4th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 28th January 2018

Theme: JESUS THE TEACHER OF LOVE WITH POWER TO EXORCISE THE DEVIL OF SIN AND DEATH

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

Today is the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us about Jesus the teacher. The gospel today tells us that Jesus teaches something new and with authority behind it. He has the authority and power even to exorcise the devil of sin and death.

The Devil brought sin and death into the world through Adam. Jesus the new Adam has the power to exorcise the devil of sin and death. Jesus is also the new Moses who teaches the new law of love with the power to overcome sin and death! Thus we read in the gospel today:

“‘Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’” (Mk 1:27; SM)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. In the first reading Moses tells the people of Israel that God will raise up for them a prophet like Moses himself and that they must listen to him. Christians see in this future prophet the “Messiah-Prophet”, the “second Moses” (NJB), the new Moses, Jesus Christ! (NJBC)

Again, Jesus Christ, the new Moses teaches the new law of love with the power to overcome sin and death. The old Moses teaches the old law. The old law is without power to overcome sin and death! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Moses said to the people: ‘Your God will raise up for you a prophet like myself, from among yourselves, from your own brothers; to him you must listen.’” (Dt 18:15; SM)

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

“O that today you would listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts.” (Ps 94 (95): 7f; SM)

The responsorial psalm is a call to worship and obedience. (HCSB) The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first and second stanzas are a call to worship God the creator and savior/shepherd. The third stanza is a call to obedience, that is, to listen to God! (CSB; NJBC) Thus the third stanza 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): 7-9; SM)

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday. The second reading is a continuation of the second reading of last Sunday. Again, in the second reading, St. Paul was mistaken to think that the end of the world was imminent, that is, in his own lifetime! (HCSB; NJBC; IBC)

In the second reading, St. Paul tells the men who are not married not to marry so that they can devote all their time to God. A married man has to divide his time between God and his wife. St. Paul also tells the women who are not married not to marry so that they can devote all their time to God. A married woman has to divide her time between her husband and God. Thus we read in the second reading:

“An unmarried man can devote himself to the Lord’s affairs, all he need worry about is pleasing the Lord; but a married man has to bother about the world’s affairs and devote himself to pleasing his wife: he is torn two ways. In the same way an unmarried woman, like a young girl, can devote herself to the Lord’s affairs; all she need worry about is being holy in body and spirit. The married woman, on the other hand, has to worry about the world’s affairs and devote herself to pleasing her husband.” (1 Co 7:32-34; SM)

Although the end of the world is not imminent, the second reading is still relevant to us, especially for priests and religious brothers and sisters! Priests and religious brothers and sisters do not marry so that they have more time for 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 listen to the new teaching of Jesus on love and the Holy Spirit will help us teach the new teaching of Jesus on love with the power to overcome sin and death! A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen!

4th Sunday of Advent (Year B) – 24th December 2017

Theme: JESUS CHRIST IS THE SON OF GOD BORN THROUGH THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

  • 2 Samuel 7:1-5. 8-12. 14. 16;
  • Psalm 88 (89): 2-5. 27. 29. R/ cf. v. 2;
  • Romans 16:25-27
  • Luke 1:26-38 

Today is the fourth and last Sunday of Advent, Liturgical Year B. Next Sunday we will be celebrating Christmas Day, that is, the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ! The readings today have something very important to tell us!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ is the Son of God born through the power of the Holy Spirit! Although Jesus Christ is a descendent of David through the lineage of Joseph, He is not the son of Joseph, nor even the son of Mary, as Mary was a virgin.

The gospel today tells us that when the angel announced to Mary that she was to be the mother of Jesus, Mary wondered how this could be, since she was a virgin. But the angel told her that the Holy Spirit will come upon her and she will give birth to Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit and Jesus will be the Son of God! Mary believed the angel! We also believe the angel!

It is important that when we make the Christmas Crib we show that Jesus Christ is the Son of God born through the power of the Holy Spirit. This can be done by representing God the Father with a bright cloud made of cotton wool hung over the Christmas Crib, and the Holy Spirit symbolized by a dove hovering over the Christmas Crib! The spotlight must be shone on the cloud (God), the dove (Holy Spirit), and on Jesus, because Jesus is the Son of God born through the power of the Holy Spirit!

