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 (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!

 

3rd Sunday of Easter (Year A) – 26th April 2020

Theme: THE RISEN LORD IS PRESENT WITH US IN THE SCRIPTURES, IN THE EUCHARIST, AND IN THE COMMUNITY, EMPOWERING US WITH HIS HOLY SPIRIT TO PROCLAIM HIS RESURRECTION!

  • Acts 2:14. 22-33;
  • Psalm 15:1-2. 5. 7-11. R. v. 11;
  • 1 Peter 1:17-21
  • Luke 24:13-35

Today is the Third Sunday of Easter and the readings today tells us that the Risen Lord is present with us in the Scriptures, in the Eucharist, and in the Community, empowering us with his Holy Spirit to proclaim his Resurrection!

The Gospel today tells us that the Risen Lord is present with us in the Scriptures, in the Eucharist, and in the Community! The Gospel tells us that after his Resurrection the Lord appeared to two of his disciples and they did not recognize him! The body of the Risen Lord is different from the body of the Historical Jesus! It is a risen body, not a resuscitated body! Unlike a resuscitated body, a risen body cannot die anymore! A risen body is a transformed body! St. Paul tells us that it is a spiritual body, not a physical body! (1 Co 15:44 / HCSB) It can enter closed doors (Jn 20:19. 26) and be at any place at anytime! It is not limited by time and space!

But more importantly, the gospel tells us that the Risen Lord explained to the two disciples the passages of the scriptures that were about himself! And their hearts were burning within them as the Risen Lord explained the scriptures to them! The Risen Lord is present with us in the scriptures!

And most importantly, the gospel tells us that the Risen Lord stayed with the disciples, and when he was at table with them; he took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread, and gave it to them; and they recognized him at the “breaking of bread”, that is, at the Eucharist! But he vanished from their sight! He vanished into the bread and the bread became his body! When we eat the body of Christ in the Eucharist, we eat the body of the Risen Lord, not the body of the Historical Jesus!

Immediately after that, the disciples returned to Jerusalem to be with the Eleven, that is, to be with the Community, to proclaim the good news of his resurrection! (Faley)

Indeed, the first reading tells us that the Lord has risen from the dead, and has ascended into heaven, and has sent down the Holy Spirit on the Apostles, and the Apostles proclaimed the good news of his resurrection for the forgiveness of sins! Thus we read in the first reading:

“God raised this man Jesus to life, and all of us are witnesses to that. Now raised to the heights by God’s right hand, he has received from the Father the Holy Spirit, who was promised, and what you see and hear is the outpouring of that Spirit.”! (Ac 2:32-33)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading! The responsorial psalm also tells us about the resurrection of Jesus Christ! In fact the first reading quoted stanzas 2b and stanzas 3 and 4 of the responsorial psalm to tell us about the resurrection of Jesus Christ! In fact in the first reading, Peter quoted the psalm 16:8-11 to tell the Jews that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was prophesied by David in the psalm! Thus we read in the first reading:

“I saw the Lord before me always, for with him at my right hand nothing can shake me. So my heart was glad and my tongue cried out with joy: my body, too, will rest in the hope that you will not abandon my soul to Hades nor allow your holy one to experience corruption. You have made known the way of life to me, you will fill me with gladness through your presence.”! (Ac 2:25-28/Ps 16:8-11)

The responsorial psalm also tells us that we will also rise with Jesus Christ to a new life! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Show us, Lord, the path of life.”! (Ps 16:11)

Finally the second reading tells us that this new life of the resurrection which we receive in Baptism is free, but it is not cheap! It cannot be paid with silver and gold, but it was paid by the blood of Jesus Christ! Thus we read in the second reading:

“Remember, the ransom that was paid to free you from the useless way of life your ancestors handed down was not paid in anything corruptible, neither in silver nor gold, but in the precious blood of a lamb without spot or stain, namely Christ.”! (1 P 1:18-19)

We have therefore to “revere” this new life of the resurrection and proclaim it to the whole world!

