1st Sunday of Lent (Year C) – 10th Mar 2019

Theme: ADAM BROUGHT SIN AND DEATH, BUT JESUS CHRIST THE NEW ADAM BROUGHT GRACE AND LIFE

  • Genesis 2:7-9. 3:1-7;
  • Psalm 50 (51): 3-6. 12-14. 17. R/ cf. v. 3;
  • Romans 5:12-19
  • Matthew 4:1-11

Today is the First Sunday of Lent, Liturgical Year A. We use the readings of Liturgical Year A instead of Year C, because there will be catechumens for Baptism on Easter Vigil Night!

Lent is a time when we prepare for the celebration of Easter, that is, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world!

Lent is also a time when our catechumens prepare for Baptism on Easter Vigil Night so that they will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter through the waters of Baptism and through the power of the Holy Spirit!

Lent is also a time when we who are baptized prepare to renew our Baptism on Easter Vigil Night so that we too may die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new Life of Easter through the waters of Baptism and through the power of the Holy Spirit! That is why on Easter Vigil Night after renewing our Baptism we will be sprinkled with the waters of Baptism!

Lent is therefore a time of repentance, that is, to turn away from sin, from oneself and from the world; and to turn to God, to the God of Jesus Christ, who is love, mercy and forgiveness, and to our neighbor in love, mercy and forgiveness!

That is why during this time of Lent the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor in order to help us repent and prepare for the celebration of Easter!

The first reading tells us that our first parents Adam and Eve committed the Original Sin of pride by eating the forbidden fruit! They wanted to be gods themselves and decide for themselves what is good and what is evil. They did not believe in God, they did not want to depend on God and they did not want God to tell them what is good and what is evil. As a result sin and death entered the world!

Today too there are people who do not believe in God. They believe in themselves. They decide for themselves what is good and what is evil. They have decided for themselves that abortion is good. As a result there are 43.8 million abortions worldwide every year! (Internet, Catholic World News, January 20, 2012) Making the mother’s womb the most dangerous place in the world! And introducing the culture of death! Indeed sin and death have entered the world!

More importantly, the gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ the new Adam was also tempted by the devil! Again, the devil tells Jesus Christ not to believe in God his Father, not to depend on God and not to do the will of God; but to believe in oneself, to depend on oneself and to do one’s own will!

The devil tempted Jesus Christ three times. In the first temptation the devil tells Jesus to turn stones into bread to satisfy his hunger. In the second temptation the devil tells Jesus to jump down from the top of the Temple to test God. And in the third temptation the devil tells Jesus to worship him and he will give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world.

But more importantly are the three faith responses of Jesus! Just as the first Adam turned away from God, Jesus the second Adam turned back to God. Just as the first Adam depended on himself, Jesus the second Adam depended on God his Father. Thus the three faith responses of Jesus:

(i) “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

(ii) “You must not put the Lord your God to the test.”

(ii) “You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone.”

And most importantly, the second reading tells us that it is through the grace of Jesus Christ that we turn back to God and find life! Indeed the second reading tells us that it is through Adam that sin and death entered the world and it is through Jesus Christ the new Adam that grace and life entered the world! And more importantly, the second reading tells us that the grace of Jesus Christ more than compensates for the sin of Adam! And it is through the grace of Jesus Christ that we turn back to God and find life!

Indeed the responsorial psalm is a “prayer of repentance”! (CSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we have sinned.” (Ps 50 (51): 3; Sunday Missal)

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas ask God to forgive us our sins. The third and fourth stanzas ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we will not sin anymore! (CSB; IBC)

Again, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter! Lent is therefore a time of repentance. During this time of Lent the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor in order to help us to repent and to prepare for the celebration of Easter when we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! A happy and blessed Lent to all of you! Amen!

