SOLEMNITY OF MARY, MOTHER OF GOD (A, B, C)

Theme: MARY, MOTHER OF GOD THROUGH WHOM WE ARE BLESSED WITH JESUS OUR SAVIOR

  • Numbers 6:22-27;
  • Psalm 66:2-3. 5. 6. 8. R/ v. 2;
  • Galatians 4:4-7
  • Luke 2:16-21

1. A Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you! Today we celebrate the Octave Day of Christmas, that is, the eighth day of Christmas! Like Easter, Christmas is an important feast. That is why we celebrate it in eight days! But Christmas season does not end here! It continues up to Epiphany (5th January) and the Baptism of the Lord (12th January)!

Today we also celebrate New Year’s Day! The first and most important thing to do on New Year’s Day is to thank God for the many blessings of the past year and to ask God to continue to bless us with even more blessings for the New Year!

That is why the first reading today tells us about the Priestly blessing or the Aronite (Aaron) blessing, that is, the Priests are to bless the people with these words:

“May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord let his face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you peace.” (Nb 6:24-26; Sunday Missal (SM)) 

That is, May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord let his face smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show favor to you and bring you peace, well-being, wholeness, prosperity, happiness, shalom, salvation.

2. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. In the responsorial psalm we ask God to bless us so that others may see God’s blessings on us and in us and come to worship our God! Thus we responded three times:

“O God, be gracious and bless us.” (Ps 66:2; SM)

And thus the first and third stanzas of the responsorial psalm:

“God, be gracious and bless us and let your face shed its light upon us. So will your ways be known upon earth and all nations learn your saving help.” (vv. 2-3; SM)

“Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you. May God still give us his blessing till the ends of the earth revere him.” (vv. 6-8; SM)

3. But more importantly, today we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God! We celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God because it is through Mary that we are blessed with Jesus our Savior! That is what the gospel today tells us in today’s liturgy! Thus the caption of the gospel today:

“They found Mary and Joseph and the babe …. When the eighth day came, they gave him the name Jesus.”

4. But most importantly, the second reading tells us that it is through Jesus that we are blessed with the Holy Spirit and we become the sons and daughters of God and brothers and sisters to one another! Brotherhood, Sisterhood, Fraternity!

5. Today we also celebrate World Day of Peace! And our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has a special message not only for us but for the whole world! And the message is themed: “Fraternity, the Foundation and Pathway to Peace.”

The Pope tells us in his message that we were created to be brothers and sisters with Adam and Eve as our father and mother, but we did not live up to our calling. We fight and kill each other as Cain killed Abel.

But more importantly, the Pope tells us that God our Father sent his Son Jesus Christ to save us! And it is through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ that he gave us the Holy Spirit making us into sons and daughters of God our Father and brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ!

And this brotherhood and sisterhood, this fraternity is the foundation and pathway to peace! The pope’s message is very long. It consists of ten sections. We should at least read sections two ( Where is your brother?” (Gen 4:9)) and three ( “And you will all be brothers” (Mt 23:8))!   

Again, a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you! Again, today New Year’s Day we thank God for the many blessings of the past year 2013 and we ask God to continue to bless us with even more blessings in the New Year 2021, especially with the blessings of Peace, Shalom, Salvation! Amen!

CHRIST THE KING (Year A) – 22nd Nov 2020

Theme: JESUS CHRIST WILL COME A SECOND TIME AS KING OF THE UNIVERSE

  • Ezekiel 34:11-12. 15-17;
  • Psalm 22 (23): 1-3. 5-6. R/ v. 1;
  • 1 Corinthians 15:20-26. 28
  • Matthew 25:31-46

1. Today is the 34th Sunday or the last Sunday in Ordinary Time in Liturgical Year A. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. We celebrate the feast of Christ the King on the last Sunday of the liturgical year, because we believe that at the end of the world, Jesus Christ will come a second time as King of the universe! 

    The gospel today tells us of the second coming of Jesus Christ as king of the universe! He will judge all the peoples. Those who accepted the gospel will enter heaven, but those who rejected the gospel will not enter heaven! The hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick and in prison in today’s gospel refer to “one of the least of these brothers of mine” (Mt 25:40), that is, the disciples, the Christian Missionaries who proclaim the gospel.   (CSB/Fuller) Acceptance of the disciples means acceptance of the gospel, rejection of the disciples means rejection of the gospel! Thus we read in the gospel today:

    “Then the virtuous will say to the King in reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome; naked and clothe you; sick or in prison and go to see you?’ And the King will answer, ‘I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.’” (Mt 25: 37-40)

    We have therefore to proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth so that all may believe and be saved!

