25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 19th Sep 2021

Theme: WE ARE TO BE THE LAST OF ALL AND THE SERVANT OF ALL AND WE ARE TO SERVE THE LEAST OF ALL AND THE LAST OF ALL

  • Wisdom 2:12. 17-20;
  • Psalm 53 (54): 3-6. 8. R/ v. 6;
  • James 3:16-4:3
  • Mark 9:30-37

1. Today is the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The gospel today tells us that we are to be the last of all and the servant of all, and we are to serve the least of all and the last of all!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus predicted his Passion for a second time, that is, he will be delivered into the hands of men and they will put him to death, but he will rise again on the third day! But the disciples still did not understand, though Jesus predicted his Passion for a second time!

In fact, the disciples were arguing amongst themselves as to who was the greatest! Jesus then called them together and taught them that in order to be first one must be the last of all and the servant of all!

Jesus then took a child and put him in front of them and taught them that whoever welcomes a child welcomes him and whoever welcomes him welcomes the one who sent him! A child is a symbol of the lowly, the poor, the weak, the helpless, the vulnerable, etc. (CSB; NJBC; IBC), that is, the least and the last!      

Thus the gospel today tells us that we are to be the last of all and the servant of all, and we are to serve the least of all and the last of all! Jesus was the last of all and the servant of all and he served the least of all and the last of all!

Who are the last of all and the servant of all in our parish? Do we serve the least of all and the last of all? Who are the least of all and the last of all in our parish; the poor, the sinners, the sick, the aged, the children, the migrants, etc.?

As we celebrate the 40th Anniversary (Ruby Anniversary) of our Catholic Women’s Apostolate (CWA) today, whose motto is our Bishop Julius’ motto: “to serve with God’s love”; let us ask ourselves if our Catholic Women’s Apostolate are the last of all and the servant of all and serve the least of all and the last of all, that is, the poor, the aged, the sick, the migrants, the children, the youths, the sinners, etc.!

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading is based on the fourth of four Suffering Servant Songs of Isaiah. (Is 52:13-53:12; HCSB) The first generations of Christians and a number of the Fathers of the Church see in this first reading the prophecy of the Passion of Jesus Christ! (CSB; NJB)

Thus we read in the first reading:

“If the virtuous man is God’s son, God will take his part and rescue him from the clutches of his enemies. Let us test him with cruelty and with torture, and thus explore this gentleness of his and put his endurance to the proof. Let us condemn him to a shameful death since he will be looked after – we have his word for it.” (Ws 2: 18-20; SM)

The first reading is reflected in the gospel of Mathew 27:41-44 (CSB), especially in Matthew 27:43 where the crucified Jesus was mocked by the chief priests, the scribes and the elders (NJB):

“He has put his trust in God; now let God rescue him if he wants him. For he did say, ‘I am God’s son.’”

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God will deliver him from death! (Fuller) Thus the response of the responsible psalm:

    “The Lord upholds my life.” (Ps 53 (54): 6; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first and second stanzas are a prayer for deliverance. The third stanza tells us that God will deliver him from death and he will thank God for his deliverance! (CSB; HCSB) Thus we read in the third stanza from which the response is taken:

“But I have God for my help. The Lord upholds my life. I will sacrifice to you with willing heart and praise your name for it is good.” (Ps 53 (54): 6 &8; SM) 

The gospel, the first reading and the psalm today tell us three important things: (I) We are to be the servants of all. (II) We are to serve the poor, the needy, the weak, etc. (III) We are to serve, to suffer, and to sacrifice in order to sanctify and save the world!   

4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again the second reading has something important to tell us. The first paragraph of the second reading tells us about true wisdom and false wisdom, that is, heavenly wisdom and earthly wisdom.

Earthly wisdom brings about jealousy, selfishness/ambition, disunity and evil works; but heavenly wisdom brings about peace, mercy, good works and justice/righteousness!

