PENTECOST SUNDAY (A) – 31st May 2020

Theme: THE HOLY SPIRIT HELPS US TO PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS AND TO BUILD CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES OF LOVE AND UNITY

  • Acts 2:1-11;
  • Psalm 103:1. 24. 29-31. 34. R/ cf v.30;
  • 1 Corinthians 12:3-7. 12-13
  • John 20:19-23

 A happy and blessed Pentecost Sunday to all of you! Today we celebrate Pentecost Sunday, Liturgical Year A.

The first reading tells us that on the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles. The first reading tells us that there was a loud noise which sounded like a strong wind that filled the room and there were tongues of fire resting on the apostles and the apostles spoke in foreign languages! The wind symbolizes the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:8). In Greek, as in Hebrew, one word serves for both ‘wind’ and ‘spirit’ (NJB). The loud noise and fire symbolize the presence of God as at the covenant on Sinai (Ex 19:16. 18).

The first reading also tells us that the Jews from all the nations of the world assembled at the loud noise and each of them heard the apostles preaching the marvels of God each in their own language! The first reading foreshadows the universal mission of the Church to preach the good news to the whole world! When we receive the Holy Spirit we preach the good news to the whole world!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the response:

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

The responsorial psalm is a hymn of “Praise of God the Creator” (CSB). But in today’s liturgy, it is a hymn of praise to God the Savior! The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The second stanza from which the response is taken is the most important! Thus the second stanza:

“You take back your spirit, they die, returning to the dust from which they came. You send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the earth.” (Ps 103:29-30; SM)

The responsorial psalm tells us that the Holy Spirit gives us life, without the Holy Spirit we die, but with the Holy Spirit, even though we die we will live!

The second reading tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of unity! The second reading tells us about unity in diversity, not unity in uniformity! The second reading tells us that though there are many different gifts, they are from the same Spirit; though there are many different services, they serve the same Lord; and the same God is working in all of us! And all the different gifts are given for the common good!

The second reading also tells us that just as the human body has many parts, the many parts make up one body, so it is with the body of Christ. We are different parts of the one body of Christ! We were all baptized with the one Spirit, “Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens”, and we were all given the one Spirit to drink in baptism! Again, the second reading tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of unity, not of division!

The Gospel Acclamation tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of God’s love! Thus the Gospel Acclamation:

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

The fire of the Holy Spirit is the fire of God’s love that burns away our sins! Only the fire of God’s love can burn away our sins! That is why at a Penitential Service we were asked to write our sins down on a piece of paper and burn it with the fire of the Easter Candle and throw it into a bin symbolizing hell! And we were told that hell is a place where God burns away our sins with the fire of his love so that we can go to heaven! Hell is the love of God experienced by a sinner for his conversion!

The gospel today also tells us about Pentecost, but the gospel today tells us that the Holy Spirit was given on the day of the Lord’s resurrection and not fifty days after his resurrection! The gospel today is from St. John. The gospel today tells us that on the day of his resurrection the Lord appeared to his disciples and said to them, ‘Peace be with you,’ and showed them his hands and his side and the disciples were filled with joy! Again, he said to them, ‘Peace be with you. As the father sent me so I am sending you’. After saying this he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit, those whose sins you forgive they are forgiven, those whose sins you retain they are retained’.

That is, proclaim the good news, those who believe and are baptized will have their sins forgiven, but those who do not believe and are not baptized will not have their sins forgiven. (NJBC; Fuller) The Holy Spirit forgives our sins in the sacrament of Baptism! The Holy Spirit also forgives our sins in the sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation. And above all, the Holy Spirit forgives our sins in the sacrament of sacraments, the Eucharist, the “Perpetual Pentecost”! The Holy Spirit forgives our sins in the Church, particularly, in the sacraments of Baptism, Penance and Eucharist! That is why it is most important that we come to Mass every Sunday!

Today, fifty years after the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), the Holy Spirit continues to renew the Church through the Charismatic Renewal, the Life in the Spirit Seminars, and the Prayer Meetings; the Holy Spirit continues to renew the Church through the Neo-Catechumenal Way, the Neo-Catechumenal Communities; and the Holy Spirit continues to renew the Church through the BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities)! All these three movements involve the proclamation of the good news and the building of Christian communities of love and unity, so that our Church may be a community of communities of love and unity and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the whole world!

That is why it is important that we attend Mass every Sunday and we attend the Life in the Spirit seminars and we attend the Neo-Catechumenate Catechesis and the BECs so that we may receive the Holy Spirit and proclaim the good news and build Christian communities of love and unity and so that our Church may be a community of communities of love and unity and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the whole world! Again, a happy and blessed Pentecost Sunday to all of you! Amen!

