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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells us that everything was created in Jesus Christ, through Jesus Christ and for Jesus Christ and more importantly, everything was saved in Jesus Christ, through Jesus Christ and for Jesus Christ!

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

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

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

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

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

PENTECOST SUNDAY (C) – 9th June 2019

Theme: THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD’S LOVE

  • Acts 2:1-11;
  • Psalm 103 (104): 1. 24. 29-31. 34. R/ cf v. 30;
  • Romans 8:8-17
  • John 14: 15-16. 23-26

Today is Pentecost Sunday, Liturgical Year C! Today we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of God’s love! Theologians tell us that the Holy Spirit is the perfect love between God the Father and God the Son! The perfect love between God the Father and God the Son is God the Holy Spirit!

The gospel today tells that the Holy Spirit will teach us everything and remind us of all that Jesus taught us! That is, the Holy Spirit will help us understand the teachings of Jesus and put them into practice! Jesus taught us to love one another as he has loved us:

“This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you.” (Jn 15:12; NJB)

The Holy Spirit will help us understand the love of Jesus and help us love one another as Jesus loved us! Thus we pray in the Gospel Acclamation:

“Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.” (SM)

The fire of the love of the Holy Spirit will burn away our sins and help us love another as Jesus loved us!

The first reading tells us about the day of Pentecost! Pentecost was originally an agricultural feast. It was a harvest festival! The harvest that began at the Passover-Unleavened Bread was completed at Pentecost, that is, fifty days! Our harvest festival in Sabah, Malaysia, last for the whole month of May, that is, thirty days!

Later, Pentecost became the commemoration of the giving of the Law at Sinai, and still later, Pentecost became the commemoration of the giving of the Holy Spirit, the New Law of Love, in Jerusalem! That is why like the giving of the Law at Sinai, the giving of the Holy Spirit, the New Law of Love, was also accompanied by loud sounds/noises and fire, that is, a theophany, that is, a manifestation of God!

The first reading also tells us that the good news of the love of God must be proclaimed to all the nations, because only the love of God can save the whole world! That is why the first reading tells us that all the Jews from the different nations gathered in Jerusalem heard the good news of God’s love each in their own language. St. Luke used the word “languages” instead of “tongues” to tell us about the universal mission of the Church!

Pentecost will undo what the Tower of Babel did! (Gn 11:1-9; Vigil Mass of Pentecost Sunday; First Reading) The tower of Babel divided the people because of sin! Pentecost will unite the people in the love of God!

The responsorial psalm tells us that the Holy Spirit is not only in salvation, but the Holy Spirit is also in creation! Thus the response:

“Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.” (Ps 103 (104): 30; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza gives praise to God for creation. (vv. 1 & 24) The second stanza from which the response is taken, tells us that without the Holy Spirit the whole of creation will die, but with the Holy Spirit the whole of creation will live! (vv. 29 & 30) The third stanza tells us that God is happy with his creation and we his creatures are happy with God our creator! (vv. 31 & 34)

The second reading tells us that the flesh cannot give us life, only the Holy Spirit can give us life! That is why we must not live in the flesh, but we must live in the Holy Spirit! If we live in the flesh we will die, but if we live in the Holy Spirit we will live forever and never die!

The second reading also tells us that the Holy Spirit makes us into the sons and daughters of God, calling God Father! God becomes our Father, the Church becomes our Mother. We are born in the womb (baptismal font/pool) of Mother Church through the power of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Baptism and we become the children of God. And Jesus becomes our brother and we become brothers and sisters of one another! What more do the Christians want?

Today we give thanks to God for the gift of the Holy Spirit, especially in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, and we ask God to continue to give us the Holy Spirit, especially in the Sunday Eucharist, so that we will love one another as Jesus loved us, and so that we will proclaim the good news of Jesus’ love to the whole world, and so that the whole world may love as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ! A happy Easter and a happy Pentecost to all of you!

Amen!

