26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 29th September 2019

Theme: PRACTICE JUSTICE AND CHARITY TOWARDS THE POOR AND NEEDY

  • Amos 6:1. 4-7;
  • Psalm 145:6-10. R/ v. 2;
  • 1 Timothy 6:11-16
  • Luke 16:19-31 

Today is the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today follow the theme of the readings of last Sunday, that is, “Practice Justice and Charity towards the Poor and the Needy”. Last Sunday the first reading from the prophet Amos told us that the rich and the powerful oppressed and exploited the poor and the weak. They practiced social injustice towards the poor and the weak. The prophet Amos preached against social injustice. Amos was a prophet of social justice! Last Sunday the first reading ended with this warning:

“The Lord swears it by the pride of Jacob, ‘Never will I forget a single thing you have done.’” (Am 8:7; SM)

The first reading of this Sunday is also from the prophet Amos. The first reading tells us that the rich and powerful who eat and drink, and sing and play music, and anoint themselves with perfumed oil, and enjoy themselves, will be exiled by the Assyrians. Thus the first reading ends with this warning:

“That is why they will be the first to be exiled; the sprawlers’ revelry is over.” (Am 6:7; SM)

Last Sunday the responsorial psalm told us to praise God who raises the poor:

“Praise the Lord, who raises the poor”. (Ps 112:1. 7; SM)

This Sunday the responsorial psalm tells us to praise God who is just to those who are oppressed, who gives bread to the hungry, who sets prisoners free, who gives sight to the blind, who raises up those who are bowed down, who loves the just, who protects the stranger, and who upholds the widow and orphan. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“My soul, give praise to the Lord”. (Ps 145:2; SM) 

Last Sunday the “long form” of the gospel told us to practice charity:

“And so I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome you into the tents of eternity.” (Lk 16:9; SM)

That is, to make friends with the poor and to share with the poor!

This Sunday the gospel also tells us to practice charity! The gospel today tells us of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus! The sin of the rich man was that he did not practice charity towards the poor man Lazarus! The gospel today tells us of the parable of the rich man who ate and drank sumptuously everyday, while the poor man Lazarus lay at his gate with nothing to eat or drink, not even the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table! Only dogs came to lick his wounds, that is, he was an outcast!

But when Lazarus died he went to heaven! The rich man also died and went to hell! And in his torment in hell he asked Abraham to send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water to quench his thirst. But Abraham replied that the gulf between heaven and hell was too wide for anyone to cross from one side to the other.

In the second part of the gospel the rich man asked Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his five brothers so that they will not come to hell. But Abraham replied that they have Moses and the prophets, they can listen to them. The rich man then told Abraham that they will listen if someone comes to them from the dead! But Abraham replied that if they do not listen to Moses and the prophets they will not listen even if someone rises from the dead! That is, if they do not listen to the Scriptures they will not listen to Jesus even when he rises from the dead!

The gospel today tells us to listen to the Scriptures and to the Risen Lord and to practice charity towards the poor and the needy!

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 we must do the will of God and we must not commit sin, until the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ! (1 Tm 6:13-14; SM) The best way to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is to pray, to do the will of God, to avoid sin, and to be detached from this world!

Coincidentally, the verse that comes immediately before the second reading and the three verses that comes immediately after the second reading follow the theme of the Sunday! They tell us about money! Thus we read:

“‘The love of money is the root of all evils’ and there are some who, pursuing it, have wandered away from the faith and so given their souls any number of fatal wounds.” (1 Tm 6:10; NJB)  

“Instruct those who are rich in this world’s goods that they should not be proud and should set their hopes not on money, which is untrustworthy, but on God who gives us richly all that we need for our happiness. They are to do good and be rich in good works, generous in giving and always ready to share – this is the way they can amass a good capital sum for the future if they want to possess the only life that is real.” (1 Tm 6: 17-19; NJB)

Today we thank God for all our material blessings and we ask the Lord to help us practice justice and charity towards the poor and the needy! God bless you! Amen!

As we celebrate “World Day of Migrants”! we thank God for our “Migrant School” and we ask the Lord to continue to bless our “Migrant School” so that we can continue to love and serve our migrant children! God bless you! Amen!

