THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD (B) – 13th May 2021

Theme: THE LORD ASCENDS INTO HEAVEN IN ORDER TO SEND US THE HOLY SPIRIT SO THAT WE TOO MAY ASCEND INTO HEAVEN WITH HIM IN GLORY 

  • Acts 1:1-11;
  • Psalm 46 (47): 2-3. 6-9. R/ v. 6;
  • Ephesians 4:1-7. 11-13
  • Mark 16:15-20

1. Today we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord into heaven in glory, Liturgical Year B. Next Sunday we will celebrate Pentecost Sunday, that is, the descend of the Holy Spirit! The Easter Season of fifty days which began on Easter Sunday will end next Sunday with Pentecost Sunday.

The readings today tell us that the Lord ascends into heaven, not to abandon us, but to send us the Holy Spirit, so that we may do his work on earth, and so that one day we too may ascend into heaven with him in glory!     

The gospel today tells us that after his resurrection and before his ascension, the Lord sent his apostles out into the world to preach the Good News, so that those who believe and are baptized will be saved, but those who do not believe and are not baptized will not be saved!

And these are the signs associated with believers, that is, in the name of Jesus, they will drive out devils, they will speak in tongues, they will pick up snakes in their hands, and even if they drink poison they will not die, and they will heal the sick.  

But more importantly, the gospel tells us that the Lord has ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father in glory! But most importantly, the gospel tells us that the apostles went out preaching and the Lord was working with them confirming their words with signs! The Lord was with them in the Holy Spirit!

2. The first reading tells us that after his resurrection the Lord spent forty days with his disciples instructing them on the kingdom of God, preparing them to preach the kingdom of God! Moses also spent forty days on the mountain and Jesus also spent forty days in the desert to prepare for their ministries!

More importantly, the first reading tells us that after forty days, the Lord will ascend into heaven in order to send down the Holy Spirit on the apostles, so that they will become his witnesses, not only in Jerusalem, but also in Judaea, and Samaria and indeed to the ends of the earth! That is, not only in Jerusalem where Jesus died, rose from the dead and gave the Holy Spirit, but also in Judaea, that is, to all the Jews, and also in Samaria, that is, to the “half-Jews”, and indeed to the ends of the earth, that is, to the non-Jews, the gentiles, the pagans!     

But most importantly, the first reading tells us that the Lord has been taken up into heaven in a cloud. And when the disciples were staring at him into the sky, two men in white (angels) appeared to them and said to them, ‘Men of Galilee, why are you staring into the sky, the Jesus that has been taken up into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him go’, that is, he will return in a cloud in glory at the Parousia, that is, at his Second Coming at the end of the world, when all will be saved!    

3. The Responsorial Psalm is a hymn calling on all the nations of the earth to acknowledge the universal rule of the God of Israel who is enthroned as king of Israel and as king of all the nations! (CSB)

The Responsorial Psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza (vv. 2-3) calls on all the nations to acknowledge the universal rule of the God of Israel. The second and third stanzas (vv. 6-9) tells us that the God of Israel is enthroned as king of Israel and as king of all the nations!

In the liturgy today the Responsorial Psalm tells us about the Ascension of the Lord into heaven in glory! (CSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“God goes up with shouts of joy; the Lord goes up with trumpet blast.” (Ps 46 (47): 6; SM)

4. As we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord today and as we will celebrate Pentecost next Sunday, the second reading tells us about the Holy Spirit! The second reading tells us that the Holy Spirit is a Spirit of unity! Because there is only one body (church), one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God! The “seven unities”! (CSB)

And although there are many gifts, that is, the gifts of being apostles, prophets, evangelizers, pastors and teachers; all these gifts unite into one service of the one body of Christ!

5. Today in the Eucharist, we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ, especially for his death and resurrection and ascension into heaven; and we ask God to send us the Holy Spirit so that we may do the work of Jesus Christ on earth, especially in proclaiming the Good News as apostles, prophets, evangelizers, pastors, and teachers, and so that at the end of time, we may all ascend into heaven with him in glory! A happy Ascension Day to all of you!