The first paragraph of the second reading belongs to chapter 3 of the letter of St James, but the second paragraph belongs to chapter 4.

5. Today we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ who suffered, died and rose from the dead for our salvation; and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we may become the last of all and the servant of all and so that we will serve the least of all and the last of all! We also ask God to give us the true wisdom from heaven so that we may bring about peace, mercy, good works and righteousness/justice in our Church and in our world! A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you!                                              

Amen!         

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 12th September 2021

  • Isaiah 50:5-9
  • Psalm 114 (115):1-6. 8-9. R/ v. 9;
  • James 2:14-18
  • Mark 8:27-35

Theme: JESUS IS NOT A POLITICAL, NATIONALISTIC AND MILITARY MESSIAH, BUT JESUS IS A SUFFERING MESSIAH

1. Today is the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The gospel today tells us that Jesus is not a political, nationalistic, and military Messiah, but Jesus is a suffering Messiah! That is, Jesus is to suffer, die and rise from the dead for the love of God and for the love of humanity, that is, to do the will of God his Father and to save humanity from sin and death!

The gospel also tells us that as Christians we are to take up our crosses and follow Jesus, to lose our lives for his sake and for the sake of the gospel in order to save our lives and the lives of the whole world!

The gospel today tells us that when Peter professed his faith in Jesus as the Messiah/Christ, Jesus warned his disciples not to tell anyone about it for fear that people may think that he was a political Messiah.

Jesus also told his disciples that he was to suffer, to die and to rise from the dead on the third day! And when Peter protested, he called Peter Satan! For the way Peter thought was man’s way, not God’s way. Man thought of a nationalistic Messiah, but God thought of a suffering Messiah, because God is love!         

In the gospel today, Jesus also told the people and his disciples to take up their crosses and follow him, to lose their lives for his sake and for the sake of the gospel in order to save their lives and the lives of the whole world!

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Jesus was the Suffering Servant of God (Third of Four Suffering Servant Songs). He listened to God. He did not turn away from God. He offered his back to be beaten, his beard to be torn and his face to be spat upon!

Vicarious suffering, that is, suffering on behalf of sinners, suffering in the place of sinners! But more importantly, the first reading tells us that God will not abandon him, God will not forget him; but God will come to his help, God will save him, and through him God will save the whole world!

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God will save him from death! Thus the response:

“I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.” (Ps 114 (115): 9; SM)

The responsorial psalm itself tells us of his suffering and death, but more importantly, it tells us that God will save him from death. Thus the responsorial psalm ends with verse 9, from which the response is taken, again:

“I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.”!

4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again, the second reading has something important to tell us. The second reading tells us that faith and good works have to go together. Faith without good works is dead! And the good works mentioned in the second reading are clothing the naked and feeding the hungry. Two basic human needs!  

The second reading is not contrasting faith and good works, but the second reading is contrasting living faith and dead faith! Living faith will produce good works, but dead faith will not produce good works!

5. Today in this Mass, we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ, who suffered, died and rose from the dead for our salvation; and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we may carry our crosses to follow him, to lose our lives for his sake and for the sake of the gospel, so that we will save our lives and the lives of the whole world!

We also thank God for the gift of faith and we ask God to help us to do good works!

A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you!

                                                                                                                                Amen! 

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 29th Aug 2021

Theme: THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD GIVES LIFE AND LOVE

  • Deuteronomy 4:1-2. 6-8;
  • Psalm 14 (15): 2-5. R/ v. 1;
  • James 1:17-18. 21-22. 27
  • Mark 7:1-8. 14-15. 21-23

1. Today is the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that the commandment of the Lord gives us life and love!

The gospel today tells us not to substitute human traditions for the commandment of God. Human traditions cannot give us life and love, only the commandment of God can give us life and love!

