14TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (C) – 3rd July 2022

14TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (C) – 3rd July 2022

Theme: THE PEACE OF SALVATION (SHALOM)

  • Isaiah 66:10-14;
  • Psalm 65:1-7. 16. 20. R/ v. 1;
  • Galatians 6:14-18
  • Luke 10: 1-9 (Shorter Form)

1. Today is the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us about The Peace of Salvation (Shalom)! The word “Peace” comes from the Hebrew word “Shalom” meaning wholeness, completeness, perfection, soundness, well-being, lacking nothing, prosperity, happiness, etc., in the Old Testament. In the New Testament it is almost synonymous with Salvation!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus sent out the seventy-two disciples to preach the “Peace of Salvation (Shalom)” (HCSB) to the whole world. The number seventy-two (or seventy) symbolizes the universal mission of the Church!

They were sent out two by two, they were instructed to pray for laborers for the harvest, they were told not to carry any purses, bags and sandals, they were told not to greet anyone on the road, and they were told to preach the peace of salvation!

They were sent out two by two for mutual support, to bear witness to each other’s testimony, and to embody the peace that they preach. (NJBC) They were instructed to pray for laborers for the harvest, because the mission of the Church is from God. Thus prayer and mission cannot be separated. Every mission has to begin and end with prayer. They were instructed not to carry any purses, backpacks or sandals, because they were to depend on the providence of God. God provides! Thus the vow of poverty of the religious! They were not to greet anyone on the way, that is, they were not to be distracted from their mission! Today our hand phones distract us even during Mass and we distract others too. We must switch off our hand phones, especially during Mass! And finally they were to preach the peace of salvation and not to preach damnation!

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us about the joy of the peace of salvation in the New Jerusalem! The New Jerusalem becomes our Mother and we the infants who suckle milk from her breast! Today the New Jerusalem is our mother Church! It is in her that we find the peace of salvation and it is from her that missionaries are sent to the whole world to preach the peace of salvation! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Rejoice, Jerusalem, be glad for her, all you who love her! Rejoice, rejoice for her, all you who mourned her! That you may be suckled, filled, from her consoling breast, that you may savor with delight her glorious breasts. For thus says the Lord: Now towards her I send flowing peace, like a river, and like a stream in spate the glory of the nations.” (Is 66: 10-12; SM)           

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us about the joy of salvation! Thus the response:

“Cry out with joy to God all the earth.” (Ps 65:1; SM)

That is, cry out with joy to God all the earth in praise and thanksgiving for salvation! The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first, second and third stanzas (vv 1-7) are a praise and thanksgiving for salvation! Thus verse 6 of the third stanza:

“He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the river dry-shod. Let our joy then be in him.” (Ps 65:6; SM)

Verse 6 is a summary of the whole history of salvation of Israel! Thus the first event and the last event of salvation are mentioned together, that is, the crossing of the Reed Sea in the Exodus and the crossing of the river Jordan into the Promised Land!

The fourth stanza (vv. 16. 20) tells us that God does not only save the community as a whole, but God also saves each and every individual in the community in a personal way! (IBC)

4. The second reading tells us that the peace of salvation cannot be merited by the works of the Law, but the peace of salvation can only be received as a free gift through faith in Jesus Christ, especially through faith in the cross of Jesus Christ through which we die to the world and the world die to us and through which we are made a new creation! Thus we read in the second reading:

“But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision, but only a new creation. Peace and mercy be to all who follow this rule and to the Israel of God.” (Ga 6:14-16; CSB)

5. Today we thank God for the Peace of Salvation and we ask God to help us to be missionaries of the Peace of Salvation! The Peace of Salvation be with you all! Shalom! Amen!

THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST (Year C) – 19th June 2022

THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST (Year C) – 19th June 2022

Theme: THE EUCHARIST EFFECTS SALVATION

  • Genesis 14:18-20;
  • Psalm 109 (110): 1-4. R/ v. 4;
  • 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
  • Luke 9:11-17

1. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ or “Corpus Christi”! The gospel today tells us that Jesus fed five thousand men with five loaves and two fish! Indeed the Lord feeds us with the material food of creation! That is why in the past two days we celebrated our “Harvest Festival”!

But more importantly, the gospel today tells us that Jesus also feeds us with spiritual food! That is why the four actions of Jesus in today’s gospel correspond to the four actions of Jesus in the institution of the Holy Eucharist, that is, take, thank, break and give! In the Eucharist Jesus gives us his body to eat and his blood to drink!

This is expressed most clearly in the Gospel Acclamation today, especially when it is quoted in full from the Bible:

“I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world.” (Jn 6:51; NJB) 

2. The second reading tells us about the institution of the Eucharist. It is the most ancient written account of the institution of the Eucharist in the New Testament, more ancient than even the gospel accounts. It dates back to 55 A.D. (CCB), that is, twenty years after Jesus’ death and resurrection!

The second reading tells us that in the institution of the Eucharist, Jesus did four actions, that is, (i) he took, (ii) he thanked, (iii) he broke and (iv) he gave.

He gave us his body and blood, that is, he gave us himself, his life, his Spirit! And he commanded us to do it in his memory, that is, to make present, real and effective his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world!

