32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (year B) – 11th November 2018 (Alternative Homily)

Theme: GIVING

  • 1 Kings 17:10-16;
  • Psalm 145 (146):7-10. R/ v. 2;
  • Hebrews 9:24-28
  • Mark 12:38-44

Today is the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us about giving. The gospel today tells us that a widow gave to the Temple treasury all that she possessed and all that she had to live on. The first reading tells us that a widow shared her last meal with the prophet Elijah. The second reading tells us that Jesus gave himself once and for all! These three readings tell us about giving:

(1) No one is too poor to give. The widow in the gospel gave two small coins. The widow in the first reading shared her last meal. Jesus gave himself! 

(2) It is not how much we give, but how much we have left after giving. The two widows and Jesus had nothing left after giving! 

(3) One cannot love without giving. Last Sunday’s readings were on love. This Sunday’s readings are on giving! 

(4) In giving, we do not only help the poor, but we also help ourselves to depend on God and not to depend on money. Our religious sisters, brothers and priests take the vow of poverty, not because poverty is good, not even because they want to help the poor, but because they want to depend on God and not on money. (Mt 5:3; Mt 6:33) 

(5) It is more blessed to give than to receive. The widow was blessed with food and life after she shared her last meal with the prophet Elijah. 

(6) We do not only give to the poor, we also give to God. The first widow gave to the Temple treasury. The second widow shared her last meal with Elijah the Prophet of God. Jesus gave himself to God his Father! 

(7) Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who worked among the poorest of the poor, tells us that we must give until it hurts. The two widows and Jesus gave until it hurts! 

(8) We do not only give money. We also give things, food, oneself, time, service, talents, love, etc. One widow gave money, one gave food, and Jesus gave himself. 

(9) We give what we have received from God! What we have received freely from God, we give freely! 

(10) We have to give and to receive, that is, to love and to be loved! Reciprocal love! (Focolare)

Today in this Mass, let us pray that we may have the Spirit of the two widows and of Jesus Christ Himself, so that we may give to God and to neighbour, especially to the poor and needy. Amen!

32nd Sunday in ordinary Time (Year B) -11th November 2018

Theme: DEPEND ON GOD FOR OUR MATERIAL AND SPIRITUAL SUSTENANCE

  • 1 Kings 17:10-16;
  • Psalm 145 (146): 7-10. R/ v. 2;
  • Hebrews 9:24-28
  • Mark 12:38-44

Today is the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us to depend on God for our material and spiritual sustenance. The Gospel Acclamation today tells us that the poor in spirit are blessed and the kingdom of God belongs to them!

The poor in spirit are the materially poor, the spiritually poor, and most importantly, they are those who depend in God for their material and spiritual sustenance! Thus the Gospel Acclamation:

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

Our religious sisters, brothers and priests take the vow of poverty, not because poverty is good, not even because they want to help the poor, but because they want to depend on God for their material and spiritual sustenance! They believe that God will provide! They believe in providence! They have great faith!

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” (Mt 6:33; CSB)

That is, seek first the kingdom of love, justice and peace and his salvation, and all these other things will be given to you as well!

The gospel today tells us that a widow gave all she had and all she had to live on to the Temple treasury! Indeed she was very very generous! She was more generous than the rich who gave much more. Although she gave only two small coins, she gave all that she had and all that she had to live on! She gave her whole life to the Temple treasury!

But more importantly, she was a widow of great faith. She depended on God for her spiritual and material sustenance! (CSB) She prefigured Jesus Christ who depended on God for his material and spiritual sustenance until his death, resurrection and the salvation of the whole world!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us of another widow – in a man’s world, widows have no power or money! The first reading tells us that a widow shared her last meal with the prophet Elijah. After that she and her son will die of hunger because there will be nothing left to eat. Indeed the widow was very very generous. She shared all that she had to live on with the prophet Elijah.