7th Sunday of Easter (Year A) – 24th May 2020

Theme: LET US PRAY FOR THE COMING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT UPON US

  • Acts 1:12-14
  • Psalm 26:1. 4. 7-8. R. v. 13
  • 1 Peter 4:13-16
  • John 14:18
  • John 17:1-11

Today we celebrate the 7th Sunday of Easter! The 7th Sunday of Easter is sandwiched between “the Ascension of the Lord” which we celebrated last Thursday and “Pentecost Sunday” which we will celebrate next Sunday! That is why the readings today tell us about the Ascension of the Lord and more importantly, about the Descend of the Holy Spirit upon us!

The gospel today is from St. John on the Last Supper discourse of Jesus Christ, the night before he died. It is the priestly prayer of Jesus Christ to his Father, but what concerns us today is the last part of the gospel on the Ascension of Jesus Christ: “I am not in the world any longer, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you” (Jn 17:11).

But more importantly, the “Gospel Acclamation” today tells us that Jesus Christ ascends to heaven not to abandon us nor to rest from his work, but to sit at the right hand of his Father, meaning, in power, to rule the universe, and to send down his Holy Spirit into us, so that he can come back to us and into us and continue his work in us and through us: “I will not leave you orphans, says the Lord; I will come back to you, and your hearts will be full of joy” (Jn 14:18).

That is why the first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, tells us that after the Promise of the Holy Spirit and the Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven, the apostles and Mary the Mother of Jesus were praying for the Holy Spirit – the first and original novena for the Holy Spirit: “All these joined in continuous prayer, together with several women, including Mary, the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers” (Acts: 1:11). We have to pray for the Holy Spirit! We cannot receive the Holy Spirit without prayer and praying for the Holy Spirit!

The “responsorial psalm” is a meditation on the “first reading”. It is a psalm of “Trust in the Lord”, but what concerns us today is the “response” of the “responsorial psalm”: “I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living” (Psalm 26:13).

It can be translated or paraphrased thus: ‘I believe I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of life’! The “land of life” is the Jerusalem Temple where the faithful have access to the life-giving presence of God (CSB/NAB)!

Obviously, the Church has chosen this verse for the “response” of the “responsorial psalm” today to tell us that the Holy Spirit in us is the Life-giving presence of God! St. Paul tells us that we are the temples of the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit does not dwell in heaven, nor in temples, nor in churches, but in us!

“The Lord’s goodness that we shall see” is consequently the goodness of the Holy Spirit, that is, love, joy, peace, forgiveness, freedom, mercy, salvation, wholeness, holiness, health, healing, etc.!

Finally, the Church has chosen the second reading from “1 Peter” to tell us that when the Holy Spirit comes upon us we will suffer for being Christians! We will not suffer for doing evil, for murder, for theft, for crime, etc., but we will suffer for doing good, and for bearing the name of Jesus Christ! Be not ashamed, but be happy, we will be blessed; we will give thanks to God, for when we suffer with Jesus Christ, we will also share in his glory, now and forever, in the Resurrection, and in the Ascension into heaven, body and soul, with Jesus Christ, in His Second Coming, at the end of time!

Today in this Mass, let us pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit upon us! A Happy Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost to all of you! In the early Church of the first century, Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost were all celebrated as one Mystery in the Sunday Eucharist! It was only in the second century that Easter was celebrated as an annual event, and it was only in the fourth century that Ascension and Pentecost were separated from Easter with a period of forty and fifty days respectively (MCE)! Again, a Happy Easter, Ascension and Pentecost to all of you! Amen!

6th Sunday of Easter (Year A) – 17th May 2020

Theme: JESUS GIVES US THE HOLY SPIRIT SO THAT HE WILL BE WITH US FOREVER

  • Acts 8:5-8. 14-17;
  • Psalm 65:1-7. 16. 20. R/ v. 1;
  • 1 Peter 3:15-18
  • John 14:15-21

A Happy and Blessed Easter to all of you! Today is the 6th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical Year A, and next Sunday will be Ascension Sunday and the Sunday following that will be Pentecost Sunday, that is, the coming of the Holy Spirit! Jesus ascends into heaven not to abandon us, but to send us the Holy Spirit so that he will be with us forever!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus will ask the Father to give us the Holy Spirit to be with us forever. The gospel tells us that Jesus will not leave us orphans, but just as Jesus is in the Father, we are in Jesus and Jesus is in us through the Holy Spirit. Finally the gospel tells us that not only Jesus, but Jesus with the Father will dwell in us through the Holy Spirit. These we can read from the Gospel Acclamation (Jn 14:23; CSB) and from the last verse of today’s gospel (Jn 14:21; NJB)!