3rd Sunday of Advent (Year C) – 16th Dec 2018

Theme: WE ARE HAPPY AND JOYFUL BECAUSE THE LORD WILL COME AND SAVE US FROM SIN AND DEATH

  • Zephaniah 3:14-18;
  • Is 12:2-6. R/ v. 6;
  • Philippians 4:4-7
  • Luke 3:10-18

Today is the 3rd Sunday of Advent; Liturgical Year C. Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time.

The gospel today tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by practicing charity and justice! The gospel today tells us that if we have two shirts we must give one to the person who has none. And if we have something to eat we must share it with the one who has nothing to eat.

The gospel also tells us to practice justice. The gospel tells us that the tax collectors must not collect more than the taxes and the soldiers must not extort. In short, the gospel tells us that we must not accept bribes and we must not give bribes, and we must not practice corruption.

More importantly, the gospel tells us that when Jesus Christ comes he will baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire! That is, he will burn away our sins with the fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of God’s love! God loves the sinner, but he hates the sins!

Many years ago when our Church in Sabah was still one Diocese we had a retreat with an Australian Jesuit priest as our retreat master. During “confession” we were asked to write down our sins on pieces of paper and to show them to the other priests. After that we were to burn the pieces of paper with the flame/fire of the Paschal/Easter candle and to throw the pieces of paper into a metal dustbin to be burnt.

The retreat master explained that the flame/fire of the Paschal/Easter candle is the fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of God’s love, and the metal bin where the pieces of paper were burnt is hell! He explained that hell is the love of God experienced by the sinner for his conversion and for his salvation!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us about the joy of salvation! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Shout for joy, daughter of Zion, Israel, shout aloud! Rejoice, exult with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! …. He will exult with joy over you, he will renew you by his love; he will dance with shouts of joy for you as on a day of festival.” (Zp 3:14. 17b-18a; SM)

Note that not only will we be happy for our salvation, but God will also be happy for our salvation!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us about the joy of salvation! Thus the response:

“Sing and shout for joy for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” (Is 12:6; SM)

And thus the first stanza:

“Truly, God is my salvation, I trust, I shall not fear. For the Lord is my strength, my song, he became my savior. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Is 12:2-3; SM)

The second reading also tells us about the joy and happiness of salvation! Thus we read in the second reading:

“I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness.” (Ph 4:4; SM)

The second reading is quoted in today’s “Entrance Antiphon”: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.” (Ph 4:4-5; SM)

This Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, is named after the “Entrance Antiphon”. It is called “Rejoice Sunday” or “Joyful Sunday” or “Happy Sunday”! We are happy and joyful because we are more than half way through to Christmas!

That is why we light the pink (rose) candle, the priest wears a pink vestment and the Mass servers wear pink cinctures! Pink (rose) color symbolizes joy and happiness!

The pink (rose) vestment is used only twice a year, that is, on the Third Sunday of Advent and on the Fourth Sunday of Lent!

Again, Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time!

We prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by doing what the gospel today tells us to do. The gospel today tells us to practice charity and justice. The gospel tells us to share our money and our possessions with the poor and the needy. The gospel also tells us to practice justice, that is, we are not to accept or give bribes and we are not to practice corruption. We are to pay our employees a just wage, but employees must also be just to their employers by doing their work! Justice works both ways!

We also prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by doing what the second reading tells us, that is, we are to be tolerant, that is, we are to be kind (CSB) to one another as the Lord is very near!

Again, a happy and joyful Sunday to all of you! Amen!

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 15th July 2018

Theme: THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH

  • Amos 7:12-15;
  • Psalm 84 (85): 9-14. R/ v. 8;
  • Ephesians 1:3-10 (Shorter Form)
  • Mark 6:7-13

Today is the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us about the mission of the Church. The gospel today tells us that Jesus sent out the Twelve to preach repentance in word and in deed!

He sent them out two by two, a symbol of community, because the Church is a community! (CCB; CS) That is why our religious priests, brothers and sisters live in communities of four! And that is why we build BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities)! The Church is a community of communities of love and unity!

He instructed them not to take anything for the journey, no food, no “backpack”, no money, and not even a spare tunic/shirt! (CCB) They were to depend on God for everything! They were to believe in providence! Again, that is why our religious priests, brothers and sisters take the vow of poverty/simplicity!

And they were to preach repentance, that is, to turn away from sin and the world, and to turn to God, to the God of Jesus Christ, the God of love! Only the God of love can save us! They were to cast out devils and cure the sick!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us about the mission of the Church. The mission of the Church is to be the prophet of God. She has to speak the word of God to society and to governments, especially on issues of justice and peace!

The first reading tells us that the prophet Amos prophesied against the Northern Kingdom of Israel for injustices and for oppressing of the poor and the weak. Amos was then told by the priest Amaziah to go back to Judah to make his living there as a professional prophet. But Amos replied that he was not a professional prophet, but he was called by God! He was not a prophet by profession, but a prophet by vocation! (Craghan)

Today the Church is to be the prophet of God, to speak the word of God to society and governments, especially on issues of social justice and peace! The Church must not be involved in party politics, but the Church must be involved in politics of justice and peace!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a prayer for mercy and salvation, and for justice and peace! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Let us see, O lord, your mercy and give us your saving help.” (Ps 84 (85): 8; SM)  

And thus verses 9, 11, 12 and 14 of the responsorial psalm:

“I will hear what the Lord God has to say, a voice that speaks of peace, peace for his people. …. Mercy and faithfulness have met; justice and peace have embraced. Faithfulness shall spring from the earth and justice look down from heaven. …. Justice shall march before him and peace shall follow his steps.” (SM)

The word “justice” appears three times and the word “peace” appears four times in this short responsorial psalm! The themes of “justice” and “peace” are related! There can be no peace without justice!

There can be no peace without justice, but there can be no justice without forgiveness! (Pope John Paul II)

Peace! Shalom! Salvation!

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again, the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells us about God’s plan of salvation fulfilled in Jesus Christ! (CSB)

The second reading tells us that this plan of salvation in Jesus Christ is a blessing, a favor, a grace and a free gift in Jesus Christ! (NJBC)

Finally, the second reading tells us that God’s plan of salvation in Jesus Christ includes all of creation and the whole universes! (Fuller)

How inspiring! How inspiring!

Today in this Mass, we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ, and we thank God for the Twelve Apostles, and we thank God for his Church; and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit, so that as a Church and as individual Christians, we may preach repentance, cast out devils and cure the sick! And so that as a Church and as individual Christians we may speak God’s word to society and governments on issues of justice and peace! A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you! Amen!

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Catechetical Sunday – 24th September 2017

Theme: THE LORD IS NOT ONLY JUST, BUT THE LORD IS ALSO GENEROUS 

  • Isaiah 55:6-9; 
  • Psalm 144:2-3. 8-9. 17-18. R/ v. 18; 
  • Philippians 1:20-24. 27 
  • Matthew 20:1-16 

Today is the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The gospel today tells us that the Lord is not only just, but the Lord is also generous! The gospel parable today tells us that a landowner hired workers for his vineyard. He hired some at 6 am, some at 9 am, some at 12 noon, some at 3 pm and some at 5 pm. (NJBC) 

More importantly, the gospel tells us that he paid the last workers as much as he paid the first workers! The first workers who worked from 6 am to 6 pm under the hot sun were paid one silver coin, but the last workers who worked for only one hour in the evening sun were also paid one silver coin, that is, a day’s wage! The landowner was not unjust, but he was generous! He was gracious! 

Most importantly, the gospel concludes by telling us that the last will be first and the first last! That is, the pagans and sinners who are last will be the first to repent and believe the good news and thus the first to receive the grace of God and enter the Kingdom of God; but the Jews who are first, who are the chosen people of God, will be the last to repent and believe the good news and thus will be the last to receive the grace of God and enter the King of God! (NJB) 

The first reading tells us to repent when there is still time! More importantly, the first reading tells us that God is merciful and forgiving! God is not like man, man never forgives, but God always forgives! (HCSB) Thus we read in the first reading: 

“Seek the Lord while he is still to be found, call to him while he is still near. Let the wicked man abandon his way, the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn back to the Lord who will take pity on him, to our God who is rich in forgiving; for my thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways not your ways – it is the Lord who speaks.” (Is 55:6-8; SM) 

The responsorial psalm also tells us to repent. The responsorial psalm tells us to repent 

and call on the Lord! Thus we responded three times: 

“The Lord is close to all who call him.” (Ps 144:18; SM) 

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. Again, stanzas two and three tell us to repent because the Lord is kind, compassionate, loving and good! Thus we read in stanzas two and three: 

