21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 23rd Aug 2020

Theme: PETER: THE FIRST POPE

  • Isaiah 22:19-23;
  • Psalm 137 (138): 1-3. 6. 8. R/ v. 8;
  • Romans 11:33-36
  • Matthew 16:13-20

Today is the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The gospel today tells us that after Peter professed his faith in Jesus that he was the “Christ” / Messiah and “the Son of the living God”, Jesus appointed him to be the first Pope! Jesus gave him the keys of the kingdom of heaven, so that whatever he binds on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever he loose on earth will be loosed in heaven!

Peter is given the authority to teach and to excommunicate. (CSB) Today we believe that our present Pope Benedict XVI is a direct successor of St. Peter the first Pope in an unbroken line of 266 Popes over 2000 years! We also believe that our Bishops are the direct successors of the Twelve Apostles. That is why at every Mass we pray for our Pope and Bishop, even mentioning their names!

We believe that the word of God is not only the Bible, but the word of God is the Bible, the Church and Tradition. Before the gospels were written the word of God was in the Church and in Tradition, that is, Oral Tradition. The word of God was proclaimed through word of mouth.

The four gospels were written some 40 to 60 years after Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! The gospel of Mark was written around the year 70, the gospels of Matthew and Luke were written around the year 80, and the gospel of John was written around the year 90! Jesus died and rose from the dead around the year 30!

Today there are important issues that are not directly and explicitly addressed in the Bible. Important issues like the ecological crisis, globalization, population explosion, dialogue with Islam, etc.

There are also important issues within the Church that are not directly and explicitly addressed by the Bible. Issues like married priests, women priests, and even the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary which we celebrated only a few days ago. We need the Church to teach us on these issues and to discipline us on these issues. And we need to obey the Church on these issues!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us about the appointment of Eliakim to be the master of the palace of King Hezekiah.

Eliakim is given the key to the door of the palace. He can grant or deny access to the palace of the King. Thus we read in the first reading:

“I place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; should he open, no one shall close, should he close, no one shall open.” (Is 22:22; SM)

Eliakim prefigures Peter in today’s gospel who was given the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Peter can grant or deny access to the kingdom of heaven!

The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving for deliverance, but in the context of today’s readings it can be read as a thanksgiving for God’s call to be the master of the palace in the case of Eliakim, and for God’s call to be the first Pope in the case of Peter.

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first and second stanzas are a thanksgiving. The third stanza tells us that God will not abandon the humble! Thus the last verse of the responsorial psalm which is also the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Your love, O Lord, is eternal, discard not the work of your hands.” (Ps 137 (138): 8; SM)

The second reading today is a continuation of last Sunday’s second reading. In last Sunday’s second reading, St. Paul tells us about the merciful plan of God, where the rejection of Jesus by the Jews meant that the gospel will be preached to the non-Jews. And when the non-Jews accept the gospel, the Jews will be envious and will also accept the gospel. In this way both Jews and non-Jews will be saved through the merciful plan of God.

In the second reading today, St. Paul gives glory to God for his wise and merciful plan of salvation both for Jews and non-Jews. St. Paul ends by giving glory to God who created all things, continues to sustain all things and is the end and goal of all things. (NJBC) Thus we read in the second reading:

“All that exists comes from him; all is by him and for him. To him be glory for ever! Amen.” (Rm 11:36; 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 obey the word of God in the Bible and in the teaching and tradition of the Church. The Holy Spirit will also help us give glory to God for his wise and merciful plan of salvation for both Jews and non-Jews. A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen!

4th Sunday of Lent (Year A) – 22nd March 2020

Theme: LENT IS A TIME WHEN WE PREPARE TO CELEBRATE THE SACRAMENTS OF INITIATION: BAPTISM, CONFIRMATION AND EUCHARIST

  • 1 Samuel 16:1. 6-7. 10-13;
  • Psalm 22. R/ v. 1;
  • Ephesians 5:8-14
  • John 9:1-41 (Shorter Form, verses 1. 6-9. 13-17. 34-38)

Today is the 4th Sunday of Lent. Today is also “Rejoice” Sunday or joyful Sunday! We are joyful because we are more than half way through to Easter! That is why today we use rose vestments instead of purple vestments!