ASH WEDNESDAY (Year A, B, C)

Theme: LENT IS A TIME WHEN WE “REPENT AND BELIEVE THE GOSPEL”

  • Joel 2:12-18 (SSC)
  • Psalm 50:3-6. 12-14. 17. R. v. 3
  • 2 Corinthians 5:20 – 6:2
  • Matthew 6:1-6. 16-18

Today is Ash Wednesday the first day of Lent. Lent is a time of retreat and renewal of the Church, when we prepare ourselves to renew our Baptismal faith, and celebrate Easter, and rise with Jesus Christ from the dead to the new life of Easter! The word Lent means “springtime”! This is the time of the year when the countries in the Northern Hemisphere is tilted towards the sun and the days become longer and warmer! It is springtime as opposed to wintertime! It is a time of new life! In the same way, when we are turned towards God we experience new life, but when we are turned towards ourselves or towards the world, we experience sin and death!

The traditional formula for administering the ashes is “remember man that you are dust and unto dust you will return”! These were the words God said to Adam when he Sinned! It was no ordinary actual sin, big or small, it was Original Sin! The sin of believing in oneself rather than believing in God! In Genesis 3:5 the Devil tempted Adam to be like God and Adam fell for the temptation and after the fall in Genesis 3:19 God said to Adam “For dust you are and to dust you shall return”! Dust and ashes cannot give life, only God can give life! If we turn on ourselves and on the world we will not find life!

Lent is a time when we turn away from ourselves and from the world and from our sins and more importantly, we turn towards God for love, mercy, forgiveness and life! Thus the new formula for administering the ashes “turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel”! But I prefer the original text in Mark 1:15 from which it was taken, that is, “repent and believe the good news”! These were the first words of Jesus in Mark’s gospel!

The word repent comes from the Greek word “metanoia” which means to convert! It means not only a turning away from sin, but more importantly it means a turning towards God! It means an about turn, a 180% turn, a U turn! And the word believe means putting our faith in God and not in ourselves and not in the world! On Easter Vigil Night before we celebrate the Eucharist, we will be asked to renew our Baptismal faith. I do not like the words Baptismal promises. We will be asked the following 6 questions. Do you reject Satan? And all his works? And all his empty promises? And the second 3 questions are even more important. Do you believe in God the Father Almighty? Do you believe in Jesus Christ? Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church? And we will answer, “I do”! And the priest will sprinkle you with the newly blessed water of Baptism! And after that we will celebrate the Eucharist of Easter Vigil Night and rise with Jesus Christ from the dead to the New Life of Easter!

The Church has chosen the first reading from the Prophet Joel to tell us to repent with communal prayer and fasting, for our God is a merciful and forgiving God! The first reading was written in 400 B.C. when Judah was plagued by locust, which ate up the crops. The prophet Joel told the Israelites to repent and to do penance and to pray and to fast, and God will relent and will drive the locust far away, and the crops will grow again!

The Church has edited the responsorial psalm to go with the first reading! The responsorial psalm is a penitential psalm. It is a prayer of a repentant sinner! The response is “have mercy on us, O Lord, for we have sinned”! The psalm continues (1) “have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. In your compassion blot out my offence. O wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. (2) My offences truly I know them; my sin is always before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned: what is evil in your sight I have done. (3) A pure heart create for me, O god, put a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, nor deprive me of your holy spirit. (4) Give me again the joy of your help; with a spirit of fervor sustain me. O Lord open my lips and my mouth shall declare your praise”!

The Church has chosen the second reading from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians to tell us to make peace with God now, to reconcile with God now! Now is the favorable time! This is the day of salvation!

God has made the sinless one into sin so that we may become the goodness of God! Do not let this grace pass us by! God has reconciled us to himself! Let us respond to God’s reconciliation by reconciling ourselves to God! Now is the favorable time to be reconciled to God! Lent time is the favorable time to be reconciled to God! This is the day of salvation!