“The Lord is kind and full of compassion, slow to anger, abounding in love. How good is the Lord to all, compassionate to all his creatures. The Lord is just in all his ways and loving in all his deeds. He is close to all who call him, who call on him from their hearts.” (Ps 144: 8-9. 17-18; SM) 

 The second reading also has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells us that Saint Paul was in a dilemma. He did not know what to choose; to choose to die and to be with Christ in heaven forever or to choose to live and work for the good of the Philippians! Thus we read in the second reading: 

“I am caught in this dilemma: I want to be gone and be with Christ, which would be very much the better, but for me to stay alive in this body is a more urgent need for your sake.” (Ph 1:23-24: SM) 

Besides telling us about the dilemma of Saint Paul, the second reading has another very important thing to tell us! The second reading tells us about the meaning of life! 

What do we live for? What is the meaning of life? How to be happy? The second reading tells us that the meaning of life is to work for the good of others and one day to be with Jesus Christ in heaven forever! 

Today is also “Catechetical Sunday” and Bishop Cornelius Piong has a special message for us, particularly for parents and catechists! Bishop Cornelius is the President of the Malaysian Catechetical Commission. To begin with, Catechetic is about teaching the faith. Bishop Cornelius tells parents and catechists that in order to grow in the faith and to teach the faith, parents and catechists must have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They must believe in the power of the Holy Spirit and be empowered with the Holy Spirit. And they must belong to the Christian community. In this way parents and catechists can make Jesus Christ known, loved and served! In this way parents and catechists can teach the faith to their children and to their catechumens! Thus we read in the message: 

“What steps should we take in order to build and strengthen our Christian faith? 

Firstly, we need to be convinced of the need to build and strengthen our Christian faith through our close relationship with the person of Christ (Jn 15:4-5, Col 2:6-7). 

Secondly, we need to be convinced that our Christian faith needs the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our helper. He teaches us and reminds us of the teaching of Christ (Jn 14:26). Thirdly, we need to be convinced that our Christian faith needs the support and protection of our Christian communities (Acts 2:41-47). Our role and responsibility as parents and catechists in making Jesus better known, loved and served must be guided and built on the three faith formation foundations mentioned above.” (Message on Catechetical Sunday, 2014) 

A happy and blessed Catechetical Sunday to all of you! Amen! 

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time  (Year A) – 10th September 2017

Theme: BROTHERLY CORRECTION 

  • Ezekiel 33:7-9; 
  • Psalm 94:1-2. 6-9. R/ v. 8; 
  • Romans 13:8-10 
  • Matthew 18:15-20 

1. Today is the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us about brotherly correction! The gospel today tells us that if a brother does wrong you are to correct him and if he listens to you then you will have saved him! But if he does not listen to you then you are to take with you one or two others to correct him, but if he still does not listen to you then you are to report him to the Community or the Church, but if he does not listen to the Community or the Church then he can be excommunicated! 

But more importantly, the gospel today tells us to pray for him. The gospel today tells us that when two or three are gathered in Jesus Christ’s name then he will be in their midst! God the Father will listen to their prayers because Jesus Christ is in their midst! 

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us about brotherly correction. The first reading tells us that when a wicked man commits sins and dies and you did not correct him then you will be held responsible for his sin and death, but if you have corrected him, but he still sins and dies then you will not be held responsible for his sin and death. You will have saved your life! Thus we read in the first reading: 

“If I say to a wicked man: Wicked wretch, you are to die, and you do not speak to 

warn the wicked man to renounce his ways, then he shall die for his sin, but I will hold you responsible for his death. If, however, you do warn a wicked man to renounce his ways and repent, and he does not repent, then he shall die for his sin, but you yourself will have saved your life.” (Ezk 33:8-9; SM) 

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a call to repentance. That is, to turn away from sin and death and to turn to God who is love and life! Thus the response: 

“O that today you would listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts.” (Ps 94:8; SM) 

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us that God saves us! 

The second stanza tells us that God created us and saves us! (NJBC) The third stanza tells us to repent, that is, to turn away from sin and death and to turn to God who is love and life! Thus the third stanza from which the response is taken: 

“O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as on that day at Massah in the desert when your fathers put me to the test; when they tried me, though they saw my work.’” (Ps 94:7b-9; SM) 

The word “Meribah” means to “quarrel” with God and the word “Massah” means to “test” God! The Israelites quarreled with God and tested God, that is, they did not believe in God though they saw his work in creation and salvation! 

