5th Sunday of Lent (Year B) – 18th March 2018

Theme: JESUS IS THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE; WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NEVER DIE

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

Today is the 5th Sunday of Lent, Liturgical Year B, but again, we are using the readings of Year A, because there will be Baptisms on Easter Vigil Night! Two Sundays ago, the readings told us about the “waters” of Baptism. Last Sunday the readings told us about the “Light” of Baptism. This Sunday the readings tell us about the “life” of Baptism!

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 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 will live, and whoever lives and continues to believe in him will never die in his sins!

More importantly, the gospel tells us that Martha believed in Jesus. Martha believed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world!

Most importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, though Lazarus was dead for four days and smelled!

Like Martha we too believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world. That is, Jesus is Savior, he is God and he is God become man! And we profess this faith on Easter Vigil Night by answering “I do” to the fifth of the six questions of faith; and like Lazarus, we will be raised from the dead by Jesus in the sacrament of Baptism!

But unlike the raising of Lazarus which was a resuscitation and a sign of the resurrection, Jesus will raise us from the dead through his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! It is the Holy Spirit of Jesus that raises us from the dead!

Thus the first reading tells us that the Lord will open our graves and raise us from our graves, and the Lord will put his spirit in us and we will live!

Thus the second reading tells us that if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in us, then he who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to our mortal bodies through his Spirit living in us!

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation!

Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

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

The responsorial psalm is a prayer for forgiveness and a prayer of trust in God. The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas are a prayer for forgiveness from God. The third and fourth stanzas are a prayer of trust in God. Thus again, 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)

Again, 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 grow in faith, so that we may profess our faith on Easter Vigil Night, and so that the Lord may raise us from the dead in the sacrament of Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! A blessed Lent to all of you! Amen!

4th Sunday of Lent (Year B) – 11th March 2018

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 (NJB; 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 B) – 4th March 2018

Theme: IN BAPTISM JESUS GIVES US THE LIVING WATER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT TO FORGIVE US OUR SINS AND TO GIVE US NEW LIFE

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

Today is the 3rd Sunday of Lent, Liturgical Year B, but we are using the readings of Year A, because there will be Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter. Lent is a time when we prepare for the Baptism of our catechumens on Easter Vigil Night and the renewal of our own Baptism on Easter Vigil Night!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus will give us living water so that we will not be thirsty again, because the living water will turn into a spring inside us welling up to eternal life! In Baptism Jesus will give us the living water of the Holy Spirit to forgive us our sins and to give us new and eternal life!

The gospel also tells us that Jesus gave this living water to the Samaritan woman who had five husbands! During the time of Jesus, a woman did not have the same rights as a man; a Samaritan being a half-Jew was despised by the Jews; and a sinner with five husbands was condemned by the Law! But Jesus gave her the living water of the Holy Spirit to forgive her sins and to give her new life, so that she will not sin anymore!

Finally, the gospel tells us that the faith of the Samaritan woman grew! At first she saw Jesus to be a man, and then a prophet, then the Messiah; then she became the first missionary of Jesus to bring other Samaritans to believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world! After Baptism our faith has also to grow! That is why we renew our faith and Baptism every year on Easter Vigil Night!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the people of Israel lost faith in God. They complained against Moses for bringing them out of Egypt to die of thirst in the desert! They, their children and their cattle will die of thirst in the desert! They “quarreled” with God (Meribah) and they “tested” God (Massah) saying: “Is the Lord with us, or not?” (SM)

But more importantly, the first reading tells us that God gave them water in the desert! God gave them water in the dry and dead desert by asking Moses to strike the rock with his staff! Again, water in the dry and dead desert symbolizes the Holy Spirit who gives us life even from sin and death!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the third stanza of the responsorial psalm from which the response is taken:

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

We are not to “quarrel” with God (Meribah), we are not to “test” God (Massah); but we are to trust God and God will give us water and life, even in the dry and dead desert!

Again, water in the desert symbolizes the living water of the Holy Spirit inside us welling up to eternal life!

The first and second stanzas of the responsorial psalm tell us to praise and worship God our Shepherd! (CSB)

The second reading also follows the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us that it is in faith that we receive the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of God’s love! What proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners! It is this love of God that forgives us our sins and gives us new life!

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 grow in faith to prepare us for Baptism on Easter Vigil Night, and to prepare us to renew our Baptism on Easter Vigil Night, so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! Again, a blessed Lent to all of you!  Amen!

