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.

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) – 28th June 2020

Theme: HOSPITALITY AND DISCIPLESHIP

 

Today is the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings today tell us about hospitality! The readings also tell us that we will be reward for our hospitality!

The gospel tells us that if we welcome a prophet of God we will receive the same reward as the prophet, and if we welcome a holy man, we will receive the same reward as the holy man! And if we welcome a disciple of Jesus Christ, we will not lose our reward!

The first reading from the second book of the Kings tells us that a woman from Shunem was hospitable to the prophet Elisha. She built him a room and furnished it with a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp. And she gave him food to eat. And the woman was rewarded with a son though her husband was old!

A son for us symbolizes new life and long life, not only quantitative life, but also qualitative life, eternal life, happy, healthy, loving, peaceful, and joyful life!

The first reading of yesterday’s (Saturday’s) morning mass was from Genesis 18:1-15. It was on the hospitality of Abraham! Abraham welcomed 3 men and gave them food and drink under a tree! The 3 men were God Himself and 2 angels! Abraham did not know that they were God Himself and 2 angels! Abraham was rewarded with a son though both Abraham and his wife Sarah were old and had no son! Abraham’s son was Isaac!

The Church has chosen the readings of today to tell us to be hospitable to the prophets of God, to the holy men of God, and to the disciples of Jesus Christ, and we will be duly rewarded!

All of us who have been baptized are the prophets of God, the holy men of God, and the disciples of Jesus Christ! We have to be hospitable to one another, especially to the poor and the needy!

The prophets of God, and the holy men of God, and the disciples of Jesus Christ are not only the priests, the religious, and the lay missionaries, but they are all who speak God’s word, live holy lives, and are baptized!

But to be hospitable to the disciples of Jesus Christ also means that we become the disciples of Jesus Christ ourselves, because to welcome the disciples of Jesus Christ is to welcome Jesus Christ, and to welcome Jesus Christ is to welcome the Father who sent him, and to welcome the Father who sent him is to be a disciple of Jesus Christ!

In fact, taken on its own, the main message of the gospel of today is about discipleship!

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt 10:37-39/CSB)!

We love Jesus Christ more than father or mother, son or daughter, or even oneself, because Jesus Christ loves us more than our fathers and mothers love us, we love Jesus Christ more than our sons and daughters, because Jesus Christ loves us more than our sons and daughters love us, and we love Jesus Christ more than we love ourselves, because Jesus Christ loves us more than we love ourselves, and Jesus Christ loves us more than he loves himself!

He died in love for us! He rose from the dead in love for us! He gave the Holy Spirit in love for us! And he gave us new and eternal life in love for us!

St. Paul tells us in the second reading from the letter to the Romans that this is the meaning of baptism! In baptism we die and rise with Jesus Christ to a new life! In baptism we die to sin and we live a new life for God in Jesus Christ! We become the disciples of Jesus Christ!

Today in this 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, and make us into his disciples! Amen!

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) – 21st June 2020

Theme: WITH EVIL WITHIN US AND AROUND US, WE TRUST IN GOD 

  • Jeremiah 20:10 – 13
  • Psalm 68:8-10. 14. 17. 33-35
  • Romans 5:12-15
  • Matthew 10:26-33 

The theme for today’s readings (Gospel and first reading) is on preaching God’s word faithfully without fear even in times of persecution for God will protect and vindicate his prophets and apostles.

But there is a wider and more relevant theme in today’s readings. That is, when we are surrounded by evil and evil men, we have to trust in God and pray, and God will protect us and vindicate us.

The first reading from the prophet Jeremiah tells us that Jeremiah was being persecuted for proclaiming the bad news that Jerusalem will be destroyed. Jeremiah’s mission was “to uproot and to tear down and to plant and to build”. But up to today’s first reading – chapter 20 – Jeremiah was still tearing down and uprooting. Jeremiah was persecuted for proclaiming bad news.

However Jeremiah trusted in God and prayed to God to take revenge on the enemy and to save him from the hands of the evil men.

The Responsorial Psalm has been chosen to go with the first reading. It is the prayer of a man who has been persecuted for doing God’s will and work. It is a prayer asking God to save the good man from the evil man.

The Gospel tells us that the apostles will be persecuted for proclaiming the Good News, and again, the gospel tells us that God will protect them and vindicate them.

God has counted every hair on their heads and God who cares even for worthless sparrows will surely take care of them who are worth more than hundreds of sparrows.

But for me personally, I am most struck by the second reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans. St. Paul tells us in the second reading from the letter to the Romans that just as Adam brought sin and death into the world, Jesus Christ brought grace and eternal life to the world. But much more than that Paul tells us that the grace and eternal life that Jesus Christ brought far outweighed the sin and death brought by the first Adam. And that is why on Easter Vigil night we can sing in the Exsultet (Easter Proclamation): “oh happy fault, oh necessary sin of Adam, that has won for us so great a redeemer”! And that is why I always say that the life of grace after sin is even better than the life of innocence before sin! “Oh happy fault, oh necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!”

Again, I am personally touched by this second reading because I realize that sin is not only outside us in our enemies, but sin is also deeply rooted in each of us. In fact modern spiritual psychologists tell us that it is in our unconscious and subconscious minds. Modern geneticists tell us that it is even in our genes! In fact the doctrine of Original sin taught by the Catholic Church is based on this text of Paul to the Romans – Romans 5:12!

We are born with sin and death and that is what Original Sin is all about! But more importantly, the second reading tells us that through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, grace and eternal life is even more abundant than sin and death!

Today’s second reading is taken from Romans 5:12-15, but if we were to read the whole section on “Adam and Jesus Christ” in the NJB, up to Romans 5:12-21, we will read that ‘where sin increased, grace increased all the more! The more sin the more grace!

I am not a politician or an expert in race relations and religions, but when I look at the present war in the Middle East between the Palestinians and the Israelites, I get the feeling that they see evil only outside themselves in their enemies and they see salvation only of themselves and they see destruction only of the enemy. And they see salvation coming from themselves, from their own hands and from their own tanks or bombs.

But for us Christians we see evil first and foremost in ourselves, and our salvation do not come from ourselves, but from Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ does not save us with tanks and bombs – Jesus Christ is not a political and much less a military Messiah – but with grace, love and forgiveness!

We Christians also see that salvation is not only for ourselves, but for everybody, especially for sinners. We believe that God hates sin, but God loves the sinner! We believe that God hates evil, but he loves the evil man. St. Paul tells us that what proves that God loves us is that Jesus Christ died for us while we were still sinners!

Today Jesus Christ continues his work of Salvation in the Holy Spirit, in the Church, in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. Today as we celebrate the Eucharist, as we celebrate his death and resurrection, he will pour out his graces upon us to forgive our sins, to free us from death and to give us eternal life!

And through us he will pour out his graces upon the whole world, forgiving their sins, freeing them from death and giving them eternal life! This is the Good News for the whole world! 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)”.

Trinity Sunday (Year A) – 7th June 2020

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

  • Exodus 34:4-6. 8-9;
  • Daniel 3:52-56. R/ v. 52;
  • 2 Corinthians 13:11-13
  • John 3:16-18

A happy and blessed Trinity Sunday to all of you! Today we celebrate Trinity Sunday, Liturgical Year A. The Holy Trinity is the mystery of God’s love and unity! Last Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, we have seen that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God’s love and unity! The Holy Spirit comes from the Trinity that is why it is the Spirit of God’s love and unity!

That is why we have to live in love and unity and build 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 world! The world cannot be saved by hatred and division! The world can only be saved by love and unity! We are created in the image of God – G-O-D! We are not created in the image of dog – D-O-G!

