FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT (A) – 14th February 2016

Theme: LENT IS A TIME WHEN WE PREPARE TO CELEBRATE EASTER AND RENEW OUR BAPTISMAL PROFESSION OF FAITH

  • Genesis 2:7-9. 3:1-7
  • Romans 5:12-19
  • Matthew 4:1-11

Today is the first Sunday of Lent, and Lent is a time when we prepare for the celebration of Easter! For those of us who have already been baptized, Lent is a time when we renew our faith, so that on Easter Vigil Night or Easter Sunday Morning, we can renew our “baptismal profession of faith”!

The priest will ask us 3 questions on faith:

Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth?

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?

Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?

And we will answer, “I do” to all the 3 questions of faith and the priest will sprinkle us with the water of baptism and we will die and rise with Christ to the new and eternal life of Easter!

The readings today have to be seen in the liturgical context of Lent and Easter, and of Baptism and the renewal of our “baptismal profession of faith”!

In fact, Lent was originally a time when the catechumens prepared their faith for baptism on Easter Vigil Night! They too had to answer the 3 questions of faith before they were baptized!

The first reading from Genesis tells us that Adam and Eve Sinned against God! It was the first sin, the original sin, and the mother of all sins! It was a sin against faith in God, it was a sin of self-sufficiency, it was a sin of pride, and it was a sin of independence of God! Adam and Eve no longer lived from God and for God, but Adam and Eve lived from themselves and for themselves!

When we no longer live from God and for God, but live from ourselves and for ourselves, all the other actual sins follow, mortal and venial sins: theft, adultery, fornication, murder, deceit, injustices, corruption, jealousy, revenge, hatred, etc.!

The first reading tells us that the serpent said to the woman, ‘No! You will not die! God knows in fact that on the day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil.’

The sin of Adam and Eve was not the sin of adultery, murder, or theft, but it was the sin of pride, of self-sufficiency, and independence of God! It was the original sin of dependence on oneself rather than dependence on God! It was the original sin of having faith in oneself rather than having faith in God! Again, when we put our faith in ourselves, rather than putting our faith in God, actual sins follow, mortal and venial sins: theft, murder, adultery, etc.!

More importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus Christ the New Adam, put his faith back in God! Again, the 3 temptations of Jesus Christ were temptations against faith in God, but more importantly, the response of Jesus Christ was a response of faith in God! Jesus Christ the new Adam, the new Israel, the new Son of God (Israel was the old son of God who lost faith in God in the desert and later in Canaan!), put his faith back in God!

The faith responses of Jesus Christ are from Deuteronomy chapters 6 to 8: “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”! (Deuteronomy 8:3). “You must not put the Lord your God to the test”! (Deuteronomy 6:16) “You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone”! (Deuteronomy 6:13)

Jesus Christ the New Adam though crucified, died and was buried, rose from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of the Father! Adam though he was alive died because of his Sin! And Saint Paul tells us in the second reading today from the letter to the Romans that through Adam sin and death entered the world, but more importantly, Saint Paul tells us that through Jesus Christ the New Adam, life, righteousness and justification entered the world!

On Ash Wednesday when the priest applied ashes on your foreheads he said: “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel” or “Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return”!

The first formula is from Mark 1:15, said by Jesus after his temptation and at the beginning of his ministry: “Repent, and believe the gospel”! The second formula is from Genesis 3:19, said by God to Adam after his fall: “For dust you are and to dust you shall return”!

The first formula is preferred over the second formula: “Repent and believe the gospel”! To repent does not only mean turning away from sin, but it also means turning away from the world, that it, turning away from power, wealth, status, etc.! For if we only turn away from sin we will turn back to sin, but if we also turn away from the world and turn to God and believe the gospel, then we will not sin again! On the contrary, we will live and love like Him!

The gospel of Ash Wednesday (Matthew 6:1-6. 16-18) is also very important, for it tells us to pray, fast and give alms to the poor during Lent. The Church asks us to pray, fast and give alms to the poor during Lent, to help us turn away from sin and the world, and to turn to God and believe the gospel!

