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!

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 22nd September 2019

Theme: SERVE GOD, NOT MONEY: PRACTICE SOCIAL JUSTICE AND CHARITY TOWARDS THE POOR

  • Amos 8:4-7;
  • Psalm 112:1-2. 4-8. R/ cf. vv. 1. 7;
  • 1 Timothy 2:1-8
  • Luke 16:10-13 (Shorter Form)

Today is the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us to serve God and not to serve money, that is, to practice social justice and charity towards the poor!

The first reading tells us to practice social justice towards the poor. The first reading is from the prophet Amos. Amos was a prophet of social justice! Amos was a prophet in the 8th century BC when the Northern Kingdom of Israel was very rich! But the riches of Israel belonged to the rich and powerful people. More than that, the rich and powerful people oppressed and exploited the poor and the weak people. In short, the rich and powerful people practiced social injustice towards the poor and weak people. The prophet Amos preached against social injustices! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Hear this, you who trample on the needy to do away with the weak of the land. You who say, ‘When will the new moon or the Sabbath feast be over that we may open the store and sell our grain? Let us lower the measure and raise the price; let us cheat and tamper with the scales, and even sell the refuse with the whole grain. We will buy up the poor for money and the needy for a pair of sandals.’ Yahweh, the pride of Jacob, has sworn by himself, ‘I shall never forget their deeds.’” (Am 8: 4-7; CCB)   

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm praises God who raises up the poor! Thus the response:

“Praise the Lord, who raises the poor.” (cf. vv. 1. 7)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza gives praise to God (vv. 1-2). The second stanza exalts and elevates God (vv. 4-6). And the third stanza tells us that God raises up the poor (vv. 7-8). (NJBC) Thus the third stanza from which the response is taken:

“From the dust he lifts up the lowly, from the dungheap he raises the poor to set him in the company of princes, yes, with the princes of his people.” (vv. 7-8)       

The gospel today tells us to practice charity towards the poor and the weak! Our late Pope, Blessed John Paul II, tells us that social justice is not good enough; we must also practice charity towards the poor. Thus we read in the last verse of the long form of the gospel today:

“And so I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome you into the tents of eternity.” (Lk 16: 9; SM)  

The gospel today also tells us that we cannot be the slave of both God and money, that is, we have to serve God and not serve money, that is, we have to serve God by practicing justice and charity towards the poor; and not serve money by practicing injustice towards the poor, and not helping the poor. Thus we read in the gospel today:

“You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.” (Lk 16:13; SM) 

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 us to pray for everyone, because God wants to save everyone! We pray because God is the Savior and we pray for everyone because God wants to save everyone! Thus the caption of the second reading:

“There should be prayers offered for everyone to God, who wants everyone to be saved.”  

Today we thank God for all his blessings, particularly the material blessings, particularly money, and we ask God to help us to practice social justice and charity towards the poor and the needy. God bless you! Amen!

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 8th Sept 2019

Theme: LOVE GOD MORE THAN FATHER, MOTHER, WIFE, HUSBAND, CHILDREN, PARENTS, BROTHERS, SISTERS AND ONESELF 

  • Wisdom 9:13-18;
  • Psalm 89 (90): 3-6. 12-14. 17. R/ v. 1;
  • Philemon 9-10. 12-17;
  • Luke 14:25-33

Today is the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The gospel today tells us to love God more than father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters and even oneself, and to love God more than all of one’s possessions!

We love God more than father and mother, because God loves us more than father and mother, we love God more than wife/husband and children because God loves us more than wife/husband and children, we love God more than brothers and sisters because God loves us more than brothers and sisters!

We love God more than oneself because God loves us more than we love ourselves! Saint Augustine tells us that God loves us more than we love ourselves and God is nearer to us than we are to ourselves! And I add, “God knows us more than we know ourselves”! We love God more than all our possessions because God loves us more than all our possessions! All our possessions cannot give us love, life and happiness! Thus we read in the gospel today:

“If any man comes to me without hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple. Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. …. So in the same way, none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up all his possessions.”! (Lk 14: 26-27. 33)      

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that God gives us Wisdom and the Holy Spirit (Wisdom and Holy Spirit are synonymous; R. H. Fuller) so that we will know the will of God, and so that we will live good moral lives pleasing to God, and so that we will be saved! Thus we read in the first reading:

“And who could ever have known your will, had you not given Wisdom and sent your holy Spirit from above? Thus have the paths of those on earth been straightened and people have been taught what pleases you, and have been saved, by Wisdom.”! (W 9:17-18; NJB)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a prayer for Wisdom and for God’s pity, mercy, love, joy, favor and prosperity! The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas tell us that God is eternal and man is frail and weak, and man’s life is short and made even shorter by sin. But more importantly, the third and fourth stanzas tell us to pray for Wisdom and for God’s pity, mercy, love, joy, favor and prosperity! Thus we read in the third and fourth stanzas of the responsorial psalm:

“Teach us to count our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart. Relent, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants! Fill us at daybreak with your love, that all our days we may sing for joy. May the favor of the Lord our God be ours. Prosper the work of our hands! Prosper the work of our hands!” (Ps 89 (90): 12-14. 17; CSB)

And thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “O Lord, you have been our refuge from one generation to the next.” (Ps 89 (90): 1; SM)

The second reading tells us that St. Paul is in prison and in chains because of the Good News! In the second reading St. Paul is writing to Philemon to request that he set free his slave Onesimus. St. Paul also request that Onesimus be given to him as a companion to help him proclaim the Good News! Thus we read in the second reading:

“This is Paul writing, an old man now and, what is more, still a prisoner of Christ Jesus. I am appealing to you for a child of mine, whose father I became while wearing these chains: I mean Onesimus. I am sending him back to you, and with him – I could say – a part of my self. I should have liked to keep him with me; he could have been a substitute for you, to help me while I am in the chains that the Good News has brought me.” (Phm 9-10. 12-13; SM) 

Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us love God more than father, mother, wife, husband, children, parents, brothers, sisters, and oneself, and all of one’s possessions! The Holy Spirit will help us proclaim the Good News! Amen!

