30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) – 25th October 2020

Theme: CHURCH AND COMMUNITY LEADERS MUST PRACTICE WHAT      THEY PREACH AND THEY MUST PREACH THE GOOD NEWS

Malachi 1:14-2:2. 8-10; Psalm 130; 1 Thessalonians 2:7-9. 13 Matthew 23:1-12

1. Today is the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that Church and community leaders must practice what they preach and they must preach the Good News!

The gospel today tells us that the scribes and Pharisees, that is, the Jewish religious leaders, do not practice what they preach. They interpret the Law rigorously for the people to keep, so much so that the Law becomes a burden for the people, but they will not keep the Law themselves.

All they do is for show, like wearing broader phylacteries (boxes containing scripture verses) on their foreheads and arms, and longer tassels on their clothes; choosing the places of honor at banquets and synagogues; and being greeted as “Rabbi”! Thus we read in the gospel today:

“…. They do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they! Everything they do is done to attract attention, like wearing broader phylacteries and longer tassels, like wanting to take the place of honor at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues, being greeted obsequiously in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi.” (Mt 23:3-7; SM) 

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. Again, the first reading tells us that the priests, that is, the Jewish religious leaders, were not teaching the Law of God. (CCB) Instead their teachings were misleading the people. As a result their blessings for the people will become curses for the people. The priests will become curses for the people of God! Thus we read in the first reading:

“And now, priests, this warning is for you. If you do not listen, if you do not find it in your heart to glorify my name, says the Lord of hosts, I will send the curse on you and curse your very blessing. You have strayed from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your teaching. You have destroyed the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts.” (Ma 2: 2. 8; SM)

3. Incidentally, the responsorial psalm tells us that a good Church and community leader is one who humbly trusts in God. The responsorial psalm is a song of “Humble Trust in God”. (CSB; NJB) The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza (v. 1) tells us that the psalmist does not trust in himself. The second stanza (v. 2) tells us that like a child, the psalmist trust in God. The third stanza (v. 3) tells us that the psalmist invites the whole community to trust in God. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm which is adapted from the second stanza:

    “Keep my soul in peace before you, O Lord.”

The single most important virtue of a Church and community leader is to trust in God!     

4. Incidentally, the second reading today tells us that St. Paul was a good Church and community leader! The second reading tells us that:

(i) St. Paul preached the Good News.

(ii) St. Paul loved the Thessalonians and gave his life for them.

(iii) St. Paul was self-supporting and self-financing. He did not ask for their financial support! (HCSB; NJBC)

Thus we read in the second reading:

“Like a mother feeding and looking after her own children, we felt so devoted and protective towards you, and had come to love you so much, that we were eager to hand over to you not only the Good News but our whole lives as well. Let me remind you, brothers, how hard we used to work, slaving night and day so as not to be a burden on any one of you while we were proclaiming God’s Good News to you.” (1 Th 2: 7-9; SM)  

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 help us Church and community leaders to practice what we preach. The Holy Spirit will help us preach the Good News. And the Holy Spirit will help us trust in God! Again, a happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you!

                                                                                                                                    Amen!

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) – 18th Oct 2020

Theme: WE ARE TO PAY OUR TAXES TO OUR GOVERNMENT AND GIVE OUR WHOLE SELVES TO OUR GOD

Isaiah 45:1. 4-6; Psalm 95 (96): 1. 3-5. 7-10. R/ v. 7; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5

Matthew 22:15-21

1. Today is the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that we are to pay our taxes to our government and we are to give our whole selves to our God!

The gospel today tells us that the Pharisees and the Herodians came together to trap Jesus by asking him if it was permissible to pay taxes to Caesar. If Jesus answered “Yes”, he will offend the Pharisees and the Jews, and if Jesus said “No”, the Herodians will report him to the Roman authority.

But Jesus went beyond the question and answered: “Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar – and to God what belongs to God.”! (SM) That is, the Roman coin with the image of Caesar on it belongs to Caesar, but most importantly, we who are created in the image of God have the image of God in us and we belong to God and we have to give ourselves back to God! (IBC; Lefrois)   

It is also important to note that on the Roman coin was also inscribed, “Tiberius Caesar, son of the divine Augustus, Augustus”. (HCSB) Caesar claimed to be divine, but Caesar was not divine. In fact Caesar can be demonic!

