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!

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 23rd August 2012

Theme: WE BELIEVE JESUS IS THE REVELATION OF GOD AND WE BELIEVE IN THE REAL PRESENCE OF JESUS IN THE EUCHARIST

1. Today is the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The gospel today is a continuation of the gospel of the past four Sundays. The gospel is on John chapter six on the bread of life. 

Jesus Christ is the bread of life, that is, Jesus Christ is the revelation of God in his teachings, in his person and life, in his words and actions, and especially in his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! And this we celebrate in the Eucharist! 

The gospel of the first three Sundays on John chapter six was on Jesus as the revelation of God. The gospel of last Sunday was on the Eucharist! And the gospel today which ends John chapter six is on faith and belief!   

The gospel today tells us that many of the disciples of Jesus did not believe in Jesus. They did not believe that he was the revelation of God and they did not believe in the Eucharist. (NJBC; IBC; CCB) They stopped following Jesus! 

But more importantly, the gospel today tells us that Peter who represented the Twelve believed in Jesus! They believed Jesus was the only one who could give eternal life! No one else could give eternal life! 

In fact the words of Peter echoed the words of Jesus himself: “Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe.” (Jn 6:68-69; SM) Earlier on in the gospel today Jesus said: “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” (Jn 6:63; SM)        

It is important to note that those who did not believe in Jesus in today’s gospel were not the Jews; but they were the Christians, the followers of Jesus, the disciples of Jesus, members of the Christian community, members of John’s community! (NJBC) 

Today too many have left the Catholic Church because they do not believe in Jesus. They do not believe that Jesus is the revelation of God and they do not believe in the Eucharist! 

But more importantly, you and I believe in Jesus as the revelation of God and you and I believe in the Eucharist! We believe in the “real presence” of Jesus in the Eucharist! We believe only Jesus can give us eternal life. No one else can give us eternal life! Thus the gospel acclamation: “Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life: you have the message of eternal life.” (cf. Jn 6:63. 68; SM) Thus again, the gospel today: “Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe.” (Jn 6:68-69; SM)

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Joshua and his household chose to serve the Lord their God. And more importantly, the first reading tells us that Israel also chose to serve the Lord their God. And most importantly, because it was the Lord their God who brought them out of Egypt, who protected them on their journey to the Promised Land and who helped them conquer the Promised Land! 

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the response: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Ps 33 (34):9; SM) That is, experience (CCB) and see that the Lord is good! Israel’s faith is based on Israel’s experience of God!

The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving for the deliverance of the just from trouble! (CSB; HCSB) The responsorial psalm has five stanzas. The first stanza (vv. 2-3; SM) is a thanksgiving. The second, third, fourth and fifth stanzas (vv. 17-23; SM) are the deliverance of the just from trouble. Thus again, the response: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” That is, experience and see that the Lord is good!

4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells us that husbands must love their wives and sacrifice themselves for their wives just as Jesus Christ loved his Church and sacrificed himself for his Church!

The second reading tells us that wives must love their husbands and serve their husbands just as the Church loved Jesus Christ and served Jesus Christ!

The second reading tells us of the meaning of Genesis 2:24: “a man must leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one body.” (Ep 5:31; SM) That is, husbands and wives become one body in love, service and sacrifice, just as Jesus Christ is one body with the Church in love, service and sacrifice! 

In the male dominated world of the Ephesians, where women were subordinated to men, the letter to the Ephesians preached equality (justice) and mutuality (love) between husbands and wives!

5. Today in this Mass, we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ, the bread of life and the revelation of God. We thank God for the Eucharist. We thank God for the gift of faith. And we ask God to increase our faith, so that we will continue to grow in faith and grow in the eternal life! We also pray God that husbands and wives be one in love, service and sacrifice, as Jesus Christ is one with his Church in love, service and sacrifice! A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you!                            Amen!

THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY (Year C) – 15th August 2021

Theme: WE WILL BE ASSUMED INTO HEAVEN – BODY AND SOUL – WITH THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY  

  • Apocalypse (Revelation) 11:19; 12:1-6. 10;
  • Psalm 44 (45):10-12. 16. R/ v. 10;
  • 1 Corinthians 15:20-26
  • Luke 1:39-56

1. Today we celebrate the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven. Mary was assumed into heaven body and soul because she was not touched by Original Sin and consequently her body was not touched by the corruption of death. Mary was preserved from Original Sin by the grace of her Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ saves us in two ways, that is, by forgiving us our sins and by preserving us from sin by his grace. Mary was preserved from sin by the grace of Jesus Christ. (MCE)      

    Thus the gospel today tells us that she is the most blessed among women, blessed is the fruit of her womb, blessed is she who believed that the promise made to her will be fulfilled, and all generations will call her blessed! Mary was blessed and graced! In fact that is the first part of the prayer “Hail Mary”:

    “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus”!

    Thus we read in the gospel today:

    “Elizabeth gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. …. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’

    And Mary said: ‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exults in God my savior; because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid. Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me.’” (Lk 1:42. 45-49a; SM)     

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. According to our Catholic Church the first reading tells us about Mary, her Son Jesus Christ, and the Dragon, that is, the Devil. (NJB; NJBC; IBC) The first reading tells us that Mary gave birth to the child Jesus and the dragon wanted to eat the child, but the child was taken up into heaven, that is, he “ascended” into heaven, while Mary escaped into the desert to a place of safety prepared by God!

    Most importantly, the first reading tells us that God and Jesus Christ have won over the Devil! Thus we read in the first reading:

    “Then I heard a voice shout from heaven, ‘Victory and power and empire for ever have been won by our God, and all authority for his Christ.’” (Rv 12:10; SM)  

    Again, Mary was preserved from the Devil and from Original Sin and from the consequent corruption of death by the grace of Jesus Christ! Thus Mary was assumed into heaven body and soul!

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that Mary is Queen as God is King, and Mary is bride as God is bridegroom! The responsorial psalm praises Mary as bride of God and Queen of heaven! (NJBC) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

    “On your right stands the queen, in garments of gold.”! (Ps 44 (45):10; SM) 

4. Finally, the second reading tells us that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. More importantly, the second reading tells us that we will also rise with Jesus Christ from the dead and ascend into heaven with him! Thus we read in the second reading:

    “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of all who have fallen asleep. Death came through one man and in the same way the resurrection of the dead has come through one man. Just as all men die in Adam, so all men will be brought to life in Christ.” (1 Co 15:20-22; SM)  

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 forgive us our sins. The Holy Spirit will also preserve us from sin, so that we will not sin, and so that one day we will also be assumed into heaven – body and soul – with the Blessed Virgin Mary!

                                                                                                                                    Amen!

19th Sunday in Ordinary time (Year B) – 8th August 2021

Theme: JESUS THE BREAD OF LIFE

  • 1 Kings 19:4-8;
  • Psalm 33 (34):2-9. R/ v. 9;
  • Ephesians 4:30-5:2
  • John 6:41-51

1. Today is the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that Jesus is the bread of life! For the past three Sundays, inclusive of today, and for the next two Sundays, the gospel is on the bread of life. The gospel is taken from John chapter 6!

    The bread of life is the revelation of God in Jesus Christ! Jesus is the bread of life, that is, Jesus is the revelation of God! (CSB) Jesus is the revelation of God in his person, in his words and deeds, and especially in his death and resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! And this we celebrate in the Eucharist! With the gospel today, the Eucharistic theme emerges! Thus the last verse of today’s gospel:

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

This is the first time that the “bread” is spoken of as “flesh”! Thus the Eucharistic theme! Next Sunday the Eucharistic theme will be developed in all its fullness! (Jn 6: 51-58; CSB)

2. The gospel today tells us that Jesus is the bread of life and that the Jews ate bread in the desert and they are dead. But Jesus is the bread that comes down from heaven so that a man may eat it and not die! More importantly, the gospel today tells us that Jesus is the bread come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever. And the bread that Jesus gives is his flesh for the life of the world! Thus we read in the gospel today:

    “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the desert and they are dead; but this is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that a man may eat it and not die. I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world”. (Jn 6: 48-51)      

Those who do not have faith think that material bread is for this life and spiritual bread is for the next life. Material bread is not good enough for this life, or for the next life. Material bread is not good enough for the next life or for this life. Only spiritual bread is good enough for this life and for the next life. Only spiritual bread is good enough for the next life and for this life. This is because we are created in the image of God! And God is Spirit! We are spiritual beings! We are to love as God loves and we are to forgive as God forgives!     

