19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 11th August 2019

Theme: THE END OF THE WORLD: THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS CHRIST

  • Wisdom 18:6-9;
  • Psalm 32 (33):1. 12. 18-20. 22. R/ v. 12;
  • Hebrews 11:1-2. 8-12. (Shorter Form)
  • Luke 12:35-40 (Shorter Form) 

Today is the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The gospel today tells us about the end of the world, that is, the end of the evil world, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, when all will be saved!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus will come a second time, but we do not know when. That is why we must always be ready for his Second Coming! Thus the “Gospel Acclamation” today:

“Stay awake and stand ready, because you do no know the hour when the Son of Man is coming.” (Mt 24:42. 44; SM) 

And thus the gospel today ends:

“You too must stand ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Lk 12:40; SM)

To prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the end of time, we must pray, we must do the will of God, and we must be detached from the world!

The first reading tells us that when Jesus Christ comes a second time he will destroy sin and death completely and finally and he will save the whole world!

The first reading tells us about the destruction of the first-born of the Egyptians and the salvation of the Israelites in the Exodus from Egypt! Thus the caption of the first reading:

“By the same act with which you took vengeance on our foes you made us glorious by calling us to you.” (Ws 18:8; SM)

But more importantly, the first reading prefigures the second and new Exodus of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit destroys sin and saves us from death! Today the Holy Spirit continues to destroy sin and saves us from death in the Sacrament of Baptism!

But most importantly, the first reading prefigures the Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the end of time when sin and death will be completely destroyed and we will all be saved!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the Sunday. The responsorial psalm tells us that as baptized Christians we are the chosen people of God and as we prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ we are to hope and pray for his love and he will rescue us from death!

The responsible psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza (vv. 1 & 12) tells us that as baptized Christians we are the chosen people of God! Thus the response which is taken from the first stanza:

“Happy are the people the Lord has chosen as his own.” (Ps 32 (33): 12; SM) 

The second stanza (vv. 18-19; SM) tells us to hope in God’s love and he will save us from death! The third stanza (vv. 20 & 22) tells us to pray and hope in God’s love and he will save us from death! (IBC)

Incidentally, the second reading also follows the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us that we have to hold on to our faith until the end of our lives and until the end of the world, even and especially in the face of persecutions and the Lord will save us! The second reading was addressed to the Jewish Christians who were persecuted and who were losing their faith! (NJB; CCB)

The second reading gives us the example of Abraham! Abraham held on to his faith even in the face of many obstacles! Abraham had to go to a land he did not know. He was promised a son in his old age and his wife was barren. And finally he was asked to sacrifice Isaac, the son of the promise! (Longer Form, vv. 17-19; SM) But, because of his faith, Abraham was blessed with many descendants, as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the grains of sand on the seashore!

We are therefore to hold on to our faith to the end of our lives and to the end of the world, even in the face of persecutions and we will be blessed with salvation!

Today we thank God for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of our sins and for saving us from death. And we ask God to continue to give us the Holy Spirit to help us to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ when all will be saved! Again, we prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ by prayer, by doing the will of God and by detaching ourselves from the world! God bless you!  Amen!

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 4th August 2019

Theme: MONEY CANNOT BUY LIFE, LOVE AND HAPPINESS

  • Ecclesiastes/Qoheleth 1:2; 2:21-23;
  • Psalm 89 (90):3-6. 12-14. 17. R/ v. 1;
  • Colossians 3:1-5. 9-11
  • Luke 12:13-21

Today is the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us that money cannot buy life, love and happiness. Life, love and happiness are the three most important things! They are found in heaven! And God gives them to us through the death and resurrection of his Son and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! Seek first the kingdom of God and all the other things will be given to you as well! That is, seek first salvation and all of creation will be given to you as well!

