28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 13th October 2019

Theme: GIVE THANKS TO GOD

  • 2 Kings 5:14-17;
  • Psalm 97:1- 4. R/ cf. v. 2;
  • 2 Timothy 2:8-13
  • Luke 17:11-19

Today is the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us to give thanks to God! Our God is a gracious, giving, blessing and favoring God! The proper response to our God is therefore one of thanksgiving!

The gospel today tells us that ten lepers were cured, but only one came back to thank the Lord. More importantly, the gospel today tells us that ten lepers were cured, but only one had faith and was saved! That is the one who came back to thank the Lord!

Indeed, our Sunday Eucharist is a thanksgiving! The word Eucharist in Greek means thanksgiving! Indeed our Eucharistic Prayer which begins at the Preface and ends at the Doxology is a thanksgiving! Thus all the eight “Prefaces of the Sundays in Ordinary Time” begin thus:

“It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God, (through Christ our Lord)”. 

Note that it is our salvation to give thanks to God! In short, those who come to Mass every Sunday to give thanks to God have faith and are saved, but those who do not come to Mass every Sunday to give thanks to God have no faith and are not saved! That is why it is a Mortal Sin not to come to Mass every Sunday!

The Gospel Acclamation today tells us:

“For all things give thanks, because this is what God expects you to do in Christ Jesus”. (1 Thessalonians 5:18; SM)

The fourteenth century German Dominican theologian and mystic Meister Eckhart wrote:

“The most important prayer in the world is just two words long: thank you”. (Gilhooley)

In our own century an American Dominican theologian said that if the only prayer we know is “thank you”, that is good enough!

If we start thanking God right here and now, we will not be able to finish thanking him even at the end of the world! We thank God for the sun and moon, for the sea and land, for the fish and animals, etc.! We thank God for creation, for salvation and for sanctification!

We thank God for the good things as well as the “bad” things, because we believe that God is love and that God can draw good out of evil (Gn 50:20), draw life from death (NT), draw grace from sin, etc.! Thus the Easter Proclamation:

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

Thus we begin our Sunday Mass with this greeting:

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all”.

Indeed, God is love and God can draw grace from sin in Jesus Christ!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us to thank God and not to thank the prophet, or priest, or minister; because they are not God, they are only servants of God!

The first reading tells us that Naaman after being cured of his leprosy wanted to give the prophet Elisha a present to thank him, but Elisha refused the present, because he was not God. He was only a servant of God! Consequently, Namaan asked for some of the soil of Israel so that he can erect an altar on the soil of Israel in Damascus, Syria, to worship the God of Israel, that is, to praise and thank the God of Israel!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us to praise God for salvation! Thus the response:

“The Lord has shown his salvation to the nations”. (Ps 97:2; SM)

And thus the first and last sentences of the responsorial psalm:

“Sing a new song to the Lord for he has worked wonders” (Ps 97:1; SM)

“Shout to the Lord all the earth, ring out your joy”. (97:4; SM)

The second reading tells us to proclaim the good news even in the face of persecution, suffering and death, so that all may believe and be saved and give praise to God! Thus we read in the second reading:

“Remember the Good News that I carry, ‘Jesus Christ risen from the dead, sprung from the race of David’; it is on account of this that I have my own hardships to bear, even to being chained like a criminal – but they cannot chain up God’s news. So I bear it all for the sake of those who are chosen, so that in the end they may have the salvation that is in Christ Jesus and the eternal glory that comes with it.” (2 Tm 2:8-10; SM)

Today we thank God for our salvation, and we ask God to continue to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we may proclaim the Good News, even in the face of persecution, suffering and death, and so that all may believe and be saved and give thanks to God! God bless you! Amen!

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 1st Sept 2019

Theme: PRIDE IS THE GREATEST SIN; HUMILITY IS THE GREATEST VIRTUE

  • Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 3:17-20. 28-29;
  • Psalm 67 (68):4-7. 10-11. R/ cf. v. 11;
  • Hebrews 12:18-19. 22-24
  • Luke 14:1. 7-14

 Today is the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us about humility.