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, and send us out into the world, to proclaim the good news of his resurrection for the forgiveness of sins! A Happy Easter Season to all of you! Amen!

2nd Sunday of Easter (Year A) – 19th April 2020

Theme: PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS AND BUILD CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES

  • Acts 2:42-47;
  • Psalm 117 (118): 2-4. 13-15. 22-24. R/ v. 1;
  • 1 Peter 1:3-9
  • John 20:19-31

Today is the Second Sunday of Easter. Today we also celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. And today is also the Octave Day of Easter, that is, the eighth day of Easter. We celebrate Easter in eight days because Easter is the biggest feast of the Church!

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 he showed them his hands and his side and the disciples were filled with joy. Again, he said: 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, for those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven, for those whose sins you retain they are retained.

That is, proclaim the good news of the resurrection, 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) The Council of Trent (16th century) teaches that this gospel also tells us about the sacrament of penance, that is, “confession”. The sacrament of penance/reconciliation forgives post-baptismal sins, that is, sins committed after baptism. God is indeed merciful!

The gospel today also tells us that when the Lord appeared to his disciples, Thomas was not with them and when they told Thomas that they had seen the Lord, Thomas refused to believe. Eight days later, that is, on the Octave Day of Easter, the Lord appeared to his disciples again, and this time Thomas was with them.

Again, the Lord said, ‘peace be with you’. And the Lord said to Thomas: put your finger here, here are my hands, give me your hand, put your hand into my side, doubt no longer and believe. And Thomas said: My Lord and my God. And Jesus said: you believe because you have seen me, blessed are those who have not seen me and yet believe. That is, blessed are those who have not seen the risen Lord, but believe on the witnesses of the apostles, especially Thomas! (NJB)

The first reading tells us about the first Christian community, the first BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community). The first Christian community has four chief characteristics:
(1) The teaching of the apostles.
(2) The brotherhood.
(3) The breaking of bread.
(4) The prayers. (Ac 2:42)

Today our Basic Ecclesial Communities, BECs also have these four characteristics:
(1) Word of God (teaching of the apostles).
(2) Sharing our possessions with our brothers (the brotherhood).
(3) Eucharist (breaking of bread).
(4) Prayers.

It is very difficult to share our resources with our brothers, because we worship God and money, but with the word of God, the Eucharist, and prayers, the Holy Spirit will help us share our belongings with our brothers and sisters!

The Holy Spirit will help us build communities of love and unity, so that our Church will become a community of communities of love and unity and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the whole world!

The responsorial psalm is a psalm of thanksgiving for deliverance from enemies. (HCSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.” (Ps 117 (118): 1; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The response and the first stanza tell us to give thanks to God. The second stanza tells us to give thanks to God for delivering us from enemies. And the third stanza tells us to give thanks to God for the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ, the corner stone rejected by the builders, for delivering us from our enemies!

The second reading tells us to bless God the Father who in his “great mercy” has given us a new birth as sons and daughters of God by the resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ. We are sons and daughters of God in the sacrament of baptism solely because of the “great mercy” of God.

Sometime ago an authority of another religion said in the newspaper (“Daily Express”) that we are not the sons and daughters of God, we are not the children of God, but we are only the creatures of God and as creatures of God we must follow God’s laws!

But we Christians believe that God is not only Creator and law, but God is also and especially Savior, love, and Father! We Christians believe that we are the children of God and we are above the law, in the sense that we love, we do more than the law requires of us! The law never says that we must forgive, but we forgive, we are above the law, we love. Love is the fulfillment of the law, love is the only law, the only law is love, love is the greatest commandment of the law (Mt 22:36-40), love and do what you will say St. Augustine!

Today our world needs more than a Creator God and a God of law, today our world needs a Savior God, a loving God and a Father God. Today our world needs more than a God of law, justice and punishment; today our world needs a God of love, mercy and forgiveness! Our late Pope John Paul II said that there can be no peace without justice and there can be no justice without forgiveness.

