6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 11th February 2018

Theme: THE LORD HEALS US OF OUR PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL LEPROSY

  • Leviticus 13:1-2. 44-46;
  • Psalm 31 (32): 1-2. 5. 11. R/ v. 7;
  • 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1
  • Mark 1:40-45

Today is the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. The readings today tell us that the Lord heals us of our physical and spiritual leprosy.

The gospel today tells us that Jesus healed a leper. Leprosy in the Bible includes many forms of skin diseases.

I once visited a leper hospital and I saw patients without noses, lips, toes, fingers, and even without a foot. I was assured by the doctor that they were not contagious as they were under treatment and medication.

But after shaking their hands I did not dare to touch my face or nose or any part of my body for fear that I may be infected. When I reached home I washed my hands many times over with soap.

Today there is a cure for physical leprosy, but today there is no cure for spiritual leprosy, that is, our sins. Only Jesus Christ can heal us of our spiritual leprosy by his death, resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

That is why after curing the leper, Jesus warned him sternly not to tell anyone about it, for fear that the people make mistake him to be a wonder-worker or a miracle-worker Messiah.

Jesus Christ is a suffering Messiah, a crucified Messiah! This “Messianic Secret” of the gospel of St. Mark will only be revealed after Jesus’ death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! (NJB; CCB; Fuller) That is why the symbol of Christianity is the crucifix, the crucified Christ, not the empty cross!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the leper is to be excluded from the community, especially from the worshipping community, because he is not only physically unclean, but he is also ritually unclean!

The Law of Moses cannot heal one of physical leprosy and spiritual leprosy. The Law of Moses can only exclude the leper from the community, especially the worshipping community. Only the love of Jesus Christ can heal one of physical leprosy and spiritual leprosy and include one in the community, especially the worshipping community!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Leprosy is a symbol of sin! The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving for the forgiveness of sins. (HCSB) It is a penitential psalm. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.” (Ps 31 (32): 7; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza (vv. 1-2) tells us that the forgiven sinner is blessed. The second stanza (v. 5) tells us that the sinner confesses his sins to God and God forgives his sins. And the third stanza (v. 11) tells us that the just and upright man is full of joy! (CSB; NJBC)

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us not to cause scandal, that is, not to cause other people to fall into sin! We may be doing the right thing, we may not be doing the wrong thing, but if what we do causes scandal, we are not to do it. Whatever we do, must be done for the glory of God and for the good of others!

In the second reading today, St. Paul tells the Corinthians not to eat food and not to drink drinks offered to idols, not because it is wrong, but because it will scandalize the weak! (IBC; CCB)

In our own day, the Chinese New Year Mass which we will celebrate next week may be a cause of scandal for some people. In 2012, a Catholic church in Malaysia, a red ancestral altar was erected, with red candles, big joss sticks, food offering, and with two priests bowing three times in veneration of the ancestral tablet has caused scandal to many people, including Catholics, non-Catholics, non-Christians, etc. It was a scandal of idolatry, that is, worshiping false gods! (Herald, 12.2.12, p. 4)

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 heal us of our physical and spiritual leprosy. The Holy Spirit will help us heal others of their physical and spiritual leprosy. And the Holy Spirit will help us not to cause scandal to other people. A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you!  Amen!

Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year A) – 7th April 2017 (Vocation Sunday)

Theme: THE GOOD SHEPHERD HAS FAITH IN GOD, HAS LOVE, MERCY, AND FORGIVENESS FOR SINNERS, AND GIVES LIFE TO THE DEAD

  • Acts 2:14. 36-41;
  • 1 Peter 2:20-25;
  • John 10:1-10

Today is the Fourth Sunday of Easter! Today is also Good Shepherd Sunday and that is why the gospel reading of today is taken from the gospel of John chapter 10 on the Good Shepherd. In fact the gospels of Years A, B, and C for Good Shepherd Sunday are all taken from St. John chapter 10 on the Good Shepherd! Today is also Vocation Sunday, that is, World Day of Prayer for Vocations, particularly vocations to the priesthood and religious life! The Good Shepherd is the model of the Good Christian, particularly, the model of the Good Priest!

