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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and our Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us to be witnesses of the resurrection and preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins! Again, a Happy Easter to all of you!

                                                                                                                                    Amen!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                                                                                   

Easter Sunday – 4th April 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                                                                                   

EASTER VIGIL (Year B) – 3rd April 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                                                                               

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A happy Easter Triduum to all of you!

                                                                                                                                   

PASSION SUNDAY / PALM SUNDAY (YEAR B) – 28th March 2021

Theme: THE PASSION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IS VICTORIOUS AND GLORIOUS

  • Isaiah 50:4-7;
  • Psalm 21 (22): 8-9. 17-20. 23-24. R/ v. 2;
  • Philippians 2:6-11
  • Mark 15:1-39 (Shorter form)

1. Today we celebrate Passion Sunday or Palm Sunday. Passion Sunday is also Palm Sunday because the passion (sufferings) of our Lord is victorious and glorious! The readings today tell us that the passion of our Lord is victorious and glorious!

    The first gospel that was read after the blessing of the palms and before the procession tells us that the passion of our Lord is victorious and glorious. The first gospel tells us that the entry of the Lord into Jerusalem was victorious and glorious! (HCSB) The first gospel tells us that the crowds met the Lord with palms shouting: Hosanna (“Save us, we beseech you!”/HCSB)! Blessings on the King (Messiah-King/NJB) of Israel, who comes in the name of the Lord. The first gospel also tells us that the disciples did not understand that the Lord’s entry into Jerusalem was victorious and glorious until He was glorified! Thus we read in the first gospel:

    “The crowds who had come up for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took branches of palm and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessings on the King of Israel, who comes in the name of the Lord.’ …. At the time his disciples did not understand this, but later, after Jesus had been glorified, they remembered that this had been written about him and that this was in fact how they had received him.” (Jn 12:12-13. 16/SM)

2. The gospel of today’s Mass also tells us that the passion of the Lord is victorious and glorious! The gospel of today’s Mass tells us that Barabbas the guilty murderer was set free and Jesus the innocent victim was condemned to death in his place. This is symbolic of Jesus’ death on the cross to set us free from sin and death!

    More importantly, the end of today’s gospel tells us that when Jesus died on the cross the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The veil of the temple separating the holy of holies which only the high priest could enter only once a year on the Day of Atonement was torn in half from top to bottom. (CSB)

    This symbolizes that the Old Testament has been replaced by the New Testament, and that the presence of God is now assessable to all peoples at all times. The end of today’s gospel also tells us that when the pagan centurion saw all that had happened to Jesus, he professed his faith on behalf of all humanity: This man is indeed the son of God! It is this faith in Jesus Christ that saves the whole world! The passion of our Lord Jesus Christ is indeed victorious and glorious!   

3. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us that the passion of the Lord is victorious. The first reading is taken from the third of four suffering servant songs of Isaiah. The first reading tells us that the suffering servant suffers vicariously on our behalf. But more importantly, the first reading tells us that the Lord will save him and through him the Lord will save us all! Thus we read in the first reading:

    “I offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who tore at my beard; I did not cover my face against insult and spittle. The Lord comes to my help, so that I am untouched by the insults. So, too, I set my face like flint; I know I shall not be shamed.” (Is 50: 6-7/SM)    

4. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us that the passion of the Lord is glorious. The words of the response of the responsorial psalm are the words uttered by Jesus on the cross before he died:

    “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Ps 21 (22): 2; Mk 15:34) 

    The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first three stanzas (Ps 21 (22): 8-9. 17-20) tell us that the innocent, righteous, faithful suffering servant was being persecuted. But more importantly, the fourth stanza (Ps 21 (22): 23-24) tells us that the suffering servant praises the Lord for delivering him. And most importantly, the end of the original psalm tells us that through him the whole world will be delivered and saved! (Ps 21 (22): 27-31/NJB)     

5. Finally, the second reading also tells us that the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ is indeed victorious and glorious! Thus we read in the second reading:

    “His state was divine, yet Christ Jesus did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave, and became as men are, and being as all men are, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross. But God raised him high and gave him the name which is above all other names so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Ph 2:6-11/SM)

6. Again, the palm is a symbol of victory and glory. We have therefore to put the palm with the cross of Jesus Christ to remind ourselves that the cross of Jesus Christ is glorious! We pray that we may carry our crosses and follow Jesus Christ into Holy Week and die with Him on Good Friday, buried with Him on Holy Saturday, and rise with Him on Easter Sunday (The Easter Triduum). The Easter Triduum is one celebration. That is why there is no dismissal on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. There is dismissal only after the Easter Vigil. Good Friday begins on Holy Thursday. So let us come on Holy Thursday! Amen

                                                                                                                                 

5th Sunday of Lent (Year A) – 21st March 2021

JESUS PREVENTS US FROM SIN AND DEATH WITH HIS GRACE SO THAT WE WILL NOT SIN AND DIE ANYMORE

  • Ezekiel 37:12-14;
  • Psalm 129 (130). R/ v. 7;
  • Romans 8:8-11
  • John 11:1-45 (Shorter Form, verses 3-7. 17. 20-27. 33-45)

Theme: IN BAPTISM JESUS RAISES US FROM DEATH AND IN BAPTISM

1. Today is the 5th Sunday of Lent, and next Sunday will be Passion/Palm Sunday, and the Sunday after that will be Easter Sunday! Again, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter. Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the sacrament of baptism on Easter Vigil night! Again, the readings today tell us about baptism. The readings today tell us about the great themes of baptism, namely, faith, resurrection, life, the Holy Spirit and repentance.

    The gospel today tells us that Jesus is the resurrection and the life, and whoever believes in him even though he dies he will live, and whoever lives and believes in him will never die! The gospel tells us that whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the one who was to come into the world will be raised from death!

    Again, Jesus is the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in him even though he dies he will live and whoever lives and believes in him will never die.

    The gospel today tells us that Jesus will raise us up from the dead on the last day. But more than that, the gospel tells us that Jesus will raise us up from the dead here and now in the sacrament of baptism.

    And more than that, the gospel tells us that Jesus will not only raise us up from the dead here and now, but he will also prevent us from sin and death here and now with the grace of baptism, so that we will not sin and die anymore!

    Mary was prevented from sin and death by the grace of Jesus Christ! That is why we Catholics believe in the “Immaculate conception”, that is, Mary was conceived without sin to prepare her to be the Mother of God!

    Again, in baptism, Jesus raises us up from death, here and now; and in baptism Jesus Christ also prevents us from sin and death by his grace, so that we will not sin and die anymore!               

    Thus we read in the gospel today:

    “Jesus said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ‘Yes Lord,’ Martha said ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world.’ Jesus cried in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, here! Come out!’ The dead man came out.” (Jn 11: 25-27. 43-44; SM)      

2. The second reading follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading tells us that Jesus Christ raises us from the dead through the power of the Holy Spirit. The second reading tells us that just as Jesus Christ was raised from the dead by the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus will also raise us from the dead through the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus we read in the second reading:

    “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, then he who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your own mortal bodies through the Spirit living in you.” (Rm 8:11; SM)   

    The waters of baptism are not just holy water, but the waters of baptism are waters of the Holy Spirit! Only the Holy Spirit can destroy sin and death and give us new life! We enter and leave the church by signing ourselves with the sign of the cross and with holy water to remind ourselves of our baptism!

3. The first reading also follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us that we are raised to life by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    The first reading is a prediction of the restoration of Israel from the Babylonian exile, but more importantly, for us Christians, it is a prophecy of the resurrection from the dead through the power of the Holy Spirit! Thus we read in the first reading:

    “You will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you from your graves, my people. And I shall put my spirit in you, and you will live.” (Ezk 37:13-14; SM)

4. The responsorial psalm is a penitential psalm. It is a prayer for pardon and mercy. The responsorial psalm has four stanzas.

    The first stanza tells us that the psalmist cries to God (vv. 1-2). The second stanza tells us that the psalmist prays for God’s mercy and forgiveness (vv. 3-4). The third stanza tells us that the psalmist trusts in God’s mercy and forgiveness (vv. 5-6). The fourth stanza tells us that the whole community must trust in God’s mercy and forgiveness (vv. 7-8). (CSB)

    Thus the response of the responsorial psalm which is taken from the fourth stanza:

    “With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.” (Ps 129 (130): 7; SM)

5. Again, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter. Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the sacrament of baptism on Easter Vigil night. That is why during this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms to the poor. A happy Lent to all of you!

                                                                                                                                    Amen!

4th Sunday of Lent (Year A) – 14th March 2021

Theme: THE LIGHT OF CHRIST: THE LIGHT OF FAITH, THE LIGHT OF LIFE AND THE LIGHT OF GOODNESS

  • 1 Samuel 16:1. 6-7. 10-13;
  • Psalm 22. R/ v. 1;
  • Ephesians 5:8-14
  • John 9:1-41 (Shorter Form, 9:1. 5b-9. 13-17. 34-38)

1. Today is the Fourth Sunday of Lent; Liturgical Year A. Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter! Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and our death and resurrection with him in the sacrament of baptism!

Lent is therefore a time when our catechumens prepare for their baptism and when we who are baptized, prepare to renew our baptism on Easter Vigil Night, so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

Lent is therefore a time of repentance! Lent is therefore a time when we prepare to receive the light of Jesus Christ in the sacrament of baptism! The light of Christ is the light of faith, the light of life and the light of goodness!

The three themes are related, that is, with faith in God, we receive new life from God, and the life from God is good, because God is good! In fact God alone is good! More importantly, light will overcome darkness, faith will overcome unbelief, life will overcome death, and good will overcome evil!

Because Jesus has overcome the devil! And Jesus will overcome the devil in us through his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of baptism and we will receive the light of Christ, the light of faith, the light of life and the light of goodness!

2. The gospel today tells us about the light of faith. The gospel tells us that Jesus is the light of the world! (Jn 9:5b) The gospel tells us that Jesus anointed the eyes of the blind man and told him to wash in the Pool of Siloam. After washing, the blind man could see! He could see with the eyes of faith!

In the sacrament of baptism we will also be anointed with the Oil of Chrism and we will also be washed in the waters of baptism and we will also be able to see with the eyes of faith!

The gospel also tells us that the faith of the blind man grew! At the beginning he believed Jesus to be a man, then he believed Jesus to be a prophet, then finally he worshiped Jesus as Lord! The Pharisees on the other hand decreased in faith! At first they did not believe that Jesus is from God, and then they did not even believe that the man was born blind, and then finally, they believed Jesus to be a sinner!

After baptism we must continue to grow in faith like the blind man by attending Mass every Sunday; if not, we will be like the Pharisees, we will lose our faith!

3. The Gospel Acclamation tells us about the light of life! Thus we read:

“I am the light of the world, says the Lord; anyone who follows me will have the light of life.” (Jn 8:12; SM)

Anyone who follows Jesus to his death and resurrection in the sacrament of baptism will have the light of life!

4. The second reading tells us about the light of goodness! Thus we read in the second reading:

“You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord; be like children of light, for the effects of the light are seen in complete goodness and right living and truth.” (Ep 5:8-9; SM)

The second reading “distinguishes children of light from children of darkness on the basis of their deeds.” (Vat.IISM)

5. The first reading tells us about the sacrament of Confirmation. The first reading tells us that Samuel anointed David with oil and the Spirit of the Lord seized on David! Thus we read:

“Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him where he stood with his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord seized on David and stayed with him from that day on.” (1 Sam 16:13; SM)  

“David’s success was due to the presence of Yahweh’s spirit with him.” (NJBC)

In the same way, the priest will administer the sacrament of confirmation to you by anointing you with the Oil of Chrism with these words: “N., be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit”. And you answer: “Amen”.

And like David, you will be made strong in the Spirit of the Lord! That is what the word “confirmation” means!

6. The responsorial psalm tells us about the sacrament of the Eucharist, that is, the sacrament of sacraments! The responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord God is the Good Shepherd who provides us with food and drink! Thus we read:

“The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose. Near restful waters he leads me, to revive my drooping spirit.” (First Stanza; vv. 1-3a; SM)

The responsorial psalm also tells us that the Lord God is the Host of the messianic banquet! (NJB) Thus we read:

“You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes. My head you have anointed with oil; my cup is overflowing.” (Third Stanza; v. 5; SM)

In the Eucharist, the Lord God gives us his body and blood to eat and drink to give us eternal life! (Jn 6: 51-58; Eucharist; CSB)   

7. During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor and needy; not as a punishment for our sins, but to help us to repent. To help us to receive the light of Jesus Christ; the light of faith, life and goodness! To help us to receive the three sacraments of initiation, that is, Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist! A Blessed Lent to all of you! Today is also “rejoice” Sunday or “joyful or joyous” Sunday, because we are more than half way through to Easter! That is why we use rose/pink color vestments, etc.! A joyous and joyful Sunday to all of you! Amen!

3rd Sunday of Lent (Year A) – 7th March 2021

Theme: IT IS IN FAITH THAT WE ARE BAPTIZED AND IT IS IN BAPTISM THAT WE RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD’S LOVE, LIFE AND HAPPINESS  

  • Exodus 17:3-7;
  • Psalm 94 (95): 1-2. 6-9. R/ v. 8;
  • Romans 5:1-2. 5-8
  • John 4:5-42 (Shorter Form, 4:5-16. 19-26. 39-42)

1. Today is the 3rd Sunday of Lent. Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter. Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the sacrament of Baptism on Easter Vigil night! It is in faith that we are baptized and it is in baptism that we receive the Holy Spirit of God’s love, life and happiness!

    The readings today tell us about these two most important themes of baptism, namely, faith and the Holy Spirit!

    The readings today tell us about faith. The first reading tells us that the people of Israel lost faith in God because there was no water in the desert. They quarreled (Meribah) with God and they put God to the test (Massah) saying, “Is the Lord with us, or not?”

    The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us not to be like the people of Israel who quarreled with God and tested God. The responsorial psalm tells us to trust in God, to believe in God, and to have faith in God. Thus the third stanza of the psalm from which the response is taken:

    “O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as on that day at Massah in the desert when your fathers put me to the test; when they tried me, though they saw my work.’” (Ps 94 (95): 8-9; SM)    

    The first stanza of the responsorial psalm tells us to praise and worship God because he is our savior. The second stanza tells us to praise and worship God because he is our creator and shepherd/savior. (NJBC) 

    The second reading tells us that it is through Jesus Christ by faith that we are made righteous and at peace with God, and it is by faith and through Jesus Christ that we have entered the state of grace! In short, it is by faith in Jesus Christ that we are saved!

    Finally, the gospel today tells us that the Samaritan woman had faith in Jesus Christ! Like Abraham the father of faith, the Samaritan woman had nothing, but faith. She was a Samaritan (half-Jew), a woman, and a sinner who had five husbands and living with a sixth man (NJBC; IBC), but she had the most important thing, that is, faith in Jesus Christ!

    Not only did the Samaritan woman have faith, but her faith grew as she encountered Jesus. She first saw Jesus as a Jew, then she recognized Jesus to be a prophet, then she believed that Jesus was the Messiah (HCSB), and finally she became a missionary and an apostle and brought other Samaritans to believe in Jesus!      

2. The readings today also tell us about the Holy Spirit. The first reading tells us that the people of Israel were dying of thirst in the desert, but more importantly, the first reading tells us that God gave them water from the rock to quench their thirst and saved them from death! The water symbolizes the Holy Spirit, because only the Holy Spirit can quench our thirst and save us from death!

    More importantly, the gospel today tells us that the Lord will give us living water so that we will not be thirsty anymore, because this living water will turn into a spring inside us welling up to eternal life!

    The Samaritan woman had five husbands and living with a sixth man who was not her husband, but she was still thirsting for the living water of eternal life. She was still thirsting for love, life and happiness. Only the living water of the Holy Spirit (NJB; NJBC; IBC; CCB) which Jesus gives can quench her thirst and give her the love, life and happiness that she was looking for!

    We may not have five husbands or wives, but we may have five million dollars, five houses, five cars, five jobs, five pieces of property, etc. But these cannot give us love, life and happiness. Only the living water of the Holy Spirit can give us the love, life and happiness that we are looking for!

    Indeed, the second reading tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of God’s love. The second tells us that what proves that God loves us is that Jesus Christ died for us while we were still sinners. It is hard to die even for a good man, but what proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners!     

    Again, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter. Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the sacrament of baptism on Easter Vigil night! Again, it is in faith that we are baptized and it is in baptism that we receive the Holy Spirit of God’s love, life and happiness.  

    Lent is therefore a time for us to renew and strengthen our faith. That is why during this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms to the poor. A happy Lent to all of you!

                                                                                                                                    Amen!

2nd Sunday of Lent (Year A) – 28th Feb 2021

Theme: FAITH IN THE SUFFERING, DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST

  • Genesis 12:1-4;
  • Psalm 32:4-5. 18-20. 22. R/ v. 22;
  • 2 Timothy 1:8-10
  • Matthew 17:1-9

Today is the 2nd Sunday of Lent, Year A. Year A because there are catechumens preparing for Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ at Easter. Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter in the sacrament of Baptism and in the renewal of our Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! Lent is therefore a time of penance, repentance, and conversion.

    Conversion is turning away from sin, but more than that, conversion is also turning away from the world, but more than that, conversion is also turning to God, but more than that, conversion is also turning to the God of love, mercy and forgiveness, the God of Jesus Christ who died and rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Baptism, so that we will die and rise with him to the new life of Easter. Lent is therefore a time when we prepare to die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter in the sacrament of baptism and in the renewal of our Baptism on Easter Vigil Night!

The readings today tell us about faith; particularly, faith in the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! The gospel today tells us about the transfiguration of the Lord. The gospel tells us that Jesus took with him Peter, James and John to a mountain and there he was transfigured. His face shone like the sun and his clothes were as bright as light. And a voice from heaven said: this is my Son, the Beloved, my favor rest on him. Listen to him!

    Listen to his teaching, particularly when he teaches you about his suffering, death and resurrection. Today’s gospel is placed immediately after Jesus’ first prophesy of his passion, death and resurrection; and immediately after Jesus taught his disciples to take up their crosses and follow him!   

    The transfiguration was a preview and a foretaste of the resurrection. The transfiguration was to strengthen the faith of the apostles for the coming suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus! The transfiguration was to strengthen the faith of the apostles for their own suffering, death and resurrection as followers of Jesus! Thus St. Paul tells Timothy in the second reading: With me, bear the sufferings for the sake of preaching the Good News, relying on the power of God who saved us and called us to be holy!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us about faith; the faith of Abraham, the father of faith. Abraham was a nomad. He had no land and no children and he was 75 years old and his wife was childless; but Abraham had faith and because of his faith God blessed him with land and with children; as many children as the stars in heaven and as many children as the grains of sand on the seashore. (Gn 22:17) And through Abraham all the nations of the world will also be blessed!        

    Thus we read in the first reading: “The Lord said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your family and your father’s house, for the land I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name so famous that it will be used as a blessing. I will bless those who bless you: I will curse those who slight you. All the tribes of the earth shall bless themselves by you.’ So Abram went as the Lord told him.” (Gn 12:1-4/SM)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us to hope in the faithful love of God. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.” (Ps 32 (33):22/SM)

    God created us out of nothing but love, and when we sinned he loved us even more, he came to save us, and when we killed him, he loved us even more, he rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit to love us from within us and inside us until we love him back and until we love one another and until we love ourselves! He loves us not from heaven nor from earth but from within us and inside us! He is nearer to us than we are to ourselves. He loves us more than we love ourselves. (St. Augustine) And he knows us more than we know ourselves! Hope therefore in the faithful love of God! Do not hope in the unfaithful love of human beings!

During this time of Lent the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor, in order to help us strengthen our faith for Baptism and for the renewal of our Baptism on Easter Vigil Night so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! Immediately before Baptism and before renewing our Baptism we have to answer the 6 questions of faith, that is, we have to profess our faith!

    Prayer includes Sunday Mass, “Lectio Divina” (spiritual reading of the Scriptures), going to confession, etc. Fasting (one full meal a day) is obligatory for those over 18 and below 60 on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory for those over 14 years old. We can of course fast and abstain voluntarily!

    Again, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI tells us in his message for Lent that fasting helps us to avoid sin, to restore friendship with God, to do the will of God, to love God and neighbor, and to help the poor. I conclude that if we do not fast, we cannot avoid sin, we cannot restore our friendship with God, we cannot do the will of God, we cannot love God and neighbor, and we cannot help the poor!

    Almsgiving is to help the poor. Our Bishop Julius emphasizes in his Lenten message that we must help the poor. “Lenten Appeal” envelopes are available at the church’s entrance. Almsgiving also helps us to trust in providence! God provides! That is why our religious take the “vow of poverty”! Our priests should also voluntarily take the vow of poverty!               

    A Happy Lent to all of you! Amen!