2ND SUNDAY OF EASTER (A)(Divine Mercy Sunday/Octave Day of Easter)

Theme: GO AND ANNOUNCE THE GOSPEL OF THE LORD’S RESURRECTION SO THAT THOSE WHO BELIEVE AND ARE BAPTISED WILL HAVE THEIR SINS FORGIVEN

  • Acts 2:42-47; 
  • Psalm 117:2-4. 13-15. 22-24. R/ v. 1; 
  • 1 Peter 1:3-9
  • John 20:19-31

1. A happy and blessed Easter to all of you! Today we celebrate the Octave Day of Easter, that is, the eighth day of Easter! Easter is such a big feast that we do not celebrate it in one day, but we celebrate it in eight days! That is why all the Masses of the past week were celebrated as solemnities! And that is why we could eat meat last Friday! 

The gospel today tells us that on the day of his resurrection the Lord appeared to his disciples and said, ‘Peace be with you’, that is, Peace, Shalom, Salvation! And he showed them his hands and his side! And the disciples were filled with joy, that is, the joy of the resurrection, the joy of salvation, the joy of life! 

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, ‘Go and announce the gospel of the Lord’s resurrection, 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’! This is the Pentecost of John’s gospel!

But more than that, the gospel does not only tell us about the sacrament of baptism, but the gospel also tells us about the sacrament of penance or reconciliation! After baptism we still commit sins, but the Lord is merciful, he continues to forgive our sins in the sacrament of penance! That is why today we also celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday! 

The second part of the gospel tells us that when the Lord appeared to the disciples, Thomas was not with them and when they told him that they have seen the Lord he refused to believe. He refused to believe until he has seen the lord and until he has put his finger into the holes that the nails have made in his hands and until he has put his hand into his side. 

Eight days later the Lord appeared to the disciples again and this time Thomas was with them. Again, the Lord said, ‘Peace be with you’. Peace, Shalom, Salvation! And the Lord invited Thomas to put his finger into the holes of his hands and to put his hand into his side and to doubt no longer but believe! 

Thomas immediately professed his faith in the Lord, ‘My Lord and my God’! And Jesus said to him, ‘You believe because you have seen me; blessed are those who have not seen me yet believe’! That is, blessed are those who have not seen me yet believe on the witness and testimony of the apostles, particularly Thomas! (Jn 17:20-23; Ac 1:8;NJB)
2. The first reading tells us about the four chief characteristics of the first Christian community! (CSB; Fuller) (i) They were faithful to the teachings of the apostles. The apostles taught them the Old Testament scriptures in the light of the Incarnation! (NJB) (ii) They shared their spiritual gifts as well as their material possessions! (iii) They celebrated the Eucharist! (iv) They prayed!

The first reading tells us about the first BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community)! That is why our BECs must also have the above characteristics, that is, the scriptures, sharing of spiritual and material gifts, Eucharist, and prayer! Thus we read in the first reading: 

“The whole community remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.” (Ac 2:42; Sunday Missal) 
3. The second reading tells us about the sacrament of baptism! (CSB; Fuller) The second reading tells us that God in his mercy has given us a new birth/life in the sacrament of baptism through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ! And this new life will only be complete, full and perfect at the second coming of Jesus Christ!

In the meantime we live in faith and love even and especially in the face of sufferings and persecutions so that our faith and love will grow until the second coming of Jesus Christ when our salvation and life will be complete, full and perfect!
4. The responsorial psalm is the same as that of Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday! The responsorial psalm is a hymn of thanksgiving for salvation in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! Thus the response: 

“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.” or “Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!” (Ps 117:1; Sunday Missal (SM))

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

“The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone.” (Ps 117:22; SM)

The New Testament sees this verse as referring to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! (Mt 21:42; Ac 4:11; CSB)

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

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

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

“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.” or “Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!” 
5. Today we also celebrate “Divine Mercy Sunday”! That is why we have the picture of “Divine Mercy”! In the picture we see a red ray and a white ray of light emitting from the heart of Jesus! The red ray symbolizes the blood sacrificed on the cross and the white ray symbolizes the Holy Spirit that comes from Christ’s death and resurrection! (Jn 19:34; NJB) The red and white rays also symbolize the two most important sacraments of the Church, that is, Baptism (white) and Eucharist (red)! That is why it is most important that after baptism we have to come to Mass every Sunday to continue to receive the “divine mercy”! Today we also thank God for his divine mercy in the canonization of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II! Again, a happy and blessed Easter to all of you! Amen!