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! Besides receiving the sacrament of baptism, some of us are also receiving the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist! These three sacraments are the sacraments of initiation into full communion with the Catholic Church!

The readings today tell us about these three sacraments of initiation, namely, baptism, confirmation and Eucharist.

The gospel today tells us about the sacrament of baptism. The gospel today tells us that Jesus “anointed” (Lefrois; Brown) the blind man with saliva mixed with earth and told the blind man to wash himself in the Pool of Siloam. Siloam means ‘sent’. Jesus was sent by the Father. After washing himself, the blind man could see, that is, see with the eyes of faith! He could see God in creation, in salvation, and in sanctification!

Washing, anointing and faith are three important themes of baptism. When we are baptized, we are washed with the waters of baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit cleanses us of our sins and gives us new life! A new life that is even better than the life before sin! Paul tells us that the grace of Jesus Christ more than compensated for the sin of Adam! When sin increased, grace increased all the more!

After that we are anointed with the oil of Chrism as Christ was anointed priest, prophet and king. We share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ. As a priest, I share in the “ministerial priesthood” of Christ in the “parish church”. You share in the “common priesthood” of Christ. This is especially evident in the “BECs” (Basic Ecclesial Communities), that is, in the “community church” and in the “domestic church” where the head of the house presides in prayer and worship. You are also prophets. You proclaim the word of God and you share and pray and act on the word of God in the BECs! You are also kings. You build the kingdom of God and you build the Church by building BECs of love and unity, and of justice and peace!

After washing himself, the blind man could see with the eyes of faith! The gospel tells us that not only the blind man had faith, but that his faith also grew. At first he saw Jesus as a man, then he recognized Jesus to be a prophet, and finally he believed in the Son of Man, Jesus and worshipped him as Lord! The Pharisees on the other hand did not believe in Jesus, then they did not even believe that the blind man was blind, and finally they believed that Jesus was a sinner! Even today there are those who believe that Jesus was a sinner! Indeed, they have lost their faith!

After baptism, we have to renew our baptism every year, so that like the blind man, our faith will grow stronger and stronger every year! Otherwise like the Pharisees our faith will grow weaker and weaker every year!

There is another important theme of baptism found in the longer form of the gospel today, that is, light! It is related to the theme of faith, particularly to the faith of the blind man. Light in the New Testament basically, symbolizes three things, namely, faith, life and good. (NJB; Jn 8:12) The three themes are related, that is, if we have faith in God, we will receive new life, and this new life is a life of good and good works!

The gospel today tells us about the light of faith. Thus we read in the long form of the gospel: “As long as I am in the world I am the light of the world.” (Jn 9:5; SM)

The Gospel Acclamation today tells us about the light of life. Thus we read in the Gospel Acclamation: “I am the light of the world, says the Lord; anyone who follows me will have the light of life.” (Jn 8:12; SM)

Finally the second reading tells us about the light of good and good works. Thus we read in the second reading: “You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord; be like children of light, for the effects of the light are seen in complete goodness and right living and truth.” (Ep 5:8-9; SM)

After baptism and after being anointed with the oil of Chrism, we will be given candles lighted from the big Easter candle symbolizing the light of Jesus Christ, the light of faith, life and goodness!

The first reading tells us about the sacrament of confirmation. To confirm is to strengthen, to make strong. In the sacrament of baptism we are born again in the Holy Spirit. In the sacrament of confirmation we are made strong in the Holy Spirit! David was a youth, but he was made strong in the Spirit so he could defeat the giant Goliath! We read this in the next chapter (1 S 17). Thus we read in the first reading:

“The Lord said, ‘Come, anoint him, for this is the one.’ At this, Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him where he stood with his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord seized on David and stayed with him from that day on.” (1 S 16:12-13; SM) In the next chapter, David defeats the giant Goliath! (1 S 17)

The responsorial psalm today tells us about the Eucharist! Just as we are born again in baptism and we are made strong in confirmation, we continue to grow stronger and stronger in the Eucharist by eating the body of Christ and drinking the blood of Christ every Sunday! That is why it is important to come to Mass every Sunday after baptism! If we do not eat and drink, we die! Our faith will die! That is why not coming to Mass on Sunday is a mortal sin! The word mortal is from a Latin word meaning death!