The gospel today tells us that a man in the crowd asked Jesus to tell his brother to give him his share of their inheritance, but Jesus did not respond to his request. Instead Jesus told them something more important, that is, life does not come from wealth, even if we have more than we need! Then Jesus told them the “parable of the rich fool”:

There was once a rich man who had a bountiful harvest. The harvest was so plentiful that he had to build new storehouses to store his harvest! Then the rich man thought to himself that his harvest will last him a life time, he will now take things easy and eat and drink and have a good time; but that very night God took away his soul, that is, he died!

We may not be physically dead, but we may be spiritually dead, that is, our souls may be dead because of sin and there is no life, love and happiness in our souls. Like the “rich fool” we cannot enjoy our rich harvest, that is, though we may be rich we have no life, love and happiness!

That is why the “Gospel Acclamation” today tell us:

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

The poor in spirit are not only the materially or spiritually poor, but the poor in spirit are those who are dependent on God and God will bless them with his life, love and happiness from heaven!    

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel, but the first reading is not good news, but bad news! The first reading tells us that without God our lives are futile, empty and meaningless! “Vanity of vanity”! We work hard day and night year after year only to die and leave our possessions to others who never worked for it. And to make things worse our possessions may all be wasted in one generation by those who never worked for it! (Qo 2:18-19) “Vanity of vanity”! Without God it is all futility, emptiness and meaninglessness!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the Sunday. The responsorial psalm tells us that life and death, and love and happiness come from God. That is why we have to pray for wisdom to live a life of love and happiness!

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas (vv. 3-6) tell us that life and death come from God! The third and fourth stanzas (vv. 12-14. 17) tell us to pray for wisdom to live a life of love and happiness! The fourth stanza (v. 17) also tells us to pray for God’s blessings so that the work of our hands may be successful! Thus the response:

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

Incidentally, the second reading also follows the theme of the Sunday. The second reading has two paragraphs. The first paragraph (vv. 1-4) tells us to look for the things of heaven so that we can find life (NJB), love and happiness!

The second paragraph (vv. 5. 9-11) tells us not to look for the things of earth, because the things of earth may tempt us to sin and sin brings death and in death there is no love and happiness!

Today we thank God for creation and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit of his life, love and happiness! Again, seek first the kingdom of God and all the other things will be given to you as well! (Lk 12:31; Mt 6:33) That is, seek first salvation and all of creation will be given to you as well! God bless you! Amen!

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 14th July 2019

Theme: THE WORD OF GOD IS LIFE, LOVE AND HAPPINESS

  • Deuteronomy 30:10-14;
  • Psalm 18:8-11. R/ v. 9;
  • Colossians 1:15-20
  • Luke 10:25-37

Today is the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us that the Word of God is life, love and happiness! Thus the Gospel Acclamation:

“Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life: you have the message of eternal life.” (cf. Jn 6:63. 68)

The gospel today tells us that the law of God gives us life! That is, if we keep the law of God by loving God and neighbor we will find life! But experience tells us that we cannot love God and neighbor on our own strength. The good news is that the law of God is fulfilled in Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ loved God and neighbor and through his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit he will fulfill the law of God in us, so that we too will love God and neighbor and find life!

Today Jesus Christ continues to fulfill the law of God in us through the power of the Holy Spirit, especially in the Sacraments, and especially in the Sacrament of Sacraments, that is, the Holy Eucharist, so that we will love God and neighbor and find life!

The second part of the gospel is an elaboration of the first part of the gospel. The second part of the gospel which is the parable of the Good Samaritan tells us that besides loving God we must also love our neighbor. In fact we cannot love God without also loving our neighbor! And we have to love not only in thoughts and words, but also in deeds and in actions!

The parable tells us that the priest and the Levite loved God, but they did not love their neighbor! The priest and Levite were on their way from Jerusalem to Jericho, that is, they were on their way back from service in the Temple (IBC) in Jerusalem, but they did not stop to help the man who was beaten, robbed and stripped by the robbers. It was the Good Samaritan who stopped to help the man in need. He poured oil and wine on his wounds and bandaged him and he put him on his animal and brought him to the inn and cared for him. He also paid the innkeeper to continue to care for him!

The Good Samaritan is Jesus Christ himself and we are the man beaten, robbed and stripped by the robbers! Jesus Christ loved us in deeds and in action, so that we too can love those in need, in deeds and in action! Our love for God and neighbor is only a response to the love of God for us in Jesus Christ. We love God because God first loved us and we love our neighbor because God first loved us! (E. Lawrence)

The first reading tells us that the law is not beyond our strength and beyond our reach. The law is not in heaven so that we need someone to go to heaven to take it down for us to hear and keep. And the law is not across the sea so that we need someone to cross the sea to bring it to us to hear and keep! No, the law is very near to us, the law is in our mouths and in our hearts for us to observe!

This first reading is the “gospel” of Deuteronomy (IBC)! It is similar to Jeremiah 31:33 and Ezekiel 36:26-27 where God puts his law in our hearts, where God gives us a new heart, where God puts his Spirit in our hearts so that we will keep his law and find life! In fact this first reading should not begin from verse 10, but should begin with verse 6 where God will circumcise our hearts and make us keep his laws so that we will find life and prosperity! (NJBC; IBC; CCB)

The responsorial psalm tells us that the law of God gives us happiness! Thus the response:

“The precepts of the Lord gladden the heart.” (Ps 18:9; SM)

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas tell us that the law of God gives us life, wisdom, joy and faith! Thus the first and second stanzas:

“The law of the Lord is perfect, it revives the soul. The rule of the Lord is to be trusted, it gives wisdom to the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, they gladden the heart. The command of the Lord is clear, it gives light to the eyes.” (Ps 18: 8-9; SM)

The fourth stanza tells us that the laws of God are better than gold and sweeter than honey! Thus we read in the fourth stanza:

“They are more to be desired than gold, than the purest of gold and sweeter are they than honey, than honey from the comb.” (Ps 18:11; SM)  

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 tells us that everything was created in Jesus Christ, through Jesus Christ and for Jesus Christ and more importantly, everything was saved in Jesus Christ, through Jesus Christ and for Jesus Christ!

In the Mass we meet the Liturgical Christ, but in Creation we meet the Cosmic Christ! In the second reading today we meet the Cosmic Christ! Indeed, a liturgist who lectures in the seminary told me that in the Evening Prayer, the Divine Office, the Liturgy of the Hours, we meet the Liturgical Christ, but in viewing the planets and the stars we meet the Cosmic Christ!

That is why some priests are both “astronomers” and “environmentalists”! It is all about creation! The God who saved us is in the first place the God who created us! This is in the very first article of our creed! Thus the first article of the Apostles’ Creed:

“I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.”

A professor in the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California, told me that today we have forgotten about God the Father, the Creator, thus the environmental destruction!

Today we thank God for his word of life, love and happiness fulfilled in Jesus Christ and we ask God to continue to fulfill this word in us through the power of his Holy Spirit, especially in the Sacraments, and especially in the Sacraments of Sacraments, that is, the Holy Eucharist, so that we may love God and neighbor and find life, love and happiness! A blessed Sunday to all of you! Amen!

THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST (C) – 23rd June 2019

Theme: THE EUCHARIST EFFECTS SALVATION

  • Genesis 14:18-20;
  • Psalm 109 (110): 1-4. R/ v. 4;
  • 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
  • Luke 9:11-17 

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ or “Corpus Christi”! The gospel today tells us that Jesus fed five thousand men with five loaves and two fish! Indeed the Lord feeds us with the material food of creation!

But more importantly, the gospel today tells us that Jesus also feeds us with spiritual food! That is why the four actions of Jesus in today’s gospel correspond to the four actions of Jesus in the institution of the Holy Eucharist, that is, take, thank, break and give! In the Eucharist Jesus gives us his body to eat and his blood to drink!

