4th Sunday of Advent (Year C) – 23rd December 2018

Theme: THE CHRIST OF CHRISTMAS

  • Micah 5:1-4;
  • Psalm 79 (80):2-3. 15-16. 18-19. R/ v. 4;
  • Hebrews 10:5-10
  • Luke 1:39-45 

Today is the 4th and last Sunday of Advent, Liturgical Year C. As Christmas draws near, the readings today tell us about the Christ of Christmas. (Raas) The commercial world has taken Christ out of Christmas, so much so that it is no longer “Blessed Christmas”, but “Merry X’mas”! We have to put Christ back into Christmas! Again, the readings today tell us about the Christ of Christmas!

The gospel today tells us that even when Jesus Christ was still in the womb, Mary was blessed; John the Baptist leapt for joy in the womb of Elizabeth, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and recognized Jesus Christ to be Lord, that is, God! Thus we read in the gospel:

“Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honored with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy.” (Lk 1:41-44; SM)

The first reading tells us that the Christ/Messiah will come from Bethlehem. He will be a descendent of David. He will be the Davidic king who will rule over Israel. He will save Israel from the Assyrians. More importantly, he will save the whole world from sin and death! He will bring peace to the whole world: peace, shalom, salvation! Thus the first reading concludes:

    “They (Israel) will live secure, for from then on he will extend his power to the ends of the land. He himself will be peace.” (Mi 5:3b-4; SM)   

The responsorial psalm is a prayer asking God to save us; asking God to send the Davidic king/messiah to save us!

The response and the first stanza ask God to save us. (Vv. 1-3; HCSB) The second and third stanzas ask God to send the Davidic King to save us. (Vv. 15-19; CSB)

Thus the response asking God to save us:

“God of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.” (Ps 79 (80): 4; SM)

And thus verse 18 of the third stanza, asking God to send his Davidic King/Messiah to save us:

“May your hand be on the man you have chosen, the man you have given your strength.” (Ps 79 (80):18; SM)

The second reading tells us that the Davidic Messiah has come to save us, but not as a political, nationalistic and military Messiah; but as a Suffering-Messiah! A Messiah who serves, suffers, sacrifices, sanctifies and saves! Thus the second reading concludes:

“And this will was for us to be made holy by the offering of his body made once and for all by Jesus Christ.” (Hb 5:10; SM)  

Again, Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time. We prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by doing what Mary did in the gospel today, that is, by believing in the promise of the Lord and by doing the will of the Lord! Thus the gospel today ends:

“Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Lk 1:45; SM)

And thus the “Gospel Acclamation” today:

“I am the handmaid (servant) of the Lord: let what you have said be done to me.” (Lk 1:38; SM) 

A Happy and Joyful Advent to all of you! Amen!

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 16th September 2018

Theme: JESUS IS NOT A POLITICAL, NATIONALISTIC AND MILITARY MESSIAH, BUT JESUS IS A SUFFERING MESSIAH

  • Isaiah 50:5-9;
  • Psalm 114 (115):1-6. 8-9. R/ v. 9;
  • James 2:14-18
  • Mark 8:27-35
Today is the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The gospel today tells us that Jesus is not a political, nationalistic, and military Messiah, but Jesus is a suffering Messiah! That is, Jesus is to suffer, die and rise from the dead for the love of God and for the love of humanity, that is, to do the will of God his Father and to save humanity from sin and death!

The gospel also tells us that as Christians we are to take up our crosses and follow Jesus, to lose our lives for his sake and for the sake of the gospel in order to save our lives and the lives of the whole world!

The gospel today tells us that when Peter professed his faith in Jesus as the Messiah/Christ, Jesus warned his disciples not to tell anyone about it for fear that people may think that he was a political Messiah.

Jesus also told his disciples that he was to suffer, to die and to rise from the dead on the third day! And when Peter protested, he called Peter Satan! For the way Peter thought was man’s way, not God’s way. Man thought of a nationalistic Messiah, but God thought of a suffering Messiah, because God is love!

In the gospel today, Jesus also told the people and his disciples to take up their crosses and follow him, to lose their lives for his sake and for the sake of the gospel in order to save their lives and the lives of the whole world!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Jesus was the Suffering Servant of God (Third of Four Suffering Servant Songs). He listened to God. He did not turn away from God. He offered his back to be beaten, his beard to be torn and his face to be spat upon!