Again, it is the Lord who provides – providence! The Lord provides us with both material food and drink, and spiritual food and drink! Thus we read in the first and third stanzas of the responsorial psalm depicting the Lord as Shepherd and Host respectively:

“The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose. Near restful waters he leads me, to revive my drooping spirit.” (Stanza 1; SM)

“You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes. My head you have anointed with oil; my cup is overflowing.” (Stanza 3; SM)

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. Besides receiving the sacrament of baptism, some of us are also receiving the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist.

Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the sacraments of initiation, namely, baptism, confirmation and Eucharist. That is why the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms to the poor during this time of Lent. A happy Lent to all of you! Amen!

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 20th Oct 2019

Theme: PRAY CONTINUALLY AND PERSISTENTLY THAT YOU MAY NOT LOSE YOUR FAITH AND LOSE YOUR GOD

  • Exodus 17:8-13;
  • Psalm 120. R/ cf. v. 2;
  • 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2
  • Luke 18:1-8

Today is the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us about prayer. The gospel today tells us to pray persistently that we may not lose our faith! (CSB; IBC) Thus the first and the last sentence of the gospel:

“Jesus told his disciples a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. …. And the Lord said, ‘But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?’” (Lk 18: 1 & 8b; SM)

The question is: “will he find any faith on earth?” The answer is: “he will find faith on earth if we pray continually and persistently!” Not only pray, but pray persistently!

The gospel tells us about the parable of the unjust judge and the persistent widow. The gospel tells us that the unjust judge had no fear of God or respect for man; but more importantly, the gospel tells us that the persistent widow kept on demanding justice from the unjust judge until he gave her justice!

The emphasis of the gospel is not on the unjust judge, nor even on God who answers our prayers; but the emphasis is on the persistent widow! In short, the gospel today tells us to pray continually and persistently that we may not lose our faith!

If we lose our faith, we lose God, and if we lose God, we lose everything, including the most important things, that is, love, life and happiness! We lose the God of Jesus Christ, that is, love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation!

Thus the gospel tells us to pray continually, persistently and perseveringly, so that we will not lose our faith, so that we will not lose the God of Jesus Christ, and so that we will find love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation! So that we will find love, life and happiness!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us to pray persistently! (CCB) The first reading tells us that Joshua was fighting the Amalekites, but more importantly, the first reading tells us that Moses was praying for Joshua! And as long as Moses arms were raised in prayer, Joshua was at an advantage, but as soon as Moses lowered his arms out of tiredness, Joshua was at a disadvantage! Moses’ arms had to be supported by Aaron and Hur until Joshua defeated the Amalekites! Thus we read:

“As long as Moses kept his arms raised, Israel had the advantage; when he let his arms fall, the advantage went to Amalek.” (Ex 17: 11; SM)  

The first reading tells us to pray persistently and continually so that we will win the fight even against the Devil himself!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God is our guard and guardian! (CSB) Thus the response:

“Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.” (Ps 120: 2; SM)

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first stanza tells us that the Lord is our guard and guardian (vv. 1-2)! The second stanza tells us that the Lord will guard our every step (vv. 3-4)! The third stanza tells us that the Lord will guard us day and night (vv. 5-6)! The fourth stanza tells us that the Lord will guard our every movement (vv.7-8)!

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but today is also “Mission Sunday” or “World Mission Day”! The second reading follows the theme of “Mission Sunday”! Thus we read in the second reading:

“Before God and before Christ Jesus who is to be judge of the living and the dead, I put this duty to you, in the name of his Appearing and of his kingdom: proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it.” (2 Tm 4:1-2; SM)

Pope Francis also has a message for us for “World Mission Day 2013”! Excerpts:

“The proclamation of the Gospel is part of being disciples of Christ and it is a constant commitment that animates the whole life of the Church. Missionary outreach is a clear sign of the maturity of an ecclesial community.” (No. 1)

“Each community is therefore challenged, and invited to make its own, the mandate entrusted by Jesus to the Apostles, to be his ‘witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8) and this, not as a secondary aspect of Christian life, but as its essential aspect: we are all invited to walk the streets of the world with our brothers and sisters, proclaiming and witnessing to our faith in Christ and making ourselves heralds of his Gospel.” (No. 2)

“I would like to encourage everyone to be a bearer of the good news of Christ and I am grateful especially to missionaries, to the priests, men and women religious and lay faithful – more and more numerous – who by accepting the Lord’s call, leave their homeland to serve the Gospel in different lands and cultures.” (No. 5)    

Today we thank God for the gift of faith and we ask God to help us pray persistently so that we will not lose our faith! We also ask God to help us share our faith with others by proclaiming the Good News, so that all may have faith and so that all may be saved! God bless you! Amen!

