5th Sunday of Easter (Year B) – 2nd April 2021

Theme: IN THE HOLY SPIRIT WE LIVE IN GOD AND GOD LIVES IN US AND WE BEAR FRUIT IN PLENTY.    

  • Acts 9:26-31;
  • Psalm 21 (22):26-28. 30-32. R/ v. 26;
  • 1 John 3:18-24;
  • John 15:1-8.

Today is the 5th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical Year B. We are still in the Easter Season of 50 days! The Easter Season began on Easter Sunday and it will end on Pentecost Sunday, a period of 50 days!

The Gospel of John which we read on the Octave Day of Easter tells us that the Risen Lord gave the Holy Spirit to the disciples on the very day of his resurrection and sent them out to proclaim the good news so that those who believe and are baptized will have their sins forgiven!

Today the second reading tells us that it is in the Holy Spirit that we live in God and God lives in us and that we believe and love his Son Jesus Christ and that we love one another!

The gospel today tells us that if we remain in Jesus and Jesus remains in us we will bear fruit in plenty! But cut off from Jesus we will bear no fruit. Not only will we bear no fruit, but we will die! The gospel today tells us that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. If we remain in Jesus we will bear fruit, but cut off from Jesus we will die!

The first reading tells that the Risen Lord is alive and active in the early Church in the Apostle Paul in the Holy Spirit! The first reading tells us that Paul a persecutor of Christians became a persecuted Christian! The first reading tells us that Paul preached the good news even in the face of persecution and death!

The Responsorial Psalm tells us to praise God, because the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world are all the work of God! Thus the response of the Responsorial Psalm:

“You, Lord, are my praise in the great assembly.”

The Responsorial Psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells the community to praise God! The second stanza tells the nations of the world to praise God! The third stanza tells the future generations to praise God!

Today in the Eucharist we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and we eat his body and drink his blood and the Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us live in God and God in us and the Holy Spirit will help us believe and love Jesus Christ and love one another!

The Holy Spirit will help us remain in Jesus and Jesus remain in us, so that we will bear fruit in plenty, especially the fruits of love, peace and joy! The Holy Spirit will help us proclaim the Good News even in the face of persecution and death! And the Holy Spirit will help us praise and worship God and serve him!

A happy Easter Season to all of you! Amen!

2nd Sunday of Easter (Year B) – 11th April 2021

Theme: WE THANK GOD FOR THE RESURRECTION OF HIS SON JESUS CHRIST, AND OUR RESURRECTION WITH HIM IN BAPTISM, AND WE ASK GOD TO GIVE US THE HOLY SPIRIT, SO THAT WE WILL PROCLAIM HIS RESURRECTION TO THE WHOLE WORLD

  • Acts 4:32-35;
  • Psalm 117 (118): 2-4. 15-18. 22-24. R. v. 1;
  • 1 John 5:1-6
  • John 20: 19-31

1. Today is the Second Sunday of Easter, the Octave Day of Easter. We celebrate Easter in eight days, not in one day! A happy Easter to all of you! The readings today tell us that the Risen Lord appeared to his disciples on the day of his resurrection, and gave them the Holy Spirit, and sent them out into the world to proclaim the good news, so that 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!

    The gospel today tells us that on the day of his resurrection the risen Lord appeared to his disciples and said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, that is, “shalom”, that is, “salvation”! A peace that the world cannot give! (Jn 14:27) He then showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord. A joy that the world cannot take away from them! (Jn 16:22)

    He then said to them again, ‘Peace be with you, as the Father has sent me, so I am sending you’. After 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, those who do not believe and are not baptized will not have their sins forgiven! 

    The Council of Trent in the sixteenth century teaches that in this passage, the Lord gave the Church the authority to forgive sins in the sacrament of penance. When we commit sins after Baptism we need to receive the sacrament of penance to have our sins forgiven!  

2. The gospel also tells us that Thomas was not with the other disciples when the Lord appeared. And when he was told that the Lord appeared, he refused to believe and said, ‘unless I see the holes the nails have made in his hands, and put my finger into them, and unless I put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe’. Eight days later the Lord appeared to his disciples again, and he said, ‘peace be with you’. And he said to Thomas, ‘here are my hands, put your finger into them, and put your hand into my side, doubt no longer and believe’. Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God’. Thomas made “the highest confession of faith in all the Gospels”! (R. Brown)

    After that, Jesus said to him, ‘You believe because you have seen me, blessed are those who do not see me, yet believe’, that is, blessed are those who do not see me, yet believe, because of the apostles’ witnessing! (Jn 17:20-23/Ac 1:8/NJB) We believe because of the witnessing of the apostles, and our Pope and Bishops are the direct successors of Peter (the first Pope) and the apostles, respectively. We believe because of Scripture, Church and Tradition!

