21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 23rd Aug 2020

Theme: PETER: THE FIRST POPE

  • Isaiah 22:19-23;
  • Psalm 137 (138): 1-3. 6. 8. R/ v. 8;
  • Romans 11:33-36
  • Matthew 16:13-20

Today is the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The gospel today tells us that after Peter professed his faith in Jesus that he was the “Christ” / Messiah and “the Son of the living God”, Jesus appointed him to be the first Pope! Jesus gave him the keys of the kingdom of heaven, so that whatever he binds on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever he loose on earth will be loosed in heaven!

Peter is given the authority to teach and to excommunicate. (CSB) Today we believe that our present Pope Benedict XVI is a direct successor of St. Peter the first Pope in an unbroken line of 266 Popes over 2000 years! We also believe that our Bishops are the direct successors of the Twelve Apostles. That is why at every Mass we pray for our Pope and Bishop, even mentioning their names!

We believe that the word of God is not only the Bible, but the word of God is the Bible, the Church and Tradition. Before the gospels were written the word of God was in the Church and in Tradition, that is, Oral Tradition. The word of God was proclaimed through word of mouth.

The four gospels were written some 40 to 60 years after Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! The gospel of Mark was written around the year 70, the gospels of Matthew and Luke were written around the year 80, and the gospel of John was written around the year 90! Jesus died and rose from the dead around the year 30!

Today there are important issues that are not directly and explicitly addressed in the Bible. Important issues like the ecological crisis, globalization, population explosion, dialogue with Islam, etc.

There are also important issues within the Church that are not directly and explicitly addressed by the Bible. Issues like married priests, women priests, and even the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary which we celebrated only a few days ago. We need the Church to teach us on these issues and to discipline us on these issues. And we need to obey the Church on these issues!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us about the appointment of Eliakim to be the master of the palace of King Hezekiah.

Eliakim is given the key to the door of the palace. He can grant or deny access to the palace of the King. Thus we read in the first reading:

“I place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; should he open, no one shall close, should he close, no one shall open.” (Is 22:22; SM)

Eliakim prefigures Peter in today’s gospel who was given the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Peter can grant or deny access to the kingdom of heaven!

The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving for deliverance, but in the context of today’s readings it can be read as a thanksgiving for God’s call to be the master of the palace in the case of Eliakim, and for God’s call to be the first Pope in the case of Peter.

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first and second stanzas are a thanksgiving. The third stanza tells us that God will not abandon the humble! Thus the last verse of the responsorial psalm which is also the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Your love, O Lord, is eternal, discard not the work of your hands.” (Ps 137 (138): 8; SM)

The second reading today is a continuation of last Sunday’s second reading. In last Sunday’s second reading, St. Paul tells us about the merciful plan of God, where the rejection of Jesus by the Jews meant that the gospel will be preached to the non-Jews. And when the non-Jews accept the gospel, the Jews will be envious and will also accept the gospel. In this way both Jews and non-Jews will be saved through the merciful plan of God.

In the second reading today, St. Paul gives glory to God for his wise and merciful plan of salvation both for Jews and non-Jews. St. Paul ends by giving glory to God who created all things, continues to sustain all things and is the end and goal of all things. (NJBC) Thus we read in the second reading:

“All that exists comes from him; all is by him and for him. To him be glory for ever! Amen.” (Rm 11:36; SM)

Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us obey the word of God in the Bible and in the teaching and tradition of the Church. The Holy Spirit will also help us give glory to God for his wise and merciful plan of salvation for both Jews and non-Jews. A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen!

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 9th Aug 2020

Theme: THE LORD WILL CALM THE STORMS IN OUR LIVES AND GIVE US PEACE / SHALOM

  • 1 Kings 19:9. 11-13;
  • Psalm 84 (85):9-14. R/ v. 8;
  • Romans 9:1-5
  • Matthew 14:22-33

Today is the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that the Lord will calm the storms in our lives and give us peace!

The gospel today tells us that the disciples were in a boat in a stormy sea, but more importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus walked on the water/lake towards them. And at the telling of Jesus, Peter also walked on the water towards Jesus, but because of the strong wind, Peter took fright and began to sink, but Jesus saved him, and chided him for his “little faith” and “doubt”. And as they entered the boat the wind dropped and there was calm and peace and the disciples worshipped him as “the Son of God”!

Again, the gospel today tells us that the Lord will calm the storms in our lives and give us peace. The storms in our lives may be natural, physical, ecclesial (church), personal, spiritual, emotional, social, political, environmental, economical, etc. The peace that the Lord gives us is “shalom”, that is, an all-embracing peace, a political, social, personal, spiritual, physical, ecclesial, etc. peace!

But we must pray and we must pray with faith, even with the “little faith” that we have! We must also ask God to increase our faith: ‘Lord I believe, increase my faith’!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that when the Lord appeared to Elijah, there was “the sound of a gentle breeze”, that is, there was calm and peace!