 

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that David wanted to build a house for God, but God told David that it was God who will build a House for David!

Because it was God who made David into a king from a shepherd and it was God who helped David fight wars, win battles and destroy the enemies. God will make David famous and great. God will build a House for David!

But more importantly, when David is dead and gone, his descendent will continue his kingdom and his kingdom will have no end, because his descendent will be the son of God and God will be his father! This prophecy of Nathan to David is fulfilled in today’s gospel in Jesus Christ!

 

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that the prophecy of Nathan will be fulfilled because God is “love” and “faithfulness”! (NJB) David and his descendents, that is, the kings of Israel may not be loving and faithful to God, but God is loving and faithful to them, because God is “love” and “faithfulness”! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“I will sing forever of your love, O Lord.” (Ps 88 (89): 2; SM)

And thus the first stanza of the responsorial psalm from which the response is taken:

“I will sing forever of your love, O Lord; through all ages my mouth will proclaim your truth (loyalty, faithfulness). Of this I am sure, that your love lasts for ever, that your truth (loyalty, faithfulness) is firmly established as the heavens.” (Ps 88 (89): 2-3; SM)

The second stanza of the responsorial psalm tells us of the covenant God made with David that his dynasty will last forever (vv. 4-5; SM)! And the third stanza tells us of the Messianic prophecy which will be fulfilled in Jesus Christ (vv. 27. 29; SM)! (NJB)

 

The second reading gives glory to God for Jesus Christ and through Jesus Christ! Let us also give glory to God for Jesus Christ and through Jesus Christ!

 

Today as we enter the fourth and last week of Advent, let us continue to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by prayer, by repentance, by confessing our sins, by reading the Bible, by reading the Sunday Mass readings, by going Christmas caroling, by loving and forgiving others, etc., and by becoming Santa Claus, that is, by giving gifts to the poor, to the needy, to the sick, to the aged, to the foreigner, to the stranger, to poor children, etc. Again, a happy Advent to all of you! Amen!

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) – 8th October 2017

Theme: THE VINEYARD OF THE LORD: ISRAEL (O.T.) AND THE CHURCH (N.T.)

  • Isaiah 5:1-7
  • Psalm 79 (80): 9. 12-16. 19-20. R. v. Is 5:7
  • Matthew 21:33-43 

Today is the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A. The readings today tell us about the vineyard of the Lord, that is, Israel in the Old Testament, and the Church in the New Testament. Israel rejected the Lord and bore no fruit, but the Church accepted the Lord and bore fruit aplenty, bore fruit of the Spirit; bore fruit of good works!

The first reading from the prophet Isaiah tells us that the Lord had a vineyard. He dug it, removed the stones in it, and planted it with the best vines! He built a tower to guard it and a winepress to press the grapes into wine!

The Lord did all that He can do for His vineyard! The Lord expected it to yield sweet grapes, but instead it yielded sour grapes!

The Lord then will remove the wall that protects it and let it be trampled on and grazed on. The Lord will not prune it or dig it, but let the thorns grow over it. The Lord will not send down rain on it.

More importantly, the last verse of the first reading tells us that the vineyard of the Lord is the House of Israel and the men of Judah! The Lord expected fair judgment and justice, but behold injustices, violence and bloodshed; the Lord expected righteousness, honesty, and uprightness, but behold the cry of the poor in distress, pain, and suffering!

The responsorial psalm takes up the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a prayer for the restoration of the vineyard; a prayer for the restoration of Israel! Israel (Northern Kingdom) was destroyed and exiled in the 8th century BC by the Assyrians, and Judah (Southern Kingdom) was destroyed and exiled by the Babylonians in the 6th century BC! The psalm is applicable either to Israel or to Judah (NJB).

Thus the psalmist prays in stanza 1: ‘You have taken a vine out of Egypt and to plant it you drove out the nations. Its branches stretched out to the Mediterranean Sea and the Euphrates River’.

