25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 20th September 2020

Theme: SALVATION COMES FROM THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS

CHRIST WHICH WE RECEIVE IN FAITH AS A FREE GIFT!

1. Today is the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that salvation does not come from the good works of the law, but salvation comes from the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ which we receive in faith as a free gift!

The gospel today tells us about the parable of the workers in the vineyard. The gospel tells us that a landowner hired workers for his vineyard. The first group of workers were hired at 6 a.m.; they worked for 12 hours under the hot sun, i.e., from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The second group of workers were hired at 9 a.m. They worked for 9 hours. The third group was hired at 12 noon and they worked for 6 hours. The fourth group was hired at 3 p.m. and they worked for 3 hours. The fifth group was hired at 5 p.m. and they worked for only 1 hour not in the hot sun, but in the evening sun.

But when it came to payment the last group was paid a whole day’s wage. The first group which worked for 12 hours in the hot sun expected more payment, but they were also paid only a day’s wage as agreed upon. They grumbled at the landowner, complaining that they had worked 12 hours in the hot sun and they were paid the same amount as the last group which worked only 1 hour in the evening sun; but the landowner replied that he was just to them as they were paid a day’s wage as agreed upon. But the landowner was only generous to the last group paying them a day’s wage for only an hour’s work!

Again, the parable tells us that salvation does not come from our good works, but salvation comes from the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ which we receive in faith as a free gift! Thus the first will be last and the last first. The Jews who came first but depended on the good works of the law for salvation became last; but the pagans and sinners who came last but depended on the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ became first! (NJB; Faley)

Incidentally, the sacraments are outward signs of inward grace instituted by Jesus Christ for our salvation! The Eucharist is the sacrament of sacraments! The word sacrament in both Latin and Greek means mystery! We have to celebrate the sacraments (mystery) in faith! Only then can we receive the graces for our salvation! And faith comes from the word of God! (Rm 10:17) Thus the liturgy of the word precedes the liturgy of the Eucharist!

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us that salvation comes from the love, mercy and forgiveness of God. Thus the first reading tells us to repent, i.e., to turn away from our sins and to turn to God who is merciful and forgiving. God is not like man. Man does not forgive, but God forgives. Therefore the difference between God and man is as far apart as heaven from earth! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Let the wicked man abandon his way, the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn back to the Lord who will take pity on him, to our God who is rich in forgiving; for my thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways not your ways – it is the Lord who speaks. Yes, the heavens are as high above earth as my ways are above your ways, my thoughts above your thoughts” (Is 55:7-9; SM)     

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us that the Lord is kind, compassionate, slow to anger, loving and good.

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us to praise God (vv. 2-3; CSB). The second stanza tells us that we praise God because he is kind, compassionate, slow to anger, loving and good (vv. 8-9; HCSB). The third stanza echoes the second stanza. The third stanza tells us that the Lord is just and loving and the Lord is close to all who call him (vv. 17-18; HCSB). Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“The Lord is close to all who call him.” (Ps 144 (145): 18; SM)

4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something important to tell us. The second reading tells us that St. Paul was caught in a dilemma as to whether to die and to be with Christ in heaven, or to live and to preach the good news to the Philippians. St. Paul thought that it was more urgent to live and to preach the good news to the Philippians!

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 put our faith in Jesus Christ, because salvation comes from the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and not from the good works of the law! The Holy Spirit will help us proclaim the good news so that others will also believe in Jesus Christ and be saved! A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you!

                                                                                                                        Amen!

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 13th September 2020

Theme: WE MUST FORGIVE ONE ANOTHER BECAUSE THE LORD HAS FORGIVEN US

  • Ecclesiasticus 27:30-28:7;
  • Psalm 102 (103): 1-4. 9-12. R/ v. 8;
  • Romans 14:7-9
  • Matthew 18:21-35

Today is the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that we must forgive one another because the Lord has first forgiven us!