The first reading tells us that God is love! The first reading tells us that at the remaking of the covenant at Sinai, God revealed himself to Moses as a God of tenderness and compassion (merciful and gracious; CSB), rich in kindness (Steadfast love, HCSB; faithful love, NJB) and faithfulness! In short, God revealed himself to Moses as a God of “faithful love”! (NJB) God continues to love us even though we do not love him and God continues to be faithful to us even though we are not faithful to him! Thus we read in the first reading:

“A God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness.” (Ex 34:6b; SM)   

Indeed, the gospel today tells us that when we sinned and broke the Law, God loved us even more! He sent his Son Jesus Christ to save us, so that those who believe will be saved; but those who do not believe will not be saved, because they condemn themselves by refusing to believe! Thus we read in the gospel:

“God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life. For God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved. No one who believes in him will be condemned; but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already, because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son.” (Jn 3: 16-18; SM)        

But when we crucified him on the cross he loved us even more! He rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit does not dwell in heaven or on earth, but the Holy Spirit dwells among us, in us and within us! The Holy Spirit is nearer to us than we are to ourselves, loving us more than we love ourselves (St. Augustine) and knowing us more than we know ourselves!

The Holy Spirit will continue to love us until we love God and neighbor and the Holy Spirit will continue to love us until we live in love and unity with God and with our neighbor! Then will come the end of the world, that is, the end of the evil world; the Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the “Parousia” in all his glory when all will be saved!

Thus the conclusion of the second reading:

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Co 13:13; SM)

Or in the new translation at the greeting at the beginning of the Mass:

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

That is, through his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ graces us with the love and unity of God, that is, through his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ gives us the Holy Spirit of God’s love and unity, so that we will live in love and unity, so that we will build Christian communities of love and unity, and so that our Church will be a community of communities of love and unity and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the whole world!

Today is our parish feast day! Our parish is called Holy Trinity Church (HTC)! The Holy Trinity is the mystery of God’s love and unity! The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God’s love and unity! We have to live in love and unity and build 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!

A happy feast day to all of you and a blessed Trinity Sunday to all of you! Amen!

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!

The Ascension of The Lord (Year A) – 21st May 2020

Theme: THE RISEN LORD ASCENDS INTO HEAVEN IN ORDER TO SEND US THE HOLY SPIRIT AND TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR US IN HEAVEN

  • Acts 1:1-11;
  • Psalm 46:2-3. 6-9. R. v. 6;
  • Ephesians 1:17-23
  • Matthew 28:16-20

Today we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord into heaven! The readings today tell us that the risen Lord ascends into heaven not to abandon us, but to be with us until the end of time, that is, to give us the Holy Spirit to proclaim the good news to the world, so that the world may believe and be baptized and be saved, and then the Lord will come a second time at the “Parousia”, that is, at the end of the world, to take us all into heaven!

The gospel today tells us that the risen Lord sends out his disciples to make disciples of all the nations, and to baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And to teach all the nations to observe all the commands that he has given to them. And the risen Lord promises to be with the disciples until the end of time!

The gospel makes no mention of the ascension of the Lord and the giving of the Holy Spirit! The gospel presupposes the ascension and the giving of the Holy Spirit!

The first reading tells us that after his resurrection the Lord spent forty days with his apostles, before ascending into heaven and sending down the Holy Spirit on the fiftieth day, and sending out his apostles to be his witnesses not only in Jerusalem, but also in Judaea and Samaria and indeed to the ends of the earth, that is, to proclaim the good news not only to the Jews in Jerusalem, but also to all the Jews in the whole of Judaea, and to the “half-Jews” in Samaria and to the non-Jews in the ends of the earth!

The first reading also tells us that two men in white told the apostles not to keep looking into the sky after the Lord’s ascension, because the Lord will come back in the same way as he has gone to heaven, that is, they will receive the Holy Spirit and proclaim the good news so that the world may believe and be baptized and be saved and then the Lord will come a second time at the end of the world to take us all into heaven!

The responsorial psalm is a song of praise to God who is enthroned as king of all the earth! The Church in its liturgy today uses this psalm to give praise and glory to the risen Lord who has ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father and is the ruler of the whole universe!

Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “God goes up with shouts of joy; the Lord goes up with trumpet blast.”! (Ps 46:6)

Finally, the second reading tells us that just as the Lord rose from the dead, ascends into heaven, sits at the right hand of God the Father, and rules the universe; one day we too will ascend into heaven and share in his glory!

Thus we read in the second reading: “May he enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you, what rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit and how infinitely great is the power that he has exercised for us believers. This you can tell from the strength of his power at work in Christ, when he used it to raise him from the dead and to make him sit at his right hand, in heaven, far above every Sovereignty, Authority, Power, or Domination, or any other name that can be named, not only in this age, but also in the age to come.”! (Ep 1:18-21)

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, to proclaim the good news to the world, so that the world may believe and be baptized and be saved, and so that the Lord may come a second time at the end of the world, to take us all into heaven! A happy Ascension day to all of you!  Amen!

6th Sunday of Easter (Year A) – 17th May 2020

Theme: JESUS GIVES US THE HOLY SPIRIT SO THAT HE WILL BE WITH US FOREVER

  • Acts 8:5-8. 14-17;
  • Psalm 65:1-7. 16. 20. R/ v. 1;
  • 1 Peter 3:15-18
  • John 14:15-21

A Happy and Blessed Easter to all of you! Today is the 6th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical Year A, and next Sunday will be Ascension Sunday and the Sunday following that will be Pentecost Sunday, that is, the coming of the Holy Spirit! Jesus ascends into heaven not to abandon us, but to send us the Holy Spirit so that he will be with us forever!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus will ask the Father to give us the Holy Spirit to be with us forever. The gospel tells us that Jesus will not leave us orphans, but just as Jesus is in the Father, we are in Jesus and Jesus is in us through the Holy Spirit. Finally the gospel tells us that not only Jesus, but Jesus with the Father will dwell in us through the Holy Spirit. These we can read from the Gospel Acclamation (Jn 14:23; CSB) and from the last verse of today’s gospel (Jn 14:21; NJB)!

God is love. God created us out of love, but when we sinned he loved us even more, he became man in Jesus Christ to save us, but when we killed him on the cross, he loved us even more, he rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit does not dwell in heaven, or on earth, but the Holy Spirit dwells in us and within us.

He is nearer to us than we are to ourselves, he loves us more than we love ourselves and he knows us more than we know ourselves. He will continue to love us until we love God, love our neighbor and love ourselves! Then will come the end of the world, that is, the end of the evil world and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ when all will be saved!

The first reading tells us that those who received the Holy Spirit will proclaim the good news! The first reading of last Sunday tells us that the Twelve apostles chose seven men filled with the Holy Spirit to help them to distribute food so that the apostles can have more time for prayer and for proclaiming the good news!

And among the seven were Stephen and Philip! But not surprisingly, after that we never hear of Stephen or Philip distributing food, but instead we hear of them proclaiming the good news. In fact Stephen proclaimed the good news until he was stoned to death and became the first martyr!

The first reading today tells us that Philip proclaimed the good news in Samaria and the people of Samaria accepted the word of God, because they have heard or have seen for themselves the miracles Philip worked! Those possessed by evil spirits were exorcised and those who were sick were cured and the people were filled with joy!

The first reading also tells us that when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the Samaritans had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to pray for them so that they will receive the Holy Spirit! Does it mean that we do not receive the Holy Spirit at Baptism? No! Does it mean that if we are baptized only in the name of Jesus and not in the name of the Trinity we do not receive the Holy Spirit? No! Then what does it mean? It means that we have to be in “communion with the apostles”/Church! (NJBC) Peter and John represent the Twelve apostles. They represent the Church! They represent “the role of the Church in the bestowal of the Spirit”. (CSB)

That is why Christians who are not Catholics have to be confirmed before they are accepted into the Catholic Church and that is why Christians who are baptized only in the name of Jesus have to be baptized again in the name of the Trinity and have to be confirmed before they are accepted into the Catholic Church.

The second reading tells us that the good news that we proclaim is that by his death and resurrection “Christ the righteous one saved the unrighteous”! (CSB) Thus we read in the second reading:

“Christ himself, innocent though he was, had died once for sins, died for the guilty, to lead us to God. In the body he was put to death, in the spirit he was raised to life”. (1 Pt 3:18; SM)

And it is all the work of God! And that is why in the responsorial psalm we give praise and thanks to God for our salvation!

The responsorial psalm is a hymn/prayer of praise and thanksgiving to God for our salvation! Thus the response:

“Cry out with joy to God all the earth.” or “Alleluia!”

And thus the third stanza of the responsorial psalm:

“He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the river dry-shod.” (Ps 65:6a; SM)

The third stanza summarizes the whole history of salvation of Israel by referring to the Exodus from Egypt through the Red Sea and the crossing of the river Jordan into the Promised Land! For us it summarizes our salvation by referring to our baptism and our entry into heaven!

God has done everything for us! What do we do? How shall we respond? The psalm tells us to respond by giving praise and thanks to Him, the first reading tells us to respond by proclaiming the good news, the gospel tells us to respond by loving Jesus and by keeping his commandments, especially the greatest commandment of loving God and neighbor, and the second reading tells us to respond by suffering for doing what is right and not by suffering for doing what is wrong. In this way we will proclaim the good news not only with our words, but also with our deeds and our lives! Again, a happy and blessed Easter to all of you! Amen!

4th Sunday of Easter (Year A) – 3rd May 2020

Theme: JESUS THE GOOD SHEPHERD HAS COME SO THAT WE MAY HAVE LIFE AND HAVE IT TO THE FULL

  • Acts 2:14. 36-41;
  • Psalm 22:1-6. R. v. 1;
  • 1 Peter 2:20-25
  • John 10:1-10

Today is the 4th Sunday of Easter and the readings today tell us that Jesus the Good Shepherd has come so that we may have life and have it to the full.

The gospel today is taken from John 10 on the Good Shepherd. It tells us that Jesus the Good Shepherd has come so that we may have life and have it to the full! To understand the gospel today we must also read John 9! John 10 is a commentary on John 9! (CSB)

John 9 tells us that Jesus cured the man born blind, and gave him faith, and saved him! The Pharisees on the other hand threw the cured blind man out of the synagogue with these words: “You a sinner through and through ever since you were born”! (Jn 9:34/NJB) The Pharisees the “bad shepherd” excommunicated the sinner, but Jesus the Good Shepherd saved the sinner!

Thus Jesus spoke these words in the gospel today: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.”! (Jn 10:10) The thief refers to the Pharisees!

The first reading tells us that Jesus gives us life through his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! Indeed, the first reading tells us that on the day of Pentecost, Peter proclaimed the good news of the resurrection, and three thousand Jews repented, and were baptized, and had their sins forgiven, and received the Holy Spirit, and received new life!

Thus we read in the first reading: “On the day of Pentecost Peter stood up with the Eleven and addressed the crowd with a loud voice: ‘The whole House of Israel can be certain that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.’ Hearing this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the apostles, ‘What must we do, brothers?’ ‘You must repent,’ Peter answered ‘and every one of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. …. They were convinced by his arguments, and they accepted what he said and were baptized. That very day about three thousand were added to their number.”! (Ac 2:14. 36-38. 41)

The responsorial psalm tells us that the Good Shepherd gives us life and happiness! The responsorial psalm has 4 stanzas.

The first stanza tells us that Jesus the Good Shepherd give us life! Thus the first stanza: “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 22:1-3a)

The second stanza tells us that he not only gives us life, but he also protects us from death! Thus the second stanza: “He guides me along the right path; he is true to his name. If I should walk in the valley of darkness no evil would I fear. You are there with your crook and your staff; with these you give me comfort.”! (Ps 22:3b-4)

The third and fourth stanzas tell us that he give us happiness! Thus the third and fourth stanzas: “You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes. My head you have anointed with oil; my cup is overflowing.”! (Ps 22:5)

“Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me all the days of my life. In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.”! (Ps 22:6)

Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.”! (Ps 22:1)

Finally, the second reading tells us that as sheep we must follow the Good Shepherd! The good shepherd did good, and suffered for doing good, and saved us! We must also do good, and suffer for doing good, and save the world!

Thus we read in the second reading: “But if you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.” (1 P 2:20-21/CSB)

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 the Holy Spirit, to help us to do good, and suffer for doing good, and save the world! A Happy Easter Season to all of you! Amen!