12th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 20th June 2021

Theme: JESUS CHRIST IS GOD: A GOD OF LOVE WHO BECAME MAN AND DIED FOR MEN SO THAT MEN SHOULD LIVE FOR HIM

  • Job 38:1. 8-11
  • Psalm 106:23-26. 28-31. R. v. 1
  • 2 Corinthians 5:14-17
  • Mark 4:35-41

1. Today is the 12th Sunday of the Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that Jesus Christ is God: a God of love who became man and died for men so that men should live not for themselves but for Him. And so that men should live not in the flesh but in the Spirit, and so that in Him men should become a new creation!

2. The first reading tells us that God created the sea! In the first reading God counter questions Job: ‘Were you there when I created the sea? Who are you to question my power and wisdom?’ Job’s question was: ‘Why does the good man suffer?’

    But the Church has chosen the first reading today to tell us that God created the sea! The first reading tells us that God shut the doors to the sea to control the sea. God even bundled the sea with mist and clouds as a new born baby is bundled in swaddling clothes! Again, the first reading tells us that God marked the boundaries of the sea, preventing the sea from coming over the shore!    

3. The responsorial psalm takes up the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God not only created the sea, but God is also in control of the sea! The responsorial psalm is a psalm of thanksgiving by sailors who were saved by God from the stormy sea! The Church has chosen the responsorial psalm to tell us that God is in control of the sea! Thus the responsorial psalm tells us that God sent a strong wind and the waves went up and the ships went up with the waves, and as the waves came down the ships also came down with the waves. The sailors were terrified and cried to God for help! God calmed the storm and brought the sailors safely to shore! The sailors thank God for their salvation!

4. The Church has chosen the first reading and the responsorial psalm to go with the gospel! The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ is God because he can do the things that only God can do! He calmed the stormy sea!

    The gospel tells us that the disciples and Jesus were in a boat in the sea, when suddenly a storm broke out! The disciples were terrified and cried out to Jesus for help. Jesus woke up and clamed the stormy sea! The disciples said to one another ‘Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him.’ The implicit answer to the disciples’ question is Jesus Christ is God because he can do the things that only God can do!

5. But more than that, the second reading tells us that Jesus Christ is not only God, but He is a loving God who became man to die for men so that men should live not for themselves but for Him, so that men should live not in the flesh but in the Spirit, and so that in Him men should become a new creation!

6. Today in the Eucharist we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and our risen Lord will give us his Holy Spirit! He will give us life so that we live not for ourselves but for Him, and so that we live not in the flesh but in the Spirit, and so that in Him we become a new creation!

                                                                                                                                    Amen!

THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST (Year B) – CORPUS CHRISTI – 10th Sunday of the Year

Theme: THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST PURIFIES US FROM OUR SINS SO THAT WE SERVE GOD

  • Exodus 24:3-8;
  • Psalm 115 (116): 12-13. 15-18. R/ v. 13;
  • Hebrews 9:11-15
  • Mark 14:12-16. 22-26

1. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of “The Body and Blood of Christ” or “Corpus Christi”, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that the blood of Jesus Christ purifies us from our sins so that we serve God. The blood of Jesus Christ saves us from sins so that we inherit the kingdom of God.

The first reading tells us that God made a Covenant with the people of Israel through his mediator Moses at Mount Sinai. The people of Israel agreed to keep the commandments and laws of God. And Moses splashed half of the blood of the sacrificial animals on the altar and half on the people and the Covenant was sealed.

2. But the people of Israel did not keep their Covenant with God. They did not keep the commandments and laws of God. God had to make a New Covenant with them through a new mediator, a New Moses, Jesus Christ. And the New Covenant will be sealed not with the blood of animals, but with the blood of his Son, Jesus Christ!

Thus the gospel today tells us of the institution of the Eucharist. The gospel tells us that at the Last Supper, Jesus took some bread, said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘take it, this is my body’. Then he took the cup, said the blessing and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many. I tell you solemnly, I will not drink wine anymore until I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God’.

The gospel today tells us two important things, that is, the blood of Jesus Christ is poured out not only for the Jews, but for all peoples! The word “many” in Hebrew means “all” (Is 53:12; NJBC; CSB); although the new translation in the new Roman Missal reverts back from “all” to “many” in a literal translation of the Bible. In the New Covenant, the blood of Jesus Christ is poured out for all peoples, and not only for the Jews!

