3rd Sunday of Lent (Year C) -24th Mar 2019

Theme: IN FAITH WE ARE BAPTIZED AND IN BAPTISM WE RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD’S LOVE

  • Exodus 17:3-7;
  • Psalm 94:1-2. 6-9. R/ v. 8;
  • Romans 5:1-2. 5-8
  • John 4:5-42 (Shorter Form, 4:5-16. 19-26. 39-42)

Today is the 3rd Sunday of Lent. Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter; when we prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; and when we prepare to celebrate our death and resurrection with Jesus Christ in the sacrament of baptism!

Lent is therefore a time when our catechumens prepare for their baptism and when we who are baptized prepare to renew our baptism on Easter Vigil Night, so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the New Life of Easter! Lent is therefore a time of repentance! Lent is therefore a time when we grow in faith!

Indeed the gospel today tells us that the Samaritan woman grew in faith! At first she believed Jesus to be a man, then she believed Jesus to be a prophet, then she believed Jesus to be the Messiah, then she became the first missionary and the first apostle of Jesus to evangelize the other Samaritans, then finally the other Samaritans believed Jesus to be the Savior of the world!

More importantly, the gospel today tells us that Jesus gives her living water that will turn into a spring inside her welling up to eternal life and she will never be thirsty again!

The gospel today symbolizes our baptism! In this time of Lent we grow in faith like the Samaritan woman. On Easter Vigil Night we will be baptized with the waters of baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit, the Holy water! The Holy water is the living water that will turn into a spring inside us welling up to eternal life and we will not be thirsty again!

The first reading tells us that the people of Israel had no faith in God! They complained against Moses for taking them out of Egypt into the desert to die of thirst! They, their children and their cattle will all die of thirst! They tested God by doubting if God was with them or not! The place was called Meribah (quarreling) and Massah (test) because the people of Israel quarreled with God and tested God!

The responsorial psalm tells us to have faith in God! Thus we responded three times:

“O that today you would listen to his voice: ‘Harden not your hearts.’” (Ps 94:8; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us that God is our Savior (vv. 1-2)! The second stanza tells us that God is our Creator and Savior (vv. 6-7; NJBC)! The third stanza tells us to have faith in God and not to be like the people of Israel who had no faith in God! Thus the third stanza:

“O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as on that day at Massah in the desert when your fathers put me to the test; when they tried me, though they saw my work.’” (Ps 94:7c-9; SM)

The second reading tells us that it is in faith that we are baptized in Jesus Christ and it is in baptism that we receive the Holy Spirit of God’s love; the love of God that loves sinners, the love of God that is merciful towards sinners, the love of God that forgives sinners, the love of God that saves sinners!

During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor, not as a punishment for our sins; but to help us to repent; to help us to grow in faith, so that on Easter Vigil Night in the sacrament of baptism and in the renewal of our baptism, we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! A blessed Lent 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!

THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD (A, B, C) – 6th Jan 2019

Theme: EPIPHANY: THE MANIFESTATION OF THE LORD TO ALL THE NATIONS

  • Isaiah 60:1-6;
  • Psalm 71 (72):1-2. 7-8. 10-13. R/ v. 11;
  • Ephesians 3:2-3. 5-6
  • Matthew 2:1-12.

A Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you! We are still in the season of Christmas! Christmas season will end only next Sunday with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord! Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, that is, the manifestation of the Lord to all the nations!

The gospel today tells us that some wise men came from the East to worship Jesus. The wise men represent the nations of the world. That is why in our Christmas crib they are of different colors. The wise men brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the child Jesus.

The Fathers of the Church, such as Irenaeus (ca. 130-200), see in these gifts the symbols of Jesus’ kingship (gold), divinity (frankincense) and passion (myrrh). That is, the gold symbolizes Jesus as king, the frankincense which is used for worship symbolizes Jesus as God, and the myrrh which is used for embalmment and burial symbolizes Jesus as Suffering-Messiah!

Indeed the Star of Bethlehem which led the wise men to Jesus symbolizes Jesus as King, God and Messiah! Thus we read in the prophecy of the famous pagan prophet Balaam: “A star is emerging from Jacob”! (Nb 24:17; NJBf) 

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that all the nations of the world will come and worship the Lord and they will bring with them the riches of the world, including gold and frankincense! And even the exiled Jews will return to Jerusalem!

This is because the glory of the Lord will rise above Jerusalem and all the nations will come to the light of his glory! Thus we read in the first reading:

    “Arise, shine out Jerusalem, for your light has come, the glory of the Lord is rising on you, though night still covers the earth and darkness the peoples. Above you the Lord now rises and above you his glory appears. The nations come to your light and kings to your dawning brightness.” (Is 60:1-3; SM)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the response:

“All nations shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord.” (Ps 71 (72): 11; SM)

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first, second and fourth stanzas tell us that the Messianic King will bring justice and peace, especially to the poor!