That is why the second reading concludes by telling us that when we eat the bread and drink the cup we are proclaiming the saving death of the Lord until he comes again when all will be saved! That is, The Most Holy Eucharist of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ effect salvation!   

3. The first reading tells us about Melchizedek the priest-king. Melchizedek offered Abraham bread and wine, a symbol of the Eucharist! (Patristic tradition; NJB) Melchizedek blessed Abraham and Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything! 

The letter to the Hebrews (7:1-10) sees in Melchizedek a type of Christ! Melchizedek had no beginning and no end. He had no father or mother, no ancestor. He was like the Son of God! He was a priest forever! He was greater than Abraham! That is why he blessed Abraham and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything! Melchizedek prefigured Jesus Christ!   

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

“You are a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old.” (Ps 109 (110):4; SM)

That is, Jesus Christ is a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old!

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas (vv. 1-2) tell us that God gives victory to his king! The third stanza (v. 3) tells us that the king is the “son” of God! And the fourth stanza (v. 4) from which the response is taken tells us that the king is the priest of God! Thus again the response:

“You are a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old.” (Ps 109 (110): 4; SM) That is, Jesus Christ is a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old!

5. Today the priest continues in the priesthood of Jesus Christ! He does what Jesus asked him to do in his memory, that is, to make present, real and effective his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world!

Today the priest does the four actions Jesus did in the institution of the Eucharist, that is, he takes (Offertory), he thanks (Eucharistic Prayer), he breaks (Breaking of Bread) and he gives (Holy Communion)!

He gives the Body of Christ! He gives the Body of the Risen Lord! The Risen Body is symbolized by the placing of the small piece of the broken host in the chalice! And when we eat the bread and drink the cup we proclaim the saving death of the Lord until he comes again when all will be saved! Again, the Most Holy Eucharist of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ effect salvation!

Again, come to Mass every Sunday and tell others to come to Mass every Sunday! It is your salvation and my salvation! It is our salvation! A happy and blessed Corpus Christi to all of you! Amen!  

THE MOST HOLY TRINITY / TRINITY SUNDAY (C) – 12th June 2022

THE MOST HOLY TRINITY / TRINITY SUNDAY (C) – 12th June 2022

Theme: THE MOST HOLY TRINITY: THE MYSTERY OF GOD’S LOVE IN CREATION, SALVATION AND SANCTIFICATION!

  • Proverbs 8:22-31;
  • Psalm 8:4-9. R/ v. 2;
  • Romans 5:1-5
  • John 16:12-15

1. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of THE MOST HOLY TRINITY! Today we also celebrate the feast day of our parish, that is, the feast day of Holy Trinity Church, Tawau! THE MOST HOLY TRINITY is the mystery of God’s love in Creation, Salvation and Sanctification, that is, God the Father Creates out of love, God the Son Saves out of love and God the Holy Spirit Sanctifies out of love!

People of other religions ask us: Why do we believe in three Gods? How can God become man? How can God die? How can God become food for men? How can God become food for sinful men?

To begin with, we do not believe in three Gods, we believe in one God, but we believe in a God of love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation; we do not believe in a God of law, justice, judgment and condemnation!   

We believe that God created the world out of love, but when we sinned, God loved us even more; God became man to save us, but when we crucified him on the cross, He loved us even more; He rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit dwells among us, within us and inside us, nearer to us than we are to ourselves, loving us more than we love ourselves (Saint Augustine)!

And the Holy Spirit will love us until we love God, love our neighbor and love ourselves! Then will come the end of the world, that is, the end of the evil world, the second coming of Jesus Christ! And Jesus Christ will take us to heaven to share in the life of love and happiness of The Most Holy Trinity!  

We believe that the Holy Spirit is in the Church, especially in the Sacraments, and especially in the Sacrament of Sacraments, that is, the Holy Eucharist/Mass! For when we celebrate the Holy Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the Salvation of the world! We make present, real and effective the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the Salvation of the world!

And when we eat the body of Christ and drink his blood, we eat the body of the Risen Lord who can pass through locked doors and be at any place at an instant – not limited by time and space! And it is the Risen Lord who gives us the Holy Spirit for our salvation!

That is why immediately after the consecration the priest says “The mystery of faith” and we acclaim “When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your Death, O Lord, until you come again”!

This acclamation is taken from 1 Corinthians 11: 23 – 26. It is the most ancient written text on the institution of the Eucharist, more ancient than even the gospel accounts on the institution of the Eucharist! “Whenever you eat this bread, then, and drink this cup, you are proclaiming the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Co 11:26; NJB) That is, “When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we are proclaiming the saving Death of the Lord until he comes again when all will be saved”!

Let us then come to Mass every Sunday and let us ask our children, grandchildren,  godchildren, parents, godparents, relatives, friends, neighbors, schoolmates, workmates, etc. to come to Mass every Sunday! That is the most loving act we can do to them!         

2. The readings today tell us about The Most Holy Trinity, that is, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit!

(i) The first reading tells us that God the Father created the universe, that is, the sun, the moon, the stars and the earth, the hills, the mountains, the rivers, the seas, etc.; but more importantly, the first reading tells us that God the Father did not create haphazardly, but he created the universe according to his plan, that is, according to Jesus Christ, the Wisdom of God! (CSB) Everything was created in him, with him, through him, and for him! Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega of creation, that is, the beginning and end of creation! Creation has a purpose, a meaning and a direction, that is, Jesus Christ!    

