24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 11th September 2022

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 11th September 2022

Theme: GOD IS MERCIFUL: HE SEEKS OUT AND SAVES SINNERS

  • Exodus 32:7-11. 13-14;
  • Psalm 50 (51):3-4. 12-13. 17. 19. R/ Lk 15:18;
  • 1 Timothy 1:12-17;
  • Luke 15:1-32 (Shorter Form, verses 1-10)

1. Today is the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us that God is merciful and that he seeks out and saves sinners! The gospel today tells us in three parables that God is merciful and that he seeks out and saves sinners! The three parables are the Parable of the Lost Sheep, the Parable of the Lost Coin, and the Parable of the Lost Son (the Prodigal Son).

    The first Parable on the Lost Sheep tells us that God is like the shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine sheep in the wilderness to look for the lost sheep until he finds it. And when he finds it he calls together his friends and neighbors to rejoice with him because he has “found the sheep that was lost”. The gospel tells us that in the same way there is more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine virtuous men who have not need of repentance! 

    The second Parable on the Lost Coin tells us that God is like the woman who has ten coins. When she loses one of the coins, she lights a lamp and sweeps the house until she finds the lost coin. And when she finds the coin she calls together her friends and neighbors to rejoice with her because she has “found the coin” she lost! The gospel tells us that in the same way the angels of God rejoice over one repentant sinner!

    The third Parable on the Lost Son tells us that God is like the father who is always on the lookout for his lost son. When he sees him from afar he runs to him and clasps him and kisses him. He puts the best robe on him, puts a ring on his finger and puts sandals on his feet. He then slaughters the fattened calf to feast and celebrate because his son was dead and has come back to life, “was lost and is found”!          

    Again, the gospel today tells us that God is merciful and that he seeks out and saves sinners!

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the people of Israel worshipped the golden calf! God was angry with them and wanted to destroy them, but Moses pleaded with God not to destroy them, because of the promise God made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that their descendents will be as many as the stars of heaven!

    And more importantly, the first reading tells us that God relented and did not destroy them: “So the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.”! Indeed, God is merciful!       

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us to repent and turn back to God who is merciful. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm which is taken from the Parable of the Lost Son from the gospel of today:

    “I will leave this place and go to my father.”! (Lk 15:18)

    The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. In the first stanza we ask God to forgive us our sins. In the second stanza we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we will not sin anymore. In the third stanza we praise and thank God for forgiving us our sins and giving us the Holy Spirit so that we will not sin anymore!    

4. Finally, the second reading tells us that God does not only save sinners, but God also call sinners to be his apostles! The second reading tells us that Paul was the greatest sinner, but he became the greatest apostle! Thus we read in the second reading:

    “Here is a saying that you can rely on and nobody should doubt: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I myself am the greatest of them; and if mercy has been shown me, it is because Jesus Christ meant to make me the greatest evidence of his inexhaustible patience for all the other people who would later have to trust in him to come to eternal life.” (1 Tm 1:15-16)

    “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, and who judged me faithful enough to call me into his service even though I used to be a blasphemer and did all I could to injure and discredit the faith.” (1 Tm 1:12-13a)

5. Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and our Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us to repent and to turn back to God who is merciful, and the Holy Spirit will help us become apostles of Jesus Christ!   

Amen!

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 24th July 2022

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 24th July 2022

Theme: PRAY: PRAY TO GOD WHO IS LOVE, MERCY, AND FORGIVENESS

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

1. Today is the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C. The readings today tell us to pray to God who is love, mercy, and forgiveness!

    The gospel tells us to pray to God as Father, Abba, Papa, Dad, Bapa, Baba, that is, to pray to God who is love, mercy, and forgiveness!

    We have to pray to God as children totally dependent on our Father; asking the Father to make his name holy, to make his kingdom come, to give us our daily bread – both material and spiritual, to forgive us our sins, and not to put us to the test! (CSB / //Mt 6:9-13)

    Thus the Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father: “Father, may your name be held holy, your kingdom come; give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive each one who is in debt to us. And do not put us to the test.” (Lk 11:2-4)

    The second part of the gospel (Lk 11:5-8) tells us to pray persistently and perseveringly; and the third part of the gospel (Lk 11: 9-13) tells us that our prayers will be effective!

    Our prayers will be effective because God will give us the Holy Spirit and in the power of the Holy Spirit we will hold God’s name holy, we will build God’s kingdom here on earth, we will receive our daily bread – both material and spiritual, we will forgive others as God has forgiven us, and we will not be put to the test, that is, we will not fall in times of trials, that is, we will not apostatize, that is, we will not renounce our faith in times of trials!

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel, and the first reading is to be read in the light of the gospel! The first reading tells us to pray to God who is merciful! The first reading tells us that Abraham prayed to God who is merciful!

    The first reading tells us that God wanted to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, but Abraham pleaded with God not to destroy the just men with the sinners. Abraham pleaded with God not to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for 50 just men and God relented. Abraham bargained with God – not to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah – from 50 just men down to 45, 40, 30, 20, and even to only 10 just men, and God relented! And the first reading stops here! God is merciful! (IBC) Again, the first reading tells us to pray to God who is merciful!

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is “a song of thanksgiving for deliverance by God”. (HCSB) The responsorial psalm tells us that God who is love will answer our prayers. Thus the responsorial psalm is enveloped by the word love in verses 2 and 8 (NJBC): “I thank you for your faithfulness and love which excel all we ever knew of you.”! (Ps 137:2), and “Your love, O Lord, is eternal, discard not the work of your hands.”! (Ps 137:8); and thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “On the day I called, you answered me, O Lord.”! (Ps 137:3)              

4. Finally, the second reading tells us that the God to whom we pray; the God who is love, mercy, and forgiveness; is the God who forgives us in his Son Jesus Christ! Thus we read in the second reading: “You were dead, because you were sinners and had not been circumcised: he has brought you to life with him, he has forgiven us all our sins.

    He has overridden the Law, and cancelled every record of the debt that we had to pay; he has done away with it by nailing it to the cross.”! (Col 2:13-14)

5. Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and our Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit, so that we will hold God’s name holy, so that we will build God’s kingdom here on earth, so that we will receive his daily bread – both material and spiritual, so that we will forgive others as he has forgiven us, and so that we will not be put to the test, that is, we will not fall in times of trials!

Amen!

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 20th February 2022

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 20th February 2022

Theme: BE MERCIFUL AS YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER IS MERCIFUL

  • 1 Samuel 26:2. 7-9. 12-13. 22-23
  • Psalm 102:1-4. 8. 10. 12-13. R. v. 8
  • 1 Corinthians 15:45-49
  • Luke 6:27-38

1.   Today is the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C. The readings today tell us to be merciful just as our heavenly Father is merciful.

    The gospel tells us to be merciful just as our heavenly Father is merciful. The gospel tells us not to judge, so that we will not be judged; not to condemn, so that we will not be condemned; to forgive, and we will be forgiven; and to give, and much will be given to us!

    The gospel also tells us to love our enemies; to do good to those who hate us; to bless those who curse us; to pray for those who persecute us; to the one who strikes us on the cheek, turn the other cheek to him; to the one who takes our coat, give him also our shirt (undergarment); give to the one who asks; and to the one who robs us, do not ask him to return what is robbed!

    Again, the gospel asks us to love our enemies, to do good, and to lend without expecting to be paid back. We will then be rewarded, and we will be children of our heavenly Father who is kind even to the ungrateful and the wicked. Again, be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful!        

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that David was merciful to King Saul. King Saul tried to kill David twice, and twice David could have killed King Saul, but did not. David spared the life of King Saul twice; once in the cave where David cut off the corner of his cloak instead of killing him (1 S 24); and once David took away his spear and jar of water when he was asleep instead of killing him (1 S 26). David was merciful to King Saul.   

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Again, the responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord is compassion and love. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “The Lord is compassion and love.”! (Ps 102:8) And thus the third and fourth stanzas of the responsorial psalm: “The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy. He does not treat us according to our sins nor repay us according to our faults. As far as the east is from the west so far does he remove our sins. As a father has compassion on his sons, the Lord has pity on those who fear him.”! (Ps 102: 8. 10. 12-13)

4. Again, the second reading tells us of the resurrection of the dead. The second readings of the 5th and 6th Sundays also told us about the resurrection of the dead. The second reading today tells us about the resurrected body, that is, what kind of body is the resurrection body. Paul tells us in the second reading that the resurrected body will not be the natural physical body of Adam, but it will be the spiritual body of the Second Adam, that is, the Resurrected Christ! (CSB/NJB)

5. Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and our Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit, and raise us from the dead! He will give us the Holy Spirit to help us to be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful (Lk 6:36)! He will give us the Holy Spirit to help us to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us, to bless those who curse us, to do good to those who hate us; and to give to those who ask (Lk 6: 27-30); ………….. to love our enemies and to do good to them; and to lend without hope of return (Lk 6:35); ……….. to forgive; and to give (Lk 6:37-38)!