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the Lord is not only king and judge, but he is also shepherd and savior! Thus we read in the first reading:

    “The Lord says this: I am going to look after my flock myself and keep all of it in view. As a shepherd keeps all his flock in view when he stands up in the middle of his scattered sheep, so shall I keep my sheep in view. I shall rescue them from wherever they have been scattered during the mist and darkness. I myself will pasture my sheep, I myself will show them where to rest – it is the Lord who speaks. I shall look for the lost one, bring back the stray, bandage the wounded and make the weak strong. I shall watch over the fat and healthy. I shall be a true shepherd to them.” (Ezk 34:11-12. 15-16)     

    The first reading is an outline of the good shepherd found in John 10:11-18! Thus we read in John 10:14-15:

    “I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep.” (NJB)

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is on the good shepherd. (NJB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.” (Ps 22 (23): 1) And thus the responsorial psalm:

    “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose. Near restful waters he leads me, to revive my drooping spirit. He guides me along the right path; he is true to his name.” (Ps 22 (23): 1-3/stanzas 1 and 2)            

    The second part of the responsorial psalm is on the host of a banquet. It is related to the good shepherd. Just as the good shepherd leads and provides food and drink for the sheep, the host of a banquet provides food and drink for the guests! (NJBC) Thus we read in stanzas three and four of the responsorial psalm:

    “You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes. My head you have anointed with oil; my cup is overflowing. 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 (23): 5-6)

4. Finally, and most importantly, the second reading tells us that Jesus Christ will come a second time and he will destroy death forever, and the dead will rise to a new life , and he will hand over the kingdom to God the Father so that God may be all in all! Thus we read in the second reading:

    “Just as all men die in Adam, so all men will be brought to life in Christ; but all of them in their proper order: Christ as the first-fruits and then, after the coming of Christ, those who belong to him. After that will come the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, having done away with every sovereignty, authority and power. For he must be king until he has put all his enemies under his feet and the last of the enemies to be destroyed is death. And when everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will be subject in his turn to the One who subjected all things to him, so that God may be all in all.” (1 Co 15: 22-26. 28)       

5. Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink is blood, and the Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth until the second coming of Jesus Christ. And when Jesus Christ comes a second time he will take us all to heaven!

                                                                                                                                    Amen!

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

Theme: PETER: THE FIRST POPE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All Souls (C) – Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed – 2nd Nov 2019

Theme: WE PRAY FOR ALL OUR FAITHFUL DEPARTED

  • Isaiah 25:6-9;
  • Psalm 26:1. 4. 7-9. 13-14. Alt. R/ v. 13;
  • Romans 5:5-11
  • Luke 7:11-17

Today we celebrate All Souls Day, that is, the commemoration of all the faithful departed. Today we pray for all the faithful departed, especially for our family members, friends and community. We pray that God may bring them to heaven!

We pray for them, because we believe that God is love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation! We believe that Jesus Christ has died and risen from the dead and given us the Holy Spirit to raise us from our spiritual death and to take us to heaven!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus raised a dead man to life! But strictly speaking it was not the resurrection, because the raised man had to die again. It was only resuscitation. It only prefigures the resurrection.

More importantly, and most importantly, the second reading tells us that through his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Jesus has raised us from our spiritual death and he will bring us to heaven! Thus we read:

“Having died to make us righteous, is it likely that he would now fail to save us from God’s anger? When we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, we were still enemies; now that we have been reconciled, surely we may count on being saved by the life of his Son?” (Rm 5:9-10; SM)  

Indeed the first reading prefigures heaven! It is an image of heaven! The first reading tells us that there will be a big banquet! There will be no more mourning! Death will be destroyed forever! There will be no more tears! There will be salvation!

Thus in the responsorial psalm we pray with faith and hope that our faithful departed will go to heaven! Thus the alternative response:

“I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.” (Ps 26:13; SM)

That is, I am sure I shall see God in heaven!

Again, today, All Souls Day, we pray for all our faithful departed. We pray that the Lord may take them to heaven. And thus we pray:

    “Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.”    