Stanza 2: ‘Then why have you broken its walls that protect it, and let it be plucked by all who pass by, and let it be ravaged by the boar of the forest, and let it be devoured by the beasts of the field’.

Stanza 3: ‘Lord God of hosts look down from heaven and see. Visit this vine of yours. The vine your right hand has planted’.

Stanza 4: ‘And we will never forsake you again. Give us life and we will call upon your name. Let your face shine on us and we shall be saved’.

The gospel tells us that the Lord answered the prayer of Israel and sent his Son Jesus Christ to save Israel, but again, Israel rejected the Lord and killed His Son Jesus Christ! Israel did not want a spiritual savior! Israel wanted a king like David with political, nationalistic and militaristic power to take revenge on the enemies and destroy the enemies! In fact if we read verses 17 and 18 of today’s psalm in the Bible, that is what Israel prayed for! But the Church left out these two verses of the psalm because the Church wanted a spiritual Savior, not a political, nationalistic and militaristic savior!

Again, the gospel today tells us that the chief priests, the elders of the people and the Jews in general rejected Jesus and killed him, but more importantly, the gospel today tells us that Jesus responded to the chief priests and the elders of the people by quoting psalm 118:22-23: ‘It is the stone rejected by the builders that has become the keystone. It is all the Lord’s doing. How wonderful it is to see’!

This quotation from psalm 118:22-23 is a prophesy of Jesus’ death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit!

And most importantly, and peculiar to Matthew, the gospel today tells us that the kingdom of God will be taken away from the chief priests and the elders of the people and the Jews in general, and given to a people – Jews and Gentiles – who believe in Jesus Christ and bear fruit in the power of His Holy Spirit!

Today we are the people of God who believe in Jesus Christ and we are the Church who believes in Jesus Christ and we bear fruit in the power of His Holy Spirit!

Today in this Eucharist we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and our Risen Lord will give us His Holy Spirit and we will bear fruit; fruit of the Spirit; fruit of good works! This is the Good News! Amen!

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) – 17th September 2017

Theme: WE MUST FORGIVE ONE ANOTHER BECAUSE THE LORD HAS FORGIVEN US 

  • Ecclesiasticus 27:30-28:7; 
  • Psalm 102 (103): 1-4. 9-12. R/ v. 8; 
  • Romans 14:7-9 
  • Matthew 18:21-35 

Today is the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that we must forgive one another because the Lord has first forgiven us! 

The gospel today tells us that Peter asked Jesus, how many times must he forgive his brother, is it seven times; but Jesus answered, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. 

That is, Peter asked Jesus if he must forgive many times, but Jesus answered, not many times, but all the time. God has forgiven us all the time; we must also forgive others all the time! 

The gospel also tells us of the parable of the king who forgave his servant of a very big sum of “ten thousand talents”. His servant only asked that he be given time to pay back the debt, but the king cancelled his debt altogether! God is more forgiving than we can ever ask for! 

But more importantly, the gospel tells us that when the servant met a fellow servant who owed him only a very small sum of “one hundred denarii”, he did not forgive him, even though he only asked that he be given time to pay back the debt. He had him put in jail until he should pay back the debt. 

When the king heard of what had happened, he summoned his servant and said to him: 

I have forgiven you your debt; why have you not forgiven the debt of your fellow servant. 

In his anger the king had him sent to the torturers until he should pay up all his debts. In fact the debt is so huge that it is impossible to pay up! 

The moral of the parable is that God has forgiven us, so we must forgive one another! 

If we do not forgive one another, God will not forgive us! 

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us that if we forgive others, God will forgive us; but if we do not forgive others, God will not forgive us! Thus we read in the first reading: 

“He who exacts vengeance will experience the vengeance of the Lord, who keeps strict account of sin. Forgive your neighbor the hurt he does to you, and when you pray, your sins will be forgiven. If a man nurses anger against another, can he then demand compassion from the Lord? Showing no pity for a man like himself, can he then plead for his own sins? Mere creature of flesh, he cherishes resentment; who will forgive him his sins?” (Si 28:1-5; SM) 

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord is love, mercy and forgiveness! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: 

“The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy.” (Ps 102 (103): 8; SM) 

And thus the second, third and fourth stanzas of the responsorial psalm: 

“It is he who forgives all your guilt, who heals every one of your ills, who redeems your life from the grave, who crowns you with love and compassion. 