Amen!

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 14th Feb 2021

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 14th Feb 2021

Theme: THE LORD SAVES US FROM SINS AND GIVES US HAPPINESS

  • Leviticus 13:1-2. 44-46;
  • Psalm 31 (32): 1-2. 5. 11. R/ v. 7;
  • 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1
  • Mark 1:40-45

1. Today is the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that the Lord saves us from sins and gives us happiness!

    The gospel today tells us that the Lord had pity on a leper and touched him and healed him, but he warned him not to tell anyone about it, but to show himself to the priest who will certify that he was clean and offer the accompanying purification rituals. But the man told everyone about the cure and great crowds came to Jesus.

    Jesus forbade the cleansed leper to tell anyone about it because Jesus did not want to be mistaken to be a miracle worker. Jesus came to suffer, die, rise from the dead, and give us the Holy Spirit to save us from sins – the “Messianic Secret” of Saint Mark! (NJBC/CCB/Fuller)   

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the priest was to certify that a man was a leper. And as a leper he was to wear torn clothing, he was not to comb his hair, he was to cover his lips, and shout, “unclean, unclean”, and he was to be isolated from the community.      

    Leprosy symbolizes sin! In fact sin is worse than leprosy!

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord does not only heal us of leprosy, but the Lord also saves us from sins and gives us happiness! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.” (Ps 31 (32): 7/SM)

    The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us that when our sins are forgiven us we will be very happy! Thus we read in the first stanza: “Happy the man whose offence is forgiven, whose sin is remitted. O happy the man to whom the Lord imputes no guilt, in whose spirit is no guile.” (Ps 31 (32): 1-2/SM)

    The second stanza tells us that we have to confess our sins to God and God will forgive our sins. Thus the second stanza: “But now I have acknowledged my sins; my guilt I did not hide. I said: ‘I will confess my offence to the Lord.’ And you, Lord, have forgiven the guilt of my sin.” (Ps 31 (32): 5/SM)

    Verses 3 and 4 of the original psalm which are not quoted in the responsorial psalm tell us that if we do not confess our sins to the Lord, we will suffer!

    The third stanza tells us that when we confess our sins to the Lord and when the Lord forgives our sins we will be very happy! Thus the third stanza: “Rejoice, rejoice in the Lord, exult, you just! O come, ring out your joy, all you upright of heart.” (Ps 31 (32): 11/SM)

    We confess our sins to the priest because the priest represents the “mercy” of God the Father, the “reconciliation” of God the Son through his death and resurrection, and the “forgiveness” of God the Holy Spirit! Thus the formula for absolution:

    “God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself, and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.”

    And the penitent answers: “Amen”! The penitent believes that his sins are forgiven. Some people do not believe that God can forgive their sins, because their sins are “too big” and “too many”! They sin against the Holy Spirit, that is, they do not believe that God can forgive their sins! There is no forgiveness for the Sin against the Holy Spirit!           

    Note that in the formula of absolution the priest is number five, not number one: Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Church, and Priest!    

4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the day. But the second reading has something important to tell us. The second reading tells us that whatever we do; we must do it for the glory of God and for the good of man, that is, for their salvation!

    The second reading tells us that eating food offered to idols is not a sin, but if it scandalizes others then we are not to eat it!   

    The second reading also tells us to imitate St. Paul just as St. Paul imitated Jesus Christ! Let us imitate St. Paul in proclaiming the Good News just as St. Paul imitated Jesus Christ in proclaiming the Good News!

5. 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 confess our sins to the Lord and the Lord will forgive our sins and give us happiness! The Holy Spirit will also help us to do everything for the glory of God and for the good of man, that is, for their salvation! The Holy Spirit will help us imitate St. Paul in proclaiming the Good News!

                                                                                                                                    Amen!