The second thing that the gospel tells us is that the Eucharist is an anticipation of the eternal banquet in heaven! That is, through the Eucharist, we will one day eat and drink of the eternal banquet in heaven! Thus we read in the gospel today:

“This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many. I tell you solemnly, I shall not drink any more wine until the day I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God.” (Mk 14: 24-25; SM)        

3. Indeed, the second reading tells us that the blood of Jesus Christ purifies us from our sins so that we serve God. The blood of Jesus Christ saves us from sins so that we inherit the kingdom of God.

The second reading also tells us that the blood of sacrificial animals can only purify us ritually, outwardly and legally, as in the Old Covenant, but the blood of sacrificial animals cannot purify us inwardly and spiritually. The blood of animals cannot purify us from sins so that we serve God. The blood of animals cannot save us from sins so that we inherit the kingdom of God.                    

4. The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving for salvation! (CSB/HCSB/NJBC) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“The cup of salvation I will raise; I will call on the Lord’s name.” (Ps 115 (116): 13; SM)

And thus verses 13 and 17 of the responsorial psalm:

“The cup of salvation I will raise; I will call on the Lord’s name. …. A thanksgiving sacrifice I make: I will call on the Lord’s name.” (SM)

5. Today as we celebrate the Solemnity of “The Body and Blood of Christ”, or “Corpus Christi”, let us thank God for his Son Jesus Christ, especially for his Body and Blood, which we receive in the Eucharist, and let us ask God to continue to wash away our sins with the blood of his Son Jesus Christ so that we serve God. And so that we will be saved from sin and inherit the kingdom of God. A happy and blessed “Corpus Christi” to all of you!  Amen

THE MOST HOLY TRINITY or TRINITY SUNDAY (Year B) – 30th May 2021

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

  • Deuteronomy 4:32-34. 39-40;
  • Psalm 32 (33): 4-6. 9. 18-20. 22. R/ v. 12;
  • Romans 8:14-17
  • Matthew 28:16-20

1. Today we celebrate the solemnity of THE MOST HOLY TRINITY, Liturgical Year B. The mystery of the Holy Trinity is the mystery of God’s love. God the Father created us out of love, God the Son saved us out of love, and God the Holy Spirit continues to sanctify us out of love!

God the Father created us out of love, but when we sinned, He loved us even more; He sent His Son Jesus Christ to save us, but when we crucified Him, He loved us even more; He rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit!

The Holy Spirit dwells amongst us and within us, nearer to us than we are to ourselves and loving us more than we love ourselves! (Saint Augustine) The Holy Spirit will continue to love us until we love God, love our neighbor and love ourselves!

That would be the end of the world, not the end of the physical world, but the end of the evil world. That would be the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the Parousia, when all will be saved!    

All monotheistic religions believe in one God, but we believe in one God in three persons, because we believe that God is love!

A lecturer in an institute of higher learning in Sabah said that he cannot believe in three persons in one God, and that God can become man and that God can die! He does not believe in a God of love, he believes in a God of law. But we believe that a God of law cannot save us, only a God of love can save us! It is a question of salvation or damnation, life or death!       

2. The first reading tells us that God is love! In fact, the heading for this first reading in the Catholic Study Bible (CSB) is “Proofs of God’s love”! What proves that God loves the people of Israel is that God freed them from slavery in Egypt in the Exodus! God also revealed himself to them on Mount Sinai (Horeb) and gave them the Ten Commandments! God gave the Israelites laws and commandments, so that they and their children may become prosperous and live long lives in the land God gives them! Indeed God loves not only in words, but also in action!        

3. The responsorial psalm tells us that God created the whole universe, including the Sun, Moon and stars, with a mere word! More importantly, the responsorial psalm tells us that our greatness consists in God choosing us as a special people and our faithful response to him! (CSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.” (Ps 32 (33): 12; SM)

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas tell us that God created the whole universe with a mere word! The third and fourth stanzas tell us that our greatness consists of God choosing us as a special people and our faithful response to him! Thus again the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.” (Ps 32 (33): 12; SM) 

4. The gospel today tells us about the resurrection of Jesus Christ! The gospel tells us that after his resurrection the Lord sent his disciples to make disciples of all the nations, to baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and to teach them to obey all the commandments that he has given them. And that the Lord was with them until the end of time!

The Ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit are not mentioned in today’s gospel! For Matthew’s gospel today, the Ascension coincides with the Resurrection and like Paul (2 Co 3:17) the Holy Spirit is the presence of the Lord with his disciples! (NJBC)

5. The second reading tells us that the Holy Spirit makes us into children of God, calling God our Father! And we become heirs of God and coheirs with Jesus Christ, sharing in his sufferings so as to share in his glory! That is, loving as Jesus loved, that is, loving until suffering and death and sharing in his resurrection and glory!

6. Today as we celebrate the solemnity of The Most Holy Trinity, we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ, especially for his death and resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit, and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we can love God, love neighbor and love ourselves and so that we can love as Jesus loved, that is, to love until suffering and death so as to share in his resurrection and glory! A happy and blessed Trinity Sunday to all of you!  Amen!

Today we also celebrate our parish feast day! Our parish church is named after the Holy Trinity. Thus Holy Trinity Church! As Holy Trinity Church we are to model ourselves after the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity is a community of persons living in love and unity! We are also to live in communities of love and unity! We are to build communities of love and unity, so that our parish church may be a community of communities of love and unity and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the whole world! A happy and blessed feast day to all of you!   Amen! 

PENTECOST SUNDAY (B) – 23th May 2021

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

1. 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!    

2. 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!

3. 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!

4. 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!

5. 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!  

6. Today, more than 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!

THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD (B) – 13th May 2021

Theme: THE LORD ASCENDS INTO HEAVEN IN ORDER TO SEND US THE HOLY SPIRIT SO THAT WE TOO MAY ASCEND INTO HEAVEN WITH HIM IN GLORY 

  • Acts 1:1-11;
  • Psalm 46 (47): 2-3. 6-9. R/ v. 6;
  • Ephesians 4:1-7. 11-13
  • Mark 16:15-20

1. Today we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord into heaven in glory, Liturgical Year B. Next Sunday we will celebrate Pentecost Sunday, that is, the descend of the Holy Spirit! The Easter Season of fifty days which began on Easter Sunday will end next Sunday with Pentecost Sunday.

The readings today tell us that the Lord ascends into heaven, not to abandon us, but to send us the Holy Spirit, so that we may do his work on earth, and so that one day we too may ascend into heaven with him in glory!     

The gospel today tells us that after his resurrection and before his ascension, the Lord sent his apostles out into the world to preach the Good News, so that those who believe and are baptized will be saved, but those who do not believe and are not baptized will not be saved!

And these are the signs associated with believers, that is, in the name of Jesus, they will drive out devils, they will speak in tongues, they will pick up snakes in their hands, and even if they drink poison they will not die, and they will heal the sick.  

But more importantly, the gospel tells us that the Lord has ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father in glory! But most importantly, the gospel tells us that the apostles went out preaching and the Lord was working with them confirming their words with signs! The Lord was with them in the Holy Spirit!

2. The first reading tells us that after his resurrection the Lord spent forty days with his disciples instructing them on the kingdom of God, preparing them to preach the kingdom of God! Moses also spent forty days on the mountain and Jesus also spent forty days in the desert to prepare for their ministries!

More importantly, the first reading tells us that after forty days, the Lord will ascend into heaven in order to send down the Holy Spirit on the apostles, so that they will become his witnesses, not only in Jerusalem, but also in Judaea, and Samaria and indeed to the ends of the earth! That is, not only in Jerusalem where Jesus died, rose from the dead and gave the Holy Spirit, but also in Judaea, that is, to all the Jews, and also in Samaria, that is, to the “half-Jews”, and indeed to the ends of the earth, that is, to the non-Jews, the gentiles, the pagans!     

But most importantly, the first reading tells us that the Lord has been taken up into heaven in a cloud. And when the disciples were staring at him into the sky, two men in white (angels) appeared to them and said to them, ‘Men of Galilee, why are you staring into the sky, the Jesus that has been taken up into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him go’, that is, he will return in a cloud in glory at the Parousia, that is, at his Second Coming at the end of the world, when all will be saved!    