The gospel today tells us that when we are invited to a wedding feast we must not take the place of honor, lest someone who is more honorable than us turns up and we will have to be moved down to the lowest place. But when we are invited to a wedding feast we must take the lowest place so that when no one more honorable than us turns up we will be moved up to the place of honor!

This gospel parable tells us a very important spiritual truth, that is, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the man who humbles himself will be exalted.”! (Lk 14:11; SM) That is, God humbles the proud and raises up the humble! A parallel passage is found in the same gospel of Luke in chapter 18: 9-14. It is the parable on the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.

The parable tells us that a Pharisee and a tax collector went to the Temple to pray. The Pharisee prayed to himself, thanking God that he was not greedy, dishonest and adulterous, like the rest of men, particularly, he was not like the tax collector. He fasted twice a week and he gave tithes (10%) of all of his income to the Temple. The tax collector on the other hand prayed to God for mercy. The tax collector was justified but the Pharisee was not justified! Again, “For everyone who raises himself up will be humbled, but anyone who humbles himself will be raised up.” (Lk 18:14; NJB)

Indeed, pride is the greatest sin and humility is the greatest virtue! Satan (the Devil) fell from heaven because of pride (1 Tm 3:6)! (CGDB) And Satan tempted Adam and Eve with the Original Sin of pride; and Adam and Eve fell also because of pride! The Pharisees in today’s gospel fell also because of pride! But most importantly, the world was saved because of humility, because of the humility of Jesus Christ!

The letter to the Philippians tells us that Jesus the second Adam and the new Adam was opposite of the first Adam and the old Adam who was proud, who though a man wanted to be God! Jesus was God but he humbled himself and became man and he became lower than man by accepting death on the cross, but the Father raised him from the dead and saved the whole world through him! (Ph 2:6-9; NJB)

In the “Gospel Acclamation” today Jesus tells us: “Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.” (Mt 11:29; SM) That is, carry the cross of Jesus and learn from Jesus, for he is gentle and humble in heart, that is, he depends on God the Father, he trust and believe in God his Father. He puts his faith in God his Father! A proud man on the other hand trust, believe and depend on himself. He puts his faith in himself!

Saint Augustine (354-430) was asked as to which are the three most important virtues! St. Augustine answered: “humility, humility and humility”! If we were to ask St. Augustine which are the three biggest sins, I believe he will answer: “pride, pride and pride”! Again, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the man who humbles himself will be exalted.”! (Lk 14:11; SM)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that God favors the humble and he listens to the prayers of the humble (NJB), but there is no cure for the sickness of the proud! (Lefrois) Thus we read in the first reading:

“The greater you are, the more you should behave humbly, and then you will find favor with the Lord; for great though the power of the Lord is, he accepts the homage of the humble. There is no cure for the proud man’s malady, since an evil growth has taken root in him.” (Si 3:18-20. 28; SM)

The last verse (v. 28) of the above quotation – “There is no cure for the proud man’s malady” – reminds me of what Cardinal Rozales of the Philippines said in our annual priests’ retreat in “Bundu Tuhan”, Sabah some years back. He said that in order for us to be humble we need to be humbled / humiliated! We cannot humble ourselves but others can humble/humiliate us and help us to be humble! Therefore if someone humbles/humiliates you, give thanks to God! Praise the Lord!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God gives new life and home to the poor and the humble! The responsorial psalm is a hymn of praise to God who gives new life and home to the poor and the humble. (Fuller)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first and second stanzas tell us to give praise to God. The third stanza tells us that God gives new life and home to the poor and the humble. (CSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm which is taken from the third stanza:

“In your goodness, O God, you prepared a home for the poor. (for the humble; NJB)