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 19th July 2020

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – 19th July 2020

Theme: THE LORD IS A MERCIFUL JUDGE

  • Wisdom 12:13. 16-19;
  • Psalm 85:5-6. 9-10. 15-16. R/ v. 5;
  • Romans 8:26-27
  • Matthew 13:24-43 (Shorter Form, 13:24-30)

Today is the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that the Lord is a Merciful Judge! The gospel today tells us about the parable of the wheat and the darnel (poisonous grass). The gospel tells us that a man sowed good seed, but when everyone was asleep his enemy sowed bad seed. And when the wheat grew, the poisonous grass also grew. The servants of the man wanted to pull up the grass, but the man left the grass to grow with the wheat until harvest when the grass will by pulled up and burned and the wheat will be gathered into his barn!

The gospel today tells us about the reality of our world today and the reality of ourselves today! In our world today we find good as well as evil. We find good people who work for peace, who sacrifice their lives in order to help the sick and the poor, who donate millions to charity, who forgive the enemies, etc.; but in our world today we also find a lot of evil people who practice injustice, who oppress and exploit the poor and the weak, who kill in the name of God, who kidnap and torture, who abuse children, etc.

In fact, in ourselves too, we find good and evil! We are kind to people, we help the poor, we pray for others, etc.; but we are also jealous, mean, selfish, indifferent, etc.

But more importantly and most importantly, the gospel today tells us that at harvest time, that is, at the end of time, at the end of the world, the fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness, will burn away all the evils in the world and in ourselves, totally, completely and finally!

That is why it is most important that we continue to proclaim the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the outpouring of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness for the salvation of the world!

The gospel of last Sunday, Bible Sunday, tells us about the parable of the sower (Mt 13:1-9, Shorter Form). The gospel tells us of the different responses of the different peoples in different situations to the word of God; but most importantly, the gospel tells us that ultimately and finally, the word of God will bear fruit, thirty fold, sixty fold and a hundredfold! A good harvest is only ten fold! (Fuller)

Again, we have to proclaim the good news “in season and out of season”, that is, every time and everywhere! That is what our Pope Francis tells us in his Apostolic Exhortation, “Joy of the Gospel / Evangelii Gaudium” (24 November, 2013)! The word of God is Spirit and Life (Jn 6:63)!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us that the Lord is a merciful judge. The first reading tells us that the Lord is a just judge, but more importantly, the first reading tells us that he is lenient and mild in his judgment! The first reading also tells us that just as the Lord is kind and merciful to us, we must also be kind and merciful to one another! Finally the first reading tells us that after sin, the Lord will give us repentance for the forgiveness of our sins!

Indeed, we responded three times in the Responsorial Psalm:

“O Lord, you are good and forgiving.” (Ps 85:5; SM)

Verses 5 and 15 of the Responsorial Psalm elaborate on the goodness and forgiveness of the Lord! Thus we read:

“O Lord, you are good and forgiving, full of love to all who call.” (Ps 85:5; SM)

“But you, God of mercy and compassion, slow to anger, O Lord, abounding in love and truth (faithfulness; HCSB), turn and take pity on me.” (Ps 85:15; SM; Ex 34:6; NJBC)

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells us that when we do not know how to pray properly, the Holy Spirit comes to help us to pray properly and correctly! The Holy Spirit helps us to pray according to the mind of God and according to the will of God!

Without the Holy Spirit we pray like the pagans according to our own minds and will and asking for material things, like power, money and fame! But with the Holy Spirit, we pray like Christians according to the mind and will of God, asking for spiritual things, like love, joy and peace! That is why the first thing we must ask for in prayer is to ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit!

Today, we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ who died, rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit, and we ask our Father to continue to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we will pray according to his mind and will; and so that the fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of His love, mercy and forgiveness will continue to burn away all the evil in the world and all the evil in ourselves, and so that at harvest time, that is, at the end of time, at the end of the world, at the second coming of Jesus Christ, the fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of His love, mercy and forgiveness will burn away all the evil in the world and in ourselves, totally, completely and finally! Amen!

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 15th September 2019

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 15th September 2019

Theme: GOD IS MERCIFUL: HE SEEKS OUT AND SAVES SINNERS

  • Exodus 32:7-11. 13-14;
  • Psalm 50 (51):3-4. 12-13. 17. 19. R/ Lk 15:18;
  • 1 Timothy 1:12-17;
  • Luke 15:1-32 (Shorter Form, verses 1-10)

Today is the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us that God is merciful and that he seeks out and saves sinners! The gospel today tells us in three parables that God is merciful and that he seeks out and saves sinners! The three parables are the Parable of the Lost Sheep, the Parable of the Lost Coin, and the Parable of the Lost Son (the Prodigal Son).

The first Parable on the Lost Sheep tells us that God is like the shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine sheep in the wilderness to look for the lost sheep until he finds it. And when he finds it he calls together his friends and neighbors to rejoice with him because he has “found the sheep that was lost”. The gospel tells us that in the same way there is more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine virtuous men who have not need of repentance!

The second Parable on the Lost Coin tells us that God is like the woman who has ten coins. When she loses one of the coins, she lights a lamp and sweeps the house until she finds the lost coin. And when she finds the coin she calls together her friends and neighbors to rejoice with her because she has “found the coin” she lost! The gospel tells us that in the same way the angels of God rejoice over one repentant sinner!

The third Parable on the Lost Son tells us that God is like the father who is always on the lookout for his lost son. When he sees him from afar he runs to him and clasps him and kisses him. He puts the best robe on him, puts a ring on his finger and puts sandals on his feet. He then slaughters the fattened calf to feast and celebrate because his son was dead and has come back to life, “was lost and is found”!

Again, the gospel today tells us that God is merciful and that he seeks out and saves sinners!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the people of Israel worshipped the golden calf! God was angry with them and wanted to destroy them, but Moses pleaded with God not to destroy them, because of the promise God made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that their descendents will be as many as the stars of heaven!

And more importantly, the first reading tells us that God relented and did not destroy them: “So the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.”! Indeed, God is merciful!       

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us to repent and turn back to God who is merciful. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm which is taken from the Parable of the Lost Son from the gospel of today:

“I will leave this place and go to my father.”! (Lk 15:18)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. In the first stanza we ask God to forgive us our sins. In the second stanza we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we will not sin anymore. In the third stanza we praise and thank God for forgiving us our sins and giving us the Holy Spirit so that we will not sin anymore!

Finally, the second reading tells us that God does not only save sinners, but God also call sinners to be his apostles! The second reading tells us that Paul was the greatest sinner, but he became the greatest apostle! Thus we read in the second reading:

“Here is a saying that you can rely on and nobody should doubt: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I myself am the greatest of them; and if mercy has been shown me, it is because Jesus Christ meant to make me the greatest evidence of his inexhaustible patience for all the other people who would later have to trust in him to come to eternal life.” (1 Tm 1:15-16)

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, and who judged me faithful enough to call me into his service even though I used to be a blasphemer and did all I could to injure and discredit the faith.” (1 Tm 1:12-13a)

Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and our Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us to repent and to turn back to God who is merciful, and the Holy Spirit will help us become apostles of Jesus Christ! Amen!

ASH WEDNESDAY (Year A, B, C)

ASH WEDNESDAY (Year A, B, C)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen!

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) 24th Feb 2019

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) 24th Feb 2019

Theme: BE MERCIFUL AS YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER IS MERCIFUL

  • 1 Samuel 26:2. 7-9. 12-13. 22-23
  • Psalm 102:1-4. 8. 10. 12-13. R. v. 8
  • 1 Corinthians 15:45-49
  • Luke 6:27-38 

Today is the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C. The readings today tell us to be merciful just as our heavenly Father is merciful.

The gospel tells us to be merciful just as our heavenly Father is merciful. The gospel tells us not to judge, so that we will not be judged; not to condemn, so that we will not be condemned; to forgive, and we will be forgiven; and to give, and much will be given to us!

The gospel also tells us to love our enemies; to do good to those who hate us; to bless those who curse us; to pray for those who persecute us; to the one who strikes us on the cheek, turn the other cheek to him; to the one who takes our coat, give him also our shirt (undergarment); give to the one who asks; and to the one who robs us, do not ask him to return what is robbed!

Again, the gospel asks us to love our enemies, to do good, and to lend without expecting to be paid back. We will then be rewarded, and we will be children of our heavenly Father who is kind even to the ungrateful and the wicked. Again, be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that David was merciful to King Saul. King Saul tried to kill David twice, and twice David could have killed King Saul, but did not. David spared the life of King Saul twice; once in the cave where David cut off the corner of his cloak instead of killing him (1 S 24); and once David took away his spear and jar of water when he was asleep instead of killing him (1 S 26). David was merciful to King Saul.