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) – 12th February 2017

​Theme: THE LAW IS LOVE, LIFE AND HAPPINESS! 

  • Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 15:15-20; 
  • Psalm 118:1-2. 4-5. 17-18. 33-34. R/ v. 1; 1 
  • Corinthians 2:6-10 
  • Matthew 5:17-22. 27-28. 33-34. 37. (Shorter Form)

1. Today is the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that the Law is love, life and happiness! God is love, life and happiness. 
God gives us the law to give us his love, life and happiness! In heaven there is only love, life and happiness! Love, life and happiness are the three most important things and they are eternal! 

The gospel today tells us that the Law is love, that is, the spirit of the law is love, and the fulfillment of the law is love. That is why we have to go beyond the law to love! (CSB; NJB) 

That is why the gospel today tells us that it is not enough not to kill, but we must also not get angry with our brother! We must love our brother! The gospel also tells us that it is not enough not to commit adultery, but we must also not look at a woman lustfully! We must look at a woman lovingly! Finally, the gospel tells us that it is not enough not to take false oaths, but we must not swear at all! (CSB) We must just tell the truth! Thus we read in the gospel today: 

“You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not kill; and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court. But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court.” (Mt 5:21-22; SM) 

“You have learnt how it was said: You must not commit adultery. But I say this to you: if a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Mt 5:27-28; SM) 

“Again, you have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not break your oath, but must fulfill your oaths to the Lord. But I say this to you: do not swear at all.” (Mt 5:33-35; SM) 

Again, the spirit of the Law is love and the fulfillment of the Law is love! Love is the only law and the only law is love! Love is the greatest commandment of the Law! (Mt 22:34-40) Jesus fulfilled the Law in love and through his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, he fulfilled the law in us! Let us then fulfill the law in love by loving God and by loving our neighbor as we love ourselves! (Mt 22:34-40) 

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the law is life! The first reading tells us that we can choose between keeping the law and not keeping the law. If we choose to keep the law, we choose life (water), but if we choose not to keep the law, we choose destruction (fire) and death! Thus we read in the first reading: 

“If you wish, you can keep the commandments, to behave faithfully is within your power. He has set fire and water before you; put out your hand to whichever you prefer. Man has life and death before him; whichever a man likes better will be given him.” (Si 15:15-17; SM)3. 

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that the law is happiness! Thus we responded four times: 

“They are happy who follow God’s law!” (Ps 118:1; SM) 

And thus the first stanza of the responsorial psalm: 

“They are happy whose life is blameless, who follow God’s law! They are happy those who do his will, seeking him with all their hearts.” (Ps 118:1-2; SM) 

The opposite is also true, that is, they are unhappy who do not follow God’s law! If we are unhappy, we are not following God’s law! 

4. The second reading is a continuation of the second reading of last Sunday. The second reading of last Sunday (1 Co 2:1-5) tells us not to preach human wisdom, but to preach the crucified Christ! Human wisdom cannot save us, only the crucified Christ can save us! 

The second reading this Sunday tells us not to preach human wisdom, but to preach the wisdom of God! The wisdom of God is “God’s plan for our salvation”! (CSB) Again, human wisdom cannot save us, only the wisdom of God can save us! 

God bless you! Amen!

FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT (A) – 6th March 2016

Theme: LENT IS A TIME WHEN CATECHUMENS PREPARE FOR BAPTISM AND EUCHARIST

  • 1 Samuel 16:1. 6-7. 10-13
  • Psalm 22. R. v. 1
  • Ephesians 5:8-14
  • John 9:1-41

Today is the 4th Sunday of Lent. The 4th Sunday of Lent is also known as “rejoice” or “joyful” Sunday, because we are more than half way through to Easter! Next Sunday will be the 5th Sunday of Lent, and the Sunday after next Sunday will be Passion or Palm Sunday, to be followed by Easter Sunday!

Lent is a time when catechumens prepare to receive the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist on Easter Vigil Night and on Easter Sunday Morning!

The readings today tell us about the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist! The gospel and the second reading tell us about Baptism. The first reading and the responsorial psalm tell us about Eucharist.

The gospel today is on the curing of the blind man, and this is to illustrate the theme of the gospel, that is, Jesus Christ is the light of the world: “I am the light of the world”! (John 9:5) The gospel acclamation indicates the theme of the gospel: “I am the light of the world, says the Lord; anyone who follows me will have the light of life”! (John 8:12)

In the New Testament, light symbolizes 3 things: (1) Anything that shows us the way to God. (2) Life and happiness. (3) Good over evil. (NJB, John 8:12b)

  • In the New Testament light symbolizes anything that leads us to God. In the Old Testament it was the Law, the Wisdom and the Word of God, but in the New Testament it is Jesus Christ that leads us to God!
  • In the New Testament light also symbolizes life and happiness, contentment and joy, as opposed to darkness, which symbolizes death, unhappiness, and misery. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the life and joy!
  • In the New Testament light also symbolizes good over evil, and God over the Devil! In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the good that overcomes evil, and the God who overcomes the Devil!

In sum, in the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the light that leads us to God, Jesus Christ is the light that gives us life and joy, and Jesus Christ is the light that overcomes evil with good!

The Church has chosen the gospel reading of today to tell us about Baptism, to tell us that in Baptism, Jesus Christ shows us the way to God the Father, in Baptism, Jesus Christ gives us life and joy, and in Baptism, Jesus Christ overcomes the evil in us with good!

The second reading from the letter to the Ephesians also tells us about Baptism. The second reading tells us to live the light of Baptism, that is, to live a life of complete goodness, right living, and truth, and to have nothing to do with the works of darkness!

In fact, the second reading ends with a Baptismal hymn: “Wake up from your sleep, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you”! (Ephesians 5:14)

The first reading and the responsorial psalm tell us about the Eucharist. The first reading from the first book of Samuel tells us that David was anointed the Shepherd-King of Israel! There is a difference between a shepherd-king and a king! A shepherd-king is like a shepherd who protects his sheep and feeds his sheep! David the Shepherd-King of Israel is a prefigure of Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ is the Shepherd-King par excellence, that is, the best of its kind, who protects and feeds us with his body and blood in the Eucharist!

That is why the responsorial psalm is on the Lord, as the good shepherd (stanzas 1 & 2), and on the Lord as the host of a banquet (stanzas 3 & 4)!

Stanzas 1 & 2   tell us that the Lord is the Good Shepherd: ‘The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want (or need). Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose. Near restful waters he leads me to revive my drooping spirit. If I should walk in the valley of darkness, no evil would I fear. You are there with your crook and staff to give me comfort’! (Psalm 22:1-4)

Stanzas 3 & 4 tell us that the Lord is the host of a banquet: ‘You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my enemies. You have anointed my head with oil (sign of hospitality). My cup is overflowing. Goodness and kindness will follow me everyday of my life (the blessings of God). In the Lord’s own house (temple) will I live forever and ever’! (Psalm 22:5-6)

During this time of Lent, the Church asks our catechumen brothers and sisters to pray, fast, and give alms, to prepare themselves to receive the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist at Easter! The Church also asks all of us who have already been baptized to pray, fast, and give alms, to prepare ourselves to renew our Baptism at Easter! A Happy Lent to all of you! Amen!