1st Sunday of Lent (Year C) – 10th Mar 2019

Theme: ADAM BROUGHT SIN AND DEATH, BUT JESUS CHRIST THE NEW ADAM BROUGHT GRACE AND LIFE

  • Genesis 2:7-9. 3:1-7;
  • Psalm 50 (51): 3-6. 12-14. 17. R/ cf. v. 3;
  • Romans 5:12-19
  • Matthew 4:1-11

Today is the First Sunday of Lent, Liturgical Year A. We use the readings of Liturgical Year A instead of Year C, because there will be catechumens for Baptism on Easter Vigil Night!

Lent is a time when we prepare for the celebration of Easter, that is, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world!

Lent is also a time when our catechumens prepare for Baptism on Easter Vigil Night so that they will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter through the waters of Baptism and through the power of the Holy Spirit!

Lent is also a time when we who are baptized prepare to renew our Baptism on Easter Vigil Night so that we too may die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new Life of Easter through the waters of Baptism and through the power of the Holy Spirit! That is why on Easter Vigil Night after renewing our Baptism we will be sprinkled with the waters of Baptism!

Lent is therefore a time of repentance, that is, to turn away from sin, from oneself and from the world; and to turn to God, to the God of Jesus Christ, who is love, mercy and forgiveness, and to our neighbor in love, mercy and forgiveness!

That is why during this time of Lent the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor in order to help us repent and prepare for the celebration of Easter!

The first reading tells us that our first parents Adam and Eve committed the Original Sin of pride by eating the forbidden fruit! They wanted to be gods themselves and decide for themselves what is good and what is evil. They did not believe in God, they did not want to depend on God and they did not want God to tell them what is good and what is evil. As a result sin and death entered the world!

Today too there are people who do not believe in God. They believe in themselves. They decide for themselves what is good and what is evil. They have decided for themselves that abortion is good. As a result there are 43.8 million abortions worldwide every year! (Internet, Catholic World News, January 20, 2012) Making the mother’s womb the most dangerous place in the world! And introducing the culture of death! Indeed sin and death have entered the world!

More importantly, the gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ the new Adam was also tempted by the devil! Again, the devil tells Jesus Christ not to believe in God his Father, not to depend on God and not to do the will of God; but to believe in oneself, to depend on oneself and to do one’s own will!

The devil tempted Jesus Christ three times. In the first temptation the devil tells Jesus to turn stones into bread to satisfy his hunger. In the second temptation the devil tells Jesus to jump down from the top of the Temple to test God. And in the third temptation the devil tells Jesus to worship him and he will give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world.

But more importantly are the three faith responses of Jesus! Just as the first Adam turned away from God, Jesus the second Adam turned back to God. Just as the first Adam depended on himself, Jesus the second Adam depended on God his Father. Thus the three faith responses of Jesus:

(i) “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

(ii) “You must not put the Lord your God to the test.”

(ii) “You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone.”

And most importantly, the second reading tells us that it is through the grace of Jesus Christ that we turn back to God and find life! Indeed the second reading tells us that it is through Adam that sin and death entered the world and it is through Jesus Christ the new Adam that grace and life entered the world! And more importantly, the second reading tells us that the grace of Jesus Christ more than compensates for the sin of Adam! And it is through the grace of Jesus Christ that we turn back to God and find life!

Indeed the responsorial psalm is a “prayer of repentance”! (CSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we have sinned.” (Ps 50 (51): 3; Sunday Missal)

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas ask God to forgive us our sins. The third and fourth stanzas ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we will not sin anymore! (CSB; IBC)

Again, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter! Lent is therefore a time of repentance. During this time of Lent the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor in order to help us to repent and to prepare for the celebration of Easter when we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! A happy and blessed Lent to all of you! Amen!

6th Sunday of Easter (Year B) – 6th May 2018

Theme: “LOVE ONE ANOTHER, AS I HAVE LOVED YOU.” (Jn 15:12)

  • Acts 10:25-26. 34-35. 44-48;
  • Psalm 97 (98): 1-4. R/ cf. v. 2;
  • 1 John 4:7-10
  • John 15:9-17

Today is the 6th Sunday of Easter. The readings today tell us to love one another as Jesus loved us. Jesus tells us in the gospel today to love one another as he has loved us. Jesus tells us in the gospel today: ‘As the Father has loved him so he has loved us. Remain in his love. If we keep his commandments we will remain in his love, just as he has kept his Father’s commandments and remain in his love. He has told us this so that his own joy may be in us and our joy be complete. This is his commandment: love one another, as he has loved us. A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends’.

