7th Sunday of Easter (Year A) – 24th May 2020

Theme: LET US PRAY FOR THE COMING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT UPON US

  • Acts 1:12-14
  • Psalm 26:1. 4. 7-8. R. v. 13
  • 1 Peter 4:13-16
  • John 14:18
  • John 17:1-11

Today we celebrate the 7th Sunday of Easter! The 7th Sunday of Easter is sandwiched between “the Ascension of the Lord” which we celebrated last Thursday and “Pentecost Sunday” which we will celebrate next Sunday! That is why the readings today tell us about the Ascension of the Lord and more importantly, about the Descend of the Holy Spirit upon us!

The gospel today is from St. John on the Last Supper discourse of Jesus Christ, the night before he died. It is the priestly prayer of Jesus Christ to his Father, but what concerns us today is the last part of the gospel on the Ascension of Jesus Christ: “I am not in the world any longer, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you” (Jn 17:11).

But more importantly, the “Gospel Acclamation” today tells us that Jesus Christ ascends to heaven not to abandon us nor to rest from his work, but to sit at the right hand of his Father, meaning, in power, to rule the universe, and to send down his Holy Spirit into us, so that he can come back to us and into us and continue his work in us and through us: “I will not leave you orphans, says the Lord; I will come back to you, and your hearts will be full of joy” (Jn 14:18).

That is why the first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, tells us that after the Promise of the Holy Spirit and the Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven, the apostles and Mary the Mother of Jesus were praying for the Holy Spirit – the first and original novena for the Holy Spirit: “All these joined in continuous prayer, together with several women, including Mary, the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers” (Acts: 1:11). We have to pray for the Holy Spirit! We cannot receive the Holy Spirit without prayer and praying for the Holy Spirit!

The “responsorial psalm” is a meditation on the “first reading”. It is a psalm of “Trust in the Lord”, but what concerns us today is the “response” of the “responsorial psalm”: “I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living” (Psalm 26:13).

It can be translated or paraphrased thus: ‘I believe I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of life’! The “land of life” is the Jerusalem Temple where the faithful have access to the life-giving presence of God (CSB/NAB)!

Obviously, the Church has chosen this verse for the “response” of the “responsorial psalm” today to tell us that the Holy Spirit in us is the Life-giving presence of God! St. Paul tells us that we are the temples of the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit does not dwell in heaven, nor in temples, nor in churches, but in us!

“The Lord’s goodness that we shall see” is consequently the goodness of the Holy Spirit, that is, love, joy, peace, forgiveness, freedom, mercy, salvation, wholeness, holiness, health, healing, etc.!

Finally, the Church has chosen the second reading from “1 Peter” to tell us that when the Holy Spirit comes upon us we will suffer for being Christians! We will not suffer for doing evil, for murder, for theft, for crime, etc., but we will suffer for doing good, and for bearing the name of Jesus Christ! Be not ashamed, but be happy, we will be blessed; we will give thanks to God, for when we suffer with Jesus Christ, we will also share in his glory, now and forever, in the Resurrection, and in the Ascension into heaven, body and soul, with Jesus Christ, in His Second Coming, at the end of time!

Today in this Mass, let us pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit upon us! A Happy Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost to all of you! In the early Church of the first century, Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost were all celebrated as one Mystery in the Sunday Eucharist! It was only in the second century that Easter was celebrated as an annual event, and it was only in the fourth century that Ascension and Pentecost were separated from Easter with a period of forty and fifty days respectively (MCE)! Again, a Happy Easter, Ascension and Pentecost to all of you! Amen!

