All Saints – 1st Nov 2019

Theme: ALL SAINTS: THE KNOWN AND UNKNOWN SAINTS; THE SAINTS IN HEAVEN AND THE SAINTS ON EARTH

  • Apocalypse (Revelation) 7:2-4. 9-14;
  • Psalm 23:1-6. R/ cf. v. 6;
  • 1 John 3:1-3
  • Matthew 5:1-12

Today we celebrate ALL SAINTS day! Today we commemorate all the known Saints and unknown saints; and all the saints in heaven and all the saints on earth!

The first reading tells us about the saints in heaven! The first reading tells us that they are all dressed in white with palms in their hands and praising God for their victory and salvation!

Their robes were washed white by the blood of the Lamb! The palms they hold symbolize victory and salvation! And they give praise to God and to the Lamb, because their victory and salvation come from God and from the Lamb! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands. They shouted aloud, ‘Victory to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! ….They have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb.’” (Rv 7: 9-10. 14; SM)

The gospel today tells us about the saints on earth, that is, you and me who are baptized! St. Paul calls the baptized, “saints”, especially in the letters to the Corinthians! The gospel today tells us about the eight beatitudes! But the most important beatitude is the first beatitude! Thus we read:

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

The poor in spirit are the materially poor and the spiritually poor; but most importantly, the poor in spirit are those who are totally dependent on God for their material and spiritual food!

The poor in spirit are therefore those who receive the blessings of God, the grace of God, the Holy Spirit of God! And that is why they can fulfill the other seven beatitudes that follow! That is, being gentle, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, persecuted for the cause of right, etc.!

The second reading also tells us about the saints on earth, that is, the baptized, that is, you and me! The second reading tells us that we are already the children of God, but what we will become has not yet been revealed. All we know is that when it is revealed we will be like him, that is, God or Jesus Christ, because we will see him as he really is!

We are already the children of God, that is, we are already baptized and as children of God we are totally dependent on God for our salvation! We will be like him because we will see him as he really is, that is, we will be like God, Jesus Christ and the saints, because we will be in heaven! Thus we read:

“My dear people, we are already the children of God but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed; all we know is, that when it is revealed we shall be like him because we shall see him as he really is.” (1 Jn 3:2; SM)

Today we thank God for all the saints! More importantly, we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ who washed away our sins with his blood and changed us sinners into saints!

We ask God to continue to bless us, grace us, give us the Holy Spirit; and continue to wash away our sins with the blood of Lamb, especially in the Eucharist every Sunday, so that one day we too will become saints in heaven, even canonized Saints in heaven!

 

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 27th Oct 2019

Theme: THE LORD LISTENS TO THE PRAYER OF THE HUMBLE

  • Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 35:12-14. 16-19;
  • Psalm 33:2-3. 17-19. 23. R/ v. 7;
  • 2 Timothy 4:6-8. 16-18.
  • Luke 18:9-14

Today is the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us that the Lord listens to the prayer of the humble. The gospel today tells us that two men went to the Temple to pray; one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector. The Pharisee said this prayer to himself, ‘I thank you God that I am not greedy, unjust and adulterous like the rest of man, particularly, I am not like this tax-collector here. I fast twice a week and I pay tithes on all that I earn’. The tax-collector on the other hand stood far off, not raising his eyes, beat his breast and said, ‘God have mercy on me a sinner’.

More importantly, the gospel today tells us that the tax-collector was justified but the Pharisee was not! The tax-collector was justified not because he was holier than the Pharisee, but because he was humble. That is, he acknowledged his sinfulness and more importantly, he acknowledged his dependence on God who is merciful! The Pharisee was not justified, not because he was less holy than the tax-collector, but because he was proud! He was not even praying, he was praising himself!

Last Sunday the readings told us to pray continually and persistently! This Sunday the readings tell us to pray humbly, because the Lord listens to the prayer of the humble, but rejects the prayer of the proud! Thus the gospel concludes:

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the man who humbles himself will be exalted”. (Lk 18:14; SM)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us that the Lord listens to the prayer of the humble! Thus the caption of the first reading: “The humble man’s prayer pierces the clouds”. (Si 35:17; SM)

That is, the humble man’s prayer touches God! The cloud is a symbol of God.