Amen! 

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 24th January 2021

Theme: TURN AWAY FROM SIN AND FROM THE WORLD AND TURN TO GOD – TO THE GOD OF JESUS CHRIST

  • Jonah 3:1-5. 10;
  • Psalm 24 (25): 4-9. R/ v. 4;
  • 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
  • Mark 1:14-20

Today is the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The gospel today tells us to “Repent, and believe the Good News”. That is, to turn away from sin and from the world, and to turn to God, to the God of Jesus Christ! A God of love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation!

The gospel also tells us that the first disciples, Simon (Peter), Andrew, James and John repented and believed the Good News. That is, they turned away from the world and they turned to Jesus Christ! They followed Jesus Christ!

In the case of Simon (Peter) and Andrew, they left their nets at once and followed Jesus. And in the case of James and John they left their father and their father’s employees and their boat and they followed Jesus!

The first four disciples responded to the Good News of repentance immediately (NJBC) and totally, that is, they left everything and followed Jesus (NJB)!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the message of repentance is not only for the Jews, but it is also for the gentiles, the pagans, the non-Jews, the enemies of the Jews, the worst enemies of the Jews, that is, the Ninevites, the Assyrians!

The first reading tells us that when Jonah preached the message of repentance to the Ninevites, they repented with fasting and sackcloth! Consequently, God did not punish them.

It is important to note in the following chapter 4:1-3 that Jonah was angry because God was merciful! Jonah did not want the Ninevites to repent and be saved. Jonah wanted God to destroy the Ninevites.

In the first place, Jonah did not even want to preach to the Ninevites, because he knew that God was loving and merciful, slow to anger and rich in kindness, and slow to punish. (GNB) Jonah was quoting Exodus 34:6-7 where God revealed himself and his divine attributes – most particularly his faithful love – to Moses! (NJB)

Jonah was so angry that he asked God to take his life! He preferred to be dead than to be alive! Jonah was a typical Jew of his time! But most importantly, the whole book of Jonah prepares for the gospel revelation that “God is love”! (NJB) God is love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation! 

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a prayer for guidance and forgiveness. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Lord, make me know your ways.” (v. 4; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza is a prayer for guidance (vv. 4-5). The second stanza is a prayer for forgiveness (vv. 6-7). And the third stanza is an affirmation of God’s goodness, which is the ground of the prayer (vv. 8-9)! (HCSB; CSB)

Incidentally, the second reading also follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading also tells us to turn away from the world! In the second reading St. Paul mistakenly thought that the end of the world was imminent! (HCSB; NJBC) Nonetheless the second reading is relevant to us because it corresponds to the gospel exhortation to turn away from the world! Thus we read in the second reading:

“Brothers: our time is growing short. Those who have wives should live as though they had none, and those who mourn should live as though they had nothing to mourn for; those who are enjoying life should live as though there were nothing to laugh about; those whose life is buying things should live as though they had nothing of their own; and those who have to deal with the world should not become engrossed in it. I say this because the world as we know it is passing away.” (1 Co 7:29-31; SM)  

Incidentally, St. Paul was advising virgins! (CSB; HCSB)

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 “Repent and believe the Good News”. The Holy Spirit will help us to turn away from sin and from the world, and to turn to God – to the God of Jesus Christ; a God of love, mercy, forgiveness, and salvation! A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen!

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 23rd Aug 2020

Theme: PETER: THE FIRST POPE

  • Isaiah 22:19-23;
  • Psalm 137 (138): 1-3. 6. 8. R/ v. 8;
  • Romans 11:33-36
  • Matthew 16:13-20

Today is the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The gospel today tells us that after Peter professed his faith in Jesus that he was the “Christ” / Messiah and “the Son of the living God”, Jesus appointed him to be the first Pope! Jesus gave him the keys of the kingdom of heaven, so that whatever he binds on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever he loose on earth will be loosed in heaven!