This is expressed most clearly in the Gospel Acclamation today, especially when it is quoted in full from the Bible:

“I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world.” (Jn 6:51; NJB)  

The second reading tells us about the institution of the Eucharist. It is the most ancient written account of the institution of the Eucharist in the New Testament, more ancient than even the gospel accounts. It dates back to 55 A.D. (CCB), that is, twenty years after Jesus’ death and resurrection!

The second reading tells us that in the institution of the Eucharist, Jesus did four actions, that is, (i) he took, (ii) he thanked, (iii) he broke and (iv) he gave.

He gave us his body and blood, that is, he gave us himself, his life, his Spirit! And he commanded us to do it in his memory, that is, to make present, real and effective his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world!

That is why the second reading concludes by telling us that when we eat the bread and drink the cup we are proclaiming the saving death of the Lord until he comes again when all will be saved! That is, The Most Holy Eucharist of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ effect salvation!

The first reading tells us about Melchizedek the priest-king. Melchizedek offered Abraham bread and wine, a symbol of the Eucharist! (Patristic tradition; NJB) Melchizedek blessed Abraham and Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything!

The letter to the Hebrews (7:1-10) sees in Melchizedek a type of Christ! Melchizedek had no beginning and no end. He had no father or mother, no ancestor. He was like the Son of God! He was a priest forever! He was greater than Abraham! That is why he blessed Abraham and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything! Melchizedek prefigured Jesus Christ!

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

“You are a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old.” (Ps 109 (110):4; SM)

That is, Jesus Christ is a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old!

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas (vv. 1-2) tell us that God gives victory to his king! The third stanza (v. 3) tells us that the king is the “son” of God! And the fourth stanza (v. 4) from which the response is taken tells us that the king is the priest of God! Thus again the response:

“You are a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old.” (Ps 109 (110): 4; SM) That is, Jesus Christ is a priest for ever, a priest like Melchizedek of old!

Today the priest continues in the priesthood of Jesus Christ! He does what Jesus asked him to do in his memory, that is, to make present, real and effective his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world!

Today the priest does the four actions Jesus did in the institution of the Eucharist, that is, he takes (Offertory), he thanks (Eucharistic Prayer), he breaks (Breaking of Bread) and he gives (Holy Communion)!

He gives the Body of Christ! He gives the Body of the Risen Lord! The Risen Body is symbolized by the placing of the small piece of the broken host in the chalice! And when we eat the bread and drink the cup we proclaim the saving death of the Lord until he comes again when all will be saved! Again, the Most Holy Eucharist of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ effect salvation!

Again, come to Mass every Sunday and tell others to come to Mass every Sunday! It is your salvation and my salvation! It is our salvation! A happy and blessed Corpus Christi to all of you! Amen!

References: New Jerusalem Bible (NJB); Christian Community Bible (CCB); Sunday Missal (SM).  

THE MOST HOLY TRINITY / TRINITY SUNDAY (C) – 16th June 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fr. Nicholas Ong, Holy Trinity Catholic Church (HTCC), Tawau, Sabah, Malaysia, 

 

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

4th Sunday of Easter (C) – 12th May 2019 (Good Shepherd Sunday/Vocation Sunday)

Theme: THE GOOD SHEPHERD KNOWS, LOVES AND SACRIFICES HIMSELF FOR HIS SHEEP

  • Acts 13:14. 43-52;
  • Psalm 99 (100): 1-3. 5. R/ v. 3;
  • Apocalypse (Revelation) 7:9. 14-17
  • Jn 10:27-30 

Today is the 4th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical year C. Today is also Good Shepherd Sunday/Vocation Sunday! The gospel today tells us about Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd. To begin with, the gospel today taken from John chapter 10 on the Good Shepherd is a commentary on John chapter 9 on the “Bad Shepherd”, that is, the Pharisees who excommunicated the cured blind man from the synagogue! (CSB)

The Gospel Acclamation today tells us that the Good Shepherd knows his sheep and his sheep know him, that is, the Good Shepherd knows and loves his sheep and his sheep know and love him! (Jn 10:14; NJB) To know is to love and to love is to know! We cannot love someone we do not know!

