THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD (C) – 26th May 2022

THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD (C) – 26th May 2022

Theme: THE LORD ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN NOT TO ABANDON US, BUT TO SEND US THE HOLY SPIRIT TO BE WITH US UNTIL THE END OF TIME

  • Acts 1:1-11;
  • Psalm 46 (47): 2-3. 6-7. 8-9. R/ v. 6;
  • Hebrews 9:24-28. 10:19-23
  • Luke 24:46-53

1. Today we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord into heaven! Liturgical Year C. The Lord ascended into heaven not to abandon us, but to send us the Holy Spirit to be with us until the end of time! (Gospel Acclamation; Mt 28:19. 20)

The gospel today tells us about the ascension of the Lord, but more importantly, the gospel tells us that he will send us the Holy Spirit so that we will be his witnesses to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem! The Church is the New Jerusalem!

2. The first reading is a continuation of the gospel. The first reading begins where the gospel ends. The first reading is also written by St. Luke. The first reading also tells us about the ascension of the Lord, and more importantly, the first reading also tells us about the giving of the Holy Spirit to the apostles, so that they will become the witnesses of Jesus not only in Jerusalem, but also in Judea (Jews), and Samaria (Samaritans/Half-Jews) and indeed to the ends of the earth (gentiles)!

The difference between the first reading and the gospel is that in the gospel the ascension happened on the day of the resurrection, but in the first reading it happened forty days after the resurrection! The forty days is symbolic of the time taken by the risen Lord to instruct and teach the disciples about the kingdom of God to prepare them to receive the Holy Spirit to become his witnesses!

The people of Israel spent forty years in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land! Moses spent forty days in the mountain before receiving the Ten Commandments! Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness before his ministry! Our catechumens spent forty days of Lent in intense preparation for baptism! We spent forty days of Lent in intense preparation for the renewal of our faith and baptism! Forty years is also the time span of one generation!

The first reading also tells us that Jesus will return at the parousia (Second Coming of Jesus) the way that he left at the ascension, that is, Jesus ascends into heaven to give us the Holy Spirit to continue his work of salvation and when we have completed his work of salvation he will return at the end of the world (parousia) to take us all into heaven!

3. The responsorial psalm also tells us about the ascension of the Lord. Thus we responded three times:

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

The responsorial psalm is originally an enthronement psalm. The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza gives praise to God. The second and third stanzas tell us about the enthronement of God as king of all the nations!

 The Church has applied this psalm to the ascension of the Lord. Thus verse 6 from which the response is taken, is taken to mean the ascension of the Lord into heaven:

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

4. The second reading also tells us about the ascension of the Lord. The second reading tells us that the Lord has ascended into heaven and he is now interceding for us. More importantly, the second reading tells us that he will return at the Parousia for our complete and final salvation, that is, to take us into heaven! Thus we read:

    “When he appears a second time, it will not be to deal with sin but to reward with salvation those who are waiting for him.” (Heb 9:28; SM)

Indeed, that is our prayer in today’s Mass! The Opening Prayer, the Prayer over the Gifts, the Preface, the Prayer after Communion, and the Solemn Blessing; all pray that one day we will ascend into heaven with the Lord!

5. Today we thank God for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and his ascension into heaven and we ask God to send us the Holy Spirit so that we will be his witnesses to the ends of the world!    

Again, a happy Easter and Ascension Day to all of you, and let us continue to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday, that is, next Sunday!                    

Amen!

3rd Sunday of Easter (Year C) – 1st May 2022

3rd Sunday of Easter (Year C) – 1st May 2022

Theme: THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH TO PREACH THE GOOD NEWS FOR THE SALVATION OF THE WORLD

  • Acts 5:27-32. 40-41;
  • Psalm 29 (30):2. 4-6. 11-13. R/ v. 2;
  • Apocalypse 5:11-14
  • John 21:1-19 (Shorter Form, 21:1-14)

1. Today is the 3rd Sunday of Easter, Liturgical year C. The readings today tell us about the mission of the Church to preach the good news for the salvation of the world!

