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!

2nd Sunday of Easter (Year C) – Divine Mercy Sunday – 28th Apr 2019

Theme: I BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST WHO ROSE AGAIN FROM THE DEAD

  • Acts 5:12-16;
  • Psalm 117:2-4. 22-27. R/ v. 1;
  • Apocalypse 1:9-13. 17-19
  • John 20:19-31

Today is the Second Sunday of Easter. Today is also the Octave Day of Easter, that is, the eighth day of Easter. Easter is the biggest feast in the Church! That is why we celebrate it in eight days! Today is also Divine Mercy Sunday!

The gospel today is the same for Years A, B and C. The gospel today tells us that on the day of his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples and said, ‘Peace be with you’. Peace, Shalom, Salvation; a peace that the world cannot give (Jn 14:27)! And he showed them his hands and his side. And the disciples were filled with joy! A joy that the world cannot take away! (Jn 16:22)

Again, he said, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you’. After this he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Those whose sins you forgive they are forgiven. Those whose sins you retain they are retained’.

This is the Pentecost Day of Saint John’s gospel! Unlike Saint Luke who wrote the Acts of the Apostles, there is no fifty days between Jesus’ Resurrection and Pentecost Day. According to the gospel of Saint John the Holy Spirit was given on the very day of the Resurrection!

‘Those whose sins you forgive they are forgiven and those whose sins you retain they are retained’. That is, proclaim the good news, those who believe and are baptized will have their sins forgiven in Jesus’ name; but those who do not believe and are not baptized will not have their sins forgiven in Jesus’ name! (Ac 10:43)

The Council of Trent (16th Century) teaches that this gospel passage does not only tell us about the Sacrament of Baptism, but it also tells us about the Sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation/Confession! God is infinitely merciful. After forgiving all our sins in Baptism, he continues to forgive all our sins in the Sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation/Confession! Divine Mercy!

The second part of the gospel tells us that when Jesus appeared to the disciples, Thomas was not with them. And when the disciples told Thomas that they had seen the Lord, Thomas refused to believe and said, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails have made in his hands and put my finger into the holes, and put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe’.

Eight days later, Jesus appeared to his disciples again. And this time Thomas was with them. Again, he said, ‘Peace be with you’. And he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, here are my hands, give me your hand, put it into my side, doubt no longer but believe’. Thomas said, ‘My Lord, and my God!’ Doubting Thomas made the “highest confession of faith in all the Gospels”. (Raymond E. Brown)  

Jesus then said to Thomas, ‘you believe because you have seen me, blessed are those who have not seen me, yet believe’. That is, blessed are those who have not seen me, yet believe on the testimony and witness of the apostles, particularly Thomas! (Jn 17:20; Acts 1:8)

Today we also celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday! That is why we have the picture of Divine Mercy in front of the Sanctuary! In the picture we see Jesus and we see rays of red and blue white light emitting from the heart of Jesus! To know the meaning of the picture we have to read the gospel of John:

“One of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance; and immediately there came out blood and water”. (Jn 19:34; NJB)

The red ray symbolizes the blood of sacrifice of the cross and the blue white ray symbolizes the water of the Holy Spirit!

The red and blue white rays also symbolize the two most important sacraments of the Church, that is, the Eucharist and Baptism, respectively. The Eucharist is the Sacrament of Sacraments! In the Eucharist we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! And Baptism is the first Sacrament that we receive for our Salvation!

It is most important that those who received the Sacrament of Baptism continue to come to Mass every Sunday. We receive new life in Baptism, but that new life has to grow until we reach the eternal life of heaven! In the Sunday Mass, we have the word of God, and the body and blood of Christ. The word of God is spirit and life. (Jn 6:63) The body and blood of Christ are spiritual food and drink that give us eternal life. (Jn 6:54)

Again, a happy Easter to all of you! Amen!

 

25th January 2015 – 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Theme: TURN AWAY FROM SIN AND FROM THE WORLD AND TURN TO GOD – TO THE GOD OF JESUS CHRIST

  • Jonah 3:1-5. 10; Psalm 24 (25): 4-9. R/ v. 4;
    1 Corinthians 7:29-31
  • Mark 1:14-20

Today is the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The gospel today tells us to “Repent, and believe the Good News”. That is, to turn away from sin and from the world, and to turn to God, to the God of Jesus Christ! A God of love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation!

The gospel also tells us that the first disciples, Simon (Peter), Andrew, James and John repented and believed the Good News. That is, they turned away from the world and they turned to Jesus Christ! They followed Jesus Christ!

In the case of Simon (Peter) and Andrew, they left their nets at once and followed Jesus. And in the case of James and John they left their father and their father’s employees and their boat and they followed Jesus!

The first four disciples responded to the Good News of repentance immediately (NJBC) and totally, that is, they left everything and followed Jesus (NJB)!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the message of repentance is not only for the Jews, but it is also for the gentiles, the pagans, the non-Jews, the enemies of the Jews, the worst enemies of the Jews, that is, the Ninevites, the Assyrians!

The first reading tells us that when Jonah preached the message of repentance to the Ninevites, they repented with fasting and sackcloth! Consequently, God did not punish them.

It is important to note in the following chapter 4:1-3 that Jonah was angry because God was merciful! Jonah did not want the Ninevites to repent and be saved. Jonah wanted God to destroy the Ninevites.

In the first place, Jonah did not even want to preach to the Ninevites, because he knew that God was loving and merciful, slow to anger and rich in kindness, and slow to punish. (GNB) Jonah was quoting Exodus 34:6-7 where God revealed himself and his divine attributes – most particularly his faithful love – to Moses! (NJB)

Jonah was so angry that he asked God to take his life! He preferred to be dead than to be alive! Jonah was a typical Jew of his time! But most importantly, the whole book of Jonah prepares for the gospel revelation that “God is love”! (NJB) God is love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation! 

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a prayer for guidance and forgiveness. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Lord, make me know your ways.” (v. 4; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas.
The first stanza is a prayer for guidance (vv. 4-5).
The second stanza is a prayer for forgiveness (vv. 6-7).
And the third stanza is an affirmation of God’s goodness, which is the ground of the prayer (vv. 8-9)! (HCSB; CSB)

Incidentally, the second reading also follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading also tells us to turn away from the world! In the second reading St. Paul mistakenly thought that the end of the world was imminent! (HCSB; NJBC) Nonetheless the second reading is relevant to us because it corresponds to the gospel exhortation to turn away from the world! Thus we read in the second reading:

“Brothers: our time is growing short. Those who have wives should live as though they had none, and those who mourn should live as though they had nothing to mourn for; those who are enjoying life should live as though there were nothing to laugh about; those whose life is buying things should live as though they had nothing of their own; and those who have to deal with the world should not become engrossed in it. I say this because the world as we know it is passing away.” (1 Co 7:29-31; SM)

Incidentally, St. Paul was advising virgins! (CSB; HCSB)

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 believe the Good News”. The Holy Spirit will help us to turn away from sin and from the world, and to turn to God – to the God of Jesus Christ; a God of love, mercy, forgiveness, and salvation! A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you!