The gospel today tells us that the Good Shepherd gives eternal life to his sheep, and his sheep will not be lost, and no one can steal his sheep from him! That is, the Good Shepherd through his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit gives eternal life to his sheep! That is why his sheep will not be lost and no one can steal his sheep from him!

The gospel also tells us that the Good Shepherd and the Father are one! That is, the Good Shepherd lives in love and unity with the Father; the Good shepherd is in communion, communication and community with the Father! In fact the Good Shepherd shares in the very divine nature of the Father!

The second reading also tells us about the Good Shepherd. The second reading tells us that the Lamb of God who was slain and sacrificed and who washed away our sins with his blood is the Good Shepherd! That is why he can give us eternal life! In fact, only he can give us eternal life! Thus we read in the second reading:

“They will never hunger or thirst again; neither the sun nor scorching wind will ever plague them, because the Lamb who is at the throne will be their shepherd and will lead them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.” (Rv 7:16-17; SM)

The gospel and the second reading today tell us that the Good Shepherd knows and loves his sheep, sacrifices himself for his sheep, and is one with the Father! Let us today give thanks to God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd, and let us ask God to give us Good Shepherds who will know and love us, who will sacrifice themselves for us and who will be one with the Father in faith and prayer!

The Good Shepherd is not only for the Jews. The Good Shepherd is also for the pagans and non-Jews! Indeed, the Good Shepherd is for all the nations and for the whole world!

The first reading today tells us that the word of God, the good news, is not only for the Jews, but the word of God, the good news, is also for the non-Jews, the pagans! In fact the first reading tells us that the Jews rejected the word of God, the good news; as a result the word of God was preached to the pagans and the pagans accepted it with joy! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, ‘we had to proclaim the word of God to you first, but since you have rejected it, since you do not think yourselves worthy of eternal life, we must turn to the pagans. For this is what the Lord commanded us to do when he said:

I have made you a light for the nations, so that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth.’” (Ac 13: 46-47; SM)

The responsorial psalm also tells us about the Good Shepherd. The responsorial psalm is a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to God our Shepherd. (HCSB) Thus the response:

“We are his people, the sheep of his flock.” (Ps 99 (100): 3; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza gives praise and thanks to God (vv. 1-2). The second stanza gives praise and thanks to God because he is our creator and shepherd (v. 3)! The third stanza gives praise and thanks to God for his goodness and faithful love (v. 5)!

Today, Good Shepherd Sunday, we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, and we ask God to give us Good Shepherds who will know and love us, who will sacrifice themselves for us, and who will be one in faith and prayer with God the Father!

Today is also Vocation Sunday, today we thank God for the many priestly and religious vocations, and today we ask God to give us many more priestly and religious vocations. Today in our diocese of Sandakan, we have 7 priests and 1 bishop! Today we also have 12 seminarians in our seminary, 5 in Kota Kinabalu and 7 in Kuching. Today we thank God for our seminarians and we continue to pray for them. Today the first and second collections will be given to our Bishop for the upkeep of our seminary and our seminarians.

A happy Easter to all of you, and a happy Good Shepherd and Vocation Sunday to all of you! Amen!

Today, let us also reflect on “Evangelization” and “Pastoral Care”. The two themes are related. In evangelization we proclaim the good news, so that others may believe and be baptized! In pastoral care we continue to love and care for the baptized!

In fact these two themes were present in the longer form of the gospel of last Sunday (Jn 21:1-19; SM; Faley; Brown)! In the shorter form of the gospel of last Sunday, Peter was presented to us as the fisherman, the fisher of men, to catch men for God, that is, evangelization; but the longer form of the gospel presented Peter to us as the shepherd who feeds Jesus’ sheep, that is, pastoral care!

Today the first reading also tells us about evangelization, and the second reading and the gospel tell us about pastoral care!