3. Finally, the third part of the gospel tells us that the gospel was written so that we may believe and in believing have life! The second reading follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading tells us that if we believe in Jesus, we will not only have life, but we will overcome the world. Just as Jesus himself overcame the world! (Jn 16:33)  Thus we read in the second reading: “this is the victory over the world – our faith. Who can overcome the world? Only the man who believes that Jesus is the Son of God”. (1 Jn 5:4-5)

    The second reading also tells us that Jesus came not only with water, but with water and blood, and with the Holy Spirit as the third witness, that is, Jesus came not only in Baptism (water), but also in crucifixion (blood); and the Holy Spirit was present at his Baptism, and the Holy Spirit was given to us in his crucifixion, death and resurrection!

4. The first reading tells us that the Risen Lord was in the first Christian community. The first BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community)! That is why the first Christian community shared all they had with one another. That is why the rich helped the poor in the first Christian community. The first reading also tells us that the first Christian community witnessed to the resurrection with great power, that is, with miracles, physical miracles and moral miracles! Physical miracles, that is, the blind see, the lame walk, the sick are healed, etc.! Moral miracles, that is, when our hearts change, when we love and forgive, when we love and serve, when we help the poor, when we stop committing sin, etc.!  

5. Finally, the responsorial psalm is a song of thanksgiving and praise, thanking and praising God for the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ, and thanking God for saving us from sin and death. The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza is a call to praise God. The second stanza is a thanksgiving for our salvation from sin and death. And the third stanza praises God for the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone. This is the work of the Lord, a marvel in our eyes.”! (Ps 117 (118): 22-23/Mt 21:42) And thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

    “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.” (Ps 117 (118): 1) Or “Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!”, that is, “Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, praise the Lord!”                     

    Today we thank God for the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ, and our resurrection with him in Baptism, and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we will proclaim the good news of his resurrection to the whole world! Amen

                                                                                                                                   

Holy Thursday (Year A, B, C) – 1st April 2021

Theme: THE LORD INSTITUTED THE HOLY EUCHARIST TO MAKE PRESENT, REAL AND EFFECTIVE HIS DEATH, RESURRECTION AND THE OUTPOURING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT FOR THE SALVATION OF THE WORLD

  • Exodus 12:1-8. 11-14;
  • Psalm 115 (116):12-13. 15-18. R/ cf. 1 Corinthians 10:16;
  • 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
  • John 13:34; John 13:1-15

1. Tonight we celebrate Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Tonight we begin the celebration of the Easter Triduum of Good Friday (death), Holy Saturday (burial) and Easter Sunday (resurrection). Our celebration will only end after the Easter Vigil. That is why there will be no dismissal after tonight’s Mass. Dismissal will only take place after the Easter Vigil. That is why you have to come also for the Good Friday service and the Easter Vigil. It is all one celebration of the Lord’s death and resurrection!

    Tonight the Church asks us to commemorate three mysteries: (1) Institution of the Holy Eucharist (2) Institution of the priesthood (3) the command to love and serve.

2. The second reading is the most ancient written account on the institution of the Eucharist. It is even more ancient than the gospel accounts. The second reading tell us that on the night before his death, resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world, the Lord instituted the Eucharist in remembrance of him; remembrance not only in the sense of recalling the past, but more so to make the past present, real and effective. So much so that when we celebrate the Eucharist, we celebrate his death and resurrection, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and we receive the Holy Spirit for our salvation!

    The second reading tells us that the Lord instituted the Eucharist by changing the bread into his body and by changing the wine into his blood. And when we eat the bread and drink the wine we are proclaiming his death until he comes again, that is, we are proclaiming his saving death, until his Second Coming when all will be saved!   

    In the institution of the Eucharist the Lord did four actions: (1) He took (bread) (2) He thanked (3) He broke (4) He gave. These are the four actions that we do tonight in the Eucharist. The Mass has two parts, that is, Word and Eucharist. In the Eucharist we (1) take (presentation of the gifts) (2) we thank (Eucharistic prayer) (3) we break (bread) (4) we give (Holy Communion). And when we eat his body and drink his blood, we receive his Holy Spirit for our salvation.

    The four actions of the Lord can be simplified into two actions, that is, to thank and to give, that is, to thank God for the gift of life and to give our lives to others! In the gospel today the Lord thanked God the Father for the gift of life and gave his life to others in love and service!