Peter is given the authority to teach and to excommunicate. (CSB) Today we believe that our present Pope Benedict XVI is a direct successor of St. Peter the first Pope in an unbroken line of 266 Popes over 2000 years! We also believe that our Bishops are the direct successors of the Twelve Apostles. That is why at every Mass we pray for our Pope and Bishop, even mentioning their names!

We believe that the word of God is not only the Bible, but the word of God is the Bible, the Church and Tradition. Before the gospels were written the word of God was in the Church and in Tradition, that is, Oral Tradition. The word of God was proclaimed through word of mouth.

The four gospels were written some 40 to 60 years after Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! The gospel of Mark was written around the year 70, the gospels of Matthew and Luke were written around the year 80, and the gospel of John was written around the year 90! Jesus died and rose from the dead around the year 30!

Today there are important issues that are not directly and explicitly addressed in the Bible. Important issues like the ecological crisis, globalization, population explosion, dialogue with Islam, etc.

There are also important issues within the Church that are not directly and explicitly addressed by the Bible. Issues like married priests, women priests, and even the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary which we celebrated only a few days ago. We need the Church to teach us on these issues and to discipline us on these issues. And we need to obey the Church on these issues!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us about the appointment of Eliakim to be the master of the palace of King Hezekiah.

Eliakim is given the key to the door of the palace. He can grant or deny access to the palace of the King. Thus we read in the first reading:

“I place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; should he open, no one shall close, should he close, no one shall open.” (Is 22:22; SM)

Eliakim prefigures Peter in today’s gospel who was given the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Peter can grant or deny access to the kingdom of heaven!

The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving for deliverance, but in the context of today’s readings it can be read as a thanksgiving for God’s call to be the master of the palace in the case of Eliakim, and for God’s call to be the first Pope in the case of Peter.

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first and second stanzas are a thanksgiving. The third stanza tells us that God will not abandon the humble! Thus the last verse of the responsorial psalm which is also the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Your love, O Lord, is eternal, discard not the work of your hands.” (Ps 137 (138): 8; SM)

The second reading today is a continuation of last Sunday’s second reading. In last Sunday’s second reading, St. Paul tells us about the merciful plan of God, where the rejection of Jesus by the Jews meant that the gospel will be preached to the non-Jews. And when the non-Jews accept the gospel, the Jews will be envious and will also accept the gospel. In this way both Jews and non-Jews will be saved through the merciful plan of God.

In the second reading today, St. Paul gives glory to God for his wise and merciful plan of salvation both for Jews and non-Jews. St. Paul ends by giving glory to God who created all things, continues to sustain all things and is the end and goal of all things. (NJBC) Thus we read in the second reading:

“All that exists comes from him; all is by him and for him. To him be glory for ever! Amen.” (Rm 11:36; 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 obey the word of God in the Bible and in the teaching and tradition of the Church. The Holy Spirit will also help us give glory to God for his wise and merciful plan of salvation for both Jews and non-Jews. A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen!

Corpus Christi (Body and Blood of Christ) Year A – 14th June 2020

Theme: WHEN WE EAT THE BODY OF CHRIST WE EAT THE RISEN BODY OF CHRIST

  • Deuteronomy 8:2-3. 14-16;
  • Psalm 147:12-15. 19-20. R/ v. 12;
  • 1 Corinthians 10:16-17
  • John 6:51-58

A happy and a blessed Corpus Christi to all of you! “Corpus Christi” means “Body of Christ”! Today we celebrate the Solemnity of “The Body and Blood of Christ”, Liturgical Year A.

The gospel today tells us that if we eat the body of Christ and drink his blood we will live forever, but if we do not eat the body of Christ and drink his blood we will not have life in us!

It is most important to know that when we eat the body of Christ we eat the risen body of Christ! The transformed body of Christ! The gospel of John, chapter 20, tells us that after his resurrection Jesus could enter locked doors and be at any place at an instance! He was not limited by time and place!

