31st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 31st October 2021

  • Deuteronomy 6:2-6;
  • Psalm 17 (18): 2-4. 47. 51. R/ v. 2;
  • Hebrews 7:23-28
  • Mark 12:28-34

Theme: WE LOVE GOD, NEIGHBOR AND ONESELF BECAUSE GOD FIRST LOVED US

1. Today is the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us about the greatest commandment of the Law, that is, we are to love the Lord our God with all our soul, all our heart, all our mind and with all our strength, that is, we are to love the Lord our God with our whole person and being! And we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves! Three things come to mind:

(i) We love because God first loved us! (1 Jn 4:19) We love God because God first loved us. We love our neighbor because God first loved us. And we love ourselves because God first loved us. Our love for God, neighbor and oneself is only a response to God’s first love for us!

(ii) We cannot love God if we do not also love our neighbor!

“Anyone who says ‘I love God’ and hates his brother, is a liar, since whoever does not love the brother whom he can see cannot love God whom he has not seen. Indeed this is the commandment we have received from him, that whoever loves God, must also love his brother.” (1 Jn 4: 20-21; NJB) 

But more importantly, we cannot love our brother if we do not first love God, because love comes from God!

“Love consists in this: it is not we who loved God, but God loved us and sent his Son to expiate our sins. My dear friends, if God loved us so much, we too should love each other.” (1 Jn 4:10-11; NJB)    

R. H. Fuller (Preaching the Lectionary, 1984) tells us that Jesus joined the first and second commandments in a radical sense:

“Love of God is illusory if it does not issue in love of neighbor, and love of neighbor is refined self-love if it does not proceed from the love of God.”

     (iii) In the year 2007, 138 Muslim scholars, clerics and intellectuals, etc. from all over the world, including 2 from Malaysia wrote a letter to Pope Benedict XVI to dialogue on these two greatest commandments to love God and neighbor! Our Pope accepted the invitation to dialogue, emphasizing that one cannot love God if one does not also love one’s neighbor!

The letter was entitled “A Common Word Between Us and You”! (13th October 2007) The common word is love, that is, love of God and love of neighbor! When two of the greatest religions of the world, that is, Christianity and Islam, come together to dialogue on the two greatest commandments of God, there is hope for love and peace in the world! The dialogue is still going on!   

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us about the greatest commandment of the Law, that is,

“The Lord our God is the one Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength.” (Dt 6:4-5; Sunday Missal (SM))

The first reading also tells us that if we keep the commandments of God, especially the commandment to love God, we will be blessed with long life; long life for ourselves, for our children and for our grand children. We will also be blessed with prosperity and fertility so that we will increase and multiply and have many children and grand children! We will also be blessed with a land flowing with milk and honey, that is, a land of grace and a land of abundance!

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the first sentence of the responsorial psalm from which the response is taken:

“I love you, Lord, my strength, my rock, my fortress, my saviour.” (Ps 17 (18): 2-3; SM)  

Indeed, the Lord saved us (NJBC) by loving us in his Son Jesus Christ! Thus verses 4. 47 and 51 of the responsorial psalm:

“The Lord is worthy of all praise: when I call I am saved from my foes. Long life to the Lord, my rock! Praised be the God who saves me. He has given great victories to his king and shown his love for his anointed.” (Ps 17 (18): 4. 47. 51; SM)

And thus the response:

“I love you, Lord, my strength.” (Ps 17 (18): 2; SM)

4. The second reading tells us about the differences between the Levitical Priesthood and the Priesthood of Jesus Christ:

(i) The Levitical Priesthood is temporary and transitory, but the Priesthood of Jesus Christ is eternal and permanent.

(ii) The Levitical priest is himself a sinner, but Jesus Christ is sinless.

(iii) The Levitical priest offers sacrifices every year and according to the letter to the Hebrews, everyday, but Jesus Christ offered himself once and for all!

(iv) The Levitical priest cannot save, but Jesus Christ is the only Savior of the world!

5. Today in the Eucharist, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we make present, real and effective the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our salvation and today in the Eucharist we receive the Holy Spirit to help us love God with all our soul, our heart, our mind and our strength, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves! A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you!                        Amen!

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!  

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 19th Sep 2021

Theme: WE ARE TO BE THE LAST OF ALL AND THE SERVANT OF ALL AND WE ARE TO SERVE THE LEAST OF ALL AND THE LAST OF ALL

  • Wisdom 2:12. 17-20;
  • Psalm 53 (54): 3-6. 8. R/ v. 6;
  • James 3:16-4:3
  • Mark 9:30-37

1. Today is the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The gospel today tells us that we are to be the last of all and the servant of all, and we are to serve the least of all and the last of all!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus predicted his Passion for a second time, that is, he will be delivered into the hands of men and they will put him to death, but he will rise again on the third day! But the disciples still did not understand, though Jesus predicted his Passion for a second time!

In fact, the disciples were arguing amongst themselves as to who was the greatest! Jesus then called them together and taught them that in order to be first one must be the last of all and the servant of all!

Jesus then took a child and put him in front of them and taught them that whoever welcomes a child welcomes him and whoever welcomes him welcomes the one who sent him! A child is a symbol of the lowly, the poor, the weak, the helpless, the vulnerable, etc. (CSB; NJBC; IBC), that is, the least and the last!      

Thus the gospel today tells us that we are to be the last of all and the servant of all, and we are to serve the least of all and the last of all! Jesus was the last of all and the servant of all and he served the least of all and the last of all!

Who are the last of all and the servant of all in our parish? Do we serve the least of all and the last of all? Who are the least of all and the last of all in our parish; the poor, the sinners, the sick, the aged, the children, the migrants, etc.?

As we celebrate the 40th Anniversary (Ruby Anniversary) of our Catholic Women’s Apostolate (CWA) today, whose motto is our Bishop Julius’ motto: “to serve with God’s love”; let us ask ourselves if our Catholic Women’s Apostolate are the last of all and the servant of all and serve the least of all and the last of all, that is, the poor, the aged, the sick, the migrants, the children, the youths, the sinners, etc.!

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading is based on the fourth of four Suffering Servant Songs of Isaiah. (Is 52:13-53:12; HCSB) The first generations of Christians and a number of the Fathers of the Church see in this first reading the prophecy of the Passion of Jesus Christ! (CSB; NJB)

Thus we read in the first reading:

“If the virtuous man is God’s son, God will take his part and rescue him from the clutches of his enemies. Let us test him with cruelty and with torture, and thus explore this gentleness of his and put his endurance to the proof. Let us condemn him to a shameful death since he will be looked after – we have his word for it.” (Ws 2: 18-20; SM)

The first reading is reflected in the gospel of Mathew 27:41-44 (CSB), especially in Matthew 27:43 where the crucified Jesus was mocked by the chief priests, the scribes and the elders (NJB):

“He has put his trust in God; now let God rescue him if he wants him. For he did say, ‘I am God’s son.’”

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God will deliver him from death! (Fuller) Thus the response of the responsible psalm:

    “The Lord upholds my life.” (Ps 53 (54): 6; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first and second stanzas are a prayer for deliverance. The third stanza tells us that God will deliver him from death and he will thank God for his deliverance! (CSB; HCSB) Thus we read in the third stanza from which the response is taken:

“But I have God for my help. The Lord upholds my life. I will sacrifice to you with willing heart and praise your name for it is good.” (Ps 53 (54): 6 &8; SM) 

The gospel, the first reading and the psalm today tell us three important things: (I) We are to be the servants of all. (II) We are to serve the poor, the needy, the weak, etc. (III) We are to serve, to suffer, and to sacrifice in order to sanctify and save the world!   

4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again the second reading has something important to tell us. The first paragraph of the second reading tells us about true wisdom and false wisdom, that is, heavenly wisdom and earthly wisdom.

Earthly wisdom brings about jealousy, selfishness/ambition, disunity and evil works; but heavenly wisdom brings about peace, mercy, good works and justice/righteousness!

The first paragraph of the second reading belongs to chapter 3 of the letter of St James, but the second paragraph belongs to chapter 4.

5. Today we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ who suffered, died and rose from the dead for our salvation; and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we may become the last of all and the servant of all and so that we will serve the least of all and the last of all! We also ask God to give us the true wisdom from heaven so that we may bring about peace, mercy, good works and righteousness/justice in our Church and in our world! A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you!                                              

Amen!         

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 12th September 2021

  • Isaiah 50:5-9
  • Psalm 114 (115):1-6. 8-9. R/ v. 9;
  • James 2:14-18
  • Mark 8:27-35

Theme: JESUS IS NOT A POLITICAL, NATIONALISTIC AND MILITARY MESSIAH, BUT JESUS IS A SUFFERING MESSIAH

1. Today is the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The gospel today tells us that Jesus is not a political, nationalistic, and military Messiah, but Jesus is a suffering Messiah! That is, Jesus is to suffer, die and rise from the dead for the love of God and for the love of humanity, that is, to do the will of God his Father and to save humanity from sin and death!

The gospel also tells us that as Christians we are to take up our crosses and follow Jesus, to lose our lives for his sake and for the sake of the gospel in order to save our lives and the lives of the whole world!

The gospel today tells us that when Peter professed his faith in Jesus as the Messiah/Christ, Jesus warned his disciples not to tell anyone about it for fear that people may think that he was a political Messiah.