The Ascension of The Lord (C) / 7th Sunday of Easter (C)

Theme: THE LORD ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN NOT TO ABANDON US, BUT TO SEND US THE HOLY SPIRIT TO BE WITH US UNTIL THE END OF TIME

  • Acts 1:1-11;
  • Psalm 46 (47): 2-3. 6-7. 8-9. R/ v. 6;
  • Hebrews 9:24-28. 10:19-23
  • Luke 24:46-53

Today we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord into heaven! Liturgical Year C. The Lord ascended into heaven not to abandon us, but to send us the Holy Spirit to be with us until the end of time! (Gospel Acclamation; Mt 28:19. 20)

The gospel today tells us about the ascension of the Lord, but more importantly, the gospel tells us that he will send us the Holy Spirit so that we will be his witnesses to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem! The Church is the New Jerusalem!

The first reading is a continuation of the gospel. The first reading begins where the gospel ends. The first reading is also written by St. Luke. The first reading also tells us about the ascension of the Lord, and more importantly, the first reading also tells us about the giving of the Holy Spirit to the apostles, so that they will become the witnesses of Jesus not only in Jerusalem, but also in Judea (Jews), and Samaria (Samaritans/Half-Jews) and indeed to the ends of the earth (gentiles)!

The difference between the first reading and the gospel is that in the gospel the ascension happened on the day of the resurrection, but in the first reading it happened forty days after the resurrection! The forty days is symbolic of the time taken by the risen Lord to instruct and teach the disciples about the kingdom of God to prepare them to receive the Holy Spirit to become his witnesses!

The people of Israel spent forty years in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land! Moses spent forty days in the mountain before receiving the Ten Commandments! Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness before his ministry! Our catechumens spent forty days of Lent in intense preparation for baptism! We spent forty days of Lent in intense preparation for the renewal of our faith and baptism! Forty years is also the time span of one generation!

The first reading also tells us that Jesus will return at the parousia (Second Coming of Jesus) the way that he left at the ascension, that is, Jesus ascends into heaven to give us the Holy Spirit to continue his work of salvation and when we have completed his work of salvation he will return at the end of the world (parousia) to take us all into heaven!

The responsorial psalm also tells us about the ascension of the Lord. Thus we responded three times:

“God goes up with shouts of joy; the Lord goes up with trumpet blast.” (Ps 46 (47): 6; Sunday Missal (SM))

The responsorial psalm is originally an enthronement psalm. The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza gives praise to God. The second and third stanzas tell us about the enthronement of God as king of all the nations!

The Church has applied this psalm to the ascension of the Lord. Thus verse 6 from which the response is taken, is taken to mean the ascension of the Lord into heaven:

“God goes up with shouts of joy; the Lord goes up with trumpet blast.” (Ps 46 (47): 6; SM)

The second reading also tells us about the ascension of the Lord. The second reading tells us that the Lord has ascended into heaven and he is now interceding for us. More importantly, the second reading tells us that he will return at the Parousia for our complete and final salvation, that is, to take us into heaven! Thus we read:

“When he appears a second time, it will not be to deal with sin but to reward with salvation those who are waiting for him.” (Heb 9:28; SM)

Indeed, that is our prayer in today’s Mass! The Opening Prayer, the Prayer over the Gifts, the Preface, the Prayer after Communion, and the Solemn Blessing; all pray that one day we will ascend into heaven with the Lord!

Today we thank God for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and his ascension into heaven and we ask God to send us the Holy Spirit so that we will be his witnesses to the ends of the world!

Indeed, the “Social Networks”, the internet, the Facebook, etc., can help us proclaim the good news to the ends of the earth!

Today, as we thank God for the ascension of the Lord, we also pray God that one day we will also ascend into heaven with the Lord!

Again, a happy Easter and Ascension Day to all of you, and let us continue to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday, that is, next Sunday! Amen!

