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!

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!