The humble of the first reading are the poor, the widows and the orphans, that is, those who acknowledge their helplessness and hopelessness and more importantly, those who acknowledge their total dependence on a merciful God!

Again, the opposite is equally true, that is, the proud man’s prayer cannot pierce the clouds, that is, it cannot touch God! The proud man is one who is self-sufficient and who does not depend on God!

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

“This poor man called; the Lord heard him”. (Ps 33:7; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza thanks God for deliverance (vv. 2-3; SM). The second and third stanzas tell us that God protects the poor (vv. 17-19. 23; SM). (CSB; NJB)

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 St. Paul after preaching the Good News in the face of suffering and persecution has come to the end of his life. He is facing imminent death. He will be executed as a martyr. More importantly, the second reading tells us that he will receive the “crown of righteousness”!

Most importantly, the second reading tells us that the Lord was with him all the time from the beginning to the end! The Lord was with him when he proclaimed the Good News, when he was persecuted, when he was put to death and the Lord brought him to heaven! Thus we read in the second reading:

“But the Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear; and so I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from all evil attempts on me, and bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (2 Tm 4:17-18; SM)  

Last Sunday, Mission Sunday, the second reading told us to preach the good news! This Sunday the second reading tells us to preach the good news even in the face of persecution and we will receive the “crown of righteousness”! More importantly, the second reading tells us that the Lord will be with us when we preach the good news and when we are persecuted and the Lord will bring us to heaven! 

Today we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ who taught us to pray and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit of his Son Jesus Christ so that we may pray with humility, acknowledging our sins and acknowledging our total dependence on God who is merciful.

Today we also thank God for the Good News and we ask God to help us proclaim the Good News even in the face of persecution, suffering and death, so that we too may receive the “crown of righteousness”! Amen!

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 20th Oct 2019

Theme: PRAY CONTINUALLY AND PERSISTENTLY THAT YOU MAY NOT LOSE YOUR FAITH AND LOSE YOUR GOD

  • Exodus 17:8-13;
  • Psalm 120. R/ cf. v. 2;
  • 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2
  • Luke 18:1-8

Today is the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us about prayer. The gospel today tells us to pray persistently that we may not lose our faith! (CSB; IBC) Thus the first and the last sentence of the gospel:

“Jesus told his disciples a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. …. And the Lord said, ‘But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?’” (Lk 18: 1 & 8b; SM)

The question is: “will he find any faith on earth?” The answer is: “he will find faith on earth if we pray continually and persistently!” Not only pray, but pray persistently!

The gospel tells us about the parable of the unjust judge and the persistent widow. The gospel tells us that the unjust judge had no fear of God or respect for man; but more importantly, the gospel tells us that the persistent widow kept on demanding justice from the unjust judge until he gave her justice!

The emphasis of the gospel is not on the unjust judge, nor even on God who answers our prayers; but the emphasis is on the persistent widow! In short, the gospel today tells us to pray continually and persistently that we may not lose our faith!

If we lose our faith, we lose God, and if we lose God, we lose everything, including the most important things, that is, love, life and happiness! We lose the God of Jesus Christ, that is, love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation!

Thus the gospel tells us to pray continually, persistently and perseveringly, so that we will not lose our faith, so that we will not lose the God of Jesus Christ, and so that we will find love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation! So that we will find love, life and happiness!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us to pray persistently! (CCB) The first reading tells us that Joshua was fighting the Amalekites, but more importantly, the first reading tells us that Moses was praying for Joshua! And as long as Moses arms were raised in prayer, Joshua was at an advantage, but as soon as Moses lowered his arms out of tiredness, Joshua was at a disadvantage! Moses’ arms had to be supported by Aaron and Hur until Joshua defeated the Amalekites! Thus we read:

“As long as Moses kept his arms raised, Israel had the advantage; when he let his arms fall, the advantage went to Amalek.” (Ex 17: 11; SM)  

The first reading tells us to pray persistently and continually so that we will win the fight even against the Devil himself!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God is our guard and guardian! (CSB) Thus the response:

“Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.” (Ps 120: 2; SM)

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first stanza tells us that the Lord is our guard and guardian (vv. 1-2)! The second stanza tells us that the Lord will guard our every step (vv. 3-4)! The third stanza tells us that the Lord will guard us day and night (vv. 5-6)! The fourth stanza tells us that the Lord will guard our every movement (vv.7-8)!