4. The second reading tells us about love! The second reading tells us that we owe love to one another! The second reading also tells us that love is the fulfillment of the law! Love is the only law! Love is above the law! The only law is love! Love and do what you will! 

Love is the greatest commandment of the law! The second reading also tells us that love will not hurt our neighbor! 

That is why it is most important that we do brotherly correction with love, mercy, and forgiveness and we will save our brother! But if we do brotherly correction out of hate, revenge, jealousy, etc., we will not save our brother nor will we save ourselves! Thus we read in the second reading: 

“Avoid getting into debt, except the debt of mutual love. If you love your fellow 

men you have carried out your obligations. All the commandments: You shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, and so on, are summed up in this single commandment: You must love your neighbor as yourself. Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbor; that is why it is the answer to every one of the commandments.” (Rm 13:8-10; SM) 

5. Today we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ our brother and Savior and we ask God our Father to give us the Holy Spirit of his Son Jesus Christ through his Son Jesus Christ so that we will do brotherly correction as an individual, as a group/community and as a Community/Church and save our brother from sin and death! 

Amen! 

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) – 20th August 2017

Theme: JESUS SAVES NOT ONLY THE JEWS BUT ALSO THE PAGANS

  • Isaiah 56:1. 6-7;
  • Psalm 66:2-3. 5-6. 8. R/ v.4;
  • Romans 11:13-15. 29-32
  • Matthew 15:21-28

Today is the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The gospel today tells us that Jesus does not only save the Jews, but he also saves the non-Jews, the pagans, the gentiles! He saves not only the good and holy people, but he also saves the bad and evil people! He saves all peoples! He is the Savior of the whole world! He is the only Savior of the world!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus delivered the daughter of the Canaanite woman from the torment of the devil! More importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus saved the daughter of the Canaanite woman from the devil, because of the Canaanite woman’s “great faith”! She is the only one in the whole gospel of Matthew to have “great faith”! (NJBC)

Indeed, the pagans are saved because of their faith in Jesus, but the Jews are not saved because they do not believe in Jesus!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. Again, the first reading tells us that the Jews will be saved if they “believe in the Lord and keep his commandments” (CSB), that is, if they love and serve God and neighbor, but again, they will not be saved if they do not believe in God and do not keep his commandments, that is, if they do not love and serve God and do not love and serve their neighbor. Thus we read:

    “Thus says the Lord: Have a care for justice, act with integrity, for soon my salvation will come and my integrity be manifest.” (Is 56:1; SM)

But more importantly, the first reading tells us that the pagans, the foreigners, will be saved because they “believe in the Lord and keep his commandments”, that is, they love and serve God! Thus we read:

“Foreigners who have attached themselves to the Lord to serve him and to love his name and be his servants – these I will bring to my holy mountain.” (Is 56:6a. 7a; SM)       

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a prayer to God asking God to bless us so that seeing the blessings of God upon us; all the nations will come to praise and worship our God! (CSB) Thus we responded three times:

“Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.” (Ps 66:4; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza asks God to bless us so that seeing the blessings of God upon us; all the nations will praise and worship our God! The second stanza asks all the nations to praise God who rules the world with justice! And the third stanza asks God to continue to bless us until all the nations of the earth praise and worship him! (HCSB)

The second reading tells us that not only the pagans who believe in Jesus will be saved, but even the Jews who rejected him and crucified him will also be saved! They will be saved by the mercy of God! The word “mercy” is mentioned four times in the second paragraph of the second reading! Thus we read:

“Just as you changed from being disobedient to God, and now enjoy mercy because of their disobedience, so those who are disobedient now – and only because of the mercy shown to you – will also enjoy mercy eventually. God has imprisoned all men in their own disobedience only to show mercy to all mankind.” (Rm 11:30-32; SM)

Again, we are saved not by a God of law, justice, punishment and damnation; but we are saved by a God of love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation!