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Again, the responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord is compassion and love. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “The Lord is compassion and love.”! (Ps 102:8) And thus the third and fourth stanzas of the responsorial psalm: “The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy. He does not treat us according to our sins nor repay us according to our faults. As far as the east is from the west so far does he remove our sins. As a father has compassion on his sons, the Lord has pity on those who fear him.”! (Ps 102: 8. 10. 12-13)

Again, the second reading tells us of the resurrection of the dead. The second readings of the 5th and 6th Sundays also told us about the resurrection of the dead. The second reading today tells us about the resurrected body, that is, what kind of body is the resurrection body. Paul tells us in the second reading that the resurrected body will not be the natural physical body of Adam, but it will be the spiritual body of the Second Adam, that is, the Resurrected Christ! (CSB/NJB)

Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and our Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit, and raise us from the dead! He will give us the Holy Spirit to help us to be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful (Lk 6:36)! He will give us the Holy Spirit to help us to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us, to bless those who curse us, to do good to those who hate us; and to give to those who ask (Lk 6: 27-30); ………….. to love our enemies and to do good to them; and to lend without hope of return (Lk 6:35); ……….. to forgive; and to give (Lk 6:37-38)! Amen!

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

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!

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 21st January 2018

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 21st January 2018

Theme: TURN AWAY FROM SIN AND FROM THE WORLD AND TURN TO GOD – TO THE GOD OF JESUS CHRIST

  • Jonah 3:1-5. 10;
  • Psalm 24 (25): 4-9. R/ v. 4;
  • 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
  • Mark 1:14-20 

Today is the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The gospel today tells us to “Repent, and believe the Good News”. That is, to turn away from sin and from the world, and to turn to God, to the God of Jesus Christ! A God of love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation!

The gospel also tells us that the first disciples, Simon (Peter), Andrew, James and John repented and believed the Good News. That is they turned away from the world and they turned to Jesus Christ! They followed Jesus Christ!

In the case of Simon (Peter) and Andrew, they left their nets at once and followed Jesus. And in the case of James and John they left their father and their father’s employees and their boat and they followed Jesus!

The first four disciples responded to the Good News of repentance immediately (NJBC) and totally, that is, they left everything and followed Jesus (NJB)!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the message of repentance is not only for the Jews, but it is also for the gentiles, the pagans, the non-Jews, the enemies of the Jews, the worst enemies of the Jews, that is, the Ninevites, the Assyrians!

The first reading tells us that when Jonah preached the message of repentance to the Ninevites, they repented with fasting and sackcloth! Consequently, God did not punish them.

It is important to note in the following chapter 4:1-3 that Jonah was angry because God was merciful! Jonah did not want the Ninevites to repent and be saved. Jonah wanted God to destroy the Ninevites.

In the first place, Jonah did not even want to preach to the Ninevites, because he knew that God was loving and merciful, slow to anger and rich in kindness, and slow to punish. (GNB) Jonah was quoting Exodus 34:6-7 where God revealed himself and his divine attributes – most particularly his faithful love – to Moses! (NJB)

Jonah was so angry that he asked God to take his life! He preferred to be dead than to be alive! Jonah was a typical Jew of his time! But most importantly, the whole book of Jonah prepares for the gospel revelation that “God is love”! (NJB)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a prayer for guidance and forgiveness. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Lord, make me know your ways.” (SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza is a prayer for guidance (vv. 4-5). The second stanza is a prayer for forgiveness (vv. 6-7). And the third stanza is an affirmation of God’s goodness, which is the ground of the prayer (8-9)! (HCSB; CSB)

Incidentally, the second reading also follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading also tells us to turn away from the world! In the second reading St. Paul mistakenly thought that the end of the world was imminent! (HCSB; NJBC) Nonetheless the second reading is relevant to us because it corresponds to the gospel exhortation to turn away from the world! Thus we read in the second reading:

“Brothers: our time is growing short. Those who have wives should live as though they had none, and those who mourn should live as though they had nothing to mourn for; those who are enjoying life should live as though there were nothing to laugh about; those whose life is buying things should live as though they had nothing of their own; and those who have to deal with the world should not become engrossed in it. I say this because the world as we know it is passing away.” (1 Co 7:29-31; SM)

Incidentally, St. Paul was advising virgins! (CSB; HCSB)

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 “Repent and believe the Good News”. The Holy Spirit will help us to turn away from sin and from the world, and to turn to God – to the God of Jesus Christ; a God of love, mercy, forgiveness, and salvation! A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen!