30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 27th Oct 2019

Theme: THE LORD LISTENS TO THE PRAYER OF THE HUMBLE

  • Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 35:12-14. 16-19;
  • Psalm 33:2-3. 17-19. 23. R/ v. 7;
  • 2 Timothy 4:6-8. 16-18.
  • Luke 18:9-14

Today is the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us that the Lord listens to the prayer of the humble. The gospel today tells us that two men went to the Temple to pray; one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector. The Pharisee said this prayer to himself, ‘I thank you God that I am not greedy, unjust and adulterous like the rest of man, particularly, I am not like this tax-collector here. I fast twice a week and I pay tithes on all that I earn’. The tax-collector on the other hand stood far off, not raising his eyes, beat his breast and said, ‘God have mercy on me a sinner’.

More importantly, the gospel today tells us that the tax-collector was justified but the Pharisee was not! The tax-collector was justified not because he was holier than the Pharisee, but because he was humble. That is, he acknowledged his sinfulness and more importantly, he acknowledged his dependence on God who is merciful! The Pharisee was not justified, not because he was less holy than the tax-collector, but because he was proud! He was not even praying, he was praising himself!

Last Sunday the readings told us to pray continually and persistently! This Sunday the readings tell us to pray humbly, because the Lord listens to the prayer of the humble, but rejects the prayer of the proud! Thus the gospel concludes:

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the man who humbles himself will be exalted”. (Lk 18:14; SM)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us that the Lord listens to the prayer of the humble! Thus the caption of the first reading: “The humble man’s prayer pierces the clouds”. (Si 35:17; SM)

That is, the humble man’s prayer touches God! The cloud is a symbol of God.

The humble of the first reading are the poor, the widows and the orphans, that is, those who acknowledge their helplessness and hopelessness and more importantly, those who acknowledge their total dependence on a merciful God!

Again, the opposite is equally true, that is, the proud man’s prayer cannot pierce the clouds, that is, it cannot touch God! The proud man is one who is self-sufficient and who does not depend on God!

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

“This poor man called; the Lord heard him”. (Ps 33:7; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza thanks God for deliverance (vv. 2-3; SM). The second and third stanzas tell us that God protects the poor (vv. 17-19. 23; SM). (CSB; NJB)

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 St. Paul after preaching the Good News in the face of suffering and persecution has come to the end of his life. He is facing imminent death. He will be executed as a martyr. More importantly, the second reading tells us that he will receive the “crown of righteousness”!

Most importantly, the second reading tells us that the Lord was with him all the time from the beginning to the end! The Lord was with him when he proclaimed the Good News, when he was persecuted, when he was put to death and the Lord brought him to heaven! Thus we read in the second reading:

“But the Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear; and so I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from all evil attempts on me, and bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (2 Tm 4:17-18; SM)  

Last Sunday, Mission Sunday, the second reading told us to preach the good news! This Sunday the second reading tells us to preach the good news even in the face of persecution and we will receive the “crown of righteousness”! More importantly, the second reading tells us that the Lord will be with us when we preach the good news and when we are persecuted and the Lord will bring us to heaven! 

Today we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ who taught us to pray and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit of his Son Jesus Christ so that we may pray with humility, acknowledging our sins and acknowledging our total dependence on God who is merciful.

Today we also thank God for the Good News and we ask God to help us proclaim the Good News even in the face of persecution, suffering and death, so that we too may receive the “crown of righteousness”! Amen!

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 1st Sept 2019

Theme: PRIDE IS THE GREATEST SIN; HUMILITY IS THE GREATEST VIRTUE

  • Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 3:17-20. 28-29;
  • Psalm 67 (68):4-7. 10-11. R/ cf. v. 11;
  • Hebrews 12:18-19. 22-24
  • Luke 14:1. 7-14

 Today is the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us about humility.

The gospel today tells us that when we are invited to a wedding feast we must not take the place of honor, lest someone who is more honorable than us turns up and we will have to be moved down to the lowest place. But when we are invited to a wedding feast we must take the lowest place so that when no one more honorable than us turns up we will be moved up to the place of honor!

This gospel parable tells us a very important spiritual truth, that is, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the man who humbles himself will be exalted.”! (Lk 14:11; SM) That is, God humbles the proud and raises up the humble! A parallel passage is found in the same gospel of Luke in chapter 18: 9-14. It is the parable on the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.

The parable tells us that a Pharisee and a tax collector went to the Temple to pray. The Pharisee prayed to himself, thanking God that he was not greedy, dishonest and adulterous, like the rest of men, particularly, he was not like the tax collector. He fasted twice a week and he gave tithes (10%) of all of his income to the Temple. The tax collector on the other hand prayed to God for mercy. The tax collector was justified but the Pharisee was not justified! Again, “For everyone who raises himself up will be humbled, but anyone who humbles himself will be raised up.” (Lk 18:14; NJB)

Indeed, pride is the greatest sin and humility is the greatest virtue! Satan (the Devil) fell from heaven because of pride (1 Tm 3:6)! (CGDB) And Satan tempted Adam and Eve with the Original Sin of pride; and Adam and Eve fell also because of pride! The Pharisees in today’s gospel fell also because of pride! But most importantly, the world was saved because of humility, because of the humility of Jesus Christ!

The letter to the Philippians tells us that Jesus the second Adam and the new Adam was opposite of the first Adam and the old Adam who was proud, who though a man wanted to be God! Jesus was God but he humbled himself and became man and he became lower than man by accepting death on the cross, but the Father raised him from the dead and saved the whole world through him! (Ph 2:6-9; NJB)

In the “Gospel Acclamation” today Jesus tells us: “Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.” (Mt 11:29; SM) That is, carry the cross of Jesus and learn from Jesus, for he is gentle and humble in heart, that is, he depends on God the Father, he trust and believe in God his Father. He puts his faith in God his Father! A proud man on the other hand trust, believe and depend on himself. He puts his faith in himself!

Saint Augustine (354-430) was asked as to which are the three most important virtues! St. Augustine answered: “humility, humility and humility”! If we were to ask St. Augustine which are the three biggest sins, I believe he will answer: “pride, pride and pride”! Again, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the man who humbles himself will be exalted.”! (Lk 14:11; SM)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that God favors the humble and he listens to the prayers of the humble (NJB), but there is no cure for the sickness of the proud! (Lefrois) Thus we read in the first reading:

“The greater you are, the more you should behave humbly, and then you will find favor with the Lord; for great though the power of the Lord is, he accepts the homage of the humble. There is no cure for the proud man’s malady, since an evil growth has taken root in him.” (Si 3:18-20. 28; SM)

The last verse (v. 28) of the above quotation – “There is no cure for the proud man’s malady” – reminds me of what Cardinal Rozales of the Philippines said in our annual priests’ retreat in “Bundu Tuhan”, Sabah some years back. He said that in order for us to be humble we need to be humbled / humiliated! We cannot humble ourselves but others can humble/humiliate us and help us to be humble! Therefore if someone humbles/humiliates you, give thanks to God! Praise the Lord!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God gives new life and home to the poor and the humble! The responsorial psalm is a hymn of praise to God who gives new life and home to the poor and the humble. (Fuller)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first and second stanzas tell us to give praise to God. The third stanza tells us that God gives new life and home to the poor and the humble. (CSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm which is taken from the third stanza:

“In your goodness, O God, you prepared a home for the poor. (for the humble; NJB)

Indeed, God gives a home to the poor and the humble not only on earth, but also in heaven! (Fuller) Thus the second part of the second reading tells us about heaven! The second reading tells us that we will be in heaven with God the Father, with Jesus Christ, with the angels, with the saints, and with one another, indeed with the whole world! (NJBC; Craghan) Thus we read in the second reading:

“But what you have come to is Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem where the millions of angels have gathered for the festival, with the whole Church in which everyone is a ‘first-born son’ and a citizen of heaven. You have come to God himself, the supreme Judge, and been placed with spirits of the saints who have been made perfect; and to Jesus, the mediator who brings a new covenant.”! (Heb 12:22-24; SM)

Indeed, just as we fell from heaven with the pride of Satan, we will go to heaven with the humility of Jesus!

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, to depend on God, to trust in God and to put our faith in Go d our Father! The Holy Spirit will help us to pray so that like Jesus Christ, all our actions will come from the Father and go back to the Father!Amen!

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) – 9th July 2017

Theme: ADAM SINNED BECAUSE OF PRIDE; JESUS THE NEW ADAM SAVED THE WORLD BECAUSE OF HUMILITY 

  • Zechariah 9:9-10;
  • Psalm 144:1-2. 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 sinned because of pride, but Jesus the New Adam saved the world because of humility! Thus we read in Philippians 2:6-8:

“Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” (CSB)

That is why when Saint Augustine was asked, as to which are the three greatest virtues, he answered, “humility, humility, humility”! And that is why Saint Teresa of Avila tells us that humility must be busy like a bee, it must never stop working! If humility stops, all the other virtues also stop, including the virtue of love! Thus the three theological virtues are named in this order, “faith, hope and love”! The humility of faith must come first!

The gospel today tells us that God our Father reveals the “mysteries of the kingdom” (Gospel Acclamation), not to the learned and clever; but to mere children!

The gospel also tells us that God our Father has entrusted everything to his Son, Jesus, and no one knows the Son except the Father and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him!

Finally, the gospel tells us that if we labor and are overburdened we must come to Jesus and Jesus will give us rest. We must shoulder the yoke of Jesus and learn from Jesus for he is gentle and humble of heart and we will find rest for our souls. Yes, the yoke of Jesus is easy and his burden light!

The gospel today tells us that we have to be like little children, we have to be like Jesus, the child and Son of God! We have to be humble! We have to depend on God our Father, we have to put our faith in God our Father and our yoke will become easy and our burden light, including the yoke and burden of the cross of love and service!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us about Jesus the humble King of kings! The first reading tells us that Jesus the humble King of kings will come to us humble and riding on a donkey, but he will be victorious and triumphant over all the other kings who ride on horses and chariots and fight wars; because he will bring peace to the whole world! His kingdom will reach from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth! Thus we read in the first reading:

    “See now, your king comes to you; he is victorious, he is triumphant, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. He will banish chariots from Ephraim and horses from Jerusalem; the bow of war will be banished. He will proclaim peace for the nations. His empire shall stretch from sea to sea, from the River to the ends of the earth.” (Zc 9:9b-10; SM) 

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm gives praise to Jesus our Divine King! Thus we respond:

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

The responsorial psalm also tells us about Jesus our Divine King in stanzas two and four. Thus we read:

“The Lord is kind and full of compassion, slow to anger, abounding in love. How good is the Lord to all, compassionate to all his creatures”. (Ps 144:8-9; SM)

“The Lord is faithful in all his words and loving in all his deeds. The Lord supports all who fall and raises all who are bowed down.” (Ps 144:13-14; SM) 

The second reading tells us that we must be interested in spiritual things because the Spirit of God is in us. The second reading also tells us that the Spirit in us will give life to our mortal bodies. Finally, the second reading tells us that with the help of the Spirit we must therefore stop sinning and live!

But how do we receive the Holy Spirit? Again, we receive the Holy Spirit by becoming humble, by becoming like little children, by becoming like Jesus the child and Son of God, by becoming dependent on God our Father, by putting our faith in God our Father; and our yoke will become easy and our burden light, even the yoke and burden of the cross of love and service, suffering and sacrifice, sanctification and salvation will become easy and light! Amen!