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but today is also “Mission Sunday” or “World Mission Day”! The second reading follows the theme of “Mission Sunday”! Thus we read in the second reading:

“Before God and before Christ Jesus who is to be judge of the living and the dead, I put this duty to you, in the name of his Appearing and of his kingdom: proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it.” (2 Tm 4:1-2; SM)

Pope Francis also has a message for us for “World Mission Day 2013”! Excerpts:

“The proclamation of the Gospel is part of being disciples of Christ and it is a constant commitment that animates the whole life of the Church. Missionary outreach is a clear sign of the maturity of an ecclesial community.” (No. 1)

“Each community is therefore challenged, and invited to make its own, the mandate entrusted by Jesus to the Apostles, to be his ‘witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8) and this, not as a secondary aspect of Christian life, but as its essential aspect: we are all invited to walk the streets of the world with our brothers and sisters, proclaiming and witnessing to our faith in Christ and making ourselves heralds of his Gospel.” (No. 2)

“I would like to encourage everyone to be a bearer of the good news of Christ and I am grateful especially to missionaries, to the priests, men and women religious and lay faithful – more and more numerous – who by accepting the Lord’s call, leave their homeland to serve the Gospel in different lands and cultures.” (No. 5)    

Today we thank God for the gift of faith and we ask God to help us pray persistently so that we will not lose our faith! We also ask God to help us share our faith with others by proclaiming the Good News, so that all may have faith and so that all may be saved! God bless you! Amen!

 

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 13th October 2019

Theme: GIVE THANKS TO GOD

  • 2 Kings 5:14-17;
  • Psalm 97:1- 4. R/ cf. v. 2;
  • 2 Timothy 2:8-13
  • Luke 17:11-19

Today is the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us to give thanks to God! Our God is a gracious, giving, blessing and favoring God! The proper response to our God is therefore one of thanksgiving!

The gospel today tells us that ten lepers were cured, but only one came back to thank the Lord. More importantly, the gospel today tells us that ten lepers were cured, but only one had faith and was saved! That is the one who came back to thank the Lord!

Indeed, our Sunday Eucharist is a thanksgiving! The word Eucharist in Greek means thanksgiving! Indeed our Eucharistic Prayer which begins at the Preface and ends at the Doxology is a thanksgiving! Thus all the eight “Prefaces of the Sundays in Ordinary Time” begin thus:

“It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God, (through Christ our Lord)”. 

Note that it is our salvation to give thanks to God! In short, those who come to Mass every Sunday to give thanks to God have faith and are saved, but those who do not come to Mass every Sunday to give thanks to God have no faith and are not saved! That is why it is a Mortal Sin not to come to Mass every Sunday!

The Gospel Acclamation today tells us:

“For all things give thanks, because this is what God expects you to do in Christ Jesus”. (1 Thessalonians 5:18; SM)

The fourteenth century German Dominican theologian and mystic Meister Eckhart wrote:

“The most important prayer in the world is just two words long: thank you”. (Gilhooley)

In our own century an American Dominican theologian said that if the only prayer we know is “thank you”, that is good enough!

If we start thanking God right here and now, we will not be able to finish thanking him even at the end of the world! We thank God for the sun and moon, for the sea and land, for the fish and animals, etc.! We thank God for creation, for salvation and for sanctification!

We thank God for the good things as well as the “bad” things, because we believe that God is love and that God can draw good out of evil (Gn 50:20), draw life from death (NT), draw grace from sin, etc.! Thus the Easter Proclamation:

“O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!” (SM) 

Thus we begin our Sunday Mass with this greeting:

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all”.

Indeed, God is love and God can draw grace from sin in Jesus Christ!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us to thank God and not to thank the prophet, or priest, or minister; because they are not God, they are only servants of God!