(ii) The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us that God the Father created the whole universe! That is why we responded four times:

“How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth!” (Ps 8:2; SM) 

More importantly, the responsible psalm tells us that human beings are the high point of God’s creation and human beings are to be the stewards of God’s creation!

(iii) The second reading tells us that we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ through his death and resurrection gave us the Holy Spirit:

“Through our Lord Jesus Christ, by faith we are judged righteous and at peace with God, since it is by faith and through Jesus that we have entered this state of grace in which we can boast about looking forward to God’s glory. …. And this hope is not deceptive, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us.” (Rm 5: 1-2. 5; SM)

(iv) The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ will give us the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit will reveal to us the whole truth and tell us of what is to come, that is, what is to come after Jesus’ death and resurrection (NJB):

“But when the Spirit of truth comes he will lead you to the complete truth, …. and he will tell you of the things to come.” (Jn 16:13; SM) 

The gospel also tells us that the Trinity of Persons is in fact one God! Thus the caption of the gospel:

“Everything the Father has is mine; all the Spirit tells you will be taken from what is mine.” (cf. Jn 16:15; Sunday Missal (SM))

3. Today we give thanks to God for his love in creation, in salvation and in sanctification, and we ask God to continue to sanctify us with his love, so that we can love God, love our neighbor and love ourselves, and so that Jesus Christ will come a second time to take us all to heaven to share in the life of The Most Holy Trinity! A happy and blessed Trinity Sunday to all of you and a happy and blessed parish feast day to all of you! Amen!

References: New Jerusalem Bible (NJB); Catholic Study Bible (CSB).     

5th Sunday of Easter (Year C) – 15th May 2022

5th Sunday of Easter (Year C) – 15th May 2022

Theme: WE ARE TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS JESUS LOVED US

  • Acts 14:21-27;
  • Psalm 144 (145): 8-13. R/ v. 1;
  • Apocalypse (Revelation) 21:1-5
  • John 13:31-35

1. Today is the 5th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical Year C. The gospel today tells us to love one another as Jesus loved us, that is, to love one another in the dimension of the cross, that is, to love the sinner, to forgive the sinner and to save the sinner!

The gospel passage today is sandwiched between the announcement of Judas’s betrayal of Jesus and the prediction of Peter’s denial of Jesus. That is why to love one another as Jesus loved us is to love in the dimension of the cross, to love the sinner, to forgive the sinner and to save the sinner!

St. Cyril of Alexandria who lived between the 4th and 5th centuries (c. 376 – 444) tells us that this commandment to love one another as Jesus loved us is new, because in the old commandment we were asked to love our neighbor as ourselves (Lv 19:18), but in the new commandment we are asked to love our enemies more than we love ourselves! (Herald, 28th April 2013, 5th Easter)

Jesus loved sinners more than he loved himself! That is why he forgave sinners and sacrificed his life for the salvation of sinners! This is the only love that can save the world! Indeed, only this love can save the world! 

But how can we love as Jesus loved? How can we love, forgive and save sinners, when we ourselves are sinners? Indeed, we can, with the help of the Holy Spirit! Jesus died, rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit! That is why the words glorify and glorified are mentioned five times at the beginning of today’s gospel!

With the help of the Holy Spirit we can love one another as Jesus loved us, that is, to love in the dimension of the cross, that is, to love, to forgive and to save sinners! Only the love of Jesus Christ can save the whole world!     

2. The first reading tells us about the end of the first missionary journey of St. Paul. The first reading tells us that St. Paul proclaims the good news of the love of Jesus Christ to the pagans, that is, to the whole world! More than that, the first reading also tells us that St. Paul does not only proclaim the good news of the love of Jesus Christ, but he also built churches, not material buildings; but Christian communities of love and unity as signs and sacraments of salvation for the whole world; so that the whole world may see and believe and be saved! The first reading also tells us that we have to suffer many hardships and persecutions in order to build the kingdom of God! 

3. The second reading tells us that in spite of all the persecutions and martyrdoms there will be a new heaven and a new earth. There will be a new Jerusalem, that is, the Church, and there will be a new creation, because God is the one who makes all things new! 

    Indeed, there will be a new heaven and a new earth, there will be a new Jerusalem, that is, the Church, and there will be a new creation, where we will love one another as Jesus loved us, where we will love in the dimension of the cross, where we will love the sinner, forgive the sinner and save the sinner!

The historical context of the second reading is the persecution and martyrdom of the Christians by the Roman emperors Nero and Domitian in the first century. (HCSB)  

4. The responsorial psalm is a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to God who is love and compassion and who rules with love and compassion! (HCSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

    “I will bless your name for ever, O God my King.” (Ps 144 (145): 1; SM)

    The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us that God is love and compassion. Thus we read in the first stanza:

“The Lord is kind and full of compassion, slow to anger, abounding in love. How good is the Lord to all, compassionate to all his creatures.” (Ps 144 (145): 8-9; SM)

The second and third stanzas give praise and thanks to God who is love and compassion and who rules with love and compassion.      

5. Today we give thanks to God for his love and compassion in creation and in salvation and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit of his love, so that we can love one another as Jesus loved us, and so that we can proclaim the good news of his love to the whole world, and so that we can build Christian communities of love and unity as signs and sacraments of salvation for the whole world, and so that the whole world might be saved by his love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation! A happy Easter Season to all of you! Amen!  