The gospel today tells us that Peter asked Jesus, how many times must he forgive his brother, is it seven times; but Jesus answered, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

That is, Peter asked Jesus if he must forgive many times, but Jesus answered, not many times, but all the time. God has forgiven us all the time; we must also forgive others all the time! 

The gospel also tells us of the parable of the king who forgave his servant of a very big sum of “ten thousand talents”. His servant only asked that he be given time to pay back the debt, but the king cancelled his debt altogether! God is more forgiving than we can ever ask for!

But more importantly, the gospel tells us that when the servant met a fellow servant who owed him only a very small sum of “one hundred denarii”, he did not forgive him, even though he only asked that he be given time to pay back the debt. He had him put in jail until he should pay back the debt.

When the king heard of what had happened, he summoned his servant and said to him: I have forgiven you your debt; why have you not forgiven the debt of your fellow servant. In his anger the king had him sent to the torturers until he should pay up all his debts. In fact the debt is so huge that it is impossible to pay up!

The moral of the parable is that God has forgiven us, so we must forgive one another! If we do not forgive one another, God will not forgive us!    

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us that if we forgive others, God will forgive us; but if we do not forgive others, God will not forgive us! Thus we read in the first reading:

“He who exacts vengeance will experience the vengeance of the Lord, who keeps strict account of sin. Forgive your neighbor the hurt he does to you, and when you pray, your sins will be forgiven. If a man nurses anger against another, can he then demand compassion from the Lord? Showing no pity for a man like himself, can he then plead for his own sins? Mere creature of flesh, he cherishes resentment; who will forgive him his sins?” (Si 28:1-5; SM)   

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord is love, mercy and forgiveness! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy.” (Ps 102 (103): 8; SM)

And thus the second, third and fourth stanzas of the responsorial psalm:

“It is he who forgives all your guilt, who heals every one of your ills, who redeems your life from the grave, who crowns you with love and compassion.

His wrath will come to an end; he will not be angry for ever. He does not treat us according to our sins nor repay us according to our faults.

For as the heavens are high above the earth so strong is his love for those who fear him. As far as the east is from the west so far does he remove our sins.” (Ps 102 (103): 3-4. 9-12; SM) 

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something very important to tell us.

The second reading tells us that if we live, we live for the Lord and if we die, we die for the Lord for we belong to the Lord.

In the same way if we live, we live for one another and if we die, we die for one another because we belong to one another. Thus we read in the second reading:

“The life and death of each of us has its influence on others; if we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord, so that alive or dead we belong to the Lord.” (Rm 14: 7-8; SM)

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 forgive us our sins and help us forgive the sins of others.

The Holy Spirit will help us live and die for the Lord. And the Holy Spirit will help us live and die for one another.

Again, a happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you!

                                                                                                                        Amen!

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 6th Sept 2020

Theme: BROTHERLY CORRECTION

Ezekiel 33:7-9;

Psalm 94 (95): 1-2. 6-9. R/ v. 8;

Romans 13:8-10

Matthew 18:15-20

Today is the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us about brotherly correction.

The gospel today tells us that if a brother does something wrong, we are to correct him on our own, but if he refuses to listen to us, then we are to take one or two others with us to correct him, but if he refuses to listen, we are to report him to the community, but if he refuses to listen to the community, that is, the Church, then he should be excommunicated. Most importantly, the gospel asks us to pray for him and God will answer our prayers! (Craghan)   

It has been said that God helps those who help themselves, meaning to say that we have to help ourselves. Indeed, we have to help ourselves, but we also need the help of another person. We need the help of others. We need the help of family, friends, support groups, communities, the Church, and above all we need the help of God! We cannot go to heaven alone!    

I am happy to note that in our parish we have counselors under training for the individual counseling ministry; we have support groups (Bible-Sharing groups, “Preparation” groups, Prayer groups, etc.), communities (Basic Ecclesial Communities, Small Christian Communities, etc.), the Church, and above all we have God to help us in our journey to heaven!  

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that if we do not warn the wicked man to renounce his wicked ways and repent and the wicked man dies for his sins, we are responsible for his death. But if we warn the wicked man to renounce his wicked ways and repent, but the wicked man refuses to repent and dies for his sins, we are not responsible for his death. This is what God said to Ezekiel, the prophet of Israel. Thus we read in the first reading:

“If I say to a wicked man: Wicked wretch, you are to die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked man to renounce his ways, then he shall die for his sin, but I will hold you responsible for his death. If, however, you do warn a wicked man to renounce his ways and repent, and he does not repent, then he shall die for his sin, but you yourself will have saved your life.” (Ezk 33:8-9; SM)  

The responsorial psalm is a call to praise and worship God, and to be faithful to God. (CSB) The responsorial psalm has three stanzas.

The first stanza and the first part of the second stanza tell us to praise and worship God (vv. 1-2, 6). The second half of the second stanza (v. 7ab) tells us that we worship God, because he is our shepherd, that is, our ruler (HCSB), and our Savior (NJBC). The third stanza tells us to be faithful to God, and not to be like the people of Israel who quarreled (Meribah) with God and tested (Massah) God in the desert (vv. 7c, 8-9).

In the context of today’s readings, the responsible psalm is a call to the sinner to repent! Thus the response of the responsible psalm:

“O that today you would listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts.” (Ps 94 (95): 8; SM)  

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something very important to tell us. The second reading tells us that love is the fulfillment of the law! (CSB)

Love fulfills all the commandments, including the commandments not to commit adultery, not to kill, not to steal, not to covet, etc.! For when we love, we will not commit adultery, kill, steal, covet, etc.!

Love is the fulfillment of the law! Love is the only law and the only law is love! Love and do what you will says St. Augustine! Love is above the law! Love does more than the law requires of us! Love is merciful and forgiving; love shows mercy to the poor and forgiveness to the sinner; the law is neither merciful nor forgiving!

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 correct our brothers and sisters, and help us accept brotherly corrections. The Holy Spirit will help us love our neighbor as ourselves! Again, a happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you!      

                                                                                                                        Amen!

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) 30th Aug 2020

Theme: WE ARE TO SUFFER AND SACRIFICE FOR LOVE OF GOD AND LOVE OF NEIGHBOR

  • Jeremiah 20:7-9;
  • Psalm 62 (63): 2-6. 8-9. R/ v. 2;
  • Romans 12:1-2
  • Matthew 16:21-27

Today is the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that it is not enough to serve; we must also suffer and sacrifice for the love of God and for the love of neighbor, and for the sanctification and salvation of the world!

The gospel today tell us that Jesus predicted his suffering, death and resurrection for the first time, and immediately Peter protested that this must not happen to Jesus. But Jesus called Peter, Satan, and told him to get behind him, because he was an obstacle in his path.

But more importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus told his disciples to take up their crosses and follow him. For anyone who saves his life will lose it, but anyone who loses his life for the sake of Jesus will find it! Thus we read in the gospel today:

“If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Mt 21:24-25; SM)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Jeremiah also suffered and sacrificed for preaching the word of God. Jeremiah was ridiculed, insulted and derided for preaching the word of God. In fact he was also beaten and put in stocks. (Jr 20:2) Thus we read in the first reading:

“I am a daily laughing-stock, everybody’s butt. Each time I speak the word, I have to howl and proclaim: ‘Violence and ruin!’ The word of the Lord has meant for me insult, derision, all day long.” (Jr 20:7b-8; SM)

The responsorial psalm tells us that the psalmist is longing for God. (CSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“For you my soul is thirsting, O Lord my God.” (Ps 62 (63): 2; SM)

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first stanza tells us that the psalmist is separated from God (v. 2; SM). The second and third stanzas tell us that the psalmist longs for God in the Temple (vv. 3-6; SM). The fourth stanza tells us that this is based on the psalmist’s intimate relationship with God (v.8-9; SM).

Incidentally, the second reading also follows the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us to offer our living bodies, that is, our whole living selves, as a holy sacrifice to God.