Human traditions, like the ritual purifications of the scribes and Pharisees, that is, the washing of hands before eating and the washing of cups, pots and dishes cannot wash away the fornication, theft, murder, adultery, greed, jealousy, pride, etc., in our hearts and give us life; only the commandment of God can wash away the sins in our hearts and give us life! Thus the Gospel Acclamation today:

“Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life: you have the message of eternal life.” (cf. Jn 6:63. 68)

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the commandments of the Lord give us life and give us the Promised Land, that is, Heaven! That is why we must not add anything to the commandments of God or subtract anything from the commandments of God! If we do, then it will not give us life and love! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Now, Israel, take notice of the laws and customs that I teach you today, and observe them, that you may have life and may enter and take possession of the land that the Lord the God of your fathers is giving you. You must add nothing to what I command you, and take nothing from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God just as I lay them down for you.” (Dt 4:1-2; SM)   

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm was originally “a liturgy for entrance into the sanctuary/temple” (HCSB; CSB), but in the context of today’s readings and liturgy, it also tells us that the commandments of the Lord give us life and love! (CCB) Thus the response:

“The just will live in the presence of the Lord.” (Ps 14 (15): 1; SM)

The responsorial psalm tells us of the commandments of the Lord, that is, act with justice, speak the truth, do no wrong to the neighbor, do not slander the neighbor, keep your pledge, do not take interest on your loan to the poor, do not take bribes against the innocent, etc. If we keep these commandments of the Lord we will live in the presence of the Lord!

But the opposite is also true, that is, if we do not act with justice, do not speak the truth, do wrong to the neighbor, slander the neighbor, take interest on our loans to the poor, take bribes against the innocent, do not keep our oaths, etc., then we will not live in the presence of the Lord, but we will die in the absence of the Lord!  

4. Incidentally, the second reading also follows the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us that we must not only listen to the word of God, but we must also do what the word tells us! And the word tells us to help the widow and orphans, that is, the poor and the needy! (CSB) Thus we read in the second reading:

    “But you must do what the word tells you, and not just listen to it and deceive yourselves.

Pure unspoilt religion, in the eyes of God our Father is this: coming to the help of orphans and widows when they need it.” (Jm 1:22. 27; SM)

5. Today in this Mass we thank God for the commandments and we ask God to help us keep the commandments so that we may have life and love and so that we will help the poor and the needy. A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you!

Amen!

THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY (Year C) – 15th August 2021

Theme: WE WILL BE ASSUMED INTO HEAVEN – BODY AND SOUL – WITH THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY  

  • Apocalypse (Revelation) 11:19; 12:1-6. 10;
  • Psalm 44 (45):10-12. 16. R/ v. 10;
  • 1 Corinthians 15:20-26
  • Luke 1:39-56

1. Today we celebrate the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven. Mary was assumed into heaven body and soul because she was not touched by Original Sin and consequently her body was not touched by the corruption of death. Mary was preserved from Original Sin by the grace of her Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ saves us in two ways, that is, by forgiving us our sins and by preserving us from sin by his grace. Mary was preserved from sin by the grace of Jesus Christ. (MCE)      

    Thus the gospel today tells us that she is the most blessed among women, blessed is the fruit of her womb, blessed is she who believed that the promise made to her will be fulfilled, and all generations will call her blessed! Mary was blessed and graced! In fact that is the first part of the prayer “Hail Mary”:

    “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus”!

    Thus we read in the gospel today:

    “Elizabeth gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. …. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’

    And Mary said: ‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exults in God my savior; because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid. Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me.’” (Lk 1:42. 45-49a; SM)     

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. According to our Catholic Church the first reading tells us about Mary, her Son Jesus Christ, and the Dragon, that is, the Devil. (NJB; NJBC; IBC) The first reading tells us that Mary gave birth to the child Jesus and the dragon wanted to eat the child, but the child was taken up into heaven, that is, he “ascended” into heaven, while Mary escaped into the desert to a place of safety prepared by God!

