14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 8th July 2018

Theme: WE ARE TO BE THE PROPHETS OF GOD TO SPEAK THE WORD OF GOD

  • Ezekiel 2:2-5;
  • Psalm 122 (123): R. v. 2;
  • 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
  • Mark 6:1-6

Today is the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that we are to be the prophets of God to speak the word of God!

In the year 2001 there was a synod of the world’s bishops in Rome on the duties of the bishop. The synod concluded that the duties of the bishop was to be prophet, priest and king, that is, to preach and teach the word of God (prophet), to celebrate the sacraments, especially the Eucharist (priest), and to build the Christian community, the Church, and the Kingdom of God (king). But of the three, the first is to preach and teach the word of God! The first is to be a prophet of God!

The duties of the priest is also to be prophet, priest, and king, that is, to preach and teach the word of God; to celebrate the sacraments, especially the Eucharist; and to build the Christian community, the Church, and the Kingdom of God. But again, the first duty of the priest is to preach and teach the word of God. The first duty of the priest is to be a prophet of God!

The priest is not only a priest; he is also a prophet and a king. The “pastoral work” of the priest is not only “sacramentalization”, but also “evangelization”! Indeed, the word of God gives faith, and only with faith can we celebrate the sacraments, and when we celebrate the sacraments with faith, the risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit will help us build the community of love and unity, and the community will become a sign of salvation for the world.

Indeed, the Church is not a gasoline station or a service station where we come for baptism, marriage, and the other sacraments, etc., but the Church is a Christ centered community, that is, centered on the Word and Eucharist that the Lord has given us. And when we celebrate the Word and Eucharist, the risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit will help us build a community of love and unity, and the community will become a sign of salvation for the world. The identity of the priest cannot be separated from the nature of the Church! 

The gospel today tells us that Jesus himself was a prophet, but he was rejected by his own people. But Jesus continued preaching and teaching the word of God until his death and resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! We have to preach the word of God even in the face of opposition because it is the word of God and the word of God will prevail! Thus we read in the gospel:

  “And they would not accept him. And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is only despised in his own country among his own relations and in his own house’; and he could work no miracle there, though he cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.” (Mk 6: 3c-6) 

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading is on the call of Ezekiel to be a prophet to speak the word of God to a rebellious people. Again, Ezekiel had to speak the word of God even in the face of opposition because it is the word of God, and again, the word of God will prevail! Thus we read in the first reading:

   “The Lord said, ‘Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to the rebels who have turned against me. Till now they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me. The sons are defiant and obstinate; I am sending you to them, to say, “The Lord says this.” Whether they listen or not, this set of rebels shall know there is a prophet among them.’” (Ezk 2: 3-5)          

In order to be the prophets of God we have to rely on God, we have to depend on God, and we have to put our confidence in God. The responsorial psalm is a psalm of reliance on God. The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first and second stanzas are expressions of confidence in God. The third stanza asks God to save us from our persecutors. (CSB/HCSB)

Thus the response of the responsorial psalm which is taken from the second stanza: “Our eyes are on the Lord till he show us his mercy.” (Ps 122 (123): 2) And thus the third stanza of the responsorial psalm: “Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy. We are filled with contempt. Indeed all too full is our soul with the scorn of the rich, with the proud man’s disdain.” (Ps 122 (123): 3-4) 

Incidentally, the second reading tells us that in the face of opposition and persecution St. Paul relied on God. The second reading tells us that St. Paul had a thorn in his flesh. This could mean a sickness (physical or mental), a temptation, or an opponent and persecutor. Probably it meant his opponents and persecutors. Thus the second reading tells us that in the face of opposition and persecution St. Paul relied on God. Thus we read in the second reading:

“So I shall be very happy to make my weaknesses my special boast so that the power of Christ may stay over me, and that is why I am quite content with my weaknesses, and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and the agonies I go through for Christ’s sake. For it is when I am weak that I am strong.” (2 Co 12: 9b-10)        

Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us to be the prophets of God to speak the word of God! Amen!

