5th Sunday of Lent – 7th Apr 2019

Theme: DO YOU BELIEVE THAT JESUS IS THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE?

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

Today is the 5th Sunday of Lent, Liturgical Year A. We use Liturgical Year A, because there will be catechumens for baptism on Easter Vigil Night!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus is the resurrection and the life and that whoever believes in him even though he dies he will live and that whoever lives and believes in him will never die!

That is, Jesus is the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in him even though he dies in his sins he will live and whoever lives and believes in him will never die in his sins, that is, he will never sin and die!

The question is:

“Do you believe this?” (Jn 11:26; SM)

This is the question that the gospel asks us today! This is the question that Jesus asked Martha! And Martha answered:

“Yes Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world.” (Jn 11:27; SM) 

And because of Martha’s faith and belief, Jesus raised her brother Lazarus from the dead:

“Lazarus, here! Come out!” (Jn 11:43; SM)

And the dead Lazarus came out! Lazarus was dead for four days!

On Easter Vigil Night we will also be questioned about our faith and belief! We will be asked 6 questions, 3 rejecting Satan and 3 professing our faith in God! We reject Satan and all his works and all his empty promises, because Satan tempts us not to believe in God as he tempted Adam and Jesus not to believe in God! (1st Sunday of Lent, Year A)

More importantly, we will be asked the 3 questions of faith and belief:

(i)  “Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth?”

(ii) “Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?”

(iii) “Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?” (SM)

And when we answer “I do” 6 times, we will be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! For those of us who are already baptized we will be sprinkled with the waters of baptism and we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

The first reading tells us that the Lord will raise us from the dead through the power of the Holy Spirit!

The raising of Lazarus was only resuscitation. It was only a sign of the resurrection. It was not the resurrection! Lazarus had to die again. But to raise us from the dead Jesus himself had to die and rise from the dead and give us the Holy Spirit! Thus we read in the caption of the first reading:

“I shall put my spirit in you, and you will live.” (Ezk 37:14; SM)

The first reading was originally addressed to the exiled Jews in Babylon.

The second reading also tells us that it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that the Lord will raise us from the dead!

The second reading was addressed to the baptized, but today it is addressed to the baptized and especially to the catechumens to be baptized this coming Easter Vigil Night! 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 his Spirit living in you.” (Rm 8:11; SM)

The responsorial psalm is a penitential psalm. It is a “prayer for pardon and mercy”. (CSB) The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas are a prayer for forgiveness. The third and fourth stanzas are an expression of trust. (Faley) 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)

During this time of Lent the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor; not as a law or punishment, but to help us repent so that we may be baptized or renew our baptism on Easter Vigil Night and die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! A Happy and Blessed Lent to all of you! Amen!

4th Sunday of Lent – 31st Mar 2019

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

  • 1 Samuel 16:1. 6-7. 10-13;
  • Psalm 22 (23). R/ v. 1;
  • Ephesians 5:8-14
  • John 9:1-41 (Shorter Form, 9:1. 6-9. 13-17. 34-38.)

Today is the 4th Sunday of Lent, Liturgical Year A. We use Liturgical Year A instead of Year C, because there will be baptisms on Easter Vigil Night! The readings of Year A are most suitable for baptism!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus is the light of the world (v. 5b)! Light in the New Testament symbolizes 3 things (NIB; Jn 8:12b): (i) Light symbolizes faith as opposed to unbelief which is darkness. (ii) Light symbolizes life, contentment and joy as opposed to death, unhappiness and misery which is darkness. (iii) Light symbolizes good as opposed to evil which is darkness.

More importantly, the 3 themes are related, that is, faith in God gives us life and the life from God is a life of goodness!

Most importantly, light will overcome darkness, faith will overcome unbelief, life will overcome death, and good will overcome evil!

This is because Jesus Christ the light of the world has overcome the devil the darkness of the world! And the Risen Lord continues to overcome the darkness of the devil through the power of the Holy Spirit until the end of time when all darkness will be overcome! That would be the end of the world, that is, the end of the evil world!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus is the light of faith. (CCB; Lefrois) The gospel tells us that Jesus cured the blind man so that he could see not only physically, but also spiritually, that is, with the eyes of faith!