The Gospel Acclamation today tells us that “Jesus proclaimed the Good News”! (Mt 4:23; SM) The Gospel Acclamation today also tells us to proclaim the Good News! We proclaim the Good News by our words, actions and lifestyles! Today we can proclaim the Good News through the internet, the website, the email, the facebook, etc. We can proclaim the Good News by our love and service, by our good works, by our social works, e.g. our “Migrant School”, our “Society of Saint Vincent de Paul” which help the poor and the needy! We can also proclaim the Good News by our “BECs” (Basic Ecclesial Communities). Our “BECs” are communities of love and unity and are signs and sacraments of salvation for the whole world! We can also proclaim the Good News inside the Church and within the Church through the Sunday Mass, the Life in the Spirit Seminars, the Alpha Course, the Neo-Catechumenal Communities, the BECs, the Bible-Sharing Groups, etc.! Today, we thank God for the gift of salvation and we ask God to help us proclaim the Good News so that all may believe and be saved! Amen!

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Theme: WE ARE THE LIGHT THAT SHOWS PEOPLE THE WAY TO GOD 

  • Isaiah 58:7-10
  • Psalm 111:4-9. R. v. 4
  • 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
  • John 8:12
  • Matthew 5:13-16

Today is the 5th Sunday of the Year, and the Church has chosen the readings of today to tell us that we are the light that shows people the way to God! In the New Testament light symbolizes: (i) anything that shows the way to God. (ii) Light also symbolizes life and happiness, as opposed to darkness, misery and death. (iii) Light also symbolizes good and God, as darkness symbolizes evil and the Devil, and God and goodness will overcome the Devil and evil. (NJB, Jn 8:12b)

The 3 themes are distinct but inseparable, that is, one who finds God, finds life and happiness, and this life and happiness will be full, complete and perfect at the end of time when good will have overcome evil totally and completely!

The theme that predominates the readings today is that we are the light that shows the way to God, and in fact the Church has chosen the readings today to tell us that we are the light that shows people the way to God!

The gospel acclamation (Jn 8:12) tells us that Jesus is the light that shows the way to God our Father! And the gospel (Mt 5:16) tells us that we the disciples of Jesus are also the light that shows the way to God our Father! The gospel tells us that we are the light and seeing our “good works” people will give praise to God our Father! If we do not do good works we are like the light that is hidden in the tub or under the bed, that is, our light cannot be seen by people, and our light cannot show people the way to God!

The “good work” that we have done in the past for the Tsunami victims is indeed light that shows people the way to God! We collected funds for the Tsunami victims who have lost their families, relatives, properties, belongings, and who have no food, clothes or shelter, and who are threatened by diseases and death, and we also prayed for the more than 200,000 victims who died in the Tsunami disaster.

The war in Iraq is darkness, it does not show people the way to God; but the relief work done by the USA is light that shows people the way to God! The USA besides committing USD 350,000,000.00, also committed an aircraft carrier and a hundred planes for relief work in Aceh, Indonesia. Australia also committed USD 950,000,000.00, Germany committed USD 650,000,000.00, and Japan committed USD 500,000,000.00. The International community has shown great love, care and concern for the victims of the Tsunami disaster, and this is light that shows people the way to God!

The first reading from Third-Isaiah (5th century BC, after the Exile) tells us that our “good works” must not be limited to interpersonal relationships, but must also extend to meta-personal relationships, that is, societal, public, structural, systematic, and institutional relationships. In other words, we must also practice social justice. We must pay our employees just wages. We must not oppress and exploit the poor and the weak and the disenfranchised of society. Justice and charity must be built into the very political structures, economic systems and social institutions of our society!

The first reading tells us to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to pay just wages to the workers, to shelter the homeless, to free the oppressed, and not to exploit the poor, the weak, and the disenfranchised, etc.! The first reading tells us that our light will then shine like the dawn!

The Responsorial Psalm helps us to meditate on the theme of the first reading and the gospel. The response of the responsorial psalm sums up the theme of the responsorial psalm: “The good man is a light in the darkness for the upright”! The good man is a light in his good works. He is generous, merciful and just. He lends to the poor. He gives to the poor and he practices justice, etc.. 

It is easier for me to preach “good works” and “justice”, but it is harder for me to do good works and practice justice, that is why I say with Saint Paul in the second reading today, ‘I do not depend on myself, I do not depend on human philosophy, but I depend on the power of the Holy Spirit, I depend on the power of God.

And that is why we pray, and that is why we celebrate the Eucharist today and every Sunday. Today we celebrate the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his Risen Body and drink his Risen Blood, and our Risen Lord will give us his Holy Spirit, so that through the power of his Holy Spirit, through the power of God, we may do good works and practice justice, and shine as the light that shows people the way to God!

 

Amen!