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!

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) – 19th November 2017

Theme: PREPARE FOR THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS CHRIST: DO GOOD WORKS 

  • Proverbs 31:10-13. 19-20. 30-31
  • Psalm 127:1-5. R. v. 1
  • Thessalonians 5:1-6
  • Matthew 25:14-30

Today is the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, or the 33rd Sunday of the Liturgical Year A. As we come to the end of the Liturgical Year, the readings today tell us about the end times, the end of the world, that is, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! The readings today tell us to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ by doing good works!

The gospel parable tells us of a man who went abroad. Before he went abroad he gave his servants talents to trade with. To one he gave 5 talents, to another 2 talents, and to a third 1 talent. The first servant made 5 more talents, the second servant made 2 more talents, but the third servant buried his 1 talent in the ground. When the master returned after a long while, he said the servant who made 5 more talents, ‘Well done good and faithful servant, you have been faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater, come and join in your master’s happiness’! He said the same to the second servant who made 2 more talents, but to the third servant who buried his 1 talent, the master said, ‘You wicked and lazy servant’! And the master continued, ‘As for this good-for-nothing servant, throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth’!

The Church has chosen the gospel reading of today to tell us to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ by doing good works!

It is important to note that the sin of the third servant who buried his talent is not the sin of commission, but the sin of omission! The third servant was sent to hell, not because he stole, killed, or committed adultery, but because he did nothing! He did not love, serve, and do good works! To go to heaven, it is not enough not to commit sin; we have also to love, serve, and do good works!

The first reading from the book of Proverbs is about the perfect wife! The first reading tells us that the perfect wife is an asset to her husband. Besides other housework, she also makes wool, linen cloth, spins her own thread, and makes cloth (GNB). Besides her housework, she also helps the poor and the needy! But most importantly, she is a wise woman, that is, a woman who ‘fears the Lord’! (NJB/NAB) In fact, ‘the fear of the Lord’ is the theme of the book of Proverbs, which begins with ‘the fear of the Lord’ (1:7) and ends with ‘the fear of the Lord’ (31:30)! The perfect wife is wisdom personified, the fear of the Lord personified!

The fear of the Lord is not a slavish fear, but a reverential fear, a religious fear, a devotional fear, a respectful fear, and a loving fear of loving children for their loving parents!

Again, we have to see this second reading in the context of today’s liturgical theme, that is, we have to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ by ‘fearing the Lord’ and doing good deeds! In fact, we cannot do good deeds, without first fearing the Lord!

The responsorial psalm takes up the theme of the first reading, that is, ‘fear the Lord and walk in his ways’; fear the Lord and obey his will; fear the Lord and keep his commandments; fear the Lord and do not sin; fear the Lord and do good deeds! (127:1)

Again, we have to see the responsorial psalm in the context of today’s liturgical theme, that is, prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ by fearing the Lord and doing good deeds!

Finally, St. Paul tells us in the second reading in his first letter to the Thessalonians that we do not know when is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. We do not know the time or the day! The Second Coming of Jesus Christ will be unexpected and sudden! We have always to be vigilant, watchful, awake, sober and prepared for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!

Today in this 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 to do good works to prepare for his Second Coming, so that when he comes he will say to us, ‘well done, good and faithful servants; you have been faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your Master’s happiness’!

We have often been told to ‘go to hell’, but the good news today tells us to ‘go to heaven’! Go to heaven! This is the good news!

Amen!

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Theme: WE ARE THE LIGHT THAT SHOWS PEOPLE THE WAY TO GOD 

  • Isaiah 58:7-10
  • Psalm 111:4-9. R. v. 4
  • 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
  • John 8:12
  • Matthew 5:13-16

Today is the 5th Sunday of the Year, and the Church has chosen the readings of today to tell us that we are the light that shows people the way to God! In the New Testament light symbolizes: (i) anything that shows the way to God. (ii) Light also symbolizes life and happiness, as opposed to darkness, misery and death. (iii) Light also symbolizes good and God, as darkness symbolizes evil and the Devil, and God and goodness will overcome the Devil and evil. (NJB, Jn 8:12b)

The 3 themes are distinct but inseparable, that is, one who finds God, finds life and happiness, and this life and happiness will be full, complete and perfect at the end of time when good will have overcome evil totally and completely!

The theme that predominates the readings today is that we are the light that shows the way to God, and in fact the Church has chosen the readings today to tell us that we are the light that shows people the way to God!

The gospel acclamation (Jn 8:12) tells us that Jesus is the light that shows the way to God our Father! And the gospel (Mt 5:16) tells us that we the disciples of Jesus are also the light that shows the way to God our Father! The gospel tells us that we are the light and seeing our “good works” people will give praise to God our Father! If we do not do good works we are like the light that is hidden in the tub or under the bed, that is, our light cannot be seen by people, and our light cannot show people the way to God!

The “good work” that we have done in the past for the Tsunami victims is indeed light that shows people the way to God! We collected funds for the Tsunami victims who have lost their families, relatives, properties, belongings, and who have no food, clothes or shelter, and who are threatened by diseases and death, and we also prayed for the more than 200,000 victims who died in the Tsunami disaster.

The war in Iraq is darkness, it does not show people the way to God; but the relief work done by the USA is light that shows people the way to God! The USA besides committing USD 350,000,000.00, also committed an aircraft carrier and a hundred planes for relief work in Aceh, Indonesia. Australia also committed USD 950,000,000.00, Germany committed USD 650,000,000.00, and Japan committed USD 500,000,000.00. The International community has shown great love, care and concern for the victims of the Tsunami disaster, and this is light that shows people the way to God!

The first reading from Third-Isaiah (5th century BC, after the Exile) tells us that our “good works” must not be limited to interpersonal relationships, but must also extend to meta-personal relationships, that is, societal, public, structural, systematic, and institutional relationships. In other words, we must also practice social justice. We must pay our employees just wages. We must not oppress and exploit the poor and the weak and the disenfranchised of society. Justice and charity must be built into the very political structures, economic systems and social institutions of our society!

The first reading tells us to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to pay just wages to the workers, to shelter the homeless, to free the oppressed, and not to exploit the poor, the weak, and the disenfranchised, etc.! The first reading tells us that our light will then shine like the dawn!

The Responsorial Psalm helps us to meditate on the theme of the first reading and the gospel. The response of the responsorial psalm sums up the theme of the responsorial psalm: “The good man is a light in the darkness for the upright”! The good man is a light in his good works. He is generous, merciful and just. He lends to the poor. He gives to the poor and he practices justice, etc.. 

It is easier for me to preach “good works” and “justice”, but it is harder for me to do good works and practice justice, that is why I say with Saint Paul in the second reading today, ‘I do not depend on myself, I do not depend on human philosophy, but I depend on the power of the Holy Spirit, I depend on the power of God.

And that is why we pray, and that is why we celebrate the Eucharist today and every Sunday. Today we celebrate the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his Risen Body and drink his Risen Blood, and our Risen Lord will give us his Holy Spirit, so that through the power of his Holy Spirit, through the power of God, we may do good works and practice justice, and shine as the light that shows people the way to God!

 

Amen!