25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 22nd September 2019

Theme: SERVE GOD, NOT MONEY: PRACTICE SOCIAL JUSTICE AND CHARITY TOWARDS THE POOR

  • Amos 8:4-7;
  • Psalm 112:1-2. 4-8. R/ cf. vv. 1. 7;
  • 1 Timothy 2:1-8
  • Luke 16:10-13 (Shorter Form)

Today is the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us to serve God and not to serve money, that is, to practice social justice and charity towards the poor!

The first reading tells us to practice social justice towards the poor. The first reading is from the prophet Amos. Amos was a prophet of social justice! Amos was a prophet in the 8th century BC when the Northern Kingdom of Israel was very rich! But the riches of Israel belonged to the rich and powerful people. More than that, the rich and powerful people oppressed and exploited the poor and the weak people. In short, the rich and powerful people practiced social injustice towards the poor and weak people. The prophet Amos preached against social injustices! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Hear this, you who trample on the needy to do away with the weak of the land. You who say, ‘When will the new moon or the Sabbath feast be over that we may open the store and sell our grain? Let us lower the measure and raise the price; let us cheat and tamper with the scales, and even sell the refuse with the whole grain. We will buy up the poor for money and the needy for a pair of sandals.’ Yahweh, the pride of Jacob, has sworn by himself, ‘I shall never forget their deeds.’” (Am 8: 4-7; CCB)   

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm praises God who raises up the poor! Thus the response:

“Praise the Lord, who raises the poor.” (cf. vv. 1. 7)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza gives praise to God (vv. 1-2). The second stanza exalts and elevates God (vv. 4-6). And the third stanza tells us that God raises up the poor (vv. 7-8). (NJBC) Thus the third stanza from which the response is taken:

“From the dust he lifts up the lowly, from the dungheap he raises the poor to set him in the company of princes, yes, with the princes of his people.” (vv. 7-8)       

The gospel today tells us to practice charity towards the poor and the weak! Our late Pope, Blessed John Paul II, tells us that social justice is not good enough; we must also practice charity towards the poor. Thus we read in the last verse of the long form of the gospel today:

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

The gospel today also tells us that we cannot be the slave of both God and money, that is, we have to serve God and not serve money, that is, we have to serve God by practicing justice and charity towards the poor; and not serve money by practicing injustice towards the poor, and not helping the poor. Thus we read in the gospel today:

“You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.” (Lk 16:13; SM) 

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again, the second reading has something very important to tell us. The second reading tells us to pray for everyone, because God wants to save everyone! We pray because God is the Savior and we pray for everyone because God wants to save everyone! Thus the caption of the second reading:

“There should be prayers offered for everyone to God, who wants everyone to be saved.”  

Today we thank God for all his blessings, particularly the material blessings, particularly money, and we ask God to help us to practice social justice and charity towards the poor and the needy. God bless you! Amen!

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 28th July 2019

Theme: WE PRAY TO GOD OUR FATHER BECAUSE HE IS LOVE, MERCY, FORGIVENESS AND SALVATION

  • Genesis 18:20-32;
  • Psalm 137 (138):1-3. 6-8. R/ v. 3;
  • Colossians 2:12-14
  • Luke 11:1-13

Today is the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us to pray to God our Father, because he is love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation! The gospel today tells us about the Lord’s Prayer! It is taken from the gospel of St. Luke.

The Lord’s Prayer in St. Luke is different from that of St. Matthew which is called the “Our Father” and which we pray during Mass! The Lord’s Prayer of St. Luke has no “Our” before “Father”. It is more original and closer to Jesus’ teaching. It has only 5 petitions, while St. Matthew has 7 petitions. St. Matthew favors the number 7!

To begin with, the Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father is the prayer of a “child” to the Father! A child is totally dependent on the Father and he trusts the Father totally. The Father on the other hand protects and provides for the child. The child without the Father is totally helpless and hopeless! That is why the priests pray the Our Father during Mass with outstretched, upwards and open palms!

Thus in the first petition of the Our Father we ask God our Father to make his name holy. In the second petition we ask God our Father to make his kingdom come. And after praying first that the Father’s will be done, we pray for our own needs. Thus in the third petition of the Our Father we pray for daily bread, especially the bread of the Eucharist! In the fourth petition, we pray for forgiveness of our sins as we forgive others who sin against us. And in the fifth petition we pray that we may not lose our faith (apostasy; NJBC), especially in times of persecution!

The second part of the gospel tells us that we have to pray persistently and perseveringly. We have to pray the Our Father persistently and perseveringly. The Our Father is the model of all prayers taught to us by Jesus himself! It is a prayer of faith. Without faith we cannot pray. Again, it is the prayer of a “child” totally dependent on the Father and totally trusting in the Father! All our prayers have to be modeled after the Our Father and we have to pray all our prayers persistently and perseveringly!

The third part of the gospel tells us that our prayers will be effective, that is, God will answer our prayers! Indeed God answers our prayers by giving us the Holy Spirit! And it is in the power of the Holy Spirit that God’s name will be made holy in us, with us and through us! And it is in the power of the Holy Spirit that God’s kingdom will come in us, with us and through us!

And it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that God will give us our daily bread, especially the bread of the Eucharist! And it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that God will forgive our sins so that we will also forgive the sins of others. And it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we will not lose our faith and apostatize even in times of severe persecutions.

The first reading tells us that Abraham prayed persistently and perseveringly to God who is just and merciful! (NJB; IBC) The first reading tells us that God wanted to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sins, but Abraham prayed and bargained with God not to destroy the just men with the wicked men, because it was unjust to destroy the just men with the wicked men, and because God was just! Abraham prayed and bargained with God persistently and perseveringly from fifty, forty-five, forty, thirty, twenty to just ten just men and God agreed not to destroy the ten just men with the wicked men! In being just to the just men, God was also being merciful to the wicked men!

The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving for salvation! Thus the response:

“On the day I called, you answered me, O Lord.” (Ps 137:3; SM)

That is, ‘On the day I called, you saved me, O Lord.’ The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas (vv. 1-3) tell us that God saves us because God loves us. God is faithful love! The third and fourth stanzas (vv. 6-8) tell us to pray to God because he loves us and saves us! (CSB; NJBC)

The second reading tells us that through his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Jesus has forgiven us our sins. He has nailed our sins to the cross! And we receive this forgiveness in the sacrament of Baptism! Thus we read in the caption of the second reading:

    “He has brought you to life with him, he has forgiven us all our sins.” (Col 2:13; SM)

Today we thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit which makes us call God, “Our Father”, and we ask God to continue to give us the Holy Spirit so that we may make his name holy and so that we may make his kingdom come on earth! God bless you! Amen!

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!

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!