20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 14th August 2022

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 14th August 2022

Theme: JESUS: A CAUSE OF DIVISION

  • Jeremiah 38:4-6. 8-10;
  • Psalm 39:2-4. 18. R. v. 14;
  • Hebrews 12:1-4
  • Luke 12:49-53

1. Today is the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C. The readings today tell us that the Lord causes divisions, divisions between those who are for him and those who are againsthim, but more importantly, the readings today tell us to be for God, and not to be against God, and most importantly, the readings today tell us to trust in God, and God will save us – and though this is not mentioned in today’s readings – and through us save the wholeworld! After all, Jesus Christ did not suffer, die, rise from the dead and went to heaven allby himself, but he gave the world the Holy Spirit and brought the whole world with him to heaven!

2. The gospel today tells us that Jesus is a cause of division, that is, a division between those who accept Jesus and those who reject Jesus, a division between those who are for God and those who are against God! But more importantly, the gospel tells us to be for God and to put our faith in God and God will hear us and save us! Thus the gospel tells us: “For from now on a household of five will be divided: three against two and two against three; the father divided against the son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”! (Lk 12:52-53) Jesus was quoting from the prophet Micah, chapter 7:6, but more importantly, the following verse, that is, the prophet Micah, chapter 7:7 tells us to put our faith in God and God will hear us and save us! The prophet Micah mentioned the word God 3 times in one short verse! Thus we read: “But as for me, I will look to the Lord, I will put my trust in God my savior; my God will hear me!”

3. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Jeremiah was a cause of division, a division between those who were for God and those who were against God! But more importantly, the first reading tells us to be for God, and not to be against God, and most importantly, the first reading tells us that those who were for God and put their trust in God were saved! Thus Jeremiah was saved from the well of death! But thosewho were against God – including King Zedekiah of Judah – were put to death! They were put to death by the Babylonians and exiled into Babylon in the 6th century BC! (Jr 39)

4. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that those who put their trust in God were saved! (HCSB) The responsorial psalm has 4 stanzas. The first 3 stanzas are a thanksgiving for deliverance, and the last stanza and the response are a prayer to God for help. The usual order is reversed, that is, the thanksgiving is before the prayer. (NJBC)
Thus the first 3 stanzas of the responsorial psalm: “I waited, I waited for the Lord and he stooped down to me; he heard my cry. He drew me from the deadly pit, from the miry clay. He set my feet upon a rock and made my footsteps firm. He put a new song into my mouth, praise of our God. Many shall see and fear and shall trust in the Lord.”! (Ps 39: 2-4)

5. Finally, and most importantly, the second reading tells us to forget about the prophet Jeremiah, and all the prophets of the Old Testament, and all the men and women of faith of the Old Testament (“witnesses”), and to look to Jesus Christ in the New Testament! (IBC/CSB) In the face of sinners, Jesus Christ put his faith in God his Father through suffering and death, and today he is exalted high above in heaven in glory! In our struggle with sin and sinners we must also put our faith in God our Father until death, and we too will be exalted high above in heaven in glory!6.

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 so that we may be for God and not against God, and so that in our struggle against sin and sinners we may put our faith in God until death, and so that we may be exalted high above in heaven in glory, and so that through us the whole world may also be exalted high above in heaven in glory! This is the Good News! Amen!

THE MOST HOLY TRINITY / TRINITY SUNDAY (C) – 12th June 2022

THE MOST HOLY TRINITY / TRINITY SUNDAY (C) – 12th June 2022

Theme: THE MOST HOLY TRINITY: THE MYSTERY OF GOD’S LOVE IN CREATION, SALVATION AND SANCTIFICATION!

  • Proverbs 8:22-31;
  • Psalm 8:4-9. R/ v. 2;
  • Romans 5:1-5
  • John 16:12-15

1. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of THE MOST HOLY TRINITY! Today we also celebrate the feast day of our parish, that is, the feast day of Holy Trinity Church, Tawau! THE MOST HOLY TRINITY is the mystery of God’s love in Creation, Salvation and Sanctification, that is, God the Father Creates out of love, God the Son Saves out of love and God the Holy Spirit Sanctifies out of love!

People of other religions ask us: Why do we believe in three Gods? How can God become man? How can God die? How can God become food for men? How can God become food for sinful men?