The gospel today tells us that the disciples were fishing the whole night in the Sea of Tiberias, but they caught nothing! More importantly, the gospel tells us that the Risen Lord appeared to them and instructed them to cast their net on the right side of the boat and they caught so many fish that they could not pull the net in!

The gospel also tells us that when the Risen Lord asked for some of the fish they have caught, Peter pulled in the net with 153 big fish and the net was not broken!

Finally the gospel tells us that the Risen Lord invited the disciples for breakfast. He took the bread and gave it to them and he did the same with the fish!

The gospel ends by telling us that this was the third time that the Risen Lord appeared to the disciples!

The gospel today tells us of 3 important things:

(i) That the mission of the Church is to preach the good news for the salvation of the world! That is, the mission of the Church is to be the fisher of men, to catch men for God! In the Early Church fish symbolizes the baptized Christian in the waters of baptism! (Lefrois) The boat symbolizes the Church!

More importantly, the gospel tells us that without the Risen Lord our mission will be a failure, we will not catch anything; but with the Risen Lord our mission will be a success, we will catch so many fish that we will not be able to pull the net in!

(ii) That Peter is the head of the Church, and that the mission of the Church is universal, and that though the Church is universal, it is a unity under Peter the first Pope! Thus when Risen Lord requested for some fish, it was Peter who pulled the net in, and though there were 153 large fish, the net did not break! The 153 big fish symbolizes the universal mission of the Church and the unbroken net symbolizes the unity of the Church! 

(iii) That the Risen Lord is present with us today in the Eucharist! Thus the Risen Lord took the bread and gave it to the disciples and he did the same with the fish. The Lord did the same thing at the “multiplication of the loaves” which is a symbol of the Eucharist! (Jn 6:11)

Similarly, the gospel of Luke on “the road to Emmaus” tells us that the Risen Lord is present in the Word of God, in the Eucharist and in the Community! (Lk 24: 13-35) This gospel of Luke is read on the 3rd Sunday of Easter, Year A.          

The gospel ends by telling us that this is the 3rd time that the Risen Lord appeared to the disciples!

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the apostles and the Holy Spirit are the witnesses to the resurrection of the Lord! That is, the apostles filled with the Holy Spirit are the witnesses of the resurrection of the Lord! (Ac 1:8; Mt 10:20; NJB) The apostles filled with the Holy Spirit witnessed to the resurrection of the Lord by proclaiming the Good News of the resurrection even in the face of persecution and death:

“It was the God of our ancestors who raised up Jesus, but it was you who had him executed by hanging on a tree. By his own right hand God has now raised him up to be leader and savior, to give repentance and forgiveness of sins through him to Israel. We are witnesses to all this, we and the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.” (Ac 5:30-32; SM)   

3. The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving for salvation! In the responsorial psalm today we praise and thank God for saving us through his Son Jesus Christ! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.” (Ps 29 (30): 2; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza praises and thanks God for salvation (vv. 2 & 4). The second stanza invites others to praise and thank God for salvation (vv. 5-6). The third stanza continues to praise and thank God for salvation (vv. 11-13). (CSB)

4. The second reading is a doxology. The second reading has two parts. In the first part the angels in heaven give glory, praise, honor and power to the Lamb of God who saved us (vv. 11-12)! In the second part the whole of creation gives glory, praise, honor and power to God the Father and to the Lamb of God (vv. 13-14)! (CSB)

Today we join the angels in heaven and the whole of creation to give glory, praise, honor and power to God the Father and to the Lamb of God for our salvation!

5. Today we thank God for the resurrection of Jesus Christ and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we may proclaim the good news of the resurrection, so that all may believe and be baptized and be saved! A happy Easter to all of you! Amen!

