4th Sunday of Lent (Year A)

Theme: THE LIGHT OF CHRIST: THE LIGHT OF FAITH, THE LIGHT OF LIFE AND THE LIGHT OF GOODNESS

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

Today is the Fourth Sunday of Lent; Liturgical Year A. Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter! Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and our death and resurrection with him in the sacrament of baptism!

Lent is therefore a time when our catechumens prepare for their baptism and when we who are baptized, prepare to renew our baptism on Easter Vigil Night, so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

Lent is therefore a time of repentance! Lent is therefore a time when we prepare to receive the light of Jesus Christ in the sacrament of baptism! The light of Christ is the light of faith, the light of life and the light of goodness!

The three themes are related, that is, with faith in God, we receive new life from God, and the life from God is good, because God is good! In fact God alone is good! More importantly, light will overcome darkness, faith will overcome unbelief, life will overcome death, and good will overcome evil!

Because Jesus has overcome the devil! And Jesus will overcome the devil in us through his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of baptism and we will receive the light of Christ, the light of faith, the light of life and the light of goodness!

 

The gospel today tells us about the light of faith. The gospel tells us that Jesus is the light of the world! (Jn 9:5b) The gospel tells us that Jesus anointed the eyes of the blind man and told him to wash in the Pool of Siloam. After washing, the blind man could see! He could see with the eyes of faith!

In the sacrament of baptism we will also be anointed with the Oil of Chrism and we will also be washed in the waters of baptism and we will also be able to see with the eyes of faith!

The gospel also tells us that the faith of the blind man grew! At the beginning he believed Jesus to be a man, then he believed Jesus to be a prophet, then finally he worshiped Jesus as Lord! The Pharisees on the other hand decreased in faith! At first they did not believe that Jesus is from God, and then they did not even believe that the man was born blind, and then finally, they believed Jesus to be a sinner!

After baptism we must continue to grow in faith like the blind man by attending Mass every Sunday; if not, we will be like the Pharisees, we will lose our faith!

 

The Gospel Acclamation tells us about the light of life! Thus we read:

“I am the light of the world, says the Lord; anyone who follows me will have the light of life.” (Jn 8:12; SM)

Anyone who follows Jesus to his death and resurrection in the sacrament of baptism will have the light of life!

 

The second reading tells us about the light of goodness! 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)

The second reading “distinguishes children of light from children of darkness on the basis of their deeds.” (Vat.IISM)

 

The first reading tells us about the sacrament of Confirmation. The first reading tells us that Samuel anointed David with oil and the Spirit of the Lord seized on David! Thus we read:

“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 Sam 16:13; SM)  

“David’s success was due to the presence of Yahweh’s spirit with him.” (NJBC)

In the same way, the priest will administer the sacrament of confirmation to you by anointing you with the Oil of Chrism with these words: “N., be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit”. And you answer: “Amen”.

And like David, you will be made strong in the Spirit of the Lord! That is what the word “confirmation” means!

 

The responsorial psalm tells us about the sacrament of the Eucharist, that is, the sacrament of sacraments! The responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord God is the Good Shepherd who provides us with food and drink! Thus we read:

“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.” (First Stanza; vv. 1-3a; SM)

The responsorial psalm also tells us that the Lord God is the Host of the messianic banquet! (NJB) Thus we read:

“You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes. My head you have anointed with oil; my cup is overflowing.” (Third Stanza; v. 5; SM)

In the Eucharist, the Lord God gives us his body and blood to eat and drink to give us eternal life! (Jn 6: 51-58; Eucharist; CSB)

 

During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor and needy; not as a punishment for our sins, but to help us to repent. To help us to receive the light of Jesus Christ; the light of faith, life and goodness! To help us to receive the three sacraments of initiation, that is, Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist! A Blessed Lent to all of you! Today is also “rejoice” Sunday or “joyful or joyous” Sunday, because we are more than half way through to Easter! That is why we use rose/pink color vestments, etc.! A joyous and joyful Sunday to all of you! Amen!

 

8th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) – 26th February 2017

Theme: SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS SALVATION AND ALL THE OTHER THINGS WILL BE GIVEN TO US AS WELL

  • Isaiah 49:14-15;
  • Psalm 61:2-3. 6-9. R/ v. 6;
  • 1 Corinthians 4:1-5
  • Matthew 6:24-34

1. Today is the 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The gospel today tells us to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all the other things will be given to us as well! That is, to seek first the kingdom of God and his love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation and all the other things will be given to us as well! (CSB)
The gospel today also tells us that we cannot be the slave of two masters; we will either hate the first and love the second or we will treat the first with respect and the second with scorn; we cannot serve both God and money. We must serve God alone and we must not serve money; and God will provide us with food and drink and clothing and money!
That is why our religious priests, brothers and sisters take the vow of poverty; not because poverty is good, not even because to identify with the poor to work for social justice, but because to trust in God, to trust in his providence, to trust that God will provide!
We who are not religious, who do not take the vow of poverty, should also practice voluntary poverty, that is, to trust in God, to trust in providence, to trust that God will provide!
Again, seek first the kingdom of God and his love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation and all the other things will be given to us as well!
2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that a mother will not forget her baby at her breast or forget the son of her womb. In the same way God will not forget us!