The first reading tells us that there was a strong wind, but the Lord was not in the strong wind; there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; then there was “the sound of a gentle breeze”. The Lord was in “the sound of the gentle breeze”! The Lord was in the calm and peace! Again, the Lord will calm the storms of our lives and give us peace!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. It is a reflection on the first reading. It is a prayer for peace, for messianic peace. (NJB) The word peace is present three times in all the three stanzas. Thus we read in stanzas one, two and three:

“I will hear what the Lord God has to say, a voice that speaks of peace.” (v. 9; SM)

“Mercy and faithfulness have met; justice and peace have embraced.” (v. 11; SM)

“Justice shall march before him and peace shall follow his steps.” (v. 14; SM)

Again, the word peace means “shalom”, that is, wholeness, completeness, soundness, well-being, fullness, perfection, lacking nothing, health, prosperity, happiness, love, salvation, etc.! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Show us, Lord, your love; grant us your salvation.” (v. 8; CSB)

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something important to tell us. The second reading tells us that St. Paul was sorrowful and in anguish because the Jews who were his own flesh and blood did not believe in Jesus Christ! The Jews were the chosen people of God, the Law of God was given to them, and Jesus Christ the Messiah came from them, but they did not believe in Jesus Christ!

The second reading is taken from the letter to the Romans chapter 9, but we have to read the whole section right up to chapter 11 inclusive to understand that St. Paul did not lose faith and hope in the love of God for Israel. St. Paul believed that in the end even Israel will be converted and will believe in Jesus Christ and will be saved!

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 pray to God in faith and the Lord will calm the storms in our lives. The Holy Spirit will also help us proclaim the good news so that all may believe and be saved, including the Jews! A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen!

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 2nd August 2020

Theme: WE THANK GOD FOR OUR MATERIAL AND SPIRITUAL FOOD AND WE SHARE OUR MATERIAL AND SPIRITUAL FOOD WITH OTHERS

  • Isaiah 55:1-3;
  • Psalm 144:8-9. 15-18. R/ v. 16;
  • Romans 8:35. 37-39
  • Matthew 14:13-21

Today is the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that the Lord gives us material and spiritual food! The gospel today tells us that Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish and gave thanks to God and he broke the loaves and gave them to the people to eat. The people ate as much as they wanted and they collected the leftovers which filled twelve baskets! Those who ate numbered five thousand men and if we include women and children the number would have been twenty to thirty thousand! (New Jerome Biblical Commentary)

The gospel today tells us that Jesus did three important things! First, he thanked God! The prayer of thanksgiving is most important! Even before we ask God for anything, we must thank God for everything! An American Creation theologian said that if the only prayer we know is “thank you”, that is good enough! Even if we start thanking God here and now we will not finish thanking him even at the end of the world!

The word Eucharist in Greek means “thanksgiving” and in the Eucharistic Prayer we first thank God before we ask him for anything! But today there are people who not only do not thank God but they do not believe in God at all! That is why they never come to Mass at all! That is why it is important that you bring them to Mass every Sunday!

The second thing that Jesus did was to break the loaves and give them to the people to eat! That is sharing! There is enough for everyone’s need but there is not enough for everyone’s greed! That is, if we share, then there will be enough for everyone! The Youth Catechism (YOUCAT; 448) tells us that:

“God has entrusted to us a rich earth that could offer all men sufficient food and living space. Yet ….There are more than a billion people living on this earth who must make do with less than one dollar per day. They suffer from a lack of food and clean drinking water; most of them have no access to education or medical care. It is estimated that more than 25,000 people die every day from malnutrition. Many of them are children.”

The Youth Catechism tells us that we have to share! We have to practice charity and justice towards the poor and needy!

The third thing that Jesus did is expressed more explicitly in a parallel verse in John 6:12 (Mt 14:20):

“When they had eaten enough he said to the disciples, ‘Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing is wasted.’” (New Jerusalem Bible (NJB))

Waste not, want not! Indeed it is our wasteful and greedy lifestyle that is destroying our environment today! We have to live a simple lifestyle to save our environment today! Thus Saint Pope John Paul II wrote in his Message for World day of Peace (1 January 1990):

“Modern society will find no solution to the ecological problem unless it takes a serious look at its lifestyle. … Simplicity, moderation and discipline, as well as a spirit of sacrifice, must become a part of everyday life. … .”

The gospel today also tells us that the Lord does not only give us material food, but he also gives us spiritual food! Thus the four actions of Jesus, that is, take, thank/bless, break and give, correspond to the four actions of the Eucharist, that is, take (Offertory), thank/bless (Eucharistic Prayer), break (Breaking of the Bread), and give (Holy Communion)! But our Sunday Mass has two parts, that is, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist! Thus the Gospel Acclamation today:

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

We must come to Mass every Sunday to eat the spiritual food of the Word and the Eucharist! We must not come to Mass late for the spiritual food of the Word; instead we must come to Mass early to read the Word of God before Mass!

