18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 1st Aug 2021

Theme: “WORK FOR FOOD THAT ENDURES TO ETERNAL LIFE.”

  • Exodus 16:2-4. 12-15;
  • Psalm 77 (78): 3-4. 23-25. 54. R/ v. 24;
  • Ephesians 4:17. 20-24
  • John 6:24-35

1. Today is the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us not to “work for food that cannot last”, but to “work for food that endures to eternal life”!

The gospel today tells us that after being fed at “the miracle of the loaves” (Jn 6: 1-15; NJB), the people followed Jesus, but Jesus told them not to work for food that do not last, but to work for food that endures to eternal life. 

More importantly, the gospel tells us that to work for food that endures to eternal life means to believe in Jesus! And when we believe in Jesus, God our Father will give us “bread from heaven”. And the bread from heaven will give life to the world!

Most importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus is the “bread from heaven” who gives life to the world! Thus we read in the gospel today:

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never hunger; he who believes in me will never thirst”. (Jn 6:35; SM)

Indeed Jesus is the “bread of life” both in word and in sacrament! Thus the “Gospel Acclamation” today:

“Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Mt 4:4; SM)     

And thus verse 54 of chapter 6 of today’s gospel:

“Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day”. (NJB)

That is why our Sunday Mass consists of two parts, namely, “the Liturgy of the Word” and “the Liturgy of the Eucharist”. The “Liturgy of the Word” gives us faith. (Rm 10:17) And when we celebrate “the Liturgy of the Eucharist” with faith and eat the body of Christ and drink his blood, the Holy Spirit will transform us into the Body of Christ!

That is why it is important that we come early for Sunday Mass to read the readings before Mass to prepare ourselves for the Mass. And that is why it is important that we listen attentively to the readings and homily during Mass and not talk or use our hand phones during Mass! And that is why it is important that after Mass we share and pray spiritually and personally on the Sunday Mass readings in our Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs)! 

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the people of Israel had nothing to eat in the desert, so they grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and against God. They wanted to return to Egypt to eat meat and bread.

And more importantly, the first reading tells us that God gave them “bread from heaven”! The first reading prefigures the “bread from heaven” that Jesus gives in today’s gospel!

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

“The Lord gave them bread from heaven”. (Ps 77 (78): 24; SM)

And thus verses 23 to 25 of the responsorial psalm:

“He commanded the clouds above and opened the gates of heaven. He rained down manna for their food, and gave them bread from heaven. Mere men ate the bread of angels. He sent them abundance of food”. (SM)

Again, the responsorial psalm prefigures the “bread from heaven” given by Jesus in today’s gospel!

4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again, the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells about “Renewal in Christ” (CSB), that is, to put off “the old self” and to put on “the new self”! This we did in baptism and we continue to do every Sunday in the Eucharist!

    But we are happy to note that in our parish there are so many renewal movements that help us to renew ourselves in Jesus Christ! We have the Charismatic Renewal, the Prayer Meetings, the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs), the Neo-Catechumenal Communities, the Bible-Sharing Groups, the Alpha Course, the Divine Mercy, etc.! All these renewal movements help us renew ourselves in Jesus Christ!   

5. Today in this Mass, we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ, the food of eternal life! And we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we may be renewed in his Son Jesus Christ! A happy and holy Sunday to all of you! Amen!

                                                                                                                                   

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 4th July 2021

Theme: WE ARE TO BE THE PROPHETS OF GOD TO SPEAK THE WORD OF GOD

  • Ezekiel 2:2-5;
  • Psalm 122 (123): R. v. 2;
  • 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
  • Mark 6:1-6

1. Today is the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that we are to be the prophets of God to speak the word of God!

    In the year 2001 there was a synod of the world’s bishops in Rome on the duties of the bishop. The synod concluded that the duties of the bishop was to be prophet, priest and king, that is, to preach and teach the word of God (prophet), to celebrate the sacraments, especially the Eucharist (priest), and to build the Christian community, the Church, and the Kingdom of God (king). But of the three, the first is to preach and teach the word of God! The first is to be a prophet of God!     

    The duties of the priest is also to be prophet, priest, and king, that is, to preach and teach the word of God; to celebrate the sacraments, especially the Eucharist; and to build the Christian community, the Church, and the Kingdom of God. But again, the first duty of the priest is to preach and teach the word of God. The first duty of the priest is to be a prophet of God!

