32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 7th November 2021

Theme: DEPEND ON GOD FOR OUR MATERIAL AND SPIRITUAL SUSTENANCE

  • 1 Kings 17:10-16;
  • Psalm 145 (146): 7-10. R/ v. 2;
  • Hebrews 9:24-28
  • Mark 12:38-44

1. Today is the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us to depend on God for our material and spiritual sustenance. The Gospel Acclamation today tells us that the poor in spirit are blessed and the kingdom of God belongs to them!

The poor in spirit are the materially poor, the spiritually poor, and most importantly, they are those who depend in God for their material and spiritual sustenance! Thus the Gospel Acclamation:

“How happy are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:3; SM)

Our religious sisters, brothers and priests take the vow of poverty, not because poverty is good, not even because they want to help the poor, but because they want to depend on God for their material and spiritual sustenance! They believe that God will provide! They believe in providence! They have great faith! Let us renew our faith so that we too may have great faith!

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” (Mt 6:33; CSB)

That is, seek first the kingdom of love, justice and peace and his salvation, and all these other things will be given to you as well! 

2. The gospel today tells us that a widow gave all she had and all she had to live on to the Temple treasury! Indeed she was very very generous! She was more generous than the rich who gave much more. Although she gave only two small coins, she gave all that she had and all that she had to live on! She gave her whole life to the Temple treasury!

But more importantly, she was a widow of great faith. She depended on God for her spiritual and material sustenance! (CSB) She prefigured Jesus Christ who depended on God for his material and spiritual sustenance until his death, resurrection and the salvation of the whole world!   

3. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us of another widow – in a man’s world, widows have no power or money! The first reading tells us that a widow shared her last meal with the prophet Elijah. After that she and her son will die of hunger because there will be nothing left to eat. Indeed the widow was very very generous. She shared all that she had to live on with the prophet Elijah.

But more importantly, she was a widow of great faith. (CCB) She depended on God for her spiritual and material sustenance! And because of her great faith the Lord rewarded her with food and life. She and her son were not to die of hunger. She and her son will have food to eat and will live! Thus the first reading tells us,

“The jar of meal was not spent nor the jug of oil emptied, just as the Lord had foretold through Elijah.” (1 K 17: 16; SM)

4. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us to trust in God and to depend on God, because he is a God who gives justice to the oppressed, gives food to the hungry, sets prisoners free, gives sight to the blind, protects the stranger, helps the widow and the orphan, etc.! (CSB; HCSB) Thus we read in the responsorial psalm:

“It is the Lord who is just to those who are oppressed. It is he who gives bread to the hungry, the Lord, who sets prisoners free. It is the Lord who gives sight to the blind, who raises up those who are bowed down. It is the Lord who loves the just, the Lord, who protects the stranger. The Lord upholds the widow and orphan.” (Ps 145 (146): 7-9; SM)

And thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“My soul, give praise to the Lord.” (Ps 145 (146): 2; SM)    

5. The second reading is a continuation of the second readings of the past few Sundays. Again, the second reading compares the Levitical priesthood of the Jews in the Old Testament with the priesthood of Jesus Christ in the New Testament:

(i) The Levitical priesthood has its sanctuary on earth made by human beings, but the priesthood of Jesus Christ has its sanctuary in heaven where God is!

(ii) The Levitical priest offers sacrifices of blood of animals every year on the Day of Atonement, but Jesus Christ offered himself as a sacrifice once and for all!

(iii) The Levitical priest will not come a second time at the Parousia, but Jesus Christ will come a second time at the Parousia to reward with salvation all who are waiting for him!

6. Again, today in this Mass, in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Church makes present, real and effective, the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our salvation and again today in this Mass, we receive the Holy Spirit to help us to depend on God for our material and spiritual sustenance! A happy and holy Sunday to all of you! Amen!     

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 31st October 2021

  • Deuteronomy 6:2-6;
  • Psalm 17 (18): 2-4. 47. 51. R/ v. 2;
  • Hebrews 7:23-28
  • Mark 12:28-34

Theme: WE LOVE GOD, NEIGHBOR AND ONESELF BECAUSE GOD FIRST LOVED US

1. Today is the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us about the greatest commandment of the Law, that is, we are to love the Lord our God with all our soul, all our heart, all our mind and with all our strength, that is, we are to love the Lord our God with our whole person and being! And we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves! Three things come to mind:

(i) We love because God first loved us! (1 Jn 4:19) We love God because God first loved us. We love our neighbor because God first loved us. And we love ourselves because God first loved us. Our love for God, neighbor and oneself is only a response to God’s first love for us!

(ii) We cannot love God if we do not also love our neighbor!