The Church asks us to pray, fast and give alms to the poor, to counter the 3 temptations of the devil, that is, the temptation to test God rather than believing in him and praying to him, the temptation to live on bread alone, and the temptation to power and wealth, respectively!

Again, the Church asks us to pray, fast, and give alms to the poor during Lent to help us renew our faith, so that on Easter Vigil Night or on Easter Sunday Morning, we may renew our “baptismal profession of faith”, and the priest will sprinkle us with the water of Baptism, and we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the New Life of Easter! A Happy Lent to all of you!

Amen!

5TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (C) – 7th February 2016

Theme: THE GRACE OF GOD FORGIVES US OUR SINS AND CALLS US TO BE APOSTLES

  • Isaiah 6:1-8;
  • Psalm 137 (138): 1-5. 7-8. R/ v. 1;
  • 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (Longer Form)
  • Luke 5:1-11
  1. Today is the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us that the grace of God forgives us our sins and calls us to be apostles!

The gospel today tells us that after the miraculous catch of fish, Peter was overwhelmed and told Jesus to leave him, because he was a sinful man; but Jesus did not leave him, instead Jesus told him not to be afraid and called him to be a fisher of men, that is, to be his apostle!

The gospel tells us that Peter, James and John, and Andrew (NJB) responded immediately and totally to the call of Jesus to be his apostles!

“They left everything and followed him.” (Luke 5:11; SM)

In front of God’s grace that forgives us our sins and calls us to be apostles, the only proper response is immediate and total!

And more importantly, our mission as apostles will not fail, but will succeed; because it is not from us, but it is from the grace of God! Thus the miraculous catch of fish!

 

  1. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us of the call of the prophet Isaiah. Again, Isaiah was a sinner. He was a man of unclean lips and he lived among a people of unclean lips.

But again, the Lord touched his lips with a live coal from the altar and forgave his sins and called him to be his prophet! And again, Isaiah responded immediately and totally!

“Here I am, send me.” (Is 6:8; SM)

Again, in front of God’s grace that forgives us our sins and calls us to be his prophets, our response must be immediate and total!

And again, our mission as prophets will not fail, but will succeed; because it is not from us, but it is from the grace of God!

 

  1. The second reading tells us that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a historical fact and that our faith and salvation depend on it! But the long form of the second reading also tells us of the call of Saint Paul.

Again, Saint Paul was a sinner. In fact he was a persecutor of Christians, but again, because of God’s grace he became an apostle and he became the most hardworking of all the apostles! Thus we read in the second reading:

“I am the least of the apostles; in fact, since I persecuted the Church of God, I hardly deserve the name apostle; but by God’s grace that is what I am, and the grace that he gave me has not been fruitless. On the contrary, I, or rather the grace of God that is with me, have worked harder than any of the others.” (1 Co 15: 9-10; SM)

Again, the mission of Saint Paul will not fail, even if he will have to die, but will succeed; because it is not from him, but it is from the grace of God!

 

  1. Again, in front of the grace of God that forgives our sins and calls us to be apostles and prophets, we give thanks to God! The responsorial psalm today is a psalm of thanksgiving! Thus the response:

“Before the angels I will bless you, O Lord.” (Ps 137 (138): 1; SM)

That is, ‘before the angels, I will praise and thank you, O Lord’.

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas (vv. 1-3) are a “thanksgiving for deliverance”. The third stanza (vv. 4-5) is a “prayer that all nations acknowledge Yahweh”. And the fourth stanza (vv. 7-8) is a “statement of confidence”. (NJBC)

 

  1. Today in this Mass, we give thanks to God for two of the greatest apostles, Peter and Paul. Peter was the first Pope and Paul was an apostle to the Gentiles (non-Jews), that is, an apostle to the whole world!

Today we also thank God for all his graces that forgive us our sins and call us to be his apostles. And we ask God to help us to respond to his call immediately and totally. And we are confident that our mission will not fail, but will succeed; because it is not from us, but it is from the grace of God! A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you!

 

Amen!

2ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (C) – 17th January 2016

Theme: JESUS CHANGED THE WATER OF THE PURIFICATION RITES OF THE JEWS INTO THE WINE OF THE MESSIANIC WEDDING BANQUET!

 

  • Isaiah 62:1-5;
  • Psalm 95 (96): 1-3. 7-10. R/ v. 3;
  • 1 Corinthians 12:4-11
  • John 2:1-11
  1. Today is the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The gospel today tells us that Jesus changed water into wine. That is, Jesus changed the water of the purification rites of the Jews into the wine of the Messianic Wedding Banquet! (Is 62:4-5; First Reading; NJBC) Jesus did two things. First he asked the servants to “replace” the water of the “empty” water jars, and then he changed the water into wine!

The gospel tells us that this was the first of seven signs of Jesus and the disciples saw his glory and believed in him. It was done at the request of his mother Mary before his hour had come! Next, Mary appeared at the foot of the cross (Jn 19:25-27) when his hour had come! Mary is the symbol of the Church! (CSB)

It is through his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that he will change the water into the waters of Baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit; and he will change the wine into his blood, the blood of the Eucharist! The Fathers of the Church see these two sacraments as signifying the Church! (Jn 19:34; NJBr) The Church is the bride of Christ born from the side of Christ!

 

  1. The first reading tells us about the glory of Jerusalem. The first reading tells us that the Lord will be the bridegroom and Jerusalem will be the bride! The first reading was a prophecy made to the Jews returned from exile! The prophecy is fulfilled in Jesus Christ who is the bridegroom of the bride the Church! Thus we read in the first reading:

“No more shall men call you “Forsaken,” or your land “Desolate,” But you shall be called “My Delight,” and your land “Espoused.” For the Lord delights in you, and makes your land his spouse. As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; And as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.” (Is 62: 4-5; CSB)

 

  1. The responsorial psalm invites all the peoples to praise and worship the Lord who rules the world with justice! The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas (vv. 1-3) invite all the peoples to praise the Lord. The third and fourth stanzas (vv. 7-10) invite all the peoples to worship the Lord who rules with justice! (CSB) Thus the response:

“Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.” (Ps 95 (96): 3; SM)

 

  1. The second reading tells us about unity in diversity in our Church! The second reading tells us that there are many different gifts in our Church; the gifts of preaching, teaching, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, speaking in tongues, etc.; but they are all from the same Spirit, and they are all to serve the same Lord, and they all have the same God working in them, and they are all for the common good! Unity in diversity not unity in uniformity! We are a Christian Community, not a Communist Commune! Thus we read in the second reading:

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Co 12:4-7; HCSB)

 

  1. Today in this Mass we thank God for the many different spiritual gifts and we ask God to help us live in love and unity, that is, to work together for the glory of God and for the good of the Church!

We also thank God for the gifts of the Sacraments and we ask God to give us more priests to celebrate the Sacraments, especially the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist, so that all may see the glory of the Lord and believe in him!

Incidentally, we are having our annual vocation seminar in Bundu Tuhan right now for the three dioceses of Sabah! Let us pray for more vocations to the priesthood so that we will have enough priests to celebrate the sacraments, to preach the good news and to build the kingdom of God, so that all may see the glory of the Lord and believe in him! A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you!

 

THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD (C) – 10th January 2016

Theme: THE REVELATION OF THE LORD AS SON AND SUFFERING-SERVANT OF GOD

 

  • Isaiah 40:1-5. 9-11;
  • Psalm 103 (104): 1-2. 3-4. 24-25. 27-30. R/ v. 1;
  • Titus 2:11-14. 3:4-7
  • Luke 3:15-16. 21-22

 

  1. Today we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Liturgical Year C. Like Christmas and Epiphany, the Baptism of the Lord is about the revelation of the Lord. At Christmas, the Lord revealed himself to shepherds, that is, to the poor, the humble, the lowly, and to sinners! At Epiphany, the Lord revealed himself to the wise men from the east, that is, to all the nations, not only to the Jews, but to the whole world! At the Baptism of the Lord, the Lord revealed himself as Son and Suffering-Servant of God!