3. The Responsorial Psalm is a hymn calling on all the nations of the earth to acknowledge the universal rule of the God of Israel who is enthroned as king of Israel and as king of all the nations! (CSB)

The Responsorial Psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza (vv. 2-3) calls on all the nations to acknowledge the universal rule of the God of Israel. The second and third stanzas (vv. 6-9) tells us that the God of Israel is enthroned as king of Israel and as king of all the nations!

In the liturgy today the Responsorial Psalm tells us about the Ascension of the Lord into heaven in glory! (CSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“God goes up with shouts of joy; the Lord goes up with trumpet blast.” (Ps 46 (47): 6; SM)

4. As we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord today and as we will celebrate Pentecost next Sunday, the second reading tells us about the Holy Spirit! The second reading tells us that the Holy Spirit is a Spirit of unity! Because there is only one body (church), one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God! The “seven unities”! (CSB)

And although there are many gifts, that is, the gifts of being apostles, prophets, evangelizers, pastors and teachers; all these gifts unite into one service of the one body of Christ!

5. Today in the Eucharist, we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ, especially for his death and resurrection and ascension into heaven; and we ask God to send us the Holy Spirit so that we may do the work of Jesus Christ on earth, especially in proclaiming the Good News as apostles, prophets, evangelizers, pastors, and teachers, and so that at the end of time, we may all ascend into heaven with him in glory! A happy Ascension Day to all of you!

Amen! 

4th Sunday of Easter (Year B) – 25th April 2021

Theme: THE GOOD SHEPHERD LOVES AND LAYS DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS SHEEP IN OBEDIENCE TO THE COMMAND OF THE FATHER

Acts 4:8-12;

  • Psalm 117 (118):1. 8-9. 21-23. 26. 28-29. R/ v. 22;
  • 1 John 3:1-2
  • John 10:11-18

1. Today is the 4th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical Year B. Today we also celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday and Vocation Sunday. The themes of “Good Shepherd” and “Vocation” are related. The word “vocation” comes from the Latin word “vocare” meaning “to call”, particularly the call to the priesthood and religious life! The image of the Good Shepherd is the image of the good priest or good religious!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd! The gospel tells us that the Good Shepherd has four characteristics (Jn 10:14-18; CE):

(i) The Good Shepherd knows and loves God his Father and is known and loved by God his Father. (In biblical language, ‘knowledge’ is love. NJBg)

(ii) The Good Shepherd knows and loves his sheep and is known and loved by his sheep. 

(iii) The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep in obedience to the command of God his Father.

(iv) The Good Shepherd unites his sheep into one flock.

2. The good priest or religious also has theses four characteristics:

    (i) A good priest or religious knows and loves God the Father and is known and loved by God the Father. That is, a good priest or religious must be a man or woman of prayer, of the word of God, of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. (Pope’s Message)

(ii) A good priest or religious knows and loves the people of God and is known and loved by the people of God! That is why we have BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities) to share and pray on the word of God in a personal and spiritual way, so that we will know God, love him, serve him and be happy with him; and so that we will know one another, love one another, serve one another and be happy with one another!

(iii) A good priest or religious is one who lays down his or her life for the people of God in obedience to the command of God. A good priest or religious does not only love and serve God and the people of God, but he or she also suffers and sacrifices for God and the people of God, in order to sanctify and save the world! The word “sacrifice”, radically means “to make holy”, that is, to sanctify and save! (CE)    

(iv) A good priest or religious unites the people of God. He or she unites the different communities in the Church and he or she unites the different peoples of the world! Thus the Church becomes a community of communities of love and unity and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the world!

3. Today is Vocation Sunday and our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has a special message for us. In his message, our Pope also said that vocation to the priesthood or religious life basically means to love and serve God, and to love and serve the people of God! But more importantly, our Pope also said that vocation comes from the love of God. Thus the theme of his message: “Vocations, the Gift of the love of God”! Our love and service of God and the people of God are only a response to the love and call of God which is a free gift of God’s initiative! That is why we have to pray for vocations!

