THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD (A, B, C) – 2nd Jan 2022

Theme: THE REVELATION OF THE LORD AS KING, GOD AND SUFFERING SAVIOR TO ALL THE PAGAN NATIONS OF THE WORLD

  • Isaiah 60:1-6;
  • Psalm 71:1-2. 7-8. 10-13. R/ v. 11;
  • Ephesians 3:2-3. 5-6
  • Matthew 2:1-12

1. A Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you! Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, that is, the revelation of the Lord as King, God and Suffering Savior to all the pagan nations of the world!

     The gospel today tells us that the Jews rejected Jesus in the person of King Herod! But more importantly, the gospel today tells us that the pagans accepted Jesus in the persons of the wise men! But most importantly, the gospel today tells us of the revelation of the Lord as King, God and Suffering Savior to all the pagan nations of the world!

The gospel today tells us that some wise men came from the east to do homage to the infant king of the Jews! The wise men represent all the different nations of the world! That is why in our Christmas crib they are of different colors! But more importantly, the gospel tells us that they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh! The Fathers of the Church tell us that gold is a gift for a King, frankincense is a gift for a God, and myrrh which is used for embalmment and burial symbolizes a Suffering Savior! (NJB)

Thus the revelation of the Lord as King, God and Suffering Savior to all the pagan nations of the world!

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Jerusalem is the light of all the nations! The light of God’s glory! The glory of God shines on Jerusalem!

    All the nations of the world will come to the light of Jerusalem! The light of God’s glory! The glory of God shines on Jerusalem! They will bring back the exiled Jews. They will bring all the riches of the world to Jerusalem and Jerusalem will rejoice! The nations will come to Jerusalem to praise and worship the Lord!

Note that of the many gifts; only two gifts are named, that is, gold and incense (frankincense). Gold for a King and Frankincense for a God! They have come to praise and worship the Lord as King and as God!

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

    “All nations shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord.” (Ps 71:11; SM)

The responsorial psalm tells us about the Promised King, the Davidic King, and the Messianic King!

The responsorial psalm tells us that unlike the other kings who are corrupted, the Messianic King will bring justice and peace! Peace, shalom, salvation! Thus we read:

“In his days justice shall flourish and peace till the moon fails.” (Ps 71:7; SM)  

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first (vv. 1-2), second (vv. 7-8) and fourth (vv. 12-13) stanzas tell us that the Messianic King will bring justice and peace! Peace, shalom, salvation! The third stanza (vv. 10-11) tells us that all the kings of the world will bring him gifts and will come and worship him, because unlike other kings who are corrupted, he will bring justice and peace! Peace, shalom, salvation!

4. The second reading tells us that the mystery that has been kept secret for ages has now been revealed! The mystery is that pagans now share the same inheritance as the Jews, that pagans are parts of the same body, and that the same promise is made to pagans, in Christ Jesus, through the gospel.

That is why we have to preach the gospel to the pagans, so that all pagans may share the same inheritance, so that all pagans may be parts of the same body, and so that the same promise is made to pagans in Christ Jesus through the gospel!

That is why the first duty of the Bishop is to preach the good news, the first duty of the Priest is also to preach the good news and the first duty of the Christian is also to preach the good news! That is why we end the Sunday Mass with this mission:

“Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.”!

A Blessed feast day of the “Epiphany of the Lord” to all of you! Amen!

3rd Sunday of Advent (Year C) – 12th December 2021

  • Zephaniah 3:14-18;
  • Responsorial Psalm (Isaiah 12:2-6. R/ v. 6);
  • Philippians 4:4-7
  • Luke 3:10-18

Theme: WHEN THE LORD COMES, HE WILL BURN AWAY OUR SINS WITH THE FIRE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND WE WILL BE VERY HAPPY

1. Today is the 3rd Sunday of Advent; Liturgical Year C. Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time. The word Advent means coming. Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ continues to come every Christmas, and Jesus Christ will come again at the end of time. Because Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago, and continues to come every Christmas, we believe that he will come again at the end of time.

    Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in Memory, Jesus Christ continues to come every Christmas in Mystery, and Jesus Christ will come again at the end of time in Majesty. When Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in memory, he did something very important; before he died, rose from the dead, and gave us the Holy Spirit; he gave us the Eucharist/Mass in memorial of him, that is, to make real, present and effective what he did two thousand years ago, so that he can continue to come to us every Christmas in Mystery, and so that he can come to us at the end of time in Majesty!