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 14th October 2018

Theme: ATTACHMENT TO WEALTH IS AN OBSTACLE TO CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIP

  • Wisdom 7:7-11;
  • Psalm 89 (90): 12-17. R/ v. 14;
  • Hebrews 4:12-13
  • Mark 10:17-30

Today is the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The gospel today tells us that attachment to wealth is an obstacle to Christian discipleship. (Fuller; Faley)

The gospel today tells us that a rich man came to Jesus to look for eternal life. He was a good man because he kept all the commandments of God. He did not kill, he did not commit adultery, he did not steal, etc. But Jesus asked him to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor and follow Jesus. The man went away sad because he had great wealth. He did not follow Jesus and become Jesus’ disciple. He was attached to his wealth. The gospel today tells us to be detached from our wealth and to share our wealth with the poor and the needy and to follow Jesus and become His disciple.

The gospel also tells us that it is very hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. In fact it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God! Again, attachment to wealth is an obstacle to enter the kingdom of God. Again, detach from your wealth, share your wealth with the poor, and enter the kingdom of God! For salvation is “impossible” for men and money, salvation is “possible” only for God!

Finally, the gospel tells us that those who have detached themselves from their wealth and family and followed Jesus will be rewarded a hundred times over with houses, land, mothers, sisters, brothers, children, etc. now in this life and also eternal life in the world to come! That is, they will be rewarded with a Christian community of brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, and children, who will share with them their houses and lands and possessions! And they will also be rewarded with eternal life in heaven!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us to pray for wisdom and not to pray for wealth, power, health or beauty. When we have wisdom we will know the will of God and all the other things will be given to us as well! Thus we read in the first reading:

“In her company all good things came to me, at her hands riches not to be numbered.” (Ws 7:11; SM)

Solomon did not pray for wealth, power or long life, but Solomon prayed for wisdom and God gave Solomon wisdom as well as wealth, fame and long life! (1 K 3:5-15)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us to pray for wisdom. (NJBC; CCB) Thus the first verse of the first stanza:

“Make us know the shortness of our life that we may gain wisdom of heart.” (Ps 89 (90): 12; SM)

The responsorial psalm also asks us to pray for love and joy. Thus the second stanza:

“In the morning, fill us with your love; we shall exult and rejoice all our days. Give us joy to balance our affliction for the years when we knew misfortune.” (Ps 89 (90): 14-15; SM) 

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

“Fill us with your love that we may rejoice.” (Ps 89 (90): 14; SM)

The second reading is a warning; a warning that the word of God is both judgment and salvation. (CSB) The word of God is judgment for those who do not persevere in the faith and salvation for those who persevere in the faith. It is not enough to have faith. We have to persevere in the faith, especially in times of trials, so that the word of God becomes salvation for us!

Today in this Mass we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ, who suffered died and rose from the dead to give us the Holy Spirit; and we ask God our Father through his Son Jesus Christ to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we may be detached from our wealth, share our wealth with the poor and needy, and follow Jesus and become his disciples. And so that we will have the wisdom to know God’s will. We also ask God to help us persevere in the faith, especially in times of great trials. A happy and joyful Sunday to all of you! Amen!

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) – 27th August 2017

Theme: THE CHURCH SAVES US FROM HELL AND BRINGS US TO HEAVEN 

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

1. Today is the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The gospel today tells us that Jesus chose Peter to be the first Pope of the Church! More importantly, the gospel tells us that the Church saves us from hell and brings us to heaven! Thus we read: 

“You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of  heaven; whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.” (Mt 16:18-19; SM) 

All of us know that Christ died on Good Friday and rose from the dead on Easter Sunday! But not all of us know what Christ did on Holy Saturday! On Holy Saturday Christ went to hell to save Adam and Eve our first parents! This we can read from “an ancient homily for Holy Saturday” on “The Lord’s descent into hell” from the Office of Readings for Holy Saturday! Thus we read in 1 Peter 3:19: 

“…. he went to preach to the spirits in prison.” (NJBh) 

And thus we profess in the Apostles’ Creed every Sunday Mass: 

“…. was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; ….” 

Again, the Church saves us from hell and brings us to heaven! The authority to “bind” and “loose” is the Church’s authority to teach, to forgive sins, to exorcise and to excommunicate! (HCSB/NJBC) 

Today our Pope Francis is the direct successor of Peter the first Pope in an unbroken line of 266 Popes! And our Bishops are the direct successors of the Twelve Apostles! 

That is why we pray for our Pope and our Bishops at every Mass! But we have to pray for them even outside Mass! 