Again, Jesus tells us in today’s gospel to love one another as he has loved us, that is, to lay down our lives for our friends. Jesus also tells us in today’s gospel that his own joy will be in us and our joy will be complete, that is, if we love as Jesus loved we will be joyful and happy as Jesus was joyful and happy. We seldom think of Jesus as being joyful and happy, but Jesus was joyful and happy. Love and joy cannot be separated, that is, if we love we will be happy, if we do not love we will not be happy. God the Father is love, that is why we call him Father; and God the Father is happy, that is why he is in heaven! Thus we read in today’s gospel:

“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete. This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you. A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends’.” (Jn 15: 9–13/SM)

The second reading follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading also tells us to love one another. The second reading tells us to love one another because love is from God. And he who loves is begotten by God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God for God is love. God’s love was revealed to us when God sent his Son into the world so that we may have life through him. This is the love the second reading means: not our love for God, but God’s love for us when he sent his Son to be the sacrifice to take away our sins. Thus we read in the second reading:

“My dear people, let us love one another since love comes from God and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Anyone who fails to love can never have known God, because God is love. God’s love for us was revealed when God sent into the world his only Son so that we could have life through him; this is the love I mean: not our love for God, but God’s love for us when he sent his Son to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away.” (1 Jn 4: 7-10/SM)

The good news today is that this love comes to us today already fulfilled in Jesus Christ, in his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. And this love will be fulfilled in us today here and now through the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus the first reading tells us about the “Pentecost of the Pagans”, that is, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the pagans. The first reading tells us of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Roman centurion Cornelius and his household and their baptism. Thus we read in the first reading:

“While Peter was still speaking the Holy Spirit came down on all the listeners. Jewish believers who had accompanied Peter were all astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit should be poured out on the pagans too, since they could hear them speaking strange languages and proclaiming the greatness of God. Peter himself then said, ‘Could anyone refuse the water of baptism to these people, now they have received the Holy Spirit just as much as we have?’ He then gave orders for them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” (Ac 10:44-48/SM)

The Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of God’s love. God the Father is love, God the Son is love, God the Holy Spirit is also love. It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can love as Jesus loved us, and we can lay down our lives for our friends as Jesus laid down his life for us his friends, and we can be joyful and happy as Jesus was joyful and happy!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a call to praise God. The responsorial psalm is a call to God’s people to praise God for saving Israel. (Ps 97 (98): 1-3) But the last verse of the responsorial psalm is a call to all the nations which have seen the salvation of Israel to praise and worship the God of Israel. Thus the last verse of the responsorial psalm:

“Shout to the Lord all the earth, ring out your joy.” (Ps 97 (98): 4)

And thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“The Lord has shown his salvation to the nations.” (Ps 97 (98): 2)

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 love one another as Jesus loved us. The Holy Spirit will help us lay down our lives for our friends as Jesus laid down his life for us his friends. The Holy Spirit will help us be happy and joyful as Jesus was happy and joyful. And the Holy Spirit will help us proclaim the Gospel (Good News) to the pagans! Amen.

3rd Sunday of Easter (Year B) – 15th April 2018

Theme: BE WITNESSES OF THE RESURRECTION AND PREACH REPENTANCE FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS

  • Acts 3:13-15. 17-19;
  • Psalm 4:2. 4. 7. 9. R/ v. 7;
  • 1 John 2:1-5
  • Luke 24:35-48 

A Happy Easter to all of you! Today is the 3rd Sunday of Easter, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us to be the witnesses of the resurrection and to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

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!’ That is, shalom, salvation! A peace that the world cannot give! (Jn 14:27; CSB) And he showed them his hands and his feet. He also asked them to touch him for he has flesh and bones. He is not a ghost. A ghost has no flesh and bones. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! A joy that the world cannot take away! (Jn 16:22) He then ate a piece of baked fish in front of their eyes! Indeed, the Lord has risen from the dead!

More importantly, the gospel also tells us that, in fact, even before his death and resurrection, when he was still with his disciples, he had already told them that he had to fulfill the Law of Moses, the prophets and the psalms, that is, the scriptures, that the Messiah was to suffer and on the third day rise from the dead and that in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations beginning from Jerusalem. That is, from Jerusalem to Judea, to Samaria, and to the ends of the earth! (Ac 1:8)

And most importantly, the gospel also tells us that the disciples were to be his witnesses!