More importantly, the first reading tells us that even if a mother forgets her baby at her breast and forgets the son of her womb, God will not forget us! That is, God loves us with an “everlasting love”, not with a human love! (NJB)
That is why we trust in him, trust in his providence, trust that he will provide!
Again, seek first the kingdom of God and his salvation and all the other things will be given to us as well!
3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a “Song of Trust in God Alone”! (HCSB; CSB) That is why we responded three times:
“In God alone is my soul at rest.” (Ps 61:6; SM)
The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. All three stanzas are an expression of trust in God by the psalmist! The last verse of the third stanza instructs the community to also trust in God! (HCSB) Thus we read in the responsorial psalm:
“In God alone is my soul at rest; my help comes from him. He alone is my rock, my stronghold, my fortress: I stand firm.
In God is my safety and glory, the rock of my strength. Take refuge in God all you people. Trust him at all times. Pour out your hearts before him.” (Ps 61:2-3. 6-9; SM)
4. The second reading is a continuation of the second reading of last Sunday. In the second reading of last Sunday (1 Co 3:16-23; SM) Paul tells the Corinthians that he is their servant to serve them. (NJB) In the second reading of this Sunday Paul tells the Corinthians that although he is their servant, they are not his judge. They are not to judge his worthiness in the ministry. Only God and Christ can judge him at the Parousia, that is, at the second coming of Christ. (CSB)
So, do not judge your priests and bishop, but support them and pray for them!
5. Today we thank God for the gift of his creation and especially for the gift of his salvation and we ask God to help us to seek first his kingdom and his salvation and all the other things will be given to us as well! God bless you! Amen!

1st February 2015 – 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Theme: JESUS THE TEACHER OF LOVE WITH POWER TO EXORCISE THE DEVIL OF SIN AND DEATH

  • Deuteronomy 18:15-20;
    Psalm 94 (95): 1-2. 6-9. R/ v. 7f;
    1 Corinthians 7:32-35
    Mark 1:21-28

Today is the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us about Jesus the teacher. The gospel today tells us that Jesus teaches something new and with authority behind it. He has the authority and power even to exorcise the devil of sin and death.

The Devil brought sin and death into the world through Adam. Jesus the new Adam has the power to exorcise the devil of sin and death. Jesus is also the new Moses who teaches the new law of love with the power to overcome sin and death! Thus we read in the gospel today:

“‘Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’” (Mk 1:27; SM)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. In the first reading Moses tells the people of Israel that God will raise up for them a prophet like Moses himself and that they must listen to him. Christians see in this future prophet the “Messiah-Prophet”, the “second Moses” (NJB), the new Moses, Jesus Christ! (NJBC)

Again, Jesus Christ, the new Moses teaches the new law of love with the power to overcome sin and death. The old Moses teaches the old law. The old law is without power to overcome sin and death! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Moses said to the people: ‘Your God will raise up for you a prophet like myself, from among yourselves, from your own brothers; to him you must listen.’” (Dt 18:15; SM)

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

“O that today you would listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts.” (Ps 94 (95): 7f; SM)

The responsorial psalm is a call to worship and obedience. (HCSB) The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first and second stanzas are a call to worship God the creator and savior; the shepherd. The third stanza is a call to obedience, that is, to listen to God! (CSB; NJBC) Thus the third stanza from which the response is taken:

“O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as on that day at Massah in the desert when your fathers put me to the test; when they tried me, though they saw my work.’” (Ps 94 (95): 7-9; SM)

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday. The second reading is a continuation of the second reading of last Sunday. Again, in the second reading, St. Paul was mistaken to think that the end of the world was imminent, that is, in his own lifetime! (HCSB; NJBC; IBC)

In the second reading, St. Paul tells the men who are not married not to marry so that they can devote all their time to God. A married man has to divide his time between God and his wife. St. Paul also tells the women who are not married not to marry so that they can devote all their time to God. A married woman has to divide her time between her husband and God. Thus we read in the second reading:

“An unmarried man can devote himself to the Lord’s affairs, all he need worry about is pleasing the Lord; but a married man has to bother about the world’s affairs and devote himself to pleasing his wife: he is torn two ways. In the same way an unmarried woman, like a young girl, can devote herself to the Lord’s affairs; all she need worry about is being holy in body and spirit. The married woman, on the other hand, has to worry about the world’s affairs and devote herself to pleasing her husband.” (1 Co 7:32-34; SM)

Although the end of the world is not imminent, the second reading is still relevant to us, especially for priests and religious brothers and sisters! Priests and religious brothers and sisters do not marry so that they have more time for God! 