His wrath will come to an end; he will not be angry for ever. He does not treat us according to our sins nor repay us according to our faults. 

For as the heavens are high above the earth so strong is his love for those who fear him. As far as the east is from the west so far does he remove our sins.” (Ps 102 (103): 3-4. 9-12; SM) 

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something very important to tell us. 

The second reading tells us that if we live, we live for the Lord and if we die, we die for the Lord for we belong to the Lord. 

In the same way if we live, we live for one another and if we die, we die for one another because we belong to one another. Thus we read in the second reading: 

“The life and death of each of us has its influence on others; if we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord, so that alive or dead we belong to the Lord.” (Rm 14: 7-8; SM) 

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 forgive us our sins and help us forgive the sins of others. 

The Holy Spirit will help us live and die for the Lord. And the Holy Spirit will help us live and die for one another. 

Again, a happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen.

The Most Holy Trinity (Year A) – 11th June 2017

Theme: THE HOLY TRINITY IS THE MYSTERY OF GOD’S LOVE AND UNITY

  • Exodus 34:4-6. 8-9;
  • Daniel 3:52-56. R/ v. 52;
  • 2 Corinthians 13:11-13
  • John 3:16-18

A happy and blessed Trinity Sunday to all of you! Today we celebrate Trinity Sunday, Liturgical Year A. The Holy Trinity is the mystery of God’s love and unity! Last Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, we have seen that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God’s love and unity! The Holy Spirit comes from the Trinity that is why it is the Spirit of God’s love and unity!

That is why we have to live in love and unity and build 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 world! The world cannot be saved by hatred and division! The world can only be saved by love and unity! We are created in the image of God – G-O-D! We are not created in the image of dog – D-O-G!

 

The first reading tells us that God is love! The first reading tells us that at the remaking of the covenant at Sinai, God revealed himself to Moses as a God of tenderness and compassion (merciful and gracious; CSB), rich in kindness (Steadfast love, HCSB; faithful love, NJB) and faithfulness! In short, God revealed himself to Moses as a God of “faithful love”! (NJB) God continues to love us even though we do not love him and God continues to be faithful to us even though we are not faithful to him! Thus we read in the first reading:

“A God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness.” (Ex 34:6b; SM)   

Indeed, the gospel today tells us that when we sinned and broke the Law, God loved us even more! He sent his Son Jesus Christ to save us, so that those who believe will be saved; but those who do not believe will not be saved, because they condemn themselves by refusing to believe! Thus we read in the gospel:

“God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life. For God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved. No one who believes in him will be condemned; but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already, because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son.” (Jn 3: 16-18; SM)        

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 does not dwell in heaven or on earth, but the Holy Spirit dwells among us, in us and within us! The Holy Spirit is nearer to us than we are to ourselves, loving us more than we love ourselves (St. Augustine) and knowing us more than we know ourselves!

The Holy Spirit will continue to love us until we love God and neighbor and the Holy Spirit will continue to love us until we live in love and unity with God and with our neighbor! Then will come the end of the world, that is, the end of the evil world; the Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the “Parousia” in all his glory when all will be saved!

Thus the conclusion of the second reading:

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Co 13:13; SM)

Or in the new translation at the greeting at the beginning of the Mass:

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

That is, through his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ graces us with the love and unity of God, that is, through his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ gives us the Holy Spirit of God’s love and unity, so that we will live in love and unity, so that we will build Christian communities of love and unity, and so that our Church will be a community of communities of love and unity and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the whole world!

Today is our parish feast day! Our parish is called Holy Trinity Church (HTC)! The Holy Trinity is the mystery of God’s love and unity! The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God’s love and unity! We have to live in love and unity and build 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!

A happy feast day to all of you and a blessed Trinity Sunday to all of you! Amen!

Pentecost Sunday (Year A, B , C) – 4th June 2017

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!

