THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD (A, B, C) – 5th Jan 2020

Theme: THE REVELATION OF THE LORD AS KING, GOD, AND SUFFERING SAVIOUR TO ALL THE NATIONS 

  • Isaiah 60:1-6;
  • Psalm 71 (72): 1-2. 7-8. 10-13. R/ cf. v. 11;
  • Ephesians 3:2-3. 5-6
  • Matthew 2:1-12

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, that is, the revelation of the Lord to all the nations! The Gospel today tells us that the Jews in the person of King Herod rejected Jesus, but the Gentiles in the persons of the wise men accepted Jesus! The Jews rejected Jesus because they wanted a political, nationalistic and military Messiah! But Saint Paul tells us in the letter to the Romans, Chapter 11, that at the end of time, the Jews will also accept Jesus!

The gospel tells us that the wise men worshipped Jesus and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh! The Fathers of the Church, including Saint Irenaeus (ca. 130-200), tell us that the three gifts symbolize Jesus as King (gold), God (frankincense/incense), and Suffering Savior (myrrh)! (NJB; NJBC; Lefrois; Raas) Jesus is not only King, but he is also God; he is not only God, but he is also Suffering Savior! A God who suffers and dies to save the whole world from sin and death! A God of love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation; not a God of law, justice, punishment and damnation!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that all the nations will come and worship him and they will bring with them the gifts and riches from all the nations! Thus we read in the first reading:

“…. the riches of the sea will flow to you; the wealth of the nations come to you; camels in throngs will cover you, and dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; everyone in Sheba will come, bringing gold and incense and singing the praise of the Lord.” (Is 60:5-6; SM)   

The first reading tells us that even the Jews in exile will be brought back home by the nations! (Is 11:12; 49:18. 22-23; HCSB) Thus we read in the first reading:

    “…. all are assembling and coming towards you, your sons from far away and daughters being tenderly carried.” (Is 60:4; SM)     

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that all the nations will come and worship the Lord! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

    “All nations shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord.” (Ps 71 (72): 11; SM)

The responsorial psalm tells us that all the nations worship the Lord, because the Lord gives justice to the poor, the needy and the weak; and the Lord gives peace, shalom, and salvation to all the nations!

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The third stanza (vv. 10-11) tells us that all the nations will worship the Lord! The first (vv. 1-2), second (v. 7) and fourth (vv. 12-13) stanzas tell us that the Lord will give justice to the poor, the needy, and the weak; and the Lord will give peace, shalom, and salvation to all the nations! Thus the second stanza of the responsorial psalm:

    “In his days justice shall flourish and peace till the moon fails.”! (Ps 71 (72): 7; SM)   

The second reading follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading tells us “that pagans now share in the same inheritance, that they are parts of the same body, and that the same promise has been made to them, in Christ Jesus, through the gospel”! (Ep 3:6; SM) In “Greek” pagans are now “coheirs”, “comembers”, and “copartners/cosharers” with the Jews! (NJBC; IBC)

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 proclaim the Good News to all the nations, so that all the nations may believe and worship the Lord who is King, God and Suffering Savior!  Amen!

 

SOLEMNITY OF MARY, MOTHER OF GOD A,B,C (NEW YEAR’S DAY / WORLD DAY OF PEACE)

Theme: THANK GOD FOR THE YEAR 2019 AND ASK GOD TO BLESS US FOR THE YEAR 2020

  • Numbers 6:22-27;
  • Psalm 66:2-3. 5. 6. 8. R. v. 2;
  • Galatians 4:4-7;
  • Luke 2:16-21

A Happy New Year to all of you! Today we celebrate 3 feasts; today we celebrate New Year’s Day; we also celebrate the liturgical feast of Mary, Mother of God; and today we also celebrate World Day of Peace!

The first thing and the most important thing we must do for the New Year 2020 is to thank God for the Year 2019 and ask God to bless us for the Year 2020!

Indeed, the readings today are suitable for the feast of Mary, Mother of God and for the New Year!

The first reading is the Priestly Blessing for the people of Israel. Today the Church uses this blessing to bless you for the New Year 2020:

    “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord let his face shine (smile) on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord uncover his face (show favor) to you and bring you peace (“shalom”: wholeness, well-being, happiness and prosperity/HCSB/CSB).”! (Nb 6:24-26)

This blessing is suitable even for Chinese New Year: “Happiness and Prosperity”!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The response of the responsorial psalm echoes the first reading: “O God, be gracious and bless us.”! (Ps 66:2) In the responsorial psalm we do not only ask God to bless us; but we ask God to bless us, so that other peoples may see God’s blessings on us; and so that other peoples will also praise, worship, and serve God; and so that other peoples will also be blessed by God!