There can be no peace without justice! And peace is not just an absence of war, but Peace is Shalom, Salvation!

The third stanza tells us that all the nations of the world will worship him! Thus the third stanza from which the response is taken:

“The kings of Tarshish and the sea coasts shall pay him tribute. The kings of Sheba and Seba shall bring him gifts. Before him all kings shall fall prostrate, all nations shall serve him.” (Ps 71 (72): 10-11; SM)

The second reading also follows the theme of Epiphany, that is, manifestation or revelation. The second reading tells us that the mystery that had been hidden in the past has now been revealed! And the revelation is that pagans are co-heirs, co-members and co-sharers with the Jews (IBC), that is,

“Pagans now share the same inheritance, that they are parts of the same body, and that the same promise has been made to them, in Christ Jesus, through the gospel.” (Ep 3:6; SM)

Let us renew our faith, share our faith and proclaim our faith to the whole world! Let us use the Bible, the Sunday Mass Readings and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) to renew our faith, share our faith and proclaim our faith in our families, in our communities, in our churches, in our schools, in our workplaces, and in the internet! A happy and joyful Epiphany to all of you!

Amen!

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 28th October 2018

Theme: WE ARE SAVED BY FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST

  • Jeremiah 31:7-9;
  • Psalm 125 (126): R/ v. 3;
  • Hebrews 5:1-6
  • Mark 10:46-52

Today is the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ! The gospel today tells us that a blind man approached Jesus to be healed of his blindness. He cried out to Jesus twice, “Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me”. “Son of David” is a Messianic title! The blind man acknowledged Jesus to be the Messiah!
But more importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus cured the blind man of his blindness saying, “Go; your faith has saved you”. And the blind man could see immediately and he followed Jesus on the way.

The blind man could see with the eyes of faith and he followed Jesus on the way to “Jerusalem” to suffer, die and rise from the dead. (NJBC; IBC; Fuller; Faley) The twelve disciples of Jesus could not see with the eyes of faith and they could not follow Jesus on the way to “Jerusalem” to suffer, die, and rise from the dead. The twelve disciples of Jesus wanted to sit at Jesus right hand and left in his glory, but they did not want to follow Jesus to “Jerusalem” to his Passion; even after Jesus taught them a third time that he was to suffer, die, and rise from the dead on the third day! (Mk 10:32-45; Previous Sunday)
Again, we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us about salvation in Jesus Christ. The first reading tells us about the return from exile from Babylon. This is the second Exodus, the new Exodus, more important than the first Exodus! Thus we read in the first reading:

“‘The Lord has saved his people, the remnant of Israel!’ See, I will bring them back from the land of the North and gather them from the far ends of the earth; all of them: the blind and the lame, women with child, women in labor: a great company returning here.” (Jr 31:7-8; SM)

Again, this second and new Exodus will only be completely and finally fulfilled in the salvation by Jesus Christ!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us about the return from exile from Babylon. The responsorial psalm tells us that the people of Israel rejoiced that they were back in Zion! (CSB) Thus we read in the first and second stanzas of the responsorial psalm:

“When the Lord delivered Zion from bondage, it seemed like a dream. Then was our mouths filled with laughter, on our lips there were songs. The heathens themselves said: ‘What marvels the Lord worked for them!’ What marvels the Lord worked for us! Indeed we were glad.” (Ps 125 (126): 1-3; SM)
And thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“What marvels the Lord worked for us! Indeed we were glad.” (Ps 125 (126): 3; SM)

Again, this second and new Exodus will only be fulfilled in the salvation by Jesus Christ!

The second reading tells us that the high priest has been appointed by God to offer sacrifices for sins, for his own sins and for the sins of the people. The high priest did not choose himself but he was chosen by God. In the same way Jesus Christ did not chose himself but he was chosen by God to be high priest. Jesus Christ was the Son of God. He was chosen by God his Father to be high priest. The priesthood of Jesus Christ is the priesthood of Melchizedek, like Melchizedek, Jesus Christ had no earthly father and mother; He had no beginning and end. He was the Son of God. (Heb 7:3) He was without sin and he offered himself as the sacrifice for sin. He did it once and for all. He is the only one who can save us from sin! Again, we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ!

The theme of faith in today’s gospel is very relevant for us today, because our Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI launched the Year of Faith in 2012. The Year of Faith coincides with the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th Anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)! Year of Faith invited all of us to update and renew our faith with the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

I urge you to own a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church for homes, schools, colleges, universities, BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities), offices, Sunday schools, communities, etc.! And we must share and pray the Catechism of the Catholic Church with our families, our teachers, our students, our workmates, our friends, our communities, our catechumens, etc. In short, we are to renew our faith and share our faith with others! Wishing you a happy and joyful Sunday!