4. Today in our Diocese of Sandakan we have one bishop, seven priests (two in Tawau, two in Lahad Datu, two in Sandakan, and one in Telupid), eleven seminarians and aspirants (six in Kuching, two in “Initiation Year” in Kota Kinabalu, and three in “English Year” in Kota Kinabalu). We have another two seminarians, one for the Franciscan priesthood and one for the Carmelite priesthood. Both of them are from Tawau! Let us pray for our Bishop, our priests and our seminarians and let us pray for more vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Pray especially for the two priests in our parish that they may be good priests. Today the first and second collections will be given to our Bishop for the seminary and seminarians, that is, our future priests! Thank you and God bless you.

                                                                                                                        Amen!

Easter Sunday – 4th April 2021

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

  • Acts 10:34. 37-43;
  • Colossians 3:1-4
  • John 20:1-9

1. A happy Easter to all of you! The word Easter probably comes from the word “east”, the direction from which the sun rises. Just as the sun gives light, life, heat and energy; Jesus Christ gives the light of faith, eternal life, love, joy and peace (shalom)! We celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December in the place of the pagan feast of the “sun god”, because Jesus Christ is the new “Sun God”!

Again, a happy and blessed Easter to all of you! Today we have a huge Easter candle in our sanctuary, because Jesus Christ is our light! Jesus Christ is our light of faith, our light of life and our light of good; as opposed to the darkness of unbelief, the darkness of death and the darkness of evil, respectively!

More importantly, faith, life, and good, are connected, that is, if we have faith in God, we receive life from God and we do good; but if we do not believe in God, we do not receive new life from God, we continue to do evil!

Most importantly, light will overcome darkness, faith will overcome unbelief, life will overcome death, and good will overcome evil! Because Jesus Christ has overcome the Devil! And Jesus Christ will overcome the Devil in us by his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! And we receive his Holy Spirit in his Church and in his sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist! Jesus Christ founded his Church and instituted the sacraments to give us his Holy Spirit!     

2. The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead! The gospel tells us that when Mary of Magdala went to the tomb she found that the stone had been rolled away! She ran to tell Peter and the other disciple about it. Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb. Peter entered the tomb first and found that it was empty except for the cloths left in the tomb. The other disciple also entered the tomb and saw that it was empty and he believed! The “other disciple” is no other than John who wrote today’s gospel! John is testifying to you and me today that the Lord has indeed risen and tells us to believe in the Resurrection of the Lord!

3. In the first reading, Peter tells us that he and the other apostles are witnesses to the resurrection, not only that Peter had seen the empty tomb, but also that he and the other apostles have seen the risen Lord. And more than that, they have also eaten and drank with him! And more than that, the Risen Lord has also ordered them to proclaim the good news, so that all who believe will have their sins forgiven. That is, all who believe and are baptized will have their sins forgiven! (IBC) The first reading does not only tell us about the resurrection of the Lord, but also our resurrection with him in the sacrament of Baptism!

4. The second reading from Colossians also tells us about baptism. Paul tells us in the second reading that we have risen with Jesus Christ to a new life! Therefore, we are to look for the things of heaven and not the things of earth! The things of heaven are the things of God, that is, good, love, forgiveness, peace, joy, etc.! The things of earth are the things of man, that is, money, power, fame, pleasure, sex, etc. And Paul tells us that when Jesus Christ comes a second time in glory we will also share in his glory! (NJB)

5. Today, we will renew our baptism! We will answer six questions, three rejecting the Devil; and three professing our faith in God! We reject the Devil, because the Devil appeared twice in the Bible; once in the Old Testament, tempting Adam not to believe in God and Adam Sinned (“Original Sin”) and death entered the world; once in the New Testament tempting Jesus the New and Second Adam not to believe in God, but Jesus believed in God the Father and resurrection entered the world! After answering “I do” to the six questions, we will be sprinkled with holy water, the waters of Baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit! And we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! A blessed Easter to all of you! Amen!