The gospel today tells us about the Good Shepherd, but before we look at the Good Shepherd, let us look at the bad shepherd in chapter 9 of the same gospel of John. In fact chapter 10 of John on the Good Shepherd (Jesus Christ) is a commentary on chapter 9 of John on the Bad Shepherd – the Pharisees (CSB/NAB). In chapter 10 of John, Jesus continues to attack the Pharisees who were the Bad Shepherds!

Chapter 9 of John is on the cure of the blind man and the reaction of the Pharisees to the cure of the blind man. The reaction of the Pharisees shows them to be bad shepherds, that is, they have no faith, they have no love, mercy, and forgiveness, and they cannot give life! The Good Shepherd on the other hand, has faith, has love, and can give life!

The Pharisees (bad shepherds) had no faith. They did not believe in the miracle, they did not believe in Jesus Christ. In fact they believed that Jesus Christ was a sinner! And in the words of Jesus Christ himself they were blind, they cannot see with the eyes of faith: “It is for judgment that I have come into this world, so that those without sight (the blind man) may see (faith) and those with sight (the Pharisees) may become blind”!

The Pharisees (bad shepherds) had no love, mercy and forgiveness! They only had law, judgment, and punishment! They said of Jesus Christ who cured the blind man: “That man cannot be from God: he does not keep the Sabbath (law)”! They condemned Jesus Christ for showing love, mercy and forgiveness to the man who was physically and spiritually blind on the Sabbath and thus breaking the Sabbath law of rest! Unlike and opposed to Jesus Christ, for the Pharisee, man is made for the law, not the law for man!

The Pharisees (the bad shepherds) cannot give life to the sinner and to the dead! They said to the blind man who was cured: “you a sinner through and through ever since you were born!” And they threw him out of the synagogue! They excommunicated him!

Again, the gospel today tells us, “The thief (the Pharisee) comes only to steal and kill and destroy”! (John 10:10)

The 3 readings today tell us that Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd, that is, he had faith, he had love, mercy, and forgiveness, and he gives life!

He had faith in God! The second reading from 1 Peter tells us that “He was insulted and did not retaliate with insults; when he was suffering he made no threats but PUT HIS TRUST IN THE UPRIGHT JUDGE”! (1 Peter 2:23).

He had love, mercy, and forgiveness! In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter tells the Jews on the day of Pentecost: “You must repent, and every one of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the FORGIVENESS OF YOUR SINS, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”! (Acts 2:38)

Finally, Jesus Christ tells us in today’s gospel that he is the Good Shepherd who gives life: “I have come so THAT THEY MAY HAVE LIFE AND HAVE IT TO THE FULL”! (John 10:10).

 

The Good Shepherd is the model of the Good Priest and the Bad Shepherd is the model of the Bad Priest! A good priest has faith in God, has love, mercy, and forgiveness, and gives life! A bad priest has no faith in God, but has faith in himself, in his own goodness and good will, and in his own strength and ability! A bad priest has no love, but has only the law! A bad priest cannot give life! Faith, love, and life are connected: In faith we receive God’s love, and in love we give life!

Today is “Vocation Sunday”, and today we have a message from our late Holy Father Pope John Paul II for “World Day of Prayer for Vocations”. The following are excerpts:

“’Put out into the deep!’” (Luke 5:4). “This well-known Gospel scene can serve as the background setting of the coming World Day of prayer for Vocations, which has the theme: ‘Called to put out into the deep’. This is a special occasion for reflecting on the vocation to follow Christ and, in particular, to follow him in the priesthood and the consecrated life”. No. 1  

