4th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 3rd February 2019

Theme: JESUS THE PROPHET OF GOD SPEAKS GOD’S WORD OF SALVATION

  • Jeremiah 1:4-5. 17-19;
  • Psalm 70 (71):1-6. 15. 17. R/ v. 15;
  • 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13
  • Luke 4:21-30

Today is the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The gospel today tells us that Jesus is the prophet of God who speaks God’s word of salvation! Thus we read in the gospel today, “the gracious words that came from his lips”. “Gracious words”, that is, words of salvation. “Came from his lips” (Dt 8:3), that is, word of God. (NJBC)

More importantly, the gospel today tells us that like the prophets Elijah and Elisha, who ministered not only to the Jews but also to the pagans, not only to man (Naaman) but also to woman (widow); Jesus came to save not only the Jews but also the pagans, not only man but also woman!

Most importantly, the gospel tells us that the Jews rejected Jesus and they wanted to throw him down the cliff, but Jesus slipped through them. This points to the future rejection of Jesus by the Jews and to the “Easter victory” of Jesus! (NJBC)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us about the call of the prophet Jeremiah. The prophet Jeremiah prefigures Jesus the prophet! Like Jesus, Jeremiah was called to be a prophet to all the nations, not only to the Jews! Like Jesus, Jeremiah was also rejected by the Jews. The second part of today’s first reading (vv. 17-19) tells us that the kings, princes, priests and people of Judah will fight against Jeremiah. And like Jesus, the Lord was with Jeremiah to deliver him!

The responsorial psalm is a prayer of an old man, but in the context of today’s readings, it is a prayer of a persecuted prophet. The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. Stanzas one, two and three is a prayer for deliverance (vv. 1-6). Stanza four is a vow to praise and thank God for deliverance (vv. 15. 17). (NJBC) Thus the response which is taken from the fourth stanza:

“My lips will tell of your help”. (Ps 70 (71): 15; SM)

We are all called to be prophets because of our baptism! The readings today tell us about being prophets:

(i) We must speak God’s word of salvation. (Gospel)

(ii) We must speak to all the nations. (Gospel and First Reading)

(iii) We must expect rejection. (Gospel and First Reading)

(iv) God is with us to deliver us. (Gospel and First reading)

(v) We must pray for deliverance. (Responsorial Psalm)

(vi) We must prophesy with love. (Second Reading)

The second reading today tells us to be ambitious for the higher gifts, that is, the gifts of faith, hope and love. In fact the second reading tells us to be ambitious for the highest gift, that is, the gift of love! In heaven we do not need faith and hope anymore! In heaven we find only love and love gives life and happiness! Thus in heaven we find only three things, that is, love, life and happiness! Thus the second reading concludes:

“In short, there are three things that last: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Co 13:13; SM)

The second reading today tells us that

“Love is always patient and kind: it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offence, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.” (1 Co 13:4-7; SM)

The quotation above can serve as a checklist to see if you have love or to see if others have love. We have only to substitute the word love with our name or with the name of others. But first substitute the word love with the name Jesus because Jesus is love!

Today in this Mass we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ the prophet par excellence and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we may become the prophets of God to speak God’s word of salvation to all the nations!

Today in this Mass we also thank God for the many spiritual gifts and charisms and we ask God to help us to be ambitious for the highest gift, that is, the gift of love, so that we can love God, neighbor and our own very selves! A Happy and Blessed Sunday to all of you! Amen!

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (year B) – 11th November 2018 (Alternative Homily)

Theme: GIVING

  • 1 Kings 17:10-16;
  • Psalm 145 (146):7-10. R/ v. 2;
  • Hebrews 9:24-28
  • Mark 12:38-44

Today is the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us about giving. The gospel today tells us that a widow gave to the Temple treasury all that she possessed and all that she had to live on. The first reading tells us that a widow shared her last meal with the prophet Elijah. The second reading tells us that Jesus gave himself once and for all! These three readings tell us about giving:

(1) No one is too poor to give. The widow in the gospel gave two small coins. The widow in the first reading shared her last meal. Jesus gave himself! 

(2) It is not how much we give, but how much we have left after giving. The two widows and Jesus had nothing left after giving! 

(3) One cannot love without giving. Last Sunday’s readings were on love. This Sunday’s readings are on giving! 

(4) In giving, we do not only help the poor, but we also help ourselves to depend on God and not to depend on money. Our religious sisters, brothers and priests take the vow of poverty, not because poverty is good, not even because they want to help the poor, but because they want to depend on God and not on money. (Mt 5:3; Mt 6:33) 

(5) It is more blessed to give than to receive. The widow was blessed with food and life after she shared her last meal with the prophet Elijah. 

(6) We do not only give to the poor, we also give to God. The first widow gave to the Temple treasury. The second widow shared her last meal with Elijah the Prophet of God. Jesus gave himself to God his Father! 