Thus we read in the first and third stanzas of the responsorial psalm: “God, be gracious and bless us and let your face shed its light upon us. So will your ways be known upon earth and all nations learn your saving help.”! (Stanza 1 / Ps 66:2-3) “Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you. May God still give us his blessing till the ends of the earth revere him.”! (Stanza 3 / Ps 66:6.8.)

But most importantly, the gospel tells us that the Lord God through Mary, the Mother of God has blessed us with his Son Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, who has become food for us to give us life! A life that is even better than before we sinned! A life filled with love, mercy and forgiveness! A life full of grace, favor and blessings! Even without our asking!

The gospel tells us that Mary “treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Lk 2:19), that is, Mary accepted to be the Mother of God in and with faith! Mary did not understand everything! Mary had to grow in faith! Mary is a model of faith for all of us!

The gospel also tells us that when Jesus was circumcised he was named Jesus (Joshua), which means “God saves”! (Lk 2:21)

But how did Jesus save us? By becoming food for us so that we may live! Thus the gospel tells us for the third time that he was laid in a manger (Lk 2:7.12.16), that is, the place where the animals feed, that is, he has become food for us!

Finally, the second reading tells us that God through his Son Jesus Christ has given us the Holy Spirit, so that we too may become the sons and daughters of God, and God becomes our Father, and Jesus becomes our brother, and the Church founded by Jesus becomes our Mother! What a blessing! We do not want or need anything more and we do not want or need anything less!

Again, today we thank God for all the blessings of 2019 and we ask God to bless us for the Year 2020! Again, a Happy New Year to all of you! Amen!

Today we also celebrate “World Day of Peace”! In 2007, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has a special message for us and for the whole world! The theme of the message is “The Human Family, A Community of Peace”! The message is very long (5 pages) and technical, but I will only highlight 3 points to you, that is, the family, the environment, and the poor! The following are extracts from the message:

 

THE HUMAN FAMILY, A COMMUNITY OF PEACE
Extracts:
The family, society and peace
2. The natural family, as an intimate communion of life and love, based on marriage between a man and a woman, constitutes “the primary place of ‘humanization’ for the person and society”, and a “cradle of life and love”. The family is therefore rightly defined as the first natural society, “a divine institution that stands at the foundation of life of the human person as the prototype of every social order”.
3. Indeed, in a healthy family life we experience some of the fundamental elements of peace: justice and love between brothers and sisters, the role of authority expressed by parents, loving concern for the members who are weaker because of youth, sickness or old age, mutual help in the necessities of life, readiness to accept others and, if necessary, to forgive them. For this reason, the family is the first and indispensable teacher of peace. It is no wonder, therefore, that violence, if perpetrated in the family, is seen as particularly intolerable. Consequently, when it is said that the family is “the primary living cell of society”, something essential is being stated. The family is the foundation of society for this reason too: because it enables its members in decisive ways to experience peace. It follows that the human community cannot do without the service provided by the family. Where can young people gradually learn to savour the genuine “taste” of peace better than in the original “nest” which nature prepares for them? The language of the family is a language of peace; we must always draw from it, lest we lose the “vocabulary” of peace. In the inflation of its speech, society cannot cease to refer to that “grammar” which all children learn from the looks and the actions of their mothers and fathers, even before they learn from their words.
The family, the human community and the environment
7. The family needs a home, a fit environment in which to develop its proper relationships. For the human family, this home is the earth, the environment that God the Creator has given us to inhabit with creativity and responsibility. We need to care for the environment: it has been entrusted to men and women to be protected and cultivated with responsible freedom, with the good of all as a constant guiding criterion. Human beings, obviously, are of supreme worth vis-à-vis creation as a whole. Respecting the environment does not mean considering material or animal nature more important than man. Rather, it means not selfishly considering nature to be at the complete disposal of our own interests, for future generations also have the right to reap its benefits and to exhibit towards nature the same responsible freedom that we claim for ourselves. Nor must we overlook the poor, who are excluded in many cases from the goods of creation destined for all. Humanity today is rightly concerned about the ecological balance of tomorrow.
Family, human community and economy
10. The human family, which today is increasingly unified as a result of globalization, also needs, in addition to a foundation of shared values, an economy capable of responding effectively to the requirements of a common good which is now planetary in scope. Here too, a comparison with the natural family proves helpful. Honest and straightforward relationships need to be promoted between individual persons and between peoples, thus enabling everyone to cooperate on a just and equal footing. Efforts must also be made to ensure a prudent use of resources and an equitable distribution of wealth. In particular, the aid given to poor countries must be guided by sound economic principles, avoiding forms of waste associated principally with the maintenance of expensive bureaucracies. Due account must also be taken of the moral obligation to ensure that the economy is not governed solely by the ruthless laws of instant profit, which can prove inhumane.
I likewise invite believers to implore tirelessly from God the great gift of peace. Christians, for their part, know that they can trust in the intercession of Mary, who, as the Mother of the Son of God made flesh for the salvation of all humanity, is our common Mother.
From the Vatican, 8 December 2007