6th Sunday of Easter (Year C) – 22nd May 2022

6th Sunday of Easter (Year C) – 22nd May 2022

Theme: THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL HELP US UNDERSTAND THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS AND PUT THEM INTO PRACTICE

  • Acts 15:1-2. 22-29;
  • Psalm 66 (67): 2-3. 5-6. 8. R/ v. 4;
  • Apocalypse 21:10-14. 22-23
  • John 14:23-29

1. Today is the 6th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical year C. Next Sunday will be “The Ascension of the Lord”, and the Sunday after that will be “Pentecost Sunday”. Easter is the most important feast in the Church. It is more important than Christmas..

    The Church started to celebrate Christmas only in the 4th century, but Easter was celebrated in the very first centuries. In fact, in the first three centuries there were no other celebrations except Easter! Easter is the most important feast, because at Easter we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the whole world!

The gospel today tells us that the Father will send us the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus. And the Holy Spirit will teach us everything and remind us all that Jesus taught us. That is, the Holy Spirit will help us understand the teachings of Jesus and put them into practice! (BM, Opening Prayer 2)

The gospel also tells us that Jesus will give us peace through the Holy Spirit. Peace, shalom, salvation! Peace is not just the absence of war, but peace is shalom (Hebrew), that is, wholeness, well-being, completeness, soundness, lacking nothing, etc., that is salvation!

That is why the gospel tells us not to be afraid! There is nothing to fear, not even sin and death, because there is resurrection and life! A life better than the life before sin and death! In short, there is salvation!         

2. The first reading also tells us about the Holy Spirit. The first reading tells us that the Holy Spirit is with the Church and in the Church, and that the Church teaches in and with the Holy Spirit! (Magisterium)

The first reading tells us that the Holy Spirit and the apostles taught that the Gentile Christians need not follow the Mosaic Law of the Jewish Christians, particularly the law of circumcision; but that as a compromise they have to follow the dietary laws, that is, they are not to eat food offered to idols and they are not to eat meat with blood in them; because they live with the Jewish Christians and eat with them and celebrate the Eucharist with them! They are also to avoid fornication. But for us Christians today the dietary laws symbolize the capital sins of idolatry and murder.

More importantly, the Holy Spirit does not only teach us what laws to keep or not to keep, but the Holy Spirit also helps us to do good, and to avoid evil and to overcome sin!    

3. The responsorial psalm is a petition to God to bless Israel with a good and rich harvest, so that the nations of the world will see the blessings of God on Israel and will worship the God of Israel! Thus the response:

“Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.” (Ps 66 (67): 4)

But in the context of today’s liturgy and readings, we ask God to bless us with the Holy Spirit and with salvation, so that all the nations may see the blessings of the Holy Spirit and of salvation and worship our God! Thus the response:

“Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.” (Ps 66 (67): 4)

4. The second reading tells us about the New Jerusalem, that is, the Church. The second reading tells us that the New Jerusalem will come down from heaven and God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit will dwell in it. And we will not need the Temple anymore, nor the sun and the moon to light up the day and the night, because the radiant glory of God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit will light up the Church and the world! 

    That is why today in the Church we have the Liturgy, the Sacraments, and the Sacrament of Sacraments, that is, the Eucharist/Mass! Every Sunday Eucharist/Mass is a celebration of Easter and Pentecost! Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI told the youths in one of the World Youth Days that the Sunday Eucharist/Mass is a perpetual Pentecost! In the Sunday Eucharist/Mass, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! That is why it is most urgent and most important to come to Mass every Sunday!   

5. Today, we thank God our Father for Easter, that is, for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world; and we ask God to continue to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we will understand the teachings of Jesus and put them into practice; and so that like Paul and Barnabas in the first reading, we will proclaim the good news of the resurrection, so that all may hear and believe and be saved; and so that like Paul and Barnabas in the first reading, we will build Christian communities of love and unity, so that all may see and believe and be saved; and so that our Church may be a communion of communities of love and unity, and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the whole world! A happy Easter Season to all of you! Amen!

4th Sunday of Easter (Year C) – Good Shepherd Sunday/Vocation Sunday – 8th May 2022

4th Sunday of Easter (Year C) – Good Shepherd Sunday/Vocation Sunday – 8th May 2022

Theme: THE GOOD SHEPHERD KNOWS, LOVES AND SACRIFICES HIMSELF FOR HIS SHEEP

  • Acts 13:14. 43-52;
  • Psalm 99 (100): 1-3. 5. R/ v. 3;
  • Apocalypse (Revelation) 7:9. 14-17
  • Jn 10:27-30

1. Today is the 4th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical year C. Today is also Good Shepherd Sunday/Vocation Sunday! The gospel today tells us about Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd. To begin with, the gospel today taken from John chapter 10 on the Good Shepherd is a commentary on John chapter 9 on the “Bad Shepherd”, that is, the Pharisees who excommunicated the cured blind man from the synagogue! (CSB)

The Gospel Acclamation today tells us that the Good Shepherd knows his sheep and his sheep know him, that is, the Good Shepherd knows and loves his sheep and his sheep know and love him! (Jn 10:14; NJB) To know is to love and to love is to know! We cannot love someone we do not know!    