3rd Sunday of Lent (Year B) – 4th March 2018

Theme: IN BAPTISM JESUS GIVES US THE LIVING WATER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT TO FORGIVE US OUR SINS AND TO GIVE US NEW LIFE

  • Exodus 17:3-7;
  • Psalm 94 (95):1-2. 6-9. R/ v. 8;
  • Romans 5:1-2. 5-8.
  • John 4:5-42 (Shorter Form, verses 5-16. 19-26. 39-42)

Today is the 3rd 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 to celebrate 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 Jesus will give us living water so that we will not be thirsty again, because the living water will turn into a spring inside us welling up to eternal life! In Baptism Jesus will give us the living water of the Holy Spirit to forgive us our sins and to give us new and eternal life!

The gospel also tells us that Jesus gave this living water to the Samaritan woman who had five husbands! During the time of Jesus, a woman did not have the same rights as a man; a Samaritan being a half-Jew was despised by the Jews; and a sinner with five husbands was condemned by the Law! But Jesus gave her the living water of the Holy Spirit to forgive her sins and to give her new life, so that she will not sin anymore!

Finally, the gospel tells us that the faith of the Samaritan woman grew! At first she saw Jesus to be a man, and then a prophet, then the Messiah; then she became the first missionary of Jesus to bring other Samaritans to believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world! After Baptism our faith has also to grow! That is why we renew our faith and Baptism every year on Easter Vigil Night!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the people of Israel lost faith in God. They complained against Moses for bringing them out of Egypt to die of thirst in the desert! They, their children and their cattle will die of thirst in the desert! They “quarreled” with God (Meribah) and they “tested” God (Massah) saying: “Is the Lord with us, or not?” (SM)

But more importantly, the first reading tells us that God gave them water in the desert! God gave them water in the dry and dead desert by asking Moses to strike the rock with his staff! Again, water in the dry and dead desert symbolizes the Holy Spirit who gives us life even from sin and death!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the third stanza of the responsorial psalm from which the response is taken:

“O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as on that day at Massah in the desert when your fathers put me to the test; when they tried me, though they saw my work.’” (SM)

We are not to “quarrel” with God (Meribah), we are not to “test” God (Massah); but we are to trust God and God will give us water and life, even in the dry and dead desert!

Again, water in the desert symbolizes the living water of the Holy Spirit inside us welling up to eternal life!

The first and second stanzas of the responsorial psalm tell us to praise and worship God our Shepherd! (CSB)

The second reading also follows the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us that it is in faith that we receive the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of God’s love! What proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners! It is this love of God that forgives us our sins and gives us new life!

During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms to the poor, not as a punishment for our sins, but to help us grow in faith to prepare us for Baptism on Easter Vigil Night, and to prepare us to renew our Baptism on Easter Vigil Night, so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! Again, a blessed Lent to all of you!  Amen!

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary & Joseph (Year B) – 31st December 2017

Theme: THE HOLY FAMILY IS HOLY, BECAUSE GOD IS THE FATHER, JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD, BORN THROUGH THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, FROM THE WOMB OF THE VIRGIN MARY

  • Genesis 15:1-6. 21:1-3;
  • Psalm 104/105:1-6. 8-9. R/ vv. 7. 8;
  • Hebrews 11:8. 11-12. 17-19
  • Luke 2:22. 39-40 (Shorter Form) 

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The Holy Family is holy, because God is the Father, Jesus is the Son of God, born through the power of the Holy Spirit, from the womb of the Virgin Mary. Our families are also holy, because God is our Father, we are the children of God, born through the power of the Holy Spirit, in the sacrament of Baptism, from the womb of Mother Church. The Church is our Mother, God is our Father, and we are the children of God. And Jesus is our brother. Our families are therefore holy.

The readings today tell us about faith. The first reading tells us that Abraham and Sarah were too old to have a child, but more importantly, the first reading tells us that God promised them a child, but most importantly, Abraham and Sarah put their faith in God and believed in the promise of God. And Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah in their old age.

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God is faithful to his promise. We put our faith in God because God is faithful to his promise. The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first three stanzas are a call to thank God for all that God has done for us. The fourth stanza is a praise for God who is faithful to his promise. (HCSB) Thus the fourth stanza:

  “He remembers his covenant for ever, his promise for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac.” (Ps 104 (105): 8-9)

And thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “He, the Lord, is our God. He remembers his covenant for ever.” (Ps 104 (105): 7-8)

Again, the second reading tells us about faith. The second reading tells us that it was by faith that Abraham obeyed God and set out on a journey to a country that God promised him and his descendents. He did not even know where he was going. The second reading also tells us that it was by faith that Sarah gave birth to Isaac in her old age. Finally, the second reading tells us that it was by faith that Abraham when tested, offered Isaac as a sacrifice to God!