 

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!

3rd Sunday of Easter (Year C) – 5th May 2019

Theme: THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH TO PREACH THE GOOD NEWS FOR THE SALVATION OF THE WORLD

  • Acts 5:27-32. 40-41;
  • Psalm 29 (30):2. 4-6. 11-13. R/ v. 2;
  • Apocalypse 5:11-14
  • John 21:1-19 (Shorter Form, 21:1-14)

Today is the 3rd Sunday of Easter, Liturgical year C. The readings today tell us about the mission of the Church to preach the good news for the salvation of the world!

The gospel today tells us that the disciples were fishing the whole night in the Sea of Tiberias, but they caught nothing! More importantly, the gospel tells us that the Risen Lord appeared to them and instructed them to cast their net on the right side of the boat and they caught so many fish that they could not pull the net in!

The gospel also tells us that when the Risen Lord asked for some of the fish they have caught, Peter pulled in the net with 153 big fish and the net was not broken!

Finally the gospel tells us that the Risen Lord invited the disciples for breakfast. He took the bread and gave it to them and he did the same with the fish!

The gospel ends by telling us that this was the third time that the Risen Lord appeared to the disciples!

The gospel today tells us of 3 important things:

(i) That the mission of the Church is to preach the good news for the salvation of the world! That is, the mission of the Church is to be the fisher of men, to catch men for God! In the Early Church fish symbolizes the baptized Christian in the waters of baptism! (Lefrois) The boat symbolizes the Church!

More importantly, the gospel tells us that without the Risen Lord our mission will be a failure, we will not catch anything; but with the Risen Lord our mission will be a success, we will catch so many fish that we will not be able to pull the net in!

(ii) That Peter is the head of the Church, and that the mission of the Church is universal, and that though the Church is universal, it is a unity under Peter the first Pope! Thus when Risen Lord requested for some fish, it was Peter who pulled the net in, and though there were 153 large fish, the net did not break! The 153 big fish symbolizes the universal mission of the Church and the unbroken net symbolizes the unity of the Church! 

(iii) That the Risen Lord is present with us today in the Eucharist! Thus the Risen Lord took the bread and gave it to the disciples and he did the same with the fish. The Lord did the same thing at the “multiplication of the loaves” which is a symbol of the Eucharist! (Jn 6:11)

Similarly, the gospel of Luke on “the road to Emmaus” tells us that the Risen Lord is present in the Word of God, in the Eucharist and in the Community! (Lk 24: 13-35) This gospel of Luke is read on the 3rd Sunday of Easter, Year A.

The gospel ends by telling us that this is the 3rd time that the Risen Lord appeared to the disciples!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the apostles and the Holy Spirit are the witnesses to the resurrection of the Lord! That is, the apostles filled with the Holy Spirit are the witnesses of the resurrection of the Lord! (Ac 1:8; Mt 10:20; NJB) The apostles filled with the Holy Spirit witnessed to the resurrection of the Lord by proclaiming the Good News of the resurrection even in the face of persecution and death:

“It was the God of our ancestors who raised up Jesus, but it was you who had him executed by hanging on a tree. By his own right hand God has now raised him up to be leader and savior, to give repentance and forgiveness of sins through him to Israel. We are witnesses to all this, we and the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.” (Ac 5:30-32; SM)   

The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving for salvation! In the responsorial psalm today we praise and thank God for saving us through his Son Jesus Christ! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.” (Ps 29 (30): 2; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza praises and thanks God for salvation (vv. 2 & 4). The second stanza invites others to praise and thank God for salvation (vv. 5-6). The third stanza continues to praise and thank God for salvation (vv. 11-13). (CSB)

he second reading is a doxology. The second reading has two parts. In the first part the angels in heaven give glory, praise, honor and power to the Lamb of God who saved us (vv. 11-12)! In the second part the whole of creation gives glory, praise, honor and power to God the Father and to the Lamb of God (vv. 13-14)! (CSB)

Today we join the angels in heaven and the whole of creation to give glory, praise, honor and power to God the Father and to the Lamb of God for our salvation!