The Church has chosen the gospel today from Matthew to tell us to do 3 things during this time of Lent, to help us turn away from the world and from sin, and to turn to God who is love, mercy, forgiveness, and new life! The gospel today tells us to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor! In prayer we turn to God, in fasting we turn away from ourselves and we turn to God, and in alms giving we not only help the poor, but we also help ourselves by turning away from money and from the world and turning to God! Prayer, fasting and almsgiving are the 3 things done by a pious Jew! The Christians took over these practices from the pious Jews. The Church asks us to pray, fast, and give alms to the poor, to help us “repent and believe in the gospel”!

Again, the 3 formulas for administering ashes on Ash Wednesday are: (1) “remember man that you are dust and unto dust you will return”. Man is dust and ashes, man is not God, dust and ashes have no life; only God can give us life! (2) “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel”. This is taken from Mark 1:15. (3) “Repent and believe the gospel”, Mark 1:15! I will use this third formula when I give you the ashes, because this third formula expresses the spirit of Lent best! A happy Lent to all of you!

Amen!

2nd Sunday of Lent (Year B) – 25th February 2018

Theme: THE CROSS OF JESUS CHRIST IS GLORIOUS: IT IS RESURRECTION AND LIFE

  • Genesis 12:1-4;
  • Psalm 32 (33):4-5. 18-20. 22. R/ v. 22;
  • 2 Timothy 1:8-10
  • Matthew 17:1-9

Today is the 2nd Sunday of Lent, Liturgical Year B, but we are using the readings of Year A, because there will be Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! Lent is a time when we prepare for Easter. Lent is a time when we prepare for the Baptism of our catechumens on Easter Vigil Night and the renewal of our own Baptism on Easter Vigil Night!

The gospel today tells us that the cross of Jesus Christ is glorious! The cross of Jesus Christ is resurrection and life! That is why today’s gospel is found immediately after Jesus predicted his passion, death and resurrection, and after he instructed his disciples to take up their crosses to follow him in order to find life!

The gospel today tells us about the transfiguration of the Lord. His face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as light! The transfiguration was not the resurrection. It was only the preview, the foreshadow and the prefigure of the resurrection. The transfiguration was to strengthen the faith of the disciples for the coming suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ!

The gospel also tells us that a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favor. Listen to him”. That is, Jesus is the Son of God and the Suffering Servant of God (“he enjoys my favor”, Is 42:1), listen to him, especially when he tells you about his suffering, death and resurrection!

Finally, the gospel also tells us that Jesus ordered his disciples not to tell anyone about the transfiguration for fear that the people may mistake him to be a political, nationalistic, and military messiah, or a wonder-worker and miracle-worker messiah! Jesus is much more than all that! Jesus is the suffering messiah, the crucified Christ, the suffering and crucified Savior!

Again, the gospel today tells us that the cross of Jesus Christ is glorious! The cross of Jesus Christ is resurrection and life!

In the first reading the Lord tells Abraham to leave his country, his family and his father’s house and to go to a land that the Lord will show him. And the Lord will make him into a great nation, that is, the Lord will give him many descendents and make his descendents into a great nation! And the Lord will bless him and through him, the Lord will bless all the nations! And Abraham went as the Lord told him.

During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms; to help us leave our sins, our world, and ourselves and to go to a land that the Lord will show us. And the Lord will bless us and through us, the Lord will bless all the nations! And like Abraham, we will go as the Lord tells us!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us to put all our hope in God and in his love! Not half our hope, but all our hope; not in man, but in God; and not in his law, but in his love! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.” (Ps 32 (33): 22; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza (vv. 4-5) tells us that the Lord created us out of love. The second stanza (vv. 18-19) tells us that the Lord saved us out of love. And the third stanza (vv. 20. 22) from which the response is taken tells us that we are to put all our hope in God and in his love! The word “love” appears in all the three stanzas, and in the response! 

