27th Sunday in Ordinary (Year C) – 2nd October 2022

27th Sunday in Ordinary (Year C) – 2nd October 2022

Theme: FAITH: TO BELIEVE IN GOD, TO DO THE WILL OF GOD, AND TO PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS OF GOD

  • Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4;
  • Psalm 94:1-2. 6-9. R/ v.8;
  • 2 Timothy 1:6-8. 13-14
  • Luke 17:5-10

1. Today is the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us about faith! That is, faith is believing in God, doing the will of God and proclaiming the good news of God, so that others may also believe in God and do the will of God!

The gospel today tells us that even if our faith is as small as a mustard seed, we can tell the big mulberry tree to uproot itself and be planted in the sea and it will obey us! To uproot a big mulberry tree with deep roots and to plant it in the sea is doubly impossible! But with faith in God all things are possible! With God all things are possible! 

The second part of the gospel tells us that faith is doing the will of God, that is, serving God! (NJBC; Vatican II, Sunday Missal) Thus we read at the end of the gospel today:

“So with you: when you have done all you have been told to do, say, ‘We are merely servants: we have done no more than our duty.’” (Lk 17:10; SM)

Thus the first question of the YOUCAT (Youth Catechism):

“For what purpose are we here on earth?

We are here on earth in order to know and to love God, to do good according to his will, and to go someday to heaven.”

That is, what is the meaning of life? To know God, to love God, to serve God, and to be happy with God forever! To know God, that is, faith; to love God, because God is love and because God first loved us; to serve God, because we love God; and to be happy with God forever in heaven! That is the secret to happiness! That is the meaning of life!

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that those who believe in God and do his will, will live, that is, will find life, love and happiness! Thus the caption of the first reading:

“The upright man will live by his faithfulness.” 

That is, the upright man who believes in God and does his will, will live!

But the first reading also tells us that those who do not believe in God and do not do the will of God will not find life!

The first reading tells us that the prophet Habakkuk questioned God as to why God was not doing anything about the injustice, the oppression, the violence, etc., in Judah and with the pagan Babylonians. (HCSB; Faley) And God answered that the unjust who practiced oppression and violence will not find life! Thus we read in the first reading:

“See how he flags, he whose soul is not at rights, but the upright man will live by his faithfulness.” (Hab 2:4; SM) 

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us to be faithful to God, that is, to have faith in God and to obey God! Thus the response:

“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 and second stanzas tell us to praise and worship God who is our shepherd and savior! The third stanza from which the response is taken tells us to be faithful to God, that is, to believe in God and to do his will! (CSB; NJBC) 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)

Meribah (Hebrew), that is, to quarrel with God! Massah (Hebrew), that is, to test God! That is, do not quarrel with God and do not test God, but be faithful to God!

4. The second reading tells us to proclaim the good news even in the face of suffering, so that all may believe in God and do the will of God! Thus we read in the second reading:

“So you are never to be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord, or ashamed of me for being his prisoner; but with me, bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News, relying on the power of God.” (2 Tm 1:8; SM)

5. Today we thank God for the gift of faith and we ask God to increase our faith, to help us do his will and to proclaim his good news, so that others may also believe in God and do the will of God! God bless you! Amen!

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 28th August 2022

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 28th August 2022

Theme: TO BE HUMBLE AND NOT TO BE PROUD

Ecclesiasticus / Sirach 3:17-20. 28-29; Psalm 67:4-7. 10-11. R. v. 11
Hebrews 12:18-19. 22-24; Luke 14:1. 7-14

1. Today is the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C. The readings today tell us to be humble and not to be proud.

The gospel tells us that Jesus was invited to a meal in the house of one of the leading
Pharisees and he noticed that the guests were taking the places of honor. Jesus told them a parable telling them not to take the places of honor but to take the lowest places.