3. It is important to note that the account of the institution of the Eucharist is found only in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but not in the gospel of John! Instead of the institution of the Eucharist, the gospel of John has the “washing of feet” and the commandment to love and serve. For John this is the meaning and the effect of the Eucharist.

    The gospel of John tonight tells us that Jesus loved his disciples, but on the night before he died, he showed that his love was perfect! When they were at supper, Jesus got up from the table, took off his outer garment, tied a towel round his waist, poured some water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and wiping them with the towel.

    And when he came to Peter, Peter refused his feet to be washed. How can a Master wash the feet of a disciple? How can a Lord wash the feet of a servant / slave? But Jesus told Peter that if he was not going to wash his feet he will have nothing to do with him. Peter then requested Jesus not only to wash his feet, but also to wash his hands and head. But Jesus replied that anyone who has taken a bath need not be washed, because he is clean all over.

    Jesus was talking about baptism. (IBC; HCSB; Lefrois) In baptism Jesus washes away our sins with the waters of baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is not only a servant, but Jesus is the Suffering Servant who loves and serves, suffers and sacrifices, in order to sanctify and save the world!

    In the gospel acclamation before the gospel, Jesus tells us “I give you a new commandment: love one another just as I have loved you.” (Jn 13:34) At the end of the gospel Jesus tells us: “If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.” (Jn 13:14-15)

    In other words, we are to love and serve, to suffer and sacrifice, and to sanctify and save the world!

4. Another mystery that we commemorate tonight is the institution of the priesthood. Jesus instituted the priesthood so that we can celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday, so that we can eat his body and drink his blood and receive his Holy Spirit for our salvation; and so that we can love and serve, suffer and sacrifice in order to sanctify and save the whole world!

    Why is there “no vocation” to the priesthood? “No vocation” means no call! Is it true that God does not call people to the priesthood? God always calls people to the priesthood! But there is no answer, no response, not “no vocation”, not no call! Tonight, let us pray that our young men may answer and respond to God’s call to the priesthood! We have a life-size statue of Saint John Vianney at our church door in order to inspire our young men to become priests!

    We shall now do the “washing of the feet” just as the Lord did two thousand years ago!

A happy Easter Triduum to all of you!

                                                                                                                                   

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 7th Feb 2020

Theme: THE LORD HEALS US PHYSICALLY AND SPIRITUALLY

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

1. Today is the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. The readings today tell us that the Lord heals us physically and spiritually. The readings also tell us that the Lord heals us physically and spiritually by first preaching the word of God. The word of God gives faith. With faith we pray. And when we pray with faith we receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit heals us physically and spiritually!

    The gospel today tells us that the Lord heals us physically and spiritually. The second paragraph of the gospel today (Mk 1:32-34) tells us that the Lord heals the sick. A parallel text is found in today’s “Gospel Acclamation”: “He took our sicknesses away, and carried our diseases for us.” (Mt 8:17) But Matthew was quoting Isaiah 53:4 – the fourth Suffering Servant Song of Isaiah – which tells us that the Suffering Servant takes away our sins and guilt upon himself! (Is 53:4ff) Thus the Lord heals us physically and spiritually!

    The gospel also tells us that the Lord casts out devils. A few of us may be “possessed physically” by devils, but all of us are “possessed spiritually” by devils. “Spiritual possessions” by devils bring us sin and death. There are those who can cast out devils in cases of “physical possessions”, but are themselves “spiritually possessed” by devils, that is, they live in sin and death! But the Lord casts out devils both in physical possessions and spiritual possessions! Thus the Lord heals us physically and spiritually!

    The third paragraph of today’s gospel (Mk 1:35-39) tells us that the Lord heals us physically and spiritually by first preaching the word of God. The word of God gives faith. (Rm 10:17) With faith we pray. And when we pray with faith we receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit heals us both physically and spiritually!  

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Job was suffering physically and spiritually. Job’s body was covered with wounds and worms (Jb 7:5). Job’s children and properties were taken away from him. In Job’s time there was no belief in an afterlife. Job cursed the day he was born and Job’s wife told him to curse God and die. Job’s friends told him that he was punished by God for his sins, but Job was innocent. He lived an upright life before God. He was obedient to God!      

    The first reading tells us that he was suffering day and night. When it was day he waited for night to come, but when it was night he waited for day to come. He could not sleep. His days passed without hope and without happiness.

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord heals us physically and spiritually! Thus verse three of the responsorial psalm: “he heals the broken-hearted, he binds up all their wounds.” (Ps 146 (147): 3) And thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “Praise the Lord who heals the broken-hearted.” (Ps 146:3)

    The responsorial psalm is an “invitation to praise God, the creator who cares for the afflicted” (NJBC) The first verse is an invitation to praise God. The second and third verses tell us that God cares for the afflicted. And the fourth and fifth verses tell us that God is the creator.