(7) Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who worked among the poorest of the poor, tells us that we must give until it hurts. The two widows and Jesus gave until it hurts! 

(8) We do not only give money. We also give things, food, oneself, time, service, talents, love, etc. One widow gave money, one gave food, and Jesus gave himself. 

(9) We give what we have received from God! What we have received freely from God, we give freely! 

(10) We have to give and to receive, that is, to love and to be loved! Reciprocal love! (Focolare)

Today in this Mass, let us pray that we may have the Spirit of the two widows and of Jesus Christ Himself, so that we may give to God and to neighbour, especially to the poor and needy. Amen!

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 4th November 2018

Theme: WE LOVE GOD, NEIGHBOR AND ONESELF BECAUSE GOD FIRST LOVED US

  • Deuteronomy 6:2-6;
  • Psalm 17 (18): 2-4. 47. 51. R/ v. 2;
  • Hebrews 7:23-28
  • Mark 12:28-34

Today is the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us about the greatest commandment of the Law, that is, we are to love the Lord our God with all our soul, all our heart, all our mind and with all our strength, that is, we are to love the Lord our God with our whole person and being! And we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves! Three things come to mind:

(i) We love because God first loved us! (1 Jn 4:19) We love God because God first loved us. We love our neighbor because God first loved us. And we love ourselves because God first loved us. Our love for God, neighbor and oneself is only a response to God’s first love for us!

(ii) We cannot love God if we do not also love our neighbor!

“Anyone who says ‘I love God’ and hates his brother, is a liar, since whoever does not love the brother whom he can see cannot love God whom he has not seen. Indeed this is the commandment we have received from him, that whoever loves God, must also love his brother.” (1 Jn 4: 20-21; NJB)

But more importantly, we cannot love our brother if we do not first love God, because love comes from God!

“Love consists in this: it is not we who loved God, but God loved us and sent his Son to expiate our sins. My dear friends, if God loved us so much, we too should love each other.” (1 Jn 4:10-11; NJB)  

H. Fuller (Preaching the Lectionary, 1984) tells us that Jesus joined the first and second commandments in a radical sense:

“Love of God is illusory if it does not issue in love of neighbor, and love of neighbor is refined self-love if it does not proceed from the love of God.”

(iii) In the year 2007, 138 Muslim scholars, clerics and intellectuals, etc. from all over the world, including 2 from Malaysia wrote a letter to Pope Benedict XVI to dialogue on these two greatest commandments to love God and neighbor! Our Pope accepted the invitation to dialogue, emphasizing that one cannot love God if one does not also love one’s neighbor!

The letter was entitled “A Common Word Between Us and You”! (13th October 2007) The common word is love, that is, love of God and love of neighbor! When two of the greatest religions of the world, that is, Christianity and Islam, come together to dialogue on the two greatest commandments of God, there is hope for love and peace in the world! The dialogue is still going on!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us about the greatest commandment of the Law, that is,

“The Lord our God is the one Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength.” (Dt 6:4-5; Sunday Missal (SM))

The first reading also tells us that if we keep the commandments of God, especially the commandment to love God, we will be blessed with long life; long life for ourselves, for our children and for our grand children. We will also be blessed with prosperity and fertility so that we will increase and multiply and have many children and grand children! We will also be blessed with a land flowing with milk and honey, that is, a land of grace and a land of abundance!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the first sentence of the responsorial psalm from which the response is taken:

“I love you, Lord, my strength, my rock, my fortress, my saviour.” (Ps 17 (18): 2-3; SM)

Indeed, the Lord saved us (NJBC) by loving us in his Son Jesus Christ! Thus verses 4. 47 and 51 of the responsorial psalm:

“The Lord is worthy of all praise: when I call I am saved from my foes. Long life to the Lord, my rock! Praised be the God who saves me. He has given great victories to his king and shown his love for his anointed.” (Ps 17 (18): 4. 47. 51; SM)

And thus the response:

“I love you, Lord, my strength.” (Ps 17 (18): 2; SM)

The second reading tells us about the differences between the Levitical Priesthood and the Priesthood of Jesus Christ:

(i) The Levitical Priesthood is temporary and transitory, but the Priesthood of Jesus Christ is eternal and permanent.

(ii) The Levitical priest is himself a sinner, but Jesus Christ is sinless.

(iii) The Levitical priest offers sacrifices every year and according to the letter to the Hebrews, everyday, but Jesus Christ offered himself once and for all!

(iv) The Levitical priest cannot save, but Jesus Christ is the only Savior of the world!

Today in the Eucharist, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we make present, real and effective the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our salvation and today in the Eucharist we receive the Holy Spirit to help us love God with all our soul, our heart, our mind and our strength, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves! A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you! Amen!