Sixth Sunday of Easter (Year A) – 21st May 2017

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!

Fifth Sunday of Easter (Year A) – 14th May 2017

Theme: THE COMING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

  • Acts 6:1-7
  • John 14:1-12

Today is the 5th Sunday of Easter! Notice I did not say 5th Sunday after Easter! This is because we are still celebrating Easter! We celebrate Easter for 50 days, that is, from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday! We are now 4 weeks away from Easter Sunday and 3 weeks away from Pentecost Sunday! That is why the readings today tell us about the Holy Spirit!

The gospel today is from the Last Supper Discourse of Jesus Christ in which Jesus Christ prepares his disciples for the coming of the Holy Spirit! Next Sunday’s gospel is also from John 14 and is even more explicit on the coming of the Holy Spirit!

To understand today’s gospel we must first look at John 13, the chapter which precedes John 14! In John 13, Jesus washes the feet of the disciples, predicts the betrayal of Judas, predicts his own departure, and predicts Peter’s denial of him!

The disciples are disturbed by these predictions! That is why in today’s gospel, John 14, Jesus tells his disciples: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still and trust in me. Yes, I am departing, but not to disappear, but to go to heaven to prepare a place for you, so that where I am you may be there too’!

Then Jesus continues, ‘you know the way to where I am going’. And Thomas responds, ‘Lord, how do we know the way, when we do not know where you are going’. And Jesus replies, ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me’! In other words, Jesus is the only way that leads to the Father, the only truth that leads to the Father, and the only life that leads to the Father! No one can go to the Father except through him!

In the same way, Jesus Christ is also the only way through whom the Father comes to us, the only truth through whom the Father reveals his love, mercy, and forgiveness to us, and the only life through whom the Father gives his life to us! And just as no one can go to the Father except through Jesus Christ, the Father comes to us through no one, except through Jesus Christ!

Then Jesus continues ‘if you know me you will know the Father! In fact you know the Father and you see the Father’. Then Philip says, ‘Lord, let us see the Father then we will be satisfied’. And Jesus replies, ‘Philip, have I been with you all this time and you still do not know me, to have seen me is to have seen the Father. Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me and that all that I say and do, I do not do it on my own, but it is the Father who does it in me’?

And most importantly, Jesus says to his disciples, ‘if you believe in me, you will do the works that I do and you will even do greater works than me, because I am going to the Father to send you the Holy Spirit’! (NJB)

The Holy Spirit will be in the disciples of Jesus Christ in all times and places to continue to do the works of Jesus Christ! The Holy Spirit in the disciples of Jesus will not be limited by time and place! The Holy Spirit in the disciples of Jesus Christ will be in all places at all times!

That is why in the first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, St. Luke emphasizes the point that Stephen is full of the Holy Spirit!

The first reading tells us that Stephen and Philip were elected among the 7 “deacons” to distribute food so that the 12 Apostles may devote their time on preaching the word, but nowhere else in the Acts of the Apostles do we hear of the 7 “deacons” distributing food, instead chapter 7 which follows chapter 6 of today’s first reading tells us that Stephen preached the Good News until they stoned him to death! And in chapter 8 of the Acts of the Apostles we hear of Philip preaching and baptizing!

Just as the 12 Apostles represent the 12 tribes of Israel, the 7 “deacons” represent the 7 “nations” of Canaan! In other words, Luke in the Acts of the Apostles tells us that the word of God is spreading from the Hebrew speaking Jews to the Greek speaking Jews!

And in fact Luke ends the first reading today by telling us that the word of the Lord continued to spread, and the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly, and a large group of priests were also converted to the faith!

We have proclaimed the Good News in the power of the Holy Spirit; we will now celebrate the Eucharist in the power of the Holy Spirit! In the Eucharist we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his Risen Body, and our Risen Lord will give us his Holy Spirit and will send us forth after Mass (Mission) into the world to proclaim the Good News and to Baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!

Amen!

