FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT (A) – 6th March 2016

Theme: LENT IS A TIME WHEN CATECHUMENS PREPARE FOR BAPTISM AND EUCHARIST

  • 1 Samuel 16:1. 6-7. 10-13
  • Psalm 22. R. v. 1
  • Ephesians 5:8-14
  • John 9:1-41

Today is the 4th Sunday of Lent. The 4th Sunday of Lent is also known as “rejoice” or “joyful” Sunday, because we are more than half way through to Easter! Next Sunday will be the 5th Sunday of Lent, and the Sunday after next Sunday will be Passion or Palm Sunday, to be followed by Easter Sunday!

Lent is a time when catechumens prepare to receive the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist on Easter Vigil Night and on Easter Sunday Morning!

The readings today tell us about the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist! The gospel and the second reading tell us about Baptism. The first reading and the responsorial psalm tell us about Eucharist.

The gospel today is on the curing of the blind man, and this is to illustrate the theme of the gospel, that is, Jesus Christ is the light of the world: “I am the light of the world”! (John 9:5) The gospel acclamation indicates the theme of the gospel: “I am the light of the world, says the Lord; anyone who follows me will have the light of life”! (John 8:12)

In the New Testament, light symbolizes 3 things: (1) Anything that shows us the way to God. (2) Life and happiness. (3) Good over evil. (NJB, John 8:12b)

  • In the New Testament light symbolizes anything that leads us to God. In the Old Testament it was the Law, the Wisdom and the Word of God, but in the New Testament it is Jesus Christ that leads us to God!
  • In the New Testament light also symbolizes life and happiness, contentment and joy, as opposed to darkness, which symbolizes death, unhappiness, and misery. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the life and joy!
  • In the New Testament light also symbolizes good over evil, and God over the Devil! In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the good that overcomes evil, and the God who overcomes the Devil!

In sum, in the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the light that leads us to God, Jesus Christ is the light that gives us life and joy, and Jesus Christ is the light that overcomes evil with good!

The Church has chosen the gospel reading of today to tell us about Baptism, to tell us that in Baptism, Jesus Christ shows us the way to God the Father, in Baptism, Jesus Christ gives us life and joy, and in Baptism, Jesus Christ overcomes the evil in us with good!

The second reading from the letter to the Ephesians also tells us about Baptism. The second reading tells us to live the light of Baptism, that is, to live a life of complete goodness, right living, and truth, and to have nothing to do with the works of darkness!

In fact, the second reading ends with a Baptismal hymn: “Wake up from your sleep, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you”! (Ephesians 5:14)

The first reading and the responsorial psalm tell us about the Eucharist. The first reading from the first book of Samuel tells us that David was anointed the Shepherd-King of Israel! There is a difference between a shepherd-king and a king! A shepherd-king is like a shepherd who protects his sheep and feeds his sheep! David the Shepherd-King of Israel is a prefigure of Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ is the Shepherd-King par excellence, that is, the best of its kind, who protects and feeds us with his body and blood in the Eucharist!

That is why the responsorial psalm is on the Lord, as the good shepherd (stanzas 1 & 2), and on the Lord as the host of a banquet (stanzas 3 & 4)!

Stanzas 1 & 2   tell us that the Lord is the Good Shepherd: ‘The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want (or need). Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose. Near restful waters he leads me to revive my drooping spirit. If I should walk in the valley of darkness, no evil would I fear. You are there with your crook and staff to give me comfort’! (Psalm 22:1-4)

Stanzas 3 & 4 tell us that the Lord is the host of a banquet: ‘You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my enemies. You have anointed my head with oil (sign of hospitality). My cup is overflowing. Goodness and kindness will follow me everyday of my life (the blessings of God). In the Lord’s own house (temple) will I live forever and ever’! (Psalm 22:5-6)

During this time of Lent, the Church asks our catechumen brothers and sisters to pray, fast, and give alms, to prepare themselves to receive the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist at Easter! The Church also asks all of us who have already been baptized to pray, fast, and give alms, to prepare ourselves to renew our Baptism at Easter! A Happy Lent to all of you! Amen!

11th January 2015 – THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD

Theme: WE ARE BAPTISED IN THE HOLY SPIRIT AND WE BECOME THE SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF GOD, LOVED BY GOD AND FAVOURED BY GOD

  • Isaiah 42:1-4. 6-7
  • Psalm 28:1-4. 9-10. R. v. ll
  • Acts 10:34-38
  • Mark 1:7-11

Today we celebrate the feast ofthe Baptism of the Lord. Today is also the last day of the Christmas season. Like Christmas and Epiphany, the Baptism of the Lord is also the revelation of the Lord.

St. Mark’s gospel does not have an account ofthe birth ofJesus. In the gospel of Mark today the Lord reveals himself to us as a thirty-year-old adult at his Baptism. There are 3 signs in which the Lord reveals himself to us at his baptism:

(i) the heavens were torn apart

(ii) the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in the form of a dove

(iii) a voice from heaven saying, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favor rests on you.’

In other words, the Lord reveals himself to us that he is not the son of Joseph and Mary, no matter how holy they are! Joseph is only the foster father and Mary is only the virgin mother! The Lord reveals himself to us that he is the Son of God the Father, born not through the marriage of Joseph and Mary, but through the power of the Holy Spirit!

He is the Son of God, loved by God and favored by God!

The first reading from Isaiah tells us that as the Son of God, he is like God his Father — like father like son! He is obedient to God his Father and he does the will and work of God the Father. Thus the first reading tells us, ‘he will bring justice to the nations, but more than that, he will bring mercy to the nations. He will not cry out or shout. His voice will not be heard in the streets. In other words, he will be gentle! He will not crush the bruised reed, nor quench the wavering flame. In other words, he will be merciful to the sinner. He will not condemn, punish nor destroy the sinner, but he will show mercy to the sinner!

He will bring justice to the nations. He will be the light of the nations. He will open the eyes of the blind. He will free captives from prisons and he will free those living in the darkness of the dungeons — the dark underground prisons that have no windows and no light!

The responsorial psalm takes up this theme of the Son like the Father, obedient to the Father and doing the will and work of the Father. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm says, ‘the Lord will bless his people with peace’! In other words, he will bring peace to the nations!

The second reading from the Acts of the Apostles tells us that in his Baptism he was anointed by God with the Holy Spirit and he went about doing good and curing all who have fallen into the power of the devil. The second reading also tells us that he brought the good news of peace to all men!

In fact to proclaim the good news was his first duty, and the first duty of the bishop, and the first duty of the priest, and the first duty of the Christian!

Today as we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the Church also invites us to look at our own baptism! Our baptism is the baptism of the Lord himself!

When we are baptized, the heavens also tear open and the Holy Spirit comes down to us and we are born again and we become the sons and daughters of God, loved by God and favored by God!

And as God’s sons and daughters, we are like God, we are obedient to God and we do his will and his works! And like Jesus his Son, we bring justice to the nations. We bring mercy to the nations. We become the light to the nations. We open the eyes of the blind, free captives from prisons and free those who live in darkness in the dungeons, in the underground prisons! We bring peace to the nations! We do good works, cure those who have fallen into the power of the devil and bring the good news of peace to all men!

Today we thank the Lord for revealing himself to us in his Baptism. We also thank the Lord for our own baptism. We thank the Lord for his Holy Spirit and for making us into his sons and daughters and for loving us and favoring us.

Today we also thank the Lord for this Eucharist, for giving us the body and blood of his Son Jesus Christ for us to eat and drink, so that we may grow in his Holy Spirit and so that we may grow as his sons and daughters, and grow to be more like him, obedient to him and do his will and work! Amen