Theme: LET US PRAY FOR THE COMING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT UPON US
- Acts 1:12-14
- Psalm 26:1. 4. 7-8. R. v. 13
- 1 Peter 4:13-16
- John 14:18
- John 17:1-11
1. Today we celebrate the 7th Sunday of Easter! The 7th Sunday of Easter is sandwiched between “the Ascension of the Lord” which we celebrated last Thursday and “Pentecost Sunday” which we will celebrate next Sunday! That is why the readings today tell us about the Ascension of the Lord and more importantly, about the Descend of the Holy Spirit upon us!
2. The gospel today is from St. John on the Last Supper discourse of Jesus Christ, the night before he died. It is the priestly prayer of Jesus Christ to his Father, but what concerns us today is the last part of the gospel on the Ascension of Jesus Christ: “I am not in the world any longer, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you” (Jn 17:11).
But more importantly, the “Gospel Acclamation” today tells us that Jesus Christ ascends to heaven not to abandon us nor to rest from his work, but to sit at the right hand of his Father, meaning, in power, to rule the universe, and to send down his Holy Spirit into us, so that he can come back to us and into us and continue his work in us and through us: “I will not leave you orphans, says the Lord; I will come back to you, and your hearts will be full of joy” (Jn 14:18).
3. That is why the first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, tells us that after the Promise of the Holy Spirit and the Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven, the apostles and Mary the Mother of Jesus were praying for the Holy Spirit – the first and original novena for the Holy Spirit: “All these joined in continuous prayer, together with several women, including Mary, the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers” (Acts: 1:11). We have to pray for the Holy Spirit! We cannot receive the Holy Spirit without prayer and praying for the Holy Spirit!
4. The “responsorial psalm” is a meditation on the “first reading”. It is a psalm of “Trust in the Lord”, but what concerns us today is the “response” of the “responsorial psalm”: “I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living” (Psalm 26:13).
It can be translated or paraphrased thus: ‘I believe I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of life’! The “land of life” is the Jerusalem Temple where the faithful have access to the life-giving presence of God (CSB/NAB)!
Obviously, the Church has chosen this verse for the “response” of the “responsorial psalm” today to tell us that the Holy Spirit in us is the Life-giving presence of God! St. Paul tells us that we are the temples of the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit does not dwell in heaven, nor in temples, nor in churches, but in us!
“The Lord’s goodness that we shall see” is consequently the goodness of the Holy Spirit, that is, love, joy, peace, forgiveness, freedom, mercy, salvation, wholeness, holiness, health, healing, etc.!
5. Finally, the Church has chosen the second reading from “1 Peter” to tell us that when the Holy Spirit comes upon us we will suffer for being Christians! We will not suffer for doing evil, for murder, for theft, for crime, etc., but we will suffer for doing good, and for bearing the name of Jesus Christ! Be not ashamed, but be happy, we will be blessed; we will give thanks to God, for when we suffer with Jesus Christ, we will also share in his glory, now and forever, in the Resurrection, and in the Ascension into heaven, body and soul, with Jesus Christ, in His Second Coming, at the end of time!
6. Today in this Mass, let us pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit upon us! A Happy Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost to all of you! In the early Church of the first century, Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost were all celebrated as one Mystery in the Sunday Eucharist! It was only in the second century that Easter was celebrated as an annual event, and it was only in the fourth century that Ascension and Pentecost were separated from Easter with a period of forty and fifty days respectively (MCE)! Again, a Happy Easter, Ascension and Pentecost to all of you!
Theme: THE LORD ASCENDS INTO HEAVEN IN ORDER TO SEND US THE HOLY SPIRIT SO THAT WE TOO MAY ASCEND INTO HEAVEN WITH HIM IN GLORY
- Acts 1:1-11;
- Psalm 46 (47): 2-3. 6-9. R/ v. 6;
- Ephesians 4:1-7. 11-13
- Mark 16:15-20
1. Today we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord into heaven in glory, Liturgical Year B. Next Sunday we will celebrate Pentecost Sunday, that is, the descend of the Holy Spirit! The Easter Season of fifty days which began on Easter Sunday will end next Sunday with Pentecost Sunday.
The readings today tell us that the Lord ascends into heaven, not to abandon us, but to send us the Holy Spirit, so that we may do his work on earth, and so that one day we too may ascend into heaven with him in glory!
The gospel today tells us that after his resurrection and before his ascension, the Lord sent his apostles out into the world to preach the Good News, so that those who believe and are baptized will be saved, but those who do not believe and are not baptized will not be saved!
And these are the signs associated with believers, that is, in the name of Jesus, they will drive out devils, they will speak in tongues, they will pick up snakes in their hands, and even if they drink poison they will not die, and they will heal the sick.
But more importantly, the gospel tells us that the Lord has ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father in glory! But most importantly, the gospel tells us that the apostles went out preaching and the Lord was working with them confirming their words with signs! The Lord was with them in the Holy Spirit!