Indeed, God gives a home to the poor and the humble not only on earth, but also in heaven! (Fuller) Thus the second part of the second reading tells us about heaven! The second reading tells us that we will be in heaven with God the Father, with Jesus Christ, with the angels, with the saints, and with one another, indeed with the whole world! (NJBC; Craghan) Thus we read in the second reading:

“But what you have come to is Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem where the millions of angels have gathered for the festival, with the whole Church in which everyone is a ‘first-born son’ and a citizen of heaven. You have come to God himself, the supreme Judge, and been placed with spirits of the saints who have been made perfect; and to Jesus, the mediator who brings a new covenant.”! (Heb 12:22-24; SM)

Indeed, just as we fell from heaven with the pride of Satan, we will go to heaven with the humility of Jesus!

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 to be humble, to depend on God, to trust in God and to put our faith in Go d our Father! The Holy Spirit will help us to pray so that like Jesus Christ, all our actions will come from the Father and go back to the Father!Amen!

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 30th June 2019

Theme: WE ARE TO LEAVE EVERYTHING TO FOLLOW JESUS

  • 1 Kings 19:16. 19-21;
  • Psalm 15:1-2. 5. 7-11. R/ cf. v. 5;
  • Galatians 5:1. 13-18
  • Luke 9:51-62 

Today is the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The gospel today tells us that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, to suffer, to die, to rise from the dead, to ascend into heaven and to send down the Holy Spirit to save the word!

The gospel tells us that when Jesus and his disciples were rejected by a Samaritan village, James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven to burn them up, but Jesus rebuked them and told them that he “came not to destroy souls but to save them”! (NJB) Indeed, Jesus came to save souls, and not only the souls of the Jews, but also the souls of the Samaritans, the enemies of the Jews!

The gospel also tells us that we are to leave everything, including our families, in order to follow Jesus! That is why to the first man who wanted to follow him, Jesus told him that foxes have holes and birds of the air have nest, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head!

And to the second man who wanted to follow him, but wanted to bury his father first, Jesus told him to let the dead bury the dead, that is, to let the spiritually dead to bury the physically dead, and that his duty was to preach the good news of the kingdom!

And to the third man who wanted to follow him, but wanted to say good-bye to his family first, Jesus told him that anyone who puts his hand on the plough and looks back is not worthy of the kingdom of God!

Again, we are to leave everything, including our families, in order to follow Jesus!

Indeed the first reading tells us that the prophet Elisha left everything, including his family, in order to follow the prophet Elijah and to succeed him! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Elisha left his oxen and ran after Elijah. ‘Let me kiss my father and mother, then I will follow you’ he said. …. Elisha turned away, took the pair of oxen and slaughtered them. He used the plough for cooking the oxen, then gave to his men, who ate. He then rose, and followed Elijah and became his servant.” (1 K 19:20-21; SM) 

The responsorial psalm tells us that God is the supreme good! (CSB) In fact Jesus tells us that God is the only good! (Mk 10:18) That is why we leave everything, including our families, in order to follow him!

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first stanza (vv. 1-2. 5; SM) tells us that the psalmist prefers the God of Israel to all the false gods! Thus the response which is taken from the first stanza:

“O Lord, it is you who are my portion.” (Ps 15:5; SM)

That is, O Lord, it is you who are my portion, my heritage, my inheritance!

The second, third, and fourth stanzas (vv. 7-11) tell us of the wise and life-giving presence of God, that is, God and God alone gives wisdom and life. That is why he is the supreme good and the only good! And that is why we give up everything, including our families, in order to follow him!

The second reading tells us that besides loving and serving God, we must also love and serve our neighbor! In fact we cannot love and serve God without also loving and serving our neighbor! Thus we read in the second reading:

“Serve one another, rather, in works of love, since the whole of the Law is summarized in a single command: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Ga 5: 13-14; SM) 

Today we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ, who suffered, died, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and sent the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world. And we ask God to help us to leave everything, including our families, in order to follow Jesus to love and serve God and to love and serve our neighbor!