    Most importantly, the first reading tells us that God and Jesus Christ have won over the Devil! Thus we read in the first reading:

    “Then I heard a voice shout from heaven, ‘Victory and power and empire for ever have been won by our God, and all authority for his Christ.’” (Rv 12:10; SM)  

    Again, Mary was preserved from the Devil and from Original Sin and from the consequent corruption of death by the grace of Jesus Christ! Thus Mary was assumed into heaven body and soul!

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that Mary is Queen as God is King, and Mary is bride as God is bridegroom! The responsorial psalm praises Mary as bride of God and Queen of heaven! (NJBC) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

    “On your right stands the queen, in garments of gold.”! (Ps 44 (45):10; SM) 

4. Finally, the second reading tells us that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. More importantly, the second reading tells us that we will also rise with Jesus Christ from the dead and ascend into heaven with him! Thus we read in the second reading:

    “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of all who have fallen asleep. Death came through one man and in the same way the resurrection of the dead has come through one man. Just as all men die in Adam, so all men will be brought to life in Christ.” (1 Co 15:20-22; SM)  

5. Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will forgive us our sins. The Holy Spirit will also preserve us from sin, so that we will not sin, and so that one day we will also be assumed into heaven – body and soul – with the Blessed Virgin Mary!

                                                                                                                                    Amen!

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 1st Aug 2021

Theme: “WORK FOR FOOD THAT ENDURES TO ETERNAL LIFE.”

  • Exodus 16:2-4. 12-15;
  • Psalm 77 (78): 3-4. 23-25. 54. R/ v. 24;
  • Ephesians 4:17. 20-24
  • John 6:24-35

1. Today is the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us not to “work for food that cannot last”, but to “work for food that endures to eternal life”!

The gospel today tells us that after being fed at “the miracle of the loaves” (Jn 6: 1-15; NJB), the people followed Jesus, but Jesus told them not to work for food that do not last, but to work for food that endures to eternal life. 

More importantly, the gospel tells us that to work for food that endures to eternal life means to believe in Jesus! And when we believe in Jesus, God our Father will give us “bread from heaven”. And the bread from heaven will give life to the world!

Most importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus is the “bread from heaven” who gives life to the world! Thus we read in the gospel today:

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never hunger; he who believes in me will never thirst”. (Jn 6:35; SM)

Indeed Jesus is the “bread of life” both in word and in sacrament! Thus the “Gospel Acclamation” today:

“Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Mt 4:4; SM)     

And thus verse 54 of chapter 6 of today’s gospel:

“Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day”. (NJB)

That is why our Sunday Mass consists of two parts, namely, “the Liturgy of the Word” and “the Liturgy of the Eucharist”. The “Liturgy of the Word” gives us faith. (Rm 10:17) And when we celebrate “the Liturgy of the Eucharist” with faith and eat the body of Christ and drink his blood, the Holy Spirit will transform us into the Body of Christ!

That is why it is important that we come early for Sunday Mass to read the readings before Mass to prepare ourselves for the Mass. And that is why it is important that we listen attentively to the readings and homily during Mass and not talk or use our hand phones during Mass! And that is why it is important that after Mass we share and pray spiritually and personally on the Sunday Mass readings in our Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs)! 

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the people of Israel had nothing to eat in the desert, so they grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and against God. They wanted to return to Egypt to eat meat and bread.

And more importantly, the first reading tells us that God gave them “bread from heaven”! The first reading prefigures the “bread from heaven” that Jesus gives in today’s gospel!

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

“The Lord gave them bread from heaven”. (Ps 77 (78): 24; SM)

And thus verses 23 to 25 of the responsorial psalm:

“He commanded the clouds above and opened the gates of heaven. He rained down manna for their food, and gave them bread from heaven. Mere men ate the bread of angels. He sent them abundance of food”. (SM)

Again, the responsorial psalm prefigures the “bread from heaven” given by Jesus in today’s gospel!

4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again, the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells about “Renewal in Christ” (CSB), that is, to put off “the old self” and to put on “the new self”! This we did in baptism and we continue to do every Sunday in the Eucharist!