Today we thank God for the resurrection of Jesus Christ and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we may proclaim the good news of the resurrection, so that all may believe and be baptized and be saved! A happy Easter to all of you! Amen!

6th Sunday of Easter (Year B) – 6th May 2018

Theme: “LOVE ONE ANOTHER, AS I HAVE LOVED YOU.” (Jn 15:12)

  • Acts 10:25-26. 34-35. 44-48;
  • Psalm 97 (98): 1-4. R/ cf. v. 2;
  • 1 John 4:7-10
  • John 15:9-17

Today is the 6th Sunday of Easter. The readings today tell us to love one another as Jesus loved us. Jesus tells us in the gospel today to love one another as he has loved us. Jesus tells us in the gospel today: ‘As the Father has loved him so he has loved us. Remain in his love. If we keep his commandments we will remain in his love, just as he has kept his Father’s commandments and remain in his love. He has told us this so that his own joy may be in us and our joy be complete. This is his commandment: love one another, as he has loved us. A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends’.

Again, Jesus tells us in today’s gospel to love one another as he has loved us, that is, to lay down our lives for our friends. Jesus also tells us in today’s gospel that his own joy will be in us and our joy will be complete, that is, if we love as Jesus loved we will be joyful and happy as Jesus was joyful and happy. We seldom think of Jesus as being joyful and happy, but Jesus was joyful and happy. Love and joy cannot be separated, that is, if we love we will be happy, if we do not love we will not be happy. God the Father is love, that is why we call him Father; and God the Father is happy, that is why he is in heaven! Thus we read in today’s gospel:

“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete. This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you. A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends’.” (Jn 15: 9–13/SM)

The second reading follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading also tells us to love one another. The second reading tells us to love one another because love is from God. And he who loves is begotten by God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God for God is love. God’s love was revealed to us when God sent his Son into the world so that we may have life through him. This is the love the second reading means: not our love for God, but God’s love for us when he sent his Son to be the sacrifice to take away our sins. Thus we read in the second reading:

“My dear people, let us love one another since love comes from God and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Anyone who fails to love can never have known God, because God is love. God’s love for us was revealed when God sent into the world his only Son so that we could have life through him; this is the love I mean: not our love for God, but God’s love for us when he sent his Son to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away.” (1 Jn 4: 7-10/SM)

The good news today is that this love comes to us today already fulfilled in Jesus Christ, in his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. And this love will be fulfilled in us today here and now through the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus the first reading tells us about the “Pentecost of the Pagans”, that is, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the pagans. The first reading tells us of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Roman centurion Cornelius and his household and their baptism. Thus we read in the first reading:

“While Peter was still speaking the Holy Spirit came down on all the listeners. Jewish believers who had accompanied Peter were all astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit should be poured out on the pagans too, since they could hear them speaking strange languages and proclaiming the greatness of God. Peter himself then said, ‘Could anyone refuse the water of baptism to these people, now they have received the Holy Spirit just as much as we have?’ He then gave orders for them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” (Ac 10:44-48/SM)

The Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of God’s love. God the Father is love, God the Son is love, God the Holy Spirit is also love. It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can love as Jesus loved us, and we can lay down our lives for our friends as Jesus laid down his life for us his friends, and we can be joyful and happy as Jesus was joyful and happy!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a call to praise God. The responsorial psalm is a call to God’s people to praise God for saving Israel. (Ps 97 (98): 1-3) But the last verse of the responsorial psalm is a call to all the nations which have seen the salvation of Israel to praise and worship the God of Israel. Thus the last verse of the responsorial psalm:

“Shout to the Lord all the earth, ring out your joy.” (Ps 97 (98): 4)

And thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“The Lord has shown his salvation to the nations.” (Ps 97 (98): 2)

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 one another as Jesus loved us. The Holy Spirit will help us lay down our lives for our friends as Jesus laid down his life for us his friends. The Holy Spirit will help us be happy and joyful as Jesus was happy and joyful. And the Holy Spirit will help us proclaim the Gospel (Good News) to the pagans! Amen.