Finally, Jesus said to them, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the man who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Lk 14:11)

Jesus was not teaching them about social humility, but Jesus was teaching them about spiritual humility! The parable tells us that Jesus himself is the host inviting us to his messianic banquet (“wedding feast”)! The proud and self-righteous Pharisees who think they can be saved by keeping the Law will be humbled! But the humble, who acknowledge their sins and put their faith in God will be exalted! (R H Fuller / Bernard J Lefrois)

This teaching is even clearer from a parallel text in the same gospel of Luke where Jesus told them another parable:
“Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood there and said this prayer to himself, ‘I thank you, God, that I am not grasping, unjust, adulterous like everyone else, and particularly that I am not like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all I get.’ The tax collector stood some distance away, not daring even to raise his eyes to heaven; but he beat his breast and said,

‘God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ This man, I tell you, went home again justified; the other did not. For everyone who raises himself up will be humbled, but anyone who humbles himself will be raised up.” (Lk 18:10-14)

Humility is the greatest virtue and pride is the greatest sin! The Devil fell from heaven because of pride! (1 Tm 3:6; Is 14:12-15 / CG-DB / NBD) Adam and Eve fell from Paradise because of pride! The Pharisees fell also because of pride! But the tax collector was justified because of humility, that is, he acknowledged his sins and more and most importantly, he depended on God and not on himself for his salvation!

The important difference between the Pharisee and the tax collector was not that one was holy and the other was a sinner, but that one was proud and the other was humble!

The Pharisee was not saved by his holiness, but the tax collector was saved by his humility!

“When St Augustine was asked which was the most necessary of all the virtues he is
supposed to have said, ‘Humility’. What was the second? ‘Humility’. And the third?
‘Humility’.” (Emeric Lawrence)

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that God favors the humble, but the proud has no cure for his disease! Thus we read in the first reading: “The greater you are, the more you should behave humbly, and then you will find favor with the Lord; for great though the power of the Lord is, he accepts the homage of the humble. There is no cure for the proud man’s malady, since an evil growth has taken root in him.”! (Si 3:18-20. 28) God saves the humble, but the proud cannot save himself!

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading and thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “In your goodness, O God, you prepared a home for the poor.”! (Ps 67:11)

The poor are not only the materially poor and spiritually poor, but the poor are those who are totally dependent on God both materially and spiritually! “How blessed are the poor in spirit: the kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”! (Mt 5:3) The poor are the humble who depend on God both for their material and spiritual sustenance!

The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving hymn. (NJB) It is on the Exodus and the
conquest of Canaan. The responsorial psalm has 3 stanzas. The first verse of the first stanza is an expression of confidence that God will destroy Israel’s enemies (Egyptians).

The second verse of the first stanza and the second stanza is a call to praise God as Savior. The third stanza is on the settlement in Canaan. (CSB) The last verse of the third stanza is the response of the responsorial psalm: “In your goodness, O God, you prepared a home for the poor.”! (Ps 67:11)

4. Finally, the second reading tells us about the old and new covenants! The old covenant was made through Moses at Mount Sinai for the Jews! It is based on the Law! The new covenant was made through Jesus at Mount Zion (heaven / CG-DB) for the poor and humble! It is based on the gospel, that is, the good news of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness! Only the poor and the humble can accept the new covenant and be saved!

5. Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and our Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit, to help us to be humble, so that we will acknowledge our sinfulness and helplessness, and so that we will depend on God for our salvation! Amen!

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 21st August 2022

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 21st August 2022

Theme: JESUS CHRIST THE ONLY SAVIOR OF THE WORLD!

  • Isaiah 66:18-21;
  • Psalm 116 (117). R/ Mk 16:15;
  • Hebrews 12:5-7. 11-13
  • Luke 13:22-30

1. Today is the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us about salvation! The gospel today tells us that in order to be saved we must enter by the narrow door, that is, we must make great efforts. The gospel also tells us that the narrow door does not remain open indefinitely, that is, we have to enter it immediately, here and now! (CSB)

More importantly, the gospel today tells us that the Jews rejected the salvation of Jesus! But most importantly, the gospel tells us that the pagans accepted the salvation of Jesus! That is why they will come from the East and West, and from the North and South to enter into the kingdom of God!