The first reading today tells us that the Lord gives us spiritual food! Thus we read:

“Oh, come to the water all you who are thirsty; though you have no money, come! Buy corn without money, and eat, and, at no cost, wine and milk. Why spend money on what is not bread, your wages on what fails to satisfy? Listen, listen to me and you will have good things to eat and rich food to enjoy. Pay attention, come to me; listen, and your soul will live. With you I will make an everlasting covenant out of the favors promised to David.” (SM; Is 55:1-3)  

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

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

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us that “the Lord is kind and full of compassion, slow to anger, abounding in love” (Ps 144:8; Ex 34:6). The second stanza tells us that the Lord gives us food! Material and spiritual food! The third stanza tells us that the Lord is just and loving and he listens to our prayers!

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ! That is, nothing can stop God from loving us and nothing can stop us from loving God! God first loved us that is why we love God and neighbor as we love ourselves! Thus the greatest commandment of all:

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (NJB; Lk 10:27) This is the greatest commandment because this is our salvation!

Today we thank God for our material and spiritual food and we ask God to help us share our material and spiritual food with others! Today we also thank God for his love and we ask God to help us love him and love our neighbor as we love ourselves! Amen!

 

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 26th July 2020

Theme: SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS SALVATION AND ALL THE OTHER THINGS WILL BE GIVEN TO US AS WELL

  • 1 Kings 3:5. 7-12;
  • Psalm 118:57. 72. 76-77. 127-130. R/ v. 97;
  • Romans 8:28-30
  • Matthew 13:44-52 (Shorter Form, 13:44-46)

Today is the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us to seek first the kingdom of God/heaven and his righteousness/salvation and all the other things will be given to us as well!

The gospel today tells us that the kingdom of God is like a treasure hidden in a field which someone has found, he buries it again, goes off happy and sells all that he owns and buys the field! The gospel also tells us that the kingdom of God is like a merchant looking for fine pearls and when he finds one of great value, he sells all that he owns and he buys the pearl!

The gospel today tells us to sell all that we own and buy the kingdom of God! The gospel today tells us to sell all our houses, cars, business, property, land, etc. in order to buy the kingdom of God! In other words the gospel today tells us to seek first the kingdom of God/heaven and his righteousness/salvation (CSB) and all the other things will be given to us as well! (Mt 6:33)

The pagans seek first the kingdom of the world and its damnation and all they get is sin and death! The pagans seek wealth, power and fame, that is, the three temptations of the Devil (Mt 4:1-11) and all they get is sin and death!

We Christians seek first the kingdom of heaven/God and his righteousness/salvation and all the other things will be given to us as well! We seek first the love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation of God! We seek first the love, joy and peace of God and all the other things, including wealth, power and fame will be given to us as well!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Solomon asked God for wisdom to discern between good and evil so that he can govern God’s people! Solomon did not ask for wealth and long life!

More importantly, the first reading tells us that God was happy with the request of Solomon and God granted Solomon wisdom and more than that, God also gave Solomon riches and long life which Solomon did not ask for! (1Kgs 3:13-14)

Again, seek first the kingdom of God and his salvation and all the other things will be given to us as well!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us to look for God’s law and love and not to look for silver and gold! That is why we responded four times:

“Lord how I love your law!” (Ps 118:97; SM)

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first stanza tells us to look for God’s law and not to look for silver and gold:

“My part, I have resolved, O Lord, is to obey your word. The law from your mouth means more to me than silver and gold.” (Ps 118:57. 72; SM)

The second stanza tells us that the law of God gives us love:

“Let your love be ready to console me, by your promise to your servant. Let your love come to me and I shall live, for your law is my delight.” (Ps 118:76-77; SM)

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells us that everything works for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose! Everything, good as well as evil, because God can draw good out of evil! That is what Joseph told his brothers in Genesis 50:20:

“The evil you planned to do me has by God’s design been turned to good, to bring about the present result: the survival of a numerous people.” (NJB)  

Joseph prefigures Jesus Christ in the New Testament! The Jewish leaders put Jesus Christ to death on the cross, but God raised him from the dead and through him gave the Holy Spirit and saved the whole world! And according to Saint Paul even the Jews who put Jesus Christ to death on the cross will also be saved at the end of the world! (Romans, Chapter 11)

Today, we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ who established his kingdom here on earth, and we ask God our Father to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we will seek first the kingdom of God and his salvation, and all the other things will be given to us as well! Amen!

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 19th July 2020

Theme: THE LORD IS A MERCIFUL JUDGE

  • Wisdom 12:13. 16-19;
  • Psalm 85:5-6. 9-10. 15-16. R/ v. 5;
  • Romans 8:26-27
  • Matthew 13:24-43 (Shorter Form, 13:24-30)

Today is the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that the Lord is a Merciful Judge! The gospel today tells us about the parable of the wheat and the darnel (poisonous grass). The gospel tells us that a man sowed good seed, but when everyone was asleep his enemy sowed bad seed. And when the wheat grew, the poisonous grass also grew. The servants of the man wanted to pull up the grass, but the man left the grass to grow with the wheat until harvest when the grass will by pulled up and burned and the wheat will be gathered into his barn!