 

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 1st Sept 2019

Theme: PRIDE IS THE GREATEST SIN; HUMILITY IS THE GREATEST VIRTUE

  • Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 3:17-20. 28-29;
  • Psalm 67 (68):4-7. 10-11. R/ cf. v. 11;
  • Hebrews 12:18-19. 22-24
  • Luke 14:1. 7-14

 Today is the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us about humility.

The gospel today tells us that when we are invited to a wedding feast we must not take the place of honor, lest someone who is more honorable than us turns up and we will have to be moved down to the lowest place. But when we are invited to a wedding feast we must take the lowest place so that when no one more honorable than us turns up we will be moved up to the place of honor!

This gospel parable tells us a very important spiritual truth, that is, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the man who humbles himself will be exalted.”! (Lk 14:11; SM) That is, God humbles the proud and raises up the humble! A parallel passage is found in the same gospel of Luke in chapter 18: 9-14. It is the parable on the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.

The parable tells us that a Pharisee and a tax collector went to the Temple to pray. The Pharisee prayed to himself, thanking God that he was not greedy, dishonest and adulterous, like the rest of men, particularly, he was not like the tax collector. He fasted twice a week and he gave tithes (10%) of all of his income to the Temple. The tax collector on the other hand prayed to God for mercy. The tax collector was justified but the Pharisee was not justified! Again, “For everyone who raises himself up will be humbled, but anyone who humbles himself will be raised up.” (Lk 18:14; NJB)

Indeed, pride is the greatest sin and humility is the greatest virtue! Satan (the Devil) fell from heaven because of pride (1 Tm 3:6)! (CGDB) And Satan tempted Adam and Eve with the Original Sin of pride; and Adam and Eve fell also because of pride! The Pharisees in today’s gospel fell also because of pride! But most importantly, the world was saved because of humility, because of the humility of Jesus Christ!

The letter to the Philippians tells us that Jesus the second Adam and the new Adam was opposite of the first Adam and the old Adam who was proud, who though a man wanted to be God! Jesus was God but he humbled himself and became man and he became lower than man by accepting death on the cross, but the Father raised him from the dead and saved the whole world through him! (Ph 2:6-9; NJB)

In the “Gospel Acclamation” today Jesus tells us: “Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.” (Mt 11:29; SM) That is, carry the cross of Jesus and learn from Jesus, for he is gentle and humble in heart, that is, he depends on God the Father, he trust and believe in God his Father. He puts his faith in God his Father! A proud man on the other hand trust, believe and depend on himself. He puts his faith in himself!

Saint Augustine (354-430) was asked as to which are the three most important virtues! St. Augustine answered: “humility, humility and humility”! If we were to ask St. Augustine which are the three biggest sins, I believe he will answer: “pride, pride and pride”! Again, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the man who humbles himself will be exalted.”! (Lk 14:11; SM)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that God favors the humble and he listens to the prayers of the humble (NJB), but there is no cure for the sickness of the proud! (Lefrois) 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; SM)

The last verse (v. 28) of the above quotation – “There is no cure for the proud man’s malady” – reminds me of what Cardinal Rozales of the Philippines said in our annual priests’ retreat in “Bundu Tuhan”, Sabah some years back. He said that in order for us to be humble we need to be humbled / humiliated! We cannot humble ourselves but others can humble/humiliate us and help us to be humble! Therefore if someone humbles/humiliates you, give thanks to God! Praise the Lord!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God gives new life and home to the poor and the humble! The responsorial psalm is a hymn of praise to God who gives new life and home to the poor and the humble. (Fuller)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first and second stanzas tell us to give praise to God. The third stanza tells us that God gives new life and home to the poor and the humble. (CSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm which is taken from the third stanza:

“In your goodness, O God, you prepared a home for the poor. (for the humble; NJB)

Indeed, God gives a home to the poor and the humble not only on earth, but also in heaven! (Fuller) Thus the second part of the second reading tells us about heaven! The second reading tells us that we will be in heaven with God the Father, with Jesus Christ, with the angels, with the saints, and with one another, indeed with the whole world! (NJBC; Craghan) Thus we read in the second reading:

“But what you have come to is Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem where the millions of angels have gathered for the festival, with the whole Church in which everyone is a ‘first-born son’ and a citizen of heaven. You have come to God himself, the supreme Judge, and been placed with spirits of the saints who have been made perfect; and to Jesus, the mediator who brings a new covenant.”! (Heb 12:22-24; SM)

Indeed, just as we fell from heaven with the pride of Satan, we will go to heaven with the humility of Jesus!

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 humble, to depend on God, to trust in God and to put our faith in Go d our Father! The Holy Spirit will help us to pray so that like Jesus Christ, all our actions will come from the Father and go back to the Father!Amen!

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 25th August 2019

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 

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!

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!

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!

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)    

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!