Indeed, the first reading tells us that the disciples were witnesses to his resurrection and preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins! The first reading tells us that Peter and the other apostles preached the good news of his resurrection:

“You killed the prince of life. God, however, raised him from the dead, and to that fact we are the witnesses.”! (Ac 3:15; SM)

They preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins:

“Repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out.” (Ac 3:19; SM)

Indeed, repentance is not only turning away from sin, but repentance is also turning away from the world, that is, from wealth, power, fame, etc., and more importantly, repentance is turning to God, and most importantly, repentance is turning to the God of Jesus Christ, a God of love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation; not a God of law, justice, punishment and damnation!

Thus the responsorial psalm tells us that salvation is a favor, a grace and a blessing, that is, salvation is a free gift! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Lift up the light of your face on us, O Lord.” (Ps 4:7; SM)

That is, show us your favor, O Lord! (HCSB; NJBC) Salvation is a favor, a grace, a blessing and a free gift, because the God of Jesus Christ is a God of love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation!

Thus the second reading tells us that Jesus Christ is the sacrifice that takes away our sins, and not only our sins, but the sins of the whole world! Thus we read in the second reading:

“He is the sacrifice that takes our sins away, and not only ours, but the whole world’s.” (1 Jn 2:2; SM)

That is why we have to be witnesses of the resurrection and preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins, so that all may believe and be baptized and have their sins forgiven!

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. The Holy Spirit will help us to be witnesses of the resurrection and preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins! Again, a Happy Easter to all of you!

Amen!

The Easter Vigil – 31st March 2018

Theme: IN THE SACRAMENT OF 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
  • Mark 16:1-7

A happy Easter to all of you! The word Easter comes from the word east, the direction from which the sun rises. Just as the sun gives light, life, heat and energy, Jesus the new Sun gives the light of faith, eternal life, love, joy and peace (shalom)! We celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December in place of the feast of the pagan “sun god”, because Jesus is the new “Sun God”!

Again, a happy and blessed Easter to all of you! We began this Easter Vigil celebration with the service of light, because Jesus Christ is our light, that is, Jesus Christ gives us the light of faith, the light of life and the light of good; as opposed to unbelief, death and evil respectively, which is darkness!

More importantly, the three are connected, that is, when we have faith, we receive new life from God and we do good; but when we do not have faith, we do not receive new life from God and we do evil!

Most importantly, light will overcome darkness, faith will overcome unbelief, life will overcome death and good will overcome evil! Because Jesus has overcome the Devil in himself, and Jesus will overcome the Devil in us by his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! And we receive his Holy Spirit tonight, in his Church in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist, the three sacraments of initiation!

That is what the readings tell us tonight!

The first reading from Genesis tells us that we were created in the image of God, that is, like God, we have to create life, especially human life, we are co-creators of God; like God we have to love; and like God we are to be happy! That is the meaning of heaven!

But we sinned, we destroy life instead of create life. We destroy life in the environment, in wars, and we even destroy life in the womb of the mother, making it the most dangerous place in the world! We hate and we take revenge instead of loving and forgiving. And we are very unhappy instead of being happy like God in heaven!

But when we sinned God loved us even more! His Son Jesus Christ became man to save us!

The second reading from Genesis tells us that this history of salvation began with Abraham the father of faith! The second reading tells us that God tested Abraham’s faith, that is, God made Abraham’s faith stronger! Abraham’s faith was so strong that he sacrificed his only son Isaac, the son of the promise, to God!

But more importantly, Isaac prefigures Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, who sacrificed himself for the salvation of the world! (NJB; CCB) Jesus Christ did this by his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! Again, tonight we will receive his Holy Spirit in his Church in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist!

The third reading from Exodus tells us that the Lord destroyed the Egyptians in the waters of the Red Sea and saved Israel in the waters of the Red Sea! In the same way, tonight, the Lord will destroy our sin and death in the waters of baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit and give us life, love and joy!

The fourth reading from Ezekiel tells us that the Lord will pour clean water over us to cleanse us and the Lord will put his spirit in us and we shall live! Again, in the waters of baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit, the Lord cleanse us from sin and death and give us his spirit and life!

