4th Sunday of Lent (Year A) – 14th March 2021

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)

1. 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!

2. 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!

3. 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!

4. 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)

5. 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!

6. 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)   

7. 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!

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Theme: WE ARE THE LIGHT THAT SHOWS PEOPLE THE WAY TO GOD 

  • Isaiah 58:7-10
  • Psalm 111:4-9. R. v. 4
  • 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
  • John 8:12
  • Matthew 5:13-16

Today is the 5th Sunday of the Year, and the Church has chosen the readings of today to tell us that we are the light that shows people the way to God! In the New Testament light symbolizes: (i) anything that shows the way to God. (ii) Light also symbolizes life and happiness, as opposed to darkness, misery and death. (iii) Light also symbolizes good and God, as darkness symbolizes evil and the Devil, and God and goodness will overcome the Devil and evil. (NJB, Jn 8:12b)

The 3 themes are distinct but inseparable, that is, one who finds God, finds life and happiness, and this life and happiness will be full, complete and perfect at the end of time when good will have overcome evil totally and completely!

The theme that predominates the readings today is that we are the light that shows the way to God, and in fact the Church has chosen the readings today to tell us that we are the light that shows people the way to God!

The gospel acclamation (Jn 8:12) tells us that Jesus is the light that shows the way to God our Father! And the gospel (Mt 5:16) tells us that we the disciples of Jesus are also the light that shows the way to God our Father! The gospel tells us that we are the light and seeing our “good works” people will give praise to God our Father! If we do not do good works we are like the light that is hidden in the tub or under the bed, that is, our light cannot be seen by people, and our light cannot show people the way to God!

The “good work” that we have done in the past for the Tsunami victims is indeed light that shows people the way to God! We collected funds for the Tsunami victims who have lost their families, relatives, properties, belongings, and who have no food, clothes or shelter, and who are threatened by diseases and death, and we also prayed for the more than 200,000 victims who died in the Tsunami disaster.

The war in Iraq is darkness, it does not show people the way to God; but the relief work done by the USA is light that shows people the way to God! The USA besides committing USD 350,000,000.00, also committed an aircraft carrier and a hundred planes for relief work in Aceh, Indonesia. Australia also committed USD 950,000,000.00, Germany committed USD 650,000,000.00, and Japan committed USD 500,000,000.00. The International community has shown great love, care and concern for the victims of the Tsunami disaster, and this is light that shows people the way to God!

The first reading from Third-Isaiah (5th century BC, after the Exile) tells us that our “good works” must not be limited to interpersonal relationships, but must also extend to meta-personal relationships, that is, societal, public, structural, systematic, and institutional relationships. In other words, we must also practice social justice. We must pay our employees just wages. We must not oppress and exploit the poor and the weak and the disenfranchised of society. Justice and charity must be built into the very political structures, economic systems and social institutions of our society!

The first reading tells us to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to pay just wages to the workers, to shelter the homeless, to free the oppressed, and not to exploit the poor, the weak, and the disenfranchised, etc.! The first reading tells us that our light will then shine like the dawn!

The Responsorial Psalm helps us to meditate on the theme of the first reading and the gospel. The response of the responsorial psalm sums up the theme of the responsorial psalm: “The good man is a light in the darkness for the upright”! The good man is a light in his good works. He is generous, merciful and just. He lends to the poor. He gives to the poor and he practices justice, etc.. 

It is easier for me to preach “good works” and “justice”, but it is harder for me to do good works and practice justice, that is why I say with Saint Paul in the second reading today, ‘I do not depend on myself, I do not depend on human philosophy, but I depend on the power of the Holy Spirit, I depend on the power of God.

And that is why we pray, and that is why we celebrate the Eucharist today and every Sunday. Today we celebrate the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his Risen Body and drink his Risen Blood, and our Risen Lord will give us his Holy Spirit, so that through the power of his Holy Spirit, through the power of God, we may do good works and practice justice, and shine as the light that shows people the way to God!

 

Amen!

 

The Easter Vigil (C) – 26th March 2016

Theme: IN BAPTISM WE DIE AND RISE WITH JESUS CHRIST TO THE NEW LIFE OF EASTER

  • Genesis 1:1. 26-31;
  • Genesis 22:1-2. 9-13. 15-18;
  • Exodus 14:15-15:1;
  • Ezekiel 36:16-28
  • Romans 6:3-11;
  • Luke 24:1-12

A happy and blessed Easter to all of you! We began this celebration of Easter with the service of light. Light in the New Testament symbolizes 3 things:

(i) Light symbolizes faith as opposed to unbelief which is darkness. (ii) Light symbolizes life, contentment and happiness as opposed to death, misery and unhappiness which is darkness. (iii) Light symbolizes good as opposed to evil which is darkness.