Thus the second reading tells us not to make the Holy Spirit sad by committing sins. We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit in Baptism for our final redemption on the last day! We have to love as Jesus Christ loved us, even to the point of sacrificing himself for us; and we have to forgive as God has forgiven us in Jesus Christ. And for this we need spiritual bread! The bread of the Holy Spirit!

3. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the prophet Elijah after defeating the false prophets of Baal was pursued by the wicked queen Jezebel who wanted to kill him.

    Elijah escaped into the desert and wanted to die. In fact, he asked God to take away his life. He was suicidal. But God gave him bread (GNB) and water. God gave him bread and water twice and Elijah was strengthened and walked for forty days and forty nights to mount Horeb/Sinai to meet God! 

The bread that God gave to Elijah symbolizes the bread of life that Jesus gives to us on our pilgrimage to heaven to meet God our Father!

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

    “Taste and see that the Lord is good”. (Ps 33 (34): 9; SM)

The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving for deliverance (CSB) and in the context of today’s liturgy and readings; it is a thanksgiving for deliverance from death by the gift of the bread of life! Thus again, the response: “Taste and see that the Lord is good”. 

“This psalm was used in the early Church during the time of communion.” (Fuller) 5. Today in this Mass we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ the food of eternal life and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we can love as Jesus Christ loved us and so that we can forgive as God has forgiven us in Jesus Christ and so that there will be unity and peace (shalom) in the world! A happy and holy Sunday to all of you! Amen!

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 1st Aug 2021

Theme: “WORK FOR FOOD THAT ENDURES TO ETERNAL LIFE.”

  • Exodus 16:2-4. 12-15;
  • Psalm 77 (78): 3-4. 23-25. 54. R/ v. 24;
  • Ephesians 4:17. 20-24
  • John 6:24-35

1. Today is the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us not to “work for food that cannot last”, but to “work for food that endures to eternal life”!

The gospel today tells us that after being fed at “the miracle of the loaves” (Jn 6: 1-15; NJB), the people followed Jesus, but Jesus told them not to work for food that do not last, but to work for food that endures to eternal life. 

More importantly, the gospel tells us that to work for food that endures to eternal life means to believe in Jesus! And when we believe in Jesus, God our Father will give us “bread from heaven”. And the bread from heaven will give life to the world!

Most importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus is the “bread from heaven” who gives life to the world! Thus we read in the gospel today:

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never hunger; he who believes in me will never thirst”. (Jn 6:35; SM)

Indeed Jesus is the “bread of life” both in word and in sacrament! Thus the “Gospel Acclamation” today:

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

And thus verse 54 of chapter 6 of today’s gospel:

“Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day”. (NJB)

That is why our Sunday Mass consists of two parts, namely, “the Liturgy of the Word” and “the Liturgy of the Eucharist”. The “Liturgy of the Word” gives us faith. (Rm 10:17) And when we celebrate “the Liturgy of the Eucharist” with faith and eat the body of Christ and drink his blood, the Holy Spirit will transform us into the Body of Christ!

That is why it is important that we come early for Sunday Mass to read the readings before Mass to prepare ourselves for the Mass. And that is why it is important that we listen attentively to the readings and homily during Mass and not talk or use our hand phones during Mass! And that is why it is important that after Mass we share and pray spiritually and personally on the Sunday Mass readings in our Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs)! 

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the people of Israel had nothing to eat in the desert, so they grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and against God. They wanted to return to Egypt to eat meat and bread.

And more importantly, the first reading tells us that God gave them “bread from heaven”! The first reading prefigures the “bread from heaven” that Jesus gives in today’s gospel!

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

“The Lord gave them bread from heaven”. (Ps 77 (78): 24; SM)

And thus verses 23 to 25 of the responsorial psalm:

“He commanded the clouds above and opened the gates of heaven. He rained down manna for their food, and gave them bread from heaven. Mere men ate the bread of angels. He sent them abundance of food”. (SM)

Again, the responsorial psalm prefigures the “bread from heaven” given by Jesus in today’s gospel!

4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again, the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells about “Renewal in Christ” (CSB), that is, to put off “the old self” and to put on “the new self”! This we did in baptism and we continue to do every Sunday in the Eucharist!