    The priest is not only a priest; he is also a prophet and a king. The “pastoral work” of the priest is not only “sacramentalization”, but also “evangelization”! Indeed, the word of God gives faith, and only with faith can we celebrate the sacraments, and when we celebrate the sacraments with faith, the risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit will help us build the community of love and unity, and the community will become a sign of salvation for the world.

    Indeed, the Church is not a gasoline station or a service station where we come for baptism, marriage, and the other sacraments, etc., but the Church is a Christ centered community, that is, centered on the Word and Eucharist that the Lord has given us. And when we celebrate the Word and Eucharist, the risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit will help us build a community of love and unity, and the community will become a sign of salvation for the world. The identity of the priest cannot be separated from the nature of the Church!

2. The gospel today tells us that Jesus himself was a prophet, but he was rejected by his own people. But Jesus continued preaching and teaching the word of God until his death and resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! We have to preach the word of God even in the face of opposition because it is the word of God and the word of God will prevail! Thus we read in the gospel:

    “And they would not accept him. And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is only despised in his own country among his own relations and in his own house’; and he could work no miracle there, though he cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.” (Mk 6: 3c-6)

3. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading is on the call of Ezekiel to be a prophet to speak the word of God to a rebellious people. Again, Ezekiel had to speak the word of God even in the face of opposition because it is the word of God, and again, the word of God will prevail! Thus we read in the first reading:

    “The Lord said, ‘Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to the rebels who have turned against me. Till now they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me. The sons are defiant and obstinate; I am sending you to them, to say, “The Lord says this.” Whether they listen or not, this set of rebels shall know there is a prophet among them.’” (Ezk 2: 3-5)         

4. In order to be the prophets of God we have to rely on God, we have to depend on God, and we have to put our confidence in God. The responsorial psalm is a psalm of reliance on God. The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first and second stanzas are expressions of confidence in God. The third stanza asks God to save us from our persecutors. (CSB/HCSB)

    Thus the response of the responsorial psalm which is taken from the second stanza: “Our eyes are on the Lord till he show us his mercy.” (Ps 122 (123): 2) And thus the third stanza of the responsorial psalm: “Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy. We are filled with contempt. Indeed all too full is our soul with the scorn of the rich, with the proud man’s disdain.” (Ps 122 (123): 3-4)

5. Incidentally, the second reading tells us that in the face of opposition and persecution St. Paul relied on God. The second reading tells us that St. Paul had a thorn in his flesh. This could mean a sickness (physical or mental), a temptation, or an opponent and persecutor. Probably it meant his opponents and persecutors. Thus the second reading tells us that in the face of opposition and persecution St. Paul relied on God. Thus we read in the second reading:

    “So I shall be very happy to make my weaknesses my special boast so that the power of Christ may stay over me, and that is why I am quite content with my weaknesses, and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and the agonies I go through for Christ’s sake. For it is when I am weak that I am strong.” (2 Co 12: 9b-10)       

6. 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 to be the prophets of God to speak the word of God! Amen.

                                                                                                                                  

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 20th June 2021

Theme: JESUS CHRIST IS GOD: A GOD OF LOVE WHO BECAME MAN AND DIED FOR MEN SO THAT MEN SHOULD LIVE FOR HIM

  • Job 38:1. 8-11
  • Psalm 106:23-26. 28-31. R. v. 1
  • 2 Corinthians 5:14-17
  • Mark 4:35-41

1. Today is the 12th Sunday of the Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that Jesus Christ is God: a God of love who became man and died for men so that men should live not for themselves but for Him. And so that men should live not in the flesh but in the Spirit, and so that in Him men should become a new creation!

2. The first reading tells us that God created the sea! In the first reading God counter questions Job: ‘Were you there when I created the sea? Who are you to question my power and wisdom?’ Job’s question was: ‘Why does the good man suffer?’

    But the Church has chosen the first reading today to tell us that God created the sea! The first reading tells us that God shut the doors to the sea to control the sea. God even bundled the sea with mist and clouds as a new born baby is bundled in swaddling clothes! Again, the first reading tells us that God marked the boundaries of the sea, preventing the sea from coming over the shore!    

3. The responsorial psalm takes up the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God not only created the sea, but God is also in control of the sea! The responsorial psalm is a psalm of thanksgiving by sailors who were saved by God from the stormy sea! The Church has chosen the responsorial psalm to tell us that God is in control of the sea! Thus the responsorial psalm tells us that God sent a strong wind and the waves went up and the ships went up with the waves, and as the waves came down the ships also came down with the waves. The sailors were terrified and cried to God for help! God calmed the storm and brought the sailors safely to shore! The sailors thank God for their salvation!