The gospel today tells us about the reality of our world today and the reality of ourselves today! In our world today we find good as well as evil. We find good people who work for peace, who sacrifice their lives in order to help the sick and the poor, who donate millions to charity, who forgive the enemies, etc.; but in our world today we also find a lot of evil people who practice injustice, who oppress and exploit the poor and the weak, who kill in the name of God, who kidnap and torture, who abuse children, etc.

In fact, in ourselves too, we find good and evil! We are kind to people, we help the poor, we pray for others, etc.; but we are also jealous, mean, selfish, indifferent, etc.

But more importantly and most importantly, the gospel today tells us that at harvest time, that is, at the end of time, at the end of the world, the fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness, will burn away all the evils in the world and in ourselves, totally, completely and finally!

That is why it is most important that we continue to proclaim the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the outpouring of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness for the salvation of the world!

The gospel of last Sunday, Bible Sunday, tells us about the parable of the sower (Mt 13:1-9, Shorter Form). The gospel tells us of the different responses of the different peoples in different situations to the word of God; but most importantly, the gospel tells us that ultimately and finally, the word of God will bear fruit, thirty fold, sixty fold and a hundredfold! A good harvest is only ten fold! (Fuller)

Again, we have to proclaim the good news “in season and out of season”, that is, every time and everywhere! That is what our Pope Francis tells us in his Apostolic Exhortation, “Joy of the Gospel / Evangelii Gaudium” (24 November, 2013)! The word of God is Spirit and Life (Jn 6:63)!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us that the Lord is a merciful judge. The first reading tells us that the Lord is a just judge, but more importantly, the first reading tells us that he is lenient and mild in his judgment! The first reading also tells us that just as the Lord is kind and merciful to us, we must also be kind and merciful to one another! Finally the first reading tells us that after sin, the Lord will give us repentance for the forgiveness of our sins!

Indeed, we responded three times in the Responsorial Psalm:

“O Lord, you are good and forgiving.” (Ps 85:5; SM)

Verses 5 and 15 of the Responsorial Psalm elaborate on the goodness and forgiveness of the Lord! Thus we read:

“O Lord, you are good and forgiving, full of love to all who call.” (Ps 85:5; SM)

“But you, God of mercy and compassion, slow to anger, O Lord, abounding in love and truth (faithfulness; HCSB), turn and take pity on me.” (Ps 85:15; SM; Ex 34:6; NJBC)

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells us that when we do not know how to pray properly, the Holy Spirit comes to help us to pray properly and correctly! The Holy Spirit helps us to pray according to the mind of God and according to the will of God!

Without the Holy Spirit we pray like the pagans according to our own minds and will and asking for material things, like power, money and fame! But with the Holy Spirit, we pray like Christians according to the mind and will of God, asking for spiritual things, like love, joy and peace! That is why the first thing we must ask for in prayer is to ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit!

Today, we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ who died, rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit, and we ask our Father to continue to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we will pray according to his mind and will; and so that the fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of His love, mercy and forgiveness will continue to burn away all the evil in the world and all the evil in ourselves, and so that at harvest time, that is, at the end of time, at the end of the world, at the second coming of Jesus Christ, the fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of His love, mercy and forgiveness will burn away all the evil in the world and in ourselves, totally, completely and finally! Amen!

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) -12th July 2020

Theme: THE WORD OF GOD WILL BEAR FRUIT ABUNDANTLY IN SPITE OF  REJECTIONS, PERSECUTIONS AND THE TEMPTATIONS OF THE WORLD

  • Isaiah 55:10-11;
  • Psalm 64 (65):10-14. R/ Lk 8:8;
  • Romans 8:18-23
  • Matthew 13:1-9. 18-23 (Shorter Form) 

Today is the 15th Sunday of the Year, Liturgical Year A. Today is also “Bible Sunday” for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. The readings today tell us that the word of God will bear fruit abundantly, in spite of rejections, persecutions and the temptations of the world.

The gospel today tells us of the parable of the sower. The gospel today tells us that a sower went out to sow and as he sowed, some seeds fell besides the path and the birds ate them up. These are the people who reject the word of God. Some seeds fell on rocks where the soil was shallow. They took no root and when the sun rose they were scorched. These are the people who accepted the word of God, but because of persecutions they gave up. Some seeds fell among thorns and the thorns grew up and choked them. These are the people who at first accepted the word of God, but because of the temptations of the world, they bore no fruit. Some seeds fell on rich soil and they produced a hundred-fold, sixty-fold, thirty-fold. The usual harvest is about eight-fold. (Fuller)

Again, the gospel today tells us that the word of God will ultimately bear abundant fruit, in spite of rejections, persecutions and the temptations of the world. We are therefore to proclaim the word of God in season and out of season!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the word of God is like the rain. The rain does not return to God empty, but the rain waters the earth to make it bear fruit. The word of God does not return to God empty, but the word of God makes us bear spiritual fruits! Thus we read in the first reading:

“As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.” (Is 55:10-11; SM)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a reflection on the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us that the word of God makes us bear fruit. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Some seed fell into rich soil and produced its crop.” (Lk 8:8; SM)

The responsorial psalm tells us that God sends down rain to water the earth to make the earth bear fruit, to make the wheat grow and the flocks of sheep multiply. In the same way God sends us the word of God to make us bear fruit. Thus we read in the first and fourth stanzas of the responsorial psalm:

“You care for the earth, give it water, you fill it with riches. Your river in heaven brims over to provide its grain.