6th Sunday of Easter (C) – 26th May 2019

Theme: THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL HELP US UNDERSTAND THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS AND PUT THEM INTO PRACTICE

  • Acts 15:1-2. 22-29;
  • Psalm 66 (67): 2-3. 5-6. 8. R/ v. 4;
  • Apocalypse 21:10-14. 22-23
  • John 14:23-29

Today is the 6th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical year C. Next Sunday will be “The Ascension of the Lord”, and the Sunday after that will be “Pentecost Sunday”. Easter is the most important feast in the Church. It is more important than Christmas.

The Church started to celebrate Christmas only in the 4th century, but Easter was celebrated in the very first centuries. In fact, in the first three centuries there were no other celebrations except Easter! Easter is the most important feast, because at Easter we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the whole world!

The gospel today tells us that the Father will send us the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus. And the Holy Spirit will teach us everything and remind us all that Jesus taught us. That is, the Holy Spirit will help us understand the teachings of Jesus and put them into practice! (BM, Opening Prayer 2)

The gospel also tells us that Jesus will give us peace through the Holy Spirit. Peace, shalom, salvation! Peace is not just the absence of war, but peace is shalom (Hebrew), that is, wholeness, well-being, completeness, soundness, lacking nothing, etc., that is salvation!

That is why the gospel tells us not to be afraid! There is nothing to fear, not even sin and death, because there is resurrection and life! A life better than the life before sin and death! In short, there is salvation!

The first reading also tells us about the Holy Spirit. The first reading tells us that the Holy Spirit is with the Church and in the Church, and that the Church teaches in and with the Holy Spirit! (Magisterium)

The first reading tells us that the Holy Spirit and the apostles taught that the Gentile Christians need not follow the Mosaic Law of the Jewish Christians, particularly the law of circumcision; but that as a compromise they have to follow the dietary laws, that is, they are not to eat food offered to idols and they are not to eat meat with blood in them; because they live with the Jewish Christians and eat with them and celebrate the Eucharist with them! They are also to avoid fornication. But for us Christians today the dietary laws symbolize the capital sins of idolatry and murder.

More importantly, the Holy Spirit does not only teach us what laws to keep or not to keep, but the Holy Spirit also helps us to do good, and to avoid evil and to overcome sin!

The responsorial psalm is a petition to God to bless Israel with a good and rich harvest, so that the nations of the world will see the blessings of God on Israel and will worship the God of Israel! Thus the response:

“Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.” (Ps 66 (67): 4)

But in the context of today’s liturgy and readings, we ask God to bless us with the Holy Spirit and with salvation, so that all the nations may see the blessings of the Holy Spirit and of salvation and worship our God! Thus the response:

“Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.” (Ps 66 (67): 4)

The second reading tells us about the New Jerusalem, that is, the Church. The second reading tells us that the New Jerusalem will come down from heaven and God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit will dwell in it. And we will not need the Temple anymore, nor the sun and the moon to light up the day and the night, because the radiant glory of God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit will light up the Church and the world!

That is why today in the Church we have the Liturgy, the Sacraments, and the Sacrament of Sacraments, that is, the Eucharist/Mass! Every Sunday Eucharist/Mass is a celebration of Easter and Pentecost! Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI told the youths in one of the World Youth Days that the Sunday Eucharist/Mass is a perpetual Pentecost! In the Sunday Eucharist/Mass, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! That is why it is most urgent and most important to come to Mass every Sunday!

Today, we thank God our Father for Easter, that is, for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world; and we ask God to continue to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we will understand the teachings of Jesus and put them into practice; and so that like Paul and Barnabas in the first reading, we will proclaim the good news of the resurrection, so that all may hear and believe and be saved; and so that like Paul and Barnabas in the first reading, we will build Christian communities of love and unity, so that all may see and believe and be saved; and so that our Church may be a communion of communities of love and unity, and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the whole world! A happy Easter Season to all of 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!