“Anyone who says ‘I love God’ and hates his brother, is a liar, since whoever does not love the brother whom he can see cannot love God whom he has not seen. Indeed this is the commandment we have received from him, that whoever loves God, must also love his brother.” (1 Jn 4: 20-21; NJB) 

But more importantly, we cannot love our brother if we do not first love God, because love comes from God!

“Love consists in this: it is not we who loved God, but God loved us and sent his Son to expiate our sins. My dear friends, if God loved us so much, we too should love each other.” (1 Jn 4:10-11; NJB)    

R. H. Fuller (Preaching the Lectionary, 1984) tells us that Jesus joined the first and second commandments in a radical sense:

“Love of God is illusory if it does not issue in love of neighbor, and love of neighbor is refined self-love if it does not proceed from the love of God.”

     (iii) In the year 2007, 138 Muslim scholars, clerics and intellectuals, etc. from all over the world, including 2 from Malaysia wrote a letter to Pope Benedict XVI to dialogue on these two greatest commandments to love God and neighbor! Our Pope accepted the invitation to dialogue, emphasizing that one cannot love God if one does not also love one’s neighbor!

The letter was entitled “A Common Word Between Us and You”! (13th October 2007) The common word is love, that is, love of God and love of neighbor! When two of the greatest religions of the world, that is, Christianity and Islam, come together to dialogue on the two greatest commandments of God, there is hope for love and peace in the world! The dialogue is still going on!   

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us about the greatest commandment of the Law, that is,

“The Lord our God is the one Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength.” (Dt 6:4-5; Sunday Missal (SM))

The first reading also tells us that if we keep the commandments of God, especially the commandment to love God, we will be blessed with long life; long life for ourselves, for our children and for our grand children. We will also be blessed with prosperity and fertility so that we will increase and multiply and have many children and grand children! We will also be blessed with a land flowing with milk and honey, that is, a land of grace and a land of abundance!

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

“I love you, Lord, my strength, my rock, my fortress, my saviour.” (Ps 17 (18): 2-3; SM)  

Indeed, the Lord saved us (NJBC) by loving us in his Son Jesus Christ! Thus verses 4. 47 and 51 of the responsorial psalm:

“The Lord is worthy of all praise: when I call I am saved from my foes. Long life to the Lord, my rock! Praised be the God who saves me. He has given great victories to his king and shown his love for his anointed.” (Ps 17 (18): 4. 47. 51; SM)

And thus the response:

“I love you, Lord, my strength.” (Ps 17 (18): 2; SM)

4. The second reading tells us about the differences between the Levitical Priesthood and the Priesthood of Jesus Christ:

(i) The Levitical Priesthood is temporary and transitory, but the Priesthood of Jesus Christ is eternal and permanent.

(ii) The Levitical priest is himself a sinner, but Jesus Christ is sinless.

(iii) The Levitical priest offers sacrifices every year and according to the letter to the Hebrews, everyday, but Jesus Christ offered himself once and for all!

(iv) The Levitical priest cannot save, but Jesus Christ is the only Savior of the world!

5. Today in the Eucharist, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we make present, real and effective the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our salvation and today in the Eucharist we receive the Holy Spirit to help us love God with all our soul, our heart, our mind and our strength, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves! A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you!                        Amen!

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 24th October 2021

Theme: JESUS HEALS US OF OUR SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS SO THAT WE CAN SEE WITH THE EYES OF FAITH AND FOLLOW HIM TO JERUSALEM TO SUFFER, TO DIE AND TO RISE FROM THE DEAD

  • Jeremiah 31:7-9;
  • Psalm 125 (126): R/ v. 3;
  • Hebrews 5:1-6
  • Mark 10:46-52

1. Today is the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that Jesus heals us of our spiritual blindness so that we can see with the eyes of faith and follow him to Jerusalem to suffer, to die and to rise from the dead!

    The gospel today is a continuation of the gospel of last Sunday (Mk 10:35-45). The gospel last Sunday tells us that even after the third prophesy of his passion, death and resurrection, the disciples still did not understand. In fact, James and John requested to be seated at the right and left hand of Jesus in his glory. Jesus then told them that they have to drink the cup of suffering that Jesus was to drink and that they have to be baptized by the baptism of death that Jesus was to be baptized.

    The gospel last Sunday also tells us that the other ten disciples were indignant with James and John; presumably, they also wanted to sit at the right and left hand of Jesus in his glory. Jesus then taught them that to be great one must be servant, and to be first one must be slave of all. For Jesus himself came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many!

    The gospel today tells us that the disciples were spiritually blind though they were not physically blind. More importantly, the gospel today tells us that Bartimaeus the blind man was physically blind, but not spiritually blind. Bartimaeus had faith in Jesus and Jesus heals him of his physical blindness and he follows Jesus to Jerusalem to suffer, die and rise from the dead with Jesus! (NJBC) The gospel today continues in chapter eleven where Jesus enters Jerusalem to suffer, die and rise from the dead!        