To begin with, we do not believe in three Gods, we believe in one God, but we believe in a God of love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation; we do not believe in a God of law, justice, judgment and condemnation!   

We believe that God created the world out of love, but when we sinned, God loved us even more; God became man to save us, but when we crucified him on the cross, He loved us even more; He rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit dwells among us, within us and inside us, nearer to us than we are to ourselves, loving us more than we love ourselves (Saint Augustine)!

And the Holy Spirit will 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, the second coming of Jesus Christ! And Jesus Christ will take us to heaven to share in the life of love and happiness of The Most Holy Trinity!  

We believe that the Holy Spirit is in the Church, especially in the Sacraments, and especially in the Sacrament of Sacraments, that is, the Holy Eucharist/Mass! For when we celebrate the Holy Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the Salvation of the world! We make present, real and effective the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the Salvation of the world!

And when we eat the body of Christ and drink his blood, we eat the body of the Risen Lord who can pass through locked doors and be at any place at an instant – not limited by time and space! And it is the Risen Lord who gives us the Holy Spirit for our salvation!

That is why immediately after the consecration the priest says “The mystery of faith” and we acclaim “When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your Death, O Lord, until you come again”!

This acclamation is taken from 1 Corinthians 11: 23 – 26. It is the most ancient written text on the institution of the Eucharist, more ancient than even the gospel accounts on the institution of the Eucharist! “Whenever you eat this bread, then, and drink this cup, you are proclaiming the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Co 11:26; NJB) That is, “When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we are proclaiming the saving Death of the Lord until he comes again when all will be saved”!

Let us then come to Mass every Sunday and let us ask our children, grandchildren,  godchildren, parents, godparents, relatives, friends, neighbors, schoolmates, workmates, etc. to come to Mass every Sunday! That is the most loving act we can do to them!         

2. The readings today tell us about The Most Holy Trinity, that is, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit!

(i) The first reading tells us that God the Father created the universe, that is, the sun, the moon, the stars and the earth, the hills, the mountains, the rivers, the seas, etc.; but more importantly, the first reading tells us that God the Father did not create haphazardly, but he created the universe according to his plan, that is, according to Jesus Christ, the Wisdom of God! (CSB) Everything was created in him, with him, through him, and for him! Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega of creation, that is, the beginning and end of creation! Creation has a purpose, a meaning and a direction, that is, Jesus Christ!    

(ii) The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us that God the Father created the whole universe! That is why we responded four times:

“How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth!” (Ps 8:2; SM) 

More importantly, the responsible psalm tells us that human beings are the high point of God’s creation and human beings are to be the stewards of God’s creation!

(iii) The second reading tells us that we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ through his death and resurrection gave us the Holy Spirit:

“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. …. And this hope is not deceptive, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us.” (Rm 5: 1-2. 5; SM)

(iv) The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ will give us the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit will reveal to us the whole truth and tell us of what is to come, that is, what is to come after Jesus’ death and resurrection (NJB):

“But when the Spirit of truth comes he will lead you to the complete truth, …. and he will tell you of the things to come.” (Jn 16:13; SM) 

The gospel also tells us that the Trinity of Persons is in fact one God! Thus the caption of the gospel:

“Everything the Father has is mine; all the Spirit tells you will be taken from what is mine.” (cf. Jn 16:15; Sunday Missal (SM))

3. Today we give thanks to God for his love in creation, in salvation and in sanctification, and we ask God to continue to sanctify us with his love, so that we can love God, love our neighbor and love ourselves, and so that Jesus Christ will come a second time to take us all to heaven to share in the life of The Most Holy Trinity! A happy and blessed Trinity Sunday to all of you and a happy and blessed parish feast day to all of you! Amen!

References: New Jerusalem Bible (NJB); Catholic Study Bible (CSB).     

PENTECOST SUNDAY (Year C) – 5th June 2022

PENTECOST SUNDAY (Year C) – 5th June 2022

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

1. 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!

2. 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!

3. 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)

4. 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? 

5. 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!

6th Sunday of Easter (Year C) – 22nd May 2022

6th Sunday of Easter (Year C) – 22nd May 2022

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

1. 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!         

2. 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!    

3. 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)

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!   

5. 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!