    The word Christ-mas comes from the two words “Christ’s” and “Mass”. (Raas) The Mass is the Sacrament of Sacraments. The word Sacrament in Greek and in Latin means Mystery. Jesus Christ comes to us every Christ-mas in Mystery and Jesus Christ will come again at the end of time in Majesty! Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time.

    The gospel today tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by practicing charity and justice. But before we practice charity we have to practice justice. Justice is giving back to the poor what belongs to them, that is, paying them a just wage, etc. Charity or “sharity” is sharing what we have with the poor, the have-nots. Thus we read in the gospel today:

    “When all the people asked John, ‘What must we do?’ he answered, ‘If anyone has two tunics he must share with the man who has none, and the one with something to eat must do the same.’ There were tax collectors too who came for baptism, and these said to him, ‘Master what must we do?’ He said to them, ‘Exact no more than your rate.’ Some soldiers asked him in their turn, ‘What about us? What must we do?’ He said to them, ‘No intimidation! No extortion! Be content with your pay!’ (Lk 3:10-14)      

    More importantly, the gospel today tells us that when the Lord comes he will burn away our sins with the fire of his Holy Spirit, that is, the fire of his love! God the Father is love, God the Son is love, and God the Holy Spirit is also love! Theologians tell us that God the Father loves the Son, and God the Son loves the Father, and the love between the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit of God’s love will burn away our sins! Thus we read in the gospel today:

    “John declared before them all, ‘I baptize you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Lk 3:16/Pentecost, Acts 2)

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us to rejoice because the Lord is with us to save us! More than that the first reading also tells us that God is not only with us to save us, but God also rejoices with us! Thus we read in the first reading:

    “Shout for joy, daughter of Zion, Israel, shout aloud! Rejoice, exult with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has repealed your sentence; he has driven your enemies away. The Lord, the king of Israel, is in your midst; you have no more evil to fear. When that day comes, word will come to Jerusalem: Zion, have no fear, do not let your hands fall limp. The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult with joy over you, he will renew you by his love; he will dance with shouts of joy for you as on a day of festival.” (Zp 3:14-18a)

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us to rejoice because God is with us to save us! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

    “Sing and shout for joy for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” (Is 12:6)

    And thus the first stanza of the responsorial psalm:

    “Truly, God is my salvation, I trust, I shall not fear. For the Lord is my strength, my song, he became my savior. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” (Is 12:2-3)      

4. Finally, the second reading tells us to rejoice in the Lord because the Lord is near! Thus we read in the second reading: “I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness.” (Ph 4:4) And thus the “Entrance Antiphon” of today’s Mass which is taken from the first verse of today’s second reading with a different translation (Ph 4:4): “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.”!

    The first word of the “Entrance Antiphon” of today’s Mass is the name given to this Third Sunday of Advent, that is, “Rejoice Sunday” or “Joyful Sunday”! Today we celebrate Joyful Sunday because we are more than half way through to Christmas! That is why we use rose colored vestment to symbolize joy, light the rose candle, start caroling, start making the Christmas Crib, start putting up the Christmas Tree, etc.! 

5. 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 prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time. The Holy Spirit will help us practice charity and justice to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. And when Jesus Christ comes he will burn away our sins with the fire of his Holy Spirit, that is, the fire of his love, and we will be very happy! A happy Advent to all of you!   Amen!

1st Sunday of Advent (Year C) – 28th November 2021

Theme: ADVENT IS A TIME WHEN WE PREPARE FOR THE COMING OF JESUS CHRIST AT CHRISTMAS AND AT THE END OF TIME

  • Jeremiah 33:14-16;
  • Psalm 24 (25):4-5. 8-9. 10. 14. R/ v. 1:
  • 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2
  • Luke 21:25-28. 34-36.

1. Today is the First Sunday of Advent and today we begin the new Liturgical Year C. Advent means coming. There are three comings of Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in memory. Jesus Christ continues to come every Christmas in mystery. And Jesus Christ will come at the end of time in majesty!

Because Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in memory, and Jesus Christ continues to come every Christmas in mystery, we believe that Jesus Christ will come again at the end of time in majesty as King of the universe! He will win over all and he will rule over all!

Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time! “Advent is thus a period for devout and joyful expectation.” (General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, 39, Roman Missal)

2. The gospel today tells us of the end of the world and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! The gospel tells us that there will be signs in the sun, moon and stars; and the powers of heaven will be shaken, that is, the sun, moon and stars will be shaken! 

We believe that the end of the world is not only the end of the physical world, but the end of the evil world, that is, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!

More importantly, the gospel today tells us about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! The gospel tells us that Jesus Christ will come in a cloud with power and great glory and we are to stand erect and lift up our heads, because our liberation, redemption and salvation is near at hand! The salvation which Jesus Christ began in his First Coming will be completed, perfected, fulfilled and fully realized in his Second Coming! 

The gospel also tells us to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ by detaching ourselves from the material world. The gospel tells us not to be engrossed in our material pursuits and worldly pleasures; but to stay awake, to keep vigil and to pray.

3. The second reading also tells us about the end of the world and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. St. Paul and the Thessalonians believed that the end of the world and the Second Coming of Jesus was imminent, that is, in their lifetime!

In the second reading St. Paul prayed that the Thessalonians increase in love and love one another and love the whole human race as much as St. Paul loved them. St. Paul also prayed that they be holy and blameless for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!

Finally, St. Paul exhorted them to live the Christian life and to grow in the Christian life!

4. The first reading is a prophecy on the First Coming of Jesus Christ, but for us it is a prophecy on the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! The first reading tells us that Judah will be saved and Israel (Jerusalem; NJBC) will live in safety and Jerusalem will be called ‘The Lord-our-righteousness’, that is, ‘The Lord-our-salvation’! (Fuller; GNB) Thus we read in the first reading:

“In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’” (Jr 33:16; HCSB)

5. The responsorial psalm is a “Prayer for Guidance” (HCSB; CSB) to God our Savior.

    Thus the response:

“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” (Ps 24 (25): 1; SM)

And thus the first stanza:

“Lord, make me know your ways. Lord, teach me your paths. Make me walk in your truth, and teach me: for you are God my savior.” (Ps 24 (25): 4-5; SM)

6. Again, Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time! We prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by detaching ourselves from the material world and from worldly pleasures, and by staying awake, keeping vigil and praying (Gospel); by loving one another and loving the whole human race, and by being holy and blameless, and by living and growing in the Christian life (Second reading); and by doing good works (Opening Prayer).

We also prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by repentance and by going to confession; by reading the Bible and the Sunday Mass readings; by reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church; by being Santa Claus (Saint Nicholas) to the poor and needy, especially to the poor and needy children; by going Christmas caroling and proclaiming the good news of Christmas; and by attending Bible-Sharing, Prayer-Meetings, BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) meetings, etc. A happy and blessed Advent to all of you! Amen!   

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 12th September 2021

  • Isaiah 50:5-9
  • Psalm 114 (115):1-6. 8-9. R/ v. 9;
  • James 2:14-18
  • Mark 8:27-35

Theme: JESUS IS NOT A POLITICAL, NATIONALISTIC AND MILITARY MESSIAH, BUT JESUS IS A SUFFERING MESSIAH

1. Today is the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The gospel today tells us that Jesus is not a political, nationalistic, and military Messiah, but Jesus is a suffering Messiah! That is, Jesus is to suffer, die and rise from the dead for the love of God and for the love of humanity, that is, to do the will of God his Father and to save humanity from sin and death!

The gospel also tells us that as Christians we are to take up our crosses and follow Jesus, to lose our lives for his sake and for the sake of the gospel in order to save our lives and the lives of the whole world!

The gospel today tells us that when Peter professed his faith in Jesus as the Messiah/Christ, Jesus warned his disciples not to tell anyone about it for fear that people may think that he was a political Messiah.

Jesus also told his disciples that he was to suffer, to die and to rise from the dead on the third day! And when Peter protested, he called Peter Satan! For the way Peter thought was man’s way, not God’s way. Man thought of a nationalistic Messiah, but God thought of a suffering Messiah, because God is love!         

In the gospel today, Jesus also told the people and his disciples to take up their crosses and follow him, to lose their lives for his sake and for the sake of the gospel in order to save their lives and the lives of the whole world!

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Jesus was the Suffering Servant of God (Third of Four Suffering Servant Songs). He listened to God. He did not turn away from God. He offered his back to be beaten, his beard to be torn and his face to be spat upon!