THE HOLY FAMILY OF JESUS MARY AND JOSEPH (A)

Theme: OUR FAMILIES ARE HOLY BECAUSE GOD IS OUR FATHER AND
WE ARE THE CHILDREN OF GOD BORN IN THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE WOMB OF MOTHER CHURCH AND JESUS IS OUR BROTHER AND WE ARE BROTHERS AND SISTERS TO ONE ANOTHER

  • Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 3:2-6. 12-14;
  • Psalm 127:1-5. R/ cf. v. 1;
  • Colossians 3:12-21
  • Matthew 2:13-15. 19-23

A Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you! Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus Mary and Joseph, Liturgical Year A.

The family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph is holy, because God is the Father, Jesus is the Son of God born through the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Joseph is the foster-father!

Our families are holy, because God is our Father, we are the children of God, born through the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mother Church and Jesus is our brother and we are brothers and sisters to one another!

The gospel today tells us that Joseph the foster-father of Jesus did the will of God the Father. He did it three times. In the first time the angel of the Lord asked him to go to Egypt, because Herod wanted to kill Jesus; in the second time the angel of the Lord asked him to return to Israel, because Herod was dead; and in the third time the angel of the Lord asked him to go to Nazareth and thus the Holy Family is the Holy Family of Nazareth and Jesus is called a Nazarene fulfilling the words of the prophets. In all three times, Joseph obeyed the angel and did the will of God!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that if we do the will of God we will be blessed! The first reading tells us that the will of God is that we honor our father and mother! To honor our father and mother is the fourth of the Ten Commandments! The first three commandments tell us to honor God!

The fourth commandment tells us that after honoring God we have to honor our father and mother! After that follows the fifth to the tenth commandments, that is, thou shall not kill, thou shall not commit adultery, thou shall not steal, thou shall not bear false witness, thou shall not covet your neighbor’s wife and thou shall not covet your neighbor’s goods, respectively!
The first reading is a commentary on the fourth commandment. It tells us that if we honor our father and mother we will be blessed with long life, prosperity, our sins will be forgiven, God will listen to our prayers, and we will be happy with our own children!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the response:
“O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways!” (Ps 127:1; SM)
That is, O blessed are those who revere the Lord and do his will!
The responsorial psalm tells us that if we do the will of God our homes and families will be blessed with satisfaction and contentment, with happiness and prosperity, and we will have many children!

But today some people in some modern western countries do not want children. They do not want to get married, they do not want a family and they do not want to have children. They only want to stay together without marriage. The will of God is that we must not stay together without getting married. We must get married, have a family and have children! The responsorial psalm tells us that it is not only the will of God, but it is also the blessing of God that we get married, have a family and have children!

In 2012 at a National Day dinner, the founding and former prime minister of Singapore (1959 to 1990), Lee Kuan Yew, told Singaporeans to get married, to have a family and to have children! He warned that if present trends continue there will be no more Singaporeans in the future! 31% of Singaporean women do not want children and 41% of Singaporean men do not want children! (Internet; Catholic World News, August 14, 2012; Yahoo News, August 12, 2012)

In sum, we have to get married, we have to have a family and we have to have three or more children! We need to have 2.1 children to maintain the population! It is the will of God and the blessing of God to get married, to have a family and to have many children!