It was our Pope John Paul II who introduced “Divine Mercy Sunday” into the liturgy and that is why today we celebrate “Divine Mercy Sunday”! The picture of “Divine Mercy” shows two rays of light from the sacred heart of Jesus, one red and one white. The red ray symbolizes the blood of Jesus sacrificed on the cross, and the white ray symbolizes the water of the Holy Spirit of God’s love and mercy! When the side of Christ was pierced on the cross, blood and water came out. (Jn 19:34; NJB) The Fathers of the Church sees the red blood as a symbol of the Eucharist and the white water as a symbol of baptism. Indeed, today the Risen Lord continues to pour out upon us his Holy Spirit of love and mercy in the sacraments of baptism and Eucharist!

Today in the Eucharist we celebrate Easter, in fact every Sunday is a small celebration of Easter. 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 proclaim the good news of the resurrection so that all may believe and be baptized and have their sins forgiven. The Holy Spirit will help us build small 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! And the Holy Spirit will help us to be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful! (Lk 6:36; CSB) Again, a happy Easter to all of you! Amen!

EASTER VIGIL (Year A) – 11th April 2020

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

  • Genesis 1:1-2:2;
  • Exodus 14:15-15:1;
  • Romans 6:3-11
  • Matthew 28:1-10 

A Happy Easter to all of you! The readings tonight tell us that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead and that we rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter in the sacrament of Baptism through the power of the Holy Spirit!

The first reading from the book of Genesis tells us that God created the universe in 7 days! God’s creation is not only “very good”, but God’s creation is perfect! The number 7 here symbolizes fullness, completeness, and perfection!

The first reading tells us that on the first day God created light! God separated light from the darkness to make the day and the night. On the second day God created the vault (arched roof) of heaven separating the waters above from the waters below. On the third day God separated the waters below from the land; and God created the vegetations, the plants and the trees! On the fourth day God created the sun, the moon and the stars. On the fifth day God created the fishes and the birds. On the sixth day God created the reptiles, the cattle, and the wild beasts; and God created human beings, the climax of God’s creation!

Human beings were created in the image and likeness of God, and like God human beings were given dominion over the fishes, the birds, the reptiles, the cattle, and the wild beasts! God “handed over” his creation to human beings and God rested on the seventh day!

But alas, the very next chapter of Genesis (chapter 3) tells us that human beings sinned against God and brought death to the world!

But the gospel (good news) tonight tells us that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead! He has destroyed sin and death! The gospel tonight tells us that the tomb in which Jesus was buried was empty; and that the angel of the Lord descended from heaven and told the women that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead!

But more importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus himself appeared to the two women, Mary of Magdala and Mary mother of James and told them to tell the disciples that he has risen from the dead and that he was to meet them in Galilee! The two women became “apostles to the apostles”! They became the “first apostles”!

But most importantly, the letter to the Romans tells us that in Baptism we die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter through the power of the Holy Spirit! Thus we read:

“When we were baptized in Christ Jesus we were baptized in his death; in other words, when we were baptized we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life.”! (Rm 6:3-4)

Finally, the book of Exodus tells us that the crossing of the Red Sea and the destruction of the Egyptians are a symbol of our Baptism! The waters of the Red Sea are the waters of Baptism – the waters of the Holy Spirit!

Thus at the blessing of the baptismal water and as the priest lowers the Easter candle into the water, the priest says: “We ask you, Father, with your Son to send the Holy Spirit upon the waters of this font.”! And as the priest holds the candle in the water, the priest says: “May all who are buried with Christ in the death of baptism rise also with him to newness of life.”!

The Holy Spirit destroys sin and death and raises us to the new life of Easter! Thus after baptism we wear white garments! The garments of heaven! The garments of the children of God! The garments of purity! Thus we read in the book of Revelation: “they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb.”! (Rv 7:14)

The Baptized are then presented with lighted candles, lighted from the Easter candle! The Easter candle is the light of Christ! Thus the Easter candle is marked with a cross, with the Greek alphabets Alpha and Omega, and with five grains of incense symbolizing the five wounds of Jesus Christ!