Jesus also told his disciples that he was to suffer, to die and to rise from the dead on the third day! And when Peter protested, he called Peter Satan! For the way Peter thought was man’s way, not God’s way. Man thought of a nationalistic Messiah, but God thought of a suffering Messiah, because God is love!         

In the gospel today, Jesus also told the people and his disciples to take up their crosses and follow him, to lose their lives for his sake and for the sake of the gospel in order to save their lives and the lives of the whole world!

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Jesus was the Suffering Servant of God (Third of Four Suffering Servant Songs). He listened to God. He did not turn away from God. He offered his back to be beaten, his beard to be torn and his face to be spat upon!

Vicarious suffering, that is, suffering on behalf of sinners, suffering in the place of sinners! But more importantly, the first reading tells us that God will not abandon him, God will not forget him; but God will come to his help, God will save him, and through him God will save the whole world!

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God will save him from death! Thus the response:

“I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.” (Ps 114 (115): 9; SM)

The responsorial psalm itself tells us of his suffering and death, but more importantly, it tells us that God will save him from death. Thus the responsorial psalm ends with verse 9, from which the response is taken, again:

“I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.”!

4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again, the second reading has something important to tell us. The second reading tells us that faith and good works have to go together. Faith without good works is dead! And the good works mentioned in the second reading are clothing the naked and feeding the hungry. Two basic human needs!  

The second reading is not contrasting faith and good works, but the second reading is contrasting living faith and dead faith! Living faith will produce good works, but dead faith will not produce good works!

5. Today in this Mass, we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ, who suffered, died and rose from the dead for our salvation; and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we may carry our crosses to follow him, to lose our lives for his sake and for the sake of the gospel, so that we will save our lives and the lives of the whole world!

We also thank God for the gift of faith and we ask God to help us to do good works!

A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you!

                                                                                                                                Amen! 

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 5th September 2021

Theme: JESUS MAKES THE DEAF HEAR AND THE DUMB SPEAK

  • Isaiah 35:4-7;
  • Psalm 145 (146): 7-10. R. v. 1;
  • James 2:1-5
  • Mark 7:31-37

1. Today is the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The gospel today tells us that Jesus makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak!

Many years ago when I was in Kuching, I visited the school for the deaf and dumb with some seminarians. And we were told that people visit the blind, the sick, the aged and the disabled, but not many visit the deaf and the dumb. And we were told to visit them more often! People cannot see the suffering of the deaf and dumb. But the deaf and dumb suffer because they cannot hear people speak to them and they cannot speak to people. They cannot communicate and without communication there can be no community and communion. The words communication, community and communion come from the same Latin root word communis meaning common.   

Communication is essential not only for the deaf and dumb, but for everybody! A marriage will not last if there is no communication. A marriage will not last if the husband does not speak to his wife and listen to his wife; and the wife does not speak to her husband and listen to her husband. And even if a marriage last without communication it will not be a happy and loving marriage. We cannot love someone we do not know! Communication is both listening and speaking and not only speaking or only listening!

The same can be said of the family. If there is no communication in the family, the family cannot be a happy and loving family; if parents do not speak to their children and listen to them and if children do not speak to their parents and listen to them, then the family cannot be a happy and loving family. Again, we cannot love someone we do not know!

God created us to know him, to love him, to serve him and to be happy with him! In the same way, God created us to know one another, to love one another, to serve one another and to be happy with one another! If we do not know one another, we cannot love one another, we cannot serve one another, and we cannot be happy with one another! It is a basic Human and Christian need to know, love, serve and to be happy with one another!

But today, ironically, with the advance of modern communications technology our communication within marriage and the family have been compromised. With the advance of the television, the internet, the handphone, the “iphone”, the “ipad”, etc., communication between husband and wife and between parents and children has been compromised!

Husbands and wives spend too much time at the television, the internet, the “ipad”, etc., that they do not have time for each other. They do not have time to communicate with each other! Parents and children spend too much time at the television, the internet, the “ipad”, the handphone, the “iphone”, etc., that they have no time for each other. They do not have time to communicate with each other!

That is why it is essential that the family eat dinner together everyday and speak and listen to one another and switch off the television, the handphone, the internet, etc.! A glass of wine or two may help in the conversation and communication!

More importantly, the gospel today tells us that Jesus heals us of our spiritual deafness and our spiritual dumbness so that we can hear the word of God and speak to God in prayer; so that we can communicate with God and be in community and communion with God who is love, joy and peace! We communicate with God at Mass! At the “Liturgy of the Word” we listen to God speaking to us and at the “Prayer of the Faithful” we speak to God in prayer! At the “Liturgy of the Eucharist”, especially at the “Eucharistic Prayer” we speak to God in prayer!     

Again, with the advance of modern communications technology even our communication with God has been compromised! We do not listen to God speaking to us in the word of God and we do not speak to God in prayer, but we are distracted by our handphones, “sms” (short message service), “texting”, “iphone”, etc. And we also distract others in the congregation. We have to switch off our handphones during Mass!

We have 168 hours in a week, if we spend 1 hour with God in a week, God will bless the other 167 hours of our week!           

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the Lord does not only heal us of our deafness and dumbness, but the Lord also heals us of our blindness and lameness! The Lord does not only heal us of our blindness and lameness, but the Lord also makes water flow in abundance in the desert to give life to the desert! In other words, the Lord saves us!

The first reading tells us about salvation! The first reading is a prophecy on the return of the exile from Babylon, the second Exodus, and the final salvation for the Jews! But for us it is the salvation by Jesus who makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak!    

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a hymn of praise to God the Savior especially of the oppressed and helpless! (NJBC; Craghan) Thus the response: “My soul, give praise to the Lord.” (Ps 145 (146): 1; SM)

The responsorial psalm itself tells us of salvation by God, especially of the oppressed and helpless!

4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading tells us two important things! The second reading tells us that we have to treat the rich and the poor equally! (CCB) We must not tell the rich to sit on the best seats and tell the poor to sit on the floor! More importantly, the second reading tells us that rich or poor, we have to be “poor in spirit” (Mt 5:3)! (IBC) That is, we have to depend on God for our salvation!

5. Today in this Mass we thank God for his Son Jesus who makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak. And we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we may continue to speak to one another and listen to one another and so that we may continue to listen to God and speak to God in prayer and so that we may be in community and communion with God and neighbor! We also ask God to help us treat the rich and the poor equally and to help us to be “poor in spirit”, that is, to depend on God for our salvation! A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you!    Amen!

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 29th Aug 2021

Theme: THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD GIVES LIFE AND LOVE

  • Deuteronomy 4:1-2. 6-8;
  • Psalm 14 (15): 2-5. R/ v. 1;
  • James 1:17-18. 21-22. 27
  • Mark 7:1-8. 14-15. 21-23

1. Today is the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that the commandment of the Lord gives us life and love!

The gospel today tells us not to substitute human traditions for the commandment of God. Human traditions cannot give us life and love, only the commandment of God can give us life and love!

Human traditions, like the ritual purifications of the scribes and Pharisees, that is, the washing of hands before eating and the washing of cups, pots and dishes cannot wash away the fornication, theft, murder, adultery, greed, jealousy, pride, etc., in our hearts and give us life; only the commandment of God can wash away the sins in our hearts and give us life! Thus the Gospel Acclamation today:

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

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the commandments of the Lord give us life and give us the Promised Land, that is, Heaven! That is why we must not add anything to the commandments of God or subtract anything from the commandments of God! If we do, then it will not give us life and love! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Now, Israel, take notice of the laws and customs that I teach you today, and observe them, that you may have life and may enter and take possession of the land that the Lord the God of your fathers is giving you. You must add nothing to what I command you, and take nothing from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God just as I lay them down for you.” (Dt 4:1-2; SM)   

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm was originally “a liturgy for entrance into the sanctuary/temple” (HCSB; CSB), but in the context of today’s readings and liturgy, it also tells us that the commandments of the Lord give us life and love! (CCB) Thus the response:

“The just will live in the presence of the Lord.” (Ps 14 (15): 1; SM)

The responsorial psalm tells us of the commandments of the Lord, that is, act with justice, speak the truth, do no wrong to the neighbor, do not slander the neighbor, keep your pledge, do not take interest on your loan to the poor, do not take bribes against the innocent, etc. If we keep these commandments of the Lord we will live in the presence of the Lord!

But the opposite is also true, that is, if we do not act with justice, do not speak the truth, do wrong to the neighbor, slander the neighbor, take interest on our loans to the poor, take bribes against the innocent, do not keep our oaths, etc., then we will not live in the presence of the Lord, but we will die in the absence of the Lord!  

4. Incidentally, the second reading also follows the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us that we must not only listen to the word of God, but we must also do what the word tells us! And the word tells us to help the widow and orphans, that is, the poor and the needy! (CSB) Thus we read in the second reading:

    “But you must do what the word tells you, and not just listen to it and deceive yourselves.

Pure unspoilt religion, in the eyes of God our Father is this: coming to the help of orphans and widows when they need it.” (Jm 1:22. 27; SM)

5. Today in this Mass we thank God for the commandments and we ask God to help us keep the commandments so that we may have life and love and so that we will help the poor and the needy. A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you!

Amen!