4. Again, the Lord heals us physically and spiritually by first preaching the word of God! Thus St. Paul tells us in the second reading that it is his duty to preach the gospel and that if he does not preach the gospel he should be punished. St. Paul also tells us that it is not his choice to preach the gospel, but it is God’s choice that he preached the gospel. Finally, St. Paul tells us that he preaches the Good News free of charge!   

    Let us do what St. Paul did, that is, preach the Good News, and like St. Paul, preach it without charge! Preach it free of charge!

    Preach the Good News, not the Bad News! The Bad News cannot give faith, cannot give the Holy Spirit and cannot heal us physically and spiritually! Only the Good News can give faith, can give the Holy Spirit, and can heal us physically and spiritually!

5. Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit will help us proclaim the Good News! The Holy Spirit will help us heal physically and spiritually!

                                                                                                                                    Amen!

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 31st Jan 2021

Theme: WE ARE TO BE THE PROPHETS OF GOD; TO LISTEN, OBEY AND SPEAK THE WORD OF GOD

  • Deuteronomy 18:15-20;
  • Psalm 94 (95): 1-2. 6-9. R/ v. 9;
  • 1 Corinthians 7:32-35
  • Mark 1:21-28

1. Today is the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. The readings today tell us to be the prophets of God; to listen, obey and to speak the word of God. 

    The gospel today tells us that Jesus is the Messianic Prophet of God who teaches new teachings and who teaches with authority! Jesus the New Moses does not only repeat the Law of Moses, but he teaches the New Law of Love of God and Love of Neighbor! It is this Holy Spirit of God’s love that comes from His death and resurrection that has the power to drive away the Devil and destroy sin and death!   

    Today the Catholic Church continues the prophetic role of Jesus and speaks the word of God to expel the Devil and to destroy sin and death! Today the Catholic Church speaks up against the culture of death! Today the Catholic Church speaks up against abortion, war, destruction of the environment, social injustice, etc. The Catholic Church is pro-life. The so called pro-choice is in fact pro-death!

    The Catholic Church also speaks up against the war in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas where many Palestinians were killed – many of them women and children. The Church speaks for peace, justice and forgiveness. There can be no peace without justice, but there can be no justice without forgiveness! In a globalized world and with the present economic crisis the Church is speaking up for justice for the poor, but not only justice for the poor, but also charity for the poor. The Church is also beginning to speak up for the protection of the environment!          

    The Church does not speak up out of ignorance! For the Catholic Church the word of God is not only the Bible, but the word of God is also the Church and Tradition. In fact the Church and Tradition existed before the Bible and determined the books of the New Testament! The Church is in dialogue with science, experience and reason! St. Augustine studied the philosophy of Plato and St. Thomas studied the philosophy of Aristotle! Today our Catholic seminarians spend two years studying philosophy and three years studying theology! Philosophy helps us to dialogue with science, experience and reason!        

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that we cannot speak the word of God if we do not first listen to the word of God. The first reading tells us that Jesus is the Messianic Prophet of God. He is the New Moses. The first reading tells us that God puts his words into Jesus’ mouth. We have to listen to Jesus the Word of God! Today we have to listen to his Church.

    The first reading also warns us of the false prophets who do not listen to the word of God and speak the word of God. Today too there are priests who do not listen to the Church and speak the mind of the Church.

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us not only to listen to the word of God but also to obey it! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

    “O that today you would listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts.” (Ps 94 (95): 8)

    The responsorial psalm is a call to praise/worship and obey God. The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. Stanzas one and two are a call to praise and worship God our Shepherd and Savior. Stanza three is a call to obey God. Thus the third stanza of the responsorial 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)

    The word Meribah means “the (place of the) quarreling”, and the word Massah means “the (place of the) test”. (Ex 17:7/CSB) Israel quarreled with God and tested God in the desert, because there was no water in the desert. (Ex 17:1-7) Thus we read in Exodus 17: 3. 7/NJB): “But tormented by thirst, the people complained to Moses. ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt,’ they said, ‘only to make us, our children and our livestock, die of thirst?’ …. ‘Is Yahweh with us, or not?’”      

    We start “Basic Ecclesial Communities” (BECs) and “Neo-Catechumenal Communities” in our parish in order to help us listen to the word of God, obey, that is, believe and act on the word of God, and speak the word of God!

4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the day, but the second reading has something important to tell us! St. Paul tells us in the second reading that it is better to remain single than to get married! Maybe St. Paul was thinking of the imminent end of the world!  