The hills are girded with joy, the meadows covered with flocks, the valleys are decked with wheat. They shout for joy, yes, they sing.” (Ps 64 (65): 10. 13b-14; SM)

Again, the word of God is like the rain. It makes us bear spiritual fruits!

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something important to tell us. The second reading tells us that we are intimately connected to creation, so much so that when we sin, creation also suffers the consequences, but more importantly, when we are saved, creation is also blessed.

An Australian theologian by the name of Denis Edwards tells us that we are intimately connected with creation. He tells us that we all came from the same “Big Bang” about 14 billion years ago, we all came from the same supernova about 5 billion years ago, we all came from the same biological evolution which began on earth about 4 billion years ago, and today we share the same environment.

But more importantly, he tells us that it is in human beings that creation became conscious of itself, that is, self-awareness. And it is in human beings that creation consciously and freely gives praise to God.

But when humans sinned and stop giving praise to God, creation also suffers its consequences. Today, the consequences of human sins can be seen in the destruction of creation, in the destruction of the rainforest, global warming, climate change, the destruction of other species, environmental pollution, desertification, etc.

More importantly, the second reading tells us that when humans are saved from sin, creation will also be blessed and restored to its original and pristine state!

Pope John Paul II said something similar in his “World Day of Peace” Message (1.1.1990) entitled: “Peace with God the Creator, Peace with all of Creation”.

Today is also “Bible Sunday” for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. The Regional Biblical Commission of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei has a message for us based on the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Benedict XVI (Verbum Domini – The Word of the Lord, 2010). We will summarize the message in 8 points:

(i) The word of God in Creation. God speaks to us in Creation. 

(ii) The word of God in History. God speaks to us in the History of Israel.

(iii) The word of God in the Prophets. The Prophets help us understand the word of God.

(iv) Jesus Christ is the Word of God. Jesus Christ died, rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit.

(v) The word of God in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was given to the Church. 

(vi) The word of God in the Church.

(vii) The word of God in the Living Tradition of the Church.

(viii) The word of God in the Bible of the Church.  

Let us then continue to proclaim the word of God, share and pray it in BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities), share and pray it in “Bible-Sharing” groups every Monday, and celebrate it every Wednesday! Amen!

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 5th July 2020

 

Theme: HUMILITY: DEPENDENCE ON GOD: THE GREATEST VIRTUE

  • Zechariah 9:9-10;
  • Psalm 144 (145): 1-2. 8-11. 13-14. R/ v. 1;
  • Romans 8:9. 11-13
  • Matthew 11:25-30

Today is the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us about humility. Humility is the greatest virtue, because pride is the greatest sin. Adam and Eve fell because of pride, the Pharisees (“the learned and the clever”; NJB) in today’s gospel fell also because of pride, and Satan himself fell from heaven also because of pride (1 Tim. 3, 6; CGDB). More importantly, Jesus saved the whole world because of humility, that is, because of his total dependence on God his Father!

The gospel today tells us that those of us who labor and are overburdened must come to Jesus and Jesus will give us rest. Carry the yoke of Jesus and learn from him, because he is gentle and humble in heart, and we will find rest for our souls. Yes, the yoke of Jesus is easy and his burden light!

In other words, those of us who labor and are overburdened by the law or by life must come to Jesus and Jesus will give us rest. Carry the cross of Jesus and learn from him, because he is gentle and humble in heart, that is, he depends on God his Father, and we will find rest for our souls. Yes, the yoke of Jesus is easy and his burden light, that is, the cross of Jesus is easy and light! Because Jesus depends on God his Father!

God helps those who help themselves! Indeed, we have to help ourselves, but more importantly, we need the help of God and we need the help of the Community! We cannot do it alone. We cannot go it alone. That would be the sin of pride. There is no such thing as a macho or muscular Christianity! There is no such thing as “Lone-Ranger”, “Tarzan”, “Hercules”, “Superman”, “Spiderman” or “Rambo”. These are fairy tales and worldly idols of self-sufficiency. That is why it is good and important to share and pray the word of God in BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities)!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us of humility. The first reading tells us of a humble king who rides on a donkey to bring peace to the world. The proud kings of Israel rode on horses to make wars, but the humble king rides on a donkey to make peace.