But more importantly, she was a widow of great faith. (CCB) She depended on God for her spiritual and material sustenance! And because of her great faith the Lord rewarded her with food and life. She and her son were not to die of hunger. She and her son will have food to eat and will live! Thus the first reading tells us,

“The jar of meal was not spent nor the jug of oil emptied, just as the Lord had foretold through Elijah.” (1 K 17: 16; SM)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us to trust in God and to depend on God, because he is a God who gives justice to the oppressed, gives food to the hungry, sets prisoners free, gives sight to the blind, protects the stranger, helps the widow and the orphan, etc.! (CSB; HCSB) Thus we read in the responsorial psalm:

“It is the Lord who is just to those who are oppressed. It is he who gives bread to the hungry, the Lord, who sets prisoners free. It is the Lord who gives sight to the blind, who raises up those who are bowed down. It is the Lord who loves the just, the Lord, who protects the stranger. The Lord upholds the widow and orphan.” (Ps 145 (146): 7-9; SM)

And thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“My soul, give praise to the Lord.” (Ps 145 (146): 2; SM)

The second reading is a continuation of the second readings of the past few Sundays. Again, the second reading compares the Levitical priesthood of the Jews in the Old Testament with the priesthood of Jesus Christ in the New Testament:

(i) The Levitical priesthood has its sanctuary on earth made by human beings, but the priesthood of Jesus Christ has its sanctuary in heaven where God is!

(ii) The Levitical priest offers sacrifices of blood of animals every year on the Day of Atonement, but Jesus Christ offered himself as a sacrifice once and for all!

(iii) The Levitical priest will not come a second time at the Parousia, but Jesus Christ will come a second time at the Parousia to reward with salvation all who are waiting for him!

Again, today in this Mass, in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Church makes present, real and effective, the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our salvation and again today in this Mass, we receive the Holy Spirit to help us to depend on God for our material and spiritual sustenance! A happy and holy Sunday to all of you! Amen!

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 4th November 2018

Theme: WE LOVE GOD, NEIGHBOR AND ONESELF BECAUSE GOD FIRST LOVED US

  • Deuteronomy 6:2-6;
  • Psalm 17 (18): 2-4. 47. 51. R/ v. 2;
  • Hebrews 7:23-28
  • Mark 12:28-34

Today is the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us about the greatest commandment of the Law, that is, we are to love the Lord our God with all our soul, all our heart, all our mind and with all our strength, that is, we are to love the Lord our God with our whole person and being! And we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves! Three things come to mind:

(i) We love because God first loved us! (1 Jn 4:19) We love God because God first loved us. We love our neighbor because God first loved us. And we love ourselves because God first loved us. Our love for God, neighbor and oneself is only a response to God’s first love for us!

(ii) We cannot love God if we do not also love our neighbor!

“Anyone who says ‘I love God’ and hates his brother, is a liar, since whoever does not love the brother whom he can see cannot love God whom he has not seen. Indeed this is the commandment we have received from him, that whoever loves God, must also love his brother.” (1 Jn 4: 20-21; NJB)

But more importantly, we cannot love our brother if we do not first love God, because love comes from God!

“Love consists in this: it is not we who loved God, but God loved us and sent his Son to expiate our sins. My dear friends, if God loved us so much, we too should love each other.” (1 Jn 4:10-11; NJB)  

H. Fuller (Preaching the Lectionary, 1984) tells us that Jesus joined the first and second commandments in a radical sense:

“Love of God is illusory if it does not issue in love of neighbor, and love of neighbor is refined self-love if it does not proceed from the love of God.”

(iii) In the year 2007, 138 Muslim scholars, clerics and intellectuals, etc. from all over the world, including 2 from Malaysia wrote a letter to Pope Benedict XVI to dialogue on these two greatest commandments to love God and neighbor! Our Pope accepted the invitation to dialogue, emphasizing that one cannot love God if one does not also love one’s neighbor!

The letter was entitled “A Common Word Between Us and You”! (13th October 2007) The common word is love, that is, love of God and love of neighbor! When two of the greatest religions of the world, that is, Christianity and Islam, come together to dialogue on the two greatest commandments of God, there is hope for love and peace in the world! The dialogue is still going on!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us about the greatest commandment of the Law, that is,

“The Lord our God is the one Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength.” (Dt 6:4-5; Sunday Missal (SM))

The first reading also tells us that if we keep the commandments of God, especially the commandment to love God, we will be blessed with long life; long life for ourselves, for our children and for our grand children. We will also be blessed with prosperity and fertility so that we will increase and multiply and have many children and grand children! We will also be blessed with a land flowing with milk and honey, that is, a land of grace and a land of abundance!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the first sentence of the responsorial psalm from which the response is taken:

“I love you, Lord, my strength, my rock, my fortress, my saviour.” (Ps 17 (18): 2-3; SM)

Indeed, the Lord saved us (NJBC) by loving us in his Son Jesus Christ! Thus verses 4. 47 and 51 of the responsorial psalm:

“The Lord is worthy of all praise: when I call I am saved from my foes. Long life to the Lord, my rock! Praised be the God who saves me. He has given great victories to his king and shown his love for his anointed.” (Ps 17 (18): 4. 47. 51; SM)

And thus the response:

“I love you, Lord, my strength.” (Ps 17 (18): 2; SM)

The second reading tells us about the differences between the Levitical Priesthood and the Priesthood of Jesus Christ:

(i) The Levitical Priesthood is temporary and transitory, but the Priesthood of Jesus Christ is eternal and permanent.

(ii) The Levitical priest is himself a sinner, but Jesus Christ is sinless.

(iii) The Levitical priest offers sacrifices every year and according to the letter to the Hebrews, everyday, but Jesus Christ offered himself once and for all!

(iv) The Levitical priest cannot save, but Jesus Christ is the only Savior of the world!

Today in the Eucharist, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we make present, real and effective the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our salvation and today in the Eucharist we receive the Holy Spirit to help us love God with all our soul, our heart, our mind and our strength, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves! A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you! Amen!

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 28th October 2018

Theme: WE ARE SAVED BY FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST

  • Jeremiah 31:7-9;
  • Psalm 125 (126): R/ v. 3;
  • Hebrews 5:1-6
  • Mark 10:46-52

Today is the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ! The gospel today tells us that a blind man approached Jesus to be healed of his blindness. He cried out to Jesus twice, “Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me”. “Son of David” is a Messianic title! The blind man acknowledged Jesus to be the Messiah!
But more importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus cured the blind man of his blindness saying, “Go; your faith has saved you”. And the blind man could see immediately and he followed Jesus on the way.

The blind man could see with the eyes of faith and he followed Jesus on the way to “Jerusalem” to suffer, die and rise from the dead. (NJBC; IBC; Fuller; Faley) The twelve disciples of Jesus could not see with the eyes of faith and they could not follow Jesus on the way to “Jerusalem” to suffer, die, and rise from the dead. The twelve disciples of Jesus wanted to sit at Jesus right hand and left in his glory, but they did not want to follow Jesus to “Jerusalem” to his Passion; even after Jesus taught them a third time that he was to suffer, die, and rise from the dead on the third day! (Mk 10:32-45; Previous Sunday)
Again, we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us about salvation in Jesus Christ. The first reading tells us about the return from exile from Babylon. This is the second Exodus, the new Exodus, more important than the first Exodus! Thus we read in the first reading:

“‘The Lord has saved his people, the remnant of Israel!’ See, I will bring them back from the land of the North and gather them from the far ends of the earth; all of them: the blind and the lame, women with child, women in labor: a great company returning here.” (Jr 31:7-8; SM)