Three weeks ago on Easter Vigil Night many of our brothers and sisters received the three sacraments of Christian Initiation, namely, Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist! We need to continue to love and care for them! We need to invite them to be with us in the Alpha Course, the Prayer Meetings, the Neo-Catechumenal Communities, the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs), the Bible-Sharing Groups, the Legion of Mary, etc.!

Most importantly, parents and godparents must make sure that our newly baptised and confirmed attend Mass every Sunday! The shepherds must make sure that the sheep eat and drink every Sunday! Again, a happy Good Shepherd Sunday to all of you!  Amen!

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 17th Feb 2019

Theme: TRUST IN GOD; NOT IN MAN

  • Jeremiah 17:5-8;
  • Psalm 1:1-4. 6. R/ Ps 39:5;
  • 1 Corinthians 15:12. 16-20
  • Luke 6:17. 20-26

Today is the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us to trust in God and not to trust in man, in the world, in money, etc.

The gospel today tells us that the poor are happy because the kingdom of God belongs to them. That is, in the kingdom of God, the rich will share their money with the poor, and there will be love (charity), justice and peace (shalom)! More importantly, the gospel tells us that the poor are happy because they trust in God and not in man, in the world, in money, etc. (Fuller/Faley)

The gospel also tells us that the rich will not be happy because they do not share their money with the poor. They do not practice justice and charity (love). More importantly, the gospel also tells us that the rich will not be happy, because they do not trust in God, but they trust in man, in the world, in money, etc.

In short, the gospel today tells us to trust in God and not to trust in man, and to share our money with the poor, so that there will be love (charity), justice and peace (shalom)! And all of us will be happy!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us not to trust in man, but to trust in God.

The first reading tells us that the man who trusts in man is cursed. He is like a shrub planted in the desert where there is no water and no life. Where there is only salt and sand. No good can come to him and no good can come from him!

But more importantly, the first reading tells us that the man who trusts in God is blessed. He is like a tree planted next to a stream of water. Even when it is hot its leaves remain green and even when there is no rain it still bears fruit! This is because its roots draw water from the ever flowing stream! Thus we read in the first reading:

“A blessing on the man who puts his trust in the Lord, with the Lord for his hope. He is like a tree by the waterside that thrusts its roots to the stream: when the heat comes it feels no alarm, its foliage stays green; it has no worries in a year of drought, and never ceases to bear fruit.”! (Jr 17:7-8)   

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us to trust in God. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Happy the man who has placed his trust in the Lord.”! (Ps 39 (40):5/SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us to trust in God by avoiding the wicked and by keeping the laws of God. (Ps 1:1-2) The second stanza tells us that if we trust in God we are like a tree planted next to a stream. Its leaves are always green and it always bears fruit! And all that we do will succeed! Thus we read in the second stanza of the responsorial psalm:

“He is like a tree that is planted beside the flowing waters, that yields its fruit in due season and whose leaves shall never fade; and all that he does shall prosper.” (Ps 1:3)      

The third stanza tells us that the wicked who does not trust in God by keeping His law will be like winnowed chaff blown away by the wind. For the Lord protects the just, but the way of the wicked leads to doom. (Ps 1:4. 6)

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday. The second reading is a continuation of last Sunday’s second reading. Again, in the second reading today, Paul tells the Corinthians to believe in the bodily resurrection of the dead!

Paul tells the Corinthians that if they do not believe in the resurrection of the dead, they do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, their faith is useless, and their sins are not forgiven and they are not saved!

The Corinthians believed that their sins were forgiven and that they were saved, so they had to believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and in the bodily resurrection of the dead!

More importantly, Paul tells the Corinthians that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead and he is the first-fruits, and that they, the rest of the harvest, will be raised with him from the dead! Thus we read in the second reading:

“But Christ has in fact been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep.” (1 Co 15:20/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 to trust in God and not in man, in the world, and in money, etc. The Holy Spirit will help us share our money with the poor by practicing justice and charity.

The Holy Spirit will help us believe in the bodily resurrection of the dead and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, so that our sins will be forgiven and we will be saved!    Amen!