God is love. God created us out of love, but when we sinned he loved us even more, he became man in Jesus Christ to save us, but when we killed him on the cross, he loved us even more, he rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit does not dwell in heaven, or on earth, but the Holy Spirit dwells in us and within us.

He is nearer to us than we are to ourselves, he loves us more than we love ourselves and he knows us more than we know ourselves. He will continue to love us until we love God, love our neighbor and love ourselves! Then will come the end of the world, that is, the end of the evil world and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ when all will be saved!

The first reading tells us that those who received the Holy Spirit will proclaim the good news! The first reading of last Sunday tells us that the Twelve apostles chose seven men filled with the Holy Spirit to help them to distribute food so that the apostles can have more time for prayer and for proclaiming the good news!

And among the seven were Stephen and Philip! But not surprisingly, after that we never hear of Stephen or Philip distributing food, but instead we hear of them proclaiming the good news. In fact Stephen proclaimed the good news until he was stoned to death and became the first martyr!

The first reading today tells us that Philip proclaimed the good news in Samaria and the people of Samaria accepted the word of God, because they have heard or have seen for themselves the miracles Philip worked! Those possessed by evil spirits were exorcised and those who were sick were cured and the people were filled with joy!

The first reading also tells us that when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the Samaritans had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to pray for them so that they will receive the Holy Spirit! Does it mean that we do not receive the Holy Spirit at Baptism? No! Does it mean that if we are baptized only in the name of Jesus and not in the name of the Trinity we do not receive the Holy Spirit? No! Then what does it mean? It means that we have to be in “communion with the apostles”/Church! (NJBC) Peter and John represent the Twelve apostles. They represent the Church! They represent “the role of the Church in the bestowal of the Spirit”. (CSB)

That is why Christians who are not Catholics have to be confirmed before they are accepted into the Catholic Church and that is why Christians who are baptized only in the name of Jesus have to be baptized again in the name of the Trinity and have to be confirmed before they are accepted into the Catholic Church.

The second reading tells us that the good news that we proclaim is that by his death and resurrection “Christ the righteous one saved the unrighteous”! (CSB) Thus we read in the second reading:

“Christ himself, innocent though he was, had died once for sins, died for the guilty, to lead us to God. In the body he was put to death, in the spirit he was raised to life”. (1 Pt 3:18; SM)

And it is all the work of God! And that is why in the responsorial psalm we give praise and thanks to God for our salvation!

The responsorial psalm is a hymn/prayer of praise and thanksgiving to God for our salvation! Thus the response:

“Cry out with joy to God all the earth.” or “Alleluia!”

And thus the third stanza of the responsorial psalm:

“He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the river dry-shod.” (Ps 65:6a; SM)

The third stanza summarizes the whole history of salvation of Israel by referring to the Exodus from Egypt through the Red Sea and the crossing of the river Jordan into the Promised Land! For us it summarizes our salvation by referring to our baptism and our entry into heaven!

God has done everything for us! What do we do? How shall we respond? The psalm tells us to respond by giving praise and thanks to Him, the first reading tells us to respond by proclaiming the good news, the gospel tells us to respond by loving Jesus and by keeping his commandments, especially the greatest commandment of loving God and neighbor, and the second reading tells us to respond by suffering for doing what is right and not by suffering for doing what is wrong. In this way we will proclaim the good news not only with our words, but also with our deeds and our lives! Again, a happy and blessed Easter to all of you! Amen!

4th Sunday of Easter (A) – 3rd May 2020

Theme: JESUS THE GOOD SHEPHERD HAS COME SO THAT WE MAY HAVE LIFE AND HAVE IT TO THE FULL

  • Acts 2:14. 36-41;
  • Psalm 22:1-6. R. v. 1;
  • 1 Peter 2:20-25
  • John 10:1-10

Today is the 4th Sunday of Easter and the readings today tell us that Jesus the Good Shepherd has come so that we may have life and have it to the full.