The Jews and the pagans offered dead animals for sacrifice, but we are to offer our living bodies, that is, our whole living selves, as spiritual sacrifices to God! Thus we read in the second reading:

“Think of God’s mercy, my brothers, and worship him, I beg you, in a way that is worthy of thinking beings, by offering your living bodies as a holy sacrifice, truly pleasing to God.” (Rm 12:1; SM)

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 carry our crosses and follow Jesus to suffer, die and rise from the dead for love of God and love of neighbor and for the sanctification and salvation of the whole world!

Again, a happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you!  Amen!

 

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 23rd Aug 2020

Theme: PETER: THE FIRST POPE

  • Isaiah 22:19-23;
  • Psalm 137 (138): 1-3. 6. 8. R/ v. 8;
  • Romans 11:33-36
  • Matthew 16:13-20

Today is the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The gospel today tells us that after Peter professed his faith in Jesus that he was the “Christ” / Messiah and “the Son of the living God”, Jesus appointed him to be the first Pope! Jesus gave him the keys of the kingdom of heaven, so that whatever he binds on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever he loose on earth will be loosed in heaven!

Peter is given the authority to teach and to excommunicate. (CSB) Today we believe that our present Pope Benedict XVI is a direct successor of St. Peter the first Pope in an unbroken line of 266 Popes over 2000 years! We also believe that our Bishops are the direct successors of the Twelve Apostles. That is why at every Mass we pray for our Pope and Bishop, even mentioning their names!

We believe that the word of God is not only the Bible, but the word of God is the Bible, the Church and Tradition. Before the gospels were written the word of God was in the Church and in Tradition, that is, Oral Tradition. The word of God was proclaimed through word of mouth.

The four gospels were written some 40 to 60 years after Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! The gospel of Mark was written around the year 70, the gospels of Matthew and Luke were written around the year 80, and the gospel of John was written around the year 90! Jesus died and rose from the dead around the year 30!

Today there are important issues that are not directly and explicitly addressed in the Bible. Important issues like the ecological crisis, globalization, population explosion, dialogue with Islam, etc.

There are also important issues within the Church that are not directly and explicitly addressed by the Bible. Issues like married priests, women priests, and even the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary which we celebrated only a few days ago. We need the Church to teach us on these issues and to discipline us on these issues. And we need to obey the Church on these issues!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us about the appointment of Eliakim to be the master of the palace of King Hezekiah.

Eliakim is given the key to the door of the palace. He can grant or deny access to the palace of the King. Thus we read in the first reading:

“I place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; should he open, no one shall close, should he close, no one shall open.” (Is 22:22; SM)

Eliakim prefigures Peter in today’s gospel who was given the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Peter can grant or deny access to the kingdom of heaven!

The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving for deliverance, but in the context of today’s readings it can be read as a thanksgiving for God’s call to be the master of the palace in the case of Eliakim, and for God’s call to be the first Pope in the case of Peter.

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first and second stanzas are a thanksgiving. The third stanza tells us that God will not abandon the humble! Thus the last verse of the responsorial psalm which is also the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Your love, O Lord, is eternal, discard not the work of your hands.” (Ps 137 (138): 8; SM)

The second reading today is a continuation of last Sunday’s second reading. In last Sunday’s second reading, St. Paul tells us about the merciful plan of God, where the rejection of Jesus by the Jews meant that the gospel will be preached to the non-Jews. And when the non-Jews accept the gospel, the Jews will be envious and will also accept the gospel. In this way both Jews and non-Jews will be saved through the merciful plan of God.

In the second reading today, St. Paul gives glory to God for his wise and merciful plan of salvation both for Jews and non-Jews. St. Paul ends by giving glory to God who created all things, continues to sustain all things and is the end and goal of all things. (NJBC) Thus we read in the second reading:

“All that exists comes from him; all is by him and for him. To him be glory for ever! Amen.” (Rm 11:36; SM)

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 obey the word of God in the Bible and in the teaching and tradition of the Church. The Holy Spirit will also help us give glory to God for his wise and merciful plan of salvation for both Jews and non-Jews. A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen!