The light of Christ is the light of faith, the light of life and joy, and the light of goodness and good works (NJB/8:12b); as opposed to the darkness of the Devil, the darkness of unbelief, the darkness of death and misery, the darkness of evil and sin!

Our catechumens will also receive the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist tonight and every Sunday, so that they will grow in the new life of Easter! And after every Sunday Mass they will be sent on a mission to proclaim the good news, so that others may also believe and be baptized and be saved! The word Mass comes from a Latin word meaning mission!

But before our catechumens are baptized tonight, they will have to profess their faith by answering 3 questions! The book of Genesis tells us about God the Father, the gospel of Matthew tells us about God the Son, the book of Exodus tells us about the Waters of God the Holy Spirit, and the letter to the Romans tells us about Baptism!

Our catechumens will be asked if they believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Sprit, and if they answer “I do” to all 3 questions they will be baptized “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”!

But even before they answer the 3 questions of faith, they will have to answer the 3 questions of rejection of Satan the Devil! Satan asks us not to believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit! Satan asks us not to be baptized! Satan asks us to remain in sin and death! Satan asks us to remain with him in Hell!

But tonight we reject Satan and we profess our faith in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit! Tonight Mother Church will baptize our catechumens in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit! Let us now begin the Liturgy of Baptism! A Happy Easter to all of you!

Amen!

 

PASSION SUNDAY / PALM SUNDAY (Year A, B, C) – 5th April 2020

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

  • Mathew 21:1-11;
  • Isaiah 50:4-7;
  • Psalm 21:8-9. 17-20. 23-24. R. v. 2;
  • Philippians 2:6-11
  • Matthew 26:14 – 27:66 (Shorter form 27:11-54)

Today is “Passion Sunday” or “Palm Sunday” or “Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion”! The readings today tell us that the passion (suffering and death) of our Lord is victorious, glorious, triumphant, resurrection, life, and life-giving! The palm symbolizes glory, life, hope, victory, triumph, and resurrection! (HWK, CG, Penang)

The gospel today tells us that immediately after the death of our Lord Jesus Christ the veil of the temple was torn in two, that is, the Holy of Holies where God is present will not be accessible only to the High Priest and only once a year on the day of Atonement; but it will be accessible to all and everyday of the year! (CSB/HCSB)

The gospel also tells us that immediately after the death of Jesus the bodies of many holy men rose from the dead! And finally the gospel tells us that the pagan centurion and his soldiers believed in Jesus and professed their faith: “In truth this was a son of God.”!

Thus we read: “But Jesus again crying out in a loud voice, yielded up his spirit. At that, the veil of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked; the rocks were split; the tombs opened and the bodies of many holy men rose from the dead, and these, after his resurrection, came out of the tombs, entered the Holy City and appeared to a number of people. Meanwhile the centurion, together with the others guarding Jesus, had seen the earthquake and all that was taking place, and they were terrified and said, ‘In truth this was a son of God.’”! (Mt 27:51-54)

Again, the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ is victorious, glorious, triumphant, resurrection, life, and life-giving!

The second reading also tells us that the passion of Jesus Christ is victorious and glorious! Thus we read in the second reading:

“His state was divine, yet Christ Jesus did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave, and became as men are, and being as all men are, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross.

But God raised him high and gave him the name which is above all other names so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”! (Ph 2:6-11)

Finally, the first gospel (Mt 21:1-11/Blessing of the palms) also tells us that the passion of Jesus is victorious and glorious! The first gospel tells us that Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem to undergo his passion is triumphant, victorious and glorious! (HCSB/NJBC): “A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna (Praise/HCSB) to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!’” (Mt 21:8-9)

The palms are to be put close to the crucifix to show that the cross is glorious!! 

Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday) begins Holy Week! On Holy Thursday we will celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Washing of feet)! On Good Friday we will celebrate the Lord’s Passion (Veneration/Kissing of the Cross)! And on Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday we will celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord (Baptism and Renewal of Baptism)! A Happy and Holy Week to all of you! Amen!

5th Sunday of Lent (Year A) – 29th March 2020

Theme: IN BAPTISM JESUS RAISES US FROM DEATH AND IN BAPTISM JESUS PREVENTS US FROM SIN AND DEATH WITH HIS GRACE SO THAT WE WILL NOT SIN AND DIE ANYMORE

  • Ezekiel 37:12-14;
  • Psalm 129 (130). R/ v. 7;
  • Romans 8:8-11
  • John 11:1-45 (Shorter Form, verses 3-7. 17. 20-27. 33-45)

Today is the 5th Sunday of Lent, and next Sunday will be Passion/Palm Sunday, and the Sunday after that will be Easter Sunday! Again, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter. Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the sacrament of baptism on Easter Vigil night! Again, the readings today tell us about baptism. The readings today tell us about the great themes of baptism, namely, faith, resurrection, life, the Holy Spirit and repentance.

The gospel today tells us that Jesus is the resurrection and the life, and whoever believes in him even though he dies he will live, and whoever lives and believes in him will never die! The gospel tells us that whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the one who was to come into the world will be raised from death!

Again, Jesus is the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in him even though he dies he will live and whoever lives and believes in him will never die.

The gospel today tells us that Jesus will raise us up from the dead on the last day. But more than that, the gospel tells us that Jesus will raise us up from the dead here and now in the sacrament of baptism.

And more than that, the gospel tells us that Jesus will not only raise us up from the dead here and now, but he will also prevent us from sin and death here and now with the grace of baptism, so that we will not sin and die anymore!

Mary was prevented from sin and death by the grace of Jesus Christ! That is why we Catholics believe in the “Immaculate conception”, that is, Mary was conceived without sin to prepare her to be the Mother of God!

Again, in baptism, Jesus raises us up from death, here and now; and in baptism Jesus Christ also prevents us from sin and death by his grace, so that we will not sin and die anymore!

Thus we read in the gospel today:

“Jesus said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ‘Yes Lord,’ Martha said ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world.’ Jesus cried in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, here! Come out!’ The dead man came out.” (Jn 11: 25-27. 43-44; SM)

The second reading follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading tells us that Jesus Christ raises us from the dead through the power of the Holy Spirit. The second reading tells us that just as Jesus Christ was raised from the dead by the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus will also raise us from the dead through the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus we read in the second reading:

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, then he who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your own mortal bodies through the Spirit living in you.” (Rm 8:11; SM)

The waters of baptism are not just holy water, but the waters of baptism are waters of the Holy Spirit! Only the Holy Spirit can destroy sin and death and give us new life! We enter and leave the church by signing ourselves with the sign of the cross and with holy water to remind ourselves of our baptism!

The first reading also follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us that we are raised to life by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The first reading is a prediction of the restoration of Israel from the Babylonian exile, but more importantly, for us Christians, it is a prophecy of the resurrection from the dead through the power of the Holy Spirit! Thus we read in the first reading:

“You will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you from your graves, my people. And I shall put my spirit in you, and you will live.” (Ezk 37:13-14; SM)

The responsorial psalm is a penitential psalm. It is a prayer for pardon and mercy. The responsorial psalm has four stanzas.

The first stanza tells us that the psalmist cries to God (vv. 1-2). The second stanza tells us that the psalmist prays for God’s mercy and forgiveness (vv. 3-4). The third stanza tells us that the psalmist trusts in God’s mercy and forgiveness (vv. 5-6). The fourth stanza tells us that the whole community must trust in God’s mercy and forgiveness (vv. 7-8). (CSB)

Thus the response of the responsorial psalm which is taken from the fourth stanza:

“With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.” (Ps 129 (130): 7; SM)

Again, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter. Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the sacrament of baptism on Easter Vigil night. That is why during this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms to the poor. A happy Lent to all of you! Amen!