EASTER SUNDAY (Mass of the Day) – 17th April 2022

EASTER SUNDAY (Mass of the Day) – 17th April 2022

Theme: THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST AND OUR DEATH AND RESURRECTION WITH HIM IN THE SACRAMENT OF 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

1. A Happy and Blessed Easter to all of you! Today we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; and our death and resurrection with him in the sacrament of Baptism!  

The gospel today tells us that the Lord has risen from the dead! The gospel tells us that Mary of Magdala went to the tomb early Sunday morning and saw that the stone had been moved away. She ran quickly to Peter and John and told them that the Lord had been taken away and that she did not know where they had put him.

Peter and John ran quickly to the tomb. John reached the tomb first, but did not go in. He bent down and saw the burial cloths on the ground. Peter reached the tomb later and went straight in and saw the burial cloths on the ground and also the cloth that covered Jesus’ head rolled up in a place by itself. John then went into the tomb and saw and believed!

The burial cloths on the ground and the cloth that covered Jesus’ head tell us that the Lord was not stolen by his disciples, but the Lord had risen from the dead; if not the burial cloths would not be on the ground, but would be taken away, and the cloth that covered Jesus’ head would not be rolled up in a place by itself! Indeed the Lord has risen from the dead!    

2. The first reading tells us that Peter and the Apostles were witnesses to the resurrection of the Lord! They ate and drank with him after his resurrection and they spent forty days with him after his resurrection! (Ac 10:41o; NJB)

More importantly, the first reading tells us that Peter and the Apostles proclaimed the good news of the Lord’s death and resurrection and that whoever believes in him will have their sins forgiven in his name in the sacrament of Baptism! That is why in the Bible, immediately following this first reading, is the “Baptism of the first gentiles”! (Ac 10:44-48; NJB)

3. The second reading tells us about the sacrament of Baptism! (Col 2:12; NJB) The second reading tells us that in Baptism we have been brought back to life with Jesus Christ and that is why we have to look for the things of heaven! Our thoughts must be on heavenly things and not on the things of the earth, because we have died with Christ and our lives are now hidden with Christ in God. But at the second coming of Jesus Christ at the “parousia”; Jesus Christ will be revealed in all his glory and we will share in the fullness of his glory! (Col 3:4b; NJB)      

4. The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving for salvation in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! Thus we responded three times:

    “Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!” Alleluia means Praise the Lord!    

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us to praise and thank God for his infinite love! The second stanza tells us that the Lord saves us from death! The third stanza tells us about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! Thus we read in the third stanza:

“The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone.” (Ps 117:22; Mt 21:42; Ac 4:11; CSB)

And it is all God’s work! Thus we read again in the third stanza:

“This is the work of the Lord, a marvel in our eyes.” (Ps 117:23; SM)

That is why we give praise and thanks to God in the response:

“Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!”

That is, “Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord!”

5. We will now renew our Baptism! We will renew our Baptism with the light of Jesus Christ! The light of the Resurrection! The light that has destroyed the darkness of sin and death! The light that has destroyed the Devil! The light that has destroyed Satan!

The light of Christ is the light of faith as opposed to unbelief which is darkness, the light of Christ is the light of life as opposed to death which is darkness, and the light of Christ is the light of good as opposed to evil which is darkness!  

More importantly, the three themes are related! For it is in faith that we receive the new and eternal life from God and the life from God is good, because only God is good!

Most importantly, Light will overcome darkness, faith will overcome unbelief, life will overcome death, and good will overcome evil, because Jesus Christ has overcome the Devil! Jesus has overcome Satan!

And the new life that Jesus gives is even better than the old life before sin! Thus we sing in the Easter Proclamation:

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

We will light our candles from the Easter candle and we will profess our faith in God by answering “I do” to six questions! The first three questions reject Satan and all his works and all his empty promises; because Satan tells us not to believe in God! The second three questions profess our faith in God the Father who created the world, God the Son who saved the world, and God the Holy Spirit who continues to sanctify the world!

