of the whole history of salvation of Israel! Thus the first event and the last event of salvation are mentioned together, that is, the crossing of the Reed Sea in the Exodus and the crossing of the river Jordan into the Promised Land!

The fourth stanza (vv. 16. 20) tells us that God does not only save the community as a whole, but God also saves each and every individual in the community in a personal way! (IBC)

The second reading tells us that the peace of salvation cannot be merited by the works of the Law, but the peace of salvation can only be received as a free gift through faith in Jesus Christ, especially through faith in the cross of Jesus Christ through which we die to the world and the world die to us and through which we are made a new creation! Thus we read in the second reading:

“But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision, but only a new creation. Peace and mercy be to all who follow this rule and to the Israel of God.” (Ga 6:14-16; CSB) 

Today we thank God for the Peace of Salvation and we ask God to help us to be missionaries of the Peace of Salvation! The Peace of Salvation be with you all! Shalom! Amen!

 

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 30th June 2019

Theme: WE ARE TO LEAVE EVERYTHING TO FOLLOW JESUS

  • 1 Kings 19:16. 19-21;
  • Psalm 15:1-2. 5. 7-11. R/ cf. v. 5;
  • Galatians 5:1. 13-18
  • Luke 9:51-62 

Today is the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The gospel today tells us that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, to suffer, to die, to rise from the dead, to ascend into heaven and to send down the Holy Spirit to save the word!

The gospel tells us that when Jesus and his disciples were rejected by a Samaritan village, James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven to burn them up, but Jesus rebuked them and told them that he “came not to destroy souls but to save them”! (NJB) Indeed, Jesus came to save souls, and not only the souls of the Jews, but also the souls of the Samaritans, the enemies of the Jews!

The gospel also tells us that we are to leave everything, including our families, in order to follow Jesus! That is why to the first man who wanted to follow him, Jesus told him that foxes have holes and birds of the air have nest, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head!

And to the second man who wanted to follow him, but wanted to bury his father first, Jesus told him to let the dead bury the dead, that is, to let the spiritually dead to bury the physically dead, and that his duty was to preach the good news of the kingdom!

And to the third man who wanted to follow him, but wanted to say good-bye to his family first, Jesus told him that anyone who puts his hand on the plough and looks back is not worthy of the kingdom of God!

Again, we are to leave everything, including our families, in order to follow Jesus!

Indeed the first reading tells us that the prophet Elisha left everything, including his family, in order to follow the prophet Elijah and to succeed him! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Elisha left his oxen and ran after Elijah. ‘Let me kiss my father and mother, then I will follow you’ he said. …. Elisha turned away, took the pair of oxen and slaughtered them. He used the plough for cooking the oxen, then gave to his men, who ate. He then rose, and followed Elijah and became his servant.” (1 K 19:20-21; SM) 

The responsorial psalm tells us that God is the supreme good! (CSB) In fact Jesus tells us that God is the only good! (Mk 10:18) That is why we leave everything, including our families, in order to follow him!

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first stanza (vv. 1-2. 5; SM) tells us that the psalmist prefers the God of Israel to all the false gods! Thus the response which is taken from the first stanza:

“O Lord, it is you who are my portion.” (Ps 15:5; SM)

That is, O Lord, it is you who are my portion, my heritage, my inheritance!

The second, third, and fourth stanzas (vv. 7-11) tell us of the wise and life-giving presence of God, that is, God and God alone gives wisdom and life. That is why he is the supreme good and the only good! And that is why we give up everything, including our families, in order to follow him!

The second reading tells us that besides loving and serving God, we must also love and serve our neighbor! In fact we cannot love and serve God without also loving and serving our neighbor! Thus we read in the second reading:

“Serve one another, rather, in works of love, since the whole of the Law is summarized in a single command: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Ga 5: 13-14; SM) 

Today we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ, who suffered, died, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and sent the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world. And we ask God to help us to leave everything, including our families, in order to follow Jesus to love and serve God and to love and serve our neighbor!