No more chariots of war from the Northern Kingdom of “Ephraim”, and no more horses of war from the Southern Kingdom of “Jerusalem”, and no more bows and arrows of war! The Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel will be united in peace! There will be peace not only in Israel, but there will be peace in the whole world!

Jesus fulfilled this prophecy of Zechariah when he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey for his passion, death and resurrection, and brought peace (shalom) and salvation to the whole world! (Mt. 21:4ff)

The responsorial psalm is a reflection on the first reading. (SM) The responsorial psalm is a hymn of praise to the humble messianic God King! (NJB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“I will bless your name for ever, O God my King.” (Ps 144 (145):1; SM)

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first stanza (v 1-2) tells us to give praise to the King. The second stanza (v 8-9) tells us that we give praise to the King because he is kind, compassionate, slow to anger, and loving. (Ex 34:6) The third stanza (v 10-11) tells all of creation and all the faithful to praise the King. The fourth stanza (v 13-14) echoes the love and faithfulness of the King in the second stanza, especially for the weak and the afflicted. (HCSB)

Again, this psalm is fulfilled in Jesus Christ the humble messianic God King!

The second reading tells us that in baptism we received the Holy Spirit (vv. 9-11). More importantly, the second reading tells us to overcome sin with the help of the Holy Spirit. If we live in sin we will die, but if we overcome sin with the help of the Holy Spirit we will live (vv. 12-13)! (IBC) Thus we read in the second reading:

“So then, my brothers, there is no necessity for us to obey our unspiritual selves or to live unspiritual lives. If you do live in that way, you are doomed to die; but if by the Spirit you put an end to the misdeeds of the body you will live.” (Rm 8:12-13; SM)

Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us to be humble, that is, to depend on God our Father, the Holy Spirit will help us to bring peace and salvation to the world, and the Holy Spirit will help us to overcome sin and live!   Amen.

Corpus Christi (Body and Blood of Christ) Year A – 14th June 2020

Theme: WHEN WE EAT THE BODY OF CHRIST WE EAT THE RISEN BODY OF CHRIST

  • Deuteronomy 8:2-3. 14-16;
  • Psalm 147:12-15. 19-20. R/ v. 12;
  • 1 Corinthians 10:16-17
  • John 6:51-58

A happy and a blessed Corpus Christi to all of you! “Corpus Christi” means “Body of Christ”! Today we celebrate the Solemnity of “The Body and Blood of Christ”, Liturgical Year A.

The gospel today tells us that if we eat the body of Christ and drink his blood we will live forever, but if we do not eat the body of Christ and drink his blood we will not have life in us!

It is most important to know that when we eat the body of Christ we eat the risen body of Christ! The transformed body of Christ! The gospel of John, chapter 20, tells us that after his resurrection Jesus could enter locked doors and be at any place at an instance! He was not limited by time and place!

In the same way his risen body can enter into the bread and change it into his body and when we eat the bread which is his body he can enter into us and change us into his body!

Again, when we eat the body of Christ we eat the risen body of Christ! At the “Breaking of Bread” the priest puts a piece of the bread into the chalice symbolizing the unity of the body and blood of Christ, that is, his resurrection and life! And when we eat his risen body we receive his Holy Spirit of eternal life! The risen Lord gives us the Holy Spirit of eternal life!

Thus we read in the “General Instruction of the Roman Missal” (GIRM), number 83.2:

“The Priest breaks the Bread and puts a piece of the host into the chalice to signify the unity of the Body and Blood of the Lord in the work of salvation, namely, of the Body of Jesus Christ, living and glorious”.    

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading is a foreshadow of our Sunday Mass! The first reading has two parts. The first part tells us that man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God! The second part tells us that God gave the people of Israel food and drink in the desert!

Our Mass also has two parts, namely, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist! Both parts are important! In fact, the Word gives faith and when we celebrate the sacrament of sacraments, that is, the mystery of mysteries, the Eucharist, with faith, the Holy Spirit will come and build the community, the Church and the Kingdom of God!

That is why the duty of the Bishop and his priests is to teach, to sanctify and to govern, that is, to teach the Word of God, to sanctify with the Sacraments and to build the community, the Church and the Kingdom of God! And the first of the three duties is to teach the word of God!

And that is also why we must not come late for Mass and miss the Word of God. Instead, we must come early for Mass to read the word of God before Mass to prepare ourselves for the Mass!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that “God’s Word Restores Jerusalem” (Catholic Study Bible (CSB)). Again, the importance of the word of God! The word of God in creation and the word of God in salvation! Verse 15 tells us of the word of God in creation:

“He sends out his word to the earth and swiftly runs his command”.

Verse 19 tells us of the word of God in salvation:

“He makes his word known to Jacob, to Israel his laws and decrees”.   

That is why in the BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities) we share and pray personally and spiritually on the Sunday Mass readings! We can celebrate the Word without the Eucharist, but we cannot celebrate the Eucharist without the Word! In our BECs we do not celebrate the Eucharist, we only celebrate the Word! We celebrate the Eucharist in the Church where and when all the BECs are gathered together as One Big Community!