    But we are happy to note that in our parish there are so many renewal movements that help us to renew ourselves in Jesus Christ! We have the Charismatic Renewal, the Prayer Meetings, the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs), the Neo-Catechumenal Communities, the Bible-Sharing Groups, the Alpha Course, the Divine Mercy, etc.! All these renewal movements help us renew ourselves in Jesus Christ!   

5. Today in this Mass, we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ, the food of eternal life! And we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we may be renewed in his Son Jesus Christ! A happy and holy Sunday to all of you! Amen!

                                                                                                                                   

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 25th July 2021

Theme: THE LORD FEEDS US WITH MATERIAL AND SPIRITUAL FOOD

  • 2 Kings 4:42-44;
  • Psalm 144 (145): 10-11. 15-18. R/ v. 16;
  • Ephesians 4:1-6
  • John 6:1-15

1. Today is the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that the Lord feeds us with material and spiritual food!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus did three most important things that can solve the three biggest problems in our world today!   

(1) Jesus thanked God for the bread! Today the world does not believe in God and does not pray. Jesus did not only believe in God, but he believed that God was his Father; and Jesus did not only pray, but he prayed the most important prayer of all, that is, the prayer of thanksgiving! The word “Eucharist” means thanksgiving!

Indeed, an American Creation theologian said that if the only prayer we know is “thank you”, that is more than enough! We thank God for creation, salvation and sanctification! Indeed, if we begin by thanking God for creation; for the sun, moon and stars; for the sky, the land and the sea; for the food, the drink and the air, etc.; we will not be able to finish thanking Him even until the end of time!

(2) Jesus fed five thousand men with five loaves and two fish! Today, one of the biggest problems in the world is poverty, hunger, sickness and injustices. Today the gospel exhorts the rich nations of the first world to share with the poor nations of the third world! There is enough for everyone’s need, but there is not enough for everyone’s greed! (M. Gandhi) 

(3) After the people had eaten enough, Jesus instructed his disciples to pick up the pieces left over so that nothing gets “wasted”! (NJB; CSB) “Waste not, want not”! Today our wasteful and greedy lifestyles have destroyed the environment: Global warming, melting of ice, rising seas, floods, drought, fire, and extreme climate change, etc. We need to live a simple lifestyle; we need to distinguish between our needs and our wants! We need to distinguish between our need and our greed! Again, there is enough for everyone’s need, but there is not enough for everyone’s greed!

I am happy to note that in our parish we have begun recycling our newspapers, reusing our plastic bottles and Christmas decorations and we have begun our jumble sale! This is not only to raise funds for building our Catechetical Centre, but more importantly, this is also to protect the environment! Indeed, we need to reduce, reuse and recycle! The 3 Rs!                      

But most importantly, the gospel today tells us that after having eaten enough and having leftovers, the people wanted to make Jesus king, but Jesus escaped back to the hills by himself! Jesus was not only a king who feeds the people with material food, but Jesus was also a Savior who feeds the people with spiritual food, the spiritual food of his body and blood in the Eucharist! Indeed the actions of Jesus in the feeding of the five thousand men symbolize the actions of Jesus in the Eucharist: take, thank, break and give! And indeed, chapter 6 of today’s gospel ends with a discourse on the Eucharist! (Jn 6: 51-58)

“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” (Jn 6:54; CSB)

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the prophet Elisha fed one hundred men with twenty loaves! Jesus fed five thousand men with five loaves! Elisha prefigured Jesus Christ! Again, as in the feeding of the five thousand, there were leftovers! Indeed, God provides and He provides abundantly; not only was there enough to eat, but there were leftovers!