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 21st October 2018

Theme: JESUS CAME TO SERVE, TO SUFFER AND TO SACRIFICE HIMSELF IN ORDER TO SANCTIFY AND SAVE THE WORLD WITH HIS LOVE, MERCY AND GRACE (Mission Sunday)

  • Isaiah 53:10-11;
  • Psalm 32 (33): 4-5. 18-20. 22. R/ v. 22;
  • Hebrews 4:14-16
  • Mark 10:35-45

Today is the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that Jesus came to serve, to suffer, and to sacrifice Himself in order to sanctify and save the world with his love, mercy and grace.

The gospel today tells us that the disciples James and John requested from Jesus that they sit at Jesus’ left and right hand in His glory. The gospel also tells us that the other ten disciples were angry with James and John because they too wanted to sit at Jesus’ left and right hand in His glory.

But Jesus taught them that to become great one must become servant and to be first one must be slave of all. For the Son of Man himself came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many! That is, Jesus came to serve, to suffer, and to sacrifice his life in order to sanctify and save the world with his love, mercy and grace! Thus we read in the gospel today:

“For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mk 10: 45; SM)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading is the fourth of four Suffering Servant Songs of Isaiah.

The first reading tells us that the Suffering Servant was innocent but he suffered on behalf of the guilty to save them from sin. Vicarious suffering! Thus we read in the first reading:

“By his sufferings shall my servant justify many, taking their faults on himself.” (Is 53:11; SM)

Again, Jesus came to serve, to suffer and to sacrifice himself in order to sanctify and save the world with his love, mercy and grace! That is why the responsorial psalm tells us about the love of God and the second reading tells us about the mercy and grace of God!

The responsorial psalm tells us about the love of God. The responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord fills the earth with his love, and he looks on those who hope in his love, and the responsorial psalm tells us to pray for his love! Thus we read in the responsorial psalm:

“The Lord loves justice and right and fills the earth with is love. The Lord looks on those who revere him, on those who hope in his love. May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.” (Ps 32 (33): 5. 18. 22; SM)

And 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 second reading tells us about the mercy and grace of God. The second reading tells us to approach the throne of grace with confidence that we will receive his mercy for the forgiveness of our sins and that we will receive his grace to help us not to sin anymore! Thus we read in the second reading:

“Let us be confident, then, in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help” (Heb 4:16; SM)

Today in this Mass we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ who suffered, died and rose from the dead to give us the Holy Spirit. And we ask God our Father through his Son Jesus Christ to give us the Holy Spirit to help us serve, suffer and sacrifice ourselves in order to sanctify and save the world with love, mercy and grace! A happy and joyful Sunday to all of you! Amen!

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 7th October 2018

Theme: MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE

  • Genesis 2:18-24;
  • Psalm 127 (128). R/ v. 5;
  • Hebrews 2:9-11
  • Mark 10:2-12 (Shorter Form) 

Today is the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that it is against the law to divorce one’s husband or wife. And this law comes from God. The Church cannot change this law, the Pope cannot change this law, and not even Jesus can change this law. It is a law from God his Father! Thus in the gospel today Jesus quotes from Genesis, that is, the first reading:

“This is why a man must leave father and mother, (and cling to his wife; NJB), and the two become one body. They are no longer two, therefore, but one body. So then, what God has united, man must not divide.” (Mk 10:7-9; SM)

To understand the law against divorce we must understand marriage! People get married for two reasons, that is, for love and for procreation. We are created in the image of God and we have to do what God does and we will be happy as God is happy in heaven! God does two things, that is, He loves and He creates, especially human beings.

We are to love as God loved us. We see the love of God in Jesus Christ on the cross; a self-giving love, a self-sacrificing love; a forgiving love, a merciful love, a saving love! Husbands and wives are to love one another as Jesus Christ loved them, that is, they are to love one another, not only with a romantic, erotic and sexual love; but with a self-giving, self-sacrificing, and forgiving love! With the love of Jesus Christ there can be no divorce! In fact the love will grow stronger and deeper with each passing year!

We are to create as God created us, that is, we have to have children! A marriage without the desire to have children is not a Christian marriage. It is not open to life. It is not a consummated marriage, that is, the marriage does not exist! And such a marriage can be annulled by the Church! Today with both parents working, it is a real sacrifice to have children. But Christian love is sacrificial love and it is only this love that can bring us true happiness!

Today, sadly, many do not want to have children. In 2010 the president of the Bishops’ Conference of Italy, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco warned the Italians of “demographic suicide”, that is, over 50% of Italian families are without children. Another quarter have only one child, while just 5.1% have three or more children. (CWN, May 28, 2010)

The founding prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew lamented the low birth rate of Singaporeans, that is, 1.2 live births per female – far below the 2.1 needed for replacement. Currently, 31 per cent of Singaporean women and 41 per cent of men are choosing not to have children. “We’ve got to persuade people to understand that getting married is important, having children is important”, said Lee, once an ardent population-control advocate. (CWN, August 14, 2012)

Again, we have to have children, that is, three or more children in each family!

Now we understand the law against divorce and more importantly we understand marriage! The first reading was quoted by Jesus in today’s gospel:

“This is why a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife, and they become one body.” (Gn 2:24; SM), that is, one body in love and procreation of children!

The responsorial psalm tells us that if we follow God’s law, particularly the laws on marriage and divorce, God will bless us with a happy family! (NJB; HCSB; CCB) God will bless us with many children and many grand children! God will bless us with abundance of food to eat to our satisfaction. God will bless us with prosperity. God will bless us with happiness and peace. God will bless us with long life! Thus the response:

“May the Lord bless us all the days of our lives.” (Ps 127 (128): 5; SM)

The second reading tells us that Jesus the Son of God became man and became our brother in order to suffer, die and rise from the dead for our salvation! And this is what we celebrate in the Eucharist every Sunday!

It is most urgent and most important that we come to Mass every Sunday to receive the Holy Spirit of our Risen Lord so that we can love as God loves and we can procreate as God creates and so that we can be happy as God is happy in heaven!

A study in the United States showed that one third or more of marriages end in divorce, but only “one out of fifty-seven marriages ended in divorce among husband and wife that worshipped at church consistently. Even more amazing was the finding that only one marriage in five hundred concluded in divorce in couples where there is organized Scripture reading and prayer.” (Fr. James Gilhooley’s Reflections on the Sunday Gospels)

Therefore if you want a happy marriage and a happy family, come to Sunday Mass every Sunday and if possible come for BEC meetings, Prayer Meetings, Alpha courses, Neo-Catechumenal community celebrations, Bible-Sharing, etc.! A happy and joyful Sunday to all of you! Amen!

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 2nd September 2018

Theme: THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD GIVES LIFE AND LOVE 

  • Deuteronomy 4:1-2. 6-8;
  • Psalm 14 (15): 2-5. R/ v. 1;
  • James 1:17-18. 21-22. 27
  • Mark 7:1-8. 14-15. 21-23

Today is the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that the commandment of the Lord gives us life and love!

The gospel today tells us not to substitute human traditions for the commandment of God. Human traditions cannot give us life and love, only the commandment of God can give us life and love!

Human traditions, like the ritual purifications of the scribes and Pharisees, that is, the washing of hands before eating and the washing of cups, pots and dishes cannot wash away the fornication, theft, murder, adultery, greed, jealousy, pride, etc., in our hearts and give us life; only the commandment of God can wash away the sins in our hearts and give us life! Thus the Gospel Acclamation today:

“Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life: you have the message of eternal life.” (cf. Jn 6:63. 68)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the commandments of the Lord give us life and give us the Promised Land, that is, Heaven! That is why we must not add anything to the commandments of God or subtract anything from the commandments of God! If we do, then it will not give us life and love! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Now, Israel, take notice of the laws and customs that I teach you today, and observe them, that you may have life and may enter and take possession of the land that the Lord the God of your fathers is giving you. You must add nothing to what I command you, and take nothing from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God just as I lay them down for you.” (Dt 4:1-2; SM)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm was originally “a liturgy for entrance into the sanctuary/temple” (HCSB; CSB), but in the context of today’s readings and liturgy, it also tells us that the commandments of the Lord give us life and love! (CCB) Thus the response:

“The just will live in the presence of the Lord.” (Ps 14 (15): 1; SM)

The responsorial psalm tells us of the commandments of the Lord, that is, act with justice, speak the truth, do no wrong to the neighbor, do not slander the neighbor, keep your pledge, do not take interest on your loan, do not take bribes against the innocent, etc. If we keep these commandments of the Lord we will live in the presence of the Lord!

But the opposite is also true, that is, if we do not act with justice, do not speak the truth, do wrong to the neighbor, slander the neighbor, take interest on our loans, take bribes against the innocent, do not keep our oaths, etc., then we will not live in the presence of the Lord, but we will die in the absence of the Lord!

Incidentally, the second reading also follows the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us that we must not only listen to the word of God, but we must also do what the word tells us! And the word tells us to help the widow and orphans, that is the poor and the needy! (CSB) Thus we read in the second reading:

“But you must do what the word tells you, and not just listen to it and deceive yourselves.

Pure unspoilt religion, in the eyes of God our Father is this: coming to the help of orphans and widows when they need it.” (Jm 1:22. 27; SM)

 

Today in this Mass we thank God for the commandments and we ask God to help us keep the commandments so that we may have life and love and so that we will help the poor and the needy. A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you!

 

Amen!