The second reading tells us that when we receive Holy Communion, we are in communion with God and with one another! That is, we are in love and unity with God and with one another! Two Sundays ago, on Pentecost Sunday, we have seen that the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of love and unity. Last Sunday, Trinity Sunday, we saw that the Holy Trinity is the mystery of God’s love and unity. Today, Corpus Christi, we see that our Eucharist is a Eucharist of love and unity! That is why we build small Christian communities of love and unity! That is why we build BECs!

At the Communion Rite the priest breaks the bread symbolizing that though we are many we make up one body of Christ! Thus we read in the GIRM, no. 83.1:

“The gesture of breaking bread done by Christ at the Last Supper, which in apostolic times gave the entire Eucharistic action its name, signifies that the many faithful are made one body (1 Cor 10:17) by receiving Communion from the one bread of life, which is Christ, who for the salvation of the world died and rose again”.

Together with “1 Cor 11:23-26”, the second reading today is the most ancient written text on the Eucharist (56 A.D.)!

Now to complete our understanding of the Eucharist let us look at “1Corinthains 11:23-26”:

“For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.” (CSB) 

This text tells us 4 important things:

(i) The four actions of the Eucharist: (a) take (offertory), (b) thank (Eucharistic Prayer), (c) break (breaking of bread), (d) give (Communion).

(ii) Jesus’ self-giving in his body and blood.

(iii) We are to repeat Jesus’ action in remembrance of him.

(iv) The last verse which we acclaim at “The mystery of faith”: “When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your (saving) Death, O Lord, until you come again (when all will be saved)”.

PENTECOST SUNDAY (A) – 31st May 2020

Theme: THE HOLY SPIRIT HELPS US TO PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS AND TO BUILD CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES OF LOVE AND UNITY

  • Acts 2:1-11;
  • Psalm 103:1. 24. 29-31. 34. R/ cf v.30;
  • 1 Corinthians 12:3-7. 12-13
  • John 20:19-23

 A happy and blessed Pentecost Sunday to all of you! Today we celebrate Pentecost Sunday, Liturgical Year A.

The first reading tells us that on the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles. The first reading tells us that there was a loud noise which sounded like a strong wind that filled the room and there were tongues of fire resting on the apostles and the apostles spoke in foreign languages! The wind symbolizes the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:8). In Greek, as in Hebrew, one word serves for both ‘wind’ and ‘spirit’ (NJB). The loud noise and fire symbolize the presence of God as at the covenant on Sinai (Ex 19:16. 18).

The first reading also tells us that the Jews from all the nations of the world assembled at the loud noise and each of them heard the apostles preaching the marvels of God each in their own language! The first reading foreshadows the universal mission of the Church to preach the good news to the whole world! When we receive the Holy Spirit we preach the good news to the whole world!

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

“Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.” (Ps 103:30; SM)

The responsorial psalm is a hymn of “Praise of God the Creator” (CSB). But in today’s liturgy, it is a hymn of praise to God the Savior! The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The second stanza from which the response is taken is the most important! Thus the second stanza:

“You take back your spirit, they die, returning to the dust from which they came. You send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the earth.” (Ps 103:29-30; SM)

The responsorial psalm tells us that the Holy Spirit gives us life, without the Holy Spirit we die, but with the Holy Spirit, even though we die we will live!

The second reading tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of unity! The second reading tells us about unity in diversity, not unity in uniformity! The second reading tells us that though there are many different gifts, they are from the same Spirit; though there are many different services, they serve the same Lord; and the same God is working in all of us! And all the different gifts are given for the common good!

The second reading also tells us that just as the human body has many parts, the many parts make up one body, so it is with the body of Christ. We are different parts of the one body of Christ! We were all baptized with the one Spirit, “Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens”, and we were all given the one Spirit to drink in baptism! Again, the second reading tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of unity, not of division!

The Gospel Acclamation tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of God’s love! Thus the Gospel Acclamation:

“Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.”

The fire of the Holy Spirit is the fire of God’s love that burns away our sins! Only the fire of God’s love can burn away our sins! That is why at a Penitential Service we were asked to write our sins down on a piece of paper and burn it with the fire of the Easter Candle and throw it into a bin symbolizing hell! And we were told that hell is a place where God burns away our sins with the fire of his love so that we can go to heaven! Hell is the love of God experienced by a sinner for his conversion!

The gospel today also tells us about Pentecost, but the gospel today tells us that the Holy Spirit was given on the day of the Lord’s resurrection and not fifty days after his resurrection! The gospel today is from St. John. The gospel today tells us that on the day of his resurrection the Lord appeared to his disciples and said to them, ‘Peace be with you,’ and showed them his hands and his side and the disciples were filled with joy! Again, he said to them, ‘Peace be with you. As the father sent me so I am sending you’. After saying this he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit, those whose sins you forgive they are forgiven, those whose sins you retain they are retained’.