Ash Wednesday (Year A, B, C) – 14th February 2018

Theme: REPENT, AND BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL

  • Joel 2:12-18;
  • Psalm 50 (51):3-6.12-14. 17. R/ v. 3;
  • 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2
  • Matthew 6:1-6. 16-18

Today we celebrate Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lenten season of forty days. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, because the Sundays of Lent are not days of penance!

Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter! Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the baptism of our Catechumens and the renewal of our own baptism on Easter Vigil Night!

Lent is therefore a time of penance, repentance and conversion! The word conversion comes from a Latin word meaning an about turn, a U turn, a 180 degree turn! A turning away from sin, from the world, from oneself and a turning to God and neighbor!

The gospel today tells us to pray, to fast, and to give alms to the poor, not for show, as the hypocrites do, but for penance, repentance, and conversion!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us to repent. More importantly, the first reading tells us to repent because God is merciful. He will forgive us our sins!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm asks God to forgive our sins. More importantly, the responsorial psalm asks God to give us a new heart so that we will not sin anymore!

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas (vv. 3-6) ask God to forgive us our sins. The third and fourth stanzas (vv. 12-14. 17) ask God to give us a new heart so that we will not sin anymore!

The second reading follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading tells us to be reconciled to God, because God has already reconciled us to himself in Jesus Christ! And the time for reconciliation is now! The favorable time is now! The time for salvation is now!

During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms to the poor to help us do penance, repent and convert. The word Convert means to turn.

Prayer helps us to turn to God. Fasting helps us to turn away from ourselves and to turn to God, because fasting helps us in our prayers! Fasting also helps us to turn to our neighbor, because the money saved from fasting is given to the poor! Almsgiving to the poor and the needy helps us to turn away from the world and to turn to our neighbor.

Prayer, fasting and almsgiving help us to turn away from sin, from the world, from oneself, and to turn to God and neighbor!

Prayer, fasting and almsgiving help us to prepare for the celebration of Easter, particularly for the baptism of our catechumens on Easter Vigil Night, and the renewal of our own baptism on Easter Vigil Night!

We shall now proceed to bless and distribute the ashes! The ashes are a sign of our penance and repentance! As the priest distributes the ashes he says, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” (cf. Mk 1:15) In the old Missal the priest says, “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel.”

Repentance is not only turning away from sin, but it is also turning away from the world and from oneself. Believing in the gospel is not only being faithful to the gospel, but having faith in the gospel! Having faith in Jesus Christ and having faith in God!

The second formula is “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (cf. Gn 3:19) This was what God said to Adam when he sinned against God!

Without God we are indeed dust and death, but with God we are spirit and life and eternal life! That is why we have to “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”!

We shall now proceed with the blessing and distribution of the ashes! A happy Lent to all of you!

17th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A) – 30th July 2017

Theme: SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS SALVATION AND ALL THE OTHER THINGS WILL BE GIVEN TO US AS WELL

  • 1 Kings 3:5. 7-12;
  • Psalm 118:57. 72. 76-77. 127-130. R/ v. 97;
  • Romans 8:28-30
  • Matthew 13:44-52 (Shorter Form, 13:44-46)

Today is the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us to seek first the kingdom of God/heaven and his righteousness/salvation and all the other things will be given to us as well!
The gospel today tells us that the kingdom of God is like a treasure hidden in a field which someone has found, he buries it again, goes off happy and sells all that he owns and buys the field! The gospel also tells us that the kingdom of God is like a merchant looking for fine pearls and when he finds one of great value, he sells all that he owns and he buys the pearl!
The gospel today tells us to sell all that we own and buy the kingdom of God! The gospel today tells us to sell all our houses, cars, business, property, land, etc. in order to buy the kingdom of God! In other words the gospel today tells us to seek first the kingdom of God/heaven and his righteousness/salvation (CSB) and all the other things will be given to us as well! (Mt 6:33)
The pagans seek first the kingdom of the world and its damnation and all they get is sin and death! The pagans seek wealth, power and fame, that is, the three temptations of the Devil (Mt 4:1-11) and all they get is sin and death!
We Christians seek first the kingdom of heaven/God and his righteousness/salvation and all the other things will be given to us as well! We seek first the love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation of God! We seek first the love, joy and peace of God and all the other things, including wealth, power and fame will be given to us as well!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Solomon asked God for wisdom to discern between good and evil so that he can govern God’s people! Solomon did not ask for wealth and long life!
More importantly, the first reading tells us that God was happy with the request of Solomon and God granted Solomon wisdom and more than that, God also gave Solomon riches and long life which Solomon did not ask for! (1Kgs 3:13-14)
Again, seek first the kingdom of God and his salvation and all the other things will be given to us as well!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us to look for God’s law and love and not to look for silver and gold! That is why we responded four times:
“Lord how I love your law!” (Ps 118:97; SM)
The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first stanza tells us to look for God’s law and not to look for silver and gold:
“My part, I have resolved, O Lord, is to obey your word. The law from your mouth means more to me than silver and gold.” (Ps 118:57. 72; SM)