4. The Church has chosen the first reading and the responsorial psalm to go with the gospel! The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ is God because he can do the things that only God can do! He calmed the stormy sea!

    The gospel tells us that the disciples and Jesus were in a boat in the sea, when suddenly a storm broke out! The disciples were terrified and cried out to Jesus for help. Jesus woke up and clamed the stormy sea! The disciples said to one another ‘Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him.’ The implicit answer to the disciples’ question is Jesus Christ is God because he can do the things that only God can do!

5. But more than that, the second reading tells us that Jesus Christ is not only God, but He is a loving God who became man to die for men so that men should live not for themselves but for Him, so that men should live not in the flesh but in the Spirit, and so that in Him men should become a new creation!

6. 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 his Holy Spirit! He will give us life so that we live not for ourselves but for Him, and so that we live not in the flesh but in the Spirit, and so that in Him we become a new creation!

                                                                                                                                    Amen!

THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD (B) – 13th May 2021

Theme: THE LORD ASCENDS INTO HEAVEN IN ORDER TO SEND US THE HOLY SPIRIT SO THAT WE TOO MAY ASCEND INTO HEAVEN WITH HIM IN GLORY 

  • Acts 1:1-11;
  • Psalm 46 (47): 2-3. 6-9. R/ v. 6;
  • Ephesians 4:1-7. 11-13
  • Mark 16:15-20

1. Today we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord into heaven in glory, Liturgical Year B. Next Sunday we will celebrate Pentecost Sunday, that is, the descend of the Holy Spirit! The Easter Season of fifty days which began on Easter Sunday will end next Sunday with Pentecost Sunday.

The readings today tell us that the Lord ascends into heaven, not to abandon us, but to send us the Holy Spirit, so that we may do his work on earth, and so that one day we too may ascend into heaven with him in glory!     

The gospel today tells us that after his resurrection and before his ascension, the Lord sent his apostles out into the world to preach the Good News, so that those who believe and are baptized will be saved, but those who do not believe and are not baptized will not be saved!

And these are the signs associated with believers, that is, in the name of Jesus, they will drive out devils, they will speak in tongues, they will pick up snakes in their hands, and even if they drink poison they will not die, and they will heal the sick.  

But more importantly, the gospel tells us that the Lord has ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father in glory! But most importantly, the gospel tells us that the apostles went out preaching and the Lord was working with them confirming their words with signs! The Lord was with them in the Holy Spirit!

2. The first reading tells us that after his resurrection the Lord spent forty days with his disciples instructing them on the kingdom of God, preparing them to preach the kingdom of God! Moses also spent forty days on the mountain and Jesus also spent forty days in the desert to prepare for their ministries!

More importantly, the first reading tells us that after forty days, the Lord will ascend into heaven in order to send down the Holy Spirit on the apostles, so that they will become his witnesses, not only in Jerusalem, but also in Judaea, and Samaria and indeed to the ends of the earth! That is, not only in Jerusalem where Jesus died, rose from the dead and gave the Holy Spirit, but also in Judaea, that is, to all the Jews, and also in Samaria, that is, to the “half-Jews”, and indeed to the ends of the earth, that is, to the non-Jews, the gentiles, the pagans!     

But most importantly, the first reading tells us that the Lord has been taken up into heaven in a cloud. And when the disciples were staring at him into the sky, two men in white (angels) appeared to them and said to them, ‘Men of Galilee, why are you staring into the sky, the Jesus that has been taken up into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him go’, that is, he will return in a cloud in glory at the Parousia, that is, at his Second Coming at the end of the world, when all will be saved!    

3. The Responsorial Psalm is a hymn calling on all the nations of the earth to acknowledge the universal rule of the God of Israel who is enthroned as king of Israel and as king of all the nations! (CSB)

The Responsorial Psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza (vv. 2-3) calls on all the nations to acknowledge the universal rule of the God of Israel. The second and third stanzas (vv. 6-9) tells us that the God of Israel is enthroned as king of Israel and as king of all the nations!

In the liturgy today the Responsorial Psalm tells us about the Ascension of the Lord into heaven in glory! (CSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

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

4. As we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord today and as we will celebrate Pentecost next Sunday, the second reading tells us about the Holy Spirit! The second reading tells us that the Holy Spirit is a Spirit of unity! Because there is only one body (church), one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God! The “seven unities”! (CSB)

And although there are many gifts, that is, the gifts of being apostles, prophets, evangelizers, pastors and teachers; all these gifts unite into one service of the one body of Christ!