The gospel ends by telling us that:

“Yes, there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last.” (Lk 13:30; SM) 

That is, the pagans who were called last will be the first to enter the kingdom of God, and the Jews who were called first will be the last to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, St. Paul tells us in Chapter 11 of the letter to the Romans that in the end even the Jews who crucified Jesus will believe and accept Jesus and will also be saved!   

Indeed, whether first or last, Jew or pagan, all have to be saved in Jesus Christ, because Jesus Christ is the only Savior of the world! Thus the Gospel Acclamation of today:

“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, says the Lord: no one can come to the Father except through me.” (Jn 14:6; SM)

That is, Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father, because he is the only truth that reveals the Father’s love and it is only the Father’s love that can give us eternal life!  

2. That is why the first reading tells us that all the nations of the world will be converted! And more than that, the first reading also tells us that the converted nations will in their turn become missionaries and evangelizers of salvation! And even more than that, the first reading tells us that the converted pagans will even become priests!   

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

“Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News.” (Mk 16:15; SM)

The responsorial psalm is the shortest of all the 150 psalms of the Psalter. It has only two verses. The first verse, that is, the first stanza, tells us to praise and worship God! The second verse, that is, the second stanza, tells us why we praise and worship God, that is, we praise and worship God because he is love and faithfulness! The two attributes of God revealed to Moses (Ex 34:6) and revealed perfectly by Jesus Christ (Jn 1:14; NJB)!

God loves us even when we do not love him and God is faithful to us even when we are not faithful to him! We see, hear, touch, smell and taste these two attributes of God perfectly in the cross of Jesus Christ!

The response of the responsorial psalm tells us to “go out to the whole world” and “proclaim the Good News” of God’s love and faithfulness in the cross of Jesus Christ for the salvation of the whole world!

4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading has something important to tell us because it answers the question we always ask, that is, if God is love then why all the sufferings in the world!

An Australian theologian answered this question well! He said that suffering is the love of God experienced by the sinner for his conversion, so that he will turn away from sin and death and turn to God and receive love, life and happiness! Or in the words of today’s second reading:

“Suffering is part of your training; God is treating you as his sons. Has there ever been any son whose father did not train him? Of course, any punishment is most painful at the time, and far from pleasant; but later, in those on whom it has been used, it bears fruit in peace and goodness.” (Heb 12:7. 11; SM)    

5. Today we give thanks to God for the free gift of salvation and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we will proclaim the Good News of his salvation to the whole world and so that the whole world may believe and be saved, including the Jews who crucified Jesus! Then will come the end of the world, that is, the end of the evil world and the final fulfillment of the kingdom of God here on earth!

A blessed Sunday to all of you!                                                                             

Amen!

THE MOST HOLY TRINITY / TRINITY SUNDAY (C) – 12th June 2022

THE MOST HOLY TRINITY / TRINITY SUNDAY (C) – 12th June 2022

Theme: THE MOST HOLY TRINITY: THE MYSTERY OF GOD’S LOVE IN CREATION, SALVATION AND SANCTIFICATION!

  • Proverbs 8:22-31;
  • Psalm 8:4-9. R/ v. 2;
  • Romans 5:1-5
  • John 16:12-15

1. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of THE MOST HOLY TRINITY! Today we also celebrate the feast day of our parish, that is, the feast day of Holy Trinity Church, Tawau! THE MOST HOLY TRINITY is the mystery of God’s love in Creation, Salvation and Sanctification, that is, God the Father Creates out of love, God the Son Saves out of love and God the Holy Spirit Sanctifies out of love!

People of other religions ask us: Why do we believe in three Gods? How can God become man? How can God die? How can God become food for men? How can God become food for sinful men?

To begin with, we do not believe in three Gods, we believe in one God, but we believe in a God of love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation; we do not believe in a God of law, justice, judgment and condemnation!   

We believe that God created the world out of love, but when we sinned, God loved us even more; God became man to save us, but when we crucified him on the cross, He loved us even more; He rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit dwells among us, within us and inside us, nearer to us than we are to ourselves, loving us more than we love ourselves (Saint Augustine)!