2. The first reading tells us that after his resurrection the Lord spent forty days with his disciples instructing them on the kingdom of God, preparing them to preach the kingdom of God! Moses also spent forty days on the mountain and Jesus also spent forty days in the desert to prepare for their ministries!
More importantly, the first reading tells us that after forty days, the Lord will ascend into heaven in order to send down the Holy Spirit on the apostles, so that they will become his witnesses, not only in Jerusalem, but also in Judaea, and Samaria and indeed to the ends of the earth! That is, not only in Jerusalem where Jesus died, rose from the dead and gave the Holy Spirit, but also in Judaea, that is, to all the Jews, and also in Samaria, that is, to the “half-Jews”, and indeed to the ends of the earth, that is, to the non-Jews, the gentiles, the pagans!
But most importantly, the first reading tells us that the Lord has been taken up into heaven in a cloud. And when the disciples were staring at him into the sky, two men in white (angels) appeared to them and said to them, ‘Men of Galilee, why are you staring into the sky, the Jesus that has been taken up into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him go’, that is, he will return in a cloud in glory at the Parousia, that is, at his Second Coming at the end of the world, when all will be saved!
3. The Responsorial Psalm is a hymn calling on all the nations of the earth to acknowledge the universal rule of the God of Israel who is enthroned as king of Israel and as king of all the nations! (CSB)
The Responsorial Psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza (vv. 2-3) calls on all the nations to acknowledge the universal rule of the God of Israel. The second and third stanzas (vv. 6-9) tells us that the God of Israel is enthroned as king of Israel and as king of all the nations!
In the liturgy today the Responsorial Psalm tells us about the Ascension of the Lord into heaven in glory! (CSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:
“God goes up with shouts of joy; the Lord goes up with trumpet blast.” (Ps 46 (47): 6; SM)
4. As we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord today and as we will celebrate Pentecost next Sunday, the second reading tells us about the Holy Spirit! The second reading tells us that the Holy Spirit is a Spirit of unity! Because there is only one body (church), one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God! The “seven unities”! (CSB)
And although there are many gifts, that is, the gifts of being apostles, prophets, evangelizers, pastors and teachers; all these gifts unite into one service of the one body of Christ!
5. Today in the Eucharist, we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ, especially for his death and resurrection and ascension into heaven; and we ask God to send us the Holy Spirit so that we may do the work of Jesus Christ on earth, especially in proclaiming the Good News as apostles, prophets, evangelizers, pastors, and teachers, and so that at the end of time, we may all ascend into heaven with him in glory! A happy Ascension Day to all of you!
Theme: THE HOLY SPIRIT HELPS US TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS JESUS LOVED US
- 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, Liturgical Year B. We are still in the Easter Season of 50 days! The Easter Season began on Easter Sunday and it will end on Pentecost Sunday. Today is the 6th Sunday of Easter, next Sunday we will celebrate “THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD” into heaven! The Sunday following that we will celebrate “PENTECOST SUNDAY”!
Again, the Gospel of John which we read on every Octave Day of Easter tells us that the Risen Lord gave the Holy Spirit to his disciples on the very day of his resurrection and sent them out to proclaim the good news so that those who believe and are baptized will have their sins forgiven!
The second reading today tells us to love one another because God is love. And the love of God is that he sent his Son Jesus Christ to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away! It is in the sacrifice of Jesus, that is, his death and resurrection, that the Holy Spirit is given to us! The Holy Spirit forgives our sins and the Holy Spirit helps us to love!
The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ commands us to love one another as he has loved us! That is, to lay down our lives for our friends! The gospel ends by repeating the command of Jesus to love one another: “What I command you is to love one another”.
The gospel also tells us that Jesus gave us the commandment to love one another as he has loved us, so that his joy may be in us and our joy be complete, that is, the joy of heaven on earth!
The first reading tells us that the Holy Spirit was poured out, not only on the Jews, nor only on the Christians, but also on the pagans! It is the Holy Spirit that helps Jews, Christians and pagans to love one another as Jesus loved us!
That is why we have to proclaim the good news, so that all may believe and receive the Holy Spirit and so that all may love one another as Jesus loved us, that is, to lay down our lives for our friends!
The response of the Responsorial Psalm tells us that, “The Lord has shown his salvation to the nations”. Indeed the Lord has shown his salvation to the nations! The Responsorial Psalm has four verses. Verses one to three calls Israel to praise God for her salvation! Verse four calls all the nations of the earth which have seen the salvation of Israel to praise and worship the God of Israel! Thus verse four of the Responsorial Psalm: “Shout to the Lord all the earth, ring out your joy.”!
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 to love one another as Jesus loved us, and the Holy Spirit will help us proclaim the good news, so that all may believe and receive the Holy Spirit and love one another as Jesus loved us, that is, to lay down their lives for their friends! And so that all the nations may praise and worship God! A happy Easter Season to all of you! Amen!
Theme: IN THE HOLY SPIRIT WE LIVE IN GOD AND GOD LIVES IN US AND WE BEAR FRUIT IN PLENTY.
- Acts 9:26-31;
- Psalm 21 (22):26-28. 30-32. R/ v. 26;
- 1 John 3:18-24;
- John 15:1-8.