More importantly, the 3 themes are related, that is, with faith in God, we receive life, and the life from God is a life of goodness!

Most importantly, light will overcome darkness, faith will overcome unbelief, life will overcome death, and good will overcome evil! This is because Jesus Christ the light of the world has overcome the devil the darkness of the world!

And Jesus Christ the light of the world will continue to overcome the devil the darkness of the world through the power of the Holy Spirit until the end of time when light will overcome all darkness totally, completely and fully! That would be the end of the world, that is, the end of the evil world, the second coming of Jesus Christ, the Parousia!

The service of light concluded with the Easter Proclamation! The most touching verse of the Easter Proclamation is:

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

How can Adam’s fault be happy? How can Adam’s sin be necessary? How can Adam’s sin merit for us so great a Redeemer? The verse is not telling us about Adam’s fault and sin, but it is telling us about the love of God!

God created the world out of love, but when we sinned God loved us even more. He became man to save us from sin, but when we crucified him on the cross he loved us even more. He died, rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit dwells not in heaven or on earth, but the Holy Spirit dwells among us and within us, nearer to us than we are to ourselves, and loving us more than we love ourselves! (St. Augustine) The Holy Spirit will continue to love us until we love God, love our neighbor and love ourselves! That would be the end of the world, that is, the end of the evil world, the second coming of Jesus Christ, the Parousia!

After the service of light we listened to 6 readings, 4 from the Old Testament and 2 from the New Testament. The first 3 readings from the Old Testament have been used in the Easter Liturgy since the fifth century! (Raas, p. 186) The first 3 readings are from the Law, the fourth reading is from the Prophets. We should read from both the Law and the Prophets. (Sunday Missal, 2011)

The readings tell us about the history of salvation! They tell us what God has done for us in the past and what God continues to do for us in the present in baptism!

The first reading tells us that God created the universe, but more importantly, it tells us that God created man and woman according to his image and likeness to be the co-creators of God to create life! But man and woman committed the Original Sin of Pride and brought death into the world! Consequently, instead of creating life, man and woman destroy life, destroy the environment, destroy one another and destroy oneself!

The second reading tells us that God began the history of salvation with Abraham the father of faith. Abraham’s faith was such that he was ready to sacrifice his son Isaac to God! As result, God blessed him with many descendents as many as the stars in heaven and as many as the grains of sand on the seashore! We are the descendents of Abraham the father of faith! We are the children of faith! Without faith we cannot be baptized! Only with faith can we be baptized! 

The third reading tells us about the Exodus, that is, the liberation of Israel from slavery in Egypt! The third reading tells us that God destroyed the Egyptians in the waters of the Red sea and saved the people of Israel! More importantly, the third reading tells us that God will destroy our sins in the waters of baptism and save us from death!  

The fourth reading tells us about the New Exodus, the Second Exodus, even more important than the First Exodus! The second reading tells us that the people of Israel sinned against God and were exiled to Babylon, but more importantly, the fourth reading tell us that God will bring them back to their homeland in the New Exodus! God will cleanse them with water. God will give them a new heart. God will put his spirit in them and they will live! But most importantly, the fourth reading tells us that in baptism God will cleanse us with the waters of baptism. God will give us a new heart. God will give us the Holy Spirit and we will live! 

The gospel tells us about the resurrection of Jesus Christ! In the gospel the two angels told the women that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead! It is through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that the Holy Spirit is given to us so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

Finally, the fifth reading from the letter to the Romans tells us that it is in baptism that we die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter, never to die anymore and never to sin anymore!

After this homily we will bless the water. We will ask God the Father with his Son Jesus Christ to send the Holy Spirit upon the water:

“We ask you, Father, with your Son to send the Holy Spirit upon the waters of this font.”!

After that we will profess our faith by answering 6 questions, 3 rejecting Satan who tempts us not to have faith in God and more importantly, 3 professing our faith in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit! After that we will be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit! And we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

After baptism, the adults will also receive the sacrament of confirmation. They will be made strong in the Holy Spirit to be witnesses of Jesus Christ. The Greek word for witness is “martyr”, that is, one who suffers or dies for his beliefs! The adults will also receive the sacrament of the Eucharist so that they will continue to grow stronger and stronger in the Holy Spirit! That is why it is important that after baptism and confirmation we continue to come to Mass every Sunday! Again, a happy and blessed Easter to all of you! We will now proceed with the baptism, confirmation and Eucharist!