6th Sunday of Easter (Year A) – 17th May 2020

Theme: JESUS GIVES US THE HOLY SPIRIT SO THAT HE WILL BE WITH US FOREVER

  • Acts 8:5-8. 14-17;
  • Psalm 65:1-7. 16. 20. R/ v. 1;
  • 1 Peter 3:15-18
  • John 14:15-21

A Happy and Blessed Easter to all of you! Today is the 6th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical Year A, and next Sunday will be Ascension Sunday and the Sunday following that will be Pentecost Sunday, that is, the coming of the Holy Spirit! Jesus ascends into heaven not to abandon us, but to send us the Holy Spirit so that he will be with us forever!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus will ask the Father to give us the Holy Spirit to be with us forever. The gospel tells us that Jesus will not leave us orphans, but just as Jesus is in the Father, we are in Jesus and Jesus is in us through the Holy Spirit. Finally the gospel tells us that not only Jesus, but Jesus with the Father will dwell in us through the Holy Spirit. These we can read from the Gospel Acclamation (Jn 14:23; CSB) and from the last verse of today’s gospel (Jn 14:21; NJB)!

God is love. God created us out of love, but when we sinned he loved us even more, he became man in Jesus Christ to save us, but when we killed him on the cross, he loved us even more, he rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit does not dwell in heaven, or on earth, but the Holy Spirit dwells in us and within us.

He is nearer to us than we are to ourselves, he loves us more than we love ourselves and he knows us more than we know ourselves. He will continue to love us until we love God, love our neighbor and love ourselves! Then will come the end of the world, that is, the end of the evil world and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ when all will be saved!

The first reading tells us that those who received the Holy Spirit will proclaim the good news! The first reading of last Sunday tells us that the Twelve apostles chose seven men filled with the Holy Spirit to help them to distribute food so that the apostles can have more time for prayer and for proclaiming the good news!

And among the seven were Stephen and Philip! But not surprisingly, after that we never hear of Stephen or Philip distributing food, but instead we hear of them proclaiming the good news. In fact Stephen proclaimed the good news until he was stoned to death and became the first martyr!

The first reading today tells us that Philip proclaimed the good news in Samaria and the people of Samaria accepted the word of God, because they have heard or have seen for themselves the miracles Philip worked! Those possessed by evil spirits were exorcised and those who were sick were cured and the people were filled with joy!

The first reading also tells us that when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the Samaritans had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to pray for them so that they will receive the Holy Spirit! Does it mean that we do not receive the Holy Spirit at Baptism? No! Does it mean that if we are baptized only in the name of Jesus and not in the name of the Trinity we do not receive the Holy Spirit? No! Then what does it mean? It means that we have to be in “communion with the apostles”/Church! (NJBC) Peter and John represent the Twelve apostles. They represent the Church! They represent “the role of the Church in the bestowal of the Spirit”. (CSB)

That is why Christians who are not Catholics have to be confirmed before they are accepted into the Catholic Church and that is why Christians who are baptized only in the name of Jesus have to be baptized again in the name of the Trinity and have to be confirmed before they are accepted into the Catholic Church.

The second reading tells us that the good news that we proclaim is that by his death and resurrection “Christ the righteous one saved the unrighteous”! (CSB) Thus we read in the second reading:

“Christ himself, innocent though he was, had died once for sins, died for the guilty, to lead us to God. In the body he was put to death, in the spirit he was raised to life”. (1 Pt 3:18; SM)

And it is all the work of God! And that is why in the responsorial psalm we give praise and thanks to God for our salvation!

The responsorial psalm is a hymn/prayer of praise and thanksgiving to God for our salvation! Thus the response:

“Cry out with joy to God all the earth.” or “Alleluia!”

And thus the third stanza of the responsorial psalm:

“He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the river dry-shod.” (Ps 65:6a; SM)

The third stanza summarizes the whole history of salvation of Israel by referring to the Exodus from Egypt through the Red Sea and the crossing of the river Jordan into the Promised Land! For us it summarizes our salvation by referring to our baptism and our entry into heaven!

