21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 23rd Aug 2020

Theme: PETER: THE FIRST POPE

  • Isaiah 22:19-23;
  • Psalm 137 (138): 1-3. 6. 8. R/ v. 8;
  • Romans 11:33-36
  • Matthew 16:13-20

Today is the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The gospel today tells us that after Peter professed his faith in Jesus that he was the “Christ” / Messiah and “the Son of the living God”, Jesus appointed him to be the first Pope! Jesus gave him the keys of the kingdom of heaven, so that whatever he binds on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever he loose on earth will be loosed in heaven!

Peter is given the authority to teach and to excommunicate. (CSB) Today we believe that our present Pope Benedict XVI is a direct successor of St. Peter the first Pope in an unbroken line of 266 Popes over 2000 years! We also believe that our Bishops are the direct successors of the Twelve Apostles. That is why at every Mass we pray for our Pope and Bishop, even mentioning their names!

We believe that the word of God is not only the Bible, but the word of God is the Bible, the Church and Tradition. Before the gospels were written the word of God was in the Church and in Tradition, that is, Oral Tradition. The word of God was proclaimed through word of mouth.

The four gospels were written some 40 to 60 years after Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! The gospel of Mark was written around the year 70, the gospels of Matthew and Luke were written around the year 80, and the gospel of John was written around the year 90! Jesus died and rose from the dead around the year 30!

Today there are important issues that are not directly and explicitly addressed in the Bible. Important issues like the ecological crisis, globalization, population explosion, dialogue with Islam, etc.

There are also important issues within the Church that are not directly and explicitly addressed by the Bible. Issues like married priests, women priests, and even the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary which we celebrated only a few days ago. We need the Church to teach us on these issues and to discipline us on these issues. And we need to obey the Church on these issues!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us about the appointment of Eliakim to be the master of the palace of King Hezekiah.

Eliakim is given the key to the door of the palace. He can grant or deny access to the palace of the King. Thus we read in the first reading:

“I place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; should he open, no one shall close, should he close, no one shall open.” (Is 22:22; SM)

Eliakim prefigures Peter in today’s gospel who was given the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Peter can grant or deny access to the kingdom of heaven!

The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving for deliverance, but in the context of today’s readings it can be read as a thanksgiving for God’s call to be the master of the palace in the case of Eliakim, and for God’s call to be the first Pope in the case of Peter.

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first and second stanzas are a thanksgiving. The third stanza tells us that God will not abandon the humble! Thus the last verse of the responsorial psalm which is also the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Your love, O Lord, is eternal, discard not the work of your hands.” (Ps 137 (138): 8; SM)

The second reading today is a continuation of last Sunday’s second reading. In last Sunday’s second reading, St. Paul tells us about the merciful plan of God, where the rejection of Jesus by the Jews meant that the gospel will be preached to the non-Jews. And when the non-Jews accept the gospel, the Jews will be envious and will also accept the gospel. In this way both Jews and non-Jews will be saved through the merciful plan of God.

In the second reading today, St. Paul gives glory to God for his wise and merciful plan of salvation both for Jews and non-Jews. St. Paul ends by giving glory to God who created all things, continues to sustain all things and is the end and goal of all things. (NJBC) Thus we read in the second reading:

“All that exists comes from him; all is by him and for him. To him be glory for ever! Amen.” (Rm 11:36; SM)

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 obey the word of God in the Bible and in the teaching and tradition of the Church. The Holy Spirit will also help us give glory to God for his wise and merciful plan of salvation for both Jews and non-Jews. A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen!

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 16th Aug 2020

Theme: JESUS CHRIST CAME TO SAVE NOT ONLY THE JEWS BUT ALSO THE NON-JEWS

  • Isaiah 56:1. 6-7;
  • Psalm 66 (67):2-3. 5-6. 8. R/ v. 4;
  • Romans 11:13-15. 29-32
  • Matthew 15:21-28

Today is the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that Jesus Christ came not only to save the Jews, but also to save the non-Jews! The gospel today tells us that a Canaanite woman asked Jesus to heal her daughter who was tormented by a devil, but Jesus ignored her. And when the disciples pleaded on her behalf, Jesus answered them that he was sent only for the lost sheep of the House of Israel, that is, he was sent only for the Jews and not for the non-Jews.

And when the woman herself came up and pleaded at his feet, Jesus answered her that it was not fair to take the food of the children and throw it to the house-dogs, but the woman retorted that even the house-dogs eat the scraps that fall from the master’s table! At this, Jesus praised her for her “great faith” and healed her daughter! This is the only time in the gospel of Matthew that Jesus praised anyone for “great faith”! (NJBC)

Indeed, Jesus Christ came to save all peoples, but we must have “great faith” in him. It is not enough to have faith in Jesus Christ; we must have “great faith” in Jesus Christ. The woman had “great faith”. She pleaded with Jesus three times before Jesus granted her request and healed her daughter. (John Chrysostom, c. 347-407; Herald, The Catholic Weekly) The irony is that the Jews, those whom Jesus came to save, did not have faith in Jesus Christ and they were not saved! The question of salvation is not whether we are Jews or non-Jews, but whether we have “great faith” in Jesus Christ!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that even foreign peoples who are non-Jews will also be saved!

The first reading tells us that foreigners who are non-Jews, but who love and serve God, and who keep the Sabbath and the covenant, will also worship in the Temple of God. (GNB; Craghan) Thus we read in the first reading:

“Foreigners who have attached themselves to the Lord to serve him and to love his name and be his servants – all who observe the Sabbath, not profaning it, and cling to my covenant – these I will bring to my holy mountain.” (Is 56:6-7; SM)

Again, the question of salvation is not whether we are Jews or non-Jews, but whether we love and serve God, and keep the Sabbath and keep his covenant!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm asks God to bless Israel so that the nations seeing the blessings of God on Israel will also worship the God of Israel. (HCSB) Thus we read in the first and third stanzas of the responsorial psalm:

“O 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.” (vv. 2 & 3; SM)

“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.” (vv. 6 & 8; SM)

And thus the response of the responsorial psalm which is taken from the refrain of the psalm:

“Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.” (vv. 4 & 6; SM)

The gospel today tells us about the salvation of the gentiles, the pagans, that is, the non-Jews, but the second reading today tells us about the salvation of the Jews! How can the Jews who rejected Jesus be saved? St. Paul answers this question by telling us about the merciful plan of God.

St. Paul tells us that the rejection of Jesus by the Jews means that the gospel will be preached to the Gentiles, the non-Jews. And when the gentiles accept the gospel, the Jews will be jealous and will accept the gospel and will be saved! It is all in the merciful plan of God! Thus we read in the concluding verse of the second reading:

“God has imprisoned all men in their own disobedience only to show mercy to all mankind.” (Rm 11:32; SM)

This verse echoes Rm 5:20: “Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more.”! (CSB)

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 of Jesus Christ to the whole world so that all may believe and be saved, including the Jews! Again, a happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen!

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 9th Aug 2020

Theme: THE LORD WILL CALM THE STORMS IN OUR LIVES AND GIVE US PEACE / SHALOM

  • 1 Kings 19:9. 11-13;
  • Psalm 84 (85):9-14. R/ v. 8;
  • Romans 9:1-5
  • Matthew 14:22-33

Today is the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that the Lord will calm the storms in our lives and give us peace!

The gospel today tells us that the disciples were in a boat in a stormy sea, but more importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus walked on the water/lake towards them. And at the telling of Jesus, Peter also walked on the water towards Jesus, but because of the strong wind, Peter took fright and began to sink, but Jesus saved him, and chided him for his “little faith” and “doubt”. And as they entered the boat the wind dropped and there was calm and peace and the disciples worshipped him as “the Son of God”!

Again, the gospel today tells us that the Lord will calm the storms in our lives and give us peace. The storms in our lives may be natural, physical, ecclesial (church), personal, spiritual, emotional, social, political, environmental, economical, etc. The peace that the Lord gives us is “shalom”, that is, an all-embracing peace, a political, social, personal, spiritual, physical, ecclesial, etc. peace!

But we must pray and we must pray with faith, even with the “little faith” that we have! We must also ask God to increase our faith: ‘Lord I believe, increase my faith’!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that when the Lord appeared to Elijah, there was “the sound of a gentle breeze”, that is, there was calm and peace!

The first reading tells us that there was a strong wind, but the Lord was not in the strong wind; there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; then there was “the sound of a gentle breeze”. The Lord was in “the sound of the gentle breeze”! The Lord was in the calm and peace! Again, the Lord will calm the storms of our lives and give us peace!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. It is a reflection on the first reading. It is a prayer for peace, for messianic peace. (NJB) The word peace is present three times in all the three stanzas. Thus we read in stanzas one, two and three:

“I will hear what the Lord God has to say, a voice that speaks of peace.” (v. 9; SM)

“Mercy and faithfulness have met; justice and peace have embraced.” (v. 11; SM)

“Justice shall march before him and peace shall follow his steps.” (v. 14; SM)

Again, the word peace means “shalom”, that is, wholeness, completeness, soundness, well-being, fullness, perfection, lacking nothing, health, prosperity, happiness, love, salvation, etc.! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Show us, Lord, your love; grant us your salvation.” (v. 8; CSB)

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something important to tell us. The second reading tells us that St. Paul was sorrowful and in anguish because the Jews who were his own flesh and blood did not believe in Jesus Christ! The Jews were the chosen people of God, the Law of God was given to them, and Jesus Christ the Messiah came from them, but they did not believe in Jesus Christ!

The second reading is taken from the letter to the Romans chapter 9, but we have to read the whole section right up to chapter 11 inclusive to understand that St. Paul did not lose faith and hope in the love of God for Israel. St. Paul believed that in the end even Israel will be converted and will believe in Jesus Christ and will be saved!

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 pray to God in faith and the Lord will calm the storms in our lives. The Holy Spirit will also help us proclaim the good news so that all may believe and be saved, including the Jews! A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen!

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 2nd August 2020

Theme: WE THANK GOD FOR OUR MATERIAL AND SPIRITUAL FOOD AND WE SHARE OUR MATERIAL AND SPIRITUAL FOOD WITH OTHERS

  • Isaiah 55:1-3;
  • Psalm 144:8-9. 15-18. R/ v. 16;
  • Romans 8:35. 37-39
  • Matthew 14:13-21

Today is the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that the Lord gives us material and spiritual food! The gospel today tells us that Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish and gave thanks to God and he broke the loaves and gave them to the people to eat. The people ate as much as they wanted and they collected the leftovers which filled twelve baskets! Those who ate numbered five thousand men and if we include women and children the number would have been twenty to thirty thousand! (New Jerome Biblical Commentary)

The gospel today tells us that Jesus did three important things! First, he thanked God! The prayer of thanksgiving is most important! Even before we ask God for anything, we must thank God for everything! An American Creation theologian said that if the only prayer we know is “thank you”, that is good enough! Even if we start thanking God here and now we will not finish thanking him even at the end of the world!

The word Eucharist in Greek means “thanksgiving” and in the Eucharistic Prayer we first thank God before we ask him for anything! But today there are people who not only do not thank God but they do not believe in God at all! That is why they never come to Mass at all! That is why it is important that you bring them to Mass every Sunday!

The second thing that Jesus did was to break the loaves and give them to the people to eat! That is sharing! There is enough for everyone’s need but there is not enough for everyone’s greed! That is, if we share, then there will be enough for everyone! The Youth Catechism (YOUCAT; 448) tells us that:

“God has entrusted to us a rich earth that could offer all men sufficient food and living space. Yet ….There are more than a billion people living on this earth who must make do with less than one dollar per day. They suffer from a lack of food and clean drinking water; most of them have no access to education or medical care. It is estimated that more than 25,000 people die every day from malnutrition. Many of them are children.”

The Youth Catechism tells us that we have to share! We have to practice charity and justice towards the poor and needy!

The third thing that Jesus did is expressed more explicitly in a parallel verse in John 6:12 (Mt 14:20):

“When they had eaten enough he said to the disciples, ‘Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing is wasted.’” (New Jerusalem Bible (NJB))

Waste not, want not! Indeed it is our wasteful and greedy lifestyle that is destroying our environment today! We have to live a simple lifestyle to save our environment today! Thus Saint Pope John Paul II wrote in his Message for World day of Peace (1 January 1990):

“Modern society will find no solution to the ecological problem unless it takes a serious look at its lifestyle. … Simplicity, moderation and discipline, as well as a spirit of sacrifice, must become a part of everyday life. … .”

The gospel today also tells us that the Lord does not only give us material food, but he also gives us spiritual food! Thus the four actions of Jesus, that is, take, thank/bless, break and give, correspond to the four actions of the Eucharist, that is, take (Offertory), thank/bless (Eucharistic Prayer), break (Breaking of the Bread), and give (Holy Communion)! But our Sunday Mass has two parts, that is, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist! Thus the Gospel Acclamation today:

“Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Sunday Missal (SM); Mt 4:4)

We must come to Mass every Sunday to eat the spiritual food of the Word and the Eucharist! We must not come to Mass late for the spiritual food of the Word; instead we must come to Mass early to read the Word of God before Mass!

The first reading today tells us that the Lord gives us spiritual food! Thus we read:

“Oh, come to the water all you who are thirsty; though you have no money, come! Buy corn without money, and eat, and, at no cost, wine and milk. Why spend money on what is not bread, your wages on what fails to satisfy? Listen, listen to me and you will have good things to eat and rich food to enjoy. Pay attention, come to me; listen, and your soul will live. With you I will make an everlasting covenant out of the favors promised to David.” (SM; Is 55:1-3)  

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the response:

“You open wide your hand, O Lord, you grant our desires.” (SM; Ps 144:16)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us that “the Lord is kind and full of compassion, slow to anger, abounding in love” (Ps 144:8; Ex 34:6). The second stanza tells us that the Lord gives us food! Material and spiritual food! The third stanza tells us that the Lord is just and loving and he listens to our prayers!

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ! That is, nothing can stop God from loving us and nothing can stop us from loving God! God first loved us that is why we love God and neighbor as we love ourselves! Thus the greatest commandment of all:

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (NJB; Lk 10:27) This is the greatest commandment because this is our salvation!

Today we thank God for our material and spiritual food and we ask God to help us share our material and spiritual food with others! Today we also thank God for his love and we ask God to help us love him and love our neighbor as we love ourselves! Amen!