23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (C) – 4th September 2016

Theme: LOVE GOD MORE THAN FATHER, MOTHER, WIFE, HUSBAND, CHILDREN, PARENTS, BROTHERS, SISTERS AND ONESELF  

  • Wisdom 9:13-18;
  • Psalm 89 (90): 3-6. 12-14. 17. R/ v. 1;
  • Philemon 9-10. 12-17;
  • Luke 14:25-33

Today is the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The gospel today tells us to love God more than father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters and even oneself, and to love God more than all of one’s possessions!

We love God more than father and mother, because God loves us more than father and mother, we love God more than wife/husband and children because God loves us more than wife/husband and children, we love God more than brothers and sisters because God loves us more than brothers and sisters!

We love God more than oneself because God loves us more than we love ourselves! Saint Augustine tells us that God loves us more than we love ourselves and God is nearer to us than we are to ourselves! And I add, “God knows us more than we know ourselves”! We love God more than all our possessions because God loves us more than all our possessions! All our possessions cannot give us love, life and happiness! Thus we read in the gospel today:

“If any man comes to me without hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple. Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. …. So in the same way, none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up all his possessions.”! (Lk 14: 26-27. 33)

 

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that God gives us Wisdom and the Holy Spirit (Wisdom and Holy Spirit are synonymous; R. H. Fuller) so that we will know the will of God, and so that we will live good moral lives pleasing to God, and so that we will be saved! Thus we read in the first reading:

“And who could ever have known your will, had you not given Wisdom and sent your holy Spirit from above? Thus have the paths of those on earth been straightened and people have been taught what pleases you, and have been saved, by Wisdom.”! (W 9:17-18; NJB)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a prayer for Wisdom and for God’s pity, mercy, love, joy, favor and prosperity! The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas tell us that

God is eternal and man is frail and weak, and man’s life is short and made even shorter by sin.

But more importantly, the third and fourth stanzas tell us to pray for Wisdom and for God’s pity, mercy, love, joy, favor and prosperity! Thus we read in the third and fourth stanzas of the responsorial psalm:

“Teach us to count our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart. Relent, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants! Fill us at daybreak with your love, that all our days we may sing for joy. May the favor of the Lord our God be ours. Prosper the work of our hands! Prosper the work of our hands!” (Ps 89 (90): 12-14. 17; CSB)

And thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “O Lord, you have been our refuge from one generation to the next.” (Ps 89 (90): 1; SM)

 

The second reading tells us that St. Paul is in prison and in chains because of the Good News! In the second reading St. Paul is writing to Philemon to request that he set free his slave Onesimus. St. Paul also request that Onesimus be given to him as a companion to help him proclaim the Good News! Thus we read in the second reading:

“This is Paul writing, an old man now and, what is more, still a prisoner of Christ Jesus. I am appealing to you for a child of mine, whose father I became while wearing these chains: I mean Onesimus. I am sending him back to you, and with him – I could say – a part of my self. I should have liked to keep him with me; he could have been a substitute for you, to help me while I am in the chains that the Good News has brought me.” (Phm 9-10. 12-13; 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 love God more than father, mother, wife, husband, children, parents, brothers, sisters, and oneself, and all of one’s possessions! The Holy Spirit will help us proclaim the Good News! Amen

The Easter Vigil (C) – 26th March 2016

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

  • Genesis 1:1. 26-31;
  • Genesis 22:1-2. 9-13. 15-18;
  • Exodus 14:15-15:1;
  • Ezekiel 36:16-28
  • Romans 6:3-11;
  • Luke 24:1-12

A happy and blessed Easter to all of you! We began this celebration of Easter with the service of light. Light in the New Testament symbolizes 3 things:

(i) Light symbolizes faith as opposed to unbelief which is darkness. (ii) Light symbolizes life, contentment and happiness as opposed to death, misery and unhappiness which is darkness. (iii) Light symbolizes good as opposed to evil which is darkness.

More importantly, the 3 themes are related, that is, with faith in God, we receive life, and the life from God is a life of goodness!

Most importantly, light will overcome darkness, faith will overcome unbelief, life will overcome death, and good will overcome evil! This is because Jesus Christ the light of the world has overcome the devil the darkness of the world!

And Jesus Christ the light of the world will continue to overcome the devil the darkness of the world through the power of the Holy Spirit until the end of time when light will overcome all darkness totally, completely and fully! That would be the end of the world, that is, the end of the evil world, the second coming of Jesus Christ, the Parousia!

The service of light concluded with the Easter Proclamation! The most touching verse of the Easter Proclamation is:

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

How can Adam’s fault be happy? How can Adam’s sin be necessary? How can Adam’s sin merit for us so great a Redeemer? The verse is not telling us about Adam’s fault and sin, but it is telling us about the love of God!