    We often only think of two vocations, that is, vocation to the priesthood and vocation to the married life, but the second reading tells us of a third vocation, that is, vocation to the single life! More importantly, the second reading tells us that whether our vocation is to the priesthood, married life or single life, our vocation is to love and serve God!

5. Today in the Eucharist we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us listen to the word of God, obey the word of God, and speak the word of God! Amen!     

                                                                                                                                   

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 17th Jan 2021

Theme: THE LORD DOES NOT ONLY CALL SINNERS TO REPENTANCE, BUT THE LORD ALSO CALLS SINNERS TO BE HIS APOSTLES

  • 1 Samuel 3:3-10. 19;
  • Psalm 39 (40): 2. 4. 7-10. R/ vv. 8. 9;
  • 1 Corinthians 6:13-15. 17-20
  • John 1:35-42

1. Today is the second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. The readings today tell us that the Lord does not only call sinners to repentance, but the Lord also calls sinners to be his apostles! What “grace”! What “love”! What “faithfulness” on the part of God! We have therefore to respond immediately and totally!

    The gospel today tells us that when John the Baptist pointed out to his two disciples that Jesus was the “Lamb of God” who takes away the sins of the world, his two disciples responded immediately and totally and followed Jesus and stayed with Jesus! The gospel also tells us that when Andrew told his brother Simon Peter that Jesus was the Messiah, Simon Peter immediately followed him to Jesus. And when Jesus saw Simon Peter he changed his name from Simon to Peter making him the future head of the Church and the first Pope! Again, what grace, what love, what faithfulness on the part of God! Like Andrew and Peter, we have therefore to respond immediately and totally to the call of God to be his apostles to proclaim the good news to the whole world!

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us about the call of Samuel to be the prophet of Israel. Samuel was only a boy. But Samuel responded immediately and totally with these words: “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening”. And Samuel became the last judge and the first prophet of Israel! Again, what grace, what love, and what faithfulness on the part of God! Again, like Samuel, we have to respond immediately and totally to the call of God to be his prophets!

    When we were baptized, we were called to be prophet, priest and king; prophet to proclaim the word of God, priest to celebrate the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and king to build the kingdom of God and to build the community. But of the three, the first is to proclaim the word of God! The word of God gives faith, with faith we celebrate the sacraments (mystery), and when we celebrate the sacraments with faith, the Holy Spirit will act in and through us and build the community and the kingdom of God! 

    Again, what grace, what love, and what faithfulness on the part of God! Again, like Samuel, we have to respond immediately and totally to the call of God to be the prophet of God to proclaim the word of God to the whole world!

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The response of the responsorial psalm tells us to respond immediately and totally to the call of God to proclaim his word of salvation to the whole world. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.” The response of the responsorial psalm echoes Samuel’s response to the call of God to be his prophet: “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”!      

    The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving for salvation. The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first stanza is a thanksgiving for salvation. The second, third, and fourth stanzas tell us to thank God for salvation, not by offering holocausts (burnt offerings) and animal sacrifices, but by proclaiming his word of salvation to the whole world! (CSB) Thus the fourth stanza of the responsorial psalm: “Your justice I have proclaimed in the great assembly. My lips I have not sealed; you know it, O Lord.” (Ps 39 (40): 9)

    Again, we have to respond immediately and totally to the call of God to proclaim his word of salvation to the whole world!

4. The second reading tells us about sexual immorality. (NJB) The second reading tells us not to sleep with prostitutes. But more importantly, the second reading tells us to use our bodies for the glory of God! (HCSB) Again, we have to respond to the call of God immediately and totally, that is, with our body, mind and spirit, that is, with our whole person! We cannot respond to the call of God only with our mind and spirit! We have to respond to the call of God with our body, mind and spirit, with our whole person, and with our whole being!

    There are priests today who believe in “optional celibacy”, that is, the freedom to choose to get married or to remain celibates. Indeed, celibacy became a law of the Church only in the 13th century with Pope Gregory VIII. But even before celibacy became a law of the Church, there was “voluntary celibacy” in the Church. Indeed, even today we have lay people who voluntarily opt for celibacy in order to be “itinerant catechists” to go around the world to evangelize, that is, to proclaim the good news! There are also lay people who are married with children who go around the world to proclaim the good news as itinerant catechists! Whatever our call or vocation – to be priest, married catechist or single catechist – we have to respond immediately and totally with our body, mind and spirit, that is, with our whole person to God’s call to proclaim His good news to the whole world!

5. Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us respond to the call of God immediately and totally.        Amen.

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!