 

The Epiphany of The Lord (Year ABC) – 7th January 2018

Theme: THE REVELATION OF THE LORD AS KING, GOD AND SUFFERING SAVIOR TO ALL THE PAGAN NATIONS OF THE WORLD

  • Isaiah 60:1-6;
  • Psalm 71:1-2. 7-8. 10-13. R/ v. 11;
  • Ephesians 3:2-3. 5-6
  • Matthew 2:1-12

A Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you! Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, that is, the revelation of the Lord as King, God and Suffering Savior to all the pagan nations of the world!

The gospel today tells us that the Jews rejected Jesus in the person of King Herod! But more importantly, the gospel today tells us that the pagans accepted Jesus in the persons of the wise men! But most importantly, the gospel today tells us of the revelation of the Lord as King, God and Suffering Savior to all the pagan nations of the world!

The gospel today tells us that some wise men came from the east to do homage to the infant king of the Jews! The wise men represent all the different nations of the world! That is why in our Christmas crib they are of different colors! But more importantly, the gospel tells us that they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh! The Fathers of the Church tell us that gold is a gift for a King, frankincense is a gift for a God, and myrrh which is used for embalmment and burial symbolizes a Suffering Savior! (NJB)

Thus the revelation of the Lord as King, God and Suffering Savior to all the pagan nations of the world!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Jerusalem is the light of all the nations! The light of God’s glory! The glory of God shines on Jerusalem!

All the nations of the world will come to the light of Jerusalem! The light of God’s glory! The glory of God shines on Jerusalem! They will bring back the exiled Jews. They will bring all the riches of the world to Jerusalem and Jerusalem will rejoice! The nations will come to Jerusalem to praise and worship the Lord!

Note that of the many gifts; only two gifts are named, that is, gold and incense (frankincense). Gold for a King and Frankincense for a God! They have come to praise and worship the Lord as King and as God!

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

“All nations shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord.” (Ps 71:11; SM)

The responsorial psalm tells us about the Promised King, the Davidic King, and the Messianic King!

The responsorial psalm tells us that unlike the other kings who are corrupted, the Messianic King will bring justice and peace! Peace, shalom, salvation! Thus we read:

“In his days justice shall flourish and peace till the moon fails.” (Ps 71:7; SM)  

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first (vv. 1-2), second (vv. 7-8) and fourth (vv. 12-13) stanzas tell us that the Messianic King will bring justice and peace! Peace, shalom, salvation! The third stanza (vv. 10-11) tells us that all the kings of the world will bring him gifts and will come and worship him, because unlike other kings who are corrupted, he will bring justice and peace! Peace, shalom, salvation!

The second reading tells us that the mystery that has been kept secret for ages has now been revealed! The mystery is that pagans now share the same inheritance as the Jews, that pagans are parts of the same body, and that the same promise is made to pagans, in Christ Jesus, through the gospel.

That is why we have to preach the gospel to the pagans, so that all pagans may share the same inheritance, so that all pagans may be parts of the same body, and so that the same promise is made to pagans in Christ Jesus through the gospel!

That is why the first duty of the Bishop is to preach the good news, the first duty of the Priest is also to preach the good news and the first duty of the Christian is also to preach the good news! That is why we end the Sunday Mass with this mission:

“Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.”!

A Blessed feast day of the “Epiphany of the Lord” to all of you! Amen!

34th or Last Sunday of The Year (Year A) – Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King – 26th November 2017

Theme: THE END OF THE WORLD: THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS CHRIST 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

Today is the 34th or last Sunday of the Liturgical Year and today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King! We celebrate the feast of Christ the King at the end of the Liturgical Year, because we believe that at the end of the world, Jesus Christ will be the King of the universe! He will have established his kingdom fully, perfectly and completely! The end of the world is not the end of the physical world, but the end of the evil and sinful world; the end of death and the Devil! As Christians we do not fear the end of the world, but we look forward to the end of the world, because the end of the world is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ as King of the universe!