Again, this second and new Exodus will only be completely and finally fulfilled in the salvation by Jesus Christ!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us about the return from exile from Babylon. The responsorial psalm tells us that the people of Israel rejoiced that they were back in Zion! (CSB) Thus we read in the first and second stanzas of the responsorial psalm:

“When the Lord delivered Zion from bondage, it seemed like a dream. Then was our mouths filled with laughter, on our lips there were songs. The heathens themselves said: ‘What marvels the Lord worked for them!’ What marvels the Lord worked for us! Indeed we were glad.” (Ps 125 (126): 1-3; SM)
And thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“What marvels the Lord worked for us! Indeed we were glad.” (Ps 125 (126): 3; SM)

Again, this second and new Exodus will only be fulfilled in the salvation by Jesus Christ!

The second reading tells us that the high priest has been appointed by God to offer sacrifices for sins, for his own sins and for the sins of the people. The high priest did not choose himself but he was chosen by God. In the same way Jesus Christ did not chose himself but he was chosen by God to be high priest. Jesus Christ was the Son of God. He was chosen by God his Father to be high priest. The priesthood of Jesus Christ is the priesthood of Melchizedek, like Melchizedek, Jesus Christ had no earthly father and mother; He had no beginning and end. He was the Son of God. (Heb 7:3) He was without sin and he offered himself as the sacrifice for sin. He did it once and for all. He is the only one who can save us from sin! Again, we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ!

The theme of faith in today’s gospel is very relevant for us today, because our Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI launched the Year of Faith in 2012. The Year of Faith coincides with the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th Anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)! Year of Faith invited all of us to update and renew our faith with the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

I urge you to own a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church for homes, schools, colleges, universities, BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities), offices, Sunday schools, communities, etc.! And we must share and pray the Catechism of the Catholic Church with our families, our teachers, our students, our workmates, our friends, our communities, our catechumens, etc. In short, we are to renew our faith and share our faith with others! Wishing you a happy and joyful Sunday!

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 21st October 2018

Theme: JESUS CAME TO SERVE, TO SUFFER AND TO SACRIFICE HIMSELF IN ORDER TO SANCTIFY AND SAVE THE WORLD WITH HIS LOVE, MERCY AND GRACE (Mission Sunday)

  • Isaiah 53:10-11;
  • Psalm 32 (33): 4-5. 18-20. 22. R/ v. 22;
  • Hebrews 4:14-16
  • Mark 10:35-45

Today is the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that Jesus came to serve, to suffer, and to sacrifice Himself in order to sanctify and save the world with his love, mercy and grace.

The gospel today tells us that the disciples James and John requested from Jesus that they sit at Jesus’ left and right hand in His glory. The gospel also tells us that the other ten disciples were angry with James and John because they too wanted to sit at Jesus’ left and right hand in His glory.

But Jesus taught them that to become great one must become servant and to be first one must be slave of all. For the Son of Man himself came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many! That is, Jesus came to serve, to suffer, and to sacrifice his life in order to sanctify and save the world with his love, mercy and grace! Thus we read in the gospel today:

“For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mk 10: 45; SM)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading is the fourth of four Suffering Servant Songs of Isaiah.

The first reading tells us that the Suffering Servant was innocent but he suffered on behalf of the guilty to save them from sin. Vicarious suffering! Thus we read in the first reading:

“By his sufferings shall my servant justify many, taking their faults on himself.” (Is 53:11; SM)

Again, Jesus came to serve, to suffer and to sacrifice himself in order to sanctify and save the world with his love, mercy and grace! That is why the responsorial psalm tells us about the love of God and the second reading tells us about the mercy and grace of God!