5. Today in the Eucharist, we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ, especially for his death and resurrection and ascension into heaven; and we ask God to send us the Holy Spirit so that we may do the work of Jesus Christ on earth, especially in proclaiming the Good News as apostles, prophets, evangelizers, pastors, and teachers, and so that at the end of time, we may all ascend into heaven with him in glory! A happy Ascension Day to all of you!

Amen! 

3rd Sunday of Lent (Year A) – 7th March 2021

Theme: IT IS IN FAITH THAT WE ARE BAPTIZED AND IT IS IN BAPTISM THAT WE RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD’S LOVE, LIFE AND HAPPINESS  

  • 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, 4:5-16. 19-26. 39-42)

1. Today is the 3rd 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! It is in faith that we are baptized and it is in baptism that we receive the Holy Spirit of God’s love, life and happiness!

    The readings today tell us about these two most important themes of baptism, namely, faith and the Holy Spirit!

    The readings today tell us about faith. The first reading tells us that the people of Israel lost faith in God because there was no water in the desert. They quarreled (Meribah) with God and they put God to the test (Massah) saying, “Is the Lord with us, or not?”

    The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us not to be like the people of Israel who quarreled with God and tested God. The responsorial psalm tells us to trust in God, to believe in God, and to have faith in God. Thus the third stanza of the 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.’” (Ps 94 (95): 8-9; SM)    

    The first stanza of the responsorial psalm tells us to praise and worship God because he is our savior. The second stanza tells us to praise and worship God because he is our creator and shepherd/savior. (NJBC) 

    The second reading tells us that it is through Jesus Christ by faith that we are made righteous and at peace with God, and it is by faith and through Jesus Christ that we have entered the state of grace! In short, it is by faith in Jesus Christ that we are saved!

    Finally, the gospel today tells us that the Samaritan woman had faith in Jesus Christ! Like Abraham the father of faith, the Samaritan woman had nothing, but faith. She was a Samaritan (half-Jew), a woman, and a sinner who had five husbands and living with a sixth man (NJBC; IBC), but she had the most important thing, that is, faith in Jesus Christ!

    Not only did the Samaritan woman have faith, but her faith grew as she encountered Jesus. She first saw Jesus as a Jew, then she recognized Jesus to be a prophet, then she believed that Jesus was the Messiah (HCSB), and finally she became a missionary and an apostle and brought other Samaritans to believe in Jesus!      

2. The readings today also tell us about the Holy Spirit. The first reading tells us that the people of Israel were dying of thirst in the desert, but more importantly, the first reading tells us that God gave them water from the rock to quench their thirst and saved them from death! The water symbolizes the Holy Spirit, because only the Holy Spirit can quench our thirst and save us from death!

    More importantly, the gospel today tells us that the Lord will give us living water so that we will not be thirsty anymore, because this living water will turn into a spring inside us welling up to eternal life!

    The Samaritan woman had five husbands and living with a sixth man who was not her husband, but she was still thirsting for the living water of eternal life. She was still thirsting for love, life and happiness. Only the living water of the Holy Spirit (NJB; NJBC; IBC; CCB) which Jesus gives can quench her thirst and give her the love, life and happiness that she was looking for!

    We may not have five husbands or wives, but we may have five million dollars, five houses, five cars, five jobs, five pieces of property, etc. But these cannot give us love, life and happiness. Only the living water of the Holy Spirit can give us the love, life and happiness that we are looking for!

    Indeed, the second reading tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of God’s love. The second tells us that what proves that God loves us is that Jesus Christ died for us while we were still sinners. It is hard to die even for a good man, but what proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners!     

    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! Again, it is in faith that we are baptized and it is in baptism that we receive the Holy Spirit of God’s love, life and happiness.  

    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. A happy Lent to all of you!

                                                                                                                                    Amen!

2nd Sunday of Lent (Year A) – 28th Feb 2021

Theme: FAITH IN THE SUFFERING, DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST

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

Today is the 2nd Sunday of Lent, Year A. Year A because there are catechumens preparing for Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ at Easter. Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter in the sacrament of Baptism and in the renewal of our Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! Lent is therefore a time of penance, repentance, and conversion.