In the second reading, Saint Paul tells Timothy to suffer for the preaching of the Good News, because Jesus Christ has destroyed death and has proclaimed life and immortality through the Good News! Thus we read in the second reading:

“With me, bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News, …. He (Christ Jesus) abolished death, and he has proclaimed life and immortality through the Good News.” (2 Tm 1:8. 10; SM)

During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms; to help us carry our crosses to follow Jesus, that is, to help us to die to our sins, our world, ourselves and to live for God and for neighbor! The Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms, to help us prepare for Easter. And to help us to prepare for the Baptism of our catechumens on Eater Vigil Night and the renewal of our own Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! A blessed Lent to all of you! Amen!

1st Sunday of Lent (Year A) – 18th February 2018

Theme: LENT IS A TIME WHEN WE PREPARE TO DIE AND RISE WITH JESUS CHRIST TO THE NEW LIFE OF EASTER

  • Genesis 2:7-9. 3:1-7;
  • Psalm 50 (51): 3-6. 12-14. 17. R/ v. 3;
  • Romans 5:12. 17-19
  • Matthew 4:1-11

Today is the first Sunday of Lent. Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ at Easter. Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter in the sacrament of Baptism and in the renewal of our Baptism at Easter.

Lent is therefore a time of penance, repentance and conversion. Conversion is turning away from sin, from oneself, and from the world; and turning to God, to the God of love, mercy and forgiveness, to the God of Jesus Christ who died and rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Baptism. Lent is therefore a time when we prepare to die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter in the sacrament of Baptism and in the renewal of our Baptism at Easter! The readings today tell us to repent and to convert! The word “convert” comes from a Latin word convertere meaning “to turn around”!

The first reading tells us that Adam and Eve turned away from God and turned to themselves. They wanted to be like gods. They did not want to depend on God; they wanted to depend on themselves. They wanted to decide for themselves what is good and what is evil. As a result sin and death entered the world!

More importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus Christ the second Adam, the new Adam, turned back to God! Thus the three replies of Jesus to the three temptations of the devil:

To the temptation of changing stones into bread, Jesus replied: “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Mt 4:4/Dt 8:3)

To the temptation of throwing himself down from the top of the temple, Jesus replied: “You must not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Mt 4:7/Dt 6:16)

To the temptation of worshiping the devil for all the kingdoms of the world, Jesus replied: “Be off, Satan! For scripture says: You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone.” (Mt 4:10/Dt 6:13)

Most importantly, the second reading tells us that just as Adam brought sin and death into the world; Jesus Christ the second Adam, the new Adam brought grace, justification/salvation and life into the world! Thus we read in the second reading:

“For if, by the transgression of one person, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one person Jesus Christ.” (Rm 5:17/CSB)

It is through the grace of Jesus Christ that we repent, convert, and turn back to God this Lent!

Thus we can make the responsorial psalm our own “Prayer of Repentance”! (CSB) The “historical heading” (NJBC) of the responsorial psalm associates it with David when the prophet Nathan came to him after he committed the sin of adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband.

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas are a prayer for the forgiveness of our sins. The third and fourth stanzas ask God to give us his holy spirit to give us new life so that we will not sin anymore! (CSB/NJBC) Thus the responsorial psalm:

“Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. In your compassion blot out my offence. O wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. (Stanza 1)

My offences truly I know them; my sin is always before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned; what is evil in your sight I have done. (Stanza 2)

A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, nor deprive me of your holy spirit. (Stanza 3)

Give me again the joy of your help; with a spirit of fervor sustain me. O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall declare your praise.” (Stanza 4)

During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to do penance, to pray, to fast and to give alms. Penance is not a punishment. Penance helps us to repent and to convert. Prayer includes Lectio Divina (spiritual reading of the Bible), attending Sunday Mass, going to confession, etc. Fasting, that is, eating one full meal a day, is obligatory on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday for those over 18 years old and under 60 years old. Abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory for those over 14 years old. However we can voluntarily fast every Friday of Lent. Our religion is not a religion of the law, but a religion of love, a religion of the Spirit, a religion of freedom! Almsgiving is to help the poor and to help ourselves to trust in providence. God provides! Thus the religious take the vow of poverty! They depend on God! They do not depend on money!