The responsorial psalm tells us about the love of God. The responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord fills the earth with his love, and he looks on those who hope in his love, and the responsorial psalm tells us to pray for his love! Thus we read in the responsorial psalm:

“The Lord loves justice and right and fills the earth with is love. The Lord looks on those who revere him, on those who hope in his love. May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.” (Ps 32 (33): 5. 18. 22; SM)

And thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.” (Ps 32 (33): 22; SM)

The second reading tells us about the mercy and grace of God. The second reading tells us to approach the throne of grace with confidence that we will receive his mercy for the forgiveness of our sins and that we will receive his grace to help us not to sin anymore! Thus we read in the second reading:

“Let us be confident, then, in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help” (Heb 4:16; SM)

Today in this Mass we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ who suffered, died and rose from the dead to give us the Holy Spirit. And we ask God our Father through his Son Jesus Christ to give us the Holy Spirit to help us serve, suffer and sacrifice ourselves in order to sanctify and save the world with love, mercy and grace! A happy and joyful Sunday to all of you! Amen!

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 14th October 2018

Theme: ATTACHMENT TO WEALTH IS AN OBSTACLE TO CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIP

  • Wisdom 7:7-11;
  • Psalm 89 (90): 12-17. R/ v. 14;
  • Hebrews 4:12-13
  • Mark 10:17-30

Today is the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The gospel today tells us that attachment to wealth is an obstacle to Christian discipleship. (Fuller; Faley)

The gospel today tells us that a rich man came to Jesus to look for eternal life. He was a good man because he kept all the commandments of God. He did not kill, he did not commit adultery, he did not steal, etc. But Jesus asked him to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor and follow Jesus. The man went away sad because he had great wealth. He did not follow Jesus and become Jesus’ disciple. He was attached to his wealth. The gospel today tells us to be detached from our wealth and to share our wealth with the poor and the needy and to follow Jesus and become His disciple.

The gospel also tells us that it is very hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. In fact it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God! Again, attachment to wealth is an obstacle to enter the kingdom of God. Again, detach from your wealth, share your wealth with the poor, and enter the kingdom of God! For salvation is “impossible” for men and money, salvation is “possible” only for God!

Finally, the gospel tells us that those who have detached themselves from their wealth and family and followed Jesus will be rewarded a hundred times over with houses, land, mothers, sisters, brothers, children, etc. now in this life and also eternal life in the world to come! That is, they will be rewarded with a Christian community of brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, and children, who will share with them their houses and lands and possessions! And they will also be rewarded with eternal life in heaven!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us to pray for wisdom and not to pray for wealth, power, health or beauty. When we have wisdom we will know the will of God and all the other things will be given to us as well! Thus we read in the first reading:

“In her company all good things came to me, at her hands riches not to be numbered.” (Ws 7:11; SM)

Solomon did not pray for wealth, power or long life, but Solomon prayed for wisdom and God gave Solomon wisdom as well as wealth, fame and long life! (1 K 3:5-15)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us to pray for wisdom. (NJBC; CCB) Thus the first verse of the first stanza:

“Make us know the shortness of our life that we may gain wisdom of heart.” (Ps 89 (90): 12; SM)

The responsorial psalm also asks us to pray for love and joy. Thus the second stanza:

“In the morning, fill us with your love; we shall exult and rejoice all our days. Give us joy to balance our affliction for the years when we knew misfortune.” (Ps 89 (90): 14-15; SM) 

Thus the response of the responsorial psalm which is taken from the second stanza:

“Fill us with your love that we may rejoice.” (Ps 89 (90): 14; SM)

The second reading is a warning; a warning that the word of God is both judgment and salvation. (CSB) The word of God is judgment for those who do not persevere in the faith and salvation for those who persevere in the faith. It is not enough to have faith. We have to persevere in the faith, especially in times of trials, so that the word of God becomes salvation for us!

Today in this Mass we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ, who suffered died and rose from the dead to give us the Holy Spirit; and we ask God our Father through his Son Jesus Christ to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we may be detached from our wealth, share our wealth with the poor and needy, and follow Jesus and become his disciples. And so that we will have the wisdom to know God’s will. We also ask God to help us persevere in the faith, especially in times of great trials. A happy and joyful Sunday to all of you! Amen!