    Conversion is turning away from sin, but more than that, conversion is also turning away from the world, but more than that, conversion is also turning to God, but more than that, conversion is also turning to the God of love, mercy and forgiveness, the God of Jesus Christ who died and rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Baptism, so that we will die and rise with him to the new life of Easter. Lent is therefore a time when we prepare to die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter in the sacrament of baptism and in the renewal of our Baptism on Easter Vigil Night!

The readings today tell us about faith; particularly, faith in the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! The gospel today tells us about the transfiguration of the Lord. The gospel tells us that Jesus took with him Peter, James and John to a mountain and there he was transfigured. His face shone like the sun and his clothes were as bright as light. And a voice from heaven said: this is my Son, the Beloved, my favor rest on him. Listen to him!

    Listen to his teaching, particularly when he teaches you about his suffering, death and resurrection. Today’s gospel is placed immediately after Jesus’ first prophesy of his passion, death and resurrection; and immediately after Jesus taught his disciples to take up their crosses and follow him!   

    The transfiguration was a preview and a foretaste of the resurrection. The transfiguration was to strengthen the faith of the apostles for the coming suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus! The transfiguration was to strengthen the faith of the apostles for their own suffering, death and resurrection as followers of Jesus! Thus St. Paul tells Timothy in the second reading: With me, bear the sufferings for the sake of preaching the Good News, relying on the power of God who saved us and called us to be holy!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us about faith; the faith of Abraham, the father of faith. Abraham was a nomad. He had no land and no children and he was 75 years old and his wife was childless; but Abraham had faith and because of his faith God blessed him with land and with children; as many children as the stars in heaven and as many children as the grains of sand on the seashore. (Gn 22:17) And through Abraham all the nations of the world will also be blessed!        

    Thus we read in the first reading: “The Lord said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your family and your father’s house, for the land I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name so famous that it will be used as a blessing. I will bless those who bless you: I will curse those who slight you. All the tribes of the earth shall bless themselves by you.’ So Abram went as the Lord told him.” (Gn 12:1-4/SM)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us to hope in the faithful love of God. 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)

    God created us out of nothing but love, and when we sinned he loved us even more, he came to save us, and when we killed him, he loved us even more, he rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit to love us from within us and inside us until we love him back and until we love one another and until we love ourselves! He loves us not from heaven nor from earth but from within us and inside us! He is nearer to us than we are to ourselves. He loves us more than we love ourselves. (St. Augustine) And he knows us more than we know ourselves! Hope therefore in the faithful love of God! Do not hope in the unfaithful love of human beings!

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 strengthen our faith for Baptism and for the renewal of our Baptism on Easter Vigil Night so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! Immediately before Baptism and before renewing our Baptism we have to answer the 6 questions of faith, that is, we have to profess our faith!

    Prayer includes Sunday Mass, “Lectio Divina” (spiritual reading of the Scriptures), going to confession, etc. Fasting (one full meal a day) is obligatory for those over 18 and below 60 on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory for those over 14 years old. We can of course fast and abstain voluntarily!

    Again, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI tells us in his message for Lent that fasting helps us to avoid sin, to restore friendship with God, to do the will of God, to love God and neighbor, and to help the poor. I conclude that if we do not fast, we cannot avoid sin, we cannot restore our friendship with God, we cannot do the will of God, we cannot love God and neighbor, and we cannot help the poor!

    Almsgiving is to help the poor. Our Bishop Julius emphasizes in his Lenten message that we must help the poor. “Lenten Appeal” envelopes are available at the church’s entrance. Almsgiving also helps us to trust in providence! God provides! That is why our religious take the “vow of poverty”! Our priests should also voluntarily take the vow of poverty!               

    A Happy Lent to all of you! Amen!

                                                                                                

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 7th Feb 2020

Theme: THE LORD HEALS US PHYSICALLY AND SPIRITUALLY

  • Job 7:1-4. 6-7;
  • Psalm 146 (147): 1-6. R/ v. 3;
  • 1 Corinthians 9:16-19. 22-23
  • Mark 1:29-39

1. Today is the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. The readings today tell us that the Lord heals us physically and spiritually. The readings also tell us that the Lord heals us physically and spiritually by first preaching the word of God. The word of God gives faith. With faith we pray. And when we pray with faith we receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit heals us physically and spiritually!

    The gospel today tells us that the Lord heals us physically and spiritually. The second paragraph of the gospel today (Mk 1:32-34) tells us that the Lord heals the sick. A parallel text is found in today’s “Gospel Acclamation”: “He took our sicknesses away, and carried our diseases for us.” (Mt 8:17) But Matthew was quoting Isaiah 53:4 – the fourth Suffering Servant Song of Isaiah – which tells us that the Suffering Servant takes away our sins and guilt upon himself! (Is 53:4ff) Thus the Lord heals us physically and spiritually!