The gospel today is taken from John 10 on the Good Shepherd. It tells us that Jesus the Good Shepherd has come so that we may have life and have it to the full! To understand the gospel today we must also read John 9! John 10 is a commentary on John 9! (CSB)

John 9 tells us that Jesus cured the man born blind, and gave him faith, and saved him! The Pharisees on the other hand threw the cured blind man out of the synagogue with these words: “You a sinner through and through ever since you were born”! (Jn 9:34/NJB) The Pharisees the “bad shepherd” excommunicated the sinner, but Jesus the Good Shepherd saved the sinner!

Thus Jesus spoke these words in the gospel today: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.”! (Jn 10:10) The thief refers to the Pharisees!

The first reading tells us that Jesus gives us life through his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! Indeed, the first reading tells us that on the day of Pentecost, Peter proclaimed the good news of the resurrection, and three thousand Jews repented, and were baptized, and had their sins forgiven, and received the Holy Spirit, and received new life!

Thus we read in the first reading: “On the day of Pentecost Peter stood up with the Eleven and addressed the crowd with a loud voice: ‘The whole House of Israel can be certain that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.’ Hearing this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the apostles, ‘What must we do, brothers?’ ‘You must repent,’ Peter answered ‘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. …. They were convinced by his arguments, and they accepted what he said and were baptized. That very day about three thousand were added to their number.”! (Ac 2:14. 36-38. 41)

The responsorial psalm tells us that the Good Shepherd gives us life and happiness! The responsorial psalm has 4 stanzas.

The first stanza tells us that Jesus the Good Shepherd give us life! Thus the first stanza: “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.”! (Ps 22:1-3a)

The second stanza tells us that he not only gives us life, but he also protects us from death! Thus the second stanza: “He guides me along the right path; he is true to his name. If I should walk in the valley of darkness no evil would I fear. You are there with your crook and your staff; with these you give me comfort.”! (Ps 22:3b-4)

The third and fourth stanzas tell us that he give us happiness! Thus the third and fourth stanzas: “You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes. My head you have anointed with oil; my cup is overflowing.”! (Ps 22:5)

“Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me all the days of my life. In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.”! (Ps 22:6)

Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.”! (Ps 22:1)

Finally, the second reading tells us that as sheep we must follow the Good Shepherd! The good shepherd did good, and suffered for doing good, and saved us! We must also do good, and suffer for doing good, and save the world!

Thus we read in the second reading: “But if you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.” (1 P 2:20-21/CSB)

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, to help us to do good, and suffer for doing good, and save the world! A Happy Easter Season to all of you! Amen!

 

5th Sunday of Lent (Year A) – 29th March 2020

Theme: IN BAPTISM JESUS RAISES US FROM DEATH AND IN BAPTISM JESUS PREVENTS US FROM SIN AND DEATH WITH HIS GRACE SO THAT WE WILL NOT SIN AND DIE ANYMORE

  • Ezekiel 37:12-14;
  • Psalm 129 (130). R/ v. 7;
  • Romans 8:8-11
  • John 11:1-45 (Shorter Form, verses 3-7. 17. 20-27. 33-45)

Today is the 5th Sunday of Lent, and next Sunday will be Passion/Palm Sunday, and the Sunday after that will be Easter Sunday! 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! Again, the readings today tell us about baptism. The readings today tell us about the great themes of baptism, namely, faith, resurrection, life, the Holy Spirit and repentance.

The gospel today tells us that Jesus is the resurrection and the life, and whoever believes in him even though he dies he will live, and whoever lives and believes in him will never die! The gospel tells us that whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the one who was to come into the world will be raised from death!

Again, Jesus is the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in him even though he dies he will live and whoever lives and believes in him will never die.

The gospel today tells us that Jesus will raise us up from the dead on the last day. But more than that, the gospel tells us that Jesus will raise us up from the dead here and now in the sacrament of baptism.

And more than that, the gospel tells us that Jesus will not only raise us up from the dead here and now, but he will also prevent us from sin and death here and now with the grace of baptism, so that we will not sin and die anymore!

Mary was prevented from sin and death by the grace of Jesus Christ! That is why we Catholics believe in the “Immaculate conception”, that is, Mary was conceived without sin to prepare her to be the Mother of God!

Again, in baptism, Jesus raises us up from death, here and now; and in baptism Jesus Christ also prevents us from sin and death by his grace, so that we will not sin and die anymore!

Thus we read in the gospel today:

“Jesus said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ‘Yes Lord,’ Martha said ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world.’ Jesus cried in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, here! Come out!’ The dead man came out.” (Jn 11: 25-27. 43-44; SM)

The second reading follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading tells us that Jesus Christ raises us from the dead through the power of the Holy Spirit. The second reading tells us that just as Jesus Christ was raised from the dead by the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus will also raise us from the dead through the power of the Holy Spirit. 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 the Spirit living in you.” (Rm 8:11; SM)

The waters of baptism are not just holy water, but the waters of baptism are waters of the Holy Spirit! Only the Holy Spirit can destroy sin and death and give us new life! We enter and leave the church by signing ourselves with the sign of the cross and with holy water to remind ourselves of our baptism!