    We started the Neo-Catechumenate Community in our parish to help us grow in faith so that we may follow Jesus in his passion, death and resurrection. The Catechumenate (RCIA) gives us faith so that we may be baptized, but the Neo-Catechumenate – neo means new – helps us to continue to grow in faith.

    We also started the BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities) to help us grow in faith so that we may follow Jesus in his passion, death and resurrection. In the BECs we share and pray on the word of God (Sunday Mass readings) so that we grow in faith. Faith comes from the word of God (Rm 10:17)!      

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the blind and the lame of the Northern Kingdom of Israel will return from exile from Assyria and they will be full of joy! Thus we read in the first reading:

    “The Lord says this: Shout with joy for Jacob! Hail the chief of nations! Proclaim! Praise! Shout! ‘The Lord has saved his people, the remnant of Israel!’ See, I will bring them back from the land of the North and gather them from the far ends of the earth; all of them: the blind and the lame, women with child, women in labor: a great company returning here. They had left in tears, I will comfort them as I lead them back; I will guide them to streams of water, by a smooth path where they will not stumble. For I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my first-born son.” (Jr 31:7-9)    

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us of the return from exile of the Southern Kingdom of Judah from Babylon. Again, the returnees are full of joy! Thus the first and second stanzas of the responsorial psalm:

    “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, then we thought we were dreaming. Our mouths were filled with laughter; our tongues sang for joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’ The Lord had done great things for us; Oh, how happy we were!” (Ps 125 (126): 1-3/CSB)  

    And thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “What marvels the Lord worked for us! Indeed we were glad.” (Ps 125 (126):3/SM)

4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us that Jesus was called by God to be the high priest. The second reading tells us that the high priesthood of Jesus is not that of the hereditary priesthood of the Jews, the Levitical priesthood, the priesthood of Aaron; but the priesthood of Jesus is that of the priesthood of Melchizedek. Melchizedek has no beginning and no end, no father and no mother. He is like the Son of God! He is a priest for ever. (Heb 7:1-3)

    The second reading tells us of “Jesus the compassionate high priest”. (Heb 5:1-10/NJB) The word com-passionate means to feel and to suffer with. Jesus does not only love us, but he also feels and suffers with us. He sympathizes with us, that is, he feels and suffers with us. He empathizes with us, that is, he feels and suffers in us.

    Let us pray that our present and future priests be compassionate priests like Jesus Christ. Let us also pray that all of us who are baptized and who share in the common priesthood of Jesus Christ be compassionate “priests” like Jesus Christ.   

5. 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 heal us of our spiritual blindness so that we may see with the eyes of faith and follow Jesus to Jerusalem to suffer, die and rise from the dead with him. The Holy Spirit will fill us with the joy of the returning exiles from Assyria and Babylon. The Holy Spirit will help all of us to be compassionate priests, both in the ministerial priesthood and in the common priesthood.

Amen!

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 17th October 2021

Theme: JESUS CAME TO SERVE, TO SUFFER, AND TO SACRIFICE, IN ORDER TO SANCTIFY AND SAVE THE WORLD

  • Isaiah 53:10-11;
  • Psalm 32 (33):4-5. 18-20. 22. R/ v. 22;
  • Hebrew 4:14-16
  • Mark 10:35-45 (Shorter Form, verses 42-45)

1. Today is the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that Jesus came to serve, to suffer, and to sacrifice, in order to sanctify and save the world!

    The gospel today tells us that even after the third prophesy of Jesus’ passion death and resurrection (Mk 10:32-34), the disciples still did not understand. In fact James and John, the inner disciples of Jesus, requested Jesus to give them seats at his right hand and left hand in his glory! Jesus told them that they had to drink the cup of suffering that Jesus was to drink, and they had to be baptized with the baptism of death that Jesus was to be baptized, but as for the seats at his right hand and left hand, it was not for Jesus to give, but it was for God the Father to give! (Mt 20:23)

    The gospel also tells us that the other ten disciples were indignant with James and John, presumably, because they too wanted to be at Jesus’ right and left hand in his glory. Jesus then taught them that anyone who wants to be great must be a servant (diakonos), and anyone who wants to be first must be a slave (doulos – an even humbler word than diakonos/NJBC) to all. For Jesus himself came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life for the ransom of many!