5th Sunday of Lent – 7th Apr 2019

Theme: DO YOU BELIEVE THAT JESUS IS THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE?

  • Ezekiel 37:12-14;
  • Psalm 129. R/ v. 7;
  • Romans 8:8-11
  • John 11:1-45 (Shorter Form, John 11:3-7. 17. 20-27. 33-45.)

Today is the 5th Sunday of Lent, Liturgical Year A. We use Liturgical Year A, because there will be catechumens for baptism on Easter Vigil Night!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus is the resurrection and the life and that whoever believes in him even though he dies he will live and that whoever lives and believes in him will never die!

That is, Jesus is the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in him even though he dies in his sins he will live and whoever lives and believes in him will never die in his sins, that is, he will never sin and die!

The question is:

“Do you believe this?” (Jn 11:26; SM)

This is the question that the gospel asks us today! This is the question that Jesus asked Martha! And Martha answered:

“Yes Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world.” (Jn 11:27; SM) 

And because of Martha’s faith and belief, Jesus raised her brother Lazarus from the dead:

“Lazarus, here! Come out!” (Jn 11:43; SM)

And the dead Lazarus came out! Lazarus was dead for four days!

On Easter Vigil Night we will also be questioned about our faith and belief! We will be asked 6 questions, 3 rejecting Satan and 3 professing our faith in God! We reject Satan and all his works and all his empty promises, because Satan tempts us not to believe in God as he tempted Adam and Jesus not to believe in God! (1st Sunday of Lent, Year A)

More importantly, we will be asked the 3 questions of faith and belief:

(i)  “Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth?”

(ii) “Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?”

(iii) “Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?” (SM)

And when we answer “I do” 6 times, we will be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! For those of us who are already baptized we will be sprinkled with the waters of baptism and we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

The first reading tells us that the Lord will raise us from the dead through the power of the Holy Spirit!

The raising of Lazarus was only resuscitation. It was only a sign of the resurrection. It was not the resurrection! Lazarus had to die again. But to raise us from the dead Jesus himself had to die and rise from the dead and give us the Holy Spirit! Thus we read in the caption of the first reading:

“I shall put my spirit in you, and you will live.” (Ezk 37:14; SM)

The first reading was originally addressed to the exiled Jews in Babylon.

The second reading also tells us that it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that the Lord will raise us from the dead!

The second reading was addressed to the baptized, but today it is addressed to the baptized and especially to the catechumens to be baptized this coming Easter Vigil Night! Thus we read in the second reading:

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, then he who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your own mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you.” (Rm 8:11; SM)

The responsorial psalm is a penitential psalm. It is a “prayer for pardon and mercy”. (CSB) The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas are a prayer for forgiveness. The third and fourth stanzas are an expression of trust. (Faley) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm which is taken from the fourth stanza:

“With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.” (Ps 129 (130): 7; SM)

During this time of Lent the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor; not as a law or punishment, but to help us repent so that we may be baptized or renew our baptism on Easter Vigil Night and die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! A Happy and Blessed Lent to all of you! Amen!

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 19th August 2018

Theme: WE EAT THE BODY OF THE RISEN LORD

  • Proverbs 9:1-6;
  • Psalm 33 (34): 2-3. 10-15. R/ v. 9;
  • Ephesians 5:15-20
  • John 6:51-58 

Today is the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us about the bread of life. In fact, for the past four Sundays, inclusive of today, the gospel is from John chapter 6 and it tells us about the bread of life.

Jesus is the bread of life, that is, Jesus is the revelation of God the Father. Jesus is the revelation of God the Father in his person and life, in his words and actions, and especially in his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! And this is what we celebrate in the Eucharist!

With the gospel today the Eucharistic theme emerges! The gospel today tells us that Jesus is the living bread come down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread shall live forever and the bread that Jesus gives is his flesh for the life of the world! This is the first time that the word “flesh” is used for the “bread of life”! And not only “flesh”, but also “blood”! Thus the Eucharistic theme!