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Theme: WE ARE THE LIGHT THAT SHOWS PEOPLE THE WAY TO GOD 

  • Isaiah 58:7-10
  • Psalm 111:4-9. R. v. 4
  • 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
  • John 8:12
  • Matthew 5:13-16

Today is the 5th Sunday of the Year, and the Church has chosen the readings of today to tell us that we are the light that shows people the way to God! In the New Testament light symbolizes: (i) anything that shows the way to God. (ii) Light also symbolizes life and happiness, as opposed to darkness, misery and death. (iii) Light also symbolizes good and God, as darkness symbolizes evil and the Devil, and God and goodness will overcome the Devil and evil. (NJB, Jn 8:12b)

The 3 themes are distinct but inseparable, that is, one who finds God, finds life and happiness, and this life and happiness will be full, complete and perfect at the end of time when good will have overcome evil totally and completely!

The theme that predominates the readings today is that we are the light that shows the way to God, and in fact the Church has chosen the readings today to tell us that we are the light that shows people the way to God!

The gospel acclamation (Jn 8:12) tells us that Jesus is the light that shows the way to God our Father! And the gospel (Mt 5:16) tells us that we the disciples of Jesus are also the light that shows the way to God our Father! The gospel tells us that we are the light and seeing our “good works” people will give praise to God our Father! If we do not do good works we are like the light that is hidden in the tub or under the bed, that is, our light cannot be seen by people, and our light cannot show people the way to God!

The “good work” that we have done in the past for the Tsunami victims is indeed light that shows people the way to God! We collected funds for the Tsunami victims who have lost their families, relatives, properties, belongings, and who have no food, clothes or shelter, and who are threatened by diseases and death, and we also prayed for the more than 200,000 victims who died in the Tsunami disaster.

The war in Iraq is darkness, it does not show people the way to God; but the relief work done by the USA is light that shows people the way to God! The USA besides committing USD 350,000,000.00, also committed an aircraft carrier and a hundred planes for relief work in Aceh, Indonesia. Australia also committed USD 950,000,000.00, Germany committed USD 650,000,000.00, and Japan committed USD 500,000,000.00. The International community has shown great love, care and concern for the victims of the Tsunami disaster, and this is light that shows people the way to God!

The first reading from Third-Isaiah (5th century BC, after the Exile) tells us that our “good works” must not be limited to interpersonal relationships, but must also extend to meta-personal relationships, that is, societal, public, structural, systematic, and institutional relationships. In other words, we must also practice social justice. We must pay our employees just wages. We must not oppress and exploit the poor and the weak and the disenfranchised of society. Justice and charity must be built into the very political structures, economic systems and social institutions of our society!

The first reading tells us to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to pay just wages to the workers, to shelter the homeless, to free the oppressed, and not to exploit the poor, the weak, and the disenfranchised, etc.! The first reading tells us that our light will then shine like the dawn!

The Responsorial Psalm helps us to meditate on the theme of the first reading and the gospel. The response of the responsorial psalm sums up the theme of the responsorial psalm: “The good man is a light in the darkness for the upright”! The good man is a light in his good works. He is generous, merciful and just. He lends to the poor. He gives to the poor and he practices justice, etc.. 

It is easier for me to preach “good works” and “justice”, but it is harder for me to do good works and practice justice, that is why I say with Saint Paul in the second reading today, ‘I do not depend on myself, I do not depend on human philosophy, but I depend on the power of the Holy Spirit, I depend on the power of God.

And that is why we pray, and that is why we celebrate the Eucharist today and every Sunday. Today we celebrate the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his Risen Body and drink his Risen Blood, and our Risen Lord will give us his Holy Spirit, so that through the power of his Holy Spirit, through the power of God, we may do good works and practice justice, and shine as the light that shows people the way to God!

 

Amen!