Vicarious suffering, that is, suffering on behalf of sinners, suffering in the place of sinners! But more importantly, the first reading tells us that God will not abandon him, God will not forget him; but God will come to his help, God will save him, and through him God will save the whole world!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God will save him from death! Thus the response:

“I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.” (Ps 114 (115): 9; SM)

The responsorial psalm itself tells us of his suffering and death, but more importantly, it tells us that God will save him from death. Thus the responsorial psalm ends with verse 9, from which the response is taken, again:

“I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.”!
The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again, the second reading has something important to tell us. The second reading tells us that faith and good works have to go together. Faith without good works is dead! And the good works mentioned in the second reading are clothing the naked and feeding the hungry. Two basic human needs!

The second reading is not contrasting faith and good works, but the second reading is contrasting living faith and dead faith! Living faith will produce good works, but dead faith will not produce good works!

Today in this Mass, we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ, who suffered, died and rose from the dead for our salvation; and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we may carry our crosses to follow him, to lose our lives for his sake and for the sake of the gospel, so that we will save our lives and the lives of the whole world!

We also thank God for the gift of faith and we ask God to help us to do good works!
A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you! Amen!

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 4th February 2018

Theme: THE LORD HEALS US PHYSICALLY, MENTALLY AND SPIRITUALLY

  • Job 7:1-4. 6-7;
  • Psalm 146 (147): 1-6. R/ v. 3;
  • 1 Corinthians 9:16-19. 22-23
  • Mark 1:29-39

Today is the 5th Sunday in Ordinary time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that the Lord heals us physically (body), mentally (mind) and spiritually (spirit)!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus healed the mother-in-law of Simon Peter physically by curing her of her fever. She recovered fuller. That is why she could serve Jesus and his companions.

The second paragraph of the gospel tells us that Jesus also healed a lot of people physically, mentally and spiritually by curing them of their many diseases and casting out devils!

Finally, the third paragraph of the gospel tells us that Jesus got up early in the morning, even before sunrise, to pray in a lonely place by himself. Peter and his companions went to look for him. In fact everybody was looking for him.

But Jesus left with his disciples to the other towns in Galilee to preach the good news, for that is what he came for! Jesus preached the good news and cast out devils in the other towns of Galilee.

It is important to note that after casting out the devils, Jesus forbade them to reveal that he was the Messiah; for fear that the people may think that he was a nationalistic, military, and political Messiah, or a wonder-worker, miracle-worker Messiah.

Jesus was more than all that! Jesus was a suffering Messiah, a crucified Messiah. This will only be revealed after his death, resurrection, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! This is the “Messianic Secret” of St. Mark’s gospel! (NJB; NJBC; Fuller)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Job was suffering physically, mentally and spiritually. Job lost all his property and children and Job himself was suffering from a painful skin disease.

In the first reading Job compared himself to a soldier, a laborer and a slave who in those days led very hard lives. Job could not sleep. When night came Job waited for morning and when morning came Job waited for night. Job’s life passed quickly away without any hope and without any happiness.

There are two important things to note about Job. The first is that in Job’s time the Jews did not quite yet believe in an afterlife or an eternal life. The second is that Job was innocent. The question is why do good people suffer? Why do innocent people suffer?

The answer is, to test their faith, not in the sense of seeing how strong their faith is, but in the sense of making their faith stronger! And with a stronger faith, God will reward them even more as Job was rewarded twice over in the end! (Jb 42: 10-17; CSB, Introduction)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord heals the broken-hearted. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Praise the Lord who heals the broken-heart.” (Ps 146 (147): 3; SM)

The responsorial psalm is an “invitation to praise God, the creator who cares for the afflicted”. (NJBC) Thus verse 3 of the responsorial psalm from which the response is taken:

“He heals the broken-hearted, he binds up all their wounds.” (Ps 146 (147): 3; SM)

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us that St. Paul was called by God to preach the good news and that is why he does it free of charge! St. Paul did not choose to preach the good news himself. Had St. Paul chosen to preach the good news himself he would have charged for preaching the good news.

Like Jesus in the gospel today, the first duty of St. Paul was to preach the good news and to preach it free of charge! Today too, the first duty of bishops, priests and the whole people of God is to preach the good news and to preach it free of charge! It is a vocation, not a profession! That is why it is free of charge!

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 heal us physically (body), mentally (mind) and spiritually (spirit); and the Holy Spirit will help us heal others physically, mentally and spiritually. The Holy Spirit will help us preach the good news and to preach it free of charge! A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen!

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 28th January 2018

Theme: JESUS THE TEACHER OF LOVE WITH POWER TO EXORCISE THE DEVIL OF SIN AND DEATH

  • Deuteronomy 18:15-20;
  • Psalm 94 (95): 1-2. 6-9. R/ v. 7f;
  • 1 Corinthians 7:32-35
  • Mark 1:21-28

Today is the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us about Jesus the teacher. The gospel today tells us that Jesus teaches something new and with authority behind it. He has the authority and power even to exorcise the devil of sin and death.