The gospel today tells us that the Good Shepherd gives eternal life to his sheep, and his sheep will not be lost, and no one can steal his sheep from him! That is, the Good Shepherd through his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit gives eternal life to his sheep! That is why his sheep will not be lost and no one can steal his sheep from him!

The gospel also tells us that the Good Shepherd and the Father are one! That is, the Good Shepherd lives in love and unity with the Father; the Good shepherd is in communion, communication and community with the Father! In fact the Good Shepherd shares in the very divine nature of the Father!

2. The second reading also tells us about the Good Shepherd. The second reading tells us that the Lamb of God who was slain and sacrificed and who washed away our sins with his blood is the Good Shepherd! That is why he can give us eternal life! In fact, only he can give us eternal life! Thus we read in the second reading:

“They will never hunger or thirst again; neither the sun nor scorching wind will ever plague them, because the Lamb who is at the throne will be their shepherd and will lead them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.” (Rv 7:16-17; SM)

The gospel and the second reading today tell us that the Good Shepherd knows and loves his sheep, sacrifices himself for his sheep, and is one with the Father! Let us today give thanks to God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd, and let us ask God to give us Good Shepherds who will know and love us, who will sacrifice themselves for us and who will be one with the Father in faith and prayer!

3. The Good Shepherd is not only for the Jews. The Good Shepherd is also for the pagans and non-Jews! Indeed, the Good Shepherd is for all the nations and for the whole world!

The first reading today tells us that the word of God, the good news, is not only for the Jews, but the word of God, the good news, is also for the non-Jews, the pagans! In fact the first reading tells us that the Jews rejected the word of God, the good news; as a result the word of God was preached to the pagans and the pagans accepted it with joy! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, ‘we had to proclaim the word of God to you first, but since you have rejected it, since you do not think yourselves worthy of eternal life, we must turn to the pagans. For this is what the Lord commanded us to do when he said:

I have made you a light for the nations, so that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth.’” (Ac 13: 46-47; SM)

4. The responsorial psalm also tells us about the Good Shepherd. The responsorial psalm is a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to God our Shepherd. (HCSB) Thus the response:

“We are his people, the sheep of his flock.” (Ps 99 (100): 3; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza gives praise and thanks to God (vv. 1-2). The second stanza gives praise and thanks to God because he is our creator and shepherd (v. 3)! The third stanza gives praise and thanks to God for his goodness and faithful love (v. 5)!

5. Today, Good Shepherd Sunday, we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, and we ask God to give us Good Shepherds who will know and love us, who will sacrifice themselves for us, and who will be one in faith and prayer with God the Father!   

Today is also Vocation Sunday, today we thank God for the many priestly and religious vocations, and today we ask God to give us many more priestly and religious vocations. Today in our diocese of Sandakan, we have 7 priests and 1 bishop! Today we also have 12 seminarians in our seminary, 5 in Kota Kinabalu and 7 in Kuching. Today we thank God for our seminarians and we continue to pray for them. Today the first and second collections will be given to our Bishop for the upkeep of our seminary and our seminarians.

A happy Easter to all of you, and a happy Good Shepherd and Vocation Sunday to all of you! Amen!   

EASTER SUNDAY (Mass of the Day) – 17th April 2022

EASTER SUNDAY (Mass of the Day) – 17th April 2022

Theme: THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST AND OUR DEATH AND RESURRECTION WITH HIM IN THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM!

  • Acts 10:34. 37-43;
  • Psalm 117:1-2. 16-17. 22-23. R/ v. 24;
  • Colossians 3:1-4
  • John 20:1-9

1. A Happy and Blessed Easter to all of you! Today we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; and our death and resurrection with him in the sacrament of Baptism!  

The gospel today tells us that the Lord has risen from the dead! The gospel tells us that Mary of Magdala went to the tomb early Sunday morning and saw that the stone had been moved away. She ran quickly to Peter and John and told them that the Lord had been taken away and that she did not know where they had put him.

Peter and John ran quickly to the tomb. John reached the tomb first, but did not go in. He bent down and saw the burial cloths on the ground. Peter reached the tomb later and went straight in and saw the burial cloths on the ground and also the cloth that covered Jesus’ head rolled up in a place by itself. John then went into the tomb and saw and believed!

The burial cloths on the ground and the cloth that covered Jesus’ head tell us that the Lord was not stolen by his disciples, but the Lord had risen from the dead; if not the burial cloths would not be on the ground, but would be taken away, and the cloth that covered Jesus’ head would not be rolled up in a place by itself! Indeed the Lord has risen from the dead!    

2. The first reading tells us that Peter and the Apostles were witnesses to the resurrection of the Lord! They ate and drank with him after his resurrection and they spent forty days with him after his resurrection! (Ac 10:41o; NJB)

More importantly, the first reading tells us that Peter and the Apostles proclaimed the good news of the Lord’s death and resurrection and that whoever believes in him will have their sins forgiven in his name in the sacrament of Baptism! That is why in the Bible, immediately following this first reading, is the “Baptism of the first gentiles”! (Ac 10:44-48; NJB)

3. The second reading tells us about the sacrament of Baptism! (Col 2:12; NJB) The second reading tells us that in Baptism we have been brought back to life with Jesus Christ and that is why we have to look for the things of heaven! Our thoughts must be on heavenly things and not on the things of the earth, because we have died with Christ and our lives are now hidden with Christ in God. But at the second coming of Jesus Christ at the “parousia”; Jesus Christ will be revealed in all his glory and we will share in the fullness of his glory! (Col 3:4b; NJB)      

4. The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving for salvation in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! Thus we responded three times:

    “Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!” Alleluia means Praise the Lord!    