After that we will be sprinkled with holy water, that is, the waters of baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit! And we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new and eternal life of Easter! A Happy and Blessed Easter to all of you! Amen!

THE EASTER VIGIL (C) – 16th April 2022

THE EASTER VIGIL (C) – 16th April 2022

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

1. 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!  

2. 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!

3. 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!

HOLY THURSDAY – Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper – 14th April 2022

HOLY THURSDAY – Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper – 14th April 2022

Theme: THE EUCHARIST MAKES PRESENT, REAL AND EFFECTIVE THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST AND THE OUTPOURING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT FOR THE SALVATION OF THE WORLD!

  • Exodus 12:1-8. 11-14;
  • Psalm 115:12-13. 15-18. R/ cf. 1 Corinthians 10:16;
  • 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
  • John 13:1-15

1. This evening we celebrate Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. This evening we commemorate three principal mysteries, that is, the institution of the Eucharist and the Priesthood, and the commandment to love!

The gospel today tells us about the washing of the feet of the disciples by Jesus. Unlike the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, the gospel of John does not have the institution of the Eucharist; instead it has the washing of the feet of the disciples by Jesus! The washing of the feet of the disciples by Jesus is the meaning of the Eucharist!

The gospel today tells us that when they were at supper, Jesus got up from the table, took off his outer garment, wrapped a towel round his waist, poured water into a basin and washed the disciples’ feet and dried them with the towel.

When he had finished washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus put on his clothes and went back to the table. And he told his disciples that though he was their Lord and Master, yet he washed their feet. They were therefore to follow him and wash one another’s feet! That is, they were to love and serve one another!

But more than that, the dialogue of Jesus with Peter in today’s gospel tells us of the symbolic meaning of the gospel, that is, Jesus does not only wash our feet, but more importantly, Jesus also washes away our sins with the waters of Baptism, that is, he washes away our sins with the Holy Spirit! And Jesus continues to wash away our sins with the blood of the Eucharist, that is, the blood of the cross, every Sunday! (HCSB; IBC; CSB; CCB)

In other words, Jesus does not only love and serve, but he also suffers and sacrifices for the sanctification and salvation of the world! And he told us to follow him and do the same! But how can we do the same? We can do the same with the help of the Holy Spirit!

That is why before his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world, Jesus instituted the Eucharist and the priesthood to make present, real and effective his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world!  

2. The second reading tells us about the institution of the Eucharist and of the priesthood. The second reading from the first letter to the Corinthians is the most ancient written account of the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood. It is even more ancient than the accounts in the gospels. It was written around the year A.D. 55! (CCB)

The second reading tells us that in instituting the Eucharist, Jesus did four things:
(i) He took the bread. (ii) He thanked God for the bread. (iii) He broke the bread. (iv) He gave the bread. 

Tonight in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we will do the same four things that Jesus did in the institution of the Eucharist: (i) We will take the bread (Offertory). (ii) We will thank God for the bread (Eucharistic Prayer). (iii) We will break the bread. (iv) We will give the bread (Holy Communion)!

Most importantly, the second reading tells us that whenever we eat the bread and drink the cup we proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes! That is, whenever we eat the bread and drink the cup, we proclaim the “saving death” of the Lord (HCSB), that is, his death, resurrection, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world, until he comes again at the end of the world when all will be saved!

Again, the Eucharist makes present, real and effective the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! It is with the help of the Holy Spirit that we do what Jesus commanded us to do, that is, to love and serve, to suffer and sacrifice, and to sanctify and save the world!

Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper begins Good Friday; in fact, it begins the Easter Triduum of three days, namely, Good Friday (Crucifixion), Holy Saturday (Burial), and Easter Sunday (Resurrection)!

The three days are but 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! We shall now proceed with the “washing of the feet” and the Eucharist!

A happy and blessed Easter Triduum to all of you!  Amen!

PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD (C)

PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD (C)

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)

1. 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!

2. 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)    

3. 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)

4. 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)

5. 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!  

4th Sunday of Lent – 27th March 2022

4th Sunday of Lent – 27th March 2022

*We use Readings from Year A because the church will be having Baptism on Easter Vigil.

Theme: LENT IS A TIME WHEN WE PREPARE TO CELEBRATE THE SACRAMENTS OF INITIATION: BAPTISM, CONFIRMATION AND EUCHARIST

  • 1 Samuel 16:1. 6-7. 10-13;
  • Psalm 22. R/ v. 1;
  • Ephesians 5:8-14
  • John 9:1-41 (Shorter Form, verses 1. 6-9. 13-17. 34-38)

1. Today is the 4th Sunday of Lent. Today is also “Rejoice” Sunday or joyful Sunday! We are joyful because we are more than half way through to Easter! That is why today we use rose vestments instead of purple vestments!

    Again, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter. Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the sacrament of baptism on Easter Vigil night! Besides receiving the sacrament of baptism, some of us are also receiving the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist! These three sacraments are the sacraments of initiation into full communion with the Catholic Church!    

    The readings today tell us about these three sacraments of initiation, namely, baptism, confirmation and Eucharist.

    The gospel today tells us about the sacrament of baptism. The gospel today tells us that Jesus “anointed” (Lefrois; Brown) the blind man with saliva mixed with earth and told the blind man to wash himself in the Pool of Siloam. Siloam means ‘sent’. Jesus was sent by the Father. After washing himself, the blind man could see, that is, see with the eyes of faith! He could see God in creation, in salvation, and in sanctification!

    Washing, anointing and faith are three important themes of baptism. When we are baptized, we are washed with the waters of baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit cleanses us of our sins and gives us new life! A new life that is even better than the life before sin! Paul tells us that the grace of Jesus Christ more than compensated for the sin of Adam! When sin increased, grace increased all the more!   

    After that we are anointed with the oil of Chrism as Christ was anointed priest, prophet and king. We share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ. As a priest, I share in the “ministerial priesthood” of Christ in the “parish church”. You share in the “common priesthood” of Christ. This is especially evident in the “BECs” (Basic Ecclesial Communities), that is, in the “community church” and in the “domestic church” where the head of the house presides in prayer and worship. You are also prophets. You proclaim the word of God and you share and pray and act on the word of God in the BECs! You are also kings. You build the kingdom of God and you build the Church by building BECs of love and unity, and of justice and peace!      

    After washing himself, the blind man could see with the eyes of faith! The gospel tells us that not only the blind man had faith, but that his faith also grew. At first he saw Jesus as a man, then he recognized Jesus to be a prophet, and finally he believed in the Son of Man, Jesus and worshipped him as Lord! The Pharisees on the other hand did not believe in Jesus, then they did not even believe that the blind man was blind, and finally they believed that Jesus was a sinner! Even today there are those who believe that Jesus was a sinner! Indeed, they have lost their faith! 

    After baptism, we have to renew our baptism every year, so that like the blind man, our faith will grow stronger and stronger every year! Otherwise like the Pharisees our faith will grow weaker and weaker every year!

    There is another important theme of baptism found in the longer form of the gospel today, that is, light! It is related to the theme of faith, particularly to the faith of the blind man. Light in the New Testament basically, symbolizes three things, namely, faith, life and good. (NJB; Jn 8:12) The three themes are related, that is, if we have faith in God, we will receive new life, and this new life is a life of good and good works!

    The gospel today tells us about the light of faith. Thus we read in the long form of the gospel: “As long as I am in the world I am the light of the world.” (Jn 9:5; SM)

    The Gospel Acclamation today tells us about the light of life. Thus we read in the Gospel Acclamation: “I am the light of the world, says the Lord; anyone who follows me will have the light of life.” (Jn 8:12; SM)

    Finally the second reading tells us about the light of good and good works. 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)        

    After baptism and after being anointed with the oil of Chrism, we will be given candles lighted from the big Easter candle symbolizing the light of Jesus Christ, the light of faith, life and goodness!