The Devil brought sin and death into the world through Adam. Jesus the new Adam has the power to exorcise the devil of sin and death. Jesus is also the new Moses who teaches the new law of love with the power to overcome sin and death! Thus we read in the gospel today:

“‘Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’” (Mk 1:27; SM)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. In the first reading Moses tells the people of Israel that God will raise up for them a prophet like Moses himself and that they must listen to him. Christians see in this future prophet the “Messiah-Prophet”, the “second Moses” (NJB), the new Moses, Jesus Christ! (NJBC)

Again, Jesus Christ, the new Moses teaches the new law of love with the power to overcome sin and death. The old Moses teaches the old law. The old law is without power to overcome sin and death! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Moses said to the people: ‘Your God will raise up for you a prophet like myself, from among yourselves, from your own brothers; to him you must listen.’” (Dt 18:15; SM)

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

“O that today you would listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts.” (Ps 94 (95): 7f; SM)

The responsorial psalm is a call to worship and obedience. (HCSB) The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first and second stanzas are a call to worship God the creator and savior/shepherd. The third stanza is a call to obedience, that is, to listen to God! (CSB; NJBC) Thus the third stanza from which the response is taken:

“O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as on that day at Massah in the desert when your fathers put me to the test; when they tried me, though they saw my work.’” (Ps 94 (95): 7-9; SM)

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday. The second reading is a continuation of the second reading of last Sunday. Again, in the second reading, St. Paul was mistaken to think that the end of the world was imminent, that is, in his own lifetime! (HCSB; NJBC; IBC)

In the second reading, St. Paul tells the men who are not married not to marry so that they can devote all their time to God. A married man has to divide his time between God and his wife. St. Paul also tells the women who are not married not to marry so that they can devote all their time to God. A married woman has to divide her time between her husband and God. Thus we read in the second reading:

“An unmarried man can devote himself to the Lord’s affairs, all he need worry about is pleasing the Lord; but a married man has to bother about the world’s affairs and devote himself to pleasing his wife: he is torn two ways. In the same way an unmarried woman, like a young girl, can devote herself to the Lord’s affairs; all she need worry about is being holy in body and spirit. The married woman, on the other hand, has to worry about the world’s affairs and devote herself to pleasing her husband.” (1 Co 7:32-34; SM)

Although the end of the world is not imminent, the second reading is still relevant to us, especially for priests and religious brothers and sisters! Priests and religious brothers and sisters do not marry so that they have more time for God!

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 listen to the new teaching of Jesus on love and the Holy Spirit will help us teach the new teaching of Jesus on love with the power to overcome sin and death! A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen!

1st March 2015 – 2nd Sunday of Lent

Theme: THE CROSS OF JESUS CHRIST IS GLORIOUS: IT IS RESURRECTION AND LIFE

  • Genesis 12:1-4;
  • Psalm 32 (33):4-5. 18-20. 22. R/ v. 22;
  • 2 Timothy 1:8-10
  • Matthew 17:1-9

Today is the 2nd Sunday of Lent, Liturgical Year B, but we are using the readings of Year A, because there will be Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! Lent is a time when we prepare for Easter. Lent is a time when we prepare for the Baptism of our catechumens on Easter Vigil Night and the renewal of our own Baptism on Easter Vigil Night!

The gospel today tells us that the cross of Jesus Christ is glorious! The cross of Jesus Christ is resurrection and life! That is why today’s gospel is found immediately after Jesus predicted his passion, death and resurrection, and after he instructed his disciples to take up their crosses to follow him in order to find life!

The gospel today tells us about the transfiguration of the Lord. His face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as light! The transfiguration was not the resurrection. It was only the preview, the foreshadow and the prefigure of the resurrection. The transfiguration was to strengthen the faith of the disciples for the coming suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ!

The gospel also tells us that a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favor. Listen to him”. That is, Jesus is the Son of God and the Suffering Servant of God (“he enjoys my favor”, Is 42:1), listen to him, especially when he tells you about his suffering, death and resurrection!

Finally, the gospel also tells us that Jesus ordered his disciples not to tell anyone about the transfiguration for fear that the people may mistake him to be a political, nationalistic, and military messiah, or a wonder-worker and miracle-worker messiah! Jesus is much more than all that! Jesus is the suffering messiah, the crucified Christ, the suffering and crucified Savior!

Again, the gospel today tells us that the cross of Jesus Christ is glorious! The cross of Jesus Christ is resurrection and life!

 

In the first reading the Lord tells Abraham to leave his country, his family and his father’s house and to go to a land that the Lord will show him. And the Lord will make him into a great nation, that is, the Lord will give him many descendants and make his descendants into a great nation! And the Lord will bless him and through him, the Lord will bless all the nations! And Abraham went as the Lord told him.