Vicarious suffering, that is, suffering on behalf of sinners, suffering in the place of sinners! But more importantly, the first reading tells us that God will not abandon him, God will not forget him; but God will come to his help, God will save him, and through him God will save the whole world!

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God will save him from death! Thus the response:

“I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.” (Ps 114 (115): 9; SM)

The responsorial psalm itself tells us of his suffering and death, but more importantly, it tells us that God will save him from death. Thus the responsorial psalm ends with verse 9, from which the response is taken, again:

“I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.”!

4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again, the second reading has something important to tell us. The second reading tells us that faith and good works have to go together. Faith without good works is dead! And the good works mentioned in the second reading are clothing the naked and feeding the hungry. Two basic human needs!  

The second reading is not contrasting faith and good works, but the second reading is contrasting living faith and dead faith! Living faith will produce good works, but dead faith will not produce good works!

5. Today in this Mass, we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ, who suffered, died and rose from the dead for our salvation; and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we may carry our crosses to follow him, to lose our lives for his sake and for the sake of the gospel, so that we will save our lives and the lives of the whole world!

We also thank God for the gift of faith and we ask God to help us to do good works!

A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you!

                                                                                                                                Amen! 

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 1st Aug 2021

Theme: “WORK FOR FOOD THAT ENDURES TO ETERNAL LIFE.”

  • Exodus 16:2-4. 12-15;
  • Psalm 77 (78): 3-4. 23-25. 54. R/ v. 24;
  • Ephesians 4:17. 20-24
  • John 6:24-35

1. Today is the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us not to “work for food that cannot last”, but to “work for food that endures to eternal life”!

The gospel today tells us that after being fed at “the miracle of the loaves” (Jn 6: 1-15; NJB), the people followed Jesus, but Jesus told them not to work for food that do not last, but to work for food that endures to eternal life. 

More importantly, the gospel tells us that to work for food that endures to eternal life means to believe in Jesus! And when we believe in Jesus, God our Father will give us “bread from heaven”. And the bread from heaven will give life to the world!

Most importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus is the “bread from heaven” who gives life to the world! Thus we read in the gospel today:

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never hunger; he who believes in me will never thirst”. (Jn 6:35; SM)

Indeed Jesus is the “bread of life” both in word and in sacrament! Thus the “Gospel Acclamation” today:

“Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Mt 4:4; SM)     

And thus verse 54 of chapter 6 of today’s gospel:

“Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day”. (NJB)

That is why our Sunday Mass consists of two parts, namely, “the Liturgy of the Word” and “the Liturgy of the Eucharist”. The “Liturgy of the Word” gives us faith. (Rm 10:17) And when we celebrate “the Liturgy of the Eucharist” with faith and eat the body of Christ and drink his blood, the Holy Spirit will transform us into the Body of Christ!

That is why it is important that we come early for Sunday Mass to read the readings before Mass to prepare ourselves for the Mass. And that is why it is important that we listen attentively to the readings and homily during Mass and not talk or use our hand phones during Mass! And that is why it is important that after Mass we share and pray spiritually and personally on the Sunday Mass readings in our Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs)! 

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the people of Israel had nothing to eat in the desert, so they grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and against God. They wanted to return to Egypt to eat meat and bread.

And more importantly, the first reading tells us that God gave them “bread from heaven”! The first reading prefigures the “bread from heaven” that Jesus gives in today’s gospel!

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

“The Lord gave them bread from heaven”. (Ps 77 (78): 24; SM)

And thus verses 23 to 25 of the responsorial psalm:

“He commanded the clouds above and opened the gates of heaven. He rained down manna for their food, and gave them bread from heaven. Mere men ate the bread of angels. He sent them abundance of food”. (SM)

Again, the responsorial psalm prefigures the “bread from heaven” given by Jesus in today’s gospel!

4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again, the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells about “Renewal in Christ” (CSB), that is, to put off “the old self” and to put on “the new self”! This we did in baptism and we continue to do every Sunday in the Eucharist!

    But we are happy to note that in our parish there are so many renewal movements that help us to renew ourselves in Jesus Christ! We have the Charismatic Renewal, the Prayer Meetings, the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs), the Neo-Catechumenal Communities, the Bible-Sharing Groups, the Alpha Course, the Divine Mercy, etc.! All these renewal movements help us renew ourselves in Jesus Christ!   

5. Today in this Mass, we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ, the food of eternal life! And we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we may be renewed in his Son Jesus Christ! A happy and holy Sunday to all of you! Amen!

                                                                                                                                   

THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD (A, B, C) – 6th Jan 2019

Theme: EPIPHANY: THE MANIFESTATION OF THE LORD TO ALL THE NATIONS

  • Isaiah 60:1-6;
  • Psalm 71 (72):1-2. 7-8. 10-13. R/ v. 11;
  • Ephesians 3:2-3. 5-6
  • Matthew 2:1-12.

A Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you! We are still in the season of Christmas! Christmas season will end only next Sunday with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord! Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, that is, the manifestation of the Lord to all the nations!

The gospel today tells us that some wise men came from the East to worship Jesus. The wise men represent the nations of the world. That is why in our Christmas crib they are of different colors. The wise men brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the child Jesus.

The Fathers of the Church, such as Irenaeus (ca. 130-200), see in these gifts the symbols of Jesus’ kingship (gold), divinity (frankincense) and passion (myrrh). That is, the gold symbolizes Jesus as king, the frankincense which is used for worship symbolizes Jesus as God, and the myrrh which is used for embalmment and burial symbolizes Jesus as Suffering-Messiah!

Indeed the Star of Bethlehem which led the wise men to Jesus symbolizes Jesus as King, God and Messiah! Thus we read in the prophecy of the famous pagan prophet Balaam: “A star is emerging from Jacob”! (Nb 24:17; NJBf) 

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that all the nations of the world will come and worship the Lord and they will bring with them the riches of the world, including gold and frankincense! And even the exiled Jews will return to Jerusalem!

This is because the glory of the Lord will rise above Jerusalem and all the nations will come to the light of his glory! Thus we read in the first reading:

    “Arise, shine out Jerusalem, for your light has come, the glory of the Lord is rising on you, though night still covers the earth and darkness the peoples. Above you the Lord now rises and above you his glory appears. The nations come to your light and kings to your dawning brightness.” (Is 60:1-3; SM)

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

“All nations shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord.” (Ps 71 (72): 11; SM)

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first, second and fourth stanzas tell us that the Messianic King will bring justice and peace, especially to the poor!

There can be no peace without justice! And peace is not just an absence of war, but Peace is Shalom, Salvation!

The third stanza tells us that all the nations of the world will worship him! Thus the third stanza from which the response is taken:

“The kings of Tarshish and the sea coasts shall pay him tribute. The kings of Sheba and Seba shall bring him gifts. Before him all kings shall fall prostrate, all nations shall serve him.” (Ps 71 (72): 10-11; SM)

The second reading also follows the theme of Epiphany, that is, manifestation or revelation. The second reading tells us that the mystery that had been hidden in the past has now been revealed! And the revelation is that pagans are co-heirs, co-members and co-sharers with the Jews (IBC), that is,

“Pagans now share the same inheritance, that they are parts of the same body, and that the same promise has been made to them, in Christ Jesus, through the gospel.” (Ep 3:6; SM)

Let us renew our faith, share our faith and proclaim our faith to the whole world! Let us use the Bible, the Sunday Mass Readings and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) to renew our faith, share our faith and proclaim our faith in our families, in our communities, in our churches, in our schools, in our workplaces, and in the internet! A happy and joyful Epiphany to all of you!

Amen!

THE HOLY FAMILY OF JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH (C) – 30th Dec 2018

Theme: A HAPPY AND HOLY FAMILY

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

A Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you! Christmas is such a big feast that we celebrate it in eight days! The octave day (eighth day) of Christmas will be on New Year’s Day, when we will celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God! But the Christmas season ends only with the Baptism of the Lord on the 13th of January 2019!

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

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

Again, a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you! Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Liturgical Year C!

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

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

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

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

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

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

“O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways! By the labor of your hands you shall eat. You will be happy and prosper. Your wife like a fruitful vine in the heart of your house; your children like shoots of the olive, around your table.” (Ps 127 (128): 1-3; SM)    

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

“Wives, give way to your husbands, as you should in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and treat them with gentleness. Children, be obedient to your parents always, because that is what will please the Lord. Parents, never drive your children to resentment or you will make them feel frustrated.” (Col 3:18-21; SM) 

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

Suggestions for a happy and holy family:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Happy and Holy Family to all of you!

Amen!

 

Christmas (Year A, B, C) – 25th Dec 2018

Theme: A BLESSED CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR
  • Matthew 1:1-25;
  • Luke 2:1-14;
  • Lk 2:15-20;
  • John 1:1-18; Hebrews 1:1-6.

A blessed Christmas and a happy New Year to all of you! Christmas is a very big feast, second only to Easter! That is why we have four Masses for Christmas, namely, “Vigil Mass”, “Mass at Midnight”, “Mass at Dawn”, and “Mass During the Day”! We have no time to look at all the readings, but let us look at all the gospels of all the four Masses!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4th Sunday of Advent (Year C) – 23rd December 2018

Theme: THE CHRIST OF CHRISTMAS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thus the response asking God to save us:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And thus the “Gospel Acclamation” today:

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

A Happy and Joyful Advent to all of you! Amen!

3rd Sunday of Advent (Year C) – 16th Dec 2018

Theme: WE ARE HAPPY AND JOYFUL BECAUSE THE LORD WILL COME AND SAVE US FROM SIN AND DEATH

  • Zephaniah 3:14-18;
  • Is 12:2-6. R/ v. 6;
  • Philippians 4:4-7
  • Luke 3:10-18

Today is the 3rd Sunday of Advent; Liturgical Year C. Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time.

The gospel today tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by practicing charity and justice! The gospel today tells us that if we have two shirts we must give one to the person who has none. And if we have something to eat we must share it with the one who has nothing to eat.

The gospel also tells us to practice justice. The gospel tells us that the tax collectors must not collect more than the taxes and the soldiers must not extort. In short, the gospel tells us that we must not accept bribes and we must not give bribes, and we must not practice corruption.

More importantly, the gospel tells us that when Jesus Christ comes he will baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire! That is, he will burn away our sins with the fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of God’s love! God loves the sinner, but he hates the sins!

Many years ago when our Church in Sabah was still one Diocese we had a retreat with an Australian Jesuit priest as our retreat master. During “confession” we were asked to write down our sins on pieces of paper and to show them to the other priests. After that we were to burn the pieces of paper with the flame/fire of the Paschal/Easter candle and to throw the pieces of paper into a metal dustbin to be burnt.

The retreat master explained that the flame/fire of the Paschal/Easter candle is the fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of God’s love, and the metal bin where the pieces of paper were burnt is hell! He explained that hell is the love of God experienced by the sinner for his conversion and for his salvation!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us about the joy of salvation! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Shout for joy, daughter of Zion, Israel, shout aloud! Rejoice, exult with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! …. He will exult with joy over you, he will renew you by his love; he will dance with shouts of joy for you as on a day of festival.” (Zp 3:14. 17b-18a; SM)

Note that not only will we be happy for our salvation, but God will also be happy for our salvation!

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

“Sing and shout for joy for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” (Is 12:6; SM)

And thus the first stanza:

“Truly, God is my salvation, I trust, I shall not fear. For the Lord is my strength, my song, he became my savior. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Is 12:2-3; SM)

The second reading also tells us about the joy and happiness of salvation! Thus we read in the second reading:

“I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness.” (Ph 4:4; SM)

The second reading is quoted in today’s “Entrance Antiphon”: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.” (Ph 4:4-5; SM)

This Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, is named after the “Entrance Antiphon”. It is called “Rejoice Sunday” or “Joyful Sunday” or “Happy Sunday”! We are happy and joyful because we are more than half way through to Christmas!

That is why we light the pink (rose) candle, the priest wears a pink vestment and the Mass servers wear pink cinctures! Pink (rose) color symbolizes joy and happiness!

The pink (rose) vestment is used only twice a year, that is, on the Third Sunday of Advent and on the Fourth Sunday of Lent!

Again, Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time!

We prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by doing what the gospel today tells us to do. The gospel today tells us to practice charity and justice. The gospel tells us to share our money and our possessions with the poor and the needy. The gospel also tells us to practice justice, that is, we are not to accept or give bribes and we are not to practice corruption. We are to pay our employees a just wage, but employees must also be just to their employers by doing their work! Justice works both ways!

We also prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by doing what the second reading tells us, that is, we are to be tolerant, that is, we are to be kind (CSB) to one another as the Lord is very near!

Again, a happy and joyful Sunday to all of you! Amen!