The gospel today tells us that when Jesus was baptized and was at prayer, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him and a voice from heaven said,

“You are my Son, the Beloved; my favor rests on you”. (Lk 3:22; SM; CSB)

That is, Jesus is the Son and Suffering-Servant of God! (NJBC; Is 42:1) As Son, Jesus is to love God, as Servant, Jesus is to serve God, and as Suffering-Servant, Jesus is to suffer and sacrifice in order to sanctify and save the world!

The gospel also tells us that Jesus will baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire! That is, he will baptize us with the fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of Pentecost! (Acts 2) The fire of God’s love! The fire of God’s love will burn away our sins and make us into sons and servants of God! As sons of God we will love God and neighbor, as servants of God, we will serve God and neighbor, and as suffering-servants of God we will suffer and sacrifice for the sanctification and salvation of the world!

 

  1. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us about the revelation of the Lord. The first reading tells us that the glory of the Lord will be revealed to all the nations!

The first reading was originally about the return from exile from Babylon to Jerusalem, the new and second exodus; but the New Testament sees it as a prophecy on John the Baptist and Jesus Christ! (CSB; Mt 3:3) Thus we read in the first reading:

“A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wilderness a way for the Lord. Make a straight highway for our God across the desert. Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low, let every cliff become a plain, and the ridges a valley; then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all mankind shall see it; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Is 40: 3-5; SM)

More importantly, the first reading tells us that when the Lord is revealed he will be revealed as the Good Shepherd! (NJB; Jr 23:1-6; Ezk 34; Mt 18: 12-14; Jn 10:11-18) Thus the first reading concludes:

“He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against his breast and leading to their rest the mother ewes.” (Is 40:11; SM)

 

  1. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord does not only reveal himself in the glory of salvation, but the Lord also reveals himself in “the glories of creation”! (NJB)

The responsorial psalm has five stanzas. The first and second stanzas (vv. 1-4) tell us about the creation of the heavens. The third stanza (vv. 24-25) tells us about the creation of the many and various creatures of the land and sea!

And most importantly, the fourth and fifth stanzas (vv. 27-30) tell us that all creatures depend on God! (HCSB) God does not only create the universe, but God also sustains the universe! Ongoing creation! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Bless the Lord, my soul! Lord God, how great you are.” (Ps 103 (104): 1; SM)

 

  1. The second reading also tells us of the revelation of the Lord. The second reading tells us that God has revealed his grace for our salvation and this he did through the sacrifice of his Son Jesus Christ who purified us from sins so that we will do good. This happens to us in the Sacrament of Baptism where we receive the Holy Spirit who renews us and justifies us with the grace of God! Thus we read in the second reading:

“God’s grace has been revealed, and it has made salvation possible for the whole human race. …. He sacrificed himself for us in order to set us free from all wickedness and to purify a people so that it could be his very own and would have no ambition except to do good.” (Tt 2:11. 14; SM) ….

“He saved us by means of the cleansing water of rebirth and by renewing us with the Holy Spirit which he has so generously poured over us through Jesus Christ our savior. He did this so that we should be justified by his grace, to become heirs looking forward to inheriting eternal life.” (Tt 3:5-7; SM)

 

  1. Today in this Mass, we thank God for the revelation of his Son Jesus Christ and we thank God for the gift of Baptism. And we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we will grow as sons and servants of the Lord; and so that as sons we will love the Lord and love one another, and so that as servants we will serve the Lord and serve one another. And so that as suffering servants we will suffer and sacrifice in order to sanctify and save the world! A happy feast day to all of you!

Amen!

THE HOLY FAMILY OF JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH (C) – 27th December 2015

Theme: A HAPPY AND HOLY FAMILY

 

  • Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 3:2-6. 12-14;
  • Psalm 127 (128): 1-5. R/ v. 1;
  • Colossians 3:12-21
  • Luke 2:41-52

 

  1. A Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you! Christmas is such a big feast that we celebrate it in eight days! The octave day (eighth day) of Christmas will be on New Year’s Day, when we will celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God! But the Christmas season ends only with the Baptism of the Lord on the 13th of January 2013!