Finally, the gospel/good news from Mark tells us that the Lord has indeed risen from the dead! The gospel tells us that the women went to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away! And on entering the tomb an angel (Mt 28:5) told them that the Lord has indeed risen and will meet the disciples in Galilee as he had promised!

Most importantly, the fifth reading from Romans tells us that in Baptism we are baptized in Christ’s death and just as Jesus Christ rose from the dead we will also rise from the dead with him to a new life, never to sin anymore!

We shall now proceed with the Liturgy of Baptism. We shall do three important things. We shall ask God the Father and the Son to send the Holy Spirit into the waters of Baptism. We shall then profess our faith in God the Father the Creator, God the Son the Savior and God the Holy Spirit the Sanctifier. We shall then be baptized in the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit! We shall then die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

Some of us may also receive the sacrament of Confirmation. The sacrament of Confirmation completes the sacrament of Baptism. In Confirmation we receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit and are strengthened by the Holy Spirit!

Some of us may also receive the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist completes the three sacraments of initiation! In the sacrament of the Eucharist, or Holy Communion, we eat the body of Christ and drink his blood and we continue to grow in the Holy Spirit! And we continue to do this every Sunday. Every Sunday is a celebration of Easter!

We will come back every year to renew our baptism on Easter Vigil Night and continue to grow every year in the Holy Spirit, until the day we reach perfection in heaven! Again, a happy and blessed Easter to all of you!

 

Amen!

2nd Sunday of Lent (Year B) – 25th February 2018

Theme: THE CROSS OF JESUS CHRIST IS GLORIOUS: IT IS RESURRECTION AND LIFE

  • Genesis 12:1-4;
  • Psalm 32 (33):4-5. 18-20. 22. R/ v. 22;
  • 2 Timothy 1:8-10
  • Matthew 17:1-9

Today is the 2nd Sunday of Lent, Liturgical Year B, but we are using the readings of Year A, because there will be Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! Lent is a time when we prepare for Easter. Lent is a time when we prepare for the Baptism of our catechumens on Easter Vigil Night and the renewal of our own Baptism on Easter Vigil Night!

The gospel today tells us that the cross of Jesus Christ is glorious! The cross of Jesus Christ is resurrection and life! That is why today’s gospel is found immediately after Jesus predicted his passion, death and resurrection, and after he instructed his disciples to take up their crosses to follow him in order to find life!

The gospel today tells us about the transfiguration of the Lord. His face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as light! The transfiguration was not the resurrection. It was only the preview, the foreshadow and the prefigure of the resurrection. The transfiguration was to strengthen the faith of the disciples for the coming suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ!

The gospel also tells us that a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favor. Listen to him”. That is, Jesus is the Son of God and the Suffering Servant of God (“he enjoys my favor”, Is 42:1), listen to him, especially when he tells you about his suffering, death and resurrection!

Finally, the gospel also tells us that Jesus ordered his disciples not to tell anyone about the transfiguration for fear that the people may mistake him to be a political, nationalistic, and military messiah, or a wonder-worker and miracle-worker messiah! Jesus is much more than all that! Jesus is the suffering messiah, the crucified Christ, the suffering and crucified Savior!

Again, the gospel today tells us that the cross of Jesus Christ is glorious! The cross of Jesus Christ is resurrection and life!

In the first reading the Lord tells Abraham to leave his country, his family and his father’s house and to go to a land that the Lord will show him. And the Lord will make him into a great nation, that is, the Lord will give him many descendents and make his descendents into a great nation! And the Lord will bless him and through him, the Lord will bless all the nations! And Abraham went as the Lord told him.

During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms; to help us leave our sins, our world, and ourselves and to go to a land that the Lord will show us. And the Lord will bless us and through us, the Lord will bless all the nations! And like Abraham, we will go as the Lord tells us!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us to put all our hope in God and in his love! Not half our hope, but all our hope; not in man, but in God; and not in his law, but in his love! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.” (Ps 32 (33): 22; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza (vv. 4-5) tells us that the Lord created us out of love. The second stanza (vv. 18-19) tells us that the Lord saved us out of love. And the third stanza (vv. 20. 22) from which the response is taken tells us that we are to put all our hope in God and in his love! The word “love” appears in all the three stanzas, and in the response! 