    The gospel also tells us that the Lord casts out devils. A few of us may be “possessed physically” by devils, but all of us are “possessed spiritually” by devils. “Spiritual possessions” by devils bring us sin and death. There are those who can cast out devils in cases of “physical possessions”, but are themselves “spiritually possessed” by devils, that is, they live in sin and death! But the Lord casts out devils both in physical possessions and spiritual possessions! Thus the Lord heals us physically and spiritually!

    The third paragraph of today’s gospel (Mk 1:35-39) tells us that the Lord heals us physically and spiritually by first preaching the word of God. The word of God gives faith. (Rm 10:17) With faith we pray. And when we pray with faith we receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit heals us both physically and spiritually!  

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Job was suffering physically and spiritually. Job’s body was covered with wounds and worms (Jb 7:5). Job’s children and properties were taken away from him. In Job’s time there was no belief in an afterlife. Job cursed the day he was born and Job’s wife told him to curse God and die. Job’s friends told him that he was punished by God for his sins, but Job was innocent. He lived an upright life before God. He was obedient to God!      

    The first reading tells us that he was suffering day and night. When it was day he waited for night to come, but when it was night he waited for day to come. He could not sleep. His days passed without hope and without happiness.

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord heals us physically and spiritually! Thus verse three of the responsorial psalm: “he heals the broken-hearted, he binds up all their wounds.” (Ps 146 (147): 3) And thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “Praise the Lord who heals the broken-hearted.” (Ps 146:3)

    The responsorial psalm is an “invitation to praise God, the creator who cares for the afflicted” (NJBC) The first verse is an invitation to praise God. The second and third verses tell us that God cares for the afflicted. And the fourth and fifth verses tell us that God is the creator.

4. Again, the Lord heals us physically and spiritually by first preaching the word of God! Thus St. Paul tells us in the second reading that it is his duty to preach the gospel and that if he does not preach the gospel he should be punished. St. Paul also tells us that it is not his choice to preach the gospel, but it is God’s choice that he preached the gospel. Finally, St. Paul tells us that he preaches the Good News free of charge!   

    Let us do what St. Paul did, that is, preach the Good News, and like St. Paul, preach it without charge! Preach it free of charge!

    Preach the Good News, not the Bad News! The Bad News cannot give faith, cannot give the Holy Spirit and cannot heal us physically and spiritually! Only the Good News can give faith, can give the Holy Spirit, and can heal us physically and spiritually!

5. 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 proclaim the Good News! The Holy Spirit will help us heal physically and spiritually!

                                                                                                                                    Amen!

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 24th January 2021

Theme: TURN AWAY FROM SIN AND FROM THE WORLD AND TURN TO GOD – TO THE GOD OF JESUS CHRIST

  • Jonah 3:1-5. 10;
  • Psalm 24 (25): 4-9. R/ v. 4;
  • 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
  • Mark 1:14-20

Today is the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The gospel today tells us to “Repent, and believe the Good News”. That is, to turn away from sin and from the world, and to turn to God, to the God of Jesus Christ! A God of love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation!

The gospel also tells us that the first disciples, Simon (Peter), Andrew, James and John repented and believed the Good News. That is, they turned away from the world and they turned to Jesus Christ! They followed Jesus Christ!

In the case of Simon (Peter) and Andrew, they left their nets at once and followed Jesus. And in the case of James and John they left their father and their father’s employees and their boat and they followed Jesus!

The first four disciples responded to the Good News of repentance immediately (NJBC) and totally, that is, they left everything and followed Jesus (NJB)!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the message of repentance is not only for the Jews, but it is also for the gentiles, the pagans, the non-Jews, the enemies of the Jews, the worst enemies of the Jews, that is, the Ninevites, the Assyrians!

The first reading tells us that when Jonah preached the message of repentance to the Ninevites, they repented with fasting and sackcloth! Consequently, God did not punish them.

It is important to note in the following chapter 4:1-3 that Jonah was angry because God was merciful! Jonah did not want the Ninevites to repent and be saved. Jonah wanted God to destroy the Ninevites.