                                                                                                                                   

EASTER VIGIL (Year B) – 3rd April 2021

Theme: WE DIE AND RISE WITH JESUS CHRIST TO THE NEW LIFE OF EASTER IN THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM THROUGH POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

  • Genesis 1:1-2:2;
  • Genesis 22:1-18;
  • Exodus 14:15-15:1;
  • Romans 6:3-11
  • Mark 16:1-7

1. A happy Easter to all of you! Tonight we celebrate the Easter Vigil! This is the biggest and most important feast in the Liturgical Year! More important than Christmas! We began this celebration with the service of light. Jesus Christ is the light of the world! In the New Testament, light has mainly three meanings: (i) faith (ii) life (iii) good. Faith as opposed to disbelief which is blindness and darkness. Life, happiness and contentment as opposed to death, misery and unhappiness which is darkness. Good as opposed to evil and the devil which is darkness. (John 8:12/NJB)

   The three themes are related, that is, if we have faith in God we will receive life from God and the life from God is good. The three opposing themes are also related, that is, if we do not believe in God, we will not receive life from God (death) and we will not do good (evil).

    But most importantly, we believe that in the end, good will overcome evil. In fact good has already overcome evil in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! That is why we are so sure that in the end good will over come evil. Though the battle is not finished until the end of the world, we already know the outcome, that is, good will overcome evil. Thus St. Paul tells us: do not overcome evil with evil, but overcome evil with good! 

    In his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ gives us this light of faith, life and good. That is why at the second singing of “Christ our light” our candles were lit, and at the third singing of “Christ our light”, the lights of the church were put on, and the cantor sang the “Easter proclamation” (Exsultet), that is, the proclamation of the Resurrection! This light is given to us to give to the whole world. The whole world needs to believe in God; the whole world needs life and good from God!

2. The readings tonight tell us that it is all the work of God! The readings tonight tell us what God has done for us in the past, and continues to do for us in the present and in the future! The first reading tells us that God created human beings in his own image and it was very good, but human beings sinned! But God did not love human beings less! On the contrary, God loved human beings even more, that is, God became man and came down to earth to save human beings!

    The second reading tells us that God began this history of salvation with Abraham the father of faith! The second reading tells us that because of the faith of Abraham, God promised Abraham that his descendants will be as many as the stars in heaven and as the grains of sand on the seashore, and that all the nations of the world will be blessed by the descendants of Abraham! The third reading tells us that God continues this history of salvation in the history of the Jewish people. The third reading tells us of the Exodus from Egypt; the single most important event of salvation in the life and history of the Jewish people and in the Old Testament!

    Finally, in the New Testament, the gospel and the fourth reading tell us that when we killed the Savior, God did not love us less, but he loved us even more, that is, he rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit! God the Holy Spirit does not dwell in heaven (Father), or on earth (Son), but God the Holy Spirit dwells among us and within us. God the Holy Spirit is nearer to us than we are to ourselves, loves us more than we love ourselves, (Saint Augustine) and knows us more than we know ourselves!

    God the Holy Spirit will love us until we love him back, and until we love our neighbor/enemy, and until we love ourselves. That would be the end of the world, that is, the end of the evil world, when good will finally triumph over evil!!

    The gospel tells us of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but more importantly, the second reading tells us that we die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter in the sacrament of Baptism through the power of the Holy Spirit!       

3. After this homily we will bless the water for baptism. We will ask God to send his Holy Spirit on the water of Baptism. But before Baptism we will ask you the six questions on faith. Three on the Devil and three on God! You will have to answer “I do” to all the six questions! In the first three questions we reject the Devil, and all his works, and all his empty promises, because the Devil tempts us not to believe in God as he tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden in the Old Testament, and as he tempted Jesus in the desert in the New Testament!

    More importantly, in the second three questions we profess our faith in God! We believe that God created us, but when we sinned, he loved us even more, that is, he became man and came down to earth to save us, but when we killed him, he loved us even more, that is, he rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit who dwells with us and within us!

    We believe that the Holy Spirit is in the holy Catholic Church. And that is why the Church is a communion of saints, that is, a sign of love and unity, and a sacrament of salvation for the whole world. And that is why the Church can forgive sins, can raise the dead to life, and can give everlasting life, particularly in the sacrament of Baptism! And that is why the priest baptizes you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit! And you die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! And the whole Church sings “alleluia, alleluia, alleluia”, that is, “praise the Lord, praise the Lord, praise the Lord”, because it is all God’s work! 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!

                                                                                                                                   

PASSION SUNDAY / PALM SUNDAY (YEAR B) – 28th March 2021

Theme: THE PASSION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IS VICTORIOUS AND GLORIOUS

  • Isaiah 50:4-7;
  • Psalm 21 (22): 8-9. 17-20. 23-24. R/ v. 2;
  • Philippians 2:6-11
  • Mark 15:1-39 (Shorter form)

1. Today we celebrate Passion Sunday or Palm Sunday. Passion Sunday is also Palm Sunday because the passion (sufferings) of our Lord is victorious and glorious! The readings today tell us that the passion of our Lord is victorious and glorious!

    The first gospel that was read after the blessing of the palms and before the procession tells us that the passion of our Lord is victorious and glorious. The first gospel tells us that the entry of the Lord into Jerusalem was victorious and glorious! (HCSB) The first gospel tells us that the crowds met the Lord with palms shouting: Hosanna (“Save us, we beseech you!”/HCSB)! Blessings on the King (Messiah-King/NJB) of Israel, who comes in the name of the Lord. The first gospel also tells us that the disciples did not understand that the Lord’s entry into Jerusalem was victorious and glorious until He was glorified! Thus we read in the first gospel:

    “The crowds who had come up for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took branches of palm and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessings on the King of Israel, who comes in the name of the Lord.’ …. At the time his disciples did not understand this, but later, after Jesus had been glorified, they remembered that this had been written about him and that this was in fact how they had received him.” (Jn 12:12-13. 16/SM)

2. The gospel of today’s Mass also tells us that the passion of the Lord is victorious and glorious! The gospel of today’s Mass tells us that Barabbas the guilty murderer was set free and Jesus the innocent victim was condemned to death in his place. This is symbolic of Jesus’ death on the cross to set us free from sin and death!

    More importantly, the end of today’s gospel tells us that when Jesus died on the cross the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The veil of the temple separating the holy of holies which only the high priest could enter only once a year on the Day of Atonement was torn in half from top to bottom. (CSB)

    This symbolizes that the Old Testament has been replaced by the New Testament, and that the presence of God is now assessable to all peoples at all times. The end of today’s gospel also tells us that when the pagan centurion saw all that had happened to Jesus, he professed his faith on behalf of all humanity: This man is indeed the son of God! It is this faith in Jesus Christ that saves the whole world! The passion of our Lord Jesus Christ is indeed victorious and glorious!   

3. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us that the passion of the Lord is victorious. The first reading is taken from the third of four suffering servant songs of Isaiah. The first reading tells us that the suffering servant suffers vicariously on our behalf. But more importantly, the first reading tells us that the Lord will save him and through him the Lord will save us all! Thus we read in the first reading:

    “I offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who tore at my beard; I did not cover my face against insult and spittle. The Lord comes to my help, so that I am untouched by the insults. So, too, I set my face like flint; I know I shall not be shamed.” (Is 50: 6-7/SM)    

4. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us that the passion of the Lord is glorious. The words of the response of the responsorial psalm are the words uttered by Jesus on the cross before he died:

    “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Ps 21 (22): 2; Mk 15:34) 

    The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first three stanzas (Ps 21 (22): 8-9. 17-20) tell us that the innocent, righteous, faithful suffering servant was being persecuted. But more importantly, the fourth stanza (Ps 21 (22): 23-24) tells us that the suffering servant praises the Lord for delivering him. And most importantly, the end of the original psalm tells us that through him the whole world will be delivered and saved! (Ps 21 (22): 27-31/NJB)     

5. Finally, the second reading also tells us that the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ is indeed victorious and glorious! Thus we read in the second reading:

    “His state was divine, yet Christ Jesus did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave, and became as men are, and being as all men are, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross. But God raised him high and gave him the name which is above all other names so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Ph 2:6-11/SM)

6. Again, the palm is a symbol of victory and glory. We have therefore to put the palm with the cross of Jesus Christ to remind ourselves that the cross of Jesus Christ is glorious! We pray that we may carry our crosses and follow Jesus Christ into Holy Week and die with Him on Good Friday, buried with Him on Holy Saturday, and rise with Him on Easter Sunday (The Easter Triduum). The Easter Triduum is one celebration. That is why there is no dismissal on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. There is dismissal only after the Easter Vigil. Good Friday begins on Holy Thursday. So let us come on Holy Thursday! Amen