Christmas, Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord are all the manifestations of the Lord! Christmas, manifestation to sinners (Shepherds); Epiphany, manifestation to all the nations (wise men); and Baptism of the Lord, manifestation of the Lord as Son and Servant of God!

That is why, besides Jesus, Mary and Joseph, our crib has shepherds (Christmas), wise men (Epiphany), and a white cloud symbolizing God the Father and a white dove symbolizing God the Holy Spirit (The Baptism of the Lord)!

Again, 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 C!

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph is holy, because God is the Father and Jesus is the Son of God born through the power of the Holy Spirit! Our families are also holy because in Baptism God became our Father and we became the children of God born through the power of the Holy Spirit! The Church became our Mother and Jesus became our brother and we became brothers and sisters to one another!

The gospel today tells us that when Jesus was twelve years old and was lost in the temple in Jerusalem for three days, and when Mary and Joseph found him and asked him why he had done this; Jesus replied that he had to do his Father’s work! (CSB) In other words, Jesus is the Son of God!

The gospel tells us that Jesus is also man. The gospel tells us that Jesus stayed with Mary and Joseph in Nazareth for thirty years! We do not hear about Jesus for thirty years! We only hear about Jesus for three years, his last three years! In the thirty years of silence in Nazareth Jesus was growing up physically, mentally and spiritually in the Holy Family! (Fuller)

Our children too have to grow up physically, mentally and spiritually in a holy family! The family is the cell of society and the domestic Church! If our families are broken our society and our Church will also be broken!

 

  1. The first reading also tells us about the family. The first reading tells us about our duty towards our parents, especially when they are old and sick! The first reading tells us that if we honor our parents as the fourth commandment tells us to, God will bless us! We will be happy with our own children, our sins will be forgiven, God will listen to our prayers, we will live long and healthy lives, etc.!

 

  1. The responsorial psalm also tells us about the family. (CSB; NJB; HCSB) The responsorial psalm tells us that if we revere the Lord and walk in his ways, we will be satisfied, we will be rich and happy; and our spouses will be fertile and we will have plenty of children! Thus the response and the first and second stanzas:

“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 (128): 1-3; SM)

 

  1. The second reading also tells us about the family. The second reading has three paragraphs. The first and second paragraphs tell us about Christian life in general, that is, we have to love, forgive, be thankful to God, etc. The third paragraph tells us about the Christian family. Thus we read in the third paragraph:

“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; SM)

In short, wives love your husbands, husbands love your wives; children love your parents, parents love your children!

 

  1. Suggestions for a happy and holy family:

(i) A family must eat together at least once a day, preferably at dinner time. There must be no television, internet, hand phone, etc. at dinner time.

(ii) A family must communicate, that is, family members must talk to each other and listen to each other. Communion and community begin with communication!

(iii) A family must pray together everyday. A family that prays together stays together!

(iv) Parents must teach their faith to their children, especially in this Year of Faith. Besides the Bible and the Sunday Mass readings, parents must use the YOUCAT, that is, Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church!

(v) A family must belong to a BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) of a few families. They must meet at least once a month for support, sharing, praying, meals, etc. A BEC is an extended Christian family!

(vi) A family must play together, exercise together, have recreation together, go for outings together, go for holidays together, etc.!

(vii) Grand parents should not be sent to homes for the aged and grand children should not be sent to nurseries. Grand parents can help take care of grand children!

(viii) A family must go to Mass every Sunday and if possible be involved in Bible-Sharing, Prayer Meetings, BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities), Neo-Catechumenal Communities, Alpha Course, etc. on weekdays.

(ix) A family must be open to life, that is, no artificial birth control, abortion, etc.

(x) A family must keep Sunday holy. (Third Commandment!) Sunday is for the Lord and for one’s family, not for work and not for money. (Pope Benedict XVI)

(xi) The father of the family must come home to avoid the “absent father syndrome”. And he must not only be physically present; he must also be emotionally present.