3rd Sunday of Easter (Year C) – 1st May 2022

3rd Sunday of Easter (Year C) – 1st May 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The gospel today tells us of 3 important things:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EASTER SUNDAY (Mass of the Day) – 17th April 2022

EASTER SUNDAY (Mass of the Day) – 17th April 2022

Theme: THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST AND OUR DEATH AND RESURRECTION WITH HIM IN THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM!

  • Acts 10:34. 37-43;
  • Psalm 117:1-2. 16-17. 22-23. R/ v. 24;
  • Colossians 3:1-4
  • John 20:1-9

1. A Happy and Blessed Easter to all of you! Today we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; and our death and resurrection with him in the sacrament of Baptism!  

The gospel today tells us that the Lord has risen from the dead! The gospel tells us that Mary of Magdala went to the tomb early Sunday morning and saw that the stone had been moved away. She ran quickly to Peter and John and told them that the Lord had been taken away and that she did not know where they had put him.

Peter and John ran quickly to the tomb. John reached the tomb first, but did not go in. He bent down and saw the burial cloths on the ground. Peter reached the tomb later and went straight in and saw the burial cloths on the ground and also the cloth that covered Jesus’ head rolled up in a place by itself. John then went into the tomb and saw and believed!

The burial cloths on the ground and the cloth that covered Jesus’ head tell us that the Lord was not stolen by his disciples, but the Lord had risen from the dead; if not the burial cloths would not be on the ground, but would be taken away, and the cloth that covered Jesus’ head would not be rolled up in a place by itself! Indeed the Lord has risen from the dead!    

2. The first reading tells us that Peter and the Apostles were witnesses to the resurrection of the Lord! They ate and drank with him after his resurrection and they spent forty days with him after his resurrection! (Ac 10:41o; NJB)

More importantly, the first reading tells us that Peter and the Apostles proclaimed the good news of the Lord’s death and resurrection and that whoever believes in him will have their sins forgiven in his name in the sacrament of Baptism! That is why in the Bible, immediately following this first reading, is the “Baptism of the first gentiles”! (Ac 10:44-48; NJB)

3. The second reading tells us about the sacrament of Baptism! (Col 2:12; NJB) The second reading tells us that in Baptism we have been brought back to life with Jesus Christ and that is why we have to look for the things of heaven! Our thoughts must be on heavenly things and not on the things of the earth, because we have died with Christ and our lives are now hidden with Christ in God. But at the second coming of Jesus Christ at the “parousia”; Jesus Christ will be revealed in all his glory and we will share in the fullness of his glory! (Col 3:4b; NJB)      

4. The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving for salvation in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! Thus we responded three times:

    “Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!” Alleluia means Praise the Lord!    

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us to praise and thank God for his infinite love! The second stanza tells us that the Lord saves us from death! The third stanza tells us about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! Thus we read in the third stanza:

“The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone.” (Ps 117:22; Mt 21:42; Ac 4:11; CSB)

And it is all God’s work! Thus we read again in the third stanza:

“This is the work of the Lord, a marvel in our eyes.” (Ps 117:23; SM)

That is why we give praise and thanks to God in the response:

“Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!”

That is, “Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord!”

5. We will now renew our Baptism! We will renew our Baptism with the light of Jesus Christ! The light of the Resurrection! The light that has destroyed the darkness of sin and death! The light that has destroyed the Devil! The light that has destroyed Satan!

The light of Christ is the light of faith as opposed to unbelief which is darkness, the light of Christ is the light of life as opposed to death which is darkness, and the light of Christ is the light of good as opposed to evil which is darkness!  

More importantly, the three themes are related! For it is in faith that we receive the new and eternal life from God and the life from God is good, because only God is good!

Most importantly, Light will overcome darkness, faith will overcome unbelief, life will overcome death, and good will overcome evil, because Jesus Christ has overcome the Devil! Jesus has overcome Satan!

And the new life that Jesus gives is even better than the old life before sin! Thus we sing in the Easter Proclamation:

“O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!”

We will light our candles from the Easter candle and we will profess our faith in God by answering “I do” to six questions! The first three questions reject Satan and all his works and all his empty promises; because Satan tells us not to believe in God! The second three questions profess our faith in God the Father who created the world, God the Son who saved the world, and God the Holy Spirit who continues to sanctify the world!

After that we will be sprinkled with holy water, that is, the waters of baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit! And we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new and eternal life of Easter! A Happy and Blessed Easter to all of you! Amen!