God created the world out of love, but when we sinned God loved us even more. He became man to save us from sin, but when we crucified him on the cross he loved us even more. He died, rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit dwells not in heaven or on earth, but the Holy Spirit dwells among us and within us, nearer to us than we are to ourselves, and loving us more than we love ourselves! (St. Augustine) The Holy Spirit will continue to love us until we love God, love our neighbor and love ourselves! That would be the end of the world, that is, the end of the evil world, the second coming of Jesus Christ, the Parousia!

After the service of light we listened to 6 readings, 4 from the Old Testament and 2 from the New Testament. The first 3 readings from the Old Testament have been used in the Easter Liturgy since the fifth century! (Raas, p. 186) The first 3 readings are from the Law, the fourth reading is from the Prophets. We should read from both the Law and the Prophets. (Sunday Missal, 2011)

The readings tell us about the history of salvation! They tell us what God has done for us in the past and what God continues to do for us in the present in baptism!

The first reading tells us that God created the universe, but more importantly, it tells us that God created man and woman according to his image and likeness to be the co-creators of God to create life! But man and woman committed the Original Sin of Pride and brought death into the world! Consequently, instead of creating life, man and woman destroy life, destroy the environment, destroy one another and destroy oneself!

The second reading tells us that God began the history of salvation with Abraham the father of faith. Abraham’s faith was such that he was ready to sacrifice his son Isaac to God! As result, God blessed him with many descendents as many as the stars in heaven and as many as the grains of sand on the seashore! We are the descendents of Abraham the father of faith! We are the children of faith! Without faith we cannot be baptized! Only with faith can we be baptized! 

The third reading tells us about the Exodus, that is, the liberation of Israel from slavery in Egypt! The third reading tells us that God destroyed the Egyptians in the waters of the Red sea and saved the people of Israel! More importantly, the third reading tells us that God will destroy our sins in the waters of baptism and save us from death!  

The fourth reading tells us about the New Exodus, the Second Exodus, even more important than the First Exodus! The second reading tells us that the people of Israel sinned against God and were exiled to Babylon, but more importantly, the fourth reading tell us that God will bring them back to their homeland in the New Exodus! God will cleanse them with water. God will give them a new heart. God will put his spirit in them and they will live! But most importantly, the fourth reading tells us that in baptism God will cleanse us with the waters of baptism. God will give us a new heart. God will give us the Holy Spirit and we will live! 

The gospel tells us about the resurrection of Jesus Christ! In the gospel the two angels told the women that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead! It is through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that the Holy Spirit is given to us so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

Finally, the fifth reading from the letter to the Romans tells us that it is in baptism that we die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter, never to die anymore and never to sin anymore!

After this homily we will bless the water. We will ask God the Father with his Son Jesus Christ to send the Holy Spirit upon the water:

“We ask you, Father, with your Son to send the Holy Spirit upon the waters of this font.”!

After that we will profess our faith by answering 6 questions, 3 rejecting Satan who tempts us not to have faith in God and more importantly, 3 professing our faith in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit! After that we will be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit! And we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

After baptism, the adults will also receive the sacrament of confirmation. They will be made strong in the Holy Spirit to be witnesses of Jesus Christ. The Greek word for witness is “martyr”, that is, one who suffers or dies for his beliefs! The adults will also receive the sacrament of the Eucharist so that they will continue to grow stronger and stronger in the Holy Spirit! That is why it is important that after baptism and confirmation we continue to come to Mass every Sunday! Again, a happy and blessed Easter to all of you! We will now proceed with the baptism, confirmation and Eucharist!

2nd August 2015 – 18TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Theme: “WORK FOR FOOD THAT ENDURES TO ETERNAL LIFE.”

  • Exodus 16:2-4. 12-15;
  • Psalm 77 (78): 3-4. 23-25. 54. R/ v. 24;
  • Ephesians 4:17. 20-24
  • John 6:24-35

Today is the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us not to “work for food that cannot last”, but to “work for food that endures to eternal life”!

The gospel today tells us that after being fed at “the miracle of the loaves” (Jn 6: 1-15; NJB), the people followed Jesus, but Jesus told them not to work for food that do not last, but to work for food that endures to eternal life.

More importantly, the gospel tells us that to work for food that endures to eternal life means to believe in Jesus! And when we believe in Jesus, God our Father will give us “bread from heaven”. And the bread from heaven will give life to the world!

Most importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus is the “bread from heaven” who gives life to the world! Thus we read in the gospel today:

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never hunger; he who believes in me will never thirst”. (Jn 6:35; SM)

Indeed Jesus is the “bread of life” both in word and in sacrament! Thus the “Gospel Acclamation” today:

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

And thus verse 54 of chapter 6 of today’s gospel:

“Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day”. (NJB)

That is why our Sunday Mass consists of two parts, namely, “the Liturgy of the Word” and “the Liturgy of the Eucharist”. The “Liturgy of the Word” gives us faith. (Rm 10:17) And when we celebrate “the Liturgy of the Eucharist” with faith and eat the body of Christ and drink his blood, the Holy Spirit will transform us into the Body of Christ!