And the Holy Spirit will love us until we love God, love our neighbor and love ourselves! Then will come the end of the world, that is, the end of the evil world, the second coming of Jesus Christ! And Jesus Christ will take us to heaven to share in the life of love and happiness of The Most Holy Trinity!  

We believe that the Holy Spirit is in the Church, especially in the Sacraments, and especially in the Sacrament of Sacraments, that is, the Holy Eucharist/Mass! For when we celebrate the Holy Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the Salvation of the world! We make present, real and effective the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the Salvation of the world!

And when we eat the body of Christ and drink his blood, we eat the body of the Risen Lord who can pass through locked doors and be at any place at an instant – not limited by time and space! And it is the Risen Lord who gives us the Holy Spirit for our salvation!

That is why immediately after the consecration the priest says “The mystery of faith” and we acclaim “When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your Death, O Lord, until you come again”!

This acclamation is taken from 1 Corinthians 11: 23 – 26. It is the most ancient written text on the institution of the Eucharist, more ancient than even the gospel accounts on the institution of the Eucharist! “Whenever you eat this bread, then, and drink this cup, you are proclaiming the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Co 11:26; NJB) That is, “When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we are proclaiming the saving Death of the Lord until he comes again when all will be saved”!

Let us then come to Mass every Sunday and let us ask our children, grandchildren,  godchildren, parents, godparents, relatives, friends, neighbors, schoolmates, workmates, etc. to come to Mass every Sunday! That is the most loving act we can do to them!         

2. The readings today tell us about The Most Holy Trinity, that is, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit!

(i) The first reading tells us that God the Father created the universe, that is, the sun, the moon, the stars and the earth, the hills, the mountains, the rivers, the seas, etc.; but more importantly, the first reading tells us that God the Father did not create haphazardly, but he created the universe according to his plan, that is, according to Jesus Christ, the Wisdom of God! (CSB) Everything was created in him, with him, through him, and for him! Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega of creation, that is, the beginning and end of creation! Creation has a purpose, a meaning and a direction, that is, Jesus Christ!    

(ii) The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us that God the Father created the whole universe! That is why we responded four times:

“How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth!” (Ps 8:2; SM) 

More importantly, the responsible psalm tells us that human beings are the high point of God’s creation and human beings are to be the stewards of God’s creation!

(iii) The second reading tells us that we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ through his death and resurrection gave us the Holy Spirit:

“Through our Lord Jesus Christ, by faith we are judged righteous and at peace with God, since it is by faith and through Jesus that we have entered this state of grace in which we can boast about looking forward to God’s glory. …. And this hope is not deceptive, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us.” (Rm 5: 1-2. 5; SM)

(iv) The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ will give us the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit will reveal to us the whole truth and tell us of what is to come, that is, what is to come after Jesus’ death and resurrection (NJB):

“But when the Spirit of truth comes he will lead you to the complete truth, …. and he will tell you of the things to come.” (Jn 16:13; SM) 

The gospel also tells us that the Trinity of Persons is in fact one God! Thus the caption of the gospel:

“Everything the Father has is mine; all the Spirit tells you will be taken from what is mine.” (cf. Jn 16:15; Sunday Missal (SM))

3. Today we give thanks to God for his love in creation, in salvation and in sanctification, and we ask God to continue to sanctify us with his love, so that we can love God, love our neighbor and love ourselves, and so that Jesus Christ will come a second time to take us all to heaven to share in the life of The Most Holy Trinity! A happy and blessed Trinity Sunday to all of you and a happy and blessed parish feast day to all of you! Amen!

References: New Jerusalem Bible (NJB); Catholic Study Bible (CSB).     

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!

2nd Sunday of Lent – 13th March 2022

2nd Sunday of Lent – 13th 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 RENEW AND STRENGTHEN OUR FAITH  

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

1. Today is the Second Sunday of Lent. 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!

    For those who will be baptized, Lent is a time of final preparation for baptism. But for those who are already baptized, Lent is a time to prepare to renew our baptism on Easter Vigil night!

    Lent is therefore a time for us to renew and strengthen our faith! That is why during this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms to the poor!