The gospel today tells us that whoever does not eat the flesh of Jesus and drink his blood will not have life, but whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood has eternal life and Jesus will raise him up on the last day! For the flesh of Jesus is real food and the blood of Jesus is real drink. He who eats the flesh of Jesus and drinks his blood lives in Jesus and Jesus lives in him. And as Jesus draws life from the Father, he who eats Jesus draws life from Jesus. Jesus is the bread come down from heaven. The Jews ate bread in the desert and they are dead. Whoever eats Jesus will live for ever!

We Catholics believe in the real and effective presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. We Catholics believe that the Eucharist makes real, present and effective what Jesus did two thousands years ago, that is, his death, resurrection and outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world!

That is why we cannot separate the Holy Spirit from the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! That is why we cannot separate the Holy Spirit from the Eucharist! That is why we cannot separate the Holy Spirit from the Church. And that is why we cannot separate the Holy Spirit from God the Father and God the Son! The Holy Spirit is the love of God the Father given to us in God the Son. The love of God the Father revealed in God the Son is given to us in God the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of God’s love! “The Holy Spirit is Holy Love”! (Fr. John Reilly, SJ)

At “the Communion Rite” at Mass, the priest breaks the body of Christ and puts a piece into the blood of Christ. This symbolizes the resurrection of Jesus Christ! (GIRM 83.2) When body and blood are separated death occurs, but when body and blood are together life occurs! In Holy Communion we eat the body of the Risen Lord! The Risen Body that can enter locked doors and be at any place at an instance! A Risen Body not limited by time and space! (Jn 20) The Risen Body that can enter the bread and change it into His Body! The Risen Body that can destroy sin and death and give us new and eternal life! It is this Risen Body that we receive in Holy Communion! And we receive it in faith! Thus the priest says “the Body of Christ” and we respond “Amen”! “Amen” is a faith response! 

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Wisdom invites the foolish to eat and drink at the banquet of life. Wisdom symbolizes Jesus Christ, the foolish symbolizes sinners and the banquet of life symbolizes the banquet of life of the Eucharist! In other words, Jesus invites us sinners to the banquet of life of the Eucharist to eat his body and to drink his blood so that we may have eternal life!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “Taste and see that the Lord is good”. (Ps 33 (34): 9; SM) The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving for deliverance. (CSB) In the context of today’s readings and liturgy, it is a thanksgiving for deliverance from death by eating the body of Christ and drinking the blood of Christ in the Eucharist! Thus again, the response: “Taste and see that the Lord is good”. This psalm was used in the early Church during the time of Holy Communion. (Fuller; Previous Sunday)

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again, the second reading has something important to tell us! The second reading tells us three important things: (i) Do not be foolish, but be wise. (ii) Do not be ignorant, but know the will of God. (iii) Do not get drunk with wine, but be filled with the Holy Spirit by singing psalms and hymns and by giving thanks to God the Father every time and everywhere through Jesus Christ. (Vat. II SM)

The third exhortation reminds us of “AA (Alcoholics Anonymous)” and the “Twelve Steps”, where alcoholics gather together anonymously to share and pray on the “twelve steps” to be freed from their addiction by the Holy Spirit! This spiritual programme is effective not only for alcoholics, but also for gamblers, over-eaters, drug addicts, sex addicts, emotions addicts, etc. Thus besides AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), we also have GA (Gamblers Anonymous), NA (Narcotics Anonymous), SA (Sex Addict Anonymous), EA (Emotions Anonymous), OA (Over-Eaters Anonymous), etc. (HERALD, The Catholic Weekly, July 16, 2000)

Today in this Mass, we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ, the food of eternal life; and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we will speak no evil and do no evil, and so that we will do good and seek after peace/shalom! (Responsorial Psalm; Fourth Stanza) And so that we will be freed from all forms of addictions! (Second Reading) A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you!  Amen!