2. The first reading tells us about the sacrament of confirmation. To confirm is to strengthen, to make strong. In the sacrament of baptism we are born again in the Holy Spirit. In the sacrament of confirmation we are made strong in the Holy Spirit! David was a youth, but he was made strong in the Spirit so he could defeat the giant Goliath! We read this in the next chapter (1 S 17). Thus we read in the first reading:

    “The Lord said, ‘Come, anoint him, for this is the one.’ At this, 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 S 16:12-13; SM) In the next chapter, David defeats the giant Goliath! (1 S 17)           

3. The responsorial psalm today tells us about the Eucharist! Just as we are born again in baptism and we are made strong in confirmation, we continue to grow stronger and stronger in the Eucharist by eating the body of Christ and drinking the blood of Christ every Sunday! That is why it is important to come to Mass every Sunday after baptism! If we do not eat and drink, we die! Our faith will die! That is why not coming to Mass on Sunday is a mortal sin! The word mortal is from a Latin word meaning death!

   Again, it is the Lord who provides – providence! The Lord provides us with both material food and drink, and spiritual food and drink! Thus we read in the first and third stanzas of the responsorial psalm depicting the Lord as Shepherd and Host respectively:

    “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.” (Stanza 1; SM)   

    “You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes. My head you have anointed with oil; my cup is overflowing.” (Stanza 3; SM)

4. Again, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter. Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the sacrament of baptism on Easter Vigil night. Besides receiving the sacrament of baptism, some of us are also receiving the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist.

    Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the sacraments of initiation, namely, baptism, confirmation and Eucharist. That is why the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms to the poor during this time of Lent. A happy Lent to all of you!

                                                                                                                             Amen!

5th Sunday of Easter (Year B) – 2nd April 2021

5th Sunday of Easter (Year B) – 2nd April 2021

Theme: IN THE HOLY SPIRIT WE LIVE IN GOD AND GOD LIVES IN US AND WE BEAR FRUIT IN PLENTY.    

  • Acts 9:26-31;
  • Psalm 21 (22):26-28. 30-32. R/ v. 26;
  • 1 John 3:18-24;
  • John 15:1-8.

Today is the 5th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical Year B. We are still in the Easter Season of 50 days! The Easter Season began on Easter Sunday and it will end on Pentecost Sunday, a period of 50 days!

The Gospel of John which we read on the Octave Day of Easter tells us that the Risen Lord gave the Holy Spirit to the disciples on the very day of his resurrection and sent them out to proclaim the good news so that those who believe and are baptized will have their sins forgiven!

Today the second reading tells us that it is in the Holy Spirit that we live in God and God lives in us and that we believe and love his Son Jesus Christ and that we love one another!

The gospel today tells us that if we remain in Jesus and Jesus remains in us we will bear fruit in plenty! But cut off from Jesus we will bear no fruit. Not only will we bear no fruit, but we will die! The gospel today tells us that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. If we remain in Jesus we will bear fruit, but cut off from Jesus we will die!

The first reading tells that the Risen Lord is alive and active in the early Church in the Apostle Paul in the Holy Spirit! The first reading tells us that Paul a persecutor of Christians became a persecuted Christian! The first reading tells us that Paul preached the good news even in the face of persecution and death!

The Responsorial Psalm tells us to praise God, because the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world are all the work of God! Thus the response of the Responsorial Psalm:

“You, Lord, are my praise in the great assembly.”

The Responsorial Psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells the community to praise God! The second stanza tells the nations of the world to praise God! The third stanza tells the future generations to praise God!

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 live in God and God in us and the Holy Spirit will help us believe and love Jesus Christ and love one another!

The Holy Spirit will help us remain in Jesus and Jesus remain in us, so that we will bear fruit in plenty, especially the fruits of love, peace and joy! The Holy Spirit will help us proclaim the Good News even in the face of persecution and death! And the Holy Spirit will help us praise and worship God and serve him!