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God provides not only for human beings, but God provides for all His creatures! Thus we read in the second stanza:

“The eyes of all creatures look to you and you give them their food in due time. You open wide your hand, grant the desires of all who live.” (Ps 144 (145): 15-16; SM)

And thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“You open wide your hand, O Lord, and grant our desires.” (Ps 144 (145): 16; SM)

4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again, the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells us to live in unity. This is because of the “seven unities” (CSB), that is, we are united in one Body (church), one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God who is Father of all! That is why we have to live in unity! Become what we are!   

5. Today in this Mass, we thank God the Father for his Son Jesus Christ and we ask God to give us His Holy Spirit, so that like his Son Jesus Christ we may thank Him for all things, we may share our resources with others and we may protect the environment. And so that like his Son Jesus Christ we may give our lives to others and live in unity. A happy and holy Sunday to all of you!   

Amen!

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 18th July 2021

Theme: JESUS CHRIST THE GOOD SHEPHERD

  • Jeremiah 23:1-6;
  • Psalm 22 (23): R/ v. 1;
  • Ephesians 2:13-18
  • Mark 6:30-34

1. Today is the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. The readings today tell us about Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd.

    The gospel tells us that the people were like sheep without a shepherd. More importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd had compassion and pity on them and taught them at some length, though he was tired and had no time to rest and no time to eat. The first duty of a good shepherd is to preach and teach the word of God! Thus we read in the gospel today:

    “So as Jesus stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length.” (Mk 6:34)    

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. But the first reading tells us about the bad shepherds of Judah, particularly King Zedekiah of Judah (6th Century BC) who against the prophet Jeremiah made alliance with Egypt to rebel against Babylon. As a result Jerusalem was destroyed and the people exiled into Babylon.

    The first reading tells us that the bad shepherds (kings) of Judah did not take care of the flock (people) of Judah; as a result the flock was destroyed and scattered. But more importantly, the first reading tells us that the Lord will send good shepherds to Judah to take care of the flock of Judah. But most importantly, the first reading tells us that the Lord will send a good shepherd to Judah to save Judah. The good shepherd’s name will be: The Lord is our Saving Justice, that is, the Lord is our Salvation! (NJBC) Thus we read in the first reading:

    “Look, the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when I shall raise an upright Branch for David; he will reign as king and be wise, doing what is just and upright in the country. In his days Judah will triumph and Israel live in safety. And this is the name he will be called, ‘Yahweh-is-our-Saving-Justice.’” (Jr 23:5-6/NJB)       

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us about the Good Shepherd. The responsorial psalm tells us that the good shepherd provides food and drink for his sheep. Thus we read in the first stanza of the responsorial psalm:

    “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose. Near restful waters he leads me, to revive my drooping spirit.” (Ps 22 (23): 1-3a)

    The responsorial psalm also tells us that the good shepherd is also “the host of the messianic banquet”! (NJB) The images of “shepherd” and “host” are closely related as both provide food and drink! (NJBC) Thus we read in the third stanza of the responsorial psalm:

    “You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes. My head you have anointed with oil; my cup is over flowing.” (Ps 22 (23): 5)         

    Indeed, Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd gives us his Body to eat and his Blood to drink in the Eucharistic banquet!

4. The second reading tells us that it is through the body and blood of Jesus Christ, it is through his cross, it is through his death and resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit, that the Gentiles are united with the Jews, and that the Gentiles and Jews are united with God the Father!    

5. Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us be good shepherds, to preach and teach the word of God, to celebrate the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and to build Christian 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 world!

                                                                                                                                    Amen! 

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 11th July 2021

Theme: WE ARE TO PREACH THE WORD OF GOD, CAST OUT DEVILS, AND CURE THE SICK

  • Amos 7:12-15;
  • Psalm 84 (85): 9-14. R/ v. 8;
  • Ephesians 1:3-10 (Shorter Form);
  • Mark 6:7-13

1.    Today is the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. Today is also Sunday of the Word of God. The Bible is the word of God. The readings today tell us to preach the word of God.