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 16th Aug 2020

Theme: JESUS CHRIST CAME TO SAVE NOT ONLY THE JEWS BUT ALSO THE NON-JEWS

  • Isaiah 56:1. 6-7;
  • Psalm 66 (67):2-3. 5-6. 8. R/ v. 4;
  • Romans 11:13-15. 29-32
  • Matthew 15:21-28

Today is the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that Jesus Christ came not only to save the Jews, but also to save the non-Jews! The gospel today tells us that a Canaanite woman asked Jesus to heal her daughter who was tormented by a devil, but Jesus ignored her. And when the disciples pleaded on her behalf, Jesus answered them that he was sent only for the lost sheep of the House of Israel, that is, he was sent only for the Jews and not for the non-Jews.

And when the woman herself came up and pleaded at his feet, Jesus answered her that it was not fair to take the food of the children and throw it to the house-dogs, but the woman retorted that even the house-dogs eat the scraps that fall from the master’s table! At this, Jesus praised her for her “great faith” and healed her daughter! This is the only time in the gospel of Matthew that Jesus praised anyone for “great faith”! (NJBC)

Indeed, Jesus Christ came to save all peoples, but we must have “great faith” in him. It is not enough to have faith in Jesus Christ; we must have “great faith” in Jesus Christ. The woman had “great faith”. She pleaded with Jesus three times before Jesus granted her request and healed her daughter. (John Chrysostom, c. 347-407; Herald, The Catholic Weekly) The irony is that the Jews, those whom Jesus came to save, did not have faith in Jesus Christ and they were not saved! The question of salvation is not whether we are Jews or non-Jews, but whether we have “great faith” in Jesus Christ!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that even foreign peoples who are non-Jews will also be saved!

The first reading tells us that foreigners who are non-Jews, but who love and serve God, and who keep the Sabbath and the covenant, will also worship in the Temple of God. (GNB; Craghan) Thus we read in the first reading:

“Foreigners who have attached themselves to the Lord to serve him and to love his name and be his servants – all who observe the Sabbath, not profaning it, and cling to my covenant – these I will bring to my holy mountain.” (Is 56:6-7; SM)

Again, the question of salvation is not whether we are Jews or non-Jews, but whether we love and serve God, and keep the Sabbath and keep his covenant!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm asks God to bless Israel so that the nations seeing the blessings of God on Israel will also worship the God of Israel. (HCSB) Thus we read in the first and third stanzas of the responsorial psalm:

“O God, be gracious and bless us and let your face shed its light upon us. So will your ways be known upon earth and all nations learn your saving help.” (vv. 2 & 3; SM)

“Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you. May God still give us his blessing till the ends of the earth revere him.” (vv. 6 & 8; SM)

And thus the response of the responsorial psalm which is taken from the refrain of the psalm:

“Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.” (vv. 4 & 6; SM)

The gospel today tells us about the salvation of the gentiles, the pagans, that is, the non-Jews, but the second reading today tells us about the salvation of the Jews! How can the Jews who rejected Jesus be saved? St. Paul answers this question by telling us about the merciful plan of God.

St. Paul tells us that the rejection of Jesus by the Jews means that the gospel will be preached to the Gentiles, the non-Jews. And when the gentiles accept the gospel, the Jews will be jealous and will accept the gospel and will be saved! It is all in the merciful plan of God! Thus we read in the concluding verse of the second reading:

“God has imprisoned all men in their own disobedience only to show mercy to all mankind.” (Rm 11:32; SM)

This verse echoes Rm 5:20: “Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more.”! (CSB)

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 proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to the whole world so that all may believe and be saved, including the Jews! Again, a happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us to pray to God in faith and the Lord will calm the storms in our lives. The Holy Spirit will also help us proclaim the good news so that all may believe and be saved, including the Jews! A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Theme: THE LORD IS A MERCIFUL JUDGE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indeed, we responded three times in the Responsorial Psalm:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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