 “Do not forget that today too there is need of holy priests, of persons wholly consecrated to the service of God! With this in mind, I want to repeat once more: ‘There is a pressing need to implement an extensive plan of vocation promotion, based on personal contact and involving parishes, schools, and families in the effort to foster a more attentive reflection on the essential values of life. These values reach their fulfillment in the response which each person is invited to give to God’s call, particularly when the call implies the total gift of oneself and of one’s energies for the sake of the Kingdom’ (‘Novo Millennio Ineunte,’ 46).” No. 5

 “May an ardent prayer sustained by the motherly intercession of Mary, rise from every corner of the earth, to the heavenly Father to obtain “laborers for his harvest” (Matthew 9:38). May He give zealous and holy priests to every part of his flock”. No. 6

Castel Gandolfo, 11th August 2004, John Paul II.

 

Amen!

8th February 2015 – 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Theme: THE LORD HEALS US PHYSICALLY, MENTALLY AND SPIRITUALLY

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

Today is the 5th Sunday in Ordinary time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that the Lord heals us physically (body), mentally (mind) and spiritually (spirit)!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus healed the mother-in-law of Simon Peter physically by curing her of her fever. She recovered fuller. That is why she could serve Jesus and his companions.

The second paragraph of the gospel tells us that Jesus also healed a lot of people physically, mentally and spiritually by curing them of their many diseases and casting out devils!

Finally, the third paragraph of the gospel tells us that Jesus got up early in the morning, even before sunrise, to pray in a lonely place by himself. Peter and his companions went to look for him. In fact everybody was looking for him.

But Jesus left with his disciples to the other towns in Galilee to preach the good news, for that is what he came for! Jesus preached the good news and cast out devils in the other towns of Galilee.

It is important to note that after casting out the devils, Jesus forbade them to reveal that he was the Messiah; for fear that the people may think that he was a nationalistic, military, and political Messiah, or a wonder-worker, miracle-worker Messiah.

Jesus was more than all that! Jesus was a suffering Messiah, a crucified Messiah. This will only be revealed after his death, resurrection, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! This is the “Messianic Secret” of St. Mark’s gospel! (NJB; NJBC; Fuller)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Job was suffering physically, mentally and spiritually. Job lost all his property and children and Job himself was suffering from a painful skin disease.

In the first reading Job compared himself to a soldier, a laborer and a slave who in those days led very hard lives. Job could not sleep. When night came Job waited for morning and when morning came Job waited for night. Job’s life passed quickly away without any hope and without any happiness.

There are two important things to note about Job. The first is that in Job’s time the Jews did not quite yet believe in an afterlife or an eternal life. The second is that Job was innocent. The question is why do good people suffer? Why do innocent people suffer?

The answer is, to test their faith, not in the sense of seeing how strong their faith is, but in the sense of making their faith stronger! And with a stronger faith, God will reward them even more as Job was rewarded twice over in the end! (Jb 42: 10-17; CSB, Introduction)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord heals the broken-hearted. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Praise the Lord who heals the broken-heart.” (Ps 146 (147): 3; SM)

The responsorial psalm is an “invitation to praise God, the creator who cares for the afflicted”. (NJBC) Thus verse 3 of the responsorial psalm from which the response is taken:

“He heals the broken-hearted, he binds up all their wounds.” (Ps 146 (147): 3; SM)

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us that St. Paul was called by God to preach the good news and that is why he does it free of charge! St. Paul did not choose to preach the good news himself. Had St. Paul chosen to preach the good news himself he would have charged for preaching the good news.

Like Jesus in the gospel today, the first duty of St. Paul was to preach the good news and to preach it free of charge! Today too, the first duty of bishops, priests and the whole people of God is to preach the good news and to preach it free of charge! It is a vocation, not a profession! That is why it is free of charge!

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 heal us physically (body), mentally (mind) and spiritually (spirit); and the Holy Spirit will help us heal others physically, mentally and spiritually. The Holy Spirit will help us preach the good news and to preach it free of charge! A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen!