22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 29th Aug 2021

Theme: THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD GIVES LIFE AND LOVE

  • Deuteronomy 4:1-2. 6-8;
  • Psalm 14 (15): 2-5. R/ v. 1;
  • James 1:17-18. 21-22. 27
  • Mark 7:1-8. 14-15. 21-23

1. Today is the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that the commandment of the Lord gives us life and love!

The gospel today tells us not to substitute human traditions for the commandment of God. Human traditions cannot give us life and love, only the commandment of God can give us life and love!

Human traditions, like the ritual purifications of the scribes and Pharisees, that is, the washing of hands before eating and the washing of cups, pots and dishes cannot wash away the fornication, theft, murder, adultery, greed, jealousy, pride, etc., in our hearts and give us life; only the commandment of God can wash away the sins in our hearts and give us life! Thus the Gospel Acclamation today:

“Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life: you have the message of eternal life.” (cf. Jn 6:63. 68)

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the commandments of the Lord give us life and give us the Promised Land, that is, Heaven! That is why we must not add anything to the commandments of God or subtract anything from the commandments of God! If we do, then it will not give us life and love! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Now, Israel, take notice of the laws and customs that I teach you today, and observe them, that you may have life and may enter and take possession of the land that the Lord the God of your fathers is giving you. You must add nothing to what I command you, and take nothing from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God just as I lay them down for you.” (Dt 4:1-2; SM)   

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm was originally “a liturgy for entrance into the sanctuary/temple” (HCSB; CSB), but in the context of today’s readings and liturgy, it also tells us that the commandments of the Lord give us life and love! (CCB) Thus the response:

“The just will live in the presence of the Lord.” (Ps 14 (15): 1; SM)

The responsorial psalm tells us of the commandments of the Lord, that is, act with justice, speak the truth, do no wrong to the neighbor, do not slander the neighbor, keep your pledge, do not take interest on your loan to the poor, do not take bribes against the innocent, etc. If we keep these commandments of the Lord we will live in the presence of the Lord!

But the opposite is also true, that is, if we do not act with justice, do not speak the truth, do wrong to the neighbor, slander the neighbor, take interest on our loans to the poor, take bribes against the innocent, do not keep our oaths, etc., then we will not live in the presence of the Lord, but we will die in the absence of the Lord!  

4. Incidentally, the second reading also follows the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us that we must not only listen to the word of God, but we must also do what the word tells us! And the word tells us to help the widow and orphans, that is, the poor and the needy! (CSB) Thus we read in the second reading:

    “But you must do what the word tells you, and not just listen to it and deceive yourselves.

Pure unspoilt religion, in the eyes of God our Father is this: coming to the help of orphans and widows when they need it.” (Jm 1:22. 27; SM)

5. Today in this Mass we thank God for the commandments and we ask God to help us keep the commandments so that we may have life and love and so that we will help the poor and the needy. A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you!

Amen!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And thus the response:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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