THE MOST HOLY TRINITY / TRINITY SUNDAY (C) – 16th June 2019

Theme: THE MOST HOLY TRINITY: THE MYSTERY OF GOD’S LOVE IN CREATION, SALVATION AND SANCTIFICATION!

  • Proverbs 8:22-31;
  • Psalm 8:4-9. R/ v. 2;
  • Romans 5:1-5
  • John 16:12-15

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of THE MOST HOLY TRINITY! Today we also celebrate the feast day of our parish, that is, the feast day of Holy Trinity Church, Tawau! THE MOST HOLY TRINITY is the mystery of God’s love in Creation, Salvation and Sanctification, that is, God the Father Creates out of love, God the Son Saves out of love and God the Holy Spirit Sanctifies out of love!

People of other religions ask us: Why do we believe in three Gods? How can God become man? How can God die? How can God become food for men? How can God become food for sinful men?

To begin with, we do not believe in three Gods, we believe in one God, but we believe in a God of love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation; we do not believe in a God of law, justice, judgment and condemnation!

We believe that God created the world out of love, but when we sinned, God loved us even more; God became man to save us, but when we crucified him on the cross, He loved us even more; He rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit dwells among us, within us and inside us, nearer to us than we are to ourselves, loving us more than we love ourselves (Saint Augustine)!

And the Holy Spirit will love us until we love God, love our neighbor and love ourselves! Then will come the end of the world, that is, the end of the evil world, the second coming of Jesus Christ! And Jesus Christ will take us to heaven to share in the life of love and happiness of The Most Holy Trinity!

We believe that the Holy Spirit is in the Church, especially in the Sacraments, and especially in the Sacrament of Sacraments, that is, the Holy Eucharist/Mass! For when we celebrate the Holy Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the Salvation of the world! We make present, real and effective the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the Salvation of the world!

And when we eat the body of Christ and drink his blood, we eat the body of the Risen Lord who can pass through locked doors and be at any place at an instant – not limited by time and space! And it is the Risen Lord who gives us the Holy Spirit for our salvation!

That is why immediately after the consecration the priest says “The mystery of faith” and we acclaim “When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your Death, O Lord, until you come again”!

This acclamation is taken from 1 Corinthians 11: 23 – 26. It is the most ancient written text on the institution of the Eucharist, more ancient than even the gospel accounts on the institution of the Eucharist! “Whenever you eat this bread, then, and drink this cup, you are proclaiming the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Co 11:26; NJB) That is, “When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we are proclaiming the saving Death of the Lord until he comes again when all will be saved”!

Let us then come to Mass every Sunday and let us ask our children, grandchildren,  godchildren, parents, godparents, relatives, friends, neighbors, schoolmates, workmates, etc. to come to Mass every Sunday! That is the most loving act we can do to them!

The readings today tell us about The Most Holy Trinity, that is, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit!

(i) The first reading tells us that God the Father created the universe, that is, the sun, the moon, the stars and the earth, the hills, the mountains, the rivers, the seas, etc.; but more importantly, the first reading tells us that God the Father did not create haphazardly, but he created the universe according to his plan, that is, according to Jesus Christ, the Wisdom of God! (CSB) Everything was created in him, with him, through him, and for him! Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega of creation, that is, the beginning and end of creation! Creation has a purpose, a meaning and a direction, that is, Jesus Christ!

(ii) The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us that God the Father created the whole universe! That is why we responded four times:

“How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth!” (Ps 8:2; SM) 

More importantly, the responsible psalm tells us that human beings are the high point of God’s creation and human beings are to be the stewards of God’s creation!

(iii) The second reading tells us that we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ through his death and resurrection gave us the Holy Spirit:

“Through our Lord Jesus Christ, by faith we are judged righteous and at peace with God, since it is by faith and through Jesus that we have entered this state of grace in which we can boast about looking forward to God’s glory. …. And this hope is not deceptive, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us.” (Rm 5: 1-2. 5; SM)

(iv) The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ will give us the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit will reveal to us the whole truth and tell us of what is to come, that is, what is to come after Jesus’ death and resurrection (NJB):

“But when the Spirit of truth comes he will lead you to the complete truth, …. and he will tell you of the things to come.” (Jn 16:13; SM) 

The gospel also tells us that the Trinity of Persons is in fact one God! Thus the caption of the gospel:

“Everything the Father has is mine; all the Spirit tells you will be taken from what is mine.” (cf. Jn 16:15; Sunday Missal (SM)) 

Today we give thanks to God for his love in creation, in salvation and in sanctification, and we ask God to continue to sanctify us with his love, so that we can love God, love our neighbor and love ourselves, and so that Jesus Christ will come a second time to take us all to heaven to share in the life of The Most Holy Trinity! A happy and blessed Trinity Sunday to all of you and a happy and blessed parish feast day to all of you! Amen!