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us to praise and thank God for his infinite love! The second stanza tells us that the Lord saves us from death! The third stanza tells us about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! Thus we read in the third stanza:

“The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone.” (Ps 117:22; Mt 21:42; Ac 4:11; CSB)

And it is all God’s work! Thus we read again in the third stanza:

“This is the work of the Lord, a marvel in our eyes.” (Ps 117:23; SM)

That is why we give praise and thanks to God in the response:

“Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!”

That is, “Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord!”

5. We will now renew our Baptism! We will renew our Baptism with the light of Jesus Christ! The light of the Resurrection! The light that has destroyed the darkness of sin and death! The light that has destroyed the Devil! The light that has destroyed Satan!

The light of Christ is the light of faith as opposed to unbelief which is darkness, the light of Christ is the light of life as opposed to death which is darkness, and the light of Christ is the light of good as opposed to evil which is darkness!  

More importantly, the three themes are related! For it is in faith that we receive the new and eternal life from God and the life from God is good, because only God is good!

Most importantly, Light will overcome darkness, faith will overcome unbelief, life will overcome death, and good will overcome evil, because Jesus Christ has overcome the Devil! Jesus has overcome Satan!

And the new life that Jesus gives is even better than the old life before sin! Thus we sing in the Easter Proclamation:

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

We will light our candles from the Easter candle and we will profess our faith in God by answering “I do” to six questions! The first three questions reject Satan and all his works and all his empty promises; because Satan tells us not to believe in God! The second three questions profess our faith in God the Father who created the world, God the Son who saved the world, and God the Holy Spirit who continues to sanctify the world!

After that we will be sprinkled with holy water, that is, the waters of baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit! And we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new and eternal life of Easter! A Happy and Blessed Easter to all of you! Amen!

HOLY THURSDAY – Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper – 14th April 2022

HOLY THURSDAY – Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper – 14th April 2022

Theme: THE EUCHARIST MAKES PRESENT, REAL AND EFFECTIVE THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST AND THE OUTPOURING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT FOR THE SALVATION OF THE WORLD!

  • Exodus 12:1-8. 11-14;
  • Psalm 115:12-13. 15-18. R/ cf. 1 Corinthians 10:16;
  • 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
  • John 13:1-15

1. This evening we celebrate Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. This evening we commemorate three principal mysteries, that is, the institution of the Eucharist and the Priesthood, and the commandment to love!

The gospel today tells us about the washing of the feet of the disciples by Jesus. Unlike the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, the gospel of John does not have the institution of the Eucharist; instead it has the washing of the feet of the disciples by Jesus! The washing of the feet of the disciples by Jesus is the meaning of the Eucharist!

The gospel today tells us that when they were at supper, Jesus got up from the table, took off his outer garment, wrapped a towel round his waist, poured water into a basin and washed the disciples’ feet and dried them with the towel.

When he had finished washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus put on his clothes and went back to the table. And he told his disciples that though he was their Lord and Master, yet he washed their feet. They were therefore to follow him and wash one another’s feet! That is, they were to love and serve one another!

But more than that, the dialogue of Jesus with Peter in today’s gospel tells us of the symbolic meaning of the gospel, that is, Jesus does not only wash our feet, but more importantly, Jesus also washes away our sins with the waters of Baptism, that is, he washes away our sins with the Holy Spirit! And Jesus continues to wash away our sins with the blood of the Eucharist, that is, the blood of the cross, every Sunday! (HCSB; IBC; CSB; CCB)

In other words, Jesus does not only love and serve, but he also suffers and sacrifices for the sanctification and salvation of the world! And he told us to follow him and do the same! But how can we do the same? We can do the same with the help of the Holy Spirit!

That is why before his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world, Jesus instituted the Eucharist and the priesthood to make present, real and effective his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world!  

2. The second reading tells us about the institution of the Eucharist and of the priesthood. The second reading from the first letter to the Corinthians is the most ancient written account of the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood. It is even more ancient than the accounts in the gospels. It was written around the year A.D. 55! (CCB)

The second reading tells us that in instituting the Eucharist, Jesus did four things:
(i) He took the bread. (ii) He thanked God for the bread. (iii) He broke the bread. (iv) He gave the bread. 

Tonight in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we will do the same four things that Jesus did in the institution of the Eucharist: (i) We will take the bread (Offertory). (ii) We will thank God for the bread (Eucharistic Prayer). (iii) We will break the bread. (iv) We will give the bread (Holy Communion)!

Most importantly, the second reading tells us that whenever we eat the bread and drink the cup we proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes! That is, whenever we eat the bread and drink the cup, we proclaim the “saving death” of the Lord (HCSB), that is, his death, resurrection, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world, until he comes again at the end of the world when all will be saved!