The second stanza tells us that the law of God gives us love:
“Let your love be ready to console me, by your promise to your servant. Let your love come to me and I shall live, for your law is my delight.” (Ps 118:76-77; 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 works for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose! Everything, good as well as evil, because God can draw good out of evil! That is what Joseph told his brothers in Genesis 50:20:
“The evil you planned to do me has by God’s design been turned to good, to bring about the present result: the survival of a numerous people.” (NJB)
Joseph prefigures Jesus Christ in the New Testament! The Jewish leaders put Jesus Christ to death on the cross, but God raised him from the dead and through him gave the Holy Spirit and saved the whole world! And according to Saint Paul even the Jews who put Jesus Christ to death on the cross will also be saved at the end of the world! (Romans, Chapter 11)

Today, we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ who established his kingdom here on earth, and we ask God our Father to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we will seek first the kingdom of God and his salvation, and all the other things will be given to us as well! Amen!

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) – 19th February 2017

Theme: WE HAVE TO LOVE BEYOND THE LAW

  • Leviticus 19:1-2. 17-18;
  • Psalm 102:1-4. 8. 10. 12-13. R/ v. 8; 1
  • Corinthians 3:16-23
  • Matthew 5:38-48

1. Today is the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that love is the spirit of the law and love is the fulfillment of the law! That is why we have to love beyond the law! Indeed the gospel today tells us to love beyond the law! Thus we read in the gospel today:
(i) “If anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well. ….
(ii) Give to anyone who asks, and if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away.

(iii) Love your enemies (do good to those who hate you; NJB) and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike. ….
(iv) You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:39. 42. 44-45. 48; SM)
That is, you must love just as your heavenly Father loves! (NJB; Lk 6:36)

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us to be holy just as the Lord our God is holy! That is, we must not hate our brother, we must not take revenge on our brother, we must not hold a grudge against our brother; instead, we must love our brother as we love ourselves! (HCSB) Thus we read in the first reading:
“Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.
You must not bear hatred for your brother in your heart. …. You must not exact vengeance, nor must you bear a grudge against the children of your people. You must love your neighbor as yourself.” (Lv 19:2. 17a. 18a; SM)
But brotherly love also means brotherly/fraternal correction! (NJBC) Thus we read in the first reading:

“You must openly tell him, your neighbor, of his offence; this way you will not take a sin upon yourself.” (Lv 19: 17b; SM)

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the gospel and the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us that the Lord is compassion and love! Thus we responded four times:
“The Lord is compassion and love.” (Ps 102:8; SM)
And thus the third and fourth stanzas of the psalm from which the response is taken and which praise and thank God for his compassion and love:
“The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy. He does not treat us according to our sins nor repay us according to our faults.
As far as the east is from the west so far does he remove our sins. As a father has compassion on his sons, the Lord has pity on those who fear him.” (Ps 102:8. 10. 12-23; SM)

4. In the second reading, Saint Paul tells the Corinthians to be united in Christ and in God! The Corinthians were divided, with some belonging to Paul, some to Peter and some to Apollos. (1 Co 1:12)
Saint Paul tells them that Paul, Peter and Apollos belong to them instead. Paul, Peter and Apollos are their servants to serve them; in fact, the whole of creation is their servant to serve them, so that they belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God! (NJB) They are therefore to be united in Christ and in God! Thus we read in the second reading:
“So there is nothing to boast about in anything human: Paul, Apollos, Cephas, the world, life and death, the present and the future, are all your servants; but you belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God.” (1 Co 3:21-23; SM)
5. The readings today tell us about love and unity! These are the two most important themes of the Church. The Church is a community of communities of love and unity and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the world!
That is why in the renewal of our Church we build small Christian communities of love and unity, like the BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities), the Neo-Catechumenal Communities, the Prayer-Groups, the Bible-Sharing Groups, and the Support-Groups, like the AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), the NA (Narcotics Anonymous), the GA (Gamblers Anonymous), OA (Over-Eaters Anonymous), SA (Sex Addicts Anonymous), EA (Emotions Anonymous), etc., where we share and pray personally and spiritually on the Bible, the Sunday Mass readings, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and our personal and spiritual experiences, etc.! God bless you! Amen!