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the Lord calls Eliakim to be the master of the palace of king Hezekiah of Judah who lived in the 8th and 7th century Before Christ (BC). One of the functions of the master of the king’s palace was to open and close the door of the king’s palace. Thus we read in the first reading: 

 “I place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; should he open, no one 

shall close, should he close, no one shall open.” (Is 22:22; SM) 

The first reading prefigures and prophesizes the choosing of Peter to open and close the door of the kingdom of heaven! Thus we read: 

“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven”! (Mt 16:19; SM) 

3. The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving for salvation! The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first and second stanzas are a thanksgiving for salvation. (NJBC) 

Particularly, salvation through the Church of Christ! The third stanza from which the response is taken is an expression of confidence in God and a prayer asking God to connue to save us! (HCSB) Particularly through his Church! Thus we responded three times: 

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

4. The second reading is a continuation and a conclusion of the second reading of last Sunday. It is a hymn to the merciful wisdom of God in his plan of salvation! (NJBC/CSB) 

The second reading of last Sunday tells us that the disobedience of the Jews made God show mercy to the pagans and the jealousy of the Jews of the pagans made God show mercy to the Jews and finally the disobedience of the Jews and pagans made God show mercy to all humankind! Such is the merciful wisdom of God in his plan of salvation! 

But the hymn ends with a doxology/praise to God, not only for salvation, but also for creation! Thus the hymn concludes: 

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

Today, we too give glory to God, not only for salvation, but also for creation! We are created in the image of God to be the co-creators of God to create life and not to destroy life! But today we are destroying life and thus the ecological crisis and the environmental destruction! But there is good news! 

In 2014, on 2nd to the 5th of September, in the Sacred Heart Cathedral, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, the Justice and Peace Commission of the Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei gathered and had a meeting on Creation! The vision was “Communion with all Creation” and the mission was “Stewardship of Creation”! 

Science tells us that Creation and humanity are a Community! But Creation and Humanity are not yet in Communion! Creation and Humanity will be in Communion when humanity becomes the stewards of Creation! 

5. Today we thank God for his Church, particularly for our Pope and Bishops, and we continue to pray for them as we pray for them at every Mass! Today we also thank God not only for Salvation, but also for Creation and we ask God to help us to be stewards of Creation so that we will be in Communion with all Creation! Amen! 

17th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A) – 30th July 2017

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

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

Today is the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us to seek first the kingdom of God/heaven and his righteousness/salvation and all the other things will be given to us as well!
The gospel today tells us that the kingdom of God is like a treasure hidden in a field which someone has found, he buries it again, goes off happy and sells all that he owns and buys the field! The gospel also tells us that the kingdom of God is like a merchant looking for fine pearls and when he finds one of great value, he sells all that he owns and he buys the pearl!
The gospel today tells us to sell all that we own and buy the kingdom of God! The gospel today tells us to sell all our houses, cars, business, property, land, etc. in order to buy the kingdom of God! In other words the gospel today tells us to seek first the kingdom of God/heaven and his righteousness/salvation (CSB) and all the other things will be given to us as well! (Mt 6:33)
The pagans seek first the kingdom of the world and its damnation and all they get is sin and death! The pagans seek wealth, power and fame, that is, the three temptations of the Devil (Mt 4:1-11) and all they get is sin and death!
We Christians seek first the kingdom of heaven/God and his righteousness/salvation and all the other things will be given to us as well! We seek first the love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation of God! We seek first the love, joy and peace of God and all the other things, including wealth, power and fame will be given to us as well!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Solomon asked God for wisdom to discern between good and evil so that he can govern God’s people! Solomon did not ask for wealth and long life!
More importantly, the first reading tells us that God was happy with the request of Solomon and God granted Solomon wisdom and more than that, God also gave Solomon riches and long life which Solomon did not ask for! (1Kgs 3:13-14)
Again, seek first the kingdom of God and his salvation and all the other things will be given to us as well!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us to look for God’s law and love and not to look for silver and gold! That is why we responded four times:
“Lord how I love your law!” (Ps 118:97; SM)
The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first stanza tells us to look for God’s law and not to look for silver and gold:
“My part, I have resolved, O Lord, is to obey your word. The law from your mouth means more to me than silver and gold.” (Ps 118:57. 72; SM)

The second stanza tells us that the law of God gives us love:
“Let your love be ready to console me, by your promise to your servant. Let your love come to me and I shall live, for your law is my delight.” (Ps 118:76-77; SM)

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells us that everything works for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose! Everything, good as well as evil, because God can draw good out of evil! That is what Joseph told his brothers in Genesis 50:20:
“The evil you planned to do me has by God’s design been turned to good, to bring about the present result: the survival of a numerous people.” (NJB)
Joseph prefigures Jesus Christ in the New Testament! The Jewish leaders put Jesus Christ to death on the cross, but God raised him from the dead and through him gave the Holy Spirit and saved the whole world! And according to Saint Paul even the Jews who put Jesus Christ to death on the cross will also be saved at the end of the world! (Romans, Chapter 11)

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

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) – 16th July 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(vi) The word of God in the Church.