 

Fr. Nicholas Ong, Holy Trinity Catholic Church (HTCC), Tawau, Sabah, Malaysia, 

 

References: New Jerusalem Bible (NJB); Catholic Study Bible (CSB).     

PENTECOST SUNDAY (C) – 9th June 2019

Theme: THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD’S LOVE

  • Acts 2:1-11;
  • Psalm 103 (104): 1. 24. 29-31. 34. R/ cf v. 30;
  • Romans 8:8-17
  • John 14: 15-16. 23-26

Today is Pentecost Sunday, Liturgical Year C! Today we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of God’s love! Theologians tell us that the Holy Spirit is the perfect love between God the Father and God the Son! The perfect love between God the Father and God the Son is God the Holy Spirit!

The gospel today tells that the Holy Spirit will teach us everything and remind us of all that Jesus taught us! That is, the Holy Spirit will help us understand the teachings of Jesus and put them into practice! Jesus taught us to love one another as he has loved us:

“This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you.” (Jn 15:12; NJB)

The Holy Spirit will help us understand the love of Jesus and help us love one another as Jesus loved us! Thus we pray in the Gospel Acclamation:

“Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.” (SM)

The fire of the love of the Holy Spirit will burn away our sins and help us love another as Jesus loved us!

The first reading tells us about the day of Pentecost! Pentecost was originally an agricultural feast. It was a harvest festival! The harvest that began at the Passover-Unleavened Bread was completed at Pentecost, that is, fifty days! Our harvest festival in Sabah, Malaysia, last for the whole month of May, that is, thirty days!

Later, Pentecost became the commemoration of the giving of the Law at Sinai, and still later, Pentecost became the commemoration of the giving of the Holy Spirit, the New Law of Love, in Jerusalem! That is why like the giving of the Law at Sinai, the giving of the Holy Spirit, the New Law of Love, was also accompanied by loud sounds/noises and fire, that is, a theophany, that is, a manifestation of God!

The first reading also tells us that the good news of the love of God must be proclaimed to all the nations, because only the love of God can save the whole world! That is why the first reading tells us that all the Jews from the different nations gathered in Jerusalem heard the good news of God’s love each in their own language. St. Luke used the word “languages” instead of “tongues” to tell us about the universal mission of the Church!

Pentecost will undo what the Tower of Babel did! (Gn 11:1-9; Vigil Mass of Pentecost Sunday; First Reading) The tower of Babel divided the people because of sin! Pentecost will unite the people in the love of God!

The responsorial psalm tells us that the Holy Spirit is not only in salvation, but the Holy Spirit is also in creation! Thus the response:

“Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.” (Ps 103 (104): 30; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza gives praise to God for creation. (vv. 1 & 24) The second stanza from which the response is taken, tells us that without the Holy Spirit the whole of creation will die, but with the Holy Spirit the whole of creation will live! (vv. 29 & 30) The third stanza tells us that God is happy with his creation and we his creatures are happy with God our creator! (vv. 31 & 34)

The second reading tells us that the flesh cannot give us life, only the Holy Spirit can give us life! That is why we must not live in the flesh, but we must live in the Holy Spirit! If we live in the flesh we will die, but if we live in the Holy Spirit we will live forever and never die!

The second reading also tells us that the Holy Spirit makes us into the sons and daughters of God, calling God Father! God becomes our Father, the Church becomes our Mother. We are born in the womb (baptismal font/pool) of Mother Church through the power of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Baptism and we become the children of God. And Jesus becomes our brother and we become brothers and sisters of one another! What more do the Christians want?