2nd Sunday of Lent (Year B) – 25th February 2018

Theme: THE CROSS OF JESUS CHRIST IS GLORIOUS: IT IS RESURRECTION AND LIFE

  • Genesis 12:1-4;
  • Psalm 32 (33):4-5. 18-20. 22. R/ v. 22;
  • 2 Timothy 1:8-10
  • Matthew 17:1-9

Today is the 2nd Sunday of Lent, Liturgical Year B, but we are using the readings of Year A, because there will be Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! Lent is a time when we prepare for Easter. Lent is a time when we prepare for the Baptism of our catechumens on Easter Vigil Night and the renewal of our own Baptism on Easter Vigil Night!

The gospel today tells us that the cross of Jesus Christ is glorious! The cross of Jesus Christ is resurrection and life! That is why today’s gospel is found immediately after Jesus predicted his passion, death and resurrection, and after he instructed his disciples to take up their crosses to follow him in order to find life!

The gospel today tells us about the transfiguration of the Lord. His face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as light! The transfiguration was not the resurrection. It was only the preview, the foreshadow and the prefigure of the resurrection. The transfiguration was to strengthen the faith of the disciples for the coming suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ!

The gospel also tells us that a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favor. Listen to him”. That is, Jesus is the Son of God and the Suffering Servant of God (“he enjoys my favor”, Is 42:1), listen to him, especially when he tells you about his suffering, death and resurrection!

Finally, the gospel also tells us that Jesus ordered his disciples not to tell anyone about the transfiguration for fear that the people may mistake him to be a political, nationalistic, and military messiah, or a wonder-worker and miracle-worker messiah! Jesus is much more than all that! Jesus is the suffering messiah, the crucified Christ, the suffering and crucified Savior!

Again, the gospel today tells us that the cross of Jesus Christ is glorious! The cross of Jesus Christ is resurrection and life!

In the first reading the Lord tells Abraham to leave his country, his family and his father’s house and to go to a land that the Lord will show him. And the Lord will make him into a great nation, that is, the Lord will give him many descendents and make his descendents into a great nation! And the Lord will bless him and through him, the Lord will bless all the nations! And Abraham went as the Lord told him.

During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms; to help us leave our sins, our world, and ourselves and to go to a land that the Lord will show us. And the Lord will bless us and through us, the Lord will bless all the nations! And like Abraham, we will go as the Lord tells us!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us to put all our hope in God and in his love! Not half our hope, but all our hope; not in man, but in God; and not in his law, but in his love! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.” (Ps 32 (33): 22; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza (vv. 4-5) tells us that the Lord created us out of love. The second stanza (vv. 18-19) tells us that the Lord saved us out of love. And the third stanza (vv. 20. 22) from which the response is taken tells us that we are to put all our hope in God and in his love! The word “love” appears in all the three stanzas, and in the response! 

In the second reading, Saint Paul tells Timothy to suffer for the preaching of the Good News, because Jesus Christ has destroyed death and has proclaimed life and immortality through the Good News! Thus we read in the second reading:

“With me, bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News, …. He (Christ Jesus) abolished death, and he has proclaimed life and immortality through the Good News.” (2 Tm 1:8. 10; SM)

During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms; to help us carry our crosses to follow Jesus, that is, to help us to die to our sins, our world, ourselves and to live for God and for neighbor! The Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms, to help us prepare for Easter. And to help us to prepare for the Baptism of our catechumens on Eater Vigil Night and the renewal of our own Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! A blessed Lent to all of you! Amen!

1st Sunday of Lent (Year A) – 18th February 2018

Theme: LENT IS A TIME WHEN WE PREPARE TO DIE AND RISE WITH JESUS CHRIST TO THE NEW LIFE OF EASTER

  • Genesis 2:7-9. 3:1-7;
  • Psalm 50 (51): 3-6. 12-14. 17. R/ v. 3;
  • Romans 5:12. 17-19
  • Matthew 4:1-11

Today is the first Sunday of Lent. Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ at Easter. Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter in the sacrament of Baptism and in the renewal of our Baptism at Easter.

Lent is therefore a time of penance, repentance and conversion. Conversion is turning away from sin, from oneself, and from the world; and turning to God, to the God of love, mercy and forgiveness, to the God of Jesus Christ who died and rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Baptism. Lent is therefore a time when we prepare to die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter in the sacrament of Baptism and in the renewal of our Baptism at Easter! The readings today tell us to repent and to convert! The word “convert” comes from a Latin word convertere meaning “to turn around”!

The first reading tells us that Adam and Eve turned away from God and turned to themselves. They wanted to be like gods. They did not want to depend on God; they wanted to depend on themselves. They wanted to decide for themselves what is good and what is evil. As a result sin and death entered the world!

More importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus Christ the second Adam, the new Adam, turned back to God! Thus the three replies of Jesus to the three temptations of the devil:

To the temptation of changing stones into bread, Jesus replied: “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Mt 4:4/Dt 8:3)

To the temptation of throwing himself down from the top of the temple, Jesus replied: “You must not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Mt 4:7/Dt 6:16)

To the temptation of worshiping the devil for all the kingdoms of the world, Jesus replied: “Be off, Satan! For scripture says: You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone.” (Mt 4:10/Dt 6:13)

Most importantly, the second reading tells us that just as Adam brought sin and death into the world; Jesus Christ the second Adam, the new Adam brought grace, justification/salvation and life into the world! Thus we read in the second reading:

“For if, by the transgression of one person, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one person Jesus Christ.” (Rm 5:17/CSB)

It is through the grace of Jesus Christ that we repent, convert, and turn back to God this Lent!

Thus we can make the responsorial psalm our own “Prayer of Repentance”! (CSB) The “historical heading” (NJBC) of the responsorial psalm associates it with David when the prophet Nathan came to him after he committed the sin of adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband.

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas are a prayer for the forgiveness of our sins. The third and fourth stanzas ask God to give us his holy spirit to give us new life so that we will not sin anymore! (CSB/NJBC) Thus the responsorial psalm:

“Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. In your compassion blot out my offence. O wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. (Stanza 1)

My offences truly I know them; my sin is always before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned; what is evil in your sight I have done. (Stanza 2)

A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, nor deprive me of your holy spirit. (Stanza 3)

Give me again the joy of your help; with a spirit of fervor sustain me. O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall declare your praise.” (Stanza 4)

During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to do penance, to pray, to fast and to give alms. Penance is not a punishment. Penance helps us to repent and to convert. Prayer includes Lectio Divina (spiritual reading of the Bible), attending Sunday Mass, going to confession, etc. Fasting, that is, eating one full meal a day, is obligatory on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday for those over 18 years old and under 60 years old. Abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory for those over 14 years old. However we can voluntarily fast every Friday of Lent. Our religion is not a religion of the law, but a religion of love, a religion of the Spirit, a religion of freedom! Almsgiving is to help the poor and to help ourselves to trust in providence. God provides! Thus the religious take the vow of poverty! They depend on God! They do not depend on money!

Pope Benedict XVI has a Lenten Message for us! He emphasizes on fasting. He tells us that fasting helps us to avoid sin, to restore friendship with God, to do the will of God, to love God and neighbor, and to help the poor.

The Consequences of Not Fasting: cannot avoid sin, cannot restore friendship with God, cannot do God’s will, cannot love God and neighbor, and cannot help the poor.

Bishop Julius also has a Lenten Message for us! He tells us that Lent is a time of repentance, reconciliation and conversion. Lent is a time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving to prepare for the celebration of Easter. He emphasizes that Lent is a time to help the poor. He also tells us that Lent is a time when our catechumens prepare for their Baptism at Easter.

A Happy Lent to all of you!                                                                       Amen!

Ash Wednesday (Year A, B, C) – 14th February 2018

Theme: REPENT, AND BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL

  • Joel 2:12-18;
  • Psalm 50 (51):3-6.12-14. 17. R/ v. 3;
  • 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2
  • Matthew 6:1-6. 16-18

Today we celebrate Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lenten season of forty days. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, because the Sundays of Lent are not days of penance!

Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter! Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the baptism of our Catechumens and the renewal of our own baptism on Easter Vigil Night!

Lent is therefore a time of penance, repentance and conversion! The word conversion comes from a Latin word meaning an about turn, a U turn, a 180 degree turn! A turning away from sin, from the world, from oneself and a turning to God and neighbor!

The gospel today tells us to pray, to fast, and to give alms to the poor, not for show, as the hypocrites do, but for penance, repentance, and conversion!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us to repent. More importantly, the first reading tells us to repent because God is merciful. He will forgive us our sins!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm asks God to forgive our sins. More importantly, the responsorial psalm asks God to give us a new heart so that we will not sin anymore!

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas (vv. 3-6) ask God to forgive us our sins. The third and fourth stanzas (vv. 12-14. 17) ask God to give us a new heart so that we will not sin anymore!

The second reading follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading tells us to be reconciled to God, because God has already reconciled us to himself in Jesus Christ! And the time for reconciliation is now! The favorable time is now! The time for salvation is now!

During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms to the poor to help us do penance, repent and convert. The word Convert means to turn.

Prayer helps us to turn to God. Fasting helps us to turn away from ourselves and to turn to God, because fasting helps us in our prayers! Fasting also helps us to turn to our neighbor, because the money saved from fasting is given to the poor! Almsgiving to the poor and the needy helps us to turn away from the world and to turn to our neighbor.

Prayer, fasting and almsgiving help us to turn away from sin, from the world, from oneself, and to turn to God and neighbor!

Prayer, fasting and almsgiving help us to prepare for the celebration of Easter, particularly for the baptism of our catechumens on Easter Vigil Night, and the renewal of our own baptism on Easter Vigil Night!

We shall now proceed to bless and distribute the ashes! The ashes are a sign of our penance and repentance! As the priest distributes the ashes he says, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” (cf. Mk 1:15) In the old Missal the priest says, “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel.”

Repentance is not only turning away from sin, but it is also turning away from the world and from oneself. Believing in the gospel is not only being faithful to the gospel, but having faith in the gospel! Having faith in Jesus Christ and having faith in God!

The second formula is “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (cf. Gn 3:19) This was what God said to Adam when he sinned against God!

Without God we are indeed dust and death, but with God we are spirit and life and eternal life! That is why we have to “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”!

We shall now proceed with the blessing and distribution of the ashes! A happy Lent to all of you!

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 11th February 2018

Theme: THE LORD HEALS US OF OUR PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL LEPROSY

  • Leviticus 13:1-2. 44-46;
  • Psalm 31 (32): 1-2. 5. 11. R/ v. 7;
  • 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1
  • Mark 1:40-45

Today is the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. The readings today tell us that the Lord heals us of our physical and spiritual leprosy.

The gospel today tells us that Jesus healed a leper. Leprosy in the Bible includes many forms of skin diseases.

I once visited a leper hospital and I saw patients without noses, lips, toes, fingers, and even without a foot. I was assured by the doctor that they were not contagious as they were under treatment and medication.

But after shaking their hands I did not dare to touch my face or nose or any part of my body for fear that I may be infected. When I reached home I washed my hands many times over with soap.

Today there is a cure for physical leprosy, but today there is no cure for spiritual leprosy, that is, our sins. Only Jesus Christ can heal us of our spiritual leprosy by his death, resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

That is why after curing the leper, Jesus warned him sternly not to tell anyone about it, for fear that the people make mistake him to be a wonder-worker or a miracle-worker Messiah.

Jesus Christ is a suffering Messiah, a crucified Messiah! This “Messianic Secret” of the gospel of St. Mark will only be revealed after Jesus’ death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! (NJB; CCB; Fuller) That is why the symbol of Christianity is the crucifix, the crucified Christ, not the empty cross!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the leper is to be excluded from the community, especially from the worshipping community, because he is not only physically unclean, but he is also ritually unclean!

The Law of Moses cannot heal one of physical leprosy and spiritual leprosy. The Law of Moses can only exclude the leper from the community, especially the worshipping community. Only the love of Jesus Christ can heal one of physical leprosy and spiritual leprosy and include one in the community, especially the worshipping community!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Leprosy is a symbol of sin! The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving for the forgiveness of sins. (HCSB) It is a penitential psalm. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.” (Ps 31 (32): 7; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza (vv. 1-2) tells us that the forgiven sinner is blessed. The second stanza (v. 5) tells us that the sinner confesses his sins to God and God forgives his sins. And the third stanza (v. 11) tells us that the just and upright man is full of joy! (CSB; NJBC)

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us not to cause scandal, that is, not to cause other people to fall into sin! We may be doing the right thing, we may not be doing the wrong thing, but if what we do causes scandal, we are not to do it. Whatever we do, must be done for the glory of God and for the good of others!

In the second reading today, St. Paul tells the Corinthians not to eat food and not to drink drinks offered to idols, not because it is wrong, but because it will scandalize the weak! (IBC; CCB)

In our own day, the Chinese New Year Mass which we will celebrate next week may be a cause of scandal for some people. In 2012, a Catholic church in Malaysia, a red ancestral altar was erected, with red candles, big joss sticks, food offering, and with two priests bowing three times in veneration of the ancestral tablet has caused scandal to many people, including Catholics, non-Catholics, non-Christians, etc. It was a scandal of idolatry, that is, worshiping false gods! (Herald, 12.2.12, p. 4)

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 heal us of our physical and spiritual leprosy. The Holy Spirit will help us heal others of their physical and spiritual leprosy. And the Holy Spirit will help us not to cause scandal to other people. A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you!  Amen!