During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms; to help us leave our sins, our world, and ourselves and to go to a land that the Lord will show us. And the Lord will bless us and through us, the Lord will bless all the nations! And like Abraham, we will go as the Lord tells us!

 

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us to put all our hope in God and in his love! Not half our hope, but all our hope; not in man, but in God; and not in his law, but in his love! 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 responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza (vv. 4-5) tells us that the Lord created us out of love. The second stanza (vv. 18-19) tells us that the Lord saved us out of love. And the third stanza (vv. 20. 22) from which the response is taken tells us that we are to put all our hope in God and in his love! The word “love” appears in all the three stanzas, and in the response!

 

In the second reading, Saint Paul tells Timothy to suffer for the preaching of the Good News, because Jesus Christ has destroyed death and has proclaimed life and immortality through the Good News! Thus we read in the second reading:

“With me, bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News, …. He (Christ Jesus) abolished death, and he has proclaimed life and immortality through the Good News.” (2 Tm 1:8. 10; SM)

 

During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms; to help us carry our crosses to follow Jesus, that is, to help us to die to our sins, our world, ourselves and to live for God and for neighbor! The Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms, to help us prepare for Easter. And to help us to prepare for the Baptism of our catechumens on Eater Vigil Night and the renewal of our own Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! A blessed Lent to all of you!

8th February 2015 – 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Theme: THE LORD HEALS US PHYSICALLY, MENTALLY AND SPIRITUALLY

  • Job 7:1-4. 6-7; Psalm 146 (147): 1-6. R/ v. 3
    1 Corinthians 9:16-19. 22-23
    Mark 1:29-39

Today is the 5th Sunday in Ordinary time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that the Lord heals us physically (body), mentally (mind) and spiritually (spirit)!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus healed the mother-in-law of Simon Peter physically by curing her of her fever. She recovered fuller. That is why she could serve Jesus and his companions.

The second paragraph of the gospel tells us that Jesus also healed a lot of people physically, mentally and spiritually by curing them of their many diseases and casting out devils!

Finally, the third paragraph of the gospel tells us that Jesus got up early in the morning, even before sunrise, to pray in a lonely place by himself. Peter and his companions went to look for him. In fact everybody was looking for him.

But Jesus left with his disciples to the other towns in Galilee to preach the good news, for that is what he came for! Jesus preached the good news and cast out devils in the other towns of Galilee.

It is important to note that after casting out the devils, Jesus forbade them to reveal that he was the Messiah; for fear that the people may think that he was a nationalistic, military, and political Messiah, or a wonder-worker, miracle-worker Messiah.

Jesus was more than all that! Jesus was a suffering Messiah, a crucified Messiah. This will only be revealed after his death, resurrection, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world! This is the “Messianic Secret” of St. Mark’s gospel! (NJB; NJBC; Fuller)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Job was suffering physically, mentally and spiritually. Job lost all his property and children and Job himself was suffering from a painful skin disease.

In the first reading Job compared himself to a soldier, a laborer and a slave who in those days led very hard lives. Job could not sleep. When night came Job waited for morning and when morning came Job waited for night. Job’s life passed quickly away without any hope and without any happiness.

There are two important things to note about Job. The first is that in Job’s time the Jews did not quite yet believe in an afterlife or an eternal life. The second is that Job was innocent. The question is why do good people suffer? Why do innocent people suffer?

The answer is, to test their faith, not in the sense of seeing how strong their faith is, but in the sense of making their faith stronger! And with a stronger faith, God will reward them even more as Job was rewarded twice over in the end! (Jb 42: 10-17; CSB, Introduction)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord heals the broken-hearted. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Praise the Lord who heals the broken-heart.” (Ps 146 (147): 3; SM)

The responsorial psalm is an “invitation to praise God, the creator who cares for the afflicted”. (NJBC) Thus verse 3 of the responsorial psalm from which the response is taken:

“He heals the broken-hearted, he binds up all their wounds.” (Ps 146 (147): 3; SM)

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us that St. Paul was called by God to preach the good news and that is why he does it free of charge! St. Paul did not choose to preach the good news himself. Had St. Paul chosen to preach the good news himself he would have charged for preaching the good news.

Like Jesus in the gospel today, the first duty of St. Paul was to preach the good news and to preach it free of charge! Today too, the first duty of bishops, priests and the whole people of God is to preach the good news and to preach it free of charge! It is a vocation, not a profession! That is why it is free of charge!

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 heal us physically (body), mentally (mind) and spiritually (spirit); and the Holy Spirit will help us heal others physically, mentally and spiritually. The Holy Spirit will help us preach the good news and to preach it free of charge! A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you! Amen!