Pope Benedict XVI has a Lenten Message for us! He emphasizes on fasting. He tells us that fasting helps us to avoid sin, to restore friendship with God, to do the will of God, to love God and neighbor, and to help the poor.

The Consequences of Not Fasting: cannot avoid sin, cannot restore friendship with God, cannot do God’s will, cannot love God and neighbor, and cannot help the poor.

Bishop Julius also has a Lenten Message for us! He tells us that Lent is a time of repentance, reconciliation and conversion. Lent is a time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving to prepare for the celebration of Easter. He emphasizes that Lent is a time to help the poor. He also tells us that Lent is a time when our catechumens prepare for their Baptism at Easter.

A Happy Lent to all of you!                                                                       Amen!

4th Sunday of Lent (Year A)

Theme: THE LIGHT OF CHRIST: THE LIGHT OF FAITH, THE LIGHT OF LIFE AND THE LIGHT OF GOODNESS

  • 1 Samuel 16:1. 6-7. 10-13;
  • Psalm 22. R/ v. 1;
  • Ephesians 5:8-14
  • John 9:1-41 (Shorter Form, 9:1. 5b-9. 13-17. 34-38)

Today is the Fourth Sunday of Lent; Liturgical Year A. Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter! Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and our death and resurrection with him in the sacrament of baptism!

Lent is therefore a time when our catechumens prepare for their baptism and when we who are baptized, prepare to renew our baptism on Easter Vigil Night, so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

Lent is therefore a time of repentance! Lent is therefore a time when we prepare to receive the light of Jesus Christ in the sacrament of baptism! The light of Christ is the light of faith, the light of life and the light of goodness!

The three themes are related, that is, with faith in God, we receive new life from God, and the life from God is good, because God is good! In fact God alone is good! More importantly, light will overcome darkness, faith will overcome unbelief, life will overcome death, and good will overcome evil!

Because Jesus has overcome the devil! And Jesus will overcome the devil in us through his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of baptism and we will receive the light of Christ, the light of faith, the light of life and the light of goodness!

 

The gospel today tells us about the light of faith. The gospel tells us that Jesus is the light of the world! (Jn 9:5b) The gospel tells us that Jesus anointed the eyes of the blind man and told him to wash in the Pool of Siloam. After washing, the blind man could see! He could see with the eyes of faith!

In the sacrament of baptism we will also be anointed with the Oil of Chrism and we will also be washed in the waters of baptism and we will also be able to see with the eyes of faith!

The gospel also tells us that the faith of the blind man grew! At the beginning he believed Jesus to be a man, then he believed Jesus to be a prophet, then finally he worshiped Jesus as Lord! The Pharisees on the other hand decreased in faith! At first they did not believe that Jesus is from God, and then they did not even believe that the man was born blind, and then finally, they believed Jesus to be a sinner!

After baptism we must continue to grow in faith like the blind man by attending Mass every Sunday; if not, we will be like the Pharisees, we will lose our faith!

 

The Gospel Acclamation tells us about the light of life! Thus we read:

“I am the light of the world, says the Lord; anyone who follows me will have the light of life.” (Jn 8:12; SM)

Anyone who follows Jesus to his death and resurrection in the sacrament of baptism will have the light of life!

 

The second reading tells us about the light of goodness! Thus we read in the second reading:

“You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord; be like children of light, for the effects of the light are seen in complete goodness and right living and truth.” (Ep 5:8-9; SM)

The second reading “distinguishes children of light from children of darkness on the basis of their deeds.” (Vat.IISM)

 

The first reading tells us about the sacrament of Confirmation. The first reading tells us that Samuel anointed David with oil and the Spirit of the Lord seized on David! Thus we read:

“Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him where he stood with his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord seized on David and stayed with him from that day on.” (1 Sam 16:13; SM)  

“David’s success was due to the presence of Yahweh’s spirit with him.” (NJBC)

In the same way, the priest will administer the sacrament of confirmation to you by anointing you with the Oil of Chrism with these words: “N., be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit”. And you answer: “Amen”.

