All Souls (C) – Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed – 2nd Nov 2019

Theme: WE PRAY FOR ALL OUR FAITHFUL DEPARTED

  • Isaiah 25:6-9;
  • Psalm 26:1. 4. 7-9. 13-14. Alt. R/ v. 13;
  • Romans 5:5-11
  • Luke 7:11-17

Today we celebrate All Souls Day, that is, the commemoration of all the faithful departed. Today we pray for all the faithful departed, especially for our family members, friends and community. We pray that God may bring them to heaven!

We pray for them, because we believe that God is love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation! We believe that Jesus Christ has died and risen from the dead and given us the Holy Spirit to raise us from our spiritual death and to take us to heaven!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus raised a dead man to life! But strictly speaking it was not the resurrection, because the raised man had to die again. It was only resuscitation. It only prefigures the resurrection.

More importantly, and most importantly, the second reading tells us that through his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Jesus has raised us from our spiritual death and he will bring us to heaven! Thus we read:

“Having died to make us righteous, is it likely that he would now fail to save us from God’s anger? When we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, we were still enemies; now that we have been reconciled, surely we may count on being saved by the life of his Son?” (Rm 5:9-10; SM)  

Indeed the first reading prefigures heaven! It is an image of heaven! The first reading tells us that there will be a big banquet! There will be no more mourning! Death will be destroyed forever! There will be no more tears! There will be salvation!

Thus in the responsorial psalm we pray with faith and hope that our faithful departed will go to heaven! Thus the alternative response:

“I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.” (Ps 26:13; SM)

That is, I am sure I shall see God in heaven!

Again, today, All Souls Day, we pray for all our faithful departed. We pray that the Lord may take them to heaven. And thus we pray:

    “Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.”    

All Saints – 1st Nov 2019

Theme: ALL SAINTS: THE KNOWN AND UNKNOWN SAINTS; THE SAINTS IN HEAVEN AND THE SAINTS ON EARTH

  • Apocalypse (Revelation) 7:2-4. 9-14;
  • Psalm 23:1-6. R/ cf. v. 6;
  • 1 John 3:1-3
  • Matthew 5:1-12

Today we celebrate ALL SAINTS day! Today we commemorate all the known Saints and unknown saints; and all the saints in heaven and all the saints on earth!

The first reading tells us about the saints in heaven! The first reading tells us that they are all dressed in white with palms in their hands and praising God for their victory and salvation!

Their robes were washed white by the blood of the Lamb! The palms they hold symbolize victory and salvation! And they give praise to God and to the Lamb, because their victory and salvation come from God and from the Lamb! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands. They shouted aloud, ‘Victory to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! ….They have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb.’” (Rv 7: 9-10. 14; SM)

The gospel today tells us about the saints on earth, that is, you and me who are baptized! St. Paul calls the baptized, “saints”, especially in the letters to the Corinthians! The gospel today tells us about the eight beatitudes! But the most important beatitude is the first beatitude! Thus we read:

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

The poor in spirit are the materially poor and the spiritually poor; but most importantly, the poor in spirit are those who are totally dependent on God for their material and spiritual food!

The poor in spirit are therefore those who receive the blessings of God, the grace of God, the Holy Spirit of God! And that is why they can fulfill the other seven beatitudes that follow! That is, being gentle, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, persecuted for the cause of right, etc.!

The second reading also tells us about the saints on earth, that is, the baptized, that is, you and me! The second reading tells us that we are already the children of God, but what we will become has not yet been revealed. All we know is that when it is revealed we will be like him, that is, God or Jesus Christ, because we will see him as he really is!

We are already the children of God, that is, we are already baptized and as children of God we are totally dependent on God for our salvation! We will be like him because we will see him as he really is, that is, we will be like God, Jesus Christ and the saints, because we will be in heaven! Thus we read:

“My dear people, we are already the children of God but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed; all we know is, that when it is revealed we shall be like him because we shall see him as he really is.” (1 Jn 3:2; SM)

Today we thank God for all the saints! More importantly, we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ who washed away our sins with his blood and changed us sinners into saints!

We ask God to continue to bless us, grace us, give us the Holy Spirit; and continue to wash away our sins with the blood of Lamb, especially in the Eucharist every Sunday, so that one day we too will become saints in heaven, even canonized Saints in heaven!

 

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!

5th Sunday of Easter (Year C) – 19th May 2019

Theme: WE ARE TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS JESUS LOVED US

  • Acts 14:21-27;
  • Psalm 144 (145): 8-13. R/ v. 1;
  • Apocalypse (Revelation) 21:1-5
  • John 13:31-35

Today is the 5th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical Year C. The gospel today tells us to love one another as Jesus loved us, that is, to love one another in the dimension of the cross, that is, to love the sinner, to forgive the sinner and to save the sinner!

