EASTER SUNDAY (Year C) – 21st Apr 2019

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

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

A happy Easter to all of you! We are happy because Jesus Christ has risen from the dead! We are happy because last night during the Easter Vigil Baptism, our brothers and sisters died and rose with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! We are happy because last night we also renewed our faith and baptism and died and rose with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

Today we have our big Easter/Paschal candle lighted in our sanctuary symbolizing Jesus Christ our light! Light in the New Testament symbolizes 3 things:

(i) Light symbolizes faith as opposed to unbelief which is darkness and blindness.
(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 from God, and the life from God is a life of good and goodness!  

Most importantly, light will overcome darkness, faith will overcome unbelief, life will overcome death, and good will overcome evil; 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, completely, fully and totally! 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 gospel today tells us about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The gospel tells us that Mary of Magdala went to the tomb of Jesus and found that the stone covering the tomb had been moved away! She thought that the body of Jesus had been taken away and she ran to tell Peter and John about it.

Peter and John ran to the tomb and entering the tomb Peter saw the linen cloths lying on the ground and the cloth over Jesus’ head rolled up and separated from the linen cloths. That is to say the tomb was not robed and nothing was stolen. That is to say Jesus Christ has risen from the dead! Most importantly, the gospel tells us that John also went into the tomb and he saw and he believed! (CSB; IBC; NJBC)

The first reading also tells us about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The first reading tells us that Peter and the apostles ate and drank with Jesus after his resurrection from the dead! Jesus spent forty days with them after his resurrection before ascending into heaven! (NJB)

But more importantly, the first reading tells us that Jesus told Peter to tell the people about it so that those who believe in Jesus will have their sins forgiven in his name. That is, to be baptized in his name! That is why immediately following today’s first reading is the “baptism of the first gentiles”! (NJB) That is why last night we had baptisms!

The second reading tells us about baptism! (NJB; IBC; CCB) The second reading tells us that after baptism we must not look for worldly things, but we must look for the things in heaven! After baptism our glory is not yet complete, but it will be completed and perfected in heaven where we will be with Jesus and God the Father!

That is why we renew our faith and baptism every year at Easter, until one day our glory will be completed at the second coming of Jesus Christ at the end of time in heaven!

We shall now renew our faith and baptism by answering 6 questions, 3 rejecting Satan who tempts us not to believe in God as he tempted Adam and Jesus in the readings on the First Sunday of Lent!

After answering “I do” 6 times, we will be sprinkled with the waters of baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit and we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter. Again, a happy Easter to all of you! Amen!

The Easter Vigil (Year C) – 20th April 2019

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!

4th Sunday of Lent – 31st Mar 2019

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

  • 1 Samuel 16:1. 6-7. 10-13;
  • Psalm 22 (23). R/ v. 1;
  • Ephesians 5:8-14
  • John 9:1-41 (Shorter Form, 9:1. 6-9. 13-17. 34-38.)

Today is the 4th Sunday of Lent, Liturgical Year A. We use Liturgical Year A instead of Year C, because there will be baptisms on Easter Vigil Night! The readings of Year A are most suitable for baptism!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus is the light of the world (v. 5b)! Light in the New Testament symbolizes 3 things (NIB; Jn 8:12b): (i) Light symbolizes faith as opposed to unbelief which is darkness. (ii) Light symbolizes life, contentment and joy as opposed to death, unhappiness and misery which is darkness. (iii) Light symbolizes good as opposed to evil which is darkness.

More importantly, the 3 themes are related, that is, faith in God gives us 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 the Risen Lord continues to overcome the darkness of the devil through the power of the Holy Spirit until the end of time when all darkness will be overcome! That would be the end of the world, that is, the end of the evil world!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus is the light of faith. (CCB; Lefrois) The gospel tells us that Jesus cured the blind man so that he could see not only physically, but also spiritually, that is, with the eyes of faith!

The gospel tells us that the faith of the blind man grew! At first he saw Jesus to be a man, then he saw Jesus to be a prophet, and finally at the end, he worshipped Jesus as Lord! The faith of the Pharisees on the other hand got from bad to worse! At first they said that Jesus was not from God, and then they doubted that the miracle even happened, and finally they called Jesus a sinner!

We have to grow in our faith every year; otherwise our faith will decrease and disappear! That is why we renew our faith and baptism every year! That is why on Easter Vigil Night we have to answer 6 questions, 3 to reject Satan and 3 to profess our faith in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit!

The gospel today also tells us about baptism. The gospel tells us that Jesus put a paste on the eyes of the blind man and told him to wash in the Pool of Siloam. After washing the blind man could see with the eyes of faith!

In baptism we will also be anointed with the oil of chrism. We will also be washed with the waters of baptism. We will also be able to see with the eyes of faith. That is why we will be given candles lighted from the big Easter candle! We will be given the light of faith, life and goodness!