2. The gospel today tells us of the Transfiguration of the Lord. The Lord was transfigured. His face shone like the sun and his clothes were white as light. And a voice from the bright cloud said: This is my beloved Son. My favor rests on him. Listen to him. Listen to him, especially when he tells you about his passion, death and resurrection. (CSB) After the Transfiguration, Jesus told the disciples not to tell anyone about it until he has risen from the dead.

    The transfiguration was a preview and a prefigure of the Resurrection! The Transfiguration was to strengthen the faith of the disciples for the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. (Fuller; Lefrois; Raas)

    That is why in all the three gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the Transfiguration is placed immediately after the first prediction of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection, and immediately after Jesus’ instruction to his disciples to take up their crosses and follow him: He who saves his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for my sake will save it!

    Again, the Transfiguration was a preview of the Resurrection, to prepare the faith of the disciples for the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.   

3. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us of the faith of Abraham. (NJB; CCB)

    In the first reading, God tells Abraham to leave his country, his family and his father’s house and go to a land that God will show him; and God will make him into a great nation; and God will bless him and through him God will bless all the nations of the world.

    Abraham did as God told him to do. Indeed, Abraham is a father in faith, not only for the Christians, but also for the Jews and the Muslims! Abraham was 75 years old and his wife was barren!     

4. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. 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 tells us of God’s creative word. God created the whole universe through his word! The second stanza tells us that God is our savior. In fact, God is our only savior. (NJBC) The third stanza tells us that the community of faith places their hope in God. (HCSB) Thus again, 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)  

5. The second reading tells us to preach the good news. More than that, the second reading tells us to suffer for the good news. The good news is that salvation is attained not by our good works, but by the grace of Jesus Christ! (CSB) And it is this grace of Jesus Christ that we receive in the sacrament of baptism on Easter Vigil night!

6. 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. Lent is therefore a time to renew and strengthen our faith. That is why in this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms to the poor. A happy Lent to all of you!

 Amen!

THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD (A, B, C) – 2nd Jan 2022

THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD (A, B, C) – 2nd Jan 2022

Theme: THE REVELATION OF THE LORD AS KING, GOD AND SUFFERING SAVIOR TO ALL THE PAGAN NATIONS OF THE WORLD

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

1. A Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you! Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, that is, the revelation of the Lord as King, God and Suffering Savior to all the pagan nations of the world!

     The gospel today tells us that the Jews rejected Jesus in the person of King Herod! But more importantly, the gospel today tells us that the pagans accepted Jesus in the persons of the wise men! But most importantly, the gospel today tells us of the revelation of the Lord as King, God and Suffering Savior to all the pagan nations of the world!

The gospel today tells us that some wise men came from the east to do homage to the infant king of the Jews! The wise men represent all the different nations of the world! That is why in our Christmas crib they are of different colors! But more importantly, the gospel tells us that they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh! The Fathers of the Church tell us that gold is a gift for a King, frankincense is a gift for a God, and myrrh which is used for embalmment and burial symbolizes a Suffering Savior! (NJB)

Thus the revelation of the Lord as King, God and Suffering Savior to all the pagan nations of the world!

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Jerusalem is the light of all the nations! The light of God’s glory! The glory of God shines on Jerusalem!

    All the nations of the world will come to the light of Jerusalem! The light of God’s glory! The glory of God shines on Jerusalem! They will bring back the exiled Jews. They will bring all the riches of the world to Jerusalem and Jerusalem will rejoice! The nations will come to Jerusalem to praise and worship the Lord!

Note that of the many gifts; only two gifts are named, that is, gold and incense (frankincense). Gold for a King and Frankincense for a God! They have come to praise and worship the Lord as King and as God!

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

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

The responsorial psalm tells us about the Promised King, the Davidic King, and the Messianic King!