Again, the Eucharist makes present, real and effective the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! It is with the help of the Holy Spirit that we do what Jesus commanded us to do, that is, to love and serve, to suffer and sacrifice, and to sanctify and save the world!

Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper begins Good Friday; in fact, it begins the Easter Triduum of three days, namely, Good Friday (Crucifixion), Holy Saturday (Burial), and Easter Sunday (Resurrection)!

The three days are but one celebration! That is why there is no dismissal on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. The dismissal will only be given after the Easter Vigil. That is why we have to come for all the three days! We shall now proceed with the “washing of the feet” and the Eucharist!

A happy and blessed Easter Triduum to all of you!  Amen!

PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD (C)

PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD (C)

Theme: THE PASSION OF THE LORD IS VICTORY AND GLORY

  • Luke 19:28-40
  • Isaiah 50:4-7;
  • Psalm 21 (22): 8-9. 17-20. 23-24. R/ v. 2; Philippians 2:6-11
  • Luke 22:14 – 23:56 (Shorter Form, Luke 23:1-49)

1. Today we celebrate “Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord”! We celebrate “Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord”, because the Passion of the Lord is victory and glory! The palms symbolize victory and glory! That is why the proper place to put our palms is with the crucifix! This is to symbolize that the passion of the Lord is victorious and glorious!    

(i). The gospel today tells us that the passion of the Lord is victorious and glorious! The gospel tells us that because of the passion of the Lord, Pilate and Herod who were enemies were reconciled:

“And though Herod and Pilate had been enemies before, they were reconciled that same day.”! (Lk 23:12; SM)

The passion of the Lord reconciles us with God and with one another!

(ii). The gospel today also tells us that because of the passion of the Lord, Barabbas the murderer was set free from prison:

“Pilate then gave his verdict: their demand was to be granted. He released the man they asked for, who had been imprisoned for rioting and murder, and handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they pleased.”! (Lk 23:24-25; SM)    

The passion of the Lord sets us free from sin and death!

(iii). The gospel also tells us that because of the passion of the Lord, the criminal who was crucified with Jesus went to heaven that very day:

“Indeed, I promise you, today you will be with me in paradise.”! (Lk 23:43; SM)

The passion of the Lord brings us to heaven!

(iv). The gospel also tells us that because of the passion of the Lord the pagan centurion was converted:

“When the centurion saw what had taken place, he gave praise to God and said, This was a great and good man.”! (Lk 23:47; SM)

The passion of the Lord converts the whole world!

(v). Finally, the gospel tells us that because of the passion of the Lord even those who crucified Jesus repented:

“And when all the people who had gathered for the spectacle saw what had happened, they went home beating their breasts.”! (Lk 23:48; SM)

The passion of the Lord saves even those who crucified him!

2. The first reading also tells us that the passion of the Lord is victorious and glorious! The first reading is the third of four Suffering Servant Songs of Isaiah! The first reading tells us that it is through the vicarious sufferings of the Suffering Servant that we are saved! Thus we read:

“I offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who tore at my beard; I did not cover my face against insult and spittle. The Lord comes to my help, so that I am untouched by the insults. So, too, I set my face like flint; I know I shall not be shamed.” (Is 50:6-7; SM)    

3. The responsorial psalm also tells us that the passion of the Lord is victorious and glorious! Thus the psalm began with the cry:

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Ps 21 (22): 2; SM)

But ends with thanksgiving and praise for salvation:

“I will tell of your name to my brethren and praise you where they are assembled. You who fear the Lord give him praise; all sons of Jacob, give him glory. Revere him, Israel’s sons.” (Ps 21 (22): 23-24; SM)

4. Finally, the second reading which is quoted in the “Gospel Acclamation” also tells us that the passion of the Lord is victory and glory! Thus the Gospel Acclamation:

“Christ was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross. But God raised him high and gave him the name which is above all names.” (Phil 2:8-9; SM)

5. Again, today we celebrate “Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord” because the Passion of the Lord is victorious and glorious! The palm symbolizes victory and glory! It symbolizes resurrection, glory and salvation! That is why the proper place to put our palms is with the crucifix!

“Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord” begins Holy Week! Holy Week will climax in the Easter Triduum! Triduum means three days, that is, Good Friday (Death), Holy Saturday (Burial) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection)! Good Friday begins with the evening of Holy Thursday, Holy Saturday begins with the evening of Good Friday and Easter Sunday begins with the evening of Holy Saturday. The three days are in fact one celebration! That is why there is no dismissal on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. The dismissal will only be given after the Easter Vigil! That is why we have to come for all the three days!

A happy and blessed Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, a happy and blessed Holy Week, and a happy and blessed Easter Triduum to all of you!                        

Amen!  

4th Sunday of Lent – 27th March 2022

4th Sunday of Lent – 27th March 2022

*We use Readings from Year A because the church will be having Baptism on Easter Vigil.

Theme: LENT IS A TIME WHEN WE PREPARE TO CELEBRATE THE SACRAMENTS OF INITIATION: BAPTISM, CONFIRMATION AND EUCHARIST

  • 1 Samuel 16:1. 6-7. 10-13;
  • Psalm 22. R/ v. 1;
  • Ephesians 5:8-14
  • John 9:1-41 (Shorter Form, verses 1. 6-9. 13-17. 34-38)

1. Today is the 4th Sunday of Lent. Today is also “Rejoice” Sunday or joyful Sunday! We are joyful because we are more than half way through to Easter! That is why today we use rose vestments instead of purple vestments!