    But we are happy to note that in our parish there are so many renewal movements that help us to renew ourselves in Jesus Christ! We have the Charismatic Renewal, the Prayer Meetings, the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs), the Neo-Catechumenal Communities, the Bible-Sharing Groups, the Alpha Course, the Divine Mercy, etc.! All these renewal movements help us renew ourselves in Jesus Christ!   

5. Today in this Mass, we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ, the food of eternal life! And we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we may be renewed in his Son Jesus Christ! A happy and holy Sunday to all of you! Amen!

                                                                                                                                   

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 25th July 2021

Theme: THE LORD FEEDS US WITH MATERIAL AND SPIRITUAL FOOD

  • 2 Kings 4:42-44;
  • Psalm 144 (145): 10-11. 15-18. R/ v. 16;
  • Ephesians 4:1-6
  • John 6:1-15

1. Today is the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that the Lord feeds us with material and spiritual food!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus did three most important things that can solve the three biggest problems in our world today!   

(1) Jesus thanked God for the bread! Today the world does not believe in God and does not pray. Jesus did not only believe in God, but he believed that God was his Father; and Jesus did not only pray, but he prayed the most important prayer of all, that is, the prayer of thanksgiving! The word “Eucharist” means thanksgiving!

Indeed, an American Creation theologian said that if the only prayer we know is “thank you”, that is more than enough! We thank God for creation, salvation and sanctification! Indeed, if we begin by thanking God for creation; for the sun, moon and stars; for the sky, the land and the sea; for the food, the drink and the air, etc.; we will not be able to finish thanking Him even until the end of time!

(2) Jesus fed five thousand men with five loaves and two fish! Today, one of the biggest problems in the world is poverty, hunger, sickness and injustices. Today the gospel exhorts the rich nations of the first world to share with the poor nations of the third world! There is enough for everyone’s need, but there is not enough for everyone’s greed! (M. Gandhi) 

(3) After the people had eaten enough, Jesus instructed his disciples to pick up the pieces left over so that nothing gets “wasted”! (NJB; CSB) “Waste not, want not”! Today our wasteful and greedy lifestyles have destroyed the environment: Global warming, melting of ice, rising seas, floods, drought, fire, and extreme climate change, etc. We need to live a simple lifestyle; we need to distinguish between our needs and our wants! We need to distinguish between our need and our greed! Again, there is enough for everyone’s need, but there is not enough for everyone’s greed!

I am happy to note that in our parish we have begun recycling our newspapers, reusing our plastic bottles and Christmas decorations and we have begun our jumble sale! This is not only to raise funds for building our Catechetical Centre, but more importantly, this is also to protect the environment! Indeed, we need to reduce, reuse and recycle! The 3 Rs!                      

But most importantly, the gospel today tells us that after having eaten enough and having leftovers, the people wanted to make Jesus king, but Jesus escaped back to the hills by himself! Jesus was not only a king who feeds the people with material food, but Jesus was also a Savior who feeds the people with spiritual food, the spiritual food of his body and blood in the Eucharist! Indeed the actions of Jesus in the feeding of the five thousand men symbolize the actions of Jesus in the Eucharist: take, thank, break and give! And indeed, chapter 6 of today’s gospel ends with a discourse on the Eucharist! (Jn 6: 51-58)

“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” (Jn 6:54; CSB)

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the prophet Elisha fed one hundred men with twenty loaves! Jesus fed five thousand men with five loaves! Elisha prefigured Jesus Christ! Again, as in the feeding of the five thousand, there were leftovers! Indeed, God provides and He provides abundantly; not only was there enough to eat, but there were leftovers!

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God provides not only for human beings, but God provides for all His creatures! Thus we read in the second stanza:

“The eyes of all creatures look to you and you give them their food in due time. You open wide your hand, grant the desires of all who live.” (Ps 144 (145): 15-16; SM)

And thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“You open wide your hand, O Lord, and grant our desires.” (Ps 144 (145): 16; SM)

4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again, the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells us to live in unity. This is because of the “seven unities” (CSB), that is, we are united in one Body (church), one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God who is Father of all! That is why we have to live in unity! Become what we are!   

5. Today in this Mass, we thank God the Father for his Son Jesus Christ and we ask God to give us His Holy Spirit, so that like his Son Jesus Christ we may thank Him for all things, we may share our resources with others and we may protect the environment. And so that like his Son Jesus Christ we may give our lives to others and live in unity. A happy and holy Sunday to all of you!   

Amen!