Today we give thanks to God for the gift of the Holy Spirit, especially in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, and we ask God to continue to give us the Holy Spirit, especially in the Sunday Eucharist, so that we will love one another as Jesus loved us, and so that we will proclaim the good news of Jesus’ love to the whole world, and so that the whole world may love as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ! A happy Easter and a happy Pentecost to all of you!

Amen!

The Ascension of The Lord (C) / 7th Sunday of Easter (C)

Theme: THE LORD ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN NOT TO ABANDON US, BUT TO SEND US THE HOLY SPIRIT TO BE WITH US UNTIL THE END OF TIME

  • Acts 1:1-11;
  • Psalm 46 (47): 2-3. 6-7. 8-9. R/ v. 6;
  • Hebrews 9:24-28. 10:19-23
  • Luke 24:46-53

Today we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord into heaven! Liturgical Year C. The Lord ascended into heaven not to abandon us, but to send us the Holy Spirit to be with us until the end of time! (Gospel Acclamation; Mt 28:19. 20)

The gospel today tells us about the ascension of the Lord, but more importantly, the gospel tells us that he will send us the Holy Spirit so that we will be his witnesses to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem! The Church is the New Jerusalem!

The first reading is a continuation of the gospel. The first reading begins where the gospel ends. The first reading is also written by St. Luke. The first reading also tells us about the ascension of the Lord, and more importantly, the first reading also tells us about the giving of the Holy Spirit to the apostles, so that they will become the witnesses of Jesus not only in Jerusalem, but also in Judea (Jews), and Samaria (Samaritans/Half-Jews) and indeed to the ends of the earth (gentiles)!

The difference between the first reading and the gospel is that in the gospel the ascension happened on the day of the resurrection, but in the first reading it happened forty days after the resurrection! The forty days is symbolic of the time taken by the risen Lord to instruct and teach the disciples about the kingdom of God to prepare them to receive the Holy Spirit to become his witnesses!

The people of Israel spent forty years in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land! Moses spent forty days in the mountain before receiving the Ten Commandments! Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness before his ministry! Our catechumens spent forty days of Lent in intense preparation for baptism! We spent forty days of Lent in intense preparation for the renewal of our faith and baptism! Forty years is also the time span of one generation!

The first reading also tells us that Jesus will return at the parousia (Second Coming of Jesus) the way that he left at the ascension, that is, Jesus ascends into heaven to give us the Holy Spirit to continue his work of salvation and when we have completed his work of salvation he will return at the end of the world (parousia) to take us all into heaven!

The responsorial psalm also tells us about the ascension of the Lord. Thus we responded three times:

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

The responsorial psalm is originally an enthronement psalm. The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza gives praise to God. The second and third stanzas tell us about the enthronement of God as king of all the nations!

The Church has applied this psalm to the ascension of the Lord. Thus verse 6 from which the response is taken, is taken to mean the ascension of the Lord into heaven:

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

The second reading also tells us about the ascension of the Lord. The second reading tells us that the Lord has ascended into heaven and he is now interceding for us. More importantly, the second reading tells us that he will return at the Parousia for our complete and final salvation, that is, to take us into heaven! Thus we read:

“When he appears a second time, it will not be to deal with sin but to reward with salvation those who are waiting for him.” (Heb 9:28; SM)

Indeed, that is our prayer in today’s Mass! The Opening Prayer, the Prayer over the Gifts, the Preface, the Prayer after Communion, and the Solemn Blessing; all pray that one day we will ascend into heaven with the Lord!

Today we thank God for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and his ascension into heaven and we ask God to send us the Holy Spirit so that we will be his witnesses to the ends of the world!

Indeed, the “Social Networks”, the internet, the Facebook, etc., can help us proclaim the good news to the ends of the earth!

Today, as we thank God for the ascension of the Lord, we also pray God that one day we will also ascend into heaven with the Lord!

Again, a happy Easter and Ascension Day to all of you, and let us continue to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday, that is, next Sunday! Amen!

6th Sunday of Easter (C) – 26th May 2019

Theme: THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL HELP US UNDERSTAND THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS AND PUT THEM INTO PRACTICE

  • Acts 15:1-2. 22-29;
  • Psalm 66 (67): 2-3. 5-6. 8. R/ v. 4;
  • Apocalypse 21:10-14. 22-23
  • John 14:23-29

Today is the 6th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical year C. Next Sunday will be “The Ascension of the Lord”, and the Sunday after that will be “Pentecost Sunday”. Easter is the most important feast in the Church. It is more important than Christmas.