In the same way his risen body can enter into the bread and change it into his body and when we eat the bread which is his body he can enter into us and change us into his body!

Again, when we eat the body of Christ we eat the risen body of Christ! At the “Breaking of Bread” the priest puts a piece of the bread into the chalice symbolizing the unity of the body and blood of Christ, that is, his resurrection and life! And when we eat his risen body we receive his Holy Spirit of eternal life! The risen Lord gives us the Holy Spirit of eternal life!

Thus we read in the “General Instruction of the Roman Missal” (GIRM), number 83.2:

“The Priest breaks the Bread and puts a piece of the host into the chalice to signify the unity of the Body and Blood of the Lord in the work of salvation, namely, of the Body of Jesus Christ, living and glorious”.    

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading is a foreshadow of our Sunday Mass! The first reading has two parts. The first part tells us that man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God! The second part tells us that God gave the people of Israel food and drink in the desert!

Our Mass also has two parts, namely, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist! Both parts are important! In fact, the Word gives faith and when we celebrate the sacrament of sacraments, that is, the mystery of mysteries, the Eucharist, with faith, the Holy Spirit will come and build the community, the Church and the Kingdom of God!

That is why the duty of the Bishop and his priests is to teach, to sanctify and to govern, that is, to teach the Word of God, to sanctify with the Sacraments and to build the community, the Church and the Kingdom of God! And the first of the three duties is to teach the word of God!

And that is also why we must not come late for Mass and miss the Word of God. Instead, we must come early for Mass to read the word of God before Mass to prepare ourselves for the Mass!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that “God’s Word Restores Jerusalem” (Catholic Study Bible (CSB)). Again, the importance of the word of God! The word of God in creation and the word of God in salvation! Verse 15 tells us of the word of God in creation:

“He sends out his word to the earth and swiftly runs his command”.

Verse 19 tells us of the word of God in salvation:

“He makes his word known to Jacob, to Israel his laws and decrees”.   

That is why in the BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities) we share and pray personally and spiritually on the Sunday Mass readings! We can celebrate the Word without the Eucharist, but we cannot celebrate the Eucharist without the Word! In our BECs we do not celebrate the Eucharist, we only celebrate the Word! We celebrate the Eucharist in the Church where and when all the BECs are gathered together as One Big Community!

The second reading tells us that when we receive Holy Communion, we are in communion with God and with one another! That is, we are in love and unity with God and with one another! Two Sundays ago, on Pentecost Sunday, we have seen that the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of love and unity. Last Sunday, Trinity Sunday, we saw that the Holy Trinity is the mystery of God’s love and unity. Today, Corpus Christi, we see that our Eucharist is a Eucharist of love and unity! That is why we build small Christian communities of love and unity! That is why we build BECs!

At the Communion Rite the priest breaks the bread symbolizing that though we are many we make up one body of Christ! Thus we read in the GIRM, no. 83.1:

“The gesture of breaking bread done by Christ at the Last Supper, which in apostolic times gave the entire Eucharistic action its name, signifies that the many faithful are made one body (1 Cor 10:17) by receiving Communion from the one bread of life, which is Christ, who for the salvation of the world died and rose again”.

Together with “1 Cor 11:23-26”, the second reading today is the most ancient written text on the Eucharist (56 A.D.)!

Now to complete our understanding of the Eucharist let us look at “1Corinthains 11:23-26”:

“For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.” (CSB) 

This text tells us 4 important things:

(i) The four actions of the Eucharist: (a) take (offertory), (b) thank (Eucharistic Prayer), (c) break (breaking of bread), (d) give (Communion).

(ii) Jesus’ self-giving in his body and blood.

(iii) We are to repeat Jesus’ action in remembrance of him.

(iv) The last verse which we acclaim at “The mystery of faith”: “When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your (saving) Death, O Lord, until you come again (when all will be saved)”.

THE HOLY FAMILY OF JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH

Theme: THE HOLY FAMILY IS HOLY, BECAUSE GOD IS THE FATHER, JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD, BORN THROUGH THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

  • Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 3:2-6. 12-14;
  • Psalm 127:1-5. R. v. 1;
  • Colossians 3:12-21
  • Matthew 2:13-15. 19-23

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! The family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph is holy because God is the Father, Jesus is the Son of God, born through the power of the Holy Spirit!

Our families are also holy, because in Baptism we were born again through the power of the Holy Spirit, and God is our Father, and we are the children of God, and brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, and the Church is our Mother!

The gospel today tells us about the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The gospel tells us that Joseph was obedient to the Lord. Three times the Lord instructed him and 3 times he obeyed the Lord! The angel of the Lord told him to leave for Egypt and he left for Egypt; the angel of the Lord told him to return to Israel and he returned to Israel; and the angel of the Lord told him not to go to Judaea, but to go to Galilee, and he went to Galilee and settled in Nazareth! The Holy Family is the family that is obedient to the Lord God!

The first reading tells us about the family. The first reading is a commentary on one of the Ten Commandments. It is a commentary on the fourth commandment, that is, honor your father and mother: “Honor your father and your mother so that you may live long in the land that Yahweh your God is giving you.” (Ex 20:12)

The first reading tells that if we honor our fathers and mothers we will be blessed! We will be blessed with long life, prosperity, and happiness with our own children; and God will listen to our prayers and our sins will be forgiven! The first reading also tells us to honor our parents in their old age and God will forgive our sins!

The responsorial psalm also tells us about the family. The responsorial psalm tells us that those who fear (revere) the Lord and walk in his ways will be blessed with happy and prosperous families! They will have plenty of children!

Thus we read in the responsorial psalm: “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 127:1-3)

The second reading tells us about “The Christian Family” (CSB): “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 3:20-21)

The second reading should be read not only in the light of “equality”, but also and especially in the light of “mutuality”, that is, to love one another as the Lord has loved us!

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 his Holy Spirit, so that we will fear the Lord and walk in his ways, and so that we will be blessed with a happy, prosperous and fruitful family with many many children! Amen!

4TH SUNDAY OF ADVENT (Year A) – 22nd Dec 2019

Theme: EMMANUEL: ‘GOD-IS-WITH-US’!

  • Isaiah 7:10-14;
  • Psalm 23:1-6. R. vv. 7. 10;
  • Romans 1:1-7
  • Matthew 1:18-24

Today is the 4th Sunday of Advent. Advent means coming – the coming of Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ came 2,000 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! Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ!

The readings today tell us that when Jesus Christ comes, he will save us from our sins! The readings today also tell us to accept him when he comes, and to proclaim him to others, so that others may also accept him and be saved!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ was born through the power of the Holy Spirit. He is the Son of God. He is Emmanuel, that is, ‘God-is-with-us’! He is Jesus, that is, the one who is to save us from our sins. Sin makes us suffer. St. Paul tells us that the wages of sin is death (Rm 6:23); but the Lord wants us to live and to be happy!

Thus we read in the gospel: “The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’”! (Mt 1:20-21)

The first reading tells us that king Ahaz of Judah (Southern Kingdom) rejected the sign of Emmanuel. He did not want to depend on God. He depended on the power of Assyria to fight the war against Israel (Northern Kingdom) and Syria. This was in the 8th century B.C. But the Lord was faithful to him, and the Lord himself will give him the sign of Emmanuel!