As our elections are coming very soon, it is important that we pray and elect a government that does the divine will and not the demonic will! We have to pray and elect a government that is just, charitable, respects religious freedom, respects human rights, respects human life, protects the environment, unites the people, helps the poor, etc.

We must not elect a government that is corrupted, plays racial and religious politics, undemocratic, destroys the environment, legalizes abortion, divides the people, etc.

In short, we must pray and elect a government that does the divine will and not a government that does the demonic will!

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the Lord anointed the pagan Persian king Cyrus to be “messiah” to liberate the Israelites from their exile in Babylon, so that they may return to their homeland and rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple! (CSB) This is the first and only time that the Lord has anointed a non-Israelite king as “messiah”. He foreshadows Jesus the Messiah who will save us from sin and death! Thus we read in the first reading:

    “Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, …. :

It is for the sake of my servant Jacob, of Israel my chosen one, that I have called you by your name, conferring a title though you do not know me. I am the Lord, unrivalled; there is no other God besides me. Though you do not know me, I arm you that men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that, apart from me, all is nothing.” (Is 45: 1. 4-6)

Again, even pagan kings must do the divine will and not the demonic will!

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God is not only the God of the Christians, but he is the “God of the Universe”! (CSB) That is why all nations and all peoples must praise and worship him!

   The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first stanza (vv. 1 & 3) invites all the peoples to praise God. The second stanza (vv. 4-5) tells us that there is only one God and there are no other gods. The third and fourth stanzas (vv. 7-10) tell us to worship God because he rules the world with justice! (CSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm which is taken from the third stanza:

“Give the Lord glory and power.” (Ps 95 (96): 7; SM) 

4. 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 about “grace and peace”; “faith, love and hope”; and the power and effect of the Good News! The second reading is divided into three paragraphs in our Sunday Missal. 

The first paragraph (v. 1) is the greeting of Paul, “grace and peace”, that is, may the grace of God give you peace. That is why we greet one another with “peace”, shalom, salvation!   

The second paragraph (vv. 2-3) tells us about “faith, love and hope” with an emphasis on “hope”. (CSB) We often remember faith and love, but we sometimes forget about hope, but the three must go together! For without hope our faith may not persevere until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and without hope our love may not persevere until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!

The third paragraph (vv. 4-5) tells us that the Good News is not just words, but it is the power of God, the power of the Holy Spirit that can effect faith, love and hope! (HCSB)

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 help us pay our taxes to our government, and the Holy Spirit will help us give our whole selves back to God! The Holy Spirit will also give us the theological virtues of faith, love and hope, so that we will have faith in God and love, until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! Again, a happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you!

                                                                                                                                    Amen!

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) 11th Oct 2020

Isaiah 25:6-10; Psalm 22. R/ v. 6; Philippians 4:12-14. 19-20 Matthew 22:1-14 (Shorter Form, verses 1-10)

Theme: THE MESSIANIC BANQUET

1. Today is the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us about the Messianic Banquet!

The gospel today consists of two parables; the parable of the “Wedding Feast” (vv. 1-10) and the parable of the “Wedding Garment” (vv. 11-13). St. Matthew joined the two parables together into one parable in today’s gospel.

The first gospel parable on the “Wedding Feast” tells us that the Jews were the first to be invited to the Messianic Banquet of the Kingdom of Heaven, but they refused the invitation. Instead they persecuted and killed the prophets and apostles sent to invite them. As a result they were punished and in the year A.D. 70, Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans.

The invitation to the Messianic Banquet was then extended to the sinners and Gentiles, the non-Jews, the pagans, and they accepted the invitation and the banquet hall was full of guests!

The second gospel parable on the “Wedding Garment” tells us that the sinners, Gentiles and non-Jews who accepted the invitation have to put on their “wedding garments”, that is, they have to change their lives and do good deeds in order to eat and drink of the Messianic Banquet in heaven!

The Messianic Banquet for us today is the Eucharist! All of us are invited to the Eucharist every Sunday, but some of us are too busy to come. Some of us have to work on Sunday because it is double pay! Others are too lazy to come, because of parties and late nights on Saturday.