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Theme: IN BAPTISM JESUS BECAME THE SON OF GOD, THE SUFFERING SERVANT OF GOD, AND THE LAMB OF GOD

  • Isaiah 49:3. 5-6
  • Psalm 39:2. 4. 7-10. R. v. 8. 9
  • 1 Corinthians 1:1-3
  • John 1:29-34

Today is the Second Sunday of the Year. Last Sunday we celebrated the feast of the Baptism of the Lord and the last day of Christmastide. Today too the gospel tells us about the Baptism of the Lord and the beginning of the Lord’s mission and ministry.

The gospel tells us that when Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended upon him and he became “the Chosen One of God”, the Son of God, the Servant of God, the Suffering Servant of God, the Sacrificial Lamb of God who takes way the sin of the world! In this way he was to baptize with the Holy Spirit!

After his baptism, and after receiving the Holy Spirit, Jesus not only became “the Chosen One of God”, the Son of God, but he also became the Servant of God, the Suffering Servant of God, and the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! In this way, that is, in the way of his life of service, suffering, death, and resurrection, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, he baptized with the Holy Spirit!

The first reading is from Isaiah. It is the second of 4 songs of the Suffering Servant of Yahweh (God). Though the word suffering is not mentioned in this reading, it is important to remember that Jesus was not only a servant of God, but he was also a suffering servant and lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

The first reading tells us that the suffering servant of God suffers and sacrifices not only for the salvation of Israel, but also for the salvation of the whole world! “It is not enough for you to be my servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back the survivors of Israel; I will make you the light of the nations so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth”! (Is 49:6)

Why all the nations? Because all the nations, irrespective of nationality, race, religion, culture, color, etc., need the salvation of God, that is, his love, mercy, and forgiveness!

The responsorial psalm today is a thanksgiving psalm. The responsorial psalm tells us that we do not thank God only by worship and animal sacrifice, but we also thank God by being obedient to him and doing his will! And the will of God is that we proclaim his saving justice (NJB), that we do not close our mouths, but that we open our mouths and proclaim his salvation! (CSB/NAB)

“Your justice I have proclaimed in the great assembly. My lips I have not sealed; you know it, O Lord”! (Ps 39:10)

Again, it is important to note that the word “justice” is not to be understood only as “fair play” or “legal equity”, but also as saving justice and salvation!

 

The second reading is from the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians. The second reading tells us that God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ send us grace and peace! Again, it is all grace, favor, and blessing! We have heard it all in the gospel, the first reading, and the responsorial psalm! It is all grace! How can it be otherwise! It is not the Law! It is grace! We do not deserve it!

Peace! Again, as we have been told in the gospel of Luke at Christmas Midnight Mass, that it is not the peace of Caesar Augustus, who brought peace (absence of war) to the Roman Empire through political, economic, and military power, but the peace of Jesus Christ, who brought peace to the world by becoming the servant of God, the suffering servant of God, and the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

  Jesus Christ brought peace to the world through his service, suffering, death and resurrection, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins! The peace of Jesus Christ is not only an “absence of war”, but it is also the love, mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation, and salvation of God!

 In Baptism, we also received the Holy Spirit, and like Jesus Christ, we also became the sons/daughters of God, the servants of God, the suffering servants of God, the lambs of God who take away the sin of the world!

In Eucharist, we celebrate his death and resurrection, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the Risen Lord will continue to give us his Holy Spirit, so that we will grow as sons and daughters of God, as servants of God, as suffering servants of God, and as lambs of God who take away the sin of the world, so that we will grow in the Holy Spirit and “baptize with the Holy Spirit”!

Amen!