In the first place, Jonah did not even want to preach to the Ninevites, because he knew that God was loving and merciful, slow to anger and rich in kindness, and slow to punish. (GNB) Jonah was quoting Exodus 34:6-7 where God revealed himself and his divine attributes – most particularly his faithful love – to Moses! (NJB)

Jonah was so angry that he asked God to take his life! He preferred to be dead than to be alive! Jonah was a typical Jew of his time! But most importantly, the whole book of Jonah prepares for the gospel revelation that “God is love”! (NJB) God is love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation! 

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a prayer for guidance and forgiveness. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Lord, make me know your ways.” (v. 4; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza is a prayer for guidance (vv. 4-5). The second stanza is a prayer for forgiveness (vv. 6-7). And the third stanza is an affirmation of God’s goodness, which is the ground of the prayer (vv. 8-9)! (HCSB; CSB)

Incidentally, the second reading also follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading also tells us to turn away from the world! In the second reading St. Paul mistakenly thought that the end of the world was imminent! (HCSB; NJBC) Nonetheless the second reading is relevant to us because it corresponds to the gospel exhortation to turn away from the world! Thus we read in the second reading:

“Brothers: our time is growing short. Those who have wives should live as though they had none, and those who mourn should live as though they had nothing to mourn for; those who are enjoying life should live as though there were nothing to laugh about; those whose life is buying things should live as though they had nothing of their own; and those who have to deal with the world should not become engrossed in it. I say this because the world as we know it is passing away.” (1 Co 7:29-31; SM)  

Incidentally, St. Paul was advising virgins! (CSB; HCSB)

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 “Repent and believe the Good News”. The Holy Spirit will help us to turn away from sin and from the world, and to turn to God – to the God of Jesus Christ; a God of love, mercy, forgiveness, and salvation! A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen!

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) -9th Feb 2020

Theme: WE CHRISTIANS ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

  • Isaiah 58:7-10
  • Psalm 111:4-9
  • 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
  • Matthew 5:13-16 

The Church has chosen the readings of today to tell us that we are the light of the world! The gospel tells us that we are the light of the world and that like the light we are to shine so that others seeing our good works will give praise to God our Father.

This short sentence from the gospel also tells us that we are not to be proud and arrogant and take credit for what we have done, but credit and praise are to go to God the Father!

In the first place we are all sinners before God, incapable of doing good works! But God our Father is merciful! He has sent us his Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins and has given us the Holy Spirit so that we can do good works!

The Christian is not a social worker! He does not only do good works, but he does God’s work!  His works are not only good for society, but his works are salvific and redemptive!

The good works of the Christian do not come from himself, but they come from God! The good works of the Christian is filled with God’s love and mercy and salvation!

The Christian may fail and feel frustrated and disappointed and may even suffer and die, but like Jesus Christ he will rise again from the dead and pour out his Spirit for the salvation of the world!

The gospel tells us that we are the light of the world, but the gospel does not tell us how we are to be the light of the world. The Church has therefore chosen the first reading from the prophet Isaiah to tell us how we are to be the light of the world!

The first reading taken from the prophet Isaiah was addressing a situation in Israel in about the year 500 B.C. when the Jews have just returned from their exile in Babylon. There were social injustices where the rich and powerful exploited the poor and the weak, etc.. The poor and the weak had no power, no food, no shelter, no clothing, etc..

The prophet Isaiah tells them to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and clothe the naked. These are the three basic necessities of a human being: food, housing and clothing. By feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless and clothing the naked they will become the light of the world! They will shine like the sun at dawn!

As Christians we often do charitable works, but sometimes we forget that social justice is equally important if not more important. In charity we give to others what belongs to us, but in justice we give to others what belongs to them by right, e.g. a just and fair wage, holidays, health benefits, working hours that are not too long, sick leaves, bonuses, etc..

That is why Isaiah ends this first reading by telling the Jews to take away the yoke of oppression from their fellow Jews and no clenched fist, i.e. no oppression. Isaiah also tells them to give their bread to the hungry and to free the oppressed! Isaiah tells them that in this way they will become light shining in the darkness! They will shine like the noonday sun!

The Responsorial Psalm also tells us how we can be light of the world! The Responsorial Psalm tells us to be generous, merciful and just; to take pity and lend to those in need and to practice justice. In these ways we can become light for the world!

But more than that the Responsorial Psalm tells us that we can also be light to the world not only by our good works, but also by our faith! In the second stanza, the Responsorial Psalm tells us that the just man will never waver! He will never be shaken! He has no fear of evil news; with a firm heart he trusts in the Lord!

The Responsorial Psalm ends by telling us that the just man has no fear. With open hands he gives to the poor. He is just and glorious!