More importantly, the New Testament tells us that it was by the faith of Mary and Joseph that Jesus the Son of God was born through the power of the Holy Spirit from the womb of the Virgin Mary. It was also by faith that we were born again as children of God through the power of the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Baptism from the womb of the Church. The Church becomes our Mother, and God becomes our Father, and Jesus becomes our brother. It was also by faith that our children were born again as children of God through the power of the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of baptism from the womb of the Church. The Church becomes their Mother, and God becomes their Father, and Jesus becomes their brother. Our families like the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph are therefore holy families!

The gospel today tells us that the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph was faithful to the Law of the Lord. The gospel also tells us that Jesus grew up physically, mentally and spiritually. Thus we read in the gospel today: “When they had done everything the law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favor was with him.” (Lk 2:39-40) The gospel today tells us to keep the Law of the Lord and we and our children will grow up physically, mentally and spiritually!

Let us conclude with a few pastoral suggestions for our families:

(i) A family must pray together. A family that prays together stays together.

(ii) A family must be part of a bigger family, that is, a family must be part of a BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) of ten to fifteen families.

(iii) A family must eat dinner together everyday. There should be no watching of television during dinner time.

(iv) Members of a family must communicate with one another, that is, listen and talk to one another.

(v) A family should also play together and go for holidays together.

(vi) Husband and wife must always be together. Parents and children must always be together. There must not be any “absent father syndrome” or “absent mother syndrome” or “absent parents syndrome”.

(vii) Parents must pass their faith and love to their children.

Again, a merry, happy and blessed Christmas and New Year to all of you! Amen!

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) – 22nd October 2017

Theme: THE POWER OF GOD TO SAVE AND THE POWER GOD GIVES US TO SAVE!

  • Isaiah 45:1. 4-6
  • Psalm 95 (96): 1. 3-5. 7-10. R. v. 7
  • Matthew 22:15-21

Today is the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, or 29th Sunday of the Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us of the power of God to save and the power God gives us to save!

The first reading from Isaiah tells us of King Cyrus who defeated the Babylonians and let the exiled Jews in Babylon to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple!

King Cyrus of Persia (Iran) was the most powerful king of his time (6th century BC)! He defeated the Babylonians who defeated the Jews and exiled them into Babylon in the 6th century BC!

But most importantly, the first reading tells us that God is even more powerful than the most powerful king on earth! In fact King Cyrus was only an instrument of God to free the Jews from Babylon! And King Cyrus himself did not even know that he was only an instrument of God to free the Jews from Babylon! Such is the power of God!

That is why in the response of the responsorial psalm we sang and prayed: “Give the Lord glory and power”!

That is why in the first and second stanzas of the responsorial psalm (Ps 95:1. 3-5) the Israelites tell the glory of God to all the nations, so that all the nations will praise the God of Israel!

That is why in the third and fourth stanzas of the responsorial psalm (Ps 95:7-10) all the nations of the earth are called to worship the God of Israel!

All in all, all the nations of the earth are to “praise and worship” the God of Israel!

And if we are to read today’s psalm to the end, that is, up to verses 11 to 13, we find that even creation acknowledges and praises God! The heavens, that is, the stars, the Sun, the Moon, the planets, including planet earth are to praise God! Even the seas and the fishes in the sea, and the trees, etc. praise God! (CSB/NAB/NJBC)

 

The gospel today tells us of the power of God in Jesus Christ! When the Pharisees and the Herodians asked Jesus if taxes should be paid to Caesar or not, Jesus answered: “Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar – and to God what belongs to God”! (Mt 22:21)

Like King Cyrus, Caesar was the most powerful emperor of his time, but again, God is even more powerful than the most powerful emperor! Thus, ‘give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar’ and more and most importantly, ‘give back to God what belongs to God’!

What belongs to Caesar? Taxes! What belongs to God? Good Deeds! Two Sunday ago our gospel reading was on the “parable of the wicked tenants” of the vineyard (Mt 21: 33-43) and the point of the parable was in verses 41 and 43, that is, to produce fruits of good deeds! (CSB/NAB)

The gospel today takes up the same point of good deeds! (CSB/NAB) Give back to God what belongs to God! Give back to the good God what is due to him, that is, good deeds! And indeed the early Christians did good deeds and by the year 315, the whole Roman Empire, including the emperor himself was converted to Christianity, and basilicas (royal halls) were given to the Christians to be used as churches!

Today we may criticize and complain that governments are corrupted and unjust, nations are corrupted and unjust, and with globalization, the whole world is corrupted and unjust; but if we continue to do the good deeds that the early Christians did and changed the world of their time, we will also change the world of our time!

Today in this 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 his Holy Spirit, and it is in the power of the Holy Spirit that we do good deeds and change the world! This is the Good News!

 

Amen!