The responsorial psalm tells us that unlike the other kings who are corrupted, the Messianic King will bring justice and peace! Peace, shalom, salvation! Thus we read:

“In his days justice shall flourish and peace till the moon fails.” (Ps 71:7; SM)  

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first (vv. 1-2), second (vv. 7-8) and fourth (vv. 12-13) stanzas tell us that the Messianic King will bring justice and peace! Peace, shalom, salvation! The third stanza (vv. 10-11) tells us that all the kings of the world will bring him gifts and will come and worship him, because unlike other kings who are corrupted, he will bring justice and peace! Peace, shalom, salvation!

4. The second reading tells us that the mystery that has been kept secret for ages has now been revealed! The mystery is that pagans now share the same inheritance as the Jews, that pagans are parts of the same body, and that the same promise is made to pagans, in Christ Jesus, through the gospel.

That is why we have to preach the gospel to the pagans, so that all pagans may share the same inheritance, so that all pagans may be parts of the same body, and so that the same promise is made to pagans in Christ Jesus through the gospel!

That is why the first duty of the Bishop is to preach the good news, the first duty of the Priest is also to preach the good news and the first duty of the Christian is also to preach the good news! That is why we end the Sunday Mass with this mission:

“Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.”!

A Blessed feast day of the “Epiphany of the Lord” to all of you! Amen!

CHRISTMAS MASS AT MIDNIGHT / MASS DURING THE DAY (A, B, C)

CHRISTMAS MASS AT MIDNIGHT / MASS DURING THE DAY (A, B, C)

Theme: GOD HAS BECOME MAN, GOD HAS BECOME FOOD FOR MAN, GOD  HAS BECOME FOOD FOR SINFUL MAN

  • Titus 2:11-14 / Hebrews 1:1-6
  • Luke 2:1-14 / John 1:1-5. 9-14 (Shorter Form)

A Merry, Happy and Blessed Christmas to all of you! After Easter, Christmas is the most ancient feast day of the Church! We may say that after Easter, Christmas is the most important feast day of the Church! That is why the gospel tonight has something important to tell us! The gospel tonight tells us that God has become man, God has become food for man, and God has become food for sinful man! So that sinful man may live and not die!

The gospel tonight tells us that the angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds and announced to them the news of great joy that a Savior has been born to them and he is Christ the Lord! And the angel gave them this sign, that is, a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger, that is, God has become man (Wrapped in swaddling clothes), God has become food for man (The manger is the place where the animals feed) and God has become food for sinful man! (The shepherds are dirty and poor and they are thieves. They are a despised trade like the prostitutes and tax-collectors) Note the importance of the sign. It is mentioned twice in tonight’s gospel and mentioned a third time in tomorrow’s gospel at the Christmas Mass at Dawn!

The gospel also tells us that suddenly an army of heavenly angels appeared with the angel and they praised God singing:

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to men who enjoy his favor”. (Lk 2:14; Sunday Missal (SM))  

That is, Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace, shalom, salvation to men who enjoy his favor, his blessing, his grace!

It is also important to note that Saint Luke began his gospel tonight with Caesar Augustus, not only to tell us that he ordered the census, so that Joseph had to go back to Bethlehem with Mary to register there and that Jesus is a descendent of David; but also to tell us that Caesar Augustus is not God. He is not Savior and Bringer of Peace, though he had political, economic and military power and the Romans worshiped him as God, Savior and Bringer of Peace! Saint Luke wants to tell us that Jesus Christ is God, Savior and Bringer of Peace, Shalom, Salvation! And he does this by his favor, blessing and grace!

2. The second reading follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading tells us that God’s grace has been revealed and has made salvation possible and has taught us that we must give up everything that does not lead us to God. We are to give up all our worldly ambitions. And we are to be self-restrained and live good and holy lives. In short, we are to do good until the second coming of Jesus Christ when we will be blessed!

More importantly, the second reading tells us that through his sacrifice, that is, through his death and resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit he has given us the strength to do good until his second coming!