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 listen to the new teaching of Jesus on love and the Holy Spirit will help us teach the new teaching of Jesus on love with the power to overcome sin and death! A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you!

11th January 2015 – THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD

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

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

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

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

(i) the heavens were torn apart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

21st December 2014 – 4th Sunday of Advent

Theme: JESUS CHRIST WILL COME THIS CHRISTMAS, WITH US OR WITHOUT US

  • 2 Samuel 7:1-5. 8-12. 14. 16
  • Psalm 88:2-5. 27. 29.
  • Romans 16:25-27
  • Luke 1:26-38

 

Today we celebrate the 4th and last Sunday of Advent. In a few days’ time we will celebrate Christmas! Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas! As we come close to Christmas, the Church has chosen the readings of today to tell us that the promise God made to David in the first reading is fulfilled in the Gospel reading!

 

In other words, the readings today tell us of the faithful love 0f God! We may not be faithful to God, but God is always faithful to us! In the first reading today God promised King David a dynasty that will last forever! And God fulfilled his promise after one thousand years in Jesus Christ! The time between David and Jesus Christ is about a thousand years! The kings of Israel including David were not always faithful to God, but God was always faithful to them and God fulfilled his promise to Israel in Jesus Christ!

 

In fact the responsorial psalm today was written after the exile. When the kings of Israel were unfaithful to God, Israel was exiled. And when they returned from exile there were no kings for Israel. How then can God fulfill his promise? But the hymn and prayer of the psalm today is to “God the faithful”! In other words, God is faithful and God will fulfill his promise in spite of the unfaithfulness of the kings of Israel and in spite of the exile!

 

The first reading and the responsorial psalm have something very important to tell us, i.e. Jesus Christ will come this Christmas, with us or without us! If we prepare ourselves for Christmas, Jesus Christ will come, with us, but if we do not prepare ourselves for Christmas, Jesus Christ will still come, but without us!

 

The gospel reading today tells us that the promise God made to David in the first reading is fulfilled in Jesus Christ in the gospel reading. The angel Gabriel said to Mary that she will give birth to Jesus the Son of God and a descendent of David and his kingdom will last forever! Mary asked the angel how this was to come about since she was a virgin and the angel replied that the Holy Spirit will do it! And Mary responded with the famous saying ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done unto me according to your word’. And the angle let her.

 

Again, it is important to know that not everyone said ‘yes’! Not everyone believed in the promise of God! Today’s gospel reading was read on last Friday, the 20″‘ of December and together with it was the first reading from Isaiah. The first reading from Isaiah contrasted the ‘No’ of king Ahaz with the ‘Yes’ of Mary. The first reading last Friday tells us that the Lord wanted to give a sign to king Ahaz, but Ahaz said ‘no’. He did not want a sign. And the Lord through the prophet Isaiah said to Ahaz, ‘I myself will give you a sign. A maiden is with child and she will soon give birth t0 a son whom she

will call Emmanuel, which means “God-is-with-us”.

 

Another person who did not believe in the promise of God is Zechariah the father of John the Baptist. We read about him in the gospel of last Thursday, the 19th of December.

 

Again, his unbelief contrasted with the belief of Mary in the gospel of the following Friday, the 20th of December, which was the same as today’s gospel. The angel Gabriel said to Zechariah that he was to be the father of John the Baptist, but he did not believe the angel. This was because Zechariah and Elizabeth his wife were both very old, too old to have a child. Zechariah was struck dumb because of his unbelief.

 

The important thing to note here is that in both Ahaz who said ‘no’ to God and Zechariah who did not believe the angel, God fulfilled his promises in spite of their unfaithfulness! God was faithful in spite of their unfaithfulness and both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ were born!

Again, the important message for us today is that Jesus Christ will come this Christmas, with us or without us! lf we prepare ourselves this Advent for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas then Jesus Christ will come, with us, but if we do not prepare ourselves this Advent for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas then he will come, without us!

 

That is why during this time of Advent, the Church asks us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas by prayer, by attending Sunday masses regularly, by attending weekday masses, by going to confession, by penance (though Advent is not a penitential season), by acts of mercy and charity, by becoming Santa Claus to the poor, the marginalized, the aged, the sick, the children, the weak, etc.!

 

A Happy Advent to all of you! Amen!