The gospel tells us that the faith of the blind man grew! At first he saw Jesus to be a man, then he saw Jesus to be a prophet, and finally at the end, he worshipped Jesus as Lord! The faith of the Pharisees on the other hand got from bad to worse! At first they said that Jesus was not from God, and then they doubted that the miracle even happened, and finally they called Jesus a sinner!

We have to grow in our faith every year; otherwise our faith will decrease and disappear! That is why we renew our faith and baptism every year! That is why on Easter Vigil Night we have to answer 6 questions, 3 to reject Satan and 3 to profess our faith in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit!

The gospel today also tells us about baptism. The gospel tells us that Jesus put a paste on the eyes of the blind man and told him to wash in the Pool of Siloam. After washing the blind man could see with the eyes of faith!

In baptism we will also be anointed with the oil of chrism. We will also be washed with the waters of baptism. We will also be able to see with the eyes of faith. That is why we will be given candles lighted from the big Easter candle! We will be given the light of faith, life and goodness!

The Gospel Acclamation tells us that Jesus is the light of life! Thus we read in the Gospel Acclamation:

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

The second reading tells us that Jesus is 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 first reading tells us that David was anointed king by the prophet Samuel and the spirit of the Lord seized on him from that day onwards! Thus we read in the first reading:

“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 S 16:13; SM)  

In the Sacrament of Confirmation we will also be anointed with the oil of Chrism and we will also receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit and we will be made strong witnesses of the Lord!

The responsorial psalm is on the good Shepherd! The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas are on the good Shepherd. The third and fourth stanzas are on the host of the messianic banquet.

The messianic banquet is a prefigure of the Eucharist! (CCB) And the Eucharist is an anticipation of the heavenly banquet! Thus we read in the third and fourth stanzas of the psalm:

“You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes. My head you have anointed with oil; my cup is overflowing. Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me all the days of my life. In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.” (Ps 22 (23): 5-6; SM)

On Easter Vigil Night some of our catechumens will be receiving the three Sacraments of Christian Initiation, namely, Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist! In Baptism they will be born again in the Holy Spirit, in Confirmation they will be made strong in the Holy Spirit and in the Eucharist they will continue to grow in the Holy Spirit! That is why it is important that after Baptism and Confirmation they continue to come to Mass every Sunday!

During this time of Lent the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor to prepare us to receive the three Sacraments of Christian Initiation, and for those of us who are baptized to prepare us to renew our baptism so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

Today is the 4th Sunday of Lent. Today is Rejoice Sunday or Joyful Sunday because we are more than half way through to Easter! That is why we use pink/rose vestment! A happy and joyful Sunday to all of you! Amen!

3rd Sunday of Lent (Year C) -24th Mar 2019

Theme: IN FAITH WE ARE BAPTIZED AND IN BAPTISM WE RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD’S LOVE

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

Today is the 3rd Sunday of Lent. Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter; when we prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; and when we prepare to celebrate our death and resurrection with Jesus Christ 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 grow in faith!

Indeed the gospel today tells us that the Samaritan woman grew in faith! At first she believed Jesus to be a man, then she believed Jesus to be a prophet, then she believed Jesus to be the Messiah, then she became the first missionary and the first apostle of Jesus to evangelize the other Samaritans, then finally the other Samaritans believed Jesus to be the Savior of the world!

More importantly, the gospel today tells us that Jesus gives her living water that will turn into a spring inside her welling up to eternal life and she will never be thirsty again!

The gospel today symbolizes our baptism! In this time of Lent we grow in faith like the Samaritan woman. On Easter Vigil Night we will be baptized with the waters of baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit, the Holy water! The Holy water is the living water that will turn into a spring inside us welling up to eternal life and we will not be thirsty again!

The first reading tells us that the people of Israel had no faith in God! They complained against Moses for taking them out of Egypt into the desert to die of thirst! They, their children and their cattle will all die of thirst! They tested God by doubting if God was with them or not! The place was called Meribah (quarreling) and Massah (test) because the people of Israel quarreled with God and tested God!

The responsorial psalm tells us to have faith in God! Thus we responded three times:

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

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us that God is our Savior (vv. 1-2)! The second stanza tells us that God is our Creator and Savior (vv. 6-7; NJBC)! The third stanza tells us to have faith in God and not to be like the people of Israel who had no faith in God! Thus the third stanza:

“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 94:7c-9; SM)

The second reading tells us that it is in faith that we are baptized in Jesus Christ and it is in baptism that we receive the Holy Spirit of God’s love; the love of God that loves sinners, the love of God that is merciful towards sinners, the love of God that forgives sinners, the love of God that saves sinners!

