7th Sunday of Easter (Year A) – 16th May 2021

Theme: LET US PRAY FOR THE COMING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT UPON US

  • Acts 1:12-14                                              
  • Psalm 26:1. 4. 7-8. R. v. 13
  • 1 Peter 4:13-16
  • John 14:18
  • John 17:1-11

1. Today we celebrate the 7th Sunday of Easter! The 7th Sunday of Easter is sandwiched between “the Ascension of the Lord” which we celebrated last Thursday and “Pentecost Sunday” which we will celebrate next Sunday! That is why the readings today tell us about the Ascension of the Lord and more importantly, about the Descend of the Holy Spirit upon us!

2. The gospel today is from St. John on the Last Supper discourse of Jesus Christ, the night before he died. It is the priestly prayer of Jesus Christ to his Father, but what concerns us today is the last part of the gospel on the Ascension of Jesus Christ: “I am not in the world any longer, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you” (Jn 17:11).

    But more importantly, the “Gospel Acclamation” today tells us that Jesus Christ ascends to heaven not to abandon us nor to rest from his work, but to sit at the right hand of his Father, meaning, in power, to rule the universe, and to send down his Holy Spirit into us, so that he can come back to us and into us and continue his work in us and through us: “I will not leave you orphans, says the Lord; I will come back to you, and your hearts will be full of joy” (Jn 14:18).

3. That is why the first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, tells us that after the Promise of the Holy Spirit and the Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven, the apostles and Mary the Mother of Jesus were praying for the Holy Spirit – the first and original novena for the Holy Spirit: “All these joined in continuous prayer, together with several women, including Mary, the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers” (Acts: 1:11). We have to pray for the Holy Spirit! We cannot receive the Holy Spirit without prayer and praying for the Holy Spirit!

4. The “responsorial psalm” is a meditation on the “first reading”. It is a psalm of “Trust in the Lord”, but what concerns us today is the “response” of the “responsorial psalm”: “I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living” (Psalm 26:13).

    It can be translated or paraphrased thus: ‘I believe I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of life’! The “land of life” is the Jerusalem Temple where the faithful have access to the life-giving presence of God (CSB/NAB)!

    Obviously, the Church has chosen this verse for the “response” of the “responsorial psalm” today to tell us that the Holy Spirit in us is the Life-giving presence of God! St. Paul tells us that we are the temples of the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit does not dwell in heaven, nor in temples, nor in churches, but in us!

    “The Lord’s goodness that we shall see” is consequently the goodness of the Holy Spirit, that is, love, joy, peace, forgiveness, freedom, mercy, salvation, wholeness, holiness, health, healing, etc.!

5. Finally, the Church has chosen the second reading from “1 Peter” to tell us that when the Holy Spirit comes upon us we will suffer for being Christians! We will not suffer for doing evil, for murder, for theft, for crime, etc., but we will suffer for doing good, and for bearing the name of Jesus Christ! Be not ashamed, but be happy, we will be blessed; we will give thanks to God, for when we suffer with Jesus Christ, we will also share in his glory, now and forever, in the Resurrection, and in the Ascension into heaven, body and soul, with Jesus Christ, in His Second Coming, at the end of time!

6. Today in this Mass, let us pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit upon us! A Happy Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost to all of you! In the early Church of the first century, Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost were all celebrated as one Mystery in the Sunday Eucharist! It was only in the second century that Easter was celebrated as an annual event, and it was only in the fourth century that Ascension and Pentecost were separated from Easter with a period of forty and fifty days respectively (MCE)! Again, a Happy Easter, Ascension and Pentecost to all of you!

                                                                                                                                    Amen!   

THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD (B) – 13th May 2021

Theme: THE LORD ASCENDS INTO HEAVEN IN ORDER TO SEND US THE HOLY SPIRIT SO THAT WE TOO MAY ASCEND INTO HEAVEN WITH HIM IN GLORY 

  • Acts 1:1-11;
  • Psalm 46 (47): 2-3. 6-9. R/ v. 6;
  • Ephesians 4:1-7. 11-13
  • Mark 16:15-20

1. Today we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord into heaven in glory, Liturgical Year B. Next Sunday we will celebrate Pentecost Sunday, that is, the descend of the Holy Spirit! The Easter Season of fifty days which began on Easter Sunday will end next Sunday with Pentecost Sunday.

The readings today tell us that the Lord ascends into heaven, not to abandon us, but to send us the Holy Spirit, so that we may do his work on earth, and so that one day we too may ascend into heaven with him in glory!     

The gospel today tells us that after his resurrection and before his ascension, the Lord sent his apostles out into the world to preach the Good News, so that those who believe and are baptized will be saved, but those who do not believe and are not baptized will not be saved!

And these are the signs associated with believers, that is, in the name of Jesus, they will drive out devils, they will speak in tongues, they will pick up snakes in their hands, and even if they drink poison they will not die, and they will heal the sick.  

But more importantly, the gospel tells us that the Lord has ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father in glory! But most importantly, the gospel tells us that the apostles went out preaching and the Lord was working with them confirming their words with signs! The Lord was with them in the Holy Spirit!

2. The first reading tells us that after his resurrection the Lord spent forty days with his disciples instructing them on the kingdom of God, preparing them to preach the kingdom of God! Moses also spent forty days on the mountain and Jesus also spent forty days in the desert to prepare for their ministries!

More importantly, the first reading tells us that after forty days, the Lord will ascend into heaven in order to send down the Holy Spirit on the apostles, so that they will become his witnesses, not only in Jerusalem, but also in Judaea, and Samaria and indeed to the ends of the earth! That is, not only in Jerusalem where Jesus died, rose from the dead and gave the Holy Spirit, but also in Judaea, that is, to all the Jews, and also in Samaria, that is, to the “half-Jews”, and indeed to the ends of the earth, that is, to the non-Jews, the gentiles, the pagans!     

But most importantly, the first reading tells us that the Lord has been taken up into heaven in a cloud. And when the disciples were staring at him into the sky, two men in white (angels) appeared to them and said to them, ‘Men of Galilee, why are you staring into the sky, the Jesus that has been taken up into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him go’, that is, he will return in a cloud in glory at the Parousia, that is, at his Second Coming at the end of the world, when all will be saved!    

3. The Responsorial Psalm is a hymn calling on all the nations of the earth to acknowledge the universal rule of the God of Israel who is enthroned as king of Israel and as king of all the nations! (CSB)

The Responsorial Psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza (vv. 2-3) calls on all the nations to acknowledge the universal rule of the God of Israel. The second and third stanzas (vv. 6-9) tells us that the God of Israel is enthroned as king of Israel and as king of all the nations!

In the liturgy today the Responsorial Psalm tells us about the Ascension of the Lord into heaven in glory! (CSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“God goes up with shouts of joy; the Lord goes up with trumpet blast.” (Ps 46 (47): 6; SM)

4. As we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord today and as we will celebrate Pentecost next Sunday, the second reading tells us about the Holy Spirit! The second reading tells us that the Holy Spirit is a Spirit of unity! Because there is only one body (church), one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God! The “seven unities”! (CSB)

And although there are many gifts, that is, the gifts of being apostles, prophets, evangelizers, pastors and teachers; all these gifts unite into one service of the one body of Christ!

5. Today in the Eucharist, we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ, especially for his death and resurrection and ascension into heaven; and we ask God to send us the Holy Spirit so that we may do the work of Jesus Christ on earth, especially in proclaiming the Good News as apostles, prophets, evangelizers, pastors, and teachers, and so that at the end of time, we may all ascend into heaven with him in glory! A happy Ascension Day to all of you!

Amen! 

6th Sunday of Easter (Year B) – 9th May 2021

Theme: THE HOLY SPIRIT HELPS US TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS JESUS LOVED US

  • Acts 10:25-26. 34-35. 44-48;
  • Psalm 97 (98): 1-4. R/ cf. v. 2;
  • 1 John 4:7-10
  • John 15:9-17


Today is the 6th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical Year B. We are still in the Easter Season of 50 days! The Easter Season began on Easter Sunday and it will end on Pentecost Sunday. Today is the 6th Sunday of Easter, next Sunday we will celebrate “THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD” into heaven! The Sunday following that we will celebrate “PENTECOST SUNDAY”!


   Again, the Gospel of John which we read on every Octave Day of Easter tells us that the Risen Lord gave the Holy Spirit to his disciples on the very day of his resurrection and sent them out to proclaim the good news so that those who believe and are baptized will have their sins forgiven!

The second reading today tells us to love one another because God is love. And the love of God is that he sent his Son Jesus Christ to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away! It is in the sacrifice of Jesus, that is, his death and resurrection, that the Holy Spirit is given to us! The Holy Spirit forgives our sins and the Holy Spirit helps us to love!