(xii) Extended families, that is, cousins, nephews, nieces, uncles, aunties, etc. should come together at least once a month for meals, drinks, fellowship, etc.

A Happy and Holy Family to all of you!

Amen!

CHRISTMAS (A B C) – 25th December 2015

Theme: A BLESSED CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR

  • Matthew 1:1-25;
  • Luke 2:1-14; Lk 2:15-20;
  • John 1:1-18;
  • Hebrews 1:1-6.
  1. A blessed Christmas and a happy New Year to all of you! Christmas is a very big feast, second only to Easter! That is why we have four Masses for Christmas, namely, “Vigil Mass”, “Mass at Midnight”, “Mass at Dawn”, and “Mass During the Day”! We have no time to look at all the readings, but let us look at all the gospels of all the four Masses!

The gospel for Vigil Mass tells us that Jesus Christ was the son of David and the son of Abraham. The gospel tells us that from Abraham to David there were 14 generations; and from David to the Babylonian exile there were 14 generations; and from the Babylonian exile to Jesus Christ there were 14 generations. In Hebrew there are 14 letters in the name David; Jesus Christ is therefore the Davidic Messiah! But the number 14 is also a multiple of 7 which is a perfect number for Matthew. Jesus came at the perfect time, that is, at the fullness of time; and in his Second Coming all creation will be perfected in him in all its fullness! (IBC; Vat.IIWM)

The number 7 could have originated from the 7 heavenly lights, that is, the Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn as the heavens were perfect for the ancients! In fact, the days of the week are named after the 7 heavenly bodies: Sunday (Sun), Monday (Moon), Tuesday (Mars), Wednesday (Mercury), Thursday (Jupiter), Friday (Venus) and Saturday (Saturn)! (WNNCD) The number 7 could also have originated from the 4 phases of the moon, that is, new, crescent, gibbous and full moon. A quarter of the 28 days of the moon is 7. (CGDB) In short, Jesus Christ came at the perfect time, that is, at the fullness of time and when Jesus Christ comes a second time all will be perfected in him in all its fullness!

 

  1. The gospel for Midnight Mass tells us that Caesar Augustus is not god, not the savior and not the bringer of peace as the Romans revered him to be; but Jesus Christ is God, Savior and Bringer of Peace (Shalom)!

The gospel tells us that Jesus Christ is God become man, God become food for man, and God become food for sinful man! That is why the sign for Jesus Christ’s birth is an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, that is, God become man; lying in a manger, that is, God become food for man; and revealed to shepherds, that is, God become food for sinful man! (NJBC)

That is why the gospel tells us that the angel announced to the shepherds that a Savior has been born to them and he is Christ the Lord, that is, he is God, Savior and Messiah who brings peace (shalom)! And the sign that the angel gave to the shepherds was an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And that is why the gospel tells us that a throng of other angels praised God singing:

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to men who enjoy his favor”. (Lk 2:14; SM)

That is, Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace, shalom, salvation to men who are blessed, graced and favored by him!

We give glory to God, for salvation comes from God, and it is a favor, a blessing, a grace, and a total free gift to sinful men!

 

  1. The gospel for “Mass at Dawn” is a continuation of the gospel for Midnight Mass. Again, we hear for a third time “the baby lying in the manger”! And again we hear of the shepherds! Again, God did not only become man, but God became food for man, and not only food for man, but food for sinful man, so that sinful man may live and not die! The gospel tells us that the shepherds shared the news of great joy of the angel with Mary and Joseph, and Mary treasured it and pondered it in her heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God!

 

  1. The gospel for “Mass during the Day” and the second reading which is similar to it tell us that God reveals himself in creation (Rm 1:20; Fuller), that is, God reveals himself in the sun, moon and stars; the trees, animals and birds; the sea, fish and corals, etc.! That is why we have to care for the environment and not destroy it!

