6th Sunday of Easter (Year B) – 6th May 2018

Theme: “LOVE ONE ANOTHER, AS I HAVE LOVED YOU.” (Jn 15:12)

  • Acts 10:25-26. 34-35. 44-48;
  • Psalm 97 (98): 1-4. R/ cf. v. 2;
  • 1 John 4:7-10
  • John 15:9-17

Today is the 6th Sunday of Easter. The readings today tell us to love one another as Jesus loved us. Jesus tells us in the gospel today to love one another as he has loved us. Jesus tells us in the gospel today: ‘As the Father has loved him so he has loved us. Remain in his love. If we keep his commandments we will remain in his love, just as he has kept his Father’s commandments and remain in his love. He has told us this so that his own joy may be in us and our joy be complete. This is his commandment: love one another, as he has loved us. A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends’.

Again, Jesus tells us in today’s gospel to love one another as he has loved us, that is, to lay down our lives for our friends. Jesus also tells us in today’s gospel that his own joy will be in us and our joy will be complete, that is, if we love as Jesus loved we will be joyful and happy as Jesus was joyful and happy. We seldom think of Jesus as being joyful and happy, but Jesus was joyful and happy. Love and joy cannot be separated, that is, if we love we will be happy, if we do not love we will not be happy. God the Father is love, that is why we call him Father; and God the Father is happy, that is why he is in heaven! Thus we read in today’s gospel:

“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete. This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you. A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends’.” (Jn 15: 9–13/SM)

The second reading follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading also tells us to love one another. The second reading tells us to love one another because love is from God. And he who loves is begotten by God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God for God is love. God’s love was revealed to us when God sent his Son into the world so that we may have life through him. This is the love the second reading means: not our love for God, but God’s love for us when he sent his Son to be the sacrifice to take away our sins. Thus we read in the second reading:

“My dear people, let us love one another since love comes from God and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Anyone who fails to love can never have known God, because God is love. God’s love for us was revealed when God sent into the world his only Son so that we could have life through him; this is the love I mean: not our love for God, but God’s love for us when he sent his Son to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away.” (1 Jn 4: 7-10/SM)

The good news today is that this love comes to us today already fulfilled in Jesus Christ, in his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. And this love will be fulfilled in us today here and now through the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus the first reading tells us about the “Pentecost of the Pagans”, that is, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the pagans. The first reading tells us of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Roman centurion Cornelius and his household and their baptism. Thus we read in the first reading:

“While Peter was still speaking the Holy Spirit came down on all the listeners. Jewish believers who had accompanied Peter were all astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit should be poured out on the pagans too, since they could hear them speaking strange languages and proclaiming the greatness of God. Peter himself then said, ‘Could anyone refuse the water of baptism to these people, now they have received the Holy Spirit just as much as we have?’ He then gave orders for them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” (Ac 10:44-48/SM)

The Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of God’s love. God the Father is love, God the Son is love, God the Holy Spirit is also love. It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can love as Jesus loved us, and we can lay down our lives for our friends as Jesus laid down his life for us his friends, and we can be joyful and happy as Jesus was joyful and happy!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a call to praise God. The responsorial psalm is a call to God’s people to praise God for saving Israel. (Ps 97 (98): 1-3) But the last verse of the responsorial psalm is a call to all the nations which have seen the salvation of Israel to praise and worship the God of Israel. Thus the last verse of the responsorial psalm:

“Shout to the Lord all the earth, ring out your joy.” (Ps 97 (98): 4)

And thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“The Lord has shown his salvation to the nations.” (Ps 97 (98): 2)

Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy SpIrit will help us love one another as Jesus loved us. The Holy Spirit will help us lay down our lives for our friends as Jesus laid down his life for us his friends. The Holy Spirit will help us be happy and joyful as Jesus was happy and joyful. And the Holy Spirit will help us proclaim the Gospel (Good News) to the pagans! Amen.