Theme: GOD REVEALS HIMSELF IN CREATION, GOD REVEALS HIMSELF IN OTHER RELIGIONS AND GOD REVEALS HIMSELF FULLY, COMPLETELY AND PERFECTLY IN JESUS CHRIST

3. Christmas, Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord is all about revelation! That is why Christmas season begins today at Christmas and ends with the Baptism of the Lord. The gospel and the second reading for the Mass during the Day, that is, the Mass for Christmas Day tell us that God reveals himself in creation! That is why we have to protect the environment! God created us in his image to be the co-creators and stewards of his creation! God alone is the Master and Lord of creation!

Human beings are the apex, highpoint and peak of creation! That is why besides protecting the environment we have also to dialogue with philosophy, science and culture! That is why our priests spend two years studying philosophy and three years studying theology and that is why our Church continues to dialogue with science and culture!

The gospel and second reading for the “Mass During the Day” also tell us that God reveals himself in other religions, particularly in Judaism! That is why we have to dialogue with other religions, particularly with Islam!

But most importantly, the gospel and the second reading for Christmas Day Mass tell us that God reveals himself fully, completely and perfectly in his Son Jesus Christ! That is why we have to proclaim the good news so that all may believe and so that all may be saved! Thus the gospel concludes:

“The Word was made flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth”. (Jn 1: 14; SM)

“Full of grace and truth”, that is, full of love and faithfulness! God loves us even when we do not love him and God is faithful to us even when we are not faithful to him! God saved us by his faithful love in his Son Jesus Christ!

 Again, a Merry, Happy and Blessed Christmas to all of you! Amen!

Christ the King (Year B) – 21st November 2021

Christ the King (Year B) – 21st November 2021

Theme: JESUS CHRIST, UNIVERSAL KING OF LOVE, LIFE, JOY, JUSTICE AND PEACE

  • Daniel 7:13-14;
  • Psalm 92 (93): 1-2. 5. R. v. 1;
  • Apocalypse 1:5-8
  • John 18:33-37

1. Today is the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year B, and today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. We celebrate the feast of Christ the King at the end of the liturgical Year because we believe that at the end of time Jesus Christ will come again as king of the universe. He will establish his kingdom here on earth completely, fully and finally! The readings today tell us that Jesus Christ will come a second time as king of the universe, but the readings also tell us that the kingdom of Jesus Christ is very different from the other kingdoms of the world!

    The gospel today tells us that his kingdom is not of this world. His kingdom is not of power and might, wealth and money, fame and name, but his kingdom is a kingdom of love, life, joy, justice and peace! Or as the “Preface” of today’s Mass says: “an eternal and universal kingdom: a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace”!

    The gospel also tells us that Jesus came to bear witness to the truth. The truth is the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ revealed to us that God is not law, justice, punishment and damnation, but God is love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation! Jesus Christ bore witness to the truth by his life, passion, death, resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! (LeFrois, Fuller, Craghan)

2. The second reading follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading tells us that Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, and the First-born from the dead, and the Ruler of the kings of the earth. He bore witness to the truth until his death and resurrection, and he is now the King of kings! The second reading also tells us that he loves us, and has washed away our sins with his blood, and made us kings and priests to serve God our Father! To him, then, be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

    More than that, the second reading tells us that he will come a second time on the clouds, and all will see him, including those who killed him, and all the nations of the world shall mourn over him, that is, mourn over his death. (CCB) The second reading tells us that this is the truth! Amen!             

3. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading from the prophet Daniel tells us that Jesus Christ will come a second time on the clouds, and God the Father will confer on him kingship and glory. And all the nations of the world will serve him. His kingdom will have no end, nor can it be destroyed!

4. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God will come as king at the end of time! (CSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “The Lord is king, with majesty enrobed.”! (Ps 92 (93): 1)

    The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first and second stanzas tell us that God is the king of the world. (Ps 92 (93): 1-2) The third stanza tells us that his decrees are eternal. (Ps 92 (93): 5/NJBC)    

5. Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We eat his body and drink his blood, and the risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit.

    The Holy Spirit will help us believe and trust that at the end of time Jesus Christ will come a second time to be the king of the universe. He will establish his kingdom completely, fully and finally!

    The Holy Spirit will help us to build the kingdom of God here on earth! A kingdom of love, life, joy, justice and peace! Or as the “Preface” of today’s Mass says: “an eternal and universal kingdom: a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace”!