The second reading taken from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians does not strictly follow the theme of the other readings, but it has something very important to tell us! As I have mentioned at the very beginning, our good works are not from us! They are from God! They are not merely good works, but they are God’s works!

St. Paul tells us in this second reading that he proclaimed the good news not on his own, nor on the power of man, but he proclaimed the good news relying on the power of God! He preached Jesus Christ crucified, a dead man, but it is the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of God!

And St. Paul tells us that he did that so that our faith will not depend on the power of men, but on the power of God!

Our good works too have to depend not on the power of men, but on the power of God!

That is why we have to pray, we have to have faith, and that is why today we celebrate this Eucharist! Today we come here in our human weaknesses like St. Paul and we celebrate the crucified Christ, a dead man, but it is the power of God! It is the power of the Holy Spirit!

The Holy Spirit will make us shine, so that seeing our good works, men will give praise to God our Father in heaven!                                                                                                              Amen!

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 13th October 2019

Theme: GIVE THANKS TO GOD

  • 2 Kings 5:14-17;
  • Psalm 97:1- 4. R/ cf. v. 2;
  • 2 Timothy 2:8-13
  • Luke 17:11-19

Today is the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us to give thanks to God! Our God is a gracious, giving, blessing and favoring God! The proper response to our God is therefore one of thanksgiving!

The gospel today tells us that ten lepers were cured, but only one came back to thank the Lord. More importantly, the gospel today tells us that ten lepers were cured, but only one had faith and was saved! That is the one who came back to thank the Lord!

Indeed, our Sunday Eucharist is a thanksgiving! The word Eucharist in Greek means thanksgiving! Indeed our Eucharistic Prayer which begins at the Preface and ends at the Doxology is a thanksgiving! Thus all the eight “Prefaces of the Sundays in Ordinary Time” begin thus:

“It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God, (through Christ our Lord)”. 

Note that it is our salvation to give thanks to God! In short, those who come to Mass every Sunday to give thanks to God have faith and are saved, but those who do not come to Mass every Sunday to give thanks to God have no faith and are not saved! That is why it is a Mortal Sin not to come to Mass every Sunday!

The Gospel Acclamation today tells us:

“For all things give thanks, because this is what God expects you to do in Christ Jesus”. (1 Thessalonians 5:18; SM)

The fourteenth century German Dominican theologian and mystic Meister Eckhart wrote:

“The most important prayer in the world is just two words long: thank you”. (Gilhooley)

In our own century an American Dominican theologian said that if the only prayer we know is “thank you”, that is good enough!

If we start thanking God right here and now, we will not be able to finish thanking him even at the end of the world! We thank God for the sun and moon, for the sea and land, for the fish and animals, etc.! We thank God for creation, for salvation and for sanctification!

We thank God for the good things as well as the “bad” things, because we believe that God is love and that God can draw good out of evil (Gn 50:20), draw life from death (NT), draw grace from sin, etc.! Thus the Easter Proclamation:

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

Thus we begin our Sunday Mass with this greeting:

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all”.

Indeed, God is love and God can draw grace from sin in Jesus Christ!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us to thank God and not to thank the prophet, or priest, or minister; because they are not God, they are only servants of God!

The first reading tells us that Naaman after being cured of his leprosy wanted to give the prophet Elisha a present to thank him, but Elisha refused the present, because he was not God. He was only a servant of God! Consequently, Namaan asked for some of the soil of Israel so that he can erect an altar on the soil of Israel in Damascus, Syria, to worship the God of Israel, that is, to praise and thank the God of Israel!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us to praise God for salvation! Thus the response:

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

And thus the first and last sentences of the responsorial psalm:

“Sing a new song to the Lord for he has worked wonders” (Ps 97:1; SM)

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

The second reading tells us to proclaim the good news even in the face of persecution, suffering and death, so that all may believe and be saved and give praise to God! Thus we read in the second reading:

“Remember the Good News that I carry, ‘Jesus Christ risen from the dead, sprung from the race of David’; it is on account of this that I have my own hardships to bear, even to being chained like a criminal – but they cannot chain up God’s news. So I bear it all for the sake of those who are chosen, so that in the end they may have the salvation that is in Christ Jesus and the eternal glory that comes with it.” (2 Tm 2:8-10; SM)

Today we thank God for our salvation, and we ask God to continue to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we may proclaim the Good News, even in the face of persecution, suffering and death, and so that all may believe and be saved and give thanks to God! God bless you! Amen!