A happy Easter Season to all of you! Amen!

4th Sunday of Easter (Year B) – 25th April 2021

4th Sunday of Easter (Year B) – 25th April 2021

Theme: THE GOOD SHEPHERD LOVES AND LAYS DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS SHEEP IN OBEDIENCE TO THE COMMAND OF THE FATHER

Acts 4:8-12;

  • Psalm 117 (118):1. 8-9. 21-23. 26. 28-29. R/ v. 22;
  • 1 John 3:1-2
  • John 10:11-18

1. Today is the 4th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical Year B. Today we also celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday and Vocation Sunday. The themes of “Good Shepherd” and “Vocation” are related. The word “vocation” comes from the Latin word “vocare” meaning “to call”, particularly the call to the priesthood and religious life! The image of the Good Shepherd is the image of the good priest or good religious!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd! The gospel tells us that the Good Shepherd has four characteristics (Jn 10:14-18; CE):

(i) The Good Shepherd knows and loves God his Father and is known and loved by God his Father. (In biblical language, ‘knowledge’ is love. NJBg)

(ii) The Good Shepherd knows and loves his sheep and is known and loved by his sheep. 

(iii) The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep in obedience to the command of God his Father.

(iv) The Good Shepherd unites his sheep into one flock.

2. The good priest or religious also has theses four characteristics:

    (i) A good priest or religious knows and loves God the Father and is known and loved by God the Father. That is, a good priest or religious must be a man or woman of prayer, of the word of God, of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. (Pope’s Message)

(ii) A good priest or religious knows and loves the people of God and is known and loved by the people of God! That is why we have BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities) to share and pray on the word of God in a personal and spiritual way, so that we will know God, love him, serve him and be happy with him; and so that we will know one another, love one another, serve one another and be happy with one another!

(iii) A good priest or religious is one who lays down his or her life for the people of God in obedience to the command of God. A good priest or religious does not only love and serve God and the people of God, but he or she also suffers and sacrifices for God and the people of God, in order to sanctify and save the world! The word “sacrifice”, radically means “to make holy”, that is, to sanctify and save! (CE)    

(iv) A good priest or religious unites the people of God. He or she unites the different communities in the Church and he or she unites the different peoples of the world! Thus the Church becomes a community of communities of love and unity and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the world!

3. Today is Vocation Sunday and our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has a special message for us. In his message, our Pope also said that vocation to the priesthood or religious life basically means to love and serve God, and to love and serve the people of God! But more importantly, our Pope also said that vocation comes from the love of God. Thus the theme of his message: “Vocations, the Gift of the love of God”! Our love and service of God and the people of God are only a response to the love and call of God which is a free gift of God’s initiative! That is why we have to pray for vocations!

4. Today in our Diocese of Sandakan we have one bishop, seven priests (two in Tawau, two in Lahad Datu, two in Sandakan, and one in Telupid), eleven seminarians and aspirants (six in Kuching, two in “Initiation Year” in Kota Kinabalu, and three in “English Year” in Kota Kinabalu). We have another two seminarians, one for the Franciscan priesthood and one for the Carmelite priesthood. Both of them are from Tawau! Let us pray for our Bishop, our priests and our seminarians and let us pray for more vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Pray especially for the two priests in our parish that they may be good priests. Today the first and second collections will be given to our Bishop for the seminary and seminarians, that is, our future priests! Thank you and God bless you.

                                                                                                                        Amen!

2nd Sunday of Easter (Year B) – 11th April 2021

2nd Sunday of Easter (Year B) – 11th April 2021

Theme: WE THANK GOD FOR THE RESURRECTION OF HIS SON JESUS CHRIST, AND OUR RESURRECTION WITH HIM IN BAPTISM, AND WE ASK GOD TO GIVE US THE HOLY SPIRIT, SO THAT WE WILL PROCLAIM HIS RESURRECTION TO THE WHOLE WORLD

  • Acts 4:32-35;
  • Psalm 117 (118): 2-4. 15-18. 22-24. R. v. 1;
  • 1 John 5:1-6
  • John 20: 19-31

1. Today is the Second Sunday of Easter, the Octave Day of Easter. We celebrate Easter in eight days, not in one day! A happy Easter to all of you! The readings today tell us that the Risen Lord appeared to his disciples on the day of his resurrection, and gave them the Holy Spirit, and sent them out into the world to proclaim the good news, so that 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!