Thus we read in the first reading: “The Lord himself, therefore, will give you a sign. It is this: the maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Emmanuel, a name which means ‘God-is-with-us’”! (Is 7:14)         

The responsorial psalm tells us to accept the Lord, and to accept him with clean hands and pure hearts, and not desiring worthless things, that is, to accept the Lord with pure actions and pure thoughts, and not worshipping idols, be they idols of power or wealth. And the Lord will bless us and save us! (GNB) The responsorial psalm is a psalm of entry into the Temple by the Lord, followed by the people! But Paul tells us that we are the temple of God! (1 Co 3:16)

Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “Let the Lord enter! He is the king of glory.” (Ps 23:7. 10)

And thus the 2nd and 3rd stanzas of the responsorial psalm: “Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord? Who shall stand in his holy place? The man with clean hands and pure heart, who desires not worthless things. He shall receive blessings from the Lord and reward from the God who saves him.”! (Ps 23:3-5)

Finally, the second reading tells us to be apostles of the Lord to proclaim his Good News to all the nations, so that all the peoples may accept him and be saved by him!

Thus we read in the second reading: “Through him we received grace and our apostolic mission to preach the obedience of faith to all pagan nations in honor of his name.”! (Rm 1:5)

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 his Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit will help us accept the Lord when he comes, and be saved! The Holy Spirit will also help us proclaim the Good News to all the pagan nations, so that they too may accept the Lord and be saved! A Happy Advent to all of you! Amen!

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 17th Nov 2019

Theme: IN THE END, GOOD WILL WIN OVER EVIL, LIFE WILL WIN OVER DEATH; BECAUSE GOD WILL WIN OVER THE DEVIL

  • Malachi 3:19-20;
  • Psalm 97:5-9. R/ cf. v.9;
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12
  • Luke 21:5-19 

Today is the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. Next Sunday will be the Last Sunday of the Liturgical Year C. And as we come to the end of our Liturgical Year, the readings today tell us about the end times! The readings today tell us that at the end of time, good will win over evil, life will win over death; because God will win over the Devil!

The gospel today tells us that before the end times, Christians will be persecuted. They will be imprisoned. They will be brought to the courts, but they are not to prepare their defense, because the Lord himself will give them an eloquence and a wisdom which none of their opponents can withstand! They will even be betrayed by their own parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will be put to death; but their endurance will win them their lives!

That is why I said that, in the end, life will win over death, good will win over evil; because God will win over the Devil!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us that in the end, good will win over evil, life will win over death; because God will win over the Devil! The first reading tells us that in the end, evil will be burnt like straw. Their roots and their trunks will all be burnt! As for the good, the sun of righteousness will shine on them with its healing rays and they will be saved! Thus we read in the first reading:

“The day is coming now, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and the evil-doers will be like stubble. The day that is coming is going to burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, leaving them neither root nor stalk. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will shine out with healing in its rays.” (Ml 3:19-20; SM)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord comes to rule the world and all its peoples with justice and fairness! Thus the response:

“The Lord comes to rule the peoples with fairness.” (Ps 97:9; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza calls all the nations to praise and welcome the Lord who comes to rule the world and all its peoples with justice and fairness. (Ps 97:5-6) The second stanza calls the whole of creation to praise and welcome the Lord who comes to rule the world and all its peoples with justice and fairness. (Ps 97:7-8) And the third stanza from which the response is taken, tells us that the Lord comes to rule the world and all its peoples with justice and fairness. (Ps 97:9)

The second reading tells us how not to prepare for the end of time! Some people prepare for the end of time by doing nothing! This was what the Thessalonians were doing! They were doing nothing and waiting for the end of the world! St. Paul commanded them to work for their food! If they did not work for their food, they should not eat! Thus we read in the second reading:

    “We gave you a rule when we were with you: not to let anyone have any food if he refused to do any work. Now we hear that there are some of you who are living in idleness, doing no work themselves but interfering with everyone else’s. In the Lord Jesus Christ, we order and call on people of this kind to go on quietly working and earning the food that they eat.” (2 Th 3:10-12; Sunday Missal (SM))

We prepare for the end of time by praying, by doing the will of God, by being detached from the world, and by proclaiming the good news, so that all may believe and so that all may be saved!

Today we thank God for the gift of faith, and we ask God to increase our faith, so that even under persecution we will hold on to our faith, pray, and do the will of God; believing that in the end, good will overcome evil, life will overcome death and God will overcome the Devil! God bless you! Amen!

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!