That is why it is important that we come early for Sunday Mass to read the readings before Mass to prepare ourselves for the Mass. And that is why it is important that we listen attentively to the readings and homily during Mass and not talk or use our hand phones during Mass! And that is why it is important that after Mass we share and pray spiritually and personally on the Sunday Mass readings in our Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs)!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the people of Israel had nothing to eat in the desert, so they grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and against God. They wanted to return to Egypt to eat meat and bread.

And more importantly, the first reading tells us that God gave them “bread from heaven”! The first reading prefigures the “bread from heaven” that Jesus gives in today’s gospel!

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

“The Lord gave them bread from heaven”. (Ps 77 (78): 24; SM)

And thus verses 23 to 25 of the responsorial psalm:

“He commanded the clouds above and opened the gates of heaven. He rained down manna for their food, and gave them bread from heaven. Mere men ate the bread of angels. He sent them abundance of food”. (SM)

Again, the responsorial psalm prefigures the “bread from heaven” given by Jesus in today’s gospel!

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 about “Renewal in Christ” (CSB), that is, to put off “the old self” and to put on “the new self”! This we did in baptism and we continue to do every Sunday in the Eucharist!

But we are happy to note that in our parish there are so many renewal movements that help us to renew ourselves in Jesus Christ! We have the Charismatic Renewal, the Prayer Meetings, the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs), the Neo-Catechumenal Communities, the Bible-Sharing Groups, the Alpha Course, the Divine Mercy, etc.! All these renewal movements help us renew ourselves in Jesus Christ!

Today in this Mass, we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ, the food of eternal life! And we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we may be renewed in his Son Jesus Christ! A happy and holy Sunday to all of you!

31st May 2015 – THE MOST HOLY TRINITY or TRINITY SUNDAY

Theme: THE MYSTERY OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY IS THE MYSTERY OF GOD’S LOVE

  •  Deuteronomy 4:32-34. 39-40;
  • Psalm 32 (33): 4-6. 9. 18-20. 22. R/ v. 12;
  • Romans 8:14-17
  • Matthew 28:16-20

Today we celebrate the solemnity of THE MOST HOLY TRINITY, Liturgical Year B. The mystery of the Holy Trinity is the mystery of God’s love. God the Father created us out of love, God the Son saved us out of love, and God the Holy Spirit continues to sanctify us our of love!

God the Father created us out of love, but when we sinned, He loved us even more; He sent His Son Jesus Christ to save us, but when we crucified Him, He loved us even more; He rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit!

The Holy Spirit dwells amongst us and within us, nearer to us than we are to ourselves and loving us more than we love ourselves! (Saint Augustine) The Holy Spirit will continue to love us until we love God, love our neighbor and love ourselves!

That would be the end of the world, not the end of the physical world, but the end of the evil world. That would be the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the Parousia, when all will be saved!

All monotheistic religions believe in one God, but we believe in one God in three persons, because we believe that God is love!

A lecturer in an institute of higher learning in Sabah said that he cannot believe in three persons in one God, and that God can become man and that God can die! He does not believe in a God of love, he believes in a God of law. But we believe that a God of law cannot save us, only a God of love can save us! It is a question of salvation or damnation, life or death!       

 

The first reading tells us that God is love! In fact, the heading for this first reading in the Catholic Study Bible (CSB) is “Proofs of God’s love”! What proves that God loves the people of Israel is that God freed them from slavery in Egypt in the Exodus! God also revealed himself to them on Mount Sinai (Horeb) and gave them the Ten Commandments! God gave the Israelites laws and commandments, so that they and their children may become prosperous and live long lives in the land God gives them! Indeed God loves not only in words, but also in action!

 

The responsorial psalm tells us that God created the whole universe, including the Sun, Moon and stars, with a mere word! More importantly, the responsorial psalm tells us that our greatness consists in God choosing us as a special people and our faithful response to him! (CSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.” (Ps 32 (33): 12; SM)

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas tell us that God created the whole universe with a mere word! The third and fourth stanzas tell us that our greatness consists of God choosing us as a special people and our faithful response to him! Thus again the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.” (Ps 32 (33): 12; SM)

 

The gospel today tells us about the resurrection of Jesus Christ! The gospel tells us that after his resurrection the Lord sent his disciples to make disciples of all the nations, to baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and to teach them to obey all the commandments that he has given them. And that the Lord was with them until the end of time!

The Ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit are not mentioned in today’s gospel! For Matthew’s gospel today, the Ascension coincides with the Resurrection and like Paul (2 Co 3:17) the Holy Spirit is the presence of the Lord with his disciples! (NJBC)

 

The second reading tells us that the Holy Spirit makes us into children of God, calling God our Father! And we become heirs of God and coheirs with Jesus Christ, sharing in his sufferings so as to share in his glory! That is, loving as Jesus loved, that is, loving until suffering and death and sharing in his resurrection and glory!

 

Today as we celebrate the solemnity of The Most Holy Trinity, we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ, especially for his death and resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit, and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we can love God, love neighbor and love ourselves and so that we can love as Jesus loved, that is, to love until suffering and death so as to share in his resurrection and glory! A happy and blessed Trinity Sunday to all of you!                                                                                                                        Amen!

 

The Holy Trinity is a community of persons living in love and unity! We are also to live in communities of love and unity! We are to build communities of love and unity, so that our parish church may be a community of communities of love and unity and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the whole world! A happy and blessed feast day to all of you!  Amen!

29th March 2016 – Passion Sunday

Theme: THE PASSION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IS VICTORY, RESURRECTION, LIFE, GLORY AND SALVATION

  • Mark 11:1-10; Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 21:8-9. 17-20. 23-24. R/ v. 2;
  • Philippians 2:6-11
  • Mark 14:1- 15:47 (Shorter Form, 15:1-39)

Today we celebrate Passion Sunday. Passion Sunday is also called Palm Sunday. This is because the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ is victory, resurrection, life, glory and salvation! The Palm symbolizes victory, resurrection, life, glory and salvation!

The gospel today tells us that the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ is resurrection and glory. The gospel tells us in Jesus’ own words that the passion is resurrection and glory! When they were at the Mount of Olives, Jesus told his disciples that they will lose faith in him and they will desert him, but more importantly, Jesus told them that after his resurrection he will go before them to Galilee. The gospel also tells us that when the high priest asked Jesus if he was the Christ/Messiah and the Son of God, Jesus answered that he was! And Jesus added that he will sit at the right hand of God in glory and he will come with the clouds of heaven in glory!       

The gospel also tells us that the passion of Jesus Christ is salvation! The gospel tells us that Barabbas the murderer was saved and Jesus the innocent one was crucified in his place! The gospel also tells us that when Jesus died, the veil of the temple which separated the “holy of holies” from the rest of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. Only the high priest entered the holy of holies and only once a year on the Day of Atonement! But now the presence of God in the holy of holies becomes assessable to everyone and at every time! Finally, the gospel tells us that the pagan centurion professed his faith in Jesus as the Son of God!

 

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us that the passion of Jesus Christ is victory, resurrection and glory! The first reading is the third of four suffering servant songs of Isaiah. The suffering servant is innocent, but he suffers on behalf of the guilty – vicarious suffering! The Lord will save his suffering servant and through him the Lord will save the whole world! Thus we read in the first reading:

“I offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who tore at my beard; I did not cover my face against insult and spittle. The Lord comes to my help, so that I am untouched by the insults. So, too, I set my face like flint; I know I shall not be shamed.”

 

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us that the passion of Jesus Christ is victory and glory.

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The response and the first three stanzas tell us of the sufferings of the servant (NJB), but more importantly, the fourth stanza tells us that the suffering servant praises God for his salvation and invites the whole community to praise God for salvation! Thus the fourth stanza:

“I will tell of your name to my brethren and praise you where they are assembled. ‘You who fear the Lord give him praise; all sons of Jacob, give him glory. Revere him, Israel’s sons.’”

 

The second reading also follows the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us that Jesus Christ was God, but he did not count equality with God. He became man and he became lower than man by accepting death on the cross. But God raised him high and gave him the name above all other names, so that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bend and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father! Again, the passion of Jesus Christ is victorious and glorious! That is why we have to put the palm with the crucifix to symbolize that the passion of Jesus Christ is resurrection and glory!

 

During the past five weeks of Lent we have been praying, fasting and giving alms to the poor, to prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery of the Lord’s death and resurrection. We celebrate the paschal mystery during Holy Week. Passion Sunday / Palm Sunday begins Holy Week and climaxes in the Easter Triduum of the Lord’s death (Good Friday), burial (Holy Saturday) and resurrection (Easter Sunday)! Good Friday begins with Holy Thursday. The Easter Triduum begins with Holy Thursday and ends with the Easter Vigil. The Easter Triduum is one celebration. There will not be any dismissal on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. The dismissal will only be given after the Easter Vigil. Lent will end with the Holy Thursday Evening Mass, exclusive. Let us then continue to pray, fast and give alms to the poor to follow the Lord in his suffering and death, so as to follow him in his resurrection and glory! A blessed Holy Week to all of you!