The first reading also follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us that we are raised to life by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The first reading is a prediction of the restoration of Israel from the Babylonian exile, but more importantly, for us Christians, it is a prophecy of the resurrection from the dead through the power of the Holy Spirit! Thus we read in the first reading:

“You will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you from your graves, my people. And I shall put my spirit in you, and you will live.” (Ezk 37:13-14; SM)

The responsorial psalm is a penitential psalm. It is a prayer for pardon and mercy. The responsorial psalm has four stanzas.

The first stanza tells us that the psalmist cries to God (vv. 1-2). The second stanza tells us that the psalmist prays for God’s mercy and forgiveness (vv. 3-4). The third stanza tells us that the psalmist trusts in God’s mercy and forgiveness (vv. 5-6). The fourth stanza tells us that the whole community must trust in God’s mercy and forgiveness (vv. 7-8). (CSB)

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)

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. That is why during this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms to the poor. A happy Lent to all of you! Amen!

3rd Sunday of Lent (Year A) – 15th March 2020

Theme: IN FAITH AND BAPTISM WE RECEIVE THE LIVING WATER OF  THE HOLY SPIRIT AND WE DIE AND RISE WITH JESUS CHRIST TO  THE NEW LIFE OF EASTER

  • Exodus 17:3-7;
  • Psalm 94:1-2. 6-9. R. v. 8;
  • Romans 5:1-2. 5-8
  • John 4:5-16. 19-26. 39-42. (Shorter Form)

Today is the 3rd Sunday of Lent, Year A. The readings today tell us that in faith and Baptism we receive the living water of the Holy Spirit and we die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

The first reading tells us that the people of Israel did not have faith in God and grumbled against Moses: ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt to die of thirst, and our children too and our cattle too?’ The place was called Meribah and Massah because the people of Israel quarreled with God and tested God saying: ‘Is the Lord with us, or not?’

The responsorial psalm is a call to praise and obedience. The first two stanzas is a call to praise God the Shepherd of Israel.

The third stanza follows the theme of the first reading, “O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as on that day at Massah in the desert when your fathers put me to the test; when they tried me, though they saw my work.’

In other words, do not test God, do not try God; but trust God and have faith in God!

The gospel tells us that the Samaritan woman had faith in Jesus, but more than that the gospel tells us that her faith in Jesus grew from believing Jesus to be a man, to believing Jesus to be a prophet, and to believing Jesus to be the Messiah! And more than that she became a missionary of Jesus and she brought many Samaritans to Jesus and the Samaritans believed that Jesus is the savior of the world!

Finally, the second reading tells us that we are justified by faith through Jesus Christ! Thus we read in the second reading: “Through our Lord Jesus Christ by faith we are judged righteous and at peace with God, since it is by faith and through Jesus that we have entered this state of grace in which we can boast about looking forward to God’s glory.” (5:1-2)

But more importantly, the readings today tell us that in faith and Baptism we receive the living water of the Holy Spirit and we die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

The first reading tells us that God gave the people of Israel water to drink in the desert so that the people of Israel will not die of thirst in the desert!

In Baptism God gives us the living water of the Holy Spirit to forgive our sins, so that we will not die in our sins, but live a new life!

The gospel tells us that Jesus gave living water to the Samaritan woman who although has had five husbands was thirsting for the living water of the Holy Spirit of God’s love!

In Baptism God gives us the living water of the Holy Spirit of God’s love to forgive our sins and to give us new life!

Finally, the second reading tells us that the living water is the love of God poured into our hearts by the gift of the Holy Spirit!

Again, in Baptism God pours the living water of his love into our hearts by the gift of the Holy Spirit to forgive our sins and to give us new life!

The readings today have been chosen by the Church to prepare our catechumens for Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! These readings from Year A are read whenever there will be Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! During this time of Lent the Church has also asked our catechumens to pray, to fast, and to give alms, in order to prepare themselves for Baptism on Easter Vigil Night!

We will now celebrate the Rite of the First Scrutiny with our Catechumens and we will pray for them so that they will be prepared to receive the sacrament of Baptism on Easter Vigil Night and die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! A Happy Lent to all of you, especially to our Catechumens! Amen!

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!