The Church started to celebrate Christmas only in the 4th century, but Easter was celebrated in the very first centuries. In fact, in the first three centuries there were no other celebrations except Easter! Easter is the most important feast, because at Easter we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the whole world!

The gospel today tells us that the Father will send us the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus. And the Holy Spirit will teach us everything and remind us all that Jesus taught us. That is, the Holy Spirit will help us understand the teachings of Jesus and put them into practice! (BM, Opening Prayer 2)

The gospel also tells us that Jesus will give us peace through the Holy Spirit. Peace, shalom, salvation! Peace is not just the absence of war, but peace is shalom (Hebrew), that is, wholeness, well-being, completeness, soundness, lacking nothing, etc., that is salvation!

That is why the gospel tells us not to be afraid! There is nothing to fear, not even sin and death, because there is resurrection and life! A life better than the life before sin and death! In short, there is salvation!

The first reading also tells us about the Holy Spirit. The first reading tells us that the Holy Spirit is with the Church and in the Church, and that the Church teaches in and with the Holy Spirit! (Magisterium)

The first reading tells us that the Holy Spirit and the apostles taught that the Gentile Christians need not follow the Mosaic Law of the Jewish Christians, particularly the law of circumcision; but that as a compromise they have to follow the dietary laws, that is, they are not to eat food offered to idols and they are not to eat meat with blood in them; because they live with the Jewish Christians and eat with them and celebrate the Eucharist with them! They are also to avoid fornication. But for us Christians today the dietary laws symbolize the capital sins of idolatry and murder.

More importantly, the Holy Spirit does not only teach us what laws to keep or not to keep, but the Holy Spirit also helps us to do good, and to avoid evil and to overcome sin!

The responsorial psalm is a petition to God to bless Israel with a good and rich harvest, so that the nations of the world will see the blessings of God on Israel and will worship the God of Israel! Thus the response:

“Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.” (Ps 66 (67): 4)

But in the context of today’s liturgy and readings, we ask God to bless us with the Holy Spirit and with salvation, so that all the nations may see the blessings of the Holy Spirit and of salvation and worship our God! Thus the response:

“Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.” (Ps 66 (67): 4)

The second reading tells us about the New Jerusalem, that is, the Church. The second reading tells us that the New Jerusalem will come down from heaven and God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit will dwell in it. And we will not need the Temple anymore, nor the sun and the moon to light up the day and the night, because the radiant glory of God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit will light up the Church and the world!

That is why today in the Church we have the Liturgy, the Sacraments, and the Sacrament of Sacraments, that is, the Eucharist/Mass! Every Sunday Eucharist/Mass is a celebration of Easter and Pentecost! Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI told the youths in one of the World Youth Days that the Sunday Eucharist/Mass is a perpetual Pentecost! In the Sunday Eucharist/Mass, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! That is why it is most urgent and most important to come to Mass every Sunday!

Today, we thank God our Father for Easter, that is, for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world; and we ask God to continue to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we will understand the teachings of Jesus and put them into practice; and so that like Paul and Barnabas in the first reading, we will proclaim the good news of the resurrection, so that all may hear and believe and be saved; and so that like Paul and Barnabas in the first reading, we will build Christian communities of love and unity, so that all may see and believe and be saved; and so that our Church may be a communion of communities of love and unity, and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the whole world! A happy Easter Season to all of you! Amen!

5th Sunday of Easter (Year C) – 19th May 2019

Theme: WE ARE TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS JESUS LOVED US

  • Acts 14:21-27;
  • Psalm 144 (145): 8-13. R/ v. 1;
  • Apocalypse (Revelation) 21:1-5
  • John 13:31-35

Today is the 5th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical Year C. The gospel today tells us to love one another as Jesus loved us, that is, to love one another in the dimension of the cross, that is, to love the sinner, to forgive the sinner and to save the sinner!

The gospel passage today is sandwiched between the announcement of Judas’s betrayal of Jesus and the prediction of Peter’s denial of Jesus. That is why to love one another as Jesus loved us is to love in the dimension of the cross, to love the sinner, to forgive the sinner and to save the sinner!