And like David, you will be made strong in the Spirit of the Lord! That is what the word “confirmation” means!

 

The responsorial psalm tells us about the sacrament of the Eucharist, that is, the sacrament of sacraments! The responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord God is the Good Shepherd who provides us with food and drink! Thus we read:

“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.” (First Stanza; vv. 1-3a; SM)

The responsorial psalm also tells us that the Lord God is the Host of the messianic banquet! (NJB) Thus we read:

“You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes. My head you have anointed with oil; my cup is overflowing.” (Third Stanza; v. 5; SM)

In the Eucharist, the Lord God gives us his body and blood to eat and drink to give us eternal life! (Jn 6: 51-58; Eucharist; CSB)

 

During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor and needy; not as a punishment for our sins, but to help us to repent. To help us to receive the light of Jesus Christ; the light of faith, life and goodness! To help us to receive the three sacraments of initiation, that is, Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist! A Blessed Lent to all of you! Today is also “rejoice” Sunday or “joyful or joyous” Sunday, because we are more than half way through to Easter! That is why we use rose/pink color vestments, etc.! A joyous and joyful Sunday to all of you! Amen!

 

2nd Sunday of Lent (Year A)

Theme: LENT IS A TIME WHEN WE TAKE UP OUR CROSSES TO FOLLOW JESUS TO HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION

  • Genesis 12:1-4;
  • Psalm 32:4-5. 18-20. 22. R/ v. 22;
  • 2 Timothy 1:8-10
  • Matthew 17:1-9

Today is the 2nd Sunday of Lent; Liturgical Year A. Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter! Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and our death and resurrection with him in the sacrament of Baptism!

Lent is therefore a time when our catechumens prepare for their baptism and when we who are baptized prepare to renew our baptism on Easter Vigil Night, so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! Lent is therefore a time for repentance. Lent is therefore a time when we take up our crosses to follow Jesus to his death and resurrection!

The gospel today tells us about the transfiguration of the Lord! His face shone like the sun and his clothes were as white as light! But more importantly, the gospel today tells us that God the Father spoke from the bright cloud saying:

“This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favor. Listen to him”. (Mt 17:5; SM)

That is, Jesus is the Son of God. He is loved by God his Father. He is also the Suffering Servant of God (“he enjoys my favor”; Is 42:1). Listen to him, especially when he tells you about his death and resurrection and your dying and rising with him to a new life! (CSB)

The gospel ends with Jesus telling the disciples not to tell anyone about the transfiguration until he has risen from the dead. The transfiguration is not the resurrection. The transfiguration is only a foreshadower, a foretaste and a prefigurement of the resurrection. The transfiguration is only a glimpse of the resurrection to strengthen the faith of the disciples to prepare them for the death and resurrection of Jesus and their own death and resurrection with Jesus!

That is why in all the three gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) the transfiguration is found immediately after Jesus’ first prediction of his passion, death and resurrection; and his instructions to the disciples to take up their crosses to follow him to his death and resurrection! (Mt 16:21-25)

 

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. In the first reading God calls Abraham to leave his country, his family and his father’s house in order to go to a land that God will show him; and God will bless him and through him God will bless all the nations of the world!

Abraham was to cut off all earthly ties and go to an unknown land! It was Abraham’s first act of faith! (NJB) Because of Abraham’s faith, God will bless him and through him God will bless all the nations of the world!

Abraham here prefigures Jesus Christ! Because of the faith of Jesus Christ in God his Father, God the Father raised him from the dead and through him God the Father will raise all dead sinners to life!