The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ commands us to love one another as he has loved us!  That is, to lay down our lives for our friends! The gospel ends by repeating the command of Jesus to love one another: “What I command you is to love one another”.
The gospel also tells us that Jesus gave us the commandment to love one another as he has loved us, so that his joy may be in us and our joy be complete, that is, the joy of heaven on earth!

The first reading tells us that the Holy Spirit was poured out, not only on the Jews, nor only on the Christians, but also on the pagans! It is the Holy Spirit that helps Jews, Christians and pagans to love one another as Jesus loved us!
   That is why we have to proclaim the good news, so that all may believe and receive the Holy Spirit and so that all may love one another as Jesus loved us, that is, to lay down our lives for our friends!

The response of the Responsorial Psalm tells us that, “The Lord has shown his salvation to the nations”. Indeed the Lord has shown his salvation to the nations! The Responsorial Psalm has four verses. Verses one to three calls Israel to praise God for her salvation! Verse four calls all the nations of the earth which have seen the salvation of Israel to praise and worship the God of Israel! Thus verse four of the Responsorial Psalm: “Shout to the Lord all the earth, ring out your joy.”!

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 love one another as Jesus loved us, and the Holy Spirit will help us proclaim the good news, so that all may believe and receive the Holy Spirit and love one another as Jesus loved us, that is, to lay down their lives for their friends! And so that all the nations may praise and worship God! A happy Easter Season to all of you! Amen!

5th Sunday of Easter (Year B) – 2nd April 2021

Theme: IN THE HOLY SPIRIT WE LIVE IN GOD AND GOD LIVES IN US AND WE BEAR FRUIT IN PLENTY.    

  • Acts 9:26-31;
  • Psalm 21 (22):26-28. 30-32. R/ v. 26;
  • 1 John 3:18-24;
  • John 15:1-8.

Today is the 5th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical Year B. We are still in the Easter Season of 50 days! The Easter Season began on Easter Sunday and it will end on Pentecost Sunday, a period of 50 days!

The Gospel of John which we read on the Octave Day of Easter tells us that the Risen Lord gave the Holy Spirit to the disciples on the very day of his resurrection and sent them out to proclaim the good news so that those who believe and are baptized will have their sins forgiven!

Today the second reading tells us that it is in the Holy Spirit that we live in God and God lives in us and that we believe and love his Son Jesus Christ and that we love one another!

The gospel today tells us that if we remain in Jesus and Jesus remains in us we will bear fruit in plenty! But cut off from Jesus we will bear no fruit. Not only will we bear no fruit, but we will die! The gospel today tells us that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. If we remain in Jesus we will bear fruit, but cut off from Jesus we will die!

The first reading tells that the Risen Lord is alive and active in the early Church in the Apostle Paul in the Holy Spirit! The first reading tells us that Paul a persecutor of Christians became a persecuted Christian! The first reading tells us that Paul preached the good news even in the face of persecution and death!

The Responsorial Psalm tells us to praise God, because the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world are all the work of God! Thus the response of the Responsorial Psalm:

“You, Lord, are my praise in the great assembly.”

The Responsorial Psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells the community to praise God! The second stanza tells the nations of the world to praise God! The third stanza tells the future generations to praise God!

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 live in God and God in us and the Holy Spirit will help us believe and love Jesus Christ and love one another!

The Holy Spirit will help us remain in Jesus and Jesus remain in us, so that we will bear fruit in plenty, especially the fruits of love, peace and joy! The Holy Spirit will help us proclaim the Good News even in the face of persecution and death! And the Holy Spirit will help us praise and worship God and serve him!

A happy Easter Season to all of you! Amen!

4th Sunday of Easter (Year B) – 25th April 2021

Theme: THE GOOD SHEPHERD LOVES AND LAYS DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS SHEEP IN OBEDIENCE TO THE COMMAND OF THE FATHER

Acts 4:8-12;

  • Psalm 117 (118):1. 8-9. 21-23. 26. 28-29. R/ v. 22;
  • 1 John 3:1-2
  • John 10:11-18

1. Today is the 4th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical Year B. Today we also celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday and Vocation Sunday. The themes of “Good Shepherd” and “Vocation” are related. The word “vocation” comes from the Latin word “vocare” meaning “to call”, particularly the call to the priesthood and religious life! The image of the Good Shepherd is the image of the good priest or good religious!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd! The gospel tells us that the Good Shepherd has four characteristics (Jn 10:14-18; CE):

(i) The Good Shepherd knows and loves God his Father and is known and loved by God his Father. (In biblical language, ‘knowledge’ is love. NJBg)

(ii) The Good Shepherd knows and loves his sheep and is known and loved by his sheep. 

(iii) The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep in obedience to the command of God his Father.

(iv) The Good Shepherd unites his sheep into one flock.

2. The good priest or religious also has theses four characteristics:

    (i) A good priest or religious knows and loves God the Father and is known and loved by God the Father. That is, a good priest or religious must be a man or woman of prayer, of the word of God, of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. (Pope’s Message)

(ii) A good priest or religious knows and loves the people of God and is known and loved by the people of God! That is why we have BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities) to share and pray on the word of God in a personal and spiritual way, so that we will know God, love him, serve him and be happy with him; and so that we will know one another, love one another, serve one another and be happy with one another!

(iii) A good priest or religious is one who lays down his or her life for the people of God in obedience to the command of God. A good priest or religious does not only love and serve God and the people of God, but he or she also suffers and sacrifices for God and the people of God, in order to sanctify and save the world! The word “sacrifice”, radically means “to make holy”, that is, to sanctify and save! (CE)    

(iv) A good priest or religious unites the people of God. He or she unites the different communities in the Church and he or she unites the different peoples of the world! Thus the Church becomes a community of communities of love and unity and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the world!

3. Today is Vocation Sunday and our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has a special message for us. In his message, our Pope also said that vocation to the priesthood or religious life basically means to love and serve God, and to love and serve the people of God! But more importantly, our Pope also said that vocation comes from the love of God. Thus the theme of his message: “Vocations, the Gift of the love of God”! Our love and service of God and the people of God are only a response to the love and call of God which is a free gift of God’s initiative! That is why we have to pray for vocations!

4. Today in our Diocese of Sandakan we have one bishop, seven priests (two in Tawau, two in Lahad Datu, two in Sandakan, and one in Telupid), eleven seminarians and aspirants (six in Kuching, two in “Initiation Year” in Kota Kinabalu, and three in “English Year” in Kota Kinabalu). We have another two seminarians, one for the Franciscan priesthood and one for the Carmelite priesthood. Both of them are from Tawau! Let us pray for our Bishop, our priests and our seminarians and let us pray for more vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Pray especially for the two priests in our parish that they may be good priests. Today the first and second collections will be given to our Bishop for the seminary and seminarians, that is, our future priests! Thank you and God bless you.

                                                                                                                        Amen!

3rd Sunday of Easter (Year B) – 18th April 2021

Theme: BE WITNESSES OF THE RESURRECTION AND PREACH REPENTANCE FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS

  • Acts 3:13-15. 17-19;
  • Psalm 4:2. 4. 7. 9. R/ v. 7;
  • 1 John 2:1-5
  • Luke 24:35-48

1. A Happy Easter to all of you! Today is the 3rd Sunday of Easter, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us to be the witnesses of the resurrection and to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

The gospel today tells us that on the day of his resurrection the Lord appeared to his disciples and said to them, ‘Peace be with you!’ That is, shalom, salvation! A peace that the world cannot give! (Jn 14:27; CSB) And he showed them his hands and his feet. He also asked them to touch him for he has flesh and bones. He is not a ghost. A ghost has no flesh and bones. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! A joy that the world cannot take away! (Jn 16:22) He then ate a piece of baked fish in front of their eyes! Indeed, the Lord has risen from the dead!

More importantly, the gospel also tells us that, in fact, even before his death and resurrection, when he was still with his disciples, he had already told them that he had to fulfill the Law of Moses, the prophets and the psalms, that is, the scriptures, that the Messiah was to suffer and on the third day rise from the dead and that in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations beginning from Jerusalem. That is, from Jerusalem to Judea, to Samaria, and to the ends of the earth! (Ac 1:8)

And most importantly, the gospel also tells us that the disciples were to be his witnesses!   

2. Indeed, the first reading tells us that the disciples were witnesses to his resurrection and preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins! The first reading tells us that Peter and the other apostles preached the good news of his resurrection:

“You killed the prince of life. God, however, raised him from the dead, and to that fact we are the witnesses.”! (Ac 3:15; SM)

They preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins:

“Repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out.” (Ac 3:19; SM)

Indeed, repentance is not only turning away from sin, but repentance is also turning away from the world, that is, from wealth, power, fame, etc., and more importantly, repentance is turning to God, and most importantly, repentance is turning to the God of Jesus Christ, a God of love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation; not a God of law, justice, punishment and damnation!   

3. Thus the responsorial psalm tells us that salvation is a favor, a grace and a blessing, that is, salvation is a free gift! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Lift up the light of your face on us, O Lord.” (Ps 4:7; SM)  

That is, show us your favor, O Lord! (HCSB; NJBC) Salvation is a favor, a grace, a blessing and a free gift, because the God of Jesus Christ is a God of love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation!

4. Thus the second reading tells us that Jesus Christ is the sacrifice that takes away our sins, and not only our sins, but the sins of the whole world! Thus we read in the second reading:

“He is the sacrifice that takes our sins away, and not only ours, but the whole world’s.” (1 Jn 2:2; SM)

That is why we have to be witnesses of the resurrection and preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins, so that all may believe and be baptized and have their sins forgiven!

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 help us to be witnesses of the resurrection and preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins! Again, a Happy Easter to all of you!

                                                                                                                                    Amen!

2nd Sunday of Easter (Year B) – 11th April 2021

Theme: WE THANK GOD FOR THE RESURRECTION OF HIS SON JESUS CHRIST, AND OUR RESURRECTION WITH HIM IN BAPTISM, AND WE ASK GOD TO GIVE US THE HOLY SPIRIT, SO THAT WE WILL PROCLAIM HIS RESURRECTION TO THE WHOLE WORLD

  • Acts 4:32-35;
  • Psalm 117 (118): 2-4. 15-18. 22-24. R. v. 1;
  • 1 John 5:1-6
  • John 20: 19-31

1. Today is the Second Sunday of Easter, the Octave Day of Easter. We celebrate Easter in eight days, not in one day! A happy Easter to all of you! The readings today tell us that the Risen Lord appeared to his disciples on the day of his resurrection, and gave them the Holy Spirit, and sent them out into the world to proclaim the good news, so that those who believe and are baptized will have their sins forgiven, but those who do not believe and are not baptized will not have their sins forgiven!

    The gospel today tells us that on the day of his resurrection the risen Lord appeared to his disciples and said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, that is, “shalom”, that is, “salvation”! A peace that the world cannot give! (Jn 14:27) He then showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord. A joy that the world cannot take away from them! (Jn 16:22)

    He then said to them again, ‘Peace be with you, as the Father has sent me, so I am sending you’. After this he breathed on them and said, ‘receive the Holy Spirit, those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; those whose sins you retain, they are retained’, that is, proclaim the good news, those who believe and are baptized will have their sins forgiven, those who do not believe and are not baptized will not have their sins forgiven! 

    The Council of Trent in the sixteenth century teaches that in this passage, the Lord gave the Church the authority to forgive sins in the sacrament of penance. When we commit sins after Baptism we need to receive the sacrament of penance to have our sins forgiven!  

2. The gospel also tells us that Thomas was not with the other disciples when the Lord appeared. And when he was told that the Lord appeared, he refused to believe and said, ‘unless I see the holes the nails have made in his hands, and put my finger into them, and unless I put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe’. Eight days later the Lord appeared to his disciples again, and he said, ‘peace be with you’. And he said to Thomas, ‘here are my hands, put your finger into them, and put your hand into my side, doubt no longer and believe’. Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God’. Thomas made “the highest confession of faith in all the Gospels”! (R. Brown)

    After that, Jesus said to him, ‘You believe because you have seen me, blessed are those who do not see me, yet believe’, that is, blessed are those who do not see me, yet believe, because of the apostles’ witnessing! (Jn 17:20-23/Ac 1:8/NJB) We believe because of the witnessing of the apostles, and our Pope and Bishops are the direct successors of Peter (the first Pope) and the apostles, respectively. We believe because of Scripture, Church and Tradition!

3. Finally, the third part of the gospel tells us that the gospel was written so that we may believe and in believing have life! The second reading follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading tells us that if we believe in Jesus, we will not only have life, but we will overcome the world. Just as Jesus himself overcame the world! (Jn 16:33)  Thus we read in the second reading: “this is the victory over the world – our faith. Who can overcome the world? Only the man who believes that Jesus is the Son of God”. (1 Jn 5:4-5)

    The second reading also tells us that Jesus came not only with water, but with water and blood, and with the Holy Spirit as the third witness, that is, Jesus came not only in Baptism (water), but also in crucifixion (blood); and the Holy Spirit was present at his Baptism, and the Holy Spirit was given to us in his crucifixion, death and resurrection!

4. The first reading tells us that the Risen Lord was in the first Christian community. The first BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community)! That is why the first Christian community shared all they had with one another. That is why the rich helped the poor in the first Christian community. The first reading also tells us that the first Christian community witnessed to the resurrection with great power, that is, with miracles, physical miracles and moral miracles! Physical miracles, that is, the blind see, the lame walk, the sick are healed, etc.! Moral miracles, that is, when our hearts change, when we love and forgive, when we love and serve, when we help the poor, when we stop committing sin, etc.!  

5. Finally, the responsorial psalm is a song of thanksgiving and praise, thanking and praising God for the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ, and thanking God for saving us from sin and death. The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza is a call to praise God. The second stanza is a thanksgiving for our salvation from sin and death. And the third stanza praises God for the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone. This is the work of the Lord, a marvel in our eyes.”! (Ps 117 (118): 22-23/Mt 21:42) And thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

    “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.” (Ps 117 (118): 1) Or “Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!”, that is, “Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, praise the Lord!”                     

    Today we thank God for the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ, and our resurrection with him in Baptism, and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we will proclaim the good news of his resurrection to the whole world! Amen

                                                                                                                                   

Easter Sunday – 4th April 2021

Theme:  IN THE RENEWAL OF OUR BAPTISM, WE DIE AND RISE WITH JESUS CHRIST TO THE NEW LIFE OF EASTER

  • Acts 10:34. 37-43;
  • Colossians 3:1-4
  • John 20:1-9

1. A happy Easter to all of you! The word Easter probably comes from the word “east”, the direction from which the sun rises. Just as the sun gives light, life, heat and energy; Jesus Christ gives the light of faith, eternal life, love, joy and peace (shalom)! We celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December in the place of the pagan feast of the “sun god”, because Jesus Christ is the new “Sun God”!

Again, a happy and blessed Easter to all of you! Today we have a huge Easter candle in our sanctuary, because Jesus Christ is our light! Jesus Christ is our light of faith, our light of life and our light of good; as opposed to the darkness of unbelief, the darkness of death and the darkness of evil, respectively!

More importantly, faith, life, and good, are connected, that is, if we have faith in God, we receive life from God and we do good; but if we do not believe in God, we do not receive new life from God, we continue to do evil!

Most importantly, light will overcome darkness, faith will overcome unbelief, life will overcome death, and good will overcome evil! Because Jesus Christ has overcome the Devil! And Jesus Christ will overcome the Devil in us by his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! And we receive his Holy Spirit in his Church and in his sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist! Jesus Christ founded his Church and instituted the sacraments to give us his Holy Spirit!     

2. The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead! The gospel tells us that when Mary of Magdala went to the tomb she found that the stone had been rolled away! She ran to tell Peter and the other disciple about it. Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb. Peter entered the tomb first and found that it was empty except for the cloths left in the tomb. The other disciple also entered the tomb and saw that it was empty and he believed! The “other disciple” is no other than John who wrote today’s gospel! John is testifying to you and me today that the Lord has indeed risen and tells us to believe in the Resurrection of the Lord!

3. In the first reading, Peter tells us that he and the other apostles are witnesses to the resurrection, not only that Peter had seen the empty tomb, but also that he and the other apostles have seen the risen Lord. And more than that, they have also eaten and drank with him! And more than that, the Risen Lord has also ordered them to proclaim the good news, so that all who believe will have their sins forgiven. That is, all who believe and are baptized will have their sins forgiven! (IBC) The first reading does not only tell us about the resurrection of the Lord, but also our resurrection with him in the sacrament of Baptism!

4. The second reading from Colossians also tells us about baptism. Paul tells us in the second reading that we have risen with Jesus Christ to a new life! Therefore, we are to look for the things of heaven and not the things of earth! The things of heaven are the things of God, that is, good, love, forgiveness, peace, joy, etc.! The things of earth are the things of man, that is, money, power, fame, pleasure, sex, etc. And Paul tells us that when Jesus Christ comes a second time in glory we will also share in his glory! (NJB)

5. Today, we will renew our baptism! We will answer six questions, three rejecting the Devil; and three professing our faith in God! We reject the Devil, because the Devil appeared twice in the Bible; once in the Old Testament, tempting Adam not to believe in God and Adam Sinned (“Original Sin”) and death entered the world; once in the New Testament tempting Jesus the New and Second Adam not to believe in God, but Jesus believed in God the Father and resurrection entered the world! After answering “I do” to the six questions, we will be sprinkled with holy water, the waters of Baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit! And we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! A blessed Easter to all of you! Amen!

                                                                                                                                   

EASTER VIGIL (Year B) – 3rd April 2021

Theme: WE DIE AND RISE WITH JESUS CHRIST TO THE NEW LIFE OF EASTER IN THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM THROUGH POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

  • Genesis 1:1-2:2;
  • Genesis 22:1-18;
  • Exodus 14:15-15:1;
  • Romans 6:3-11
  • Mark 16:1-7

1. A happy Easter to all of you! Tonight we celebrate the Easter Vigil! This is the biggest and most important feast in the Liturgical Year! More important than Christmas! We began this celebration with the service of light. Jesus Christ is the light of the world! In the New Testament, light has mainly three meanings: (i) faith (ii) life (iii) good. Faith as opposed to disbelief which is blindness and darkness. Life, happiness and contentment as opposed to death, misery and unhappiness which is darkness. Good as opposed to evil and the devil which is darkness. (John 8:12/NJB)

   The three themes are related, that is, if we have faith in God we will receive life from God and the life from God is good. The three opposing themes are also related, that is, if we do not believe in God, we will not receive life from God (death) and we will not do good (evil).

    But most importantly, we believe that in the end, good will overcome evil. In fact good has already overcome evil in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! That is why we are so sure that in the end good will over come evil. Though the battle is not finished until the end of the world, we already know the outcome, that is, good will overcome evil. Thus St. Paul tells us: do not overcome evil with evil, but overcome evil with good! 

    In his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ gives us this light of faith, life and good. That is why at the second singing of “Christ our light” our candles were lit, and at the third singing of “Christ our light”, the lights of the church were put on, and the cantor sang the “Easter proclamation” (Exsultet), that is, the proclamation of the Resurrection! This light is given to us to give to the whole world. The whole world needs to believe in God; the whole world needs life and good from God!

2. The readings tonight tell us that it is all the work of God! The readings tonight tell us what God has done for us in the past, and continues to do for us in the present and in the future! The first reading tells us that God created human beings in his own image and it was very good, but human beings sinned! But God did not love human beings less! On the contrary, God loved human beings even more, that is, God became man and came down to earth to save human beings!

    The second reading tells us that God began this history of salvation with Abraham the father of faith! The second reading tells us that because of the faith of Abraham, God promised Abraham that his descendants will be as many as the stars in heaven and as the grains of sand on the seashore, and that all the nations of the world will be blessed by the descendants of Abraham! The third reading tells us that God continues this history of salvation in the history of the Jewish people. The third reading tells us of the Exodus from Egypt; the single most important event of salvation in the life and history of the Jewish people and in the Old Testament!

    Finally, in the New Testament, the gospel and the fourth reading tell us that when we killed the Savior, God did not love us less, but he loved us even more, that is, he rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit! God the Holy Spirit does not dwell in heaven (Father), or on earth (Son), but God the Holy Spirit dwells among us and within us. God the Holy Spirit is nearer to us than we are to ourselves, loves us more than we love ourselves, (Saint Augustine) and knows us more than we know ourselves!

    God the Holy Spirit will love us until we love him back, and until we love our neighbor/enemy, and until we love ourselves. That would be the end of the world, that is, the end of the evil world, when good will finally triumph over evil!!

    The gospel tells us of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but more importantly, the second reading tells us that we die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter in the sacrament of Baptism through the power of the Holy Spirit!       

3. After this homily we will bless the water for baptism. We will ask God to send his Holy Spirit on the water of Baptism. But before Baptism we will ask you the six questions on faith. Three on the Devil and three on God! You will have to answer “I do” to all the six questions! In the first three questions we reject the Devil, and all his works, and all his empty promises, because the Devil tempts us not to believe in God as he tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden in the Old Testament, and as he tempted Jesus in the desert in the New Testament!

    More importantly, in the second three questions we profess our faith in God! We believe that God created us, but when we sinned, he loved us even more, that is, he became man and came down to earth to save us, but when we killed him, he loved us even more, that is, he rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit who dwells with us and within us!

    We believe that the Holy Spirit is in the holy Catholic Church. And that is why the Church is a communion of saints, that is, a sign of love and unity, and a sacrament of salvation for the whole world. And that is why the Church can forgive sins, can raise the dead to life, and can give everlasting life, particularly in the sacrament of Baptism! And that is why the priest baptizes you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit! And you die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! And the whole Church sings “alleluia, alleluia, alleluia”, that is, “praise the Lord, praise the Lord, praise the Lord”, because it is all God’s work! Amen!  

                                                                                                                               

Holy Thursday (Year A, B, C) – 1st April 2021

Theme: THE LORD INSTITUTED THE HOLY EUCHARIST TO MAKE PRESENT, REAL AND EFFECTIVE HIS DEATH, RESURRECTION AND THE OUTPOURING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT FOR THE SALVATION OF THE WORLD

  • Exodus 12:1-8. 11-14;
  • Psalm 115 (116):12-13. 15-18. R/ cf. 1 Corinthians 10:16;
  • 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
  • John 13:34; John 13:1-15

1. Tonight we celebrate Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Tonight we begin the celebration of the Easter Triduum of Good Friday (death), Holy Saturday (burial) and Easter Sunday (resurrection). Our celebration will only end after the Easter Vigil. That is why there will be no dismissal after tonight’s Mass. Dismissal will only take place after the Easter Vigil. That is why you have to come also for the Good Friday service and the Easter Vigil. It is all one celebration of the Lord’s death and resurrection!

    Tonight the Church asks us to commemorate three mysteries: (1) Institution of the Holy Eucharist (2) Institution of the priesthood (3) the command to love and serve.

2. The second reading is the most ancient written account on the institution of the Eucharist. It is even more ancient than the gospel accounts. The second reading tell us that on the night before his death, resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world, the Lord instituted the Eucharist in remembrance of him; remembrance not only in the sense of recalling the past, but more so to make the past present, real and effective. So much so that when we celebrate the Eucharist, we celebrate his death and resurrection, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and we receive the Holy Spirit for our salvation!

    The second reading tells us that the Lord instituted the Eucharist by changing the bread into his body and by changing the wine into his blood. And when we eat the bread and drink the wine we are proclaiming his death until he comes again, that is, we are proclaiming his saving death, until his Second Coming when all will be saved!   

    In the institution of the Eucharist the Lord did four actions: (1) He took (bread) (2) He thanked (3) He broke (4) He gave. These are the four actions that we do tonight in the Eucharist. The Mass has two parts, that is, Word and Eucharist. In the Eucharist we (1) take (presentation of the gifts) (2) we thank (Eucharistic prayer) (3) we break (bread) (4) we give (Holy Communion). And when we eat his body and drink his blood, we receive his Holy Spirit for our salvation.

    The four actions of the Lord can be simplified into two actions, that is, to thank and to give, that is, to thank God for the gift of life and to give our lives to others! In the gospel today the Lord thanked God the Father for the gift of life and gave his life to others in love and service!

3. It is important to note that the account of the institution of the Eucharist is found only in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but not in the gospel of John! Instead of the institution of the Eucharist, the gospel of John has the “washing of feet” and the commandment to love and serve. For John this is the meaning and the effect of the Eucharist.

    The gospel of John tonight tells us that Jesus loved his disciples, but on the night before he died, he showed that his love was perfect! When they were at supper, Jesus got up from the table, took off his outer garment, tied a towel round his waist, poured some water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and wiping them with the towel.

    And when he came to Peter, Peter refused his feet to be washed. How can a Master wash the feet of a disciple? How can a Lord wash the feet of a servant / slave? But Jesus told Peter that if he was not going to wash his feet he will have nothing to do with him. Peter then requested Jesus not only to wash his feet, but also to wash his hands and head. But Jesus replied that anyone who has taken a bath need not be washed, because he is clean all over.

    Jesus was talking about baptism. (IBC; HCSB; Lefrois) In baptism Jesus washes away our sins with the waters of baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is not only a servant, but Jesus is the Suffering Servant who loves and serves, suffers and sacrifices, in order to sanctify and save the world!

    In the gospel acclamation before the gospel, Jesus tells us “I give you a new commandment: love one another just as I have loved you.” (Jn 13:34) At the end of the gospel Jesus tells us: “If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.” (Jn 13:14-15)

    In other words, we are to love and serve, to suffer and sacrifice, and to sanctify and save the world!

4. Another mystery that we commemorate tonight is the institution of the priesthood. Jesus instituted the priesthood so that we can celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday, so that we can eat his body and drink his blood and receive his Holy Spirit for our salvation; and so that we can love and serve, suffer and sacrifice in order to sanctify and save the whole world!

    Why is there “no vocation” to the priesthood? “No vocation” means no call! Is it true that God does not call people to the priesthood? God always calls people to the priesthood! But there is no answer, no response, not “no vocation”, not no call! Tonight, let us pray that our young men may answer and respond to God’s call to the priesthood! We have a life-size statue of Saint John Vianney at our church door in order to inspire our young men to become priests!

    We shall now do the “washing of the feet” just as the Lord did two thousand years ago!

A happy Easter Triduum to all of you!