The gospel and the second reading also tell us that God reveals himself in human beings! Human beings were created in the image of God to be the co-creators of God! Human beings are the only creatures who can think, reflect, and reason! That is why our Pope, Benedict XVI, often talks about “faith and reason” or “faith and science”! That is why we have to dialogue with science! We have to dialogue with cosmology, astronomy, ecology, anthropology, sociology, psychology, biology, geology, etc.

Albert Einstein said that science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind. Blessed Pope John Paul II said that science without religion is idolatry and religion without science is superstition. Indeed science without religion is meaningless and religion without science is fanaticism!

More importantly, Science with religion and religion with science is mysticism/mystery, that is, God in all things and all things in God. God is the beginning and the end of all things, the Alpha and the Omega! Everything comes from God and everything goes back to God! There is meaning, purpose and direction even in creation!

The gospel and the second reading also tell us that God reveals himself in other religions, especially in Judaism! That is why we have to dialogue with other religions, especially with Islam.

Finally, the gospel and the second reading tell us that God reveals himself fully, completely and perfectly in Jesus Christ! Thus the gospel ends by telling us that the law came through Moses in the Old Testament (old grace), but grace and truth, that is, love and faithfulness (Jn 1:16-17; Ex 34:6; CSB; NJB; CCB), came through Jesus Christ in the New Testament (new grace)! That is why we have to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ in season and out of season!

A blessed Christmas and a happy New Year to all of you!

Amen!

4TH SUNDAY OF ADVENT (C) – 20th December 2015

Theme: THE CHRIST OF CHRISTMAS

  • Micah 5:1-4;
  • Psalm 79 (80):2-3. 15-16. 18-19. R/ v. 4;
  • Hebrews 10:5-10
  • Luke 1:39-45

Today is the 4th and last Sunday of Advent, Liturgical Year C. As Christmas draws near, the readings today tell us about the Christ of Christmas. (Raas) The commercial world has taken Christ out of Christmas, so much so that it is no longer “Blessed Christmas”, but “Merry X’mas”! We have to put Christ back into Christmas! Again, the readings today tell us about the Christ of Christmas!

The gospel today tells us that even when Jesus Christ was still in the womb, Mary was blessed; John the Baptist leapt for joy in the womb of Elizabeth, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and recognized Jesus Christ to be Lord, that is, God! Thus we read in the gospel:

“Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honored with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy.” (Lk 1:41-44; SM)

 

The first reading tells us that the Christ/Messiah will come from Bethlehem. He will be a descendent of David. He will be the Davidic king who will rule over Israel. He will save Israel from the Assyrians. More importantly, he will save the whole world from sin and death! He will bring peace to the whole world: peace, shalom, salvation! Thus the first reading concludes:

“They (Israel) will live secure, for from then on he will extend his power to the ends of the land. He himself will be peace.” (Mi 5:3b-4; SM)

The responsorial psalm is a prayer asking God to save us; asking God to send the Davidic king/messiah to save us!

The response and the first stanza ask God to save us. (Vv. 1-3; HCSB) The second and third stanzas ask God to send the Davidic King to save us. (Vv. 15-19; CSB)

Thus the response asking God to save us:

“God of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.” (Ps 79 (80): 4; SM)

And thus verse 18 of the third stanza, asking God to send his Davidic King/Messiah to save us:

“May your hand be on the man you have chosen, the man you have given your strength.” (Ps 79 (80):18; SM)

The second reading tells us that the Davidic Messiah has come to save us, but not as a political, nationalistic and military Messiah; but as a Suffering-Messiah! A Messiah who serves, suffers, sacrifices, sanctifies and saves! Thus the second reading concludes:

“And this will was for us to be made holy by the offering of his body made once and for all by Jesus Christ.” (Hb 5:10; SM)

Again, Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time. We prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by doing what Mary did in the gospel today, that is, by believing in the promise of the Lord and by doing the will of the Lord! Thus the gospel today ends:

“Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Lk 1:45; SM)

And thus the “Gospel Acclamation” today:

“I am the handmaid (servant) of the Lord: let what you have said be done to me.” (Lk 1:38; SM)

A Happy and Joyful Advent to all of you!

Amen!