The gospel passage today is sandwiched between the announcement of Judas’s betrayal of Jesus and the prediction of Peter’s denial of Jesus. That is why to love one another as Jesus loved us is to love in the dimension of the cross, to love the sinner, to forgive the sinner and to save the sinner!

St. Cyril of Alexandria who lived between the 4th and 5th centuries (c. 376 – 444) tells us that this commandment to love one another as Jesus loved us is new, because in the old commandment we were asked to love our neighbor as ourselves (Lv 19:18), but in the new commandment we are asked to love our enemies more than we love ourselves! (Herald, 28th April 2013, 5th Easter)

Jesus loved sinners more than he loved himself! That is why he forgave sinners and sacrificed his life for the salvation of sinners! This is the only love that can save the world! Indeed, only this love can save the world!

But how can we love as Jesus loved? How can we love, forgive and save sinners, when we ourselves are sinners? Indeed, we can, with the help of the Holy Spirit! Jesus died, rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit! That is why the words glorify and glorified are mentioned five times at the beginning of today’s gospel!

With the help of the Holy Spirit we can love one another as Jesus loved us, that is, to love in the dimension of the cross, that is, to love, to forgive and to save sinners! Only the love of Jesus Christ can save the whole world!

The first reading tells us about the end of the first missionary journey of St. Paul. The first reading tells us that St. Paul proclaims the good news of the love of Jesus Christ to the pagans, that is, to the whole world! More than that, the first reading also tells us that St. Paul does not only proclaim the good news of the love of Jesus Christ, but he also built churches, not material buildings; but Christian communities of love and unity as signs and sacraments of salvation for the whole world; so that the whole world may see and believe and be saved! The first reading also tells us that we have to suffer many hardships and persecutions in order to build the kingdom of God!

The second reading tells us that in spite of all the persecutions and martyrdoms there will be a new heaven and a new earth. There will be a new Jerusalem, that is, the Church, and there will be a new creation, because God is the one who makes all things new!

Indeed, there will be a new heaven and a new earth, there will be a new Jerusalem, that is, the Church, and there will be a new creation, where we will love one another as Jesus loved us, where we will love in the dimension of the cross, where we will love the sinner, forgive the sinner and save the sinner!

The historical context of the second reading is the persecution and martyrdom of the Christians by the Roman emperors Nero and Domitian in the first century. (HCSB)

The responsorial psalm is a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to God who is love and compassion and who rules with love and compassion! (HCSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“I will bless your name for ever, O God my King.” (Ps 144 (145): 1; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us that God is love and compassion. Thus we read in the first stanza:

“The Lord is kind and full of compassion, slow to anger, abounding in love. How good is the Lord to all, compassionate to all his creatures.” (Ps 144 (145): 8-9; SM)

The second and third stanzas give praise and thanks to God who is love and compassion and who rules with love and compassion.

Today we give thanks to God for his love and compassion in creation and in salvation and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit of his love, so that we can love one another as Jesus loved us, and so that we can proclaim the good news of his love to the whole world, and so that we can build Christian communities of love and unity as signs and sacraments of salvation for the whole world, and so that the whole world might be saved by his love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation! A happy Easter Season to all of you! Amen!

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) 24th Feb 2019

Theme: BE MERCIFUL AS YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER IS MERCIFUL

  • 1 Samuel 26:2. 7-9. 12-13. 22-23
  • Psalm 102:1-4. 8. 10. 12-13. R. v. 8
  • 1 Corinthians 15:45-49
  • Luke 6:27-38 

Today is the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C. The readings today tell us to be merciful just as our heavenly Father is merciful.

The gospel tells us to be merciful just as our heavenly Father is merciful. The gospel tells us not to judge, so that we will not be judged; not to condemn, so that we will not be condemned; to forgive, and we will be forgiven; and to give, and much will be given to us!

The gospel also tells us to love our enemies; to do good to those who hate us; to bless those who curse us; to pray for those who persecute us; to the one who strikes us on the cheek, turn the other cheek to him; to the one who takes our coat, give him also our shirt (undergarment); give to the one who asks; and to the one who robs us, do not ask him to return what is robbed!

Again, the gospel asks us to love our enemies, to do good, and to lend without expecting to be paid back. We will then be rewarded, and we will be children of our heavenly Father who is kind even to the ungrateful and the wicked. Again, be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that David was merciful to King Saul. King Saul tried to kill David twice, and twice David could have killed King Saul, but did not. David spared the life of King Saul twice; once in the cave where David cut off the corner of his cloak instead of killing him (1 S 24); and once David took away his spear and jar of water when he was asleep instead of killing him (1 S 26). David was merciful to King Saul.