That is, proclaim the good news, those who believe and are baptized will have their sins forgiven, but those who do not believe and are not baptized will not have their sins forgiven. (NJBC; Fuller) The Holy Spirit forgives our sins in the sacrament of Baptism! The Holy Spirit also forgives our sins in the sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation. And above all, the Holy Spirit forgives our sins in the sacrament of sacraments, the Eucharist, the “Perpetual Pentecost”! The Holy Spirit forgives our sins in the Church, particularly, in the sacraments of Baptism, Penance and Eucharist! That is why it is most important that we come to Mass every Sunday!

Today, fifty years after the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), the Holy Spirit continues to renew the Church through the Charismatic Renewal, the Life in the Spirit Seminars, and the Prayer Meetings; the Holy Spirit continues to renew the Church through the Neo-Catechumenal Way, the Neo-Catechumenal Communities; and the Holy Spirit continues to renew the Church through the BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities)! All these three movements involve the proclamation of the good news and the building of Christian communities of love and unity, so that our Church may be a community of communities of love and unity and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the whole world!

That is why it is important that we attend Mass every Sunday and we attend the Life in the Spirit seminars and we attend the Neo-Catechumenate Catechesis and the BECs so that we may receive the Holy Spirit and proclaim the good news and build Christian communities of love and unity and so that our Church may be a community of communities of love and unity and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the whole world! Again, a happy and blessed Pentecost Sunday to all of you! Amen!

7th Sunday of Easter (Year A) – 24th May 2020

Theme: LET US PRAY FOR THE COMING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT UPON US

  • Acts 1:12-14
  • Psalm 26:1. 4. 7-8. R. v. 13
  • 1 Peter 4:13-16
  • John 14:18
  • John 17:1-11

Today we celebrate the 7th Sunday of Easter! The 7th Sunday of Easter is sandwiched between “the Ascension of the Lord” which we celebrated last Thursday and “Pentecost Sunday” which we will celebrate next Sunday! That is why the readings today tell us about the Ascension of the Lord and more importantly, about the Descend of the Holy Spirit upon us!

The gospel today is from St. John on the Last Supper discourse of Jesus Christ, the night before he died. It is the priestly prayer of Jesus Christ to his Father, but what concerns us today is the last part of the gospel on the Ascension of Jesus Christ: “I am not in the world any longer, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you” (Jn 17:11).

But more importantly, the “Gospel Acclamation” today tells us that Jesus Christ ascends to heaven not to abandon us nor to rest from his work, but to sit at the right hand of his Father, meaning, in power, to rule the universe, and to send down his Holy Spirit into us, so that he can come back to us and into us and continue his work in us and through us: “I will not leave you orphans, says the Lord; I will come back to you, and your hearts will be full of joy” (Jn 14:18).

That is why the first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, tells us that after the Promise of the Holy Spirit and the Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven, the apostles and Mary the Mother of Jesus were praying for the Holy Spirit – the first and original novena for the Holy Spirit: “All these joined in continuous prayer, together with several women, including Mary, the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers” (Acts: 1:11). We have to pray for the Holy Spirit! We cannot receive the Holy Spirit without prayer and praying for the Holy Spirit!

The “responsorial psalm” is a meditation on the “first reading”. It is a psalm of “Trust in the Lord”, but what concerns us today is the “response” of the “responsorial psalm”: “I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living” (Psalm 26:13).

It can be translated or paraphrased thus: ‘I believe I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of life’! The “land of life” is the Jerusalem Temple where the faithful have access to the life-giving presence of God (CSB/NAB)!

Obviously, the Church has chosen this verse for the “response” of the “responsorial psalm” today to tell us that the Holy Spirit in us is the Life-giving presence of God! St. Paul tells us that we are the temples of the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit does not dwell in heaven, nor in temples, nor in churches, but in us!

“The Lord’s goodness that we shall see” is consequently the goodness of the Holy Spirit, that is, love, joy, peace, forgiveness, freedom, mercy, salvation, wholeness, holiness, health, healing, etc.!

Finally, the Church has chosen the second reading from “1 Peter” to tell us that when the Holy Spirit comes upon us we will suffer for being Christians! We will not suffer for doing evil, for murder, for theft, for crime, etc., but we will suffer for doing good, and for bearing the name of Jesus Christ! Be not ashamed, but be happy, we will be blessed; we will give thanks to God, for when we suffer with Jesus Christ, we will also share in his glory, now and forever, in the Resurrection, and in the Ascension into heaven, body and soul, with Jesus Christ, in His Second Coming, at the end of time!

Today in this Mass, let us pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit upon us! A Happy Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost to all of you! In the early Church of the first century, Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost were all celebrated as one Mystery in the Sunday Eucharist! It was only in the second century that Easter was celebrated as an annual event, and it was only in the fourth century that Ascension and Pentecost were separated from Easter with a period of forty and fifty days respectively (MCE)! Again, a Happy Easter, Ascension and Pentecost to all of you! Amen!