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

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

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

Easter Sunday (Mass of the Day)

Theme: THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST AND OUR DEATH AND RESURRECTION WITH HIM IN THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM!

  • Acts 10:34. 37-43;
  • Psalm 117:1-2. 16-17. 22-23. R/ v. 24;
  • Colossians 3:1-4
  • John 20:1-9

A Happy and Blessed Easter to all of you! Today we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; and our death and resurrection with him in the sacrament of Baptism!
The gospel today tells us that the Lord has risen from the dead! The gospel tells us that Mary of Magdala went to the tomb early Sunday morning and saw that the stone had been moved away. She ran quickly to Peter and John and told them that the Lord had been taken away and that she did not know where they had put him.
Peter and John ran quickly to the tomb. John reached the tomb first, but did not go in. He bent down and saw the burial cloths on the ground. Peter reached the tomb later and went straight in and saw the burial cloths on the ground and also the cloth that covered Jesus’ head rolled up in a place by itself. John then went into the tomb and saw and believed!
The burial cloths on the ground and the cloth that covered Jesus’ head tell us that the Lord was not stolen by his disciples, but the Lord had risen from the dead; if not, the burial cloths would not be on the ground, but would be taken away, and the cloth that covered Jesus’ head would not be rolled up in a place by itself! Indeed the Lord has risen from the dead!
The first reading tells us that Peter and the Apostles were witnesses to the resurrection of the Lord! They ate and drank with him after his resurrection and they spent forty days with him after his resurrection! (Ac 10:41o; NJB)
More importantly, the first reading tells us that Peter and the Apostles proclaimed the good news of the Lord’s death and resurrection and that whoever believes in him will have their sins forgiven in his name in the sacrament of Baptism! That is why in the Bible, immediately following this first reading, is the “Baptism of the first gentiles”! (Ac 10:44-48; NJB)
The second reading tells us about the sacrament of Baptism! (Col 2:12; NJB) The second reading tells us that in Baptism we have been brought back to life with Jesus Christ and that is why we have to look for the things of heaven! Our thoughts must be on heavenly things and not on the things of the earth, because we have died with Christ and our lives are now hidden with Christ in God. But at the second coming of Jesus Christ at the “parousia”; Jesus Christ will be revealed in all his glory and we will share in the fullness of his glory! (Col 3:4b; NJB)
The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving for salvation in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! Thus we responded three times:

“Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!” Alleluia means Praise the Lord!

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us to praise and thank God for his infinite love! The second stanza tells us that the Lord saves us from death! The third stanza tells us about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! Thus we read in the third stanza:

“The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone.” (Ps 117:22; Mt 21:42; Ac 4:11; CSB)
And it is all God’s work! Thus we read again in the third stanza:
“This is the work of the Lord, a marvel in our eyes.” (Ps 117:23; SM)
That is why we give praise and thanks to God in the response:
“Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!”
That is, “Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord!”
We will now renew our Baptism! We will renew our Baptism with the light of Jesus Christ! The light of the Resurrection! The light that has destroyed the darkness of sin and death! The light that has destroyed the Devil! The light that has destroyed Satan!
The light of Christ is the light of faith as opposed to unbelief which is darkness, the light of Christ is the light of life as opposed to death which is darkness, and the light of Christ is the light of good as opposed to evil which is darkness! (Jn 8:12b; NJB)
More importantly, the three themes are related! For it is in faith that we receive the new and eternal life from God and the life from God is good, because only God is good!
Most importantly, Light will overcome darkness, faith will overcome unbelief, life will overcome death, and good will overcome evil, because Jesus Christ has overcome the Devil! Jesus has overcome Satan!
And the new life that Jesus gives is even better than the old life before sin! Thus we sing in the Easter Proclamation:
“O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!”
We will light our candles from the Easter candle and we will profess our faith in God by answering “I do” to six questions! The first three questions reject Satan and all his works and all his empty promises; because Satan tells us not to believe in God! The second three questions profess our faith in God the Father who created the world, God the Son who saved the world, and God the Holy Spirit who continues to sanctify the world!
After that we will be sprinkled with holy water, that is, the waters of baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit! And we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new and eternal life of Easter! A Happy and Blessed Easter to all of you! Amen!