Today is the 5th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical Year B. We are still in the Easter Season of 50 days! The Easter Season began on Easter Sunday and it will end on Pentecost Sunday, a period of 50 days!
The Gospel of John which we read on the Octave Day of Easter tells us that the Risen Lord gave the Holy Spirit to the disciples on the very day of his resurrection and sent them out to proclaim the good news so that those who believe and are baptized will have their sins forgiven!
Today the second reading tells us that it is in the Holy Spirit that we live in God and God lives in us and that we believe and love his Son Jesus Christ and that we love one another!
The gospel today tells us that if we remain in Jesus and Jesus remains in us we will bear fruit in plenty! But cut off from Jesus we will bear no fruit. Not only will we bear no fruit, but we will die! The gospel today tells us that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. If we remain in Jesus we will bear fruit, but cut off from Jesus we will die!
The first reading tells that the Risen Lord is alive and active in the early Church in the Apostle Paul in the Holy Spirit! The first reading tells us that Paul a persecutor of Christians became a persecuted Christian! The first reading tells us that Paul preached the good news even in the face of persecution and death!
The Responsorial Psalm tells us to praise God, because the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world are all the work of God! Thus the response of the Responsorial Psalm:
“You, Lord, are my praise in the great assembly.”
The Responsorial Psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells the community to praise God! The second stanza tells the nations of the world to praise God! The third stanza tells the future generations to praise God!
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 live in God and God in us and the Holy Spirit will help us believe and love Jesus Christ and love one another!
The Holy Spirit will help us remain in Jesus and Jesus remain in us, so that we will bear fruit in plenty, especially the fruits of love, peace and joy! The Holy Spirit will help us proclaim the Good News even in the face of persecution and death! And the Holy Spirit will help us praise and worship God and serve him!
A happy Easter Season to all of you! Amen!
Theme: THE GOOD SHEPHERD LOVES AND LAYS DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS SHEEP IN OBEDIENCE TO THE COMMAND OF THE FATHER
- Psalm 117 (118):1. 8-9. 21-23. 26. 28-29. R/ v. 22;
- 1 John 3:1-2
- John 10:11-18
1. Today is the 4th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical Year B. Today we also celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday and Vocation Sunday. The themes of “Good Shepherd” and “Vocation” are related. The word “vocation” comes from the Latin word “vocare” meaning “to call”, particularly the call to the priesthood and religious life! The image of the Good Shepherd is the image of the good priest or good religious!
The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd! The gospel tells us that the Good Shepherd has four characteristics (Jn 10:14-18; CE):
(i) The Good Shepherd knows and loves God his Father and is known and loved by God his Father. (In biblical language, ‘knowledge’ is love. NJBg)
(ii) The Good Shepherd knows and loves his sheep and is known and loved by his sheep.
(iii) The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep in obedience to the command of God his Father.
(iv) The Good Shepherd unites his sheep into one flock.
2. The good priest or religious also has theses four characteristics:
(i) A good priest or religious knows and loves God the Father and is known and loved by God the Father. That is, a good priest or religious must be a man or woman of prayer, of the word of God, of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. (Pope’s Message)
(ii) A good priest or religious knows and loves the people of God and is known and loved by the people of God! That is why we have BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities) to share and pray on the word of God in a personal and spiritual way, so that we will know God, love him, serve him and be happy with him; and so that we will know one another, love one another, serve one another and be happy with one another!
(iii) A good priest or religious is one who lays down his or her life for the people of God in obedience to the command of God. A good priest or religious does not only love and serve God and the people of God, but he or she also suffers and sacrifices for God and the people of God, in order to sanctify and save the world! The word “sacrifice”, radically means “to make holy”, that is, to sanctify and save! (CE)
(iv) A good priest or religious unites the people of God. He or she unites the different communities in the Church and he or she unites the different peoples of the world! Thus the Church becomes a community of communities of love and unity and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the world!
3. Today is Vocation Sunday and our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has a special message for us. In his message, our Pope also said that vocation to the priesthood or religious life basically means to love and serve God, and to love and serve the people of God! But more importantly, our Pope also said that vocation comes from the love of God. Thus the theme of his message: “Vocations, the Gift of the love of God”! Our love and service of God and the people of God are only a response to the love and call of God which is a free gift of God’s initiative! That is why we have to pray for vocations!
4. Today in our Diocese of Sandakan we have one bishop, seven priests (two in Tawau, two in Lahad Datu, two in Sandakan, and one in Telupid), eleven seminarians and aspirants (six in Kuching, two in “Initiation Year” in Kota Kinabalu, and three in “English Year” in Kota Kinabalu). We have another two seminarians, one for the Franciscan priesthood and one for the Carmelite priesthood. Both of them are from Tawau! Let us pray for our Bishop, our priests and our seminarians and let us pray for more vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Pray especially for the two priests in our parish that they may be good priests. Today the first and second collections will be given to our Bishop for the seminary and seminarians, that is, our future priests! Thank you and God bless you.
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Thank you. God bless.