Indeed, this is the meaning of life, this is the secret to happiness, and this is what God created us for, that is, to know him, to love him, to serve him and to be happy with him forever; and to know our neighbor, to love our neighbor, to serve our neighbor, and to be happy with our neighbor forever!

A blessed Sunday to all of you!  Amen!

THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST (C) – 23rd June 2019

Theme: THE EUCHARIST EFFECTS SALVATION

  • Genesis 14:18-20;
  • Psalm 109 (110): 1-4. R/ v. 4;
  • 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
  • Luke 9:11-17 

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ or “Corpus Christi”! The gospel today tells us that Jesus fed five thousand men with five loaves and two fish! Indeed the Lord feeds us with the material food of creation!

But more importantly, the gospel today tells us that Jesus also feeds us with spiritual food! That is why the four actions of Jesus in today’s gospel correspond to the four actions of Jesus in the institution of the Holy Eucharist, that is, take, thank, break and give! In the Eucharist Jesus gives us his body to eat and his blood to drink!

This is expressed most clearly in the Gospel Acclamation today, especially when it is quoted in full from the Bible:

“I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world.” (Jn 6:51; NJB)  

The second reading tells us about the institution of the Eucharist. It is the most ancient written account of the institution of the Eucharist in the New Testament, more ancient than even the gospel accounts. It dates back to 55 A.D. (CCB), that is, twenty years after Jesus’ death and resurrection!

The second reading tells us that in the institution of the Eucharist, Jesus did four actions, that is, (i) he took, (ii) he thanked, (iii) he broke and (iv) he gave.

He gave us his body and blood, that is, he gave us himself, his life, his Spirit! And he commanded us to do it in his memory, that is, to make present, real and effective his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world!

That is why the second reading concludes by telling us that when we eat the bread and drink the cup we are proclaiming the saving death of the Lord until he comes again when all will be saved! That is, The Most Holy Eucharist of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ effect salvation!

The first reading tells us about Melchizedek the priest-king. Melchizedek offered Abraham bread and wine, a symbol of the Eucharist! (Patristic tradition; NJB) Melchizedek blessed Abraham and Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything!

The letter to the Hebrews (7:1-10) sees in Melchizedek a type of Christ! Melchizedek had no beginning and no end. He had no father or mother, no ancestor. He was like the Son of God! He was a priest forever! He was greater than Abraham! That is why he blessed Abraham and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything! Melchizedek prefigured Jesus Christ!

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

“You are a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old.” (Ps 109 (110):4; SM)

That is, Jesus Christ is a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old!

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas (vv. 1-2) tell us that God gives victory to his king! The third stanza (v. 3) tells us that the king is the “son” of God! And the fourth stanza (v. 4) from which the response is taken tells us that the king is the priest of God! Thus again the response:

“You are a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old.” (Ps 109 (110): 4; SM) That is, Jesus Christ is a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old!

Today the priest continues in the priesthood of Jesus Christ! He does what Jesus asked him to do in his memory, that is, to make present, real and effective his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world!

Today the priest does the four actions Jesus did in the institution of the Eucharist, that is, he takes (Offertory), he thanks (Eucharistic Prayer), he breaks (Breaking of Bread) and he gives (Holy Communion)!

He gives the Body of Christ! He gives the Body of the Risen Lord! The Risen Body is symbolized by the placing of the small piece of the broken host in the chalice! And when we eat the bread and drink the cup we proclaim the saving death of the Lord until he comes again when all will be saved! Again, the Most Holy Eucharist of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ effect salvation!

Again, come to Mass every Sunday and tell others to come to Mass every Sunday! It is your salvation and my salvation! It is our salvation! A happy and blessed Corpus Christi to all of you! Amen!

References: New Jerusalem Bible (NJB); Christian Community Bible (CCB); Sunday Missal (SM).