    The gospel today is the climax of Mark’s central section (8:22-10:45). Mark wants to tell us that Jesus Christ is not only a “divine man” or miracle worker, but He is the Son of man to be crucified for the salvation of the world! (Fuller)

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading is from the fourth of four suffering servant songs of Isaiah! The first reading tells us that the suffering servant of God was to suffer and die for the sins of the world and that God will save him and through him God will save the whole world! Thus we read in the first reading:

    “The Lord has been pleased to crush his servant with suffering. If he offers his life in atonement, he shall see his heirs, he shall have a long life and through him what the Lord wishes will be done. His soul’s anguish over he shall see the light and be content. By his sufferings shall my servant justify many, taking their faults on himself.” (Is 53:10-11)             

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us of the steadfast love of God, that is, the faithful love of God (IBC). Although we do not love him, he still loves us in Jesus Christ, and although we are not faithful to him, He is still faithful to us in Jesus Christ!

   The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us that the Lord fills the earth with his love, not only in salvation, but also in creation! The second stanza tells us to hope in God’s love. And the third stanza is a prayer for God’s 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)    

4. Incidentally, the second reading tells us of Jesus, the merciful high priest! (NJBC/HCSB) The second reading tells us to have faith in God’s mercy and grace! The second reading tells us to have confidence to approach the throne of grace so that we may obtain mercy and find grace when we need help!

    The mercy of God forgives our sins and the grace of God helps us to overcome sins! We are saved in two ways, that is, by the forgiveness of our sins and by being preserved from sin by the grace of God. Mary was saved in the second way! Mary was without sin!

The Sacrament of Reconciliation/Penance (“Confession”) forgives our sins and gives us the grace to live a new life!

5. 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 serve, suffer and sacrifice in order to sanctify and save the world! The Holy Spirit will help us hope in God’s love. And the Holy Spirit will help us to have faith in God’s mercy and grace.

Amen!      

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 10th October 2021

Theme: ATTACHMENT TO WEALTH IS AN OBSTACLE TO CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIP

  • Wisdom 7:7-11;
  • Psalm 89 (90): 12-17. R/ v. 14;
  • Hebrews 4:12-13
  • Mark 10:17-30

1. Today is the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The gospel today tells us that attachment to wealth is an obstacle to Christian discipleship. (Fuller; Faley)

The gospel today tells us that a rich man came to Jesus to look for eternal life. He was a good man because he kept all the commandments of God. He did not kill, he did not commit adultery, he did not steal, etc. But Jesus asked him to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor and follow Jesus. The man went away sad because he had great wealth. He did not follow Jesus and become Jesus’ disciple. He was attached to his wealth. The gospel today tells us to be detached from our wealth and to share our wealth with the poor and the needy and to follow Jesus and become His disciple.

The gospel also tells us that it is very hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. In fact it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God! Again, attachment to wealth is an obstacle to enter the kingdom of God. Again, detach from your wealth, share your wealth with the poor, and enter the kingdom of God! For salvation is “impossible” for men and money, salvation is “possible” only for God!

Finally, the gospel tells us that those who have detached themselves from their wealth and family and followed Jesus will be rewarded a hundred times over with houses, land, mothers, sisters, brothers, children, etc. now in this life and also eternal life in the world to come! That is, they will be rewarded with a Christian community of brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, and children, who will share with them their houses and lands and possessions! And they will also be rewarded with eternal life in heaven! 

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us to pray for wisdom and not to pray for wealth, power, health or beauty. When we have wisdom we will know the will of God and all the other things will be given to us as well! Thus we read in the first reading:

“In her company all good things came to me, at her hands riches not to be numbered.” (Ws 7:11; SM)

Solomon did not pray for wealth, power or long life, but Solomon prayed for wisdom and God gave Solomon wisdom as well as wealth, fame and long life! (1 K 3:5-15)

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us to pray for wisdom. (NJBC; CCB) Thus the first verse of the first stanza:

“Make us know the shortness of our life that we may gain wisdom of heart.” (Ps 89 (90): 12; SM)

The responsorial psalm also asks us to pray for love and joy. Thus the second stanza:

“In the morning, fill us with your love; we shall exult and rejoice all our days. Give us joy to balance our affliction for the years when we knew misfortune.” (Ps 89 (90): 14-15; SM) 

Thus the response of the responsorial psalm which is taken from the second stanza:

“Fill us with your love that we may rejoice.” (Ps 89 (90): 14; SM)

4. The second reading is a warning; a warning that the word of God is both judgment and salvation. (CSB) The word of God is judgment for those who do not persevere in the faith and salvation for those who persevere in the faith. It is not enough to have faith. We have to persevere in the faith, especially in times of trials, so that the word of God becomes salvation for us!     

5. Today in this Mass we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ, who suffered died and rose from the dead to give us the Holy Spirit; and we ask God our Father through his Son Jesus Christ to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we may be detached from our wealth, share our wealth with the poor and needy, and follow Jesus and become his disciples. And so that we will have the wisdom to know God’s will. We also ask God to help us persevere in the faith, especially in times of great trials. A happy and joyful Sunday to all of you!

Amen!