 

The responsorial psalm is a hymn of hope in God and in his love! Thus we responded three times:

“May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.” (Ps 32:22; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us about “God’s creative word”. (vv. 4-5; NJBC) The second stanza tells us that “God alone is savior”. (vv. 18-19; NJBC) In the third stanza “the community of faith expresses its hope in God’s steadfast love”. (vv. 20 & 22; HCSB) Thus we read in the third stanza:

“Our soul is waiting for the Lord. The Lord is our help and our shield. May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.” (Ps 32:20 & 22; SM)     

 

The second reading tells us to bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News, that is, to suffer for the sake of living and preaching the Good News! (Lefrois; CSB) The Good News is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the salvation of sinners! Thus we read in the second reading:

    “With me, bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News. …. He abolished death, and he has proclaimed life and immortality through the Good News.” (2 Tm 1:8a. 10b; SM)

 

In this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms, not as a punishment for our sins, but to help us to repent, to help us take up our crosses to follow Jesus to his death and resurrection, so that we will live the new life of Easter! A blessed Lent to all of you! Amen!

1st Sunday of Lent (Year A)

Theme: JESUS CHRIST THE NEW AND SECOND ADAM 

  • Genesis 2:7-9. 3:1-7;
  • Psalm 50:3-6. 12-14. 17. R/ cf. v.3;
  • Romans 5:12. 14d-19
  • Matthew 4:1-11

Today is the First Sunday of Lent, Liturgical Year A. Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter, that is, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and our dying and rising with him in the sacrament of baptism! Lent is therefore a time when our catechumens prepare for baptism and we who are baptized prepare to renew our Baptism on Easter Vigil Night, so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! Lent is therefore a time of repentance!

The first reading tells us that Adam and Eve sinned against God by eating the forbidden fruit. By eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve committed the Original Sin of Pride. Adam and Eve wanted to be gods and to decide for themselves what is good and what is evil. As a result sin and death entered the world. As a result they lost their innocence and were ashamed that they were naked.

 

More importantly, the gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ the new and second Adam turned back to God! The gospel today tells us that the devil did not only tempt Adam and Eve, but the devil also tempted Jesus Christ! The devil tempted Jesus Christ with three temptations.

In the first temptation the devil tells Jesus to turn stones into bread; in the second temptation the devil tells Jesus to jump from the highest point of the Temple to test God; and in the third temptation, the devil tells Jesus to worship him and he will give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world!

More importantly, are the three responses of Jesus. To the first temptation Jesus responded:

“Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Mt 4:4; SM)

To the second temptation Jesus responded:

“You must not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Mt 4:7; SM) 

To the third temptation Jesus responded:

“You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone.” (Mt 4:10; SM)

 

Most importantly, the second reading tells us that sin and death entered the world through one man, Adam; and more importantly, the second reading tells us that grace and life entered the world through one man, Jesus Christ!

Most importantly, the second reading tells us that the grace and life of Jesus Christ far outweighed the sin and death of Adam, so much so that the new life of Easter and Baptism is even better than the life before sin and death! Thus we sing in the Easter Proclamation:

“O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!” (SM)

And thus the caption of the second reading:

“However great the number of sins committed, grace was even greater.” (Rm 5:20; SM)

 

The responsorial psalm is a “Prayer of Repentance”. (CSB) Thus we responded four times:

    “Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we have sinned.” (Ps 50:3; SM)

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas ask God to forgive our sins. Thus we read:

“Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. In your compassion blot out my offence. O wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin.

    My offences truly I know them; my sin is always before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned; what is evil in your sight I have done.” (vv. 3-6; SM)

The third and fourth stanzas ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we will not sin anymore. Thus we read:

“A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

Give me again the joy of your help; with a spirit of fervor sustain me.” (vv. 12-14; SM)

 

During this time of Lent the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor, not as a punishment for our sins; but to help us to repent and to prepare for the celebration of Easter, so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! A Blessed Lent to all of you! Amen!