The gospel today tells us that at the end of the world, Jesus Christ will come a second time as king to judge the nations! He will reward those who have done good deeds of mercy and punish those who have not done good deeds of mercy!

It is important to note that the gospel today does not talk about sin, but about good works! In order to go to heaven it is not enough not to commit sin, but we must also do good works, especially good works of mercy! But if we want to talk about sin in today’s gospel, then we talk about the sin of omission and not the sin of commission!

The gospel today tells us that the wicked were sent to hell not because they committed sins of stealing, killing, adultery, etc., but because they did not do good works of mercy! Again, the good were sent to heaven not because they did not commit sins, but because they did good works!

Like the gospels of the last two Sundays on the “Virgins” and the “Talents” respectively, the gospel today tells us to prepare for the second coming of Jesus Christ by doing good works, especially good works of mercy, so that when Jesus Christ comes a second time he will welcome us to heaven!

‘Come you whom my Father has blessed, inherit the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world, for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was naked and you clothed me, a stranger and you welcomed me, sick and in prison and you visited me’!

But more than that, the first reading from the prophet Ezekiel tells us that Jesus Christ is not only a King, but he is a Shepherd-King! And like a shepherd, he looks after his sheep, he rescues his sheep, he saves his sheep, he feeds his sheep, he looks for the lost sheep, he brings back the stray sheep, he bandages the wounded sheep, he makes the weak sheep strong, and he watches over the healthy sheep!

The first reading today (Ez 34:11-16) is an outline of the allegory (symbolic story) of the Good Shepherd in John 10:11-18, (NJB), where Jesus says, ‘I am the good shepherd. I lay down my life for my sheep! I know my sheep and my sheep know me! Just as the Father knows me and I know my Father. And I lay down my life for my sheep’! (Jn 10: 11. 14-15)

Jesus Christ is not only a King, but a Shepherd-King, and not only a Shepherd-King, but a Good Shepherd-King who lays down his life for his sheep!

Finally in the second reading from the first letter to the Corinthians, Paul tells us that ‘Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. Death came through one man, in the same way, Resurrection from the dead came through one man. Just as all men die in Adam, all men will be brought to life in Jesus Christ in the proper order: First Jesus Christ, the first-fruits, then after the Coming of Jesus Christ, those who belong to him. After that will come the end, when Jesus Christ will hand over his kingdom to his Father after destroying all sovereignty, power and authority. For he must be king until he has put all his enemies under his feet, and the last and worst enemy is death. After subjecting everything to himself, he will in turn subject himself to his Father who has subjected all things to him, so that God his Father may be all in all’! This is the end of the world! This is the second coming of Jesus Christ! This is the Good News!

Today in this Mass we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and we eat his body and drink his blood and our Risen Lord will give us His Holy Spirit to do good deeds of mercy, so that when Jesus Christ comes a second time he will say to us, ‘Come you, whom my Father has blessed, inherit the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world, for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, naked and you clothed me, a stranger and you welcomed me, sick and in prison and you visited me’! Go to heaven! Not “go to hell”, but go to heaven! This is the Good News!

The Epiphany of The Lord (Year A, B, C)

Theme: THE REVELATION OF THE LORD, WHO IS KING, GOD, AND SAVIOR TO ALL THE NATIONS

  •  Isaiah 60:1-6
  • Psalm 71:1-2. 7-8. 10-13. R. v. 11
  • Ephesians 3:2-3. 5-6
  • Matthew 2:1-12

Today we celebrate the solemnity of the epiphany of the Lord! The word “epiphany” is from a Greek word meaning “manifestation” or “revelation”. Today we celebrate the manifestation or revelation of the Lord not only to the Jews but also to all the nations and races of the world! The wise men in today’s gospel reading represent all the non-Jews or gentiles! Today we celebrate the revelation of a King, a God, and a Savior to all peoples! A King of kings who will govern all peoples and nations with justice and peace! A God who creates and sustains the universe out of nothing but love! A Savior who died for our sins and became the bread of eternal life for all of us!

These 3 manifestations of King, God and Savior are symbolized in the 3 gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh! The Church Fathers as early as St. Irenaeus who lived around 130 to 200 A. D. saw the gift of gold as a symbol of Christ’s kingship, frankincense (an incense used for sacrifice) as a symbol of Christ’s Divinity, and myrrh as a symbol of his death and burial! Myrrh is a spice used for embalming the dead!

In the “Prayer over the Gifts” today, we pray: “Lord, accept the offerings of your Church, not gold, frankincense and myrrh, but the sacrifice and food they symbolize: Jesus Christ, who is Lord forever and ever”!  In other words, the gold, frankincense and myrrh symbolize Jesus Christ who is sacrifice and food for us in the Eucharist!

What revelation! What manifestation! What epiphany! That is why this revelation is for all the nations of the world! That is why this revelation is for everybody! Everybody needs a God-King to govern him or her with justice and peace! Everybody needs a God who gives and sustains life! And everybody needs a God who is love, mercy and forgiveness, a God who saves!  

And that is why all the nations and peoples of the world come to him! All the peoples are attracted by his love, mercy, forgiveness, peace, joy, etc.! He seduces us by his love, attracts us by his mercy, persuades us by his forgiveness, etc.! He does not coerce us with his power, force us with his laws and regulations, and punish us with his vengeance!

Again, that is why the whole world is attracted to him, as ants are attracted to honey! A tradition has it that the wise men represent the whole world of their time, that is, the black wise man represents Africa, the yellow wise man represents Asia, and the white wise man represents Europe!

 

The first reading from the prophet Isaiah tells us that the glory of the Lord will shine over Jerusalem and all the Jews living outside Palestine after the Exile will return to Jerusalem, and more than that, the prophet Isaiah tells us that not only the Jews will return to Jerusalem, but all the nations of the earth will come to Jerusalem, attracted by the light that shines over Jerusalem! And the peoples and nations that come to Jerusalem will bring along their riches and wealth to Jerusalem to build up Jerusalem! They will praise the Lord in Jerusalem! Again, Epiphany! All the peoples, nations, and races of the world are attracted to the manifestation and revelation of the Lord in Jerusalem!

 

The responsorial psalm takes up the theme of the first reading! That is why in the response of the responsorial psalm we respond by saying “All nations shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord”!

The responsorial psalm tells us that the messianic King, the God-King, will rule with justice! He will give justice to the poor! There will be justice and peace without end! He will rule over the whole world! All the nations of the earth will pay him tribute and bring him gifts! All the nations of the earth will prostrate before him and serve him! He shall save the poor when they cry and save the helpless! He shall have pity on the weak and save the poor!

Again, the revelation of the messianic King, who is love, mercy, justice, peace, salvation, etc., will attract all the nations of the earth to come and worship Him!

 

Again, the Church has chosen the second reading taken from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians to tell us that the revelation of the Lord is not only for the Jews but it is also for the non-Jews, that is, the gentiles and the pagans as well!

In the second reading, Paul tells us that the “mystery” revealed to him is that not only the Jews have the right to the “inheritance”, but that all humankind share in the same  “inheritance”!

This second reading is taken from the section of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, which concerns the “World Mission of the Church” (3:1-4:24)!

 

Today we celebrate the solemnity of “the Epiphany of the Lord” in the Eucharist! In the Eucharist we celebrate his death, resurrection, and ascension, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and we receive his Holy Spirit! And at the end of the Mass (The word “Mass” comes from a Latin word meaning “Mission”!) we are sent on a mission to proclaim the Good News of “the Epiphany of the Lord” to the whole wide world!

 Amen!