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Again, the responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord is compassion and love. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “The Lord is compassion and love.”! (Ps 102:8) And thus the third and fourth stanzas of the responsorial psalm: “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. 12-13)

Again, the second reading tells us of the resurrection of the dead. The second readings of the 5th and 6th Sundays also told us about the resurrection of the dead. The second reading today tells us about the resurrected body, that is, what kind of body is the resurrection body. Paul tells us in the second reading that the resurrected body will not be the natural physical body of Adam, but it will be the spiritual body of the Second Adam, that is, the Resurrected Christ! (CSB/NJB)

Today in the 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 the Holy Spirit, and raise us from the dead! He will give us the Holy Spirit to help us to be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful (Lk 6:36)! He will give us the Holy Spirit to help us to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us, to bless those who curse us, to do good to those who hate us; and to give to those who ask (Lk 6: 27-30); ………….. to love our enemies and to do good to them; and to lend without hope of return (Lk 6:35); ……….. to forgive; and to give (Lk 6:37-38)! Amen!

2nd Sunday of Advent (Year A) – 4th December 2016

Theme: ADVENT IS A TIME WHEN WE PREPARE FOR THE COMING OF JESUS CHRIST

  • Isaiah 11:1-10
  • Psalm 71:1-2. 7-8. 12-13. 17. R. v. 7
  • Romans 15:4-9
  • Matthew 3:1-12

Today is the Second Sunday of Advent. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word “Adventus” meaning “Coming”! Advent is a time when we prepare for the Coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time!

The two comings are similar in the sense that when Jesus Christ comes, whether at Christmas or at the end of time, he will bring us his love, his mercy, his forgiveness, his peace, and his joy!

The preparation for the two comings are also the same, whether we prepare for his coming at Christmas or at the end of time, we have to pray, to do good works, to practice justice, to make peace, to practice charity towards the poor, to go to confession, etc.!

The difference between the two comings is that the Second Coming completes and perfects the First Coming, which we celebrate at Christmas! In the Second Coming he will complete and perfect the love, mercy, forgiveness, peace, and joy of his First Coming, so that his love, mercy, forgiveness, peace and joy will be complete and perfect in us!

Advent is therefore a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time!

 

The first reading from the prophet Isaiah tells us that when Jesus Christ comes, he will be filled with the Holy Spirit and the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Counsel, Insight, Power, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord!

But more importantly, the first reading tells us that when he comes he will bring justice to the earth. Unlike the corrupted kings of Israel, he will judge the poor with integrity and honesty. He will judge the weak with justice. He will strike down the ruthless and the merciless, and he will destroy the wicked!

But most importantly, the first reading tells us that he will bring peace to the earth! There will be peace between God and man, between man and man, and between man and the animal kingdom! It will be a restoration of the peace of Paradise!

In Genesis 3, man rebelled against God, and consequently man was not at peace with God, not at peace with other man, and not at peace with the earth.

In his 1990 World Day of Peace Message, Pope John Paul II quoted Genesis 3:17-19 to tell us that man was not at peace with the earth, so much so that man had to get his food from the earth painfully, and the earth yielded him thorns! The Pope also quoted Genesis 4:12 to tell us that when man tilled the earth, the earth would not yield its fruit to man!

Indeed today with the destruction of the rainforest, the pollution of the environment, the destruction of other species, the ozone hole, the warming of the earth, over fishing, the pollution of the earth with chemicals, the earth will not yield up its food for man!

The first reading tells us that when Jesus Christ comes there will be peace between God and man, man and man, and man and the animal kingdom!

Thus the prophesy of Isaiah: “The wolf lives with the lamb, the panther lies down with the kid (of the goat), calf and lion cub feed together with a little boy to lead them. The cow and the bear make friends, their young lie down together. The lion eats straw like the ox. The infant plays over the cobra’s hole; into the viper’s lair the young child puts his hand”!

 

The responsorial psalm helps us to meditate on the first reading, thus the responsorial psalm takes up the theme of the first reading. The response of the responsorial psalm tells us that when Jesus Christ comes there will be justice and peace: “In his days justice shall flourish and peace till the moon fails”! Peace forever!

The psalm tells us that he will judge the people with justice and the poor with right judgment. He will save the poor when they cry, and he will save the weak and the poor from oppression and exploitation!

The responsorial psalm relates justice to peace! There can be no peace without justice!