St. Cyril of Alexandria who lived between the 4th and 5th centuries (c. 376 – 444) tells us that this commandment to love one another as Jesus loved us is new, because in the old commandment we were asked to love our neighbor as ourselves (Lv 19:18), but in the new commandment we are asked to love our enemies more than we love ourselves! (Herald, 28th April 2013, 5th Easter)

Jesus loved sinners more than he loved himself! That is why he forgave sinners and sacrificed his life for the salvation of sinners! This is the only love that can save the world! Indeed, only this love can save the world!

But how can we love as Jesus loved? How can we love, forgive and save sinners, when we ourselves are sinners? Indeed, we can, with the help of the Holy Spirit! Jesus died, rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit! That is why the words glorify and glorified are mentioned five times at the beginning of today’s gospel!

With the help of the Holy Spirit we can love one another as Jesus loved us, that is, to love in the dimension of the cross, that is, to love, to forgive and to save sinners! Only the love of Jesus Christ can save the whole world!

The first reading tells us about the end of the first missionary journey of St. Paul. The first reading tells us that St. Paul proclaims the good news of the love of Jesus Christ to the pagans, that is, to the whole world! More than that, the first reading also tells us that St. Paul does not only proclaim the good news of the love of Jesus Christ, but he also built churches, not material buildings; but Christian communities of love and unity as signs and sacraments of salvation for the whole world; so that the whole world may see and believe and be saved! The first reading also tells us that we have to suffer many hardships and persecutions in order to build the kingdom of God!

The second reading tells us that in spite of all the persecutions and martyrdoms there will be a new heaven and a new earth. There will be a new Jerusalem, that is, the Church, and there will be a new creation, because God is the one who makes all things new!

Indeed, there will be a new heaven and a new earth, there will be a new Jerusalem, that is, the Church, and there will be a new creation, where we will love one another as Jesus loved us, where we will love in the dimension of the cross, where we will love the sinner, forgive the sinner and save the sinner!

The historical context of the second reading is the persecution and martyrdom of the Christians by the Roman emperors Nero and Domitian in the first century. (HCSB)

The responsorial psalm is a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to God who is love and compassion and who rules with love and compassion! (HCSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“I will bless your name for ever, O God my King.” (Ps 144 (145): 1; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us that God is love and compassion. Thus we read in the first stanza:

“The Lord is kind and full of compassion, slow to anger, abounding in love. How good is the Lord to all, compassionate to all his creatures.” (Ps 144 (145): 8-9; SM)

The second and third stanzas give praise and thanks to God who is love and compassion and who rules with love and compassion.

Today we give thanks to God for his love and compassion in creation and in salvation and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit of his love, so that we can love one another as Jesus loved us, and so that we can proclaim the good news of his love to the whole world, and so that we can build Christian communities of love and unity as signs and sacraments of salvation for the whole world, and so that the whole world might be saved by his love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation! A happy Easter Season to all of you! Amen!

4th Sunday of Easter (C) – 12th May 2019 (Good Shepherd Sunday/Vocation Sunday)

Theme: THE GOOD SHEPHERD KNOWS, LOVES AND SACRIFICES HIMSELF FOR HIS SHEEP

  • Acts 13:14. 43-52;
  • Psalm 99 (100): 1-3. 5. R/ v. 3;
  • Apocalypse (Revelation) 7:9. 14-17
  • Jn 10:27-30 

Today is the 4th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical year C. Today is also Good Shepherd Sunday/Vocation Sunday! The gospel today tells us about Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd. To begin with, the gospel today taken from John chapter 10 on the Good Shepherd is a commentary on John chapter 9 on the “Bad Shepherd”, that is, the Pharisees who excommunicated the cured blind man from the synagogue! (CSB)

The Gospel Acclamation today tells us that the Good Shepherd knows his sheep and his sheep know him, that is, the Good Shepherd knows and loves his sheep and his sheep know and love him! (Jn 10:14; NJB) To know is to love and to love is to know! We cannot love someone we do not know!

The gospel today tells us that the Good Shepherd gives eternal life to his sheep, and his sheep will not be lost, and no one can steal his sheep from him! That is, the Good Shepherd through his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit gives eternal life to his sheep! That is why his sheep will not be lost and no one can steal his sheep from him!

The gospel also tells us that the Good Shepherd and the Father are one! That is, the Good Shepherd lives in love and unity with the Father; the Good shepherd is in communion, communication and community with the Father! In fact the Good Shepherd shares in the very divine nature of the Father!

The second reading also tells us about the Good Shepherd. The second reading tells us that the Lamb of God who was slain and sacrificed and who washed away our sins with his blood is the Good Shepherd! That is why he can give us eternal life! In fact, only he can give us eternal life! Thus we read in the second reading:

“They will never hunger or thirst again; neither the sun nor scorching wind will ever plague them, because the Lamb who is at the throne will be their shepherd and will lead them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.” (Rv 7:16-17; SM)

The gospel and the second reading today tell us that the Good Shepherd knows and loves his sheep, sacrifices himself for his sheep, and is one with the Father! Let us today give thanks to God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd, and let us ask God to give us Good Shepherds who will know and love us, who will sacrifice themselves for us and who will be one with the Father in faith and prayer!

The Good Shepherd is not only for the Jews. The Good Shepherd is also for the pagans and non-Jews! Indeed, the Good Shepherd is for all the nations and for the whole world!

The first reading today tells us that the word of God, the good news, is not only for the Jews, but the word of God, the good news, is also for the non-Jews, the pagans! In fact the first reading tells us that the Jews rejected the word of God, the good news; as a result the word of God was preached to the pagans and the pagans accepted it with joy! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, ‘we had to proclaim the word of God to you first, but since you have rejected it, since you do not think yourselves worthy of eternal life, we must turn to the pagans. For this is what the Lord commanded us to do when he said:

I have made you a light for the nations, so that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth.’” (Ac 13: 46-47; SM)

The responsorial psalm also tells us about the Good Shepherd. The responsorial psalm is a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to God our Shepherd. (HCSB) Thus the response:

“We are his people, the sheep of his flock.” (Ps 99 (100): 3; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza gives praise and thanks to God (vv. 1-2). The second stanza gives praise and thanks to God because he is our creator and shepherd (v. 3)! The third stanza gives praise and thanks to God for his goodness and faithful love (v. 5)!

Today, Good Shepherd Sunday, we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, and we ask God to give us Good Shepherds who will know and love us, who will sacrifice themselves for us, and who will be one in faith and prayer with God the Father!

Today is also Vocation Sunday, today we thank God for the many priestly and religious vocations, and today we ask God to give us many more priestly and religious vocations. Today in our diocese of Sandakan, we have 7 priests and 1 bishop! Today we also have 12 seminarians in our seminary, 5 in Kota Kinabalu and 7 in Kuching. Today we thank God for our seminarians and we continue to pray for them. Today the first and second collections will be given to our Bishop for the upkeep of our seminary and our seminarians.

A happy Easter to all of you, and a happy Good Shepherd and Vocation Sunday to all of you! Amen!

Today, let us also reflect on “Evangelization” and “Pastoral Care”. The two themes are related. In evangelization we proclaim the good news, so that others may believe and be baptized! In pastoral care we continue to love and care for the baptized!

In fact these two themes were present in the longer form of the gospel of last Sunday (Jn 21:1-19; SM; Faley; Brown)! In the shorter form of the gospel of last Sunday, Peter was presented to us as the fisherman, the fisher of men, to catch men for God, that is, evangelization; but the longer form of the gospel presented Peter to us as the shepherd who feeds Jesus’ sheep, that is, pastoral care!

Today the first reading also tells us about evangelization, and the second reading and the gospel tell us about pastoral care!

Three weeks ago on Easter Vigil Night many of our brothers and sisters received the three sacraments of Christian Initiation, namely, Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist! We need to continue to love and care for them! We need to invite them to be with us in the Alpha Course, the Prayer Meetings, the Neo-Catechumenal Communities, the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs), the Bible-Sharing Groups, the Legion of Mary, etc.!

Most importantly, parents and godparents must make sure that our newly baptised and confirmed attend Mass every Sunday! The shepherds must make sure that the sheep eat and drink every Sunday! Again, a happy Good Shepherd Sunday to all of you!  Amen!

3rd Sunday of Easter (Year C) – 5th May 2019

Theme: THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH TO PREACH THE GOOD NEWS FOR THE SALVATION OF THE WORLD

  • Acts 5:27-32. 40-41;
  • Psalm 29 (30):2. 4-6. 11-13. R/ v. 2;
  • Apocalypse 5:11-14
  • John 21:1-19 (Shorter Form, 21:1-14)

Today is the 3rd Sunday of Easter, Liturgical year C. The readings today tell us about the mission of the Church to preach the good news for the salvation of the world!

The gospel today tells us that the disciples were fishing the whole night in the Sea of Tiberias, but they caught nothing! More importantly, the gospel tells us that the Risen Lord appeared to them and instructed them to cast their net on the right side of the boat and they caught so many fish that they could not pull the net in!

The gospel also tells us that when the Risen Lord asked for some of the fish they have caught, Peter pulled in the net with 153 big fish and the net was not broken!

Finally the gospel tells us that the Risen Lord invited the disciples for breakfast. He took the bread and gave it to them and he did the same with the fish!

The gospel ends by telling us that this was the third time that the Risen Lord appeared to the disciples!

The gospel today tells us of 3 important things:

(i) That the mission of the Church is to preach the good news for the salvation of the world! That is, the mission of the Church is to be the fisher of men, to catch men for God! In the Early Church fish symbolizes the baptized Christian in the waters of baptism! (Lefrois) The boat symbolizes the Church!

More importantly, the gospel tells us that without the Risen Lord our mission will be a failure, we will not catch anything; but with the Risen Lord our mission will be a success, we will catch so many fish that we will not be able to pull the net in!

(ii) That Peter is the head of the Church, and that the mission of the Church is universal, and that though the Church is universal, it is a unity under Peter the first Pope! Thus when Risen Lord requested for some fish, it was Peter who pulled the net in, and though there were 153 large fish, the net did not break! The 153 big fish symbolizes the universal mission of the Church and the unbroken net symbolizes the unity of the Church! 

(iii) That the Risen Lord is present with us today in the Eucharist! Thus the Risen Lord took the bread and gave it to the disciples and he did the same with the fish. The Lord did the same thing at the “multiplication of the loaves” which is a symbol of the Eucharist! (Jn 6:11)

Similarly, the gospel of Luke on “the road to Emmaus” tells us that the Risen Lord is present in the Word of God, in the Eucharist and in the Community! (Lk 24: 13-35) This gospel of Luke is read on the 3rd Sunday of Easter, Year A.

The gospel ends by telling us that this is the 3rd time that the Risen Lord appeared to the disciples!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the apostles and the Holy Spirit are the witnesses to the resurrection of the Lord! That is, the apostles filled with the Holy Spirit are the witnesses of the resurrection of the Lord! (Ac 1:8; Mt 10:20; NJB) The apostles filled with the Holy Spirit witnessed to the resurrection of the Lord by proclaiming the Good News of the resurrection even in the face of persecution and death:

“It was the God of our ancestors who raised up Jesus, but it was you who had him executed by hanging on a tree. By his own right hand God has now raised him up to be leader and savior, to give repentance and forgiveness of sins through him to Israel. We are witnesses to all this, we and the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.” (Ac 5:30-32; SM)   

The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving for salvation! In the responsorial psalm today we praise and thank God for saving us through his Son Jesus Christ! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.” (Ps 29 (30): 2; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza praises and thanks God for salvation (vv. 2 & 4). The second stanza invites others to praise and thank God for salvation (vv. 5-6). The third stanza continues to praise and thank God for salvation (vv. 11-13). (CSB)

he second reading is a doxology. The second reading has two parts. In the first part the angels in heaven give glory, praise, honor and power to the Lamb of God who saved us (vv. 11-12)! In the second part the whole of creation gives glory, praise, honor and power to God the Father and to the Lamb of God (vv. 13-14)! (CSB)

Today we join the angels in heaven and the whole of creation to give glory, praise, honor and power to God the Father and to the Lamb of God for our salvation!

Today we thank God for the resurrection of Jesus Christ and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we may proclaim the good news of the resurrection, so that all may believe and be baptized and be saved! A happy Easter to all of you! Amen!