God has done everything for us! What do we do? How shall we respond? The psalm tells us to respond by giving praise and thanks to Him, the first reading tells us to respond by proclaiming the good news, the gospel tells us to respond by loving Jesus and by keeping his commandments, especially the greatest commandment of loving God and neighbor, and the second reading tells us to respond by suffering for doing what is right and not by suffering for doing what is wrong. In this way we will proclaim the good news not only with our words, but also with our deeds and our lives! Again, a happy and blessed Easter to all of you! Amen!

4th Sunday of Easter (A) – 3rd May 2020

Theme: JESUS THE GOOD SHEPHERD HAS COME SO THAT WE MAY HAVE LIFE AND HAVE IT TO THE FULL

  • Acts 2:14. 36-41;
  • Psalm 22:1-6. R. v. 1;
  • 1 Peter 2:20-25
  • John 10:1-10

Today is the 4th Sunday of Easter and the readings today tell us that Jesus the Good Shepherd has come so that we may have life and have it to the full.

The gospel today is taken from John 10 on the Good Shepherd. It tells us that Jesus the Good Shepherd has come so that we may have life and have it to the full! To understand the gospel today we must also read John 9! John 10 is a commentary on John 9! (CSB)

John 9 tells us that Jesus cured the man born blind, and gave him faith, and saved him! The Pharisees on the other hand threw the cured blind man out of the synagogue with these words: “You a sinner through and through ever since you were born”! (Jn 9:34/NJB) The Pharisees the “bad shepherd” excommunicated the sinner, but Jesus the Good Shepherd saved the sinner!

Thus Jesus spoke these words in the gospel today: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.”! (Jn 10:10) The thief refers to the Pharisees!

The first reading tells us that Jesus gives us life through his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! Indeed, the first reading tells us that on the day of Pentecost, Peter proclaimed the good news of the resurrection, and three thousand Jews repented, and were baptized, and had their sins forgiven, and received the Holy Spirit, and received new life!

Thus we read in the first reading: “On the day of Pentecost Peter stood up with the Eleven and addressed the crowd with a loud voice: ‘The whole House of Israel can be certain that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.’ Hearing this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the apostles, ‘What must we do, brothers?’ ‘You must repent,’ Peter answered ‘and every one of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. …. They were convinced by his arguments, and they accepted what he said and were baptized. That very day about three thousand were added to their number.”! (Ac 2:14. 36-38. 41)

The responsorial psalm tells us that the Good Shepherd gives us life and happiness! The responsorial psalm has 4 stanzas.

The first stanza tells us that Jesus the Good Shepherd give us life! Thus the first stanza: “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.”! (Ps 22:1-3a)

The second stanza tells us that he not only gives us life, but he also protects us from death! Thus the second stanza: “He guides me along the right path; he is true to his name. If I should walk in the valley of darkness no evil would I fear. You are there with your crook and your staff; with these you give me comfort.”! (Ps 22:3b-4)

The third and fourth stanzas tell us that he give us happiness! Thus the third and fourth stanzas: “You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes. My head you have anointed with oil; my cup is overflowing.”! (Ps 22:5)

“Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me all the days of my life. In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.”! (Ps 22:6)

Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.”! (Ps 22:1)

Finally, the second reading tells us that as sheep we must follow the Good Shepherd! The good shepherd did good, and suffered for doing good, and saved us! We must also do good, and suffer for doing good, and save the world!

Thus we read in the second reading: “But if you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.” (1 P 2:20-21/CSB)

Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and our Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit, to help us to do good, and suffer for doing good, and save the world! A Happy Easter Season to all of you! Amen!

 

3rd Sunday of Easter (Year A) – 26th April 2020

Theme: THE RISEN LORD IS PRESENT WITH US IN THE SCRIPTURES, IN THE EUCHARIST, AND IN THE COMMUNITY, EMPOWERING US WITH HIS HOLY SPIRIT TO PROCLAIM HIS RESURRECTION!

  • Acts 2:14. 22-33;
  • Psalm 15:1-2. 5. 7-11. R. v. 11;
  • 1 Peter 1:17-21
  • Luke 24:13-35

Today is the Third Sunday of Easter and the readings today tells us that the Risen Lord is present with us in the Scriptures, in the Eucharist, and in the Community, empowering us with his Holy Spirit to proclaim his Resurrection!

The Gospel today tells us that the Risen Lord is present with us in the Scriptures, in the Eucharist, and in the Community! The Gospel tells us that after his Resurrection the Lord appeared to two of his disciples and they did not recognize him! The body of the Risen Lord is different from the body of the Historical Jesus! It is a risen body, not a resuscitated body! Unlike a resuscitated body, a risen body cannot die anymore! A risen body is a transformed body! St. Paul tells us that it is a spiritual body, not a physical body! (1 Co 15:44 / HCSB) It can enter closed doors (Jn 20:19. 26) and be at any place at anytime! It is not limited by time and space!

But more importantly, the gospel tells us that the Risen Lord explained to the two disciples the passages of the scriptures that were about himself! And their hearts were burning within them as the Risen Lord explained the scriptures to them! The Risen Lord is present with us in the scriptures!

And most importantly, the gospel tells us that the Risen Lord stayed with the disciples, and when he was at table with them; he took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread, and gave it to them; and they recognized him at the “breaking of bread”, that is, at the Eucharist! But he vanished from their sight! He vanished into the bread and the bread became his body! When we eat the body of Christ in the Eucharist, we eat the body of the Risen Lord, not the body of the Historical Jesus!

Immediately after that, the disciples returned to Jerusalem to be with the Eleven, that is, to be with the Community, to proclaim the good news of his resurrection! (Faley)

Indeed, the first reading tells us that the Lord has risen from the dead, and has ascended into heaven, and has sent down the Holy Spirit on the Apostles, and the Apostles proclaimed the good news of his resurrection for the forgiveness of sins! Thus we read in the first reading:

“God raised this man Jesus to life, and all of us are witnesses to that. Now raised to the heights by God’s right hand, he has received from the Father the Holy Spirit, who was promised, and what you see and hear is the outpouring of that Spirit.”! (Ac 2:32-33)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading! The responsorial psalm also tells us about the resurrection of Jesus Christ! In fact the first reading quoted stanzas 2b and stanzas 3 and 4 of the responsorial psalm to tell us about the resurrection of Jesus Christ! In fact in the first reading, Peter quoted the psalm 16:8-11 to tell the Jews that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was prophesied by David in the psalm! Thus we read in the first reading:

“I saw the Lord before me always, for with him at my right hand nothing can shake me. So my heart was glad and my tongue cried out with joy: my body, too, will rest in the hope that you will not abandon my soul to Hades nor allow your holy one to experience corruption. You have made known the way of life to me, you will fill me with gladness through your presence.”! (Ac 2:25-28/Ps 16:8-11)

The responsorial psalm also tells us that we will also rise with Jesus Christ to a new life! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Show us, Lord, the path of life.”! (Ps 16:11)

Finally the second reading tells us that this new life of the resurrection which we receive in Baptism is free, but it is not cheap! It cannot be paid with silver and gold, but it was paid by the blood of Jesus Christ! Thus we read in the second reading:

“Remember, the ransom that was paid to free you from the useless way of life your ancestors handed down was not paid in anything corruptible, neither in silver nor gold, but in the precious blood of a lamb without spot or stain, namely Christ.”! (1 P 1:18-19)

We have therefore to “revere” this new life of the resurrection and proclaim it to the whole world!

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, and send us out into the world, to proclaim the good news of his resurrection for the forgiveness of sins! A Happy Easter Season to all of you! Amen!

2nd Sunday of Easter (Year A) – 19th April 2020

Theme: PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS AND BUILD CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES

  • Acts 2:42-47;
  • Psalm 117 (118): 2-4. 13-15. 22-24. R/ v. 1;
  • 1 Peter 1:3-9
  • John 20:19-31

Today is the Second Sunday of Easter. Today we also celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. And today is also the Octave Day of Easter, that is, the eighth day of Easter. We celebrate Easter in eight days because Easter is the biggest feast of the Church!

The gospel today tells us that on the day of his resurrection the Lord appeared to his disciples and said to them: peace be with you. And he showed them his hands and his side and the disciples were filled with joy. Again, he said: peace be with you. As the Father sent me so I am sending you. After saying this he breathed on them and said: receive the Holy Spirit, for those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven, for those whose sins you retain they are retained.

That is, proclaim the good news of the resurrection, those who believe and are baptized will have their sins forgiven, but those who do not believe and are not baptized will not have their sins forgiven. (NJBC) The Council of Trent (16th century) teaches that this gospel also tells us about the sacrament of penance, that is, “confession”. The sacrament of penance/reconciliation forgives post-baptismal sins, that is, sins committed after baptism. God is indeed merciful!

The gospel today also tells us that when the Lord appeared to his disciples, Thomas was not with them and when they told Thomas that they had seen the Lord, Thomas refused to believe. Eight days later, that is, on the Octave Day of Easter, the Lord appeared to his disciples again, and this time Thomas was with them.

Again, the Lord said, ‘peace be with you’. And the Lord said to Thomas: put your finger here, here are my hands, give me your hand, put your hand into my side, doubt no longer and believe. And Thomas said: My Lord and my God. And Jesus said: you believe because you have seen me, blessed are those who have not seen me and yet believe. That is, blessed are those who have not seen the risen Lord, but believe on the witnesses of the apostles, especially Thomas! (NJB)

The first reading tells us about the first Christian community, the first BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community). The first Christian community has four chief characteristics:
(1) The teaching of the apostles.
(2) The brotherhood.
(3) The breaking of bread.
(4) The prayers. (Ac 2:42)

Today our Basic Ecclesial Communities, BECs also have these four characteristics:
(1) Word of God (teaching of the apostles).
(2) Sharing our possessions with our brothers (the brotherhood).
(3) Eucharist (breaking of bread).
(4) Prayers.

It is very difficult to share our resources with our brothers, because we worship God and money, but with the word of God, the Eucharist, and prayers, the Holy Spirit will help us share our belongings with our brothers and sisters!

The Holy Spirit will help us build communities of love and unity, so that our Church will become a community of communities of love and unity and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the whole world!

The responsorial psalm is a psalm of thanksgiving for deliverance from enemies. (HCSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.” (Ps 117 (118): 1; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The response and the first stanza tell us to give thanks to God. The second stanza tells us to give thanks to God for delivering us from enemies. And the third stanza tells us to give thanks to God for the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ, the corner stone rejected by the builders, for delivering us from our enemies!

The second reading tells us to bless God the Father who in his “great mercy” has given us a new birth as sons and daughters of God by the resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ. We are sons and daughters of God in the sacrament of baptism solely because of the “great mercy” of God.

Sometime ago an authority of another religion said in the newspaper (“Daily Express”) that we are not the sons and daughters of God, we are not the children of God, but we are only the creatures of God and as creatures of God we must follow God’s laws!

But we Christians believe that God is not only Creator and law, but God is also and especially Savior, love, and Father! We Christians believe that we are the children of God and we are above the law, in the sense that we love, we do more than the law requires of us! The law never says that we must forgive, but we forgive, we are above the law, we love. Love is the fulfillment of the law, love is the only law, the only law is love, love is the greatest commandment of the law (Mt 22:36-40), love and do what you will say St. Augustine!

Today our world needs more than a Creator God and a God of law, today our world needs a Savior God, a loving God and a Father God. Today our world needs more than a God of law, justice and punishment; today our world needs a God of love, mercy and forgiveness! Our late Pope John Paul II said that there can be no peace without justice and there can be no justice without forgiveness.

It was our Pope John Paul II who introduced “Divine Mercy Sunday” into the liturgy and that is why today we celebrate “Divine Mercy Sunday”! The picture of “Divine Mercy” shows two rays of light from the sacred heart of Jesus, one red and one white. The red ray symbolizes the blood of Jesus sacrificed on the cross, and the white ray symbolizes the water of the Holy Spirit of God’s love and mercy! When the side of Christ was pierced on the cross, blood and water came out. (Jn 19:34; NJB) The Fathers of the Church sees the red blood as a symbol of the Eucharist and the white water as a symbol of baptism. Indeed, today the Risen Lord continues to pour out upon us his Holy Spirit of love and mercy in the sacraments of baptism and Eucharist!

Today in the Eucharist we celebrate Easter, in fact every Sunday is a small celebration of Easter. 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 proclaim the good news of the resurrection so that all may believe and be baptized and have their sins forgiven. The Holy Spirit will help us build small Christian communities of love and unity, so that our Church may be a community of communities of love and unity and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the whole world! And the Holy Spirit will help us to be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful! (Lk 6:36; CSB) Again, a happy Easter to all of you! Amen!

6th Sunday of Easter (C) – 26th May 2019

Theme: THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL HELP US UNDERSTAND THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS AND PUT THEM INTO PRACTICE

  • Acts 15:1-2. 22-29;
  • Psalm 66 (67): 2-3. 5-6. 8. R/ v. 4;
  • Apocalypse 21:10-14. 22-23
  • John 14:23-29

Today is the 6th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical year C. Next Sunday will be “The Ascension of the Lord”, and the Sunday after that will be “Pentecost Sunday”. Easter is the most important feast in the Church. It is more important than Christmas.

The Church started to celebrate Christmas only in the 4th century, but Easter was celebrated in the very first centuries. In fact, in the first three centuries there were no other celebrations except Easter! Easter is the most important feast, because at Easter we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the whole world!

The gospel today tells us that the Father will send us the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus. And the Holy Spirit will teach us everything and remind us all that Jesus taught us. That is, the Holy Spirit will help us understand the teachings of Jesus and put them into practice! (BM, Opening Prayer 2)

The gospel also tells us that Jesus will give us peace through the Holy Spirit. Peace, shalom, salvation! Peace is not just the absence of war, but peace is shalom (Hebrew), that is, wholeness, well-being, completeness, soundness, lacking nothing, etc., that is salvation!

That is why the gospel tells us not to be afraid! There is nothing to fear, not even sin and death, because there is resurrection and life! A life better than the life before sin and death! In short, there is salvation!

The first reading also tells us about the Holy Spirit. The first reading tells us that the Holy Spirit is with the Church and in the Church, and that the Church teaches in and with the Holy Spirit! (Magisterium)

The first reading tells us that the Holy Spirit and the apostles taught that the Gentile Christians need not follow the Mosaic Law of the Jewish Christians, particularly the law of circumcision; but that as a compromise they have to follow the dietary laws, that is, they are not to eat food offered to idols and they are not to eat meat with blood in them; because they live with the Jewish Christians and eat with them and celebrate the Eucharist with them! They are also to avoid fornication. But for us Christians today the dietary laws symbolize the capital sins of idolatry and murder.

More importantly, the Holy Spirit does not only teach us what laws to keep or not to keep, but the Holy Spirit also helps us to do good, and to avoid evil and to overcome sin!

The responsorial psalm is a petition to God to bless Israel with a good and rich harvest, so that the nations of the world will see the blessings of God on Israel and will worship the God of Israel! Thus the response:

“Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.” (Ps 66 (67): 4)

But in the context of today’s liturgy and readings, we ask God to bless us with the Holy Spirit and with salvation, so that all the nations may see the blessings of the Holy Spirit and of salvation and worship our God! Thus the response:

“Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.” (Ps 66 (67): 4)

The second reading tells us about the New Jerusalem, that is, the Church. The second reading tells us that the New Jerusalem will come down from heaven and God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit will dwell in it. And we will not need the Temple anymore, nor the sun and the moon to light up the day and the night, because the radiant glory of God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit will light up the Church and the world!