    The gospel today tells us to preach the good news of repentance (“Repent, and believe the gospel.” cf. Mk 1:15/NJB), to cast out demons and to heal the sick. The good news has the power to effect repentance, to cast out devils and to heal the sick. The good news is about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the giving of the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness; the Holy Spirit of sanctification and salvation. Those who believe in the good news receive the Holy Spirit. And it is in the power of the Holy Spirit that we effect repentance, cast out devils and heal the sick. In fact the good news has the power to prevent us from sinning, prevent the devil from possessing us, and the good news has the power to prevent us from sickness. Indeed, prevention is better than cure!

    The bad news of law, justice and punishment has no power to effect repentance, to cast out devils and to heal the sick. So proclaim the good news and not the bad news! Thus we read in the gospel today:

    “So they set off to preach repentance; and they cast out many devils, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them.” (Mk 6:13)

    The gospel today also tells us that in order to preach the good news of repentance, and to cast out devils, and to cure the sick, we have to depend totally on God. Thus we read in the gospel today:

    “And Jesus instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no haversack, no coppers for their purses. They were to wear sandals but, he added, ‘Do not take a spare tunic.’” (Mk 6:8-9)

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. But the first reading tells us that the prophet Amos preached bad news. The first reading tells us that the priest Amaziah expelled Amos because he preached bad news. Amos was preaching against Israel and its king. He was prophesying the destruction of Israel and its king because of idolatry and injustices. (CSB) Amos was a prophet who prophesied in the eighth century BC in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He was a shepherd/farmer from the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Thus we read in the first reading:

    “Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, said to Amos, ‘Go away, seer, get back to the land of Judah; earn your bread there, do your prophesying there. We want no more prophesying in Bethel; this is the royal sanctuary, the national temple.’” (Am 7:12-13)      

    Today there are those who think that we should proclaim bad news, because today there is also idolatry, that is, the worship of the false gods of money, power, fame, etc., and today there are also injustices as the gap between the rich and the poor nations widen! But we are in the New Testament; we have to proclaim the good news. The good news has the power to change people so that they worship the one true God and so that they practice social justice!     

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a “prayer for the restoration of God’s favor”. It is a prayer for salvation by God. (HCSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “Let us see, O Lord, your mercy and give us your saving help.” (Ps 84 (85): 8) Or a better translation: “Show us, Lord, your love; grant us your salvation.” (Ps 84 (85): 8/CSB)

    The responsorial psalm itself is an announcement/oracle of salvation by the psalmist/prophet on behalf of God (HCSB); it is an announcement of love, mercy, peace, salvation, justice, faithfulness, righteousness, prosperity, fruitfulness, happiness, glory, etc.!      

4. The second reading tells us of God’s plan of salvation and its fulfillment through Jesus Christ. (CSB) The first part of the second reading tells us of God the Father’s plan of salvation (Ep 1:3-6) and the second part of the second reading tells us of its fulfillment through Jesus Christ! (Ep 1:7-10) Thus the caption of the second reading: “God chose us in Christ, before the foundation of the world.” (Ep 1:4/Vatican II SUNDAY MISSAL)

    “God’s plan of salvation” (NJB) is before creation, in creation, and is fulfilled in salvation in Jesus Christ. Creation has a purpose, a meaning, and a direction! The meaning, purpose and direction of creation is salvation in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the Alpha and the Omega! Thus Fr. Teilhard de Chardin SJ (priest and scientist) tells us that evolution gives rise to consciousness and consciousness effects union! Thus we read in the second reading:

    “He has let us know the mystery of his purpose, the hidden plan he so kindly made in Christ from the beginning to act upon when the times had run their course to the end: that he would bring everything together under Christ, as head, everything in the heavens and everything on earth.” (Ep 1:9-10)

5. Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us preach the good news of repentance, cast out devils, and cure the sick!     Amen.                                                                                                                              

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 4th July 2021

Theme: WE ARE TO BE THE PROPHETS OF GOD TO SPEAK THE WORD OF GOD

  • Ezekiel 2:2-5;
  • Psalm 122 (123): R. v. 2;
  • 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
  • Mark 6:1-6

1. Today is the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that we are to be the prophets of God to speak the word of God!