    The Holy Spirit will help us build the kingdom of God here on earth, by building Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) of love and unity, as a sign and sacrament of salvation for the world! Amen! 

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 7th November 2021

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 7th November 2021

Theme: DEPEND ON GOD FOR OUR MATERIAL AND SPIRITUAL SUSTENANCE

  • 1 Kings 17:10-16;
  • Psalm 145 (146): 7-10. R/ v. 2;
  • Hebrews 9:24-28
  • Mark 12:38-44

1. Today is the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us to depend on God for our material and spiritual sustenance. The Gospel Acclamation today tells us that the poor in spirit are blessed and the kingdom of God belongs to them!

The poor in spirit are the materially poor, the spiritually poor, and most importantly, they are those who depend in God for their material and spiritual sustenance! Thus the Gospel Acclamation:

“How happy are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:3; SM)

Our religious sisters, brothers and priests take the vow of poverty, not because poverty is good, not even because they want to help the poor, but because they want to depend on God for their material and spiritual sustenance! They believe that God will provide! They believe in providence! They have great faith! Let us renew our faith so that we too may have great faith!

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” (Mt 6:33; CSB)

That is, seek first the kingdom of love, justice and peace and his salvation, and all these other things will be given to you as well! 

2. The gospel today tells us that a widow gave all she had and all she had to live on to the Temple treasury! Indeed she was very very generous! She was more generous than the rich who gave much more. Although she gave only two small coins, she gave all that she had and all that she had to live on! She gave her whole life to the Temple treasury!

But more importantly, she was a widow of great faith. She depended on God for her spiritual and material sustenance! (CSB) She prefigured Jesus Christ who depended on God for his material and spiritual sustenance until his death, resurrection and the salvation of the whole world!   

3. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us of another widow – in a man’s world, widows have no power or money! The first reading tells us that a widow shared her last meal with the prophet Elijah. After that she and her son will die of hunger because there will be nothing left to eat. Indeed the widow was very very generous. She shared all that she had to live on with the prophet Elijah.

But more importantly, she was a widow of great faith. (CCB) She depended on God for her spiritual and material sustenance! And because of her great faith the Lord rewarded her with food and life. She and her son were not to die of hunger. She and her son will have food to eat and will live! Thus the first reading tells us,

“The jar of meal was not spent nor the jug of oil emptied, just as the Lord had foretold through Elijah.” (1 K 17: 16; SM)

4. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us to trust in God and to depend on God, because he is a God who gives justice to the oppressed, gives food to the hungry, sets prisoners free, gives sight to the blind, protects the stranger, helps the widow and the orphan, etc.! (CSB; HCSB) Thus we read in the responsorial psalm:

“It is the Lord who is just to those who are oppressed. It is he who gives bread to the hungry, the Lord, who sets prisoners free. It is the Lord who gives sight to the blind, who raises up those who are bowed down. It is the Lord who loves the just, the Lord, who protects the stranger. The Lord upholds the widow and orphan.” (Ps 145 (146): 7-9; SM)

And thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“My soul, give praise to the Lord.” (Ps 145 (146): 2; SM)    

5. The second reading is a continuation of the second readings of the past few Sundays. Again, the second reading compares the Levitical priesthood of the Jews in the Old Testament with the priesthood of Jesus Christ in the New Testament:

(i) The Levitical priesthood has its sanctuary on earth made by human beings, but the priesthood of Jesus Christ has its sanctuary in heaven where God is!

(ii) The Levitical priest offers sacrifices of blood of animals every year on the Day of Atonement, but Jesus Christ offered himself as a sacrifice once and for all!

(iii) The Levitical priest will not come a second time at the Parousia, but Jesus Christ will come a second time at the Parousia to reward with salvation all who are waiting for him!

6. Again, today in this Mass, in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Church makes present, real and effective, the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our salvation and again today in this Mass, we receive the Holy Spirit to help us to depend on God for our material and spiritual sustenance! A happy and holy Sunday to all of you! Amen!