    The gospel today tells us that on the day of his resurrection the risen Lord appeared to his disciples and said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, that is, “shalom”, that is, “salvation”! A peace that the world cannot give! (Jn 14:27) He then showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord. A joy that the world cannot take away from them! (Jn 16:22)

    He then said to them again, ‘Peace be with you, as the Father has 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’, that is, proclaim the good news, those who believe and are baptized will have their sins forgiven, those who do not believe and are not baptized will not have their sins forgiven! 

    The Council of Trent in the sixteenth century teaches that in this passage, the Lord gave the Church the authority to forgive sins in the sacrament of penance. When we commit sins after Baptism we need to receive the sacrament of penance to have our sins forgiven!  

2. The gospel also tells us that Thomas was not with the other disciples when the Lord appeared. And when he was told that the Lord appeared, he refused to believe and said, ‘unless I see the holes the nails have made in his hands, and put my finger into them, and unless I put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe’. Eight days later the Lord appeared to his disciples again, and he said, ‘peace be with you’. And he said to Thomas, ‘here are my hands, put your finger into them, and put your hand into my side, doubt no longer and believe’. Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God’. Thomas made “the highest confession of faith in all the Gospels”! (R. Brown)

    After that, Jesus said to him, ‘You believe because you have seen me, blessed are those who do not see me, yet believe’, that is, blessed are those who do not see me, yet believe, because of the apostles’ witnessing! (Jn 17:20-23/Ac 1:8/NJB) We believe because of the witnessing of the apostles, and our Pope and Bishops are the direct successors of Peter (the first Pope) and the apostles, respectively. We believe because of Scripture, Church and Tradition!

3. Finally, the third part of the gospel tells us that the gospel was written so that we may believe and in believing have life! The second reading follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading tells us that if we believe in Jesus, we will not only have life, but we will overcome the world. Just as Jesus himself overcame the world! (Jn 16:33)  Thus we read in the second reading: “this is the victory over the world – our faith. Who can overcome the world? Only the man who believes that Jesus is the Son of God”. (1 Jn 5:4-5)

    The second reading also tells us that Jesus came not only with water, but with water and blood, and with the Holy Spirit as the third witness, that is, Jesus came not only in Baptism (water), but also in crucifixion (blood); and the Holy Spirit was present at his Baptism, and the Holy Spirit was given to us in his crucifixion, death and resurrection!

4. The first reading tells us that the Risen Lord was in the first Christian community. The first BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community)! That is why the first Christian community shared all they had with one another. That is why the rich helped the poor in the first Christian community. The first reading also tells us that the first Christian community witnessed to the resurrection with great power, that is, with miracles, physical miracles and moral miracles! Physical miracles, that is, the blind see, the lame walk, the sick are healed, etc.! Moral miracles, that is, when our hearts change, when we love and forgive, when we love and serve, when we help the poor, when we stop committing sin, etc.!  

5. Finally, the responsorial psalm is a song of thanksgiving and praise, thanking and praising God for the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ, and thanking God for saving us from sin and death. The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza is a call to praise God. The second stanza is a thanksgiving for our salvation from sin and death. And the third stanza praises God for the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone. This is the work of the Lord, a marvel in our eyes.”! (Ps 117 (118): 22-23/Mt 21:42) And 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) Or “Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!”, that is, “Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, praise the Lord!”                     

    Today we thank God for the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ, and our resurrection with him in Baptism, and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we will proclaim the good news of his resurrection to the whole world! Amen