 

But most importantly, the gospel tells us that when Jesus Christ comes he will baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire! His Holy Spirit will burn away our sins like fire burning away the impurities to purify the gold! Something that even water cannot do! The Holy Spirit of God’s love will burn away our sins!

That is why at a penitential service for our priests, we were told to write down our sins on pieces of paper and burn them with the fire of the paschal candle and throw them into a metal container! The fire of the paschal candle is the Holy Spirit of God’s love and the metal container is hell!

Hell is not a place where God burns you. Hell is the love of God burning away our sins! Hell is the love of God experienced by a sinner! A sinner experiences God’s love as pain, suffering, punishment, purification, purgatory, and hell, for his repentance and conversion, so that he will find the love, mercy, forgiveness, peace, joy, and life of God!

I was brought up by my mother to do good works for fear of hell and for love of heaven! A Muslim woman mystic was asked why she always carried water on one hand and fire on the other! She carried water to put out the fire of hell and she carried fire to burn heaven, because people do good works, for fear of hell and for love of heaven, but not for the love of God! God first loved us! We respond by loving God in return! We do good works because we love God and we love one another! God’s love burns away our sins so that we can love God and love one another!

The gospel today asks us to repent and to convert, that is, to turn away from sin (repent) and to turn to Jesus Christ (convert)! To turn away from sin is not good enough, because we will turn back to sin! We have to turn away from sin and more importantly, to turn to Jesus Christ who will burn away our sins with the Holy Spirit of God’s Love! 

That is why when you go to confession during this time of Advent, it is more important that you listen to what the priest confesses than the priest listen to what you confess!

After you have confessed your sins and received your penance, the priest gives you the absolution with these words:

    “God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”. And you answer: “Amen”.

   With these words of absolution Jesus Christ burns away your sins with the fire of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit of the love and mercy of God! Amen!

 

Besides going to confession during this time of Advent, the Church also asks us to practice justice and to make peace, but more importantly, the Church also asks us to practice charity (from the Latin word “caritas” meaning love) and love, especially to the poor, the aged, the children, the orphaned, the blind, the deaf and the dumb, the sick, etc., by becoming “Santa Claus” to them!

Finally, the Church also asks us to go caroling to share the Good News of Christmas with others, including the pagans!

Thus the second reading from Romans exhorts us: “The reason Christ became the servant of circumcised Jews was not only so that God could faithfully carry out the promises made to the patriarchs, it was also to get the pagans to give glory to God for his mercy, as scripture says in one place: For this I shall praise you among the pagans and sing your name”!

 

Amen!

 

THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY – 14th August 2016

Theme: MARY WAS TAKEN UP INTO HEAVEN BODY AND SOUL

  • Apocalypse (Revelation) 11:19; 12:1-6. 10;
  • Psalm 44:10-12. 16. R/ v. 10;
  • 1 Corinthians 15:20-26
  • Luke 1:39-56

 Today we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven! Mary was taken up into heaven body and soul after her life on earth! Her body did not see corruption because she was untouched by Original Sin!

The Protestants protest that Mary had to be a sinner before Jesus Christ can save her! But we Catholics believe that Jesus Christ saves us in two ways, that is, by forgiving our sins and by preserving us from sin with his grace! Mary was saved uniquely and exclusively in the second way! She was preserved from sin by the grace of God to prepare her to be the Mother of God and the Mother of the Savior of the world! The all Holy God cannot be born from a sinful womb and the Savior of all sinners cannot himself be born from a sinful womb!

Thus at the Announcement of the Birth of Jesus, the angel Gabriel greeted Mary with these words:

“Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” (Lk 1:28; CSB)

Or “Hail Mary, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”

And in today’s gospel after Mary greeted Elizabeth, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she gave a loud cry and said:

“Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. …. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Lk 1:42. 45; SM)

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exults in God my savior; because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid. Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me.” (Lk 1:46-49; SM)

Indeed, Mary was blessed, favored and graced! Mary was preserved from Original Sin by the grace of God to prepare her to be the Mother of God and the Mother of the Savior of the world!

In fact this is the first part of the prayer “Hail Mary”:

“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you; Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.”   

Only in the second part of the “Hail Mary” do we ask Mary to pray for us:

“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

We ask Mary to pray for us so that one day we will also be “taken up” or “assumed” into heaven body and soul! And that is what we did half an hour before Mass at the grotto of Mary when we said the Holy Rosary! A Blessed Assumption Day to all of you! That is, may you be blessed as Mary was blessed so that one day you will also be “taken up” or “assumed” into heaven body and soul!

Amen!