But many of us do come for Mass every Sunday! And of those of us who come to Sunday Mass there are the good and the bad, but most of us are good and bad. For even in the best of us there is something bad, and even in the worst of us there is something good! But good or bad, good and bad, all of us must put on the “Wedding Garment”, that is, all of us must change our lives and do good deeds in order to eat and drink of the Messianic Banquet in heaven!

The Eucharist gives us the graces to help us to change our lives and do good deeds, so that one day we will eat and drink of the Messianic Banquet in heaven! The Eucharist, the Messianic Banquet on earth, is an anticipation of the Messianic banquet in heaven, that is, the Eucharist is a foretaste of the Messianic Banquet in heaven! The love, life, joy and peace (shalom/salvation) of the Eucharist will be fulfilled, perfected and completed in heaven. That is why we have to come to the Sunday Eucharist / Mass every Sunday, so that one day we will eat and drink of the Messianic Banquet in heaven!                    

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us of the life, joy and peace of the Messianic Banquet in heaven! The first reading tells us that in the Messianic Banquet in heaven, there will be no death and no sadness, but there will only be life, joy and peace (shalom/salvation)! Thus we read in the first reading:

“On this mountain, the Lord of hosts will prepare for all peoples a banquet of rich food, a banquet of fine wines, of food rich and juicy, of fine strained wines. On this mountain he will remove the mourning veil covering all peoples, and the shroud enwrapping all nations, he will destroy Death for ever. The Lord will wipe away the tears from every cheek; he will take away his people’s shame everywhere on earth, for the Lord has said so.

That day, it will be said: See, this is our God in whom we hoped for salvation; the Lord is the one in whom we hoped. We exult and we rejoice that he has saved us; for the hand of the Lord rests on this mountain.” (Is 25:6-10; SM)

The mountain in the first reading is Mount Zion, a symbol of the Heavenly Jerusalem! (CSB)

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

“In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.” (Ps 22 (23): 6; SM)

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas tell us about the Good Shepherd. The third and fourth stanzas tell us about the Host of the banquet. Today we will look at the third and fourth stanzas of the psalm, that is, the Host of the banquet.

The third and fourth stanzas of the psalm tell us that at the Messianic Banquet in heaven there will be no hatred, but there will only be love! Thus we read in stanzas three and four of the responsorial psalm from which the response is taken:

“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)     

4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us that St. Paul thanked the Philippians for their financial aid, but more importantly, the second reading tells us that St. Paul depended on Jesus Christ (NJB) for his strength, so that he can be poor or rich, or hungry or full! In the second reading St. Paul was in jail for proclaiming the good news!  

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 help us to change our lives and to do good deeds, so that one day we will eat and drink of the Messianic Banquet in heaven!

    The Holy Spirit will also help us to proclaim the good news as St. Paul did, so that all may believe and be saved, and so that one day all may eat and drink of the Messianic banquet in heaven! A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen!

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 4th Oct 2020

Theme: IT IS THROUGH THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST AND THE OUTPOURING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT THAT THE WHOLE WORLD WILL BE SAVED

1. Today is the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that the Jews rejected Jesus and put him to death, but it is through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that the whole world will be saved, Jews as well as pagans!

The gospel parable today on “the vineyard and the wicked tenants” tells us that God sent many prophets to the Jewish people, but they would not listen, instead they killed the prophets. Finally God sent his Son Jesus Christ, but they would not listen to him either, instead they killed him on the cross!

But it is through his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that the good news is proclaimed not only to the Jews, but also to the pagans! (NJB) It is all in the merciful plan of God! Thus the quotation of Jesus:

“It was the stone rejected by the builders that became the keystone. This was the Lord’s doing and it is wonderful to see?” (Mt 21:42; SM)

Indeed, St. Paul also tells us about the merciful plan of God! St. Paul tells us that the good news was first proclaimed to the Jews, but they rejected it. Their rejection means that the good news will be proclaimed to the pagans, and when the pagans accept the good news and are blessed, the Jews will be jealous and they too will be converted and believe the good news and be saved! (Rm 11)

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the Jews rejected God by practicing social injustices, that is, by oppressing the weak and exploiting the poor!