 

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Theme: JESUS, THE LIGHT OF LIFE AND THE LIGHT OF HAPPINESS

  • Isaiah 8:23 – 9:3
  • Psalm 26:1. 4. 13-14. R. v. 1
  • 1 Corinthians 1:10 – 13. 17
  • Matthew 4:12 – 23

Today is the 3rd Sunday of the Year. The readings today tell us that Jesus Christ is the light of life and the light of happiness! In the New Testament, light symbolizes 3 main things, that is, (i) anything that shows us the way to God, (ii) life and happiness, and (iii) light as good as darkness symbolizes evil (NJB: John 8:12b). In the readings today, light symbolizes life and happiness! Jesus is the light of life and the light of happiness!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus is the light of life and the light of happiness! But more importantly, the gospel today tells us that Jesus is the light of life and happiness, because he preaches the good news of repentance: “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven (God) is close at hand”! The parallel text in “Mark 1:14-15” which is more original reads: “Repent and believe the Good News”!

In this short text is contained the “Messianic Secret” to life and happiness! Repent means more than turning away from sin, it also means turning away from the world! For if we only turn away from sin, but not turn away from the world, we will turn back to sin again and again and again and again ….! Turning away from the world does not mean escaping from the world and being irresponsible to the world, but it means not believing that power, richness, status, etc., can give us life and happiness!

But more importantly, the gospel today tells us not only to turn away from sin and from the world, but to turn to God, that is, to believe in him, to believe in his love, his mercy and his forgiveness, to believe that God, and God alone can give us life and happiness!

It is most important not only to believe in God, but also to believe that God is love! There are as many “Gods” as there are religions. There are the “Gods” of the law, of “justice”, of revenge, of war, etc., but the God of Jesus Christ is a God of love, mercy and forgiveness! The “Gods” of law, “justice”, revenge, war, etc., cannot give us life and happiness, only the God of Jesus Christ can give us life and happiness!

That is why the gospel today quotes the first reading from Isaiah to tell us that Jesus Christ is the light of life and the light of happiness: “The people that lived in darkness has seen a great light; on those who dwell in the land and shadow of death a light has dawned”!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah in the first reading!

The first reading is from the prophet Isaiah! The historical context of the first reading is in the 8th century BC (Before Christ), when the Assyrians invaded “Zebulun” and “Naphtali” (“Capernaum” in the New Testament) in northern Palestine and exiled their people!

 

It was in this historical context that Isaiah prophesied: “The people that walked in darkness has seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone. You have made their gladness greater, you have made their joy increase; they rejoice in your presence as men rejoice at harvest time, as men are happy when they are dividing the spoils”!

The gospel today tells us that this prophesy of Isaiah of life and happiness is fulfilled in Jesus Christ when he came to proclaim the good news of Repentance: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand”, or in the parallel text in the gospel of Mark: “Repent and believe the Good News”!

The responsorial psalm helps us to meditate on the first reading. The responsorial psalm today is a psalm of “trust in God” (CSB/NAB), that is, to trust that God and God alone is the source of life and happiness and salvation!

Thus in the response of the responsorial psalm we sing: “The Lord is my light (life and happiness) and my salvation” (NJB)!

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday readings, but today the second part of the second reading is relevant to the theme of the Sunday readings, as Paul tells us “to preach the Good News, and not to preach that in the terms of philosophy in which the crucifixion of Christ cannot be expressed”! (1 Cor 1:17).

  We have to preach the Good News (“Kerygma” in Greek) of Christ’s death and Resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the Salvation of the world, so that the world may believe and be saved and find life and happiness!

Preaching politics, sociology, psychology, human wisdom, philosophy, science, “social justice”, etc., will never ever give faith and salvation, and life and happiness to the world!

Let us now conclude with the second part of today’s gospel; found in the long form of the gospel, that is, the calling of the first disciples! The gospel today tells us that when Jesus Called Peter and Andrew, they “at once” left their nets and followed him! And the gospel tells us that when Jesus called James and John, they “at once” left their boat and their father and followed him!

Why was their response to the call of Jesus immediate and total, immediate, that is, here and now, and total, that is, leaving everything! This is because to proclaim the Good News is the most important and the most urgent thing to do! Some things are important, but not urgent. Some things are urgent, but not important. Some things are urgent and important, but not the most important and the most urgent! But to proclaim the Good News is the most important and the most urgent!

The Church exhorts us today to go forth and proclaim the good news so that the world may believe and be saved, and so that the world may find life and happiness!

Amen!