5th Sunday of Easter (Year B) – 29th April 2018

Theme: IT IS THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT THAT GOD DWELLS IN US AND WE DWELL IN GOD AND THAT WE BEAR FRUIT IN PLENTY

  • Acts 9:26-31;
  • Psalm 21:26-28. 30-32. R/ v. 26;
  • 1 John 3:18-24
  • John 15:1-8

Today is the 5th Sunday of Easter. Easter is about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It is through the Holy Spirit that God dwells in us and we dwell in God and that we bear much fruit. It is through the Holy Spirit that we love God and love our neighbor. It is through the Holy Spirit that we proclaim the good news even in the face of persecution and death. It is through the Holy Sprit that we praise and worship God. The readings today are to be read in the light of Easter, that is, in the light of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit!
The gospel today tells us that it is through the Holy Spirit that God dwells in us and we dwell in God and that we will bear much fruit. Cut off from God we will not bear fruit, we will die. Thus we read in the gospel today:
“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Make your home in me, as I make mine in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself, but must remain part of the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is like a branch that has been thrown away – he withers; these branches are collected and thrown on the fire, and they are burnt.’” (Jn 15:4-6)
The gospel today touches me personally because it tells me that our God is a God of mutual indwelling (God dwells in us and we dwell in God), that is, our God is a God of personal relationship, community, love, unity, mutuality, communion, intimacy, etc. Our God is a God of BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) because it is in the BEC that we experience intimacy, mutuality, communion, love, unity, personal relationship, community, fellowship, sharing, etc. with God and with one another in a personal, spiritual and real way. That is why our Bishop asks us to build BECs!

The second reading follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading tells us that it is through the Holy Spirit that God dwells in us and we dwell in God and that it is through the Holy Spirit that we love God and love our neighbor. Thus we read in the second reading:
“Whoever keeps his commandments lives in God and God lives in him. We know that he lives in us by the Spirit that he has given us.” (1 Jn 3: 24)
“His commandments are these: that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and that we love one another as he told us to.” (1 Jn 3: 23)
For John to believe in God is to love God, and to love God is to believe in God. (NJBC/Mk 12:28-31/Faley/Jn 16:27)
Without the Holy Spirit we cannot even keep the Ten Commandments, but with the Holy Spirit we can even keep “the greatest commandment of all”, that is, to love God and to love our neighbor! We have to read the readings today in the light of Easter, that is, in the light of Jesus Christ’s death, resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! Only then can we proclaim the good news!

The first reading tells us that it is through the Holy Spirit that Paul and the Apostles preached the good news in Jerusalem even in the face of persecution and death. Thus we read in the first reading:
“Saul now started to go around with them (the apostles) in Jerusalem, preaching fearlessly in the name of the Lord. But after he had spoken to the Hellenists (Greek speaking Jews), and argued with them, they became determined to kill him. When the brothers knew, they took him to Caesarea, and sent him off from there to Tarsus.” (Ac 9:28-30)
Paul was ultimately beheaded as his Master Jesus Christ was crucified for proclaiming the good news! We started the “Neocatechumenal Way” in our parish to produce priests and itinerant catechists to proclaim the good news to the nations even in the face of persecution and death!

Finally, it is through the Holy Spirit that we praise and worship God! The responsorial psalm is a call to praise God. The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza is a call to the community to praise God. (Ps 21 (22): 26-27) The second stanza is a call to all the nations to praise God. (Ps 21 (22): 28. 30) And the third stanza is a call to the future generations to praise God. (Ps 21 (22): 31-32) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:
“You, Lord, are my praise in the great assembly.” (Ps 21 (22): 26)

Today in the Eucharist we celebrate Easter, 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. It is through the Holy Spirit that the Risen Lord dwells in us and we in him and that we bear fruit in plenty. Fruits of the Spirit: love, peace, joy, forgiveness, freedom, salvation, etc. It is through the Holy Spirit that we love God and neighbor. It is through the Holy Spirit that we proclaim the good news even in the face of persecution and death. It is through the Holy Spirit that we praise and worship God. Amen.

4th Sunday of Easter – Good Shepherd Sunday – Vocation Sunday (Year B) – 22nd April 2018

Theme: WE THANK THE FATHER FOR JESUS CHRIST OUR GOOD SHEPHERD AND WE ASK THE FATHER TO GIVE US GOOD SHEPHERDS

  • Acts 4:8-12;
  • Psalm 117 (118): 1. 8-9. 21-23. 26. 28-29. R/ v. 22;
  • 1 John 3:1-2
  • John 10:11-18

Today is the fourth Sunday of Easter. The readings today tell us that Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd! The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd has four qualities:

(i) He knows the Father and the Father knows him, that is, he loves the Father and the Father loves him. (NJB) (ii) He knows his sheep and his sheep knows him, that is, he loves his people and his people love him. (iii) He lays down his life for his sheep. (iv) He leads all the sheep, that is, not only the Jews, but also the Gentiles, irrespective of race, religion and nationality! Thus we read in the gospel today:

“I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep. And there are other sheep I have that are not of this fold, and these I have to lead as well.” (Jn 10:14-16 a/SM)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep through his death and resurrection! The Good Shepherd saves his sheep through his death and resurrection! Thus we read in the first reading:

“This is the stone rejected by you the builders, but which has proved to be the keystone. For of all the names in the world given to men, this is the only one by which we can be saved.” (Ac 4:11-12/SM)

The name “Jesus” in Hebrew means “God saves”! (Mt 1:21) At the time when Luke wrote the “Acts of the Apostles”, the Roman world believed that the emperor was “savior” and “god”! Luke tells us that only Jesus is “Savior” and “God”! (CSB)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:
“The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone.” (Ps 117 (118): 22)

The responsorial psalm is a hymn of thanksgiving for salvation. (HCSB) The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza (Ps 117 (118): 1. 8-9) is a call to praise God and an expression of confidence and trust in God. The second stanza (Ps 117 (118): 21-23) is a thanksgiving to God for saving us through the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ. Thus we read in the second stanza from which the response is taken: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone.” (Ps 117 (118): 22) The third stanza (Ps 117 (118): 26. 28-29) continues to praise and thank God for saving us.

Note that the first verse (v. 1) and the last verse (v. 29) of the responsorial psalm and of the original psalm are the same: “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.” (Ps 117 (118): 1. 29) God is love. God’s love has no end. It is out of love that God saved us through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ!

This theme of love is carried over into the second reading. The second reading tells us to think of the love God has for us by calling us his children! The second reading also tells us that when all is revealed at the “Parousia”, that is, at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, we will be like him! We will be like Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd! Thus we read in the second reading:

“Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us, by letting us be called God’s children; and that is what we are. …. My dear people, we are already the children of God but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed; all we know is, that when it is revealed we shall be like him because we shall see him as he really is.” (1 Jn 3: 1-2/SM)

Today we thank the Father for Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd and we pray the Father to give us good shepherds. We pray the Father to give us good priests, good religious brothers and sisters, and good lay leaders!

Indeed today is the “46th World Day of Prayer for Vocations” and our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has a special message for us. Our Pope tells us that vocation is a call from God and our response to God’s call. Our Pope tells us to pray for vocations to the priesthood and the religious life. Thus we read in the Pope’s message:

“On the occasion of the next World Day of prayer for vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life, which will be celebrated on 3 May 2009, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, I want to invite all the People of God to reflect on the theme: Faith in the divine initiative – the human response. The exhortation of Jesus to his disciples: ‘Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest’ (Mt 9:38) has a constant resonance in the Church. Pray!

The urgent call of the Lord stresses that prayer for vocations should be continuous and trusting. The Christian community can only really ‘have ever greater faith and hope in God’s providence’ (Sacramentum Caritatis, 26) if it is enlivened by prayer.”

“Our first duty, therefore, is to keep alive in families and in parishes, in movements and in apostolic associations, in religious communities and in all the sectors of diocesan life this appeal to the divine initiative with unceasing prayer. We must pray that the whole Christian people grows in its trust in God, convinced that the ‘Lord of the harvest’ does not cease to ask some to place their entire existence freely at his service so as to work with him more closely in the mission of salvation.

What is asked of those who are called, for their part, is careful listening and prudent discernment, a generous and willing adherence to the divine plan, and a serious study of the reality that is proper to the priestly and religious vocations, so as to be able to respond responsibly and with conviction.” Amen!

3rd Sunday of Easter (Year B) – 15th April 2018

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 

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!

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!

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!

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!

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!