The Gospel Acclamation tells us that Jesus is the light of life! Thus we read in the Gospel Acclamation:

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

The second reading tells us that Jesus is 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 first reading tells us that David was anointed king by the prophet Samuel and the spirit of the Lord seized on him from that day onwards! Thus we read in the first reading:

“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 S 16:13; SM)  

In the Sacrament of Confirmation we will also be anointed with the oil of Chrism and we will also receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit and we will be made strong witnesses of the Lord!

The responsorial psalm is on the good Shepherd! The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas are on the good Shepherd. The third and fourth stanzas are on the host of the messianic banquet.

The messianic banquet is a prefigure of the Eucharist! (CCB) And the Eucharist is an anticipation of the heavenly banquet! Thus we read in the third and fourth stanzas of the psalm:

“You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes. My head you have anointed with oil; my cup is overflowing. Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me all the days of my life. In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.” (Ps 22 (23): 5-6; SM)

On Easter Vigil Night some of our catechumens will be receiving the three Sacraments of Christian Initiation, namely, Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist! In Baptism they will be born again in the Holy Spirit, in Confirmation they will be made strong in the Holy Spirit and in the Eucharist they will continue to grow in the Holy Spirit! That is why it is important that after Baptism and Confirmation they continue to come to Mass every Sunday!

During this time of Lent the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor to prepare us to receive the three Sacraments of Christian Initiation, and for those of us who are baptized to prepare us to renew our baptism so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

Today is the 4th Sunday of Lent. Today is Rejoice Sunday or Joyful Sunday because we are more than half way through to Easter! That is why we use pink/rose vestment! A happy and joyful Sunday to all of you! Amen!

The Easter Vigil – 31st March 2018

Theme: IN THE SACRAMENT OF 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
  • Mark 16:1-7

A happy Easter to all of you! The word Easter comes from the word east, the direction from which the sun rises. Just as the sun gives light, life, heat and energy, Jesus the new Sun gives the light of faith, eternal life, love, joy and peace (shalom)! We celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December in place of the feast of the pagan “sun god”, because Jesus is the new “Sun God”!

Again, a happy and blessed Easter to all of you! We began this Easter Vigil celebration with the service of light, because Jesus Christ is our light, that is, Jesus Christ gives us the light of faith, the light of life and the light of good; as opposed to unbelief, death and evil respectively, which is darkness!

More importantly, the three are connected, that is, when we have faith, we receive new life from God and we do good; but when we do not have faith, we do not receive new life from God and we do evil!

Most importantly, light will overcome darkness, faith will overcome unbelief, life will overcome death and good will overcome evil! Because Jesus has overcome the Devil in himself, and Jesus will overcome the Devil in us by his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! And we receive his Holy Spirit tonight, in his Church in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist, the three sacraments of initiation!

That is what the readings tell us tonight!

The first reading from Genesis tells us that we were created in the image of God, that is, like God, we have to create life, especially human life, we are co-creators of God; like God we have to love; and like God we are to be happy! That is the meaning of heaven!

But we sinned, we destroy life instead of create life. We destroy life in the environment, in wars, and we even destroy life in the womb of the mother, making it the most dangerous place in the world! We hate and we take revenge instead of loving and forgiving. And we are very unhappy instead of being happy like God in heaven!

But when we sinned God loved us even more! His Son Jesus Christ became man to save us!

The second reading from Genesis tells us that this history of salvation began with Abraham the father of faith! The second reading tells us that God tested Abraham’s faith, that is, God made Abraham’s faith stronger! Abraham’s faith was so strong that he sacrificed his only son Isaac, the son of the promise, to God!

But more importantly, Isaac prefigures Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, who sacrificed himself for the salvation of the world! (NJB; CCB) Jesus Christ did this by his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! Again, tonight we will receive his Holy Spirit in his Church in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist!

The third reading from Exodus tells us that the Lord destroyed the Egyptians in the waters of the Red Sea and saved Israel in the waters of the Red Sea! In the same way, tonight, the Lord will destroy our sin and death in the waters of baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit and give us life, love and joy!

The fourth reading from Ezekiel tells us that the Lord will pour clean water over us to cleanse us and the Lord will put his spirit in us and we shall live! Again, in the waters of baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit, the Lord cleanse us from sin and death and give us his spirit and life!

Finally, the gospel/good news from Mark tells us that the Lord has indeed risen from the dead! The gospel tells us that the women went to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away! And on entering the tomb an angel (Mt 28:5) told them that the Lord has indeed risen and will meet the disciples in Galilee as he had promised!

Most importantly, the fifth reading from Romans tells us that in Baptism we are baptized in Christ’s death and just as Jesus Christ rose from the dead we will also rise from the dead with him to a new life, never to sin anymore!

We shall now proceed with the Liturgy of Baptism. We shall do three important things. We shall ask God the Father and the Son to send the Holy Spirit into the waters of Baptism. We shall then profess our faith in God the Father the Creator, God the Son the Savior and God the Holy Spirit the Sanctifier. We shall then be baptized in the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit! We shall then die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

Some of us may also receive the sacrament of Confirmation. The sacrament of Confirmation completes the sacrament of Baptism. In Confirmation we receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit and are strengthened by the Holy Spirit!