    In the year 2001 there was a synod of the world’s bishops in Rome on the duties of the bishop. The synod concluded that the duties of the bishop was to be prophet, priest and king, that is, to preach and teach the word of God (prophet), to celebrate the sacraments, especially the Eucharist (priest), and to build the Christian community, the Church, and the Kingdom of God (king). But of the three, the first is to preach and teach the word of God! The first is to be a prophet of God!     

    The duties of the priest is also to be prophet, priest, and king, that is, to preach and teach the word of God; to celebrate the sacraments, especially the Eucharist; and to build the Christian community, the Church, and the Kingdom of God. But again, the first duty of the priest is to preach and teach the word of God. The first duty of the priest is to be a prophet of God!

    The priest is not only a priest; he is also a prophet and a king. The “pastoral work” of the priest is not only “sacramentalization”, but also “evangelization”! Indeed, the word of God gives faith, and only with faith can we celebrate the sacraments, and when we celebrate the sacraments with faith, the risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit will help us build the community of love and unity, and the community will become a sign of salvation for the world.

    Indeed, the Church is not a gasoline station or a service station where we come for baptism, marriage, and the other sacraments, etc., but the Church is a Christ centered community, that is, centered on the Word and Eucharist that the Lord has given us. And when we celebrate the Word and Eucharist, the risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit will help us build a community of love and unity, and the community will become a sign of salvation for the world. The identity of the priest cannot be separated from the nature of the Church!

2. The gospel today tells us that Jesus himself was a prophet, but he was rejected by his own people. But Jesus continued preaching and teaching the word of God until his death and resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! We have to preach the word of God even in the face of opposition because it is the word of God and the word of God will prevail! Thus we read in the gospel:

    “And they would not accept him. And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is only despised in his own country among his own relations and in his own house’; and he could work no miracle there, though he cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.” (Mk 6: 3c-6)

3. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading is on the call of Ezekiel to be a prophet to speak the word of God to a rebellious people. Again, Ezekiel had to speak the word of God even in the face of opposition because it is the word of God, and again, the word of God will prevail! Thus we read in the first reading:

    “The Lord said, ‘Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to the rebels who have turned against me. Till now they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me. The sons are defiant and obstinate; I am sending you to them, to say, “The Lord says this.” Whether they listen or not, this set of rebels shall know there is a prophet among them.’” (Ezk 2: 3-5)         

4. In order to be the prophets of God we have to rely on God, we have to depend on God, and we have to put our confidence in God. The responsorial psalm is a psalm of reliance on God. The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first and second stanzas are expressions of confidence in God. The third stanza asks God to save us from our persecutors. (CSB/HCSB)

    Thus the response of the responsorial psalm which is taken from the second stanza: “Our eyes are on the Lord till he show us his mercy.” (Ps 122 (123): 2) And thus the third stanza of the responsorial psalm: “Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy. We are filled with contempt. Indeed all too full is our soul with the scorn of the rich, with the proud man’s disdain.” (Ps 122 (123): 3-4)

5. Incidentally, the second reading tells us that in the face of opposition and persecution St. Paul relied on God. The second reading tells us that St. Paul had a thorn in his flesh. This could mean a sickness (physical or mental), a temptation, or an opponent and persecutor. Probably it meant his opponents and persecutors. Thus the second reading tells us that in the face of opposition and persecution St. Paul relied on God. Thus we read in the second reading:

    “So I shall be very happy to make my weaknesses my special boast so that the power of Christ may stay over me, and that is why I am quite content with my weaknesses, and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and the agonies I go through for Christ’s sake. For it is when I am weak that I am strong.” (2 Co 12: 9b-10)       

6. 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 to be the prophets of God to speak the word of God! Amen.

                                                                                                                                  

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!