Divine Mercy Sunday – 8th April 2018

Theme: PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS SO THAT THOSE WHO BELIEVE AND ARE BAPTISED WILL HAVE THEIR SINS FORGIVEN

  • 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. A happy and blessed Easter to all of you! Today is the second Sunday of Easter, Liturgical Year B. Today is also the Octave Day of Easter, that is, the eighth day of Easter. Easter is such a big feast that we celebrate it as a solemnity for eight days! In the past eight days, including today, we use the Preface of Easter Sunday, we have “alleluia, alleluia” at the dismissal, we say the Gloria, etc. The Octave of Easter ends today, inclusive, but the Easter season continues to Pentecost Sunday! It is a season of fifty days! And the big Easter candle will remain in the sanctuary for fifty days!

The gospel today tells us that on the day of his resurrection, that is, Sunday, the 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). And he showed them his hands and his side. And the disciples were filled with joy! Easter joy! A joy that the world cannot take away! (Jn 16:22)

Again, the Lord said to his disciples, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.’ After saying 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, 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 Catholic Church in the Council of Trent in the 16th century taught that this passage does not only tell us about the sacrament of Baptism, but also about the sacrament of Reconciliation, that is, the sacrament of Penance or “Confession”!

  1. The gospel also tells us that when the Lord appeared to his disciples, Thomas was not with them. And when the other disciples told Thomas that they had seen the Lord, Thomas refused to believe and said, ‘unless I see the holes the nails have made in his hands and unless I put my finger into the holes the nails have made, and unless I put my hand into his side, I will not believe’.

Eight days later, the Lord appeared to his disciples again, and this time, Thomas was with them. Again, the Lord said, ‘Peace be with you’. And the Lord said to Thomas, ‘Here are my hands, put your finger here, put your hand into my side, doubt no longer but believe’. Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God’. Thomas the doubter made “the highest confession of faith in all the Gospels”! (R. Brown) Not only my Lord, but also my God and not only my God, but also my Lord!

And Jesus said to Thomas, ‘You believe because you have seen me, blessed are those who have not seen me and yet believe.’ That is, blessed are those who have not seen me, but believe on the testimony and witness of the apostles, especially Thomas!

  1. The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles tells us that after Baptism the first Christians became a community of love and unity. They were united in heart and soul and shared their material belongings with one another, especially with the poor and the needy. And they continued to proclaim the good news so that those who believe and are baptized will have their sins forgiven!

After Baptism, our newly Baptized brothers and sisters belong to the community of the Church, but it would be very good if they also belong to a BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community), a neighborhood group, to continue to share and pray the word of God and proclaim the good news so that others may also believe and be Baptized and have their sins forgiven!

  1. The responsorial psalm tells us that the resurrection of Jesus Christ and our resurrection with him in baptism are because of the love of God! 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; SM)

And thus the first stanza of the responsorial psalm:

“Let the sons of Israel say: ‘His love has no end.’ Let the sons of Aaron say: ‘His love has no end.’ Let those who fear the Lord say: ‘His love has no end.’”

The second stanza tells us that the Lord saves us from sin and death! What proves that God loves us is that he saved us from sin and death! And most importantly, the third stanza tells us that when we sinned, God loved us even more! He sent his Son Jesus Christ to save us, but when we rejected 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 and within us, nearer to us than we are to ourselves and loving us more than we love ourselves. And the Holy Spirit will continue to love us until we love God, we love our neighbor and we love ourselves. Only then will come the end of the world, the second coming of Jesus Christ, the Parousia! The end, not of the physical world, but the end of the evil world! Thus the third stanza:

“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)

  1. Thus the second reading tells us that Jesus Christ came with water and blood, not only with water, but with water and blood. Blood refers to Jesus Christ’s death on the cross from which he poured out his Holy Spirit! And water refers to the waters of the Holy Spirit, the waters of Baptism! (NJB; Jn 19:34r) Thus we read in the second reading:

“Jesus Christ who came by water and blood, not with water only, but with water and blood; with the Spirit as another witness – since the Spirit is the truth.” (1 Jn 5:6; SM)

Truth for John includes faith and love! (New Jerusalem Bible (NJB); 1 Jn 3:19i) Thus the Baptized Christian puts his faith in God and loves his neighbor!

Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and we eat his Risen Body and drink his Blood and the Risen Lord will give us his Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us proclaim the good news, so that those who believe and are baptized will have their sins forgiven! A happy and blessed Easter to all of you! Amen!

Easter Sunday – 1st April 2018

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

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!

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!

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!

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)

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!

The Easter Vigil – 31st March 2018

Theme: IN THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM WE DIE AND RISE WITH JESUS CHRIST TO THE NEW LIFE OF EASTER!

  • Genesis 1:1. 26-31;
  • Genesis 22:1-2. 9-13. 15-18;
  • Exodus 14:15-15:1;
  • Ezekiel 36:16-28;
  • Romans 6:3-11
  • Mark 16:1-7

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

Again, a happy and blessed Easter to all of you! We began this Easter Vigil celebration with the service of light, because Jesus Christ is our light, that is, Jesus Christ gives us the light of faith, the light of life and the light of good; as opposed to unbelief, death and evil respectively, which is darkness!

More importantly, the three are connected, that is, when we have faith, we receive new life from God and we do good; but when we do not have faith, we do not receive new life from God and we do evil!

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

That is what the readings tell us tonight!

The first reading from Genesis tells us that we were created in the image of God, that is, like God, we have to create life, especially human life, we are co-creators of God; like God we have to love; and like God we are to be happy! That is the meaning of heaven!

But we sinned, we destroy life instead of create life. We destroy life in the environment, in wars, and we even destroy life in the womb of the mother, making it the most dangerous place in the world! We hate and we take revenge instead of loving and forgiving. And we are very unhappy instead of being happy like God in heaven!

But when we sinned God loved us even more! His Son Jesus Christ became man to save us!

The second reading from Genesis tells us that this history of salvation began with Abraham the father of faith! The second reading tells us that God tested Abraham’s faith, that is, God made Abraham’s faith stronger! Abraham’s faith was so strong that he sacrificed his only son Isaac, the son of the promise, to God!

But more importantly, Isaac prefigures Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, who sacrificed himself for the salvation of the world! (NJB; CCB) Jesus Christ did this by his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! Again, tonight we will receive his Holy Spirit in his Church in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist!

The third reading from Exodus tells us that the Lord destroyed the Egyptians in the waters of the Red Sea and saved Israel in the waters of the Red Sea! In the same way, tonight, the Lord will destroy our sin and death in the waters of baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit and give us life, love and joy!

The fourth reading from Ezekiel tells us that the Lord will pour clean water over us to cleanse us and the Lord will put his spirit in us and we shall live! Again, in the waters of baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit, the Lord cleanse us from sin and death and give us his spirit and life!

Finally, the gospel/good news from Mark tells us that the Lord has indeed risen from the dead! The gospel tells us that the women went to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away! And on entering the tomb an angel (Mt 28:5) told them that the Lord has indeed risen and will meet the disciples in Galilee as he had promised!

Most importantly, the fifth reading from Romans tells us that in Baptism we are baptized in Christ’s death and just as Jesus Christ rose from the dead we will also rise from the dead with him to a new life, never to sin anymore!

We shall now proceed with the Liturgy of Baptism. We shall do three important things. We shall ask God the Father and the Son to send the Holy Spirit into the waters of Baptism. We shall then profess our faith in God the Father the Creator, God the Son the Savior and God the Holy Spirit the Sanctifier. We shall then be baptized in the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit! We shall then die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

Some of us may also receive the sacrament of Confirmation. The sacrament of Confirmation completes the sacrament of Baptism. In Confirmation we receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit and are strengthened by the Holy Spirit!

Some of us may also receive the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist completes the three sacraments of initiation! In the sacrament of the Eucharist, or Holy Communion, we eat the body of Christ and drink his blood and we continue to grow in the Holy Spirit! And we continue to do this every Sunday. Every Sunday is a celebration of Easter!

We will come back every year to renew our baptism on Easter Vigil Night and continue to grow every year in the Holy Spirit, until the day we reach perfection in heaven! Again, a happy and blessed Easter to all of you!

 

Amen!