That is why today in the Church we have the Liturgy, the Sacraments, and the Sacrament of Sacraments, that is, the Eucharist/Mass! Every Sunday Eucharist/Mass is a celebration of Easter and Pentecost! Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI told the youths in one of the World Youth Days that the Sunday Eucharist/Mass is a perpetual Pentecost! In the Sunday Eucharist/Mass, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! That is why it is most urgent and most important to come to Mass every Sunday!

Today, we thank God our Father for Easter, that is, for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world; and we ask God to continue to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we will understand the teachings of Jesus and put them into practice; and so that like Paul and Barnabas in the first reading, we will proclaim the good news of the resurrection, so that all may hear and believe and be saved; and so that like Paul and Barnabas in the first reading, we will build Christian communities of love and unity, so that all may see and believe and be saved; and so that our Church may be a communion of communities of love and unity, and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the whole world! A happy Easter Season 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!

 

EASTER SUNDAY (Year C) – 21st Apr 2019

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

  • Acts 10:34. 37-43;
  • Psalm 117:1-2. 16-17. 22-23. R/ v. 24;
  • Colossians 3:1-4
  • John 20:1-9

A happy Easter to all of you! We are happy because Jesus Christ has risen from the dead! We are happy because last night during the Easter Vigil Baptism, our brothers and sisters died and rose with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! We are happy because last night we also renewed our faith and baptism and died and rose with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

Today we have our big Easter/Paschal candle lighted in our sanctuary symbolizing Jesus Christ our light! Light in the New Testament symbolizes 3 things:

(i) Light symbolizes faith as opposed to unbelief which is darkness and blindness.
(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 from God, and the life from God is a life of good and goodness!  

Most importantly, light will overcome darkness, faith will overcome unbelief, life will overcome death, and good will overcome evil; 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, completely, fully and totally! 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 gospel today tells us about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The gospel tells us that Mary of Magdala went to the tomb of Jesus and found that the stone covering the tomb had been moved away! She thought that the body of Jesus had been taken away and she ran to tell Peter and John about it.

Peter and John ran to the tomb and entering the tomb Peter saw the linen cloths lying on the ground and the cloth over Jesus’ head rolled up and separated from the linen cloths. That is to say the tomb was not robed and nothing was stolen. That is to say Jesus Christ has risen from the dead! Most importantly, the gospel tells us that John also went into the tomb and he saw and he believed! (CSB; IBC; NJBC)

The first reading also tells us about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The first reading tells us that Peter and the apostles ate and drank with Jesus after his resurrection from the dead! Jesus spent forty days with them after his resurrection before ascending into heaven! (NJB)

But more importantly, the first reading tells us that Jesus told Peter to tell the people about it so that those who believe in Jesus will have their sins forgiven in his name. That is, to be baptized in his name! That is why immediately following today’s first reading is the “baptism of the first gentiles”! (NJB) That is why last night we had baptisms!

The second reading tells us about baptism! (NJB; IBC; CCB) The second reading tells us that after baptism we must not look for worldly things, but we must look for the things in heaven! After baptism our glory is not yet complete, but it will be completed and perfected in heaven where we will be with Jesus and God the Father!

That is why we renew our faith and baptism every year at Easter, until one day our glory will be completed at the second coming of Jesus Christ at the end of time in heaven!

We shall now renew our faith and baptism by answering 6 questions, 3 rejecting Satan who tempts us not to believe in God as he tempted Adam and Jesus in the readings on the First Sunday of Lent!

After answering “I do” 6 times, we will be sprinkled with the waters of baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit and we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter. Again, a happy Easter to all of you! Amen!

The Easter Vigil (Year C) – 20th April 2019

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!

PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD (C) – 14th Apr 2019

Theme: THE PASSION OF THE LORD IS VICTORY AND GLORY

  • Luke 19:28-40
  • Isaiah 50:4-7;
  • Psalm 21 (22): 8-9. 17-20. 23-24. R/ v. 2;
  • Philippians 2:6-11
  • Luke 22:14 – 23:56 (Shorter Form, Luke 23:1-49)

Today we celebrate “Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord”! We celebrate “Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord”, because the Passion of the Lord is victory and glory! The palms symbolize victory and glory! That is why the proper place to put our palms is with the crucifix! This is to symbolize that the passion of the Lord is victorious and glorious!

(i). The gospel today tells us that the passion of the Lord is victorious and glorious! The gospel tells us that because of the passion of the Lord, Pilate and Herod who were enemies were reconciled:

“And though Herod and Pilate had been enemies before, they were reconciled that same day.”! (Lk 23:12; SM)

The passion of the Lord reconciles us with God and with one another!

(ii). The gospel today also tells us that because of the passion of the Lord, Barabbas the murderer was set free from prison:

“Pilate then gave his verdict: their demand was to be granted. He released the man they asked for, who had been imprisoned for rioting and murder, and handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they pleased.”! (Lk 23:24-25; SM)    

The passion of the Lord sets us free from sin and death!

(iii). The gospel also tells us that because of the passion of the Lord, the criminal who was crucified with Jesus went to heaven that very day:

“Indeed, I promise you, today you will be with me in paradise.”! (Lk 23:43; SM)

The passion of the Lord brings us to heaven!

(iv). The gospel also tells us that because of the passion of the Lord the pagan centurion was converted:

“When the centurion saw what had taken place, he gave praise to God and said, This was a great and good man.”! (Lk 23:47; SM)

The passion of the Lord converts the whole world!

(v). Finally, the gospel tells us that because of the passion of the Lord even those who crucified Jesus repented:

“And when all the people who had gathered for the spectacle saw what had happened, they went home beating their breasts.”! (Lk 23:48; SM)

The passion of the Lord saves even those who crucified him!

The first reading also tells us that the passion of the Lord is victorious and glorious! The first reading is the third of four Suffering Servant Songs of Isaiah! The first reading tells us that it is through the vicarious sufferings of the Suffering Servant that we are saved! Thus we read:

“I offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who tore at my beard; I did not cover my face against insult and spittle. The Lord comes to my help, so that I am untouched by the insults. So, too, I set my face like flint; I know I shall not be shamed.” (Is 50:6-7; SM)    

The responsorial psalm also tells us that the passion of the Lord is victorious and glorious! Thus the psalm began with the cry:

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Ps 21 (22): 2; SM)

But ends with thanksgiving and praise for salvation:

“I will tell of your name to my brethren and praise you where they are assembled. You who fear the Lord give him praise; all sons of Jacob, give him glory. Revere him, Israel’s sons.” (Ps 21 (22): 23-24; SM)

Finally, the second reading which is quoted in the “Gospel Acclamation” also tells us that the passion of the Lord is victory and glory! Thus the Gospel Acclamation:

“Christ was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross. But God raised him high and gave him the name which is above all names.” (Phil 2:8-9; SM)

Again, today we celebrate “Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord” because the Passion of the Lord is victorious and glorious! The palm symbolizes victory and glory! It symbolizes resurrection, glory and salvation! That is why the proper place to put our palms is with the crucifix!

“Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord” begins Holy Week! Holy Week will climax in the Easter Triduum! Triduum means three days, that is, Good Friday (Death), Holy Saturday (Burial) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection)! Good Friday begins with the evening of Holy Thursday, Holy Saturday begins with the evening of Good Friday and Easter Sunday begins with the evening of Holy Saturday. The three days are in fact one celebration! That is why there is no dismissal on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. The dismissal will only be given after the Easter Vigil! That is why we have to come for all the three days!

A happy and blessed Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, a happy and blessed Holy Week, and a happy and blessed Easter Triduum to all of you!                        Amen!