Indeed, this is the meaning of life, this is the secret to happiness, and this is what God created us for, that is, to know him, to love him, to serve him and to be happy with him forever; and to know our neighbor, to love our neighbor, to serve our neighbor, and to be happy with our neighbor forever!

A blessed Sunday to all of you!  Amen!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 17th Feb 2019

Theme: TRUST IN GOD; NOT IN MAN

  • Jeremiah 17:5-8;
  • Psalm 1:1-4. 6. R/ Ps 39:5;
  • 1 Corinthians 15:12. 16-20
  • Luke 6:17. 20-26

Today is the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us to trust in God and not to trust in man, in the world, in money, etc.

The gospel today tells us that the poor are happy because the kingdom of God belongs to them. That is, in the kingdom of God, the rich will share their money with the poor, and there will be love (charity), justice and peace (shalom)! More importantly, the gospel tells us that the poor are happy because they trust in God and not in man, in the world, in money, etc. (Fuller/Faley)

The gospel also tells us that the rich will not be happy because they do not share their money with the poor. They do not practice justice and charity (love). More importantly, the gospel also tells us that the rich will not be happy, because they do not trust in God, but they trust in man, in the world, in money, etc.

In short, the gospel today tells us to trust in God and not to trust in man, and to share our money with the poor, so that there will be love (charity), justice and peace (shalom)! And all of us will be happy!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us not to trust in man, but to trust in God.

The first reading tells us that the man who trusts in man is cursed. He is like a shrub planted in the desert where there is no water and no life. Where there is only salt and sand. No good can come to him and no good can come from him!

But more importantly, the first reading tells us that the man who trusts in God is blessed. He is like a tree planted next to a stream of water. Even when it is hot its leaves remain green and even when there is no rain it still bears fruit! This is because its roots draw water from the ever flowing stream! Thus we read in the first reading:

“A blessing on the man who puts his trust in the Lord, with the Lord for his hope. He is like a tree by the waterside that thrusts its roots to the stream: when the heat comes it feels no alarm, its foliage stays green; it has no worries in a year of drought, and never ceases to bear fruit.”! (Jr 17:7-8)   

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us to trust in God. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Happy the man who has placed his trust in the Lord.”! (Ps 39 (40):5/SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us to trust in God by avoiding the wicked and by keeping the laws of God. (Ps 1:1-2) The second stanza tells us that if we trust in God we are like a tree planted next to a stream. Its leaves are always green and it always bears fruit! And all that we do will succeed! Thus we read in the second stanza of the responsorial psalm:

“He is like a tree that is planted beside the flowing waters, that yields its fruit in due season and whose leaves shall never fade; and all that he does shall prosper.” (Ps 1:3)      

The third stanza tells us that the wicked who does not trust in God by keeping His law will be like winnowed chaff blown away by the wind. For the Lord protects the just, but the way of the wicked leads to doom. (Ps 1:4. 6)

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday. The second reading is a continuation of last Sunday’s second reading. Again, in the second reading today, Paul tells the Corinthians to believe in the bodily resurrection of the dead!

Paul tells the Corinthians that if they do not believe in the resurrection of the dead, they do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, their faith is useless, and their sins are not forgiven and they are not saved!

The Corinthians believed that their sins were forgiven and that they were saved, so they had to believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and in the bodily resurrection of the dead!

More importantly, Paul tells the Corinthians that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead and he is the first-fruits, and that they, the rest of the harvest, will be raised with him from the dead! Thus we read in the second reading:

“But Christ has in fact been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep.” (1 Co 15:20/SM)    

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 to trust in God and not in man, in the world, and in money, etc. The Holy Spirit will help us share our money with the poor by practicing justice and charity.

The Holy Spirit will help us believe in the bodily resurrection of the dead and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, so that our sins will be forgiven and we will be saved!    Amen!