Some of us may also receive the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist completes the three sacraments of initiation! In the sacrament of the Eucharist, or Holy Communion, we eat the body of Christ and drink his blood and we continue to grow in the Holy Spirit! And we continue to do this every Sunday. Every Sunday is a celebration of Easter!

We will come back every year to renew our baptism on Easter Vigil Night and continue to grow every year in the Holy Spirit, until the day we reach perfection in heaven! Again, a happy and blessed Easter 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!

 

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Theme: JESUS, THE LIGHT OF LIFE AND THE LIGHT OF HAPPINESS

  • Isaiah 8:23 – 9:3
  • Psalm 26:1. 4. 13-14. R. v. 1
  • 1 Corinthians 1:10 – 13. 17
  • Matthew 4:12 – 23

Today is the 3rd Sunday of the Year. The readings today tell us that Jesus Christ is the light of life and the light of happiness! In the New Testament, light symbolizes 3 main things, that is, (i) anything that shows us the way to God, (ii) life and happiness, and (iii) light as good as darkness symbolizes evil (NJB: John 8:12b). In the readings today, light symbolizes life and happiness! Jesus is the light of life and the light of happiness!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus is the light of life and the light of happiness! But more importantly, the gospel today tells us that Jesus is the light of life and happiness, because he preaches the good news of repentance: “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven (God) is close at hand”! The parallel text in “Mark 1:14-15” which is more original reads: “Repent and believe the Good News”!

In this short text is contained the “Messianic Secret” to life and happiness! Repent means more than turning away from sin, it also means turning away from the world! For if we only turn away from sin, but not turn away from the world, we will turn back to sin again and again and again and again ….! Turning away from the world does not mean escaping from the world and being irresponsible to the world, but it means not believing that power, richness, status, etc., can give us life and happiness!

But more importantly, the gospel today tells us not only to turn away from sin and from the world, but to turn to God, that is, to believe in him, to believe in his love, his mercy and his forgiveness, to believe that God, and God alone can give us life and happiness!

It is most important not only to believe in God, but also to believe that God is love! There are as many “Gods” as there are religions. There are the “Gods” of the law, of “justice”, of revenge, of war, etc., but the God of Jesus Christ is a God of love, mercy and forgiveness! The “Gods” of law, “justice”, revenge, war, etc., cannot give us life and happiness, only the God of Jesus Christ can give us life and happiness!

That is why the gospel today quotes the first reading from Isaiah to tell us that Jesus Christ is the light of life and the light of happiness: “The people that lived in darkness has seen a great light; on those who dwell in the land and shadow of death a light has dawned”!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah in the first reading!

The first reading is from the prophet Isaiah! The historical context of the first reading is in the 8th century BC (Before Christ), when the Assyrians invaded “Zebulun” and “Naphtali” (“Capernaum” in the New Testament) in northern Palestine and exiled their people!

 

It was in this historical context that Isaiah prophesied: “The people that walked in darkness has seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone. You have made their gladness greater, you have made their joy increase; they rejoice in your presence as men rejoice at harvest time, as men are happy when they are dividing the spoils”!

The gospel today tells us that this prophesy of Isaiah of life and happiness is fulfilled in Jesus Christ when he came to proclaim the good news of Repentance: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand”, or in the parallel text in the gospel of Mark: “Repent and believe the Good News”!

The responsorial psalm helps us to meditate on the first reading. The responsorial psalm today is a psalm of “trust in God” (CSB/NAB), that is, to trust that God and God alone is the source of life and happiness and salvation!

Thus in the response of the responsorial psalm we sing: “The Lord is my light (life and happiness) and my salvation” (NJB)!

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday readings, but today the second part of the second reading is relevant to the theme of the Sunday readings, as Paul tells us “to preach the Good News, and not to preach that in the terms of philosophy in which the crucifixion of Christ cannot be expressed”! (1 Cor 1:17).

  We have to preach the Good News (“Kerygma” in Greek) of Christ’s death and Resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the Salvation of the world, so that the world may believe and be saved and find life and happiness!

Preaching politics, sociology, psychology, human wisdom, philosophy, science, “social justice”, etc., will never ever give faith and salvation, and life and happiness to the world!

Let us now conclude with the second part of today’s gospel; found in the long form of the gospel, that is, the calling of the first disciples! The gospel today tells us that when Jesus Called Peter and Andrew, they “at once” left their nets and followed him! And the gospel tells us that when Jesus called James and John, they “at once” left their boat and their father and followed him!

Why was their response to the call of Jesus immediate and total, immediate, that is, here and now, and total, that is, leaving everything! This is because to proclaim the Good News is the most important and the most urgent thing to do! Some things are important, but not urgent. Some things are urgent, but not important. Some things are urgent and important, but not the most important and the most urgent! But to proclaim the Good News is the most important and the most urgent!

The Church exhorts us today to go forth and proclaim the good news so that the world may believe and be saved, and so that the world may find life and happiness!

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!