The second reading tells us about Christian life in general and family life in particular. The second reading has three paragraphs. The first two paragraphs tell us about Christian life in general and the third paragraph tells us about family life in particular. It tells us about the relationships between husband and wife, and parents and children. Thus we read in the third paragraph of the second reading:

“Wives, give way to your husbands, as you should in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and treat them with gentleness. Children, be obedient to your parents always, because that is what will please the Lord. Parents, never drive your children to resentment or you will make them feel frustrated.” (Col 3:18-21; Sunday Missal (SM))

Again, some people in some modern Western countries will not agree with the above quotation! Their wives do not submit to their husbands and their children do not obey their parents! In order to transcend cultural barriers and conditionings we have to go back to the basics! Thus we may paraphrase the above quotation thus:

‘Wives love you husbands “in the Lord”. Husbands love your wives “in the Lord”. Children love your parents “in the Lord”. Parents love your children “in the Lord”’!
The basic commandment is love God with our whole heart, our whole mind, our whole soul and with all our strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves! (Mt 22:37-40; Mk 12:29-31) If we go back to the basics, all will be equal and mutual in love and in dignity!

Let us conclude with a few practical suggestions for a holy and happy family:

(i) A family must pray together. A family that prays together stays together! There are many forms of prayer, including the morning and evening prayer of the Divine Office, Bible-sharing, Sharing and praying the YOUCAT (Youth Catechism), Faith-sharing, etc.
(ii) A family must be part of a Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC), that is, a nuclear family must be part of an extended Christian family!
(iii) A family must eat together at least once a day at dinner time! The Eucharist was in the context of a meal! Thus the words of consecration of the wine: “In a similar way, when supper was ended, he took the chalice ….”!
(iv) Both father and mother must be present at home! No absent father syndrome!
(v) A family must communicate, that is, talk and listen to one another!

May the Good Lord bless you with a happy and holy family! Amen!

THE HOLY FAMILY OF JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH

Theme: THE HOLY FAMILY IS HOLY, BECAUSE GOD IS THE FATHER, JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD, BORN THROUGH THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

  • Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 3:2-6. 12-14;
  • Psalm 127:1-5. R. v. 1;
  • Colossians 3:12-21
  • Matthew 2:13-15. 19-23

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! The family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph is holy because God is the Father, Jesus is the Son of God, born through the power of the Holy Spirit!

Our families are also holy, because in Baptism we were born again through the power of the Holy Spirit, and God is our Father, and we are the children of God, and brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, and the Church is our Mother!

The gospel today tells us about the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The gospel tells us that Joseph was obedient to the Lord. Three times the Lord instructed him and 3 times he obeyed the Lord! The angel of the Lord told him to leave for Egypt and he left for Egypt; the angel of the Lord told him to return to Israel and he returned to Israel; and the angel of the Lord told him not to go to Judaea, but to go to Galilee, and he went to Galilee and settled in Nazareth! The Holy Family is the family that is obedient to the Lord God!

The first reading tells us about the family. The first reading is a commentary on one of the Ten Commandments. It is a commentary on the fourth commandment, that is, honor your father and mother: “Honor your father and your mother so that you may live long in the land that Yahweh your God is giving you.” (Ex 20:12)

The first reading tells that if we honor our fathers and mothers we will be blessed! We will be blessed with long life, prosperity, and happiness with our own children; and God will listen to our prayers and our sins will be forgiven! The first reading also tells us to honor our parents in their old age and God will forgive our sins!

The responsorial psalm also tells us about the family. The responsorial psalm tells us that those who fear (revere) the Lord and walk in his ways will be blessed with happy and prosperous families! They will have plenty of children!

Thus we read in the responsorial psalm: “O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways! By the labor of your hands you shall eat. You will be happy and prosper. Your wife like a fruitful vine in the heart of your house; your children like shoots of the olive, around your table.” (Ps 127:1-3)

The second reading tells us about “The Christian Family” (CSB): “Wives, give way to your husbands, as you should in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and treat them with gentleness. Children, be obedient to your parents always, because that is what will please the Lord. Parents, never drive your children to resentment or you will make them feel frustrated.” (Col 3:20-21)

The second reading should be read not only in the light of “equality”, but also and especially in the light of “mutuality”, that is, to love one another as the Lord has loved us!

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 his Holy Spirit, so that we will fear the Lord and walk in his ways, and so that we will be blessed with a happy, prosperous and fruitful family with many many children! Amen!

Christmas Day (Year A) – 25th December 2019 – English Audio Homily

Audio Homily Theme:

JESUS CHRIST IS GOD, SAVIOR AND BRINGER OF PEACE; NOT CEASER AUGUSTUS.

JESUS CHRIST IS GOD BECAME MAN; GOD BECAME FOOD FOR MAN; GOD BECAME FOOD FOR SINFUL MAN.

GOD REVEALS HIMSELF IN CREATION; IN HUMAN BEING; IN OTHER RELIGIONS; AND GOD REVEALS HIMSELF FULLY, COMPLETELY AND PERFECTLY IN HIS SON JESUS CHRIST!