The first reading tells us that Naaman after being cured of his leprosy wanted to give the prophet Elisha a present to thank him, but Elisha refused the present, because he was not God. He was only a servant of God! Consequently, Namaan asked for some of the soil of Israel so that he can erect an altar on the soil of Israel in Damascus, Syria, to worship the God of Israel, that is, to praise and thank the God of Israel!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us to praise God for salvation! Thus the response:

“The Lord has shown his salvation to the nations”. (Ps 97:2; SM)

And thus the first and last sentences of the responsorial psalm:

“Sing a new song to the Lord for he has worked wonders” (Ps 97:1; SM)

“Shout to the Lord all the earth, ring out your joy”. (97:4; SM)

The second reading tells us to proclaim the good news even in the face of persecution, suffering and death, so that all may believe and be saved and give praise to God! Thus we read in the second reading:

“Remember the Good News that I carry, ‘Jesus Christ risen from the dead, sprung from the race of David’; it is on account of this that I have my own hardships to bear, even to being chained like a criminal – but they cannot chain up God’s news. So I bear it all for the sake of those who are chosen, so that in the end they may have the salvation that is in Christ Jesus and the eternal glory that comes with it.” (2 Tm 2:8-10; SM)

Today we thank God for our salvation, and we ask God to continue to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we may proclaim the Good News, even in the face of persecution, suffering and death, and so that all may believe and be saved and give thanks to God! God bless you! Amen!

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 6th October 2019

Theme: FAITH: TO BELIEVE IN GOD, TO DO THE WILL OF GOD, AND TO PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS OF GOD

  • Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4;
  • Psalm 94:1-2. 6-9. R/ v.8;
  • 2 Timothy 1:6-8. 13-14
  • Luke 17:5-10

Today is the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us about faith! That is, faith is believing in God, doing the will of God and proclaiming the good news of God, so that others may also believe in God and do the will of God!

The gospel today tells us that even if our faith is as small as a mustard seed, we can tell the big mulberry tree to uproot itself and be planted in the sea and it will obey us! To uproot a big mulberry tree with deep roots and to plant it in the sea is doubly impossible! But with faith in God all things are possible! With God all things are possible!

The second part of the gospel tells us that faith is doing the will of God, that is, serving God! (NJBC; Vatican II, Sunday Missal) Thus we read at the end of the gospel today:

“So with you: when you have done all you have been told to do, say, ‘We are merely servants: we have done no more than our duty.’” (Lk 17:10; SM)

Thus the first question of the YOUCAT (Youth Catechism):

“For what purpose are we here on earth?

We are here on earth in order to know and to love God, to do good according to his will, and to go someday to heaven.”

That is, what is the meaning of life? To know God, to love God, to serve God, and to be happy with God forever! To know God, that is, faith; to love God, because God is love and because God first loved us; to serve God, because we love God; and to be happy with God forever in heaven! That is the secret to happiness! That is the meaning of life!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that those who believe in God and do his will, will live, that is, will find life, love and happiness! Thus the caption of the first reading:

“The upright man will live by his faithfulness.” 

That is, the upright man who believes in God and does his will, will live!

But the first reading also tells us that those who do not believe in God and do not do the will of God will not find life!

The first reading tells us that the prophet Habakkuk questioned God as to why God was not doing anything about the injustice, the oppression, the violence, etc., in Judah and with the pagan Babylonians. (HCSB; Faley) And God answered that the unjust who practiced oppression and violence will not find life! Thus we read in the first reading:

“See how he flags, he whose soul is not at rights, but the upright man will live by his faithfulness.” (Hab 2:4; SM) 

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us to be faithful to God, that is, to have faith in God and to obey God! Thus the response:

“O that today you would listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts.” (Ps 94:8; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first and second stanzas tell us to praise and worship God who is our shepherd and savior! The third stanza from which the response is taken tells us to be faithful to God, that is, to believe in God and to do his will! (CSB; NJBC) Thus the third stanza:

“O that today you would listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as on that day at Massah in the desert when your fathers put me to the test; when they tried me, though they saw my work.” (Ps 94:7c-9; SM)

Meribah (Hebrew), that is, to quarrel with God! Massah (Hebrew), that is, to test God! That is, do not quarrel with God and do not test God, but be faithful to God!

The second reading tells us to proclaim the good news even in the face of suffering, so that all may believe in God and do the will of God! Thus we read in the second reading:

“So you are never to be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord, or ashamed of me for being his prisoner; but with me, bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News, relying on the power of God.” (2 Tm 1:8; SM)

Today we thank God for the gift of faith and we ask God to increase our faith, to help us do his will and to proclaim his good news, so that others may also believe in God and do the will of God! God bless you! Amen!