    The “song of the vineyard” in the first reading tells us that God loved and cared for Israel his chosen people. God sent them prophets, but again, they will not listen to the prophets and obey the commandments of God. Instead they practiced social injustices by exploiting the poor and oppressing the weak. Thus God punished them and they were invaded by their enemies. Thus we read in the first reading:

“Yes, the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the House of Israel, and the men of Judah that chosen plant. He expected justice, but found bloodshed, integrity, but only a cry of distress.” (Is 5:7; SM)

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

“The vineyard of the Lord is the House of Israel.” (Is 5:7; SM)

The responsorial psalm is a “prayer for the restoration of Israel”. (NJB) The responsorial psalm has four stanzas.

The first and second stanzas tell us that God has rejected Israel and left her to be ravaged by her enemies (vv. 9. 12-14; NJBC). The third and fourth stanzas tell us that Israel repented and asked God to save her (vv. 15-16. 19-20).

4. 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 about peace!

The second reading tells us not to worry, but to pray if we are in need of anything. And when we pray, besides petitioning God, we must also give thanks to God. In this way we will find peace in our thoughts and in our hearts!

The second reading also tells us to think good thoughts and do good deeds. In this way we will also find peace! Peace for ourselves and peace for the whole world! A peace that the world cannot give and a peace that the world cannot take away! 

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 proclaim the good news to the whole world so that all may believe and be saved!

The Holy Spirit will help us to think good thoughts, say good words and do good deeds, so that there will be peace in the world! A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you!

                                                                                                                                Amen!

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 27th Spetember 2020

Theme: WE MUST REPENT: WE MUST NOT BE SELF-RIGHTEOUS

Today is the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us to repent and not to be self-righteous.

The gospel today tells us that the Jewish religious leaders were self-righteous. They did not repent and believe in John the Baptist. They will not enter the kingdom of God! (CSB) The Jewish tax-collectors and prostitutes were not self-righteous. They repented and believed in John the Baptist. They will enter the kingdom of God!

In the gospel parable today, the first son who said “no” to the father, but later did the father’s will represents the Jewish tax-collectors and prostitutes. The second son who said “yes” to the father, but later did not do the father’s will represents the Jewish religious leaders.

Today the gospel exhorts all, particularly, religious leaders to repent and not to be self-righteous! 

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that if we sin, we die; but if we repent, we shall live. Sin is not only doing something bad, or breaking the law, or being immoral, but sin is death!    

The first reading also tells us of individual responsibility, that is, we will not be punished for the sins of our parents, but we will be punished for our own sins.

Finally, the first reading tells us that if we sin, all the good that we have done in the past will be forgotten; but if we repent of our sins, all the sins that we have committed in the past will be forgiven and forgotten!

Again, the first reading exhorts us to repent and live!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a confident prayer for forgiveness and guidance. (CSB)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza is a prayer for guidance (vv. 4-5; HCSB). The second stanza is a prayer for forgiveness (vv. 6-7). The third stanza is a prayer of confidence (vv. 8-9). The emphasis today is on the second stanza, that is, a prayer for forgiveness. Thus we read in the second stanza:

“Remember your mercy, Lord, and the love you have shown from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth. In your love remember me, because of your goodness, O Lord.” (Ps 24 (25): 6-7; SM) 

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

 “Remember your mercy, Lord.” (Ps 24 (25): 6; SM)    

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 about unity and humility. The two go together. There can be no unity without humility. Pride divides the community, humility unites the community.

St. Paul tells the Philippians in the second reading to be humble, that is, not to compete with one another, not to be conceited (vain); but to be self-effacing, to consider other people better than themselves, and not to think of their own interest first, but to think of others’ interest instead!

Above all, St. Paul tells the Philippians in the second reading to be humble like Jesus Christ, who though was God, did not count equality with God, but became man and became lower than man by dying on the cross. But God raised him high and gave him the name above all other names, so that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bend and every tongue shall confess Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father!    

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 repent and not to be self-righteous. The Holy Spirit will help us to be humble so that we will be united with one another. Again, a happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen!

Today we also celebrate “Migrant Sunday” and our Pope Emeritus in 2011 has a special message for us! The theme of the Message was “One Human Family”. Message of His Holiness Benedict XVI for the 97th World Day of Migrants and Refugees (2011):

    Extracts:

“The World Day of Migrants and Refugees offers the whole Church an opportunity to reflect on a theme linked to the growing phenomenon of migration, to pray that hearts may open to Christian welcome and to the effort to increase in the world justice and charity, pillars on which to build an authentic and lasting peace.”