THE EASTER VIGIL (C) – 16th April 2022

THE EASTER VIGIL (C) – 16th April 2022

Theme: IN BAPTISM WE DIE AND RISE WITH JESUS CHRIST TO THE NEW LIFE OF EASTER

  • Genesis 1:1. 26-31;
  • Genesis 22:1-2. 9-13. 15-18;
  • Exodus 14:15-15:1;
  • Ezekiel 36:16-28
  • Romans 6:3-11; Luke 24:1-12

1. A happy and blessed Easter to all of you! We began this celebration of Easter with the service of light. Light in the New Testament symbolizes 3 things:

(i) Light symbolizes faith as opposed to unbelief which is darkness. (ii) Light symbolizes life, contentment and happiness as opposed to death, misery and unhappiness which is darkness. (iii) Light symbolizes good as opposed to evil which is darkness.

More importantly, the 3 themes are related, that is, with faith in God, we receive life, and the life from God is a life of goodness!

Most importantly, light will overcome darkness, faith will overcome unbelief, life will overcome death, and good will overcome evil! This is because Jesus Christ the light of the world has overcome the devil the darkness of the world!

And Jesus Christ the light of the world will continue to overcome the devil the darkness of the world through the power of the Holy Spirit until the end of time when light will overcome all darkness totally, completely and fully! That would be the end of the world, that is, the end of the evil world, the second coming of Jesus Christ, the Parousia! 

The service of light concluded with the Easter Proclamation! The most touching verse of the Easter Proclamation is:

“O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!”

How can Adam’s fault be happy? How can Adam’s sin be necessary? How can Adam’s sin merit for us so great a Redeemer? The verse is not telling us about Adam’s fault and sin, but it is telling us about the love of God!

God created the world out of love, but when we sinned God loved us even more. He became man to save us from sin, but when we crucified him on the cross he loved us even more. He died, rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit dwells not in heaven or on earth, but the Holy Spirit dwells among us and within us, nearer to us than we are to ourselves, and loving us more than we love ourselves! (St. Augustine) The Holy Spirit will continue to love us until we love God, love our neighbor and love ourselves! That would be the end of the world, that is, the end of the evil world, the second coming of Jesus Christ, the Parousia!  

2. After the service of light we listened to 6 readings, 4 from the Old Testament and 2 from the New Testament. The first 3 readings from the Old Testament have been used in the Easter Liturgy since the fifth century! (Raas, p. 186) The first 3 readings are from the Law, the fourth reading is from the Prophets. We should read from both the Law and the Prophets. (Sunday Missal, 2011)

The readings tell us about the history of salvation! They tell us what God has done for us in the past and what God continues to do for us in the present in baptism!

The first reading tells us that God created the universe, but more importantly, it tells us that God created man and woman according to his image and likeness to be the co-creators of God to create life! But man and woman committed the Original Sin of Pride and brought death into the world! Consequently, instead of creating life, man and woman destroy life, destroy the environment, destroy one another and destroy oneself!

The second reading tells us that God began the history of salvation with Abraham the father of faith. Abraham’s faith was such that he was ready to sacrifice his son Isaac to God! As result, God blessed him with many descendents as many as the stars in heaven and as many as the grains of sand on the seashore! We are the descendents of Abraham the father of faith! We are the children of faith! Without faith we cannot be baptized! Only with faith can we be baptized! 

The third reading tells us about the Exodus, that is, the liberation of Israel from slavery in Egypt! The third reading tells us that God destroyed the Egyptians in the waters of the Red sea and saved the people of Israel! More importantly, the third reading tells us that God will destroy our sins in the waters of baptism and save us from death!  

The fourth reading tells us about the New Exodus, the Second Exodus, even more important than the First Exodus! The second reading tells us that the people of Israel sinned against God and were exiled to Babylon, but more importantly, the fourth reading tell us that God will bring them back to their homeland in the New Exodus! God will cleanse them with water. God will give them a new heart. God will put his spirit in them and they will live! But most importantly, the fourth reading tells us that in baptism God will cleanse us with the waters of baptism. God will give us a new heart. God will give us the Holy Spirit and we will live! 

The gospel tells us about the resurrection of Jesus Christ! In the gospel the two angels told the women that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead! It is through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that the Holy Spirit is given to us so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!    