During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor, not as a punishment for our sins; but to help us to repent; to help us to grow in faith, so that on Easter Vigil Night in the sacrament of baptism and in the renewal of our baptism, we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! A blessed Lent to all of you! Amen!

2nd Sunday of Lent (Year C) – 17th Mar 2019

Theme: REPENT: TURN AWAY FROM THE WORLD AND TURN TO GOD AND FIND LIFE

  • 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 Second Sunday of Lent, Year A. Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter, particularly, when we prepare to celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism on Easter Vigil Night, or renew our Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! Lent is therefore a time of penance, repentance and conversion.

That is why during this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms; not to punish us for our sins, but to help us to covert and find life! Conversion is not only turning away from sin, but conversion is also turning away from oneself and from the world; but most importantly, conversion is turning to God and consequently to neighbor!

That is why on giving Ashes on Ash Wednesday, the priest says: “Repent and believe the Good News.”! (BM/Mk 1:15) In other words, ‘Turn away from sin, self, and world; and turn to God and consequently, to neighbor and find life.’!

The alternative formula for the administration of Ashes is: “Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return.”! (Gn 3:19) In other words, if we turn away from God like Adam did, we will become dust, that is, death as Adam was; but if we turn back to God we will find life! That is why I used the first formula!

The readings today tell us to turn away from the world and to turn to God and find life! The first reading tells us that Abraham turned away from the world and turned to God and found life! The first reading tells us that God called Abraham to leave his country, his family, and his father’s house; and go to a land God will show him, and God will bless him and through him God will bless all the nations and all the peoples of the world! Abraham was 75 years old and he was blessed with a son – Isaac! And through him the whole world was blessed! Again, turn away from the world and turn to God and you will find life!

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

The responsorial psalm has 3 stanzas. The first stanza tells us that God created the universe with his word. (Ps 32:4-5) This becomes clearer when we read up to verse 9. The second stanza tells us that God alone is the savior. (Ps 32:18-19) And that is why the third stanza – which is also the response – tells us to put all our hope in God for he alone loves us! (Ps 32:20. 22/NJBC/CSB/HCSB)

God created us out of love (Father)! God saved us out of love! (Son) And God continues to sanctify us out of love! (Holy Spirit) The “Mystery of the Holy Trinity” is the Mystery of the God of love! The God of law is not the “Mystery of the Holy Trinity”, because the God of law is not the God of love!

The gospel follows the theme of the first reading and the responsorial psalm. The gospel also tells us to turn away from the world and to turn to God to find life! The gospel is on the Transfiguration and it is placed immediately after Jesus’ first prophesy of his suffering, death and resurrection; and Jesus’ instruction to his disciples to take up their crosses and follow him in order to find life! (Mt 16:21-26)

The transfiguration is only a prefigure and a foreshadow of the Resurrection to affirm and confirm the faith of the disciples for the impending death of Jesus and for their own deaths as followers of Jesus! The Transfiguration is to strengthen the faith of the disciples so that they will believe that in the death of Jesus is resurrection and new life! (NJB/Raas/Lefrois) Again, the gospel tells us to turn away from the world and to turn to God to find life!

Thus the hymn: I HAVE DECIDED TO FOLLOW JESUS (N32):

“I have decided to follow Jesus (3x) No turning back, no turning back.

The world behind me, the cross before me (3x) No turning back, no turning back.

Take the whole world, but give me Jesus (3x) I’ll follow Him, I’ll follow Him.”!

Indeed, the Lord has risen from the dead! The second reading follows the theme of the day, that is, turn away from the world and turn to God to find life! In the second reading Paul tells Timothy: “With me, bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News.”! (2 Timothy 1:8) Or in the words of Jesus, “Take up your cross and follow me.”! (Mt 16:24/Raas) Again, the second reading tells us to turn away from the world and to turn to God to find life!

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, to help us during this time of Lent, to do penance, to pray, to fast, and to give alms; and to repent and to convert. The Holy Spirit will help us to prepare for Easter and for the Sacrament of Baptism on Easter Vigil Night, or renew our Baptism on Easter Vigil Night, so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! A happy Lent to all of you!

Amen!