    Again, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter. Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the sacrament of baptism on Easter Vigil night! Besides receiving the sacrament of baptism, some of us are also receiving the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist! These three sacraments are the sacraments of initiation into full communion with the Catholic Church!    

    The readings today tell us about these three sacraments of initiation, namely, baptism, confirmation and Eucharist.

    The gospel today tells us about the sacrament of baptism. The gospel today tells us that Jesus “anointed” (Lefrois; Brown) the blind man with saliva mixed with earth and told the blind man to wash himself in the Pool of Siloam. Siloam means ‘sent’. Jesus was sent by the Father. After washing himself, the blind man could see, that is, see with the eyes of faith! He could see God in creation, in salvation, and in sanctification!

    Washing, anointing and faith are three important themes of baptism. When we are baptized, we are washed with the waters of baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit cleanses us of our sins and gives us new life! A new life that is even better than the life before sin! Paul tells us that the grace of Jesus Christ more than compensated for the sin of Adam! When sin increased, grace increased all the more!   

    After that we are anointed with the oil of Chrism as Christ was anointed priest, prophet and king. We share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ. As a priest, I share in the “ministerial priesthood” of Christ in the “parish church”. You share in the “common priesthood” of Christ. This is especially evident in the “BECs” (Basic Ecclesial Communities), that is, in the “community church” and in the “domestic church” where the head of the house presides in prayer and worship. You are also prophets. You proclaim the word of God and you share and pray and act on the word of God in the BECs! You are also kings. You build the kingdom of God and you build the Church by building BECs of love and unity, and of justice and peace!      

    After washing himself, the blind man could see with the eyes of faith! The gospel tells us that not only the blind man had faith, but that his faith also grew. At first he saw Jesus as a man, then he recognized Jesus to be a prophet, and finally he believed in the Son of Man, Jesus and worshipped him as Lord! The Pharisees on the other hand did not believe in Jesus, then they did not even believe that the blind man was blind, and finally they believed that Jesus was a sinner! Even today there are those who believe that Jesus was a sinner! Indeed, they have lost their faith! 

    After baptism, we have to renew our baptism every year, so that like the blind man, our faith will grow stronger and stronger every year! Otherwise like the Pharisees our faith will grow weaker and weaker every year!

    There is another important theme of baptism found in the longer form of the gospel today, that is, light! It is related to the theme of faith, particularly to the faith of the blind man. Light in the New Testament basically, symbolizes three things, namely, faith, life and good. (NJB; Jn 8:12) The three themes are related, that is, if we have faith in God, we will receive new life, and this new life is a life of good and good works!

    The gospel today tells us about the light of faith. Thus we read in the long form of the gospel: “As long as I am in the world I am the light of the world.” (Jn 9:5; SM)

    The Gospel Acclamation today tells us about the light of life. Thus we read in the Gospel Acclamation: “I am the light of the world, says the Lord; anyone who follows me will have the light of life.” (Jn 8:12; SM)

    Finally the second reading tells us about the light of good and good works. Thus we read in the second reading: “You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord; be like children of light, for the effects of the light are seen in complete goodness and right living and truth.” (Ep 5:8-9; SM)        

    After baptism and after being anointed with the oil of Chrism, we will be given candles lighted from the big Easter candle symbolizing the light of Jesus Christ, the light of faith, life and goodness!

2. The first reading tells us about the sacrament of confirmation. To confirm is to strengthen, to make strong. In the sacrament of baptism we are born again in the Holy Spirit. In the sacrament of confirmation we are made strong in the Holy Spirit! David was a youth, but he was made strong in the Spirit so he could defeat the giant Goliath! We read this in the next chapter (1 S 17). Thus we read in the first reading:

    “The Lord said, ‘Come, anoint him, for this is the one.’ At this, Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him where he stood with his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord seized on David and stayed with him from that day on.” (1 S 16:12-13; SM) In the next chapter, David defeats the giant Goliath! (1 S 17)           

3. The responsorial psalm today tells us about the Eucharist! Just as we are born again in baptism and we are made strong in confirmation, we continue to grow stronger and stronger in the Eucharist by eating the body of Christ and drinking the blood of Christ every Sunday! That is why it is important to come to Mass every Sunday after baptism! If we do not eat and drink, we die! Our faith will die! That is why not coming to Mass on Sunday is a mortal sin! The word mortal is from a Latin word meaning death!

   Again, it is the Lord who provides – providence! The Lord provides us with both material food and drink, and spiritual food and drink! Thus we read in the first and third stanzas of the responsorial psalm depicting the Lord as Shepherd and Host respectively:

    “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose. Near restful waters he leads me, to revive my drooping spirit.” (Stanza 1; SM)   

    “You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes. My head you have anointed with oil; my cup is overflowing.” (Stanza 3; SM)

4. Again, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter. Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the sacrament of baptism on Easter Vigil night. Besides receiving the sacrament of baptism, some of us are also receiving the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist.

    Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the sacraments of initiation, namely, baptism, confirmation and Eucharist. That is why the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms to the poor during this time of Lent. A happy Lent to all of you!

                                                                                                                             Amen!