Finally, the fifth reading from the letter to the Romans tells us that it is in baptism that we die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter, never to die anymore and never to sin anymore!

3. After this homily we will bless the water. We will ask God the Father with his Son Jesus Christ to send the Holy Spirit upon the water:

“We ask you, Father, with your Son to send the Holy Spirit upon the waters of this font.”! 

After that we will profess our faith by answering 6 questions, 3 rejecting Satan who tempts us not to have faith in God and more importantly, 3 professing our faith in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit! After that 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!

After baptism, the adults will also receive the sacrament of confirmation. They will be made strong in the Holy Spirit to be witnesses of Jesus Christ. The Greek word for witness is “martyr”, that is, one who suffers or dies for his beliefs! The adults will also receive the sacrament of the Eucharist so that they will continue to grow stronger and stronger in the Holy Spirit! That is why it is important that after baptism and confirmation we continue to come to Mass every Sunday! Again, a happy and blessed Easter to all of you! We will now proceed with the baptism, confirmation and Eucharist!

HOLY THURSDAY – Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper – 14th April 2022

HOLY THURSDAY – Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper – 14th April 2022

Theme: THE EUCHARIST MAKES PRESENT, REAL AND EFFECTIVE THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST AND THE OUTPOURING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT FOR THE SALVATION OF THE WORLD!

  • Exodus 12:1-8. 11-14;
  • Psalm 115:12-13. 15-18. R/ cf. 1 Corinthians 10:16;
  • 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
  • John 13:1-15

1. This evening we celebrate Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. This evening we commemorate three principal mysteries, that is, the institution of the Eucharist and the Priesthood, and the commandment to love!

The gospel today tells us about the washing of the feet of the disciples by Jesus. Unlike the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, the gospel of John does not have the institution of the Eucharist; instead it has the washing of the feet of the disciples by Jesus! The washing of the feet of the disciples by Jesus is the meaning of the Eucharist!

The gospel today tells us that when they were at supper, Jesus got up from the table, took off his outer garment, wrapped a towel round his waist, poured water into a basin and washed the disciples’ feet and dried them with the towel.

When he had finished washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus put on his clothes and went back to the table. And he told his disciples that though he was their Lord and Master, yet he washed their feet. They were therefore to follow him and wash one another’s feet! That is, they were to love and serve one another!

But more than that, the dialogue of Jesus with Peter in today’s gospel tells us of the symbolic meaning of the gospel, that is, Jesus does not only wash our feet, but more importantly, Jesus also washes away our sins with the waters of Baptism, that is, he washes away our sins with the Holy Spirit! And Jesus continues to wash away our sins with the blood of the Eucharist, that is, the blood of the cross, every Sunday! (HCSB; IBC; CSB; CCB)

In other words, Jesus does not only love and serve, but he also suffers and sacrifices for the sanctification and salvation of the world! And he told us to follow him and do the same! But how can we do the same? We can do the same with the help of the Holy Spirit!

That is why before his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world, Jesus instituted the Eucharist and the priesthood to make present, real and effective his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world!  

2. The second reading tells us about the institution of the Eucharist and of the priesthood. The second reading from the first letter to the Corinthians is the most ancient written account of the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood. It is even more ancient than the accounts in the gospels. It was written around the year A.D. 55! (CCB)

The second reading tells us that in instituting the Eucharist, Jesus did four things:
(i) He took the bread. (ii) He thanked God for the bread. (iii) He broke the bread. (iv) He gave the bread. 

Tonight in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we will do the same four things that Jesus did in the institution of the Eucharist: (i) We will take the bread (Offertory). (ii) We will thank God for the bread (Eucharistic Prayer). (iii) We will break the bread. (iv) We will give the bread (Holy Communion)!

Most importantly, the second reading tells us that whenever we eat the bread and drink the cup we proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes! That is, whenever we eat the bread and drink the cup, we proclaim the “saving death” of the Lord (HCSB), that is, his death, resurrection, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world, until he comes again at the end of the world when all will be saved!

Again, the Eucharist makes present, real and effective the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! It is with the help of the Holy Spirit that we do what Jesus commanded us to do, that is, to love and serve, to suffer and sacrifice, and to sanctify and save the world!

Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper begins Good Friday; in fact, it begins the Easter Triduum of three days, namely, Good Friday (Crucifixion), Holy Saturday (Burial), and Easter Sunday (Resurrection)!

The three days are but one celebration! That is why there is no dismissal on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. The dismissal will only be given after the Easter Vigil. That is why we have to come for all the three days! We shall now proceed with the “washing of the feet” and the Eucharist!

A happy and blessed Easter Triduum to all of you!  Amen!

3rd Sunday of Lent – 20th March 2022

3rd Sunday of Lent – 20th March 2022

*We use Readings from Year A because the church will be having Baptism on Easter Vigil.

Theme: IT IS IN FAITH THAT WE ARE BAPTIZED AND IT IS IN BAPTISM THAT WE RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD’S LOVE, LIFE AND HAPPINESS  

  • Exodus 17:3-7;
  • Psalm 94 (95): 1-2. 6-9. R/ v. 8;
  • Romans 5:1-2. 5-8
  • John 4:5-42 (Shorter Form, 4:5-16. 19-26. 39-42)

1. Today is the 3rd Sunday of Lent. 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! It is in faith that we are baptized and it is in baptism that we receive the Holy Spirit of God’s love, life and happiness!

    The readings today tell us about these two most important themes of baptism, namely, faith and the Holy Spirit!

    The readings today tell us about faith. The first reading tells us that the people of Israel lost faith in God because there was no water in the desert. They quarreled (Meribah) with God and they put God to the test (Massah) saying, “Is the Lord with us, or not?”

    The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us not to be like the people of Israel who quarreled with God and tested God. The responsorial psalm tells us to trust in God, to believe in God, and to have faith in God. Thus the third stanza of the psalm from which the response is taken:

    “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.’” (Ps 94 (95): 8-9; SM)    

    The first stanza of the responsorial psalm tells us to praise and worship God because he is our savior. The second stanza tells us to praise and worship God because he is our creator and shepherd/savior. (NJBC) 

    The second reading tells us that it is through Jesus Christ by faith that we are made righteous and at peace with God, and it is by faith and through Jesus Christ that we have entered the state of grace! In short, it is by faith in Jesus Christ that we are saved!

    Finally, the gospel today tells us that the Samaritan woman had faith in Jesus Christ! Like Abraham the father of faith, the Samaritan woman had nothing, but faith. She was a Samaritan (half-Jew), a woman, and a sinner who had five husbands and living with a sixth man (NJBC; IBC), but she had the most important thing, that is, faith in Jesus Christ!

    Not only did the Samaritan woman have faith, but her faith grew as she encountered Jesus. She first saw Jesus as a Jew, then she recognized Jesus to be a prophet, then she believed that Jesus was the Messiah (HCSB), and finally she became a missionary and an apostle and brought other Samaritans to believe in Jesus!      

2. The readings today also tell us about the Holy Spirit. The first reading tells us that the people of Israel were dying of thirst in the desert, but more importantly, the first reading tells us that God gave them water from the rock to quench their thirst and saved them from death! The water symbolizes the Holy Spirit, because only the Holy Spirit can quench our thirst and save us from death!

    More importantly, the gospel today tells us that the Lord will give us living water so that we will not be thirsty anymore, because this living water will turn into a spring inside us welling up to eternal life!

    The Samaritan woman had five husbands and living with a sixth man who was not her husband, but she was still thirsting for the living water of eternal life. She was still thirsting for love, life and happiness. Only the living water of the Holy Spirit (NJB; NJBC; IBC; CCB) which Jesus gives can quench her thirst and give her the love, life and happiness that she was looking for!

    We may not have five husbands or wives, but we may have five million dollars, five houses, five cars, five jobs, five pieces of property, etc. But these cannot give us love, life and happiness. Only the living water of the Holy Spirit can give us the love, life and happiness that we are looking for!

    Indeed, the second reading tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of God’s love. The second tells us that what proves that God loves us is that Jesus Christ died for us while we were still sinners. It is hard to die even for a good man, but what proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners!     

    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, it is in faith that we are baptized and it is in baptism that we receive the Holy Spirit of God’s love, life and happiness.  

    Lent is therefore a time for us to renew and strengthen our faith. 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!

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 20th February 2022

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 20th February 2022

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

1.   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!        

2. 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.   

3. 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)

4. 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)

5. 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!