In the second reading, Saint Paul tells Timothy to suffer for the preaching of the Good News, because Jesus Christ has destroyed death and has proclaimed life and immortality through the Good News! Thus we read in the second reading:

“With me, bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News, …. He (Christ Jesus) abolished death, and he has proclaimed life and immortality through the Good News.” (2 Tm 1:8. 10; SM)

During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms; to help us carry our crosses to follow Jesus, that is, to help us to die to our sins, our world, ourselves and to live for God and for neighbor! The Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms, to help us prepare for Easter. And to help us to prepare for the Baptism of our catechumens on Eater Vigil Night and the renewal of our own Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! A blessed Lent to all of you! Amen!

Sixth Sunday of Easter (Year A) – 21st May 2017

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!

Fifth Sunday of Easter (Year A) – 14th May 2017

Theme: THE COMING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

  • Acts 6:1-7
  • John 14:1-12

Today is the 5th Sunday of Easter! Notice I did not say 5th Sunday after Easter! This is because we are still celebrating Easter! We celebrate Easter for 50 days, that is, from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday! We are now 4 weeks away from Easter Sunday and 3 weeks away from Pentecost Sunday! That is why the readings today tell us about the Holy Spirit!

The gospel today is from the Last Supper Discourse of Jesus Christ in which Jesus Christ prepares his disciples for the coming of the Holy Spirit! Next Sunday’s gospel is also from John 14 and is even more explicit on the coming of the Holy Spirit!

To understand today’s gospel we must first look at John 13, the chapter which precedes John 14! In John 13, Jesus washes the feet of the disciples, predicts the betrayal of Judas, predicts his own departure, and predicts Peter’s denial of him!

The disciples are disturbed by these predictions! That is why in today’s gospel, John 14, Jesus tells his disciples: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still and trust in me. Yes, I am departing, but not to disappear, but to go to heaven to prepare a place for you, so that where I am you may be there too’!

Then Jesus continues, ‘you know the way to where I am going’. And Thomas responds, ‘Lord, how do we know the way, when we do not know where you are going’. And Jesus replies, ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me’! In other words, Jesus is the only way that leads to the Father, the only truth that leads to the Father, and the only life that leads to the Father! No one can go to the Father except through him!

In the same way, Jesus Christ is also the only way through whom the Father comes to us, the only truth through whom the Father reveals his love, mercy, and forgiveness to us, and the only life through whom the Father gives his life to us! And just as no one can go to the Father except through Jesus Christ, the Father comes to us through no one, except through Jesus Christ!

Then Jesus continues ‘if you know me you will know the Father! In fact you know the Father and you see the Father’. Then Philip says, ‘Lord, let us see the Father then we will be satisfied’. And Jesus replies, ‘Philip, have I been with you all this time and you still do not know me, to have seen me is to have seen the Father. Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me and that all that I say and do, I do not do it on my own, but it is the Father who does it in me’?

And most importantly, Jesus says to his disciples, ‘if you believe in me, you will do the works that I do and you will even do greater works than me, because I am going to the Father to send you the Holy Spirit’! (NJB)

The Holy Spirit will be in the disciples of Jesus Christ in all times and places to continue to do the works of Jesus Christ! The Holy Spirit in the disciples of Jesus will not be limited by time and place! The Holy Spirit in the disciples of Jesus Christ will be in all places at all times!

That is why in the first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, St. Luke emphasizes the point that Stephen is full of the Holy Spirit!

The first reading tells us that Stephen and Philip were elected among the 7 “deacons” to distribute food so that the 12 Apostles may devote their time on preaching the word, but nowhere else in the Acts of the Apostles do we hear of the 7 “deacons” distributing food, instead chapter 7 which follows chapter 6 of today’s first reading tells us that Stephen preached the Good News until they stoned him to death! And in chapter 8 of the Acts of the Apostles we hear of Philip preaching and baptizing!

Just as the 12 Apostles represent the 12 tribes of Israel, the 7 “deacons” represent the 7 “nations” of Canaan! In other words, Luke in the Acts of the Apostles tells us that the word of God is spreading from the Hebrew speaking Jews to the Greek speaking Jews!

And in fact Luke ends the first reading today by telling us that the word of the Lord continued to spread, and the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly, and a large group of priests were also converted to the faith!

We have proclaimed the Good News in the power of the Holy Spirit; we will now celebrate the Eucharist in the power of the Holy Spirit! In the Eucharist we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his Risen Body, and our Risen Lord will give us his Holy Spirit and will send us forth after Mass (Mission) into the world to proclaim the Good News and to Baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!

Amen!